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  1. Given that past literature on the topic suggests that religion has a notable influence on adherents’ family formation practices and that religion is associated with more traditional attitudes and family formation structures, going forward it will be particularly important to assess what specific qualities of religious factors contribute to the noted consistencies between adherents’ beliefs and behavior. For instance, in the case of Eggebeen and Dew’s finding about the religious factors that point to the different cohabitation rates between Catholics and Conservative Protestants (see above), what about displaying “fervor” aids individuals to behave counter-culturally? How does religious fervor come about? Research models that include the greatest number of religious measures, such as Cornwall’s model, which consist of: “Group involvement, belief-orthodoxy, religious commitment, religious socialization, and socio-demographic characteristics,” could allow scholars to determine the most accurate results about the role that multiple facets of religiosity have on people’s lives. Additionally, given that the Catholic Church is not the only religious group that does not view the behaviors encompassed in cohabitation as beneficial, future studies should aim to include as many religions as possible and should differentiate Protestants groups by denomination. Doing so could help to clarify how the specific religious beliefs of a group influence their behavior. As cohabitation and other changing practices in the realm of sexuality and family life, become more prevalent in Western countries, further research about the association between religion and family formation will be of great importance for both scholars who study culture, religion and family, and for the many groups that hold norms, values, and beliefs that are in opposition to these societal trends. A greater understanding of the ways members of religious groups respond to the dichotomy between societal and group-specific beliefs and their own family formation practices could enable religious leaders to assess modes of aiding their members in reconciling the contradictions they face daily between larger society and their beliefs (for instance: program development to help their adherents understand why their group upholds their specific norms, values and beliefs), and could empower individuals with the information they require to make informed decisions about their sexuality, marriage, and family life. ifstudies.org
  2. Decision making about sexual practices and family formation has become complex for those who identify with counter-cultural and sub-cultural groups (or who simply ascribe to traditional views about sexuality and family life). The widening gap between modern and traditional family norms and values has created an internal dissonance between societal and group specific beliefs about many aspects of sex, marriage, and family. The majority of the world’s population, however, still identifies with a religious group and 80 percent of young adults hold marriage to be an important part of their life plans, even as practices such as cohabitation have become normative. This suggests that there is a dissonance between many young adults professed beliefs and goals and their practices. It is unclear, for example, how many young people and adults know how cohabitation could impact their future marriage. Presently, it has been found that cohabitation increases a couple’s chances of breaking up or not marrying. If they do marry, it decreases the quality of their marriage, while increasing their risk of divorce. Greater awareness about both the benefits and consequences of the current normative practices in the realm of sexuality and family life, and about the ways religious beliefs influence adherents’ family formation decisions will be vital in assisting individuals to meet their relationship and marital goals. I have devoted the majority of my professional and academic pursuits to examining how one’s professed religious belief influences family formation patterns (specifically individual’s likelihood of cohabitating). In my own research, I have examined the cohabitation patterns of Catholics, Protestants, and those who identified as having no religion, in Canada. Ultimately I found that although Catholics held the most firm beliefs regarding the behaviors encompassed in cohabitation (extra-marital sex and possibly contraceptive usage), they did not exhibit lower rates of cohabitation than other religious groups (in this case Protestants and those who do not affiliate with a religion). What is more, Catholics’ odds of cohabitation were at times among the highest of the religious groups observed or occasionally similar to that of respondents of no religion. Why was this case? Why was the only group with established doctrine about the behaviors encompassed in cohabitation (as something not beneficial and immoral), similar to individuals that don’t affiliate with a religion in practice? First, my results were specific to Canada’s unique cultural factors and regional factors. Canada’s figures are largely skewed by the many Quebeckers that identify as Catholic (almost half of the Catholics in my sample resided in Quebec) but don’t live religious lives. Second, mirroring trends in the global decline of religion, individuals in Canada may be developing more liberal views of religion. So while many may report religious affiliation, few exhibit religious behavior in all areas of their lives. Beyond my own research on the subject, much of the past and current research about religion and family formation indicates that religious factors have a significant influence on adherents’ behavior in matters of sexuality and family life and that often religion decreases positive attitudes towards cohabitation and deters progressive family formation practices (such as cohabiting). Among more recent findings, a report about the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth by Goodwin, Mosher, & Chandra found that “60% of non-Hispanic white women for whom religion was ‘very important’ in their daily lives were currently married, compared with 36% of white women for whom religion was ‘not important’. Similar patterns in marital or cohabiting status by importance of religion were found for non-Hispanic men and women, black men, and Hispanic men and women.” Similarly, Eggebeen and Dew found that Catholics who attended Church regularly and displayed “fervor” were actually less likely to cohabit than “devout” Conservative Protestants. Furthermore, Thornton, Axinn, and Xie found that the higher the religiosity of one’s family, the greater the likelihood of marrying and the lower the likelihood of cohabiting: “Young adults who are from more religious families and are more religious themselves” they found, “have substantially higher marriage rates and lower cohabitation rates than young adults who are less religious and come from less religious families.” Finally, Gault-Sherman and Draper found that religious networks and communities and the religiosity of one’s geographic location influences union formation negatively, and that the degree at which religion influences union formation patterns varies by geographic location and religious group. Evangelicals were less likely to cohabit and being a Southerner and Christian influenced union formation patterns the most. ifstudies.org
  3. From the earliest days of the Christian faith, Christians have honored marriage as a divinely blessed, lifelong, monogamous union, historically limited to a man and a woman. According to the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, reflecting the traditional view, "Christian marriage is a solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God." However, while many Christians might agree with that basic statement, the terminology and theological views of marriage have varied through time in different countries, and among Christian denominations. Many Protestants consider marriage to be a sacred institution or "holy ordinance" of God. Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians consider marriage a sacrament. However, there have been and are differing attitudes among denominations and individual Christians towards not only the concept of Christian marriage, but also concerning divorce, remarriage, family authority (the "headship" of the husband), the legal status of married women, birth control, marriageable age, cousin marriage, and same-sex marriage, among other topics, so that in the 21st century there cannot be said to be a single, uniform, worldwide view of marriage among Christians. Christian teaching has never held that marriage is necessary for everyone; for many centuries in Western Europe, priestly or monastic celibacy was valued as highly as, if not higher than, marriage. Christians who did not marry or take holy orders were expected to refrain from all sexual activity. wikipedia.org
  4. Christian funerals are important because they show respect for the dead. They also give the family and friends of the deceased time to mourn and show their grief. Christians are sometimes buried and sometimes cremated. If they are buried, the priest will say words from the Bible to reflect that God created humans from the dust of the Earth in the book of Genesis, and that they are now returning to the Earth. Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. 1928 Book of Common Prayer Anglican funeral services will involve readings, hymns and prayers, and a eulogy, which is a speech about the person who died. Catholics have a Requiem Mass where many special prayers are said for the soul of the deceased. They may also celebrate Holy Communion which reminds them of Jesus' Last Supper and the sacrifice he made for the sins of people. Many believe that this sacrifice gave Christians the opportunity of eternal life in Heaven. bbc.co.uk
  5. Many Christians believe that the commandment to honour your father and your mother means you should help them if they are elderly and in need. This is supported in some New Testament texts: The Church should care for any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God very much. 1 Timothy 5:3-4 Christians are urged to: support the elderly, who are vulnerable and should be respected allow the elderly to keep their independence consider the options carefully in order to provide the best for them, including the possibility of looking after them themselves provide facilities, social activities and pastoral care for elderly people through local churches bbc.co.uk
  6. Many Christians believe that marriage is the foundation of family life. It is a sacrament and is intended as a lifelong commitment. It is intended that marriage will bring children into the world and that they will be brought up in a Christian family. Some of the main features of a Christian wedding ceremony are: Bible readings on the nature of Christian marriage. An exchange of vows. The exchange of rings, to symbolise the eternal nature of marriage. Prayers asking for God's blessing on the couple. bbc.co.uk
  7. Baptism is the sign that someone belongs to Christ, which is why it is sometimes known as a christening. In the Church of England a baptism shows that the child is a member of the Church family but if parents believe the child should make their own promise, they can have a 'Service of Thanksgiving'. Some denominations, eg Baptists, celebrate with a dedication service, not involving the baptism of the baby's head with water. Adult commitment ceremonies Some Churches do not baptise people until they are old enough to make the promise to follow Jesus Christ for themselves. This baptism can sometimes be referred to as a Believer's Baptism or baptism by immersion. The person is immersed in the water, as Jesus was by John the Baptist. Jesus left Galilee and went to the Jordan River to be baptised by John … And as soon as he came out of the water, the sky opened, and he saw the Spirit of God coming down on him like a dove. Then a voice from heaven said, 'This is my own dear Son, and I am pleased with him'. Matthew 3:13-17 In denominations that baptise babies, children may choose to be confirmed in their early teens. In a confirmation ceremony, the young person affirms for themselves the promises to follow Jesus that were made by their parents and godparents on their behalf at baptism. In the Bible, Jesus' apostles laid their hands upon Christians' heads and prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit. Confirmation is a symbol of this in the Anglican and Catholic churches. During this ceremony the bishop lays his hands on the 'confirmation candidates'. As soon as they heard this, they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied. Acts 19:5 bbc.co.uk
  8. Christian parents play a significant role in the process of spiritual development of children. They have the opportunity to develop a Christian worldview in the child. This can be achieved in different ways. These include: teaching their children to pray taking their children to church sending their children to a church school or Sunday school encouraging their children to be baptised or confirmed These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:5-6 bbc.co.uk
  9. Christianity teaches that children should treat their parents with honour and respect. They should consider their parents' wishes and be obedient. Many Christians believe that children are a gift from God, and that parents have responsibilities towards them that include: caring for them properly teaching them how to live and to accept authority teaching them about God taking them to be baptised and promising to bring them up in a loving home Children, obey your parents...Parents, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:1-4 bbc.co.uk
  10. Christian love is sacrificial. As Jesus demonstrated this by dying on the cross, parents and children are called to make sacrifices for each other. Family is the first place where children can find out about love, companionship and forgiveness. Parents can set children a good example of how to live a Christian life. Families can play an important role in the community. They can provide support for other families, care for the elderly, and adopt children. Responsibility towards elderly family members is especially important. If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8 bbc.co.uk
  11. Christians believe that children should be brought up in a loving and supportive family, founded on marriage and that the Church should be a model of family life. Roles of men and women Jesus and early Christians lived in a male-dominated society and the Bible reflects this. The belief that men and women should have different roles is still common in some Christian communities today. This is because they believe that God made men and women differently. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. St Paul's letter to the Ephesians 5:21-22 Other Christians believe that men and women were both made in the image of God and should be treated equally – they should share responsibilities and privileges. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus. St Paul's letter to the Galatians 3:28 Many Roman Catholics believe husbands and wives should respect each other's roles within a marriage and value both equally. These roles include those of care within the home, and that of earning money to provide for the family. Men should truly esteem and love women with total respect for their personal dignity, and society should create and develop conditions favouring work in the home. Pope John Paul II The book of Genesis gives different accounts of the order of creation of men and women which have been interpreted differently. The Lord God said 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him' Genesis 2:8 In the Roman Catholic Church only men can become priests and bishops. They have to remain celibate because their position means they are married to the Church and need to be free of family responsibilities to be able to perform their duties fully. Women have different roles in the Roman Catholic Church. Unordained members, called laymen and lay women, are equally allowed to help in giving out the bread and wine at Mass, to read and to perform social roles such as visiting the sick. Nowadays, most Protestant churches allow women to become ministers or priests. In 2014 the Church of England finally voted, after years of debate, to allow women to become bishops and the first women bishops were ordained in 2015. In many denominations of Christianity, men and women can devote their lives to God by becoming a monk or nun. bbc.co.uk
  12. Postsecularism refers to a range of theories regarding the persistence or resurgence of religious beliefs or practices in the present. The "post-" may refer to after the end of secularism or after the beginning of secularism. Use The term “postsecular” has been used in sociology, political theory, religious studies, art studies, literary studies, education and other fields. Jürgen Habermas is widely credited for popularizing the term, to refer to current times in which the idea of modernity is perceived as failing and, at times, morally unsuccessful, so that, rather than a stratification or separation, a new peaceful dialogue and tolerant coexistence between the spheres of faith and reason must be sought in order to learn mutually. In this sense, Habermas insists that both religious people and secularist people should not exclude each other, but to learn from one another and coexist tolerantly. Massimo Rosati says that in a post secular society, religious and secular perspectives are on even ground, meaning that the two theoretically share equal importance. Modern societies that have considered themselves fully secular until recently have to change their value systems accordingly as to properly accommodate this co-existence. Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age is also frequently invoked as describing the postsecular, though there is sometimes disagreement over what each author meant with the term. Particularly contested is the question of whether “postsecular” refers to a new sociological phenomenon or to a new awareness of an existing phenomenon—that is, whether society was secular and now is becoming post-secular or whether society was never and is not now becoming secular even though many people had thought it was or thought it was going to be. Some suggest that the term is so conflicted as to be of little use. Others suggest that the flexibility of the term is one of its strengths. In literary studies, the term has been used to indicate a sort of postmodern religious or spiritual sensibility in certain contemporary texts. Related concept of desecularization The term "desecularization" appears in the title of Peter L. Berger's seminal work The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics. Berger explains that the assumption that the modern world is secular has been “falsified." Specifically, Berger maintained that "the assumption we live in a secularized world is false.... The world today is as furiously religious as it ever was." Various scholars maintain that the percentage of the irreligious in the world appears to be in decline. wikipedia.org
  13. The largest secularist group in the United Kingdom is Humanists UK, which both campaigns for a secular state and represents the non-religious community. The National Secular Society is another such group, and holds an annual "Secularist of the Year" awards ceremony. The award's first winner was Maryam Namazie, of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain which aims to break the taboo that comes with renouncing Islam and to oppose apostasy laws and political Islam. The Scottish Secular Society is active in Scotland, and is currently focused on the role of religion in education. In 2013, it raised a petition at the Scottish Parliament to have the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 changed so that parents will have to make a positive choice to opt into Religious Observance. Another secularist organization is the Secular Coalition for America. The Secular Coalition for America lobbies and advocates for separation of church and state as well as the acceptance and inclusion of Secular Americans in American life and public policy. While Secular Coalition for America is linked to many secular humanistic organizations and many secular humanists support it, as with the Secular Society, some non-humanists support it. Local organizations work to raise the profile of secularism in their communities and tend to include secularists, freethinkers, atheists, agnostics, and humanists under their organizational umbrella. Student organizations, such as the Toronto Secular Alliance, try to popularize nontheism and secularism on campus. The Secular Student Alliance is an educational non-profit that organizes and aids such high school and college secular student groups. In Turkey, the most prominent and active secularist organization is Atatürkist Thought Association (ADD), which is credited for organizing the Republic Protests – demonstrations in the four largest cities in Turkey in 2007, where over 2 million people, mostly women, defended their concern in and support of secularist principles introduced by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Leicester Secular Society, founded in 1851, is the world's oldest secular society. wikipedia.org
  14. It can be seen by many of the organizations (NGOs) for secularism that they prefer to define secularism as the common ground for all life stance groups, religious or atheistic, to thrive in a society that honors freedom of speech and conscience. An example of that is the National Secular Society in the UK. This is a common understanding of what secularism stands for among many of its activists throughout the world. However, many scholars of Christianity and conservative politicians seem to interpret secularism more often than not, as an antithesis of religion and an attempt to push religion out of society and replace it with atheism or a void of values, nihilism. This dual aspect (as noted above in "Secular ethics") has created difficulties in political discourse on the subject. It seems that most political theorists in philosophy following the landmark work of John Rawl's Theory of Justice in 1971 and its following book, Political Liberalism (1993), would rather use the conjoined concept overlapping consensus rather than secularism. In the latter Rawls holds the idea of an overlapping consensus as one of three main ideas of political liberalism. He argues that the term secularism cannot apply; But what is a secular argument? Some think of any argument that is reflective and critical, publicly intelligible and rational, as a secular argument; [...], Nevertheless, a central feature of political liberalism is that it views all such arguments the same way it views religious ones, and therefore these secular philosophical doctrines do not provide public reasons. Secular concepts and reasoning of this kind belong to first philosophy and moral doctrine, and fall outside the domain of the political. Still, Rawl's theory is akin to Holyoake's vision of a tolerant democracy that treats all life stance groups alike. Rawl's idea it that it is in everybody's own interest to endorse "a reasonable constitutional democracy" with "principles of toleration". His work has been highly influential on scholars in political philosophy and his term, overlapping consensus, seems to have for many parts replaced secularism among them. In textbooks on modern political philosophy, like Colin Farelly's, An Introduction to Contemporary Political Theory, and Will Kymlicka's, Contemporary Political Philosophy, the term secularism is not even indexed and in the former it can be seen only in one footnote. However, there is no shortage of discussion and coverage of the topic it involves. It is just called overlapping consensus, pluralism, multiculturalism or expressed in some other way. In The Oxford Handbook of Political Theory, there is one chapter called "Political secularism", by Rajeev Bhargava. It covers secularism in a global context, and starts with this sentence: "Secularism is a beleaguered doctrine." wikipedia.org
  15. It has been argued that the concept of secularism has frequently been misinterpreted. In a July 2012 Huffington Post article titled Secularism Is Not Atheism, Jacques Berlinerblau, Director of the Program for Jewish Civilization at Georgetown University, wrote that "Secularism must be the most misunderstood and mangled ism in the American political lexicon. Commentators on the right and the left routinely equate it with Stalinism, Nazism, and Socialism, among other dreaded isms. In the United States, of late, another false equation has emerged. That would be the groundless association of secularism with atheism. The religious right has profitably promulgated this misconception at least since the 1970s." wikipedia.org
  16. George Holyoake's 1896 publication English Secularism describes secularism as follows: Secularism is a code of duty pertaining to this life, founded on considerations purely human, and intended mainly for those who find theology indefinite or inadequate, unreliable or unbelievable. Its essential principles are three: (1) The improvement of this life by material means. (2) That science is the available Providence of man. (3) That it is good to do good. Whether there be other good or not, the good of the present life is good, and it is good to seek that good. Holyoake held that secularism and secular ethics should take no interest at all in religious questions (as they were irrelevant), and was thus to be distinguished from strong freethought and atheism. In this he disagreed with Charles Bradlaugh, and the disagreement split the secularist movement between those who argued that anti-religious movements and activism was not necessary or desirable and those who argued that it was. Contemporary ethical debate in the West is often described as "secular". The work of well known moral philosophers such as Derek Parfit and Peter Singer, and even the whole field of contemporary bioethics, have been described as explicitly secular or non-religious. wikipedia.org
  17. In studies of religion, modern democracies are generally recognized as secular. This is due to the near-complete freedom of religion (beliefs on religion generally are not subject to legal or social sanctions), and the lack of authority of religious leaders over political decisions. Nevertheless, it has been claimed that surveys done by Pew Research Center show Americans as generally being more comfortable with religion playing a major role in public life, while in Europe the impact of the church on public life is declining. Modern sociology has, since Max Weber, often been preoccupied with the problem of authority in secularized societies and with secularization as a sociological or historical process. Twentieth-century scholars, whose work has contributed to the understanding of these matters, include Carl L. Becker, Karl Löwith, Hans Blumenberg, M.H. Abrams, Peter L. Berger, Paul Bénichou and D.L. Munby, among others. Some societies become increasingly secular as the result of social processes, rather than through the actions of a dedicated secular movement; this process is known as secularization. Sociologist Peter L. Berger maintained that the modern world can no longer be described as being secular or becoming increasingly secular, instead it can best be described as being pluralistic. wikipedia.org
  18. In political terms, secularism is a movement towards the separation of religion and government (often termed the separation of church and state). This can refer to reducing ties between a government and a state religion, replacing laws based on scripture (such as Halakha, Dominionism, and Sharia law) with civil laws, and eliminating discrimination on the basis of religion. This is said to add to democracy by protecting the rights of religious minorities. In his On Temporal Authority (1523), Martin Luther argued for the division of the church and the state. He specified two distinct powers: weltliches Regiment (German word for "the kingdom of the world", "the State"), and geistliches Regiment (German word for "the kingdom of God", "the Church"), and argued that citizens need only subject to the ruler's edict as long as the edict conformed to God's divine will as revealed in the scriptures. Scholars, such as Jacques Berlinerblau of the Program for Jewish Civilization at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, have argued that the separation of church and state is but one possible strategy to be deployed by secular governments. What all secular governments, from the democratic to the authoritarian, share is a concern about the relationship between the church and the state. Each secular government may find its own unique policy prescriptions for dealing with that concern (separation being one of those possible policies; French models, in which the state carefully monitors and regulates the church, being another). A major impact on the idea of state religious liberty came from the writings of John Locke who, in his A Letter Concerning Toleration argued in favor of religious toleration. He argued that government must treat all citizens and all religions equally, and that it can restrict actions, but not the religious intent behind them. Maharaja Ranjeet Singh of the Sikh empire of the first half of the 19th century successfully established a secular rule in the Punjab. This secular rule respected members of all races and religions and it allowed them to participate without discrimination in Ranjeet Singh's darbar and he had Sikh, Muslim and Hindu representatives heading the darbar. Ranjit Singh also extensively funded education, religion, and arts of various different religions and languages. Secularism is most often associated with the Age of Enlightenment in Europe and it plays a major role in Western society. The principles, but not necessarily the practices, of separation of church and state in the United States and Laïcité in France draw heavily on secularism. Secular states also existed in the Islamic world during the Middle Ages (see Islam and secularism). In accord with the belief in the separation of church and state, secularists tend to prefer that politicians make decisions for secular rather than religious reasons. In this respect, policy decisions pertaining to topics like abortion, contraception, embryonic stem cell research, same-sex marriage, and sex education are prominently focused upon by American secularist organizations such as the Center for Inquiry. Some Christian fundamentalists and scholars (notably in the United States) oppose secularism, often claiming that there is a "radical secularist" ideology being adopted in our current day and they see secularism as a threat to "Christian rights" and national security. The most significant forces of religious fundamentalism in the contemporary world are Christian fundamentalism and Islamic fundamentalism. At the same time, one significant stream of secularism has come from religious minorities who see governmental and political secularism as integral to the preservation of equal rights. Some of the well known states that are often considered "constitutionally secular" are the United States, France, Mexico, South Korea, and Turkey although none of these nations have identical forms of governance with respect to religion. wikipedia.org
  19. According to Phil Zuckerman and John R. Shook, "one can find numerous formulations, articulations, and examples of ideas that could be fairly classified with secularism amidst the assertions of various ancient Indian, Greek, Chinese, and Roman philosophers". The departure from reliance on religious faith to reason and science marks the beginning of the secularization of education and society in history. Among the earliest documentations of a secular form of thought is seen in the Charvaka system of philosophy in India, which held direct perception, empiricism, and conditional inference as proper sources of knowledge, and sought to reject the prevailing religious practices of that time. According to Domenic Marbaniang, Secularism emerged in the West with the establishment of reason over religious faith as human reason was gradually liberated from unquestioned subjection to the dominion of religion and superstition. Secularism first appeared in the West in the classical philosophy and politics of ancient Greece, disappeared for a time after the fall of Greece, but resurfaced after a millennium and half in the Renaissance and the Reformation. He writes: An increasing confidence in human capabilities, reason, and progress, that emerged during the Italian Renaissance, together with an increasing distrust in organized and state supported religion during the Reformation, was responsible for the ushering of modernity during the Enlightenment, which brought all facets of human life including religion under the purview of reason and thus became responsible for the freeing of education, society, and state from the domination of religion; in other words, the development of modern secularism. Harvey Cox explains that the Enlightenment hailed Nature as the "deep reality" that transcended the corrupted man-made institutions of men. Consequently, the rights of man were not considered as God-given, but as the de facto benefits of Nature as revealed by Reason. wikipedia.org
  20. The term "secularism" was first used by the British writer George Jacob Holyoake in 1851. Holyoake invented the term secularism to describe his views of promoting a social order separate from religion, without actively dismissing or criticizing religious belief. An agnostic himself, Holyoake argued that "Secularism is not an argument against Christianity, it is one independent of it. It does not question the pretensions of Christianity; it advances others. Secularism does not say there is no light or guidance elsewhere, but maintains that there is light and guidance in secular truth, whose conditions and sanctions exist independently, and act forever. Secular knowledge is manifestly that kind of knowledge which is founded in this life, which relates to the conduct of this life, conduces to the welfare of this life, and is capable of being tested by the experience of this life." Barry Kosmin of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture breaks modern secularism into two types: hard and soft secularism. According to Kosmin, "the hard secularist considers religious propositions to be epistemologically illegitimate, warranted by neither reason nor experience". However, in the view of soft secularism, "the attainment of absolute truth was impossible, and therefore, skepticism and tolerance should be the principle and overriding values in the discussion of science and religion". wikipedia.org
  21. Secularism, as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the "indifference to, or rejection or exclusion of, religion and religious considerations". In certain context, the word can refer to anticlericalism, atheism, desire to exclude religion from social activities or civic affairs, banishment of religious symbols from the public sphere, state neutrality toward religion, the separation of religion from state, or disestablishment (separation of church and state). As a philosophy, secularism seeks to interpret life on principles taken solely from the material world, without recourse to religion. Secularism draws its intellectual roots from Greek and Roman philosophers such as Zeno of Citium and Marcus Aurelius; from Enlightenment thinkers such as Erasmus, John Locke, Denis Diderot, Voltaire, Baruch Spinoza, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine; and from more recent freethinkers atheists such as Matthew W. Dillahunty, Robert Ingersoll, Bertrand Russell, and Christopher Hitchens. It shifts the focus from religion to other "temporal" and "this-worldly" things, with emphasis on nature, reason, science, and development. In political terms, secularism is the principle of the separation of government institutions and persons mandated to represent the state from religious institution and religious dignitaries (the attainment of such is termed secularity). Defined briefly, secularism means that governments should remain neutral on the matter of religion and should not enforce nor prohibit the free exercise of religion, leaving religious choice to the liberty of the people. One form of secularism is asserting the right to be free from religious rule and teachings, or, in a state declared to be neutral on matters of belief, from the imposition by government of religion or religious practices upon its people. Another form of secularism is the view that public activities and decisions, especially political ones, should be uninfluenced by religious beliefs or practices. There exist distinct traditions of secularism in the West (e.g., French and Anglo-American) and beyond (e.g., in India). The purposes and arguments in support of secularism vary widely. In European laicism, it has been argued that secularism is a movement toward modernization, and away from traditional religious values (also known as secularization). This type of secularism, on a social or philosophical level, has often occurred while maintaining an official state church or other state support of religion. In the United States, some argue that state secularism has served to a greater extent to protect religion and the religious from governmental interference, while secularism on a social level is less prevalent. On the other hand, Meiji era Japan maintained that it was secular and allowed freedom of religion despite enforcing State Shinto and continuing to prohibit certain "superstitions;" scholar of religion Jason Ānanda Josephson has labelled this conception of the secular "the Shinto Secular" and noted that it follows a pattern established in certain European constitutions. wikipedia.org
  22. The faith of the Christian is founded not on unverifiable statements, but on an evidential truth statement that can be tested and known to a high degree of probability. Paul points out the foundational nature of Jesus’ resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. He writes that if Jesus was not raised from the dead, then our faith is in vain (v. 14). If Jesus remained dead, then our faith is worthless, and we’re still in our sins (v. 17). If we put our hope in Christ only for this life, we should be pitied more than everyone else (v. 19). The truth of Christianity, the validity of our faith is grounded in the historical evidence that leads us to conclude Jesus physically rose from the dead. Namely, the historically reliable manuscripts of the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, Christianity be damned. But praise be to God! “Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has also come the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:20–22). With the overgrowth cut back, we see science and Christianity together in the clearing. Christianity and science can coexist because both make the same type of assertions:  evidential statements. These are claims we can test externally and find to be true or false to a probable degree. It’s in this clearing where the tension between the two eases, and the truth of the Gospel also comes into view: Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Son of God, who died for you and the forgiveness of your sin, and He rose from the dead to give you life everlasting. Kyle G. Jones 1517.org
  23. Equipped with knowing the differences between statements, we can prune the wild brush. We can snip “scientific” vines covering up science, and we remove “Christian” branches obscuring the reality of the Christian faith. Only then, do we begin to see the clearing where Christianity and science coexist. One of those vines is a common cultural assumption that science provides absolute, certain knowledge, or that science makes definitional statements. But the scientific method can only make evidential statements; it gives knowledge to a probable degree, but not a certain degree. We can’t test all possible hypotheses because there can always be another one. Another vine is the common argument against religion that science has proven miracles impossible. This claim sounds scientific, but at its root, this argument makes a claim about the nature of reality that can’t be proven empirically. As Tim Keller writes, “It’s one thing to say that science is only equipped to test for natural causes and cannot speak to any others. It is quite another to insist that science proves that no other causes could possibly exist.” To make such a claim is to impose on science a philosophical presupposition, or a view of the world needed beforehand, for an argument to make sense. In this case, the presupposition used is naturalism, which holds that everything can be explained by a natural cause and that physical matter is all there is. An obscuring “Christian” branch is that the majority of religious claims are unverifiable statements. Craig Parton lists several in his book, Religion on Trial: “Brahman is All.” “Muhammad caused the moon to come down and pass through his tunic. This occurred so quickly that no one noticed that the moon was missing.” “The burning of my bosom confirms to me that Mormonism is true.” None of these are true by definition. Nor can we verify or falsify them by observing the evidence. Even well-meaning, Christians make unverifiable statements in defense of the Christian faith. None more telling than a line from the hymn, “I Serve a Risen Savior,” by Alfred Ackley: “You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.” There is no way to know if this is true or false. The truth of Jesus’ resurrection is not knowable by examining the heart. The faith of the Christian is founded not on unverifiable statements like Ackley’s, but on an evidential truth statement that can be tested and known to a high degree of probability. This is where Christianity differs from other religions. And the founding evidential statement is not, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). The foundational assertion of Christianity, the one on which the truth of the whole thing rests is, “Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified…has risen; he is not here” (Mark 16:6; see also Matt. 28:6 and Luke 24:6). Kyle G. Jones 1517.org
  24. Meaningless or nonsensical statements are statements that don’t fall under the previous two headings. They’re not meaningless per se, but they’re not true by definition nor can they be verified or falsified by looking at evidence. They are, as I call them, unverifiable statements. Here are a few examples. “Little by little, day by day, what is meant for you will find its way.” “Each year’s regrets are envelopes in which messages of hope are found for the new year.” “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” Many unverifiable statements sound true, but they communicate no discernable truth. The claim isn’t true by the definitions of its words. Nor can we investigate the evidence. Kyle G. Jones 1517.org
  25. Synthetic statements are truth claims that can be proven true, and just as important, proven false, by synthesizing the statement with evidence in the observable world. If it corresponds, it’s true; if it doesn’t, it’s false. For this reason, I refer to them as evidential statements. For example, “The key is under the mat.” You know this statement is true or false by seeing if what was said matches with the observable evidence in reality. You go over to the mat and lift it. If the key is there, it’s true; if it’s not, it’s false. Evidential statements tell us more about the world than definitional statements. But these statements can only give knowledge to a probable degree. Doubt always remains. Maybe the key is there, but we can’t see it for some reason. Maybe a reliable source told us the key was under the mat, but there’s a chance they’re lying. It’s always possible we’re missing something. Though evidential statements only provide knowledge to a probable degree, we’re dealing with a sliding scale of probability — from a high degree to a low one. In life, we make decisions, from the most basic to the most lasting, lacking specific knowledge about the outcome. We make them based on the high degree of probability we’ll succeed. In life, we make decisions, from the most basic to the most lasting, lacking specific knowledge about the outcome. Likewise, we know what happened in history only to a probable degree. We can’t know with absolute certainty if Julius Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March in 44 BC. There is always a chance it was a different day. But, based on the historical evidence we have, there’s a high degree of probability he was. Kyle G. Jones 1517.org
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