RECENTLY ON TOL:
- A tumblr site dedicated to the people and places that make up Oregon and Southwest Washington.
I think it's very important to be clear about something we are hearing a lot from the more liberal Christian community (and some other liberal versions of religions that have more fundamentalist literalist versions- in particular, the monotheistic ones). Karen Armstrong, for example, represents this position and it is catching on like wildfire, as we heard from some of the speakers in this episode. The idea is not just that truth and facts are not the same thing (and by some usage of the word "truth," that is true), but that because something is *psychologically true* (or beneficial) it gets special permission to be reified ontologically. Theists are not content to keep religion in the realm of myth and literature, even though Shakespeare, Homer, Joyce, etc, are rich testaments to the history of humanity and tell us so much- maybe what is most important, about ourselves. There is this implicit assertion that we must take it to another level and actually reify these beliefs or the effects are diluted. That's probably true psychologically actually, but it doesn't justify it ontologically. For that assessment we go by facts and evidence. Besides, there has to be at least some facts involved or there would be no actual religion to speak of that isn't purely psychological (maybe that's the point).
This is one place where we have to resist the human urge to constantly up the ante. We have to be very clear about what this action is exactly, if each person's subjective truth is to be considered as true as objective reality. The word that we have for this action is called delusion. We all do it to some extent. It may be beneficial and/or comforting on different levels personally and socially, but it is still delusion. We may even admittedly decide it's worth it to say it's ontologically true because it is psychologically true, knowing full well that it isn't ontologically true, because the benefits outweigh the truth. Even Nietzsche eventually saw some necessary benefit in employing the world of appearances (and evolutionary psychology will explore that more in the future). Still... I think that the greatest personal challenge is realizing that we can have all of that psychological truth, all of the community and compassion, all of that natural awe- plus the facts, without reifying religion, because it is superfluous.
posted 2 years, 7 months ago
view in context