Science and Jewish religious tradition share the conviction that the world and the actions of human beings matter.
It’s inherently challenging for believers and atheists to have productive conversations. But one bright person interested in broadening the conversation is Sam McNerney, a science writer who focuses on cognitive science and an atheist interested in religion from a psychological point of view. So as two people with different religious outlooks we wondered: what can we learn from each other?
Very often, when we talk about values, we want to talk about simple right and wrong — we should be good stewards of the earth, or remember that we have a responsibility to help those in need, or ensure that every human being has certain rights. But while some values are about simple right and wrong, in truth, the vast majority are actually about costs and benefits.
To me, our goal shouldn’t be getting rid of religion — it should be about moving beyond the “Santa Claus” view of God to create a more sophisticated theology, and using religion to improve our world, rather than harm it.