September 2007

Hi whatever-your-name-is!

Whenever we ask an important question, there are several desirable properties an answer can have:

1) It is available within a resonable amount of time

2) Most people can understand it easily

3) It fits well into our preexisting framework of answers to other questions

4) It agrees with reality, i.e is true

Ideally all of these are fulfilled, but it of course often happens that it is not possible to find an answer that meets all criteria. Then a tough choice has to be made about the priority of the properties above. As I see it, science focuses entirely on 4) and leaves the rest as second-hand concerns whereas religion goes for 1, 2 and 3 (e.g. “God did it!”) and then simply assumes 4 to follow.

And a side note about the problems some people have with “Thou shalt not kill” issued from the same God that orders killings right & left: I think it’s meant as an abbreviation of “Thou shalt not kill another jew”.

That’s an interesting point! I’d say that science demands 4, hopes for 3, and would like 2 and (more importantly) 1 but can do without them.

How religious people fit into the equation is going to vary by individual. Some religious people who have thought about the question in detail feel that they are forming their beliefs in the same way a scientist would. Others can’t comprehend a universe without God, in which case they are starting with #4. I think that if we are talking about the development of world religions over time, though, you may have pretty much hit it on the head.

Regarding “Thou shalt not kill” — I believe the original translates better as “Thou shalt not murder.” This probably fits better than “Thou shalt not kill another Jew” since the laws included rules for when Jews should be put to death.

Posted on September 16, 2007 at 12:55 pm by ideclare · Permalink
In: Uncategorized

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