Religion and truth are an interesting topic that isn’t very simple. I’ve been thinking today on something that has been discussed by Jordan Peterson and Bret Weinstein on a few occasions. It has centered around Sam Harris and his definition of truth. Sam’s definition is the definition that I think most people have.
Jordan Peterson has a different one and Bret Weinstein understands it. I also think Dr. Weinstein has explained it better than Dr. Peterson did.
Summary for Metaphorical Truth
Below is my summary of what this appears to be. I am not a biologist, so I will state this differently and my own lens.
- Religion can be useful today
- We might not know what is useful about it.
- The thing that is useful may be factually wrong.
- It may be “true” in the sense that it makes our lives better.
- Non-factual truth on a biological level means that it is something that helps an organism survive or procreate.
- Religion historically has been useful to humans, otherwise history wouldn’t have so close to 100% of cultures that have ever existed with some kind of religion.
- (My own thoughts) Religion may be ingrained in a way that is no longer useful, since religion itself isn’t needed directly.
- People who are literally religious in the traditional sense may hold beliefs that don’t work today.
- People that don’t hold religious beliefs may channel their religious inclinations towards other things.
Religion as a Useful Tool
The simplest argument for religion being a useful tool for a society is in the prevalence of religion through history. Religion was a tool to make people behave in a way that was helpful to early societies. If it wasn’t, we would have examples of more societies who had no religion. I am actually aware of no historic societies without religion, but I don’t know that my Google-fu is strong enough for the task of discovering this information.
Secularism as the Experiment
Secularism for a government is something that was first attempted in America. The French followed shortly after with their Revolution as well. It is rather clear that secularism did great things for a long period of him from the side of the government. It is clear that America is a nation of Christians, even if the government is not a Christian government.
How long does a government need to be secular before we can declare this experiment a success? The problem with societal experiments, is that are too many variables. If the United States fails quickly or slowly, was it due to the loss of metaphorical truth and the certainty that came with religion?
It isn’t something we can really know. We can only guess.
Metaphorical Truth and Factual Truth
Beyond religion, metaphorical truth is included in the broader category of useful things to know. Some of these useful things to know are factual truth and some of them are metaphorical.
The scary thing for me is that we can’t understand the metaphorical truth and the impact it has on humans. Even scarier, we most likely can’t understand it no matter what experiments we attempt to run. Even through the lens of history, it may not be a clear cause of something that it contributed to.
This is the challenge of politics in general. The idea that we can boil things down to easy facts that are 100% true is incomprehensible. There are too many variables. It’s why I don’t like the idea of running experiments on society any more than we need to.
I have an obsession with factual truth. I believe logic is my most powerful tool.
It is hard for me to be sure anymore that those factual truths are better than others metaphorical truths. I don’t know that my logic is better than someone’s religion. Something needs to be useful to be better. I am not convinced my way is better.