Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A reasonable atheist

The New York Times has an interesting online Opinion piece, Mystery and Evidence, by Tim Crane, a Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge. His comparison of science and religion is a refreshing change from the ill-informed rantings of Richard Dawkins.

Here is an extract:
None of these remarks are intended as being for or against religion. Rather, they are part of an attempt (by an atheist, from the outside) to understand what it is. Those who criticize religion should have an accurate understanding of what it is they are criticizing. But to understand a world view, or a philosophy or system of thought, it is not enough just to understand the propositions it contains. You also have to understand what is central and what is peripheral to the view. Religions do make factual and historical claims, and if these claims are false, then the religions fail. But this dependence on fact does not make religious claims anything like hypotheses in the scientific sense. Hypotheses are not central. Rather, what is central is the commitment to the meaningfulness (and therefore the mystery) of the world.

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