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Invitation of Papers for the 42nd International Course on the The Future of Religion: The Dialectic of Secularization

Prof Rudolf J. Siebert
Professor of Religion and Society
IUC Course  Director  and Yalta Course Director,
Director of the WMU Center for Humanistic Future Studies

Western Michigan University
Department of Comparative Religion
Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

Honourary International Advisor, Ground Report India

IUC Dubrovnik, Croatia. Inter University Centre of the Western Michigan University, USA

Call for Papers for the 42nd International Course on the
The Future of Religion: The Dialectic of Secularization

IUC, Dubrovnik, Croatia,

April 23- 28, 2018

Dear Friend,

We wish you and your dear family  a healthy,  happy,  creative, and peaceful New Year 2018. We are writing this letter to you, in order to invite you wholeheartedly to our 42nd international course on the Future of Religion: The Dialectic of Secularization ? to take place in the Inter-University Center for Post-Graduate Studies (IUC) in Dubrovnik, Croatia, from April 23 - 28, 2018. We invite you to our discourse, because we are convinced, that you as a scholar are most competent to contribute to the clarification, understanding, explanation, and comprehension, and praxis of our rather difficult new topic: The Future of Religion: The Dialectic of Secularization. It is of highest actuality in the present context of religious and secular terrorism. Can we make a contribution  to the resolution of the present problem of international terrorism? We hope so, small as it may be.

Golden Rule

Also our new discourse of 2018, like the previous ones,  embraces both sides of the modern antagonism between the sacred and the profane, the religious and the secular, faith and autonomous reason, revelation and enlightenment. Religious as well as secular people have an ethics, which may motivate them in discourse: a communicative, or discourse ethics.  All religious people share the Golden Rule. Many enlightened people share the translation and rationalization of the Golden Rule, i.e. the categorical imperative,  or the communicative ethics, or the principle of the apriori of the unlimited communication community, and strive for personal autonomy and universal, i.e. anamnestic, present, and proleptic solidarity, in the on-going crisis-loaded transition situation between Modernity on one hand,  and Post-Modernity, on the other. Our new discourse wants once more to bring together religious and secular people, who are interested in the question, what the religion and the secular enlightenment of the future, and their new interrelationship, may possibly and probably look like, on the basis of 42 years of research into the future of religion in the IUC, with the practical intent of cooperation concerning the  solution of the present, often bloody and in any case most painful national and international culture wars, and to create a civilization of life, or of  love, or of mercy, as suggested by Pope Francis I , in remembrance of Saint Francis of Assissi, the greatest saint of the West, recognized by believers and non-believers alike. We want to explore, what a new religion and a new secular enlightenment may contribute to the moral improvement of individuals and nations: to a spiritual, as well as political, and economic revolution, or pro-volution, toward a truly humane civilization instead of an inhuman barbarism. We share with the humanistic theologian Hans Küng the conviction, that  there can be no peace among nations without peace between the religions and the modern secular enlightenment movements. There can be no peace between religion and secular enlightenment without discourse between them. There can be no discourse between the religions and the secular  enlightenment movements without foundational research in them concerning their mutual interpretation of reality, and their mutual orientation of action. What may a future new religion and a  future new  secular enlightenment, and their global ethos, committed to build and maintain  a sustainable, peaceful world civilization, possibly and probably look like? Please, see our website: http://www.rudolfjsiebert.org/.


We hope very much, that you can follow our invitation, and that you can come to the IUC in beautiful Dubrovnik, a pearl of civilization, which for centuries was able to keep all barbarism outside of its walls,  in the last week of April 2018, and that you can join us in our 42nd  international course on the Future of Religion: The Dialectic of Enlightenment , and that you can present a paper to us out of the center of your own presently on-going research-activities, interests, competence, and teaching, concerning the dialectic of secular enlightenment and religion. To be sure, while we may have a research preference for the three Abrahamic Religions, - Judaism, the Religion of Sublimity, Christianity, the Religion of Freedom, and Islam, the Religion of Law-, we are, nevertheless, open for a plurality of world religions, alive or dead , in Africa, Asia, Near East, the European, Slavic and American Worlds.  Likewise, while we may have a research preference for the critical theory of religion, or dialectical religiology, we are, nevertheless, also open for a plurality  of theories of religion, and methodologies.You are  also very welcome, if you do not want to be a resource person and to read a paper, but rather prefer to appear as a participant, and thus contribute as such to our, to be sure, very lively discourse. Our course will be part of a very rich IUC Program of courses and conferences in the Academic Year of 2017/ 2018, with some of which we may inter-act. Dubrovnik and the IUC are, indeed, alive and well, and have been rising again like the mythical Phoenix Bird out of the ashes, and have been growing again, in spite of all the tragic events of the past decades, and have been able heroically to resist and to survive a terrible wave of barbarism, which cost the lives of 200 000 people. We shall read our papers and discuss in the hope, that in all parts of the world the Jus or Lex Talionis  will be replaced by the religious Golden Rule, superseding the  barbarous motive of retaliation and revenge - eye for eye, tooth for tooth, foot for foot, leg for leg, hand for hand, . etc. - which makes the whole world  lame and blind, and by the secular categorical imperative, and by the  likewise secular principle of the apriori of the universal communication community of the discourse ethics, and by a global ethos, built on these religious and secular principles, and by a secular international law, which is rooted in them and will, therefore, never be without mercy and the power of at-one - ment, and of reconciliation, without which a true civilization can not exist, and barbarism will prevail. All ethics and legality must, - in order to have real motivating power - , ultimately be rooted in the insatiable longing of people for the utterly Other than what is the case in nature and history, for the X-experience, and for the ultimate Reality.  With such longing civilization begins, and it ends, and barbarism breaks through and prevails, when such longing disappears.

Martyrs of Freedom

In this year's discourse, we shall once more remember the men and women, who in the present conflicts in the Near East, and in Africa, and in Europe, and elsewhere,  stood up and were brave in the many,  recent culture wars between religion and modern, secular enlightenment, and have confessed and witnessed, and became martyrs of freedom for a more civilized and reconciled world.  We think, e.g., of the many refugies from Syria,Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistant  and several African states., streaming into Europe and America.We remember   the young Jordanian pilot, who was shot down by ISIS over Syria during a bombing run, and was then, on January 6, 2015, burned alive in a cage, while bravely standing up and praying, as once Jordano Bruno and Vanini, and many so called  witches, and heretics, and atheists had done. We remember the young American woman Kelly Mueller, who had spent her life in caring for the poor, the sick, and the wounded people in all parts of the world, and who was then kidnapped by ISIS in Aleppo, and was  killed  on February 5, 2015,  as so called collateral damage, by a Jordanian F 16 bomber, who in retaliation and revenche for the burned Jordanian pilote, bombed Raqqa, the capital of the new Islamic State, or Caliphate, where she had been held captive for months. If ISIS wants really to revive the Arabic Empire Paradigm, including the Umaijadic Caliphat of  Damaskus from 661 to 750, and the Classical-Islamic World Religion Paradigm, including the Abbasidic Caliphate of Bagdad from 750-1258, they must conquer both: Syria and Iraq, Damaskus and Baghdad. They have been driven out of Mosul, but have moved West into Africa.  The barbarous war may, nevertheless, take a long time, depending on the resistance. We  also think of the Charlie - journalists, and the Jewish people in the cosher store in Paris, who all were murdered by ISIS soldiers in revench for Mohammed in January  2015, and  then again many others in December 2015: either because they practiced the freedom of speech, or  simply because they were modern secular Europeans, or Jews. The ISIS attacks happened, symbolically enough, in Paris: the city of the great secular bourgeois, and then socialist enlightenment movements and revolutions. We remember the pious Shiite Sheik Nimr al- Nimre, who was brutally executed by the Sunni-lead Saudi - Arabian  Government on January 5, 2016, together with over 40 other martyrs, including chidlren, and whose violent death rocked the whole Mideast. All that happens, while in the enlightened secular world of the West sometimes global stock rises dramatically under Trumpism, and then  plunges again in the midst of fears of a new financial catastrophe like that in 2008. Democracy changes into plutocracy more dramatically than ever before. Fascism, or corporatism, including nationalism and racism, rises once more its ugly head in Europe and America. Social advancement slows down. A vicious cycle of wealth and power threatens capitalism.  Barbarism threatens the Western civilization. In January 2016, in the nearby Flint, Michigan, the portray of an American city,  residents died as a result of an outbreak of Legionaires desease, linked to the city's  lead - contaminated  drinking water: in addition to the 9000 children who have been put at risk for lead poisoning. The city's spiraling public health disaster is the result of its move in April 2014, to draw the drinking water from the polluted Flint River, in order to save money, after the Detroit Water Department demanded higher rates in the aftermath of the Detroit bancruptcy. In America by-weekly mass shootings make Wallstreet see gold in gun companies, and in gun production, and in massive gun sales. The theodicy, the defense of the highest Wisdom of the Creator against the accusation, which reason makes against it on the basis of the counter-purpose and counter-teleology in the world,  this apology of the cause of God, which neither religious people, nor  secular enlighteners can perform adequately any longer, at least not theoretically, becomes more and more unbearable in all these events and cases, and in many others. The Trump Administration differentiates between three forms  of capitalism:

  1. Ayn Rand libertarian capitalism - greed and selfishness are good;
  2. State capitalism, which does not allow for personal autonomy; and
  3. Judeo-Christian capitalism, which is supposed to guarantee civilization and protect us against barbarism.

Is such Judeo-Christian capitalism really possible, or is it not rather  a contradictio in adjecto. Please see John  2: 13-25; Rudolf J. Siebert, Moral Polemics and Revolution in Christianity and other World Religions. New Delhi: Sanbun Publishers 2017; Rudolf J. Siebert and Michael Ott. Future of Religion: Creation, Exodus, Son of Man and Kingdom. New Delhi: Sanbun Publishers 2016.

Sister Course Yalta 

In 2016 and 2017 , we hoped very much, that our friends from our sister course on Religion in Civil Society  in Yalta, Republic of Crimea, particularly Tatiana and Alexandra, would be able to be with us again. Unfortunately, our Yalta friends could not get a visa, and thus were not allowed to come.  In November 2016 and 2017, we also hoped to be able again to participate in our  20 year old  sister course on Religion in Civil Society in Yalta, Republic of Crimea. In the past two decades, Tatiana had edited one book each year, which contained all the research work of the Yalta course resource persons. Unfortunately, the Executive Order 13685 by the Obama Administration forbid us to participate in our Yalta course, because the Crimeans had supposedly not had a Referendum to separate from the Ukraine, but the Russians had supposedly occupied and annexed the Crimea, and had to be punished by sanctions. In the process we were punished as well, and our freedom of speech and our academic freedom were repressed nationally and internationally. We still hope very much, that the Trump Administration will cancel the respective Executive Order 13685 of the Obama Administration, and we shall be allowed again freely to particiate in our Yalta Course on Religion in Civil Society, in November 2018. There must not be any Second Cold War! Its ending would probably be more tragic, than that of the first one, in the face of the availability of 77 000 nuclear weapons in the East and in the West.  It would lead our civilization back into the stone age, and possibly even further. It would end in absolute barbarism. At present, not Europe as such, but one which would act as proxi of the American World, is a danger for the Slavic World, after the Crusaders marched to Novgorod, and Napoleon to Moscow, and Adolf Hitler to Leningrade, Moscow, Stalingrade, and Kursk, where he  and the first wave of fascism  or corporatism found their catastrophic end: his whole dark dream of Mein Kampf, which is now a new  bestseller again in Germany, and in Europe. A Second Cold War would contradict any global ethos, religious or secular! It would be the opposite of all the peace work we have done for decades in Dubrovnik, and  in Yalta, and in general between the American and the Slavic World, in theory and in praxis, and which we would like to continue into the future. In any case, at the end of Modernity, there is no way back into the Middle Ages, not to speak of Antiquity, for anybody anywhere, but only foreward into Post-Modernity. Antiquity, Middle Ages, and Modernity are concretely to be superseded into Post-Modernity: hopefully not  toward Post-Modern alternative Future I - the totally computerized, robotized, technocratic signal society, or toward Post-Modern alternative Future II - the entirely militarized drone society, but hopefully  toward Post-Modern alternative Future III - a society, characterized by the reconciliation of the religious and the secular, faith and reason, revelation and secular enlightenment, as well as of personal autonomy and universal, i.e. anamnestic, present, and proleptic solidarity; and conseqently  characterized by the priority of the democratic constitutional state over the market; by the primacy of social solidarity over merit;  by the rejection  of the law of the stronger; and by the commitment to peace as a result of the historical experience of loss. In contrast to the barbarism of Future I and II, only Future III would deserve the name of civilization. Our new discourse on the dialetic of religion and secular enlightenment, aims ultimately at Post-Modern alternative Future III, which can not come about without such  kind of practical discourse, and  the connected praxis. We have expressed our pain concerning Executive Order 13685 in an Open Letter to President Trump and President Putin, asking them to become agents of peace rather than war, of civilization rather than barbarism, in the spirit of our international discourses in Dubrovnik and Yalta: discourse understood as future-oriented remembrance of human suffering with the practical intend, to diminish it.


Please, prepare your paper out of the material of your present research, in the horizon of our specific theme of this year, and in the context of the present economic, political, historical, and religious situation, and in direction of our common goal - alternative Future III: Shalom, Salaam, Peace, Friede between the Abrahamic and all other living world-religions, on one hand, and the modern secular enlightenment movements, on the other, as well as  among the nations, in which they are situated.  Our texts must not be perfect. Nobody is perfect! You can still complete your paper to the level of publication-maturation after you have presented it, and after we have discussed it together. Our new discourse may help you, to complete your paper, and to make it ready for publication after you return home.  It may then be included into our new Dubrovnik Book, which shall be edited by our colleague  Professor  Dr. Dustin Byrd.


Professor Dr. Michael Ott has completed the collection of our research papers once more for a third volume, following the late Professor Reimer’s excellent first volume - The Influence of the Frankfurt School on Contemporary Theology. Critical Theory and the Future of Religion. Dubrovnik Papers in Honor of Rudolf J. Siebert. Lewiston, New York, Queenston, Ontario, Canada, Lampeter, Dyfed, Wales, United Kingdom, and his own most outstanding second volume The Future of Religion: Toward a Reconciled Society, which has appeared with the publisher Brill in Holland, and with the publisher Haymarket in 2007/2009 in England. Michael has worked once more very hard for the new third volume, entitled The Dialectic of the Religious and the Secular. We are most grateful to him, and all contributors. We thank Professor Dr. Dustin Byrd for having volunteered with his great publishing talent and experience, to bring out our third volume. In the future my own three volume Manifesto of the Critical Theory of Society and Religion: The Wholly Other, Liberation, Happiness and the Rescue of the Hopeless, which is very much based in our discourses and experiences in Dubrovnik through the past 42 years, and reflects very much our common interests and efforts, and has come out with the publisher Brill in Leiden, Holland, in 2010, can also be of help to us in our present and  future discourses. We celebrated the arrival of the Manifesto during our discourse in April 2012 with an excellent presentation by Professor Dennis Janz, in the framework of our work done in the past 4 decades, which it reflects. Our gratitude goes to Professor Dennis Janz for his excellent review of the Manifesto  in Mike's third volume. Also Professor  Reimon Bachika from the University of Kyoto, Japan, has produced an excellent review of the Manifesto. Professor Michael Ott and  I have authored a 40 Anniversary book, entitled The Future of Religion: Creator, Exodus, Son of Man and Kingdom. It sums up  the history of our course, and all the work we have done in the past 40 years. The book has been published by Sanbun Publishers in New Delhi, India. It is available: see E-mail : sanbunpublishers@hotmail.com. Copies were available and distributed in Dubrovnik, at the occasion of our anniversary celebration  in April 2016. My new book Moral Polemics and Revolution in Christianity and other World Religions, which deals with the enlightenment religion and Christology  from Kant to Hegel, has been published by Sanbun Publishers  in New Delhi, India, in 2017.  We hope very much, that we can also publish the papers of our 39th and 40th, and 41st and 42nd, and further  discourses in a later publication.  Professor Dustin Byrd, Olivet College, Michigan, has generously volunteered to produce a fifth volume of our more recent papers. You may send your paper to him after you have presented it to us in Dubrovnik.We always wanted to share our findings about the possible futures of religion, and the religion of the future, not only with each other, but also with a broader, even global audience of interested scholars. Please, see our website http: //www.rudolfjsiebert, org/.

Democratic Procedure

Thus, we - the Directors Professor Rudolf J. Siebert, Western Michigan University, Professor Mislav Kukoc, University of Zagreb, Professor Gottfried Künzelen, Emeritus, from the University of the Federal German Army, Munich, Professor Denis Janz, Loyola University, New Orleans, Professor Michael Ott, Emeritus, from Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan, Dr. Dinka Marinovic-Jerolimov, nstitute for Social Research Zagreb, and the Coordinators Professor Tatiana Senyushkina, Taurida National University, Simferopol, Ukraine, Dr. Goran Goldberger, Institute for Social Research, Zagreb, and Professor Dustin Byrd, Olivet College, Olivet, Michigan 49076,USA, - invite you very personally and heartely in the name of the IUC, to join us as resource persons, or participants, in our 42nd international course on The Future of Religion: The Dialectic of Secularization in the IUC Building, from April 23-28, 2018. We chose this year's course title once more in a democratic procedure. It grew logically out of the texts, and the contexts, and motivations of our previous discourses on the Future of Religion. This year’s theme is certainly once more of highest actuality considering the present world situation, in which our civilization is continually threatened by utter barbarism: a situation characterized by the so-called war against terror, which unfortunately has also continued under the Trump Administration in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Jordan, Africa, and elsewhere, and by the Ukrainian civil war, which are continually fought on both sides according to the cruel Jus or Lex Talionis, without any real peace, or liberation, or redemption in sight, as the possible result of the praxis of the Golden Rule, in personal, national, and international affairs: a praxis, driven by the yearning for the totally Other, for perfect justice, for unconditional love, and by the longing, that the murderer shall not triumph over the innocent victim, and by the hope for redemption, liberation and happiness, and the rescue of all the hopeless victims of society and history, who have never had their day in court. The present dissonance and antagonism between the religious and the secular, and the consequent ongoing culture wars,  threaten  the religious expectation of Exodus and  Kingdom, as well as  the secular hope for Post-Modern alternative Future III - a more reconciled society, based on a global ethos, and our civilization with barbarism.

Room and Board

In case you have any further questions, please address them to the IUC, to me, or to the other directors at the following addresses and through the following media: Prof. R. J. Siebert - RSieb3@aol.com -http://www.rudolfjsiebert.org/, 630 Piccadilly Road, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49006, USA. Tel.: 269-381-0864 / Fax: 269-381-1935. Secretariat of the Inter-University Center, Don Frana Bulica 4, HR 20000 Dubrovnik, Croatia, Tel.+385 20 413626/7 /Fax +385 20 413628. Please, also contact either Hotel Argentina (Tel + 385 20 440 555 / Fax + 385 20 432 524), Hotel Lero (Tel. + 385 20 411 455 / Fax + 385 20 432 501), or any other hotel or private pension of your choice in Dubrovnik for room and board. Hotel Lero is the less expensive one. Hotel Argentina is the most expensive one. Most of us will probably stay at Hotel Lero. You can get a lower hotel price, if you make your reservation through the IUC Secretariat as early as possible. You may also get inexpensive rooms in the IUC.

Frankfurt School

The Loyola University in Chicago is once more organizing a Meeting on its Campus in Rome, Italy, on the  critical theory of society of the Frankfurt School, shortly after our Dubrovnik event. You are aware, that we have developed out of the critical theory of society of the Frankfurt School our own Critical Theory of Religion or Comparative, Dialectical Religiology.We have invited the members of the Rome event to join us in Dubrovnik. Some of us will participate in next year’s Rome event again, as we have done in recent years, in order there to present our critical theory of religion, or dialectical religiology. You are very much invited, to participate in the Rome event.


As far as OSI support is concerned, unfortunately, the IUC has not yet managed to replace it with a similar foundation. At the moment the IUC has  only the modest IUC support, with which they can fund one participant per course according to the criteria that are listed at: http://www.iuc.hr/iuc-support.php. The IUC would be happy to help resource persons and participants in finding more convenient accommodations. Lately many of the resource persons and  participants stay in the nearby monastery, which offers the most convenient prices that could be found in Dubrovnik. Since the nuns do not speak English, nor do they have an e-mail address, all the reservations must be done through the IUC.

Continuity and Direction

Please, allow me to make a few more concrete suggestions concerning the form and content of our discourse on The Future of Religion: Dialectic of Secularization  in April 2018. One reason for such suggestions is to constitute further continuity among our discrete past 41 courses, on one hand, and the coming 42th discourse this year, on the other. In fulfilling this task of continuity, we are greatly supported by Professor Reimer's book The Influence of the Frankfurt School on Contemporary Theology. Critical Theory and the Future of Religion. Dubrovnik Papers in Honor of Rudolf J. Siebert; and by Professor Ott’s new books The Future of Religion: Toward a Reconciled Society and The Dialectic of the Religious and the Secular; and by Professor Siebert’s Manifesto of the Critical Theory of Society and Religion: The Totally Other, Liberation, Happiness, and the Rescue of the Hopeless; as well as by his more recent publications The Evolution of the Religious Consciousness toward alternative Futures, New Delhi: Sanbun 2013; and by his  The Development of Moral Consciousness toward Global Ethos, New Delhi: Sanbun 2013; and by his Toward a Radical Interpretation of the Abrahamic Religions: In Search for the Wholly Other. New Delhi, Sanbun 2013; and by his The Realization of Harmony in Religion, Philosophy and Science, in St. Peterburg: GWA (Global Harmony Association) 2014; and by his The World Religions in the Global Public Sphere:Towards Concrete Freedom and Material Democracy, New Delhi: Sanbun 2014; and by his Early Critical Theory of Religion: The Island of Happiness. New Delhi: Sanbun, 2014; and by the cooperative work of Rudolf J. Siebert/ Michael Ott/ Dustin J. Byrd. The Critical Theory of Religion:From Having to Being, in Critical Research on Religion.  2013. April. Vol. 1; Issue 1; and by the book of Rudolf.J.Siebert and Michael Ott, The Future of Religion: Creator, Exodus, Son of Man and Kingdom, and by the most recent book  by Rudolf J. Siebert, Moral Polemics and Revolution in Christianity and other World Religions. New Delhi: Sanbun Publishers 2017. The other reason for the following suggestions is to indicate the possible direction, which our new international discourse on the Future of Religion: The Dialectic of Secularization may, or could, or should take, when we meet in Dubrovnik from April 23 - 28, 2018. The few suggestions may indicate the possible theoretical framework, methodology, level, and goal for the texts, that we shall produce in writing or orally in, about, and for the present, turbulent, more barbarous than civilized world-situation,and toward the goal of further human emancipation, as reconciliation, on the long road of humankind from animality and barbarism to civilization, to Post-Modern, global alternative Future III: the reconciled, free, just, and, therefore, peaceful society, instead of Post-Modern alternative Future I - the totally administered society, as predicted by Huxley, Orwell, Kafka, Flechtheim, Horkheimer, Adorno, Fromm, Marcuse, etc., or Post-Modern, alternative global Future II - the entirely militarized society continually engaged in conventional wars and civil wars, and in drone strikes, with their terrible collateral damages, and in the preparation of ABC wars, and their consequent environmental disasters, maybe in the framework of a collission of religion-based and -guided civilizations, as predicted by the late Samuel Huntington - a disciple of Carl Schmitt, Adolf Hitler’s main jurist and general council, and political theologian - and a former Pentagon advisor during the Vietnam war, and the more recent Afghanistan and Iraq wars. The following suggestions are, of course, only that - suggestions - and you may feel entirely free, to follow your own dialectical imagination and creativity, and to move in other directions as well, inside, of course, of the wider framework of the general thematic of 2018.


The word dialectic in our course title is a great riddle for many people today.There has been a great confusion about this word particularly since the dialectical logic has been repressed in the Western civilization during the Great Depression of the 1920ties, and postivism has reached a monopoly position. Adolf Hitler rejected Hegel's dialectic, but replaced it by his own Satanic one, which confused a whole nation and continent. He wanted to make Germany and Europe great again, but brought them to the very brink of total disaster. If Hitler and Joeph Goebbels had won the war, they would have been praised as the greatest positivists. Thus dialectic is in need of explanation.  According to the critical theory of religion, or dialectical religiology, which we have developed in recent decades, religion is the longing for the totally Other than the horror and terror of nature and history; for perfect justice and unconditional  love; that the murderer shall not triumph over the innocent victim. Each particular, positive, historical religion has a dynamic, dialectical, trinitarian structure. Any positive  religion  consists of : 1.Its notion: the  God or the Gods; 2. Its judgement: their relationship to the believers; 3. Its conclusion: the cult as the relationship of the  believers to their God or Gods.  and the believers transition into the social world, family, civil society, state and history. Dialectic means determinate negation. In  world history one positive religion determinately, or concretely, or specifically negates the previous one: critizices it, but also preserves some of it, and combines it with new elements.


We approach the dialectical structure of any positive religion with the help of the dialectical method, the triplicity, the trinity, as it has been developed in Greek and Roman Antiquity by Platon and the Neo-Platonists, particularly Plotin ad Proclos, and as it has been rediscovered, to begin with, by instinctive insight, but then left liveless and uncomprehended for a long time: with the exception of Bonaventura, Meister Eckhart,  Nicolaus of Cusa and Jacob Boehme. But then the dialectical method  has been raised again to its proper significance as an absolute method, and adopted in Modernity in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, the greatest  modern enlightener, and then it has been  further completed by Georg W. F. Hegel and Karl Marx, and Paul Tillich. Johann Gottlieb Fichte summed up Hegel's  dialectical method in the popular, ritual formula of thesis, antithesis and synthesis, which Hegel himself never used. Through the dialectical method the true form has been  set up in its true content, and a new conception of science has come to light. The method of dialectic constitutes the Modern enlightenment, and separates it from mythology, as well as from positivism, enlightenment’s very perversion: the metaphysics of what is the case; it is as it is; the glass is still have full . The method of triplicity, or of trigonomy, or of the logical law of the three moments, or of the trinity, or  of  the dialectic, means determinate or concrete negation, or double negation. Dialectics can be found  in many  particular, positive religions: 1. The universal thesis, the principle, the God or the Gods, is 2. determinately negated by the particular antithesis, the relationship, the means, which negation is 3. determinately superseded by the singular synthesis, the purpose, the cult, the liturgy, and the transition of the believers into the social world. Dialectics can be found in many positive religions already long before the Platonic or Neo-Platonic philosophy: in Daoism, the Religion of Measure, in Hinduism, the Religion of Imagination, in Zoroastrianism, the Religion of Light and Darkness, Good and Evil, in the Egyptian Religion of Riddle, in the Gothic Religion of Blood and Soil; and afterwards  most of all in Christianity, the Religion of Freedom. In the history of religions, as elsewhere, bourgeois skepticism has abstracted from the fact, that the death, the nothing of one particular positive religion is determinate, or concrete, or specific, and is the nothing of that positive religion, out of which it came as a historical or logical result: e.g. the Roman Religion of Utility or Purposiveness, out of the Greek Religion of Fate and Beauty, or Christianity out of the Jewish Religion of Sublimity, and out of the Greek Religion and the Roman Religion.  Positive religions do die, and are born again in a different form: like the Phoenix Bird, or better still, like the death and the resurrection of the God in the Syrian Religion of Pain, in the Egyptian Religion of Riddle, and in Christianity as the Religion of Freedom. There is a metamorphosis going on in the history of religions as elsewhere in nature and history. Bourgeois scepticism is abstract negation. This scepticism is conservative out of fear, that nothing may follow the negated old paradigm. Dialectic is concrete negation. When once the result of the end, or the death, of one positive religion is apprehended as it truly is, not skeptically, but dialectically, as determinate, or concrete, or specific negation, then a new form of positive religion has thereby immediately arisen. Dialectics is not magic. In the concrete negation the transition is made, by which the progress through the complete succession of forms of positive religions, comes about of itself. Ours is a dialectics of transition inside and between positive religions. Thus, according to our dialectical religiology, the formation, for instance, of the Roman Gods, did not simply negate abstractly the Greek Gods, but,  inspite of all skepticism, also preserved them to a large extend, if also under different names. Thus, the formation of the Roman Gods was dialectically seen hardly differentiated from their cult, or worship. This was so, because this difference and the free Roman cult presupposed a truth, which was in and for itself, a universal, an objective, a truly Divine one, and one which existed for itself through its content above the particular, subjective need or want of the individual Roman citizens.Then, the  Roman worship was the process,in which the individual Roman citizen gave himself, or herself, the enjoyment and the celebration of the identity of the Divinity with himself, or herself, his or her consciousness and selfconsciousness, in Republic or Empire.

Union, Disunion, Reunion

Our course theme this year, the dialectic of secularization, presupposes  a dialectical view of the history of religions: from the traditional,Medieval union between the religious and the secular, through  their modern disunion, to their possible, future, Post-Modern reunion. The Modern antagonism between the religious and the secular started in Christianity itself with the heliocentric discoveries of Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, and Kepler, and  continued through Darwin, to Marx, and Freud, and all their disciples and followers through the centuries. But it had its deepest roots already in the first Apocalyptic and Eschatological Paradigm of Christianity, in the Gospels.The early Christians were not allowed to serve God and secular Capital at the same time. Early Christians could not stand with one foot in Heaven  and the other on Earth. There was a separation between the kingdom of Heaven and the kingdom of men, the sacred and the profane, idealism and materialism. From the beginning of Modernity on, the Christian community split into those believers, who followed the Medieval interpretations of the Gospels naively, and others  who made use of their reason and applied the scholasticism, they had learned in the Church, newly to nature and man. No modern science without the Church! As those believers, who made use of their reason, and learned, and  developed the natural and social sciences, were, nevertheless, repressed by the ecclesiastical authorities, the antagonism between the religious and the secular became deeper and deeper, and continues to deepen today in many different, ongoing, culture wars. Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther's Reformation was, inspite of its deeply religious character, nevertheless, dialectically enough, the first form of adaptation of Christianity to the arising,  secular Modern World. From Henry VIII to Napoleon Bonaparte   secularization meant economically and politicically the appropriation of church property by the more and more secular state.

Threefold Dialectic 

In the critical religiology, we differentiate among three forms of dialectics: 1.the dialectic between the religious and the secuclar; 2.the dialectic in the secular; 3. the dialectic in the religious. The secular enlightenment movements wanted to free people from their fears and make them into masters of their fate. The unconscious was to become conscious. Where Id was, Ego was to appear. But then the secular enlightenment turned against itself. The bourgeois enlightenment and revolutions turned into fascism; the socialist enlightenment and revolutions into Stalinism, or Red Fascism; the Freudian enlightenment and revolutions into the porno society. The founder of Christianity, Rabbi Jesus of Nazareth, pronounced the Truth and the Love. But then the Churchfathers made a  positive religion out of his teaching, which transformed him from a subject of imitation into an object of worship,  and which then allowed itself to be used as ideology, in the critical sense of false consciousness,  necessary appearance, shortly the untruth, to legitimate the domination of slaveholders, feudallords and capitalists, and initiated loveless heresy trials, crusades, inquisition tribunals, and torture, e.g.  waterboarding, to be inherited by the Gestapo and by the CIA,until ended by the Obama Administration. Today, in 2018, we have again, against all this,  Dietrich Bonhoeffer's religionless Christianity, and Christian imitation ethics, and his consequent martyrdom  of freedom under the first wave of fascism or corporatism: a theology and ethics transcending the modern antagonism between the sacred and the profane. Today both, religion and secular enlightenment, are in  desperate need of rescue and renewal.

Contemporary Conflicts 

The Modern dialectic between the religious and the secular, produces splits in the religious communities between those believers, who onesidedly emphasice revelation and tradition and become Anti-Modernists, on one hand, and those believers, who as believers want also to be open toward Modern secularity. Thus in Judaism as the Religion of Sublimity we have the orthodox group on one hand, and the conservative and reformed groups, on the other The two groups come in conflict with each other.They may deny the others to be real believers. In the extreme case they kill each other. Talaban, Alkaida , and  ISIS, and other groups of the Islamic Brotherhood have killed more Muslims, suspected to be too secular,  than secular Westerners. They may kill Christians, not because they are Christians, but because they seem to be allied with the secular West. The Modern dialectic between the religious and the secular also splits the enlightenment communities between those enlightened people, who want to establish a truly catholic, universal religion of  reason and freedom, internal to all human beings, in opposition to all particular, historical, positive religions, but who still see some value in  the latter, on one hand, and other enlightened people, who want to wipe out as fast as possible all positive religions as non-temporenaous, primitive, or archaic residuals of earlier stages of human evolution. While the first group of enlighteners definitely rejects the criminality of the world religions, they at the same time are, nevertheless, also willing to allow good religious moments, e.g. the Golden Rule , to migrate into the secular discourse of the modern  expert cultures,  and  into the secular life world, based on mimetic or communicative rationality and action, and still mediated by ethical and moral norms and values, and even into the secular social system, the secular economic subsystem of civil society, based on instrumental rationality and action, and mediated by money, and into the secular political system, also based on functional rationality and  action , but mediated by power. This first group of  secular, enlightened people still know very well that there is something missing in secular Modernity and Pos-Modernity. They are waiting for new religious  interpreters of religion, with whom they can enter into practical, communicative-rational discourse.


The often murderous conflicts in the religious groups and in  the secular enlightenment communities,  can be resolved only, when the dialectic between the religious and the secular can come to a reconciiation. The difficulties of this task are enorous and can hardly be overestimated. Religious people still believe in angels and miracles, and for them the world was created 6000 years ago, and all the species separately, and all of mankind came from one human couple, Adam and Eve. Enlightened, secular people do no longer believe in angels or miracles, and reduce everything in nature and history to natural laws, and for them the universe is 14 billion years old, and came about through the Big Bang, ironically enough discovered by a Belgian Catholic priest, and all the species, including the human one evolved out of each other, and mankind came from several couples in Africa in terms of polygenesis,  etc. .  While Christianity and many other positive religions are trinitarian and are based epistemeologically on faith and dialectical reason, the secular enightenment is unitarian and based on analytical understanding. For five hundred years the religious communities have lost all of their rearguard struggles against the secular enlighteners in the field of science, and of politics, and of economics. Religious communities had a hard time even only to recognize and to admit their defeats. Pope John Paul II admitted that the inquisition may have been wrong against Galileo Galilei. But his successor, Benedict XVI, rescinded again the step foreward his predecessor  had taken, and asserted  in the context of his general Anti-Modernist attack, that Galileo had been wrong. He was not allowed to speak at the secular University of Rome. There must be the possibility of a discourse, in which all oneidedness, abstraction, and untruth can be overcome. Religious people may admit, that Copernicus had reached agreement with the Pope concerning the same heliocentric  theory, which 70 years later Galileo tought; that it was the shock of the Reformation, which made the difference; and that the inquisitors tried to gain time in order to prepare the masses of  the faithful for the innovation; and that, in any case, the threat of imprisonment and torture is ultimately powerless gainst the truth. The goal does not sanctify the means. Immoral means are also finally ineffective.Not only did the Inquisition not preserve Christian unity through torture and executions , it even produced, dialectically enough, even more disunion: 1200 Christian churches, denominations, sects, and cults in the USA alone , which all contradict each other. Secular people may admit, that the inquisition was not entirely wrong, when it asked Galileo to continue his research, and improve his telescope, and his mathematical formulas, and thus further to strengthen and confirm  his theory. They could admit, that it would have helped, if the 70 years old Galileo had been less arrogant in the face of power, and had not called the inquisitors children, and stupid, and demanded from them to study more, as justified as this was. Up to the present, Protestant countries have advanced further in capitalism than Catholic countries. In Kalamazoo, Michigan, where this letter is coming from, Protestant communities are still better adjusted, in terms of morality and legality,  to the secular world, than Catholic communities: when patients of the Catholic Borgess Hospital want to have birthcontroll pills or abortion, then they can not get it there, because of the Catholic natural law ethics, but they must take a taxi to the Methodist Bronson Hospital, which follows the secular, positive laws of the State of Michigan, or of the US Federation.


Today, in the midst of the turmoil of culture wars, raging on all continents, it is most important, not to close the discourse between the religious people and the enlightened, secular people fundamentalistically or  materialistically, or naturalistically, or positivistically, or humanistically, or atheistically, but rather to keep it open under all circumstances. Discourse denial means war! Whoever wants to have peace, must be willing and ready for discourse. As in discourse subjects produce their texts with a certain logical, and grammatical structure, and vocabulary  in a particular social and historical context , aiming at the goal of truth, they can find out not only, what separates them, but also what they have in common. Religious and secular people discussing the issue of  stemcell research , may find out, that they have in common the goal: the healing of Altzheimer's or other deseases. They may also discover, that they both are of the opinion, that human embryoes are really human, and thus differentitated from a chimpanzee embryo, insipite of all similarities. But then the religious and the secular discours partners find out, that they differ concerning the point in time, when the human embryo becomes a person with rights. The religious people think, that the embryo is human and a person from the moment of conception.That was not always that way. Thomas Aquinas taught, that the human embryo became a person after three months. But that did not change his attitude toward abortion. It was forbidden because already before the embryo became a person. It was teleologically destined to receive a  specifically human soul,  and had therefore to be protected. Likewise up to the seventeenth century the Church protected the human body also after death against  the science of anatomy and any surgical destruction for the purpose of research.  Stemcell research  requires, that an embryo is produced through artificial insemination,and that the stemcells are removed from it, and that it is then killed after two weeks of life.That precisely is the problem for religious people with stemcell research: the goal does not justify the means.Maybe the scientists could gain stemcells from adults. But they are already too differentiated and not plastic enough for the purpose of healing illnesses. So the secular scientists return to stemcells from embryoes. The secular scientists have no promble with this, because for them, the human embryo becomes a person only after the birth,when through  the interaction with other persons Id, Ego, Super-Ego and environment are differentiated. At this point, religious and secular people have to agree to disagree for the time being. However, religion and secular scientific enlightenment are in motion. It may happen that the sciences rediscover again the causa finalis , which they  abandoned during the scientific revolution of the 17th century.Some biologists have done so already.In this case, the secular  scientists  could come to an agreement with their religious partners, that the embryo is teleologicall not only human but also a person from the moment of conception. The stemcell research problem would be one step closer to its solution.This open discourse procedure could be helpful for the solution of many  other culture war issues as well . There is no need for violence. It solves nothing.


There will be no survival of a civilized human species without the reconciliation of  the antagonism between the religious and the secular, the sacred and the profane, in a new religion and a new enlightenment through discourse. That is our presupposition! Our main question is, how such a new reconciliation can possibly come about in the face of a large plurality of diverse, positive, historical religions and secular enlightenment movements, and their different moral codes? How can specific good reasons be given for the transformation of the traditional religions and enlightenment movements? Can it be founded on empirical fact, and data, and experience alone, or does it also need judgement and insight as well? We must ask, if religion and secular enlightenment, and their interpretation of reality and moral orientation of action, are at all needed for a humane, non-barbarous, civilized future? And if they are needed, is autonomous human reason sufficient for such transformation of religion and secular enlightenment, and its legitimation without any religious revelation? That, precisely, has been the general content of all our discourses on the future of religion in Dubrovnik since 1975. If religion and secular enlightenment are needed, what should be their specific contribution to the moral improvement of individuals and nations, moving  toward a higher civilization rather than a lower barbarism ? Whatever the contribution, it will presuppose a coalition of believers and secular enlighteners, who are able to connect revelation and autonomous reason: Moses and Kant, Jesus and Marx, Mohammed and Freud.

One World

In recent decades, it has become always clearer, that the one world, ( Wendel Wilkie ), in which we all live, has only then a chance of civilized survival, if in it no longer exist spaces of different, contradictory, antangonistic and mutually exclusive, and struggling, and terrorizing against each other forms of  religion and secular enlightenment movements, and their forms of ethics and social ethics. This one world needs, in order to be civilized, the reconciliation of a new religion, and a new  secular  enlightenment, and a new ethos, rooted in both. This one world does not need a unity religion, or a unity enlightenment, not to speak of a religious or secular ideology, the word understood in the critical sense of the masking of racial, national, or class interests,  or simply  the untruth in the form of fake narratives. But, in order to be truly civilized, it may very well need a few binding and connecting  religious and secular enlightenment norms, values, ideals, and goals: as e.g. the Golden Rule, the categorical imperative, or the discourse theory’s principle of the apriori of the unlimited communication community, pointing to Post-Modern alternative Future III - a reconciled sciety, instead of alternative Future I- the totally administered society, or alternative Future II - an entirely militarized  society.

Comments and Objections

We hope very much, that those few concretizing suggestions about  the dalectic of the religious and the secular, may give us some general orientation for our own preparatory work for our new international course. You can make your own comments and objections to those suggestions, and to this general orientation, when we come together in Dubrovnik in the last week of April 2018. We hope very much, that you shall be able and willing to come to our discourse, and that you shall, if possible, present a paper, concerning aspects of our general theme, shortly unfolded in the above suggestions and orientation, or not. The general theme is broad and gives you much freedom to adjust your paper to it. If you have a hard time to connect your paper to our general theme this year, we shall do that for and with you in our argumentative discourse. Please, let me or the IUC know as soon as possible, if you shall join us in Dubrovnik, and if you like to give a paper during the last week of April, available to us in the IUC building. Please, tell us also, if you desire to give your paper at a specific day and hour, and how much time you would like to have. I shall do what I can, to give you as much time as possible. We shall meet in the IUC Building on Monday 23, 2018, at 10.00 a.m. See you then!

I am with all my best New Years wishes for you and for your dear family, and for your good work,

Rudolf J. Siebert

Prof Rudolf J. Siebert, USA/Germany

Rudolf J. Siebert was born in Frankfurt a.M., Germany. He studied history, philology, philosophy, sociology, psychoanalysis, and theology at the University of Frankfurt a.M.the University of Mainzthe University of Munster, and the Catholic University of America, Washington D.C. from 1947 - 1955.

Professor Siebert has taught, lectured, and published widely in Western and Eastern Europe, the United States, and Canada. He is a professor of Religion and Society in the Department of Comparative Religion at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA. 

He is the director of the Center for Humanistic Future Studies at Western Michigan University since 1980, the director of the international course on the "Future of Religion" in the Inter-University Center for Post-Graduate Studies in Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia/Croatia since 1975, and the international course on "Religion and Civil Society" in Yalta, Crimea, and Ukraine since 1999. The Inter-University Center is sponsored by the University of Simferopol, Simferopol, Ukraine, and Western Michigan University. 

Professor Siebert's main works are The Critical Theory of Religion: Frankfurt School, and From Critical Theory to Critical Political Theology: Personal Autonomy and Universal Solidarity. From 1955 to the present, Professor Siebert has developed the critical or dialectical theory of religion out of the critical theory of society, from the endeavors of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt, globally known as the "Frankfurt School," and in continual discourse with sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, economists, philosophers, religiologists, and theologians from the United States, Canada, England, Belgium, Holland, France, Germany, Yugoslavia / Croatia, Israel, and Columbia.

The dialectical theory of religion emphasizes the three global alternative futures of society: Future I - the totally administered society; Future II - the entirely militarized society; and Future III - the reconciled society. It stresses the three global alternative futures of religion: Future I - religious fundamentalism; Future II - total secularization; Future III - the open dialectic between the religious and the secular aiming at a post-modern reconciliation between a reformed religion and a transformed secular enlightenment.

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