Sunday, September 24, 2006

Read All About It

A few links of note: Pope says West puts too much faith in science. My favourite quote, from the Old-Man-In-A-Dress himself:
At the morning Mass, Benedict said Western societies had become "hard of hearing" about God, saying: "There are too many other frequencies in our ears. What is said about God strikes us as pre- scientific, no longer suited for our age."
Now I see why he was voted 'Most Perceptive Man in Europe' 3 years running! A load of tent-dwelling, drug-smoking shepherds with a penchant for massacring outsiders throw together some outlandish, self-contradictory fables and hand them down through dozens of generations to be rewritten and 'improved' upon. And the final product is a mish-mash of rock-worshiping, child-killing, women-abusing, reptile-talking crap. And people think this is no longer suited to our more enlightened age! Who'd have thought it? But there's more! The Holy Transvestite continues:
He contrasted this to a faith he still found in developing countries, where 70 percent of the world's Catholics now live. "People in Africa and Asia admire our scientific and technical prowess, but at the same time they are frightened by a form of rationality which totally excludes God from man's vision, as if this were the highest form of reason," he said.
No. Of course we all know that the highest form of reason is faith (defined in my dictionary as ' belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence'. That's right, your Senileness, the highest form of reason is reason's direct opposite! Such wisdom.. But you are right of course to stick to the uneducated, desperate masses in less wealthy nations - they're much easier to indoctrinate. So by all means go on telling them that condoms spread AIDS and that it's their duty to keep churning out children, even if that means such children living short, horrible lives before dying of famine or disease. Tell 'em that it doesn't matter that they live squalid, poverty-filled lives, just so long as they believe the God's Honest Truth (1380'th version, sub-revision III). Your morality is so inspiring. Next up, a couple of articles to get you thinking: Is Islam itself the enemy? Sam Harris aims to convince you. And if you think torture is justified, even on it's own terms, maybe you should think again. Finally, Richard Dawkins has a new book out on the evil that belief in God causes, called The God Delusion. Here is an excerpt for your enjoyment. I'll reproduce the best bit here for you though- a letter to Albert Einstein, written after Einstein had rejected the idea of a personal God:
We respect your learning, Dr Einstein; but there is one thing you do not seem to have learned: that God is a spirit and cannot be found through the telescope or microscope, no more than human thought or emotion can be found by analyzing the brain. As everyone knows, religion is based on Faith, not knowledge. Every thinking person, perhaps, is assailed at times with religious doubt. My own faith has wavered many a time. But I never told anyone of my spiritual aberrations for two reasons: (1) I feared that I might, by mere suggestion, disturb and damage the life and hopes of some fellow being; (2) because I agree with the writer who said, "There is a mean streak in anyone who will destroy another's faith." ... I hope, Dr Einstein, that you were misquoted and that you will yet say something more pleasing to the vast number of the American people who delight to do you honor.
Right, because you wouldn't want to even suggest the possibility that God may not exist to anyone, because if you do you run the risk of 'damaging the life and hopes of some fellow being'! Mean old Mr. Einstein - these people were hoping to continue to exist in a vaguely defined non-physical form after their death, perhaps as some kind of floaty hovering thing, but now you've gone and ruined it! Flimsy things, these religious beliefs.. I think Dawkins probably gets more criticism from his own side for his opinions on religion than he does from the religious fundamentalists themselves, most of which boils down to arguments like: 'For goodness sake be a bit nicer. Criticising religion just isn't done, you know. Besides, if we keep quiet maybe they will go away and not blow us all up..' Needless to say, men of the calibre of Dawkins and myself aren't buying into such namby-pamby, wishy-washy, mainstream-liberal dirge as that! Not bloody likely, as a Cockney might say. No, we have realised that religion needs to be tackled head on in a robust and self-confident manner, particularly in those places where it's roots are deepest. Take the United States, for instance. Look around you - do you see a nation receptive to the 'gentle, diffident & apologetic' school of debate? Clearly not; it should be obvious after all that has happened over the last few years that allowing yourself to be walked all over is no way to win the 'hearts and minds' of the American public - if you don't believe me just go and ask Gore and Kerry. Having said that, it shouldn't need to be pointed out that Dawkins hardly qualifies as the kind of empty-headed, shouty demagogue that all too frequently infest our media (neither am I advocating that he should be; there is a big difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness.). He's just an intellectual who also stands his ground; he rarely makes unwarranted compromises on important matters such as those he addresses in his book. He isn't nasty or mean-spirited; he just doesn't give religion the respect that it falsely believes it deserves by default. I applaud him for this and only wish that there were more on our side with such backbone. If more of us acted like Dawkins, whilst we may or may not be more successful at deconverting the masses, we would in either case at least be able to retain a modicum of self-respect. Incidentally, and in case anyone thinks the title of Dawkin's book is a little harsh, this is taken from the Wikipedia entry for 'delusion':
A delusion is commonly defined as a fixed false belief and is used in everyday language to describe a belief that is either false, fanciful or derived from deception. In psychiatry, the definition is necessarily more precise and implies that the belief is pathological (the result of an illness or illness process). …… Psychiatric definition Although non-specific concepts of madness have been around for several thousand years, the psychiatrist and philosopher Karl Jaspers was the first to define the three main criteria for a belief to be considered delusional in his book General Psychopathology. These criteria are: * certainty (held with absolute conviction) * incorrigibility (not changeable by compelling counterargument or proof to the contrary) * impossibility or falsity of content (implausible, bizarre or patently untrue)
I couldn't think of a more accurate way of describing belief in God.