The role of religion in open assessment
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What is the role of religious beliefs in open assessment?
In open assessment, religious beliefs are treated as value judgements expressed by individuals. Religion as such does not have any superior position in the value hierarchy, but it can be used as an argument as any other value judgement.
Religious beliefs can also be used in describing parts of other variables or causal chains. However, religion cannot be used as an argument for the correctness of such a claim. Only scientifically criticisable statements can be used in defending of attacking such descriptions.
The understandability of God
"If the brain was such a simple organ that we could understand how it works, we ourselves would be so simple that we wouldn't." - unknown -
Similarly, if the god was almighty creator of the universe, it would be so complex that no religion understood by the humans could reflect the essence of the god. Therefore, because no religion really reflects the true essence, it is useless to argue which religion is the right one. They are all wrong.
Thus, religions should be seen as humble attempts to capture something of the ununderstandability of the world.
Impossibility to choose between religions
Let's start from the axioms of open assessment. We can observe reality and see that there are several religions, which teach conflicting things and give guidance to do things that other religions think are immoral. How can we choose between religions and decide who is not right?
Let's assume that we have two proponents from two different religions. They are both absolutely convinced that they themselves are right. They believe that their message is directly from God and it is exactly correct to the very detail. So, it is easy for each of them to just reject the other proponent as someone who is simply wrong.
If I know that a proponent is wrong, I should still listen to their point of view and take that into account, as in a liberal democracy everyone has a right to be heard. (The necessity of a liberal democracy will be shown elsewhere.) I should point out that they are heard as individual who express their own feelings or thoughts. It would be a mistake to accept any claim of divine origin of the message because I know that it is an untrue statement.
Let's also assume that one of them is, actually, right: they have a message from God and it is exactly correct. What should I do in this situation?
It is an axiom that we can observe reality but in an imperfect way. Therefore, although I know that one of these proponents is right, I have no way of knowing which one. The history of skepticism does not know a single case where an individual has performed a real miracle to prove that they are a true messenger of God.
The overall conclusion is that I should treat all divine messengers who are wrong as individuals expressing their own (not divine) thoughts. Also, because I cannot separate true divine messengers from the false ones, I should treat them in the same way. This will result in a situation where everyone is seen as expressing their own views and any claims about the divine origin of someone's thoughts are simply ignored.
To take this further, the proponents of a liberal democracy should be active in distinguishing the difference between religiously motivated claims and religious claims. Religion is a perfectly acceptable foundation for one's own values and thinking, and they are free to express this. However, if they demand that other people respect their views differently because of their religious origin, they are violating the recipient's belief in the axiom 4 about imperfect observations. This must not be allowed.
- About paradigm performance and God delusion
- The role of religion in open assessment
- Basis for moral norms
- Axioms of open assessment
- en:Ninian Smart (a pioneer of secular religious studies)
- Salaliittoteoriat uskonnonkaltaisena ilmiönä Niko Vallenius, pro gradu 2014.