Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Richard Dawkins always finds the funniest articles...

Somebody is getting awful grumpy across the pond. Those evil secularists are making the religious feel all sad, by people implying that religious belief is intellectually dishonest. That's just mean, and obviously there is only way to confront this heinous presumption: blowing out tons of hot air. Who needs to actually refute anything when wordy indignation serves just as well? An example right of the gate:

Belief in the Almighty is now widely held to be a priori evidence of primitive stupidity.
A profound single tear drips down my cheek as I stare on in mournful yet robust silence. I'm sorry that people associate your baseless assumptions with stupidity. We will be more considerate of your sensitivities to that fact in the future.

In fact, we are living in a deeply irrational age, where millions are putting their faith in such mumbo-jumbo as astrology, parapsychology, paganism, witchcraft or conspiracies between sinister groups and extra-terrestrial forces.

**cough**Many of the people who believe in the reality of those things are also Christians**cough**
All of which goes to prove the truth of the old adage that when people stop
believing in God, they will believe in anything.

I think the adage needs a slight adjustment: "When people believe in God, they will believe in anything, but deny for it the sake of orthodoxy. When they stop believing in God, they now have an excuse to admit that they believe in those things". Sure, not as catchy, but it fits the reality better.
Nevertheless, the belief has taken hold that religious faith is inimical to
reason, as defined and exemplified by the scientific mind.

Religious faith isn't inimal to reason...it just doesn't quite follow from it. And the reference to "the scientific mind" as a qualifier is telling, because it clearly suggests that she thinks that it is insufficient. Thus, religious faith isn't inimical to reason because you need to put on your "religious mind" goggles in order to see the special forms of logic that support it. Or, basically, religion isn't irrational, it just uses its own special, unverifiable and incredibly subjective form of reason which she be held to be on par with objective reasoning. Riiiight...
near God-like status afforded to Professor Richard Dawkins - the Savonarola of atheism - on the basis of his aggressive contention that evolution accounts for the origin of life, and that anyone who believes the world had a creator and a purpose should be exiled altogether from intelligent discourse

Assert that atheists worship leading atheists: check.
Refer to evolutionary theory as some sort of blind dogma: check.
Cries of persecution: in spades.
Dawkins has been meeting his match in a remarkable Oxford mathematics professor called John Lennox, who argues for the existence of a creator on the basis of science -and demonstrates that, on his own scientific terms, Dawkins's arguments fail the test of reason.

Notice how we went from whining about people thinking religious belief is irrational, to just invoking criticisms of Dawkins's arguments. Hell of a sleight of hand. Present us with "secularism", palm it, and then juggle around "Richard Dawkins" for the rest of your circus act.
The fact that secularism has taken on the characteristics of religious fanaticism, in espousing dogma inimical to human flourishing and punishing dissenters in order to slam the lid on debate...

Oh good, we're back. Too bad I have no idea what she is talking about. What dogma does "secularism" have, why is it harmful to "human flourishing", and how do we quash debate? Is she talking about evolution, because that sounds like a standard creationist attempt to bitch about not being given the right to preach in a science classroom....
London argues that the rise of secularism has so hollowed out Western society
that it has left it acutely vulnerable to the predations of radical Islam.

In what respect, Charlie (err...Melanie...)? Has secularism made us vulnerable by making it so that we can't be sufficiently militant enough to wipe them off the face of the earth? Or has it made it so that they are too accepted in our society, despite not being given a position either? Or is it just because we haven't let Christians form the theocracy they so desire, with which they would have quashed the Muslim menace easily in their righteous attempts to claim the Middle East for Jesus? What has secularism done to us to make us weak against an enemy that exists due to our militarism anyway?
The decay of religion, he says, has given rise to moral relativism, which regards all beliefs and principles as being of equal value and truth as a relative concept.

Oh noez! Not moral relativism! We can't possibly admit that other people may be right, or simply have a different perspective that is equally valid, sans evidence to the contrary! We can't possibly admit that the moral absolutes we have been given are insufficient, and that circumstances can justify different moral behaviors that we may not be able to comprehend from a luxurious and emotionally distant philosophical position! Because that way lies tolerance of our fellow human beings. And we can't have that...it's not what Jesus would do...
This has given rise to multiculturalism, which masquerades as the promotion of
equal rights but is actually a disguised form of cultural and national self-loathing.

Wow. Attacking multiculturalism. How original. How non-xenophobic of you. Why exactly does it count as "cultural and national self-loathing" to say that "we could be wrong about this"? And where do you get off complaining about something leading to "self-loathing" when it is basically the core tenet of your religion?

This in turn lies behind the idea that nations are illegitimate or passé, and that the world's problems can all be solved by everyone on the planet coming together to harness the power of reason to arrive at a solution.

Well...they kind of are, aren't they? Countries are just arbitrary chunks of land that we have decided to assign to whatever groups we so agree upon. We make the land, its occupants, and the system that those occupants make to control themselves, the land, and the way that they function together, synonymous with another, but they need not be so. And heaven forbid that people actually cross international lines in order to solve our collective problems together. Once again, Jesus would be pissed.

But, in robbing people of their national identity and capacity to believe in anything except the fiction that reason trumps all, this is an essentially irrational negation of self-interest.

"National identity"? The fact that you even think that is a good thing is rather telling, no? And, how the hell is it a "negation of self-interest"?

No less irrational is the overreach of science which, as London writes, has been
hijacked by secular fundamentalists who want to supplant religion by asserting
that only in science can truths be found.

Fine. You can't find truth in science either. It is just all elaborate, formula-based, highly-evidence, reproducable and logically verifiable guesswork. Obviously, it is a far worse method of finding out the nature of reality than elaborate, illogical, unverifiable, and unevidenced guesswork is. It is the only possible way to find out things about our world, clearly.

Science generates more questions than it can answer. The more science unravels the mysteries of the world for us, the more mysterious it becomes. And, as the many scientists who are also religious believers demonstrate, there is no inherent conflict between religion and science.

Yes. But, you see, those mysteries that appear in the place of every discovery are of increasingly small significance in comparison to the discovery that revealed them (at least from a human perspective). And all that religious scientists prove is that compartmentalization is alive and well, as it has been for time untold.

The dogma that science provides the answer to every question and so supplants
religion has led to a junking of the moral codes deriving from Judaism and Christianity that underpin western society.

You know...it's not like those "moral codes" were very good to begin with. Hell, most of our best laws that the Western world of recent decades have been lauded for occurred either without basis in such codes, or even in opposition to them. So, once again, a single tear...

This loss of cultural nerve has created an unwitting collusion between secular zealots and the Islamists who have declared war upon western civilisation, and who believe - correctly - that a secular west will be unable to resist them.

So wait...your moral code did involve racism, belligerence, and overeager opposition to different religions after all. I thought that was just implied...

Science, rationality and the pursuit of truth are intimately related to the
religious traditions of the west. If those traditions are not defended from
within against the threat from without, this will be how the west was

Science, rationality, and pursuit of truth are intimately related to the Ancient Greeks, and was ignored in favor of the presumptions of theology until rather recently. Even when they were revived over time by the ever benevolent and wise Catholic church, it still didn't want science to stray too far from those presumptions (since they wanted to claim a monopoly on truth, not pursue truth) and didn't want unbridled rationality let loose within a four-mile radius of a cathedral. Trying to take credit for past scientific accomplishments really doesn't change the veracity of your religious faith, however.

Oh, and you end with fearmongering. Really, you guys can't think to go out on any other note, can you? Speaking of which, praise me or burn for eternity! The Seeker has spoken!


Saint Brian the Godless said...

All this is well and good, but how does it relate to Joe the Plumber in any way?

I feel gypped.

Asylum Seeker said...

Joe the Plumber is a metaphor for Jesus the Carpenter. McCain was secretly implying that Obama wants to screw over Jesus...because he's a secret Muslim. But, Joe the Plumber himself has blasphemed due to opposing redistribution of wealth, which the real Jesus wouldn't. As such, he was crucified by the media. We will see if his career rises from the dead...

[It's an intricate tapestry].