This will be my last post as a guest blogger. Many thanks to Mark and Marc for allowing me this opportunity to share some thoughts and to the many readers who contributed comments, e-mailed me offline, or just read. I’m now back to my day job saving monopolists not from their sins but from treble damage judgments.
Since I haven’t been able to stir up any controversy by asking how Jesus would rule on same-sex marriage or why evangelicals are underrepresented at elite law schools, I thought I might go out with a bang by asking whether skeptics—atheists, agnostics, and others skeptical about religious devotion and belief—generally make better lawyers than do people of faith. And, in case the reader assumes that any post on a law and religion blog must necessary answer this question with a self-righteous snort, please be assured that I mean it quite seriously.
The question has lingered uncomfortably in my mind for a long time. Back in June of 2005, when I was an untenured faculty member at Cardozo Law School (which is part of Yeshiva University, an Orthodox Jewish institution), my then dean, David Rudenstine, gave a provocative address to group of 200 undergraduate counselors from northeastern universities in which he seemingly questioned whether people of faith could make good law students or lawyers. David argued: “Faith challenges the underpinnings of legal education . . . . Faith is a willingness to accept belief in things for which we have no evidence, or which runs counter to evidence we have. Faith does not tolerate opposing views, does not acknowledge inconvenient facts. Law schools stand in fundamental opposition to this.”
That story is old and was widely discussed at the time, and I don’t mean to use this as an occasion to pick on David Rudenstine, whom I have always known to be fair-minded, ethical, and generous. It’s just that I’ve often wondered whether David had at least half a point.
In an earlier post. I mentioned an online survey of students at an elite law school that suggested that evangelical Protestants might be underrepresented compared to their national demographic figures. The same survey (and please see all caveats from last time about its informality) suggested that atheists and agnostics might be very significantly overrepresented compared to their national demographic figures. According to Pew Forum data, people who identify as atheist or agnostic account for about 4% of all Read more