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Confusions of ‘secularism’

August 27th, 2009 · 3 Comments

Comment on Attacks on Secularism by the author of the book.

I persist in expressing caution with respect to the term ‘secular’ and ‘secularism’. The term ‘secular’ comes from ‘saeculum’ (age period) and refers to the sense of a ‘new age’ that made the men of the early modern, sixteenth to seventeenth century, think that they had left the world of antiquity.

There is no inherent association of ‘secularism’ with atheism. Secularism is not really a philosophy, but a series of ‘dialectical’ spectra clustered around ‘modernist’ themes.
The (conservative) attacks against secularism almost always fail because of these semantic miscalculations, and also because the ‘pick and choose’ tactics of the critics: they denounce atheism, but never the quite secular capitalist economy. etc,…
As noted, the problem with attacking secularism as ‘anti-religion’ is that the ‘secular era’ was initiated by Protestantism, a religious renewal.
To accuse secularists of wishing to move past religion is a slur against the principal momentum. Some secularists have indeed espoused such views. But the general trend of the secular is open for inspection: it has proven far more tolerant of religion than Christianity (or Islam) ever was, and has seen an immense flowering and proliferation of New Age religious explorations. What is the charge that the secular age is against religion? Hinduism was almost defunct (apart from its cultural substratum in India) and was revived first by the British Raj, then by its ignition and globalization in the twentieth century. Secularization is the greatest thing that ever happened to Hinduism!
There is a lot to say here, and the sense that the secular is moving past religion springs from the fact that is, or may be, moving past the religions of the Axial Age, on the way to a new religious consciousness???

Tags: Science & Religion · secularism

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 James // Aug 28, 2009 at 9:25 am

    “I identify secularism as a public philosophy of community life without God. Religion becomes private. This secularism accompanies the theory of secularization which holds that human beings are actively outgrowing religion.”

    Uh oh, that is a bad thing. You should try to gather an army so you can restart the Thirty Years War. I’m sure you can find many willing volunteers in the Bible Belt.

  • 2 Darwiniana » Secularism and the Thirty Years War // Aug 28, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    […] Comment on Confusions of Secularism James said, August 28, 2009 at 9:25 am ·“I identify secularism as a public philosophy of community life without God. Religion becomes private. This secularism accompanies the theory of secularization which holds that human beings are actively outgrowing religion.” […]

  • 3 Darwiniana » Log of posts from last week // Aug 28, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    […] Comments Darwiniana » Secularism and the Thirty Years War on Confusions of ’secularism’James on Confusions of ’secularism’Darwiniana » Empty promises of ’synthetic […]

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