Tuesday, July 22, 2014

RESPONSES TO THE THEME-PAPER

1. Dr. Giorgio De Martino

…. seems to be a VERY good idea and, as far as I can understand, could be a new concept foundation about spiritual freedom (and dissent). I will look as soon as possible to the new areas of research on this and similar subject, as the theologiocracy seems concerned with and by a lot of sets of knowledge.
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2. Argo Spier: 

The argument you furnished me with is quite a mouthful. The way you approach the topic is stimulating and it sets a process going in the minds of those acquainting themselves with it. The first response is a strong desire to disagree with the logical steps you take. Yet, to find contra-arguments and/or suggestions to offer as a ‘cure’ doesn’t prove to be so easily available. You not only desirea subject discussion but also wish to measure the precise logical reasoning from your students and other participants. This makes of the document a challenge on both domains. I suggest an alteration of the title and the first paragraph, making the issue clearer. Although secularism is something important for religious leaders and believers of faiths, I personally have tried to engage it - and the specific pluralism that it tries to enforce in society - with the contradiction sine qua non in Poincare’s statement concerning dogma. It says that the mind should not allow itself to be guided by any dogma. His argument has the fault that it, by itself, is a dogma. One can formulate it accordingly in the following way – ‘the mind should not allow itself to be guided by the dogma that it should not allow itself to be guided by dogmas'. It is dogmatic to refuse dogma. That’s the contradiction. And of course, here once again, you have my Heidegger stance!
There's another point to be made: a logic and philosophical discussion of secularism may miss the issue altogether because one cannot 'know' a faith really without belonging to that faith. And to make matters worse, it may be that 'that particular faith' isn't a religious phenomenon at all and then you are attributing it as viable for comparison while it is not. Christianity can be taken as an example of this. Christianity isn't a religion. It is atheistic in its core in the sense that it is against the 'godification' of God. It is against the 'cultification' Christ as well. In Christianity man is to represent (become like) God and be like God in his loving and caring of others and the world, etc. It is even against its own cult of rites. Ref. Protestantism. Therefore it is not comparable to religion or religions ... and not part of or a 'usable unite' in the conceptual formulation and/or reformulation of the idea of secularism that - as you claimed - 'has become a theoretical imperative for the modern civilizations.'
What I am suggesting, is that the discussion of and research into secularism will never be able to come to a condition in which it can border off its domain. Faith (in whatever religion) always escapes reason, firstly, and secondly, the dealing with and of God without 'godification' ask of reason to function on a 'transcended level' and therefore too, escapes reason/ing. Yet another contradiction. But ok, this is exactly what your argument seems to be about - to augment the logical difficulty there is in the ways of formulating the idea of secularism as a principle of disjunction between the affairs ofspiritual and natural worlds. Yet, I cannot help but pondering 'oh my god (note ‘god’ is used here without a capital letter), something big is going to fall into the water' in your workshop. Something ‘big’ will remain hidden.
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3. A V G Warrier

Personally I always thought that secularism (not a secular approach) as a very funny idea. So I read your paper with interest. Your paper indeed confirms that it, indeed, is a funny idea.
You start with the idea that secularism itself has entrenched itself as a religion and like religion it is affected by the socio-cultural factors leading to several interpretations. Irreconcilability of these interpretations, according to you, then leads to the problem that we cannot have a unified meaning for the term secularism. Then there is the confusion about whether to align the term with science or religion. Then there is the thought that the meaning of the term secularism is dependent on the nature of the religion and its interpretations. It is like ideas getting chained together to spawn more and more doubts without attempting to find any answers. If the idea is to bring out the absurdity of following secularism as a religion that doesn't clearly come out through the paper.

The whole problem arises when we treat it as an 'ism'. An 'ism' smacks of a rigid establishment. When something which was conceived to break away from the evils of an establishment itself becomes an establishment, then it loses its own identity. From day to day observations it appears to me that 'secularism' is only a ruse invented by politicians only to spice up their fractional thinking.

Upanishads, perhaps, qualify to be the most secular of the scriptures that make civilized living possible. 'Avidyaya mrutyum teertvaa vidyaya/amrutamashnute'... says Isopanishad. Is it not a beautiful way of stating...."take care of your existential problems and stabilize your presence here before attempting to launch yourself to the ethereal problems that transcends this life" It tells how to deal with the political problems and religious problems without mixing up the two and at the same time not putting them at loggerheads.
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4. Prof. A. Kanthamani:

a) Modernity did not arise as a response to the politics of religion so as to become an ideology. Nor did it arise as response to the religion in politics so as to become an ideology. Modernity arose as an enlightenment ideal of science that gave rise to a disenchantment of religion. Science questioned religion because it was not rational. You try to bring back the religion of the pre-modern because of its socio-cultural affiliation and project it to the contemporary world as the socio-cultural mode of religion so as to derive a point that that religion has a place even in the face of science which has evolved into a sphere of greater influence. This may not offer any post-modernist stance. It is worse than that. You argue that secularism is 'illogical' because every conception of secularism contains a religious core. You refuse to recognize the statement: secularism is directly opposed to religion because religion cannot be reconciled with science. You draw the following as conclusion: secularism is conceptually untenable because it cannot separate religion from science. This is opposed to any understanding of secularism (science) or religion (non-science) or both. Quantum religion is still a religion and not science. You can argue that religion benefits man, at least common man, and hence it can be allowed as a socio-cultural phenomenon. In order to prove this you have to use science and not religion. It is open to you to prove the scientific credentials of science and you can never prove the lack of scientific credentials of current science. You can never hope to prove that secularism is a modernist ideology on the grounds that it is a point of reconciliation between different religions. Science cannot recognize any one religion nor all religions. Nor the relations between them. You agree that modernity is anti-religion but then why smother it into saying that it still contains an illogical religion. Is it a solution that it should be logicalised into a secularism with a logic?------------- b) There is no paradox in the western concept of secularism because it is opposed to divine intervention into the affairs of man and consequently there should be a separation of religion from the state. The Indian concept of secularism is paradoxical and this is not the result of 'socio-cultural modulation of the transcendental' but it is due to the lack of understanding of secularism in the western sense. So, such socio-cultural modulations are to be modulated further through proper education, and at no point it can 'invalidate' the westerns concept of secularism. Your understanding of secularism foists a layer of ideology to it. Just as science is a check on ideology, secularism is also check on ideology. Your aim to develop a 'praxiological' theory of secularism that is based on 'historical' seems to equivocate the history of west and east (India). Contrary to belief, religion is not growing, but atheism is on the rise. The celebration of reason is the celebration of rationality as it is practiced within science which argues for a strong separation of state from religion and they have succeeded (the judgment against teaching creationism in schools in US) to a good extent. The picture in India is that there is a small awakening after Rushdie affair but one does not know how far this will take us on the path of secularism. Religion is rejected because it makes no scientific claims.
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c) The separability is a trait that is shared by all or any form of secularism because it is the very trait of science. Science is secular because it does not take non-science into its fold. Religion is not scientific and it cannot be fused with science. So it cannot be coercive because it is not science. Separability can be disposed off only when both are 'naturalistic' (scientific). Science can learn from its mistakes and change. Secularism holds that all religions cannot be theories in the sense of theory in science and so all religions are equally bad in this sense. To say that all religions are bad is not to say that they are ideological just as to say that all theories are bad is not to say that they are ideological. The sense of ideology does hardly convey anything like science and has no back-up of science. It does not mean that all religions are equally good. This amounts to claim that all scientific theories may be equally good. This position refuses to recognise 'conflict' in theories. When two theories conflict, you choose only one that has the best fit with facts? We cannot claim that both are caused by socio-cultural facts without saying that only one of them may be at one moment of time. This is one sense of secularism in one sense that is used by Indians. They cannot resolve the conflict. In the second sense, minorities can be shown recognition only on the basis of some criteria (e.g. demographic), but that does not derive their justification from any Indian sense of secularism, but from economics which says that all are equal, but considerations can be shown to the economically poor. So, all religions are bad (not by virtue of ideology, and so science is not ideology); all religions are good (not by virtue of ideology, and cannot recognize conflict) What follows from the above set is that secularism stands on stronger ground because it cannot assimilate the second to science. More discussion should follow.------------------
d) Secularism is based on reason and science. Religion is based on faith. Neither of them stands on historical (socio-cultural) ground. They depend upon the way human nature is understood. History provides no reason for either. Nor does it provide ground for atheism. Atheism challenges faith. It becomes operational in the light of our understanding of science. Secularism questions whether faith is rational or scientific. If it is not, then it will be harmful to allow it to determine the affairs of mankind. Religious diversity is not providing a historical necessity for secularism. It does not allow us to evaluate religion in the light of scientific rationality. What cannot be evaluated should not be allowed to intervene into the affairs of men. Religion cannot give us a sense of equality. It cannot run the affairs of modern state. It should be separated. The question is not: to what extent religion could be justified by history. But: to what extent it is justifiable by reason. Reason is not history (you seem to identify both). Religion cannot teach us equality by saying that they are equally experiencing the transcendental. Likewise freedom: a religious universe is a deterministic universe. Religion cannot explain why your faith is different from mine. Science can explain why your theory is different from mine. No one can assume that the equity of all religions can be derived from history. Secularism is not an ideology we inherit from the past. It is based on the way science evolves. Evolution can explain why you believe that a particular theory is correct. Religious diversity cannot provide objectivity since faith cannot be evaluated by science. The 'elimination' of religion is not 'totalitarian' but it cannot meet the standards of scientific rationality as it is practiced. You must study religion in the light of science; you must teach religion as science is being taught.--------------
e) The disenchantment was the direct outcome of setting in of modernity. Contrary to your belief of 'striking a balance in the domain (of) control between religion and state', it was the quest for bringing religion within the folds of reason (Kant), and once that was not found assuring, religion was not found to be re-enchanting. It was the power of reason and not merely a 'strategy' for an interim settlement. It was not a political settlement between the clerics and the rulers of the state. But even then religion was spreading like a phenomenon and it is not that the check was a failure but now at present the opposition is on the rise and this is the direct impact of scientific rationality. Religion is socio-cultural only in the sense that a large population feels the impact. If it becomes an ideology, it has to be checked. Science becomes the checking point. Are we living in a deterministic universe supported by religion (or even so, science: then what science is. But if you assume that it is socio-cultural, it is again deterministic)? Science can check science and dogmas will wither off. Not so, in religion. Indians feel the impact more in their versions of philosophy which was not much influenced by science. This is perhaps the reason you have recourse to ideology. Philo-reli-mix is evident in our traditions and it is difficult to separate religion from philosophy because it is based on faith. But they are not philosophy in the sense of Kant. The greatest challenge to our tradition is that the hiatus between 'creationism' and 'evolutionism' cannot be closed. No Indian has reasoned along these lines to know whether the assumptions point to an opposition. Pursue the quest for your benefit. You must disagree with what I say: the proof of the pudding is in the eating!
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f) The King/Ruler can seek a new source of justification of power and this is exactly the rub. Obviously he cannot avail any source other than science. He has to deploy only rational scientific means to justify. You say that the tea is good: how you'll convince others- by your taste? You seek to convince him that the blend is good. Likewise the ruler has to justify that religion must be brought within the fold of scientific rationality (as it is practiced today). Secularism was not drawn 'to strike a balance' (no political settlement, please) as you seem to say but secularism demands to know by what means of justifications the religious enthusiasts will justify their faith in religion. Put the other way, how will you justify your faith. This is the onus on the rulers of faith-mongers to prove, failing which faith cannot be allowed to intervene into the affairs of men. The King has to justify his ruling of the state by virtue of religious faith. Secularism stands by reason and that is its path of negotiation. If this is 'historically evolved' it is to be accounted for by strictly adopting the evolutionary path of reason. Reason evolves and settles as the domain of science. Religion goes beyond the bounds of reason. The 'logic' is not 'unspelt' but it is marked as the credibility of science. Are scientific traditions credible in the face of reason? If religion cannot meet the standards, it has to be dispensed with. The political traditions of democracy invest you with the freedom to decide, the freedom to exercise your powers of reasoning. Theocracy tells you that you are designed by some divine law to decide which therefore refuses to invest you with the freedom to reason, the freedom to decide. Which one you will choose: creationist of intelligent design or evolutionary processes (which are historical but not historically determined as Marxists would claim). The 'lack of clarity' is due to the way you fail to make a choice among the above alternatives. The so-called 'interface' is fortuitous. Finally, the question: which 'track record of secularism debate' tells us that it is ideology. Some people believe this and they are wrong. Secularism is science and sacredness is faith-based. The confrontation invites us to look at the controversy from standards of scientific rationality and not from faith. Contrary to your belief, secularism can never become the 'logic of religion'. You must verify the trend and read that faith is undermined by science. You will see this in 2012. Be prepared for this. The Indian discussion on secularism will hardly help you to understand this because it is here Marxists muddy the water. You must counter pose the reflections of Professor Panikkar to Meera Nanda, according to whom both left and right are wrong. You will straighten the track record with this. I have reflected on this from time to time but I have no record of publication. Have only clippings. ---------------

g) ontrary to your belief, there is no 'mutual distancing' of secular and the sacred in the west. There is a mutual opposition. In India the case is different. The Indian sense of secularism is excessively mixed with religion. The case for secularism is open for debate. But in the west it was not proposed as an ideology because modernity did not oppose religion except on scientific grounds. This was the enlightenment idea of reason. It was proposed not as an ideological opposition to another ideology of religion. Scientific temper cannot refer to this as an ideology without giving up its ideal of rigor. It opposed it because it cannot be brought under pure reason (theory). Religion has no theoretical base (you can compare it with practical reason). Science is not a case of false belief. Science tries to justify only true beliefs. So, there is no undercurrent of 'logic of religion'. There is no hope of foisting this so-called logic for non-western cultures. Secularism in the west opposes sacredness; no such opposition is found in the Indian conception of secularism. They are two distinct types. They are fundamentally different. The mutual opposition between secular/sacred roughly corresponds to religion/science and also to creationism/evolutionism and equally to faith/ reason. Religion in the west is relegated to the private and science is in the public sphere. Science does not categorize religion as an ideology but it questions its scientific credentials. Unless it comes to the public sphere, its value cannot serve the purpose of social welfare. You cannot call the Indian notion as secular in the western sense. There is an opposition between these two ways of conceiving secularism. I think you try to mix and get confused. You can keep them as distinct to avoid confusion. The Indian counterpart has an undercurrent of religion. You import this into secularism. This is Indian type. How far you can carry it forward as a case for secularism in the western sense remains an open question. So there is a mutual consent between them. Sarva darsana samagraham cariies the load of the nefarious logic of religion. This is perhaps what you have in mind when you propose to explore this 'logic'. The praxiological analysis of the history of secularism cannot suggest anything more than this. So far, so good.--------------
h) You wrote: 'secularism is the logic of theocracy'. Probably this disguises the thought which says that 'secularism is the logic of liberal democracy' and so, secularism is the 'continuum of theocracy'. Probably you want to say that 'theocracy underlies secularism'. Secularism cannot be stated independently of theocracy. Indeed, religion provides the base. I think you should think secularism is the counter logic to theocracy even if it leaves obscure the exact relation between secularism and sacredness. The latter says 'god has created the world' while secularism wants to see it as the consequence of 'big bang'. What you say amounts to saying that god is behind the big bang and hence, religion lies at the base of secularism. Now you will understand how it opposes creation. Secularism enters into logical opposition to sacredness. It is not clear whether it is empirically opposed. So probably you would apply a different tack to arrive at your point of view which is not clear now. Continue to reflect over with the help of lead writers. That alone will facilitate the view you want.
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i) The 'logical ground' for atheism/secularism is not the 'difficulty of objective validation' but the scientific impossibility of verifying the 'transcendental" (god created the world). A-theism opposes theism (existence of god) while secularism believes that religion is not within the bounds of scientific rationality. So, secularism is not an euphemism for atheism. They may be different 'isms'. The 'socio-cultural aspirations of believers' has never been shown to be logically related to religion. There is a 'jump' to 'religious diversity' which is rather different (plurality: every religion believes in its god). The significance of the latter is much less than the former in view of its abstraction. Religious plurality does not engender 'tolerance' in the west because it is always a battlefield; it is not 'intolerance' of other non-western religion but it the fear of the capacity for terrorism. There is no 'indirect retention' but the dominance of secularism is legally secured even against the ruling elite. There is no paradox and it is even possible to grant the policy of 'affirmation' on the scientific basis (Rawls). The 'conceptual modulation' may not be equated in the east and west so as to give a ring for ideology. To be secular is not to be irreligious; it is only a demand to bring it on par with scientific rationality so much so that the economic man can be served. We can ignore the hybrids like Christian secularism because they are not to be validated by existing view of scientific reason. I think you have to relate your views to others to make people to take you seriously. -------------
j) Regarding your classification: Against 1, there is no 'mutual separation' as they do not mutually agree to separate. The separation comes because of failure of reaching the standards of science; science abandons religion because it is not up to the expectation of reason. On 3: we have no idea of what will be the impact of religion or non-religion on the socio-cultural forms of life. Who wins we do not know. On 4: both 'isms' are different. Atheism questions the belief in the existence of god whereas secularism tries to analyze belief in terms of science. An atheist may use science or he may not; he may even be a skeptic about science. A secularist is not skeptical but tries to use science to understand the cost of disbelief. On 5: it is not 'irreligious indifference' but the way science differentiates between the two domains: the domain of science which can test your beliefs and the domain of religion which cannot. On 6: secular religion is humbug; it is religion in the disguise of secularism (science). Is there a form of religion which can meet the standards of science? If so, we include religion under science. Such distinction is the demand of science and it is not the demand of religion; so they don't mutually disagree. Religion tries to organize it around science (theology). This is still questionable. Can theological arguments acquire the status of science? They can if they prove that religious cognition is as much as scientific cognition. They are not cognitively different. But this is difficult to maintain. We see objects/we see god. You're right in holding that 'theocracy and religious faiths were challenged by science and reason'. Religion has not met the challenge. This does not mean religion can be analyzed by something other than science. For e.g. socio-cultural modulation, as you say. Is it not science? If not then what it is? Here you are tempted to say that it is ideology. Is there a non-scientific way of understanding ideology. Liberal tradition cannot accord freedom of religious faith unless it is also based on freedom of thought or reason. You have freewill because you have reason. Otherwise, the priest can determine your belief. The moment you pause to ask 'is it freedom?' you may not agree that it is. So freedom and determinism are as much opposed as religion and science. The solution is not 'religionise' (ideologise) science, but the other way: scientise religion. Secularism recognises freedom; religion does not. What is the freedom in religion? You are free to believe this or that religion, provided you support it with reason. The classification you have adopted must be fine-grained. ------------------
k) Now consider: I worship Bhagvan; you glorify Allah; he is praying the Jesus. This is not due to 'conflict' between 'I' 'you' and 'he'. Similarly the aborigines pray Nature. There is no 'conflict' among them or with us, but diversity that causes plurality where each one chooses his way of worshipping. This is not: Just because I adulate Krishna, I hate Jesus. Conflicts are due to differences. But each one is looking at the other not as a promoter of his religion. So, there is no conflict between: My religion is great; yours is just below. I am nearer to god than yours. This is a kind of instinct. I claim superiority for my boss. I do not 'dissent' from others so as to lay the foundation for my belief. If it were thought to be so, then it might have been reasonable. Dissent is the voice of reason. Not even 'from within': then also there is enough reason to dissent. Religious movements are not driven by spiritual dissent. Satya Sai and Ananda Mayi are not conflict; nor do they dissent. They are one but still different. Plurality is not caused by reason, but by 'unreason'. Your way of looking at religion differs from mine. Which is more reasonable? The best way to find out is through evidence. The 'socio-cultural' forms do not dissent from one another. Each is a form of life. This is not the result of reason. We play different religious games. Science does not start with opposition to religion. Otherwise it will remain only as an opposition. It is positive. It finds that reason as it is practiced within science cannot explain religion. Your guess that in such circumstances secularism is born is not to the point. Secularism is the outcome of scientific reason. If religious belief is not reasonable, then allowing it to determine the way of men will harm the society. It was not born of an ideology. Science is not blind faith. Nor is it a false consciousness. It is not superstition. Science is capable of destroying superstition because it demands evidence. This is not available to the non-western cultures because science has not taken deep roots. The statement that 'Religion benefits society by and large' is to be proved by evolution. We adopt ourselves to certain religion because it socially benefits us. This requires proof. Do we all believe that Hinduism benefits us in the long rum because it is the most reasonable type in the long run? So the connection between socio-cultural and belief is tenuous. You have to study whether the Indian idea of secularism is beneficial by defining it not in terms of socio-cultural modulation but in terms of reason. It may be beneficial but not as reasonable as science. You must review the literature on these questions. it is this shortcoming that creates difficulty of articulation. That does not matter. Ideas will change.------------ 
l) You hesitate to agree that secularism is a disguised form of theologiocracy (or simply, theocracy, shedding the semblance of logic or formality since there is no such formal understanding between secularism and religion). Secularism is not logical but scientific in the accepted sense. The above statement is to be modified to read according to your suggestion. It is 'harsh' but you are willing to modify it saying that democracy is continuous with theocracy. You accept this moderated harshness. So you will agree what liberalism suggests namely that you have freedom of expression and no god determines your course. So democracy in this sense is not to be erected on religion. The constitution must declare that religion has to be separated from state. Perhaps your case applies to non-western democracies. The two senses of democracy cannot be conflated. Thus there is again agreement of non-western democracies which cannot eradicate religion. There is a formality of arrangement here. But it is strongly opposed in the west. You can make them declare that US is a Christian democracy. How far this go down the strain is an open question.
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m) Religion is present in the nascent, organized, or other nefarious forms within political institutions. But they cannot determine the socio-cultural forms of society. Any liberal democracy if it is worth will always try to reduce its influence in the day-to-day governance. So the voice of religion will have no prospects of becoming the voice of democracy, unless state declares itself to be theo-centric. In a sense, democracy always opposes theocracy because it cannot be the ultimate ground for determining the economic nature of man. What you call post- theological (post-ecclesiastical) religion has no mediatory role. They cannot compete with each other (Hindus, Muslims and Christians) to determine the ultimate destiny of the nation. Otherwise the nation would be totally under religious governance. It cannot become the via media for liberal state by displaying their religious superiority through competition with other religions. Indian democracy tries to be neutral but religion may become a dominant force just like caste in elections. Beyond that they cannot win over by superiority so as to become a state force. Your ideas need a review. You cannot use Hindu ideas to govern the state by allowing them to be a dominant post-theological religion. Your idea of religion (R) is that it enters into competition with other religions and wins over and becomes a dominant voice in the state. The democracy thus results is a Hinduised democracy, but not in the ecclesiastical way, but it is capable of determining the social forms. It might as well be a dream to introduce a religion. Keep thinking about this even while keeping pace with so many others who reflect on these issues
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n) Your idea of theologiocracy is not a functional hybrid. It is not a hybrid since it models theocracy on democracy. There is no warrant to model it only in this way. If religion is singular then it becomes theologiocracy. It is pluralistic with no competition. Not all religions can influence and so it is necessary to avoid any form of religion under liberal democracy. Liberal democracy keeps them all under control because they preach only dogmas. We can control their influence by purely administrative measures. Moreover, the way they influence socio-cultural events can be done in a better way by other groups. One need not be a liberal theologian to do service. Even without this, we can feel sympathy with the poor. There is no guarantee that the non-theological religion will minimize competitive urge but it may turn out to be maximal since it is the only true religion that shapes the socio-cultural events. Why should you think that One should be liberation theologian first and welfarist second? On the other hand, you must reflect how the state can shape these events without allowing the religious facades to exercise their power. The classification is insignificant as 'you are created by god' and 'god determines the affairs of men' through liberal theology are not acquiring significance. Even by totally rejecting these facades, one can uplift man to higher echelons of society. God is not a benefactor even in the informal sense. Man is the measure. The prospects of tidying the classification look dim. Test it with living examples.
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o) First, the state cannot enact laws on behalf of religion so as to become an 'instrument for the realization of divine will'. Personal Law is not such an instrument but only to 'regulate' the institution of marriage but it leaves the question of the status of law under the constitution that is supposed to be secular undecided: people oppose it by asking for common law. Second, religions do not 'spread their competitive tentacles' as you say in matters of personal law: each one wants a law for their society sanctioned by religion. At the most, they differentiate and not compete with each other because they want to preserve the status of religion to the extent that they don't want the state to change the law sanctioned by religion. They quote holy books in support (Hadith/Shariat). But state can interfere through other legal means so as to exercise control over the protection of a human being (Shah Bano's Case). All these things are quite opposed to secularism which does not allow them to interfere into the affairs of state. But they do so as to protect an individual which is not opposed by other provisions of law. There is an apparent conflict but the way conflict is to be resolved is not through 'pressure groups' but by law. They have no bargaining point in terms of religion but govt. yields to the legal provision of protecting the individual to which religionists have no objection (even if it goes against the sanction of religion). Thus the question is too complex when you use 'secular' means (legal) to secure the protection of an individual without being able to show that they are foisting religion to act as the arbiter. Here theology has no role but only legality has rules. State is obliged to follow rules without the fa├žade of theology.
Thirdly, secularism denies the role of religion and democracy must follow suit, and it is never that both regard the 'intermingling of religion and the worldly-life' as a 'stigma', unless the state bows down to religious wishes, in which case the state needs corrective. Lastly, for religions, sacred and the world appears to pose no problem, but for science it is a problem since sacredness cannot solve the human problems by allowing the divine will to interfere. So, the way the see the relation is totally different. The quest for scientific rationality starts with this world and ends up with this world, and it cannot extend beyond what you experience as empirically real. God is not empirically real and hence any conception of religion which includes this cannot be allowed to operate for the purposes of human affairs. The sacred is related to the world only so long as it determines the affairs of the world. The problem between the sacredness and the world cannot be tackled by modifying the conception of religion so as to relate to the world. God bears no relation to the world: this is secularism. I hope I have clarified some points. You pursue a question in which 'god is good', so the 'world is good' and hence the former is to be preserved somehow in relation to the world, nature, and the state. To prove this you have to show that you have a conception of religion which benefits worldly things. Such a conception must need to prove that there is a specific relation between 'god is good' and the 'world is good'. No such specific relation would be forthcoming. You cannot say god is in his heavens, and all is well with the world. Alternatively you can argue 'science is good' and so 'science is good for the world’. State must stay with science and not with religion, and democracy can do good to religion by keeping them off the hook. --------------
5. Dr. T. S. Girish Kumar:

I make a distinction between Philosophy in the west, and Philosophy in India, not for students, but for people at this stage. They both have distinct logic, which one ought not to collapse.

A theology that might claim that his is the only right is not entitled to conceive secularism, a concept which is essentially western. Now conceive the corollaries.

For a tradition which is based on "Ano Bhadra, Krtavo Yantu Vishvatha", (Rg Veda) this concept of secularism becomes tautological and trivial.

If it is history, then one must also see the history of Harappan civilisation, which was spread over 88,000 Sq Kms, as modern study claims. Say, some thing like 3700 excavation sites, 60% in the state of Gujarat alone. Studies also establish continuity between Harappan/Saraswati civilisation to the Gangetic civilisation beyond doubt. We ought to start with the religion of Saraswati culture, to take a different route from what had been discussed popularly.
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6. A. S. Haridas:
Secularism as a social thinking aroused in Europe along with scientific growth in 18th century as described in the article. Even though the secular thinking could not find solutions to people’s sufferings, it stood as the theory of modernism. In a way it was taking human future in its own hands and supernatural forces were displaced. Just like doing work to produce wealth, organizing the society according to human wishes made possible by secular approach against idealist definitions of human existence and its social progress. Almost all the materialist sufferings and pains of those who were ‘ruled’ gained attention in social communication.
This shift in paradigm was a clear signal of advanced social science that addresses materialist living. And secularism holds a meaning only unto that much. It’s not the last ideology too.
In the history of the growth of various social sciences, secularism stands for a limited period. That is not a weapon to fight religionist politics but only the face of social culture, where science and technology progress. A sincere social thinker cannot stay along with secularism because, it does not have any scope for defining human existence, solving social inequality within human society as a whole and problems raised due to class distinction.
And what is seen in the draft paper is an academician’s crisis in sorting out the real social problems. It is not the existence of religion alone what creates inequality among people. What is to be fought against is not religion but commercialization of culture, as seen in the present form. A ‘pure’ secularist cannot define the crisis in politics and find solution…You might have come to the conclusion of “ theologiocracy” after looking the present Indian politics in the present shape. And according to me, you are actually concerned with it, because of the bad shape it fallen to ... Of course, I also agree with the same concern over it, as what was expected do not ripe. Why it did not transformed? I am now saying about the Indian political scene. Even though the real secular forces could not make the impact over the mainstream political movement, it was present here some two decades ago, I suggest. The shape of the whole play was the outcome of the larger international political background, which characterized by the non-existence of socialism. The comparative calm social set up that prevailed during the childhood and growing period of our generation is now not living and we are now in the middle of a desert.
This desert of ideology has already misdirected the leadership of Indian working class movement and its political front. This is characterized by the dilemma it fallen to, lastly, in forming a better political platform where the secular forces could have united. Instead of it, the leadership is in the dark and finding it difficult to make a clear stand in the middle of theological foreplay which you have wisely explained, and that even questioning the existence of secularism. Instead of strengthening a secular movement, the working class political party and their allies are creating a new culture where careerism plays the major role.
This is a signal of their hesitation to accept modern ideology as a scientific principle, that capable enough to ideologically as well as practically fight religious politics, by which the clarity and worth of it will be explaining.
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CONCEPTUAL DIFFICULTY OF SECULARISM-Discussion

FOLLOWING IS AN EDITED VERSION OF A DISCUSSION ON THE THEME CONCEPTUAL VIABILITY OF THE IDEA OF SECULARISM, WHICH WAS CONDUCTED ON AT THE ABSOLUTEWRITE COOLER BOARD.
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01. P. K. Sasidharan (represented by Mamouth)
Anybody in here interested in an exploration of secularism? Does it actually exist?
         
[The above invitation was given in the context of
 thinking on theologiocracy as it has been articulated 
in the paper on ‘Religious Mediation of Socio-Cultural:
          Conceptual Difficulty of Secularism’.
          See the full text of the draft theme-paper:
the first three passages are quoted here

 [Draft]
RELIGIOUS MEDIATION OF SOCIO-CULTURAL:
CONCEPTUAL DIFFICULTY OF SECULARISM

In what follows, an attempt is made to highlight the logical difficulty there is in the ways of formulating the idea of secularism as a principle of disjunction between the affairs of spiritual and natural world.  Drawing insights from the historical conditions in which the conceptual formulation and reformulation of idea of secularism have become a theoretical imperative for the modern civilizations, an argument is advanced here to show that secularism serves to provide a different logic of religion itself. Contrary to the understanding of religionist, anti-religionist, or agnost (irreligionist), secularism seems to be a disguised logic of   theologiocracy which has been substituted for theocracy with the emergence of liberal democracy. Theocracy is a system of governance where political decisions are made to fulfil the divine will represented by a particular religious head. Whereas, theologiocracy is a process of governance in a society with no declared state-religion, one or many theologies exert political power in their favour.  The intangible means of power-holds of theologiocracy seems felt more apparent in controlling the social affairs and civil politics of faith community than in organizing policy decisions of the state.

 The citizens of modern liberal democracy wanted a pure humanistic politics of social justice from the part of state government, devoid of an appeal to any spiritual entity or religious institution. And the modern religionists wanted a pure spirituality without any external interference from the side of non-religious agencies. A democratic secular state wanted to protect both the camps by being a neutral umpire. However, the world wide experience of the secularist governance and the civil politics, both in the Capitalist and the Socialist nations, seems to make us sceptical about the viability and the availability of a spatiality of non-interference. It is in the context of such a supposed terrain of functional divide between different partakers in a secularist life situation that the present paper wants to bring in the question how do we go about the persisting experience of religious mediation of socio-cultural.
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02.RichardGarfinkle:
…..Depends on what you mean by secularism. Most people who are called secularists by others call themselves humanists.
 …….. The study and history of religion is a particular interest of mine, but by most standards I'm a Humanist. I can probably help somewhat. Can you say the context in which you wish to address the subject; it would make it easier to give some subject matter or point toward sources?
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03.Daawnstrom:
Hm, are you talking about secular humanism, here? That's why it's important to define terms. Secular Humanism is a movement, but secularism can refer to a principle, too, whose political expression is the separation of church and state. Basically, secularism would mean you can't be forced to join a religion. And this principle profits minority religions as much as atheists, so if people support secularism (the ideological principle behind secularisation) they can still be religious, privately. Secularism supports a rule of reason rather than faith, but is typically going into less detail than religions, which is why supporting secularism but being privately religious is compatible.
If that's what we're talking about here, maybe the comparative board would be a better fit? I'm not bothered by this thread being here; I just think that mamouth might get a broader range of opinions there (if we're talking about the ideology behind the process of secularisation rather than about a rejection of faith on principle.)
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04.RichardGarfinkle:
 --Since the Original Poster was talking about teaching it in a class, I assumed it was Humanism. It works either on this board or comparative, I think.
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05.     Daawnstroam:
---You're likely right. I'm a bit confused about "Does it acutally exist?" Both humanism and secularisation are observable phenomena.
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06.RichardGarfinkle:
-----We'll have to wait for the Original Poster who's in India, I think. I got the impression that it was a question of whether Secularism could be seen as an organized formal teachable subject in a comparative theology type class.
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07.     Veiglory:
What I hear people call 'secularism' is basically separation of church and state. e.g. it is secularist to expect law and politics to be conducted in a religiously neutral way--and a 'secularist state' does this…I think the author mistakes being verbose for being original. I see nothing new beyond some unnecessary neologisms. But that's just me, I guess.
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08.RichardGarfinkle:
-----I think there's a lack of distinction here between a secular state and a state without an established religion. 

A fully secular state would accord no status or recognition to religion at all, treating them as no more than private clubs.

A state without an established religion might still recognize that each religion is important to its people and accord them a special status over other organizations (which the United States does for example in its First Amendment). In this case, each religion while lacking direct power still maintains a strong voice and a presence in the councils of the country.

In the latter case gives to the religions avenues to exercise indirect power. In the former case, religions can influence individuals who may then choose to exercise that influence on behalf of the religions.

The strongest force for religions in either such state is the respect or lack thereof the religion is given by the people of the society. The fact that respect is the needful element rather than direct exercise of power does create a strong distinction between a theocracy or either of the above two non-theocratic states.
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09.     Sasidharan:
-----Yes, there is a lack of distinction between the kind of states that you mentioned. That might be helpful for elaborating the problem that I have brought in: the conceptual difficult of secularism.
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10.Sasidharan:
My intention is to initiate a discussion on 'understanding theologiocracy'. This is an attempt to understand the nature of working of religion, especially in the modern era. How does religion function in society once it has been confined to the domain of personal belief by secularism and democracy? The concept theologiocracy is brought in order to characterise the working of religion affecting/influencing the power equilibrium and equations in various aspects of socio-cultural life of people in a post-theocratic society. by saying secularism is the logic of religion, I did not mean that it became another religion. It means only that secularism only provides a convenient logic for the functional division between religious and civil institutions in a democracy. But the argument given for this division cannot be based on viable separation between religion and social. Since a radical isolation or dismissal of religion is not possible in relation to socio-cultural affairs, secularism cannot be taken as a non-religious, or anti-religious doctrine.

-------------------------
11.RichardGarfinkle:
I think the study of what happens to religions when they lack the advantages of establishment and the power to control what is said about them as well as lacking the ability to control how they change within social context is certainly interesting, and I wish you luck with it. 

But I gather that you are seeing then secular society not as another religion but as the framework in which the religions will be acting and which they will be working to modify.

If that's the case, I think you have a problem because you are treating all non-theological governments as a single kind of government and that doesn't hold too well. The manners in which religions work in dictatorships usually involve either trying to win over dictators or supporting revolutions. Whereas in Republics they usually try to influence parties to push their agendas. You may need to divide the course of study by government type.
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12.     Veinglory:
Before you edited it your original post didn't even mentioned the concept you now say that thread is about. The word is found online only on your blog.

If you invented a word and want to talk about whether it is a useful neologism, why not just say so?

Otherwise I think you could more directly address your thesis which is still not clear to me. Especially your starting assumption about what secularism really is. Do you have a definition?

I see it as politics being religiously inclusive, not excluding religion from power.
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13.     Sasidharan:
-------yes, you are right in saying that i did not state the concept theologiocracy at the beginning. I wanted to draw the attention of people to this concept only in the context of the discussion of a more familiar notion of secularism. The debate on secularism takes place in the context of the larger problems related to the happenings like religious fanaticism, fundamentalism, terrorism, etc. A serious attention to these issues is more important than the newness of a concept. Discussion need not be constrained by discussion on neologism. My draft paper is only intended to provide a picture of foregrounding ideas related to the understanding of religious phenomenon. Yes, your criticism of lack of clarity is well taken, and will be made it during the course of our discussion. i don't have definition of secularism, but trying to examining the logical viability of prevailing definitions.
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14.     Veinglory:
Given that we haven't established a shared understanding of secularism we might need to start there. I think you are defined it overly narrowly. Pretty much anything with a none religiously-based governing power and court system is secular IMHO. It doesn't exclude religion from these processes, with a religious majority and a democratic system this would be next to impossible. It just doesn't let religious law (Sharia, Old testament) be the law or religious leaders (Pope etc) be the leaders.
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15.     Sasidharan:
-----Okey. We may go by our differences first. After all, there is no need of a total agreement. I appreciate your opinion much. Puts me to hard thinking...
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16.     Little_e:
Personally, I think you are putting far too much weight on the nature of the state. What matters is the nature of the culture.
For example:The expression of religion in rural Texas (where much of my family lives) is very different from the expression of religion at MIT in Boston, MA, where I lived for 5 years.Both Boston and rural TX are in the same country and subject to basically the same laws, but religious (and non-religious) people act differently in these two places. 

I have friends from Pakistan (definitely not a secular country) who are more similar to my friends from Boston than my relatives in TX in their religious expression. And I've known people from India (a secular country) who are more like my relatives in TX. But my experiences with Muslims and Hindus in the US has been the opposite. 

Well, I haven't said what this difference actually is, or what I think causes it, yet. There are deeply religious people in Boston, Texas, India, and Pakistan. But in rural TX, one particular religion is very dominant, and most people you meet believe in it--so people just assume that everyone they meet is also part of that religion, and so they talk about and share their beliefs. 

MIT, Harvard, and the surrounding cultural area, by contrast, has a much wider diversity of beliefs. (Harvard Law, for example, is 1/3 Jewish.) The chance that the person you've just met is a Christian is very low. So people make a lot fewer assumptions, and by necessity, can't use public spaces as much for expressing their beliefs (though Jews, for example, get to be far more expressive in Boston than in rural TX.) The net effect is that in TX, religion *comes up* a lot in conversation. In Boston, it doesn't. In Tx, people believe that certain religiously-motivated laws and regulations are just, while in Boston, they don't. 

In the case of my Pakistani friend, he comes from an upper-class family, speaks English, has a science degree, and interacts with a lot of people on the internet (how we met,) a location where other people are less likely to be fellow Muslims. So on the internet, at least, he acts like someone from a more diverse, secular society. 
The more religious Indians I have met (who certainly do not represent all Indians I have met,) again come from a different cultural background. Likewise, the Indians I have met in the US have been more "assimilated", you might say, bringing them into more contact with different beliefs, while the Muslims have tended to be more insular, and their religious expressions more obvious. 

I am obviously over-simplifying and compressing a LOT. But you get my drift: culture/environment matters more than the exact laws.
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17.     Sasidharan:
Secularism as an ethical consideration appears to be a viable. It may be so, but still I doubt its depth and durability. Often it happens to be superficial. Any way we need to analyze the instances that you have given. Thank you very much for this input!
18.     Little e:
------I would say that it's less of an ethical consideration as a practical one--if everyone I know is the same religion, I'm going to make different assumptions (and therefore act differently) than if everyone I know follows different religions. 

The practical rules society needs to function get justified as ethical (because doing things that interfere with society functioning is generally seen as bad,) but the rules themselves come from the practical needs of the society, not the particular religious beliefs or the fervency of its members. (My opinion, anyway.)
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19.RichardGarfinkle:
------I think that you're blurring ideas into one word. The ethical consideration that society should not be dominated by religion is not solely a secular one. A number of religious figures regard the presence of religion in positions of social power to be corrosive to the religions themselves.
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20.     Sasidharan:
----I am not clear what you mean here by blurring ideas into one word. It may be useful if we proceed with clarity. By ethical consideration of secularism, I mean that possibility of adopting it as a norm for interpersonal relationship while we living together in a community. I would like to know whether you take the statement that 'The ethical consideration that society should not be dominated by religion is not solely a secular one', is based on ethical or religious consideration. I presume you have a secular look, and that is justified even for religionists. If so you would be maintaining a sharp contrast between religion and ethics/social. Am I correct?
-------yes, you are right in saying that religious figures themselves regard the presence of religion in political sphere is corrosive to religions themselves. by saying so, you also seem to be suggesting that it is possible to have pure religion/spirituality sans the mark of social or this worldly imaginations. an argument for a spiritual purity seems to remain a theoretical feasibility, and hence it can be contested.
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21.RichardGarfinkle:
---------Tricky question since the scale at which secularism usually matters is that of establishment of religion rather than the smaller scale of the interpersonal.

But I would say that Humanism is vital in interpersonal relations because it is based on respect of person to person. If religion dominates interpersonal relations than it would be socially acceptable to evangelize at all times and places and to treat with contempt all people who do not share one's religious views. This can poison interpersonal relations.

If the ground state of human to human interactions is humanistic respect, such as this board uses, people can discuss any topic including religion without feeling imposed on.
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22.     Veinglory:
-----------I am not sure how you drew that conclusion. Unless you are assuming religion can be only 1) in government or 2) in heaven. Most people feel it is positioning itself somewhere in between.
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23.     Sasidharan:
---yes, religion seems to be a via media for both. that means religion should remain impure.
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24.     Veinglory:
It means no human endeavour is completely pure. And any such expectation is not sane or helpful.
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25.     Sasidharan:
Yes, but impurity doesn't mean sinful. for me it matters a lot. it may have a significant score in weighing the strength of human affairs, religious affairs in a different way from that of secularism.
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26.Sasidharan:
---------where is the 'man' in history? He may be available in laboratory, of course not in cultures. humanism seems to be an innocent promise given by a particular category of population in a particular period of time, and they could not keep their promise. Rather, they had broken their promise.

-------------what is wrong with interacting with non-humanistic standards? And why should we limit ourselves interacting with/among human alone?
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27.RichardGarfinkle:
----History as usually discussed is mostly human action in relation to the world and other humans. One can have a history of other than humans, but we're an egotistical species and usually write our pasts as what we see as important.

Could you elaborate what you mean about the broken promise of humanism? I don't get what you're referring to.

------Humanistic standards of mutual person to person respect work well as a neutral meeting ground for people of different religions to talk. If they won't have an agreed upon area they just yell at each other.

Humanism provides the idea that each person is worthy of respect and to be taken seriously, their words and ideas regarded as the work of human minds and therefore not to be dismissed without cause. Which kind of non humans are you talking about interacting with?
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28.     Veinglory:
IMHO secularism is primarily for the religious. It means no specific religion rules. I think it has more to do with one religious power persecuting another than anything else. Secularism =/=atheism.

It emerged in a time where not going to right church could see you fined into the poor house, and going to the wrong church could get you executed. And it started as the right to follow any church you wanted to, without consideration of the option 'none at all'. i.e. Queen Elizabeth I and: ' I have no desire to make windows into mens souls'
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29.     Sasidharan:
----------Interesting to see such an explanation for secularism. I would like know about theoretical/historical sources regarding this version. The so-called 'Indian-secularism' is often interpreted to be so. However, that has been contested by many sympathizers of European conception of secularism. You seem to talk about a religious liberalism. Is it same with secularism?
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30.     Veinglory:
I don't see how we can 'go by our differences' when you are suggesting new term is needed to describe what I think secularism always is and always has been.
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31.     Sasidharan:
-----A term is not all that important in understanding particular situation. We can have different terminologies to describe the same reality. What seems to be important is the nature of explanation/description of that state. My point is that the secularist policy does not ensure the condition that the concept envisages, that is, secular liberal democracy/nation states do not comply their promised separation in its all possible extent.
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32.RichardGarfinkle:
------I hadn't realized (pardon my ignorance) how different the meanings and associations of the wordsecularism were in India then in Europe and America. I just looked over the Wikipedia article on Indian secularism as a political force after independence.
 Correct me if I'm wrong. Secularism in India appears to have arisen because of concerns about religious power and the serious conflicts that arose during independence? 

European and American secularism and humanism had a different history and therefore different meanings and implications. European nations had a long standing tension between the supremacy of religious or secular power. After the Reformation and the Enlightenment the idea that secular powers ought to be largely or totally independent of churches grew stronger and was embodied in the US constitution (as well as that of other nations). Some countries still have established churches, and they vary in how much influence they have.

There is one critical element of similarity in history between western and Indian secularism: the religious wars that spurred the development of each.
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33.     Sasidharan:
 ---Kindly refer to my theme-paper for the discussion on the conceptual diversity of secularism. '....If we go by the differences in the conception of secularism as they have been revealed so far, they can be classified on the basis of following points: 1. as a policy of mutual separation between state and religion, 2. separation between politics and religion, 3. separation between socio-cultural life and religion, 4. as atheistic principle of opposition between religion and public affairs, 5. as the irreligiosity principle of indifference to religion, 6. as the principle of equal treatment of all religions, 7. as the principle of secular religion. ' [www.theologiocracy.blospot.com]
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34.     Little-e:
It may mean that the other person either doesn't desire to argue the point, or can't (busy, tired, needing time to think, not enough English, etc.)
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35.     Veinglory:
That would be 'I'll get back to you', not 'I'll skip over you point, that words mean what other people use them to mean, without addressing it'. 
--------------   
36.     Little-e:
Honestly, and I do not mean to offend, but I think there is some sort of communication problem between us, because many of the things you say sound like they are meant to be deep and profound, and yet either do not come across that way to me, or don't make sense at all. 

For example, "And why should we limit ourselves interacting with/among human alone?" No one has (nor do I think they will) suggested that we shouldn't interact with dogs, cats, cows, and other species, but so what? Animals are irrelevant to questions of religion and secularism, because animals don't have religions and don't talk. If you want to discuss secularism, discuss secularism. If you want to discuss human interactions with other species, discuss human interactions with other species. But if you start talking about secularism, and respond to someone's comment on the subject with 'what about animals?' you have just made a total non-sequitor.
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37.     Sasidharan:
-----Well, this is well taken. I shall try to make my ideas thread bare.
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38.     Little-e:
Oh, and I should add, in light of Garfinkle's post, that there probably is a big difference in the way we are using the term "secularism"; I am using it to refer to an emergent phenomenon of certain cultures/societies--a practical means of dealing with many people of different beliefs on a regular basis. We might call this "bottom up" secularism; it's just something people do because it works for them. You are most likely referring to what we might call "imposed" or "imitative" secularism, where a leader or reformer attempts to make society more secular from above--Attaturk in Turkey, for example, or Peter the Great in Russia. In this case, secularism isn't so much a cooperative position of co-existence, but a commitment to "progressive", 1st-world ideals in the hope that imitation will lead to success, and the idea that religion is, to some extent, a backwards, retarding force that prevents progress and so must be somehow officially opposed, reformed, or removed from the public sphere. 
Thus we have Peter the Great outlawing beards in Russia, in an attempt to "modernize" the country and make it more like Western Europe; In India we have Nehru's Hindu Code Bill.

So, to an American, "the promises of secularism" is a phrase that doesn't make much sense, because we weren't made any promises, but I can see how that would make perfect sense to someone who was told that secularism is an important step in the process of becoming a 1st world country. 

And then we might really ask, so, how has secularism done? Have the people it was somewhat imposed upon come to appreciate it? Or is there backlash against government interference?
 Here in the US, of course, things are mixed, since we do have these wide cultural variations, but the laws are officially supposed to be secular. So, for example, we have this continual struggle over abortion, or court rulings that "Intelligent Design" cannot be taught in government-run/funded schools because it is just Creationism (a religious doctrine) masquerading under anothername. Whew. I'm glad that's cleared up. Now, what were we talking about?
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39.     Sasidharan:
Regarding the question of availability of ‘man’ in history or culture: this was meant to convey my difficulty in making humanism (human concerns instead of god or religion) as the standard vital to understand the relevance of secularism. In the history we do not find any unqualified pure man. We have only different colored men. French man, Negro, Capri, Muslim, Christian, Red Indian, African, Primitive, Pagan, Tribal, etc, are some of the usual attributes. In this scenario, where do we have a humanistic consideration in deciding everyday affairs of life? Does secularism (democracy or socialism) ever succeed to keep its promise? By promise I mean the ideals that are envisaged by the conception ofsecularism. The conception of humanism equally seems to have become failed. (I should say, humanism also failed to keep its promise). By non-human consideration I mean that people are often moved by non-human (godly, national, tribal, ethnic, racial, caste, communal, religious, etc,) considerations. These are the facts that seem to be determining meaning or nature of humanism orsecularism in different cultures and period of history.
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40.RichardGarfinkle:
…….It seems to me that you are holding humanism and secularism to stronger standards then religions are held to. No human endeavour has ever lived up to its ideals. The purpose of ideals is to guide and give something to aim for rather than something we can practically achieve. The humanist ideal, in my view, is that each person be treated in shared human acceptance understanding that we all share certain basic commonalities and should be accorded appropriate respect.
This ideal is fallen short of, but so is every religious and philosophical ideal ever created. That does not invalidate the good of a humanistic view any more than the bad acts of people who are members of a religion invalidates that religion.
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41.Sasidharan:
The conceptual project of keeping balance between heavenly and worldly affairs seems unattended in its spirit anywhere in the nations of world. For both coreligionists (believers) and moderate-religionists (non-atheists) the concept of secularism seems to have provided logic of convenience. Whereas non-religionists (including atheists) seems unabashedly anti-religionists.
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42.     Astride: 
---I am not sure I fully understand this point, but are you saying that non-religionists seem mostly antitheist? IN this case, I disagree, since there is a vast difference between being secular/atheist and being opposed to religion.
__________________
"The deeper and richer a personality is, the more full it is of paradox and contradiction. It is only a shallow character who offers us no problems of contrast." - Madeleine L'Engle
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43.RichardGarfinkle:
----- The loudest atheist voices are often anti-religious, and the loudest religious voices are often theocratic. But the loudest speakers are not necessarily speaking for the majority. 

The logic of convenience pre-exists secularism. Each human being can and usually does create his or her personal logic of convenience founded around the needs, enjoyments, desires and fears of that person's life. 

There are both secular and religious means to affirm or counter this logic of convenience. There are also both secular and religious means to try to impose ones personal convenience on others and both secular and religious means to reject such impositions. In short neither the religious nor the secular have a monopoly on human decency or indecency.
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44.     Sasidharan: 
------ 'secular/atheist' juxtaposition on the same side is troublesome. since secularism and atheism cannot be taken identical in their attitude towards religion, what matters is their different ways of relationship with religiosity. Secularism may not be opposed to religion, although they are often taken to be so. is it possible to say the same way about atheism? is it possible to say that atheism may be opposed to theism but not to religion? it may be very interesting to see how does atheism count religion positively, contrary to its most popular forms.
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45.     Sasidharan:
-----indeed that is the case where we need to spell out what is whispered by the majority.
 ----by 'logic of convenience', i mean the practice of construing meaning of something for the sake something other than its conceptual logic.
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46.RichardGarfinkle:
 --I'm unclear on what you mean. Could you elaborate this perhaps with an example or two?
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47.     Sasidharan:
 Well, in the case of the concept of secularism, for instance, religious secularists (or secular religionists) take secularism as positive when ever/where ever they find their religious beliefs and authority are not undermined, but go other way when the situation becomes contrariwise. whereas in the case of atheists, religion becomes positive only when it concerns with the non-religious, worldly, or social realities.
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48.RichardGarfinkle:
I don't think the latter is true. I don't know many atheists who would reject help on social issues (or worldly matters) if the help is religiously motivated. To take two examples.

1.     Scientific research (that's pretty worldly I would think). There are atheist, agnostic, and theist scientists.

2.     They do not vet each other for their beliefs before being willing to work together. 


3.     Efforts to stop evil activities like human trafficking. There are groups of all persuasions working for this and they (in general) don't insist on working only with those of like theology (or lack thereof).

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49.     Kuwisdelu:
------Depends on what kind of help the religiously motivated are giving. I remember some Japanese posting online after the 2011 tsunami not to donate to so-and-so organization because "we need food and clothing, not bibles."

Of course, not all religious groups are like that.

Nor do all secular groups not have ulterior motives.
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50.RichardGarfinkle:
------True on all counts, but I was dealing with an absolute assertion as regards the unwillingness for both kinds of people to mix on matters of worldly and social causes. 

My point was that there certainly is such cooperartion, not that cooperation is universal.
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51.     Chrissy:
 I hate that word, "secular." My hate is based upon how it was used in my childhood: to describe something as "worldly" and thus "anti-God" and evil. When later, I found out that it was all a bunch of brainwashing and most "secular" things were perfectly harmless.
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52.RichardGarfinkle:
 -----It used to be a more or less technical term particularly in societies that had both religious and non religious authorities. 

In societies that divided power between religious and non-religious rulers (like bishops and lords) there was often a need to define who had power over what and which crimes would be tried in whose courts. In the example above, the secular power would be the lords, and the spiritual power would be the bishops.

While the secular was, at this time, considered inferior to the spiritual, the term was not itself insulting

That has, of course, changed as the spiritual authority has lost power in western societies, and non-religious philsophies and attitudes have risen, the word has changed to an insult.

To add to the complication of this thread. Secularism has a somewhat more specific meaning in India where the OP is from. So some of the posts have gone past each other.
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53.     Veinglory:
I think in general the word secular is very useful. It means a place where civic and public activities are not branded to a specific religion.
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54.     Maxx:
It could also be used to distinguish religious orders (such as Benedictine Monks) from regular clergy. So you could have a secular priest if you had monks to distinguish them from.
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55.     Sasidharan:
-----------the indifference of atheism to religiosity seems to have been expressed/articulated at the level of its approach towards the validity of spiritual/non-physical entities and existence. That may not be a fault so long as atheism goes on its own terms. However, it becomes somewhat awkward when it goes in terms of secularism, whose conceptualization does not allow undermining significance of the realm of religiosity.
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56.RichardGarfinkle:
-----While atheism does, on the whole, reject the idea of non-physical existence, not all atheists reject the role or benefit of spiritual experience, motivation and inspiration. For example, many atheists appreciate art created from the religiously inspired.

Beyond that I'm afraid I don't get what you're saying about the relation between atheism andsecularism. Examples might help.
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57.     Sasidharan:
----------if atheism can validate religious/spiritual traditions in any ground it might require to bear the burden of appreciating the positive roles of beliefs and practices, instead of disparaging them as superstitious and unscientific. that means, religious practices are to be assessed simply on the reductionist/mechanistic/scientistic ground. they seem to demand a consideration other than those simply based on questions concerning the existence or non-existence of god or other transcendental entities. 
As regard to the relation between atheism and secularism; if atheism holds by secularism, it cannot go by an elimination stance towards beliefs and traditional practices.
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58.RichardGarfinkle:
 ----Atheists tend to hold the view that as the ones giving the null hypothesis, they do not bear the burden of establishing the good of religious practices. 

Individual atheists (me included) do appreciate some of those, but it's hard to say why there is an inherent responsibility to do more than respect individual people.
 Quote:
“As regard to the relation between atheism and secularism; if atheism holds by secularism, it cannot go by an elimination stance towards beliefs and traditional practices”
I think we're still having a communication problem. I don't see why the above has to be true. While some atheists do think that for the sake of a secular society some practices need to be eliminated, others go on a case by case basis, and others think it's none of their business.
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59.     Sasidharan:
------appreciation and consideration of beliefs and practices may have to depend on their socio-cultural historical context. if we only go by the reality status of the religious/spiritual phenomena, we may fail to account their symbolism. Physical-realism based approaches might lead to appreciate their meaning or values as cultural markers.
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60.     Pup:
----I'm speaking from a U.S. perspective, so it may be very different in other countries, but here we have quasi-religious cultural markers, such as the story of Santa Claus bringing presents at Christmas or the Easter bunny bringing eggs at Easter, which everyone agrees aren't real but which have symbolic/traditional/cultural value. There's virtually no anti-Santa Claus or anti-Easter bunny pressure by atheists and many join in those cultural traditions.

The problem is that many people who promote religious practices don't see them as cultural markers. They wouldn't want Jesus and the Bible lumped in the same category as Santa Claus and the Easter bunny.

I think it's that insistence on "realness" that makes some atheists uncomfortable. I don't think they ignore the fact that religious symbolism has a powerful cultural effect. On the contrary, that's what scares them. And the same may be true for members of minority religions, who may see entanglement of the majority religion with government as a way to promote the majority religion and eliminate their own.

People who want secularism, in the sense of a separation of religion and government, may feel that their own cultural traditions and beliefs are at risk if the majority religion is able to pass laws based on its version of reality, which excludes their own version of reality.
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61.     Sasidharan:
------the above would be helpful to illustrate some of my concerns. Hence, I endorse the above and make it as a citation for the request of Mr. Richard Garfinkle that "You're repeating your earlier assertion. That's not evidence. Could you please instance such organizations and explain why you think they speak for the majority of atheists and secularists."
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62.RichardGarfinkle:
-----------This doesn't answer the need for citation on organizations or why they speak for the majority.
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63.     Sasidharan:
To quote RichardGarfinkle 
“While some atheists do think that for the sake of a secular society some practices need to be eliminated, others go on a case by case basis, and others think it's none of their business.”

----the indifferent stance of the third category of atheists seems to be imbibing the conceptual value ofsecularism. Ironically, most of the secularists and atheists are found upholding the eliminativism of other two categories.
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64.RichardGarfinkle:
 That's a pretty strong assertion about atheist and secularist attitudes and would need evidence to back it up.
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65.     Sasidharan:
------most often, atheist orgnisations/communist/socialist parties seem to take either an indifference or eliminative approach to traditional belief practices. They invariable fail to acknowledge the symbolic/cultural politics inherent in those practices as such. They also take an instrumentalist approach to beliefs only when they have an apparent social meaning.
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66.RichardGarfinkle:
----You're repeating your earlier assertion. That's not evidence. Could you please instance such organizations and explain why you think they speak for the majority of atheists and secularists.
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67.     Evilrooster:
----I would be very interested in evidence to back up the quantitative and absolutist points I've bolded in your comment. Neither tallies with my experience.

For instance, in neither of the two countries I've lived in with substantial socialist parties (Scotland and the Netherlands) do those parties advocate for the elimination of Sinterklaas, Christmas, Easter, Hemelvaart, or any of the other religiously-oriented festivals as national cultural events.

At times they, along with other left-wing parties (the SNP, Labour, GroenLinks, PvdA, etc -- many of which have socialist leanings) have advocated changes to the amount to which those holidays are also public or statutory days off. But that's primarily argued as an accommodation for members of minority religions and cultures, who would like as much right to take time off for Eid, Rosh Hashana and Diwali as their Christian-cultural colleagues and classmates have for Christmas and Easter. I've never seen any mainstream political party advocate for the elimination of official recognition of religious holidays to cater to the sensitivities of atheists.

Indeed, in the vast range of political views I have seen advocated from various party platforms, ranging from "women should not run for political office" to "animals should have equal rights with humans" (both platforms of parties with representatives in the Dutch Tweede Kamer), it's almost surprising how silent everyone is on the topic.

(For the record, I am a member in good standing of a minority sect of the majority religion in my country of residence. I am also a strong secularist, because I think that the association of religion and government tends to corrupt religion.)
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68.     Sasidharan:
----the above passage too would be helpful to illustrate my point in such a way that while in their everyday practices, socialists, secularists, atheists, communists, accommodate many of the religious rituals, they do not seem to concede such ethos in their theoretical assertions about religious practices and their cultural mediations.
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69.     Evil rooster:
To quote, “they also take an instrumentalist approach to beliefs only when they have an apparent social meaning.”
----I can't parse this sentence. Can you restate it, preferably with examples? Thanks
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70.     Veinglory:
Please remember: "Broader discussions will naturally arise and will not be considered off topic so long as:
--they do not directly, or by implication, require atheists or non-theists to defend the rationality or virtue of their beliefs, and
--they do not bash, rant about, or morally disparage any mainstream philosophical or religious position."

This includes making broad generalization about what members of any/either group want to do unless you can reference an actual manifesto every member of that group has signed up to.

Any further gross generalization will be deleted and I remind you that this is the atheism room. You may want to take some discussion about the hostile plans of atheists to some other general discussion room.
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71.     Sasidharan:
My assertions on secular, atheist, socialist, communist movements are based on my understanding of their logical contradictions. That is to say that often they tend to compromise on their ideology of unreality of supernatural/spiritual/mystic phenomena. Such compromises might have necessitated on various grounds. However, forthright explanations are not seen widely. French Marxist theorist Althusser's position that beliefs are not mere false consciousness but has a status of ideological reality has been a major advancement in this respect. To be brief, my point is that the so-called practical/tactical accommodation of belief practices needs to be articulated. neither a simple indifference stance nor an aggressive eliminationist confrontation do not serve the purpose of tackling the present day problems of humanity.
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72.     Pup:
I think the accommodation is offered and articulated well (at least from my experience in the U.S.--from what I've heard, this may be less true in other countries), but believers in supernatural/spiritual/mystic phenomena do not necessarily want to be accommodated because what they practice are cultural traditions. They want to be accommodated because they believe their phenomena are real. So the compromise is often offered, but it doesn't necessarily solve the problem.

For example, in the U.S., those who push most strongly to have creationism or intelligent design taught in U.S. public schools want it taught in the science classroom, not as part of a curriculum on comparative religious myths. The latter is an unacceptable compromise to them, because it treats their beliefs as myths rather than reality.

In a U.S.-based google search for "intelligent design" taught "comparative religion" one finds many results from pro-secular, atheist and other non-religious viewpoints saying they'd have no problem if intelligent design were taught in comparative religion classes of public schools. That's accommodating the religious viewpoint by treating it as a cultural phenomenon.

But that's not necessarily acceptable to the other side. For example, 
here's a transcript of a discussion (PDF file). A brief excerpt: quote:
STEVE: [a Christian arguing for intelligent design] ...Our position right now is that it would be perfectly legitimate and appropriate for students simply to learn Darwinian theory, and to learn the [creator-based] counter arguments against it. The critiques.
WATTENBERG: But, Michael's point seems reasonable that you teach that in comparative philosophy, in comparative religion, not necessarily biology.
STEVE: Except that these arguments are in biological journals.
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73.     Maxx:
I don't see the point in offerring a non-biological explanation of biology as a biological argument.

For example, the range of constraints of planetary systems
which (xeno)biologies might face is a topic for astronomy.

Similarly the range of constraints offerred by different types of divine beings is a topic for (xeno)theology.
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74.     Sasidharan:
-----I am thinking about the possibility of conceptualizing belief practices as also as socio-cultural symbolism through which believers speak, share, visualize, articulate something that cannot be communicated directly. that might include even some political aspirations and assertions
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75.RichardGarfinkle:
--------But doesn't that mean that by your standards any time an atheist does not defer to religious views, the atheist is being eliminationist? In short, how, by this view, can an atheist do anything except keep silent or tell what he or she would think of as lies? By the standard espoused, would not any profession of atheism be deemed destructive to religion?
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76.     Veinglory:
I don't know about you but I enjoy the hell out of Christian traditions, many of which almost no-one adult believes to be true (Santa) alongside Pagan traditions that likewise almost no-one adult believes to be true (Easter Bunny). Sometimes it is okay just to do something because it is fun.

Being atheist is not the same is being a killjoy.

If this thread continues to revolve around needing to prove atheists aren't trying to conspire to destroy something/anything, it will be closed. This is the atheism room and is expected to be a place where belief is discussed with respect and acceptance.
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77.     Sasidharan:
------atheism per se is not a question of debate here. i have been trying to problematise a reductionist tendency to understand the conception of secularism either as a theoretical framework allows the insulation of religiosity/spirituality (by core-religionists) or as a framework which allows the insulation of socio-cultural (including politics). The second way seems to stem from a scientistic approach to god reality which does not entertain any form of non-physical energy (as hold by atheists). For me both religionist and non-religionist (atheistic) secularism involve difficulties.
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78.     Maxx:
----I don't think you can problematize a reductionist tendency by ascribing it to people (for example atheists) who don't have such tendencies. After all, reductionism is just a useful methodology and it doesn't change anything about a useful methodology to problematize it since any useful methodology is all about problematization already.
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79.     Veinglory:
I know what the subject was, I also know it has involved making derogatory claims about atheism that people then felt they should rebut (a defensive position anathema to this as a 'safe room' for atheists). So just don't do that anymore, okay? Or if you want to do that, take the discussion to another room.
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80.     Evilrooster:
-----The tendency to conflate wildly heterogeneous views into nebulous and essentially fictionalized factions is certainly a problematic one, but I confess that I have found it more present than lacking in your own contributions to this conversation. Your conceptualizations of both atheist and theist secularists appear to be derived substantially from your preconceptions surrounding the two communities, substantiated less by the empirical evidence provided than by misinterpretations of of it.

Whereas I am unqualified to represent the atheist community in this context, I can assure you that the motivations which you attribute to my particular category of secularist are profoundly incomplete, and, where present, wholly misstated. It would be inappropriate for me to elaborate further in this context, and a poor allocation of my unfortunately limited temporal resources to do so in a conversation which has thus far tended more toward misinterpretation in the direction of a pre-existing conceptualization of the matter at hand than to even-handed investigation of the available evidence with an eye to the formation of a new paradigm (or the refinement of an extant one).
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81.      Veinglory:
------I also think it is hard to specifically problematize reductionalist versus holistic thinking when they are both prone to inaccuracy under certain conditions (and the whole thing is arguably a false dichotomy). And neither has any obvious relationship to diversity tolerance (secular or otherwise).
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82.     Maxx:
----I'm puzzled about what exactly you mean by reductionist. As I understand it, it would be reductionist to say "All of Chemistry is just Physics," ie, a more abstract formulation poses a reductionist scenario when it is applied to a discipline that works out more details implied by the abstract formulation. So to me, the ultimate formulation of a theistic scenario, ie, "All of everything is just what an all-powerful being intended," seems to me to be the most reductionist possible formulation of all possible formulations, ie, anything other than some theistic scenario is inherently much less reductionist than some theistic scenario.
83.     Veinglory:
The way I read it, reductionism reduces things to an operational level and to their smallest appreciable parts, involving specific objects and specific actions of those objects. As such it tends to be materialist. But I can certainly see other ways to be non-holistic.
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84.     Sasidharan:
To quote Richard Garfinkle, “But doesn't that mean that by your standards any time an atheist does not defer to religious views, the atheist is being eliminationist? In short, how, by this view, can an atheist do anything except keep silent or tell what he or she would think of as lies? By the standard espoused, would not any profession of atheism be deemed destructive to religion?
------here my response would be something like this: by my conviction i may not be a theist or a believer of any kind, still i cannot be indifferent to religious/spiritual needs of people by saying that they are superstitious.
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85.     Veinglory:
I think we're done here as this conversation keeps circling back to a topic that belongs in another room.
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