I’d like to think that reason conquers fear—but I am fearful, with good reason. These dangerous times reflect more than just overpopulation, climate change, and political injustice and instability. Those kinds of problems could be solved or at least reduced by rational people working together.
The real danger is that rationality itself is under attack, and a major merchant in that attack is dogmatic religiosity. Dogmatic means rigidly unthinking and hostile to analytic question or challenge; religiosity is sometimes used as a synonym for religious practice but it also connotes an exaggerated posture of piety.
To be clear, I am not denouncing religious belief per se. Although the existence of God cannot be proven, neither can it be disproved; in formal terms, it is a speculation or conjecture. Belief in something that is possible—neither provable nor disprovable—is not prima facie evidence of irrationality. However, certain claims made by religious believers are disprovable. Perhaps the most familiar example is young-Earth creationism, which denies scientific reality.
How can we communicate with people who denounce evidence-based facts as lies and accept myths as truth? How can civilization survive if we cannot communicate? Even nonverbal animals can communicate at some level; when a sizable portion of the human population thinks black is white, day is night, and left is right, we are not even at the level of animal communication.
Whatever terms we use to describe denial of reality—delusion, magical thinking, or simply misinformed—religion (along its unsavory bed-partner, politics) shares the responsibility for promulgating this mindset. In this context, religion is not just generic belief in a deity but an institution that promotes specific doctrines based on a specific interpretation of a specific sacred book. In America, that means Bible-based doctrinal Christianity. Obviously, not all Christians engage in magical thinking; my criticism is directed toward the religion itself, not its adherents. I have no argument with belief in a deity or with the spiritual teachings of Jesus; my argument is with a religion that promotes false notions as divine truths.
I wrote Doctrine Impossible to spell out why Christian doctrine on sin and salvation are not just unprovable but untenable. In this blog, I’ll address religious blather that obliterates truth and reason. (My target is the blather of any religion; if I pay most attention to Christian blather, it is only because Christianity is the largest and most aggressively proselytic of all religions.)
I will always welcome comments, questions, challenges, and rebuttals. I am not above admitting my limitations and potential for error. I just hope that dialogues can remain cordial—for as I said and meant, I think communication is our only hope.