Secular institutions

From metawiki
Sunday Assembly is a secular community organization that attempts to replicate the societal and cultural function of religion without reliance on the supernatural.

People who share a common philosophy have always built institutions to develop, promote and pass on these philosophies to future generations. Organized religion has been the dominant form of institutional philosophy for thousands of years. Even before there was organized religion there were oral traditions and mythologies that served this same social and psychological purposes. The fact that some level of cultural organization around shared beliefs exists in every society ever known makes it likely there is some genetic basis for it.

Modern secular institutions are found in our schools and universities where science is researched, promoted and taught to the next generation. While universities serve many of the same institutional purposes of organized religion, there are some necessary components that universities lack.

  • A cohesive philosophy that provides holistic perspective on the different areas of study being taught.
  • The ability to continue to be a part of the institution throughout one's life.
  • Rituals and traditions to help celebrate foundational ideas and personal milestones.
  • Pro-social elements like building community, charitable outreach and political engagement.

While universities do provide some of these elements for some people during some parts of their lives, there is no secular institution that provides all of these elements for all comers over the course of their entire lives the way that organized religion does.

Until a secular institution is created which serves these purposes that our DNA commands us to build, these aspects of our culture will continue to be dominated by organized religion.

Sunday Assembly is one attempt to create such a space. However, it tries to appeal more to the atheist community rather than those that identify as both secular and spiritual. The latter tends to be more willing to join groups and do singalongs. It also suffers from the inability to define their beliefs that most secular and progressive organizations do.

The Lifefulness program has grown out of Sunday Assembly to expand its mission and provide online content related to the creation of secular communities. It's a great organization with a wonderful mission, which metaculture attempts to expand upon.

What is Sunday Assembly?

Frank Zappa - Secular Humanism