A Short History of Secularism

Author: Graeme Smith
Publisher: I.B.Tauris
ISBN: 0857731378
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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What does it mean to call Western society 'secular'? What is 'secularism'? And how should we understand the the concept of 'secularism' in international relations, particularly the clash between radical Islam and the West? The Latin term from which the word 'secular' is derived - 'saeculum' - means 'generation' or 'age', and came to mean that which belongs to this life, to the here and now, in this world. It is widely used as a shorthand for the ideology which shapes contemporary society without reference to the divine. However, according to Graeme Smith, 'secularism' represents a great deal more. He offers a radical reappraisal of the notion of secularism and its history, beginning with the Greeks and proceeding to modernity and the contemporary period. The assumption that the West is becoming increasingly secular is often unquestioned. By contrast, Dr Smith discerns a different kind of society: one informed by a historical legacy which makes sense only when it is appreciated that it is religious. Secularism was born of Christianity. Daringly - and very originally - Smith argues that it is impossible to understand the idea of the secular without appreciating that, at root, it is Christian. A Short History of Secularism will fundamentally reshape discussions of western culture, religion and politics. It will have strong appeal to students of religion, political philosophy, and the history of ideas.

Secularism

Author: Andrew Copson
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0198809131
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Until the modern period the integration of church (or other religion) and state (or political life) had been taken for granted. The political order was always tied to an official religion in Christian Europe, pre-Christian Europe, and in the Arabic world. But from the eighteenth century onwards, some European states began to set up their political order on a different basis. Not religion, but the rule of law through non-religious values embedded in constitutions became the foundation of some states -- a movement we now call secularism. In others, a de facto secularism emerged as political values and civil and criminal law altered their professed foundation from a shared religion to a non-religious basis. Today secularism is an increasingly hot topic in public, political, and religious debate across the globe. It is embodied in the conflict between secular republics -- from the US to India -- and the challenges they face from resurgent religious identity politics; in the challenges faced by religious states like those of the Arab world from insurgent secularists; and in states like China where calls for freedom of belief are challenging a state imposed non-religious worldview. In this short introduction Andrew Copson tells the story of secularism, taking in momentous episodes in world history, such as the great transition of Europe from religious orthodoxy to pluralism, the global struggle for human rights and democracy, and the origins of modernity. He also considers the role of secularism when engaging with some of the most contentious political and legal issues of our time: "blasphemy," "apostasy," religious persecution, religious discrimination, religious schools, and freedom of belief and thought in a divided world.

A Short History of Atheism

Author: Gavin Hyman
Publisher: I.B.Tauris
ISBN: 0857730355
Format: PDF, Kindle
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The last few years have seen a remarkable surge of popular interest in the topic of atheism. Books about atheism by writers like richard dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have figured prominently in bestseller lists and have attracted widespread discussion in the media. The ubiquity of public debates about atheism, especially in conscious opposition to the perceived social threat posed by faith and religion, has been startling. However, as gavin Hyman points out, despite their prevalence and popularity, what often characterises these debates is a lack of nuance and sophistication. They can be shrill, ignorant of the historical complexity of discussions about belief, and tend to lapse into caricature. What is needed is a clear and well-informed presentation of how atheistic ideas originated and developed, in order to illuminate their contemporary relevance and application. That task is what the author undertakes here. Charting the rise of atheism as an explicit philosophical position (notably in the work of denis diderot), Hyman traces its development in the ideas of descartes, Locke and Berkeley, and draws too on the work of important contemporary scholars like amos Funkenstein and michael J. Buckley. arguing that the plausibility and persuasiveness of atheism is sustained by the demise of a religion that is defined by the presuppositions and assumptions of modernity, the author boldly suggests that atheism - like the belief to which it is antipathetic - is itself vulnerable to a future that challenges the intellectual inheritance of the enlightenment. For anyone interested in the origins of atheism (whether they consider themselves to be ‘an atheist’, or ‘religious’, or indeed somewhere in-between), and in the rich cultural, philosophical and historical matrix out of which it emerged, A Short History of Atheism offers a fascinating exploration of the often surprising co-dependency of faith and its negation.

Religion in American Politics

Author: Frank Lambert
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9781400824588
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The delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention blocked the establishment of Christianity as a national religion. But they could not keep religion out of American politics. From the election of 1800, when Federalist clergymen charged that deist Thomas Jefferson was unfit to lead a "Christian nation," to today, when some Democrats want to embrace the so-called Religious Left in order to compete with the Republicans and the Religious Right, religion has always been part of American politics. In Religion in American Politics, Frank Lambert tells the fascinating story of the uneasy relations between religion and politics from the founding to the twenty-first century. Lambert examines how antebellum Protestant unity was challenged by sectionalism as both North and South invoked religious justification; how Andrew Carnegie's "Gospel of Wealth" competed with the anticapitalist "Social Gospel" during postwar industrialization; how the civil rights movement was perhaps the most effective religious intervention in politics in American history; and how the alliance between the Republican Party and the Religious Right has, in many ways, realized the founders' fears of religious-political electoral coalitions. In these and other cases, Lambert shows that religion became sectarian and partisan whenever it entered the political fray, and that religious agendas have always mixed with nonreligious ones. Religion in American Politics brings rare historical perspective and insight to a subject that was just as important--and controversial--in 1776 as it is today.

Rethinking Secularism

Author: Craig Calhoun
Publisher: OUP USA
ISBN: 019979667X
Format: PDF
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This collection of essays examines how "the secular" is constituted and understood, and how new understandings of secularism and religion shape analytic perspectives in the social sciences, politics, and international affairs.

The Decline of the Secular University

Author: C. John Sommerville
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780195306958
Format: PDF, ePub
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The American university has embraced a thorough secularism that makes it increasingly marginal in a society that is characterized by high levels of religious belief. The very secularization that was supposed to be a liberating influence has resulted in the university's failure to provide leadership in political, cultural, social, and even scientific arenas.In The Decline of the Secular University, C. John Sommerville explores several different ways in which the secular university fails in its mission through its trivialization of religion. He notes how little attention is being given to defining the human, so crucial in all aspects of professional education. He alerts us to problems associated with the prevailing secular distinction between "facts" and "values." He reviews how the elimination of religion hampers the university from understanding our post-Cold War world. Sommerville then shows how a greater awareness of the intellectual resources of religion might stimulate more forthright attention to important matters like our loss of a sense of history, how to problematize secularism, the issue of judging religions, the oddity of academic moralizing, and the strangeness of science at the frontiers.Finally, he invites the reader to imagine a university where religion is not ruled out but rather welcomed as a legitimate voice among others. Sommerville's bracing and provocative arguments are sure to provoke controversy and stimulate discussion both inside and outside the academy.

Strange Gods

Author: Susan Jacoby
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 1400096391
Format: PDF, Docs
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In a groundbreaking historical work that focuses on the long, tense convergence of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam with an uncompromising secular perspective, Susan Jacoby illuminates the social and economic forces that have shaped individual faith and the voluntary conversion impulse that has changed the course of Western history--for better and for worse. Covering the triumph of Christianity over paganism in late antiquity, the Spanish Inquisition, John Calvin's dour theocracy, American plantations where African slaves had to accept their masters' religion--along with individual converts including Augustine of Hippo, John Donne, Edith Stein, Muhammad Ali, George W. Bush and Mike Pence--Strange Gods makes a powerful case that nothing has been more important in struggle for reason than the right to believe in the God of one's choice or to reject belief in God altogether.

The Golden Cord

Author: Charles Taliaferro
Publisher: University of Notre Dame Pess
ISBN: 0268093776
Format: PDF, Mobi
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The title of Charles Taliaferro’s book is derived from poems and stories in which a person in peril or on a quest must follow a cord or string in order to find the way to happiness, safety, or home. In one of the most famous of such tales, the ancient Greek hero Theseus follows the string given him by Ariadne to mark his way in and out of the Minotaur’s labyrinth. William Blake's poem “Jerusalem” uses the metaphor of a golden string, which, if followed, will lead one to heaven itself. Taliaferro extends Blake’s metaphor to illustrate the ways we can link what we see, feel, and do with deep spiritual realities. Taliaferro offers a foundational case for the recognition of the experience of the eternal God of Christianity, in which God is understood as the fount of all goodness and the subject and object of our best love, revealed through scripture, tradition, philosophical reflection, and encountered in everyday events. He addresses philosophical obstacles to the recognition of such experiences, especially objections from the “new atheists,” and explores the values involved in thinking and experiencing God as eternal. These include the belief that the eternal goodness of God subordinates temporal goods, such as the pursuit of fame and earthly glory; that God is the essence of life; and that the eternal God hallows domestic goods, blessing the everyday goods of ordinary life. An exploration of the moral and spiritual riches of the Christian tradition as an alternative to materialism and naturalism, The Golden Cord brings an originality and depth to the debate in accessible and engaging prose.

Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age

Author: Michael Warner
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674048577
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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âeoeWhat does it mean to say that we live in a secular age?âe This apparently simple question opens into the massive, provocative, and complex A Secular Age, where Charles Taylor positions secularism as a defining feature of the modern world, not the mere absence of religion, and casts light on the experience of transcendence that scientistic explanations of the world tend to neglect. In Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age, a prominent and varied group of scholars chart the conversations in which A Secular Age intervenes and address wider questions of secularism and secularity. The distinguished contributors include Robert Bellah, José Casanova, Nilüfer Göle, William E. Connolly, Wendy Brown, Simon During, Colin Jager, Jon Butler, Jonathan Sheehan, Akeel Bilgrami, John Milbank, and Saba Mahmood. Varieties of Secularism in a Secular Age succeeds in conveying to readers the complexity of secularism while serving as an invaluable guide to a landmark book.

American Secularism

Author: Joseph O. Baker
Publisher: NYU Press
ISBN: 1479867411
Format: PDF, ePub
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A rapidly growing number of Americans are embracing life outside the bounds of organized religion. Although America has long been viewed as a fervently religious Christian nation, survey data shows that more and more Americans are identifying as “not religious.” There are more non-religious Americans than ever before, yet social scientists have not adequately studied or typologized secularities, and the lived reality of secular individuals in America has not been astutely analyzed. American Secularism documents how changes to American society have fueled these shifts in the non-religious landscape and examines the diverse and dynamic world of secular Americans. This volume offers a theoretical framework for understanding secularisms. It explores secular Americans’ thought and practice to understand secularisms as worldviews in their own right, not just as negations of religion. Drawing on empirical data, the authors examine how people live secular lives and make meaning outside of organized religion. Joseph O. Baker and Buster G. Smith link secularities to broader issues of social power and organization, providing an empirical and cultural perspective on the secular landscape. In so doing, they demonstrate that shifts in American secularism are reflective of changes in the political meanings of “religion” in American culture. American Secularism addresses the contemporary lived reality of secular individuals, outlining forms of secular identity and showing their connection to patterns of family formation, sexuality, and politics, providing scholars of religion with a more comprehensive understanding of worldviews that do not include traditional religion. Data Analyses Appendix Instructor's Guide