Skepticism and Religious Fundamentalism

Skepticism and Religious Fundamentalism July 19, 2013

IO9 recently featured an interview with science-promoter Joe Rogan. If you didn't read all the way to the end, you missed his thoughts about religion:

I think that the form of creationism that’s being promoted by fundamentalists today is incredibly simplistic, and it’s coming from a very simplistic mindset. These people, along with their ideas, get bogged down through control, through ideology, through fear, and all the different aspects of religion that are so unsavoury.

But at the very root of it, when you’re reading the bible or any religious text, you’re reading the work of people who lived thousands of years ago who were simply trying to piece together the universe and life. Some of their ideas are unfounded, some are ridiculous, or require total belief — they reek of human insecurity.

At the same time, many of their teachings still apply today — they’re guidelines to live your life in a harmonious way, like treating others like we’d like them to treat us.

But when it comes to religion today, what we’re having a really hard time accepting is the idea that a single person can have any of the answers to some of life’s ultimate questions. Like, what happens when you die, where do you go, what is God, and what does God actually want? And the fact of the matter is that many of these questions haven’t been vetted out. No one has answered these questions.

As for those involved in fundamentalist religions, many of them are simply not being exposed to enough alternative information or interesting science. They need to learn and accept that there’s still a lot of mystery to this world.

Faith itself is a horrible mechanism that stunts the growth of ideas. It also stunts the act of questioning, and it does this by pushing the idea that you have to have faith — and that nothing has to be proven.

Look, one of the most beautiful things about science is that it doesn’t require faith. What it requires is huge attention to the work that’s been done and to understand all the various aspects to that work. And in that, you can see the very building blocks of matter. You can see the very mechanism in which cells become a person, the very mechanism with which a seed absorbs water and becomes a plant, and how it uses photosynthesis to grow.

All this is beautiful and magical. And it's scientific.

Of related interest, there was a piece on IO9 about whether spirituality and science are opposites.


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  • Gary

    Eeek! The same person on Fear Factor, bugs in a blender guy. I’d rather make Grouch Marx my guru. At least Groucho had a real sense of humor and life.

  • x x

    I’m impressed by Joe’s thoughts. [Of course, he’s not presenting himself as a “guru”, nor is Dr. McGrath.] Joe gets it right until he talks about faith and makes it clear that he accepts the fundamentalist view of faith as blind, unreasoning belief or even belief against the evidence. But there are more orthodox, traditional Christian views of faith, primarily as trust and commitment. If Joe and I were in the Octagon and he was approaching me to beat me into pulp, and George St. Pierre stepped in between us to defend me, I’d have total faith in George. Of course, I might be wrong to so place my faith, but I’d have good reasons for doing so!