Sunday, March 27, 2005

Carnival of the godless #9

Easter is a special time for the godless. We are reminded of the ridiculous idea that a god who loves all of mankind (for reasons unclear) and is entirely omnipotent requires his own son to die for the aforesaid mankind’s sins. Erm. Couldn’t we just do community service?

If we cannot laugh at them now, when can we?

Dread pirate roberts at Dialogue concerning the two chief world systems is not laughing. Well, he may or may not maniacally cackle when he’s torturing his prisoners, I don’t know, but in his post he gives a spirited explanation of why his understanding of epistemology does not permit religious belief. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of the thinking behind his assertions but I understand that there’s plundering to do.

Coturnix at Science and politics, a blogger I like a great deal even though he doesn’t link me back (not that I’m upset or anything – this is not a pout, really, just my overbite), explains how he indoctrinated his kids. Bora, you’re an amateur. Zenella is four and when she’s not chanting "Eddie Gray’s mighty white army" (she never accepted his sacking), she’s giving it a few bars of "Johnny Howard, Johnny Howard, you’re not fit to wipe my arse". BTW, ladies, I don’t really have an overbite. Just naturally kissable lips.

Madman asks how the religious can square piety with corruption. Dude, they believe in a numinous being who created the entire universe but cares whether you are naughty. They can probably rationalise anything. Madman is an atheist. A rare thing in India, where religion permeates every fibre of society. Maybe Bangalore is a bit different – it’s certainly much richer than most Indian cities and you do see a lot of executive types if you’re at the right end of town. Madman is a very good example for those who do not know that India is moving on and think the Kiplingesque word-garbling native is the end of the story (which was hardly the whole picture even in Kipling’s day). Madman’s an excellent user of words who really puts the idea across neatly. Check the rest of his blog out.

Bob at God is for Suckers hopes to prove that God is logically impossible. I can’t help feeling that someone should point out to Bob that God is bigger than logic, having invented it, and is not bound by it. Still, he’s created some lively discussion in the comments.

Peter Fredson at Stupid Evil Bastard gives us two posts. The first pokes cruel fun at those who think there is an elect – he imagines
their disappointment when they realise heaven’s full
. Essential humour for anyone who’s heard a Jehovah’s whatsit type and thought, yes, but how do you know you’re in? His other reimagines George Bush as King Ferdinand. Shiver me B52s!

Dan Williams submitted a post that he made to Thom Hartmann’s discussion community (and if you don’t know Thom Hartmann, you are missing out – he’s one of our prophets: unheralded by talking the word of, erm, well not God obviously). Sadly, Dan, your link was fucked. If you send me it again, I’ll update this post and put it right.

Jarndyce&Jarndyce at the Pseudo magazine have a novel slant on the creationism in schools story. He’s found it sneaking into British faith-based schools. I think the schools in question are actually quite clear that they’re teaching creationism in RE and not in science but even so, the subject of faith-based schooling is well worth exploring and for very much the reasons that it has become so explosive in the US. The bottom line is that "faith", whatever that is, has very little to do with most of the curriculum. It tends to distort knowledge, forcing it through a prism of godfulness that insists that knowledge must coincide with a prior truth (something that makes knowledge very uncomfortable) or be rejected. What makes the subject difficult in the UK is two things. First, that while most Brits are just not particularly fussed about faith, however defined, the PM is. He thinks there are votes in it. He is surely mistaken. Most people are uncomfortable with his religiosity – we’re not Americans who would blanch at electing someone who was not a professed Christian. We have very few nutter evangelicals and they are taken very much not seriously. Second is that we have a Muslim minority that we want to show respect to (and rightly so – if you’re expecting an anti-immigrant rant you came to the wrong blog) and part of that respect is not to deny a culture that – at least it seems to us – is intrinsically religious. Personally, I’m a great admirer of the French notion of laicite. They learned their lesson from centuries of religious strife. I suppose the British did too (I don’t include the frankly incomprehensible Northern Irish). We learned tolerance, which in British English means pretending you don’t hate other people)

Michelle at Mutant cat is topical. She lashes into the use of the cross as a symbol.. Michelle’s my kind of girl – highly narcissistic and very highly histrionic and loves Satan. And her mum.

Richard at Philosophy, et cetera discusses the use of modal logic to make God out of what might be necessary. It’s not for the layman but if I understand him correctly, he’s attacking those who turn "if God exists, his existence is necessary" (which is very arguable) into "God exists because if he exists, his existence is necessary" (which is not). Richard, if I have him right, is upset that the "if", which is not even a maybe, transmutes into a definitely. Well, it’s an old story. The godbotherers don’t generally deal in "if". We could happily discuss what it would mean for God to be necessary so long as they didn’t take that to be a tacit acceptance that he exists.

Gretchen at the Green Lantern sees Alanis Morrissette as black and hot pink. Her boyfriend looks disturbingly like the COBE view of the universe. I would have liked to know more about how her synaesthesia feels (an interest prompted by Baudelaire, whose description of it is in my view unsurpassed).

Jake at Shnakeblog has discovered that atheists are religious too. You what? Surely not. Well, Jake has noticed that his faith in no God is the mirror image of Christians’ faith in God. Take the next step, Jake. Scepticism is a far better tool for understanding the world than faith and not knowing is superior to knowing if you want to increase your stock of knowledge. It bothers me that so many of the godless "hate God". If he doesn’t exist, kids, there’s nothing to hate.

Brent at Unscrewing the inscrutable is just occasionally a victim of conviction. He’s an excellent and convincing writer who knows God doesn’t exist but, as a commenter points out, he is sometimes guilty of the sins he excoriates. Still, who among us isn’t? Let he who is without sin etc. It’s a thought-provoking post but knowing is, for me, ultimately less satisfying than doubting. And he’s given me a whole new picture of the Easter Bunny that is particularly disturbing.

Ruthie-Annie notes the double standards of the Schiavo-botherers. Ruthie-Annie poses an uncomfortable question for them: why don’t they care about other lives in other places? Well, Ruthie, the regressive right are like sheep. Someone tells them what the issue is and they bleat. The stuff about starvation etc is not something they really think about. They are just watchwords, cyphers, that express a broader belief. They don’t understand it but they line up with it. A bit like my Christian friends who will tell us that Jesus died for our sins but cannot quite find the words for why he needed to, or suggest that we are all born sinful but can’t quite explain why. For that matter, I’m yet to see a convincing explanation of why God actually gives a shit whether we’re good or bad. He clearly doesn’t care that the world has bad in it, since, as often noted, he doesn’t intervene to prevent it. Okay, he gives us free will but why? Is he just amusing himself?

Smijer is doing a critique of Strobel’s A case for faith. I’ll be honest and admit I’m saving this one for later, because it’s quite long. I thoroughly recommend Smijer though. He’s one of those unashamedly intelligent bloggers who you know you’ll enjoy. A bit like a cuddle on a cold day. Hey, I like cuddles. Anyone who says I don’t is going to get smashed in the teeth.

Finally, and to coin a phrase, last but very much not least, he didn’t ask to be included but no expression of godlessness would be complete for me without Father Luke. Father Luke used to be a priest and in all the ways that matter, he still is. If you’ve made it this far, you deserve some of his writing, which in a just world would bring him renown and riches. This is a personal favourite, which captures for me the essential humanity of a world without gods.

That’s it. Errors and omissions to the usual address, where you will most likely be ignored. Still, you have more chance of being answered than a sinner’s prayers, so why not try me?

Carnival of the godless will be fortnightly from now on, Brent tells me, beginning at Wolverine Tom on April 10.

Submission details here.


Post a Comment

<< Home