By James Haught
Human civilization has staggered and lunged through many phases and sub-phases, some overlapping:
Kings and empires
Early science in Ancient Greece
The Age of Faith
Seafaring and exploration
Computer Age and Internet
Decline of warfare
Now, anthropologists have hatched a new label, the Anthropocene Epoch, for the latest period when mushrooming humanity and fossil fuel burning have altered the planet’s biosphere and climate.
Amid all this chaos of history, I think another growing phase of civilization can be detected: The Secular Age — the death of religion — the disappearance of supernatural gods, devils, heavens, hells and the like. Miracles and prophecies no longer are treated seriously in advanced western democracies. They’re ignored with amusement, like old wives’ tales.
Look around you at newspapers, magazines, television news, etc. Does any part of society seriously expect divine magic to cure human problems? A few people give lip-service to such a fantasy, but most know it’s just a fantasy.
In most of the west, including America, churchgoing has fallen spectacularly in the 21st century. It’s becoming a province for dwindling elder women. Soon, supernatural beliefs may be an odd fringe.
When I was born in 1932 (in an Appalachian farm town with no electricity or paved streets), the world had two billion people. Now it’s approaching eight billion. Civilization has changed greatly in my lifetime, and the pace of change seems to accelerate. It’s fun to guess what’s next.
Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I predict that the Secular Age is taking shape under our noses.
*Associates and resources listing last updated May 31, 2020.*
Canadian Atheist Associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular Alliance, Centre for Inquiry Canada, Kelowna Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists Association.
Other National/Local Resources: Association humaniste du Québec, Atheist Freethinkers, Central Ontario Humanist Association, Comox Valley Humanists, Grey Bruce Humanists, Halton-Peel Humanist Community, Hamilton Humanists, Humanist Association of London, Humanist Association of Ottawa, Humanist Association of Toronto, Humanists, Atheists and Agnostics of Manitoba, Ontario Humanist Society, Secular Connextions Seculaire, Secular Humanists in Calgary, Society of Free Thinkers (Kitchener-Waterloo/Cambridge/Guelph), Thunder Bay Humanists, Toronto Oasis, Victoria Secular Humanist Association.
Other International/Outside Canada Resources: Allianz vun Humanisten, Atheisten an Agnostiker, American Atheists, American Humanist Association, Associação Brasileira de Ateus e AgnósticoséééBrazilian Association of Atheists and Agnostics, Atheist Alliance International, Atheist Alliance of America, Atheist Centre, Atheist Foundation of Australia, The Brights Movement, Center for Inquiry (including Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science), Atheist Ireland, Camp Quest, Inc., Council for Secular Humanism, De Vrije Gedachte, European Humanist Federation, Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, Foundation Beyond Belief, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Humanist Association of Ireland, Humanist International, Humanist Association of Germany, Humanist Association of Ireland, Humanist Society of Scotland, Humanists UK, Humanisterna/Humanists Sweden, Internet Infidels, International League of Non-Religious and Atheists, James Randi Educational Foundation, League of Militant Atheists, Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, National Secular Society, Rationalist International, Recovering From Religion, Religion News Service, Secular Coalition for America, Secular Student Alliance, The Clergy Project, The Rational Response Squad, The Satanic Temple, The Sunday Assembly, United Coalition of Reason, Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics.
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Image Credit: James Haught.