By Graeme Smith
What does it suggest to name Western society 'secular'? what's secularism? and the way should still we comprehend the the concept that of 'secularism' in diplomacy, relatively the conflict among radical Islam and the West? The notice 'secular' has come to intend that which belongs to this existence, to the the following and now, during this international. it's normal as a shorthand for the ideology which shapes modern society regardless of the divine. although, in accordance with Graeme Smith, 'secularism' represents greatly extra. He bargains an intensive reappraisal of the proposal of secularism and its background, starting with the Greeks and continuing to modernity and the modern interval. the idea that the West is changing into more and more secular is frequently unquestioned. against this, Dr Smith discerns a distinct form of society: one knowledgeable by way of a ancient legacy which is sensible in simple terms whilst it really is favored that it's non secular. Secularism used to be born of Christianity. Daringly - and extremely initially - Smith argues that it truly is most unlikely to appreciate the belief of the secular with no appreciating that, at root, it's Christian. a brief heritage of Secularism will essentially reshape discussions of western tradition, faith and politics, and should have robust attract scholars of faith, political philosophy and the background of principles.
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Additional info for A Short History of Secularism
It is concerned with procedural questions rather than with the big questions of philosophy and theology. Public discussions can be about efficiency and appropriate procedures without needing to bother with ends or meanings. So religion is pushed out of the public square. It is only at this point that Bruce brings the subject of science into the discussion. He argues that most people do not abandon religion because they have studied Darwin, empathized with Galileo or poured over German biblical critics.
Their belief systems were not open to external challenge and thereby had a ‘taken for granted’ status. In the absence of alternative theologies, religious beliefs were treated as facts. They were beyond the realm of questioning. Bruce offers an amusing illustration of what he means: 03c Secularism_042-066:03 8/10/07 10:44 Page 47 Secularism and Social History 47 Imagine you are born into a small stable society – the anthropologists’ tribe by the lagoon – in which everyone believes that the giant squid is God.
01c Secularism_001-019:01 8/10/07 10:43 Page 19 Western Secularism 19 condemnation of its practices. What it does do is make the Victorian era the oddity which requires explanation, not our own period and place. We may be less Christian than the Victorians, but they were far more Christian than anyone else. I have in this long introduction set out the narrative which will guide this study. This has been necessary because this is not a straightforward history with a beginning, middle and end. Rather, I am using history, as well as social analysis and cultural theory, to understand the nature of contemporary Western secularism.