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Is the idea of a "god" inherent in our minds? posted 11 September 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionIs the idea of a "god" inherent in our minds? by Grantaire, Moderator

We're certainly entirely dependent on science, I agree with you there, AJ. I think it's safe to say the credence people give it, though, is far out of proportion to its practical import. You have people on antibiotic regimens designed to combat the evolution of bacteria, insisting that evolution is false.

People certainly are skeptical of science, though perhaps that may be in part from lack of understanding? If someone goes to university and studies physics and chemistry, etc, goes to grad school and so forth studying science, that person is obviously going to understand science fairly well, and thus understand its capabilities and limitations, and therefor be somewhat more likely to both trust scientific discoveries, and to take them with a grain of salt. But there are other people who go through life never having to study any more science than they have to, either because they don't have a knack for it when they're younger, or don't have any interest, or for whatever reason it may be. If these people have no more understanding of science than what they're forcibly taught because college, don't you think they'll be more skeptical of science, because they don't understand not only the topics of science, but what science can and can't do? Just something I thought of.

I agree: it's in the same category as religion insofar as it is a social institution that generates truth-claims. But that's just the beginning isn't it?

Indeed, it's only at that most fundamental level that they are in the same category though. Although there's still somewhat of a difference in that religion deals with more of metaphysical ideas, versus science focusing only on what can be observed and measured.

Sooner or later, the issue always comes down to the question of the cognitive difference, or which claims are more reliable, comprehensive, efficacious, and so on. Whenever we walk into a car dealership, the cognitive differences between claims is something we're very keen on, but for some reason, most religious people seem to become less and less concerned the more important the claims become. The question, 'But how do you know?' becomes increasingly difficult to ask (to the point where I feel I need to be exceedingly delicate typing this!).

Why is this though? Are people so comforted by their religions that they willingly refuse to challenge their beliefs? I simply don't understand what could cause that...I would think that in questions such as "does god exist?" "what will happen to us when we die?" "what is our purpose here?", people should thoroughly examine and think and question. Simply accepting what a religion tells you, just because an old book says it's right, isn't that tantamount to betraying your own faculties of reasoning? Oh, and just out of curiousity Scott, do you belong to a religion?

Is this an accurate description? And if so, why do you think this is? And lastly, given that the 'feeling of being right' has no reliable correlation with actually being right (which is why two people can be absolutely convinced - to the point of sacrificing their lives - of two contradictory beliefs), how do you know?

I think that there are perhaps two possible answers. First, as I said above, is maybe that people simply don't want to destroy the religious beliefs that comfort them from what the world and the truth may be like if they are incorrect. Another possibility I see is this- many people are not like us. I don't say that to be arrogant, but I don't know if you realize this (since you're a writer and former philosophy professor, I'm guessing that you usually associate with quite intelligent people). Every day, many of the people I see and know, they simply go through life...ignorant, shall we say. They care about things like what's going on in hollywood, who's dating who, what's fashionable. They see school, education, and knowledge as just a waste of time. They would consider the kind of discussions we have here to be 'gay' or some other derogatory term. Maybe there's nothing wrong with having a worldview like that, it's simply their preference, but I think that a person like that would be more apt to simply accept religious beliefs, without questioning them. What do you think? view post


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