Ian Ramsey Centre

“Secularism: The Dead Debate” - GRAHAM WARD

What does ‘post’ mean in ‘post-secularism’? In this paper I will argue that we have never been secular in the way it has been constructed over the last few centuries. So now, when the secularization thesis has collapsed and when ‘secularism’ has lost its analytical power in the social sciences, when the stories of modernity from words like ‘disenchantment’, universalism’, the ‘atomized individual’ and ‘immanent frame’ beg more questions that answer them - we find ourselves having to make new distinctions: actor-networks, re-enchantment, socially embodied cognition, multiple modernities etc. Secularism is not the ‘methodical atheism’ behind authentic scientific enquiry and not the ‘procedural neutrality’ in government policies for social inclusion. It has to be seen as an ideology and allowed to fall away as a reductive, ‘anti-religious’ anthropology intolerant of human flourishing. ‘Post’ might label this, but inadequately.

Graham Ward

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