Monday, November 19, 2007

Core Problem: Religious Epistemology

In the July/August issue of Skeptical Inquirer, Richard Carrier makes the point that the core issue concerning religion and atheism is that of religious epistemology.

The problem is religious epistemology. As long as we have that we will always have fallacious and ridiculous beliefs like creationism, biblical literalism, false beliefs about atheism, and so on. - Richard Carrier, Skeptical Inquirer, Volume 31, Issue 4, Page 66, July/August 2007

I must agree in the strongest terms. We tend to notice religion only when it does something stupid like oppose stem-cell research or evolution. We notice it when it gains political clout or when it uses said political clout to impede on our rights or to line their pockets with our tax dollars. However, these are all simply outgrowths of dogma and the reason why the religious believe dogma to be valid: faith.

If not for the belief that reality doesn't reflect what is real and actual, or that evidence is unneeded or that propositions are actually stronger without evidence, it would be impossible to prop up such endeavors. One cannot believe the universe is 6000 years old without faith, nor can one believe in 72 virgins in paradise after crashing a plane.

The problem with religions is they want different rules. They want to declare rather than determine. They want to announce rather than analyze. They want to believe rather than justify. Faith allows people to believe things which may be comforting. This isn't an argument for faith, simply a statement of its purpose. Faith has nothing to do with truth, because truth has nothing to do with comfort.

Preferring the lie, to an unwelcome truth, is the mark of a coward.

Welcome every truth.

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