Monday Meslier: 6 – Religion is Founded Upon Credulity


We are told that Divine qualities are not of a nature to be grasped by limited minds.

Jean Meslier Portrait

Your host, Jean Meslier

The natural consequence of this principle ought to be that the Divine qualities are not made to employ limited minds; but religion assures us that limited minds should never lose sight of this inconceivable being, whose qualities can not be grasped by them: from which we see that religion is the art of occupying limited minds with that which is impossible for them to comprehend.

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Meslier enjoys epistemological challenges to religion; that’s probably why I like him so much.

Back in the day, I worked with a fellow who got out of information security and began a second career running a furniture business. To my surprise, a year later, he showed up at a conference and was selling a “healing modality” that involved a device that rearranged your atoms (or something, I didn’t pay close attention) “using a beam of energy of a form that was unknown to science.” I immediately asked him, “if it’s unknown to science, how do you know it’s there at all?”

Religions often like to tack superlatives onto their gods: they are infinite, all-powerful, all-seeing, etc. It’s an invitation to failure because then the little mortal human who tries to carry forward that lie is left with questions like, “how do you know god is infinite? did you somehow prove this by induction?”

Comments

  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    I consider a foundation upon credulity much less of a problem than the continuing cultivation of greater credulity, which spills out from mere metaphysics into more consequential areas.

  2. says

    Pierce R. Butler@#1:
    I consider a foundation upon credulity much less of a problem than the continuing cultivation of greater credulity, which spills out from mere metaphysics into more consequential areas.

    Agreed.
    It’s as if there’s a conspiracy to keep voters dumb, or something.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    Marcus Ranum @ # 2: It’s as if there’s a conspiracy to keep voters dumb…

    A conspiracy which the victims are in on.

    Maybe we should reconsider that “whatever consenting adults want…” tenet.

  4. says

    religion is the art of occupying limited minds with that which is impossible for them to comprehend.

    That sentence is a work of beauty. It’s a pity most religion poisoned minds wouldn’t comprehend it.

  5. says

    Pierce R. Butler@#3:
    Maybe we should reconsider that “whatever consenting adults want…” tenet.

    One of the key red flags on this issue is that certain political forces oppose mandatory minimal subsidies from the government; they want everyone to be employed (or so they say, though it seems more to me like they want to control the poor’s sexuality more than anything else) – to me, the answer is simple: if you’re being supported by the society, your “job” becomes educating yourself.

    Education’s tricky, because you have to be educated to want education. So it’s easy to derail the people with a dose of anti-intellectualism and perhaps some militarism. Richard Hofstadter’s Anti Intellectualism in American Life[amz] is worth a read, if you haven’t already read it.

  6. polishsalami says

    “The Lord works in mysterious ways, ways which we cannot comprehend…anyway, here’s why God hates abortion, a concrete fact that I know with 100% certainty…”

  7. says

    To polishsalami @#6

    “The Lord works in mysterious ways, ways which we cannot comprehend…anyway, here’s why God hates abortion, a concrete fact that I know with 100% certainty…”

    Actually, if we assume that God’s will is stated in the Bible, then it is possible to make an argument that God is fine with abortions. Numbers 5:21-28 say that under certain circumstances God himself will be the abortion doctor who performs one. If a woman has committed adultery and got pregnant as a result, God himself will make the woman very sick thus killing the fetus (there’s an elaborate ritual involving a priest and some cursed water, but presumably it is God who makes the curse work, since without God’s direct involvement/blessing the water couldn’t do anything).

    And there are some more lines in the holy book, which indicate that God is fine with dying fetuses —
    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/says_about/abortion.html

    It would be more honest for Christians to say, “I hate abortions, a concrete fact that I know with 100% certainty, and my God always wants exactly the same things I want.”

  8. bmiller says

    Modern Christians hate abortion primarily because the right wing in this country realized they had a problem after the Civil rights Act was passed and blacks began to vote. The religious right actually met with right wing Catholic groups and key Republicans and decided that “Pro Life” was going to be their political issue. Before that, protestant fundies didn’t even care about abortion. But…given a chance to screw African Americans again, they jumped on the issue.

    It’s always about race in America,

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