wacky religion or wacky science, who wins?

But here’s a rad­i­cal sug­ges­tion: Con­trary to the progress-based sto­ry the West tells it­self, an­i­mis­tic ex­pla­na­tions of one’s dai­ly ex­pe­ri­ence may be ev­ery bit as em­piri­cal and ra­tional as West­ern science, if we take a clos­er look at life in the de­vel­op­ing world.

I liked this article. It presents a compassionate and ego-less alternative to the science vs religion debate. Succinct and thought provoking.

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5 thoughts on “wacky religion or wacky science, who wins?

  1. That statement is in the article, but it isn’t supported by the evidence presented. The author argues that an­i­mism is consistent with seemingly random tragedies (and triumphs) experienced by people living in undeveloped counties, but still admits if those people knew as much as us in the West they wouldn’t need spirits to explain things.

    1. Darwin, thanks so much for taking the time to leave your comment. The author argues that animism and other forms of religion provide comfort rather than explanation and that comfort is all the more needed in the developing world because it is a more difficult place to live. A person can know the science behind something, understand it, value it, and still value and connect to a spiritual sense of things. They are not mutually exclusive except in a very limited fundamentalist reading of monotheism–another point in the article.

  2. No one would deny that religion can provide (false) comfort and some do better at it then others.

    However, I think the people in undeveloped counties would be better off as atheists, because they would be driven to discover the true causes of their problems and be able to find real solutions to them, even if the solutions are difficult, like overthrowing the economic order of the world.

    MP Glen Pearson made similar comments about religion in South Sudan, yesterday (and I had the a similar reaction to them, but his site doesn’t have comments).

    1. I don’t think that comfort can be labeled true or false–comfort is a feeling of solace. I also think that it’s condescending to assume that people who live in those countries are unaware of their country’s problems or don’t “solve” them because they don’t share a particular spiritual practice. Recommending non-deism as the path to their betterment, as an outsider, isn’t any better an approach than attempting to convert people to theism. In other words it’s an outsider’s simplification and an outsider’s projection of his own culture as superior. People in developing countries, like people in developed countries, do the best they can with the opportunities available.

  3. “I don’t think that comfort can be labeled true or false–comfort is a feeling of solace.”

    I called it “(false) comfort” because the source of the comfort is false, like comfort from a someone who is pretending to be your friend, but is actually indifferent.

    “Recommending non-deism as the path to their betterment, as an outsider, isn’t any better an approach than attempting to convert people to theism.”

    I think non-deism would be better, although I agree converting them to atheism is pretty far down the list of things they need to know. Too bad many Christian missionaries didn’t share this view.

    “In other words it’s an outsider’s simplification and an outsider’s projection of his own culture as superior.”

    Not culture, just science. Culture fine as long as people understand what is real and what isn’t.

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