Mystery and evidence

  (10 September 10)

Laurel Sommerfield drew this piece to my attention, a piece by Professor Tim Crane of Cambridge University, posted to the New York Times Online on September 5.

Professor Crane looks at the difference between evidence in science and that in religion, making the very valid point that we don't need to hold religion to the same epistemological standards as we do science.

That's OK - but what about the idiotic and infantile claims made in some religions?

Surely there's a role for common-sense here.

Do we need religions that make such extraordinary claims as:  given that humankind is so sinful God needs to send his son to Earth to die an agonizing death so that he (God) can forgive them for their sins?

And this happened at a particular time in history:  what about the humans who lived for a couple of hundred thousand years before this?

And so on.

Beats me.

I think Professor Crane has more thinking to do in this matter.


I think what he is saying but not saying is that people ignore evidence and suspend disbelief with religion just as you do when watching an action movie. The payoff in the movie is an hours entertainment. With religion it is a lot deeper and connects with belonging in a community, helping to make sense of chaos, giving a sense of meaning and purpose and even personal forgiveness when one can't manage to reconcile one's own actions without help. I find all that fine but it is bloody annoying when people won't acknowledge that they are sometimes choosing ignorance and then propounding it as some absolute truth.

Posted by Owen

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