Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Built on delusions

Why we atheists "see only the bad in religion":
[W]e can see that religion has some useful and beneficial aspects sometimes - consolation, solidarity, inspiration, motivation - but they depend on a supernatural belief system, on a systematic illusion, and we don't consider and don't want to consider that a good thing.

We think truth matters, and that the human ability to sort truth from fiction, and speculation from findings based on evidence, matters. If religion consisted of maybe, if it were about uncertainty as some of its defenders claim, that would be different - but it's not. It's assertive - it makes firm, coercive truth claims. (And then shifts the ground by saying that no one can prove them false. No, of course not, but that is not a reason to assert them as true.)

The pivot is the word 'faith.' It's no accident that that keeps coming up - 'faith' is the problem, faith is where religion demands that we treat speculation and hope - invention and fantasy - as true. And that is a bad thing, and we do know that in other contexts. (You're in the car. 'Is this the right road?' 'Yes.' 'How do you know?' 'Faith.' 'Err...') If religion were about, and were named, hope, or speculation, that would be one thing - but it's not, it's 'faith.' So we don't see how to cite the putative good aspects of religion without endorsing the lying and refusal to think. It's all one fabric.

No comments: