Daniel Dennett tries to argue in these selections from Breaking the Spell that we ought to devote considerable academic resources to the scientific study of religion.
You can choose any aspects of his argument to comment on, but try to take selections over each of the three chapters if possible. Also, devote at least a solid paragraph to each of the four points (two positive, two critical)
Breaking the Spell is argues religion should be studied in a scientific sense in order to understand its mechanical functioning.
I disagree with the idea that all propositions can be properly analyzed by science. However, is thought really an input output device which we can categorize to be all the same? One person may have an extremely different view of reality than another yet not be recognized as different. For example, two people may worship Jesus Christ yet interpret His teachings very differently. Therefore it is extremely difficult to say that one religion is exactly like another, just as we cannot assume two people will be identical. Two people may say the same thing but have wildly different understandings. It is not possible to understand what a religion says exactly, and human meaning should not be called simply a thing for scientific analysis but have merit as noteworthy and worthy of recognition as having value in and of itself without need for comparison. Religion is not merely mechanistic but has irreducibly complex emergent properties that cannot be reduced to simple components.
I agree with the idea that science should not be relegated to not study religion. Religion has much to contribute to daily life.
I like his approach as a scientist and using defined terms and observations to reach conclusions that can be validated or dismissed. The scientific method is invaluable.
I disagree with the idea that religion can be experimental because human values should not be tinkered with for the sake of scientific knowledge; this manipulation of people's beliefs for knowledge is immoral.
Apr 20th, 2015
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