The enemy of my enemy is my friend

I don’t even disagree with this piece written by Oprah’s favorite guru, Deepak Chopra, on science and faith. Chopra appeals to the pervasiveness of human spiritual experience as evidence for God that scientific materialists like Richard Dawkins must simply dismiss out of hand.

There is something to be said for this argument. A lot, actually.

Somewhere in The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins gleefully argues that believing in the Flying Spaghetti Monster is no less rational than believing in the God of the Bible. You can neither prove nor disprove either of them, after all. (The New Atheists make arguments like this frequently.) The fact is, however, that billions of people don’t believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, whereas billions (around two, I think) profess to believe in the God of the Bible, and many more believe in a god who looks much more like the God of the Bible than the FSM, if you know what I mean.

Maybe there is something beyond the time, space, and matter by which scientific inquiry is bounded, which has given substance to the shape and character of a being that so many people have called “God”? (In my view, of course, God has done much more than this.)

Regardless, religious faith is a kind of knowledge you can’t really “know” without experiencing it or practicing it. This requires an open mind. David Hart picks up on this in a too-brief aside from Atheist Delusions. Of New Atheist Daniel Dennett, he writes:

It would make no sense, really, to suggest that he, say, run off to Mt. Athos to explore (by practicing) the Eastern Christian hesychastic tradition, or that he reconsider whether the testimony of so many disciplined minds over the centuries regarding encounters with supernatural reality are prima facie worthless simply because they cannot be examined in the way one might examine an animal zygote, or that he immerse himself with somewhat more than a superficial resolve in the classical philosophical arguments of religious traditions (concerning which Breaking the Spell demonstrates the he possess practically no knowledge whatsoever, despite his philosophical training). In all likelihood, these would be impossibilities for someone of his temperament and basic vision of things; he could not do them with a good will or unclouded mind, and so they would have little power to unsettle him.

David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), 20.

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