This is in part a commentary on the Ross Douthat column Vikram just linked to. I am not sure where I come down on all this. "Like most of your kind, you probably feel superior to your ancestors," Hanson says. Not me. I figure if they could learn how to make fire, domesticate animals, invent language and agriculture — in other words, establish the foundations of civilization — they must have been some pretty sharp cookies. Which is why I am respectful of religion. They seem to have taken for granted the reality of what Rudolf Otto called the mysterium tremendum et fascinans. Odd that they would have been wrong about that and right about so much else.
The culture I identify with is the one grounded in Catholicism. It goes back a pretty long way, and its roots go pretty deep. It is probably the most significant of what the existentialists would call my facticity. I am not uncritical of it by any means, but I take it seriously, because I think it would be dumb to dismiss it without really understanding it as well as I can. This means practicing it, not just thinking it about it. Oddly, I have found that, because of my doing that, when I have encountered other cultures, I have often seen commonalities. I have learned much from Buddhism and Hinduism and Taoism that has served to greatly enrich my Catholicism.
How any of this fits in with what Hanson and Douthat are saying I can't be sure.