Friday, 1 February 2008

The proof of the pudding

When it comes to philosophy, science, things that we know and don't know, beliefs and non-beliefs, religion or freethought, there are basically two sorts of approach. It is just like pudding testing: We may analyze the stuff in the lab, and we may taste it.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating

I like this aulde Englishe saying. In terms of philosophy, it is called pragmatism. And it is just this kind of approach that I take as a cornerstone of my blog.

One of the reasons why I like this approach is its experimental character. Experiments, more than just observations, are the most powerful tool of science. This holds true not only in physics, biology and medicine, but also in philosophy. That's why I love thought experiments. The Parable of the Eternal Prisoner, basically, is just one such experiment, juggling with hypothetical assumptions and looking at possible outcomes.

Suppose that freethought and religions of all kinds are different sorts of puddings. The question I like to ask is: Which of these tastes best? In other words: What kind of believing, thinking and reasoning makes me live a better life, for myself and for others? This is the point of the pudding or, as Faust would say, the core of the poodle.

Attempt of a blind test

As we all know, pudding testers should be blind, with no hint about brands and colours, in order to stay free of bias. In a philosophical thought experiment, this is kind of difficult because a mind cannot be blinded. But I'll do my best, trying to forget all I've heard before, and to take a fresh look at things. Okay, let's go.

It will be a test between two philosophies: Freethought vs. Christianity. All the others, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, never did play a big role in my life, so I prefer to exclude them from the test.

Test criteria

Freethought or Christianity, which of these two is better when it comes to
  • Personal wellbeing?
  • Social relations?
  • Our view of nature and the universe?
  • Coping with death?
These big four points are intertwined in many ways, for instance, we need good social relationships to feel personally well. It seems that I have started at the bottom of this list, dealing with death, and I think it's time now to move one step upwards. My next thought experiment will be about feelings at the sight of wonderful ice flowers. Stay tuned!

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