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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

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