Billy Beck has up a pretty lengthy post, wherein he takes note of a lot–to include the Alito hearings, national security in the face of terrorism, and the role of the church in history and present.
And that institution is never going to "hold together" people who —
for good reasons — just about instinctively reject the claim over the
authority of their own minds, and this the important part to bear in
mind in this: I’m talking about people like me, who know what
the Right Thing is, without the Church. Again: we’re talking about a
body of ethics that I maintain is both correct (if we’re talking about
success of human life on the scale that America has illustrated as
possible) and identifiable independently of religion. If we can talk
about that ethics as something distinct from religion — which I say we
can, and should — then your "together" starts coming into view.
Indeed. Like Billy, I can acknowledge the role of the church as an ethical force in history, just as–really–I can acknowledge the role of government institutions, democracy, etc., in establishing peaceful and organized means of handling most disputes.
But I do so in the absolute perfect clarity of knowing that all this was and is merely a small, primitive step. There is no more need for religion, the church, or government today than we have need of driving Model T’s because they were so necessary and successful in our development of human transportation.
The bottom line is that the human mind has been proved competent; long ago. It has no need whatsoever of pontificators on high. But, alas, it remains an individual’s task to fulfill. The fundamental route to advancement as a civilization is for individuals to come to the realization that they do not require false external authorities. Not even a little.
They require neither preachers nor presidents. They have minds; minds that are competent to discern right from wrong.
It’s all anyone has ever needed.