Assignment for OT Blog readers

Go to Borders Books (or B&N if you prefer), get a cup of coffee, and then read Michael Novak’s article “The End of the Secular Age” in “First Things.” I’m not as optimistic about the collapse of secularism as he is, but his overview of secularism (including neo-atheism) is top notch. You’ll have to read it there first. They won’t allow posting until next month.

3 thoughts on “Assignment for OT Blog readers

  1. What do you think of Ross Douthat’s argument that the higher political profile of the Religious Right has led to a “secular backlash”. Douthat, the conservative columnist for The Atlantic, writes:

    In the forthcoming, not-yet-online Atlantic, for instance, I have a short piece analyzing the rise of mass secularism in America, which draws on this paper by Michael Hout and Claude Fischer on the remarkable growth in the percentage of Americans with “no religious preference.” Hout and Fischer attribute this growth, in part, to people self-defining against organized religion because of its association with conservative politics, but (like Razib) they shy away from calling this phenomenon “secularism” because many of the “no religious preference” types retain supernatural beliefs.

    But I tend to think that the term “secularism” is actually most useful, and exact, when applied to a political hostility to organized religion of precisely the kind that Hout and Fischer are documenting, rather than to a more general disbelief in the supernatural. “Secularist” should be synonymous with “anti-clericalist,” in other words, rather than with “unbeliever.” (It seems like a poor definition of secularist that excludes Deists like Thomas Paine and Voltaire – or that excludes Sam Harris, for that matter, because of his forays into Eastern mysticism.)

    According to Hout and Fischer, the growth in the numbers of Americans claiming “no religious preference”, resulted not from an increase in athiests, but an increase in disaffected “unchurched believers”.

  2. Well, I tried to complete my assignment. Instead of the dog eating it, my local Barnes and Nobel decided to put the “August/September” issue on the stands already. The online article is of course not available yet… 🙁

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