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  1. #11
    LL P. Stewie Beorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    The article isn't arguing that secularism has become a religion in the sense that its pushing a higher power, afterlife etc... it's arguing that secularism has catalyzed the waning of protestantism, and that secularism serves as a religion without a God for the people. Basically that secularism, evironmentalism, humanism etc.. fill the space in people once occupied by religion.
    Also, @skylights

    Perhaps the first thing we should do is sort out what secularism is as people have different ideas. I would propose that secularism isn't one choice amongst many beliefs nor that it is the mere absence of belief, but rather that it is the contested space in which other beliefs exist. As Smith puts it:
    "A society is secular insofar as religious belief or belief in God is understood to be one option among others, and thus contestable (and contested)." -Id.

    So secularism is not a religion, but it does create the opportunity for new religions or religious-like belief systems amidst all the doubt and contestability.

    "It is the emergence of “the secular” in this sense that makes possible the emergence of an “exclusive humanism” — a radically new option in the marketplace of beliefs, a vision of life in which anything beyond the immanent is eclipsed. “For the first time in history a purely self-sufficient humanism came to be a widely available option. I mean by this a humanism accepting no final goals beyond human flourishing, nor any allegiance to anything else beyond this flourishing. Of no previous society was this true." - Id.
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  2. #12
    i love skylights's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beorn View Post
    There's a lot to discuss in your post, but first I want to work out this point.

    Seriously? You really don't believe there's a hole to fill in people's lives? If that's true then why do marketers make so much money telling people they can fill that hole?
    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    The article isn't arguing that secularism has become a religion in the sense that its pushing a higher power, afterlife etc... it's arguing that secularism has catalyzed the waning of protestantism, and that secularism serves as a religion without a God for the people. Basically that secularism, evironmentalism, humanism etc.. fill the space in people once occupied by religion.
    I will try to sufficiently respond to both of these with one post, but please let me know if I have not done an adequate job of doing so.

    To Beorn, I absolutely do think that there is a deep, ever present yearning in all of our lives that is part and parcel to being human. I think that religion is certainly one way attempting to respond to that yearning, but that there are also many other ways of attempting to do so. What I disagree with is not that there is not a feeling of something missing in people's lives, but that people who believe in a religion have sufficiently addressed that, while people who have not, have not. So, while I understand the line of reasoning that the state could perform a function that is lacking in the lives of those who have not embraced a different means, I think it is a misperception that most liberals do not have some equivalent of morals and beliefs and spiritual fulfillment that performs the same function of attempting to address that yearning, and that does so sufficiently.

    So then, to follow that, Disco, I understand that the article is not saying that secularism has explicitly become a religion, with all the trappings therein, but I disagree that people are using secular political philosophy to attempt to address that yearning and to otherwise perform the same function that religion serves. I do absolutely think that humanism, specifically, can be used in that role, because humanism includes moral and teleological components that characterize a broader philosophy. But I think that it is going too far to say that people with secular political views are using those views as a replacement. Rather, I think that secular political philosophy and religion can co-exist, and it just happens that at this time, the two are not twinning up.

    So, in response to your second quote, Beorn, I think that the option of a philosophy focused on the immediate material has always existed, and is not really something new. I think it has been embraced in varying manifestations through time and cultures - the lavish East Coast 20s before the Depression, for example. I think it is now emerging in the light of including an agnostic/atheistic belief set, but that has probably happened in the past, too. Perhaps in the 20s itself. I am admittedly not well-read on the prominent beliefs at that time.

    But, to address what I think this is leading to, I think that environmentalism itself tends to get away from the idea of only prizing human flourishing, because I think many environmentalist tactics are actually limiting the flourishing of humans in the interest of prolonging the biodiversity and purity of the environment sans human interference. So, I think that that should stand as fair evidence that it is unlikely that only imminent human flourishing as a endpoint is being widely accepted by liberal ideologues. I think likely that secularism has arisen in part as a response to increased globalization, as a way of allowing more diversity than has historically existed in a single culture, not because people are increasingly rejecting the need to fulfill a sense of yearning or because they have been unable to fulfill it.

  3. #13
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    The secular State guarantees freedom of religion.

    The secular State is not in opposition to religion, rather the secular State allows religions to flourish.

    Unfortunately American Protestantism equates secularism with atheism. So American Protestantism makes propaganda against secularism. And they do this by wrongly claiming that secularism is a new religion.

    So when American Protestants talk about secularism we know it is special pleading.

    What do they take us for?

  4. #14
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    Why are Americans paranoid about their elected secular government?

    Why are Americans armed against their secular government and why do they make propaganda against it?

    First it is American Protestants who are against their secular government. Why is this?

    The answer is the secular government guarantees freedom of religion and allows all religions to flourish. But American Protestants only want one religion to flourish and that is naturally their own.

    So American Protestants see their secular government as the enemy. Indeed they see it as aiding and abetting other religions. And so they elide this and say secularism is a religion.

  5. #15
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    This makes sense and certainly matches some of things I've observed. You could even argue that within secularism there is an evangelical denomination, many of whom follow Richard Dawkins like a prophet.

    It makes me think of a conversation I was having with my INTJ friend the other day about how humanity is fucked and always will be, because we're inherently tribalistic. I guess belief systems have also come to be simplified, homogenized, and shaped into tribalistic camps and "-isms" over time - just look at America and their pro-choice and pro-life divisions. Actually, I would say America is more prone to stronger, well-defined belief system camps because within the culture there seems to be a perpetuation of the slippery slope argument and the fear-mongering surrounding it. In the end, people have to embrace a side for fear of being called out as a 'non-believer'.
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  6. #16
    Ratchet Ass Moon Fairy Comeback Girl's Avatar
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    I see the link between Protestantism and secularism. In my personal view, Protestantism and secularism were reactions to similar problems.

    In the case of Protestantism, it was a reaction to the Catholic Church resisting to make copies of the Bible in any other language than Latin, thereby making sure that only a small, well-educated, elite group could actually read and understand what the Bible actually said and leaving the masses ignorant of what they were actually worshipping. Protestants came with the first Bibles in languages other than Latin, so anyone who could read in their own language, but not so much in Latin, also had access to what was actually in the Bible. Until then the masses were dumbed down by the Catholic Church, left with only the things their priests had to say, so this new gain of knowledge led to some sort of empowerment. People got a chance to think for themselves about what the Bible had to say, without any religious authority telling them what they actually should think.

    Secularism could be seen as the result of, again, the church (whether it's Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Islamic, whatever) telling people how to think and how to live. This time not by withholding information from the masses, but through politics (which, of course, isn't a new phenomenon at all). Where Protestantism tried to give people the freedom to think for themselves about what the Bible had to say, secularism tries to give people to think for themselves how they want to live their lives and run the country, regardless of what any religious scripture has to say. So yes, they're similar because of the fact that they both stand for liberation.

    The big difference is that secularism is NOT a religion. Secularism just stands for keeping people with religious power from obtaining political power as well. Most countries have (as far as I'm concerned) people from many different religions living in their country. If you start mixing religious with political power, this could lead to oppression of people from religious minorities. It could lead to dictatorship, people being prosecuted for what they believing, people being too scared to openly question what they're supposed to believe in. That's why secularism is needed: it is a way to prevent oppression.

    I would also like to point out one thing: politicians who suggest that their political views are 100% representative for what people with their beliefs are supposed to believe, might not always get political support from people with the same religious beliefs. In our country, typical 'Christian' parties are usually the most conservative ones, but when I speak to the most Christian people I know (and thereby I mean the ones who actually studied what the Bible said and had put much effort into figuring out their beliefs), they always tell me they tend to vote for more liberal, green parties. One of these very Christian guys I know, who also happens to be a vegetarian, put it this way: 'I believe God put us on this earth to take care of it, so I think it's my job to contribute into taking care of the environment, animals and the weak'. Pretty much the opposite of what most 'Christian' parties stand for ('WAR! GUNS! WHITE PEOPLE! WAR! WEAPONS! OIL! MORE WAR! POLLUTION! MONEY! OIL! WAR! PATRIARCHY! WEAPONS! MONEY! POVERTY! GUNS! PROHIBITION! OIL! WAR! FUCK YEAH!').
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  7. #17
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Default The Protestant Narrative, Catholicism, and the Secular State

    Quote Originally Posted by Comeback Girl View Post
    I see the link between Protestantism and secularism. In my personal view, Protestantism and secularism were reactions to similar problems.

    In the case of Protestantism, it was a reaction to the Catholic Church resisting to make copies of the Bible in any other language than Latin, thereby making sure that only a small, well-educated, elite group could actually read and understand what the Bible actually said and leaving the masses ignorant of what they were actually worshipping. Protestants came with the first Bibles in languages other than Latin, so anyone who could read in their own language, but not so much in Latin, also had access to what was actually in the Bible. Until then the masses were dumbed down by the Catholic Church, left with only the things their priests had to say, so this new gain of knowledge led to some sort of empowerment. People got a chance to think for themselves about what the Bible had to say, without any religious authority telling them what they actually should think.

    Secularism could be seen as the result of, again, the church (whether it's Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Islamic, whatever) telling people how to think and how to live. This time not by withholding information from the masses, but through politics (which, of course, isn't a new phenomenon at all). Where Protestantism tried to give people the freedom to think for themselves about what the Bible had to say, secularism tries to give people to think for themselves how they want to live their lives and run the country, regardless of what any religious scripture has to say. So yes, they're similar because of the fact that they both stand for liberation.

    The big difference is that secularism is NOT a religion. Secularism just stands for keeping people with religious power from obtaining political power as well. Most countries have (as far as I'm concerned) people from many different religions living in their country. If you start mixing religious with political power, this could lead to oppression of people from religious minorities. It could lead to dictatorship, people being prosecuted for what they believing, people being too scared to openly question what they're supposed to believe in. That's why secularism is needed: it is a way to prevent oppression.

    I would also like to point out one thing: politicians who suggest that their political views are 100% representative for what people with their beliefs are supposed to believe, might not always get political support from people with the same religious beliefs. In our country, typical 'Christian' parties are usually the most conservative ones, but when I speak to the most Christian people I know (and thereby I mean the ones who actually studied what the Bible said and had put much effort into figuring out their beliefs), they always tell me they tend to vote for more liberal, green parties. One of these very Christian guys I know, who also happens to be a vegetarian, put it this way: 'I believe God put us on this earth to take care of it, so I think it's my job to contribute into taking care of the environment, animals and the weak'. Pretty much the opposite of what most 'Christian' parties stand for ('WAR! GUNS! WHITE PEOPLE! WAR! WEAPONS! OIL! MORE WAR! POLLUTION! MONEY! OIL! WAR! PATRIARCHY! WEAPONS! MONEY! POVERTY! GUNS! PROHIBITION! OIL! WAR! FUCK YEAH!').
    This is the Protestant narrative of society presented to us as though we were as naive as the writer.

    Until the invention of the printing press in 1440 we lived in a spoken society called Catholic, but with the invention the printing press we started to live in a literate society called Protestant.

    The Protestant narrative says that the Catholics oppressed the people and Protestants freed them. This narrative flies in the face of history.

    But worse, the Protestant narrative is now applied to the Secular State.

    What do you take us for?

  8. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    I'm of the opinion that everyone needs something to believe in/lean on. Whether its a political, social or scientific outlook, religion, drugs, sports or literature, everyone has an addiction. Everyone has something they believe in so strongly that it blinds them to valuable truths (yours truly included).
    I see it differently. My understanding of addiction is that it's an impulsive response to anxiety and a lower brain (stem) function. It's a passive way of letting anxiety have it's way. The lower part of the brain is what functions most when we are children. In our mid-late teens, our higher brain (the frontal lobe) becomes fully developed. The frontal lobe is truly where a persons power of maturity is at. It's where all of the administrative processes (i.e., decision making) are carried out. Faith in a higher power and doing the right thing despite how we feel are functions of the frontal lobe. Faith in drugs to improve the quality of life might be a function of the frontal lobe, but giving into drugs in an addictive or crutch-like manner that would potentially damage the frontal lobe, body, and relationships is primitive, lower brain, kiddie behavior.

    Edit:

    I realize you may have been using the term loosely. I don't believe everyone has addictions. People with strong preferences, values, standards, and faith can certainly appreciate and respect other points of views and find common ground. I would call those people strongly boundary'd and mature, since they're not blind to other points of views; they just have their own tastes and preferences.
    Last edited by LonestarCowgirl; 09-15-2014 at 05:30 PM. Reason: for clarification

  9. #19
    Senior Member wildflower's Avatar
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    mainline protestantism always seemed to me like humanism with a light varnish of jesus. i guess now the varnish has been removed.

    really, i think what the essay is talking about is The Modern Project with secularism, humanism, relativism(?) and liberalism being its fruit. (new?)calvinism and atheism are the hyper-modern last gasp before it all expires. thankfully, postmodernism, a critique of modernism, makes room for the divine even if a plurality of gods. i've read a little of james k.a. smith and also stanley grenz' a primer on postmodernism which is foundational.

    it's no wonder the center of christianity has shifted from the western world to the global south & east. they still believe in the supernatural and it's the charismatic & pentecostal churches that are growing like crazy globally while the church in the west survives on life support.

    The Modern Project is a general name for the political and philosophical movement that gave (and gives) rise to modernity, broadly understood. This endeavor was begun by certain figures in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance to uproot Western culture from its traditional moorings in the givenness of the world (such as espoused in Classical philosophy, and Judeo-Christian revelation) and assert the individual human being or human mind as the origin of all things. Characteristic ideas of the modern project include individualism, liberalism, marxism, mechanism, rationalism, scientism, secularism, and subjectivism.

    Key initiators of the modern project include Niccolò Machiavelli, Francis Bacon, René Descartes, and later Galileo Galilei. The conceptual shift that prepared the way for the modern project began even further back with the writings of Duns Scotus[1] and William of Ockham. The success of Newtonian mechanics marked a major victory of the modern project and started the Enlightenment. emphasis added wiki

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