The end of year 2001, with the prospect of religious-based terrorist attacks terrifyingly real, many are 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My experiences of spiritual healing do not qualify me to define absolute truth, which will be experienced differently by others. So, letting survival of faith trump ideology, I look past the rise and fall and find the nonreligious and religious working side by side. Instead of distinguishing ourselves from one another we 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.
It’s not any easier or better to be either religious or nonreligious. It’s just tough to challenge beliefs and advance faith into understanding.