The secular system does not transcend or overcome the logical necessity of theology. It thinks it does. It's positively sure that it can dispense with God, and that you are a fool for still believing. To be fair, the higher you move up the class and IQ ladder, this ceases to be true. Theoretical physicists and sophisticated doctors are often at very least open to faith, if not believers themselves. But kickboxing this strawman is my favorite hobby, and it is a strawman that appears everywhere you look these days.

Religion is not just about what happens when you die, or why there is something and not nothing, although it is about these things. But it's also about the moral question of how to live one's life. What is the purpose of it, and by extension, what is beautiful and good and true? What should we strive for, what habits should we cultivate, and what deeds should we do? Perhaps the moral dimension of the God question is more important even than questions of Being and Nothingness, Heaven and Hell. What happens when you die is speculative and academic. What kind of life should I lead, is the most practical question there is.

I grew up around secular liberals who had achieved or inherited material comfort. As a result, I was able to observe their choices and deduce the values that those choices logically implicate. A lot of religious people theorize that the absence of religion leads to homosexuality, adultery, and vice. To me, this is not the real danger of godlessness. Many a "man of god" has been found screwing gay hookers (think Ted Haggard) or raping children (think Catholic priests). I suspect deep perversion happens about equally, on either side of the God divide.

To me, the most dangerous aspect of godlessness is the mundane trap that ensues. People do not stop striving for being secular. They do not forfeit moral concepts. Alas, they cannot! God just is meaning, and meaning is God. The real danger is that the striving gets riled up, marketed-at, coöpted, misdirected, reworded, and twisted into a collective undulating mindless desire, which moves us all steadily towards a precipice, which can only be described as biblical.

Secular morality converges essentially on meritocracy, and its manifestations: Fatphobia and Careerism. You don't get to go to heaven for being "good" in the secular sense, because there is no morality in the secular sense. There is only a distribution of aesthetic outcomes, from bad to good, ugly to pretty. Any moralistic language is provisional at best, and a vestige of medieval religions, at worst; or so thinks the successful secular dope. And at the end of the day, being marketable and being successful are the natural outcomes of the system.

The etymology of the word "Freedom" comes from the ind0-european root, meaning "to love," which is found also in "Friend." The striving is right there, forgotten over tens of thousands of years, or so say the linguists who mocked up this indo-european thesis. Freedom may be a secular concept now, but I think that it doesn't even make sense in the absence of a religious framework. Our metaphysics is absolutely rule-governed, and the laws of "Nature," concieved as something prior to and generative of human, leave no room for freedom from, or freedom to.

This is not a problem that Moderns are going to be able to solve. Here and there, as matrix math takes over language, I can see a Spinozist modal metaphysics begin to take shape in the popular imagination, but that's probably because of the bubble that I live in. Frankly speaking, secular metaphysics has no room for the man of faith, or for true love. If the object of true love is the eternal soul, and not some tally of desirable features (tall, rich, good looking), then it too relies upon concepts that are fundamentally religious.

I challenge you to think of any way to describe moral culpability or praiseworthiness that does not invoke concepts, which resolve into something like an eternal soul, whose logic is wholly different from and prior to the logic of Nature. It cannot be done. Either we are machines who are programmed to flatter ourselves into believing that we are free, for some ungodly reason; or we really are free to some extent, miraculously.

It is no longer OK to disparage anybody for things they cannot help, mostly because of Civil Rights and Disability legislation. But it's still OK to disparage the poor and the fat, because they plausibly did it to themselves, right? There it is, the logic of the system, breaking, and yearning to believe in freedom. People direct the most vile and hideous rage at fat people and the most uncaring cruelty at poor people, because that is the only outlet left for their (religious) longing.

I’m not going to answer the same question about being fat any more. Ask me something else | Lindy West
If the people who asked me ‘caring’ questions about my size were really bothered, they would pour that energy into battling for better healthcare or food

I did get stuck in the meritocracy trap. It sucks. It's a horrible place. It's the bad place. Don't go there. And if you find yourself there, get out.