Saturday, February 07, 2009

from The Atlantic

Science and Other Beliefs - Ross Douthat
...Now of course religion is not a thing like political philosophy. But there are similarities between the way that belief operates in both religion and in politics. In making their case, an apologist for Christianity and an apologist for, say, liberal democracy are likely to draw on a similarly hodgepodge-ish set of claims - some philosophical, some historical, some scientific, some anthropological and some personal. Which is to say, both political and religious beliefs depend, in part, on an agglomeration of contentions and experiences that persuade, rather than a set of findings and experiments that prove. Obviously this analogy breaks down in crucial respects: Cults of personality aside, there's no direct analogue in politics to the kind of personal experience in which the most intense forms of religious belief are grounded. But where the intellectual case for religion is concerned, the analogy holds up well enough to be worth keeping in mind when confronted with the following argument from Coyne:...

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