Sunday, January 6, 2013


"Throughout the last four hundred years, during which the growth of science has gradually shown men how to acquire knowledge of the ways of nature and mastery over natural forces, the clergy have fought a losing battle against science, in astronomy and geology, in anatomy and physiology, in biology and psychology and sociology. Ousted from one position, they have taken up another. After being worsted in astronomy, they did their best to prevent the rise of geology; they fought against Darwin in biology, and at the present time they fight against scientific theories of psychology and education. At each stage, they try to make the public forget their earlier obscurantism, in order that their present obscurantism may not be recognized for what it is."

Bertrand RussellAn Outline of Intellectual Rubbish

The historical fact that the clergy have been fighting a losing battle against science doesn't prove that religious doctrines are false in entirety, but rather that whatever truth religious tradition may contain has been shrouded in obscurantism and dogma, so much so that the whole enterprise has been a major obstacle to the progress of knowledge. In a sense, the rise of science and skeptical philosophy has done (is still doing, and is yet to do more) a huge favor to the religious community by dispelling it of its errors and wrongdoings, both scientific and ethical. Religion ought to remember its past in order to be reminded of its tyrannies and sins, and how it owes its reform (not yet complete), in part, to the freethinking community, without whose assistance, in all likelihood, it was not capable of purging itself of its own delusions. 


Honest advice to Religion.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Reminded me of the arguments Dawkins was giving on an Aljazeera interview of his. He failed to impress me. So does this.

Anonymous said...

Reminded me of the arguments Dawkins was giving on an Aljazeera interview of his. He failed to impress me. So does this.

Ali Shah said...

I think it's a very well made point - but only in so far as we're discussing religions that ARE evolving to be better versions of their prior selves - such as, for example, the LDS Church (doctrinal racism and permissive polygamy being very recently prominent in Mormon history - though one ought not to get started on the whole polygamy thing, seeing as one thinks that one ought to be able to 'marry' or enjoy the cohabitational benefits thereof with as many people of any gender as one wishes).

It doesn't work so well when it comes to religions that have, cultural tweaks aside, remained by and large the same since inception - such as Islam (one does not wish also to get into an extended debate on how Islam has changed over the centuries).

I think it would be interesting if someone put together a list of things that religious people would be embarassed about and then point out how those things were FIXED by the nonreligious people.

 

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