Secular and Religious Uses of "Transcendence

One of the earmarks of modern society was the privatization of religion, the relegation of religion to the sphere of the private life of the individual, the family, or the ethnic community. Talk of the sacred or transcendence was banished from public debates on politics, economics, and society. Leading this programme of secularization were scientists (the new cultural embodiment of reason), democrats, and social reformers. It is ironic that now, in the face of the environmental crisis, scientists, environmentalists, and grass roots activists are calling for a re-entry of the sacred into public life.

This call for a re-entry of the transcendent into public debates is not a call for a return to a premodern society nor is it a defense of the privileges of any religious group or institution. It is not a threat to democracy. It is instead an attempt to balance the modern worldview's obsession with scientific control over nature for the purposes of economic growth with an ethic of self-limitation in the face of the majesty and value of the web of life which surrounds and supports us.

Dr. David Seljak