Delightful quote from Dan Dennett:
there is no polite way of asking somebody: have you considered the
possibility that your entire life has been devoted to a delusion?
He also asks the sensible question:
would the ritualistic shells still do the work of binding together
I guess that’s what I use to justify my participation as an atheist in religious ceremonies. I hadn’t read of Owen Flanagan’s work on saying it and meaning it, but should look through it.
The only rude thing about that question would be an implicit assumption that the answer would be “why, good heavens above, until this very moment, I hadn’t!”
Very fair point. Still not a comfortable conversation-starter.
I guess the thing I get out of the discussion is that we should probably start Dennett’s programme of forensic examination of belief.
I’d assume religion differs for all in terms of understanding, personal experience, observance of ritual, life choices derived. So to say “I’m a catholic” might not be much different to saying “I’m a Londoner” in terms of what you are trying to convey about yourself on the whole warp and weft of potential personal attributes.
As I read Dennett’s point, we shouldn’t leave religion at the God or denomination level, we should dig down and understand which bits of belief, faith, ritual have been chosen by each individual.