Posted by: gcarkner | February 13, 2022

Charles Taylor & the Myth of the Secular Charles Taylor and the Myth of the Secular 

Many people seem to be hungry for fresh perspectives on the current Western cultural ethos. I argue that we need to urgently rethink our view of the ‘secular’. In this video, I reveal something quite astonishing in the work of eminent Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor. See if you agree. At stake is a more complex and creative discussion of the secular that opens the imagination to dialogue and discovery–even new language. Taylor points out that many of our common assumptions about the relationship between science and secularity are shown to be quite faulty–including bad leaps of faith. His critical analysis of the Immanent Frame, which heavily influences the social imaginary of contemporary Western thought, is a brilliant contribution. I also offer a helpful comparison between Taylor’s idea of a Closed versus an Open Immanent Frame. This webinar gives insights that could well alter our outlook on the world in which we seek our freedom, identity and meaning. It can give Christians fresh angles and confidence in defence of the faith as well. The articulate grasp of some of these concepts make all the difference in the world.

Charles Taylor is a key thinker assisting us in our exploration through late modernity. He is one of the top twelve living philosophers according to many of his peers, the preeminent Canadian philosopher in the political, cultural and moral realm. We might well call him the premiere philosopher of Western modernity. Together we will attempt to discern our location within Western culture, with its various views on secularity, and thereby to rethink our identity. We will claim that Nihilism does not have the last word. Although we are located here amidst a confusing plurality of ideas and convictions, we are not intellectually trapped within an immanent frame. There is hope for connection with the transcendent. What follows is a deep structure protest that there are broader horizons, so much more to be said, explored, researched and discovered. The journey ahead entails an archival rediscovery of lost insights and language such as the good, metabiological meanings and incarnational humanism. 

Our language has lost its constitutive power. This means that we can deal instrumentally with realities around us, but their deeper meaning (the background in which they exist), the higher reality which finds expression in them, is ignored and often invisible to us. Our language has lost the power to Name things in their embedding, their deeper, richer and higher reality. The current incapacity of language is a crucial factor in our incapacity of seeing well and impacts our flourishing. Our language, our vision and our lives often remain flattened in late modernity. (Charles Taylor, A Secular Age)

~Dr. Gordon E. Carkner, PhD University of Wales in Philosophy of Culture.

Related Upcoming Lecture

Professor Ard Louis, Theoretical Physics, Oxford University

Natural Science & Scientism: Probing the Difference  

12:00 NoonWednesday, April 6, 2022  on Zoom

Join Zoom Meeting
Dr. Ard Louis Zoom Link


Science is perhaps the most successful endeavour in which human beings have engaged. It is thus tempting for many to think that it should also answer the big existential questions (identity, morality, why we exist, the higher meaning of human life). Such explanatory hopes (rooted in the ideology of scientism) give impetus to modern versions of reductionistic/closed-world secularism. Scientism, the idea that only natural science brings us reliable knowledge, is less popular in the academy than it once was. This is partly because it hollows out and depreciates these important metabiological questions. Nevertheless, implicit versions of scientism remain surprisingly influential. What should be done to correct such perceptions? Realities beyond the realm of scientific study are pertinent to overall human flourishing. Professor Ard Louis will argue that neither science, nor any conceivable future advance in science, can answer such significant life questions. The scientific imagination contains appropriate built-in limits, and yet we want an articulate grasp of all domains of meaning available to us.


Ard Louis is Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Oxford, where he leads an interdisciplinary research group studying problems on the border between chemistry, physics and biology at the Rudolf Peierls Centre for Theoretical Physics. He also writes and speaks widely on science and faith, for which in 2013 he was elected a member of the International Society for Science and Religion.  He recently made the 4-part documentary Why Are We Here with David Malone and  appeared in  The Story of God with Morgan Freeman, giving him an Erdős–Bacon number of 6.

No Model of the universe is a catalogue of ultimate, comprehensive realities.

~C. S. Lewis

An admirably severe discipline of interpretive and theoretical restraint [modern empirical science] has been transformed into its perfect and irrepressibly wanton opposite: what began as a principled refusal of metaphysical speculation, for the sake of specific empirical inquiries, has now been mistaken for a comprehensive knowledge of the metaphysical shape of reality; the art of humble questioning has been mistaken for the sure possession of ultimate conclusions. This makes a mockery of real science.” (David Bentley Hart, The Experience of God, 2013, 71)

Satire: “Physics explains everything, which we know because anything physics cannot explain does not exist, which we know because whatever exists must be explicable by physics, which we know because physics explains everything.” (David Bentley Hart, The Experience of God, 2013, 77)

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