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« Carnival of the Liberals #98: Fearmongering Edition | Main | Atheism, Openness, and Caring About Reality: Or, Why What We Don't Believe Matters »

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llewelly

"intuition"? Hah. Call it what it is: Thinking with your gut. Basing your decisions on hunger, flatulence, nausea, or the occasional bout of diarrhea.

smijer

I have to try to qualify this one.

Intuition has a place - when you need to make a decision quickly and don't have time to research carefully it may be good advice to trust intuition.

If you don't have the ability to research the question enough to reduce uncertainty, but are comfortable with a high level of uncertainty - then it may not be bad to trust your intuition.

Certainly, in a situation where you are trusting your intuition, you should trust your own over an equally or less well-equipped other's. So, it doesn't make sense to reject your own intuition just because it differs from the intuition of others (though the fact that intuitions vary among individuals is an indicator of their low reliability).

So, I think the rule is that if a person holds the view that they are unable to reach a certain enough answer and wish to trust their intuition rather than to research the question rigorously, then they should be advised to remember that their belief should hold a low level of certainty and they should not elevate such intuitions above the reasoning process where specific related questions arise.

In other words, believe in God if you must, but don't let that keep you from doing the right thing when it matters.

Greta Christina

smijer: I agree about intuition: it's important and valuable, and in situations where you need to make fast decision or just don't have enough evidence to make a clearly evidence-based decision, it's invaluable. Human beings would probably not have survived without it.

But I don't think God falls into either of those categories. The God hypothesis is a question that we have time to contemplate at our leisure. And there are strong, evidence-based arguments against it (the strongest being that there isn't a scrap of good evidence to support it).

And it's not a trivial question, where the answer won't make much difference in the choices people make. People make serious, life-altering choices based on their religious beliefs, choices that affect themselves and others. For all these reasons, I think it's therefore not a question that's best left to intuition.

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