As with the last two days, this quote is from Walter Kaufmann’s book The Faith of a Heretic (Doubleday & Co., New York, 1961; quote from page 145). Here Kaufman makes yet another point that I haven’t thought of: the bias incurred by studying only your own faith. We know from John Loftus’s “outsider test for faith” that the vast majority of people simply adopt the faith of their region without considering other religions, but I hadn’t thought of comparing this to how we view science:
“The rejection of natural and dogmatic theology does not involve any repudiation of the critical, historical, and psychological study of religion. On the contrary, such inquiries are most valuable. Those who want to improve their thinking about the important questions of life and become more conscientious should surely consider the divergent answers given by some of the great religions.
One need not ignore the theologians; but instead of studying theology one should study theologies—as part of the history of religions. The committed study of a single theology—or a single philosophic system, or the views of a single scientist whose theory differs from the theories of many other scientists—is a training in unsound method, partiality, and special pleading. Instead of being taught how some one theory can be patched up indefinitely if only we allow it privileges that we carefully deny to its competitors, students should be exposed to a variety of views and led to discover what can be said for and against each.”