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Turning religion from a way of thinking into a “thing” has bad implications for thinking


The Territories of Science and Religion From Peter J.Leithart at First Things, reviewing Peter Harrison’s The Territories of Science and Religion:

Harrison discerns that a seemingly innocuous grammatical change signalled tectonic shifts. Calvin wrote of “Christian religion,” religio Christiana. English translators added a definite article that was not in the original Latin. According to Harrison, “the expression ‘the true religion’ places the primary focus on the beliefs themselves, and religion thus becomes primarily an existing thing in the world, rather than an interior disposition” as it was for Aquinas. During the seventeenth century, the definite article became much more common, with the unintended result of making “explicit belief and creedal knowledge” the content of religion (93). If religion is a set of beliefs, then it can also be plural. And “true religion” no longer means genuine piety or devotion, but is the answer to the question “which religion corresponds to the facts?” More.

The bad consequences range from our increasingly inconsequential, fly-by-night Jesus Hollers through to a science so dominated by naturalism (nature is all there is) that it is willing to accept death-of-the-intellect propositions like “our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth,” and that falsifiability and objectivity are a problem. And that “evolution” prevents us from perceiving reality.

In the new dark age, there will be plenty of technology but no minds.

See also: Evolution bred a sense of reality out of us NPR’s Adam Frank: I find the logic in Hoffman’s ideas both exciting and potentially appealing because of other philosophical biases I carry around in my head. (But he suspects the theory is ultimately wrong.)

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Excellent post. Thank you. Truth Will Set You Free

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