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Heathen’s Progress

This category contains 26 posts

Heathen’s Progress 16: Struggling with the question of belief? Homer Simpson’s got the answer

Homer’s Wager concludes that you have no good reason to believe in God, even if it is more likely than not that he exists, let alone if you are among those of us who think the probability is closer to 6.7% than 67%. And what this shows is that the issue of God’s existence or […]

Heathen’s Progress 15: You don’t have to be religious to pray … but it helps

Prayer, like many rituals, is something that the religious get some real benefits from that are just lost to us heathens. One reason is that many of these rituals are performed communally, as part of a regular meeting or worship. This means there is social reinforcement. But the main one is that the religious context […]

Heathen’s Progress 14: Can it be rational for the religious to be non-rational?

In practice there is no neat distinction between the logical and the psychological. Those who attempt to use pure reason cannot expect to succeed, while those who willingly allow psychological factors to affect their reasoning may be being more self-aware about their rational capacities than those who do not. The Guardian Comment is Free Belief […]

Heathen’s Progress 13: Has the God debate been moved on?

Some in the blogosphere have suggested that in this series I have moved closer to the new atheists. I’m not sure this is true. For a variety of reasons (including unfortunate headlines others gave to some of my pieces) the extent to which I have disagreed with the new atheists has probably been overstated because […]

Heathen’s Progress 12: The parable of the allotments

Last week I challenged the idea that religiosity is more about practice than belief with evidence that most religious people appear to have a large number of traditional beliefs which they take to be important. However, I suggested that there might be a response to this, and I’ve found a possible one in book 42 […]

Heathen’s Progress 11: The myth of mythos

A few weeks ago, I argued that the debate about the true nature of religion is hampered both by a confusion between what we think it ought to be and what it actually is, and by a lack of knowledge about what religious people, rather than the elite commentariat, really think. To get a better […]

Heathen’s Progress 10: Respect for you and your crazy beliefs

I keep channels of communication open out of disrespect to my own intelligence. When you look out into the world and see that it’s insane, you have to accept the likelihood that you probably have your little pockets of insanity too. Latest in the Guardian Comment is Free Belief series

Heathen’s Progress 9: The empty common ground

“I’m sorry Julian, you seem to be working hard to establish a middle ground that nobody wants to occupy.” I’m finding it hard to disagree with this comment by DiscoveredJoys on last week’s post about what reasonable religious belief could look like today. But since the main purpose of posting my articles of 21st-century faith […]

Heathen’s Progress 8: Articles of 21st-century faith

I want to see just how many people really do embrace the kind of religious faith that explicitly rejects the kinds of things atheist critics think silly. To do this I’ve formulated four “articles of 21st-century faith”: beliefs that I think would make religion entirely intellectually respectable, even to the hardest-nosed atheists. They are neither […]

Heathen’s Progress 7: True religion

Although we might not be clear enough about what we ourselves believe, we are frequently all too clear about what others believe. People may accept there are lots of views out there, but they are very confident they know what the genuine version of any given belief looks like, which is usually how the speaker […]