The Francis Hutcheson Principles
Hutcheson was a major instigator of Enlightenment thought, of which science was the major product and hand-maiden. To be rational implied the scientific method of verifiable facts, data and cause-affect analysis whereby one demonstrated the verifiability of arguments and tested them in the real world. This was opposed to speculative belief systems, such as religion, which are impossible to verify.
"Even political arguments should be reserved for such ‘scientific’ debate, the major argument for liberal democracy is precisely that such scientific tests can be applied to political debate"
This did not mean rejecting religion (Hutcheson was an ordained minister as well as philosopher) but it did mean bringing religion down to earth. This was done by accepting the world as God’s creation but also recognising that God, as a God of laws, worked via laws. Therefore if one could better understand the laws by which God worked in this world one could better work to improve God’s world and the condition of his creatures in it. A major proof of this would be to increase the sum of total human happiness, thus making the world a better place to the glory of God (whoever’s version of it).
This was science and our development of scientific laws showing how God’s world worked, enabling us to utilise those laws to improve mans’ lot, irrespective of denomination. Hence, again, to remove religion and identity issues for a neutral understanding of how to improve human happiness at that level on which we can all agree, e.g. modern medicine, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications or air travel, and to leave the denominational religious arguments to the private sphere. Even political arguments should be reserved for such ‘scientific’ debate, the major argument for liberal democracy is precisely that such scientific tests can be applied to political debate.