Reading “The Secular Outlook”

Wiley-Blackwell sent me The Secular Outlook by Paul Cliteur a few days ago. It has a blurb by Russell Blackford on the back, which is a good sign.

Cliteur says it’s important to distinguish between  predictions of secularization, which are descriptive, and secularism, which is normative. There’s an amusing passage on page 4 where it becomes apparent that he does not think much of Karen Armstrong.

Armstrong, like some other authors writing on religion and secularization, mixes up “secularism” and “the secularization thesis.” A secularist to her is someone who believes in the secularization thesis. ..Armstrong and others may, of course, gleefully criticize the secularization thesis, but that is flogging a dead horse. Their argumentation has no consequence whatsoever for the viability of secularism as a moral and political philosophy or a vision of how the state should relate to religion. On the contrary.

Yes well – that’s Armstrong.

He makes a key distinction on page 5 between

tolerance as practiced by religions, not tolerance toward religions. Although both forms of tolerance are important, the first issue is a blind spot in the literature on this subject, the latter a sole preoccupation.

Ohhhhhhh – so it is. So religions are supposed to practice tolerance themselves! Who knew?

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