Friday, June 21, 2013

"Reason and Tolerance" vs. "Prejudice and Superstition": Hunter Baker on Thrust of Secularism

From Hunter Baker's book The End of Secularism:

Because advocates of secularism present it as a solution to the "problem" of public religion, we become the audience for a caricature of the ways the two concepts are opposed to each other. Instead of "without reference to God" versus "with reference to God," the antonyms expand to look more like "reason and tolerance" versus "prejudice and superstition." This misunderstanding has not been accidental but is instead the thrust of the presentation pushed by advocates of a particular side. Thus, rational thinking processes, empirical verification, and social harmony are said to accompany a secular outlook. Religious associations, on the other hand, are tied to mysticism, violence, ignorance, and coercion. The secular take on religion is more Torquemada, Jim Jones, and Osama bin laden than Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Newton, and Pascal. (18)

To prove his point, he gives the following example:

Garry wills, writing for the New York Times after the reelection of George W. Bush, bemoaned the turn of Americans from "intelligence . . . and regard for secular sciences" to resembling America's fundamentalist Islamic enemies more than its cousins in western Europe.  One of his key evidences was that Americans believed in the virgin birth in grater numbers than they endorsed Darwin's theory. (18)

Hunter then writes:

On this view, religion is like white phosphorus. it should be submerged lest it ignite. This reading somehow forgets that a Christian culture gave birth to our Western emphasis on science and reason and that the church was an important patron of scientific work. (18)

For more:
The Lure & Folly of Secular Religion
It Works Both Ways: The Fallacy of Legalistic Religion & Secularism 
The Secular Rage Against Homeschooling
Secular Religion?: Stonestreet on the Implications of "Faith"
The Dark Reality of Secular Eschatology: Saving the Planet With One Child at a Time 
Repost Friday | What the Book of Galatians Taught Me About Politics: The Importance of Freedom, Personal Responsibility, and Community  
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