Secular Zealotry

Let me quote from a recent article from The Atlantic that wisely notes, “As religious faith has declined, ideological intensity has risen.” 

“if secularists hoped that declining religiosity would make for more rational politics, drained of faith’s inflaming passions, they are likely disappointed. As Christianity’s hold, in particular, has weakened, ideological intensity and fragmentation have risen. American faith, it turns out, is as fervent as ever; it’s just that what was once religious belief has now been channeled into political belief. Political debates over what America is supposed to mean have taken on the character of theological disputations. This is what religion without religion looks like.”


“the notion that all deeply felt conviction is sublimated religion is not new. Abraham Kuyper, a theologian who served as the prime minister of the Netherlands at the dawn of the 20th century, when the nation was in the early throes of secularization, argued that all strongly held ideologies were effectively faith-based, and that no human being could survive long without some ultimate loyalty. If that loyalty didn’t derive from traditional religion, it would find expression through secular commitments, such as nationalism, socialism, or liberalism. The political theorist Samuel Goldman calls this “the law of the conservation of religion”: In any given society, there is a relatively constant and finite supply of religious conviction. What varies is how and where it is expressed.”


“Religion, in part, is about distancing yourself from the temporal world, with all its imperfection. At its best, religion confers relief by withholding final judgments until another time—perhaps until eternity. The new secular religions unleash dissatisfaction not toward the possibilities of divine grace or justice but toward one’s fellow citizens, who become embodiments of sin—“deplorables” or “enemies of the state.””


“No wonder the newly ascendant American ideologies, having to fill the vacuum where religion once was, are so divisive. They are meant to be divisive. On the left, the “woke” take religious notions such as original sin, atonement, ritual, and excommunication and repurpose them for secular ends. Adherents of wokeism see themselves as challenging the long-dominant narrative that emphasized the exceptionalism of the nation’s founding. Whereas religion sees the promised land as being above, in God’s kingdom, the utopian left sees it as being ahead, in the realization of a just society here on Earth.”

I don’t have time to comment now, but, for me, these all point toward the truth of Christianity.

This entry was posted in Politics, postchristian world, Religion, Secularism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Secular Zealotry

  1. What will it take for secular humanism to lose its faith in humanity? From my teens I realised that human beings aren’t even a fraction as wonderful as we think we are. For me the only two reasonable options were Christianity and nihilism. It takes a spectacular dose of deluded naivety, not to mention a complete ignorance of human history, not to see humans for what we really are.

  2. stcordova says:

    Amen Mike! I found a book title that might resonate with you, although I’m not sure the content of the book is exactly inline with what people expect from such a title. It is by Peter Hitchens, the Christian brother of Christopher Hitchens. “The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith”.

    God bless!

  3. ThirdCoast says:

    I get a kick out of comments on social media (i.e. twitter, YouTube, TikTok) when a human does something valiant or out of kindness, then there’s a comment saying, “My faith in humanity has been restored!” The event could be helping some disabled person or someone rescuing a dog. A dram of whiskey is needed after such readings.

  4. Dhay says:

    Jerry Coyne has long expressed the view (or hope) that there’s an inverse correlation between well-being and religion, such that if people (societies, really) have poor well-being they are likely to be religious whereas as people (societies, really) come to have increasingly good well-being they are likely to become increasingly less religious; one instance, of many:

    My theory, which is not mine but that of many sociologists, is that religion (as Marx maintained) is the last resort of a population which has poor well-being. Suffering and poverty-stricken people look to God for help and succor when their society can’t provide them. That could cause the correlation. In other words, religiosity doesn’t cause dysfunctional societies, but dysfunctional societies maintain religiosity because that’s the only hope people have. And of course maintaining such hope erodes the will of people to actually do something to improve their society. Further, as well being increases, religiosity diminishes as the eternal press of secularism in the modern world no longer comes up against impediments.

    Coyne expects, and he evidently looks forward to it, that well-being will increase worldwide, leading to religious faith decreasing worldwide and perhaps disappearing.

    But if he paid attention to the recent report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC), or had paid attention to numerous reports before that — instead of being a gullible acolyte of Steven “Polyanna” Pinker — he would realise the world’s population’s well-being has started to drop sharply through climate change, and that it could potentially become very bad ill-being within a decade or two.

    If the correlation Coyne believes in and wants does exist, and if the effects of global warming are going to be as horrible as the IPCC predicts, Coyne’s hopes of religiosity declining and disappearing are going to be dashed; instead, religiosity will increase.


  5. Dhay says:

    > On the left, the “woke” take religious notions such as original sin, atonement, ritual, and excommunication and repurpose them for secular ends.

    I stumbled upon a similar view recently; it comes from someone who had a RCC strongly religious upbringing, then became an atheist at university; the rest of this response is a quote: —

    “I’ve immersed myself in the wonderful world of woke activists recently, to try to better understand them. And this is the thing: the social justice movement has all the basic elements of a very traditional, pre-enlightenment, religion. To take just a few:

    ** It is built on tenets of faith, most of which cannot be proved or disproved – the world is intrinsically unfair, and things don’t happen by accident. Old-school religion blamed the Devil for everything, wokery blames capitalism & power dynamics.

    ** It has prophets and icons, seminaries (in universities) and a priesthood: hello Diangelo, Kendi, Greta, et al.!

    ** There are a variety of holy texts and banned tracts – “Praise Be To ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Racism’! Burn ‘The Madness of Crowds’! ”

    ** It explains how the unseen world operates – “systemic racism”, “patriarchy”, “white privilege”, “unconscious bias.”

    ** It offers ways that we can atone for and try to change these – through “educating yourself”, “checking your privilege” and other modern takes on confession and penance.

    ** They reject the separation of state and religion, and think that the government should actively promote their faith.

    ** They won’t allow dissenting voices, says these are malign or foolish in their motivation, and should be banned from the public and private spheres. “Of course white privilege is a fact, how can you say otherwise? You’re not fit to do your job & should be removed.”

    ** Worse than sceptics and heretics are apostates – people who were once on their side of things but who they believe to leave the faith behind. See: centrists in Labour Labour 2015 – 2019, various parts of the environmental movement, Suzanne Moore & JK Rowling.

    You get the idea. Once you view wokery as essentially a pre-enlightment religion, then you can better understand the drivers behind the movement and its followers. Reasoning won’t change their beliefs, as theirs is a faith, not a rational philosophical system.”

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