what it’s like to live as a believer or an unbeliever

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One understanding of secularity then is in terms of public spaces. These have been allegedly emptied of God, or of any reference to ultimate reality. Or taken from another side, as we function within various spheres of activity-economic, political, cultural, educational, professional, recreational-the norms and principles we follow, the deliberations we engage in, generally don’t refer us to God or to any religious beliefs; the considerations we act on are internal to the “rationality” of each sphere-maximum gain within the economy, the greatest benefit to the greatest number in the political area, and so on.

This is in striking contrast to earlier periods, when Christian faith laid down authoritative prescriptions, often through the mouths of the clergy, which could not be easily ignored in any of these domains, such as the ban on usury, or the obligation to enforce orthodoxy. (Loc.30)

In order to get a little bit clearer on this level, I want to talk about belief and unbelief, belief, not as rival theories, that is, ways that people account for existence, or morality, whether by God or by something in nature, or whatever.


Rather what I want to do is focus attention on the different kinds of lived experience involved in understanding your life in one way or the other, on what it’s like to live as a believer or an unbeliever. As a first rough sign of the direction I’m groping in, we could say that these are alternative ways of living our moral/spiritual life, in the broadest sense.(Loc.90)

3. Nevertheless, it seems to me evident that there are big differences between these societies in what it is to believe, stemming in part from the fact that belief is an option, and in some sense an embattled option in the Christian (or “post-Christian”) society, and not (or not yet) in the Muslim ones.

So what I want to do is examine our society as secular in this third sense, which I could perhaps encapsulate in this way: the change I want to define and trace is one which takes us from a society in which it was virtually impossible not to believe in God, to one in which faith, even for the staunchest believer, is one human possibility among others. (Loc.67)

Edited by: EZorrilla.

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