OCT 6 — I refer to the commentary “Theory of evolution in crisis — and it’s a good thing” (September 7) and the letter “Creationism still part of the evolution debate” (September 28). Creationism and evolution need not be in conflict.
It is unwise to place religion and science in opposition, since they are fundamentally different ways of understanding society and are often related to questions of public policy.
Such a perceived conflict hinders effective decision-making on public policy issues.
American philosopher John Rawls’ Idea of Public Reason explains that public reasons must be given to support any policies that our personal comprehensive doctrines, religious or secular, are said to support.
Such public reasons are neutral between religious and non-religious beliefs, and can be reasonably endorsed by everyone.
Relying solely on religion or science to answer public policy questions would not be endorsed by Rawls, as people have many different beliefs, for example, about the origins of life.
We should be neutral between competing beliefs, and central to the idea of public reason is that it does not criticise nor attack any person’s belief.
Individuals still have the autonomy to follow their beliefs, as no single belief is being imposed on everyone.
Such public reasons would be based upon constitutional principles upholding basic civil liberties and the democratic process.
It is upon this that we can seek a fair social cooperation among people with different beliefs.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.