Religious truth claims
Dec 2, 2010

Religious truth claims

Religion can neither be divorced from nor entirely described by its truth claims. Religious belief very overtly makes many widely believed truth claims about our universe, either physical or metaphysical in nature.  Claims such as the origin of the universe or of the existence of miracles like the resurrection with the most prominent being the existence of a deity.

Alternatively, religion is much more than merely a collection of truth claims. It is also a cultural tradition, a series of mental experiences, a normative way of life, a perspective to interpret the world, and many other such aspects.

It is important to delineate the truth claims from all the other aspects, because all of these other things do not increase the likelihood of the truth claims. Utility does not imply veracity. Religious doctrine could be the most eminently moral doctrine and its practices a universally beneficial influence on society (not that I maintain either of these as true) and it would still not imply the veracity of its truth claims. We should be able to consider the truth claims of religion as they are and judge them on their own merits.

Conversely, being skeptical of religious truth claims should not be conflated with diminishing these many other roles that religion plays. If a person engages in a morally praiseworthy act such as charity largely because of religious influences (perhaps at the prodding of a pastor), the veracity of the truth claims inherent in their belief are irrelevant for these purposes. Indeed, much good can be done in the name of religious and more importantly because of religion. Likewise for bad acts. These acts are no less good (or bad) depending on whether one accepts the veracity of religious truth claims or not.

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