The Samovar

Response to “The Sickness of Secularism”
November 1, 2006, 12:34 pm
Filed under: Politics, Religion

Soumaya Ghannoushi has written an article called The Sickness of Secularism on the Guardian CiF site. Ostensibly, this argues a similar point to ones I have made in earlier entries on this blog. However, I think there’s much to disagree with in this article. It starts as follows.

We are witnessing the rise of an arrogant secularist rhetoric founded on belief in the supremacy of reason and absolute faith in science and progress, dogmas which arouse ridicule in serious academic and intellectual circles nowadays.

The arrogant secularist rhetoric part I can agree with, but suggesting that reason is not or should not be supreme goes too far for me to follow. Invoking serious academic and intellectual circles also seems pretty weak. Later we have

This simplistic worldview fails to take account of the complexity of cultural and historical processes, or of intellectual and human phenomena.

Appeals to complexity always strike me as lazy and poorly thought out.

There is also plenty in this article to agree with, but I think the author makes the mistake of attacking reason rather than her opponents. By doing so, she identifies her opponents as reasonable (which I would argue they are not), and herself as unreasonable (which maybe she is, but much of what she is arguing for is not).

This entry surely has nothing to do with the fact that I have a PhD viva in half an hour, and writing it is certainly not a way of stopping me from worrying about it.



Hey, good luck with the Phd viva!!! I’m sure you’ll do just fine.

Meanwhile, I don’t think you can dismiss cultural stuff so offhandedly. It’s how many people identify themselves. Heck, it’s why so many Spanish people I know call themselves Catholic even though they only go to church for the High Holidays or for things like weddings and baptisms.

So much of that is cultural/family stuff and for the most part people aren’t terribly concerned about or interested in the religious aspect of it.

Comment by azahar

I passed! 🙂 Not Dr. Dan yet though, gotta wait a few months for that.

I don’t dismiss cultural stuff, but I do wonder at how the author of this article seems to set herself up against reason rather than the specific problems in the views of the atheist fundamentalists.

Comment by Dan Goodman

YAY!!! HAPPY DANCE … and whatever other happy silliness goes with hearing that fabulous news!!! Wait till I tell Nog! Good for you. 🙂

Honey, try to iisten to some of the Bill Moyer’s interviews – they are really quite eye-opening in the sense of how faith and reason can exist hand-in-hand.

Got any special celebration going on tonight?

Comment by azahar

Terrific, Dan.

Well done.

Comment by woodpigeon01

Thanks all. I went to a restaurant that turned out to be rather disappointing. I went there a few years ago and it was fantastic but rather expensive so decided to go there again. It’s obviously changed hands and gone severely downhill. Oh well. I’m still happy. 😀

Comment by Dan Goodman

Congrats Dan.

Comment by Tony Hatfield

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