Discussion Mod 3

The “Faith and Reason” video series begins as follows:

” ‘There are two ways to slide easily through life,” the noted linguist and mathematician Alfred Korzybski once said. “To believe everything or to doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking.’ Those two paths — unquestioning belief and unyielding disbelief, fundamentalist faith and radical skepticism — have for years polarized the debate over religion. In its starkest equation, the polemic pits those who view reason as wholly antithetical to their beliefs, against those whose rationalism leaves no room for the mysteries of faith. But is there some middle ground? [We] asked writers, philosophers, and scientists to discuss that perpetual tension.”

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One such respondent is Mary Gordon, an author and intellectual raised in the Catholic faith. Gordon is neither unquestioning nor unyielding when it comes to faith, however. As seen in the video, Gordon declares that “the ability to question, the ability to take a skeptical position, is absolutely central to my understanding of myself and of myself as a religious person.”

Discuss how intellectual skepticism offers a useful — and, when it comes to polarizing beliefs — an essential counterpoint to the quote above from Korzybski. Use the video and readings for the course to ground your ideas/claims. Why is religious belief so often taken to be a kind of belief that is unsusceptible to questioning (as opposed to, say, a belief that the sun will rise in the east, that life exists on other planets, or that you will get a degree?). What elements of Gordon’s quote cover important philosophical concepts and why?

After reading the “Discussion Topic,” for this module, please use this area for conducting your discussion with each other and the instructor. Remember that this is a formal academic discussion, and it is your opportunity to demonstrate your learning. This is why it counts as a significant part of your grade in the course.

(See “Methods and Criteria for Evaluation” in the Learning Contract listed under “Course Materials” on the Home page for further details.)

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