Secularists have predicted that religion will be on the decline due to modernity, yet there has been an “explosion” of religious faith. In light of the claim that religion is simply an opiate of the masses and an illusion, religion is on the rise.
The age of modernity is not secularizing in the way the elites have hoped. As mighty as Secularism might seem to be, they, like Achilles, have a weak spot.
Modernity was supposed to secularize, but is instead pluralizing. Pluralism is a problem for all religions because everyone’s neighbor essentially has a different religion, belief, worldview, and value system. This religious phenomenon was a “revolution that was not supposed to happen,” according to David Martin, a British Sociologist of Religion. The outcome of this revolution has not been through a simple revitalization (such as with Muslim populations), but with new conversions due to worldwide mission outreaches. The group which has claimed most of the results is in the Pentecostal sect.
The increase in religious affections are not only increasing amongst Muslims and Pentecostals, but also with the Orthodox Russian Church, Orthodox Jews, Buddhists, and Hindus. Thus, modernity is not characterized by atheism, but by the worship of many gods. As one philosopher put it, “Man is not only homo sapiens but also homo religiosus” We as humans are made to worship the One True God. The absence of that worship which is due to Him alone, is made up in the pursuit of idolatry wrapped up in other religions.
Sociologists of religion have found that there are two exceptions to the noticeable increase in religious affections: Central and Western Europe and the international cultural elite. Of course, for the discerning Christian, we know that man was made to worship so the question is not to look at the absence of religious fervor, but where this intrinsic religious desire is showing itself.
In the context of religion, there are three types of secularism according to Peter L. Berger. Simply put, there is a moderate, radical, and Soviet case of secularism. The moderate would be the American view of the separation of church and state. The radical view is when religion is boxed in the private sphere and thus protected legally by the freedom of religion. Finally, the Soviet case privatizes religion but also represses it.
Secularism has tried to snuff out the candle of religion, but it has failed. Communist China, the government that tries to control and censor everything is bursting at it’s seams with underground churches. The former U.S.S.R., now Russia, who openly claimed that Stalin and thus the state were their deity, fell with a crashing rumble of the wall. North Korea, where the Kim family claims divine ordination, has a blossoming underground church where Bibles are smuggled in and the gospel flourishes in the shadows.
Secularism can kick against the goads, but each time they do, there will be pain and will be put into check. It is only a matter of time that people will reject the atheistic claims of secularization and find their object of worship. People will always worship and as Charles Spurgeon has said, “Atheism is a strange thing. Even the devils never fell into that vice.”
Human beings were created to worship and this will always be the weak spot of Secularism. No society can truly become secularized–the citizen’s, created imago Dei will always act according to their nature and worship.
For Further Discussion:
“Secularization Falsified” by: Peter L. Berger
Albert Mohler interviews Peter L. Berger on Thinking in Public