Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Reason Driven Life

In last week's Point of Inquiry podcast D.J. Grothe interviewed Dr. Robert Price, professor of theology and scriptural studies at Coleman Theological Seminary, professor of Biblical Criticism at the Center for Inquiry Institute, and author of The Reason Driven Life. Here's how Dr. Price (in part) describes Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life:

It's imbecilic. It's bad theology. It's laughable in its treatment of the bible.... This is the stupidest, most tasteless caricature of [Christianity].

A close of friend of mine regularly attends a bible study of sorts. Earlier this year I found out that they were taking up Warren's book and were tackling its weekly "lessons." I didn't and couldn't keep my dismay. I told her that Warren just doesn't have any evidence for any of the (sometimes ludicrious) theological claims he was making in his book.

Her response was an eye opener. People don't become religiously active, go believing in an invisible and mute daddy in the sky, and find themselves on their knees talking to themselves because there are very good reasons and empirical evidence for doing so. No. People step off the cliff with eyes closed because they want to harbor such feel-good delusions. Simply put, my good friend wants the fairy tale to be true. Maybe she needs to believe in it. So instead of reasoning with such people, it seems better to just stand back, observe them, and do a psychology of religion/belief. Crass as it may sound, they may be useful as unwitting subjects in understanding the many quirks of human psychology.

But in the end, however much psychological/emotional rewards belief in supernatural forces and entities may bring, a delusion is still a delusion. I for one have had a romance with disillusionment for many years. Why anyone would want to get stuck believing in a lie, in something that's false is just beyond me. If what I believe to be true isn't so, well I want to know as early as possible! Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck's definition of mental health is: "a dedication to reality at all costs." Sounds good to me. (Ironically, Peck was a god believer. Strange.)

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