Secularism and Society:
A Society of “you’re wrong” instead of “YOU’RE WRONG”
By Brandon Christen
Greetings, friend, and thank you for coming to our website. You are most welcome, we assure you. That being said, there is another matter which I feel we must tend to before you move on to look at the rest of our site, and that is a very elementary matter; why is this site even here? What is it about secularism and the Secular Movement that warrants having so many websites, groups, and activists? Well, there are many answers to that single question. I would like to know try and provide you with only one: the difference between being told “you’re wrong” and being told “YOU’RE WRONG.”
We live in a democratic republic wherein we enjoy the freedom of speech as well as the freedom to hold any idea you wish, and to bring that idea to the communal table and enter into open, frank discussion with others about that idea. On the reverse side of that coin is the fact that, given that all ideas are not mutually true, someone has to be right and someone has to be wrong. Thus, disagreement is bound to occur and at some point someone is going to tell you “you’re wrong.” The good news is that this is perfectly harmless and fine! Simply being disagreed with doesn’t hurt anyone. It is a normal and healthy part of participating in a vibrant democratic society.
However, imagine a society were religion seeped into the governing body. Within most religions, there are certain values or beliefs which are held as total and absolute, as well as essential. If you disagree with these tenets, then you are not just merely wrong, you are WRONG; you are in sin, and your false beliefs are an affront to the very power or deity behind existence! No longer is disagreement a civil practice, because now your disagreement is seen as a filthy, horrible sin. Your opinion isn’t just faulty, it’s downright evil and it needs to be stopped now before it infects other minds. In short, it’s the difference between a mild mannered “you’re wrong” and a harsh and thoughtless “YOU’RE WRONG!” In a religiously dominated society, civil discourse and polite disagreements break down. You are either ABSOLUTELY RIGHT or you are ABSOLUTELY WRONG on issues of faith.
So I ask you, which is better? Which is more conducive to society? A polite and civil society wherein we can agree to disagree in a calm fashion and let the marketplace of ideas weed out the right and wrong…or a society wherein religion has already determined, based on ancient books, what is right and wrong forever and if you do not conform, you are a pariah; stained with sin and corrosive to society? I think the answer is quite obvious…
Secularism fosters a respect for independent thought and civil disagreement through intelligent and polite discourse. Religion simply says all life’s questions have already been answered thousands of years ago, and you just need to keep quiet and agree with whatever holy book they believe in. In a secular society, the words “you’re wrong” mean only that; you are (in the other person’s opinion) mistaken; there’s nothing cruel or disrespectful about it. In a religiously dominated society, the words “you’re wrong” mean you are completely and eternally wrong, offensive to god, wholly out of touch with reality, and a second class person since you are doomed and unrighteous. How can such a system of thought encourage anything but sectarianism and subtle discrimination?
So, in the end, I encourage you to do several things. For one, explore our site! We welcome you here, and we welcome your thoughts and comments, even if you disagree with us entirely. Secondly, we encourage to, if nothing else, at least walk away and think on these things we’ve suggested. We are each and every one of us a part of a greater society, and all our voices and opinions need to be heard. Have you participated with the discourse lately? Have you thrown your thoughts into the marketplace of ideas and enjoy watching society shape and mold in new ways as your participate. Think about what sort of society you want to live in; a free thinking secular one, or a dogmatic religious society that tells you what you should believe.
Oh, and by all means, please have a nice day!