It’s not that I’m suspicious of reason per se. It’s the use of it as the “alternative” or the “balance” to faith. This conceptualization of reason lends itself to underwriting whatever the prevailing wisdom of the day happens to be, or the “assumptions” of a particular culture. Reason is thus , in this scenario, a “neccessary correction” or “limiting” of the implications for “faith”, a faith so often construed as as individual, private affair. This is the way most empires like it.
Rushdie is an athiest (which I actally did not know; I just thought he was an educated Muslim.) But he says here:
My view has been, quite simply, that religion has been one of the ways in which human beings, throughout history, have tried to codify and organize their moral sense of the world. But that’s to say, I would argue, that our sense of good and evil, our sense of right and wrong, our moral sense precedes religion. It’s not created by it. It is, in fact, what creates our need for religion.
fits the athiesm. This “sense of right and wrong” may precede religion of a non-revelatory nature, but I have trouble believeing that this is all construction out of some “higher morality” which can stand on its own. I do, however, concede that much of relgious life exists on this plane. It is accomodated into our lives in a variety of ways, and we are , all of us, somewhat contaminated with “theologies of convenience” and “cultural mores” that are assimilated into faiths which are seeking aceptance from the society around them. But where does this leave revelation? Rushdie seemingly elevates an “enlightened” sense of morality to a patronizing, adult figure that keeps faith in check. I would also add that a lot of this “intellectaul fundamentalism” which seeks to confirm things scientifically is falling prey to this tendency to seek “approval” in a philosophic sense, thus validating the “truth” of the religion via non-religious or non-theological means. JKA Smith covers some of this in Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism.