Get religion: It's good for you. Like eating spinach.
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof this past weekend noticed that atheistic writers such as Alain de Botton and Edward O. Wilson are saying that religion is useful for promoting morality, growing a sense of community, comforting believers, inspiring art and music, etc.
Kristof likes this "latest wave of respectful atheist writing" and calls it "a healthy step toward nuance." He adds another plus: "Religious people donate more money and volunteer more time to charity than the nonreligious." True, and Kristof concludes "this new attitude can eventually be the basis for a truce in our religious wars."
That's the view from 35,000 feet. It doesn't work at street level. America tried this in the 1950s, when mainline religions were at their attendance peak and many leaders spoke about the useful social effects of "Judeo-Christianity." They suggested we not bother with truth claims. That didn't work. The 1950s led to the 1960s because many people, including many teenagers, including myself, were not impressed with doughnut-shaped religion. We needed reality in the middle.
This desire for truth rather than air is not new. Paul the apostle wrote (in 1 Corinthians 15:14-17) that "if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins."
Nice try, columnist Kristof. But futile.