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Intelligent Design of Religion

Lincoln Cannon

26 September 2007 (updated 6 May 2024)

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Intelligent Design of Religion

Philosopher Dan Dennett argues that religions are like cows. We’ve been redesigning them for thousands of years, perhaps without doing so consciously until recently. He asserts that religions are brilliantly designed and powerful social institutions, resulting from a mixture of natural selection and intelligent design.

The key to our domination of the planet is culture and the key to culture is religion. Religion is poorly designed when it is anti-scientific, anti-rational or passive in the face of world problems.

I enjoyed Dennett’s comments. He’s one of my favorite atheists. In particular, I agree that religion is a natural phenomenon that should be studied and improved over time, according to the best of our wisdom and, I would add, inspiration.

I also agree with Dennett’s comments that an external god is not essential to morality. We should, each of us, develop the god internal to us, projecting morality into the world and compassionately engaging with others’ projections of morality. That, in my estimation, should be understood as the heart of Christian atonement.

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