2008 EPS Papers (Snell)

November 20, 2008
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R. J. Snell

Sanctifying Us Everywhere: Charles Taylor and the Apologetics of a Secular Age

Abstract: In Sources of the Self and now in A Secular Age, Charles Taylor examines the genealogy and meaning of secularization. In A Secular Age, Taylor distinguishes three varieties, of which his primary concern is to understand and explicate the third: (1) political secularization, (2) the falling off of religious practice, and (3) the change of conditions of belief whereby religion is just one more option among many. Still, Taylor believes and articulates a defense of belief rooted in the need for identity and meaning.

In this paper, I should like to (a) summarize the salient points of Taylor’s argument in both Sources of the Self and A Secular Age before (b) claiming that his work justifies a reconsideration of the apologetics of disengaged rationality. Rather than treating theistic belief as a warranted or unwarranted in terms of abstract argument, the apologetics of a secular age could and should privilege history, aesthetic value, identity formation, moral phenomenology, and and moral space. To do so, however, would require evangelical apologists to embrace the genealogical method while relying less on the conditions of belief proper to disengaged understandings of human identity and rationality.