Religion-related terrorism and the work of Anthony Grayling

Religion-related terrorism and the work of Anthony Grayling

This is about the resurgence of (radical) religion, and what this means for lawyers. I also give an impression of the work of the British philosopher A.C. Grayling who will deliver a lecture on the themes indicated in this blog in Amsterdam on August 29th.

Gradually religion-related terrorism is receiving wider recognition among both scholars of religion and terrorism experts. Brian J. Grim of the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life in Washington, D.C. describes religion-related terrorism as “politically motivated violence against noncombatants by subnational groups or clandestine agents with a religious justification or intent” (June 2013, Pew Research Center).

For legal scholars this means a whole new range of questions comes to the fore. Should the legislative branch make new criminal offences related to religion (a question for penal lawyers)? Should we be more cautious in recognising religion as a cultural excuse for criminal offences (a question for judges and penal lawyers as well)? Do we have to reconsider the relationship between religion and the state in the light of the new resurgence of religion as a political and societal factor (a question for constitutional scholars)? And what about the rights of the nonreligious that are violated all over the world nowadays, as a recent report of the International and Ethical Union makes so abundantly clear: Freedom of Thought 2012. A Global Report on Discrimination against Humanists, Atheists and the Nonreligious, International Humanist and Ethical Union, London 2012 (a question for human rights experts)?

Some of these questions will be dealt with in the lecture by the British philosopher Anthony Grayling which he will deliver in Amsterdam on 29 August 2013. Grayling is the author of an extensive oeuvre. He wrote essays collected in Against all Gods: Six Polemics on Religion and an Essay on Kindness (2007), Thinking of Answers: Questions in the Philosophy of Everyday Life (2010), To Set Prometheus Free: Essays on Religion, Reason and Humanity (2009). He is the biographer of the philosopher Descartes: Descartes: The Life of René Descartes and its Place in his Times (2005) and the author of a book on Ludwig Wittgenstein: Wittgenstein: A Very Short Introduction (1988). In Ideas that Matter: A Personal Guide for the 21st Century (2009), he presents all the important ideas of our time, somewhat in the tradition of Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary.

In Liberty in the Age of Terror: A Defence of Civil Liberties and Enlightenment Values (2009), he makes a plea for freedom of speech, so much under pressure in our time. His The Good Book: A Secular Bible, Conceived, Selected, Redacted, Arranged, Worked, and in Part Written by A.C. Grayling (2011) makes clear that there is a wide nonreligious tradition of important and inspiring texts. Towards the Light: The Story of the Struggles for Liberty & Rights that made the Modern West, defends the idea of progress, in particular with regard to political freedom, and What is Good? The Search of the best Way to live (2003) deals with the good life, one of the classical topics of philosophy, especially Greek philosophy. Grayling’s lecture in De Balie (Amsterdam) on 29 Augustus addresses some of the issues he deals with in his most recent book The God Argument (2013). The title is: “Secularism, Atheism and the Place of Religion in the Public Domain”.

For more information about Grayling’s lecture, please see:


Please also note the prize essay contest by the Foundation Reality in Context (Werkelijkheid in Perspectief) around a question related to Grayling’s work.


Alfred Reilly

We're living through an atheistic explosion. Great minds and great research and the click of the mouse are too much for these ancient dogmas...

Alfred Reilly

I've been interested in non-theism since my teen years in hyper-catholic Ireland: a lone pioneer, one might say; but now I'm in the company of some of the great minds of the world .. And what a fresh breeze is blowing: dawkins, grayling and S Harris to begin a long list ... and the ancients: / Lucretius and his mentor, Epicurus. Oh! I almost forgot Nietsche and more contemporaneously: Bertrand Russell!!!

Add a comment