Secular Politics and Consensus Morality

QUESTION: Secular Politics – Consensus Morality

ANSWER:

Secular Humanists recognize that politics cannot be separated from ethical considerations. Sidney Hook believes the proper means for developing moral codes and re-examining standards lies in the practical application of political theory. Thus, once world government is established, the need to reach consensus about morality must be addressed although it must not rely on religious belief. Hook says, “The democratic open society must be neutral to all religious overbeliefs; but no matter how secular it conceives itself to be, it cannot be neutral to moral issues. It seeks to draw these issues into the area of public discussion in the hope that a reasonable consensus may be achieved.”1

Secular Politics – Universal Moral Awareness
Achieving a universal moral awareness through consensus rather than from absolutes outside ourselves may be difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish. Mark Reader tells us that “In the end politics is the place of public happiness.”2 The problem arises from the fact that “The ‘good life’ or ‘quality of life’ is relative to each individual’s preferences, desires, and needs.”3 The state cannot democratically provide happiness for every world citizen if happiness is relative to individual desires, tastes, and standards.

Thus, if Secular Humanists succeed in their goal of establishing a system of global ethical standards by eliminating all existing ideologies and their related ethical systems (other than Humanism), all they will offer the democratic world community is open-mindedness, which in theory is conducive to cooperation and equalization.

Notes:

Rendered with permission from the book, Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews (Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 Sidney Hook, Religion in a Free Society (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1967), 36.

2 Mark Reader, “Humanism and Politics,” The Humanist (Nov./Dec. 1975): 38.

3 Morris B. Storer, ed., Humanist Ethics (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1980), 130.

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