1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Secular

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SECULAR (Lat. saecularis, of or belonging to an age or generation, saeculum), a word with two main branches of meaning (1) lasting or occurring for a long indefinite period of time, and (2) non-spiritual, having no concern with religious or spiritual matters. The first sense, which is directly taken from the classical Latin, is chiefly found in scientific applications, of processes or phenomena which are continued through the ages and are not regularly recurrent or periodical, e.g. the secular cooling of the earth, secular change of the mean annual change of the temperature. The word is thus used widely of that which is lasting or permanent. In medieval and Late Latin, saecularis was particularly used of that which belongs to this world, hence non-spiritual, lay. It is thus used, first to distinguish the “ regular ” or monastic clergy from those who were not bound by the rule (regula) of a religious order, the parish priests, the “ seculars, ” who were living in the world, and secondly in the wide sense of anything which is distinct, opposed to or not connected with religion or ecclesiastical things, temporal as opposed to spiritual or ecclesiastical. Thus property transferred or alienated from spiritual to temporal hands is said to be “ secularized ”; “ secularism ” (q.'v.) is the term applied in general to the separation of state politics or administration from religious or church matters; “ secular education ” is a system of training in which definite religious teaching is excluded.