Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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Friday, January 27, 2006
Question-begging on the wrongness of religion as one of its evils? "Reader A" writes:

"In the reply you posted on 23 Jan., you said:

"Since Prof. Grayling is an atheist he naturally holds that religion is false and counts this as one more tick on the bad side of its scoresheet. I am not saying that this is an illegitimate form of argument. But it doesn't quite belong with the Sistine chapel, or antibiotics. Too tired to tease out exactly why not right now."

I will say it for you. He makes the claim that religion is wrong because it is bad (that is, that religion, on balance, does evil). He then makes the claim that religion is bad (evil) because it is wrong.

"This is nearly pure question begging; a basic logical fallacy.

"I should perhaps note that I don't find religion interesting enough (compelling enough?) to be worth the trouble of engaging. It's not that I believe it to be incorrect (atheism), nor that I don't know what to believe (agnosticism), but that I don't respect its arguments enough to dispute them.

"On the face, this would seem to make me a natural ally of Prof. Grayling, and I might actually hold many views he agrees with. Too bad he can't make or respond to an actual argument; also too bad this isn't a surprising performance by an academic.

"That I don't find value in religion, however, does not mean that there is no value in it for anyone. Nor does it mean that I consider religion a net negative. (I do consider science a strong net positive.) I suspect my point of view would be anathema (so to say) for the professor, though. Tolerance isn't well thought of in the academy."

[I feel I ought to defend Prof. Grayling on that last point. The fact that this exchange is taking place is testament to his willingness to engage in debate - NS.]