In the London Review of Books, reader Anthony Buckley (“God and Human Behaviour”, Letters, LRB, 30 June 2011) wonders what “would constitute evidence” for or against the statement that “religious people…are more likely to behave in virtuous ways than non-religious people“.
“But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples,saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners? And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
It seems logical to conclude that, according to the Messiah Himself, ”people who have [Christian] religious convictions” will be “on the whole morally worse than people who lack them“.
That’s a concept I have mentioned sometimes in the past in some part of the web, not under that name of course. Very briefly, it goes like this: philosophically speaking, an interpretation of the world is fallacious when it implies the existence of divine, or divine-like intervention.
And so for example, AGW is logically fallacious as it has providential undertones.
Why? Because for (catastrophic) AGW to be happening right now, several amazing coincidences must have recently happened:
Relatively widespread availability of computer power just enough strong to simulate the right climate projections on a multi-decadal scale
Climate science developed just beyond the minimal level needed to understand how to simulate the right climate projections on a decadal scale
Novel statistical approaches devised just in time, and correct from the get-go, for Mann’s Hockey Stick to emerge from the jumble of dendro- and other proxy data
Governmental willingness to co-operate together all over the world (after the end of the Cold War) just in time for a worldwide problem like AGW to happen
AGW recognized as an issue just as heavily-populated places such as India and China start getting their living standards on track to reach the Western world’s
I am sure one could continue a lot longer.
So in a sense, belief in AGW implies belief in a highly-improbable series of lucky discoveries and developments to happen just at the right time. That is called “Providence” and it is strong evidence for the existence of a Divine Being. But since such “evidence” is a contradiction in terms, then catastrophic AGW to be happening right now, that’s a logical impossibility.
Excerpts from “A Rescue of Religion” by John Gray, The New York Review of Books, Volume 55, Number 15 · October 9, 2008 – reviewing “Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?: 23 Questions from Great Philosophers” by Leszek Kolakowski, Basic Books:
It is part of Kolakowski’s achievement as the greatest living intellectual historian to have tracked the ways in which religion has shaped Western thought. His work is, in effect, a sustained argument for the irreducible presence of religion in intellectual life and in society. In Kolakowski’s view the secular movements of the last century, such as communism, [...] deployed categories of thought, including a view of history as a narrative having a consummation or end-point, which are inheritances from Western monotheism. [...] Religion was not in truth superseded, either in Marx’s thought or in the movements Marx inspired. Instead, the promise of salvation reemerged as a project of universal emancipation.
The renewal of religious categories of thinking in avowedly secular systems of ideas [...] continued in the ideology of neoconservatism. The notion of the end of history [...] derives from religious traditions of apocalyptic myth. [...] Presupposing as they do a teleological view of history that cannot be stated in empirical terms, all such theories are religious narratives translated into secular language. [...]
Religion has had a formative influence on our categories of thought, which it is the task of philosophy to examine. Excavating the archaeology of our concepts is a part of philosophical inquiry. For us, that inescapably involves tracing their debts to Judaism and Christianity. Any way of doing philosophy that neglects these traditions is unhistorical and impoverished.
There are some philosophers for whom the only place for religion in philosophical inquiry is that of a bogey, a specter of irrationality that must be exposed and expelled so that philosophy can be an entirely secular discipline. As Kolakowski has argued, however, a good deal of secular thought has been shaped by Western religion. Exorcising religion is harder than it seems.