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Friday, January 26, 2007
Hughes strikes back
Yes, I still think that religious faith is crazy from any purely rational perspective -- because the Pope, presumably by his own admission, is not purely rational. Perhaps in place of crazy I should have said "in opposition to reason" or "specious." I would cite Sam Harris here, from the opening of his exchange with Andrew Sullivan:
My use of the word [faith] is meant to capture belief in specific religious propositions without sufficient evidence -- prayer can heal the sick, there is a supreme Being listening to our thoughts, we will be reunited with our loved ones after death, etc.
I don't think that's such a bold claim or definition; it's the one I was using. Sullivan replies:
I believe that God is truth and truth is, by definition, reasonable. Science cannot disprove true faith; because true faith rests on the truth; and science cannot be in ultimate conflict with the truth.
But that to me is strange, if not wrong. Science can't disprove truth, he says. Well, what if it were definitively proven that the world wasn't created in seven days? Would the Pope revise? Moreover, belief in the truth that can't be proven may be truthful (tautology) but it is not an example of good science, since science rests on repeatable, undeniable evidence.
I would cite Harris again:
For instance, you claim that many fundamentalists are tolerant of dissent and capable of friendship with you despite their dogmatic views about sex. You also remind me that many devoutly religious people do good things on the basis of their religious beliefs. I do not doubt either of these propositions. You could catalogue such facts until the end of time, and they would not begin to suggest that God actually exists, or that the Bible is his Word, or that his Son came to earth in the person of Jesus to redeem our sins. I have no doubt that there are millions of nice Mormons who are likewise tolerant of dissent and perfectly cordial toward homosexuals. Does this, in your view, even slightly increase the probability that the Book of Mormon was delivered on golden plates to Joseph Smith Jr. (that very randy and unscrupulous dowser) by the angel Moroni?