Colin McGinn

Colin McGinn talks to Bill Moyers [link fixed!]:

BILL MOYERS: What do you think is missing in our conversation between faith and reason? You’ve been at this festival of writers for several days now. What’s missing in our conversation between faith and reason?

COLIN MCGINN: Well, I think there’s too much tolerance of faith, and there’s not enough respect for reason. I think there are two sides to what’s happening in contemporary culture. Let’s talk about the reason side first. For the last 30-50 years, reason has been under attack. Subjectivism, relativism, multi-culturalism have been brought in to undermine the enlightenment values of the disinterested search for truth, the belief in objective justification, the belief in objective reality, the belief in science, the belief in history. And so intellectuals and academics have told the world that these are all illusions, these ideas of truth and objectivity and justification, and we ought to accept that people just have different systems and they have their different cultures with different views. So you get an attack on reason. So reason isn’t taken very seriously.

At the same time, faith is flourishing because if there’s no such thing as reason, how will faith ever be criticized. So we get the idea, well, people have different faiths, and since everything’s relative anyway, there’s no point in trying to criticize other people’s faith and point out there’s no evidence for it. It’s internally incoherent. So, you’ve got a sort of resurgence of faith after what seemed to be a gradual wearing away of faith. And then you’ve got this way in which reason seems to be sinking in people’s estimation. So I think those two things are going on. I think we need to reaffirm the values of reason.

OB (in the distance): So do I.

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