Fish questions “rational” critiques of religious epistemology

Stanley Fish’s most recent NY Times blog post is quite good. Though I’ve found myself disagreeing a lot with his posts, this one makes a lot of sense, as he questions the idea that science is empirical outside of a constrained observer and that science and faith are opposed: “Rather, evidence comes into view (or doesn’t) in the light of assumptions . . . that produce the field of inquiry in the context of which (and only in the context of which) something can appear as evidence.”

And: “So to sum up, the epistemological critique of religion — it is an inferior way of knowing — is the flip side of a naïve and untenable positivism. And the critique of religion’s content — it’s cotton-candy fluff — is the product of incredible ignorance.”

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4 Responses to Fish questions “rational” critiques of religious epistemology

  1. AL says:

    And for the alternative view,

  2. Michael says:

    Thanks, AL! I didn’t think this through fully when I posted. I think the commenters at your link (specific post here) are right to point out that the extension of Fish’s argument is that all positions are epistemologically equal. Something I definitely don’t agree with.

    I do agree with Fish’s general claim, though, that assumptions cloud/shape what we see as evidence and that critiques of religion need to move beyond positivism.

  3. Kyle Bella says:

    I think the histories of science and religion are more similar then we’d like to believe. And I do think this influences arguments for or against science/religion. Science, too, is guilty of some of the same prejudices that those of religious faith have preached.

  4. Ira Socol says:

    I tend to agree with Fish that you end up with equally absurd arguments on both sides when these collide. Maybe its my brief but intense bit of Terry Eagleton training, or maybe its a bit of Celtic cultural training, but I find the need of some to have a “triumph of science over religion” as tiresome as those who need a “triumph of religion over science.” They involve completely different, but certainly parallel, forms of human vision. We need to not let modernist positivists convince us that only one answer can exist.

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