People’s choice of belief is possibly one of the most intriguing topics one can study. The journey of gaining knowledge in itself is so dynamic and full of factors that one couldn’t possibly be able to analyze in full. In this essay, the question that is to be answered encompasses and questions the details of that journey in one of the most controversial topics of all time; religion.
The question above subjects the issue of belief to the spotlight as it is one of the largest aspects of life that is to many people asserted with no concrete evidence to be found; in my perspective. Yet again not all people agree that evidence must be concrete and therefore the relativity of evidence from a believer to a non-believer could be drastic. Thus, this essay will examine my argument for this statement through personal experience and the lenses of emotion and language in the subjects of World Religions and Philosophy as well as possible counter arguments.
Many followers of faith would disagree with Hitchens on this statement, taking the believers of the Abrahamic religions as an example; they believe that their prophets came with miracles like Christ walking on water for example. They don’t have concrete evidence yet to them they see that what came in either the Torah, Bible or the Qura’an is definite truth for many reasons; each generation was told by those before them that these stories did take place so the generations that supposedly witnessed the miracles told their kids about them and the stories kept passing down until our day
today. Moreover, the authority of a parent tends to be huge therefore when these stories are told to little kids to be true the kids believe their parents, they take it as a 1+1=2 situation where the student is taught the very basic rules of math, if one asks me why or how do I know the 1+1=2 I wouldn’t be able to answer yet I know it’s a mathematical fact (even though I know there is reason and evidence behind it now, but I am not really interested in reading) so these kids take what their parents teach them at such a young age and not question it.
Just like the followers tend to not dig around what they believe to be true because they believe it is already true, the same way many people don’t look into why and how 1+1=2. Believers tend to have what they call a relationship with God, what they feel when they pray is something they can’t put into words yet they know it’s truth for themselves even though they can’t prove it and therefore they won’t agree with the Hitchens statement.
Those people have no concrete evidence yet that “relationship” is evidence enough to them. The followers of Islam for example brag about how the Qur’an has an answer for everything and that to them is evidence enough it’s true, yet again many don’t try to look for the real reasons. The followers of religions in general have a problem with accepting that there are some things one just doesn’t know, they need to be certain about everything to go on in life and that is basic human nature.
By the same token though, a lot of other people do agree with the statement above, the majority of scientists, doctors, mathematicians and many more as a mere example. In the subject of world religions we are taught that religion is passed down through language; that in itself proves the Hitchens statement right. Language is a very molding way of knowledge; it changes from time to time according to society it is in. Things can get out of context, meanings could be lost in translation or lost due to the changing nature of language, for example the word “????
” which is now used as an adjective for “good” literary translates to “wicked” or “horrid” in classical Arabic and therefore this could be applicable both ways to this arguments; words that were used 1400 years ago in Islam could have meant something in it’s cultural context but now means something completely different which would make a certain rule of Islam that is now applied invalid or vice-versa. Also, Christianity being the most popular religion in the world was originally written in the common Greek language of the first century yet now circulates mostly in English.
A huge limitation to this fact is that meaning could’ve been lost in translation, as some words that are used in one language just don’t translate to other languages, therefore basing some of the religion on misinterpreted verses. Now looking at the use of emotion in Philosophy of religion, a theme studied in the subject of Philosophy; the epistemological theory of evidentialism is best described by Clifford’s quote: “It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence” (Clifford 1879: 186). ” Which agrees with the Hitchens statement above.
Since I’ve established above that there is no concrete evidence about the truth of any kind of religion, one must assume that believers use emotion as a way of knowledge and not evidence. This in itself has many limitations to it because when emotion is used on it’s own as a way of knowledge it usually prevents one from being objective. Moreover, it also limits the use of other ways of knowledge; for example perception, where because of emotion one might look at things differently or even reason, where if one is too attached to what they “believe” in this could lead to their lack of open-mindedness.
The use of emotion too also leads to a huge logical fallacy; the “appeal to emotion” fallacy where if for example X makes me feel good I will assume X is true, which is basically the basis of many religions. Furthermore, religions tend to use Pathos in most of their verses; for example in the Qur’an verse 102:3 until 102:7 says: “No! You are going to know. Then no! You are going to know. No! If you only knew with knowledge of certainty. You will surely see the Hellfire. Then you will surely see it with the eye of certainty.
” The use of emotion here to scare the reader that is being spoon-fed since an early age that this is the absolute truth when reading this will defiantly lead him to think a thousand times before questioning the religion because he is scared he’ll “surely see the Hellfire” and thus making many believers just people that are afraid to think or tempted with the concept of heaven but very few that actually went through the process of actually trying to find out if what they believe in is absolute truth or not.
In conclusion, as someone that will be studying law, being objective, putting aside emotion and avoiding logical fallacies are vital to me. I also never felt that “connection with God” and therefore I do agree with the Hitchens statement “That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. ” Because the counter arguments aren’t convincing enough and there are too many question marks on them.
On the other hand my argument is a lot more valid because it’s Empiricism based, which means it’s based on facts and past experiences, not speculations. ——————————————– [ 1 ]. “Most Popular World Religions. ” About. com Geography. N. p. , n. d. Web. 06 Dec. 2012. [ 2 ]. Standard New Testament introductions listed below under “Further reading”: Goodspeed, Kummel, Duling and Perrin, Koester, Conzelmann and Lindemann, Brown, and Ehrman.