Monday, April 28, 2008

I'd Forgotten about Jacob Bronowski

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Monique Davis Reloaded, Or an Idea to Perpetrate Textual Mayhem on Christians

If you're reading this blog, you probably know who Monique Davis is, if not see this [Chicago Tribune].

I'd like to find a juicy excerpt of her tirade against Rob Sherman and atheism. A few quick edits to change occurrences of atheism and atheists to Jews and Judaism, or maybe to developmental disabled or some such.

The point of the exercise would be to show that the language of hate is largely the same regardless of the specific target. The implication is that once have becomes acceptable as a publicly-given rationale for actions and policies, whether of individuals, groups or governments, it is a relatively simple matter to change the persons toward which that hate is directed.

Historically, it has been shown more than once that hate-filled public discourse is notoriously easy to manipulate. Examples: Nazism, Stalinism, The Inquisition, McCarthyism. The infamous "Revolution devours its own children", and so on. And yet, once a little Christian feels even a wisp of pleasure at the thought of the destruction of her enemies, it must be God's Supreme Will that these enemies die, die, die and then rot in Hell. Of course, the Good Little Christian doesn't say she wants her enemies to die, die, die. She says "Thy Will be done."

It's obvious enough to everyone but the Little Christian that God is a self-manipulation to avoid ownership of her hatred, bile, and ill-will. It is God's Will that her enemies die, die, die, not her will. God for the little Christian becomes a tool to avoid self-examination and responsibility. Hate-filled discourse is one thing, the apparent object of that hatred is something else. A little Christian would have us all believe that hatred per se is no problematic, only the object to which the hate is for the moment directed.

Of course, empirical counter-evidence to the above, would be that minor edits to the words of Monique Davis or any other believer substituting "Jew," "puppies and kittens," "little babies," "American," etc. for "gay," "atheist," "liberal," "feminazi," and the like would produce be unintelligible. If, however, the slightly edited version bore a strong resemblance to manifestos of conventional hate-groups like Nazis, the Aryan Nation, the KKK, etc., then Nietzsche's seemingly paradoxical assertion that Christian Love is sublimated hatred is if not proven, strongly persuasive.

Perpetrate Textual Mayhem on Christians? Take some representative text of a Christian Leader perform some minor edits, say substituting "puppies and kittens" for "homosexuals" with adjustments to grammar as necessary. If Little Christians like Monique Davis are strongly motivated by hatred and vent their hatred toward what they see as safe groups, like atheists, then simple manipulations of the text ought to make the implied hatred transparent enough that even many Christians would be able to see it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

PZ Meyers asked people who think Expelled is so much creationist propagandistic twaddle to link to this:


Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Brief Comment on the Texas Polygamists

There is a type of man -- not person or woman -- who would find appealing and persuasive a religion that commanded in the name of their God that a man should take not one but several 14 and 15 year old girls as wives. It strikes me as primitive in a strongly pejorative sense and as a piece of self-stupefication.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Most Unchristian Thought

What is the most unchristian thought that I can come up with? I was minorly obsessed witht his question for a little while. Then I came up with an answer.

"Error is the royal road to knowledge." Or, as I used to taunt realist acquaintances: "Get rid of truth to make room for knowledge."

What do these paradoxical formulations mean? One thing they mean among many others: once faith is lost in the duality of reality and appearance, or deception and truth. Alternatively the unreflected metaphor that all of reality can be divided into two parts: gold and dross, comes to be reflected upon, no matter how hesitantly at first.

The negative aspect, as it were, the nihilistic question leading to these apparent conundrums? The discovery that Truth and truth make a career without exception in the world of human beings. Human beings find themselves invested in formulas and formulations of "unchanging" realities. Just like financial investments, when emotional and spiritual investments come into danger, strong measures are taken to defend those investments. The neurotic poses of believers lead easily enough to speculation that the fervor of their defense is less indicative of the rightness and correctness of beliefs than as a defense against fear, doubt, and uncertainty.

These doubts of the health and value of faith are not addressed but only exacerbated by appeals to sincerity or to the sanctity of obedient surrender.

Christianity, for example, presumes that the world and the people in it are not as they should be. The world and history took a wrong turn somewhere. In these matters, Christians speak of a fall from grace, and a consequent need for redemption. BUT in order for there to be redemption of this fallen world in which we live, there has to be another alternative, "better" world that exists in the mind of God, if nowhere else. Anything that would impede and obscure this "Truth" of the world must be evil, sinful, etc. etc.

Once the naive moralizing faith that the world should be different is given up? What then? What of hope? What of a better tomorrow? What of the despair of the present? And I can only respond with, "what of courage?"

Once truth and its implied duality of reality/not-reality is given up, questions about the uses of truth are no longer moot.Once the admission of the usefulness of Truth is made, the suspicion arises as to whether it matters at all whether there is any content to any supposed Great Truths? or whether the real issue is and always has been who gets to use Truth to exclude, silence, and subdue whom. Unexamined faith in the importance of Truth even if its specific content is open to perennial dispute.

What is the only reasonable conclusion to draw from the fact of the perennial dispute at the core of the belief in Truth? Strife is intrinsic to the whole enterprise. And not that one party or another party to the strife is "right."

Knowledge becomes possible once the naivety of ever knowing the content of "Truth" is given up. Knowledge becomes description of the parties to the strife at the heart of Truth's career in the world. Knowedge is made up of perspectives that are intrinsically limited and partial, arbitrary even. It always needs others who see things differently.

* * *


A necessary corollary to the above reflections: mere possession of "Truth" conveys no benefits in this world or in any other. Truth or truths do not set us free. Truth and truths are indifferent to the humanity. That believing otherwise should have narcotic-like symptoms hardly proves surprising.

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