Saturday, August 24, 2019

Continuing From Post Immediately Below On Religious Belief And Atheism


Okay, we disagree. On point 1, you arrive at my point only in the fourth paragraph. In general, I'd say you take an overly literal approach to religion which ironically is not that different from the overly literal approach of fundamentalists, with just the truth signs reversed. On point 2, I'd say there's a big difference between understanding the benefits of something -- in this case, religion -- and actually obtaining those benefits, which, of course, is what I'm claiming we're in the process of losing. The odd thing is that I think we agree re: the empirical or literal truth claims of religion -- it just seems to me that you've become too fixated on that, and are missing the forest (so to speak). And finally, I'll admit that my notion of religion as a radical extension of an aesthetic approach to the world is speculative -- I'm feeling my way around -- but I think something like that represents the real core of religious truth underlying all the mythical narratives, and it's that core that actually delivers the benefits of religion. Dismissals like "magical thinking", however satisfying, miss that entirely.  


Just to say, on point 1, I can’t see the equivalence of seeing religion and the religious experience the way I do and the posture of religious fundamentalists. My view is open to persuasion if evidence presents itself. Theirs isn’t. They’re in a closed system of thought and belief that admits of nothing to the contrary unless their faith is tested. After all, my view isn’t based on faith. I tend to reject faith as a basis for understanding things. And faith is what they qua religion are all about. Now you may say, I’m not near your point because the, say, “empirical” truth of what they believe isn’t the thing; the thing is the goods that accrue from their belief. This view makes your point, at least for me, an elusive or slippery one, hard to get hold of. But even on the basis of it, I can’t see the equivalence: I’m willing to grant, and have said so, the existence of those goods but can’t in good faith come to embrace something with magical thinking at its starting point and without which the edifice, at least for believers, collapses or in principle ought to.
On your comment on point two I confess to running into the same brick wall I ultimately do with Jordan Peterson even as I agree enthusiastically with much of what he says along the way.

You say:

...but I think something like that represents the real core of religious truth underlying all the mythical narratives, and it's that core that actually delivers the benefits of religion...

I don’t know what “forest” I’m missing or more likely am lost in. I’m not really seeing the benefits divorced from from what as I see as superstition. If it’s the real core of religious belief that underlies all mythical narratives, then what is that exactly, some arbitrary fantasy about how the world came to be, how it will end, and what will happen to us after? You say we can’t live coherently, calmly and civilly without it? In the more distant past you said you were a big subscriber to negative capability in approaching what we don’t know about the nature of things. I then was too and still am. It strikes me that wanting to hold to some underlying truth of all narrative myth as a way of or to what exactly is a marked departure from negative capability. For it has us accepting what we find unfathomable and living with it, if not comfortably then at least acceptingly.

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