For the Atheist-Theist debate, when you parse all the arguments and counterarguments, the claims of truth, and the counterclaim of ignorance. What it all boils down to is the mind of the seeking individual.
Buddhism has looked at the mind for centuries, but it’s only in the past few decades as western philosophy and science have seen it as the point of study.
The search for answers is the search for something our mind wants.
Scepticism is the examination of the mind. I learned a lot when I studied cognitive biases and logical fallacies. Epistemology is the study of what is knowledge and how we come by it; how reliable is it?
Subjects like Evolutionary biology and psychology look at how our past has shaped the way our brain and mind work.
Anyone interested in truth has to look at these subjects. Otherwise, we will fall into the mental traps we are prone to.
‘Psychologising’ is a pejorative word—a way to dismiss the arguments someone has made, and look at their motivations instead.
But if you’re interested in truth, why would you not look at the mind. Logical arguments are only ever as good as the mind that formulates them. Our motivations and needs can and do affect how we reason and develop answers.
‘When piety is more important than facts, then you get absurd ideas’
Were not infallible; our outlook is prone to falsehoods and illusions—many features like culture and the past impact what we think about and how.
To overcome biases, we need to be self-aware enough to know when we are in them. Critical thinking and other methods are there to help us understand where we are going wrong.
With all this what possible reason is there not to study the mind, its biases and logical fallacies?
Think of critical thinking, Buddhism and science as a corrective lens. Just as we can examine our eyes to see the flaws, then wear glasses to correct our vision. We can examine our minds to find the flaws and have practices the correct for it, and adopt a more humble attitude.
With all the biases, fallacies, and ways we can fool ourselves, you might think theists would be more cautious about claiming truth or certainty.
We can’t escape the mind, so studying it becomes a necessary practice for progress towards truth, happiness and meaning.
Buddhists see our minds as clouded by illusion; we’re ignorant of why we suffer. The Buddhist practice is to examine the mind to understand how we create our suffering. Some commentators describe it as a form of psychological practice.
We have to study the mind; we can’t claim to care about truth and not study it.