Tact and science

Submitted by Matthew on 29 January, 2014 - 11:07

As Matthew Thompson suggests (Solidarity 310) most religious people today in Britain have retreated from the claims which, historically, all major religions made to explain the world and the cosmos.

But they try to keep the cherry orchards for themselves. Science can deal with astronomy and building bridges and treating cancer, but religion still claims to rule on what is right and wrong.

I think Molly Thomas demolished that claim for religion in her article in Solidarity 228: “Faith is invalid as a way of knowing, and unsound as a basis for belief, because of its desire for exclusivity.”

Of course, if your workmates all think that lesbian and gay sex is a crime against the Word of God in the Bible or the Koran, then you must find more tactful ways of arguing with them than just telling them that you went to university, so know better. Richard Dawkins may be snobbish in his personal manner.

That issue of not “talking down” is quite separate from judgements on the intellectual substance of religion.

It is also quite separate from the idea, to which I think Mark Sandell was responding, that socialists should relate to religion in relatively-secularised Britain in tones of deep respect which would be overdoing the tact even in a much more religious environment.

Mark Sandell meant by “primitive” not just “old” but “superseded”.

If you call the toilet facilities somewhere “primitive”, you will not think yourself refuted by someone who says that latrines have been dug there, and for tens of thousands of years humans managed without latrines.

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