Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Battleground God

I heard on the BBC about a very interesting online test called "Battleground God", which allows you to test who rationally consistent your religious beliefs are. What I find most interesting about it is that it doesn't insist that religious beliefs have to be logically consistent -- only that it can be informative and useful to recognize the inconsistencies in one's thinking, and to consciously assess the questions raised by recognizing such inconsistencies. The test forces you to either "take the hit" (acknowledge that you contradicted yourself) or to "bite the bullet" (restate your beliefs to acknowledge the logical consequences of your earlier statements.

This is profoundly refreshing to me, because it seems most people find it difficult if not impossible to keep faith and rationality together in the same conversation. Many assume they are polar opposites, or that they are an either/or proposition: either you have faith, or you are rational, but you can't have it both ways. It's wonderful for someone to come out and even suggest that it is possibly necessary to apply rationality to one's beliefs, and make sure that if there are logical contradictions, they are there by design and not by inattention or lazy-headedness. So many of the faithful cling to an anti-intellectual stance, as if somehow God loved them better for talking like idiots. Likewise, so many of the knee-jerk reductionist materialists walk around with a whole host of prejudices about religion and morality which turn out to be just as logically inconsistent.

I took the test, and managed to get through with taking only one "hit" and biting one "bullet". The logical contradiction related to the standard of proof that I maintained for beleiving things; I apparently held believing in God to a different standard than beleiving in evolution . . . which was interesting. I'm sure that almost no one can get through the test without having some disagreements about the phrasing of the questions or wanting to split some hairs . . . but then again, that's just the point. I doubt that the test will do much to change anyone's mind about their beleifs, but it will force them to think about them with a little more subtlety.


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