Some Thoughts on Secular Worldviews


In today’s world, people have a worldview that is primarily either secular or religious. Of course, in actuality it is often a blending of both, sort of a metaphysical smoothie.

In my last post, I discussed the problems with religion as a knowledge system. Unfolding Human might be seen as an exploration of building a better secular worldview.

By a secular worldview, I mean a philosophy that doesn’t accept mystical explanations of reality relying instead on scientific understanding and rationality. It is oriented to the observable real world and is based on evidence and reason.

Here, I am talking about secularism as a philosophical perspective, as a model of the world. There is also a related political meaning of secularism involving separation of church and state.

Secular humans act based on their best understanding of the world rather than faith. They see humans as agents in a world of cause and effect, not as subjects of otherworldly intervention.

I think of there being 4 main variants of the secularity as a mode of being. The core secular worldview is the techno-capitalist governmental model of the world. This is essentially the model that aligns with all of the current reality structures of global capitalism, free markets, technocracy and the system of nation states.

This model essentially echoes the processes of reality that exist today without any religious buffering. There are multiple strains of this worldview. There is a political division in this model between democratic and authoritarian governance. But these two are just siblings of the same underlying model.

Of course, within the democratic point of view there are a number of variations covering conservative, libertarian, corporatist, liberal and socialist democratic outlooks that merge together in myriad shadings. But essentially they are competing versions of the same underlying way of thinking.

The second variant, is the pragmatic version of the core view. You can think of it as the value-free, non-reflective version of the core view. As a philosophy, it accepts the world as it is and is concerned only with whatever it takes to get by in the world, the world is just a setting to act within. It isn’t concerned with good or bad and doesn’t care about meaning or purpose.

The third version is the hedonistic worldview, which is a relative of the pragmatic outlook. The hedonistic point of view is reality based and sees the objective of life as the pursuit of physical pleasure. While there are more and less refined versions of this, I think of it as the sex, drugs and rock and roll philosophy.

The last variant is the secular humanist point of view. I think of secular humanism as a more philosophic version of the core institutional worldview. It is more reflective and more concerned with underlying truth, ethics and human well-being.

I don’t mean to imply that these are separate free-standing entities, like clubs that people belong to one or the other. They are more like threads within the tapestry of the overall secular worldview.

Unfolding Human is very sympathetic to the secular humanist outlook but believes that we can and need to go beyond most current visions of secular humanism.


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