Saturday, September 21, 2002

Anti religious nuts part 2

This started as a reply to a comment made by Robert Spiers on this item. It exceeded the 2500 word YACCS limit, so here it goes.

Religion is based on faith, meaning it is based on mystical visions visible and knowable only to the one who has the visions.

You make it sound like one's religion is determined by what he smokes or what kind of mushrooms he eats.

If religious people have had such visions, so what?

Communism and Fascism are, like religions, based on fictions called "the people" or "die Volk".

You have yet to demonstrate that religions are based on fictions.

Objectivism is based on perception and reason

Look, I like Ayn Rand - anybody who writes books with titles like "The Virtue of Selfishness" can't be all bad, and "Atlas Shrugged" influenced me more than any other book I've read.

But you're leaving something out. Objectivism is based on faith in perception and reason.

It doesn't take much perception to see that you can't perceive everything. And it doesn't take much reasoning to show that reason is ultimately based on some assumptions that cannot be proven within reason's framework.

It is not faith that says free markets work. That statement is based on perception and reason.

And faith. You have to believe that human nature and economic circumstances are such that it works. Fortunately I know of no exceptions.

It is not faith that says religion and other collective delusions kill. That statement is based on history.

You haven't demonstrated that religion is a "collective delusion". This must be an article of faith.

Meanwhile, what was the faith of the Mongols? The Huns? The Cold War Russians? The Red Chinese? The Nazis? Pol Pot?

And who attacked first in the Crusades?

Religion is a problem only when it is harnessed by the state, such as in the Spanish Inquisition. Ferdinand and Isabella, the two who had just united Aragon and Castile to make modern Spain and bankrolled Columbus, wanted money. They resorted to the age-old expedient of screwing Jews out of their property. Ha! - some of the Jews converted to Catholicism. But F and I still wanted their property, so they sent for Grand Inquisitors from the Vatican to pronounce them heretics. Then the state could kill them under their heresy laws and take their property anyway.

It's the state power that's the problem. Keep churches separated from the state and then it's clear what is to blame. That's the whole problem with Islam - state leaders can't be trusted with that kind of power over people's lives.

And it is only faith that says that "God" or "the people" exist at all.

I'm with you on the God part - I haven't had one of those visions you're talking about, and furthermore nothing that I know of in the Bible promises me one. I can't speak for other religions.

This reminds me of a story I heard once. State cops came by a house to warn the resident that a flood was rising and he had to leave, but the resident said "no, the Lord will provide". Later some officials came by in a rowboat to rescue him, but he said "no, the Lord will provide". The waters kept rising, forcing the man to get on the roof of his house. A helicopter came by to rescue him and he said "no, the Lord will provide". Then he was washed away and drowned.

Outraged, he confronted St. Peter, who told him "We sent the cops, a rowboat and a helicopter - what more did you want?" If you're expecting your own personal burning bush, maybe you're just too much trouble.

Several of Kurt Vonnegut's books include improbable religions, such as the Church of Jesus Christ the Kidnapped (followers were always snapping their heads around looking for him) and the Church of God the Utterly Indifferent (I'm working from memory, so cut me some slack). Anyway, the latter group said that there was a God, but it was preposterous to think that He would care about what happened to something so trivial as a human being. Hmm.

The fictions of Heaven and angels, just to name a couple of examples, are so transparent that one can only accept them as a guide to action if one closes one's eyes, falls one's knees and inhales incense. Which is exactly why religions encourage such behavior.

But the arrogance of such a statement is here for all to see. Sheesh. I'm no expert, but I don't recall any of that stuff in Sunday school (although they might have given us some Kool-Aid). And that's the last time I was a regular churchgoer.

Until we can see a God or until our reason otherwise tells us he must exist, he does not. And that statement is NOT based on faith.

Yes it is. You are implicitly claiming that everything that exists can be perceived or deduced. We must be creating the universe as we go then, because germs have thus existed for only the last couple of centuries, and quarks for less time yet.

If I told you that germs didn't exist because I can't see them, you'd rightly think of me as deranged. Has it occurred to you that perhaps the reason why you can't perceive any deities that might exist lies not in them, but in your capacity to perceive and reason?

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