For years in the 1980s and ’90s, U.S. evangelicals, above nearly any other group, warned what will happen when people abandon absolute truth (which they located in the Bible), saying the idea of relative truth would lead to people believing whatever confirms their own inward hunches. But suspicion of big government, questioning of scientific consensus (on evolution, for example) and a rejection of the morals of Hollywood and liberal elites took hold among millennial Christians, many of whom feel politically alienated and beat up by mainstream media. They are natural targets for QAnon…
“Why would we listen to my friend Joe … who’s telling me about Jesus who also thinks that Communists are taking over America and operating a pedophile ring out of a pizza restaurant? … Why would we be believed?”
Hostility toward spiritual traditions may be hampering empirical inquiry.
Just as ancient doesn’t always mean wise, it doesn’t always mean foolish. The only way to determine which is the case is to put an idea — a hypothesis — to an empirical test. In my own work, I have repeatedly done so. I have found that religious ideas about human behavior and how to influence it, though never worthy of blind embrace, are sometimes vindicated by scientific examination.
My claim is that religion can provide direct access to this emotional life in ways that science does not. Yes, science can give us emotional feelings of wonder at the majesty of nature, but there are many forms of human suffering that are beyond the reach of any scientific alleviation. Different emotional stresses require different kinds of rescue. Unlike previous secular tributes to religion that praise its ethical and civilizing function, I think we need religion because it is a road-tested form of emotional management.
The Galileo Affair becomes part of a metanarrative, or, in Jean-Francois Lyotard’s term, a Grand Narrative. It says that early seventeenth-century Europe hung at a crux, with religion pulling it backward into medieval ignorance and science straining to push time forward into modernity…
Scholars began thinking “with empty and abstract information symbols,” which catalyzed a revolution from “thing-mathematics” to “relation-mathematics.” Because this form of knowledge went beyond ordinary language, which previously was the primary means of conveying information, people slowly began to conceive of a world contingent on “natural” laws rather than the word of God.
“When his results were first published, critics argued that the weight loss could be explained by physiologic factors, such as evaporation. Moreover, his report failed to mention several patients in whom he found no weight loss. Finally, subsequent attempts to reproduce his results failed to find any weight loss. Indeed, MacDougall’s vision may have been clouded by confirmation bias, the tendency for investigators to see what they expect.”
Hilmarsson said: “I don’t believe anyone believes in a one-eyed man who is riding about on a horse with eight feet. We see the stories as poetic metaphors and a manifestation of the forces of nature and human psychology.” Membership in Asatruarfelagid has tripled in Iceland to 2,400 members, out of a total population of 330,000.
“Belief in moral-watching, all-knowing, punitive gods might have helped human societies grow far beyond small, close-knit groups, a new study shows. Researchers who ran an experiment with a total of 591 people in eight different small-scale societies around the world found that people who believed their deity of choice knew about their misdeeds and would punish them were more likely to play fairly in a game where money was on the line.”
“I’ve been a scientist for as long as I can remember. Children are born scientists; they experiment with everything, are naturally inquisitive and through this exploration they learn about how the world works. And I’ve never grown out of it. Of course, for many people, their modes of thought change as they find or are brought up with faith. Some manage, somehow, to hold religious beliefs alongside a dedication to the rationality of science.”