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Kevin Wolf

I'm all for testing the (often incorrect, says I) assumptions made about religion. I'm not the one to do so because I'd hardly be objective but I'd be willing to read the results and let the chips fall where they may.

blue girl

This subject is so big. My thoughts are over at my place. And by "my thoughts" I mean "someone else's thoughts" that I agree with. (My trackback window is gone...)


I think the worries of the "believers in belief" are unfounded. If you're religious, you believe because of faith, so no scientific study debunking your religion will be believed anyway. That just how faith works. It's like that Heaven's Gate cult. They were looking for the spaceship that was to carry them to heaven behind the Hale-Bopp comet, but when they couldn't find it they returned their telescope to store because it was defective.

Mr. Shakes

Lindsay says that Dennett's book is being misrepresented by critics who are afraid of what they think he's up to, a scientific debunking of their religion.

Actually, a scientific debunking of their religion is exactly what Dennett is trying to accomplish. Here's what he has to say on the matter:

I appreciate that many readers will be profoundly distrustful of the tack I am taking here," he writes. "They will see me as just another liberal professor trying to cajole them out of some of their convictions, and they are dead right about that -- that's what I am, and that's exactly what I am trying to do.

More power to him.


To state that "we don't know whether religion makes people happier, healthier, more trustworthy, or anything else..." is to abandon the realm of religion for what must be the more familiar ground of something else to argue about, like the cost of coffee or health insurance. People who do not -- for want of a better shorthand -- believe in God seem to have the same sort of trouble understanding people who believe in God as people from happy families have understanding people from unhappy families. They seem married to the assumption that everyone who believes, or claims to believe, in God, and especially the God in whom stupid rednecks believe, must do so for the self-magnification and self-satisfaction of attaching oneself to a larger social and political phenomenon, or for the flimsy comfort of an afterlife. For some people, believing in God is a torment, an abandoment, a tightrope walk: a dangerous crossing, a dangerous keeping-still and a dangerous retreat. The man who wants to experiment on the worth of my beliefs is not even a gadfly.


I'm with GB Shaw on this:

The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.

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