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January 15, 2007



"Rereading Dennett's views makes me wonder what he's talking about, because when he and pundits start telling me what religion is, I simply don't recognize it."

My first question would be, have you ever read his book, or only a few passages? My hunch is that you've probably only read a few lines, out of context, as usual, and simply do not understand why he's made the assertions he has, which, if you you were more familiar with his work, you might be able to "recognize it". What does he say that you don't recognize? And your analogies are not quite in the mark. He IS using science as a basis, or at least he thinks he is, which have led him to his conclusions. As opposed to most "religious" folks who often approach the answers to life in the exact opposite fashion, by starting with a belief and then reducing everything to that belief system. Now, one might make the argument that this is what evolutionists do as well, but I'm afraid their evidence and approach pretty much speaks for itself in terms of arguments and being able to defend such arguements.

"who have somehow come into existence via some process of historical spontaneous generation"

Exactly! This is evolution. And when people start realizing that this is how they came about they will give up notions which hamper human development. Belief in Santa is pretty much grown out of by the time folks are 4-8 years old. Should we allow them to maintain this belief their entire lives? Is this really a good way to live? Perhaps, but an argument needs to be made. Look how difficult it was for the church to give up the notion that the sun rotated around the earth. Well, did anything productive result from doing away with this belief? I'd probably have to say that it did. I'm STILL not sure with what you think would happen if folks didn't have their religions. Do you think if the priest had been a disbeliving atheist he wouldn't have acted in similar fashion? Is it really that necessary to have to credit concern about other humans well-being to a supernatural power? I see all sorts of other animals caring for each other and I'm sure they don't kill each other over religion. Perhaps we should take a lesson from them.

"But Dennett is confident that right thinking will drive the irrational belief in the unquantifiable our of existence."

Do you think it not possible to believe in man's goodness, or ability to love one another without belief in a supernatural creator? Especially given religion's history of killing in the name of God, Allah, or whoever? I'd bet thatthere have been more people killed who purported to believe than those who didn't, and this includes all of the supposed "Godless communists". Look at the wars taking place now. Who are fighting them? Christians vs Islam, etc...And while it may be tempting to assert that "Well, MY faith is based on LOVE, and theirs on violence" I'm afraid that this is pretty much the same assertion made by most all sides.

"Caught in a grasp of what, at the time, was thought to be a completely rational and science-based regime"

The Nazis? Are you trying to assert that they weren't really Christians, but rather rational folks persuing what science enevitably leads to? And for that matter, what about Jewish communists, or Jewish athiests? I'm curious how you'd perceive or interpret a similar story of selflessness had the fellow, rather than being a Catholic priest, been a communist/athiest held by, say, someone like the Contras had they taken control of Nicaragua?

"Those who say that Kolbe would have done the same without his religion simply don't know his story and show a blind faith in whatever they think refutes religion."

It's not a matter of whether or not HE would have done the same thing without his religion, it's a matter of whether or not anyone would have. Your statement makes no sense. He has a belief, and we don't know how he would have acted. Do you know?

"Dennett's screed that would suggest that he fails to give a complete characterization of religion"

You haven't demonstrated that you're aware of Dennet's entire thesis and why he would make the assertions he has. I'd say do this work first, and THEN you may be in a better place to criticize. However, this isn't really one of your strong points, as has been repeatedly demonstrated in the past regarding, well, you know who.kb

The Orientalist

What an interesting post. I enjoyed your comments on the two articles and think that juxtaposing them was a good way to show the illogical yet comforting beauty of faith.

“He might as well be describing my mother in terms of the periodic table of the elements, or Bizet's The Pearl Fishers by oscilloscope readings. Or worse yet, by judging the phenomenon of music in its entirety by surveying the efforts of high school thrash metal bands. ”

That’s a very good way of putting it.

kb, I think that the hypothetical caste of benevolent scientists
"who have somehow come into existence via some process of historical spontaneous generation"
refers to the tendency to forget that what much of what we now know as science began in a society that was informed by Christian beliefs, and that many Western scientific pioneers were men of faith ( eg Copernicus, Kepler, Galilei, Descartes, Newton and Mendel) who investigated the natural world in the hope of understanding their creator. In other words, that science itself is not without its debt to religion.

Of course, the Church did make things very difficult for scientists at times, But sadly it seems the loudest and most visible ambassadors for a faith are often the worst. People who put their beliefs into practice so as to make a difference in the humbler areas of life tend to be the ones we don’t hear about.

The Orientalist

Perhaps I should have said something about this being my first post? Apologies for any breaches of blog etiquette. Short-time lurker, first-time commenter.


Orientalist, I appreciate your comments and agree, especially with the entire last paragraph. I hardly think you'll need to apologize for anything regarding etiquette here. I have a feeling that most any other commenter here, besides myself, will likely be viewed as a relief.


kb, you're a pompous ass who hasn't bothered to think about the very little Tanuki posted here, much less make yourself aware of the larger issues involved, before reflexively throwing yourself at his throat

what have you read regarding the history of science and religion? what have you read in the philosophy of science? you demonstrate no knowledge at all, only invective and arrogance

if you are representative of atheists, then they are as irrational, self-righteous, spiteful, and full of lies as you claim the religious are

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