John Gray: Can Religion Tell Us More Than Science?

From BBC website...

When he recounts the story of his conversion to Catholicism in his autobiography A Sort of Life, Graham Greene writes that he went for instruction to Father Trollope, a very tall and very fat man who had once been an actor in the West End.

Trollope was a convert who became a priest and led a highly ascetic life, and Greene didn't warm to him very much, at least to begin with.

Yet the writer came to feel that in dealing with his instructor he was faced with "the challenge of an inexplicable goodness". It was this impression - rather than any of the arguments the devout Father presented to the writer for the existence of God - that eventually led to Greene's conversion.

The arguments that were patiently rehearsed by Father Trollope faded from his memory, and Greene had no interest in retrieving them. "I cannot be bothered to remember," he writes. "I accept."

It's clear that what Green accepted wasn't what he called "those unconvincing philosophical arguments". But what was it that he had accepted?


If I get time I may go through this paragraph by paragraph, as it's fantastically instructive. However I haven't found time to respond to Randal Rauser yet...


Paul Crowley said…
"The idea that religion is a separate magisterium which cannot be proven or disproven is a Big Lie - a lie which is repeated over and over again, so that people will say it without thinking; yet which is, on critical examination, simply false. It is a wild distortion of how religion happened historically, of how all scriptures present their beliefs, of what children are told to persuade them, and of what the majority of religious people on Earth still believe. You have to admire its sheer brazenness, on a par with Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia." -- Eliezer Yudkowsky, Religion's Claim to be Non-disprovable
Paul P. Mealing said…
Science isn't actually about belief - any more than religion is about belief. If science produces theories that we can use without believing them, religion is a repository of myth.

This is a typical statement from someone who has a superficial knowledge of science. Because science reveals nature layer by layer, and history suggests that there are layers still yet to be discovered let alone understood, people can argue that science is faith-based.

It doesn't help, though, when people present speculative science, like multiverses, at the same level of surety as say, the Big Bang. A point that Mary Midgley (along with others) makes in letters to New Scientist (10 Sep.2011, p.32).

Having said all that, I don't understand how anyone can compare scientific knowledge with religious myths, especially when one contradicts the other. It's an extraordinary misrepresentation of epistemology.

In regard to his post, however (John Gray's), I do agree with his last comment:

What we believe doesn't in the end matter very much. What matters is how we live.

Regards, Paul.