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February 04, 2007

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james higham

...when we know them to be irrational...

Oh what assumptions lie behind this lightly inserted statement of 'fact'.

Know? Specifically which views?

Sunny

Chris, I'm afraid you're lumping all the 'faithful' together as many atheists are liable to do. Faith and religious belief are not necessarily held for the same reasons, and they don't necessarily mean the same thing to people. Even within my family even though we largely believe in the same religion, we hold very different ideas on how the faith relates to us. This point is ALWAYS missed out.

I sort of made this point here:
http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/sunny_hundal/2006/12/a_new_approach_to_religion.html

Marcin Tustin

I think your thinking on the nature of religion is fundamentally flawed. This is because you assume that religious belief is on the same level as any belief about an uncertain factual scenario. Instead, religious belief is about who the believer is and what they ought to do (the two are not distinct). These are not in your sense beliefs, but rather preferences. Now, the purpose of a liberal society is to allow people to live their lives as they choose, as long as they do not trespass on the rights of others, and to compromise where ways of life would conflict. Thus, religion is special because when we abrogate the rights of the religious that is a sign that we are either being illiberal, or resolving a conflict, and if the latter, we ought to be able to point to what the conflict is, who is harming whom, and how changing the law will resolve that. This needs to be done carefully, because even if there is a conflict, if it is resolved in the wring way, it will stop a section of our society from living within our society, or from participating in it to any great extent, while complying with the law and the demands of their own conscience. This is particularly urgent if we want to consistent, and also lionise people like Nelson Mandela, whom out of conscience took up arms against the state. It is not clear that the Bishop of Westminster can change who he is, any more than Nelson Mandela could.

Now, I'd like to know why you think the beliefs of the religious are irrational.

dearieme

When Christians, for instance, say that Christianity is essentially a matter of faith, then that is surely a way of saying that it is not based on rational assessment of evidence, but rather, as they say, on faith. Hell, they even call it a Faith.

emmanuel goldstein

[This is a basic principle of rationality; we hold beliefs as strongly as the evidence warrants.]

1. Belief is not purely voluntary.
2. For the strength of one's evidence to guide one's belief, one has to be *aware* of one's evidence. But it is not always (or even often) the case that one is aware of one's evidence for anything, let alone the strength of one's evidence.

Laban Tall

"government should protect the free exercise of religion"

but what when this free excercise - like setting up a Catholic adoption agency - cuts across another govt imperative ?

dearieme

Governments have too many bloody "imperatives", Laban.

Maynard Handley

Oh for crying out loud, all you twits complaining that "religious belief is fundamentally irrational". If you're so convinced otherwise, stop pussyfooting around with this bland talk of "religion".
Tell us, in public, just which religious belief it is that you think is rational, and, by implication, admit that you think the rest are irrational. You are aware, are you not, that they are not mutually compatible? You don't get to say "I honestly believe in the monotheistic truth of christianity but heck, if those hindus want to believe in a billion gods, well they have their own truth" without revealing that you may be a decent person but you're a lousy christian.

Marcin Tustin

Maynard Handley - if that is your real name - you deliberately or otherwise misapprehend the point: religious belief is neither irrational nor rational, in point of any religion, whether Catholicism, Hinduism, or Islam, because it does not for the most part deal with propositions. Clearly, they have a certain core of historical beliefs (e.g. that a man named Jesus, coming from Nazareth, preached a radical religious message some 2000 years ago), but these are not the beliefs that most people criticise as "irrational," because they're mostly not, instead being good history.

Ian Bennett

The supreme irrationality, shared by all religions, is the belief that there exists a being / force / entity for which there is no objective evidence. The entire basis of faith is that it exists in the absence of supporting evidence, and often in the face of contradictory evidence.

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