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date: 25 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the difference between a nonsecular or religious critique of religious ethics and politics and a specifically secular critique. It introduces the central notion of a secular critique, autonomy, and its two types, moral and political. Moral autonomy entails the separation of religion from ethics. The ideal of making that separation is called “moral secularism.” The opposite of moral autonomy is “moral heteronomy.” An extreme case of moral heteronomy is discussed: Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his own son when God commanded him to do so. Next, the importance of political autonomy and political secularism is illustrated with reference to the conflict between the king Ahab (the model of a secular ruler) and the prophet Elijah (the model of a religious leader). Some stories in the holy scriptures of the monotheist religions held in common by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are unfavorable toward secularism (both moral and political).

Keywords: secular critique, religious ethics, religious politics, secular ethics, secular politics, autonomy

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