Why religion deserves a place in secular medicine

Nigel Biggar

Journal of Medical Ethics

Abstract:

As a science and practice transcending metaphysical and ethical disagreements, ‘secular’ medicine should not exist. ‘Secularity’ should be understood in an Augustinian sense, not a secularist one: not as a space that is universally rational because it is religion-free, but as a forum for the negotiation of rival reasonings. Religion deserves a place here, because it is not simply or uniquely irrational. However, in assuming his rightful place, the religious believer commits himself to eschewing sheer appeals to religious authorities, and to adopting reasonable means of persuasion. This can come quite naturally. For example, Christianity (theo)logically obliges liberal manners in negotiating ethical controversies in medicine. It also offers reasoned views of human being and ethics that bear upon medicine and are not universally held – for example, a humanist view of human dignity, the bounding of individual autonomy by social obligation, and a special concern for the weak.


Biggar N. Why religion deserves a place in secular medicine. J Med Ethics, 41: 229-233

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