July 19, 2012

Counterfeit Religions IX: Secularism / Secular Humanism

As with Ancient Nature Religions, this is a broadly defined and nebulous category that may be hard to pin down. I’ll do the best I can. I can hear it already. "Secularism isn't a religion! You idiotic Christian zealous nuts are all the same!  That's like saying atheism and agnosticism is a religion too. What, are you stupid?"

Eh...I guess I must be.

A belief in the anthropocentric (human centered) view is a belief in man-centered reliance. To me, this belief in something other than the God of Christianity is idolatry. Secularism and Atheism are indeed religions based on a belief...it just happens to be disbelief. “Atheism is the position that affirms the non-existence of God. It proposes positive disbelief rather than mere suspension of belief.” (Rowe). Secularism follows in this mindset in that it refuses to acknowledge God in a holistic manner. Picking and choosing what to believe is still a belief or failure to believe in something. Sadly, secularism like atheism often claim that their belief is not a religion. This allows them to propagate their beliefs in settings where other religions are banned, but this should not be so. This is exactly what they've managed to do in Government and the public arena. Their attitude is that you can have your religion...you just need to keep it under wraps in you own home...but  don't you dare bring it out in public. The belief in atheism and a desire to remove God from Government has now gotten and unfair advantage over all other religions in our state houses because it is the only religion allowed in the state houses and government buildings. From a logic standpoint this religion is being singled out and given preferential treatment over all other belief systems and this seems to be not only hypocritical but also unconstitutional and against the civil law of many sovereign nations including the United States.

Belief is the acceptance of the truth or actuality of anything without certain proof. Belief is a mental conviction. To believe is to accept something as true or real (or not). It is to accept the truth, existence, value, worth of something: i.e. to believe in freedom. One of the primary meanings of "to believe" is to have religious faith. Because an atheist cannot prove God does not exist they are relying on faith without proof that this is true. A faith that there is no God, therefore their belief system or worldview should be constituted as a religion. Secularism again fits this mold. As they cannot prove or disprove and are attempting to control others behavior through force (law, legal mandates)...constitutes a belief that others do not have the right to bring their Christian, Buddhist, etc belief into the government or public arena...yet not only have they done so...their belief dictates how the laws get passed against other religions. That sounds an awful lot like violation of the freedom of religion which is not only in the US but also a basic human right according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) in the UN (as if they'd enforce it anyway...lol).

Dates:  Varies, modern times, around the time of the European Enlightenment

Major Text(s): Because I view secularism and humanism inseparably link I see things like the Humanist Manifesto as a major supporting text. Science/science books and philosophy and philosophical books also fulfill this function. Generally, any anthropocentric source text that is mostly devoid of, or totally devoid of religion or religious trappings.

Major Variations:  There seems to be two main divisions of Secularism but determining exactly where they divide is quite difficult. There is what seems to be pure secularism that is more of a socio-political structure and then there is a Secular humanism that is more akin to religion. Secularism (proper) believes that laws and public institutions such as the government and the education system should be neutral as between alternative religions and beliefs or the proverbial separation of Church and State. Almost all humanists are secularists, but some religious believers may also take a secularist position when it comes to freedom of belief, including the right to change belief and not to believe. Secularists seek to ensure that persons are neither privileged nor disadvantaged by virtue of their religion or lack of it. They believe secular (man-made) laws – those that apply to all citizens – should be the product of a democratic process, and should not be determined, or unduly influenced, by religious leaders or religious texts. "Secularism" was once used to describe a non-religious worldview generally but this meaning is now becoming archaic.

The other variation that should be noted is Secular humanism believes that moral values follow on from human nature and experience in some way. Humanists base their moral principles on reason (which leads them to reject the idea of anything supernatural but rather  on shared human values and respect for others. They believe that people should work together to improve the quality of life for all and make it more equitable. Humanism is a full philosophy, "life stance" or worldview, rather than being about one aspect of religion, knowledge, or politics. As such this version of secularism seems more akin to religion and ironically more agnostic or atheistic in its approach. This then leads one to ask the question. How can it be so akin to a religion and atheism unless…atheism itself needs to be viewed as a religion…of no God or a belief system the is absent a deity

Current number of Adherents: Varies in levels of intensity of secularism. Difficult to determine because it is not generally consider a religion per se that can be tallied or tracked easily.

Beliefs about Major Holidays and Practices: As a rule (although there may be exceptions and variations, most secularists appear to embraces human reason, ethics, and social justice while conversely abandoning religion or religious dogma, supernaturalism, or superstition as the basis of morality and decision-making.  Secularism tends to be pluralistic and tolerant except when it comes to religious views. By its very nature the core tenant or doctrine of Secularism is a belief that rejects religion and/or religious considerations either on social, political or theological grounds. As for holidays, officially it looks as if they have none but in reality many actually do celebrate culturally normative holidays when it suits them like Thanksgiving even though it appears to hold no religious significance to them (what?)

I have combined Beliefs about God and Humanity below as they are often times synonymous or the same.

Beliefs about God and Humanity: Many will say that Secularists or Secular Humanists are outright agnostic or atheistic, the truth is I can find no outright denials of God or impossibility of the supernatural. Secularism is not just simply a case of no God or no religion. It almost appears as if secularism ignores its existence or denies it in a form of ontological denial. It seems as if they leave the ability for God to exist they just refuse to take a divine or supernatural being into account in their pursuit of what they view as reality. Supernaturalism is precluded on purpose or by a deliberate choice. Secularists believe humans can be ethical and moral without religion or the precept of a god or God, It appears to view humans as inherently neutral morally/ethically. They are neither evil nor good. Progress and the inevitable improvement of man is solely dependent on the advance of man, science, reason and technology. As a matter-of-fact, secularists seem to cling to people like Francis Bacon and Robert Boyle that argued that the supernatural spiritual realm of God was separate and distinct from the natural material world of lifeless, inert matter (Oxford University Press). This distinction between supernatural and natural worlds created two distinct divisions of reality. One is secular space and naturalistic (a posteriori) and the other one is a religious space that is spiritual (a priori).

As this is a predominately human or anthropocentric religion we see it manifest in things human-centered. Frankly I view Secularism as irreligion/unreligion or a lack of it. I run the risk of having a secular professor disagree with some of my assessments on this religion but its very nature makes it a chameleon and hard to define and see in society. Some forms of secularism manifest in the humanists and humanistic movement that has arisen since the Enlightenment. It appears to be a kickback due to the abuse and deaths involved in inter-religion wars or religion to religion. Secularism seems to be more of a socio-political doctrine developed as a response to specific religious, political, and economic developments in early modern Europe (mostly their abuse). Because religion seemed to produce nothing but war and death, many abandoned religion in search of reason, logic or rationalism. The idea behind this is that ideologies whether they be religious or political/anthropocentric need to be examined not solely on faith but also to some extent through science and philosophy. Many secularists will deem themselves non-religious when in reality they are. They have a belief system, it usually just absent of God or gods.

Beliefs about the Supernatural (Angels, Messages from God, etc):  What a secularist believes is not easy to determine. What is important to them is how they arrive at a reasoned or rationalized conclusion. Frankly I cannot even tell if there is any Fideism (faith) involved here as the concepts of secularism are so nebulous and hard to pin down. I suppose they allow for some form of fideism but they rely and lean heavily towards things like empiricism, naturalism, reason and rationalism.

Beliefs about the Afterlife:   I suspect this depends on just how secular a secularist is. Some would say none. Others would acknowledge it might exist.

Rowe, WL. ”Atheism”, in Craig. E Routledge, Ed., Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, New York, 1998


CAjoel said...

You know, this whole argument being presented by the religious right that the rejection of religion is in fact, in itself a religion, or "disbelief is a belief," is fast becoming a stale, unimaginative and unoriginal viewpoint. Rather than analyze and debate the core concepts of the various philosophies (oops, sorry.. the word 'philosophy' is probably another buzzword you want to argue) you choose to resort to these cheap and pointless tactics of manipulating the semantics the same way a politician does when he knows he can't win the argument. And also like a politician, the most ipmressive thing about this blog is how you've managed to use so many words without ever saying anything at all.

Andy Pierson said...

(No. 1) Straw man argument. I am apolitical and could care less about right or left. They're two sides of the same coin in a Hegelian Dialectic.

(No. 2) You appear to have no real argument so you are essentially maligning me in a passive /aggressive ad hominem attack because you have no argument at all.

(No.3) Fact is fact. If my argument is unsound debate me intellectually, not attack me with personal opinions. If you are atheist or agnostic admit you will not allow for a priori evidences therefore you preclude the possibility of something being real without empirical evidences (or proof as most are so fond of saying). Therefore you only approach reality from an a posteriori point of view and eliminate the possibility of God because you cannot "prove" His existence through physical evidences. Considering God is not physical you cannot bridge this ontological chasm. Its like comparing apples to oranges.

(no.4) Explain to me where this is semantics?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...