A defense of religious moderation.
Hi. I've wandered over from the Infidel Guy site. (some of you might recognise me)
I'm an agnostic (as in, have no fixed opinion on God's 'existence' so I believe whatever I feel like) and always put myself in the 'neutral' position, arguing against any position I consider to be extreme. (be it a theistic one, an atheistic one... etc.)
So you could say my position is promoting true agnosticism when it comes to questions of God.
"My guess is as good as yours so let's neither of us claim to know better."
Obviously I have more argument with fundies than strong atheists as "you're irrational for disagreeing" is nowhere near as nasty as "you'll burn in hell for disagreeing!" and the former is probably right anyway!
Anyway, introduction through, here's the argument:
This ought to defend the rationality of believing in moderate religious doctrine, especially mystical religions like Buddhism.
The way I see it there are two main forms of rationality.
I call them Pragmatical rationality and Truthful rationality.
Pragmatical rationality is working out what is beneficial/valuable.
Truthful rationality is working out what is true.
Someone whose main concern is Pragmatic Rationality might decide to choose to be Truthfully Irrational if they consider it valuable/healthy. Obviously, most correct truths will be valuable to a pragmatic rationalist. They wouldn't deny scientific facts for example. However, certain beliefs (e.g. Karma and Rebirth) are not provable and not falsifiable so are irrelevent to science. They would then chose to believe depending on whether it was good for them or healthy. Karma and Rebirth offer a moral wager and encourage people to be rational with their actions ("Will I regret doing this later?") so Buddhists choose to believe in them.
Because beliefs are believed in based on their usefulness, any concepts that cause trouble will be let go and forgotten about. Obviously you can't just ignore bad news if it's true but if it's not rationaly justified to be true then why let it bother you? So the pragmatic rationalist would only accept bad news from rational sources like science, e.g. "using fossil fuels like this is destroying the environment" etc.
This attitude towards irrational beliefs is what separates the moderate from the fundy.
The fundy disregards what is practical because they believe that what they have is an absolute truth. This means they will promote damaging doctrines because 'being useful' isn't their priority.
That'll do to get the topic going...