Monday, February 05, 2007

How religious moderates can help

Religious moderates can truly help against fundamentalism by undercutting the epistemic basis of fundamentalism. Stop attaching the words "truth", "knowledge" and "reality" to what are fundamentally opinions, and which religious moderates actually treat as opinions in the moral sense, i.e. without a moral duty to believe.

As much as we all dislike fundamentalism, it's not enough to be against fundamentalism only because we don't like it. We need to take a principled stance against fundamentalism. Fundamentalists believe their beliefs to be true, and and they promote their beliefs precisely because they take that truth-belief seriously in the moral sense as entailing a duty to believe. We can undercut them only by excluding religious belief from the realm of truth.

It's a simple request, but I understand it's hardly easy. Never having been religious, I simply cannot evaluate how difficult it would be to retain the positive aspects of one's religious while abandoning the belief in its truth. But if religious moderates honestly want to help, I cannot see an alternative.


This is about it for this morning; I apologize to those awaiting a response, but it'll have to wait until this afternoon or tomorrow morning.

1 comment:

  1. I'm confused. Seems to me that "belief of things as true" is the root problem of all religionists, not just the fundies.
    Fundamentalists are distingusihable from moderates, in my view, mostly in affect - the degree to which they take the writings/teachings literally, and in the degree to which adherence to the literal requirements of whatever text they're into. What you put forth as "Truth-belief" is comnmon to both, yes?

    Now, confusion is a state with which I admit familiarity and I'm not aware of distinctions you may have previously drawn, but is seems you're asking the moderates to abandon somethi8ng as well; the very thing which puts them in the class 'religious'.

    I keep thinking about my in-laws. Father-in-law is a Presbyterian minister who has (especially in the fifteen years since he risked his frock by conducting our same-sex "wedding") become a very non-dogmatic christian. As in "the message is important, the details aren't." He has an intellectual openness and honesty that astounds me. He's become an advocate of the "salvation through one's works" school, a position pretty much 180 degrees from the fundies. So there's a moderate; a liberal even.

    My mom-in-law, on the other hand, is well, concerned would be a very mild way to put it, because we can't go to heaven. Not because we're gay but because we're atheist(s?). See, gay people can get into heaven but atheists can't. To her, if we don't "accept Jesus as our savior," we aint got a snowball's chance in hell, so to speak. That's a more fundamentalish (if I may) position from which even her husband the minister doesn't seem to be able to move her away.

    That an intelligent woman (with a chemistry degree yet!) can't/won't even question her conviction in that truth belief, in the face of what it implies for her beloved son, while under the moderating influence of her pastor, leaves me little hope for success in countering fundamentalism via the moderates.

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