Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Chapter 3: Favorite Passage

In this chapter, Sam continues to hammer on the idea that there is no distinction between facts and values (or at least that you can't separate the two.) There is so much good stuff in here, but I wanted to draw attention to one of my very favorite parts.

"As someone who has received many thousands of letters and emails from people who have ceased to believe in the God of Abraham, I know that pessimism about the power of reason is unwarranted. People can be led to notice the incongruities in their faith, the self-deception and wishful thinking of their coreligionists, and the growing conflict between the claims of scripture and the findings of modern science. Such reasoning can inspire them to question their attachment to doctrines that, in the vast majority of cases, were simply drummed into them on mother's knee. The truth is that people can transcend mere sentiment and clarify their thinking on almost any subject. Allowing competing views to collide-through open debate, a willingness to receive criticism, etc.-performs just such a function, often by exposing inconsistencies in a belief system that makes its adherents profoundly uncomfortable. There are standards to guide us, even when opinions differ, and the violation of such standards generally seems consequential to everyone involved. Self-contradiction, for instance, is viewed as a problem no matter what one is talking about. And anyone who considers it a virtue is very unlikely to be taken seriously. Again, reason is not starkly opposed to feeling on this front; it entails a feeling for the truth."

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.


  1. Hey Dr. Oliver, I have to head back to Nashville early to meet the Comcast tech at my new place. Any chance someone could grade my exam for me? Sorry about the absence, and even sorrier I'll miss the Sam discussion.

  2. You've earned a cable appointment, David. We'll take care of it.

    I like this passage too. I always despised the statement that belief cannot reason with unbelief but can only contradict it. We should assume that many are amenable to reasoned reflection, especially when delivered in a reasonably soothing voice.