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Modern Myths, Locked Minds by T. N. Madan

Introduction: Scope, methods and Concepts

1. Secularization, secularism, Christian tradition and the Enlightenment: a brief history
T. N. Madan differentiates between secularism, secularization and secularity. 1) Secularization refers to socio cultural processes in which the role of the sacred is progressively limited; 2) Secularism is the ideology that argues for the historical inevitability and progressive nature of secularization everywhere and 3) Secularity is the resultant state of society.
The term "secularism" was first used by the British writer Holyoake in 1851 to describe his views of promoting a social order separate from religion. The English word ‘secular’ comes from the Latin ‘saeculum’, which means ‘an age’ or ‘the spirit of an age’ and has the same meaning as the Greek ‘aeon’. In general terms, secularism means “belonging to this age, or worldly” along with a denial of other worldly realities (i.e. religious).

The Bible introduces the idea of divine creation in the book of Genesis. God speaks directly to Man in Genesis: “Be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it”. As Peter Berger, a social theorist notes that in this the idea of a secular world is sown as a God who stands outside of the Cosmos which is his creation. This opens the way for self making activity which Berger calls ‘historization’.

Caesar was the emperor of Rome. In a famous passage Jesus said, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's". Some have thought that Jesus' statement established two separate realms, Caesar's and God's, and that people should render to each what they ask for in their respective realms. Later, during the rule of Roman Emperor Constantine 1 the two worlds were sought to be brought together. Christianity became a dominant religion of the Roman Empire. Constantine's conversion was a turning point for early Christianity, sometimes referred to as the Triumph of the Church. Constantine supported the Church financially, and endowed the church with land and other wealth.

Western Christianity was highly influenced by the ideas of St. Augustine who was a Roman philosopher. Augustine wrote the The City of Gods which presents human history as being a conflict between what Augustine calls the City of Man and the City of God, a conflict that is destined to end in victory of the latter. The City of God is marked by people who forgot earthly pleasure to dedicate themselves to the eternal truths of God, now revealed fully in the Christian faith. The City of Man, on the other hand, consists of people who have immersed themselves in the cares and pleasures of the present, passing world. This view reflects the early negative view of the secular.

The Church gradually became stronger in the 11th and 12th centuries and the king was seen as having sacred powers. However, in 1054, there was a dispute resulting in the Great Schism or split between the east (or Byzantine empire) and and West Church. In the West, the church was under a strong pope, who had universal authority while in the East, the Church was tied to the Byzantine emperor. In the Byzantine Empire there was no distinction between the religious and secular, between Church and State- the two were seen as parts of a whole.

Another Roman philosopher Thomas Aquinas (along with Saint Augustine) is often considered instrumental in laying the foundations for Christian philosophy. Aquinas believed there was no contradiction between faith and secular reasoning and he tried to provide a rational explanation of the Universe on the basis of scientific or experimental knowledge. This laid the foundation for the modern ideology of secularism.

Secularism first appeared in the West in the Renaissance and the Reformation. By 1500, Renaissance values weakened the influence of the Church and led to the Reformation. The Reformation began as an attempt to reform the Roman Catholic Church accused of corruption with Martin Luther playing a key role in the protests. It led to the establishment of various "protestant" sects. Protestantism arose elsewhere under the leadership of John Calvin who believed in predestination i.e. whether a person was to achieve salvation was determined before that person was even born. According to Peter Berger, the Protestant reformation along with the ideas of Luther and Calvin led to the re-emergence of secular forces as the individual no longer needed the Church to be his agent for salvation.

The clashing of ideas between the Protestants and Catholics led to the Thirty Years' War which ended with the Treaty of Westphalia. The term ‘secularism’ was first used in 1648 in the treaty of Westphalia. At that time it denoted the removal of territory or property from the control of ecclesiastical (i.e. pertaining to the Church) authorities.

Following the Reformation was the Age of Enlightenment (or Age of Reason) in the second half of the 18th century. Its purpose was to reform society using reason (rather than religion) and science. The Enlightenment, by recognizing human freedom as one of its main concerns, sought to reduce the influence of religious law and the church over society and to enable the peaceful coexistence of people with different beliefs. The concept of natural law accepted that human beings were separate individuals capable of independent thought. It was during the Enlightenment that the belief in an ideal social order based on a contract between persons who are fundamentally equal became widespread in western political thought. The principle of separation of religion and state can be thus seen as an outcome of secular thinking based on reason and rooted in the Enlightenment. The result of enlightenment was ‘Disenchantment’ i.e. the ‘mysterious’ was being conquered by rational explanations and so the world loses its mystery and magic. Enlightenment did not reject religion but religion played an increasingly limited role.

The French Revolution that brought about a head-on clash between church and state. Secularization referred to the transfer of Church assets to the State. Napoleon Bonaparte reached a peace of sorts with the church, which was brought under state but left alone as long as it confined itself to spiritual matters. The arrangement, known as the Concordat, lasted a century. In 1905, the church was separated from the state.
Prominent thinkers of the 20th century include Bonhoeffer, Gogarten and Harvey. Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers from Prison is most notable for the idea of ' Christian worldliness' where he states that we have arrived at the end of the 'religious' era in our culture. Since the thirteenth century, man has not developed any hypothesis of ‘God' and seems to have practically lost all awareness of what God might mean. Bonhoeffer calls this development as the world's arrival at 'adulthood'. Bonhoeffer introduces a new proposal for a 'non-religious interpretation of Biblical terminology in this connection. Gogarten and Harvey Cox also restated Christianity in terms of a secular world. Gogarten rejected the assumption that there is an incompatibility between the Christian faith and the modern secularized world, and argues that modern secularity is the necessary outcome of the Christian faith itself. 'Secularization' now becomes a word with a positive religious meaning.

T.N. Madan has argued, that the basic flaw of the ideology of secularism is its holistic, non-dualistic character, and the separation of the domains of the sacred and the secular must be acknowledged everywhere in the same manner. The problem Madan notes, with "the acceptance of this position is that non-Christian religious traditions cither do not make this distinction (e.g.. Islam), or do it hierarchically (e.g.. Hinduism), subsuming the secular under the sacred.

2. Social science perspectives of secularization

Comte, Weber, Durkheim and Marx on the ideology of secularization

Secularisation explains that as modern society advances it will become increasingly secular, and religion will become less influential. Comte, Durkheim (1857-1917), Weber (1864-1920), and Marx were eminent theorists who all contributed to this theory. Auguste Comte (1974) laid the foundation of secularization. Comte offered an account of social evolution, proposing that society undergoes three phases in its quest for the truth: (1) the theological, (2) the metaphysical, and (3) the positive. In the theological stage, phenomena are explained as the actions of fictitious gods and spirits, supernatural beings who are similar to humans though far more powerful. In the metaphysical stage, phenomena are explained by the operation of forces such as Nature. Religion as conventionally understood is gradually displaced. Society is governed by churchmen and lawyers. This stage is, as Comte said, only a modification of the theological stage, and thus merely transitional. In the positive stage, explanations are liberated from religion and metaphysics to become truly scientific. Science rests on observation, and aims to discover the laws governing the operation of the natural and social worlds. Society is ruled by experts. In Comte's scheme the positive stage is the end-point of history. Comte argued that the progress of sciences will result in the disappearance of religion.

Weber (1990) did not believe that disappearance of religion is altogether possible but rather believed in the decline of religiosity. Weber proposed that secularization was fuelled by rational thinking and this reduced the faith in the supernatural, the mysterious, and the magical. The ‘mysterious’ was being conquered by rational explanations found in physics, biology and chemistry. He called these changes 'disenchantment of the world' - the world loses its mystery and magic. Personal catastrophes, diseases, floods, and wars, once attributed to supernatural forces, magic, divine intervention, or to blind fate came to be regarded as the outcome of predictable and preventable causes. According to Weber, there were two reasons for this disenchantment: 1) increasing emphasis on instrumental rationality (concerned merely with practical results) and 2) reasoning which replaced religious primacy with economic primacy.

Durkheim too acknowledged that religion seemed to be in decline but he believed that religion would always remain essential to all societies, traditional or modern, not because it is true but rather because it serves a public function by providing a sense of social solidarity. Durkheim argued that industrialized societies are characterized by functional differentiation, where specialized organizations are dedicated to healthcare, education, politics, and welfare. these organizations replace most of the tasks once carried out exclusively in Western Europe by monasteries, priests, and churches leading to a decline in the influence of religious in public spheres.

Marx was the product of the Enlightenment, embracing its call to replace faith by reason and religion by science. Central to Marx's theories was the oppressive economic situation in which he dwelt. Marx's view of capitalism saw rich capitalists getting richer and their workers getting poorer. Not only were workers getting exploited, but in the process they were being further detached from the products they helped create. By simply selling their work for wages, "workers simultaneously lose connection with the object of labor and become objects themselves. From this objectification comes alienation. The common worker is led to believe that he or she is a replaceable tool, and is alienated to the point of extreme discontent. Here, in Marx's eyes, religion enters. Christianity teaches that those who gather up riches and power in this life will almost certainly not be rewarded in the next while those who suffer oppression and poverty in this life, while cultivating their spiritual wealth, will be rewarded in the Kingdom of God. Thus Marx's famous line - "religion is the opium of the people", as it soothes them and dulls their senses to the pain of oppression. Marx’s vision of a secularized world was one in which there would be a classless and unalienated society.
According to Peter Berger, secularization is “the process by which the sectors of society and culture are freed from the authority of religious institutions and symbols.” But Berger has now revised his views. He believes that a person can be both religious and secular. Berger’s point is that calling the doctor does not preclude offering a prayer. Bryan Wilson points out that a society becomes secularized when there is: (1) a decrease in the portion of wealth devoted to the “supernatural”; (2) an increased independence of social behaviors from religion; and (3) an increasing justification of institutions functioning with little or no tie to religion. Wilson believes that the role of religion in a secular society consists of “furnishing men with comfort, in the social system.
Hobbes and Locke on the institutional aspects of secularization
The modern world began with wars of religion. During the Thirty Years War, Europe was devastated by armed struggle between Catholics and Protestants, with around a third of the population in parts of Germany perishing as a result. Much of early modern thought is a response to these conflicts. The need to restrain the violence of faith is central in the writings of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.
Thomas Hobbes, an English philosopher, felt that society naturally resembles a State of Nature, and that this State of Nature is a State of War. Hobbes believed that a common power (called ‘sovereign) was required to avoid a state of war and keep men united. The sovereign would either be one man or an assembly appointed by the people (government). The ‘sovereign’ or the ‘Leviathan’ exercises absolute power over his subjects. He is also the head of the church as he is head of all else. Hobbes asserts that the sovereign’s laws may occasionally contradict religious laws but the sovereign’s laws must still be obeyed. Locke develops a philosophy that is contrary to the one expressed by Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan. Unlike Hobbes, who saw uniformity of religion as the key to a well-functioning civil society, Locke argued that civil unrest results from confrontations caused by the government’s attempt to prevent different religions from being practiced. In ‘A Letter Concerning Toleration’, Locke promoted toleration towards various religious beliefs. He believed that the government (or state) is instituted to promote external interests, relating to life, liberty, and the general welfare, while the church exists to promote internal interests, i.e., salvation. The government and church therefore serve separate functions, and so, they must be considered as separate institutions.

Locke divided Laws into three categories. Divine Law - which is given by God alone who, would want what is best for humanity; consequently, it would become imperative to follow these laws for our own good, Civil Law - which is made by man in legal courts and may coincide with the laws set forth in the Bible, and may also reflect the opinion of the people, Law of Opinion or reputation which are enforced by public opinion. The law of opinion may not seem as binding yet has social consequences. Ideally a person will embrace all three laws. According to Locke, if one follows the law of God one would, usually fulfill the requirements of all other laws. In such cases, a perfect political body would accept Christian doctrines. Hence, Locke attempted to reconcile both human and divine laws for the benefit of society at large.

The two most important revolutions of the 18th century, the French Revolution and the American Revolution, were both inspired in part by the anti-religious ideas of the Enlightenment. The French Revolution produced a secular state in which there was a strict separation of state from church – in other words there is no state religion. The French Republic has not formally recognised religions though it continues to protect the right of an individual to a freedom of worship.
Like the French revolution, the American Revolution too resulted in a Constitution which was intended to keep any one religion from dominating the government. The First Amendment to the Constitution of the USA had two important aspects 1) non interference i.e. government will not establish a church. Thomas Jefferson cherished the ideals of enlightenment and human reason and coined the phrase "Separation of church and state" (sometimes "wall of separation between church and state") to emphasize this ideal 2) entitlement – the citizen has the right to follow any religion of his choice.

There has been some debate whether the Amendment allows an ‘equality right’ or the ‘liberty right’. This debate was fuelled by the rituals of the Native American Indians. Members of the Native American Church used peyote as "the sacred medicine" to combat spiritual, physical, and other social ills. Concerned about the drug's psychoactive effects U.S. authorities attempted to ban Native American religious rituals involving peyote. However, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) was passed by the Congress that recognized the ‘liberty right’ as correct and admitted that in the past the U.S. government had not protected the religious freedom of American Indians.

TN Madan feels that the ‘Liberty right’ view is what the Indian constitution envisages and is based on respect for all religions or non discrimination on the ground of religion..

3. Fundamentalism and Pluralism

Fundamentalism is an ambiguous term used in different ways by different people. Typically, it is defined as an ideology advocating strict adherence to a religious doctrine and also advocating a sense of contempt for the people who do not follow these principles. From the above analysis Madan has derived 7 features of fundamentalism out of which 3 are characteristic of Protestant fundamentalism: 1) Affirmation and supremacy of the scriptures 2) reactive character of fundamentalism i.e. it is a reaction to a perceived threat or crisis and not an original impulse such as orthodoxy 3) intolerance of dissent. He adds 4 more features based on the Iranian revolution: 1) cultural critique i.e. the idea that all is not well with a social or community life at a particular time, 2) appeal to tradition but in a selective manner so that there is a meaningful relationship between the past and present 3) capture of political power and 4) charismatic leadership. All 7 characteristics are present in the Iranian revolution. the meaning of the term fundamentalism can be understood better by analyzing protestant fundamentalism and the Iranian revolution:

Protestant fundamentalism

Protestant fundamentalism refers to a movement within Christianity upholding a literal reading of the Bible. In response to the Modernist Criticism, conservative Protestants in the United States settled on a set of five principles which, they argued, defined Christianity. These were (1) the inerrancy of the Bible, (2) the Virgin Birth of Jesus, (3) the belief that Jesus died to redeem mankind's sin and that salvation resulted through faith in Jesus, (4) the physical resurrection of Jesus, and (5) Second Coming of Jesus. Between 1910 and 1915, a series of twelve booklets were published, titled The Fundamentals and the conservative Christians became known as "the fundamentalists". The World Association of Christian Fundamentalists (WACF) was established in the United States in the 1920s to oppose modernist criticism of Bible and rationalism. The fundamentalists declared that modern science was in error everywhere as it opposed their understanding of what was written in the Bible.

When Darwin’s book on the Origin of Species was published, it was criticized by religious figures. The idea that humans had descended from animals was seen as a direct attack on the Bible who taught the Divine Creation of man. The fundamentalists rejected evolution and the scientific outlook. Fundamentalist religious organizations formed alliances with conservative lawmakers to pass "monkey laws" -- laws which made it illegal to teach evolution. In Tennessee, biology teacher John T Scopes decided to challenge the law and teach Evolution to his students. The result was the Scopes Monkey Trial. The trial degenerated into an attack and counter-attack concerning the influence of fundamentalism on science and education. For a while fundamentalism died but it re-emerged in the public scene in the 1960s and 1970s when the Supreme court banned prayer in public schools and permitted abortions in schools. This led to a clash between religious and secular values. Since then new versions of fundamentalism have emerged in America.

Iranian revolution

All seven features of fundamentalism that have been listed by Madan were present in the Iranian revolution. The Shah (king) of Iran Muhammad Reza Pahlavi had launched an effort to modernize Iran economically and socially. The Shah (king) had allied himself with secularists in conflict with Muslims who held traditionalist values on such matters as tobacco, alcohol, movies, gambling and foreign dress. However, secularization was only partial as it was based on both the Holy Law (Sharia) and the Shia Ulama.

The reforms being proposed by the Shah were opposed by the landlords and clerics and a revolution was led by the Shia Muslim Cleric Ayatollah Khomeini against modern Iran. Firstly, the revolution was a reaction to the present. New laws proposed by the Shah gave women the right to apply for divorce without the husband's permission, a man had to secure his wife's consent before taking a second wife, and legal matters involving families were transferred from religious to secular courts. Despite the booming economy, many Iranians were still struggling economically. Corruption had emerged among government officials.

Secondly, the revolution was a return to the past or fundamentals of Islam. Khomeini wanted a return to the rule by Islamic law: sharia. Khomeini announced that no judge was to be female; that all non-Islamic forces were to be removed from the government. In school classrooms prayers were to become mandatory. Khomeini spoke of music corrupting youth, and he banned all music on radio and television.

The book by Khomeini ‘Islamic Government’ became important in the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The book argues that government should be run in accordance with traditional Islamic sharia. He stated that in the absence of the Occulted Imam (descendant of Prophet Muhammad who was born but disappeared, and will one day return and fill the world with justice) the faqih (jurist) is the most qualified person to rule and provide political "guardianship" over the people. A modified form of this doctrine was incorporated into the 1979 Constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran following the Iranian Revolution, with Ayatollah Khomeini, as the first faqih "guardian" or Supreme Leader of Iran.

Thus, in the notion of guardianship there was a selective return to tradition and an overwhelming emphasis on power. The revolution was also a reaction to the culture present at that time and acclaimed the perfection of Islam.

Religious Pluralism

This stands in direct contrast to fundamentalism – as it denies that any one religion is in sole possession of the Truth. The official translation of religion is "panth" and of secularism is "panth-nirpeksh". In India secularism has been defined in terms of – sarva dharma samabhava which according to Madan could have three meanings:

1) The notion of pluralism in India could mean mutual exclusiveness ‘To you your religion, to me mine.’

2) Convergence of the fundamentals of different faiths such as ‘the Absolute is but One, but the Learned describe it differently.’

3) Every religion requires the other religion since no religion has monopoly over the Truth. Thus, every person will not only respect the other religion but also seek to understand other religions. Gandhi at times came close to adopting this position.

“Secularism was a gift to mankind by Christianity” by Madan

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...I. Secularism: For me secularism defines a person who does not believe in Jesus Christ. Which makes me question the lifestyle of a person not living for Christ, a secular way of living is a person who lives and tends to show a destructive behavior with no consequence for their actions. Example of the lifestyle would be premarital sex, drunkenness, drug abuse, abortion, lying, and homosexuality in our world today. Secularism was first discovered in 1400 this was during the Renaissance days, toward the end of this period empirical science developed and the key players were Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543), Johannes Keller (1571-1630), and Galileo Galilee (1564-1642). According to Dean Halverson in his writing on secularism p.1. They viewed science as studying the handiwork of an almighty Creator and discovering his laws. The origin of secularism is that the universe is the product of chance or pure contingency. Everything that is, is an accident. Everything is the product of chaos, flux, and randomness are king, personality, meaning, and universal laws of logic clearly have no place. If the secular- evolutionary is true which their not, then your life and existence have no meaning whatsoever so what are they living for? For this reason I ask the question how do they fill about themselves? What would they say about their identity? They believe they evolve from an animal and they are nothing more than an animal, they believe they posses potential for improving life for people. They...

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India vs Spain enormous amount of differences between them. Spain being a part of Europe is largely influenced by the European culture furthermore the Rome culture; on the other hand India’s culture is more multifaceted and has been influenced by colonialism over the past century- both collaterally and vernacularly (Sen Amartya, 2005).   India is a home to a variety of different cultures; it is known to be the most diverse country in the world in every aspect. Looking into a major aspect of any culture that has existed, religion plays a major role in the upbringing. It influences the framework of a particular culture and individual human behavior too. India being a secular state has no official religion; it has equal tolerance for every religion. Secularism was adopted in the country in the late 1800s keeping in view the multi religious nature of the Indian society. (Engineer. A., 2003). However Spain adapted Roman Catholicism as its official religion, as it’s the largest group of...

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...Secular Humanism Vs Biblical/Christian Worldview Richard Puller Liberty University Secular humanism is defined as a theory of ethics and human fulfillment devoid of spirituality, the supernatural, or God. Man becomes the measure of all things, (Secular Humanism and Evolution by Caleb Colley, PH.D). Tom Flynn executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism and editor of Free Inquiry magazine defined Secular humanism as a comprehensive nonreligious life stance that incorporates a naturalistic philosophy, a cosmic outlook rooted in science, and a consequentialist ethical system. Secular Humanistic beliefs regarding origin, identity, meaning/purpose, morality and destiny are as follows. The Secular Humanist believes in the Evolutionary Theory. They believe that the universe already existed, that man is a part of nature and that he has emerged as a result of a continuous process. Secular Humanist believes man is a result of naturally occurring chemical reactions that have occurred through the evolutionary process and that we have no particular purpose. Secular Humanist see mankind’s existence again as a result of the evolutionary process, mankind is just matter and has no more importance than any other living thing. Secular Humanism utilizes the Ethical relativism theory, where morality is relative to the norms of one's culture. Whether an action is right or wrong depends on the moral norms of the society in which it is practiced. Secular Humanist believes that...

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Hereafter If he lives a bad life, he will assume in the next generation the shape of some animal, such as a dog or a cat, or some lower kind of man. If he acts have been good, he will be reborn as a man in higher class. This view point is found in some Eastern religions. There is a third view point which calls for believe in the Day of Judgement, the Resurrection, man’s presences in Divine Court, and the meting out of reward and punishment. This is the common belief of the all Prophet. From the above, we could said that Hereafter could be derived a lot responds. This is because many of them had some wrong conceptions towards Hereafter. Therefore, we had been assigned to do this topic in order to understand the differences between secularism and Islamic viewpoint regarding the Hereafter. In addition, this is to correct these wrong conceptions and help those who want to know more about the Hereafter. Allah said, “And the stupor of death comes in truth, ‘This was the thing which thou was trying to escape!” (50: 19) In our...

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...Mashanna Hartley Mr. Robert Hunter APOL 104 3 October 2015 Critical Thinking Paper What is Secular Humanism? Secular Humanism is a compressive, nonreligious, and life stance incorporating natural philosophy, a cosmic outlook rooted in science, and a consequentialist ethical system (What). Secular Humanism uses science, intellect, and personal opinion to answer life’s most difficult questions. Paul Kurtz said, “Humanism cannot in any fair sense of the word apply to one who still believes in God as the source and creator of the universe,” (Noebel, p.444). The question of Origin Secular Humanism View: Matter always existed and given enough time, the end result is what you see. The Human Manifesto II, secular humanism finds no evidence to belief in supernatural. God is not necessary for morals and God does not answer mankind’s existence, according to atheists, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins (Weiner and Gutierrez, p.64). Man is a machine, according to naturalism. Man has little or no control over his/her existence. Since man is considered to be a machine, if the machine breaks, the man’s life is over (Weiner and Gutierrez, p.65). Christian View: Christians believes God created universe and all life (Genesis 1:1-25). Christians believe animals will change to adapt to their surroundings (Genesis 1;11-12, 21-25). God created us in His own image (Genesis 1:11-12). God made man out of dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7) and made woman from Adam’s rib (Genesis 2:22). She...

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...lead to our captivity to the iron cage of Scientism, – claiming that humans are only complex biological beings --, of technology, -- dominating the human lives --, and of materialism and hedonism. This iron cage is a limitation to the capabilities of a human person to exercise his creative freedom and discover the answers for his natural yearnings for the more or the greater. It is also in contradiction to the nature of humans as embodied spirits since it fully rejects divine truths and anything that Science could not explain, thus preventing man to explore the unthought-of-possibilities of the human spirit. 2. Secularism will not succeed in leading us to greater humanization. This is because it rejects the fact that human persons are spiritual beings, only accepting knowledge provided by Science and given by this finite, limited, and temporal world. Secularism dehumanizes us because it makes man settle for what is given to him here on earth, making him go against his being to satisfy his yearning to transcend and grow as a...

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