Religious Views vs. Secular Views
nebraskalawprof at yahoo.com
Thu Oct 6 13:15:18 PDT 2005
I think the key to Mike's assertion is that when there is a conflict between one's religious and one's secular understanding of truth (or of the good), you should examine those positions and try to learn where the error lies.
Here is the rest of what he said about this:
"Presumably, what has happened [when there is such a conflict] is that the 'secular' arguments incorporate a normative premise at odds with the normative understanding of the religion. A reasonable person, confronted with such a situation, should examine the premises. If the 'secular' premise appears right, all things considered (including sources of spiritual insight), then the religion must be wrong (on this point, or maybe on all points). If the religious premise appears right, all things considered, then the secular position must be wrong.
Sometimes, a believer has difficulty accepting a particular proposition, which comes with religious authority (perhaps scriptual, perhaps ecclesiastical). He may have to 'take it on faith,' until such time as he is able to understand and accept it more fully. This may seem to be an exception to the above account, but it is not. This is a situation where we recognize the possibility (or the certainty) that someone else has a better grasp of the truth than we do. It is the same, in principle, as my saying that I do not understand or accept a principle of quantum mechanics; but that since it is accepted as true by people with far better understanding of physics than I have, I will assume it to be true (and hope that eventually, I will advance to the point that I can embrace the principle on my own)."
I don't know whether this is responsive to Larry's thoughtful post. There are certainly religious truths that can not be tested by secular reasoning--e.g. whether Christ is the Son of God and whether eternal life is through Him alone--however, I can not think of any issue that would likely come before the Court that would require me to choose between my religious views and my secular views. Even something like whether the EC forbids the teaching of Intelligent Design or Creationism in the public schools does not raise religious vs. secular conflicts for me. The issue before the Court is not whether evolution or ID is true, but how the EC informs the curriculum dispute. Whether I am an originalist, like Thomas, who concludes that the EC is not incorporated against the states, or someone trying to apply the Lemon test (or the endorsement or coercion tests), my religious views about creation are irrelavnt to my work as a judge.
Larry, what am I missing here?
Welpton Professor of Law
University of Nebraska College of Law
Lincoln, NE 68583-0902
"When the Round Table is broken every man must follow either Galahad or Mordred: middle things are gone." C.S.Lewis, Grand Miracle
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