Logotherapy is a type of psychological treatment developed by Viktor Frankl, famed author and Holocaust survivor.  As a discipline, logotherapy is concerned with helping patients overcome their maladies through the discovery and cultivation of personal meaning.  Unlike many other approaches to treatment, logotherapy aims to help patients discover why the do want to live and get better (rather than focusing on what circumstances caused the current misery or sickness).  That is, it seeks to assist the individual in discovering what it is within her, or within her life circumstances, that provides a goal, meaning, or reason.

This meaning-based psychology is, in some ways, something that I hope secular theology can draw upon.  Unlike traditional theologies which often set as their goal the discovery of Truth or the worship of God, secular theology takes personal meaning as the center of the “religious” life.  Secular theology is not concerned with finding objective truth.[1] Nor is it about enticing the worship of “God,” though this may be the result for some.  Instead, It is about providing a different avenue for life that avoids the secular tendency towards nihilism or hedonism.  Secular theology says, “Science tells us what the universe is like.  But, knowing this, how should we live meaningful human lives in this universe?”

For some, this will mean nothing more than an optimistic atheism.  For others, it may mean naturalistic mysticism.  Or simply an ethical, wonder-filled secularism.  I do not know what forms it may take, but I can summarize thus:

Secular theology is the hope (whether warranted or not by a naturalistic understanding of the universe) that life is worthwhile, that things have the possibility to end well, and that what we do and who we are matters.


[1] Secular theology is not concerned with objective truth because it shares the secular conviction that what truth is to be had is most reliably found through empirical study of the universe.  In fact, one of the central convictions of secular theology is that the natural sciences, not doctrine, is the path to objective truth.


~ by eternaldode on 25 June 2010.

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