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I Don't Respect Religion

I Do Respect the Truth.

by Everett Wilson
March 1, 2008

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I Don't Respect Religion

"Socrates famously said that the unconsidered life is not worth living. He meant that a life lived without forethought or principle is a life so vulnerable to chance, and so dependent on the choices and actions of others, that it is of little real value to the person living it. He further meant that a life well lived is one which has goals, and integrity, which is chosen and directed by the one who lives it, to the fullest extent possible to a human agent caught in the webs of society and history."

A. C. Grayling, www.acgrayling.com/meaningintro

On another project I was researching the quote, "the unconsidered life is not worth living," when I  discovered the above quotation. by the British philosopher A. C. Grayling. I thought Grayling's comments were useful and eloquent, and still intend to quote him, with appreciation, in tonight's Lenten sermon. Then I  set out to know more about him. It wasn't difficult because he is much quoted and honored  on the Internet.

I learned with a click of my browser that he is an atheist with no respect for religion. "It is time to refuse to tip-toe around people who claim respect, consideration, special treatment, or any other kind of immunity, on the grounds that they have a religious faith, as if having faith were a privilege-endowing virtue, as if it were noble to believe in unsupported claims and ancient superstitions."

Wow! I felt like I had been hit by a wet mitten! Then I realized he wasn't talking about me. Though I am a orthodox Christian and a Protestant minister who occasionally treads lightly in the realms of ethics and metaphysics, I have never believed that religion as such deserves respect, consideration, or special treatment from anybody except those who agree with it. I have never believed that anything as such deserves them — including philosophy. Philosophy as such can make dunderheaded claims, and so can religion; but there's nothing dunderheaded about Grayling's his interpretation of Socrates.

The different between Grayling and believers like me is that I acknowledge that philosophy is not forbidden from saying true things. Grayling's world is included in mine, but he can't seem to afford to include mine in his. I might taint it with the Gospel!

I believe that truth is true, no matter who says it. But Grayling, in the easy dogmatism of an established academic treating the rest of us like undergraduates, falls into the fallacy of poisoning the well. "He's a preacher. Don't trust anything he says. I don't care if he's Thomas Aquinas or St. Augustine or Jesus Christ. He is a preacher."

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