Secularism 101

godswayDEFINITION

Secularism is a movement towards the separation of religion and government. Its not a removal of religion per se, but its removal from public / state affairs. So if matters of the state are guided by purely human considerations (logic, reason and empiricism) as opposed to divine ruling – it may be considered a secular state.

George Holyoake’s 1896 publication English Secularism defines secularism as: Secularism is a code of duty pertaining to this life, founded on considerations purely human, and intended  for those who find theology indefinite/inadequate, unreliable /unbelievable.

According to Holyoake, its essential principles are three: (1) The improvement of this life by material means. (2) That science is the available Providence of man. (3) That it is good to do good.

MY UNDERSTANDING

Because I have A.D.D. and the memory span of a fish, I try to conceptualize secularism vs. religion in a family context. Say Religion is like your mother who offers kind words and guidance and tries to instill in you, moral values (e.g. all life is precious). Secularism can then be your father – the logical, reasonable man of the house who lays down the law. Now the entire debate is about – if mom and dad give you conflicting instructions, who do you obey? Assume it is not possible to please both.

THE ALCOHOLIC HERMIT

There lived a drunken hermit in a small conservative village. All day the hermit made and drank his rice brew and meditated on the marvels of being intoxicated. Now the villagers, who were (logically) opposed to liquor, wanted to make the hermit stop drinking and stop influencing their children.

They pleaded with the hermit – but he was adamant on drinking. It was not a physical thing – but a mental reliance for him. He just liked being drunk and would not give up drinking. The villagers would not accept this. So, there was no middle-ground. Rice was available in abundance too. So the hermit’s supply could not be squeezed.

So, seeing no other solution, the villagers finally decided that rice was a bad influence on the village. They decided wheat, barley and all such crops that could be used to produce liquor was bad too. Therefore, they eventually completely banned rice and thus stopped the hermit’s drinking.

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