Religion and Reason

Ever since the Enlightenment, a standard line has been that religion is irrational; if only we could get rid of it, rationality would reign. Recent studies cast doubt on that view:

From Hollywood to the academy, nonbelievers are convinced that a decline in traditional religious belief would lead to a smarter, more scientifically literate and even more civilized populace.

The reality is that the New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won’t create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that’s not a conclusion to take on faith — it’s what the empirical data tell us.

“What Americans Really Believe,” a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.

One thought on “Religion and Reason

  1. Excellent post.

    It has always struck me that, from the earliest Christian writers–the church Fathers–onwards, that Christians have been among the most sceptical thinkers, doubting popular views and beliefs, and arguing against them with more vigour than many of their contemporaries. Of course, lots of Christians hold false beliefs–there are superstitious Christians–but as a general rule, Christians are not seduced by mass movement ideologies; e.g., communist-socialism. Perhaps communism is the best example modern example. How many “intellectuals” were seduced into supporting Lenin, Stalin, and their successors?

    The “philosopher” Rorty spent a lot of time, late in life, broadcasting the alleged stupidity of Christians. This is the same fellow who would not commit to the real existence of mountains, rivers, cities, morals.

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