Fundamentally Misunderstanding Religion

By Leo Gura - September 30, 2019

I’m a big fan of Noam Chomsky’s political analysis, but when it comes to his thinking about metaphysics and religion the following video shows just how crude it is:

This is one of the world’s greatest scientists, yet he’s clueless about metaphysics and spirituality.

Here Chomsky is basically parroting the standard paradigm of scientific materialism / realism, which fundamentally misunderstands why religion exists.

The source of religion is NOT wishful thinking nor superstition, as many scientists believe. The irony is that holding such a view is deeply unscientific. Such a belief can only be held by people who have never engaged in serious spiritual practice or metaphysical inquiry.

Ignorance like this is unfortunately common among some of our greatest scientists. And that is because they do not make a serious study of epistemology, metaphysics, or spirituality. And the reason they don’t is because their belief that spirituality is bullshit is an example of confirmation bias. If you believe that spirituality is bullshit, you will never do the spiritual practice required to discover that it’s not bullshit. So from your POV it will always appear as though there is no evidence that spirituality isn’t bullshit. Because your fundamental premise — that reality must be material and non-mystical — is wrong. Yet you are not openminded or intellectually curious enough to question it.

All of that is just an example of terrible epistemology and sloppy science. If you are a serious scientist you understand that you cannot pre-judge the results of an experiment before running it. But why then do you pre-judge spirituality and metaphysics before practicing it? Can you see your own hypocrisy here? This is no different than refusing to look into a telescope to see if Jupiter is a real planet because you have already decided that Jupiter isn’t real, therefore it would be a waste of time to look. It’s viciously circular logic. This vicious circularity isn’t just a bug, it’s feature. Such circularity is necessary to create a paradigm lock, which is necessary to construct a worldview, which is ultimately necessary for your mind to construct “reality”. There is no “reality” without circular logic. Circular logic is how you construct the “physical world”! Ta-da!

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