Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Religion, the Enlightenment, and the New Global Order

Religion, the Enlightenment, and the New Global Order

John M. Owen
J. Judd Owen
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Religion, the Enlightenment, and the New Global Order
    Book Description:

    Largely due to the cultural and political shift of the Enlightenment, Western societies in the eighteenth century emerged from sectarian conflict and embraced a more religiously moderate path. In nine original essays, leading scholars ask whether exporting the Enlightenment solution is possible-or even desirable-today.

    Contributors begin by revisiting the Enlightenment's restructuring of the West, examining its ongoing encounters with Protestant and Catholic Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism. While acknowledging the necessity of the Enlightenment emphasis on toleration and peaceful religious coexistence, these scholars nevertheless have grave misgivings about the Enlightenment's spiritually thin secularism. The authors ultimately upend both the claim that the West's experience offers a ready-made template for the world to follow and the belief that the West's achievements are to be ignored, despised, or discarded.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52662-3
    Subjects: Religion, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. I. The Enlightenment Revisited:: Theoretical Questions

    • CHAPTER ONE Religion, the Enlightenment, and the New Global Order
      (pp. 3-36)
      John M. Owen IV and J. Judd Owen

      Once it became clear who had flown the airplanes into the buildings on September 11, 2001, murdering thousands and wrenching the world into a new era, it took little time for many to diagnose the causes of the event and prescribe treatments. One prominent diagnosis was that the Muslim world was trapped in a benighted past—a latter-day Dark Age—and the treatment was to join the modern world by passing through the set of changes through which the West emerged from its own Dark Ages, summed up in the proper noun Enlightenment.The terrorists of 9/11, after all, were obviously...

    • CHAPTER TWO Religious Violence or Religious Pluralism: The Essential Choice
      (pp. 37-56)
      William A. Galston

      The question of the hour is whether traditional Islam is compatible with democracy. Though important, that question is subordinate to another: whether Islamic traditionalists can make their peace with religious pluralism, whether their efforts to impose their practices on Muslims who reject them will engender unending conflict.

      It is natural for Western observers to believe that the “irrationality” of religious violence is the problem and that rationality (or at least reasonableness) is the solution. I want to suggest a somewhat different approach. The diminution of religious violence in the West, I shall argue, is the product not so much of...

    • CHAPTER THREE Religion, Enlightenment, and a Common Good
      (pp. 57-73)
      Jean Bethke Elshtain

      Reflecting on the questions laid out in this book’s introduction, I am reminded of two moments. The first occurred when I was an undergraduate—over forty years ago now. I attended (with all the eagerness of one keen to hear traditional “anything” take a critical beating) a lecture by Sir Julian Huxley, scion of the Enlightenment and distinguished branch off the tree Huxley. He was formidable in his demeanor and his absolute certainty. Without any qualification or hesitation, he pronounced a prediction, nay, a certainty for the future of the West: by the year 2000 religion would have disappeared, having...

    • CHAPTER FOUR How and Why the West Has Lost Confidence in Its Foundational Political Principles
      (pp. 74-106)
      Thomas L. Pangle

      The introductory essay to this volume has stressed the momentous historical fact that the freedom of religion we in the West seek to defend and to spread across the globe—in response to a profound challenge from various forms of illiberal political theology and political religion—has its original, principled grounds in the philosophic rationalism that inspired and guided the vast cultural revolution known as the Enlightenment. Prior to the Enlightenment we find nowhere in recorded history arguments aiming to establish what we today mean by religious freedom: the idea that the best society is a “liberal republic” dedicated to...

  5. II. The Enlightenment, Secularity, and the Religions

    • CHAPTER FIVE The Enlightenment Project, Spinoza, and the Jews
      (pp. 109-139)
      David Novak

      Since the eighteenth century, many Western Jewish intellectuals have been among the most enthusiastic supporters of what could be termed the “Enlightenment project.” This support has been due to the identification of many Western Jewish intellectuals with the universal ideals of the Enlightenment. Yet this Jewish support has also been due to the more specifically Jewish agenda of gaining full political emancipation for Jews in the new secular nation-states in modern western Europe. Ostensibly, this process began there in the middle of the eighteenth century, yet we shall see how its philosophical justification had already begun in the seventeenth century....

    • CHAPTER SIX Puritan Sources of Enlightenment Liberty
      (pp. 140-173)
      John Witte Jr.

      In his 1765Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law, John Adams (1735–1826) defended the “sensible” New England Puritans against those “many modern Gentlemen” of his day who dismissed them as bigoted, narrow, “enthusiastical, superstitious and republican.” Such “ridicule”and “ribaldry” of the Puritans, proffered mainly by the fashionable “new lights” of philosophy and politics, are “grosly injurious and false,” Adams retorted. Far from being narrow bigots, the Puritans were “illustrious patriots,” for they were the first “to establish a government of the church more consistent with the scriptures, and a government of the state more agreeable to the dignity...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN India: The Politics of Religious Reform and Conflict
      (pp. 174-193)
      Pratap Bhanu Mehta

      The Indian State has played a prominent part in defining not just the line between the religious and the secular but also the legitimate boundaries of religious practice as well. What we think of as the line between the religious and the secular is not some antecedently given distinction, but is something the state produces in asserting its authority. Hinduism’s accommodation to the authority of the state was a product of a complex historical process. In particular, it was a product of the internal crisis of authority within Hinduism. Here the Hobbesian lesson is important. More than the truth of...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Reason and Revelation in Islamic Political Ethics
      (pp. 194-220)
      Abdulaziz Sachedina

      In his Regensburg lecture on September 12, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI attempted to underscore the compatibility of self–communicating reason with mysterious word, that is, revelation in Christian faith as a source of Christian political ethics. It was an endeavor to demonstrate the reasonableness of the “Christian spirit” and its ability to sit in dialogue with the “Greek spirit” in the context of modernity. This context has denied the rationality of faith in God and its ability to engage in genuine enlightenment that seeks to influence civil liberties and peaceful coexistence among nations. Most important, guided by a kind of...

    • CHAPTER NINE Islam, Constitutionalism, and the Challenge of Democracy
      (pp. 221-239)
      Sohail H. Hashmi

      Muslim engagement with formal constitutions and the ideology of constitutionalism dates back more than a century and a half. Today, virtually all the fifty or so states with predominantly Muslim populations have promulgated written constitutions—indeed, the writing of a constitution is one of the first tasks upon which they embarked soon after independence. But, as we all know, it is one thing to promulgate a constitution and quite another to develop a constitutional order, one that is able to support liberal democracy. Thus far in their political history, modern Muslim states have poor records in developing either constitutionalism or...

    • CHAPTER TEN Religion and Politics The Identity of the Christian Democrat Movement and Theory of Democracy
      (pp. 240-264)
      Roberto Papini

      Despite an evident internal diversity, it is possible to refer to a Christian Democrat movement (that was primarily of a social character before being political), as well as of a liberal or socialist movement, made up of parties and organizations of various kinds, which developed in the continent of Europe (but not in Great Britain¹ and not in the countries of Eastern Orthodoxy)² and then, because of the influence of European culture, spread to Spanishspeaking Latin America (not Brazil),³ primarily beginning with the period that immediately followed the First World War.⁴

      This movement was not the sole expression of the...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Concluding Thoughts
      (pp. 265-274)
      John M. Owen IV and J.Judd Owen

      Why must we today raise the question of the global viability of the Enlightenment? Why today, in a world whose political contours have changed in a way the intellectual founders of the Enlightenment, over three hundred years ago in western Europe, could hardly have imagined? Why today, when the hot spots of religious sectarian strife are so far removed from those founders historically, geographically, and culturally? Why, when the sensitivity to Western “cultural imperialism” is high—both within and without the West? Why, when the credibility of the Enlightenment’s aspiration to establishing universal, rational political principles is at its lowest...

    (pp. 275-278)
  7. INDEX
    (pp. 279-292)