My 1/4 Cents Worth

Watching a video of John Haught debating Jerry Coyne it all seems to boil down to this: Is our sense of things more important than the facts of things? A huge number of people seem to prefer the former to the later.

Haught’s position was that a person must allow themselves to be in the proper mindset that will allow them to experience ‘higher levels of meaning’. The mindset he describes (he did eventually call it faith) will allow a person to accept the existence of invisible forces that allegedly govern reality without empirical proof. Indeed forces which conflict with actual empirical observation and science. Where's the proof? In one's own perceptions, that's where. QED.

In every area of life and society, save religion, we recognize the unreliable nature of personal perception. The reason that science has been so successful is, at long last, we have a mechanism to combat cognitive bias. Theology, which arguably owes its continuing existence to cognitive bias, understandably, doesn’t like this.

How we perceive the universe affects our sense of happiness, contentment and purpose. That’s fine. But how the world is, should control our shared decisions.

Haught makes the argument that absent his beliefs, humankind has no purpose. Nonsense. To my mind, Haught and others like him create a worse problem. By sticking their heads in the sand to actual reality, they divert energy away from actually working to make the world more like what we imagine it could be, or even should be.


Michael Lockridge said...

How does a philosophy of tolerance embrace the intolerant? Compulsion at the point of a sword has been the common mode of managing dissent. How shall you compel the unreasonable to adopt your rules of reason?

More than one human culture has thrown away tomorrows to provide a fantastic (as in fantasy) today. Individuals do the same all of the time. Rationality and reason is not a strong human compulsion, either individually or corporately.

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

How shall you compel the unreasonable to adopt your rules of reason?
the short answer - we won't. We can't. The siren's call of our delusions is too compelling.