In Living the Secular Life: New Answers to Old Questions, sociologist Phil Zuckerman has combined stories of the lives of secular people with available sociological data to illustrate key points. Key areas include having morality and a good society, rising levels of irreligion, raising kids, creating community, handling difficult times of life, and enjoying life beyond belief.
Concerning morality, Zuckerman points out that moral behavior has to do with a range of things including how someone is treated as a child, social interactions with others, culture, and contact with social and economic conditions. Societies with large amounts of secularization continue to do better in measures of “societal well-being.” Using data from the social sciences, Zuckerman challenges the idea of religion as natural or necessary which should be comforting given the increasing numbers of secular people.
Zuckerman shares the difficulties of secular parents who want their children to have a range of choices in life. He describes groups such as Camp Quest and Black Nonbelievers that are promoting humanistic ideals and providing community for secular people. He tells of secular people coping with difficult times in life by finding resources in themselves and others rather than religion. He tells of secular people wanting to make the most of life and of those wanting to end life with dignity. Finally, Zuckerman shares his own approach to enjoying life which he calls “aweism.”
Life as a secular person can affect our thoughts, emotions, and actions. There is still a lot of data to be collected concerning the lives of secular people, and Zuckerman’s work opens the door to better understanding the role of secular people in society and toward better meeting the needs of secular people.