Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Simple as 2 + 2

Arguments over religion often are about inconsistencies between statements in the Bible/Torah/Qur'an/etc and empirical experience. Atheists point out that these inconsistencies should lead people to doubt the validity of religious scripture. Religious apologists argue that to interpret these statements literally or to take them at face value is to miss the point of what the scriptures are attempting to teach us.
One thing I find interesting about both of these approaches is that at the most fundamental level hardly anyone ever takes religious scripture at its word.
We believe in what we can empirically understand and this is our framing. Where scripture doesn't fit within this framing some alter/reinterpret it so that it can fit. Often coming up with creative alternative interpretations of problematic sections or stating that it isn't a "science or history textbook" but rather a spiritual/moral lessons book.
Though almost nobody alters how we frame things in order to accept scripture outright. I know of no one who says that pi really is 3 or that hares really do "chew their cud" (rather than some reinterpretation of what chewing cud is) and that the wider world is wrong about empirical facts.
So perhaps scriptures can be a supplement, but they certainly aren't the basis for our understanding of the world.

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