This introductory chapter reflects on Francis Bacon's discussion of the causes and (im)plausibility of atheism; on Cicero's assessment of Roman religion; on the history of the phrase ‘public reason’; on the threat of religious wars and civil strife; and above all on the provisional but attractive resolution of the problem of religion and state that has been adopted since the 17th century. This resolution leaves open the question what is to be done about religions that openly and strongly reject it. The section on Bases for Accepting Revelation points to the weakness in Hume's argument against miracles. The section on Conscience and Faith underlines the link between conscience and truth. The section on Controversies stresses the needed reflective equilibrium (not Rawlsian, however) between the givens of revelation and what would be judged reasonable without those givens. In outlining the context of the final chapter, on hell, the Introduction returns to Bacon and the reason why he did not need to pay much attention to the problem of evil.
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