After Darwin

Morality in a Secular World

Jeff O’Connell and Michael Ruse

Abstract

In the second half of the nineteenth century, many people lost their faith in the Christian God. Nevertheless, they were eager to show that this move towards a secular world picture did not mean the end of morality and that it could continue as much before. In a Darwinian age this was not possible and the Christian cherishing of the virtue of meekness was replaced by a moral respect for vigor and effort directed both towards self-realization and to the well-being of society. We compare the British moves to those promoted by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. There are significant similarities but also differences that reflect the British industrialized notion of progress versus the German idealistic notion of progress.

Thomas J. Coleman III, Kenan Sevinç, Ralph W. Hood Jr. and Jonathan Jong

Abstract

In accordance with Terror Management Theory research, secular beliefs can serve an important role for mitigating existential concerns by providing atheists with a method to attain personal meaning and bolster self-esteem. Although much research has suggested that religious beliefs are powerful defense mechanisms, these effects are limited or reveal more nuanced effects when attempting to explain atheists’ (non)belief structures. The possibility of nonbelief that provides meaning in the “here and now” is reinforced by the importance placed on scientific discovery, education, and social activism by many atheists. Thus, these values and ideologies can, and do, allow for empirically testable claims within a Terror Management framework. Although religious individuals can and largely do use religion as a defense strategy against existential concerns, purely secular ideologies are more effective for atheists providing evidence for a hierarchical approach and individual differences within worldview defenses. Evidence for and implications of these arguments are discussed.

Media and Witchcraft Accusation in Northern Ghana

A Study of the Dagomba Community

Leo Igwe

Abstract

There has been a growing visibility of witchcraft beliefs in the African media. The dominant paradigm in the academic literature on witchcraft is that the media reinforce witchcraft beliefs by disseminating information and ideas that are related to witchcraft accusations and witch hunting. However, a careful examination shows that this is not always the case because the media serve other counter purposes. Using ethnographic data from the Dagomba area in Northern Ghana and the concept of forum shopping, this paper explores how accused persons in the Dagomba communities utilize the limited media coverage to enhance their responses to witchcraft accusations. Apart from disseminating information regarding the activities of assumed witches, the media publicize perspectives that reject witchcraft notions.

Anastasia E. Somerville-Wong

Abstract

This paper, by the founder of the UK based Secular Liturgies Network and Forum, explores the concept and purpose of secular liturgy, and the potential for liturgical events in modern secular societies. It examines the practice of writing secular liturgy, discusses potential contributions from atheists, agnostics, humanists and religious progressives, and considers the new pastoral roles that may evolve alongside a secular liturgies movement. The author argues that secular liturgies and liturgical events have the potential to enrich secular culture, nurture community, facilitate healthy social interaction, advance ethical thought, promote creative writing and other arts, and galvanise people in their efforts towards sustainability and the creation of cultures and environments of health.

Sandra Lehmann

Abstract

This essay follows the assumption that the first principle of classical metaphysics has its counterpart in political sovereignty as suprema potestas. Therefore, both can be equally described as arché. Their epitome is the God of so-called ontotheology, who thus proves to be what I call the Ur-Arché. In contrast to current post-metaphysical approaches, however, I suggest overcoming ontotheology through a different metaphysics, which emphasizes the self-transcending surplus character of being. I regard early Christian martyrdom as an eminent way in which the surplus of being is manifested. This has two interwoven aspects, one ontological and one political, both arising from the excessive idea of the Christ event, or the notion that there is life beyond life unto death. I will analyse the mechanism allowing early Christian martyrs to counteract Roman imperial sovereignty. Finally, I will relate this to contemporary life systems in which sovereignty has become anonymous biopower.

From the Unconditioned to Unconditional Claims

Violence, Radical Theology, and Crisis

Jason W. Alvis and Jeffrey W. Robbins

Andrew Benjamin

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to develop a conception of God that works with the identification of being-before-the-law and being-with-God. In addition, it argues that developing a rethinking of God along such lines necessitates, equally, the development of the concomitant political theology and philosophical anthropology that such a repositioning of God envisages. Processes of subject creation have to be thought in relation to any philosophical engagement with the law.

Kelly Oliver

Abstract

With the upsurge in various forms of religion, especially dogmatic forms that kill in the name of good versus evil, there is an urgent need for intellectuals to acknowledge and analyze the role of religion in contemporary culture and politics. If there is to be any hope for peace, we need to understand how and why religion becomes the justification for violence. In a world where religious intolerance is growing, and the divide between the secular and the religious seems to be expanding, Julia Kristeva’s writings bridge the gap and once again provide a path where others have seen only an impasse. Her approach is unique in its insistent attempt to understand the violence both contained and unleashed by religion. Moreover, she rearticulates a notion of the sacred apart from religious dogmatism, a sense of the sacred that is precisely lacking in fundamentalism.

The “Light of Light Beyond Light”

Derrida’s “Question” and the Meta-ontological Origins of Philosophy and Violence

Carl Raschke

Abstract

Despite Jürgen Habermas’ famous suggestion that the violence of history might be mitigated by “the liquidation of unconditional claims,” the issue of whether monotheistic religions and the metaphysical rationality they engender are indeed the hidden source of such violence remains an open one. This essay explores how Derrida with his project “deconstruction” sought to deal in a manner unique to philosophy with the question of the relationship between violence, the unconditional, and the ontological. It proposes that Derrida’s “Jew-Greek” dilemma, which encapsulates the problem of the “violence” of metaphysics, is resolved through Levinas’ project of disrupting Husserlian phenomenology with an alterity that is not simply a heteron that disintermediates the logic of predication, but one that challenges what is normally meant by philosophy itself.

Unconditional Responsibility in the Face of Disastrous Violence

Thoughts on religio and the History of Human Mortality

Burkhard Liebsch

Abstract

This essay draws attention to the question how a strong notion of unconditional responsibility in the face of the other’s mortality (as it was claimed by Emmanuel Levinas) is related to the historical experience of a disastrous violence that seems to annihilate not only numerous bodies, lives, identities and histories but, rather, any responsible religio to the other – whether living or dead. It is well known, that Levinas claimed that human responsibility demands not to let the other alone in his death. But if the other is already dead – like numerous others who share the same fate – keeps human responsibility silent, then? And how is this religio of human responsibility related to forms of disastrous violence which seem to deny it?