Religion’s functionality

A reader, NFQ, recently commented and offered a link where she concluded with a classic anti-religionist declaration:

“religion doesn’t offer any definitive answers, and is just made up.”

My reply to this claim illustrates a constant theme on my site and thus I felt it worth repeating:

I think I understand why you feel that way, but I think your generalization is too broad.  People use their religion in very nebulous ways and few use it as a mere compendium of truth propositions.  The functionality of faith is what they believe in — when they use propositions to defend the functionality to which they are (subconsciously) attached, the result is usually mere “fart logic“.

Nonetheless, that religious functionality can indeed offer very real, definitive answers — thus their faith survives and flourishes.  As atheists, I don’t feel we should over simplify our objections to religions.  The exuberance of the anti-religionists is often over-reaching, IMHO.  Science is about refining the analysis.


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

3 responses to “Religion’s functionality

  1. Skeptnik Garrison

    But are lies really answers?

  2. @ Skeptnick Garrison:
    Let’s say someone values something but they are not sure why. Yet, over time, they have been given reasons why they should value it by preachers, friends and TV. So when questioned, they offer these reasons which are acceptable to everyone they respect. And even though they are really not their own reasons, they now think they are their reasons.

    When further attacked, they may put forth other defenses. It is their minds that are defending something that they value for very deep reasons which they are not in touch with and their mind offers many excuses. So, they are not “lying” intentionally, they actually believe what they say at one level. But even if their reasons are countered, subconsciously their mind does not care because they know they are committed at a deeper level than logic.

    Heck, when a woman asks a man “Why do you love me”, the pursuant conversation can often go the same way.

    Does that make sense?

  3. Skeptnik Garrison

    Yes, that makes sense. I did just that for 20 years. And I understand and have compassion for it. I didn’t mean that they were lying but that they are believing lies.
    But I think facing reality is a function of emotional maturity and that religion is held in our society in a special place above scrutiny. As a member of human society I feel a responsibility to challenge that immaturity and thereby advance the development of our civilization. The morality of reason is far more humane than the morality of religion. As yesterday’s vote to repeal DADT shows, besides the fact that reason has pretty much eliminated burning at the stake western society. The western enlightenment is not done and must proceed. The Muslim world has not had that advantage and it shows.

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