REL 101 – Introduction to Religion Criticisms of Religion Secularism
Secularism Comes from the Latin word saeculum Rejects the idea of God or of any sacred reality Religion represents an impoverishment of the human condition Religion is an escapist fabrication. It is not a means of seeing beyond this world to a true reality.
Sources of Secularism The Enlightenment Development of modern science The discovery of other cultures and religions
The Appeal of Secularism Traditionally religion had wide appeal because it provided assurance in the face of anxiety and suffering. The secularist argues that we now have purely secular means of confronting human anguish. It is our scientific and technological expertise, not religion, that has allowed this to happen.
The Problem of Suffering and Anxiety Can we, as humans, solve the problems of anxiety and suffering all by ourselves, or is there still a legitimate place for religious solutions? Can humanity survive without a permanent sense of wonder about the unknown?
The Problem of Sin Even in an intensely secular age, humans are still aware that they fall short of perfection. Secularism fails to address how one can be reconciled to this perfection (God).
“The shrinking of anxiety down to the manipulable status of fear is just the other side of an idolatry that attempts to reduce the infinite mystery of being to the finite objects that symbolize it.” (What is Religion p. 210)
"Of whatever quality suffering finds characteristics and people to be, it makes them even more. Thus if a person is carnal, weak, blind, evil, irascible, arrogant, etc., when trial comes, they become more carnal, weaker, blinder, more evil, more irascible, more arrogant, etc. And on the other hand, if they are spiritual, brave, wise good, meek, and humble, they become more spiritual, braver, wiser, better, meeker, and humbler. In Psalm 4:1 we read: 'Thou hast given me room when I was in distress.' But concerning the other kind of people, Matthew 7:27 says, 'The flood came and the winds blew and beat against that house, and great was the fall thereof.'“ (Martin Luther, Commentary on Romans)