Relationship between religion and science - Wikipedia
Feb 4, Home · U.S. Politics · Media & News · Social Trends · Religion Teaching creation science, either along with evolutionary theory or in place of it, is also banned. developed without the intervention of an outside, possibly divine force. issues as abortion or same-sex marriage, the topic is likely to have a. of religions, and theology at the Divinity school at the university of chicago. PhD in Political science and international relations (universidad autónoma de. Oct 2, In the first place, divine-authorization accounts of political authority had in liberal democracies on the relation between religion and politics. 1.
For example, the Texas Board of Education recently debated what kinds of biology textbooks students should and should not read. See Fighting Over Darwin: And while evolution may not attain the same importance as such culture war issues as abortion or same-sex marriage, the topic is likely to have a place in national debates on values for many years to come.
A Glossary of Terms Creationism — The belief that the creation story in the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible book of Genesis is literally true and is akin to a scientific explanation for the creation of the Earth and the development of life.
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Creation science — A movement that has attempted to uncover scientific evidence to show that the biblical creation story is true. Darwinian evolution — The theory, first articulated by Charles Darwin, that life on Earth has evolved through natural selection, a process through which plants and animals change over time by adapting to their environments. Intelligent design — The belief that life is too complex to have evolved entirely through natural processes and that an outside, possibly divine force must have played a role in the origin and development of life.
Scientific theory — A statement or principle, honed through scientific observation, reasoning and experimentation, that explains a natural phenomenon. Theistic evolution — A belief held by some religious groups, including the Catholic Church, that God is the guiding force behind the process of evolution. Building on earlier work e. Still, overall there was a tendency to favor naturalistic explanations in natural philosophy.
This preference for naturalistic causes may have been encouraged by past successes of naturalistic explanations, leading authors such as Paul Draper to argue that the success of methodological naturalism could be evidence for ontological naturalism. Explicit methodological naturalism arose in the nineteenth century with the X-club, a lobby group for the professionalization of science founded in by Thomas Huxley and friends, which aimed to promote a science that would be free from religious dogmas.
The X-club may have been in part motivated by the desire to remove competition by amateur-clergymen scientists in the field of science, and thus to open up the field to full-time professionals Garwood For example, Kelly Clark argues that we can only sensibly inquire into the relationship between a widely accepted claim of science such as quantum mechanics or findings in neuroscience and a specific claim of a particular religion such as Islamic understandings of divine providence or Buddhist views of the no-self.
For example, Mikael Stenmark distinguishes between three views: Subsequent authors, as well as Barbour himself, have refined and amended this taxonomy. For one thing, it focuses on the cognitive content of religions at the expense of other aspects, such as rituals and social structures.
Moreover, there is no clear definition of what conflict means evidential or logical. Nevertheless, because of its enduring influence, it is still worthwhile to discuss this taxonomy in detail. The conflict model, which holds that science and religion are in perpetual and principal conflict, relies heavily on two historical narratives: The conflict model was developed and defended in the nineteenth century by the following two publications: Both authors argued that science and religion inevitably conflict as they essentially discuss the same domain.
The vast majority of authors in the science and religion field is critical of the conflict model and believes it is based on a shallow and partisan reading of the historical record. Ironically, two views that otherwise have little in common, scientific materialism and extreme biblical literalism, both assume a conflict model: While the conflict model is at present a minority position, some have used philosophical argumentation e.
Alvin Plantinga has argued that the conflict is not between science and religion, but between science and naturalism. The independence model holds that science and religion explore separate domains that ask distinct questions. The lack of conflict between science and religion arises from a lack of overlap between their respective domains of professional expertise.
NOMA is both descriptive and normative: Gould held that there might be interactions at the borders of each magisterium, such as our responsibility toward other creatures.
One obvious problem with the independence model is that if religion were barred from making any statement of fact it would be difficult to justify the claims of value and ethics, e. Moreover, religions do seem to make empirical claims, for example, that Jesus appeared after his death or that the early Hebrews passed through the parted waters of the Red Sea.
The dialogue model proposes a mutualistic relationship between religion and science. Unlike independence, dialogue assumes that there is common ground between both fields, perhaps in their presuppositions, methods, and concepts. For example, the Christian doctrine of creation may have encouraged science by assuming that creation being the product of a designer is both intelligible and orderly, so one can expect there are laws that can be discovered. According to Barbourboth scientific and theological inquiry are theory-dependent or at least model-dependent, e.
In dialogue, the fields remain separate but they talk to each other, using common methods, concepts, and presuppositions. Wentzel van Huyssteen has argued for a dialogue position, proposing that science and religion can be in a graceful duet, based on their epistemological overlaps.
The integration model is more extensive in its unification of science and theology. Barbour identifies three forms of integration. The first is natural theology, which formulates arguments for the existence and attributes of God.
It uses results of the natural sciences as premises in its arguments. For instance, the supposition that the universe has a temporal origin features in contemporary cosmological arguments for the existence of God, and the fact that the cosmological constants and laws of nature are life-permitting whereas many other combinations of constants and laws would not permit life is used in contemporary fine-tuning arguments.
The second, theology of nature, starts not from science but from a religious framework, and examines how this can enrich or even revise findings of the sciences.
For example, McGrath developed a Christian theology of nature, examining how nature and scientific findings can be regarded through a Christian lens. While integration seems attractive especially to theologiansit is difficult to do justice to both the science and religion aspects of a given domain, especially given their complexities.
For example, Pierre Teilhard de Chardinwho was both knowledgeable in paleoanthropology and theology, ended up with an unconventional view of evolution as teleological which brought him into trouble with the scientific establishmentand with an unorthodox theology with an unconventional interpretation of original sin that brought him into trouble with the Roman Catholic Church.
Theological heterodoxy, by itself, is no reason to doubt a model, but it points to difficulties for the integration model in becoming successful in the broader community of theologians and philosophers. Moreover, integration seems skewed towards theism as Barbour described arguments based on scientific results that support but do not demonstrate theism, but failed to discuss arguments based on scientific results that support but do not demonstrate the denial of theism.
Natural historians attempted to provide naturalistic explanations for human behavior and culture, for domains such as religion, emotions, and morality. People often assert supernatural explanations when they lack an understanding of the natural causes underlying extraordinary events: It traces the origins of polytheism—which Hume thought was the earliest form of religious belief—to ignorance about natural causes combined with fear and apprehension about the environment.
By deifying aspects of the environment, early humans tried to persuade or bribe the gods, thereby gaining a sense of control.
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In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, authors from newly emerging scientific disciplines, such as anthropology, sociology, and psychology, examined the purported naturalistic roots of religious belief. They did so with a broad brush, trying to explain what unifies diverse religious beliefs across cultures, rather than accounting for cultural variations.
In anthropology, the idea that all cultures evolve and progress along the same lines cultural evolutionism was widespread. Cultures with differing religious views were explained as being in an early stage of development. For example, Tylor regarded animism, the belief that spirits animate the world, as the earliest form of religious belief. Comte proposed that all societies, in their attempts to make sense of the world, go through the same stages of development: The psychologist Sigmund Freud saw religious belief as an illusion, a childlike yearning for a fatherly figure.
The full story Freud offers is quite bizarre: The sons felt guilty and started to idolize their murdered father. This, together with taboos on cannibalism and incest, generated the first religion.
Authors such as Durkheim and Freud, together with social theorists such as Karl Marx and Max Weber, proposed versions of the secularization thesis, the view that religion would decline in the face of modern technology, science, and culture. Philosopher and psychologist William James was interested in the psychological roots and the phenomenology of religious experiences, which he believed were the ultimate source of institutional religions.
From the s onward, the scientific study of religion became less concerned with grand unifying narratives, and focused more on particular religious traditions and beliefs. Their ethnographies indicated that cultural evolutionism was mistaken and that religious beliefs were more diverse than was previously assumed.
They argued that religious beliefs were not the result of ignorance of naturalistic mechanisms; for instance, Evans-Pritchard noted that the Azande were well aware that houses could collapse because termites ate away at their foundations, but they still appealed to witchcraft to explain why a particular house had collapsed.
More recently, Cristine Legare et al. Psychologists and sociologists of religion also began to doubt that religious beliefs were rooted in irrationality, psychopathology, and other atypical psychological states, as James and other early psychologists had assumed. In the United States, in the late s through the s, psychologists developed a renewed interest for religion, fueled by the observation that religion refused to decline—thus casting doubt on the secularization thesis—and seemed to undergo a substantial revival see Stark for an overview.
Psychologists of religion have made increasingly fine-grained distinctions among types of religiosity, including extrinsic religiosity being religious as means to an end, for instance, getting the benefits of being in a social group and intrinsic religiosity people who adhere to religions for the sake of their teachings Allport and Ross Psychologists and sociologists now commonly study religiosity as an independent variable, with an impact on, for instance, health, criminality, sexuality, and social networks.
A recent development in the scientific study of religion is the cognitive science of religion. This is a multidisciplinary field, with authors from, among others, developmental psychology, anthropology, philosophy, and cognitive psychology. It differs from the other scientific approaches to religion by its presupposition that religion is not a purely cultural phenomenon, but the result of ordinary, early developed, and universal human cognitive processes e.
Some authors regard religion as the byproduct of cognitive processes that do not have an evolved function specific for religion. For example, according to Paul Bloomreligion emerges as a byproduct of our intuitive distinction between minds and bodies: Another family of hypotheses regards religion as a biological or cultural adaptive response that helps humans solve cooperative problems e. Through their belief in big, powerful gods that can punish, humans behave more cooperatively, which allowed human group sizes to expand beyond small hunter-gatherer communities.
Groups with belief in big gods thus outcompeted groups without such beliefs for resources during the Neolithic, which explains the current success of belief in such gods Norenzayan Natural philosopher Isaac Newton held strong, albeit unorthodox religious beliefs Pfizenmaier By contrast, contemporary scientists have lower religiosity compared to the general population.
There are vocal exceptions, such as the geneticist Francis Collins, erstwhile the leader of the Human Genome Project. They indicate a significant difference in religiosity in scientists compared to the general population.
Surveys such as those conducted by the Pew forum Masci and Smith find that nearly nine in ten adults in the US say they believe in God or a universal spirit, a number that has only slightly declined in recent decades. Atheism and agnosticism are widespread among academics, especially among those working in elite institutions. Ecklund and Scheitle analyzed responses from scientists working in the social and natural sciences from 21 elite universities in the US.
In contrast to the general population, the older scientists in this sample did not show higher religiosity—in fact, they were more likely to say that they did not believe in God. On the other hand, Gross and Simmons examined a more heterogeneous sample of scientists from American colleges, including community colleges, elite doctoral-granting institutions, non-elite four-year state schools, and small liberal arts colleges.
They found that the majority of university professors full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty had some theistic beliefs, believing either in God Belief in God was influenced both by type of institution lower theistic belief in more prestigious schools and by discipline lower theistic belief in the physical and biological sciences compared to the social sciences and humanities.
These latter findings indicate that academics are more religiously diverse than has been popularly assumed and that the majority are not opposed to religion.
Even so, in the US the percentage of atheists and agnostics in academia is higher than in the general population, a discrepancy that requires an explanation.
One reason might be a bias against theists in academia. For example, when sociologists were surveyed whether they would hire someone if they knew the candidate was an evangelical Christian, Another reason might be that theists internalize prevalent negative societal stereotypes, which leads them to underperform in scientific tasks and lose interest in pursuing a scientific career. Kimberly Rios et al.
It is unclear whether religious and scientific thinking are cognitively incompatible. Some studies suggest that religion draws more upon an intuitive style of thinking, distinct from the analytic reasoning style that characterizes science Gervais and Norenzayan On the other hand, the acceptance of theological and scientific views both rely on a trust in testimony, and cognitive scientists have found similarities between the way children and adults understand testimony to invisible entities in religious and scientific domains Harris et al.
Moreover, theologians such as the Church Fathers and Scholastics were deeply analytic in their writings, indicating that the association between intuitive and religious thinking might be a recent western bias. More research is needed to examine whether religious and scientific thinking styles are inherently in tension. Science and religion in Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism As noted, most studies on the relationship between science and religion have focused on science and Christianity, with only a small number of publications devoted to other religious traditions e.
Relatively few monographs pay attention to the relationship between science and religion in non-Christian milieus e. Since western science makes universal claims, it is easy to assume that its encounter with other religious traditions is similar to the interactions observed in Christianity.
However, given different creedal tenets e. It developed in the first century AD out of Judaism from a group of followers of Jesus. Christians adhere to asserted revelations described in a series of canonical texts, which include the Old Testament, which comprises texts inherited from Judaism, and the New Testament, which contains the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John narratives on the life and teachings of Jesusas well as events and teachings of the early Christian churches e.
Given the prominence of revealed texts in Christianity, a useful starting point to examine the relationship between Christianity and science is the two books metaphor see Tanzella-Nitti for an overview. Augustine — argued that the book of nature was the more accessible of the two, since scripture requires literacy whereas illiterates and literates alike could read the book of nature. During the Middle Ages, authors such as Hugh of St.
Given that original sin marred our reason and perception, what conclusions could humans legitimately draw about ultimate reality? He argued that sin has clouded human reason so much that the book of nature has become unreadable, and that scripture is needed as it contains teachings about the world. Christian authors in the field of science and religion continue to debate how these two books interrelate.
Concordism is the attempt to interpret scripture in the light of modern science. It is a hermeneutical approach to Bible interpretation, where one expects that the Bible foretells scientific theories, such as the Big Bang theory or evolutionary theory. However, as Denis Lamoureux Thus, any plausible form of integrating the books of nature and scripture will require more nuance and sophistication. Theologians such as John Wesley — have proposed the addition of other sources of knowledge to scripture and science: Several Christian authors have attempted to integrate science and religion e.
They tend to interpret findings from the sciences, such as evolutionary theory or chaos theory, in a theological light, using established theological models, e. John Haught argues that the theological view of kenosis self-emptying anticipates scientific findings such as evolutionary theory: The dominant epistemological outlook in Christian science and religion has been critical realism, a position that applies both to theology theological realism and to science scientific realism.
Barbour introduced this view into the science and religion literature; it has been further developed by theologians such as Arthur Peacocke and Wentzel van Huyssteen Critical realism has distinct flavors in the works of different authors, for instance, van Huyssteendevelops a weak form of critical realism set within a postfoundationalist notion of rationality, where theological views are shaped by social, cultural, and evolved biological factors. Peter Harrison thinks the doctrine of original sin played a crucial role in this, arguing there was a widespread belief in the early modern period that Adam, prior to the fall, had superior senses, intellect, and understanding.
As a result of the fall, human senses became duller, our ability to make correct inferences was diminished, and nature itself became less intelligible. They must supplement their reasoning and senses with observation through specialized instruments, such as microscopes and telescopes. As Robert Hooke wrote in the introduction to his Micrographia: As a result, the Condemnation opened up intellectual space to think beyond ancient Greek natural philosophy.
For example, medieval philosophers such as John Buridan fl. As further evidence for a formative role of Christianity in the development of science, some authors point to the Christian beliefs of prominent natural philosophers of the seventeenth century. For example, Clark writes, Exclude God from the definition of science and, in one fell definitional swoop, you exclude the greatest natural philosophers of the so-called scientific revolution—Kepler, Copernicus, Galileo, Boyle, and Newton to name just a few.
In spite of these positive readings of the relationship between science and religion in Christianity, there are sources of enduring tension. For example, there is still vocal opposition to the theory of evolution among Christian fundamentalists.
Additionally, it refers to a culture which flourished within this political and religious context, with its own philosophical and scientific traditions Dhanani As the second largest religion in the world, Islam shows a wide variety of beliefs.
Beyond this, Muslims disagree on a number of doctrinal issues. The relationship between Islam and science is complex. Today, predominantly Muslim countries, such as the United Arabic Emirates, enjoy high urbanization and technological development, but they underperform in common metrics of scientific research, such as publications in leading journals and number of citations per scientist see Edis Moreover, Islamic countries are also hotbeds for pseudoscientific ideas, such as Old Earth creationism, the creation of human bodies on the day of resurrection from the tailbone, and the superiority of prayer in treating lower-back pain instead of conventional methods Guessoum The contemporary lack of scientific prominence is remarkable given that the Islamic world far exceeded European cultures in the range and quality of its scientific knowledge between approximately the ninth and the fifteenth century, excelling in domains such as mathematics algebra and geometry, trigonometry in particularastronomy seriously considering, but not adopting, heliocentrismoptics, and medicine.
A major impetus for Arabic science was the patronage of the Abbasid caliphate —centered in Baghdad. The former founded the Bayt al-Hikma House of Wisdomwhich commissioned translations of major works by Aristotle, Galen, and many Persian and Indian scholars into Arabic.
One theological apologist for religious repression, for example, writes this: Ordinarily, the kind of religious persecution that engenders religious conflict is legitimated by appeal to secular reasons of the sort mandated by the DRR.
This is the case even when religious actors are the ones who appeal to those secular reasons. Finally, liberal critics point out that some religious believers affirm the right to religious freedom on religious grounds; they take themselves to have powerful religious reason to affirm the right of each person to worship as she freely chooses, absent state coercion.
So, for example, the 4th century Nestorian Mar Aba: I preach my faith and want every man to join it. But I want him to join it of his own free will. For Mar Aba's 'sectarian rationale' supports not the violation of religious freedom but its protection.
Still, there may be other evils that are more likely to occur under current conditions, which compliance with the DRR might help to prevent. For example, it is plausible to suppose that the enactment of a coercive law that cannot be justified except on religious grounds would engender much anger and frustration on the part of those coerced: This in turn breeds division between citizens—anger and distrust between citizens who have to find some amicable way to make collective decisions about common matters.
This counts in favor of the DRR precisely because compliance with the DRR diminishes the likelihood of our suffering from such bad consequences. To this argument, liberal critics offer a three-part reply. First, suppose it is true that the implementation of coercive laws that can be justified only on religious grounds often causes frustration and anger among both secular and religious citizens.
The liberal critics maintain that there is reason to believe that compliance with the DRR would also engender frustration and anger among other religious and secular citizens.
To this end, they point to the fact that many religious believers believe that conforming to the DRR would compromise their loyalty to God: But for many religious believers this is distressing; they take themselves to have overriding moral and religious obligations to obey God.
Similarly, some secular citizens will likely be frustrated by the requirement that the DRR places on religious citizens. According to these secular citizens, all citizens have the right to make political decisions as their conscience dictates. And, on some occasions, these secular citizens hold that exercising that right will lead religious citizens to violate the DRR.
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But, the liberal critics claim, it is doubtful that we have any such reason: Second, the liberal critics argue, there is reason to believe that conformance to the DRR would only marginally alleviate the frustration that some citizens feel when confronted with religious reasons in public political debate. The DRR, after all, does not forbid citizens from supporting coercive laws on religious grounds, nor does it forbid citizens to articulate religious arguments in public. Furthermore, complying with the DRR does not prevent religious citizens from advocating their favored laws in bigoted, inflammatory, or obnoxious manners; it has nothing to say about political decorum.
So, for example, because the DRR doesn't forbid citizens from helping themselves to inflammatory or demeaning rhetoric in political argument, the anger and resentment engendered by such rhetoric does not constitute evidence for or against the DRR.
Third, the liberal critics contend that because most of the laws that have a chance of enactment in a society as pluralistic as the United States will have both religious and secular grounds, it will almost never be the case that any of the actual frustration caused by the public presence of religion supports the DRR.
Given that the DRR requires not a complete but only a limited privatization of religious belief, very little of the frustration and anger apparently engendered by the public presence of religion counts in favor of the DRR.
To which it is worth adding the following point: But, as many advocates of the standard view itself maintain, it is doubtful that this move improves the argument's prospects. The complete privatization of religion is much more objectionable to religious citizens and, thus, more likely to create social foment. Rorty, it should be noted, softened his approach on this issue. There are no doubt other factors that need to be taken into consideration in the calculation required to formulate the argument from divisiveness.
But, the liberal critics maintain, it is unclear how those disparate factors would add up. In particular, if the liberal critics are correct, it is not clear whether requiring citizens to obey the DRR would result in less overall frustration, anger, and division than would not requiring them to do so.
The issues at stake are empirical in character and the relevant empirical facts are not known. Here we focus on only one formulation of the argument, which has affinities with a version of the argument offered by Charles Larmore see Larmore Each citizen deserves to be respected as a person. If each citizen deserves to be respected as a person, then there is a powerful prima facie presumption against the permissibility of state coercion.
On this basic claim, See Gaus,Gaus and Vallier, So, there is a powerful prima facie presumption against the permissibility of state coercion.
If the presumption against state coercion is to be overcome as it sometimes must bethen state coercion must be justified to those who are coerced.
If state coercion must be justified to those who are coerced, then any coercive law that lacks a plausible secular rationale is morally illegitimate as there will be many to whom such coercion cannot be justified. If any coercive law that lacks a plausible secular rationale is morally illegitimate, then a citizen ought not to support any law that he believes to have only a religious rationale.
However, on the assumption that the antecedent to premise 4 is true—that there are cases in which the state must coerce—it follows given a few other assumptions that: The DRR is true. That is, the DRR follows from a constraint on what makes for the moral legitimacy of state coercion—viz.
The argument from respect has received its fair share of criticism from liberal critics. Perhaps the most troubling of these criticisms is that the argument undermines the legitimacy of basic liberal commitments. To appreciate the thrust of this objection, focus for a moment on the notion being a coercive law that is justified to an agent, to which the argument appeals. How should we understand this concept?
One natural suggestion is this: A coercive law is justified to an agent only if he is reasonable and has sufficient reasons from his own perspective to support it.
Now consider a coercive law that protects fundamental liberal commitments, such as the right to exercise religious freedom.
Is this law justified to each citizen of a liberal democracy? For there appear to be reasonable citizens who have no good reason from their own perspective to affirm it.
Consider, for example, a figure such as the Islamic intellectual Sayyid Qutb. While in prison, Qutb wrote an intelligent, informed, and morally serious commentary on the Koran in which he laid the ills of modern society at the feet of Christianity and liberal democracy. In short, Qutb articulates what is, from his point of view, a compelling theological rationale against any law that authorizes the state to protect a robust right to religious freedom.
If respect for persons requires that each coercive law be justified to those reasonable persons subject to that law, and if a person such as Qutb were a citizen of a liberal democracy, then the argument from respect implies that laws that protect the right to religious freedom are morally illegitimate, as they lack moral justification—at least for agents such as Qutb.
This kind of case leads liberal critics of the standard view to deny the fourth premise of the argument from respect. If they are correct, it is not the case that coercive laws must be justified to those who must obey them in the sense of justified to introduced earlier. Although having a persuasive justification would certainly be desirable and a significant moral achievement, the liberal critics maintain that the moral legitimacy of a law is not a function of whether it can be justified to all citizens—not even to all reasonable citizens.
Some citizens are simply not in a strong epistemic position to recognize that certain coercive laws are morally legitimate. In such cases, liberal critics claim that we should do what we can to try to convince these citizens that they have been misled. And we should certainly do what we can to accommodate their concerns in ways that are consistent with basic liberal commitments see Swaine At the end of the day, though, we may have no moral option but to coerce reasonable and epistemically competent peers whom we recognize have no reason from their perspective to recognize the legitimacy of the laws to which they are subject.
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However, if a coercive law can be morally legitimate even though some citizens are not in a strong position to recognize that it is, then in principle a coercive law can be justified even if it requires a religious rationale. After all, if religious reasons can be adequate a possibility that advocates of the standard view do not typically denythen they are just the sort of reason that can be adequate without being recognized as such even by our morally serious and epistemically competent peers.
It should be conceded, however, that this objection to the argument from respect relies on a particular understanding of what it is for a coercive law to be justified to an agent.
Is there another account of this concept that would aid the advocates of the standard view? Nearly all theorists have argued that a coercive law's being justified to an agent does not require that that agent actually have what he regards as an adequate reason to support it see GausAudiand Vallier Better to understand the concept being a coercive law that is justified to an agent along the following lines: A coercive law is justified to an agent only if, were he reasonable and adequately informed, then he would have a sufficient reason from his own perspective to support it.
Given this weaker, counterfactual construal of what makes for morally permissible coercion, the argument from respect needn't undermine the legitimacy of the state's using coercion to protect basic liberal commitments.
For we can always construe those counterfactual conditions in such a way that those who in fact reject basic liberal commitments would affirm them if they were more reasonable and better informed. In that case, using coercion to ensure that they comply with basic liberal commitments would not be to disrespect them. If this is correct, the prospect of there being figures such as Qutb, who reject the right to religious freedom, need not undermine the legitimacy of the state's coercive enforcement of that basic liberal commitment.
Liberal critics find this response unsatisfactory. After all, if this alternative construal of the argument is to succeed, it must be the case not only that: Were an agent such as Qutb reasonable and adequately informed, he would have sufficient reason from his own perspective to support coercive laws that protect the right to religious liberty; but also: Every coercive law that protects basic liberal commitments is such that adequately informed and reasonable secular citizens would have a sufficient secular reason to support it.
These two claims, however, are highly controversial. Let us consider the first. Were we to ask Qutb whether he would have reasons to support laws that protect a robust right to religious freedom if he were adequately informed and reasonable, surely he would say: Moreover, he would claim that his compatriots would reject the liberal protection of such a right if they were adequately informed about the divine authorship of the Quran and the proper rules of its interpretation.
While Qutb's say-so doesn't settle the issue of who would believe what in improved conditions, liberal critics maintain that his response indicates just how complicated the issue under consideration is. Among other things, to establish that Qutb is wrong it seems that one would have to deny the truth of various theological claims on which Qutb relies when he determines that he would reject the right to religious freedom were he adequately informed and reasonable.
That would require advocates of the standard view to take a stand on contested religious issues. However, liberal critics point out that defenders of the standard view have been wary of explicitly denying the truth of religious claims, especially those found within the major theistic religions.
Turn now to the second claim. Some liberal critics of the standard view, such as Nicholas Wolterstorff, maintain that at the heart of liberal democracy is the claim that some coercive laws function to protect inherent human rights. Wolterstorff further argues that attempts to ground these rights in merely secular considerations fail.
Only by appeal to explicitly theistic assumptions, Wolterstorff argues, can we locate an adequate justification for the ascription of these rights see WolterstorffPt. III as well as Perry What would a reasonable and adequately informed secular citizen make of Wolterstorff's arguments? Would he endorse them? It's difficult to say. Liberal critics maintain that we are simply not in good epistemic position to judge the reasons an agent would have to support laws that protect basic liberal commitments were he better informed and more reasonable.
More exactly, liberal critics maintain that we are not in a good epistemic position to determine whether a secular agent who is reasonable and better informed would endorse or reject the type of theistic commitments that philosophers such as Wolterstorff claim justify the ascription of natural human rights.
The problem is that we don't really have any idea how radically a person would change his views were he to occupy these conditions. The main, and still unresolved, question for this version of the standard view, then, is whether there is some coherent and non-arbitrary construal of the relevant counterfactual conditions that is strong enough to prohibit exclusive reliance on religious reasons but weak enough to allow for the justification of basic liberal commitments.
See Vallier for the most recent and sophisticated attempt to specify those counterfactual conditions. Liberal Critics of the Doctrine of Religious Restraint In the last section, we considered three arguments for the DRR and responses to them offered by the liberal critics. In the course of our discussion, we began to see elements of the view that liberal critics of the standard view—critics such as Christopher Eberle, Philip Quinn, Jeffrey Stout, and Nicholas Wolterstorff—endorse.
To get a better feel for why these theorists reject the DRR, it will be helpful to step back for a moment to consider some important features of their view. Earlier we indicated that liberal critics of the standard view offer detailed replies to both the Argument from Religious Warfare and the Argument from Divisiveness.
Still, friends of the standard view may worry that there is something deeply problematic about these replies. For by allowing citizens to support coercive laws on purely religious grounds, they permit majorities to impose their religious views on others and restrict the liberties of their fellow citizens.
Citizens, according to these thinkers, should adhere to several constraints on the manner in which they support coercive laws, including the following.
First, liberal critics of the standard view assume that citizens should support basic liberal commitments such as the rights to religious freedom, equality before the law, and private property. These commitments, they add, are not in tension with the claim that citizens may support coercive laws that they believe to lack a plausible secular rationale.
So long as a citizen is firmly committed to basic liberal rights, she may coherently and without impropriety do so even though she regards these laws as having no plausible secular justification. More generally, liberal critics of the DRR maintain that a citizen may rely on her religious convictions to determine which policies further the cause of justice and the common good and may support coercive laws even if she regards them as having no plausible secular rationale.
Second, liberal critics of the standard view lay down constraints on the manner in which citizens arrive at their political commitments see EberleWeithmanand Wolterstorffa.
So, for example, each citizen should abide by certain epistemic requirements: In order to achieve that aim, citizens should search for considerations relevant to the normative propriety of their favored laws, weigh those considerations judiciously, listen carefully to the criticisms of those who reject their normative commitments, and be willing to change their political commitments should the balance of relevant considerations require them to do so. Again, liberal critics deny that even the most conscientious and assiduous adherence to such constraints precludes citizens from supporting coercive laws that require a religious rationale.
No doubt, those who support coercive laws that require a religious rationale might do so in an insular, intransigent, irrational, or otherwise defective manner. But they need not do so and, thus, their religiously-grounded support for coercive laws need not be defective.
Third, critics of the standard view need have no aversion to secular justification and so need not object to a state of affairs in which each person, secular or religious, has what he or she regards as a compelling reason to endorse coercive laws of various sorts. Indeed, they claim that such a state of affairs would arguably be a significant moral achievement—a good for all concerned.
According to the liberal critics, however, what is most important is that parity reigns: Many secular reasons employed to justify coercion—ones that appeal to comprehensive perspectives such as utilitarianism and Kantianism, for example—are highly controversial; in this sense, they are very similar to religious reasons.
For this reason, some advocate for a cousin —more or less distant, depending on the formulation—of the DRR, namely, one that lays down restrictions on all religious reasons and on some particularly controversial secular reasons. See section 6 below. Moreover, the normative issues implicated by certain coercive laws are so complex and contentious that any rationale for or against these laws will include claims that can be reasonably rejected—secular or religious as the case might be.
If this is right, according to the liberal critics, equal treatment of religious and secular reasons is the order of the day: Otherwise put, according to the liberal critics, if we accept the claim that: If a religious citizen finds herself in a position in which she has excellent reason to believe that she cannot convince a fellow secular citizen to support a coercive law that she deems just by appeal to religious reasons, then she should do her best to appeal to secular reasons—reasons that her cohort may find persuasive; we should also accept: If a secular citizen finds herself in a position in which she has excellent reason to believe that she cannot convince a fellow religious citizen to support a coercive law that she deems just by appeal to secular reasons, then she should do her best to appeal to religious reasons—reasons that her cohort may find persuasive.
Recognizing parity of this sort, according to the liberal critics, lies at the heart of what it is to be a good citizen of a liberal democracy. For being a good citizen involves respecting one's fellow citizens, even when one disagrees with them.
In a wide range of cases, however, an agent exercises respect not by treating her interlocutor as a generic human being or a generic citizen of a liberal democracy, but by treating her as a person who has a particular narrative identity and life history, say, as an African American, a Russian immigrant, or a Muslim citizen.
But doing this often requires pursuing and appealing to considerations that it is likely that one's interlocutors with their own particular narrative identity will find persuasive. And depending on the case, these reasons may be exclusively religious.
To this we should add a clarification: For, as we have construed it, the DRR allows that religious citizens may support coercive laws for religious reasons so long as they have and are prepared to provide a plausible secular justification for these laws.
See also Schwartzman Still, the DRR implies that there is an important asymmetry between the justificatory role played by religious and secular reasons. To this issue we now turn. The Primary Concern Regarding the Doctrine of Religious Restraint Assume that, in religiously pluralistic conditions, religious citizens have good moral reason—perhaps even a moral obligation—to pursue secular reasons for their favored coercive laws.
Assume as well that secular citizens have good reason to pursue religious reasons for their favored coercive policies if only because, with respect to some coercive laws, some of their fellow citizens find only religious reasons to support them. What should citizens do, religious or secular, when they cannot identify these reasons? According to advocates of the standard view, if a religious citizen fails in his pursuit of secular reasons that support a given coercive law, then he is morally required to exercise restraint.
After all, if his pursuit of these reasons fails, then he does not have any secular reason to offer in favor of that law. Liberal critics of the standard view, by contrast, deny that citizens so circumstanced are morally required to exercise restraint. They claim that from the fact that religious citizens are morally required to pursue secular reasons for their favored coercive laws when that is necessary for persuasionit does not follow that they should refrain from supporting coercive laws if their pursuit of secular reasons fails.
Because our having an obligation to try to bring about some state of affairs tells us nothing about what we ought to do if we cannot bring it about, nothing like the DRR follows from the claim that citizens should pursue secular reasons for their favored coercive laws.
According to the liberal critics, a parallel position applies to non-religious citizens: For the liberal critics, parity between the religious and the secular obtains both with respect to the obligation to pursue justifying reasons and with respect to the permission not to exercise restraint when that pursuit fails. Have we identified a genuine point of disagreement between the liberal critics and advocates of the standard view?
If the liberal critics are correct, all that can be reasonably asked of religious citizens is that, in a pluralistic liberal democracy, they competently pursue secular reasons for the coercive laws they support.