Stone the Crows

September 25, 2010

Having just mentioned Eric MacDonald in one of my replies to comments by David and Jay, lo and behold but here he is with his latest comment on Ophelia Benson’s blog. The best thing about her (and Jerry Coyne’s) blog is, in fact, the comments by Eric MacDonald. No slander of their sterling efforts but rather tribute to the insights Eric provides. Here he is responding to Caspar Melville’s account of the New Humanist Debate at the RCA.

“Mind you, I like Roger Scruton — have done ever since he started off teaching philosophy in the 60s of last century — which seems long ago and far away now: he’s curmudgeonly, he’s clever, he’s literate, and, as the mischievousness shows, he’s also pretty realistic about the state of religion today. In fact, his comments about religion were perhaps the most damning of the evening. According to Caspar this is what he said:

Religion is more dangerous than I think this panel have recognised. The big difference between religion and science is that science posits theories based on evidence and then does everything it can to try and disprove them, whereas religion posits theories – presented as truths – not based on evidence and then does everything it can to protect them from being questioned or disproved.

Now, that’s putting the epistemological differences between religion and atheism is a nice succinct, and damning way. This is what makes religion dangerous, which is why Scruton is a Christian in a gentlemanly Anglican way, which doesn’t make any real knowledge claims at all. It just lives out a nostalgic idea in the English countryside.”

Perhaps this comment opens the way to some common ground. Any comments?


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