On Facebook Leafy said “My friend and I have been asking ourselves WHY people have so much contempt now for experts. … Stephen’s contribution is: Americans still fundamentally live in a culture informed by a team spirit that pits Science against Christianity, as if these things were part of the same sport. Even though many claim not to believe in God, we still tend to thus address all knowledge through the lens of authoritarianism, dogma, and faith. Since the development of the scientific method, modern science has always recognized that knowledge is a work in process, and that part of the Great Work is to prove ourselves wrong. But most Americans nevertheless now apprehend Science as substitute for Christianity, and blame it as if it were a bad religion with evil priests when it doesn’t immediately have all the right answers.”
I felt a need to clarify:
My point was that America still lives with unconscious habits of thought that form its beliefs, and that this is true not only for the right, but also for the left.
If your faith-habits lead you to reject explicit belief in, say, original sin, in invisible demonic forces, in metaphysical moralism, in the future coming of a kingdom of god, in a conversion that makes the scales fall from your eyes (so you can experience the true Truth), that the beliefs you claim are true change your moral status, etc., etc. etc., if your faith-habits remain the same as before, you’ll just trade out one believed-in entity for another, and they’ll perform very similar functions. The more ideologically-driven a person is the more conspicuous this becomes.
To root out not only the beliefs but the belief-producing faiths, you have have to examine the what, how and why of your thinking, iteratively design and try on new concepts and methods of thinking until something starts making new sense of our experience — and then the hard work starts of gradually rebuilding our habits around this new kind of conceiving, perceiving, thinking and responding. This is a much more arduous process than having a brilliant flash of insight into the true Truth that either wokes you or red-pills you, and knocks you right off your horse.
But our faith leads us to anticipate some great eureka that delivers us to righteousness. So if we happen to hear something that gives us a minute of conceptual coherence, we interpret it as finally seeing the light. Nope, it’s just the effect of ideological coherence when you’re not accustomed to it. Many other worldviews/lifeworlds are possible. And I promise, most of those many others will actually work better than the kind that bowls folks over who don’t think much about their thinking.
And then I added the following, because I just cannot resist beating two of my deadest horses 1) fundamentalism-is-a counterfeit-religion, and 2) scientistic-belief-is-a-form-of-fundamentalism:
…And further, [when someone rejects beliefs without rejecting the faith that produces and sustains them] because only the what of the belief has changed but the how of the believing is left untouched, most folks who “believe in science” do so in the same manner as those who “believe in Jesus”. In other words, they are scientistic, not scientific.
But to clarify, I do not consider scientistic thinking to be an infection of science with religious thinking. Believing in this manner ruins religious practice at least as much. “Believing in Jesus” with a faith that thinks that certain facts we can hold in our heads are like golden tickets that get you into the heavenly chocolate factory — that’s ideology, not religion. And the only thing it has to do with religion is that it body-snatches and reanimate religious symbols. It is a horrible shame that people equate fundamentalism with religion. Fundamentalism and religion couldn’t be more different.