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Dancing with Absurdity

Your Most Cherished Beliefs (and All Your Others) Are Probably Wrong


Fred Leavitt

Dancing with Absurdity explores the limitations of knowledge and argues that neither reasoning nor direct observation can be trusted. Not only are they unreliable sources, they do not even justify assigning probabilities to claims about what we can know. This position, called radical skepticism, has intrigued philosophers since before the birth of Christ, yet nobody has been able to refute it.
Fred Leavitt uses two unique methods of presentation. First, he supports abstract arguments with summaries of real-life examples from many and varied fields, which make the arguments much more convincing and compelling. He cites more than 200 studies from psychology, mathematics, chaos theory, quantum mechanics, evolutionary theory, history, the corporate world, politics, the military, and current news reporting. Second, Leavitt’s writing is user-friendly, even when dealing with complex issues.
Whether answering the telephone, turning on the TV, talking with friends, or munching on an apple, we expect things to happen predictably. These expectations, paired with radical skepticism, exemplify cognitive dissonance at the highest level. Although certain of nothing, other than that we can be certain of nothing, it’s certain that readers will come to be intrigued by the problem.
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Chapter Six: Pillar 2: Religious Faith


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Pillar 2: Religious Faith

Faith in one’s own abilities or a loved one’s good intentions requires evidence from frequent prior observations. That is, such faith depends on reason and sensory data, two of the other pillars of knowledge. Religious faith, by contrast, does not seem to require supporting evidence. But see below. Belief in a supreme being who can do anything and therefore can be invoked to explain anything is a—shall I say it—godsend. Referring specifically to religious faith, Bertrand Russell wrote, “When there is evidence, no one speaks of faith. We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence.” In a similar vein, Ambrose Bierce defined faith as “belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks, without knowledge, of things without parallel.” Faith is belief by decree. In the beginning was THE WORD.

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