REL 101 Introduction to Religion Criticisms of Religion Skepticism
“ Doubt concerning basic religious principles (as immortality, providence, and revelation)” -- Merriam Webster Dictionary
Skepticism asks the question “If sacred reality is so real why isn’t obvious to everybody?”
Three Levels of Skepticism
Questions the reasonableness of religion.
Can people sincerely accept ideas about the sacred in light of the Enlightenment?
Rationalism resists any mystical notions about reality.
It questions how various religions can contradict one another.
The only truth is that which can be empirically proven (the scientific method).
The scientific method is the only way that our minds can understand the real world.
Religion is not scientifically demonstrable. Therefore it is not a reliable source of truth.
There is more to religion than meets the eye.
Religion is not only unreasonable and unscientific but it is covering something up.
Religion is a dubious set of symbols whose surface meaning cannot be trusted or taken at face value. There is a symbolic meaning that needs to be interpreted.
Rationalism, scientism and suspicion are all manifestations of the projection theory of religion.
Projection theory teaches that:
Religious ideas are projections or creations of our own wishes.
Human fantasy, not a sacred being, is origin of our ideas about sacred reality.
Is faith incompatible with reason?
There are many religious thinkers who think not
Faith and Reason
Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274).
Why does anything exist at all?
If something exists it must have had a source – God.
William Paley (1743-1805).
Best known for his arguments for the existence of God in his work Natural Theology , which made use of the watchmaker analogy.
Reason’s Reliance on Faith
Perhaps human reason and science do not start out completely neutral.
Prior to questioning and thinking, we have already performed an act of faith in that we believe that there is a rationally comprehensible truth existing in reality
“ We do not risk much of ourselves when we accept that 2+2=4 or that the law of gravity is correct. But it is difficult to accept the religious view that a gracious mystery encompasses one’s life without feeling a deep challenge in such an intuition. Only in taking the risk of radically trusting mystery, and steering one’s life and relationships accordingly, does one religiously acknowledge its presence and challenge.” –John Haught “What is Religion” p. 225