Nick Spencer begins Atheists: The Origin of the Species with a fairy tale. The story he recounts is an abbreviated version of the tale championed in nineteenth-century Europe whereby progress in scientific understanding banishes ignorance and with it the pseudo-knowledge peddled by priests. In other words: progress followed science, and science displaced religion. The trouble […]
Since Sources of the Self Charles Taylor has contended that ours is a fractured world. The world in question is that of the North Atlantic, including Europe and North America. The world in question is also a worldview in that Taylor has examined what he takes to be the trajectory of the moral and mental […]
I can remember a time when “secular” was a dirty word. Growing up in an evangelical home secular meant, primarily, secular music: the kind of music which was forbidden because it was by, of, and for “the world”. To my well-meaning parents, the secularism of secular music was a slippery slope which might […]
One of the most important living philosophers has turned his attention to the relationship between faith and reason. In doing so, Jürgen Habermas has continued to fulfil his exemplary role as a public intellectual committed to the practice of reasonable communication as a model for politics. Given what some have called the “return of religion” to the public sphere, Habermas’ contribution is sure to be widely-discussed. It also deserves a wide hearing among North American Christians.
Allow me to simplify Habermas’ ideas and put his project into slightly more mundane terms. He posits that one important way of understanding the pursuit of truth and the good life is as a shared quest. This obviously places a good deal of weight on the nature of human communication. Our ability to communicate with one another cannot hinder our ability to realize the good life, otherwise such a view is doomed. In practice, many of the more extreme voices present in North American society – a good number of which are religious – thrive on obfuscation that undermines communication, however much they pay lip service to objectivity…
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