William Egginton

 

On his book In Defense of Religious Moderation

Cover Interview of July 11, 2011

A close-up

I would hope your casual reader would first happen upon some of the pages in which I discuss how moderates and fundamentalists believe in very different ways.

Religious moderation is a kind of religious belief that refuses the logic of the code of codes. Moderate believers find comfort, solace, community, and pleasure in their belief systems and the practices that accompany them—without assuming that these beliefs represent a direct, unfettered, or in some way absolute knowledge of the world.

Moderate believers are thus perfectly capable of reciting the tenets of their own faiths without ever feeling that they are in irresolvable contradiction with other, perhaps more practical ways of understanding the world. For this very reason, not only are such forms of belief entirely compatible with scientific knowledge, they are also inherently tolerant, since moderate believers make a constant practice of reconciling apparently incompatible versions of reality.

This implicit commitment to tolerance along with its suspicion of claims to ultimate knowledge make religious moderation one of the best possible defenses against fundamentalisms of all kinds—in particular the religious fundamentalisms that are so openly threatening the modern, democratic world view.