Moonwood the Hare wrote:Well the libertarian stuff at the beginning included a lot of stuff I could agree with. What I don't accept is her claim that these things happen because 'religion' as defined by her is epistemologically inferior to naturalism of various kinds. A few months ago someone put a link to another piece by Greta Christina in which she said about a certain view 'It cannot be shown to be false therefore it cannot be shown to be true, therefore it's worthless.'
That seemed to me like the kind of muddled thinking you might hear from a bright sixth former so I asked a bright sixth former to confirm for me that this was nonsense which they did and explained why. So I had assumed that to be making that kind of mistake she must be a lot younger than she is. Once you get behind the rhetoric of which there is an awful lot her argument seems to be the same one we have heard over and over again from Keep the Reason and Dr. Mundo that religion has no reality checks and so cannot be verified.
As neither of them has so far responded to the simple questions I keep asking about why we should accept this kind of epistemology I don't suppose KTR will answer for that now. Just to check though.
Well, that's a different discussion, isn't it? Let's focus on this one first, and then raise that, shall we?
Can you see why Greta Christina's view as given above is nonsense and if so can you wee why the epistemological basis of her critique of religion does not hold? And that seems to me to be the case; I understand what she is saying and I think it could be developed into a challenging argument but I think it flounders because religious believers are not the only people who must hold beliefs that are not solely based on objective evidence or as she would call it proof.
I disagree that it's nonsense. Ideologies create beliefs, which in turn informs actions. The philosophical underpinnings of those ideologies is certainly a valid discussion to be had, but they are not particularly relevant. What matters is that if "x" people believe "y" and that propels them to behave in "z" manner, then from a purely pragmatic stance, we have to deal with the reality of what both "y" and "z" creates.
The fact is, her litany of reasons to be angry are completely justified when one is victimized by the ideology espoused by people, regardless
of its rational (or irrational) foundations. And her complaints are valid-- which of these would you insist are not
valid reasons to be angry over? (I'm now linking to the text of her speech for those interested in reading it
rather than watching it).
I would submit that you are, in a somewhat more subtle way, doing precisely the thing I take issue with. Because her epistemological grounding is found lacking by you, now it's all "nonsense", and therefore you find it justifiable to dismiss her every points. At best you relegate it to "the same sort of thing we have heard from KTR and Dr. Mundo."
So let's try this in a different direction as a bit of an experiment, shall we?
I'm curious-- are you
at all angry about, let's say, the abuse of young children and the subsequent coverups by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church? For the purposes of this discussion, let's assume your answer to that will be "yes".Well, frankly, I find your anger to be nonsense. For one, I've heard this anger so many times and from so many people just like you, that I can't muster much interest in it any more. Furthermore, I find your epistemological foundation to be lacking in any solid grounding, hence your entire perspective is nonsense, and therefore I can't even justify your view on this rampant child abuse issue as anything that has any substance. And to top it off, I'm sick of you angry theists railing against this and that and using your angry attitudes to make inroads into society. In fact, why don't you just shut up? Why do I have to keep putting up with your anger? So angry--- you haters. It is just hate you know. It's all about hating, and rebellion. Rebellion grounded in inherent evil.
Well, perhaps you're just too young to know any better. Maybe you should shut up, grow up, and pray more.
So -- how does that grab you? Do you feel like your opinions have any merit now? Have I effectively taken your real, valid, and deeply held anger and marginalized it appropriately enough for you? How would you like to build a better society surrounded by people who would treat you like that -- and when you got angrier still at the way they treated you and your real complaint, it was simply an endless negative feedback loop focused on how inappropriate your anger is always going to be?
But Keep the Reason Can I know challenge you to listen to something by one of the great Christian political thinkers of the present day on a related issue http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/203464-5
That's Os Guinness.
I listened to it. Os Guinness is a very well educated, erudite, well spoken and reasonable man. It was a very fascinating and enlightening conversation, and I like a lot of what he had to say -- and I thank you for posting it.
But Os Guinness, of course, is not the problem.
To briefly recap, he's spot on about prayer in school. You either marginalize those who don't buy your religion (or any religion) or you secularize your own. So I agree with him-- and I need to loop out of this to return to it briefly:
I frankly have no interest in nativity scenes even on government property, providing the onus for taking care of them is on those who erect them-- and providing equal access to all is made clear and protected (that means if I want to put up my "Atheism Rules" display next to your "Christ in the Manger" display-- well, oh well). My one objection to that would be not on public grade school grounds. Schools simply are not the place to proselytize one's religion. It should be completely neutral and blind to any and all religious perspectives. The fact is, while children have some rights, they are not granted all
rights, and the school issue is too chaotic a battleground to allow this-- schools need to be neutral. and unfortunately for religious people, neutrality is somewhat indistinguishable from atheism.
I also am not unable to see the connection between religion and politics. After all, I just said at the beginning of this, one's ideology informs their beliefs, which informs their actions. So if someone is religious, this ideology is going to compel their voting / politics. I have no problem with that either, providing again that it's understood that not everyone operates under the same moral compass. And yes, there are highly sticky scenarios regarding this, such as that of abortion.
But I wonder if the deeper challenge came through to you
when you listened to this. Os Guinness was perfectly reasonable in his overview, but it was the callers
into this interview that were the ones who are the problem.
How many atheists called in to that show? For those who did not watch, the number was 0. For full disclosure, this interview happened in 2008, around the time Obama was being beaten up for the comments of that lunatic reverend Wright he was associated with. Sop there were a number of callers, conservatives mainly, who wanted to flag the flames of right-wing partisanship. Par for the course.
But underlying almost every call? "We need prayer back in school!" "This country was founded on the principles of the bible!" "We need to go back to when I was a kid and we prayed!" And so on. Overwhelmingly, the response was the same tired litany of insisting that what we need in this religiously divided nation is even more religion.
Now maybe the atheists out there are too busy doing other things to call into the show, or too few in number, or whatever. That isn't the issue. the issue is, what we have to contend with is the exact same attitude you heard in those calls, every day, from almost every quarter, at every level. Civility? Ok. Let's be civil. Start by acknowledging our anger is valid, because it's grounded not in our immaturity or whatever else you want to marginalize it to be, but because the behavior of the religious is abyssal
. Take ownership of what the consequence(s) of religion can be, and for chrissake, when we say we're angry about things that are valid issue to be angry with-- AGREE WITH US EVERY NOW AND THEN! Not because it means "you lose the argument", but because religion's standing in the way of human freedom and progress and safety and sexual security are wrong
, and should be despised
-- and should be brought to justice for justice's sake, not for the sake of an argument on philosophy.
But will it happen? I don't think so, not in any meaningful way. Here's why. In this thread: Why Are You A Christian
thread, mitchell says the following to Emery:
mitchellmckain wrote:Christianity is the people. Put the shoe on the other foot and think about when Christians use the same sort of rhetoric to say that they don't hate the people just the atheism that will destroy those people. To respect people you have to respect their choices when you cannot objectively establish that their choice is wrong.
The word "religion" can and often does refer to something that Christians themselves villify but that does not equate Christianity to religion. So the proper discernment here is not Christianity versus people, but rather particular beliefs that people may have and teach versus the people and Christianity itself. You can attack the beliefs because the people themselves are doing this all the time -- it is one of the main activities of Christianity. But you cannot attack Christianity without attacking the people themselves.
MM assigns this dynamic to Christianity, but he fails to assign it to every religious believer and therefore, their religions, out there. All religious believers do the above: They equate their religion not to a religion (read: an ideology) but rather to something that needs to be given a greater standing than mere ideology. Christianity in all its myriad forms is
in fact, mere
ideology, and from where I sit, badly flawed ideology at that. But as long as people insist that their ideology is something specialized, and above reproach, and indeed, not even ideology but something "else" -- there is scant hope for this moving towards any greater civility.
The other issue I have with this civility issue is the plea for theists to try for once to recognize the time frames we're dealing with here. Even Guinness points out this debate has become strident within only the last generation. Theists have held the entire stage (with a few lone voices in the wilderness, and some of those voices crazy, like Nietschze) for centuries, the primary debate (which rages to this day) generally about niggling differences between interpretations and/or deities. Atheists have only recently stepped up to the table of discourse, and this has certainly increased since 9/11. Even the most "strident" (so-called) atheist out there, Dawkins, has made it clear that it was 9/11 and its aftermath that motivated him to say, "Okay, enough is enough. This has got to change, and I am PISSED OFF."
And this is a completely valid response to have. Other than some Muslims cheering this act of terrorism, who is not
angry about 9/11 and the carnage it caused? And when we hear how "9/11 had nothing to do with religion" -- against every shred of common sense imaginable -- it merely exacerbates the problem.
If civility is wanted, then I suggest the very first thing to do is acknowledge the anger, and allow the anger to have its voice, and do not dismiss or marginalize those who have a valid reason to be angry at the impact of religion on human endeavors. This again is nothing less than basic common sense, and it's taught in almost every course on effective communication.
Dismissing, stifling, or ignoring legitimate anger is a recipe to do but one thing: Increase the anger.