I've continued barreling double speed through episodes of Conversations from the Pale Blue Dot (I've got a new puppy who needs like 8 long walks a day.) and continue to be impressed with how consistently good Luke's guests are. Unlike many interview shows or lecture series where topics may be disconnected, I'm seeing a steady progression through the various interviews further into various positions and figures in the philosophy of religion. Luke's done the world a great service getting these talks together, and at such an alarming rate (around 100 episodes since the beginning of 2009, sometimes recording more than one per day)!
To follow up on my post yesterday about Sam Harris on faith, I wanted to post this interview with Andrei Buckareff, who distinguishes between belief (holding a proposition to be true) and acceptance (holding a proposition for some practical purpose). He says faith can and should be the latter of these. As I often insist, you can't make yourself believe something; faith can't be actually deciding to believe something when you just plain don't; that would involve blatant self-deception. However, Buckareff points out that you can certainly willfully accept a proposition to be true for the purposes of action, and action (he thinks) is largely the point of Christianity.
I find this solution much too easy. He uses the analogy of taking a role in a play, which is clearly pretending: on the least pretext (say, if I as an actor felt physically threatened), I'd break character and abandon the "beliefs" I was holding as that character. If the problem with faith (according to Kenny, who we discussed near the end of our new atheists episode) is that the faithful base their actions too firmly (killing or dying for their faith) on these propositions that they have insufficient evidence for, then Buckareff's solution utterly fails to engage that. Either we have to interpret his analogy such that we'd drop our faith when it became inconvenient (which might be OK with Kenny but doesn't seem to capture what faith is about) or we get the perverse picture of people doing extreme things on the basis of a admittedly heuristic strategy (which is exactly what Kenny is complaining about). What do you think?
Toward the end of the discussion Buckareff responds sympathetically to my complaint about the Christian hell, and he spends a lot of his time here talking about making religion and metaphysical naturalism (typically considered the presupposition of natural science) compatible and what this has to do with pantheism and panentheism: this serves as a great follow-up to our Spinoza discussion on God.