Religion vs Reason?

I recently read an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about Sarah Attar, the first female track and field athlete to represent Saudi Arabia at an Olympics.

The article was largely a celebration of this event, which is indeed a wonderful achievement.

My reading was soured, however, when I started to read some of the comments which accompanied the article.

Among the first was this one from someone who calls himself MikeSyd:

While we are on the topic, Lolo Jones could take the time to reflect upon her (religious) life and confirm how absolutely useless her worship of her Imagniary friend in the sky has been in relation to helping her avoid and heal from injury, fulfill her Olympic and relationship ambitions.
Ditto the American long jumper: seen feverishly communicating and appealing to his Cloud Fairy between disappointing jumps that landed him into a very un-supernatural-blessed third.

The theme of religion-bashing was sprinkled throughout the rest of the comments, which set me to considering.

One of the proud claims of religion-bashers and Atheists is that their world-view is arrived at through the careful application of reason and logic.

If you think about it though, this claim is not actually accurate.

I would even suggest that most people who bash religion or adopt an Atheist mindset do not know why they do so. Many are simply unthinkingly ‘running with the crowd’ without actually applying very much brain-power as to why they’ve decided to believe what they do.

Certainly the majority who rail against religion have not applied scientific logic to arrive at their beliefs: Atheist commentary on religious points of view often borders on frenzied fanaticism.

They might have adopted the ‘scientifically supported’ views of peers, mentors or figures of authority, but my belief is that it would be rare for them to actually have explored these views in-depth themselves.

The Scientific Method is “a method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses:”

(Oxford English Dictionary)

It might be summarized thus:

  • Ask a Question
  • Do Background Research
  • Construct a Hypothesis
  • Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
  • Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
  • Communicate Your Results
    (From sciencebuddies.org)

Any sincere scientific search for truth in the question of the existence or non-existence of God would look at the billions of people on the planet who do believe in some form of deity and conclude, at the very, very least, that the concept of a real God warrants further investigation. But no, the majority of religion-bashers do not arrive at their view of religion through objective observation and repeated experimentation which has been subjected to peer review.

Their views are not even theoretical constructs, they are opinions, plain and simple. They are not arrived at through reason and logic. They are arrived at through bias, emotional knee-jerk reactions and vivid imaginations.

Many, as evidenced in the comments to the article above, have their basis in a severe hatred of anything religious or superstitious.

Cold, hard evidence is rejected with the naive explanation that ‘I’m right because I can think for myself and the rest of the world must be deluded’, but where a religious person is urged to prove the existence of God, there is also a reluctance to disprove the existence of God on the part of the Atheist.

The problem is that it is very hard to disprove the existence of God. Most attempts are simplistic mind games.

The best approach I’ve seen is the one which takes the claims of Christianity and of God himself and puts them to the test.

And when using this approach it is a mistake to make the proof too complex.

Let’s distil a proof of undeniable simplicity:

  • The Christian Bible claims that God is real
  • God himself claims in the Bible that he will answer you when you pray to him”You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

A proof for the existence of God then?

  • Ask God if he is real

Can it get any simpler?

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7 thoughts on “Religion vs Reason?

      1. Actually I was not being derisive, Pinkagendist has a good point.
        For an Atheist it does seem that any ‘voices from God’ would be a form of mental illness.

        But I know I’m not alone in saying that I pray every day and almost every day I hear God speak to me in response.

        There is a strange misconception among non-Christians that it is unusual to hear God’s voice.

        For a Christian it is unusual NOT to hear God’s voice when you pray.

        After all why would you pray to someone who does not talk back?

  1. Hi. Atheist here. I think you have some misconceptions. Let me first disclaim that while I do not bear a “severe hatred of anything religious or superstitious,” I do feel something of an exasperated weariness. (There’s only so much mischaracterization a person can take without thinking it a bit tiresome.) Well, that’s neither here nor there, I suppose. Most of us atheists don’t spend our days going out writing angry comments on news articles. Really, most are quite normal, very nice people. (Heck, we often don’t even bother telling people that we’re atheists! You’d never be able to pick us out of a crowd.) That said, atheism is a pretty broad label, implying nothing more than a lack of belief in gods. Consequently, people become atheists through a *lot* of different paths; for some, it is the critical application of rigorous scientific evaluation, but I agree with you that this is likely not the majority. (My own suspicion is that most people become atheists merely by realizing one day that they believe in God, Allah, Thor, Vishnu and so on to an exactly equal degree.)

    As to the issue of “billions of people on the planet who do believe in some form of deity,” I would point out that a thing does not become true by virtue of the number of people who believe it is true. (A lot of people in the world believe that going outside in the winter without wearing a coat can give you a cold, for instance, rather than recognizing that a virus causes the common cold, not temperature.) And as for disproving the existence of God? This is a misunderstanding of the burden of proof. Besides, religious claims are often designed to be unfalsifiable. (Can you prove that the criminal actions of Xenu did *not* lead to the pollution of human souls? Can you prove that the Buddhist model of reincarnation is false?) As a nonbeliever, I can’t find your proof very compelling; you seem to be saying “in order to find God, first believe in God.” I trust you can see why this is not terribly convincing.

    That’s basically it. Have a great day!

    1. Thanks for an insightful comment Collin.

      As a Christian I also feel the same exasperated weariness when trying to explain my faith to aggressive non-believers.

      As for the billions of people believing in some form of deity, I agree that that does not make it true, but surely it makes it a phenomenon worth looking into.
      If it is a case of mass brainwashing, or the residue of ancient thought systems, why has it come about thus?

      Yes I understand your final comment as well, and I can see that it is a circular argument in favour of the Christian world-view.

      It requires an Atheist to go against his view that there is no God and to believe he is talking to a God, even if just for an instant.

      In my opinion, the truth is that neither a religious world-view nor a non-religious world view can be proven to the complete satisfaction of the other.

      Which is a pity, because it would be great to have a single, clear-cut, objective truth which everyone could assent to without argument.

      I’m sure there would be a little less consternation in the world if that was the case.

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