Freethought Dayton – Position Paper on Science and Superstition

Generally, we hold that science and other empirical methods of discovery are the best, most reliable, ways to understand our existence.

Humankind relied on superstition and mythology as its means of acquiring knowledge for many thousands of years. The outcomes of this type of thinking were not good.

When people relied on religion as a means to diagnose and treat disease, humanity suffered from plagues, high infant mortality, and short life expectancy.

When people relied on religion to inform social and international relations, humanity suffered oppression, slavery, warfare, and genocide.

When people relied on religion as the primary means of understanding our natural world, humanity labored under such theories as the heliocentric universe, homunculi, and demonic possession.

Our discussion of epistemology (the branch of philosophy that deals with the ways in which people develop knowledge) does not necessarily reject non-empiricism. We recognize that some great discoveries have come about through such inexplicable means as dreams, inspiration, art, or guesswork. We appreciate that life is not exclusively rational, and therefore we’re open to emotive experience and a sense of wonder that some might call spiritual. But when science and non-science don’t agree, science has led us to truth far more often than the other methods—and so we choose to rely on science.

Our position papers are meant to express the official opinion of Freethought Dayton for purposes of public relations and education. Individual members may hold different viewpoints.

Freethought Dayton – Position Paper on Religion

Freethought Dayton is an organization for the non-religious and non-superstitious. We do not necessarily deny membership to all religious beliefs—we have had participants who identified with Taoistm or Humanistic Judaism, for example. We do not include members of theistic religions such as Christianity, Islam or Ortthodox/Reform Judaism.

As Freethinkers, we hold two general propositions relevant to religion.

  • We support individuals’ rights to believe whatever they choose, and to express those beliefs in appropriate forums.
  • We reject dogma, and we insist that to criticize any belief on a rational basis is not only essential for human progress, but is a sign of respect.

We do not seek to eliminate all religion. Instead, we hope to initiate dialogues through which misconceptions about atheism—such as the often-repeated notion that atheists are inherently immoral—may be corrected. Our goal is to promote greater tolerance and acceptance of those who do not believe in god(s).

We recognize that organized religion does confer certain benefits upon believers. Organized religion gives its participants a network of like-minded people who may be called upon for companionship, support, and public advocacy. We hope to provide those benefits for the non-religious through our organization.

It should be acknowledged that religion is not inevitably good or desirable. A clear view of history shows that religion has often been used as a pretext, if not as an inspiration, for some of the greatest evils experienced by humankind. Accepting diversity in faith—including acceptance of those who reject faith—is the best antidote to the excesses and abuses to which the religious have been often been prone.

Our position papers are meant to express the official opinion of Freethought Dayton for purposes of public relations and education. Individual members may hold different viewpoints.

Freethought Dayton – Position Paper on Science and Superstition

Generally, we hold that science and other empirical methods of discovery are the best, most reliable, ways to understand our existence.

Humankind relied on superstition and mythology as its means of acquiring knowledge for many thousands of years. The outcomes of this type of thinking were not good.

When people relied on religion as a means to diagnose and treat disease, humanity suffered from plagues, high infant mortality, and short life expectancy.

When people relied on religion to inform social and international relations, humanity suffered oppression, slavery, warfare, and genocide.

When people relied on religion as the primary means of understanding our natural world, humanity labored under such theories as the heliocentric universe, homunculi, and demonic possession.

Our discussion of epistemology (the branch of philosophy that deals with the ways in which people develop knowledge) does not necessarily reject non-empiricism. We recognize that some great discoveries have come about through such inexplicable means as dreams, inspiration, art, or guesswork. We appreciate that life is not exclusively rational, and therefore we’re open to emotive experience and a sense of wonder that some might call spiritual. But when science and non-science don’t agree, science has led us to truth far more often than the other methods—and so we choose to rely on science.

Our position papers are meant to express the official opinion of Freethought Dayton for purposes of public relations and education. Individual members may hold different viewpoints.