Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Secular Society

A secular society prevents artificial divisions, rigid codes, and dogma hierarchies from harming individuals.

I. Artificial Divisions

Maintaining a cohesive and secure society requires that as few irrational differences exist between its members as possible. By claiming allegiance to a particular faith or creed - often opposed to other faiths and creeds - individuals identify themselves using artificial criteria. Groupings of individuals will be along faith-based associations, reducing interaction and communication between individuals of different and often exclusive faiths. Immaterial concerns pigeon-hole people, decreasing their worth as humans in the eyes of the bigot. The potential for unfair and demeaning interactions is thus increased. By removing artificial labels and inconsequential criteria, we are more able to acquaint ourselves with one other as we are, not as we unnecessarily judge each other to be. We finally can regard each other as being human.

II. Rigid Codes

A society must be flexible and adaptable to match changes in the internal and external environment. Individuals that are open and supple respond faster and more effectively to changing conditions. By defining the role of individuals in a society based on supernatural considerations and divinely-inspired texts, a people will be limited in their ability to alter their behavior should the need arise. It is not only that certain behaviors are explicitly forbidden, but that solutions revolve around "divine" (ultimately human) wisdom, which may not suffice. As conditions change as a result of development or refinement, ideas that were once suitable and adequate will become unwieldy and cumbersome. By focusing on broadly-defined goals and limits to behavior, a society can successfully steer its members away from harm without causing stagnation.

III. Dogma Hierarchies

Patterning individuals within a society along merit- and experience-based concerns serves the needs of that society. By adhering to faith-based hierarchies, a society is developing positions of authority and power in light of immaterial considerations. The authority and power is also often attached to faith or the supernatural, presenting an unassailable and unchallengeable command. Competence and skill are trumped by divine right. Society grows and contorts in an unhealthy manner to accommodate and support this artificial hierarchy. By focusing on material, legitimate concerns - like experience and knowledge - a society can encourage organization along more productive and effective patterns.

A secular society benefits from an honest appraisal of the natural world and the freedom and responsibility granted to each individual.

IV. Honesty

Understanding the world requires that we take in and interpret information. By beginning with internal assumptions as to the nature of our world, we are hindering our efforts to understand it as it is, not as we believe it to be (it takes no effort to do that!). We cloud our minds with tales of supernatural origins and feats, distort facts with myth and legend, and obscure reality with blind faith. We cannot gather a meaningful assessment from this. Instead of reacting to legitimate concerns, our energies will be focused on catering to figments of our imagination. By withholding conclusions until we have accumulated enough information, we are saving ourselves the trouble of redefining our understanding - if we even were so inclined - in order to accept and incorporate these new findings. Quite the contrary with internal assumptions. Time and again, we will find that the more accurate and true our interpretation is, the more use we can get out of it.

V. Freedom

Acknowledging ourselves as the source of our actions grants us as wide a range of freedom as possible. By presupposing that our actions and fates are determined by some force external and unknown to us, we are relinquishing control of ourselves to an abstraction. We deny our freedom to choose as some other force is now wielding this power. Every act of ours becomes the desire of some other entity - not our own. By determining our own course through life, well aware that they are choices we make without supernatural biases, we are free to find our own happiness and fulfill our own desires.

VI. Responsibility

If we accept freedom with secularism, we must accept responsibility, as any less of one undermines the other. When we achieve great success, we would hope to receive credit and due recognition for our efforts. By assigning our acts to the will of an externalized internal abstraction, we deny full responsibility for our successes and triumphs, as well as our failures and wrongdoings. In this setting, we can never be fully satisfied nor can we learn from our mistakes. Justice is difficult when the accused attribute their acts to external factors. By accepting responsibility for our actions, we are affirming our freedom.


Blogger Delta said...

Religion really has and continues to hurt humanity. Some people say that it was useful in the beginning to explain things like thunderstorms and rain and to give early people some feeling of control over their world. However, I don't understand why faith should be preferred over reason at any point in history. Even if early man was limited in what he could understand using the scientific method, it is still preferable to try and actually understand it then fabricate a bunch of lies that make one feel better. Today religion remains as a powerful reminder of how primitive we still are, and how fragile our minds are when indoctrinated when we are young. Social conciousness has a greater chance in a mind free from religious superstition, so hopefully the current trend of increasing atheism will also result in an increase in conciousness. There's generally some sort of political/social upheaval every 100 years, and perhaps we're getting close to that time. Hopefully with enough people we can make serious improvements to our civilization.

08 June, 2007 12:41  

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