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Chapter 10 Modernity and Religion. Canada and Religions Today Canada has never had an official state religion. 50 years ago, most Canadians thought of.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 10 Modernity and Religion. Canada and Religions Today Canada has never had an official state religion. 50 years ago, most Canadians thought of."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 10 Modernity and Religion

2 Canada and Religions Today Canada has never had an official state religion. 50 years ago, most Canadians thought of Canada as a Christian nation. In the 1800s and first half of the 1900s, Christianity heavily influenced most areas of Canadian life. Christianity’s influence on Canadian society still remains, but over the past 50 to 60 years, the influence of Christianity has declined. – Individuals decide for themselves what is right and wrong (secular humanism). – Laws no longer require businesses to close on Sunday. – Popular culture has an increasingly secular view, often contrary to Christian standards of right and wrong. – A greater number of people in Canada say they have no religion.

3 Defining Modernity Modernity is a period in history that started around 1500 and continues to present time. The modern era brought about enormous shifts in the way people thought and acted. Modernity began with journeys of exploration and leads to globalization. Globalization is the idea that people, countries, and businesses throughout the world are interconnected and interdependent because of developments in politics, economics, communication, science and technology, and ethics. From the 5 th century to the beginning of the 16 th century, the Catholic Church played a dominant role in politics, the economy, education, the sciences, and morality. About 500 years ago in Europe and for Europeans in Canada, it was almost unthinkable for someone not to believe in God. Today, this lack of belief is becoming more common.

4 The Story of Modernity During the 16 th and 17 th centuries, Christianity faced many changes: 1) The unity of the Western Christian Church was broken. 2) New Protestant churches were formed. 3) The Peace of Augsburg treaty allowed a region’s ruler to choose either Catholicism or Lutheranism as the state religion. 4) Anglicanism, the national protestant church in England, was created. Changes were also taking place in geography and economics: 1) Journeys of discovery by Europeans found “new” lands. 2) Trade in these lands resulted in new goods and a greater appetite for wealth. 3) This new type of economy eventually evolved into capitalism. Political changes also took place: 1) The first nation-states broke the absolute power of kings and emperors. 2) Citizens questioned whether kings and emperors received their power from religion or from God. 3) The first stirrings of democracy became noticeable.

5 Defining Secular The Church lost its role of overseeing all areas of life in Europe as each area began to develop independent of the Church and of each other. Some aspects of life were now being considered secular—separated from religion. Politics, economics, the sciences, and ethics looked less and less to the Bible or to the Church for direction. People were encouraged to find for themselves the reasons why things are the way they are. Science began to provide the foundation of truth. Changes happened over time, and some caused intense conflicts—especially in science.

6 The Rise of Science and Reason Modern times involved a growing emphasis on knowing scientifically, through observation and reason. It became more accepted that people should not accept anything as true unless they had observable and measurable reasons to believe it. This movement, called rationalism, was a new way of thinking. Galileo Galileo was an early example of conflict between science and theology. Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) was an Italian astronomer. Using empirical evidence, he defended the view of the universe as revolving around the Sun, not Earth. This Sun-centred view had been rejected by the Church and unproven by observable and measurable methods. The Catholic Church forced Galileo to withdraw his view publicly, and he spent his last years under house arrest.

7 Agnostics and Atheists With increased emphasis on science as the source of truth, belief in God was challenged. Agnostics question the existence of God and the need for religion. Atheists do not believe in God or any other power or reality. Expanding Knowledge and Worldviews Exploration and trade were expanding Christian Europeans’ world, and leading the way for colonial expansion and immigration. These changes led to the multicultural and religiously diverse reality of today.

8 The Enlightenment, Humanism, and Secularism In the 18 th century, a movement known as the Enlightenment focused on: – questioning traditional authority and structures – reason and scientific knowledge – the individual, and freedom Both the French Revolution and the American Revolution arose from this movement. Other movements and philosophies developed in the years following. 1) Humanism: a view that upholds the importance of human life, reason, and justice. 2) Secularism: a belief that governments and institutions should exist separate from religion. 3) Secularization: the process of separating public institutions and culture from religious institutions.

9 Christianity in Modern Times Although the social functions of politics, economics, science, and ethics are now independent in many ways, they interact whenever they overlap. Religion interacts with each of them by speaking to issues that arise in these other areas. The Church continues to speak out whenever it considers human dignity, human life, and justice are at stake. For example, in economics, the Church speaks out about harm to the poor. Despite what some people believe, religion is not in decline.

10 Secular Humanism Secular humanists believe the dignity of the human person, human life, and happiness are achieved through human reason and effort alone. They reject the belief that God or the supernatural plays a role in moral reflection and decision making. Secular humanism has its foundations in Greek philosophy, but did not emerge as an organized philosophical system until the 1980s. Although secular humanism shares many beliefs about humanism with Christian humanism, many of its beliefs are different. Secular Humanism’s Beliefs Secular humanists argue that: – secular humanism is about humans coming of age – religion provides a sense of security – secular humanism values authenticity – secular humanism is based on human reason – ethics should be based on reason

11 Belief: Secular Humanism Is about Humans Coming of Age As politics, economics, the sciences, and ethics broke away from religion some people thought: – the era of religion was coming to an end – religion would disappear as a way of understanding human life and meaning – giving up religion was part of the new, enlightened time They saw a decline in religion and suggested that progressive and enlightened people had let go of religion and lived by reason. This view is common today among secular humanists. Belief: Religion Provides a Sense of Security Secular humanists believe: – life ends with death – it takes more courage to accept life without God than to live with faith in a loving God – the consolation of religion is an illusion – humans should work to improve human life without the promise of an afterlife

12 Belief: Secular Humanism Values Authenticity In modern times, the focus shifted away from humans in community to humans as individuals. Identity is no longer linked to a community or to being a child of God, but is about being at one with yourself. For secular humanists, – we need to express ourselves as individuals – all of us have our own way of realizing who we are, which is the task of life – people are considered individuals before they are seen as part of a community Belief: Secular Humanism Is Based on Human Reason Modernity was about freedom from external authority and reliance on science and rational thought. To be authentic, people were to be true to themselves, not to rules and regulations imposed from outside. Religion came to be seen as not scientific or rational. The secular view considered itself as representing the rational and the scientific.

13 Belief: Ethics Should Be Based on Reason Secular humanists suggest that: – religion has inflicted terrible suffering, especially on those who stray from the “right” path – the use of “revelation truth” by religions is an attack on human freedom – ethics should be based on reason, not revelation They try to apply reason to human actions, for example: – ethics based on utilitarianism: the idea that what is ethical must be useful to the individual, not necessarily to the common good – the human rights tradition: including ideas that all humans have inherent rights and freedoms, that these are individual rights, and that governments must protect these rights against infringement

14 The Religious Reply to the Beliefs of Secular Humanists Religious Reply: Modern Times and Secular Life The Catholic Church acknowledges much that is good in modern times, such as the importance of the individual and the rights that must be given to each human being. However, the Church does not accept that to flourish, human beings must remove God from their lives. Individual rights are best respected through faith in God. Religious Reply: Religion in the Twenty-First Century Research does not support the secular humanist belief that religion is in decline in the 21 st century. The problem is how to define “religion.” There are at least four classifications of religion today: – organized religion – religious movements, sects, and cults – state religion – folk religion While a growing number of Canadians indicate they follow “no religion,” religion is still a vibrant social system.

15 Religious Reply: Humans Search for What Religion Offers Secular humanists believe life ends with death, religion is false security, and the consolation religion offers is harmful to human development. Religion acknowledges the importance faith and the consolation of knowing humans are not alone in the struggles of life. Because rationalism failed many people, the Age of Enlightenment was followed by the Age of Romanticism. Romanticism rediscovered the power of feeling and was filled with music, art, and literature that evoked emotions of attachment to nature and to the cosmos. People are looking for wholeness, peace, joy, and health. While they may not want to be part of organized religions, they are in search of spirituality. This quest overrides the purely secular view and leads people to a deeper understanding of life.

16 Organized Religion Organized religions, such as Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism, etc., all have their own well-developed systems of rituals and beliefs. The fact that a new religion like the Baha'i faith formed in the mid-1800s is evidence that organized religion is growing in the modern era. Religious Movements, Sects, and Cults New religious movements have appeared in modern times. People within organized religions often formed splinter groups or sects that responded to spiritual, political, or social needs. These are known as religious movements.

17 Fundamentalist Movements Some groups have responded to secular challenges to traditional religions by creating fundamentalist branches within their religions. Fundamentalist movements: – see themselves as radically at odds with secular culture and globalization – often take a specific concern, such as modesty for women in Islam, and make it central, such as the wearing of the burka – believe religious truth is found only in their own religious movement – believe their view is right and all others are wrong and dangerous – are most concerned about their own identity, and believe that dialogue is not permissible with those who do not share their own views – have charismatic leaders who decide what they accept and reject – These leaders often introduce their personal teachings, which followers must follow.

18 Sects and Cults Sects and cults are other religious reactions to the challenges of modernity. Both organized religion and secular groups often refer to these movements negatively. This opposition comes from the fact that they are very different from organized religion, and have often broken away from it. They tend to be led by charismatic leaders who claim to be divine or to receive divine revelations. Followers are put under constant pressure to accept the worldview of the leader, which makes members fully subject to him or her. The worldview often includes the belief that the end of the world is near and that all people outside the cult are a threat or are evil. Some people join cults in their search for happiness and belonging. Members feel supported by the cult and its strong leader, so they accept the full package of teachings and indoctrination. In some cases, members break off relationships with parents and friends. Regardless of their views, sects and cults are religious movements that try to understand the world.

19 State Religion A third form of religion today is politicized religion. In these cases, the state sets rules derived from the chosen religion for all the people. That religion becomes an unavoidable part of people’s lives, whether they embrace its beliefs or not. Religion remains linked to other social systems, like all aspects of life in Western Europe before the modern era were linked to the Catholic Church. Folk Religion Even though organized religion may have opposed folk religious practices, they have survived and remained popular. They are often tied to a religious feast, and remain ways of living the mystery attached to the feast. These practices include those associated with Halloween, lights and gifts at Christmas, the Easter Bunny, New Year’s Eve (fireworks), Valentine’s Day, etc.

20 Religious Reply: Secular Humanism Is Itself a Belief Like any ideology, secular humanism has certain values and beliefs. Many secular humanists believe their view is more scientific and rational than Christianity. Because science has not been able to prove God’s existence, they believe that there is no God and that humans are totally in control of their own thought processes and fully responsible for themselves. Yet secular humanism has not been able to prove that God does not exist. Both secular humanism and Christianity depend on a belief that is not scientifically proven.

21 Religious Reply: Secular Humanists Are Neither More Authentic nor Free Modernity promotes freedom from institutions, authorities, the Bible, and anything else that demanded obedience. Yet, to determine what is right, we need to look to an authority we trust. Secular humanists turn to: – role models, the past, tradition – what others hold out to be right and good – secular institutions such as modern governments, laws, and secular schools Catholics find meaning and authority in the Bible and in the Church; they promote the truth that: – a person is never an isolated individual – a person is identified by his or her relationships – a person is most authentic in his or her relationship with God and the Church Before he became pope, Benedict XVI accepted the secular thesis that separated Church and state. However, he said a state should not act as if there is no God. Faith and reason are healthy partners.

22 Religious Reply: Ethics Based on Reason Are Insufficient To find moral guidance, Christianity draws on the inherent dignity of the human person as being in the image of God, and turns to the Sermon on the Mount. Secular humanism draws on principles such as: – the universality principle—follow a rule only if you think it should apply to all humans – the utilitarian principle—actions are moral when they contribute to human happiness Applying these principles has not led to consensus. Although the Catholic Church never endorsed the 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights, the Church – has praised the efforts to arrive at declarations of human rights and freedoms, and praised the declaration itself. – has created its own statement of human rights, based on the dignity of each person as the image of God. Pope John XXIII wrote that what was lacking in the UN Declaration was emphasis on the social nature of the human person, and the need to balance rights with duties.

23 Catholics and Modernity The Church has also had positive reactions to modernity. Pope John XXIII made a speech in 1958 in which he declared his desire to hold an ecumenical council to bring the Church into our time. This “opening of the windows” of the Church became the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965). Two documents of the Second Vatican Council spoke of the need to update the Church: – The Constitution on the Church in the Modern World and – The Declaration on Religious Freedom

24 The Constitution on the Church in the Modern World The Constitution on the Church in the Modern World was a document not only for Catholics, but for all people. It affirms some of the main ethical beliefs of modernity: – The dignity of the human person – The goodness of the human body – The accomplishments of the human mind – The affirmation of the moral conscience – The excellence of liberty But the document also: – Points to the capacity of humans to sin and abuse these immense gifts – Speaks at length about atheism – Warns that freedom and reason are God’s loving gift to humans, made known to us in the person of Jesus Christ The document affirms that the Church is not outside of the concerns and joys of today’s women and men.

25 The Declaration on Religious Freedom Constitutional laws in many countries already recognize the right to religious freedom. In the Declaration on Religious Freedom, the Church acknowledged this principle and proclaimed that everyone has the right to religious freedom. In the declaration, this right is accepted as an official teaching of the Church. Because the Church teaches that freedom is a gift from God, it can never allow faith to be forced or coerced. The document also notes that governments have a responsibility to protect the right to religious freedom.


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