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Introduction: How to reason
Section 12: Summary
Reason - examining facts and applying logic - helps us to understand and come to conclusions about ourselves, our lives and the world and universe we live in.
O.12a The function of reason
Reason can be used in any situation - should I buy this soap powder? who should I vote for and why?
(Ask yourself who profits when you buy a certain soap powder? Do you know if that powder cleans better than others, or than other methods of cleaning? What are the alternatives? What are the costs and benefits of using each? And so on...)
On this website we use reason for two purposes - (i) to determine if there is a God and, (ii) if there is no God, to determine how we should lead our lives.
O.12b Basic principles
Effective reasoning depends on the following principles
(examples referring to God and religion are in parentheses):
1. Distinguish what we know from what
we think we know (we know we are alive; do we know if God exists?).
2. Reason, don't rationalize. Start with the question not the answer ("how did the universe begin?", not "God created
the universe; now let us prove it.").
3. Take into account all the facts, not only those that support your theory (how did the koala get to Australia after the Flood?).
4. Distinguish between cause and correlation and be prepared to accept that events may not be linked at all (does everything, including God, need a cause?).
5. Don't jump to conclusions (a Biblical event may the result of natural causes
not divine intervention).
6. Proof of part of a theory is not proof that the whole theory is correct
(we can prove parts of the Bible are true but that does not mean the whole Bible is fact).
7. We can prove some negatives
(so perhaps we can prove God does not exist)
How good is your reasoning?
Can you distinguish lies from truth? Or a good
argument from a false one? Can you when tell someone is trying to pull
the wool over your eyes?
We keep physically fit by exercising regularly and eating healthy
food. The same is true of our minds - we need regular mental exercise and a good diet of
solid facts and logic.
This chapter offers basic reasoning skills to help you understand the contradictions
that lie at the heart of all religion.
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If God existed, he would...
admire the beauty of a universe that he did not create
recognize that eternity is meaningless
deny both heaven and hell
disown all men and women who speak in his name
denounce the harm caused by religious "morality"
help the human race to thrive without him
If God existed, he would be an atheist.
What is the difference between science and faith?
science is certain of nothing and requires proof of everything
faith is certain of everything and requires proof of nothing
Which do you trust?
"I know there is no God"
"I believe there is no God"
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