Monday, December 05, 2005

Naturalism vs. Supernaturalism: How to Survive the Culture Wars

From, via Butterflies and Wheels

"The root conflict in the culture wars is between two drastically different ways of understanding reality, one essentially empirical, the other decidedly not. The liberal-democratic political solution to such conflict is to provide a neutral public space within which differing worldviews make their case. But the very existence of such space and our pluralist society is threatened by totalitarian ambitions for ideological conformity. This threat is best countered by promoting empiricism, not faith, as the basis for knowledge."

The article goes on to discuss issues such as the problems brought on when different groups seek to universalise irreconcilable worldviews and beliefs.

"Such coexistence wouldn’t be problematic were it not for the evangelical desire, so common to the human heart, to universalize one’s beliefs (we might call this the totalitarian temptation). We are not content to have our certainties – others must share them as well, since a plurality of worldviews raises doubts about our truth. The desire for ideological conformity is sometimes expressed in attempts to coerce belief and crush opposing views, as for instance in the international jihad of extremist Islam, for which kafirs (infidels) are deserving of death. Secular jihads that champion decidedly unscientific, non-empirical understandings of human nature and history – racism, Nazism, the triumph of the proletariat – have been mounted as well, with horrific consequences. Were it not for fanatics who insist that we must all share their worldview – or die – the problem of ideological coexistence wouldn’t arise. But since they are among us, the problem is paramount."
Read the whole article.

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