Interpretive Claims

“An interpretation is not evidence of some further fact. A true interpretive claim is true because the reasons for accepting it are better than the reasons for accepting any rival interpretive claim.” (Ronald Dworkin,¬†Justice for Hedgehogs (Belknap 2011) p. 154.)

Following “Theology,” consider the possibility that a valid answer to “What is God?” or “What do you mean by ‘God’?” might be “an interpretive claim.” This suggests a different way to think about the questions “Does God exist?” or “Do you believe in God?” Answers are determined not by looking for evidence of an entity with certain characteristics, but by looking for reasons to conclude that an interpretive claim like “God” is worthwhile, or not.

As I have long said, whether you believe in God or not, you live in the same world as the people who disagree. We all have the same evidence; the question is whether a particular¬†interpretation of that evidence is better than another. And “better” invokes the problem of values. What should we value? The idea that the unseen forces binding an otherwise cold and recalcitrant universe evince a boundless love for these particular apes? Or the pedigree of those apes in “the war of nature, from famine and death,” to “endless forms most beautiful”?

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