Daniel Dennett and Linda LaScola have published an abnormally interesting paper, “Preachers who are not Believers.” Their sample is very small and self-selecting and therefore by their own admission far from sufficient to draw reliable generalizations. Perhaps the most interesting question that comes from their small group is the question of what it means for someone to be an nonbeliever.
The ambiguity about who is a believer and who a nonbeliever follows inexorably from the pluralism that has been assiduously fostered by many religious leaders for a century and more: God is many different things to different people, and since we can’t know if one of these conceptions is the right one, we should honor them all. This counsel of tolerance creates a gentle fog that shrouds the question of belief in God in so much indeterminacy that if asked whether they believed in God, many people could sincerely say that they don’t know what they are being asked. [emphasis added]
But that doesn’t mean that people will actually answer in this way. More likely, they will answer positively relying, consciously or unconsciously, on cover provided by the fog of theological pluralism.
Dennett has been talking about the interviews that form the foundation of this paper for some time. A few weeks ago, I posted a YouTube video of his lecture “The Evolution of Confusion” in which he discussed his work with LaScola.
Via Washington Post via Exploring Our Matrix