Freedom of Belief

Freedom of speech, of thought, of self-expression, of association and, yes – of faith are universal human values enshrined in varying degrees in the constitutions and the various diverse aspirational assertions of national self-identity across the planet. The freedom to worship as one chooses is no less important than the freedom to not worship as one chooses. The freedom to choose whether or not one worships at all is even more fundamental in the context of a contemporary world and deep history of enforced adoption of religious doctrines and practices.

I am not certain that ridicule is a mature or sensible diplomatic path towards negotiating peaceful resolutions to current ideological and religion/science frictions. It is probably of more immediate and practicable use in a broader diplomatic assertion of peace-making and conflict resolution to clearly define and distinguish the differences between religion and science, between assertions of pure belief and assertions of verifiable fact.

Religion and religion-inflected science can only ever aspire to pseudo-science (in the sense that Karl Popper spoke of where pseudo-science assumes its truth before then investing heavily in attempting to prove it, whereas science attempts to disprove its own assertions – it is falsifiable – before arriving at validations of demonstrable, verifiable truth).

Faith-based claims to ultimate Truth (ideological, political, scientific) leave themselves vulnerable to mocking and ridicule when they seek to prove circularly constructed propositions of fact from within the self-referential matrices of their own narratives axioms, their own assumptions. Faith and religion as systems of thought and belief are a different kind of thing than is science, they both exist in a broader taxonomy of systems of thought but one is verifiable (provable) in consensus reality and the other is not. A Faith which sets out to prove various facts about the nature of reality or fundamental truths of the world without any necessary reference to the actual realities and complexities of that world becomes some sort of unwittingly self-authoring satirical theatre or comedy of errors.

I think we should practice respect for cultural traditions but not at the cost of recognising that the interpretations and translation of faith and its various assertions of truth exist in an altogether different dimension of belief than does science and the rational analysis of reality.

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