Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The inherent problem with "Rational Christianity"

Today I went to my favorite place in the world, the bookstore. I went there specifically to pick up a copy of Daniel Dennett's "Breaking the Spell," but I ended up also buying "Your Inner Fish" by Neil Shubin and "Predictable Irrationality" by Dan Ariely. But my impulsive buying is not the point.

The point is that on the book racks in the front of the store, where just a couple months ago I saw books by Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, was an abundance of Christian books proclaiming to defeat modern anti-theistic arguments. And I think that's good. Any debate needs input from both sides.

I don't want to close myself off to people that I disagree with, so I made a point to read many of the introductions and flipped through some of the chapters of these books. Some of them made intriguing points, some of them did not. But there was one thing that they all had in common, which made them flawed: all of their arguments were ex post facto.

A wonderful professor I had in college once told our class that the most important thing you have to learn in grad school was what you didn't have to read, because you can't possibly read it all. And if something is fundamentally flawed, you shouldn't waste your time reading it. So when someone is arguing ex post facto, I simply feel no obligation to read what they have to say.

So of course, I did not have time to read the entire books. I would gladly read one or two of them in their entirety if they were lended to me, but I will not spend my own hard-earned money on these books, because they are fundamentally flawed in their arguments.

This is the basic problem with "rational" arguments for Christianity, or any other religion. Just as the church has retrospectively determined that the Bible actually doesn't condone genocide, infanticide, slaverly, sexism, and in some more liberal churches, homophobia...just to name a few, there is no attempt in religious rationalism to start from scratch.

I cannot and will not accept any argument that begins with the assumption that God exists and then tries to prove his existence through reason, because you are beginning with a basic logical fallacy of assumption.

The other thing I noticed in these books, from what I read, was that they never gave a hypothetical situation in which God's existence would be falsifiable. If a theory is not falsifiable, it is worthless.

I have no problem with Borders promoting such books because both sides of a debate should be given a voice, and Borders is not promoting one side as better than the other. But the (non)reason used in these books should be pointed out as actually proving nothing other than the necessity of blind faith in religion.


vjack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vjack said...

I linked to this post here: http://tinyurl.com/2jxlvu