Response to my critics

Social Epistemology 19 (1):147 – 191 (2005)
Abstract
“The day the Enlightenment went out”, is how Gary Wills described the re-election of President George W. Bush in an op-ed column in the New York Times (November 4, 2004). Reflecting upon the conservative religious vote that put Bush back in the White House, Wills wondered if there was any connection between the fact that many more Americans believe in the Virgin Birth than in Darwin’s theory of evolution and that 75 percent of Bush supporters actually believed—without an iota of credible evidence— that Iraq was directly responsible for the terrorist attack on 9/11. Wills asks if a people that have lost respect for evidence and critical reasoning can still be called an enlightened nation. “Belief that does not require proof or evidence” is how the Webster New World Dictionary defines the word “faith”. It also defines “faith” as “faith in God”. The American elections, then, turned out to be a massive faith-based initiative in both these senses of the word. Belief and policies backed not by evidence, but by religious values wedded to an aggressive nationalism are driving American politics. In this America is not alone. India, the subject matter of much of what follows, has had its own brush with faith-driven politics in which an aggressive Hindu nationalism came to color public policies, including science education.1 The question is: how do secular democracies like the United States and India (the world’s first and the world’s largest democracies, respectively), manage to square off their official commitment to enlightened values of openness and religion–state separation with the realities of faith-based politics? How do matters of fact—that is, questions that in principle can be decided by empirical evidence—end up getting decided on the basis of religious faith. This alchemy of turning secular matters of fact into religiouscivilizational matters holds the key to understanding the democratic-populist route to religious fundamentalism..
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,351
External links
  •   Try with proxy.
  •   Try with proxy.
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA

    No references found.

    Citations of this work BETA
    Similar books and articles
    Analytics

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index

    2009-01-28

    Total downloads

    3 ( #223,856 of 1,088,370 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    1 ( #69,449 of 1,088,370 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature


    Discussion
    Start a new thread
    Order:
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.