Religion, Faith and Toleration

Diogenes 56 (4):17-27 (2010)
Abstract
The religious intolerance that nowadays feeds a number of current conflicts leads us to rethink our modern conception of toleration, which emerged from the theological and philosophical debates accompanying or thrown up by the doctrinal controversies and politico-religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries. It is defined by respect for distinct orders: that of conscience and that of the law, private and public, faith and reason. It bears the mark of religion and theology and relates to the idea of human dignity which was given its ethical foundation in the 18th century by Kant’s doctrine of autonomy. Current events teach us that still today people kill and persecute in the name of faith, in the name of God, in the name of religion, because they have a different opinion or belief. If toleration, child of the Enlightenment and critical reason, has not definitively gained the upper hand in a rational, technical world, we need to ask whether it is not because we have neglected faith. To conclude from the distinction between reason and faith that they are antagonistic has not led to uprooting the human spirit’s intolerance. Might we have forgotten that peace is also the business of religion? What should we expect, what should we hope for from dialogue between religions? Could faith be the antidote to intolerance?
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