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Old 07-08-2009, 10:47 AM   #1
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Secularism

What does everyone think of secularism? Is it right in your opinion? Or should religion be brought into government and public affairs.

It's always important for me to have an agreeable definition of concepts, and according to the American Heritage College Dictionary that I have nearby there are multiple meanings that the word "secular" can denote. Of the six definitions for it as an adjective, I've found three that might be used in this thread, with perhaps different people speaking of "secular," but in a different way. Here are the three:

1. Worldly rather than spiritual
2. Not specifically relating to religion or to a religious body.
3. Relating to, or advocating secularism (which itself has two connotations: (1) Religious skepticism or indifference and (2) The view that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public education).

With regards to myself, I find number three to the best describer for how I personally feel, with both connotations for secularism applying.

With regards to the founding fathers, there is certainly a lot of controversy with regards to their metaphysical views. I've seen guys like Richard Dawkins portray them as agnostics and atheists, while other groups (like the Heritage Foundation, for example) can also cherry pick quotes to portray them as pious theists.

The impression that I have gotten from having read quite a bit of history (with the quotes in context, and with an understanding of their lives) that they certainly were advocates of secularism with regards to its second definition. It seems to me that one of the intents of the First Amendment is to prevent religious tyranny (the sort that leads to public beheading spectacles for doctrinal violations, as is practiced in Saudi Arabia currently).

Those who founded the U.S. were, many of them, Christian in the broad sense, but sectarian divisions were strong, as they are today (try getting a Baptist and a Jehovah's Witness to discuss religion and you'll see some crazy fireworks fly most of the time).

The founding fathers, however, were schooled in and internalized many of the values of the Enlightenment. And one of the key concepts from that period was skepticism, be it of religion, justice, society, economic models, etc.

Jefferson, for example, produced his own New Testament in which he removed all supernatural events (virgin birth, miracles, resurrection, for example) and left only the moral teachings. That doesn't sound much like what many in Christendom today would produce (seeing as how for them, it's the supernatural, or miraculous, claims of the Bible that make it so meaningful). So I would say for Jefferson, that he appeared to be a deist at best (i.e. had a rather nebulous view of, and perhaps suspicion of there being a higher power, but not of the theistic biblical variety), and at worst perhaps he was a closest agnostic or atheist. That, however, is pure speculation, as he never truly set his views on the matter in stone.

Jefferson is just one example in the group (Jay, Madison, Hamilton, etc.) that helped to create our national identity and government. However, when you view the founding fathers in the context of the Enlightenment, and the secular values that it sought (i.e. justice and morals for their own sake, not merely because of a deity's desire), then it seems entirely plausible to view them as skeptics, questioners, and while not necessarily against the concept of a higher power, they didn't appear to strive for the faith of the "personal relationship" sort that is advocated today.

As a final note, it should also be remembered in politics that non-religiosity will ruin any candidate's chances of gaining votes. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota in 2006 found that atheists are the most distrusted group in the US. Statistically speaking, there should be somewhere around half a dozen atheists/agnostics in Congress, and around 115 total who do not belong to a church.

But in D.C., and in politics in general, that doesn't happen. Every candidate flaunts his/her faith as a campaign asset. Demonstrations of religiosity and piety during a campaign rally are all to common. What you will not hear from any "sensible" politician is something along the lines of what former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura once said in an interview while in office:

"Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers. It tells people to go out and stick their noses in other people's business."

He caught major hell for that, and he wasn't even advocating atheism, he was just bashing organized religion.

If that's the environment now, after 200+ years, imagine what the consequences back in the 1780's would have been for making unbelief, or skepticism regarding the supernatural, known.

I think that I can confidently say that if the founding fathers were secular in their worldview (i.e. natural laws and not divine will govern existence) and made that sentiment public, they probably would not have been trusted by the population to establish our government. It doesn't seem unreasonable to me that, while perhaps skeptics with regards to the miraculous claims of the Bible, they may have understood the importance of "pandering."

Sometimes politics is just politics, and in a philosophical sense that's a shame, but pragmatically speaking, it gets the job done.

So, thoughts on this? Discuss.
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Old 07-08-2009, 10:39 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Arbitrator View Post
As a final note, it should also be remembered in politics that non-religiosity will ruin any candidate's chances of gaining votes. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota in 2006 found that atheists are the most distrusted group in the US. Statistically speaking, there should be somewhere around half a dozen atheists/agnostics in Congress, and around 115 total who do not belong to a church.
Just want to point out that this study (or at least the details provided here) does not account for candidates who are agnostic. Atheism is not the same thing, and has quite a stigma associated with it.

Anyways, I promised I would respond to this thread, so here I am. I'm not really sure what to say, though. The original post doesn't make a major claim (that I can easily discern, at least) although it does seem to be in favor of secularism. The original post also does not ask a question for people to respond to, other than "what are your thoughts?" and not everyone will ponder the ideas here.

So I guess I'll just throw out the old "separation of Church and State" thing and remind everyone that non-Secularism is illegal.
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Old 07-08-2009, 10:43 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by op89x View Post
Just want to point out that this study (or at least the details provided here) does not account for candidates who are agnostic. Atheism is not the same thing, and has quite a stigma associated with it.

Anyways, I promised I would respond to this thread, so here I am. I'm not really sure what to say, though. The original post doesn't make a major claim (that I can easily discern, at least) although it does seem to be in favor of secularism. The original post also does not ask a question for people to respond to, other than "what are your thoughts?" and not everyone will ponder the ideas here.

So I guess I'll just throw out the old "separation of Church and State" thing and remind everyone that non-Secularism is illegal.
I typed this pal, it's not copied and pasted. I'm in favor of secularism, it's about thinking logically, and bringing religion into government politics and public affairs is unnecessary in my opinion.

But yeah, I don't expect everyone to read everything.

The question I'm trying to put across is: What is your opinion on secularism?

Edit: Thanks.
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Old 07-08-2009, 10:45 PM   #4
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My opinion? It's good and as far as government goes, required by the Constitution.

I'm not sure why you think I said you didn't type all this, though. I know you typed it and never said you copied it.
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Old 07-08-2009, 11:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by op89x View Post
My opinion? It's good and as far as government goes, required by the Constitution.

I'm not sure why you think I said you didn't type all this, though. I know you typed it and never said you copied it.
probably because you referred to his post by 'the original post' implying he did not write it and copied it from some college professor or something.

Ofcourse the has to be seperation of church and state. A country ruled by religion is very dangous and is one of the reasons America is here today.

But when we have to be so secular an politically correct and block a happy holiday like christmas, then that is going WAY to far.
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Old 07-08-2009, 11:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeanMi View Post
probably because you referred to his post by 'the original post' implying he did not write it and copied it from some college professor or something.
...but his post is the original post. I don't see how it implies anything other than that it is what it is: the original post. As in, the origin of the thread. The first post. The TC.
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Old 07-09-2009, 12:38 AM   #7
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anything that means that unproven religion are trying to affect things is bad imo
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Old 07-09-2009, 01:47 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Arbitrator View Post
What does everyone think of secularism? Is it right in your opinion? Or should religion be brought into government and public affairs.

It's always important for me to have an agreeable definition of concepts, and according to the American Heritage College Dictionary that I have nearby there are multiple meanings that the word "secular" can denote. Of the six definitions for it as an adjective, I've found three that might be used in this thread, with perhaps different people speaking of "secular," but in a different way. Here are the three:

1. Worldly rather than spiritual
2. Not specifically relating to religion or to a religious body.
3. Relating to, or advocating secularism (which itself has two connotations: (1) Religious skepticism or indifference and (2) The view that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public education).

With regards to myself, I find number three to the best describer for how I personally feel, with both connotations for secularism applying.

With regards to the founding fathers, there is certainly a lot of controversy with regards to their metaphysical views. I've seen guys like Richard Dawkins portray them as agnostics and atheists, while other groups (like the Heritage Foundation, for example) can also cherry pick quotes to portray them as pious theists.

The impression that I have gotten from having read quite a bit of history (with the quotes in context, and with an understanding of their lives) that they certainly were advocates of secularism with regards to its second definition. It seems to me that one of the intents of the First Amendment is to prevent religious tyranny (the sort that leads to public beheading spectacles for doctrinal violations, as is practiced in Saudi Arabia currently).

Those who founded the U.S. were, many of them, Christian in the broad sense, but sectarian divisions were strong, as they are today (try getting a Baptist and a Jehovah's Witness to discuss religion and you'll see some crazy fireworks fly most of the time).

The founding fathers, however, were schooled in and internalized many of the values of the Enlightenment. And one of the key concepts from that period was skepticism, be it of religion, justice, society, economic models, etc.

Jefferson, for example, produced his own New Testament in which he removed all supernatural events (virgin birth, miracles, resurrection, for example) and left only the moral teachings. That doesn't sound much like what many in Christendom today would produce (seeing as how for them, it's the supernatural, or miraculous, claims of the Bible that make it so meaningful). So I would say for Jefferson, that he appeared to be a deist at best (i.e. had a rather nebulous view of, and perhaps suspicion of there being a higher power, but not of the theistic biblical variety), and at worst perhaps he was a closest agnostic or atheist. That, however, is pure speculation, as he never truly set his views on the matter in stone.

Jefferson is just one example in the group (Jay, Madison, Hamilton, etc.) that helped to create our national identity and government. However, when you view the founding fathers in the context of the Enlightenment, and the secular values that it sought (i.e. justice and morals for their own sake, not merely because of a deity's desire), then it seems entirely plausible to view them as skeptics, questioners, and while not necessarily against the concept of a higher power, they didn't appear to strive for the faith of the "personal relationship" sort that is advocated today.

As a final note, it should also be remembered in politics that non-religiosity will ruin any candidate's chances of gaining votes. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota in 2006 found that atheists are the most distrusted group in the US. Statistically speaking, there should be somewhere around half a dozen atheists/agnostics in Congress, and around 115 total who do not belong to a church.

But in D.C., and in politics in general, that doesn't happen. Every candidate flaunts his/her faith as a campaign asset. Demonstrations of religiosity and piety during a campaign rally are all to common. What you will not hear from any "sensible" politician is something along the lines of what former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura once said in an interview while in office:

"Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers. It tells people to go out and stick their noses in other people's business."

He caught major hell for that, and he wasn't even advocating atheism, he was just bashing organized religion.

If that's the environment now, after 200+ years, imagine what the consequences back in the 1780's would have been for making unbelief, or skepticism regarding the supernatural, known.

I think that I can confidently say that if the founding fathers were secular in their worldview (i.e. natural laws and not divine will govern existence) and made that sentiment public, they probably would not have been trusted by the population to establish our government. It doesn't seem unreasonable to me that, while perhaps skeptics with regards to the miraculous claims of the Bible, they may have understood the importance of "pandering."

Sometimes politics is just politics, and in a philosophical sense that's a shame, but pragmatically speaking, it gets the job done.

So, thoughts on this? Discuss.
I don't think the Founding Fathers of the United States are of any relevance when it comes to the separation of church and state, or secularism. Such separation is a matter of international import, and is not confined to the United States' history.

My long-held viewpoint is that education should be neutral and that syllabuses should never present a slant in one direction or another. I think this is well-accepted, and I don't think there is substantial argument to the contrary. Of course, this should only be true of public education. If, for example, one family desires a Muslim education for their children, I think it's perfectly acceptable for institutions to be erected to that end and for such an institution to have a syllabus agreeing with that cause. The right for that comes down to freedom of belief and freedom of speech.

Separation of church and state is the only sensible avenue in public education, though. It's a violation of educational integrity to non-neutrally push one view or agenda in contexts designed to be academic and uncoloured.
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Old 07-09-2009, 10:48 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yelloflyte View Post
It's a violation of educational integrity to non-neutrally push one view or agenda in contexts designed to be academic and uncoloured.
Unless we're talking about American History class, where everything is served up with such a pro-American slant it's ridiculous.

But as far as religion goes, I think we all agree. Not really a debate here.
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Old 07-09-2009, 11:29 PM   #10
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...but his post is the original post. I don't see how it implies anything other than that it is what it is: the original post. As in, the origin of the thread. The first post. The TC.
I have never seen you reply to the first post by refering it as the 'original post'.
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