As per my posts on atheist morality, the argument has now been pushed from “atheism is more moral than religion” to “Secularism has resulted in higher moral standards than religion.”
So I thought it is worthwhile to analyze this argument and see if we can find that “Objective Morality” that atheists claim only exist in atheism, however since they could not prove it conclusively with atheism, they have broadened the term to secularism. I do not think they are playing word games with me rather they naturally think within the limits of atheism that anything but religion can be good.
The purpose of my argument is not to conclude that religion has the sole key to higher moral standards.
My purpose is to find out whether secularism results in any higher moral standards than religion. On a upclose view i find the given statement actually errant, it is based on faulty logic, now don’t think I am trying to evade the question, I will explain it to you.
First for the layman, let us summarize what secularism actually is
Secularism: The idea that government may exist separately from religion and/or religious beliefs.
now there are types of secularism
1. Soft or Agnostic Secularism: this type claims that since the highest truth/reality cannot be fully comprehended due to lack of empirical evidence therefore tolerance, rationale and logic should be the balancing principle among various groups of people both religious and non-religious. In this, religion is accepted as privatized to its followers and does not interfere in state decision with respect to equality among all groups of faith. This is predominant in western countries and shared with some variation throughout the globe in most countries.
2. Hard or Atheist Secularism: this one claims that the presence of religion is illegal and illogical therefore it should not be tolerated at any costs.
Please note that hard secularism logically results in extreme atheism and vice versa, producing states like former U.S.S.R and modern China with their a bit less extreme followers like modern France and Turkey.
Secularism in general means moving forward with rationale and shifting away from religious values as a state and society. Its roots can be traced back to the classical roman era which in fact laid the basis of modern secular theory.
The statement is faulty at two points, first it performs a categorical confusion between atheism and secularism and secondly, it implicitly argues that the lack of religion promoted human rights. That is not true, I’ll give you an example. Rome was primarily religious yet it instituted the human rights into its society and law. Modern day United Kingdom’s official religion is the church of England yet it practices human rights in almost full fashion.
Let me explain it in entirety now. First the categorical confusion
Every system within its own laws and morality, works for its followers.
The above is the basic idea of forming a group and how the purpose of a ideology should work for the betterment of those who follow it.
Religion, with its laws and moral standards works for a group of people who are tied by a written, set standard, there is room for individual interpretation but the key ideas remain the same. They are all like minded people who have a specific creed and they all share at least the core of the same. So religion’s moral standards work perfectly fine for its followers because religion is not meant to deal with groups of people, religion always have to have one group of people joined together by faith. That is major reason that religions don’t accept people unless the expressively convert to the religion’s ideals.
Secularism, with its ethics and structure is not for specifically one group of people, there can be many and the whole point of secularism to gather people under a state or society without the filter of religion. So secularism paves the way for democracy as it implies and ensures that everyone will have a say in the matter. Thus modern democracy is born.
Secularism’s ethics and structure works for its followers, but one cant say that it would be logical to compare the two, because even if you compare religions and Secularism, the only difference you get is that in secularism multiple groups of people form a unified group whereas in religion only one does. Does this mean that secularism has a higher moral standard? no, it has a different moral standard. As those who are in the religious group have their own moral structure which works perfectly fine for them.
Let us come to the second fault – the question arises, do natural rights (human rights) always exist exclusive to non-religious societies? An atheist would say yes, but that is indeed not the case, as in the case of Classical Rome and Modern England, I wrote above.
Human rights in their essence have nothing to do secularism (which is state separation from religion). The fact that modern secular states all apply human rights is not the result of secularism itself but the idea of natural rights, what secularism provides is the playground for these rights to be exercised. Secular ethics promotes common good but without set limits and goals, it always needs to identify those to start with. So what Secularism does is that it promotes common good, common good is necessary for global culture condensation as well as trade. The modern world backed up by advance technology demands a connected world and a global economy.
Let me say, secularism is not a “better” alternative to a philosophy nor it is a substitute of religion as it does not dissolve the former rather separates it. As I mentioned above secularism is the idea that state and religion should not co-exist. Secularism in its core doesn’t expel religion from the society but privatizes it and in doing so it can not be confused with atheism. Secularism and atheism are different ideas. Both cannot exist mutually without the need of left hand ideology implemented by force since the religious follower will not be granted equal rights to practice his belief.
Why does the modern world predominantly embraces soft secularism? because democracy is best served in this model. A state like India can have 22 religious faiths within its borders and still be democratic and secular. Representing all instead of one makes micromanaging minorities and majorities equally through law and policies and human rights. In fact Secularism is best for a global platform for communication and trade as it, by law does not discriminate anyone with respect to religion, faith or belief.
Atheists who confuse atheism with secularism offer such errant statements. The fallacy is not in religion or secularism rather than the atheist idea that religion at any rate is not to be accepted, whatsoever. They do not realize that by such admission they themselves force a stipulation upon people, the very sin they accuse religions of (a sort of imperialism, regardless of who proposes it, religious or non religious)
A modern secular society is a classic example of diversity among society – tied by moral law and duty towards self interest and common good. What is moral law – is a largely debated issue, one that still does not hold a concrete set of ideals. Issues like, abortion, homosexuality, same sex marriage, child labor, admission of evolution or prayer in schools and public expression of preaching (any religion) are among the chief examples that are still being held under consideration and the results are not uniform.
Why is morality not uniform in a secular society? because what dictates morality is something which in a diverse culture is democratically solved and since there are more sets of people involved there are more reasons for self interest that may not be viable for all parties to agree upon. It is common logic and reason. The part that secularism is successful at is that for the common good, it dictates that even though there are no standards to define objective morality, any issue can be broken down and solved with respect to facts. If a issue is not morally acceptable to all parties except one, the rest may observe tolerance. On the other hand in religion such a stance is never required because there is only one group of people and they have a common goal. So religion evades the diplomatic step of deciding what is right in principle to a certain group and not to the other as it has a written path to follow. Thus in religion, common good is restricted to only one group of people and it works for them.
The thing to note is, an ideal secular democratic society will never be extreme – meaning that nothing can be done that by and large will result in a shift from democracy to a totalitarian stance until the objective morality is unified by a single belief and that may not be always democratic or religious. Stalin’s rise to power, The Islamic Revolution of Iran as well as Hitler’s ascending to power with the Third Reich, are prime example to show what I mean.
Secularism is a good thing for religion as it frees the religious entity to serve its own purpose without getting its hands dirty. Secularism also makes sure that everyone stays happy to some extent as there is no absolute morality at stake.
But does this secularism promotes a higher moral order, consider the “League of Nations” and then the “United Nations” both entities were secular, charged to keep world peace, but since its initiation have failed to prevent more wars. I am not implying that secularism is fundamentally wrong or not workable but only implying that secularism will not always result in objective morality.
While in this mode of state – religion separation is ideal for a “global village” however the moral standard remains fragile and ever changing. Modern atheists fuel their argument by adding the fact the dogma controlled world like the pre-reformation age of Christianity barred human rights. Yes they did, and with them the rest of the known world but their actions had political means to assert the church’s control as well as the fact that human rights in the medieval age did not replace the feudal system and monarchy whether it be Christian or pagan.
Religions like Christianity which teaches to forgive and love have the same moral standards that have been around for thousands of years even before there was organized religion. Todays secularism shows no new or higher morals. The same that have always governed logic and reason in the mind of moral man. What secularism in its modern form has done that it has created space for everyone to be under the same roof, in that it aims for harmony but such aim is seldom achieved. The past century is proof enough of all blood shed and the two world wars that were not even religious in nature. Like every other system, secularism has its high points and shortcomings. But for a claim that implies a higher moral order, I will say, NO, only an alternative moral order since the only difference is the categorical difference explained at the start of the post.
Why? an atheist would argue, since on a general view, one finds that our modern world is more free than the old one, human rights have become the norm of civilized culture and everyone is free to express themselves. But this has nothing to do with atheism, let me remind you atheism has not proposed any of the said “higher standards of morality” neither have they proposed any new morals, that fact that human rights are the norm today is not because someone’s religion had inferior moral standards, no. It is because religion is not be confused with a unified world order which exactly is something that atheism hopes to achieve and they have left for us up till now no model of excellence to follow, they have not produced any of the likes of Jesus, Gandhi, Budha, Mother Teresa and anyone else for that matter.
Religion’s moral standards works in its own framework for its own good. Religion is not the global or economical model of the future, it is a purely about finding a higher truth and meaning to life. Secularism on the other hand has a more materialistic approach and is a form of governmental structure rather than a philosophy, they both work to their own ends and should not be compared as the comparing conditions are dependent on different natures and order.
So at the end, atheism miserably fails to accomplish anything of “Higher Morality” as its own. The best they do is to mix them up in various ideologies and then claim influence. I am not saying all atheists are bad people, but most of them are in a delusion, not because they think there is no God but because they think atheism holds all the answers and believe me they are wrong.