Pinky and The Secularist

You know you’re in for an entertaining read when the first sentence of an article is:

We are witnessing the rise of an arrogant secularist rhetoric founded on belief in the supremacy of reason and absolute faith in science and progress, dogmas which arouse ridicule in serious academic and intellectual circles nowadays.

Fun or what? Beware of logical explosions in the following paragraphs:

“Reason” itself, whose praises they sing night and day, is a perpetually changing mixture of many overlapping elements. It is neither abstract, nor intentional and does not confront the rich, labyrinthine human world as its other. It is quintessentially imbedded therein, in its emotions, languages, historical experiences, religious traditions and cultural heritage. There is no such thing as an ahistoric reason.

I don’t think this makes any sense. Maybe it’s been ghost-written by the Pope.

This means that we do not have one but many rationalities, the Christian European, the Islamic, the Chinese, the Indian to name a few, each stamped by the specific conditions of its evolution, and in turn incorporating a multitude of sub-rationalities. Neither do these traditions of rationality exist isolated from each other. They have much in common, the product of the interactive and communicative activity of cultures.

Aristotle’s logos, Descartes’ intellect and Kant’s transcendental reason, are illusions, which no self-respecting thinker can afford to defend in the 21st century. The truth is that today’s self- proclaimed guardians of enlightenment and rationality are offshoots of the intellectual poverty of eighteenth century positivism and scienticism, who disfigure philosophy and thought, history and reality. They are the victims of what may be referred to as a sick secularist consciousness.

There are people who really say this stuff to each other, you know. I like the argument of redefining a word out of all meaning as an attempt to claim something doesn’t exist.

This feels unfinished. Something’s missing…what could it be…

Secularist dogmatism is no less dangerous than its religious sibling. Secularism itself can be, and indeed has been in many historical instances, highly destructive. We should remember that Europe’s modern history is scarred with the brutality of secular totalitarianism. Neither the Jacobites, fascists, Nazis or Stalinists were priests or theologians. They were fanatical secularists who worshipped in reason’s grand temple and sacrificed hundreds of thousands for the god of progress, fervently vowing to create a new man and a new world on the ruins of the old.

Ah yes, there we go 🙂 No article of this nature is complete without mentioning Stalin at least once. Normally, though, the argument sounds at least vaguely plausible, even if it turns out to be a bit silly. Stalin, as far as I know, wasn’t acting as a result of non-belief in god, he was just your average dictator with access to 20th century technology. He was only using ‘reason’ in the same way that some Muslim fundamentalists ‘reasonably’ think that blowing themselves up guarantees them access to paradise. The problem is in the initial assumptions, which we can attack though logic and reason!

Nobody’s saying that religion is the only reason for hate and violence, just that it’s a major one. Simultaneously accusing ‘secularists’ of attacking straw-men while saying things like “[c]ommunication, they insist, is only possible within uniformity.” is a little ironic, too.

All these words. Why are people so scared of having to back up their ideas? If you want to believe in a fairy in the sky, go right ahead, just don’t tell other people they have to think the same thing. If you want to do something that affects other people, you need back it up with evidence and a logical argument – some people call this ‘reason’, but you can call it rumplebumpkins if you like, it doesn’t change what it is. What’s wrong with that?

Don’t bother reading the whole thing, it’s just depressing.