In his Feb. 8 column “ Building better secularists” David Brooks identified some of the difficulties in being secular, such as the lack of inherited religious creeds and communities. He could have added others: no music or art extolling secularism, no promise of eternal life or hope of seeing our loved ones again.
Despite all this, secularism is growing primarily because of disappointment with religion as we perceive it. Brooks thinks believers display “passion in pursuit of moral action,” belief that “each soul is worthy of the highest dignity” and placement of “agape at the center of life.” Secularism thrives because we seldom see these attitudes in the believers among us.
Religion seems divisive and rigid, rejecting those of different faiths and scientific learning that differs from church dogma.
Brooks strained to believe that secularists could have a moral compass. He stated, “Religious people are motivated by their love for God and their fervent desire to please him.” Why can’t he accept that secularists are just as motivated by love for their fellow man?
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There is nothing uniquely Christian about the Golden Rule or its moral corollary, “Do all that you can to reduce human suffering.”
Secularists can live by these guidelines without needing to believe that some higher power will be pleased.