DENOMINATIONAL AND SECULAR CONCERNS
FOR GOODNESS' SAKE
No imposition of theocentrism
for the sake of personhood.
No supernatural god or demon
for the sake of truth and inclusivity.
No extremist supreme being
for the sake of neutrality.
An existential trauma of many traditional atheists or secularists
used to be (or still is) the
that they would have to be totally unprincipled, or that they
would have no fundamental respect for universal values. At
present we know that so far as
concerned, the situation is rather the other way around: it is
normistic doctrines that take principles and values most seriously,
whereas they are merely of secondary import in theocentric
doctrines. But traditional secularists, who call or called themselves
"atheists", "agnostics", "humanists" or something else
of that ilk, have in this respect always been on the defensive.
They have tried hard to underscore their explicit recognition of
ethical principles, for example, by organizing themselves in
so-called 'ethical societies'. And they have emphatically asserted
that ethics can be developed independently of belief in a
god. (To understand the historical context, one must not forget
what medieval forces they had, or still have, to overcome in
religionist countries or subcultures.
Ethics, for instance, was, or still is, treated in such countries or
subcultures as a branch of theology!)
One of the preparatory conditions of an assertion is that it
is not obvious to both the speaker or writer and the listener or
reader that the latter knows already what is stated, or does
not need to be reminded of it. That is why the best way to
obliterate what is self-evident is to assert it. It is by the
very assertion of the truth that theism or demonism are no
prerequisite for ethics or morality at all, that the traditional
secularist takes away the self-evidence of this truth. For by
'e must implicitly
assume that there are people who listen to or read
'er declaration, and who
sincerely believe that it is not obvious that ethics can be
developed independently of any form of
theodemonism. Thus only to
placate a few theocentrist listeners or readers with a morbid bias
comprehensive ideologies, who
are not capable of rationally coping with a statement against obscurantism
and irrationalism anyhow, is the self-evidence of the possibility of
non-theodemonist normism obliterated.
We ourselves shall not proceed along this course.
What is definitely not self-evident is the meaning of terms
like secular and secularism.
Within the narrow, old frame of reference in which merely the religious is
distinguished from the irreligious, secular is defined as not
religious, not spiritual or not overtly or specifically
Traditionally, not religious may also be understood as
worldly, temporal, or in a narrower sense, as
In the new framework of
secular is to function on one of the following levels:
- the general level of ideologies
- the level of comprehensive ideologies, whether
non-supernaturalistic, whether theodemonistic or non-theodemonistic
- the level(s) of religion(s) or theodemonist doctrines.
In the first case the stipulative meaning of secular would be
nonideological, in the second case nondenominational, and in
the third case nonreligious or non-theodemonist.
The first of these meanings is to be rejected, because political thought
and institutions could not be described as "secular" anymore then.
The third meaning is to be rejected, because
the DNI (the first and only
nonreligious, non-theodemonist denominational doctrine of its kind) would
then have to be described as "a secular doctrine", inclusive of its
neutralistic symbolism (as to be evolved in
the Book of Symbols).
The concerns of the DNI extend far beyond the purely 'secular',
and so do those forms of art which are and will be inspired by,
or express, the symbolism of
and the essence of inclusive thinking, feeling and acting.
It is not art which is not specifically religious which should be called
"secular"; it is art which is neither specifically neutralistic nor
religious, that is, which is nondenominational, which should now be
This meaning of secular should not be confused with
An additional advantage of defining secular as
nondenominational is that it indirectly more firmly establishes the
inclusive meaning of denominational, which differs more from
its traditional meaning than ideological and religious.
Granted that our stipulative definition of secular is not
denominational, secularism does not mean indifference to or
exclusion of religious doctrines but something like indifference
to or exclusion of denominational doctrines. (Compare
interdenominationalism: a theory or
or occurring between different denominations, and in this sense
inclusive, but possibly in a very partial way nevertheless.)
Whether the doctrines concerned are religious or denominational, the kind
of secularism which is an
exclusivist theory or practise,
antithetical to ideological
inclusivity, must be distinguished
from the kind of secularism which merely confines itself to the secular,
or the kind of secularism which does not reject religion but religionism.
Only the former type of secularism is exclusivistic; the latter type is
nonexclusivistic or even ideologically inclusive so far as the rejection of
religionism is concerned.
It is clear that we as adherents of a nonreligious and nonsecular doctrine
have to fight religionism, but it must also be clear that (other)
'secularists' can solely join us in this fight so long as they are willing
to respect 'nonsecular' denominational considerations.
Of course, as always under the conditions of denominational freedom and