Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Absurdity of Considering Religion a Safety Blanket

This thought occurred to me the other day so I thought I'd write it down. The familiar charge against religion that it is merely a safety blanket for insecure people is a poor analogy for the following reasons.

In the real life safety blanket scenario we have two characters - the child (using the safety blanket and unaware that it doesn't actually help) and the adult who knows that it's a useless blanket (it doesn't actually protect the child). Whereas in the religion scenario, the atheist considers himself the adult who knows that religion doesn't actually save you. In reality, that's an unknowable proposition. I.E. it's not the sort of thing you can possibly know - if there were no God, no one would ever know it. It's just the nature of the game. Of course, if there was a God, then it would be conceivable that we could know it. Some think they do and so the argument is over whether they really do or not. At least it's conceivable - the opposite is not. Therefore we can reject the safety blanket metaphor.

Here's a better one: religion is like a vaccine that we can all take. Those who take the vaccine are like the religious. Those who refuse it are like the atheists. They think the vaccine is merely a placebo. They might be right, but we won't know until it's too late to do anything about it. Again, it's the nature of the game. In real life, we might be able to do some scientific tests to disprove or at least cast serious doubt on the effectiveness of a given vaccine without exposing the person to the disease. However, in the metaphor we must remember that we're talking about metaphysical concepts and therefore they cannot be measured or disproven in a science lab. The effectiveness of the vaccine is not known and cannot be known until the end. This, I think, is perfectly analogous (or at least much more so than the previous metaphor) to religion versus non-religion.

1 comment:

Tor Hershman said...

Nothing is know at the end