Saturday, March 23, 2013

An Unspoken Assumption that Needs to be Spoken

The gay marriage debate is one of the most acrimonious and unpleasant things around at the moment. One of the more amusing (to those with a warped sense of humour) aspects of it is the number of times that secularists say that religious arguments should not be brought to the table or given any weight. My response to this is, "why? I know that your argument is an excellent dodge to get your point of view passed without real debate or discussion, but why?"

You see, the argument begins by assuming that religious arguments are always invalid, which is a wonderful enlightenment dodge to make sure you never have to examine them, but which should not be allowed to itself go without examination. The secularist assumes that secularism, as a philosophy, is true, and therefore everyone else has to follow his rules. In a postmodern, plural society, that assumption cannot be allowed to stand, because it at one stroke destroys all real plurality of views. This is, incidentally, why Modernist pluralism is sheer humbug, but that is another matter.* Rather, modern Britain consists of people from a huge variety of backgrounds, in various religions and cultures. So why is it that not one religious person is allowed to come to the table as a religious person? Is that not deciding the outcome before the debate? Is it not as absurd, if not more so (for after all, in the Middle Ages the population of England was overwhelmingly Catholic) a Medieval friar declaring that a Lollard must affirm the faith of the Catholic Church that the Eucharistic elements are transubstantiated before they debate the Mass?

We must affirm the fact of pluralism without falling prey to a philosophy of pluralism. The fact is that Evangelical Christians are a small minority in this country, and we cannot realistically expect our views to be accepted by all. But it is an equal fact that the secularists are also a small minority, yet they expect without question or debate to be able to impose their views on everyone else. We cannot allow the Secularist to treat his worldview as the default position - rather there is no default position, and each may and must speak from his or her own position. That way at least we get honesty, and hopefully also clarity!

* Modernist pluralism is humbug because really (though usually unconsciously) it says that only modernism is true, and that a plurality of faiths are allowed only really insofar as each is moving towards a full acceptance of modernism, or allows itself to be regarded as completely irrelevant. Certainly only Modernists are allowed a seat at the table.

1 comment:

Jacob said...

I'm not a Christian, but I agree wholeheartedly that the refusal to engage religious ideas is absurd and hypocritical. Lately I've been thinking of secular squeamishness about religion as a kind of Victorian prudishness -- in other words, a repression of our fundamental instinct toward religion. Anyway, thanks for the clear perspective.