IDEAS producer David Cayley concludes his series with three
thinkers who believe that division of the world into the secular and the
religious both oversimplifies and impoverishes political and religious
life. Political philosopher William Connolly argues for a richer and more inclusive public sphere; historian of religion Mark Taylor calls for a new philosophy of religion; and Fred Dallmayr presents the case for a deeper and more thorough-going pluralism.
A separation of the secular from the religious was one of the founding ideas of the modern world. In the interests of peace and civic order, religion was to be stripped of worldly power and made into a purely private and spiritual matter. Public affairs were to be governed by secular considerations. God might get the occasional nod - like the acknowledgement of his supremacy in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms - but the secular was generally imagined as a religion-free zone. That was the theory, but in recent years this way of cutting things up has come under serious challenge. The boundary between the secular and the religious has eroded. Scholars like Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor have pointed out, for example, that the secular is in many ways a product of religion. And secularization itself seems to have gone into reverse - with religion resurgent all around the world.
of Johns Hopkins University is the author of Why I Am Not a Secularist
. Mark Taylor
is the head of the Department of Religion at Columbia University, and the author of After God.Fred Dallmayr
is the author of Integral Pluralism: Beyond Culture Wars
and teaches in the Departments of Philosophy and Political Science at Notre Dame University.