Secularism: The Hidden Origins of Disbelief

By Mike King

A timely and fascinating examination of the decline in religious faith and rise of secular thought in western intellectual society.

ISBN: 9780227172452


Spirituality is a difficult subject in the modern world. Everywhere, from popular media to the university, from the bookshelf to the dinner table, religions are derided or marginalised and public figures, such as Richard Dawkins, set upon anyone who admits to a belief in God.

It seems that science and religion are fundamentally at odds and that a mutual respect is unacceptable to either in their parallel pursuit of ‘truth’. Yet the majority of Enlightenment authors engaged with both science and spirituality and did not lose their faith. Today we tend to see these authors as not having applied full scientific rigour to their religious beliefs, but are we correct in dismissing this aspect of their lives so easily?

In Secularism, Mike King examines the elements of religion, philosophy and science which have contributed to an almost total disavowal of spirituality by contemporary western intellectuals. He engages with a wide range of thinkers, including Pythagoras, Marx, Spinoza, Darwin and Nietzsche, and incorporates detailed studies of a variety of ‘spiritual’ leaders, some of whom readers are unlikely to have considered in this way before, to uncover why the western world no longer has any interest in devotion or accords it any respect.

  • The first of two volumes on this fascinating and timely subject.
  • A startling critique of western culture and its dismissal of ‘faith’.
  • A scintillating and insightful read for academic and lay person alike.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 324

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Dr Mike King is Reader in Computer Art and Animation at London Metropolitan University and Director of the Centre for Post-Secular Studies. He serves as a Director of the Scientific and Medical Network, a charity devoted to combating scientific materialism, and on the Steering Group for the University for Spirit Forum, which promotes spiritual learning on all levels within society.



1. Issues in Secularism and Culture
     1.1 Secularism, Atheism and Scientism
     1.2 Secularism and Contemporary Culture
     1.3 Philosophy and Secularism
     1.4 The Role of Language
     1.5 Psychology, the Brain and Secularism
     1.6 The Shibboleths of Secularism

2. Articulating Spiritual Difference
     2.1 The History of the Spiritual Life
     2.2 Four Spiritual Polarities
     2.3 The Varieties of Spiritual Impulse
     2.4 Pathologies and Correctives in the Spiritual Life
     2.5 The Problem of ‘God’
     2.6 The Bhakti / Jnani Distinction

3. Returning to the Roots
     3.1 The Twentieth Century
     3.2 The Enlightenment
     3.3 The Spiritual Wounds of the West

4. Bhakti and Jnani in Western Development
     4.1 Piety and the West
     4.2 Jnani, the East, and Hellenic Influence
     4.3 A Radical History of Western Development

5. The Undefended Western ‘God’
     5.1 The Enlightenment Reconsidered
     5.2 Deism
     5.3 Failure of the Western Jnani Religion