Religion & Reason

“The religious believer assigns dignity to whatever his religion holds sacred—a set of moral laws, a way of life, or particular objects of worship. He grows angry when the dignity of what he holds sacred is violated.” Quote from “The End of History and the Last Man”.

What does the nonbeliever assign dignity to? If the nonbeliever does not assign dignity to rationality, upon what foundation does s/he stand? If the nonbeliever does depend upon rationality for dignity how is it possible that so few know anything about rationality?

Our schools and colleges are beginning to introduce our young people to the domain of knowledge called Critical Thinking. CT is taught because our educators have begun to recognize that teaching a young person what to think is not sufficient for the citizens of a democracy in an age of high technology. CT is an attempt to teach young people how to think. Like the adage about giving a man a fish versus teaching him how to fish, a youngster who knows how to think is prepared for a lifetime rather than for a day.

What about today’s adult? Today’s adult was educated in a time when schools and colleges never gave universal instruction in the art and science of thinking—rationality.

If today’s adult wishes to learn CT s/he must learn it on their own nickel. I think a good read to begin with is this one


If the nonbeliever has an good understanding of rationality, his assignment of dignity will always be to rationality. For many, it seems, beliefs and strong ‘moral’ opinions are the products of organizations. Basically religions perhaps even without any particular opinion toward the concept of god.

If their beliefs are questioned, expect a copy/paste response, more often than not.

I’m not an unbeliever (though I do hold some unorthodox views religion-wise).
But there are a great many things that I apply the concept of dignity and sacred to. One of them is life, human life first, but life in general afterwards.
Another one is the truth. I think almost anyone can agree on that one. And the means of determining what is true is a process of logical thought about what we can see of the world (rationality). Critical thinking is important, and it is dissappointing that it’s not taught widely anymore. Of course, there’s a limit to how critical you can be in your day to day thinking - if you had to set up a lab to test everything you held to be true you’d be mentally paralyzed. But this reinforces the importance of making sure truth is propogated before falsehood - not everyone is going to have time to debunk you or check your reasoning. I think most people (non-solipsists, anyways) realize the importance of it.