In his recent opinion on the legality of teaching intelligent design in the classroom (Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School Board), Judge John Jones correctly found against Dover, but did so by employing mistaken premises. Two unsound arguments appear in Section 4 of Kitzmiller, "Whether ID is Science." The first argument seeks to establish that ID is not a science by showing that it invokes supernatural causes outside of the purview of science. The second argument purports to show that even successful criticisms of Darwinism do not constitute evidence for ID. Neither flaw enhances the scientific credentials of ID, but each bolsters the erroneous perception that Darwinists assume as a matter of faith that either supernatural causes do not exist, or else cannot be investigated scientifically. A natural implication of this erroneous perception is that Darwinism is simply an alternative kind of faith, but in fact both Darwinism and many supernaturalistic hypotheses are amenable to empirical test.
To the extent that loyalty to religious traditions, and appeal to religious authority, are analogous to an appeal to alien political traditions--to that extent a discountenancing of such appeals will be, by parity of reasoning, appropriate within a liberal democracy. Citizens should be free to pursue their religious commitments, so long as those are not incompatible with secular order; but religious reasons as such, not otherwise warrantable, have no place in our political discourse. That is not because they are not "political reasons", but precisely because they are--or are too close to being so. They retain, in spite of their historical divergence from politics, a structurally identical role for appeals to authority, tradition, legal precedent, group solidarity, and the like.
In this contribution to an American Philosophical Association symposium on "God, Death, and the Meaning of Life," Evan Fales considers three responses to loss of faith in the Christian God: despair, optimism, and rebellion. Western culture is permeated by belief in an afterlife on religious grounds, shaping these responses in particularly anxious ways. Fales considers both how atheists can respond to the question of the meaning of life, and, in what is surely a surprising direction for some, whether Christianity even has the resources to provide meaning through doctrines as problematic as requiring another to pay for your own sins.
If religious experiences are to justify religious belief, such experiences must be cross-checked to be genuinely from God. Most religious experiences cannot be cross-checked. The ones that can be cross-checked are not verified to be genuinely from God.