How is it inaccurate? Is there now an 11th Commandment? Was the 8th Commandment repealed? ... I understand the position of a church may change over time...
(Previously): Morality in religion is treated as a fixed decree...
I'm trying to understand which of these points you most want to make. Is your issue that religion is too slow to change for your liking? As regards things we can know, like where rain comes from, I'm with you. As regards immutable things, anyone should be slow to change.
Religions rely on varying degrees on dogmas, so if I were being more careful with my phrasing (it takes me a lot of thought to get things to come out reasonable in writing!) I would say that to the extent a religion is predicated on unchanging dogma that that religion was in error. It might be that the folk-morality incorporated into the Christian religion contains much wisdom and is fairly robust (I think it is); however, that is clearly not the same thing as perfection. To the extent any dogmas overlap with moral precepts that might reasonably be questioned, I think those views are anti-rational and constrain moral progress.
To expand on a previous point I may have been less clear on, the extent to which this applies is variable across individuals and across history. For those people who take a more open view of Christian theology where they don't respect the dogmas absolutely
, there is a path to incorporation of the broader base of human knowledge from science and philosophy. It was this openness that helped spawn the scientific revolution (since a popular view was: to know nature was to know God). However, many religious people I have known use (sometimes unknowingly) religious dogmas or an underlying cloistered religious epistemology where many basic questions in philosophy are considered impolite to even acknowledge (I have a friend who told me some fairly mundane philosophical issues I raised once were "the devil," which is an amusing tie-back to your commentary on Dante's Inferno!).
Predicating truth in an absolute authority is inherently anti-rational since one can always declare that something is the way it is because God said so.
Tautology is not necessarily anti-rational. Photons are energy and matter. Electrons can apparently be in more than one place at the same time. Physics exist, as they do, because they do. Time has no beginning or end, some say, because "that's the way it is." .9999 repeating is equal to 1 because that's how calculus works. Higgs Boson?
This is a great point and emphasizes that science and reason is no warm embrace. Following the arguments of physicist David Deutsch, there will be no end to the cycle of creating knowledge and asking new questions. The "that's the way it is" statements of the past have been answered by some of the work conducted in the present, and in the future, some of these questions will fall in turn, only to be replaced with new questions. The strength is the answers are not presupposed and so the exploration remains open; the cost is one never has ontological certainty. Arguing religious dogma reasonably fills that gap is a difficult case to make, to say the least.
To the extent one does not rely on God said so as an explanation, I will concede intellectual progress is consistent with a religious worldview.
So it seems more specifically that your qualm is not with religion but with intellectual laziness. In what way are these things different? Religion says use discipline, pursue wisdom, pour yourself into study, set aside time to pray/meditate... though any may do with religion what they will. Science says practice rigor, use peer review, knowledge above personal ambitions, yet we have plenty of scientists fabricating research papers and deceitfully winning grants. We don't blame science for the actions of these people, and it makes similar sense to discern between lazy thoughts and schools of lazy thoughts elsewhere.
A book isn't responsible for the actions of the people who read it.
An idea isn't responsible for the people who believe in it.
Yes, the underlying problem is intellectual laziness. Thinking is hard and can lead to uncertain outcomes that challenge one's ego, sense of self, or puts the meaning of one's life into question. Such laziness is probably the default state of the mind, without the influence of particular strains of human culture. There is a lot of garbage, bias, and dogma in secular scientific belief as well and surely enough hypocrisy to make the Pope blush.
I don't think I said that embracing the universe is a matter of calculations, unless you are reducing all of reason and epistemology to mere calculations. I'm curious: if you think reason is not the only way of approaching truth, then what are the other approaches and how do you argue in their favor without using reason?
A tricky question to answer! I'll give it shot. Dante would argue that it leaves you incomplete, unfulfilled. His placement of philosophers in his afterlife suggests they have removed themselves from, well, joy, which Dante believed required religion. I would simplify it to say that approaches that work should be considered reasonable even if the mechanism is not understood. We take Tylenol but honestly we have little idea how it dampens the central nervous system's response to pain. We don't take it because we have carefully evaluated its inner workings, but because we know it works. Correct opinion, as it turns out, reaches more of truth than pure empiricism, because empiricism boxes itself in - it forbids correct opinion in order to avoid incorrect opinion, a benefit and a drawback.
Jumping that boundary, if one is accustomed to empiricism, takes a lot of courage. If it improves one's life...? First possessing plenty of reason helps. Dante was kind to the philosophers because of their love for reason, but valor and hope are also valuable. Hope, a kind of faith, is beneficial. Is it not therefore reasonable? Would you have considered it reasonable?
That's the crux of the matter: people want to be (or feel like they are) "complete" or safe and secure in their beliefs. It could be that the actual
structure of the universe precludes this state of affairs from honestly taking place. If people find utilitarian value in bridging this gap with religiously motivated assumptions, that is up to them, of course! As long as such individuals remain open to the stream of knowledge generated by good
science, philosophy, and reason, I can't fault it much.
The issue is when we draw a line (such as Gould's non-overlapping magisteria
) that we have problems since that closes off avenues of exploration from each other. Descartes took a similar step by walling off the soul in the pineal gland, though at least that allowed the course of science to continue by allowing everything outside of that gland to be subject to standard materialistic/deterministic forms of scientific inquiry (though I do recognize materialism and determinism should be questioned deeply, in addition to the probing of the "soul" via philosophy of the mind).
The likes of Sam Harris goes so far as to argue for a "scientific" basis of morality in his book The Moral Landscape
but he seems to fall into the trap of sneaking utilitarianism through the window to provide room for morals to enter in via the door of science. It's a sleight of hand trick that appears to side-step Moore's open question argument. Morality, if based on reason, needs to be founded in meta-ethical arguments, not in science.