Monday, January 2, 2012

The (Alleged) Limits of Secularism

The Limits of Secularism | Standpoint

My answer is simple. Religion survives because it answers three questions that every reflective person must ask. Who am I? Why am I here? How then shall I live? We will always ask those three questions because homo sapiens is the meaning-seeking animal, and religion has always been our greatest heritage of meaning. You can take science, technology, the liberal democratic state and the market economy as four institutions that characterise modernity, but none of these four will give you an answer to those questions that humans ask.
Yes, actually, they will. And the answers will be better than those derived from dogma.

"Who am I?" and "How then shall I live?" are questions for philosophy, not religion. The "then" in the question about how to live an ethical life leans on the "Why am I here?" question, which is reveals an assumption that points to reason someone might think religion has a role to play in answering these questions.

I'm not saying there isn't wisdom to be had from religious thinkers. There is. But, all of it is hamstrung by a set assumptions antithetical to reason and an honest pursuit of knowledge.

1 comment:

  1. I think I agree with this.

    I'm an atheist (dynamic agnostic, maybe?), but I have an advanced theology degree from a Catholic theology school, and I TRIED to tie my head into weird shapes to follow them down the rabbit hole.

    There are some geniuses who have been in that tradition - St. John of the Cross, Meister Eckhart, Henri de Lubac, Thomas Merton - but there's a place where it all ends up falling down...
    ...Usually when it bumps up against the "revealed" part of the religion - that is, the parts that are assumed to be true but have no basis in perception and the natural world.

    There are parts of the revealed monotheistic religions that the adherents believe because "God told this historical figure it was so"...
    And that's where I get to a bridge I can't cross, and where the really ugly parts of the religions begin...


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