Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Secular & The Eternal

Maverick Philosopher turned me on to a great article on the real meaning of "secular". You can read it here:

I think this is extraordinarily insightful, and brings up some interesting aspects of the secular view of the world. Secularity tries to make us comfortable with the purely temporal. Denying any eternal reality to which we may correspond our lives, it tries to convince us to be happy with what is temporal or passing. But it cannot be incumbent upon us to do what we are incapable of doing. Many of us lowly human beings find a burning and unquenchable NEED for the eternal. Indeed, I have suggested many times that the very concept of 'meaning' is steeped in this need.

When we talk about meaning, mattering, or significance, we simply are expressing our need to know that we make an eternal, rather than merely temporal existence. Some people, it seems, don't have this need. But many of us do. I suspect the prevalence of anxiety and depression stems in part from a misunderstood frustration of this need. People are looking everywhere for some eternal ground of meaning, and are constantly bombarded by the idea that no such ground exists. That unfulfilled need is the cause of much modern depression. I know it is what caused my depression. I am only happy so long as I can believe in the eternal. Faithlessness and depression are two sides of the same coin in my life.

Moreover, every experience we have that gives us some happiness in this life, every experience that indicates to us that life is worth living at all, contains within it some intimation of eternity. Beauty is an invitation to hold onto a moment forever, humor is the insistence that there is some Ultimate Perspective from which all others are judged, play is a bracketing off of time altogether, hope is grounded in the conviction that there will always be a tomorrow, and on and on, all of our most sublime experiences INSIST that an eternal perspective exists. That our sensory data does not confirm this is not reason to just deny it. That is nothing more than epistemic and experiential imperialism, choosing some experiences as truth-guiding and denying others, for no good reason.

In the end, I take the secular pleading in favor of the passing to be little more than self-deception. I cannot be happy with a life that lacks any eternal ground. And what I cannot do I should not be judged for not doing.

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