TWO WORLD VIEWS
Ernest Kinnie, PhD
Copyright © 2013 by Ernest Kinnie
The quality of the ideas and beliefs held by an individual or organization can best be judged by their willingness to be exposed to alternative ideas and beliefs, competently and forcefully presented. Only after such a fair hearing can an informed decision be made about their relative merit. So argued John Stuart Mill in his short book, On Liberty. In that spirit, this paper considers the strengths and weaknesses of the two great interpreters of reality in our culture, science and religion.
An honest dialogue has often been made toxic by too many people among such groups as secular humanists and fundamentalist Christians who cherry pick history, straw man the other side, and indulge in sad, mean-spirited ad-hominem attacks. For instance, secular humanists I have known greatly enjoy making fun of and trivializing religion. Along with the hopelessly irrational literal interpretations of the bible, the horrors perpetrated by religion in the name of love are pictured in detail and living color. The politics of the far right is seen as an attempt to return to the good old days, when rack and stake will once again put the fear of Almighty God in the hearts of Satan and his minions, and anyone else who doesn’t grovel low enough. And, the examination of religion is usually left there, with a fervent recommitment to the fight for rationality and freedom, wherever ignorance and superstition are found. Such fine words indeed stir the soul.