Bulverisme og kvasipsykologi

Morten Magelssen har nokre interessante tankar omkring religion og (kvasivitskapleg?) evolusjonspsykologi. Enkelte evolusjonspsykologar meiner at utelukkande religion kan forklarast evolusjonistisk/evolusjonspsykologisk, som ein reiskap for overleving. Magelssen tar for seg nokre forskingsmateriale som er analysert av to kanadiske psykologar (oppsummert i Science). “De har sett på sammenhengen mellom gudstro og “pro-sociality” (det å anstrenge seg for å gjøre sosialt nyttige handlinger)” skriv han. “Teorien er at en viss grad av “pro-sociality” gir gruppen et overlevelsesfortrinn. Jo større gruppen ble, jo nyttigere ble det å ha en religion som knyttet gruppen sammen, og disponerte medlemmene til å gjøre handlinger som tjener fellesskapet — begrunnet i religionens bud om nestekjærlighet, moral og uselviskhet.” Og så kjem poenget, som ein av forskarane sa i eit intervju: “Vi set til side spørsmålet om religionar er sanne i metafysisk forstand.”

Og då har ein jo laga konklusjonen på førehand. Ein byrjar med å seie at religion er feil. Og deretter seier ein at det berre handlar om overleving. Cudos til Magelssen for å setja fokus på dette.

Bernt I. kom med eit godt sitat frå C.S. Lewis i ein kommentar til Magelssen sin post. Eg vil posta sitatet i kontekst, frå artikkelen “Bulverism” frå 1941:

Suppose I think, after doing my accounts, that I have a large balance at the bank. And suppose you want to find out whether this belief of mine is “wishful thinking.” ou can never come to any conclusion by examining my psychological condition. Your only chance of finding out is to sit down and work through the sum yourself. When you have checked my figures, then, and then only, will you know whether I have that balance or not. If you find my arithmetic correct, then no amount of vapouring about my psychological condition can be anything but a waste of time. If you find my arithmetic wrong, then it may be relevant to explain psychologically how I came to be so bad at my arithmetic, and the doctrine of the concealed wish will become relevant — but only after you have yourself done the sum and discovered me to be wrong on purely arithmetical grounds. It is the same with all thinking and all systems of thought. If you try to find out which are tainted by speculating about the wishes of the thinkers, you are merely making a fool of yourself. You must find out on purely logical grounds which of them do, in fact, break down as arguments. Afterwards, if you like, go on and discover the psychological causes of the error.

In other words, you must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong. The modern method is to assume without discussion that he is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became to be so silly. In the course of the last fifteen years I have found this vice so common that I have had to invent a name for it. I call it “Bulverism.” Some day I am going the write the biography of its imaginary inventor, Ezekiel Bulver, whose destiny was determined at the age of five when he heard his mother say to his father — who had been maintaining that two sides of a triangle were together greater than the third — “Oh, you say that because you are a man.” “At that moment,” E. Bulver assures us, “there flashed across my opening mind the great truth that refutation is no necessary part of argument. Assume your opponent is wrong, and then explain his error, and the world will be at your feet. Attempt to prove that he is wrong or (worse still) try to find out whether he is wrong or right, and the national dynamism of our age will thrust you to the wall.” That is how Bulver became one of the makers of the Twentieth Century.

I find the fruits of his discovery almost everywhere. Thus I see my religion dismissed on the grounds that “the comfortable parson had every reason for assuring the nineteenth century worker that poverty would be rewarded in another world.” Well, no doubt he had. On the assumption that Christianity is an error, I can see clearly enough that some people would still have a motive for inculcating it. I see it so easily that I can, of course, play the game the other way round, by saying that “the modern man has every reason for trying to convince himself that there are no eternal sanctions behind the morality he is rejecting.” For Bulverism is a truly democratic game in the sense that all can play it all day long, and that it give no unfair advantage to the small and offensive minority who reason. But of course it gets us not one inch nearer to deciding whether, as a matter of fact, the Christian religion is true or false. That question remains to be discussed on quite different grounds — a matter of philosophical and historical argument. However it were decided, the improper motives of some people, both for believing it and for disbelieving it, would remain just as they are.

5 comments on “Bulverisme og kvasipsykologi

  1. Morten M. says:

    Bevingede ord fra Lewis. Takk for hyggelig omtale.

  2. Bjørn Are says:

    Og hva fikk deg til å tro på Lewis?!

  3. Morten M. says:

    Ah, at jeg ikke gjennomskuet dette før! Lewis fant selvsagt på dette med “bulverism” bare fordi han var kristen – eller mann – eller kvinneprestmotstander – eller håpløst gammeldags… Det blir siste gang jeg tar hans skriverier alvorlig!

  4. Bjørn Are says:

    Det sier du bare fordi du går på medisin!

  5. Det seier du berre fordi du er sivilingeniør og ansatt i Telenor.

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