It is not uncommon to encounter these types of articles and essays but as usual the author misses something. While he celebrates the demise of religion in the face of secular reason, it has completely escaped him that rather than religion being replaced by secularism, a religion is being replaced by... a new religion.
While Christianity certainly qualifies as a 'religion', it is not merely a system of thought connected to cultural practices and institutions. Some Evangelicals have tried to divorce 'religion' from Christianity by placing the emphasis on the subjective, the relational aspect to what it means to be a Christian. You've probably heard, "Christianity is a relationship not a religion."
Well intentioned to be sure, this doesn't really help in terms of defining either Christianity or religion. The relationship has to be defined and therefore one must speak of such things as the basis for the relationship, the objects or parties of the relationship and the nature of communication or communion. Is it a 'relationship' with Christ? Indeed it is, but who is Christ Jesus? In other words we have to speak of some notion of a 'set of beliefs' and how they are derived. This means having to venture a little beyond a testimonial.
That said, we don't need to embrace or employ a full or holistic philosophical spectrum in order to explain the nature of Biblical Christianity.
Let me phrase that differently. If, we base our faith on Scripture Alone, then we don't need to embrace philosophical holism. Once we step away from Scriptural categories and begin to ask speculative questions and pose problems, let alone seek justification for agendas that Scripture does not, then we're into the philosophical and must wrestle with questions of method and the nature of knowledge operative outside the boundaries of the text.
This is not to say that in reading Scripture we don't employ some logic, but as I continually insist it must be thoroughly subordinated to the Authority of the Word. If the Scriptural data defies logical coherence or interrelatable categories, then so be it.
Christianity is a religion but of a different order than that presented by the world. If religion implies holism (an account of reality, all particulars categorised and placed within an integrated system) then Christianity could be said to rest its faith in a God who possess such knowledge and authority. Yea he is the very basis for creation (reality) and its continued existence, but such 'holism' is not something we possess or seek to possess this side of glory. Our knowledge is sufficient, it rests on the reality of a holistic comprehensive order governed by an omniscient and omnipotent God, but the nature of that system, its mechanics, overall course and function are largely closed to us... except in generalised or in the case of Scripture, specifically revealed terms.
The world's religions, those metaphysical traditions that possess a complexity beyond a primitive animism represent holistic philosophical systems. Even animism if probed, approaches something like a holistic system, probably just one limited by pertinent and practical questions that might arise in that cultural context. This is probably equally true of much more complex varieties of religious thought.
Modern secularism certainly qualifies as a religion. It defines itself as non-religious in order to fill out the system as it were, to shut down questions of metaphysics. Nevertheless it must necessarily turn to conceptual-idealised and non-justified models of thought. These are reached through inference or other forms of transcendental reasoning. In order to function in the world it regularly breaks its own self-defined and enforced boundaries.
Though they try and deny it, the secularist must (like all men) turn to metaphysics as a means of explaining the nature of reality. They do this even as they seek to discredit the very notion.
This is not meant to be an endorsement of the metaphysical endeavour, rather an acknowledgement of our state post lapsum. We cannot function without a guiding metaphysic and yet every postulated variety is necessarily erroneous and quickly degenerates into idolatry.
And that's what modern secularism is.
The scientists have become the theologians. Despite the fact that all questions, even those that wrestle with theoretical models and transcendental deduction are cast in scientific terms, the truth is these systems are ultimately faith based. They can examine phenomena, tinker with physics and create tools and toys. And yet they cannot integrate the knowledge and attach necessary concepts such as relation and meaning, let alone questions of contingency, being and telos.
And yet they do these very things, not based on scientific knowledge but on faith.
Science in embracing reduction has attempted to discredit the notion and nature of these questions even while the culture necessarily entertains them. They cannot function either scientifically or practically, theoretically or in daily life apart from these realities. They assume a holistic reality. Despite the lip-service paid to chaos and the unverifiable assertion of a thing called 'chance', not one of them actually believes it let alone lives like they do.
They are the theologians because they have attempted to equate epistemology and metaphysics. In other words like it or not they are metaphysicians too. While professing to live by empiricist principles, they can neither experiment nor speak without rooting their ideas or words in metaphysical conceptual assumptions.
When Neil deGrasse Tyson dismisses philosophy and its relevance he either is being very deceitful or has literally not thought very deeply about the basis for science and how he proceeds to construct a narrative of reality. The truth is he's actually a religious zealot wholly devoted to a philosophical system. Whether disingenuous or blind one must question what is the nature of the 'wisdom' such a figure can possibly offer?
In the new religion the psychologists have become the priests. They help the struggling and lost to find meaning and provide interpretation for one's place in life and their actions. They assuage guilt and teach a type of ethics. Though this is all done in a supposed scientific manner, any sane and reasoned person who has bothered to look into psychology quickly comes to the realisation that the whole enterprise is non-scientific, subjective and largely speculative.
In other words it is a faith-based system or series of loose systems, based on various hypotheses related to the other largely faith-based systems of scientific endeavour.
In this modern religion there is another order of priesthood that takes on an almost messianic function. This is education, the school and the academy. Others have pointed this out and though their assessments may be partly right we need not necessarily embrace the whole of their conclusions.
Education serves as a means of integrating knowledge and prepares the secular acolyte to be a citizen... to live a meaningful life that finds its purpose in the structure of society. Societal respect and reverence is almost akin to salvation. One who advances society enters the cult of saints or even the pantheon. These concepts are wed to a transformationalist evolutionary meta-narrative. The basis of education rests on the authority of the theologians, scientists and other academics who interpret reality through various forms of 'scientific' analysis.
Obviously many of the liberal arts don't fit into this system very well and thus it's no surprise they are being slowly but surely downgraded, deconstructed and in many cases delegitimised and eliminated.
At the very least they are in the eyes of a large sector of society losing their validity and certainly any kind of academic credibility.
The secularist is also duly engaged in the erection of a Sacralist state which codifies the system in political and culture terms and seeks to apply ethics through legislation and a social code that controls thought and speech.
They too seek to create a sacral society wherein the institutions that wrestle with metaphysical questions such as being, time, existence, meaning, context, humanity and other ideals necessarily conform to the dictates of the 'theologians' and serve the general interests of society and its organising principle or political order.
Thus like all Sacral projects, the new society will be governed by agreed upon dogmas and by implication those who reject them are to be reckoned heretics.
While presenting themselves as rationally driven, coherent, liberal and tolerant, they quickly succumb in thought and action to the realities of wielding power or seeking it. In the end all thought is essentially politicised. Heresy challenges the existing order and must be destroyed.
Though it comes in many guises, it's an old, well-worn and evil path.
Power becomes the essence of what the Sacral religion is. Power, the deification of man, becoming as God, is what lies at the heart of all false religion. The self-referential impulse, the elevation of self as the standard, man being the measure of all things is the religion of Serpent Worship dating back to the final day in Eden. The Evolutionary Trans-humanism of the coming Secular Civilisation will amplify this tendency and take it to new and very evil extremes.
Secular Sacralism is revealed as yet another false religion, another hydra-head of the great Apocalyptic Beast.
The Beasts often destroy one another but Revelation provides the additional imagery of a Whore, a Mystery Babylon riding on the Beast. This woman I will argue represents the False Church, the adulterous bride, the Covenant people in a state of apostasy that comes to dominate The Last Days. She in her various incarnations of apostasy has in many ways facilitated the rise of this new Secular-Humanist Beast. The False Church laid the foundations and even as it dies, it continues to aid and abet the latest Bestial endeavour.
We read of her destruction. The Self-Deified Imperial Beast powers turn on her and destroy her. Heaven rejoices to be sure but this only opens another stage in worldly opposition and persecution. We do not lament the fall of Christendom (which is by implication and definition apostate) but at the same time we know the rise of a new religion and with it a Sacral order will only mean further grief, lamentation and cross- bearing for the faithful remnant.
But rejoice O people of God. It is a day and time for deeds, for bearing witness and for glorifying our God with our lives that shine forth and proclaim the glory of His salvation and goodness. With our exilic lives and the testimony of death we bear witness of the glorious Age to Come.