Tag Archives: secular

Review: The End of Secularism by Hunter Baker

Freedom from God is desirable only by those who wish for their own destruction. In fact, the desire for this freedom is what caused humanity to plunge into sin and death—so there is no reason to pursue it. But somehow, freedom from God in the political realm is the greatest pursuit. A society which is free from God and religion is the highest and inevitable goal of human society—and that is the heartbeat of secularism. According to secularism, human society flourishes when it is free of both God and religion so that we can focus on our fundamental interests, which we all supposedly have in common. History demonstrates that religion has resulted in only demise for human society—wars, division, and strife. Therefore, politics and the public square shouldn’t be guided by superstition or the supernatural. Moreover, as the human species progresses in knowledge and rationality, there simply is no need for religion anymore.

By observation of our surroundings, it would appear that secularism is indeed our inevitable destiny as a society, given its dominance in our government and among our institutions, colleges, and culture. But quite frankly—nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing more than a second glance at secularism is required to reveal that such an idea is far from the best option for a flourishing human society. Secularism is simply not the answer to the question of how we can function in society with so much plurality—and that’s what Hunter Baker establishes in The End of Secularism. Baker succinctly demonstrates that secularism offers no such neutral ground which it claims, and it is not something into which society must unavoidably drift. Instead, it is merely a disproportionate reaction to the numerous calamities resulting from church-state alliances in Western history.

Baker reveals that secularism fails to accomplish what it was designed to do—create and sustain social harmony without religion. Instead, the way to have social harmony is by valuing a public square that welcomes all voices into the discussions surrounding the interests of society. That is the only way to preserve free speech, religious freedom, and a democratic society. The title of the book is very fitting, for Baker explains the end goal of secularism and the end of it, because it is a poor idea coming to its death.

Summary of the Book

Baker accomplishes his goal in two major parts: history and rebuttal. In the first portion of the book, spanning chapters 1-8, he walks quickly through the development of secularism in Western history. Baker demonstrates through historical events and key figures that there has been a struggle for power between the church and the state, and how various solutions have been proposed for how to maintain balance between the two. In the second portion of the book, from chapter 7 to the end, he offers a reasoned rebuke of secularism as supposedly the best answer to this struggle. He evaluates and analyzes the results of the happenings of history and applies that assessment to America’s founding and current situation. The most powerful part of the rebuke comes in chapter 10 on through to the conclusion of the book, where he explains that secularism utterly fails to accomplish peace in human society.

Personal Impact

Prior to reading this book, I had not realized how much secularism dominates in the public square. It appears that any view which even smells of the Christian religion is marginal, while secularism is regarded as not only normal but noble. Separation of church and state has been misinterpreted as a comprehensive privatization of religion, and Baker powerfully demonstrates this in a way I had never realized before. I come away from the book with a new perspective on both secularism and religion.

A Few Issues

Although this book is probably the best on the subject, there are several things that could have made the book even better, in my opinion. First (and this may be a matter of opinion), Baker takes too long to get to the main point of the book. Obviously, the history in the first portion of the book makes a powerful and necessary point. But the book would have read much better had he woven the failures of secularism through the journey of history he explained. The beginning of the book starts by explaining some of secularism’s failures, but that is seemingly dropped until the second portion of the book. In the history section, there are hints here and there of secularism’s detrimental goals, but it isn’t as clear as it could have been. The meat of the book in the second portion was like eating a delicious supper you’ve been waiting for hours on. I feel like he could have at least given appetizers in the first half of the book.

Secondly, there appears to be no clear solution offered for how we can move forward with all of this information. It’s possible that this is not even part of the purpose of the book—but it would have made it better. The last page of the book (194) is the clearest explanation of what we should do regarding secularism:

“Pluralism is better than secularism because it is not artificial. In a pluralistic environment, we simply enter the public square and say who we are and what we believe. We make arguments that advert to religion or other sources of values, and they are more or less convincing on a case-by-case basis . . . In order to preserve our freedom to talk about him [God] in all that we do, even in politics, we need only respect others by seeking to persuade rather than to coerce. Surely that is preferable to replacing the organic heart of our civilization which a mechanical one.”

This is very general, however—a detailed plan would have been better. I don’t feel like there is sufficient application of the ideas presented in the book.

You Still Need This Book

Although there are a few shortcomings in this book, its strengths far outweigh its weaknesses. The book is a much-needed rebuke of secularism. Christians who fear vocalizing their ideas in the public square should be emboldened by Baker’s unmatched work. He is the best person to write such a piece—he has been on both sides—once a secularist himself. And his penetrating words are timely—written in 2009 but written as though Baker could see into the future as our culture has become increasingly secularized.

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Psychological Child Abuse: Raising Children as “Theybies”

The latest attempt at normalizing the popular idea of gender fluidity comes from a large group of parents in the U.S. who believe in raising their children as “theybies.” NBC recently published an article documenting what several couples are doing to shield their children from gender stereotypes: concealing their biological sex. These couples represent a growing number of parents who are bringing their children up without gender designation. Children should get to decide their own gender when they get ready, they argue, so the use of pronouns he, she, him, or her, are totally avoided. To ensure kids have complete freedom to decide what gender they want to be, their biological gender is hidden from the children and from everyone else. Parents who propose this are calling their children “theybies,” since they refer to their children using only gender-neutral pronouns such as, “they, them, and their.” Experts say this could prevent a number of problems seen in children (and adults) today, although they admit there is no existing scientific research conducted on the result of raising children this way. The experts claim that this way of raising children could prevent “gender dysphoria,” which is when a person feels that their gender doesn’t align with their assigned sex at birth. It reassures children that there is “more than one way to be a boy or a girl.” These parents readily admit that this approach to parenting is not easy or comfortable “in a gendered world.” Not everyone understands the reasoning behind the decision to keep their children’s biological gender hidden. The couples in the article explain several confrontations which have been awkward and even offending, simply because people do not understand their intentions. Modern-day society has not yet evolved into gender-nonconformity, they say, but they are willing to make whatever sacrifices necessary to defend their children from gender stereotypes for as long as possible. Society is the problem—it hasn’t progressed to the point where it needs to be regarding gender fluidity. Until society does, these parents will raise their children as “theybies,” without gender designation.

This movement and the ideology behind it is detrimental to the upbringing of children and extremely troubling, to say the least. Let’s start at the beginning with the ideology. The idea of gender fluidity is completely subjective, grounded in neither science nor biology—only in personal experience. Scientific or biological proof for gender fluidity is totally nonexistent. When an individual feels they should be a different gender than that which was assigned at birth—that’s all it is—a feeling. Thus, advocating that children should decide their gender on the basis of its fluidity (and because it is a part of the human process, as they argue), is misplaced and flawed from the start. Gender is assigned biologically—you are either male or female. This is something which the Christian worldview affirms (Gen. 1:27; 5:2) and recognizing the immutability of gender is crucial to how we relate to one another and contribute to society. This is especially important for children to understand—the truth should not be concealed from them. They need to understand the way the biological world works, especially given their developing minds.

Moreover, the whole concept of gender fluidity and identity is assuming too much about the mental capability of children. Children don’t make life decisions, much less the decision of what gender they want to be (which apparently happens at age 4, the proponents argue). If children believe that gender is fluid, they are suspect to change their genders multiple times throughout the course of their childhood. As children, how many times did we change our career interest, for example? Some of us wanted to be astronauts or firefighters, later changing our interests to photography or geology. And now the majority of us are pursuing none of those fields. The point is this: children are subject to change frequently throughout the course of their upbringing. Therefore, they do not have the comprehension to make the significant decision of gender identity (regardless of how irrational gender fluidity is).

Additionally, consider the practical inconsistency and the overkill of raising children without gender designation. This approach to parenting is practically inconsistent—parents know that a child’s freedom should be limited. No parent allows their child to decide for themselves what time they will go to bed, and no parent allows their child to eat junk food all day long. If you wouldn’t allow children total freedom in those insignificant areas, why would you allow them freedom in a significant area such as their biology? This proposed solution to preventing gender stereotypes is just plainly overkill—it is extremely disproportional to the problem. Complete annihilation of gender-specific pronouns is taking things too far. There is a plethora of other (and better) ways to ensure that children are not “pigeonholed into gender stereotypes.” Let boys have tea parties with their sisters and take your daughters fishing. But don’t obliterate empirical and biological truth.

This entire ideology and its proposed application is disturbing because, in it, you can see that the ripple effects of the sexual revolution in America have arrived at the most crucial and vulnerable area of human life: child development. As our culture has “progressively” abandoned sexual morality, they have also abandoned sexual reality. All of this arises from the idea of a secular nation—a nation free of objective morality—the morality which comes exclusively from a Christian worldview. Unfortunately, the influence of secularism has made its way to vulnerable children.