Meta Voco

Melanie Phillips at the Spectator is getting flak from PZ Myers and others for asserting that the financial crisis is rooted in the rise of militant atheism. It seems she feels that atheism somehow leads to an ethical deficit in capitalism.
I see this financial breakdown, moreover, as being not merely a moral crisis but the monetary expression of the broader degradation of our values – the erosion of duty and responsibility to others in favour of instant gratification, unlimited demands repackaged as ‘rights’ and the loss of self-discipline. And the root cause of that erosion is ‘militant atheism’ which, in junking religion, has destroyed our sense of anything beyond our material selves and the here and now and, through such hyper-individualism, paved the way for the onslaught on bedrock moral values expressed through such things as family breakdown and mass fatherlessness, educational collapse, widespread incivility, unprecedented levels of near psychopathic violent crime, epidemic drunkenness and drug abuse, the repudiation of all authority, the moral inversion of victim culture, the destruction of truth and objectivity and a corresponding rise in credulousness in the face of lies and propaganda -- and intimidation and bullying to drive this agenda into public policy.

The financial crisis was brought about essentially by a public which threw away all notions of prudence and committed itself to spending today what it could never afford to pay back tomorrow, and a banking, regulatory and political sector which ruthlessly and cynically exploited and encouraged such catastrophic irresponsibility with a criminal disregard of the ruinous consequences for the poor. The financial crisis and our social meltdown are thus combining to form a perfect cultural storm.

The assertion about militant atheism seems silly and patently false, but I think intelligent people can agree on the relatively recent rise of secularism. I would argue that it is capitalism leads to the rise of secularism as well as the breakdown of morals that Phillips laments. (And does this not fit the essence of Weber's Spirit of Capitalism: Protestant Ethic->Capitalism->Secular Work Ethic, as well as classic Marxian analysis?)

So, my question is, can either Phillips' or my position be falsified, or are both views solely a reflection of ideological stance? I'm having trouble seeing what kind of evidence would answer this question, although the depth of religious fervor in this country seems like a strike against my position.

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