What is secularism? Is it different from secularisation? Discuss.

What is secularism? Is it different from secularisation? Discuss.

Secularism, it is said, stands for a tendency that is broad and basic, primordial and significant, in the evolution of human thought and experience. Secularism is not a mere protest or discontent with excesses of religious zeal. Secularism is defined in the Encyclopaedia Britanica as a branch of utilitarian ethics, designed for the physical, social and moral improvement of mankind, which neither affirms nor denies the theistic premises of religion. It would be generally correct to say that in the contemporary modern world any man/woman considers his or her religion as a private and personal affair, governing his/her relationship with some unseen power God, or whatever one may call it.

‘Secularism’ is a value-loaded concept, its values derive from, and must be contextualised in our understanding of the underlying social process we call ‘secularisation’. ‘Secularisation is a social process and ‘secularism’ is a socio-political ideal or ideology. In actuality ‘secularism’ can become a reality in our social institutions only in so far as these are affected by ‘secularisation’. Therefore, secularism is a product of, and, in turn, strengthen the process of secularisation. For the truism that there can be no secularism without process of secularisation is now widely accepted, but the challenge of actualising it through concrete social, political, economic and educational measures is an enormous task.

Secularism is, above all, a product of the weltanshauung of the Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was the expression of Western man’s urge to live his own life independently of the domination by the church which was the prevalent feature of medieval Western society. Secularism also affirmed the reality and worth of life in this world and the authority of reason and science in all secular matters.

The word “secularism” was coined by Gorge Jacob Holyoake in 1851 to describe the socio-political movement started by himself, Charles Bradlaugh and others. G.J Holyoake used the term secularism to define an ideology, wherein social and industrial morality hitherto determined by reference to the transcending principles of religion, were now to be determined by reason, and firmly anchored to the good of man in this life. Secularism was subsequently projected as a rationalist movement, agnostic or indifferent to Religion.

The secularism of Holyoake was a simple philosophy, which affirmed concern for life in this world, as articulated by the humanists and positivists alike. Secularism affirms the worth of this worldly existence, the independence of scientific knowledge, and human happiness as the only legitimate aims of social institutions. Holyoake described secularism as a “way of thinking”, and as being concerned with “issues that can be tested in this life”.

According to Eris S, Water house, the relation of secularism to religion was understood as “mutually exclusive, rather than hostile.” Secularism’s only concern is that this world be known by experience and reason. It is not concerned about the “other world”, or life after death; and neither offers, nor forbids, any opinion about these matters, it is willing to leave such questions to theology and is equally indifferent to both theism and atheism. Before adopting the term “secularism”, Holyoake had considered the term “netheism” and “limitationism” as alternatives. Holyoake was apparently more interested in countering the irrationalism of Christian theology, than in the negation of religion per se. His second aim was the affirmation of the worth and dignity of person and the autonomy of secular life.


Saroj Meher

Hello Friends, welcome to my website BrainyNote.  My name is Saroj Meher, You can call me a Professional Artist, Painter or an Indian Contemporary Artist, a Teacher, Computer Professional and also a You-tuber, who is eager to learn, find new techniques in his fields of works & grow in his life until his name become a BRAND.

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