Sunday, March 01, 2009

Is Atheism More Rational Than Theism?

This is an Interesting article I just found over at the Wall Street Journal.

From the Article:
On the "Saturday Night Live" season debut last week, homeschooling families were portrayed as fundamentalists with bad haircuts who fear biology. Actor Matt Damon recently disparaged Sarah Palin by referring to a transparently fake email that claimed she believed that dinosaurs were Satan's lizards. And according to prominent atheists like Richard Dawkins, traditional religious belief is "dangerously irrational." From Hollywood to the academy, nonbelievers are convinced that a decline in traditional religious belief would lead to a smarter, more scientifically literate and even more civilized populace.

The reality is that the New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won't create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that's not a conclusion to take on faith -- it's what the empirical data tell us.


Samuel Skinner said...

I've seen this before. The flaw is assuming that Christian belief doesn't count when you are adding up non-rational beliefs. If you do, I believe the balance goes more towards 100% against 60%.

Timothy McJunkin said...

The great and wonderful thing about many of the new atheists, such as Dawkins, is that they make sweeping statements such as "religious belief is irrational" without any substantial argumentation. What does he mean by irrational? Christianity, for instance, in many forms, is highly rational. Certain branches of Christian philosophy are almost purely rational. The problem is that many of these new atheists are trying to play in fields that they ought not be in, namely philosophy and theology. Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens to name a few, are all scientists...unless you are a fan of the physicist John Barrow...look up his quote against Dawkins, very funny. Dennet however is a philosopher, but his "Boot Strap" theory of how the universe created itself is laughable. If we are using the word irrational to mean that something just does not make any sense, I would say that the naturalistic belief that the creation of the universe came about by uncaused matter exploding into a complex universe would be "irrational." But hey, I am just an ignorant theist, what do I know?

AndreaM said...

The cool thing is that the Catholic Church and many other Christian and Jewish sects embrace rationalism and reason MORE than the atheists would, as we view our power of reason as an incredible power of the immortal soul, and this is a gift from God. We DON'T take this for granted and ignore it, but use our Reason to understand our world around us. Exactly as Timothy said, these are areas of Theology and Philosophy and are in my opinion the most important sciences there are, and also the most often perverted for personal selfish aims. But the Truth is the Truth, and even honest sceptics can find it, using their reason.

Cool Blog, by the way!!!

Timothy McJunkin said...

I have to agree with Andrea. Many academic Christians, whatever field they delve into, embrace reason. With the strong push to embrace empiricism as the only means of gaining knowledge that has been dominating society since the enlightenment, rationalism is thought of as a secondary or even an invalid way of acquiring knowledge. The moment we stop thinking is the moment we are all doomed, in my opinion.

Steve Greene said...

There is no doubt that Christians use rationality. But "using rationality" is not the same thing as "Christian religious beliefs are rational", and mixing the two up and pretending they're the same doesn't make it so. Transubstantiation is not rational. God injecting a soul spirit in a human being at conception or during gestation or at birth is not a rational claim. Young earth creationism, far from being rational, is quite actively irrational. "God did X" is not a rational belief. This is why in regard to their religious beliefs Christians are all the time invoking faith, precisely because religious beliefs are not rationally justified (i.e., justified on the basis of reason and the available relevant evidence).

Paul Cat said...

The claims of religion of which you mention SteveG are rational and reasonable. A rational Being, God, who does something is a rational act. Now whether or not a person understands what is happening and recognizes it as a rational act is another story.

Christians invoke faith because they realize two things: An eternal mind cannot be full grasped by a finite mind and it is an exercise in humility.

Also, the claim can be made that it is not so much irrational as it is super-rational and to strip away that which is beyond reason is not to be left what what is reasonable but is to be left with that which is unreasonable.

Also, arguing of any sort begins with some kind of assumption.

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