En hycklande kardinal

En av den katolska kyrkans högst uppsatta män, kardinal Pell, har dömts för sexuella övergrepp på två 13-åriga pojkar. I denna sevärda tv-diskussion, där Richard Dawkins och han svarar på lyssnarfrågor om religion, talar han sig dock varm för moral:

Ateistiska kosmologer

Professorn i teoretisk fysik Sean Carroll i ”Why (Almost All) Cosmologists Are Atheists”, publicerad i Faith and Philosophy:

Within this framework, there are two possible roads to reconciliation between science and religion. One is to claim that science and religion are not incompatible because they speak to completely distinct sets of questions, and hence never come into conflict. The other is to assert that thinking scientifically does not lead to rejection of theism, but in fact that religious belief can be justified in the same way that any scientific theory might be. I will argue that neither strategy succeeds: science and religion do speak to some of the same questions, and when they do they get different answers. In particular, I wish to argue that religious belief necessarily entails certain statements about how the universe works, that these statements can be judged as scientific hypotheses, and that as such they should be rejected in favor of alternative ways of understanding the universe.

På detta tema, se även professorn i biologi Jerry Coyne.

Shelleys ateism

I år är det 200 år sedan Percy Bysshe Shelley lät publicera The Necessity of Atheism. Så här kan hans argument sammanfattas:

The argument itself is simple. If you have seen or heard God, then you must believe in God. If you haven’t, then the only possible reasons to believe in God are reasonable argument or the testimony of others. The main argument given for believing in a deity – that the universe must have had a first cause – is not persuasive because there is no reason to believe either that the universe must have had a first cause or that this cause, if it existed, was a deity. The testimony of others – a third-rate source of knowledge in any case – is invariably contrary to reason. This is not least because it reports God as commanding belief, which would be irrational of God, given that belief is involuntary and not an act of will. So there is no reason to believe in God.


Ateister tänker som buddhister

Från The Economist:

Dr Bourrat joined forces with Quentin Atkinson of the University of Auckland. Together, they pored over the World Values Survey, a poll of 87 countries that asks respondents, among other things, about their religious beliefs and the acceptability of a range of infractions, from littering to adultery. The upshot of Dr Bourrat’s and Dr Atkinson’s analysis was that people whose religion includes an omniscient, judgmental god (Christians, Muslims and so on) regard the whole range of such transgressions more harshly than those, such as Buddhists, whose religion does not. (Agnostics and atheists think like Buddhists.)

Själv avvisar jag alla religioner men anser buddhismen vara den minst frånstötande av de stora religionerna, kanske just pga. det resultat som redovisas ovan. Dess rationalism tilltalar mig dessutom; dess syn på livet efter döden gör det däremot inte.

Tips: Aqurette.

Dags att sluta med ateism?

Sam Harris är inte förtjust i att kalla sig eller i att kallas ateist (trots att han är det). Han citerar Wittgenstein:

Imagine a language in which, instead of saying ”I found nobody in the room” one said, ”I found Mr. Nobody in the room.” Imagine the philosophical problems that would arise out of such a convention. (The Blue Book, p. 69).

Han ger sedan denna egna kommentar:

“Atheism” is another version of Wittgenstein’s Mr. Nobody. When in the presence of Christianity, it’s Mr. Sorry-but-I-won’t-be-in-church-on-Sunday. There are an uncountable number of erroneous and unfounded doctrines that we all reject. Why must we name their absence from our lives?

Dvs. genom att använda ordet ateist erkänner man behovet av att positionera sig mot ett fenomen man inte tror existerar, och varför behöver man göra det? Lars Norén verkar tänka på liknande sätt. Själv ser jag nog ändå behovet av begreppet ateism, fastän jag önskar att så inte vore fallet. Eftersom teismen är en uttalad uppfattning som tränger sig på uppkommer ett behov av att markera avstånd. När den slutar tränga sig på välkomnar jag Harris synsätt.

Se även inlägget ”Ger ingenting något?”.

En total ateist

Lars Norén intervjuas av DI Weekend (18/2):

Lars Noréns mamma hade religiösa rötter och ville att sonen skulle bli präst. Det kunde kanske ha gått om det inte varit för en springande punkt:
”Jag tror inte på en gud. Säger man ’jag tror inte på Gud’ så finns det en gud som man inte tror på. Jag är total ateist.”
”Jag tycker att världen är vackrast genom att den har skapat sig själv och att vi skapar oss själva. Det är den stora utmaning vi har, att ge mening och kärlek åt detta korta, meningslösa liv.”

Ger religion marknadsliberalism?

Att religion påverkar såväl ekonomi som politik är inte någon nyhet. En ny studie, ”Religion, Income Inequality, and the Size of Government”, antyder att denna påverkan kan vara av ett slag som kan glädja marknadsliberaler. Deras teoretiska resonemang kan uttryckas så här:

The role of religion in influencing people’s giving attitudes has an important politico-economic implication: Keeping all else equal, religious individuals would prefer to make their financial contributions to collective goods privately and voluntarily rather than through mandatory means. As such, when compared with secular individuals, religious individuals on average are likely to prefer lower levels of spending by the state (be it on public goods or redistribution), as this increases their disposable income out of which voluntary donations are to be made. If policy outcomes reflect variation in citizen preferences, then we can also expect countries with higher levels of religiosity to have lower levels of government taxation and spending. Put differently, we can expect the size of the government to be smaller in countries with higher levels of religiosity.

Empiriskt finner de följande:

[W]e find that there is a significant positive correlation between religiosity and income inequality across a wide spectrum of countries including both advanced and less advanced countries. We next show that there is a negative correlation between religiosity and state welfare spending … However, we go beyond these studies and show that a negative correlation is also present between religiosity and total government spending as well as between religiosity and government spending excluding spending on welfare. This finding suggests that the religious might have an inherent preference for a smaller state and that a smaller welfare spending observed in more religious countries documented by these studies is just a manifestation of this more general outlook.

Således föreligger ett dilemma för en liberal ateist (det finns fler!), medan en liberal socialist mer enkelt kan avvisa religionen som negativ även på det ekonomisk-politiska området. Detta resultat kan för övrigt relateras till ekonomipristagaren James Buchanans uppfattning, att religionens nedgång kan bidra till att förklara efterfrågan på en stor välfärdsstat. Utan en trygg gud som tar hand om dem, vänder sig människor till staten.