Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I'm way behind on my notes on 'Breaking the Spell'. In chapter One the author attempts to refine his definition of "religion", as any good philosopher would. He hedges his definition by putting "belief" in quotation marks. He says that,
"To put it provocatively, religious belief isn't always belief".
His private definitions await elucidation. The author spends most of the remainder of Chapter One justifying his enterprise of subjecting religion to scientific inquiry, and one could be forgiven for seeing the author as being more than slightly arrogant in his assumption that HIS book is so important that it can not only influence the debate in a significant way but can actually "hurt" religious belief. Seems a little overplayed to me.
On page 16 the author contrasts the "belief" of religious people who think that the path to "peace" lies through religion, theirs' in particular but also some sort of synthesis of the major religions of the world (sort of a presumed intelligent application of fashionable New Age fuzziness) with the FACT that nobody knows if such a "path" would deliver any such thing. He also states that atheists share the same sort of unfounded optimism, though he notes that they are more than willing to see their beliefs "examined" (to the point that it "can become quite tedious", as the author says. This contrasts with the usual religious response to resist vigorously any examination of whether their beliefs actually produce good results.
More later...

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