From guest blogger, Aviva
I’d like to elaborate my position on a discussion we had in class. Many of us had very visceral objections to Clifford’s argument that it is immoral to hold beliefs without sufficient evidence. When we began discussing his stance in the lens of skepticism, people became more sure of their distaste for his position. Someone asked how it is possible to function within skepticism in the actual world. The answer to this seems obvious to me; to reference the example we used in class, I do not need to be 100% beyond a shadow of a doubt sure that my water bottle is next to me in order to satisfy my thirst with it. In this superficial circumstance, it seems silly not to allow skepticism as a valid worldview. However, the gravity of this idea greatens when considered in the realm of religion.
It is well acknowledged that religion, though basically intended to be (or appears to have been intended to be) a morally sound belief set, is quickly abused and harmful when enacted too literally/fundamentally. Though one could easily argue that it is silly to be entirely sure that one’s water bottle exist, that person is much harder pressed to compellingly argue that one ought to be entirely sure one’s religion is correct or the truest.
With this understanding, it seems entirely rational to me that if the harm caused by an extreme is great enough, than the rule ought to be applied even to lesser outcomes. I.e., the harms caused by believing my water bottle is absolutely beyond a shadow of a doubt real vs. the harms caused by not being entirely sure my water bottle is real is insignificant. However, when viewed on the other end of the significance spectrum, skepticism holds much greater value. For me to be absolutely beyond a shadow of a doubt sure that my religion is “correct” however, holds far more dangers (hatred, violence, marginalization, etc.) than to be unsure.
Taken in this simple understanding, I wonder how the opposition argues my opinion.