Maarten Boudry on the nature of religious beliefs

April 18, 2016 • 1:30 pm

Over at 3 Quarks Daily, a site I find of extremely variable quality, there’s a decent post up today (PCC[E] said self-aggrandizingly). It’s by my philosophy colleague Maarten Boudry, whose help and collaboration gave me Philosophy Cred, and it’s called “Disbelief in Belief.

Boudry’s piece is a concise, popular exposition of the paper that Boudry and I wrote for Philosophical Psychology, a paper whose thesis is that religious people often really believe, in a factual sense, much of the doctrine they take as true (e.g., the Genesis creation story or the inerrancy of the Qur’an). We wrote it because another philosopher, Neil Van Leuuwen, claimed that, in reality, religious believers see such “truth” claims as “fictive imaginings”—something different from empirical claims like “the Earth orbits the Sun.” We took issue with his claim in our paper, and then answered Van Leeuwen’s attempt to rebut us.

The links to the papers are embedded in Maarten’s piece, and my offer to send pdf files of our two papers still stands.

14 thoughts on “Maarten Boudry on the nature of religious beliefs

    1. There’s an odd comment there now that seems to say Boudry is wrong. Religion isn’t the cause of violence, something else is. He didn’t say what.

    2. Pieces at 3QD rarely get comments. I don’t know why; it’s not like the editors discourage it. Anyway, Boudry’s piece now (around noon on the 19th) has 27.

  1. I think you and Boudry are absolutely correct about this. Take it from someone who has spent a lifetime among evangelicals and biblical fundamentalists alike, Van Leeuwen is the one given to “fictive imaginings.”

    1. Agreed. Although I haven’t spent my life among such extremely religious folks I can attest from my experience with relatively “middle-of-the-road” to quite liberal believers that van Leeuwen’s position is nonsense.

      (And I’d very much appreciate an email with the two pdfs from our esteemed host 😉 )

      1. Christian,

        to get the two papers from PCC, you need to e-mail him a request to that effect. Stating your wish in the comment section is not enough. He reads comments on his posts but not all of them.

  2. Isn’t it funny how the immedaiate reaction is to say “religion doesn’t do that to everyone” as if the point is that religion only makes fanatics. It’s like trying to argue against alcohol-related violence by appealing to all those people who get drunk without engaging in violent acts.

    Honestly, it’s one of those points where people really need to learn the difference between necessary and sufficient conditions, and what it means to argue statistically.

    1. Yes, its remarkable how much resistance apologists put up against a perfectly normal and mundane observation: sometimes religion is going to be a motivation for bad deeds, and sometimes it isn’t. We could probably say that about just about any influence on our thought processes, from things like family and friendship to things like alcohol consumption, and the statement would be met with a collective shrug. Of course that’s true. So what? But say it about religion, and all of a sudden its like you’ve claimed the world is ending.

    2. “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” (Joe Klaas)

      Maybe “believers in disbelief” are still in the pissed off state.

  3. Good day.

    I gladly accept your offer to send the pdfs related to the Boudry article. Thanks in advance.

    Met vriendelijke groet,

    Gerard de Vriend
    Hoge Akkerweg 2
    5161 RN Sprang-Capelle

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