08 November 2009

Saving the Soul of Secularism

Recently someone sent me, quite unsolicited, a link to this article Saving the Soul of Secularism:
Since February 2003, millions in the U.S. and around the world have participated in marches, rallies and varied protests, making a bold, ethical stand against U.S. military aggression. Citizens have engaged in persistent resistance to the destruction of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of U.S troops.

While numerous humanists have and continue to be actively involved in the anti-war movement many others are too narrowly focused on issues such as church-state separation and promoting science education.

The time has come for humanists to actively assert that they are as committed to peace and ending U.S. militarism as they are to the separation of church and state. If we can see the threat to freedom posed by the mixture of church and state, we must see the threat to freedom posed by militarism.

The very legitimacy of secularism and freethought is at stake. Humanists, atheists, and assorted freethinkers along with the organizations that represent them: the American Humanist Association, American Atheists, Secular Student Alliance, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Center for Inquiry, among others, should join anti-war/peace organizations in calling for a dramatic change in U.S. foreign policy away from neo-liberal imperialism and militarism.

This strikes me as very strange.

I can understand why humanists, who believe that human beings have intrinsic value, might see militarism as a threat to human freedom and therefore a bad thing.

What I find difficult to understand is the logic of urging atheists to support such a cause. I can see no logical connection between atheism and a response to militarism (or to pacifism, for that matter). There is nothing about atheism that makes it desirable that atheists should join anti-war or peace organisations. There is also nothing about atheism that makes it undesirable. Atheism, as atheism, is surely quite neutral in regard to such moral imperatives.

Why should an atheist, by virtue of being an atheist, believe that neoliberal imperialism is a bad thing? Some atheists have clearly believed that it is quite a good thing.

It is possibile to say, as Marx and Lenin did, that it is incumbent on a communist to be an atheist. But the reverse is not true. It is not incumbent on an atheist to be a communist. An atheist can just as easily be a neoliberal imperialist.

This seems to be "fluffy bunny" secularism, as some of my (neo) pagan friends would say. They seem to be getting carried away by moralism.

3 comments:

James Higham said...

There is nothing about atheism that makes it desirable that atheists should join anti-war or peace organisations. There is also nothing about atheism that makes it undesirable.

That's exactly right.

Jarred said...

I think this is based on the tendency here in the U.S. to use the terms "atheism" and "humanism" as though they were synonyms.

The Scylding said...

This reminds me of Michael Flynn's recent reply to an article attacking the Church for its supposed deliterous affect on Science. His opening comment was particularly apt:

Now my first reaction to "freethinker" is "well, you get what you pay for,"

Hilarious!

Read the rest here: http://m-francis.livejournal.com/101929.html#cutid1

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails