Secularism is a No-Brainer

Have you ever noticed that there’s a stunning correlation between a person’s place of birth and their religious affiliation? Have you ever noticed that there’s a stunning correlation between someone’s parent’s religious beliefs and their own? I can’t count the amount of times that upon asking a theist why they subscribe to a particular religion I’ve been met with the response of ‘well, that’s just because I was born into it’. It’s amazing how often times religious people can so effortlessly point out the flaws in the doctrines of others, yet fail entirely to apply precisely the same rudimentary critical thinking to their own faith.

I used to respond to this assertion by trying to point out that it’s a logical fallacy, and that surely they can see how their faith is so obviously completely dependant upon their geography, but it never seems to get through. Why is this? Why are so many religious people so insular and dedicated, despite knowing that they only believe in their arbitrary god because they were canalised into doing so? Well, if you ask me, I think it’s attributable to the unwarranted privilege that religion is so often granted in public discourse; you can satirise and criticise someone’s politics, and that’s just a diversity of opinion, but God forbid you do the same thing [to] someone’s religious beliefs; because, well, then you’re just a bigot—how many times has someone been called a racist for voicing an opposition to the teachings of Islam?

If a Christian is asked why they believe in their god and they say that its because they were brought up to, or they derive comfort from it, or they just feel as though it’s right, well that’s perfectly acceptable;  why should anybody need to justify their beliefs? This is something I could almost get behind, but let’s not forget that it’s these beliefs which are infiltrating the politics of the masses and the education of children. If you want to argue that your religion should be taught in schools and that scientific evidence should be ignored in favour of ancient superstition, well then I’m sorry but you’re going to have to do a little better than that. Imagine if Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump were asked why they support a particular policy, and their response was that they were brought up to, or they derive comfort from it, or just feel as though it’s right. Would that be sufficient to anyone?

Now of course if people keep their religions to themselves, then they shouldn’t necessarily be expected to justify their reasoning, that’s not what I’m trying to argue. I just wish that people wanted to. I wish that we could live in an educational environment which promotes scepticism and freedom of thought, one in which no ideology is held beyond the ability to criticise. One which expels bad ideas, promotes no particular religious dogma and teaches children that ‘yes, your beliefs are probably just fine but guess what? So are other people’s’. If this was a universal reality, albeit quite a quixotic one, don’t you think that radicalisation, religious authoritarianism and holy wars would be a thing of the past?

That’s the thing, secularism doesn’t equate to atheism—secularism benefits everybody. Yes, it protects my right to be an atheist, but it also protects my friend’s right to be a muslim. Secularism just means that each of these rights doesn’t undermine or infringe upon other rights (and that includes a child’s right to a scientific education, or their right to abstain from pledging allegiance every morning to a god they don’t believe in).

The Founding Fathers of the United States were strictly secular. We hear so often that the country was founded on Christian values, despite John Adams himself once stating that ‘The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.’ As noted in an article from the Huffington Post on the issue, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Federalist Papers and the Constitution, the four most important documents in American history, all unambiguously prove the country’s secular origins. The Founding Fathers were completely aware of the dangers associated with a religious state, which is why they were so explicit in trying to prevent it. But despite this, every single president of the US has been a Christian, save Jefferson and Lincoln, but even they were religiously ambiguous, so they could in theory still fit the bill.

Look at the division that exists in modern society. Look at the scientific illiteracy of our children. Look at the influence of a Christian God upon a constitutionally secular state, and then look me in the eye and tell me that we don’t need secularism now more than ever. I may be an atheist, but I’m a secularist before I’m an atheist. I don’t want to force kids to abandon their religion, I just want to create an environment where they can choose to make that decision for themselves.

 

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5 comments

  1. I have discovered (well perhaps discovered is not quite the right word, maybe invented) a new religion the explains everything, consistently and logically. It explains how the universe was formed and more importantly why the universe was formed. It explains our role in life and what will happened to us after death. It clears up questions of good and evil. It tells us how we communicate with god (or what ever label you want to use) without wasting our time praying. In a nutshell it is the Alpha and Omega of religious experience.

    But I have decided to take this knowledge to the grave and not share it with anyone.

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  2. I’m British living in Germany . I dont study but have many friends who do. My experience with them is , or maybe a feeling , is one of a creeping malaise, in regards to education and secularism. We are not as outspoken as say, Sweden or Norway in their approach to the separation of church and state , nevertheless, I hear more and more topics that become tabu such as gender defining or ethnic defining , theological balancing acts, especially in Islamic
    contexts. Not to mention science that breaks boundries such as stem cell or euthanasia-

    It seems to me that although the secular basis is here and has a tradition in Europe, this malaise is turning the screw on intellectual thought in and around the universities. This has been reasoned by many : Diversity of opinion backed with research is the only true educational process of worth. The fact that we can still ask why ? And in a provocative way(I , want to be convinced of something if the speaker is passionate about his views) is for quite a few of my student friends a privilage , not a right.
    As various debates and campus gatherings have shown , along with the immergence of swj’s , the polically correct,, the polically weak minded,, the war mongering and fear mongering of certain aspects/departments/people of government, the would be’s on social platforms, all these groups serve to undermine the basic rights of a tabu-less education. I see a decline in the appreciation of our freedom and a increase in the right to be offended.
    I hear of student unions banning newspapers , uninviting guest speakers , on moral grounds.!
    The, in my opiion , ridiculous notion that , a person can be ostracized for being offensive , and proclaiming this in the name of free speach is totally bewildering..
    A debate on whether Blacks can be racists, are transgender persons eligable to persue their sport as females, is fear reseved for women, is the west responsible for terrorism , the reformation of Islamic ideology, all good debates , and some good could come out of them .

    These subjects are reduced, in the main, to a particulat few who are brave enough to risk thier careers to speak

    .So to sum up : Although we live in a relativly free and secular society is the church with all its bigotry and intolerance the main threat to a healthy and worthwhile education – where I do really believe that education is the only way to create a society of wellbeing for everyone – or is it the politically motivated , if you want , regressive left?
    WithRegards
    Rob D

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  3. have you tried unorganized religion?
    has God ever made his presence known to you?
    has not abortion destroyed many lives?
    is there reasoning above logic and science?

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