Friday Roundup

  • Trading doubt for certainty can work both ways…
  • “What today’s freethinkers want is freedom from doubt, and the prevailing version of atheism is well suited to give it to them.”
  • Is there something about biochemistry that actually contributes to sexist attitudes (men are superior by nature—it is a scientific fact?), or, is Tim Hunt just a jerk?
  • Wait, you mean others also think the idea that certain philosophical (or theological) presuppositions can lead to specific cultural artifacts to be a reasonable one, a logical link?
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2 Responses to Friday Roundup

  1. Burk says:

    Darrell-

    “There is an irresolvable contradiction between viewing religion naturalistically – as a human adaptation to living in the world – and condemning it as a tissue of error and illusion.”

    Not at all. Something necessary may still be an illusion. Or it may not be necessary. And some illusions may be better than others, for various reasons, making some condemnable even if some sort of illusion is inescapable.

    “But the fault is not with religion, any more than science is to blame for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or medicine and psychology for the refinement of techniques of torture.”

    A convenient and false analogy. This assumes that religion is a truth with some unpleasant consequences. But it may be false in toto, so that we are free to choose much more benign illusions based on quite different principles, if we even go so far as to stipulate that some sort of illusion is necessary at all.

    “Like religion at its worst, contemporary atheism feeds the fantasy that human life can be remade by a conversion experience – in this case, conversion to unbelief.”

    This is a very odd view to take, for anyone on either side of this. If we are so damnably bad and can not change for the better, why have culture at all? Why argue about anything? The statement is nonsense. There is not much panic in the atheists, when we hear that the population is trending our way, at a pretty high rate.

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  2. Darrell says:

    Hi Burk,

    “Not at all. Something necessary may still be an illusion. Or it may not be necessary. And some illusions may be better than others, for various reasons, making some condemnable even if some sort of illusion is inescapable.”

    If something is an illusion, and agreed to be an illusion, how can it be necessary or better than another?

    People do not choose world-views, philosophies, narratives, and inhabit them because they think them to be necessary or better illusions than another. They choose them because they think them true. A naturalist is one because he believes such to be true, not because he thinks it a necessary illusion. You are an atheist because you think it true.

    I think his greater point is that if belief is a natural adaptation, built in, a “natural” aspect to being human, why spend time berating those who are just doing what's natural?

    “A convenient and false analogy. This assumes that religion is a truth with some unpleasant consequences.”

    Not at all, in fact Gray is an atheist–he is not making that assumption.

    “This is a very odd view to take, for anyone on either side of this. If we are so damnably bad and can not change for the better, why have culture at all?”

    Where does he say that? He’s not arguing against change or that we are damnably bad. Read “into” much? You’ve also just told us, I think, that “bad” and “better” are illusions, so…if you want to go ahead and argue for your “illusion”, you go ahead.

    I think his point is that the new-atheists mirror their cousins on the religious fundamentalist side and think “conversion”, just getting people to think like “us”, will do the trick. Life is a little more complicated than that. Maybe reasoned discussion, over time, might be safer than “conversion”.

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