Finally, the people who claim evolution will lead to moral ruin have proof:
A man waving a brick barged into Monroe Middle School and ranted about the teachings of evolution before being arrested by police Tuesday morning.
Somehow, I don’t think that’s what they meant.
Monroe police reported the man walked into the school office and immediately headed down a hallway toward the principals’ offices. When stopped by employees, he began yelling at them asking if he looked like a monkey.
I dunno, crazed man screeching and hollering nonsense, waving object in hand…sounds sort of monkey-ish to me.
I remember in 2nd grade being told that human beings are animals. It seemed like a very radical idea. Most kids said they didn’t we were animals (I agreed) during the recess after that revelation. I believe some older kids stole our basketball after we finished airing our beliefs. Bastards. I don’t know why that popped into my head today.
If I don’t post in the next week or so, it’s because I’ll be spending 12 hours a day at work. Just so you know.
‘kin left-wingers. Go make another album and stop worrying about global warming already.
Since I rarely get a chance to read the Chronicle anymore, I missed the fact that there’s been a Ten Commandments issue (link will die soon, of course) around here:
Installation of the Ten Commandments in a public space, an issue the Bozeman City Commission and city staff have been grappling with for months, was back in the spotlight Monday night.
Two Bozeman residents spoke at the commission meeting against the city’s decision to reinstall a Ten Commandments monument in Soroptimist Park.
I could point out the problems, but they’re expressed pretty well in the article:
“That’s an explicit statement” about the city’s stance on religion, he said.
Mayor Jeff Krauss also had misgivings about the situation.
“On my door there is a sign that says, ‘All are welcome here,’” he said. “‘Thou shalt have no God but Jehovah,’ is a hard one for me to get over.”
Getting someone else to pay for putting it in the park, as was mentioned in the article, doesn’t solve the problem.
There’s no need for such a monument and it endorses Christianity and Judaism. It seems pretty clear that it shouldn’t be in a public park.
Indiana Jones has been denied tenure:
Dr. Jones’s interpersonal skills and relationships are no better. By Dr. Jones’s own admission, he has repeatedly employed an underage Asian boy as a driver and “personal assistant” during his Far East travels. I will refrain from making any insinuations as to the nature of this relationship, but my intuition insists that it is not a healthy one, nor one to be encouraged.
Perhaps not “Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn doing commentary on Lord of the Rings” funny, but funny nonetheless. Man, I need to start reading that site more often.
(via Dan Drezner)
Now you can watch Stan Jones’s powerfully prophetic closing statement from the Bozeman Senate debate whenever you want.
I think that’s kinda cool. Only 750 people are estimated to have the same last name as me. I mean…750 people have no last name.
Dave Budge has a link to an interesting Wired article about the three leading lights of current atheist advocacy (Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett) and their outspoken evangelism. It’s certainly worth reading.
The author winds up stopping short of endorsing the sort of evangelism of that trio. I tend to stop short as well, but for a different reason, which I’ll get to in a second, but I think he does it for a bad reason (partially).
Where does this leave us, we who have been called upon to join this uncomprising war against faith? What shall we do, we potential enlistees? Myself, I’ve decided to refuse the call. The irony of the New Atheism — this prophetic attack on prophecy, this extremism in opposition to extremism — is too much for me.
The New Atheists have castigated fundamentalism and branded even the mildest religious liberals as enablers of a vengeful mob. Everybody who does not join them is an ally of the Taliban. But, so far, their provocation has failed to take hold. Given all the religious trauma in the world, I take this as good news. Even those of us who sympathize intellectually have good reasons to wish that the New Atheists continue to seem absurd. If we reject their polemics, if we continue to have respectful conversations even about things we find ridiculous, this doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve lost our convictions or our sanity. It simply reflects our deepest, democratic values. Or, you might say, our bedrock faith: the faith that no matter how confident we are in our beliefs, there’s always a chance we could turn out to be wrong.
The first paragraph is kind of silly – it’s the kind of thing fundamentalists like to do: paint the unbelievers as just as fanactical and self-assured as they are. Here, it’s just a word game: he decides to call warnings of negative consequences “prophecy.” Extremism is, of course, a slippery charge. I prefer we make arguments and decide from that.
The second paragraph is better, but it still seems wrong. Tolerance is a noble feeling, but it’s never been absolute. We don’t tolerate anti-semites, racists, communists, etc. Jews really could control the world, but it’s a vanishingly small possibility, as Dawkins would say. Just to be clear, by tolerance I mean respect in polite society. Everyone, whatever their views, must be allowed to express themselves. The idea of intolerance of religion that Harris and the others propose is simply conversational intolerance: we don’t take people seriously who say certain things about race, for example. As Harris has pointed out ad nauseum, if someone is arguing against abortion and says he is doing so because it offends Zeus, we stop taking that person seriously. That’s really the intolerance they’re arguing for. The question is whether religion of any kind is on the same level of absurdity as anti-semitism and racism. Wolf doesn’t really say, which I think leaves his conclusion unconvincing.
Then again, I come to the say conclusion, really. The first point of disagreement between me and Harris, Dawkins, and Dennett is that I don’t see religion as as big of a problem as they do. I think it has a negative influence overall, but I don’t think it’s going to result in our destruction. Fundamentalism might, but we don’t need to completely reject religion to combat that. I don’t buy their claims about moderates enabling fundamentalism. The most effective critics of fundamentalism are often liberal believers. I’m not to that point in Dawkins’s book, so maybe I’ll be convinced later. I similarly disagree with Dawkins’s belief that the larger conflict is supernaturalism vs. naturalism. Or rather, I don’t believe that’s all that important. To me, the most important thing is for people to be able to live their lives in whatever manner they wish, as long as they don’t hurt others. Fundamentalism and other negative consequences of certain religious beliefs (e.g. anti-birth control) hinder that goal. Liberal religion, not so much. People like Dawkins and Harris are blinded by their intense dislike of religion and adopt untenable positions (Harris on the roots of suicide terrorism, Dawkins on the secularism of the founding fathers).
I still believe religious belief is dangerous. Believing things without evidence or reason and accepting that you are doing so is a dangerous mindset. Regarding religion, however, it’s not that dangerous. People are good at compartmentalization. Some atheist activism is good, but we don’t need the hysteria advocated by the so-called “new atheism.” There are simply more important things to do.
There are really three key things that piss me off about religion. The first is when people revel in the irrationality of faith. I have no problem tolerating disagreement with my conclusions about religion. I get irritated, however, when people forsake their everyday thought processes in one area for no apparent reason and then brag about it. It’s like when people brag about being ignorant in some area of knowledge. Except, instead of being anti-intellectual they’re being anti one of the most amazing parts of being human. It’s bewildering.
The second is when people claim life is meaningless without God. I can’t say I’ve ever truly been a member of any religion. I tried to be Christian when I was a kid to fit in, but as I’ve said before, it felt like I was praying to the ceiling. I don’t presume to tell the religious how satisfying their life is or should be with religion. I simply don’t know, though I suspect a lot of it is confusing the effects of intimate social interaction with the effects of religious belief. I do wish some would extend the same courtesy to the non-religious. For myself, I can’t imagine life with religion being any more meaningful than mine is now. The sense of wonder and amazement I get from the natural world is purely a function of my understanding of how it came to be. The mountains in Glacier National Park are amazing because such breathtaking features were carved over spans of time I can’t fathom by sheets of ice of a size I can’t fathom and collisions with other pieces of the earth on a scale I can’t fathom. The idea that a supernatural being put them there like that or instigated such a process cheapens the experience for me. It’s just special effects at that point. The same goes for things like music. Colby said one of the reasons he believes God exists is music. I don’t get it. To have all these things put here for us to enjoy seems less than satisfying. There wasn’t any effort involved. I get far more satisfaction from music that I have to put in some work to like. That I can listen to multiple times and get different things out of it. It’s far more rewarding. Maybe that’s a strange analogy, but there wasn’t any work involved if God was involved. It took billions of years to get us to this amazing point, and it wasn’t even the point. Like I said before, it’s just special effects. Life is meaningful to me because of a myriad of different things: human interaction (I’m hardly very social, but this still can be enjoyable to me), using my mind to solve problems and learn about the world, and on and on. It seems that’s what most people enjoy in life. God is at best superfluous and at worst a detriment to my enjoyment. Who needs one?
The third is that you can’t be moral without direction from on high. This is an even dimmer view of human beings than I take when I get pissed off about stupid people in the world. That I need a reward to act morally and that reward and punishment based motivation is really morality is absurd. You may as well call a dog moral because you’ve trained it not to do certain things by punishment and praise. Selflessness is supposedly praiseworthy, but heaven and hell give us selfish motivations. The higher form of morality is doing the right thing simply because it’s the right thing to do. Those who say we need God to be moral betray their own immorality in doing so. If you’re only helping out others because you have a gun to your head, you’re not moral, you’re looking out for number one. I think the other justification for morality with a god seems to be to glorify him, whatever that means. Trying to curry favor with a powerful being is hardly moral either. If you’re not trying to do that, why do you need a god? Why not be good because that’s the right thing to do?