Does freedom of conscience, and perhaps freedom of thought generally, have religious roots? Ronald Beiner’s Three Versions of the Politics of Conscience: Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke traces the idea of conscience as a factor in Western political thought to ideas that crystallized in the seventeenth century. Beiner examines three leading seventeenth century thinkers – Hobbes, Spinoza, and Locke – to explore whether conscience, or rather the idea of freedom of conscience, was specially a religious imperative for these thinkers: whether their religious commitments or their respect for religious integrity underlay and motivated their ideas about freedom of conscience.
Schwarzschild M. Was It Science, Not Religion? 47 San Diego L. Rev. 1125 (2010).