From Aeon: ‘The Secular Front In The U.S.’

Full piece here.

‘Evangelicals’ seems a rather loaded term.


As a rather agnostic sort, I have found questions of faith, belief and conformity to be highly dominant in some places, so dominant, in fact, that pretty much the whole town would seem against you if you had some deep commitment to other principles, or reasons to think and act differently.

There’s something a little scary about this (problems of authority and coercion, stability and freedom), which goes straight to the heart of our founding documents.

Here’s a quote by John Locke:

“7. What is meant by enthusiasm. This I take to be properly enthusiasm, which, though founded neither on reason nor divine revelation, but rising from the conceits of a warmed or overweening brain, works yet, where it once gets footing, more powerfully on the persuasions and actions of men than either of those two, or both together: men being most forwardly obedient to the impulses they receive from themselves; and the whole man is sure to act more vigorously where the whole man is carried by a natural motion. For strong conceit, like a new principle, carries all easily with it, when got above common sense, and freed from all restraint of reason and check of reflection, it is heightened into a divine authority, in concurrence with our own temper and inclination.”

Heretics, contrarians, and assorted dissenters interest me, even if J.S. Mill’s profound liberal political philosophy runs into problems.


The ways in which many secular progressives try and answer questions that religion attempts to answer (why are we here, why so much suffering, how do I live, what do I do?) can be downright scary, too: Political utopianism and ‘power’ theories, displaced Marxism and cultural Marxism, the simple resentiment of ‘they’ which builds like a reef in the minds of radicals and true-believers as they follow the logic of their ideas/ideologies.

As I see it, this can create ‘choke points’ where secular idealism (with the radical base beneath) is channeled through rather poorly designed institutions and more poorly incentivized programs; these becoming, in some cases,the only institutions capable of higher appeal and arbitration.

Globally, whatever your thoughts on climate change and global order, the IPCC, or U.N. dysfunctionality are fine examples of the above.

Lots of people can make ideology their guide and political change their purpose, or the State their religion and their own moral failings or moral programs everyone’s moral oughts through the law and politics.

Human nature hasn’t changed that much, after all, and many people will be quite happy to trod over you and your freedoms on the way to their cherished ideals.

Also On This Site: Repost: Larry Arnhart At Darwinian Conservatism Reviews E.O. Wilson’s ‘The Social Conquest Of Earth’

Repost-From The Access Resource Network: Phillip Johnson’s “Daniel Dennett’s Dangerous Idea’From Edge: ‘Dennett On Wieseltier V. Pinker In The New Republic’

Maybe if you’re defending religion, Nietzsche is a problematic reference: Dinesh D’Souza And Daniel Dennett at Tufts University: Nietzsche’s Prophesy…

A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”Repost-Classical Liberalism Via Friesian.Com-‘Exchange with Tomaz Castello Branco on John Gray’

Addition:  If the British left, and Eagleton as somewhat representative of it, can’t sanely recognize that part of the problem is the way that Muslims seek a religious kingdom here on earth, and that there can’t be reasonable discussion of this, then…see here, where Roger Scruton suggests a return to religious virtue: From The City Journal: Roger Scruton On “Forgiveness And Irony”

See Also:  Roger Scruton In The American Spectator: The New Humanism…From Nigel Warburton’s Site: A Definition of Humanism?…From The City Journal Via Arts And Letters Daily: Andre Glucksman On “The Postmodern Financial Crisis”