Hey you… You religious?

Eugene Volokh has a great post over at the Volokh Conspiracy about religious belief. In this particular thread, Eugene asks religious folks why they believe what they believe:

Why then do you believe the factual assertions that form the basis of your religion? If, for instance, you wouldn’t believe a claim that Joe Schmoe rose from the dead, why do you believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead? My sense is that irreligious people really do want to know this.

The answers are very interesting. For example, many folks believe Jesus was resurrected because there were so many early Christians who suffered oppression for having that belief. Why would they bring such trouble on themselves if what they believed wasn’t true?

The more interesting aspect of the post, though, is that Prof. Volokh has organized the discussion as an invitation to both sides of the issue (i.e. religious vs. not) to understand the point of view of the other side.

The point of this thread is to help irreligious people (or religious people that don’t share the belief in miracles) understand the other side’s thinking, not to have a debate (though such understanding may eventually help debate in other forums).

It’s a question, these days, whether such a civil debate/discussion can take place (see the Harvard fiasco and the shrillness of both sides of the ID debate). The comments, so far, are proof that it is possible to have a civil discussion about topics in which people can disagree violently.

UPDATE: Here’s the “mate” to Prof. Volokh’s earlier post. In this one the professor asks how irreligious folks ground their morality. The comments are equally good. Many folks say that they are moral because their parents (or other socializing agents) taught them to be.