Proving that my ego loss has quite a ways to go, one of my greatest compliments is "Hey, that guy is brilliant. He sounds just like me!" Or, in this case, even more me that I am.
Because I aspire to some of the great writing and thinking that Jonathan Montgomery churns out as the "Salt Lake City Freethinking Examiner," but I've got to bow down before some of the posts that I just read.
Example: in Why praying for confirmation of truth cannot work, he throws in a flowchart of faith-based belief. Two big churchless thumbs-up, Jonathan!
You moved away from a Western religion, while I distanced myself from an Eastern faith, but your take on blind belief is the same as mine.
Like the Emperor's New Clothes, the religious test presumes its answer, and then blames the individual if their conclusion is different.
The Emperor's clothes are presumed to exist and are magical, just as God and the Holy Ghost are presumed to exist and can confirm truth. Anyone who can't see the clothes is stupid or incompetent, just as anyone who doesn't realize the truth of the Book of Mormon is insincere, sinning, being tested, or didn't listen the first time when God did provide the answer.
I found Montgomery via a Twitter tweet from one of the people I follow. It pointed me to an essay on How religion abuses language and analogy to sound reasonable. Right on.
I frequently hear this same argument from true believers who try to claim that religious faith is just like the confidence we have in everyday life that something will happen as expected:
"Faith" becomes interchanged with "realistic expectation based on experience and evidence" in this substitution of terms:
Faith is knowing the sun will rise, lighting each new day. Faith is knowing the Lord will hear my prayers each time I pray.
These are two different levels of "faith." One is built upon a lifetime of experience and an understanding of the physical sciences of the rotation of the earth, the position of the sun, and so on. The moment the sun rises can be predicted to the second. Barring some abrupt change to the planet, we can be reasonably confident that the sun will rise again. That's not a leap of faith. Suggesting the sun will NOT rise tomorrow is the unproven and unlikely scenario, something that would require either a leap of faith or an overwhelming body of new evidence.
The existence of an uncreated supreme being who builds universes is, likewise, an unproven and unlikely scenario. As is the existence of a man-god who walked on water and rose from the dead. But with a subtle shift of the meaning of words, it is implied that the existence of God is as reasonable as the sun rising. Faith in a Savior who died for my sins 2,000 years before I committed them so I can go to heaven is the same kind of faith as expecting my car to start in the morning.
Which, of course, it isn't.
Likewise, this blog often gets comments from devotees of a guru who argue that a teacher is needed in the "science" of spirituality, just as one is needed to learn physics or chemistry. This is another abuse of analogy.
Worldly science has a vast amount of demonstrable evidence backing it up. Spirituality and religion don't. The precepts of worldly science can be tested for truth or falsity. Almost always, spiritual or religious dogmas can't. Worldly science is founded on open debate and discussion, plus a healthy dose of skepticism. Spiritual "science" isn't.
Analogies and metaphors are the refuge of those who don't have a firm footing in reality.
When a god or guru has to be likened to something known to be true, that "liken" testifies to how flimsy the evidence is for a purported metaphysical truth. A rose is a rose is a rose. But almost always religion is about something that isn't an obvious "is."
Here's a couple of other Jonathan Montgomery posts that I enjoyed.
From the latter:
We criticize faith because we believe we can reach a greater potential without it. Eliminating faith rids us of an unnecessary conflict between what the real world looks like, and what we wish it were. Eliminating faith frees us from a questionable moral authority who makes unusual demands, and lets us be good just for the sake of being good. Eliminating faith permits us to tackle the world on its own terms, without preconceptions. Where would we be today if the Catholic Church hadn't tried so hard for so long to force reality to fit it's presumptions about the universe?
We stand to gain authentic morality, intellectual integrity, useful knowledge, and humbling wonder as we learn about the universe. Dealing with reality resonates. It sings. Eliminating faith may well let us fully embrace that.