My son was just discussing with me the difference between secular and non-secular in general as well as with regard to states/nations. And I was reminded that I’ve probably been sucked into an improper or inappropriate usage of that word here in this forum. I’m “guilty” (if indeed my intended self re-direction here survives public critique) of acquiescing to the atheistic appropriation of that label.
According to my dictionary at hand (Merriam Webster), the first of several definitions is: “of or relating to the worldly or temporal” as in ‘secular concerns’. By that definition, science already always was (by definition I should think) secular. But what it most certainly is not is atheistic (or even agnostic) since both of those things are metaphysical propositions concerning themselves with the existence (for the atheists) or the knowability (for the agnostics) of that which is quite outside the worldly or temporal realm.
So I may need to retract my own usage of the phrase “secular science”, and henceforth view such a phrase more as a redundancy than as a qualifying descriptor for some domain that is alleged by some to be religion-free. It was in reaction to that latter usage that I’d been “sucked in”.
Regarding political entities, my first thought is that examples of non-secular states would be theocracies. Or what about nations that still have state churches? My son insisted that nations like Britain, despite their (albeit probably mostly ceremonial) sanction of a state church are sill solid in their identity as one of the “secular western states” simply because on a functional employment level, both private and public, there is a deliberate disallowance of religious considerations. So such a state in that sense remains secular.
Back to science, though, if we were to consistently follow through on this usage practice, we can freely practice secular science on and within any religious platform we wish, including atheism, as long as we don’t begin trying to bar the participatory/educational/professional involvement of others based on any such religious considerations.
Maybe I’m the only sinner here in this regard to this careless misuse of phrases, and if so, you can all celebrate that I’ve finally seen the light; but if not, I look forward to reactions and push back.