Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Kossacks tackle the existence of G*d and other matters

from terry2wa :

""I find Dawkins' works to be solidly scientific and logical, but
like so many of his intellectual mentors from the Post-War era, there is a
profound sense of existential despair lying just below the surface. He is excellent with explanations of process and hypotheses of causality, but he is simply mute on the wonder of it all. His work is intellectually compelling, but spiritually sterile and flat. He's like Camus in a lab coat.

Hitchens is, in my opinion, simply a contrarian who, if he does not actually actively
despise any human interaction which could be deemed altruistic or noble or self-abnegating, is so skeptical of motive as to be little more than a misanthrope. If his aim is to win converts to atheism, then I am fairly certain eventually Evangelicals like Rick Warren will pass out copies of God Is Not Great along with their religious tracts, because after reading Hitchens the usual reaction is, after taking one long and very hot shower and scrubbing off most one's epidermis, to pray devoutly for the existence of a God who can lock Hitchens safely away for eternity in Hell with the other demons who roam the world seeking the ruin of souls.

That said, I find Daniel Dennett's upbeat and almost lyrical atheist credo, as outlined in Breaking The Spell, to be the most compelling and accessible. His personal philosophy has accomplished the almost miraculous feat of combining a rigorous scientifically-grounded agnosticism with the best elements of Humanist thought. Like EO Wilson, his science flows from his curiosity, awe and wonder at the natural world, and he is able to acknowledge that Beauty, Truth and Goodness are the cornerstones of a fulfilling human existence, the foundation of human ethics, and the lynchpins of civilization. One comes away from Dennett's books with the impression that he has enjoyed life, in spite of being godless, and that you are the better for
having made his acquaintance.

Of course, all I've said here should be tempered by the admission that I remain, in spite of everything, a believer. The Apostle's Creed has long since fallen into disuse and disrepair in this jaded soul, but I continue to judge the affairs of Mankind by the standards of the rebel Jesus. And while I no longer cling to the conviction that anything awaits me after death except recycling, my soul refuses to accept the proposition that life, even individual life, is without purpose or meaning. It may be Freud's "illusion", but I'm too damned old now to care.

That said, I have a great deal of respect for an honest disbeliever. Like Paul Tillich, I believe that no faith exists without doubt, and I join many of you in stating my firm conviction that organized religion is the fountainhead of a large portion of this world's temporal suffering.

Still, as I get older and closer to whatever eternity is, I am absolutely certain that the hunger and thirst for justice which those old Dominican nuns drilled into my dense and feral little head all those years back was a good thing, and I am grateful for the part of me which yearns to see every human given his due and holds all people accountable for the gifts received, in the measure they have received them."""

Rather eloquent for a Kossack.

1 comment:

J said...

Terry's not far from the mark.

Dawkins may get his facts correct, but Bertrand Russell he ain't (tho' Lord Russell himself was on occasion as arrogant and snide as a Ditchens or Hawkins......). Atheism is NOT a religion, but at the same time, one notes a certain British non-believer meme, usually from Oxford or Cambridge, sort of arrogant, effete......That said, better Dawkins than dixie biblethumpers such as Phelps....or Rev. Rick W--or the usual loudmouthed, frat boy McScoffer seen on KOS for that matter.

The Design issue is not as simple and clear cut as most Kossacks think--the Watchmaker argument/analogy had a certain force, as Hume pointed out, tho' Hume asserted the analogy was not relevant (nature's not a clock---is it?). For that matter, not all ID people are fundies, xtians, or even rightists, and some have argued that evolution itself, natural selection, adaptation be viewed as a type of Design theory. Behe did not, I believe, argue for putting IDT in public education: the fundies did. While agreeing that the IDT should not be in high school biology courses, that doesn't mean that college students should not consider Watchmaker-like hypotheses at some point.

Dennett seems about the most compelling of the neo-NonBelievers, and as knowledgable on evolution and Darwin as Dawkins is (however snide or sinister CH may be at times, HitchenSpeak does not lack a certain wit). For that matter, the ideas of that fiendish papist and IDT advocate, Dr. Behe, should not be rejected out of hand: Behe agrees with most of Darwinism (not all--Darwin didn't know jack about biochem and genetics for one), and knows as much about biochemistry as Dawkins does, that's for sure, even if he jumps to rather unsupportable conclusions (ie the ad ignorantium fallacy; Darwinian accounts of evolution cannot explain many biochemical processes; ergo, a mysterious Designer (most likely judeo-xtian) is responsible for them. Nyet).

Custom Search

Blog Archive