Followers

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

On Beliefs And Why They Should Not Be Free Of Criticism by George H. Smith



“To express a cognitive belief, as we have seen, is also to affirm (at least implicitly) that the content of one's belief is true. And since to affirm the truth of a proposition is to judge its cognitive value, all such beliefs can reflect on our competency to judge.

There is an absurd but popular notion that one's fundamental beliefs are sacrosanct and therefore immune to criticism Religious beliefs in particular are often spoken of in hushed and reverential tones, as if their lofty content automatically confers upon them the special privilege of unearned respect. A person is said to be admirable because he is a "deeply religious" person with strong convictions."A person who has profound beliefs about God deserves our profound respect, however profoundly we may disagree with him.

All such claims are sheer balderdash. There is nothing admirable about a belief per se, whatever its object may be. To say that beliefs are a dime a dozen would be to overestimate their true value. A belief, subjectively considered, has no more cognitive value than a feeling, viz., none at all. We are overstocked with beliefs; everyone has more than he needs, and everyone tends to think that his beliefs are especially important simply because they are his.

"I believe in a God of love"; "I believe that life has a divine purpose and that everything happens for a reason"; "I believe in a life after death"; "I believe ... etc." Fill in the blanks any way you wish, but your belief does not command respect merely because you happen to believe it. What is relevant to others is not the fact that you believe this, or that you believe this, or that you believe this, or that you believe this-but rather why you believe as you do”. -George H. Smith (Why Atheism? 2000 Prometheus Books pp. 47-48)

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