Why Reason is Incompatible with Abrahamic Religions

Suppose I come up to you and claimed evolution is true.  Perhaps you believe me right away, or perhaps you want to make up your own mind; after all, lots of people tell you things that don’t turn out to be true.  Go ahead and do that, I tell you, but if you arrive at any other conclusion besides mine, I’m going to throw you in jail, where you’ll rot for the rest of your life.

Most people would immediately see the problem here.  Have I in fact allowed you the luxury of reason to investigate and believe my claim?  No, I haven’t, because I’ve really only one given you one choice, and that’s to simply accept the claim that evolution is true.  Even providing you with what I consider rock-solid proof of evolution doesn’t alter the calculus in any way.  When I threaten you, I automatically remove reason as an allowable means to accepting my claim.  I’ve in effect determined your choice.  If you were truly free to exercise reason, I would have to accept its outcome no matter what, even if I considered you gravely mistaken.  Punishment for arriving at a wrong conclusion turns reason into a thought-crime.

So when believers like Christians or Muslims contend their faiths are based on reason, one may simply object that this can’t be so because their god in fact doesn’t allow it.  Using reason to arrive at any other belief than the correct one will earn you an eternity in hell.  Thus, reason is in reality an evil to be avoided, as Martin Luther concluded a long time ago.  Blind, unquestioning, and unexamined belief is what the theist’s retributive god truly desires, not a belief grounded in reason.

(via Making My Way)

I’ve already expressed my views on why any religion that preaches hellfire is pure foolishness, but I like this objection as well.

Hell was invented to eliminate the possibility of rational decision-making, and any religion that relies on the concept of eternal hellfire to keep people from asking logical questions and using reason to determine the answers should be abandoned and ridiculed for what it really is. Nonsense.

4 thoughts on “Why Reason is Incompatible with Abrahamic Religions

  1. The first part of the Bible states the world was created in six days. Is there any reason to go further than that? As an Agnostic – many Christians consider me a unconverted Jesus worshiper. They’ve given up on the Atheists but there is still hope for me. It makes em very aggressive.

    The first question I always ask before I get into a religious discussion is do you believe the earth was created in six days. If the answer is Yes .. then it’s not worth the frustration of another silly religious argument.

    • Yea, I’m starting to learn that lesson myself. Particularly when it comes to religious discussions on facebook.

      Just to give you an idea, I had a guy actually claim that there’s a 50% chance that the Christian god exists. Out of nowhere. No mathematical or statistical justification at all. Just… POOF, 50-percent.

      How do you argue with someone like that?

  2. Having just discovered you, I’m wandering through old posts and will comment on them even though they’re old.

    This last academic year I gave an “Ask an Atheist” program for a protestant religious club at the college where I used to teach. As part of my introduction I described the deal offered by the New Testament. I said,

    Imagine that you are the father of a teen-age daughter who comes home one day and tells you ‘I’ve met a wonderful guy, daddy. He really really loves me. And there’s more: He said I have the freedom to date anyone I want! He told me that if I go steady with him he’ll buy me peaches and cream every day and give me a red rose every evening. And, he said, if I date someone else, he’ll beat me to a bloody pulp every day! Isn’t he wonderful, daddy?’

    What advice would you give your daughter?

    That’s the deal that’s on offer from Christianity, I said. Hell is an invention of the New Testament, and the deal on offer is precisely equivalent to that offered your daughter by her new boyfriend. Christianity, I said, has no moral authority given that kind of blatant coercion. We had fun after that. 🙂

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