Tuesday, November 4, 2014

10 Themes of Secular Social Sciences

Secular social science claims to be neutral, objective, and tolerant. By implication, social science that has any ties whatsoever to religious convictions is seen as sectarian, biased, and intolerant. How true is this claim?

Here are ten themes about religion that are commonly found in secular social science books, journals, lectures, forums, etc. I copied this list from a book (with minimal editing), but as a student of history I can vouch for its accuracy. Judge for yourself whether secular social scientists can really claim to be "neutral," "objective," "tolerant," or even "fair."


1) Science and religion are different ways of knowing, concerned with different orders of reality, but they are actually absolutely incompatible and antagonistic sources of knowledge. The two knowledge systems are perpetually engaged in a war that religion is always losing.

2) Social science will surely deliver the knowledge necessary for social salvation.

3) Religion is concerned with the spiritual realm, which is beyond social science’s ability to examine, but all religions are finally reducible to naturalistic, material, and social causes, and are clearly false in their claims.

4) Modern religion has advanced well beyond primitive religion, but all religions are essentially identical in being based on the fear and ignorance of savages.

5) Religion remains intrinsically important to the mass of humanity, but religion’s only real potential value is in instrumentally promoting social harmony.

6) Religion is in the business of promoting morality, but in actuality religion has been history’s primary source of oppression, immorality, conflict, and error.

7) Religion has always been an important force in social life, but its influence and credibility in the modern world are for good reasons rapidly declining.

8) Religion has historically been engrossed in politics and public culture, but true religion in the modern world should confine its social role to the private life of individuals.

9) Social science is indifferent to religious concerns per se, but the modern church must renounce the making of truth claims and instead emphasize positive, subjective individual feeling and human idealism.

10) Religion is a well-meaning agent of social reform, but it is dangerous and irresponsible unless it submits itself to the knowledge and authority of the social sciences.

(From Baker, H. (2009). The End of Secularism. Crossway Books.)

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