Reconciling Rationality and Religion

I have a great deal of faith in rationality, and a great deal of faith in religion. I have gone through much cognitive dissonance in my attempts to reconcile them. I now believe that I have succeeded.

What do I mean by rationality? I mean a certain approach to seeking the truth. This approach involves tools such as logic, mathematics, and the scientific method. It involves constructing logical arguments and gathering evidence, and determining one’s beliefs on this basis. It has produced a body of scientific and mathematical knowledge which is true to some degree of certainty.

What do I mean by religion? I mean the usual meaning, but let’s take apart what that consists of.

A religious person engages in certain characteristic practices: going to church/temple/synagogue, praying, meditating, reading religious texts, etc.

A religious person occupies some of their time with feeling, cognition and experience having to do with their religion. They think about religious concepts, feel religious emotion, and have religious experience.

A religious person uses their religion as a source of guidance in making decisions in their life outside of religion.

The conflicts between rationality and religion are epistemic.

Rationality claims that certain things are true or false, and sets standards for methods by which we are to determine our beliefs. Such methods include examining evidence and making logical deductions.

Religion claims that certain things are true or false, and sets standards for methods by which we are to determine our beliefs. Such methods include the reliance on religious authority (holy texts, priests, etc.).

Rationality and religion disagree both in specific truth-claims, and in what methods of determining beliefs are acceptable.

The method I propose of reconciling rationality and religion is to eliminate the epistemic component of religion. We have to discard most of our religious beliefs. It is possible to do this while leaving the worthwhile parts of religion intact. What we lose are our lies, and any happiness that depends upon those lies. I will explore this process in more detail in future posts.

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