What’s wrong with a secular world?

A Secular Age, by Charles Taylor, is 874 pages long.  A critic says “its size is preposterous.  No work of philosophy needs to be anywhere this long.” (Larmore).  A Rumor Angels, by Peter Berger, is 104 pages long.  It makes much the same argument as Taylor, and makes it more clearly.  Clarity is almost always a virtue; in this case, because it allows us to see where each goes wrong.  Berger appears more obviously wrong than Taylor, but that is mostly because we can see his argument more clearly.      

Both seek an experience of transcendence that lifts us out of a strictly secular world.  Both use human needs as the basis of transcendence, indeed as the basis of belief in God.  And both have it backward.  Founding the experience of transcendence in human needs makes the experience of God a strictly human affair.  Perhaps this is not such a terrible thing, but it is not what they are aiming at.   

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