The end of year 2001, with the prospect of religious-based terrorist attacks terrifyingly real, many were quick to cast the nonreligious as the liberator. The prospect of a 21st century nonreligious-based society forms part of a larger narrative about the shifting trends in belief systems. Fueled by anger over tragic consequences, myopic decisions, and sexual abuse indissolubly connected to religious organizations, society isn’t merely repudiating the status quo. In choosing the nonreligious position, society is transforming believers into thinkers—faith into understanding.
Already a historic presence on account of rising popularity, the nonreligious emulates the religious by raising first a populace’s spirits and then its collective indexes. By restoring the tarnished luster of free-thought or atheism, the nonreligious would restore to action a credibility undermined by decades of religious mendacity and incompetence. Solutions will attempt to supplant the policies of avoidance.
In pursuing what is believed to be a responsible course, the nonreligious echoes free-thought or atheism. But, today’s free-thought is not the same as one-hundred years ago. We are in the era of postmodernism. The optimism of any scientific or religious truth claiming to explain everything is met with hefty skepticism. A zealous nonreligious person is categorized with the religious zealot.
The fruits of victory can sometimes contain seeds of defeat. Minus the deep-rooted organization attached to the religious, and with postmodern science unable to explain reality, confusion and disconnectedness spread through the nonreligious ranks. The nonreligious are criticized for misreading its mandate, spending time pushing for fallible science at a time when millions fear the power of thought. It is the same as the religious devoting their time to tradition and creed instead of spiritual understanding.
Amid the euphoria surrounding the nonreligious rise and religious fallout, they both need to find a triumph. Let not free-thinking or understanding get lost in the rise of sound-bite beliefs, of snarky bloggers, braying talk radio, Twittering nincompoops, or the media preoccupied with fanatics and fundamentalists.
In the postmodern understanding, interpretation explains what the world means to us. Postmodernism also relies on concrete experience over abstract principles, knowing always that the outcome of one’s own experience will necessarily be relative, rather than certain and universal. Neither the religious nor the nonreligious separately can define absolute truth.
Letting survival trump ideology, we look past the rise and fall and find the nonreligious and religious working side by side. Instead of distinguishing themselves from one another they distinguish spiritual faith from blind faith. From 21st Century Science and Health, “Faith is necessary in science, medicine, and religion. Consider the researcher or scientist who is trying to find a cure for cancer; they obviously have faith that a cure exists; otherwise they would not even try.” The demand to think and increase understanding—in science, religion, and psyche—is supplied by individuals escaping the mass consciousness content with status quo.