Pope: modern society doesn’t leave much room for God

Pope Benedict’s Christmas Eve mass included this commentary about the role of religion in modern society:

“Do we have time and space for him? Do we not actually turn away God himself? We begin to do so when we have no time for him,” said the pope, wearing gold and white vestments.

“The faster we can move, the more efficient our time-saving appliances become, the less time we have. And God? The question of God never seems urgent. Our time is already completely full,” he said.

The leader of the world’s some 1.2 billion Roman Catholics said societies had reached the point where many people’s thinking processes did not leave any room even for the existence of God.

“Even if he seems to knock at the door of our thinking, he has to be explained away. If thinking is to be taken seriously, it must be structured in such a way that the ‘God hypothesis’ becomes superfluous,” he said.

“There is no room for him. Not even in our feelings and desires is there any room for him. We want ourselves. We want what we can seize hold of, we want happiness that is within our reach, we want our plans and purposes to succeed. We are so ‘full’ of ourselves that there is no room left for God.”

This sounds like a secularization argument to me: the rational thinking that began off several centuries ago before and during the Enlightenment has squeezed out God. It also reminds me of the 2004 book Sacred and Secular by Norris and Inglehart that suggested the modern welfare state has met more people’s daily needs so there is less need for God.

Additionally, the Pope also suggests modern technologies that offered to help make our lives more efficient now just take up more of our time. Is the Pope simply a crank from an older generation or is this prescient commentary about the downsides of technology millions the world over have adopted?

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