Religious Secularism

Jonah Goldberg posted a great piece on Saturday titled “Why the Left Will Never Talk about Its Real Agenda” and in it he brings up a person he has written about several times, including him in his essential anthology of progressivism, “Liberal Fascism”. That person is the French philosopher, Auguste Comte.

I came to learn about Comte several years before Liberal Fascism was published as I was doing my own research of the progressive movement. Comte was a key player, even coining the terms “altruism” and “sociology”. Comte also provides a direct bridge between secularism and progressivism, he was a student and secretary for Claude Henri de Rouvroy, Comte de Saint-Simon – the Father of French Socialism. Comte’s social theories culminated in the “Religion of Humanity”, a humanist religion which influenced the development of religious humanist and secular humanist organizations in the 19th century.

Humanism as it was conceived in the early 20th century rejected so called “revealed knowledge”, theism-based morality and the supernatural. It is a religion of science, a philosophical and ethical position that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, valuing critical thinking and evidence (rationalism, empiricism) over established doctrine or faith (fideism).

A religion without God? Yes, religion is defined as “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.” Replace God with any little “g” god and there you have it.

There are two types of humanism – secular and religious. Secular humanism eschews every ritualistic aspect of theistic religion. It is solely based on human reason, ethics, and philosophical naturalism while specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience, and superstition as the basis of morality and decision making. Religious humanism is different – it is an integration of humanist ethical philosophy with religious rituals and beliefs that center on human needs, interests, and abilities. This is what Comte created because he believed that the ritualistic aspects of theist based religion aided in man’s acceptance of belief systems.

Living a life based on pure logic and reason would seem to be the most orderly way to go…a pure societal organizing principle – at least that is what Comte and the empiricists of the age thought – but humans are less than 100% rational – that is what makes us human. We have the capacity to create amazing things that reason would say are impossible. We can conceive of such esoteric concepts as love, freedom and liberty – all of which sometimes defy logic.

Funny that the very basis of humanism thought to be its strongest foundation, “science”, is also its Achilles heel. It is so because the seeming lack of critical thought embodied in the general public today has allowed actual scientific fact to be replaced with emotion and opinion. Make such a substitution and instead of birthing an army of Spocks imbued with the Vulcan devotion to logic and reason, religious humanism gets you a gaggle of hormonal teenagers devoted to texting and vampire movies starring Kristen Stewart. One might say such circumstance represents the Twilight of humanity (pun intended).

Secular humanism is dangerous but religious humanism is even more so. By rejecting the organizing rituals of theistic religion, secular humanism represents an individualist approach – but add in the ritualistic aspect and a whole other level of cultish delusion is possible. Then substitute opinion for scientific fact, and it is a recipe for disaster.

10 thoughts on “Religious Secularism

  1. Life based on pure logic is impossible. This is because logic is neutral. I can use it to make a sound, valid and rational argument ‘proving’ there is no God, then turn around and make an equally sound, valid and rational argument ‘proving’ that God absolutely does exist. Logic is nothing more than a system of rules. It contains no truth. It is like math. Without the wisdom to know how and when to sue it, it just sits there. And when people without the necessary wisdom do try to use it, it either confuses them to the point where they abandon it convinced it is worthless, or it leads them far astray from reality. After all, Stephen Hawking has ‘proven’ the universe is self-creating using math — the problem is, he had to use IMAGINARY math to make his equations work. Still, even with imaginary math, Hawking is now convinced his equations are real and the need for logic and philosophy are dead. He opens his latest book saying so. THAT is the trap of humanism — it leads to madness, literal madness.

      • Don,

        That, and he used the square root of -1. Sort of impossible by definition, yet it is in his equations. Isn’t it just swell when you can make up the rules as you go, then have the whole world believe you did something of real value?


        • Well. Yes there are problems with the root of -1. If I remember correctly the answer would have to be represented as a pair of solutions or values of the nature i and -i or some such.

          The 2×2 matrix ( 0/1)
          ……………………(-1/0)….is at the heart of quantum theory. And the square root of -1 plays an important role in that. So I can understand his reliance on it. But it is really just a tool for understanding things which are near impossible to do with analogies to our everyday world. Even electrical engineering depends on it….for instance the phenomenon of Negative resistance.

          I agree that Hawking’s conclusion of a Self-creating universe is a stretch. But not because of the use of The Complex field.

          • Don,

            So what you are saying is they have pulled this out of their rear ends. It is a way to represent what they ‘think’ they see, but they have absolutely NO idea why or how it works 🙂

            I say this because, again, the root of -1 is impossible by definition, yet they use it. In logic, that is called a fallacy. And since mathematics are just a specialized form of logic,…

            BTW: from what I understand, the reason Hawking did all this was because he refused to accept the implications of his original work in “A Brief History of Time” — mainly that there MUST be a Creator. Now he claims he ‘proved’ the universe can self-generate without a Creator. HOWEVER, the moment we put REAL numbers back into his new equations, we end up right back where he originally started in “A Brief History of Time” — and with the same implications.

            Ain’t God just a bundle of fun that way? 😉

            • Hawking has a had a problem with Christianity for a LONG time. I would look there for the genesis of his motivations.

              But we make a mistake thinking that all reasoning and especially explanation of physical or cosmological events must of necessity be translatable to everyday analogy and experience. The term REAL itself is problematical….and historically arbitrary. It is not a reflection of any “reality” or not. Likewise for the term IMAGINARY….Complex is perhaps a better chosen reflection of the truth.

              Because by assuming that all understanding must be relatable to our everyday experience we are doing something similar to Hawking. And that is assuming that WE and our understanding and thinking are the ultimate deciders as to what is True or not…… as to what God’s creation is or not….and how it works.

              By analogy with the Flat-land tale. A 2-dimensional being would be totally unaware of the third Dimension…..and would encounter a Shere on the 2-d plane as a Circle, or a point if it just rested on the 2-d plane……which obviously is NOT the larger reality. The Complex field is similar I feel. In Other words it is both a measure of our inability to “see” the larger “sphere” of God’s reality, while at the same time acting as a window that there is MUCH more to God’s creation than our small understanding.

              Make sense ?

              • Don,

                Yep, I’m with you, but…

                By DEFINITION, you cannot have a root of a negative number. This is a problem. If you are going to build a system using terms and functions, then disregard the very definition of those terms and functions, then what you have built is an absurdity, and from an absurdity, ALL things follow.

                Now, please do not get me wrong: I am NOT saying these things are not complex. I know they are. I am saying that the people working in these fields do not really know what they are seeing, or how/why things work as they observe, so they are using things like the root of negative numbers as ‘place holders’ because they have no better way of explaining or working within their established system of mathematics.

                As for the idea of reality being relative: I will agree — so long as you are stipulating ‘reality as we perceive it.’ But, even in the 2-D flat world, there is an objective reality. It DOES exist, and it is fixed. It is just that, to the 2-D beings, it is unknown and cannot be known because of the confines of their 2-D world. We are the same. We can perceive in only 4 dimensions. So, what we think are ‘changing realities’ in quantum physics are most likely the result of things passing into and out of the 4 dimensions we can see. We are trying to define everything according to our 4-D universe and that is a BIG mistake. First, it is faulty logic/science and second, if we accept Scripture, we have already been told there are other dimensions, and at least one of them functions as another form of time. We are also told they are connected to this world in some way. So for us to then proceed as though these other dimensions are not there is to dismiss something that should at least be allowed for — even if we do not accept Scripture.

                I hope that made sense 🙂

                • I didn’t mean the idea of reality was relative….. rather ultimate reality as unknowable from our definitions as they relate to everyday experience.

                  The problem is the word DEFINITION. And I don’t mean in the Bill ( BJ ) Clinton sense of… ” It depends on what the meaning if is…is”. But rather the definition you reference is assumptive of some basic reality that is reflected in one Mathematical system over another. Mathematics itself is based on things like The Well ordering Principle, Mathematical induction and so forth. The square root of ( i ) has the feature that basic multiplication rules don’t apply. However, That doesn’t mean it fails all categories of logical system and is thus disqualified as relevant or true. Look at Lobachevsky and Janos Bolyai’s work on Non-Euclidean Geometry. Or hyperbolic space as a model for Cosmology. These are different systems from our everyday experience on VERY basic levels but are consistent within their parameters.

                  Godel’s incompleteness theorems show us this in a way. So that an interlacing of different mathematical approaches leads us to a wider appreciation of the hidden , truer and Bigger picture of God’s creation…..much more so than any cementing “creation” to one set of mathematical assumptions. Which is what Hawking ultimately does IMO. It is all approximations and tools for investigation….and nothing more.

                  We have to remember also that our current level of knowledge tells us that “dimensions” of a higher order are not the critters we know in 3-space. And in physics time is treated as a 4th Dimension in order to investigate motion and energy transfer, especially as Kinematics. But that mathematically the 4th Dim. is viewed differently.

                  So, “Changing Realities” could be phase changes, or indirect measures of a kind of motion we don’t understand. But I don’t think the Complex field identifies any inconsistencies leading to absurdity. What does is Our thinking that our current knowledge has developed to an extent that we DO have a window on “The Mind of God” if you will. Rather, what the seeming inconsistencies with respect to a Logical consistency of ( i ) may tell us is that…. we ain’t even close to understanding how God’s Mass/energy interactions really work.

                  • Don,

                    I got you. No argument. I just needed that clarification.

                    I think the reason I can follow you (and you. me) is because neither of us have thrown philosophy out with the bath water — as Hawking has done. This means we still understand the framework which is needed to guide our use of these tools (logic, mathematics — even reason). Most people call it wisdom, but…

                    The thing I find funny is that you are correct: we cannot know the objective reality of this world. yet we proceed with our ‘investigations’ as though everything we do on paper is reality. HA! The definition of the scientific method is enough to tell us the majority of what we :know” is little more than our own creation. Unless and until we can get out into space and actually observe and/or test this stuff, we don’t even know what we don’t know. And when you throw the other dimensions into the mix… Well, you get it. I just wish others understood. maybe then they would realize the ‘experts’ are just the idiots who can shout down those wise enough to say “WE DO NOT KNOW!”


                    • Yes. I don’t, and don’t think you do either, find a conflict with Scientific Investigation and Spirituality. Quite the opposite, investigation is an expression of our Creator endowed free will.

                      To not do so would be an insult to the intelligence and free will given us. The Truth in the arguments of one against the other eludes me.

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