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catallaxy in technical exile

The God Delusion

with 77 comments

Richard Dawkins, the great Oxford zoologist and science writer, has been known to excite considerable antipathy in various quarters. This is not so much for his science writing, as for his public statements about religion and alternative medicine. In this he is a true skeptic: skeptics tend to dislike anything that makes unfalsifiable claims.

In The God Delusion, Dawkins devotes an entire book to his belief that the world would be a better place without religion. He has always seemed incredulous that anyone of even moderate intelligence should be persuaded to adopt religious faith. More than his other books, this one has aroused ire among even his supporters, most notably Terry Eagleton in The London Review of Books. Eagleton is an old Marxist, but like Dawkins he writes like an angel, and spends much of his review being irritated that Dawkins is unwilling to confront religion at its highest point, instead devoting most of the book to the problem religion has proving the existence of God.

I’ve read most of Dawkins’ science writing, and it’s uniformly very good and very creative. I’m now going to have to read this book, to see whether it can be reasonably compared with The Selfish Gene or The Extended Phenotype.

This brings me to the poster below, which is floating around in skeptical circles and available on Dawkins’ website, but has not been used as cover art for the book, or even overly much as promotional material. The poster makes a good argument about religion’s effects, I submit, rather than spending precious time on debate about God’s existence, although it is also rather confronting, at least for Muslims.

god-delusion-poster.jpg
This leads me to my next question, one which usually doesn’t concern skeptics (we tend to view all religious belief as equally benighted): do we have a problem with one particular religion, one that doesn’t seem to have been sufficiently ‘domesticated’ through long residence in Western countries, and thus hasn’t been exposed to ridicule in the same way as all the others?

One of Dawkins’ most consistent arguments is that religion should be mocked. He was raised an Anglican, so he tends to focus on Christianity, but there is no doubt that he is beginning to turn his mind to Islam. Mockery – imagine a hypothetical Life of Muhammad – is one of the most effective ways to undermine a religion’s sense of majesty and awe.

However, since the days when John Cleese and friends were able to get money out of George Harrison’s Handmade films, the world has changed. Whither mockery? Is it too risky? How are we to protect the jokers when we proved singularly bad at protecting a novelist (or at least, two of his translators)? If Islam is to learn how to ‘suck it up’, then how?

Maybe once again I’m guilty of asking too many lawyerly ‘leading questions’, but these are serious issues. I for one value the freethinking funnymen of the world over Muslims’ ability to feel good about themselves, but there will no doubt be plenty who disagree with me, although perhaps not among libertarians.

Over to you.

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Written by Admin

December 12, 2006 at 11:03 am

Posted in Uncategorized

77 Responses

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  1. Just to start a non-Pinochet blue…

    skepticlawyer

    December 12, 2006 at 11:09 am

  2. Seems to me Dawkins has a real problem in dealing with evil in the world as exemplified by 11/9.

    without God should all people be altruistic?
    Why do parents have to teach children the right thing? How do they know the wrong thing by instinct?

    As GK Chesterton said the history of the world is the best evidence for original sin.

    One might add so is writing on blogs!!

    Bring Back CL's Blog

    December 12, 2006 at 11:14 am

  3. “The Selfish Gene” is a brilliant book. I have already done “The God Delusion” debate elsewhere at length. So I might just recycle my comments from that other discussion:-

    http://www.supplysideforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=54&highlight=god+delusion

    This is how I kicked off in that discussion:-

    One should draw a distinction between faith in religion and faith in Good. I am a big believer in Good. I have a lot of faith in Good.

    I don’t have much time for personifications of Good but I do appreciate that there is sometimes some metophorical value. As we are often materialists I can understand the desire to personify Good. If we love our Dad so much that we start to think he is Good, rather than just being good then we may follow him in the path of great evil.

    I think this is a false debate. The issue on one side is that we should not follow doctrine and teachers blindly. The issue on the other side is that we need to believe in Good. In my view we can believe in Good individually as well as collectively and still think for ourselves.

    terjepetersen

    December 12, 2006 at 11:17 am

  4. The ‘oh why can’t we be polite’ pussy footing agnostics like Eagleton and Nick Gruen annoy me far more than the CLs and Homers of the world who at least have chosen to take a stand.

    There are limits to open-mindedness. Don’t be too open minded or shit will fall into your brain.

    Jason Soon

    December 12, 2006 at 11:21 am

  5. Likewise don’t be too closed minded or shit will get stuck in your brain.

    terjepetersen

    December 12, 2006 at 11:46 am

  6. well then, Terje you should aim to preemptively stop the shit from falling in in the first place 🙂

    Jason Soon

    December 12, 2006 at 11:49 am

  7. Or don’t be too open-minded or your brains will fall out 😉

    skepticlawyer

    December 12, 2006 at 12:06 pm

  8. Rand said it best with this quip: “an active mind, not an open mind”.

    Mark Hill

    December 12, 2006 at 12:28 pm

  9. Actually the point of having a brain is that you can allow almost anything in and the brain will filter out the shit and discard it. Of course that assumes that the brain is functioning correctly. Sometimes when sleep depravation has occured shit will come out mouth. 🙂

    I think the polite pussy footing makes some sence in some circumstances. For instance if I go to church for christmas mass I am not going to stand in the isle yelling “you pack of morons it’s all a charade”. However when church leaders enter debates on public policy I won’t sit silent when they make arguments based on nothing more than religious authority.

    Religion and God are quite separate. I see good and bad in religion and good and bad thinking relating to God. Most of the debate provoked by Dawkins book (which I have not yet read) is on a pretty low level. The segment from his TV series that I watched online seemed to target some pretty nutty elements in religion which is like taking on the weakest elements of your opponents argument.

    The video is no longer on YouTube due to copyright violation.

    Libertarians athiests (eg myself) exhibit a high degree of faith in Good. To me they are mostly just living by an alternate revelation. The fact that they buy into the notion of morality indicates that they implicitly acknowledge that there is a bigger sence of self to be engaged with. Even if the origin is not super-natural.

    terjepetersen

    December 12, 2006 at 12:31 pm

  10. …do we have a problem with one particular religion, one that doesn’t seem to have been sufficiently ‘domesticated’ through long residence in Western countries…

    I would prefer to say that the secular world improved after centuries of domestication through long residence in Christendom. 😉

    C.L.

    December 12, 2006 at 12:44 pm

  11. If he wants to hassle religion let him start on the Muslims and the Marxists.

    This is a very silly time to be taking a shot at the Christians.

    We have the data in for whether things will be better if we get rid of the belef in God.

    And it does not support Dworkins contention so far.

    I myself think we could do with a bunch more gods. But in any case when we manage to get rid of him brace yourself for the big posters of our supreme leader going up all over town.

    We are foolish monkeys. And we ought not get above ourselves.

    GMB

    December 12, 2006 at 12:47 pm

  12. Terje
    The ‘polite pussy footing’ I had in mind was more that of people like Eagleton and Gruen complaining that Dawkins doesn’t ‘engage’ with religion in his books because he chooses to analyse religosity as a behaviourial trait that was evolved and claiming that of course there is more to religion than that because it is about ‘transcendence’ and all that New Age crap.

    Atheists like Dawkins are merely taking the claims of religion seriously and making a judgement call. Pussy footing agnostics like Eagleton et al ae fine with religion as long as it’s transformed into some sort of Kumbaya theatre.

    Who’s taking it more seriously in that sense – Dawkins or Eagleton and Gruen?

    Jason Soon

    December 12, 2006 at 12:48 pm

  13. I myself think we could do with a bunch more gods.

    What! After the monothesists have taken us so close to the sigularity of athiest perfection. 🙂

    terjepetersen

    December 12, 2006 at 12:48 pm

  14. Jason,

    I have not read the book by Dawkins. My comments are directed at the debate that the book has inspired and the little bit of the Dawkins movie that I have seen. To date the debates I have been in have proved pretty shallow and without many meaningful points having been scored (celestial teapots is a good point but not new).

    Let me qualify my position a little further. “The Selfish Gene” was one of the greatest books I have ever read. It was insightful in a way that I never expected.

    One can also take a scientific approach to articles of faith like “liberty” and “humanity” and “morality” and find then make a judgement call that they are without basis. Of course it all depends on where you start from and where you are trying to get to.

    Regards,
    Terje.

    terjepetersen

    December 12, 2006 at 12:58 pm

  15. Graeme, Dawkins has clearly got Islam in the frame now – as I pointed out in my post, and as the promotional poster makes clear. Although it borrows from John Lennon, there is really only one obvious target for the image.

    Book is now on order, btw.

    skepticlawyer

    December 12, 2006 at 1:00 pm

  16. are you volunteering to be a god, Graeme?

    Perhaps one of those rotound Buddhas?

    Jason Soon

    December 12, 2006 at 1:01 pm

  17. I’m a Thursday, reclining Buddha.

    You don’t volunteer for these things. They are thrust upon you by events. And the others all take a backward step and you find that you are the only one there.

    GMB

    December 12, 2006 at 1:09 pm

  18. “Graeme, Dawkins has clearly got Islam in the frame now…”

    Good.

    GMB

    December 12, 2006 at 1:11 pm

  19. I don’t know about being a rotund God. Like fat boys everywhere I look in the mirror and imagine I’m just so many skips away from being built like a GREEK GOD.

    Its a variant of anorexia I suppose. These chicks look in the mirror and see a fat person and so do I so I’m anorexic. But I see a person only so many workouts from my best fighting weight.

    So if I’m going to be a Greek or Norse God I want to be one of these guys who gets about with a hammer. And can throw lightning bolts down on offending Mosques.

    And can look towards Mecca with great anger and without reverence.

    GMB

    December 12, 2006 at 1:18 pm

  20. Richard Dawkins, the great Oxford zoologist and science writer, has been known to excite considerable antipathy in various quarters. This is not so much for his science writing, as for his public statements about religion and alternative medicine. In this he is a true skeptic: skeptics tend to dislike anything that makes unfalsifiable claims.

    What is his position on AGW?

    terjepetersen

    December 12, 2006 at 1:19 pm

  21. Terje:

    “sleep depravation”

    Keep your filthy dreams out of this!

    FDB

    December 12, 2006 at 1:34 pm

  22. I don’t know, Terje. I’ll go and take a decent look at the wiki link and see if there are any clues, but to be honest I don’t recall him making any public statements on it.

    skepticlawyer

    December 12, 2006 at 1:35 pm

  23. Nick Gruen at Club troppo says:
    “…… the thought that the world’s largest military power has more than half it’s population believing what it does simply fills me with despair.”

    This is an appalling comment- to borrow his word. And it’s pretty stock standard from the Australian left these days.

    Gruen is apalled by Christianity, but is silent on the religion, with the big question mark.

    JC.

    December 12, 2006 at 1:41 pm

  24. I found his position on AGW.

    ROBIN THOMPSON: Is global warming a threat to the human species?

    RICHARD DAWKINS: Yes. You could say that the human species is a threat to the human species. I recommend Al Gore’s film on global warming. See it and weep. Not just for the human species. Weep for what we could have had in 2000, but for the vote-rigging in Jeb Bush’s Florida.

    From this source:-

    http://news.independent.co.uk/people/profiles/article2037496.ece

    terjepetersen

    December 12, 2006 at 1:44 pm

  25. He’s a gray old despairing bugger this Nick Gruen.

    He’s missing half his fair allocation of blood I think.

    GMB

    December 12, 2006 at 1:46 pm

  26. I don’t think it’s fair to accuse Gruen of being hostile to Christianity when I was accusing him of being hostile to atheism, guys!

    Jason Soon

    December 12, 2006 at 1:52 pm

  27. Richard Dawkins:
    >Weep for what we could have had in 2000, but for the vote-rigging in Jeb Bush’s Florida.

    Go, the Dawkins. I would, however, have inserted “…but for the abysmal behaviour of America’s mainstream media and the vote-rigging…” into his statement.

    Daniel Barnes

    December 12, 2006 at 1:55 pm

  28. Vote rigging?

    1. The Dems owed one form 1960.

    2. More like a cluster @$&% when it came to voting and verification.

    Dawkins needs to get familiar with the role of market liberalisation and conservation.

    Mark Hill

    December 12, 2006 at 1:58 pm

  29. Look

    the idea that someone could be appalled because 200 million people share christian beliefs is truly disgusting.

    He obvisouly knows sweet fuck all about America other than what he picks up out of the Melbourne Age opinion section and swings with that.

    In certain respects, America is far more secular than we are.

    JC.

    December 12, 2006 at 2:01 pm

  30. Why is he appalled by 1/2 the American population, Jason?

    JC.

    December 12, 2006 at 2:03 pm

  31. He meant Creationist beliefs, JC, not Christian beliefs

    Jason Soon

    December 12, 2006 at 2:08 pm

  32. Oh

    I’ll get the crow out the fridge then.

    Even so, why are people so worked up if some believe the world was started in 7 days several thousand years ago.

    I really don’t see thew big deal, especially now that the creationists lost that big court case.

    JC.

    December 12, 2006 at 2:13 pm

  33. In other we words, we have anti- globalization dicks attending our best universities are charged with violently abusing the police while protesting against such things as free trade.

    I can’t see how it effects the performance of my accountant, dentist or Doctor if they believe in creationism.

    There are enough lefties that want to stop free trade and yet it’s the creationists who are getting a worse wrap.

    JC.

    December 12, 2006 at 2:30 pm

  34. I don’t know if he’s arguing that people can’t do their jobs because they’re irrational in some of their beliefs. Unless their job is science teacher. He’s just saying that those beliefs are irrational. He’s shooting fish in a barrel, IMHO. Not going to convert anyone to atheism by making them look and feel stupid.

    FDB

    December 12, 2006 at 2:47 pm

  35. That seems to be partly Eagleton’s point, although to be fair I’ve seen Eagleton do to religion as well (there was a rather pointed gag in Ideology about Muslims beating their foreheads until the blood runs).

    skepticlawyer

    December 12, 2006 at 3:04 pm

  36. SL:
    >That seems to be partly Eagleton’s point, although to be fair I’ve seen Eagleton do to religion as well

    I read Eagleton’s review in LRB a while back. I was frankly unimpressed. It was beautifully written as always, but arch. It felt more like territorial pissing, the professional philosopher reminding the dilletante scientist who’s the boss. Six figure Marxist academic salaries don’t come for free…;-)

    Daniel Barnes

    December 12, 2006 at 3:16 pm

  37. LRB:

    aaa-aaa-aaah…. HOWZAT?!?!?!?!
    Fooled around, I caught you out howzat?
    Get back in the lab, you weak prat
    It’s goodbye
    To philosophy from small fry

    Yes Daniel, my reading too. I love a good LRB stoush, but this one comes over a bit petty. Still, lots of religious divisions start out petty. Could this be the beginning of the first great Atheist Schism?

    FDB

    December 12, 2006 at 3:29 pm

  38. FDB:
    >aaa-aaa-aaah…. HOWZAT?!?!?!?!

    Close, FDB, but I believe that was Sherbet…;-)

    Daniel Barnes

    December 12, 2006 at 3:53 pm

  39. FDB:
    >Could this be the beginning of the first great Atheist Schism?

    It would be a bloody Marxist that would do it too.

    Daniel Barnes

    December 12, 2006 at 3:54 pm

  40. “Sherbet”

    EEEK!

    *shamefaced*

    Okay, how about..

    “Have you heard about the scientist loser,
    beaten by the Marxist prof everytime ?
    Thinks he’s wiser than that ol’ Methueslah,
    he’s a loser, but he still keeps on tryin’ …”

    Dammit! I always mix them up. Mostly cos I have this recurring fantasy of taking Braithwaite, D. and Shorrock, G. and wiping both their careers from history with a cosmic eraser.

    FDB

    December 12, 2006 at 4:06 pm

  41. Agreed, Daniel – Eagleton can be shallow. He’s also not as bright as Dawkins, and it shows (this is a recurring problem for quite a few humanities academics – many people go into the humanities because they can’t do maths/science. Most good scientists have a choice).

    skepticlawyer

    December 12, 2006 at 6:20 pm

  42. Law used to be an exception to that rule, but about half way through my LLB, the uni canned the maths/science requirement. There were people turning up who hadn’t done any maths or science after year 10.

    skepticlawyer

    December 12, 2006 at 6:21 pm

  43. Yowch! But the truth hurts, I agree …

    Jason Soon

    December 12, 2006 at 6:25 pm

  44. You’re excused, Jason. You need a fair bit of maths for economics. I hadn’t done any real maths for 10 years when I started my law degree, and was dragging out my old Algebra I text in order to remember how to do the bloody stuff again, only to see the law school ditch the requirement 18 months later.

    skepticlawyer

    December 12, 2006 at 6:33 pm

  45. SL

    as an aside are marks in the low 80 s good results for 2 nd year law?

    JC.

    December 12, 2006 at 6:53 pm

  46. Depends on the university – if it’s UQ, Sydney, Melbourne or UWA, then yes, those are good grades.

    skepticlawyer

    December 12, 2006 at 7:18 pm

  47. Ok, thanks a lot , Sl.

    JC.

    December 12, 2006 at 7:38 pm

  48. The two towers is obviously alluding to Islam but I don’t think Dawkins is speaking to Muslims or even people who believe in God. Certainly, I’m yet to read or hear anything from him that would be particularly compelling to even the most secular of Muslims that I know. My Catholic friends tell me ithe same thing.

    Rather, I think Dawkins is, if you pardon the pun, preaching only to the converted. He’s not engaging with Christianity, Islam or Judaism but rather just attacking religion for the amusement of his readership who, I suspect, are mostly atheists anyway. Given that, I tend to think his influence is somewhat overrated though he is an engaging speaker and does write very well.

    Amir

    December 12, 2006 at 10:50 pm

  49. “Richard Dawkins:
    >Weep for what we could have had in 2000, but for the vote-rigging in Jeb Bush’s Florida.”

    Dawkins is full of shit. There was no vote-rigging in Jeb Bushes Florida.

    Just goes to show what G K Chesterton said about atheism.

    Well actually I don’t remember the exact quote. But it was something like when Men stop believing in God they won’t believe in nothing. They’ll end up believing anything.

    And he’s been borne out in the most horrid ways.

    The other thing is Jeb appears to be doing a fantastic job. His brother seemed to be doing a fantastic job for the first three years as well then it all went to shit but this seems to be almost standard for people who wind up in Washington.

    But Jeb seems to be kicking goals all the time.

    So Dworkins not getting it right on either sub-point.

    GMB

    December 12, 2006 at 10:57 pm

  50. He is trying to encourage mockery of religion, however, including Islam (this theme is repeated throughout his work). It’s something that I think is very important, especially for Muslims, who tend to react badly to it (Rushdie, Muhammad cartoons etc).

    Part of the essence of democracy is learning to be a good loser – why democracy is so slow to ‘take’ in many third world countries. Islam needs to learn how to lose graciously, something (CL passim) Christianity also took some time to do well (around 50 years).

    skepticlawyer

    December 12, 2006 at 11:01 pm

  51. So you’ve found religion have you, Birdy? why are you dissing your fellow atheists otherwise? which church did you join, fella?

    Jason Soon

    December 12, 2006 at 11:12 pm

  52. PS that Chesterton quote is a bunch of bollocks.

    Jason Soon

    December 12, 2006 at 11:17 pm

  53. I couldn’t find the quote I was after. But here are some good Chesterton one and two-liners.

    “Men are ruled, at this minute by the clock, by liars who refuse them news, and by fools who cannot govern.” – The New Name, Utopia of Usurers and Other Essays, 1917″

    “He is a very shallow critic who cannot see an eternal rebel in the heart of a conservative.” – Varied Types”

    “All government is an ugly necessity.” Ð A Short History of England.”

    “It is hard to make government representative when it is also remote.”

    “The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives.

    The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.” – ILN, 4/19/24

    “I think the oddest thing about the advanced people is that, while they are always talking about things as problems, they have hardly any notion of what a real problem is.” – Uses of Diversity

    “The great majority of people will go on observing forms that cannot be explained; they will keep Christmas Day with Christmas gifts and Christmas benedictions; they will continue to do it;

    and some day suddenly wake up and discover why.” – “On Christmas,” Generally Speaking

    “It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong.” – The Catholic Church and Conversion

    “Idolatry is committed, not merely by setting up false gods, but also by setting up false devils; by making men afraid of war or alcohol, or economic law, when they should be afraid of spiritual corruption and cowardice.” – ILN 9/11/09

    “If we want to give poor people soap we must set out deliberately to give them luxuries.

    If we will not make them rich enough to be clean, then empathically we must do what we did with the saints.

    We must reverence them for being dirty.” – What’s Wrong with the World

    “A citizen can hardly distinguish between a tax and a fine, except that the fine is generally much lighter.” – ILN, 5/25/31

    “The real argument against aristocracy is that it always means the rule of the ignorant. For the most dangerous of all forms of ignorance is ignorance of work.” – NY Sun 11-3-18

    “Savages and modern artists are alike strangely driven to create something uglier than themselves. but the artists find it harder.” – ILN, 11/25/05

    “The purpose of Compulsory Education is to deprive the common people of their commonsense.” – ILN, 9/7/29

    “Though the academic authorities are actually proud of conducting everything by means of Examinations, they seldom indulge in what religious people used to descibe as Self-Examination.

    The consequence is that the modern State has educated its citizens in a series of ephemeral fads.” – NashÕs Pall Mall Magazine. April, 1935

    “Anyone who is not an anarchist agrees with having a policeman at the corner of the street;

    but the danger at present is that of finding the policeman half-way down the chimney or even under the bed.” – What I Saw In America, 1922
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    People who are as smart and as sane as Chesterton don’t need to apologize for their Christianity to anyone.

    GMB

    December 12, 2006 at 11:31 pm

  54. The problem with pinning one’s hopes on self-mockery as a means of making Islam safe for the West is that Muslims will never mock their own religion. This is because there is an explicit verse in the Qu’ran which warns them that doing so is an act of apostasy. In that sense, I think Islam is probably different to most other faiths.

    However, I do think it is more important that Muslims in the West, like other groups, learn or remember the importance of tolerance. That is to say, we don’t start rioting at the first sniff of offence. I suppose learning to be a “good loser” is part of that.

    Amir

    December 12, 2006 at 11:31 pm

  55. I wouldn’t want Muslims to start taking the piss out of their own faith, Amir – why should they? But I do think that learning to accept it when other people do is a big part of living successfully in the West.

    skepticlawyer

    December 12, 2006 at 11:39 pm

  56. No its true Jason.

    And you are a case in point.

    You believe any old bollocks that is thrown in front of you just so long as enough people are claiming its the consensus…

    Enough to drown the other buggers out.

    You still buy into relativity… Even though its gone past its use-by-date.

    Bloody good work and nice theory at the time and all. But its now riddled with holes.

    And you still buy into Global Warming though in its allegedly consensus form (and the idea that this form is the consensus amongst authentic climate scientists is also Shiite)
    it is really obvious crap once you begin to investigate it…

    And I’ve shown you enough for you to see that its crap. Or more correctly I’ve shown you enough now that you ought to be profoundly skeptical at least if you aren’t smart enough to realise they are just so full of shit.

    And then as far as I know Popper might have gotten probably almost everything right. But he made a whopper when he seems to have said inductive reasoning ought to be excluded from the scientific process.

    Now thats a whopper. Philosophers when they make mistakes appear to make ’em big. And yet you’ve bought that one hook line and sinker.

    And so Chesterton was right and you are not only wrong but a major-league example of his rightness.

    By the way he was a small-government redistributionist just like you.

    GMB

    December 12, 2006 at 11:39 pm

  57. “The problem with pinning one’s hopes on self-mockery as a means of making Islam safe for the West is that Muslims will never mock their own religion.

    This is because there is an explicit verse in the Qu’ran which warns them that doing so is an act of apostasy. In that sense, I think Islam is probably different to most other faiths.”

    They are going to have to learn.

    If they cannot bend they will break.

    GMB

    December 12, 2006 at 11:43 pm

  58. They are going to have to learn.

    If they cannot bend they will break.

    GMB, it is one thing to say people should be tolerant of others insulting something dear to them (whether it be their religion, their family, themselves, their political beliefs or their views on global warming) but it’s another to expect people to mock or insult their own deeply-held beliefs. Why would they? The ‘bending’ that is required is that people tolerate others and accept they have a right to disagree with you.

    Amir

    December 12, 2006 at 11:46 pm

  59. “So you’ve found religion have you, Birdy? why are you dissing your fellow atheists otherwise? which church did you join, fella?”

    Nope.

    If I was going to join I’d most likely join the Catholics but leave them if we got unlucky with our Popes. We’ve been most fortunate with the current Pope and the last one.

    And the one that made Aquinas the philosopher.

    Actually I’m more naturally a Protestant. But supposing I was going to join a Christian Church, which is implausible. But suppose I was going to and suppose it was to be a Protestant sect.

    I’d STILL want their main man to be Aquinas.

    In some deep deep ways I like Aquinas even better then Rand.

    For one thing his way of susting things out goes more easily with my doctrine of CONVERGENCE as being the only source of RIGHTFUL CERTITUDE available to man.

    I love this guy so much and now that I’m thinking about it I realise I’ve barely read him except in short bursts.

    I suppose insulting people on the net comes first before all else but earning that paycheck but for one to enjoy life one ought to be able to read Aquinas as a break between servicing ones many wives….. the advent of said wives resultant upon the adoption of my ethical approach to migration policy.

    The other fellow who needs to be in the top 5 would be Saint Agustine.

    And then there is Saint Rand…. And probably Saint Popper… And Saint Mises as no. 2 to Aquinas with everyone else a massive distance behind those two.

    Well I suppose Saint Aristotle would be number 3 but in terms of deserving no 1 since Aquinas wouldn’t be anywhere without him.

    Then there is Saint Vattel.

    And saint Rafe.

    There are certain things that the Saviour taught us too that must be appreciated. And they aren’t so much the actual things he said. But there are consequences of things he said that take on a deeper resonance in the culture.

    Like for example this idea of seperating what is Ceasars from what is Gods.

    Prodos once wrote this magnificent epic song about this one-liner of the Saviour of Christianity.

    And actually it strikes me on the historical level as being just the ZEN-COOL way THE MAN got out of a tight spot when dudes were trying to wrong-foot him.

    But the deeper resonance within the culture comes when the culturally Christian mind can easily see that though something be wrong and bad behaviour it does not mean it ought to be illegal.

    There is a certain ability there to seperate categories. Now I thought about this when reading Aquinas.

    And the thing is utilitarians appear to be losing this ability. Like for example with constitutional law.

    Many atheists cannot seem to understand that even though the consequences of sticking faithfully with a constitution may not seem to be utilitarian that one ought not go out of the bounds of the original intent for utilitarian reasons.

    They can’t seem to grasp that. One might go to the edge perhaps but not right out of bounds to where you are making these clever but ultimately vapid excuses.

    But it appears to me that to the Christian mind thats quite a normal thing.

    The Jewish mind can be to literalist from what I’ve seen. They being descendants of Pharisees.

    Then there is this other thing the Saviour I think said.

    And that is that the children will not be blamed for the sins of the father.

    And that I think really helps ensure the basic tendency to civilisation of Christian-based cultures.

    So not many strong Christians could buy into wimping out to terrorism.

    And also there is something about forgiving the children for the sins of the father that lends itself to scientific enquiry.

    Since whereas this bully-boy advocates of the status quo phenomenon may appear to be a new thing its actually a very OLD AND INHERENT THING TO THE THIRD CHIMPANZEE.

    And the stipulation of forgiving the children appears to let the innovative individual press forward and take the crap on his own head.

    Whereas the marxist atheists condemned whole families and friends and friends of friends.

    And the anti-science-demons Lambert and Quiggin think they can refute you by the lamest association.
    >>>>>>>>>>>

    In summary Jason you must be quits with old predjudices.

    Whereas at school and at University it might be your experience that Catholics under the age of 20 are the most sheep-like, painful, least individualistic people around………

    That may be so and it seems to have been so in my experience..

    But Catholics blokes ( and more generally non-Eschatological Christians) over 40 are just about the only sane people around. The best people to know. And the most objective and least easy to fool dudes on the planet.

    There.

    I’ve said it.

    GMB

    December 13, 2006 at 12:14 am

  60. Dammnit.

    I forgot Saint Reisman.

    And the naughty Loki-like lesser Saint…. Saint Rothbard.

    And then there is Saint Friedman. More insofar as his Character is concerned rather then a matter of straight economics.

    And then there is Saint Reagan.

    And the flawed but yet still worthy Saint Churchill.

    GMB

    December 13, 2006 at 12:18 am

  61. Because AMIR things have gone too far for things to go forward in the normal course of events.

    Perhaps they will not have to mock their own religion. But they are going to have to get used to it being mocked and smile and walk away.

    And in the end surely they will need to get used to it being mocked from within their community.

    Because unfortunately a war has started. And wars are like fires and they tend to suck in all the oxygen.

    And it very much looks like Islam will take over Europe. Which would be fine if it was a libertarian sort of Islam.

    Which means the rest of us will be threatened.

    And from that point you guys are going to have to bend or you will break.

    Because the rest of us aren’t losing this one.

    We will lose a lot of the early battles and we may lose Europe.

    Your co-religionists will have to stop fighting or they will lose.

    They will lose in flames and swearing and mud and spitting blood.

    GMB

    December 13, 2006 at 12:48 am

  62. the lack of being able to take criticism or jokes at their expense is one of the scarier parts of fundamentalist islam.

    i suspect this stems from a victim mentality of many disenfranchised poor radical muslims in countries with relatively poor living standards. they are led into believing by their socialist governments that the west is the cause of the troubles when in reality it is their socialst governments…

    c8to

    December 13, 2006 at 2:00 am

  63. Amir: It may be “too much to expect” for Muslims to mock themselves, but in the end the point is this:

    Religion – any religion – is not compatible with modern society. One of the reasons Western societies are so successful is because there are a critical mass of people who don’t take their religion seriously or even follow it at all.

    Without these people we would still be in the dark ages, as is every other fundamentally religious society in the world.

    Every religion if adhered to strictly would be a huge problem. You can see for yourself what Australia or the US would be like if fundamentalist Christian groups had their way.

    And your average “fundamentalist” Christian takes Christianity about as seriously as your average “moderate” muslim takes Islam.

    The problem with Islam is that too many muslims take it too seriously. If most Muslims were like most Christians (that is, nominally refer to themselves as Christians but completely ignore Christian teachings and edicts) then there would be no problem, because they would outnumber the fanatics and reason would prevail.

    yobbo

    December 13, 2006 at 2:33 am

  64. It’s simple…… just close your eyes and say

    I believe in one God,
    the Father Almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    and of all things seen and unseen

    And in the one Lord Jesus Christ,
    the only begotten Son of God,
    begotten of his Father before all worlds,
    God of God, Light of Light,
    very God of very God,
    begotten, not made,
    being of one substance with the Father;
    by whom all things were made;
    who for us men and for our salvation
    came down from heaven,
    and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost
    of the Virgin Mary,
    and was made man;
    and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;
    he suffered and was buried;
    and the third day he rose again
    according to the Scriptures,
    and ascended into heaven,
    and sitteth on the right hand of the Father;
    and he shall come again, with glory,
    to judge both the quick and the dead;
    whose kingdom shall have no end.

    And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of Live,
    who proceedeth from the Father [and the Son];
    who with the Father and the Son together
    is worshipped and glorified;
    who spake by the Prophets.
    And I believe one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church;
    I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
    and I look for the resurrection of the dead,
    and the life of the world to come.

    ….and you’ll feel a whole lot better….try it.

    .50cal

    December 13, 2006 at 9:26 am

  65. I’ve tried clicking my heels three times and thinking of Kansas but that doesn’t work either.

    GMB

    December 13, 2006 at 9:39 am

  66. wearing red shoes taken from the corpse of a wich?

    .50cal

    December 13, 2006 at 9:49 am

  67. Sorry that should be “witch”

    .50cal

    December 13, 2006 at 9:50 am

  68. I don’t think it’s a strict adherence to the tenets of the religion — at least not my religion — that is the problem but rather that most Muslims are ignorant about Islamic law and particularly Islamic law as it relates to Muslims living as minorities. Most of the issues that we see here would be solved if only Muslims relied more on the texts of their faith than on culture and the ideas they inherited from their parents and thought it was Islam. For example, one of the biggest issues in the Muslim community is the dependence on welfare and the milking of the system for benefits. However, if these same people spent as much time studying their faith as they did in studying how to rort the system they would realise that self-reliance is one of the most important values of a Muslim. The companions of the Prophet, for example, would refuse to allow someone to even pick up a stick that they had dropped from horseback; preferring instead to do it themselves. Likewise, the Prophet blasted men who refused to work, telling them to go into the forest and collect sticks and sell them in the market. Unfortunately, this sort of thinking is a world apart from the mentality that plagues the more problematic sections of my community.

    Amir

    December 13, 2006 at 10:06 am

  69. Well, of course the bible describes “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” as the one unforgiveable sin that can never be atoned for, in a context where such blasphemy takes the form of mockery of biblical claims. Not considering their own religion to be mockable is a characteristic of all religious fundamentalists – Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Hindu. Fundies have far more in common with each other than with the rest of us – it’s a mindset.

    And .50cal, St Athanasius’ creed was written specifically to identify heretics (Arians, monophysites, etc) so they could be persecuted. Hence the insistence on “begotten, not made, being of one substance with the father”, etc.

    derrida derider

    December 13, 2006 at 11:36 am

  70. der-der thank you for that information. I understand that the prophet “blessed be his name” took great exception to the notion of “begotten” as a concept and I understand the opening of the Koran makes that clear.

    .50cal

    December 13, 2006 at 1:19 pm

  71. I don’t think it’s a strict adherence to the tenets of the religion — at least not my religion — that is the problem but rather that most Muslims are ignorant about Islamic law and particularly Islamic law as it relates to Muslims living as minorities.

    That may improve the situation in Australia, but how would it make any difference in a country like Indonesia where Muslims are the overwhelming majority and routinely commit atrocities against minority religions?

    I doubt they’d be going around beheading 15 year old schoolgirls if it wasn’t for religion.

    Again, it is religion that is the problem, and people who choose to take it seriously

    yobbo

    December 13, 2006 at 5:33 pm

  72. Yobbo
    As far as I know, no one went around beheading schoolgirls in Indonesia until recently. (Pogroms against Chinese businesses don’t count – those are racial issues, not religious ones)

    Though perhaps you could argue it was because they didn’t start taking their religion that seriously until recently.

    Jason Soon

    December 13, 2006 at 5:50 pm

  73. “Fundies have far more in common with each other than with the rest of us – it’s a mindset.”

    Agreed, as long as you include Fundamentalist atheists like Dawkins , Greenies like Bob Brown and all theother left-wingers who have made “Progressivism” their religion.

    Of course a fundie islamicist will kill you if you don’t kow-tow to his barabric religion, whilst a fundie Christian will only stop you dancing. yet all the lefty wallies pile on to the Christians and give the islamofascists a free pass. Could that be because your average super-wimp lefty secretly believes that there must be something in any cause if someone is prepared to commit violence in its support. In that case, the left would probably respect Fundamentalist Chrisitianity a lot more if it burnt down a few modern art galleries.

    Rococo Liberal

    December 13, 2006 at 6:00 pm

  74. As far as you know, Jason.

    The other possibility is that these sort of religiously motivated crimes didn’t make the international news until after September 11/Bali.

    Jemaah Islamiyah in the early 1980’s. They were around for 20 years before 9/11.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_Eve_2000_Indonesia_Terror_Attacks

    The attack involved a series of coordinated bombings of churches in Jakarta and eight other cities which killed 18 people and injured many others.

    yobbo

    December 13, 2006 at 7:19 pm

  75. err that should read “Jemaah Islamiyah was founded in the early 1980’s”.

    yobbo

    December 13, 2006 at 7:20 pm

  76. Mark Bahnisch

    December 15, 2006 at 1:05 am

  77. If mockery is such an effective way to change peoples’ minds then libertarian ideas should have permeated the entire globe by now. (How’s that for subtle mockery?)

    The strategy of mockery is antithetical to the scientific spirit, which admittedly never stopped scientists getting into the gutter but the fact remains that using mockery is more often a sign of defeat and verbal bullying than reasoned debate.

    For eg. I think ideas like “self”, “free will”, “autonomous agents”, are completely lacking in scientific support yet 90% of the population subscribes to these beliefs. However I see little point in going around laughing at people who subscribe to these beliefs, if only because a great many of these people are highly intelligent and well read; which, incidentally, is also true of those who hold religious beliefs. If short, mockey is a dumb and arrogant person’s way of winning an argument. It is essentially schoolyard bullying.

    I much prefer the attitude of Daniel Dennett, “Breaking the Spell”, wherein he argues for a respectful debate and a program to analyze religion. Of course that won’t sell as well because it is an approach based on scientific investigation.

    Dead Soul

    December 17, 2006 at 2:28 pm


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