converting to science

or why Charles Taylor is one of the greatest living philosophers. He explains that people don’t necessarily convert to science/secularism from religion because they are convinced the former is more true, rather because they see science as “more mature, more courageous”, more “manly”: i.e. for moral, not for scientific reasons. From A Secular Age, p. 366:

[T]he story that a convert to unbelief may tell, about being convinced to abandon religion by science, is in a sense really true. This person does see himself as abandoning one world view (“religion”) because another incompatible on (“science”) seemed more believable. But what made it in fact more believable was not “scientific” proofs; it is rather that one whole package: science, plus a picture of our epistemic-moral predicament in which science represents a mature facing of hard reality, beats out another package: religion, plus a rival picture of our epistemic-moral predicament in which religion, say, represents true humility, and many of the claims of science unwarranted arrogance. […] This is the sense in which what I’ve been calling moral considerations played a crucial role; not that the convert necessarily found the morality of “science” of itself more attractive – one can assume that in a sense the opposite was the case, where he bemoaned loss of faith – but that it offered a more convincing story about his moral/spiritual life.


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