Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Western Religion Partially Responsible for Secularization?

As I referenced in my first post about An Atheist Defends Religion we have been going over Peter L. Berger's book The Sacred Canopy in my Introduction to the Study of Religion class. On Friday the professor went over a section in Chapter 5 about secularization. The basic idea is that Western Religion, particularly Protestantism, carried the "seeds of secularization within itself". I will try to do a quick summary of the idea while trying to decipher Berger's obsession for using overly complex language. He essentially states that, originally, the Catholic religious world was one where God could be seen in many aspects of life. It was one of complex imagery, saints, rich sacramental rites, and so on. When Protestantism came on the scene it got rid of nearly all of this. Reducing the religious life of the Protestant to the bare essentials, the believer and God.

Protestantism may be described in terms of an immense shrinkage in the scope of the sacred in reality, as compared with its Catholic adversary.

At the risk of some simplification, it can be said that Protestantism divested itself as much as possible from the three most ancient and most powerful concomitants of the sacred-mystery, miracle, and magic. (pg. 111)
He calls this process "disenchantment of the world". Through this process God was more and more removed from this Cosmos. It became more about a relationship between the believer and God. The outside world was no longer part of the process. He argues that this eventually helped in the secularization of the natural world.

In doing this, however, it narrowed man's relationship to the sacred to the one exceedingly narrow channel that it called God's word [not to be confused with the Bible].

It needed only the cutting of this one narrow channel of mediation, though, to open the floodgates of secularization.
 I think the point Berger makes here is, at least, partially valid and one that many people either ignore or do not know about. It implications for many of the fundamental Christians (who are mostly some variety of Protestant) that rail against the "secular world" are, in fact, partially responsible the spawning of the very world, and train of thought, they claim to be a curse upon the Earth. It also holds some implications for many of the new militant-atheists. Basically, they are in debt, in some form or another, to the same people they consider to be deluded and ignorant. This can be viewed as some kind of strange interconnected web. Two groups at each others throats who are ignorant of the fact that each is responsible for the other.

No comments:

Post a Comment