scaremongering about secularism

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Here's part of a typical ignorant-about-secularism letter-column rant that I recently read:

In the October 2008 issue of First Things Magazine, a point was made that a disturbing emergence of profound anti-humanism is growing like a virulent cancer out of the secular mindset. The writer went on to state that the increasing misanthropy is the hallmark of many of today's self-consciously secular political and social movements. These people would rather see the total abolishment of all animals in medical research - even if that research would add to the flourishing of mankind.

These unsupported assertions were largely unquoted passages from a letter (not an article) printed in First Things, as a response to this review of Charles Taylor's A Secular Age. However, the original letter-writer's piece was less about making a point than expressing an opinion--one that that tried (and failed) to link environmentalism, abortion, assisted suicide, and animal testing to some sort of cancerously misanthropic secularism that nowhere resembles what exists in the real world.

McClay's response to the letter decried "the sheer perversity and self-destructiveness of militantly secular antihumanism" and "the sheer lunacy that lurks on the fringes...of the environmental movement," but his eloquent rhetorical flourishes do little to disguise the hollowness of his arguments. He could have written "I don't understand atheism and I'm afraid of secularism" and saved us all the trouble of perusing his anti-secular screed.

Neither McClay nor the two letter-writers can hold an argumentative candle to Austin Cline, who observed in "Godless Politics: A Political Manifesto for Godless Atheists" that secularism "forces one to ignore religious demands that one accept ideas and ideology on faith:"

All that is left is the use of reason, empiricism, and science. They may be used imperfectly or with prejudice, but ultimately they are the only means by which good solutions to our human problems will be found. If politics is to mean anything and be a force for good, it must be focused on finding practical solutions to human problems and in this, both theism and religion can hinder as much as help.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on February 5, 2009 1:56 PM.

atheism's plight? was the previous entry in this blog.

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