Categories
Religion

Is belief in god rational?

The question of whether belief in god is rational or not seems presume an answer to a prior, and perhaps more important question – namely: do we want belief in god to be rational, as opposed to being fruitful, joyous, beautiful, etc.? To put it another way, it’s long been of interest to me why this contest is often fought in the domain of rationality, where everyone who is not a supernaturalist of some sort agrees that there is no possibility of providing any sort of knock-down argument for belief in god, at least where arguments are understood to follow standard rules of logic, involving non-contradiction, the possibility of refutation, and where conclusions are adopted once they are shown to be the best justified of available alternatives.

Rather, the more compelling arguments in favour of belief in god point to various benefits of believing in god, whether these benefits are social, psychological or moral. While it’s far from clear that any of these other purported benefits hold up to scrutiny, or can’t be purchased at lower cost from other sources, it seems to me that we’d need to adopt a definition of “rational” that is essentially teleological (goal-based), rather than one that aims at truth, for it to be possible for belief in god to be described as rational.

Categories
People Religion

a better future…

On a track from Heathen, David Bowie demands “a better future”, and after watching Jesus Camp yesterday, I’m inclined to agree with him. The movie isn’t great, as the basic message could have been conveyed in an 45-minute documentary rather than a feature-length film, but it still serves as a powerful reminder of the insidious and growing power of religious fundamentalism in society, and politics in particular.

Categories
Academia and teaching Religion

Linkage

Categories
Headspace People Religion

How to live (I)

As an atheist of the militant persuasion, it’s somewhat odd that in the past two weeks I’ve spent significant time in deep conversation with a preacherman. Sometimes you need to call in the specialists, and the situation demanded a specialist of his description.

The strangest part of the experience, however, was finding that the urge to label myself inconsistent in having this interaction was insignificantly weak, and in the end rested on something linguistic rather than principled. And I mention this because it’s immensely liberating to realise that one can be as principled as always, without those principles trumping all other interests.

Categories
Headspace Religion

Ritual

Another potential cost associated with religious belief was brought to mind last night in a conversation over dinner: we have deferred so much of our human symbolic activity to official representatives of social institutions (preachers and the like), that we no are no longer as able to generate ritual significance ourselves.

Categories
Headspace Religion

Sophistry

After many decades of guilt and denial, it appears that Christians have finally discovered a way to integrate porn into god’s plan. This is achieved through “Loving Wife Spanking in a Christian Marriage“.