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RELIGION: Miracles and morality

Miguel Barrera defends the miraculous in religion:"It would be interesting to measure the percentage of the society that would be willing to engage in extreme irrational behavior and the lengths they would be willing to go to. Perhaps a lot of the population is willing to believe in miracles because there is no cost associated with it. (Hey, after all Peter walking on water does not harm anyone..., now if you asked them to actually believe and walk on water themselves, a lot of people might back off and question your mental health for proposing the test). The irrationality and implausibilty of the stories allows the believer to isolate her God from the mundane and by association, to elevate herself a notch from reality. If we deprive religions of their mystical components, we would be left with some general moral-based behavioral axioms that would probably be hard to market among the faithful. They would be scientifically solid, but they would very likely prove to be big time losers in terms of market share". My comment: The historical record is clear. Simple people may believe in miracles, but they alienate the intelligent people who supposedly run society. The last issue of US News & World Report is devoted to "Hoaxes" which bamboozled the people stupid enough to swallow them. Miguel's last sentence reminds me of the assertion I have heard from Catholics:"I don't believe it, but it promotes orderly behavior". Kant's Critique of Practical Reason describes the reasons for accepting a superhuman basis for morality without the contradictions of organized religions- I agree that the common people are more likely to believe in miracles than to read Kant. so perhaps we need two moralities: one for the "intelligentsia", one for the rest. Incidentally, Peter didn't walk on water: he failed the faith test. So probably would you. I certainly would.

Ronald Hilton - 8/24/02