Seeker of Truth

Ruminations of One Suspended between Catholic Christianity and Scientific Utopianism

Location: Washington, United States

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A catholic planet!

What if the whole planet was Catholic/Orthodox? Country after country, the same faith, with local color, mind you, but the same nonetheless. One church, one religion... (Pagans, Jews, Protestants et al may substitute their own religion of choice here. The difference within the bounds of our thought experiment may or may not be negligible) What would a global religious monoculture mean for politics, for science, for the arts? And how much would the flavor of this world-religion matter? I will look here strictly at the Catholic example, and assume that Catholicism somehow just ‘won out’ over all other religions, i.e. there was no force involved in bringing about such a result:One would expect a firming of morality, with a sharp decrease of all types of hedonism. Assuming the world population actually believes and follows the tenets of its creed, we should have a massive change in pop culture, away from themes of sex, violence and other sensual pleasures. One would likely find an increase in hypocrisy, a ‘doing behind closed doors’ of what is publicly unacceptable. Heresy would become an important sociocultural issue again. No more free for all when it comes to the establishment of religions.Both major political camps would suffer substantial losses: Capitalism for its emphasis on material production and cult of wealth, socialism for its materialist underpinnings and lack of stable values. Possibly a whole new party system might emerge with factions we cannot imagine. The church would itself become a major political force, and would probably have to strengthen regional independence to avoid fracture. At this point we have roughly an Eastern Orthodox and a Western Catholic branch, which are separate but almost in complete communion, close enough to look at them for working models on how one would structure a world church and avoid an endless succession of schisms because the cultural differences are too large from one region to the other. I foresee this as much more of a problem if the church is universal, as she is not now.Science would likely slow down because of the lessening of the capitalist drive toward consumption rather than from church efforts at dogmatic control. This will be a crucially important relationship to regulate, similar to our current distribution of democratic powers. For I do foresee that in a religious monoculture, politics would take a backseat to the dialogue (or struggle) between religion and science.All other religions would have been either assimilated or died out. This process is impossible for me to conceive in detail, but not in principle. It is what would contribute the most to the regional and ethnic flavor of the church. We do not want our religion to be a Wal-Mart, or a McDonald’s, where each store is essentially the same as every other. Our church would be like true human culture, with numerous regional and local idiosyncrasies.What we call the third world would likely see an upswing of its fortunes, mostly because its dictators would not be tolerated. With corruption and violence declining sharply, modest wealth will be possible.What pitfalls are on our road to glory?Human nature: Many prefer violence to peace and will try to take advantage of the essentially peaceful nature of a religious society. Turning the other cheek will not work with the bully-boys that one encounters at all levels of a tyrannical regime. Reproduction control based on abstinence is a very long shot, increasing populations worldwide and endangering the future welfare of humanity on this planet.Degeneration into debauchery as happened at various times in the church’s past, with widespread hypocrisy and mere lip-service to religious tenets. Another protestant reform is only one such failure away.Autocratic tendencies within the church, overemphasis of central control, or its opposite, a dilution and provincialization of the creed.


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