“Some say that while religious fundamentalists betray reason, moderate believers betray faith and reason equally. The moderates position seems to me to be fence-sitting, they half-believe in the Bible. But how do they decide which parts to believe literally, and which parts are just allegorical?”
As a member of the religious moderate camp, I take issue with these statements. There is no question that fundamentalists betray reason, but a moderate does not betray faith nor reason and here is why: scientific facts are not rejected by a moderate as they are by a fundamentalist therefore that which accounts to the betrayal of reason for the fundamentalist is not true of the moderate; by drawing upon a more personal and perhaps more primal sense of faith and understanding the moderate is only leaving the confines of faith that are formed as preconceived misconceptions in the minds of others while never betraying the true nature of their own faith. By my logic, moderates are neither betraying faith nor reason. While there is nothing less than truth in the statement, “they half-believe the Bible” I believe the position is not “fence-sitting” in the least and here is why: The Bible is a flawed book, like trying to look at the truth through broken glass; if we draw a distinction between a precept or a series of moral teachings against certain stories that the vast majority of our number believe are purely allegorical in nature that is not failing to take a position but rather the act of taking the position that these pieces should be venerated while others diminished. The question posed by Dawkins is profound and requires a more lengthy response than I am willing to formulate at this moment. The short and witty answer is: arbitrarily. But that is mostly in jest and mainly meant to point out that there is no one definition of moderate religious belief so much as there is a loose grouping among many faiths and churches. It cannot to be answered to the satisfaction of Dawkins and others that would apply strict logical reasoning to the equation but the difference between allegory and literalist in the Bible comes from divine interpretation or, to use a less provocative term, personal spiritual guidance.
“We are privileged to be alive, and we should make the most of our time in this world.”
I could not agree more with Dawkins on this point.
Life is precious and should not be given any less value to every waking moment of it.
Where I divide greatly from Dawkins is centered around this conflict between God and science.
Religion, expressly organized and established religion, are in direct conflict with science. There is no doubt of this whatsoever.
But I and many others do not see God and religion as one in the same.
God exists as a metaphor for the unknown, in one mode of thought, and the very practice and essence of science relies entirely upon an unknown in order to exist.
The day we know everything, we will have little more use for science.
This is much the same I feel about God or more loosely the concept of a “higher power”: the day we control life and death, the flow of time, and have attained all power the universe has to bestow is the day none alive would see a use for a “God”.
The unknown itself, defines both science and faith.
Faith is irrational, and taken to extremes it is always dangerous. While science has no such pitfalls.
But I still do not advocate the eradication of faith, though I do agree with Dawkins in regards to religious upbringing not being a healthy psychological practice to put a child through.
I believe, and I shall surely write more of this in days and months to come, that faith combined with reason is not a flawed stance or lacking any amount of logical context.
I would also argue from a more emotional standpoint that a purely scientific view of the world, as I once held myself, is “sterile” and “overtly plain”.