P Z Myers on the virtues of secularism

30 04 2006

Biologist and uber-blogger PZ Myers is not a man to suffer fools gladly–particularly not of the “born again” kind. He argues the case for secularism in an essay penned for The Raw Story, and makes a point that I myself have made on countless occasions in countless online debates (mainly on The Tolkien Forum) with fundies and not-so fundy religious types:

SECULARISM DOES NOT EQUAL ATHEISM.

If there were but one message I wanted to communicate, though, it would be that secularism is a progressive value; it is something we should be promoting as a core part of our identity, and an absolutely essential property of good government. Secularism does not in any way imply atheism or agnosticism, nor is unbelief a prerequisite for favoring a government that is completely independent of sectarian religion. At the time of the founding of our country, among the most vigorous advocates of the separation of church and state were the Baptists, not the atheists, who were then and have always been a tiny minority. In a country with a plurality of diverse beliefs (and that also has not changed), it makes sense that the government that serves them all should make no commitment to any one brand of religion, and that we should enforce a studied indifference to all forms of the sacred. It may be counterintuitive to some, but that is the only way to protect the independence and variety of religions that are (unfortunately, to an atheist) thriving in America.

And not just America. This needs to be shouted from the rooftops in every liberal democracy on the planet.

You can read more about PZ Myers here.

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