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17 May 2008


Okay, so I have been seeing this bumper sticker around that has a bunch of different religious symbols that spells out "Coexists"... At first this may seem like a nice thought, but I got to thinking a bit deeper about this. In the end, it's just a foolish idealism that has no basis in reality. If you look at the basic dogma behind the reason for most religions, it's about being THE right philosophy, and all others are wrong. Even if you think about just the "mortal" realm, the eventual philosophy ends up holding over the so called eternal damnation at death.

Science v Religion: Dogma & Dogmatism are the Real Enemies

There are many conversations over the conflicts between science and religion, but if we examine them closely we should find that the real conflicts are between more fundamental concepts: dogma and reason. One opposes the other, and insofar as religion remains dogmatic, it will always come into conflict with science.

In the October/November 2005 issue of Free Inquiry, Joshua Fost explains that we should focus on the conflict between dogmatism and reason rather than between science and religion. First, dogmatism can be found in more places than religion, and second, it might be a less confrontational way to frame the issue:

It is sometimes argued by those who seek harmony between the two camps that faith and reason — religion and science, dogma and skepticism — are simply two different ways of knowing. I disagree. Faith reserves the right to suspend logic, and from there, no progress or understanding is possible. If P and ~P are both true, we know nothing. Our goal, therefore, should be to show not that any particular religion is wrong, but that all dogma-based approaches to life are nonsensical and harmful.

Besides, it is probably easier rhetorically, pedagogically, and socially, not to mention less confrontational, to get a dogmatist to see that emotions are ineffective in solving physics problems than it is to convince a theist that the Bible has nothing useful to say about molecular biology. And yet, the first lesson ultimately leads to the second.

Fost is certainly right that faith, religion, and dogma are not “ways” of acquiring knowledge about the world around us. He is also right that once a system openly and explicitly declares a willingness to ignore or abandon logic, then it forfeits any claim for authority over empirical studies of nature and the universe. This is how dogmatic systems work, though, and not just religious ones — we can find the same thing occurring in a wide variety of ideologies.

Because such ideologies have such an emotional hold over people, though, it can be difficult to get them to understand this. It’s not easy to let go of prejudices and assumptions in the face of cold facts, but there are ways to explain it that might get people started down the right path.

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