Smart men religiös

Professorn i filosofi Daniel Dennett listar åtta möjliga förklaringar till varför vissa smarta människor är och förblir religiösa:

(1) The fallacy of sunk costs: ”I’ve already invested fifty years of my life in this position, and it would be excruciatingly embarrassing to acknowledge my error. In fairness to myself, I was entrapped in this view when I was too young to know better, and I’ve never been able to find a face-saving exit strategy.”

(2) Err on the side of prudence: ”I can conjure up enough uncertainty about these issues to excuse myself from drawing the invited conclusions, which might be mistaken, after all, and could, I suppose, do some harm to somebody. Where it doesn’t itch, don’t scratch!”

(3) Religion for art’s sake: ”The only cost-effective way to preserve the great music, literature, and art of the world’s religions is to encourage all people to support these magnificent living museums with their weekly offerings.”

(4) What would my mother think? ”People whom I hold dear, and who depend on me emotionally, would be heartbroken to learn of my defection. I’m going to carry this white lie to the grave, or at least until my parents are safely in their graves and my children and loved ones give me clear signs of being able to take such a confession with equanimity.”

(5) Credal calisthenics: ”It keeps me modest, and fosters a desirable habit of moral reflection that helps me do the right thing ‘without even thinking’. It’s a method of self-purification that keeps me morally fit.”

(6) We must fend off moral chaos: ”I myself don’t need God to tell me how to live, but some people really do. Religious belief puts the fear of God into some who would otherwise behave reprehensibly.”

(7) Don’t make waves: ”I have more than enough substantive controversies that I would rather spend my energies on. Why discard alliances, make enemies, lose the affection of powerful friends and associates by raining on their parade?”

(8) Dumbo’s magic feather: ”Religious belief is a moral prosthesis: it strengthens the resolve and courage of many who want to be good but don’t have the true grit they need. If I recant, I contribute to the dissolution of an aspect of the world that they truly depend on. I have no right to take away their crutch.”

Att vara religiös av de här skälen tycks mig tragiskt. En intressant fråga är hur många religiösa som i huvudsak låter sig styras av något av dem. Det lär vi dock aldrig få svar på, eftersom det ingår som en del i detta spel att låtsas tro — kanske även inför sig själv — även om man inte gör det.

Se tidigare inlägg: ”Tror religiösa verkligen på gud?””Intelligens och gudstro”, ”Är religion och vetenskap förenliga?”