with all this antagonism between the clergy and secularism? Is it true that
people, organizations, books, media and websites engaging in religious
skepticism will be what ultimately brings down society? Is the sky falling and
if so who should be held responsible?
of us have graduated from religious schools; weren’t all of us taught
(especially the clergy) that secularization will be our downfall? Professors
and preachers taught us that religion and morality are the “glue” that
holds society together and that “God will bless us” if we were faithful.
think that such clerical warnings against secularism is somewhat like a self
serving “religious vaccination” meant to inoculate pew dwellers from
straying from the fold. But serious historians will indeed tell you that the
clergy’s warnings are accurate!
read what Will Durant said about this, taken from his The
Story of Civilization,
courtesy via Wikipedia:
the decline and rebuilding of civilizations
Durant saw the decline of a civilization as a culmination of strife between
religion and secular intellectualism, thus toppling the precarious
institutions of convention and morality:
a certain tension between religion and society marks the higher stages of
every civilization. Religion begins by offering magical aid to harassed and
bewildered men; it culminates by giving to a people that unity of morals and
belief which seems so favorable to statesmanship and art; it ends by fighting
suicidally in the lost cause of the past. For as knowledge grows or alters
continually, it clashes with mythology and theology, which change with
geological leisureliness. Priestly control of arts and letters is then felt as
a galling shackle or hateful barrier, and intellectual history takes on the
character of a "conflict between science and religion." Institutions
which were at first in the hands of the clergy, like law and punishment,
education and morals, marriage and divorce, tend to escape from ecclesiastical
control, and become secular, perhaps profane. The intellectual classes abandon
the ancient theology and-after some hesitation- the moral code allied with it;
literature and philosophy become anticlerical. The movement of liberation
rises to an exuberant worship of reason, and falls to a paralyzing
disillusionment with every dogma and every idea. Conduct, deprived of its
religious supports, deteriorates into epicurean chaos; and life itself, shorn
of consoling faith, becomes a burden alike to conscious poverty and to weary
wealth. In the end a society and its religion tend to fall together, like body
and soul, in a harmonious death. Meanwhile among the oppressed another myth
arises, gives new form to human hope, new courage to human effort, and after
centuries of chaos builds another civilization."The
Story of Civilization,
V.1., 71. (link to Will
from which the above is taken)
What a sobering lesson from history that Durant has delivered! Would anyone
care to dispute such a towering intellect as Durant? A timely assertion from
Wikipedia seems appropriate here:
far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is
absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for
possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages,
infancy is perpetual.Those
who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
passed on nearly 30 years ago, but I believe his observation to be a timeless
truth! Question is, what should our response be in light of the current day
unfolding and clashes between secularism and religion?
have pondered this dilemma and have sought to fine tune Ex-Minister’s
direction and approach in a time when most are oblivious to what would lie
ahead should religion be snuffed out.
know the clergy, how they think and what they are saying to their people. You
haven’t been paying attention if you haven’t heard their oft repeated
refrain that secularism is destroying society. The clergy are losing the
battle and their warnings about the clash ultimately make this dilemma into a
self fulfilling prophecy. Is secularism destroying America? Short answer is
yes, but it isn’t entirely secularism’s fault…it is largely the
secularists don’t like the “glue” (religion) and are eager to destroy
it. The clergy are alarmed by secularism, some feel doomsday is beckoning
(i.e. last days scenario). What we see is a ratcheting up of rhetoric from
in theory shouldn’t or need not be a destructive force. Are questions
daggers? Isn’t education a good thing that is superior to superstition?
Skeptics view skepticism as somewhat of a self-improvement journey while
clergy view it as a grave threat to society (some view it as a threat to their
career and livelihood).
I see society headed down the path that Durant describes. I don’t
necessarily think that the ultimate destination has to end up in chaos…but
we will unless secularism and religion make sustainable adjustments.
organization’s radical departure from traditional models of secularism
focuses upon a relational embrace of religion and a slower rate of delivery.
We are still working upon the concept, but I would liken it to a
“statemenship type of secularism.” For a 47 year old man, I have seen a
lot by witnessing religion as a minister, then as a disbelieving ex-minister.
My three years in the former Soviet Union “smacked me in the face” as to
the vast benefits of a religion that I see as intellectual bunk!
don’t want to foment or increase rhetoric between the parties. This is bad
business and a serious secular mistake. I’m working for a better secularism
that can communicate with people of faith without conflict nor compromise.
Yes, this is possible and the key is working with the clergy!
closing, I’d like to challenge those wanting to kill off religion by asking
you to re-read and ponder the insight that Durant provides. Especially this
deprived of its religious supports, deteriorates into epicurean chaos; and
life itself, shorn of consoling faith, becomes a burden alike to conscious
poverty and to weary wealth. In the end a society and its religion tend to
fall together, like body and soul, in a harmonious death.
don't want this - do you? Think hard about this.
January 15, 2011All rights reserved