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mamouth
03-23-2012, 12:59 AM
Anybody in here interested in an exploration of secularism? Does it actually exists?


[Draft]
RELIGIOUS MEDIATION OF SOCIO-CULTURAL:
CONCEPTUAL DIFFICULTY OF SECULARISM

In what follows, an attempt is made to highlight the logical
difficulty there is in the ways of formulating the idea of secularism
as a principle of disjunction between the affairs of spiritual and
natural world. Drawing insights from the historical conditions in
which the conceptual formulation and reformulation of idea of
secularism have become a theoretical imperative for the modern
civilizations, an argument is advanced here to show that secularism
serves to provide a different logic of religion itself. Contrary to
the understanding of religionist, anti-religionist, or agnost
(irreligionist), secularism seems to be a disguised logic of
theologiocracy which has been substituted for theocracy with the
emergence of liberal democracy. Theocracy is a system of governance
where political decisions are made to fulfill the divine will
represented by a particular religious head. Whereas, theologiocracy is
a process of governance in a society with no declared state-religion,
one or many theologies exert political power in their favor. The
intangible means of power-holds of theologiocracy seems felt more
apparent in controlling the social affairs and civil politics of faith
community than in organizing policy decisions of the state.

theologiocracy?
Do visit my blog: www.theologiocracy.blogspot.com

RichardGarfinkle
03-23-2012, 01:20 AM
Anybody in here interested in an exploration of secularism? Does it actually exists?

Depends on what you mean by secularism. Most people who are called secularists by others call themselves humanists.

mamouth
03-24-2012, 10:51 AM
Depends on what you mean by secularism. Most people who are called secularists by others call themselves humanists.

Hi Richard – thank you for your post. I was quite surprised to get a reaction so soon after I posted and your to the point reply impressed me much. I am teaching Philosophy at a Sanskrit University in Kerala in India and am now preparing for a Workshop concerning Secularism. Professors from many different beliefs and students will attend it. I could need all the feedback I can get. A friend of mine whom is a poster at the Cooler Board suggested I start a thread here and see if there is any interest for the subject. It would be super if our discussions can also flow over to this board. There may be more people here who could provide essential input. After your post I amm quite excited. But I am Newbie and I don’t really know how to incorporate the forum into our activities + whether it will be a success. I think I have much to learn. Are you a long time poster here? What are the contents of your books about? Secularism?

RichardGarfinkle
03-24-2012, 12:01 PM
Hi Richard – thank you for your post. I was quite surprised to get a reaction so soon after I posted and your to the point reply impressed me much. I am teaching Philosophy at a Sanskrit University in Kerala in India and am now preparing for a Workshop concerning Secularism. Professors from many different beliefs and students will attend it. I could need all the feedback I can get. A friend of mine whom is a poster at the Cooler Board suggested I start a thread here and see if there is any interest for the subject. It would be super if our discussions can also flow over to this board. There may be more people here who could provide essential input. After your post I amm quite excited. But I am Newbie and I don’t really know how to incorporate the forum into our activities + whether it will be a success. I think I have much to learn. Are you a long time poster here? What are the contents of your books about? Secularism?


I'm not a long time poster, only a few months.

Most of what I write is fantasy and science fiction. But I also write science fact.

The study and history of religion is a particular interest of mine, but by most standards I'm a Humanist. I can probably help somewhat. Can you say the context in which you wish to address the subject, it would make it easier to give some subject matter or point toward sources.

Dawnstorm
03-25-2012, 01:40 AM
Depends on what you mean by secularism. Most people who are called secularists by others call themselves humanists.

Hm, are you talking about secular humanism, here? That's why it's important to define terms. Secular Humanism is a movement, but secularism can refer to a principle, too, whose political expression is the separation of church and state. Basically, secularism would mean you can't be forced to join a religion. And this principle profits minority religions as much as atheists, so if people support secularism (the ideological principle behind secularisation) they can still be religious, privately. Secularism supports a rule of reason rather than faith, but is typically going into less detail than religions, which is why supporting secularism but being privately religious is compatible.

If that's what we're talking about here, maybe the comparative board would be a better fit? I'm not bothered by this thread being here; I just think that mamouth might get a broader range of opinions there (if we're talking about the ideology behind the process of secularisation rather than about a rejection of faith on principle.)

RichardGarfinkle
03-25-2012, 02:08 AM
Hm, are you talking about secular humanism, here? That's why it's important to define terms. Secular Humanism is a movement, but secularism can refer to a principle, too, whose political expression is the separation of church and state. Basically, secularism would mean you can't be forced to join a religion. And this principle profits minority religions as much as atheists, so if people support secularism (the ideological principle behind secularisation) they can still be religious, privately. Secularism supports a rule of reason rather than faith, but is typically going into less detail than religions, which is why supporting secularism but being privately religious is compatible.

If that's what we're talking about here, maybe the comparative board would be a better fit? I'm not bothered by this thread being here; I just think that mamouth might get a broader range of opinions there (if we're talking about the ideology behind the process of secularisation rather than about a rejection of faith on principle.)

Since the OP was talking about teaching it in a class, I assumed it was Humanism. It works either on this board or comparative, I think.

Dawnstorm
03-25-2012, 03:03 AM
Since the OP was talking about teaching it in a class, I assumed it was Humanism. It works either on this board or comparative, I think.

You're likely right. I'm a bit confused about "Does it acutally exist?" Both humanism and secularisation are observable phenomena.

RichardGarfinkle
03-25-2012, 03:27 AM
You're likely right. I'm a bit confused about "Does it acutally exist?" Both humanism and secularisation are observable phenomena.

We'll have to wait for the OP who's in India, I think. I got the impression that it was a question of whether Secularism could be seen as an organized formal teachable subject in a comparative theology type class.

veinglory
03-25-2012, 03:31 AM
What I hear people call 'secularism' is basically separation of church and state. e.g. it is secularist to expect law and politics to be conducted in a religiously neutral way--and a 'secularist state' does this.

mamouth
03-25-2012, 10:14 PM
I'm not a long time poster, only a few months.

Most of what I write is fantasy and science fiction. But I also write science fact.

The study and history of religion is a particular interest of mine, but by most standards I'm a Humanist. I can probably help somewhat. Can you say the context in which you wish to address the subject, it would make it easier to give some subject matter or point toward sources.



We'll have to wait for the OP who's in India, I think. I got the impression that it was a question of whether Secularism could be seen as an organized formal teachable subject in a comparative theology type class.

Sorry it took so long for me to reply. I am in small villages at the moment and internet connection is no good. Electricity fail out. I made the bloq and testing it and the draft paper is write. I really think I can use the Write board for discussion. The discussion can go more international once the posters and student from the bloq come here. I see that all the comments here is about 'concepts' and their meaning. This is a very good way to approach the topic. But it is the first time I do this and must learn much still. I too think I have discovered a new concept and that have think much about it. I give the first paragraph of the draft copy - you can see from it which direction the workshop go.


[Draft modified]
RELIGIOUS MEDIATION OF SOCIO-CULTURAL:
CONCEPTUAL DIFFICULTY OF SECULARISM

In what follows, an attempt is made to raise certain logical
difficulty involved in the ways of formulating the idea of secularism
as a principle of disjunction between the affairs of spiritual and
natural world. Drawing insights from the historical conditions in
which the conceptual formulation and reformulation of idea of
secularism have become a theoretical imperative for the modern
civilizations, an argument is advanced here to show that secularism
serves to provide a different logic of religion itself. Contrary to
the understanding of religionist, anti-religionist, or agnost
(irreligionist), secularism seems to be a disguised logic of
theologiocracy which has been substituted for theocracy with the
emergence of liberal democracy. Theocracy is a system of governance
where political decisions are made to fulfill the divine will
represented by a particular religious head. Whereas, theologiocracy is
a process of governance in a society with no declared state-religion,
one or many theologies exert political power in their favor. The
intangible means of power-holds of theologiocracy seems felt more
apparent in controlling the social affairs and civil politics of faith
community than in organizing policy decisions of the state.

theologiocracy?

veinglory
03-25-2012, 10:22 PM
So, it's pretty much what I said.

In what follows, an attempt is made to raise certain logical
difficulty involved in the ways of formulating the idea of secularism
as a principle of disjunction between the affairs of spiritual and
natural world.

There are problems with secularism as a philosophy that encourages separating church and state.

Drawing insights from the historical conditions in
which the conceptual formulation and reformulation of idea of
secularism have become a theoretical imperative for the modern
civilizations, an argument is advanced here to show that secularism
serves to provide a different logic of religion itself.

We will look at how history lead most developed nations to be secular, and how this changed the way people think about religion.

Contrary to
the understanding of religionist, anti-religionist, or agnost
(irreligionist), secularism seems to be a disguised logic of
theologiocracy which has been substituted for theocracy with the
emergence of liberal democracy.

We think that these secular states aren't as free from religion as they seem.

Theocracy is a system of governance
where political decisions are made to fulfill the divine will
represented by a particular religious head. Whereas, theologiocracy is
a process of governance in a society with no declared state-religion,
one or many theologies exert political power in their favor.

Because religious entities still have political power.

The
intangible means of power-holds of theologiocracy seems felt more
apparent in controlling the social affairs and civil politics of faith
community than in organizing policy decisions of the state.

This part is incomprehensible to me.

I think the author mistakes being verbose for being original. I see nothing new beyond some unnecessary neologisms. But that's just me, I guess.

RichardGarfinkle
03-25-2012, 11:23 PM
Sorry it took so long for me to reply. I am in small villages at the moment and internet connection is no good. Electricity fail out. I made the bloq and testing it and the draft paper is write. I really think I can use the Write board for discussion. The discussion can go more international once the posters and student from the bloq come here. I see that all the comments here is about 'concepts' and their meaning. This is a very good way to approach the topic. But it is the first time I do this and must learn much still. I too think I have discovered a new concept and that have think much about it. I give the first paragraph of the draft copy - you can see from it which direction the workshop go.


[Draft modified]
RELIGIOUS MEDIATION OF SOCIO-CULTURAL:
CONCEPTUAL DIFFICULTY OF SECULARISM

In what follows, an attempt is made to raise certain logical
difficulty involved in the ways of formulating the idea of secularism
as a principle of disjunction between the affairs of spiritual and
natural world. Drawing insights from the historical conditions in
which the conceptual formulation and reformulation of idea of
secularism have become a theoretical imperative for the modern
civilizations, an argument is advanced here to show that secularism
serves to provide a different logic of religion itself. Contrary to
the understanding of religionist, anti-religionist, or agnost
(irreligionist), secularism seems to be a disguised logic of
theologiocracy which has been substituted for theocracy with the
emergence of liberal democracy. Theocracy is a system of governance
where political decisions are made to fulfill the divine will
represented by a particular religious head. Whereas, theologiocracy is
a process of governance in a society with no declared state-religion,
one or many theologies exert political power in their favor. The
intangible means of power-holds of theologiocracy seems felt more
apparent in controlling the social affairs and civil politics of faith
community than in organizing policy decisions of the state.

theologiocracy?

I think there's a lack of distinction here between a secular state and a state without an established religion.

A fully secular state would accord no status or recognition to religion at all, treating them as no more than private clubs.

A state without an established religion might still recognize that each religion is important to its people and accord them a special status over other organizations (which the United States does for example in its First Amendment). In this case, each religion while lacking direct power still maintains a strong voice and a presence in the councils of the country.

In the latter case gives to the religions avenues to exercise indirect power. In the former case, religions can influence individuals who may then choose to exercise that influence on behalf of the religions.

The strongest force for religions in either such state is the respect or lack thereof the religion is given by the people of the society. The fact that respect is the needful element rather than direct exercise of power does create a strong distinction between a theocracy or either of the above two non-theocratic states.

mamouth
03-26-2012, 01:16 AM
my intention is to initiate a discussion on 'understanding theologiocracy'. this is an attempt to understand the nature of working of religion, especially in the modern era. how does religion function in society once it has been confined to the domain of personal belief by secularism and democracy? the concept theologiocracy is brought in in order to characterise the working of religion affecting/influencing the power equilibrium and equations in various aspects of socio-cultural life of people in a post-theocratic society. by saying secularism is the logic of religion, i did not mean that it became another religion. it means only that secularism only provides a convenient logic for the functional division between religious and civil institutions in a democracy. but the argument given for this division cannot be based on viable separation between religion and social. since a radical isolation or dismissal of religion is not possible in relation to socio-cultural affairs, secularism cannot be taken as a non-religious, or anti-religious doctrine.

For details: Do visit the blog:www.theologiocracy.blogspot.com (http://www.theologiocracy.blogspot.com/)

mamouth
03-26-2012, 01:19 AM
Thank you for all the quality input! My bloq is also done. It is at http://theologiocracy.blogspot.com/
I think we should concentrate on concepts to start off.

RichardGarfinkle
03-26-2012, 03:16 AM
my intention is to initiate a discussion on 'understanding theologiocracy'. this is an attempt to understand the nature of working of religion, especially in the modern era. how does religion function in society once it has been confined to the domain of personal belief by secularism and democracy? the concept theologiocracy is brought in in order to characterise the working of religion affecting/influencing the power equilibrium and equations in various aspects of socio-cultural life of people in a post-theocratic society. by saying secularism is the logic of religion, i did not mean that it became another religion. it means only that secularism only provides a convenient logic for the functional division between religious and civil institutions in a democracy. but the argument given for this division cannot be based on viable separation between religion and social. since a radical isolation or dismissal of religion is not possible in relation to socio-cultural affairs, secularism cannot be taken as a non-religious, or anti-religious doctrine.

I think the study of what happens to religions when they lack the advantages of establishment and the power to control what is said about them as well as lacking the ability to control how they change within social context is certainly interesting, and I wish you luck with it.

But I gather that you are seeing then secular society not as another religion but as the framework in which the religions will be acting and which they will be working to modify.

If that's the case, I think you have a problem because you are treating all non-theological governments as a single kind of government and that doesn't hold too well. The manners in which religions work in dictatorships usually involve either trying to win over dictators or supporting revolutions. Whereas in Republics they usually try to influence parties to push their agendas.

You may need to divide the course of study by government type.

veinglory
03-26-2012, 03:25 AM
Before you edited it your original post didn't even mentioned the concept you now say that thread is about. The word is found online only on your blog.

If you invented a word and want to talk about whether it is a useful neologism, why not just say so?

Otherwise I think you could more directly address your thesis which is still not clear to me. Especially your starting assumption about what secularism really is. Do you have a definition?

I see it as politics being religiously inclusive, not excluding religion from power.

mamouth
03-26-2012, 02:44 PM
Before you edited it your original post didn't even mentioned the concept you now say that thread is about. The word is found online only on your blog.

If you invented a word and want to talk about whether it is a useful neologism, why not just say so?

Otherwise I think you could more directly address your thesis which is still not clear to me. Especially your starting assumption about what secularism really is. Do you have a definition?

I see it as politics being religiously inclusive, not excluding religion from power.

yes, you are right in saying that i did not state the concept theologiocracy at the beginning. I wanted to draw the attention of people to this concept only in the context of the discussion of a more familiar notion of secularism. The debate on secularism takes place in the context of the larger problems related to the happenings like religious fanaticism, fundamentalism, terrorism, etc. A serious attention to these issues is more important than the newness of a concept. discussion need should not be constrained by discussion on neologism. my draft paper is only intended to provide a picture of foregrounding ideas related to the understanding of religious phenomenon. yes, your criticism of lack of clarity is well taken, and will be made it during the course of our discussion. i don't have definition of secularism, but trying to examining the logical viability of prevailing definitions.

mamouth
03-26-2012, 02:59 PM
I think there's a lack of distinction here between a secular state and a state without an established religion.

A fully secular state would accord no status or recognition to religion at all, treating them as no more than private clubs.

A state without an established religion might still recognize that each religion is important to its people and accord them a special status over other organizations (which the United States does for example in its First Amendment). In this case, each religion while lacking direct power still maintains a strong voice and a presence in the councils of the country.

In the latter case gives to the religions avenues to exercise indirect power. In the former case, religions can influence individuals who may then choose to exercise that influence on behalf of the religions.

The strongest force for religions in either such state is the respect or lack thereof the religion is given by the people of the society. The fact that respect is the needful element rather than direct exercise of power does create a strong distinction between a theocracy or either of the above two non-theocratic states.


Yes, there is a lack of distinction between the kind of states that you mentioned. that might be helpful for elaborating the problem that I have brought in: the conceptual difficult of secularism.

Here is our bloq http://theologiocracy.blogspot.com/

veinglory
03-26-2012, 06:12 PM
Given that we haven't established a shared understanding of secularism we might need to start there. I think you are definely it overly narrowly. Pretty much anything with a none religiously-based governing power and court system is secular IMHO. It doesn't exclude religion from these processes, with a religious majority and a democratic system this would be next to impossible. It just doesn't let religious law (Sharia, Old testament) be the law or religious leaders (Pope etc) be the leaders.

little_e
03-26-2012, 09:49 PM
Personally, I think you are putting far too much weight on the nature of the state. What matters is the nature of the culture. For example:

The expression of religion in rural Texas (where much of my family lives) is very different from the expression of religion at MIT in Boston, MA, where I lived for 5 years.

Both Boston and rural TX are in the same country and subject to basically the same laws, but religious (and non-religious) people act differently in these two places.

I have friends from Pakistan (definitely not a secular country) who are more similar to my friends from Boston than my relatives in TX in their religious expression. And I've known people from India (a secular country) who are more like my relatives in TX.

But my experiences with Muslims and Hindus in the US has been the opposite.

Well, I haven't said what this difference actually is, or what I think causes it, yet. There are deeply religious people in Boston, Texas, India, and Pakistan. But in rural TX, one particular religion is very dominant, and most people you meet believe in it--so people just assume that everyone they meet is also part of that religion, and so they talk about and share their beliefs.

MIT, Harvard, and the surrounding cultural area, by contrast, has a much wider diversity of beliefs. (Harvard Law, for example, is 1/3 Jewish.) The chance that the person you've just met is a Christian is very low. So people make a lot fewer assumptions, and by necessity, can't use public spaces as much for expressing their beliefs (though Jews, for example, get to be far more expressive in Boston than in rural TX.)

The net effect is that in TX, religion *comes up* a lot in conversation. In Boston, it doesn't. In Tx, people believe that certain religiously-motivated laws and regulations are just, while in Boston, they don't.

In the case of my Pakistani friend, he comes from an upper-class family, speaks English, has a science degree, and interacts with a lot of people on the internet (how we met,) a location where other people are less likely to be fellow Muslims. So on the internet, at least, he acts like someone from a more diverse, secular society.
The more religious Indians I have met (who certainly do not represent all Indians I have met,) again come from a different cultural background. Likewise, the Indians I have met in the US have been more "assimilated", you might say, bringing them into more contact with different beliefs, while the Muslims have tended to be more insular, and their religious expressions more obvious.

I am obviously over-simplifying and compressing a LOT. But you get my drift: culture/environment matters more than the exact laws.

mamouth
03-26-2012, 10:58 PM
Personally, I think you are putting far too much weight on the nature of the state. What matters is the nature of the culture. For example:

The expression of religion in rural Texas (where much of my family lives) is very different from the expression of religion at MIT in Boston, MA, where I lived for 5 years.

Both Boston and rural TX are in the same country and subject to basically the same laws, but religious (and non-religious) people act differently in these two places.

I have friends from Pakistan (definitely not a secular country) who are more similar to my friends from Boston than my relatives in TX in their religious expression. And I've known people from India (a secular country) who are more like my relatives in TX.

But my experiences with Muslims and Hindus in the US has been the opposite.

Well, I haven't said what this difference actually is, or what I think causes it, yet. There are deeply religious people in Boston, Texas, India, and Pakistan. But in rural TX, one particular religion is very dominant, and most people you meet believe in it--so people just assume that everyone they meet is also part of that religion, and so they talk about and share their beliefs.

MIT, Harvard, and the surrounding cultural area, by contrast, has a much wider diversity of beliefs. (Harvard Law, for example, is 1/3 Jewish.) The chance that the person you've just met is a Christian is very low. So people make a lot fewer assumptions, and by necessity, can't use public spaces as much for expressing their beliefs (though Jews, for example, get to be far more expressive in Boston than in rural TX.)

The net effect is that in TX, religion *comes up* a lot in conversation. In Boston, it doesn't. In Tx, people believe that certain religiously-motivated laws and regulations are just, while in Boston, they don't.

In the case of my Pakistani friend, he comes from an upper-class family, speaks English, has a science degree, and interacts with a lot of people on the internet (how we met,) a location where other people are less likely to be fellow Muslims. So on the internet, at least, he acts like someone from a more diverse, secular society.
The more religious Indians I have met (who certainly do not represent all Indians I have met,) again come from a different cultural background. Likewise, the Indians I have met in the US have been more "assimilated", you might say, bringing them into more contact with different beliefs, while the Muslims have tended to be more insular, and their religious expressions more obvious.

I am obviously over-simplifying and compressing a LOT. But you get my drift: culture/environment matters more than the exact laws.

Secularism as an ethical consideration appears to be a viable. It may
be so, but still I doubt its depth and durability. Often it happens to be
superficial. Any way we need to analyze the instances that you have
given. Thank you very much for this input!

mamouth
03-26-2012, 11:18 PM
Given that we haven't established a shared understanding of secularism we might need to start there. I think you are definely it overly narrowly. Pretty much anything with a none religiously-based governing power and court system is secular IMHO. It doesn't exclude religion from these processes, with a religious majority and a democratic system this would be next to impossible. It just doesn't let religious law (Sharia, Old testament) be the law or religious leaders (Pope etc) be the leaders.


Okey. We may go by our differences first. After all, there is no need of a total agreement. I appreciate your opinion much. Puts me to hard thinking...

RichardGarfinkle
03-27-2012, 12:26 AM
Secularism as an ethical consideration appears to be a viable. It may
be so, but still I doubt its depth and durability. Often it happens to be
superficial. Any way we need to analyze the instances that you have
given. Thank you very much for this input!

I think that you're blurring ideas into one word. The ethical consideration that society should not be dominated by religion is not solely a secular one. A number of religious figures regard the presence of religion in positions of social power to be corrosive to the religions themselves.

veinglory
03-27-2012, 12:31 AM
IMHO secularism is primarily for the religious. It means no specific religion rules. I think it has more to do with one religious power persecuting another than anything else. Secularism =/=atheism.

It emerged in a time where not going to right church could see you fined into the poor house, and going to the wrong church could get you executed. And it started as the right to follow any church you wanted to, without consideration of the option 'none at all'.

i.e. Queen Elizabeth I and: ' I have no desire to make windows into mens souls'

little_e
03-27-2012, 06:10 AM
Secularism as an ethical consideration appears to be a viable. It may
be so, but still I doubt its depth and durability. Often it happens to be
superficial. Any way we need to analyze the instances that you have
given. Thank you very much for this input!
I would say that it's less of an ethical consideration as a practical one--if everyone I know is the same religion, I'm going to make different assumptions (and therefore act differently) than if everyone I know follows different religions.

The practical rules society needs to function get justified as ethical (because doing things that interfere with society functioning is generally seen as bad,) but the rules themselves come from the practical needs of the society, not the particular religious beliefs or the fervency of its members. (My opinion, anyway.)

veinglory
03-27-2012, 06:50 AM
I don't see how we can 'go by our differences' when you are suggesting new term is needed to describe what I think secularism always is and always has been.

little_e
03-27-2012, 08:46 AM
It may mean that the other person either doesn't desire to argue the point, or can't (busy, tired, needing time to think, not enough English, etc.)

veinglory
03-27-2012, 06:38 PM
That would be 'I'll get back to you', not 'I'll skip over you point, that words mean what other people use them to mean, without addressing it'.

mamouth
03-29-2012, 09:59 AM
I think that you're blurring ideas into one word. The ethical consideration that society should not be dominated by religion is not solely a secular one. A number of religious figures regard the presence of religion in positions of social power to be corrosive to the religions themselves.

I am not clear what you mean here by blurring ideas into one word. It may be useful if we proceed with clarity. by ethical consideration of secularism, I mean that possibility of adopting it as a norm for interpersonal relationship while we living together in a community. I would like to know whether you take the statement that 'The ethical consideration that society should not be dominated by religion is not solely a secular one', is based on ethical or religious consideration?
I presume you have a secular look, and that is justified even for religionists. If so you would be maintaining a sharp contrast between religion and ethics/social. Am I correct?

mamouth
03-29-2012, 10:10 AM
I don't see how we can 'go by our differences' when you are suggesting new term is needed to describe what I think secularism always is and always has been.

A term is not all that important in understanding particular situation.
We can have different terminologies to describe the same reality. what seems to be important is the nature of explanation/description of that state. My point is that the secularist policy does not ensure the condition that the concept envisages, that is, secular liberal democracy/nation states do not comply their promised separation in its all possible extent.

RichardGarfinkle
03-29-2012, 01:14 PM
I am not clear what you mean here by blurring ideas into one word. It may be useful if we proceed with clarity. by ethical consideration of secularism, I mean that possibility of adopting it as a norm for interpersonal relationship while we living together in a community. I would like to know whether you take the statement that 'The ethical consideration that society should not be dominated by religion is not solely a secular one', is based on ethical or religious consideration?
I presume you have a secular look, and that is justified even for religionists. If so you would be maintaining a sharp contrast between religion and ethics/social. Am I correct?

Tricky question since the scale at which secularism usually matters is that of establishment of religion rather than the smaller scale of the interpersonal.

But I would say that Humanism is vital in interpersonal relations because it is based on respect of person to person. If religion dominates interpersonal relations than it would be socially acceptable to evangelize at all times and places and to treat with contempt all people who do not share one's religious views. This can poison interpersonal relations.

If the ground state of human to human interactions is humanistic respect, such as this board uses, people can discuss any topic including religion without feeling imposed on.

mamouth
03-30-2012, 01:27 PM
..... I would say that Humanism is vital in interpersonal relations because it is based on respect of person to person. If religion dominates interpersonal relations than it would be socially acceptable to evangelize at all times and places and to treat with contempt all people who do not share one's religious views. This can poison interpersonal relations.....

....

where is the 'man' in history? He may be available in laboratory, of course not in cultures. humanism seems to be an innocent promise given by a particular category of population in a particular period of time, and they could not keep their promise. Rather, they had broken their promise.

mamouth
03-30-2012, 01:32 PM
......If the ground state of human to human interactions is humanistic respect, such as this board uses, people can discuss any topic including religion without feeling imposed on.


what is wrong with interacting with non-humanistic standards? And why should we limit ourselves interacting with/among human alone?

RichardGarfinkle
03-30-2012, 03:00 PM
where is the 'man' in history? He may be available in laboratory, of course not in cultures. humanism seems to be an innocent promise given by a particular category of population in a particular period of time, and they could not keep their promise. Rather, they had broken their promise.

History as usually discussed is mostly human action in relation to the world and other humans. One can have a history of other than humans, but we're an egotistical species and usually write our pasts as what we see as important.

Could you elaborate what you mean about the broken promise of humanism? I don't get what you're referring to.

RichardGarfinkle
03-30-2012, 03:04 PM
what is wrong with interacting with non-humanistic standards? And why should we limit ourselves interacting with/among human alone?

Humanistic standards of mutual person to person respect work well as a neutral meeting ground for people of different religions to talk. If they won't have an agreed upon area they just yell at each other.

Humanism provides the idea that each person is worthy of respect and to be taken seriously, their words and ideas regarded as the work of human minds and therefore not to be dismissed without cause.

Which kind of non humans are you talking about interacting with?

mamouth
03-30-2012, 03:09 PM
....secularism is primarily for the religious. It means no specific religion rules. I think it has more to do with one religious power persecuting another than anything else. Secularism =/=atheism.

It emerged in a time where not going to right church could see you fined into the poor house, and going to the wrong church could get you executed. And it started as the right to follow any church you wanted to, without consideration of the option 'none at all'.

i.e. Queen Elizabeth I and: ' I have no desire to make windows into mens souls'

Interesting to see such an explanation for secularism. I would like know about theoretical/historical sources regarding this version. The so-called 'Indian-secularism' is often interpreted to be so. However, that has been contested by many sympathizers of European conception of secularism. You seem to talk about a religious liberalism. Is it same with secularism?

RichardGarfinkle
03-30-2012, 04:12 PM
Interesting to see such an explanation for secularism. I would like know about theoretical/historical sources regarding this version. The so-called 'Indian-secularism' is often interpreted to be so. However, that has been contested by many sympathizers of European conception of secularism. You seem to talk about a religious liberalism. Is it same with secularism?

I hadn't realized (pardon my ignorance) how different the meanings and associations of the word secularism were in India then in Europe and America. I just looked over the Wikipedia article on Indian secularism as a political force after independence.

Correct me if I'm wrong. Secularism in India appears to have arisen because of concerns about religious power and the serious conflicts that arose during independence?

European and American secularism and humanism had a different history and therefore different meanings and implications. European nations had a long standing tension between the supremacy of religious or secular power. After the Reformation and the Enlightenment the idea that secular powers ought to be largely or totally independent of churches grew stronger and was embodied in the US constitution (as well as that of other nations). Some countries still have established churches, and they vary in how much influence they have.

There is one critical element of similarity in history between western and Indian secularism: the religious wars that spurred the development of each.

little_e
03-30-2012, 09:28 PM
Honestly, and I do not mean to offend, but I think there is some sort of communication problem between us, because many of the things you say sound like they are meant to be deep and profound, and yet either do not come across that way to me, or don't make sense at all.

For example, "And why should we limit ourselves interacting with/among human alone?"
No one has (nor do I think they will) suggested that we shouldn't interact with dogs, cats, cows, and other species, but so what? Animals are irrelevant to questions of religion and secularism, because animals don't have religions and don't talk.

If you want to discuss secularism, discuss secularism. If you want to discuss human interactions with other species, discuss human interactions with other species. But if you start talking about secularism, and respond to someone's comment on the subject with 'what about animals?' you have just made a total non-sequitor.

little_e
03-31-2012, 04:50 AM
Oh, and I should add, in light of Garfinkle's post, that there probably is a big difference in the way we are using the term "secularism"; I am using it to refer to an emergent phenomenon of certain cultures/societies--a practical means of dealing with many people of different beliefs on a regular basis. We might call this "bottom up" secularism; it's just something people do because it works for them. You are most likely referring to what we might call "imposed" or "imitative" secularism, where a leader or reformer attempts to make society more secular from above--Attaturk in Turkey, for example, or Peter the Great in Russia. In this case, secularism isn't so much a cooperative position of co-existence, but a commitment to "progressive", 1st-world ideals in the hope that imitation will lead to success, and the idea that religion is, to some extent, a backwards, retarding force that prevents progress and so must be somehow officially opposed, reformed, or removed from the public sphere.
Thus we have Peter the Great outlawing beards in Russia, in an attempt to "modernize" the country and make it more like Western Europe; In India we have Nehru's Hindu Code Bill.

So, to an American, "the promises of secularism" is a phrase that doesn't make much sense, because we weren't made any promises, but I can see how that would make perfect sense to someone who was told that secularism is an important step in the process of becoming a 1st world country.

And then we might really ask, so, how has secularism done? Have the people it was somewhat imposed upon come to appreciate it? Or is there backlash against government interference?

Here in the US, of course, things are mixed, since we do have these wide cultural variations, but the laws are officially supposed to be secular. So, for example, we have this continual struggle over abortion, or court rulings that "Intelligent Design" cannot be taught in government-run/funded schools because it is just Creationism (a religious doctrine) masquerading under another name.

Whew. I'm glad that's cleared up. Now, what were we talking about? :)

mamouth
03-31-2012, 08:47 PM
Regarding the question of availability of ‘man’ in history or culture: this was meant to convey my difficulty in making humanism (human concerns instead of god or religion) as the standard vital to understand the relevance of secularism. In the history we do not find any unqualified pure man. We have only different colored men. French man, Negro, Capri, Muslim, Christian, Red Indian, African, Primitive, Pagan, Tribal, etc, are some of the usual attributes. In this scenario, where do we have a humanistic consideration in deciding everyday affairs of life? Does secularism (democracy or socialism) ever succeed to keep its promise? By promise I mean the ideals that are envisaged by the conception of secularism. The conception of humanism equally seems to have become failed. (I should say, humanism also failed to keep its promise). By non-human consideration I mean that people are often moved by non-human (godly, national, tribal, ethnic, racial, caste, communal, religious, etc,) considerations. These are the facts that seem to be determining meaning or nature of humanism or secularism in different cultures and period of history.

RichardGarfinkle
03-31-2012, 08:59 PM
Regarding the question of availability of ‘man’ in history or culture: this was meant to convey my difficulty in making humanism (human concerns instead of god or religion) as the standard vital to understand the relevance of secularism. In the history we do not find any unqualified pure man. We have only different colored men. French man, Negro, Capri, Muslim, Christian, Red Indian, African, Primitive, Pagan, Tribal, etc, are some of the usual attributes. In this scenario, where do we have a humanistic consideration in deciding everyday affairs of life? Does secularism (democracy or socialism) ever succeed to keep its promise? By promise I mean the ideals that are envisaged by the conception of secularism. The conception of humanism equally seems to have become failed. (I should say, humanism also failed to keep its promise). By non-human consideration I mean that people are often moved by non-human (godly, national, tribal, ethnic, racial, caste, communal, religious, etc,) considerations. These are the facts that seem to be determining meaning or nature of humanism or secularism in different cultures and period of history.

It seems to me that you are holding humanism and secularism to stronger standards then religions are held to. No human endeavor has ever lived up to is ideals. The purpose of ideals is to guide and give something to aim for rather than something we can practically achieve. The humanist ideal, in my view, is that each person be treated in shared human acceptance understanding that we all share certain basic commonalities and should be accorded appropriate respect.

This ideal is fallen short of, but so is every religious and philosophical ideal ever created. That does not invalidate the good of a humanistic view any more than the bad acts of people who are members of a religion invalidates that religion.

mamouth
04-01-2012, 11:42 PM
I hadn't realized (pardon my ignorance) how different the meanings and associations of the word secularism were in India then in Europe and America. .

Kindly refer to my theme-paper for the discussion on the conceptual diversity of secularism. '....If we go by the differences in the conception of secularism as they have been revealed so far, they can be classified on the basis of following points: 1. as a policy of mutual separation between state and religion, 2. separation between politics and religion, 3. separation between socio-cultural life and religion, 4. as atheistic principle of opposition between religion and public affairs, 5. as the irreligiosity principle of indifference to religion, 6. as the principle of equal treatment of all religions, 7. as the principle of secular religion. ' [www.theologiocracy.blospot.com]

mamouth
04-01-2012, 11:48 PM
Honestly, and I do not mean to offend, but I think there is some sort of communication problem between us, because many of the things you say sound like they are meant to be deep and profound, and yet either do not come across that way to me, or don't make sense at all.

.

Well, this is well taken. I shall try to make my ideas thread bare.

mamouth
12-21-2012, 09:03 PM
I think that you're blurring ideas into one word. The ethical consideration that society should not be dominated by religion is not solely a secular one. A number of religious figures regard the presence of religion in positions of social power to be corrosive to the religions themselves.

i was absconding, no? yes, i had to be so due to certain reasons. i beg your pardon. i wish if i could make a come back !!!

yes, you are right in saying that religious figures themselves regard the presence of religion in political sphere is corrosive to religions themselves. by saying so, you also seem to be suggesting that it is possible to have pure religion/spirituality sans the mark of social or this worldly imaginations.
an argument for a spiritual purity seems to remain a theoretical feasibility, and hence it can be contested.

veinglory
12-21-2012, 09:07 PM
i was absconding, no? yes, i had to be so due to certain reasons. i beg your pardon. i wish if i could make a come back !!!

yes, you are right in saying that religious figures themselves regard the presence of religion in political sphere is corrosive to religions themselves. by saying so, you also seem to be suggesting that it is possible to have pure religion/spirituality sans the mark of social or this worldly imaginations.
an argument for a spiritual purity seems to remain a theoretic feasibilty, and hence it can be contested.

I am not sure how you drew that conclusion. Unless you are assuming religion can be only 1) in government or 2) in heaven. Most people feel it is positioning itself somewhere in between.

mamouth
12-21-2012, 09:17 PM
I am not sure how you drew that conclusion. Unless you are assuming religion can be only 1) in government or 2) in heaven. Most people feel it is positioning itself somewhere in between.

yes, religion seems to be a via media for both. that means religion should remain impure.

veinglory
12-21-2012, 09:21 PM
It means no human endeavour is completely pure. And any such expectation is not sane or helpful.

mamouth
12-21-2012, 09:31 PM
yes, but impurity doesn't mean sinful. for me it matters a lot. it may have a significant score in weighing the strength of human affairs, religious affairs in a different way from that of secularism

mamouth
01-06-2013, 12:56 PM
the conceptual project of keeping balance between heavenly and worldly affairs seems unattended in its spirit any where in the nations of world. for both coreligionists (believers) and moderate-religionists (non-atheists) the concept of secularism seems to have provided a logic of convenience. whereas non-religionists (including atheists) seems unabashedly anti-religionists.

Astrid
01-06-2013, 01:29 PM
the conceptual project of keeping balance between heavenly and worldly affairs seems unattended in its spirit any where in the nations of world. both coreligionists (believers) and moderate-religionists (non-atheists) the concept of secularism seems to have provided a logic of convenience. whereas non-religionists (including atheists) seems unabashedly anti-religionists.
I am not sure I fully understand this point, but are you saying that non-religionists seem mostly antitheist? IN this case, I disagree, since there is a vast difference between being scular/atheist and being opposed to religion.

RichardGarfinkle
01-06-2013, 04:54 PM
the conceptual project of keeping balance between heavenly and worldly affairs seems unattended in its spirit any where in the nations of world. both coreligionists (believers) and moderate-religionists (non-atheists) the concept of secularism seems to have provided a logic of convenience. whereas non-religionists (including atheists) seems unabashedly anti-religionists.

The loudest atheist voices are often anti-religious, and the loudest religious voices are often theocratic. But the loudest speakers are not necessarily speaking for the majority.

The logic of convenience pre-exists secularism. Each human being can and usually does create his or her personal logic of convenience founded around the needs, enjoyments, desires and fears of that person's life.

There are both secular and religious means to affirm or counter this logic of convenience. There are also both secular and religious means to try to impose ones personal convenience on others and both secular and religious means to reject such impositions.

In short neither the religious nor the secular have a monopoly on human decency or indecency.

mamouth
01-12-2013, 08:50 PM
.... since there is a vast difference between being secular/atheist and being opposed to religion.

'secular/atheist' juxtaposition on the same side is troublesome. since secularism and atheism cannot be taken identical in their attitude towards religion, what matters is their different ways of relationship with religiosity. secularism may not be opposed to religion, although they are often taken to be so. is it possible to say the same way about atheism? is it possible to say that atheism may be opposed to theism but not to religion? it may be very interesting to see how does atheism count religion positively, contrary to its most popular forms.

mamouth
01-12-2013, 09:00 PM
The loudest atheist voices are often anti-religious, and the loudest religious voices are often theocratic. But the loudest speakers are not necessarily speaking for the majority.

indeed that is the case where we need to spell out what is whispered by the majority.

mamouth
01-12-2013, 09:23 PM
.....The logic of convenience pre-exists secularism. Each human being can and usually does create his or her personal logic of convenience founded around the needs, enjoyments, desires and fears of that person's life.



by 'logic of convenience', i mean the practice of construing meaning of something for the sake something other than its conceptual logic.

RichardGarfinkle
01-12-2013, 10:37 PM
by 'logic of convenience', i mean the practice of construing meaning of something for the sake something other than its conceptual logic.

I'm unclear on what you mean. Could you elaborate this perhaps with an example or two?

mamouth
01-17-2013, 03:30 PM
I'm unclear on what you mean. Could you elaborate this perhaps with an example or two?

well, in the case of the concept of secularism, for instance, religious secularists (or secular religionists) take secularism as positive when ever/where ever they find their religious beliefs and authority are not undermined, but go other way when the situation becomes contrariwise.
whereas in the case of atheists, religion becomes positive only when it concerns with the non-religious, worldly, or social realities.

RichardGarfinkle
01-17-2013, 05:59 PM
well, in the case of the concept of secularism, for instance, religious secularists (or secular religionists) take secularism as positive when ever/where ever they find their religious beliefs and authority are not undermined, but go other way when the situation becomes contrariwise.
where as in the case of atheists, religion becomes positive only when it concerns with the non-religious, worldly, or social realities.

I don't think the latter is true. I don't know many atheists who would reject help on social issues (or worldly matters) if the help is religiously motivated.

To take two examples.
1. Scientific research (that's pretty worldly I would think). There are atheist, agnostic, and theist scientists. They do not vet each other for their beliefs before being willing to work together.

2. Efforts to stop evil activities like human trafficking. There are groups of all persuasions working for this and they (in general) don't insist on working only with those of like theology (or lack thereof).

kuwisdelu
01-17-2013, 11:41 PM
I don't think the latter is true. I don't know many atheists who would reject help on social issues (or worldly matters) if the help is religiously motivated.

Depends on what kind of help the religiously motivated are giving.

I remember some Japanese posting online after the 2011 tsunami not to donate to so-and-so organization because "we need food and clothing, not bibles."

Of course, not all religious groups are like that.

Nor do all secular groups not have ulterior motives.

RichardGarfinkle
01-18-2013, 12:15 AM
Depends on what kind of help the religiously motivated are giving.

I remember some Japanese posting online after the 2011 tsunami not to donate to so-and-so organization because "we need food and clothing, not bibles."

Of course, not all religious groups are like that.

Nor do all secular groups not have ulterior motives.

True on all counts, but I was dealing with an absolute assertion as regards the unwillingness for both kinds of people to mix on matters of worldly and social causes.

My point was that there certainly is such cooperartion, not that cooperation is universal.

Chrissy
01-18-2013, 11:33 AM
I hate that word, "secular." My hate is based upon how it was used in my childhood: to describe something as "worldly" and thus "anti-God" and evil. When later, I found out that it was all a bunch of brainwashing and most "secular" things were perfectly harmless.

RichardGarfinkle
01-18-2013, 12:37 PM
I hate that word, "secular." My hate is based upon how it was used in my childhood: to describe something as "worldly" and thus "anti-God" and evil. When later, I found out that it was all a bunch of brainwashing and most "secular" things were perfectly harmless.

It used to be a more or less technical term particularly in societies that had both religious and non religious authorities.

In societies that divided power between religious and non-religious rulers (like bishops and lords) there was often a need to define who had power over what and which crimes would be tried in whose courts. In the example above, the secular power would be the lords, and the spiritual power would be the bishops.

While the secular was, at this time, considered inferior to the spiritual, the term was not itself insulting

That has, of course, changed as the spiritual authority has lost power in western societies, and non-religious philsophies and attitudes have risen, the word has changed to an insult.

To add to the complication of this thread. Secularism has a somewhat more specific meaning in India where the OP is from. So some of the posts have gone past each other.

veinglory
01-18-2013, 07:34 PM
I think in general the word secular is very useful. It means a place where civic and public activities are not branded to a specific religion.

Maxx
01-18-2013, 08:44 PM
It used to be a more or less technical term particularly in societies that had both religious and non religious authorities.



It could also be used to distinguish religious orders (such as Benedictine Monks) from regular clergy. So you could have a secular priest if you had monks to distinguish them from.

mamouth
01-19-2013, 12:16 PM
I don't think the latter is true. I don't know many atheists who would reject help on social issues (or worldly matters) if the help is religiously motivated.



the indifference of atheism to religiosity seems to have been expressed/articulated at the level of its approach towards the validity of spiritual/non-physical entities and existence. that may not be a fault so long as atheism goes on its own terms. however, it becomes somewhat awkward when it goes in terms of secularism, whose conceptualization does not allows to undermine significance of the realm of religiosity.

RichardGarfinkle
01-19-2013, 12:52 PM
the indifference of atheism to religiosity seems to have been expressed/articulated at the level of its approach towards the validity of spiritual/non-physical entities and existence. that may not be a fault so long as atheism goes on its own terms. however, it becomes somewhat awkward when it goes in terms of secularism, whose conceptualization does not allows to undermine significance of the realm of religiosity.

While atheism does, on the whole, reject the idea of non-physical existence, not all atheists reject the role or benefit of spiritual experience, motivation and inspiration. For example, many atheists appreciate art created from the religiously inspired.

Beyond that I'm afraid I don't get what you're saying about the realtion between atheism and secularism. Examples might help.

mamouth
01-19-2013, 02:32 PM
While atheism does, on the whole, reject the idea of non-physical existence, not all atheists reject the role or benefit of spiritual experience, motivation and inspiration. For example, many atheists appreciate art created from the religiously inspired.

Beyond that I'm afraid I don't get what you're saying about the relation between atheism and secularism. Examples might help.
if atheism can validate religious/spiritual traditions in any ground it might require to bear the burden of appreciating the positive roles of beliefs and practices, instead of disparaging them as superstitious and unscientific. that means, religious practices are to be assessed simply on the reductionist/mechanistic/scientistic ground. they seem to demand a consideration other than those simply based on questions concerning the existence or non-existence of god or other transcendental entities.
As regard to the relation between atheism and secularism; if atheism holds by secularism, it cannot go by an elimination stance towards beliefs and traditional practices.

RichardGarfinkle
01-19-2013, 03:17 PM
Atheists tend to hold the view that as the ones giving the null hypothesis, they do not bear the burden of establishing the good of religious practices.

Individual atheists (me included) do appreciate some of those, but it's hard to say why there is an inherent responsibility to do more than respect individual people.





As regard to the relation between atheism and secularism; if atheism holds by secularism, it cannot go by an elimination stance towards beliefs and traditional practices.


I think we're still having a communication problem. I don't see why the above has to be true. While some atheists do think that for the sake of a secular society some practices need to be eliminated, others go on a case by case basis, and others think it's none of their business.

mamouth
01-20-2013, 04:07 PM
Atheists tend to hold the view that as the ones giving the null hypothesis, they do not bear the burden of establishing the good of religious practices.

Individual atheists (me included) do appreciate some of those, but it's hard to say why there is an inherent responsibility to do more than respect individual people.

appreciation and consideration of beliefs and practices may have to depend on their socio-cultural historical context. if we only go by the reality status of the religious/spiritual phenomena, we may fail to account their symbolism. physical-realism based approaches might lead to appreciate their meaning or values as cultural markers.

mamouth
01-20-2013, 04:17 PM
While some atheists do think that for the sake of a secular society some practices need to be eliminated, others go on a case by case basis, and others think it's none of their business.
the indifferent stance of the third category of atheists seems to be imbibing the conceptual value of secularism. ironically, most of the secularists and atheists are found upholding the eliminativism of other two categories.

RichardGarfinkle
01-20-2013, 04:55 PM
the indifferent stance of the third category of atheists seems to be imbibing the conceptual value of secularism. ironically, most of the secularists and atheists are found upholding the eliminativism of other two categories.

That's a pretty strong assertion about atheist and secularist attitudes and would need evidence to back it up.

Pup
01-20-2013, 05:10 PM
appreciation and consideration of beliefs and practices may have to depend on their socio-cultural historical context. if we only go by the reality status of the religious/spiritual phenomena, we may fail to account their symbolism. physical-realism based approaches might lead to appreciate their meaning or values as cultural markers.

I'm speaking from a U.S. perspective, so it may be very different in other countries, but here we have quasi-religious cultural markers, such as the story of Santa Claus bringing presents at Christmas or the Easter bunny bringing eggs at Easter, which everyone agrees aren't real but which have symbolic/traditional/cultural value. There's virtually no anti-Santa Claus or anti-Easter bunny pressure by atheists and many join in those cultural traditions.

The problem is that many people who promote religious practices don't see them as cultural markers. They wouldn't want Jesus and the Bible lumped in the same category as Santa Claus and the Easter bunny.

I think it's that insistence on "realness" that makes some atheists uncomfortable. I don't think they ignore the fact that religious symbolism has a powerful cultural effect. On the contrary, that's what scares them. And the same may be true for members of minority religions, who may see entanglement of the majority religion with government as a way to promote the majority religion and eliminate their own.

People who want secularism, in the sense of a separation of religion and government, may feel that their own cultural traditions and beliefs are at risk if the majority religion is able to pass laws based on its version of reality, which excludes their own version of reality.

mamouth
01-21-2013, 03:24 PM
That's a pretty strong assertion about atheist and secularist attitudes and would need evidence to back it up.
most often, atheist orgnisations/communist/socialist parties seem to take either an indifference or eliminative approach to traditional belief practices. they invariable fail to acknowledge the symbolic/cultural politics inherent in those practices as such. they also take an instrumentalist approach to beliefs only when they have an apparent social meaning.

RichardGarfinkle
01-21-2013, 05:30 PM
most often, atheist orgnisations/communist/socialist parties seem to take either an indifference or eliminative approach to traditional belief practices. they invariable fail to acknowledge the symbolic/cultural politics inherent in those practices as such. they also take an instrumentalist approach to beliefs only when they have an apparent social meaning.

You're repeating your earlier assertion. That's not evidence. Could you please instance such organizations and explain why you think they speak for the majority of atheists and secularists.

evilrooster
01-21-2013, 06:45 PM
most often, atheist orgnisations/communist/socialist parties seem to take either an indifference or eliminative approach to traditional belief practices. they invariable fail to acknowledge the symbolic/cultural politics inherent in those practices as such.

I would be very interested in evidence to back up the quantitative and absolutist points I've bolded in your comment. Neither tallies with my experience.

For instance, in neither of the two countries I've lived in with substantial socialist parties (Scotland and the Netherlands) do those parties advocate for the elimination of Sinterklaas, Christmas, Easter, Hemelvaart, or any of the other religiously-oriented festivals as national cultural events.

At times they, along with other left-wing parties (the SNP, Labour, GroenLinks, PvdA, etc -- many of which have socialist leanings) have advocated changes to the amount to which those holidays are also public or statutory days off. But that's primarily argued as an accommodation for members of minority religions and cultures, who would like as much right to take time off for Eid, Rosh Hashana and Diwali as their Christian-cultural colleagues and classmates have for Christmas and Easter. I've never seen any mainstream political party advocate for the elimination of official recognition of religious holidays to cater to the sensitivities of atheists.

Indeed, in the vast range of political views I have seen advocated from various party platforms, ranging from "women should not run for political office" to "animals should have equal rights with humans" (both platforms of parties with representatives in the Dutch Tweede Kamer), it's almost surprising how silent everyone is on the topic.

(For the record, I am a member in good standing of a minority sect of the majority religion in my country of residence. I am also a strong secularist, because I think that the association of religion and government tends to corrupt religion.)



they also take an instrumentalist approach to beliefs only when they have an apparent social meaning.

I can't parse this sentence. Can you restate it, preferably with examples? Thanks.

veinglory
01-22-2013, 09:03 PM
Please remember:

"Broader discussions will naturally arise and will not be considered off topic so long as:
--they do not directly, or by implication, require atheists or non-theists to defend the rationality or virtue of their beliefs, and
--they do not bash, rant about, or morally disparage any mainstream philosophical or religious position."

This includes making broad generalization about what members of any/either group want to do unless you can reference an actual manifesto every member of that group has signed up to.

Any further gross generalization will be deleted and I remind you that this is the atheism room. You may want to take some discussion about the hostile plans of atheists to some other general discussion room.

mamouth
01-24-2013, 08:04 AM
I'm speaking from a U.S. perspective, so it may be very different in other countries, but here we have quasi-religious cultural markers, such as the story of Santa Claus bringing presents at Christmas or the Easter bunny bringing eggs at Easter, which everyone agrees aren't real but which have symbolic/traditional/cultural value. There's virtually no anti-Santa Claus or anti-Easter bunny pressure by atheists and many join in those cultural traditions.

The problem is that many people who promote religious practices don't see them as cultural markers. They wouldn't want Jesus and the Bible lumped in the same category as Santa Claus and the Easter bunny.

I think it's that insistence on "realness" that makes some atheists uncomfortable. I don't think they ignore the fact that religious symbolism has a powerful cultural effect. On the contrary, that's what scares them. And the same may be true for members of minority religions, who may see entanglement of the majority religion with government as a way to promote the majority religion and eliminate their own.

People who want secularism, in the sense of a separation of religion and government, may feel that their own cultural traditions and beliefs are at risk if the majority religion is able to pass laws based on its version of reality, which excludes their own version of reality.

the above would be helpful to illustrate some of my concerns. hence, i endorse the above and makes it as a citation for the request of Mr. Richard Garfinkle that "You're repeating your earlier assertion. That's not evidence. Could you please instance such organizations and explain why you think they speak for the majority of atheists and secularists."

mamouth
01-24-2013, 08:39 AM
I would be very interested in evidence to back up the quantitative and absolutist points I've bolded in your comment. Neither tallies with my experience.

For instance, in neither of the two countries I've lived in with substantial socialist parties (Scotland and the Netherlands) do those parties advocate for the elimination of Sinterklaas, Christmas, Easter, Hemelvaart, or any of the other religiously-oriented festivals as national cultural events.

At times they, along with other left-wing parties (the SNP, Labour, GroenLinks, PvdA, etc -- many of which have socialist leanings) have advocated changes to the amount to which those holidays are also public or statutory days off. But that's primarily argued as an accommodation for members of minority religions and cultures, who would like as much right to take time off for Eid, Rosh Hashana and Diwali as their Christian-cultural colleagues and classmates have for Christmas and Easter. I've never seen any mainstream political party advocate for the elimination of official recognition of religious holidays to cater to the sensitivities of atheists.


the above passage too would be helpful to illustrate my point in such a way that while in their everyday practices, socialists, secularists, atheists, communists, accommodate many of the religious rituals, they do not seem to concede such ethos in their theoretical assertions about religious practices and their cultural mediations

RichardGarfinkle
01-24-2013, 12:56 PM
the above would be helpful to illustrate some of my concerns. hence, i endorse the above and makes it as a citation for the request of Mr. Richard Garfinkle that "You're repeating your earlier assertion. That's not evidence. Could you please instance such organizations and explain why you think they speak for the majority of atheists and secularists."

This doesn't answer the need for citation on organizations or why they speak for the majority.

mamouth
01-24-2013, 04:15 PM
This doesn't answer the need for citation on organizations or why they speak for the majority.

my assertions on secular, atheist, socialist, communist movements are based on my understanding of their logical contradictions. that is to say that often they tend to compromise on their ideology of unreality of supernatural/spiritual/mystic phenomena. such compromises might have necessitated on various grounds. however, forthright explanations are not seen widely. French Marxist theorist Althusser's position that beliefs are not mere false consciousness but has a status of ideological reality has been a major advancement in this respect. to be brief, my point is that the so-called practical/tactical accommodation of belief practices needs to be articulated. neither a simple indifference stance nor an aggressive eliminationist confrontation do not serve the purpose of tackling the present day problems of humanity.

Pup
01-24-2013, 06:29 PM
my assertions on secular, atheist, socialist, communist movements are based on my understanding of their logical contradictions. that is to say that often they tend to compromise on their ideology of unreality of supernatural/spiritual/mystic phenomena. such compromises might have necessitated on various grounds. however, forthright explanations are not seen widely. French Marxist theorist Althusser's position that beliefs are not mere false consciousness but has a status of ideological reality has been a major advancement in this respect. to be brief, my point is that the so-called practical/tactical accommodation of belief practices needs to be articulated. neither a simple indifference stance nor an aggressive eliminationist confrontation do not serve the purpose of tackling the present day problems of humanity.

I think the accommodation is offered and articulated well (at least from my experience in the U.S.--from what I've heard, this may be less true in other countries), but believers in supernatural/spiritual/mystic phenomena do not necessarily want to be accommodated because what they practice are cultural traditions. They want to be accommodated because they believe their phenomena are real. So the compromise is often offered, but it doesn't necessarily solve the problem.

For example, in the U.S., those who push most strongly to have creationism or intelligent design taught in U.S. public schools want it taught in the science classroom, not as part of a curriculum on comparative religious myths. The latter is an unacceptable compromise to them, because it treats their beliefs as myths rather than reality.

In a U.S.-based google search for "intelligent design" taught "comparative religion" one finds many results from pro-secular, atheist and other non-religious viewpoints saying they'd have no problem if intelligent design were taught in comparative religion classes of public schools. That's accommodating the religious viewpoint by treating it as a cultural phenomenon.

But that's not necessarily acceptable to the other side. For example, here's a transcript (http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?command=download&id=1131)of a discussion (PDF file). A brief excerpt:



STEVE: [a Christian arguing for intelligent design] ...Our position right now is that it would be perfectly legitimate and appropriate for students simply to learn Darwinian theory, and to learn the [creator-based] counter arguments against it. The critiques.
WATTENBERG: But, Michael's point seems reasonable that you teach that in comparative philosophy, in comparative religion, not necessarily biology.
STEVE: Except that these arguments are in biological journals.

Maxx
01-24-2013, 06:57 PM
I think the accommodation is offered and articulated well (at least from my experience in the U.S.--from what I've heard, this may be less true in other countries), but believers in supernatural/spiritual/mystic phenomena do not necessarily want to be accommodated because what they practice are cultural traditions. They want to be accommodated because they believe their phenomena are real. So the compromise is often offered, but it doesn't necessarily solve the problem.

For example, in the U.S., those who push most strongly to have creationism or intelligent design taught in U.S. public schools want it taught in the science classroom, not as part of a curriculum on comparative religious myths. The latter is an unacceptable compromise to them, because it treats their beliefs as myths rather than reality.

In a U.S.-based google search for "intelligent design" taught "comparative religion" one finds many results from pro-secular, atheist and other non-religious viewpoints saying they'd have no problem if intelligent design were taught in comparative religion classes of public schools. That's accommodating the religious viewpoint by treating it as a cultural phenomenon.

But that's not necessarily acceptable to the other side. For example, here's a transcript (http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?command=download&id=1131)of a discussion (PDF file). A brief excerpt:

I don't see the point in offerring a non-biological explanation of biology as a biological argument.

For example, the range of constraints of planetary systems
which (xeno)biologies might face is a topic for astronomy.

Similarly the range of constraints offerred by different types of divine beings is a topic for (xeno)theology.

mamouth
01-24-2013, 07:23 PM
I think the accommodation is offered and articulated well (at least from my experience in the U.S.--from what I've heard, this may be less true in other countries), but believers in supernatural/spiritual/mystic phenomena do not necessarily want to be accommodated because what they practice are cultural traditions. They want to be accommodated because they believe their phenomena are real. So the compromise is often offered, but it doesn't necessarily solve the problem.
i am thinking about the possibility of conceptualizing belief practices as also as socio-cultural symbolism through which believers speak, share, visualize, articulate something that cannot be communicated directly. that might include even some political aspirations and assertions

RichardGarfinkle
01-24-2013, 07:26 PM
i am thinking about the possibility of conceptualizing belief practices as also as socio-cultural symbolism through which believers speak, share, visualize, articulate something that cannot be communicated directly. that might include even some political aspirations and assertions

But doesn't that mean that by your standards any time an atheist does not defer to religious views, the atheist is being eliminationist?

In short, how, by this view, can an atheist do anything except keep silent or tell what he or she would think of as lies?

By the standard espoused, would not any profession of atheism be deemed destructive to religion?

veinglory
01-24-2013, 07:27 PM
I don't know about you but I enjoy the hell out of Christian traditions, many of which almost no-one adult believes to be true (Santa) along side Pagan traditions that likewise almost no-one adult believes to be true (Easter Bunny). Sometimes it is okay just to do something because it is fun.

Being atheist is not the same is being a killjoy.

If this thread continues to revolve around needing to prove atheists aren't trying to conspire to destroy something/anything, it will be closed. This is the atheism room and is expected to be a place where belief is discussed with respect and acceptance.

mamouth
01-24-2013, 08:56 PM
Being atheist is not the same is being a killjoy.

If this thread continues to revolve around needing to prove atheists aren't trying to conspire to destroy something/anything, it will be closed. This is the atheism room and is expected to be a place where belief is discussed with respect and acceptance.

atheism per se is not a question of debate here. i have been trying to problematise a reductionist tendency to understand the conception of secularism either as a theoretical framework allows the insulation of religiosity/spirituality (by core-religionists) or as a framework which allows the insulation of socio-cultural (including politics). the second way seems to stem from a scientistic approach to godreality which does not entertain any form of non-physical energy (as hold by atheists). for me both religionist and non-religionist (atheistic) secularism involve difficulties.

veinglory
01-24-2013, 09:01 PM
I know what the subject was, I also know it has involved making derogatory claims about atheism that people then felt they should rebut (a defensive position anathema to this as a 'safe room' for atheists). So just don't do that anymore, okay? Or if you want to do that, take the discussion to another room.

Maxx
01-24-2013, 09:04 PM
atheism per se is not a question of debate here. i have been trying to problematise a reductionist tendency to understand the conception of secularism either as a theoretical framework allows the insulation of religiosity/spirituality (by core-religionists) or as a framework which allows the insulation of socio-cultural (including politics). the second way seems to stem from a scientistic approach to godreality which does not entertain any form of non-physical energy (as hold by atheists). for me both religionist and non-religionist (atheistic) secularism involve difficulties.

I don't think you can problematize a reductionist tendency by ascribing it to people (for example atheists) who don't have such tendencies. After all, reductionism is just a useful methodology and it doesn't change anything about a useful methodology to problematize it since any useful methodology is all about problematization already.

veinglory
01-24-2013, 10:05 PM
I also think it is hard to specifically problematize reductionalist versus holistic thinking when they are both prone to inaccuracy under certain conditions (and the whole thing is arguably a false dichotomy). And neither has any obvious relationship to diversity tolerance (secular or otherwise).

evilrooster
01-24-2013, 11:05 PM
atheism per se is not a question of debate here. i have been trying to problematise a reductionist tendency to understand the conception of secularism either as a theoretical framework allows the insulation of religiosity/spirituality (by core-religionists) or as a framework which allows the insulation of socio-cultural (including politics). the second way seems to stem from a scientistic approach to godreality which does not entertain any form of non-physical energy (as hold by atheists). for me both religionist and non-religionist (atheistic) secularism involve difficulties.

The tendency to conflate wildly heterogeneous views into nebulous and essentially fictionalized factions is certainly a problematic one, but I confess that I have found it more present than lacking in your own contributions to this conversation. Your conceptualizations of both atheist and theist secularists appear to be derived substantially from your preconceptions surrounding the two communities, substantiated less by the empirical evidence provided than by misinterpretations of of it.

Whereas I am unqualified to represent the atheist community in this context, I can assure you that the motivations which you attribute to my particular category of secularist are profoundly incomplete, and, where present, wholly misstated. It would be inappropriate for me to elaborate further in this context, and a poor allocation of my unfortunately limited temporal resources to do so in a conversation which has thus far tended more toward misinterpretation in the direction of a pre-existing conceptualization of the matter at hand than to even-handed investigation of the available evidence with an eye to the formation of a new paradigm (or the refinement of an extant one).

Maxx
01-24-2013, 11:44 PM
atheism per se is not a question of debate here. i have been trying to problematise a reductionist tendency to understand the conception of secularism either as a theoretical framework allows the insulation of religiosity/spirituality (by core-religionists) or as a framework which allows the insulation of socio-cultural (including politics). the second way seems to stem from a scientistic approach to godreality which does not entertain any form of non-physical energy (as hold by atheists). for me both religionist and non-religionist (atheistic) secularism involve difficulties.

I'm puzzled about what exactly you mean by reductionist. As I understand it, it would be reductionist to say "All of Chemistry is just Physics," ie, a more abstract formulation poses a reductionist scenario when it is applied to a discipline that works out more details implied by the abstract formulation. So to me, the ultimate formulation of a theistic scenario, ie, "All of everything is just what an all-powerful being intended," seems to me to be the most reductionistic possible formulation of all possible formulations, ie, anything other than some theistic scenario is inherently much less reductionist than some theistic scenario.

veinglory
01-24-2013, 11:50 PM
The way I read it, reductionism reduces things to an operational level and to their smallest appreciable parts, involving specific objects and specific actions of those objects. As such it tends to be materialist. But I can certainly see other ways to be non-holistic.

mamouth
01-25-2013, 02:43 AM
But doesn't that mean that by your standards any time an atheist does not defer to religious views, the atheist is being eliminationist?

In short, how, by this view, can an atheist do anything except keep silent or tell what he or she would think of as lies?

By the standard espoused, would not any profession of atheism be deemed destructive to religion?
here my response would be something like this: by my conviction i may not be a theist or a believer of any kind, still i cannot be indifferent to religious/spiritual needs of people by saying that they are superstitious.

veinglory
01-25-2013, 03:00 AM
I think we're done here as this conversation keeps circling back to a topic that belongs in another room.