For some of us without a belief in God, it may be disappointing that so many false gods have slipped into the godless vacuum that is modern society. At least a belief in God tended to highlight the worship of false gods, bringing out the fact that they were gods, were worshipped and were false.
Take whales as a crazy example. Study the ecstatic faces of those who observe their first whale – after all it’s something we see on TV often enough. Why ecstatic? Have whales been promoted to minor deities? Ludicrously enough, yes they obviously have – for some. The environment appears to be a zoo of minor deities apart from its human denizens. Humans seem to be the demons in this strange new Godless but god-riddled world.
The great and somewhat covert myth of western secularism was that social control would somehow turn out to be less rigid and oppressive than during our predominantly Christian social evolution.
Yet what is a person in our brave new secular world? As far as ruling technocrats and global corporations are concerned, a person seems to be no more than a pattern of behaviour. Not a mind, not an individual, not a free citizen with spiritual values, moral standards or any of those old-fashioned notions, but simply a pattern of behaviour.
So how wide is this range of person-defining behaviour? Well surely the first and most obvious question is – what range of behaviour might be acceptable to our puppet masters – given what we already know of them?
So that’s a narrow range of behaviour isn’t it?
The only important behavours are probably political and social timidity combined with naive shopping habits. That’s it – that’s probably all that is required of ordinary citizens.
Truth is one of the most obvious casualties, truth so often being inimical to manipulative narratives. So a politician’s job is not truth-driven and politicians are not truth-seekers. Why would they be in a secular society wholly based on manipulative narratives designed behind the scenes? It wouldn’t work.
A truth-seeking culture would screw up all those manipulative narratives. In a secular society, political and commercial dishonesty always have this covert yet wholly essential rationale.
So secular society has not proved to be the brave new rational world many secular folk may have dreamed of – and in many cases worked for. What was overlooked is that a secular desire to control behaviour in pursuit of political security and commercial advantage has no reason to stop at any particular juncture other than economic and technical feasibility.
So the only limits we have on attempts to control behaviour are economic and technical – not moral or spiritual. Control cannot be halted by any countervailing moral or spiritual force because to an increasingly large extent there isn’t one. We secular folk rejected it.
Christian religious traditions on the other hand, whatever faults and corruptions may have occurred over the centuries, were rational attempts to make moral and spiritual sense of the human condition. Our shift towards a more secular society leaves a moral hole inevitably filled by political correctness simply because that’s the biggest game in town. Promoted to that position by secular indifference and outright stupidity.
That is certainly not to say that one society is to be preferred over another. I don’t hanker after Victorian morality, but those of us with a secular outlook have a problem we seem reluctant to acknowledge. The defects of secular society may at the moment be tolerable to many, but much of that tolerance may be due to little more than physical comfort. Food, shelter and entertainment have subverted us – or too many of us at least.
Should our physical situation become less comfortable, then the defects of a secular society may well become startlingly apparent. Startling to those who missed what was going on any rate.