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Thread: Religion and rationality

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    Religion and rationality

    Has anyone else noted that our popular culture seems to view religion as the exact opposite of that which is rational and reasonable?

    I am a very rational person--as in very!--and if I simply could be convinced that Christianity is basically irrational, I would immediately abandon it.

    Yes, immediately!

    But I take serious offense at the patronizing view of some: Why, religion is just an irrational belief, handed down by our parents (and grandparents, and great grandparents), that is to be compartmentalized in our respective minds--separate from that which is rational.

    Do others find this just as offensive as I do?
    Last edited by pjohns; 06-28-2021 at 02:15 PM.

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    I find most religious arguments rational. They begin with an axiomatic belief and make rational arguments from that. It's no different than any other argument.
    Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.
    Louis Brandeis,Dissenting, Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438, 479 (1928)

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    This is going to be good...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris View Post
    I find most religious arguments rational. They begin with an axiomatic belief and make rational arguments from that. It's no different than any other argument.
    Here I go ignoring my own good advice and getting involved in a religious discussion...oh, well.

    The dictionary defines axiomatic as "self-evident or unquestionable". If someone is seriously, honestly and rationally looking for the truth in some situation - in this case, the objective truth or error in one's religious convictions - does it make sense to begin with a belief that one has already decided is "unquestionable"?

    Also, it's tough to make the point that your religious belief and practice are rational, while every other religious belief is a bunch of hooey. To primitive cultures phenomena like lightning and volcanoes portending an angry deity made perfect sense. It took Science to present alternative explanations for those things. More than a billion human beings in the world today practice Hinduism, and the great majority of them no doubt think of it as a rational Faith that works. What distinguishes one religion from another, in that respect, and makes adherence to it rational, while all others are not accorded the same status?

    Please note that I'm not justifying or defending those who actively ridicule any individual's religious beliefs. In most cases a sincere belief in God (or gods) has a positive effect on one's outlook and behavior. On the other hand, there are those who do claim a religious belief and accuse non-believers of irrationality for not sharing it; one such person is a regular poster to this forum. The patronization, condescension and ridicule comes from both directions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Standing Wolf View Post
    Here I go ignoring my own good advice and getting involved in a religious discussion...oh, well.

    The dictionary defines axiomatic as "self-evident or unquestionable". If someone is seriously, honestly and rationally looking for the truth in some situation - in this case, the objective truth or error in one's religious convictions - does it make sense to begin with a belief that one has already decided is "unquestionable"?

    Also, it's tough to make the point that your religious belief and practice are rational, while every other religious belief is a bunch of hooey. To primitive cultures phenomena like lightning and volcanoes portending an angry deity made perfect sense. It took Science to present alternative explanations for those things. More than a billion human beings in the world today practice Hinduism, and the great majority of them no doubt think of it as a rational Faith that works. What distinguishes one religion from another, in that respect, and makes adherence to it rational, while all others are not accorded the same status?

    Please note that I'm not justifying or defending those who actively ridicule any individual's religious beliefs. In most cases a sincere belief in God (or gods) has a positive effect on one's outlook and behavior. On the other hand, there are those who do claim a religious belief and accuse non-believers of irrationality for not sharing it; one such person is a regular poster to this forum. The patronization, condescension and ridicule comes from both directions.

    What I was getting at was axiomatic belief, unquestionable belief, as you put it, is taken as axiomatic and argument from belief can be rational. Religion takes faith as axiomatic. Analogically, science takes empiricism as axiomatic. Analogically, geometry takes the definition of a line as the shortest distance between two points as axiomatic, non-linear geometry another definition. Analogically, Rousseau, Hobbes, and Locke each took different definitions of man in the state of nature as axioms. So on so forth. In each case, the axiomatic belief is taken as self-evidence, necessary truth upon which to rationally construct some theory or worldview.
    Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.
    Louis Brandeis,Dissenting, Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438, 479 (1928)

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    Let me phrase it this way:

    I would not want anything to be a part my mind, that needed to be bifurcated from the other part of my mind, as it somehow seemed...well, less reasonable.

    Does that make sense to others?

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    Quote Originally Posted by pjohns View Post
    Let me phrase it this way:

    I would not want anything to be a part my mind, that needed to be bifurcated from the other part of my mind, as it somehow seemed...well, less reasonable.

    Does that make sense to others?
    Yes, but so did your OP. There is no need to rephrase yourself.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris View Post
    What I was getting at was axiomatic belief, unquestionable belief, as you put it, is taken as axiomatic and argument from belief can be rational. Religion takes faith as axiomatic. Analogically, science takes empiricism as axiomatic. Analogically, geometry takes the definition of a line as the shortest distance between two points as axiomatic, non-linear geometry another definition. Analogically, Rousseau, Hobbes, and Locke each took different definitions of man in the state of nature as axioms. So on so forth. In each case, the axiomatic belief is taken as self-evidence, necessary truth upon which to rationally construct some theory or worldview.
    I understand. A Christian, for example, takes his or her belief in Jesus Christ and the absolute truth of Christian doctrines on faith, and in that sense it is an axiomatic "truth" that is not to be disproven. St. Paul writes about faith as being "the evidence of things not seen". Does that which is seen - the complexity of the universe, the emergence of life from non-living materials, etc. - constitute some sort of supporting evidence for the belief that has already been accepted as absolutely and irrevocably true? I suppose it might, if one were so oriented, but to someone who hasn't made that commitment to a "truth" solely on the basis of faith, it proves nothing of the sort.

    Can a conclusion arrived at solely by faith, and held onto regardless of any physical evidence or logical arguments that might be presented, really be said to be a rational belief?

    To someone who considers their own Faith to be rational, I would simply address the question - respectfully - "What makes your particular chosen Faith rational and all the other major religious Faiths not so much?"
    Last edited by Standing Wolf; 06-30-2021 at 01:01 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pjohns View Post
    Let me phrase it this way:

    I would not want anything to be a part my mind, that needed to be bifurcated from the other part of my mind, as it somehow seemed...well, less reasonable.

    Does that make sense to others?
    If I understand what you're saying, you are uncomfortable with the idea of going through life basing your acceptance of ideas and beliefs on rational thought and logic, while harboring this one evidence-less concept that you've only accepted as true, essentially, because you want it to be true. You would have exempted that one faith-based belief from the scrutiny that all other ideas and beliefs are subject to.
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    Since religion has many different and separate beliefs then religion as a whole is contradictory to itself.

    Speaking of Bible based religions specifically:
    I think the irrationality is on behalf of those that try to use stories meant to teach an illiterate class of people morals, that the stories must be taken word for word.

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