In “The Secular Conscience,” Austin Dacey argues that we who are non-religious should be every bit as engaged in public discussions as are our religious counterparts… discussions which involve reflecting upon individual behaviors and/or public policies, as being problematic or as supporting our society moving in a direction we want.
Austin feels that the public discussion of behavior and policies are presently dominated by religion, and that if secularists do not find a way to participate in that discussion it will be at our peril. This of course makes total sense, but what exactly can we bring to such a discussion that would constitute a unique and much needed contribution?
With our basic understanding of ourselves and our world based upon evidence derived from the scientific method, what naturalists can potentially bring to such a discussion should be enormous in scope, analysis, and in effective solutions – all a result of applying the scientific method.
But to be easily understood by religionists, Dacey suggests that when participating in these discussions naturalists should loose the precise language of science, and instead bandy about the same old moralistic and judgmental terms like good, evil, virtue, and vice, as the religionists, but doing that will not facilitate naturalism bringing anything new or much needed to such a discussion.
If we deliberately try to express our naturalistic understanding of the human experience in anachronistic and religious terms we are throwing away an important tool with which to convey a century of naturalistic wisdom, which has been painstakingly compiled throughout the social sciences.
Should naturalists adopt the nebulous language of ancient religions, which is frequently loaded with anger and self righteousness and rarely offers any analytical value?