In Defense of Religious Moderation by William Egginton

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In his latest book, William Egginton laments the current debate over religion in America, in which religious fundamentalists have set the tone of political discourse and prominent atheists treat religious belief as the root of all evil. Neither of these positions, he argues, adequately represents the attitudes of a majority of Americans, who, while identifying as Christians, Jews, and Muslims, do not find fault with those who support different faiths and philosophies.

In fact, Egginton goes so far as to question whether fundamentalists and atheists truly oppose each other, united as they are in their commitment to a "code of codes." In his view, being a religious fundamentalist does not require adhering to a particular religious creed. Fundamentalists—and stringent atheists—unconsciously believe that our methods for understanding the world are all versions of an underlying master code. This code of codes represents an ultimate truth, explaining everything. Surprisingly, perhaps, the most effective weapon against such thinking is religious moderation, since such beliefs are united in questioning the possibility of a code of codes at the source of all human knowledge. The moderately religious, with their inherent skepticism toward a master code, are best suited to protect science, politics, and other, diverse strains of knowledge from fundamentalist attack. They are also most likely to promote a worldview based on the compatibility between religious faith and scientific method.

About William Egginton

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William Egginton is Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and chair of the Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures at the Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of How the World Became a Stage, Perversity and Ethics, A Wrinkle in History, The Philosopher's Desire, and The Theater of Truth. He is also coeditor of Thinking with Borges and The Pragmatic Turn in Philosophy, and translator of Lisa Block de Behar's Borges: The Passion of an Endless Quotation.
Published May 31, 2011 by Columbia University Press. 186 pages
Genres: Religion & Spirituality, Education & Reference, Law & Philosophy, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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From the Crusades to the terrorist attacks of recent decades, the stories of religious beliefs gone awry that populate the history books are proof enough to “new atheist” authors like Christopher Hitchens that religion is the root of all evil.

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Such a heart-warming title — in this age of fundamentalist Christians who claim to know the exact date that the Lord will return to sweep the righteous up into heaven and Islamists who spread terror in the name of the Lord.

Jun 12 2011 | Read Full Review of In Defense of Religious Moder...

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