Archive for July, 2010
Note from George:It seems as though many of my normal blog stops are on a brief summer vacation, well deserved I’m sure, leaving me with not too much inspiration for posts this week. So to pass the time I went to the WordPress home and searched for blog posts on “atheism” and stumbled across this.
I lurked a bit on this blog and must say that although the post in question is more direct and pointed, I envy her use of language even if many of the thoughts are “bad poetry” by a logical standard. She is definitely worth a lurk or two if you find yourself in a fighting mood.
Can I Imagine A Worse Argument? No…. Did I Just Prove Her Point?
In fact, I asked one agnostic friend of mine if there were any fears which might attend his entertainment of just taking a “leap of faith,” and believing a thing without empirical knowledge of that thing. His number one fear was that he would be “giving up his ability to think critically” if he were to make such a leap of faith.
We like to believe that God is an imagined or invented thing. There are plenty of postulated reasons for our having imagined or invented him, therefore he must be imagined or invented!
Where does this come from? Is not every theory, every model, and every practical invention of man rooted first in the imagination—and NOT in reality? Einstein is famous for equating energy with mass, but he is not unknown for his quote, “Imagination is better than knowledge.” Whether god is invented by man we know not; but he is most certainly “imagined” by man. Indeed, man has no other means of approaching such a reality, than through his own imagination.
………….(edited, full comment in original post linked at top)
So, I ask, where is it that we are “giving up our ability to think critically,” when we take that leap of faith? Aren’t we opening ourselves up more than we ever had before, when we do?
I mean, let’s face it, the skeptic has better arguments. However, the skeptic limits reality to that which he can perceive with his current senses.
The theist, on the other hand, has a broader sense of reality, albeit the aspects of reality which lie below the surface of his sense perception, exist primarily in his imagination.
Is imagination limited in the atheist? Really? As a theist, are you not equally closing the door to the suggestion that there is no God? As a Christian (which I believe I am safe to assume the author is based on this), do you not close yourself to the imagining that Krishna, Zeus, Allah, or (insert deity here) is responsible for all you see before you? Am I less imaginative to go one God further than yourself?
I can assure her that I can imagine a world in which God(s) exist. I will tell you that it bears little to no resemblance to the reality in which I reside.
She is correct in stating that there is more to our lives, our history and our existence then what we can grasp with our mortal fingers. Science tells us of forgotten pasts, distant places, the incomprehensible realms of the microscopic and atomic scale. These are places of magic and mystery. They are witnessed by a privileged few, but available to all through the endless toil of these intrepid explorers. Best of all, all this is reality. It happened and is happening, a whole reality beyond the scope of our limited human brains.
Einstein did indeed say that “Imagination is more important than knowledge, for knowledge is limited while imagination embraces the entire world.“; I can assure you that he meant no ill will to reality. The greatest of scientific discoveries started rightly in the realm of imagination, but we must be sure to separate those things that cannot survive the journey from our mind to reality from those that are dreamed to existence.
To claim that I am limited within the realm of reality is fatuous and near-sighted.
The Million Dollar Question: Can We At Once Be A Skeptic And A Theist?
I believe that one could rightly be a deist and a skeptic, with no regard for any religious traditions. I take issue with the claim that you can be a true skeptic and a true christian of any stripe.
There is so much to be skeptical of in the claims of any of our major monotheistic traditions. The schizophrenic nature of Yaweh and Allah, the blatant plagiarism of the holy books, the lack of any empirical evidence of a Savior born during an era of good record keeping. All these facts and countless others must be set aside in a quest to believe the unbelievable.
I too, wanted so hard to believe. There has always been a part of me that can’t get past the discrepancies, can’t honestly bring myself to imagine a God that doesn’t just leave me without evidence but instead gives evidence to the contrary. I have given this much thought, I have explored the realm of faith…and I have always found it lacking.
A true skeptic follows the evidence, no matter how uncomfortable or difficult a path it is. I have trouble imagining a Christian following a truly skeptical path and ending up knocking on Heaven’s door.
But as you said, maybe I just lack imagination…..
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In Mexico, hundreds of clowns made their annual pilgrimage to the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City July 21. The pilgrimage is reportedly to thank the Virgin of Guadalupe for helping to find them work through the year.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Note from the Author: This is part three of my series on Apologetics and Apostasy. Parts 1 & 2 deal with defining confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance, and credulity in their respective roles within the religious mind.
There are likely to be those who disagree with the statement that credulity, confirmation bias and/or cognitive dissonance are necessities of the modern religious mind. I would argue that short of an ambiguous deism, one or more of these afflictions must necessarily be present in order to be a seriously practicing theist in the modern age.
Although we must all admit to cognitive bias, a very specific breed must be present in order to buy in “lock, stock, and barrel” with any of the major world religions. If you are to believe in the inerrancy of the bible, for example, one has to believe several unimaginable things many of which, if not squarely contrary to modern scientific knowledge, fall short of simple tests of logic.
You must believe in “special creation”- that man was created in more or less his present state by God in the face of anthropological, archaeological, biological and genetic evidence to the contrary. You must believe that each of these fields are colluding to reinforce the “false claim” of common ancestry. In essence, you must don your foil hat and join the ranks of the delusional; believing in vast, systemic conspiracies perpetrated with the sole purpose of undermining the authority of your stone age history book.
It is not a position I envy. (more…)Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
As I continue to polish up my next post in the series Apologetics and Apostasy I would like to pass the time by asking:
WTF Is Happening Over At CBC Radio?
Hitchens v. Hitchens- Friday Night Fights on Q
Picture this: It’s Friday evening, and I am in my car listening to Q, a really great weekday program hosted by Jian Ghomeshi on CBC Radio One. I love this show. Thought provoking interviews, great guests, good music; all the things that make for good end-of-workday unwinding. On this particular day, the guest happens to be Peter Hitchens, of same sperm-and-egg-combination as Christopher Hitchens fame. Peter has written a book called “The Rage Against God”, partly about his journey from atheism to Christianity and partly as a response to his brother’s best-seller “God Is Not Great”.
I listen with heightened interest. I’m expecting the Hitchens trademark wit, the no-holds-barred, if-you-don’t-like-what-I-have-to-say-go-fuck-yourself attitude that would be so unbearable were it not for the strength of his logic. Instead, I get the same whiny “Why does everyone hate Christians so much?” polemic that spurts from the mouth of every sad little apologist who writes a book or does an interview. I have said here and other places that there is nothing new under the sun in the religion vs. atheism debate, but I was hoping for a refreshing framing of the theist argument from Peter Hitchens.
CBC has a Hitchens v. Hitchens page at cbc.ca/q that offers up interviews by both brothers.
I have never read “God Is Not Great” as Hitchens is not really my style but after listening to this interview I ran down to my local bookstore and bought a copy. I intend to buy a copy of Peter’s book “The Rage Against God” as well and make a future post comparing the two books. Perhaps Peter’s arguments will be more persuasive on the page.
More on the interviews in a moment.
Clearly Clairvoyant and Obviously Ignorant- Saturday Morning’s Being Jann
Saturday morning I had a business trip up north and again found myself in the car listening to CBC Radio. Being Jann is a summer filler show hosted by Jann Arden, a popular musician here in Canada. I like Jann Arden. She’s funny and witty, she doesn’t pull any punches. On her Saturday show, she had on as a guest Kim Dennis, an author and medium who “talks to dead people”. The interview was uncomfortable, with Kim peddling her woo and Jann not just agreeing, but partaking in a circle jerk of epic proportions where each tells the other one how right they are. I really wish the whole interview was available online, it would make any rational person’s blood boil. Kim and Jann came to the inarguable conclusion that all people who do not believe in New Age Woo are “spiritually bankrupt”. You read that right.
Comparing interview styles on the CBC
Here’s where I get to my point. What the hell is happening at CBC Radio One?
When you host a show on the radio, you should never “pat your guest’s back”, even if you do agree wholeheartedly with them. Without a recording to give a verbatim account, the interview went something like this:
Jann: Kim, you are so fucking awesome, you commune with dead people.
Kim: Yes Jann, I do. I must admit that I am pretty fucking awesome. People who don’t believe in spirits that talk to me are stupid.
Jann: Absolutely….complete and utter morons. I mean, you did a reading for me and knew about my Grandmother’s orange stove pot. How could you know that if you weren’t so fucking awesome?
Kim: It really makes you realize how spiritually bankrupt people are when they don’t believe in my utter awesomeness. I mean, if you don’t believe in ghosts and the afterlife you really are a sad, miserable human being who has no good reason for existing because no other way of thinking would make anyone happy or fulfilled.
Jann: I agree, not just spiritually bankrupt, but pathetic as well. I don’t know how those people get out of bed every morning, or shave their legs without slitting their wrists, they must be so very sad and pathetic. It really makes me wonder. So when did you first realize you had the gift of super awesomeness?
Kim: When I was thirteen, my grandfather was super awesome too you know.
Jann:Wow, you really are fascinating. My friend says you’re a quack, but she is sad.
Kim: So sad….being rational is for losers. I mean, I knew about your Grandmother’s pot, right? How do you explain that?
Jann: I don’t know Kim, I don’t know.
That is pretty much how the interview went. I may have added a bit for dramatic effect. There are no hard questions, no counterarguments, just a circle-jerk lovefest where each agrees with the other more. If there were ever a subject which should be questioned and held to account, it is this. Jann really disappointed me, I hope she has a future guest who tells her how ridiculous it is to believe this stuff and explain how truly satisfying sanity really is.
Now I come back to the Peter Hitchens interview. This is how an interview should go. I may not have agreed with Peter’s answers to many of the questions, I may even have taken him to task more on some of his points but at least there was a mediating voice from the interviewer’s chair. Peter’s arguments seem silly when viewed through a North American prism. I don’t know the culture of the U.K. too well, but I can speak from experience how things are on my side of the pond.
Religious people love to say silly things like:
- Religious people are a mistreated minority.-sure, if by minority you mean more than half of the population and by mistreated you mean afforded special social privileges. If that’s what you mean then… absolutely. A handful of people openly discussing how credulous you are is far from mistreatment.
- Morality is only possible through religion.- I killed the last person who used this argument and pissed on his corpse. Well, actually he was trying to stop me from eating the fetuses I had just helped to abort, but he mentioned something about my morality too. You know us atheists! That’s why we are so overrepresented in the prison population.
- Atheists are sooo angry because we refuse to believe what they do- Yes. That is why we get angry. We want you to bend to our will. It’s not because you call us heathens, or tell us we eat babies, or condemn us to your hell, force your infantile beliefs onto our children, get visibly angry when your church’s grip on society loosens, or project your beliefs into public spheres. Nope. It’s because we want you to forsake your God. That’s definitely it.
Each of these points was brought up during the interview. I imagine that each will also be found in Peter’s book. The difference is that Jian took the time as a host to question those assertions.
The interview with Christopher was shorter and to the point. Similar pointed questions with the Christopher Hitchens trademark style of sound-intelligent-while-achieving-maximum-offense. I hope everyone takes the time to listen to both interviews.
Especially Jann Arden, her producer, and staff, who all need to be schooled in the art of the interview.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
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