May 14, 2010

Philosophical muddle-headedness...

This is a way of thinking that really bugs me. The example concerns religion, but the same woolly thought is seen in lots of purely secular realms of thought. (Such as politics.)...

...LONDON (RNS) A top British judge has ruled that Christian beliefs have no standing under secular law because they lack evidence and cannot be proven.

Lord Justice John Grant McKenzie Laws made the declaration on Thursday (April 29) in throwing out a defamation suit by Christian relationship counselor who refused to offer sex therapy to gay couples.

Gary McFarlane protested that he was fired because offering sex therapy to same-gender couples violates his Christian principles.

But Laws said "religious faith is necessarily subjective, being incommunicable by any kind of proof or evidence." He added that to use the law to protect "a position held purely on religious grounds cannot therefore be justified."

No religious belief, said the judge, can be protected under the law "however long its tradition, however rich its culture...

The philosophical confusion of this judge is profound. The fact is that most of the things he thinks or believes are also subjective, and can't be proven, either by natural science or formal logic. Including the proposition that things ought to be "provable!"

He's like the person who says, "I don't believe anything that can't be shown to be true by science." SO, where is the scientific "proof" that that statement itself is valid? You believe it, so it must have been shown to be true by science? Of course that proof is impossible. [Even without considering that natural science is inductive, and never proves anything.]

And he is confused in what he thinks constitutes "evidence." For instance part of the evidence for the truth of Christian faith is that large numbers of people testify that they have personally found it to be convincing and to work for them. He would doubtless reject that evidence. Yet if you asked him to give the evidence that his view of evidence is correct, he would use the exact same argument, in slightly different words.

Furthermore, everyone has a religion. That is, everyone has beliefs about life and the cosmos which they hold on faith. Secularism is a faith, because no one can prove its basic tenets. No one can prove there is no god, and no one can prove that people are, say, "better off" if they follow secularism. But I'm sure the judge thinks that his secularist faith should have "have standing under secular law." And I'm guessing he takes it on faith that the law is in fact secular. I'll bet that is not stated in English law.

And even more funny, anyone who attempts to prove that secularism works as a philosophy immediately begins to refer to moral or spiritual truths that don't come from secularism. That are usually mostly Judeo-Christian.

Actually there are no atheists. Every person who says there is no objective truth, or that morality is just whatever a particular culture says it is, has some moral evil about which they would say, "That is WRONG." And even if you pointed out that is is morally right within that culture, they would still think it wrong. Therefore they believe in objective moral truth. Self-described secularists and atheists denounce things as wrong all the time, and would not be impressed if you said that chattel slavery in the South of George Washington or Robert E. Lee was morally right and beneficial because that culture believed it to be so.

Posted by John Weidner at May 14, 2010 8:50 AM
Weblog by John Weidner