Sunday, February 22, 2009

Secularism Not Incompatible with Faith

I made this point frequently when trying to demonstrate, during the rehearsals of New World Waking, how singers who considered themselves secular -- me being one -- could sing songs about faith and religious journeys with full integrity. Andrew Sullivan, on his blog this morning, posted something that concurs with my point.

They are, despite the propaganda of the atheists and the fundamentalists, compatible - even necessary for one another. Bruce Ledewitz, a non-believer himself, discusses his new book Hallowed Secularism:

I am afraid that without the influence of religion, secularism will eventually succumb to a weary relativism, or even nihilism. That is the fear as well of other secular thinkers, such as Austin Dacey, in his book, The Secular Conscience. My proposal is that secularists continue to learn from religion, especially the lesson that Martin Luther King, Jr., called, “the moral arc of the universe.” Religious symbols and language, such as redemption, salvation and forgiveness, can have real meaning for secularists.

He writes more at his blog:

A group of self-announced atheists, such as Christopher Hitchens, is currently trying to push secularism toward atheism and away from religion. But secularism need not be atheism. The secularist rejects many things the religious person holds dear: a traditional God, life after death, miracles and so forth. But the secularist can still have a conception of God or Godhead. The secularist may see a deep pattern in history and may feel a profound connection to all that is. Secularism can be holy.

I've been reading A.N. Wilson's breezy (and out-of-print) book, "God's Funeral." It's about the nineteenth century English debates about faith in the wake of Darwin and the Scriptural scholarship most Christianists still refuse to read. And this quote leapt out:

"To say that secular means irreligious implies that all the arts and science are irreligious, and it is very like saying that all professions except that of the law are illegal."

You can read John Stuart Mill's entire lecture, "On Secular Education" here.

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