As we go through the course on Science and Religion I would like us to
think about what justifies belief. The scientific method is a very
powerful way to justify our belief in and reliance upon facts about the
physical world. It relies on publicly-observable and replicable events,
such as observed results of experiments. The realm of religious faith is
not, in general, observable publicly. It is the domain of private
experience, which is difficult, if not impossible, to replicate publicly.
Does that mean that religious beliefs are nonsense or meaningless? Or are
there ways to justify one's religious beliefs? What, if anything, makes it
reasonable to believe things based on private, not public, experience?
(This is a different question from what justifies adoption of social or
legal policy, such as, for instance, what to teach in public schools about
the theory of evolution.)
To get started thinking about this, I recommend reading an essay by William
James titled "The Will to Believe," located here:
I look forward to our discussion on Saturday morning.
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