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Friday, August 5, 2011

Inaugural of Irreligion




I’m not sure of the presence of secularism and non religion in academic journals before this year, but now a joint effort from Trinity College in Connecticut and the Non-religion and Secularity Research Network is publishing the first journal centered on those very subjects, called Secularism and Nonreligion (It doesn’t have to be a creative name, it just has to be specific). They’re already asking for publications for peer review, which also makes it quite official in the academic world. There have been essays about atheism published elsewhere, I’d imagine, by philosophers such as Antony Flew, A.J. Ayers and such, but now there is a chance to investigate the structure of atheism, secularism and non religion in general from an academic perspective centered on this instead of just incidentally relating to it in terms of other disciplinary concerns, like epistemology in philosophy.

According to a survey from 2008 released by Trinity College, the number of religious “nones” is the fastest growing group. If nothing else, it shows that people are becoming one of two general groups: spiritual but not religious or secular in some form or fashion. The former is quite probably the bigger group of people, very eclectic and syncretic in nature, fusing religious traditions in one way or another or drawing from those traditions in different ways. The latter is trickier and can indeed constitute an entire journal of study. I myself feel like this publication is made for my endeavors, though I’ve only partly started covering secularism and the like on my blog and general academic ideas, particularly in my Atheist Alignments project, which I should revisit in the future or add onto with something else, such as a project I’ve been wanting to work on called Secular Bible Philosophy. The idea is to take the philosophy you find throughout the bible and formulate it in a secular fashion or find general wisdom the Bible presents and enumerate how it can be agreed upon by nonreligious people without recourse to God.

The span of the journal seems to be secularity, secularism, nonreligion and atheism. If I had to guess, this would probably cover many irreligious philosophies of one form or another, such as Confucianism, Buddhism, even Daoism to an extent. A lot of this would have to fall under a standard of what you consider religious, which is already contentious amongst scholars of religion, from what I recall. There are popular theories ranging from sociological to psychological and those can exclude or include various religions as we commonly understand them. Some people might not consider Buddhism a philosophy, for example, and place it under the religious at least in part.

There are also the political and ideological areas of secularism, such as laicite, which is a practice in France where religion and state are more radically separated so that neither really interacts with the other. The idea of separation of church and state could also be investigated from the secular and atheist perspectives primarily. The American perspective, for instance, in contrast and comparison to the French political situation would be an excellent article for starters.

All in all, I hope this spawns other publications of this type. Atheism and secularism have been underrepresented in terms of real academic studies, so along with more presence of American Atheists and the like, this promises to give real consideration and attention to a subject that is pertinent in an America becoming more diverse in terms of people either rejecting religion for spirituality or rejecting both religion and spirituality altogether, and everything in between. Agnostics, atheists, apatheists, skeptics and many more classifications come to mind and, if I could, I’d like to publish something there in the future myself, even if just once. Until next time, Namaste and aloha.

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