good grief

by Andrea Elizabeth

The Great Courses philosophy lecturer, Dr David Johnson, of King’s College, has a pointed agenda to discredit religious people. He teaches that religious belief does not fit the criteria for justifiable knowledge because there is always a simpler explanation that involves fewer entities, meaning natural physical laws. That St Paul was epileptic, and that everyone else is suffering from temporary brain malfunctions from food and sleep deprivation and emotional extremes. And parents pay him to teach, I mean insult and reprogram, their children. 

But don’t his credentials, courses and ability to quote leading thinkers sound good? 

“Professor Johnson regularly teaches classes on metaphysics, philosophy of religion, philosophy of mind, and logic, as well as courses on critical thinking and scientific reasoning. He has published papers on human freedom, the problem of natural evil, the multiverse, the existence of souls, and many related topics in such journals as Religious Studies, Sophia, Philo, Philosophy and Literature, and Think. He also maintains two blogs for Psychology Today.”

He did have a point that even if one religion is right, its exclusive claims mean 9 out of 10 of religious people’s beliefs and experiences are wrong/false. But it’s not that simple. He included splits in the top five religions, but did not include Orthodox with Catholics and Protestants. So actually 10 out of 10 in his list were “wrong”. However, there are shades of wrong. Not everything false religions teach is false. We acknowledge not everyone’s religious experience comes from God. Everyone in the world is deluded about something, even esteemed experts. But if all you have is 90% wrong people, then you should still seek their 10% of truth.