Sunday, January 16, 2011

Reading materialist atheist like chewing glass?

Friend Edward Sisson writes to say, “While researching an entirely different subject, I came across this post by blogger "Shannon Love" of "Chicago Boyz" in 2006, tearing into a Richard Dawkins book. His treatment of the practical effects of atheism, and comparison of religion to atheism, is all the more effective because he declares himself to be an atheist.”

As in:
I keep losing my personal heroes.

Richard Dawkins is one of the century’s great evolutionary theorists and someone whose work I really admire. His work revolutionized the way scientists thought about evolutionary theory. I think I can safely say that I have read everything that the man has written in every major forum. So, as an atheist myself, I looked forward to Dawkins weighing in on the subject of religion, from the perspective of an evolutionary theorist, in his new book, “The God Delusion”.

This weekend I made it to my local bookstore, grabbed a copy of the “The God Delusion” and sat down with a cup of coffee to read it immediately — even before buying it. Imagine my shock and even horror to discover that Dawkins’ book is trite, facile and just plain, well, dumb.

[Shocka! How so?]

Atheists reflexively repeat the mantra that religion causes oppression, war and general cruelty of all kinds, while asserting or implying that atheism does not. Dawkins falls right into this mindless argument in the opening paragraphs of the book and never lets up. (Reading someone like Dawkins making such a pompous, counterfactual argument is like chewing glass.)
Kid this smart wasted on atheism.

He adds,
“The God Delusion” is a trite, shallow unimaginative book. It is not intended to evangelize to non-atheists, but instead preaches to the choir by vomiting out all of the conceits and prejudices that atheists hold in common. As a defense of the atheistic world view it is a pathetic failure. Coming from one of the century’s great scientific minds, it’s just sad.
News, Shannon: He isn’t one of the last century’s great scientific minds, just a Darwin dogmatist with a good writing style. Glad you are not making anything depend on him.

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Aboriginal religion: Seeing a few things clearly

New Zealand friend Steve Sparrow writes, in response to my recent post pleading for people to try to understand ancestor worship before trashing it - or, worse, coming up with a glib cockamamie “explanation,” which amounts to the same thing:
Hello Denyse, not a lot different to the basic beliefs of Maori here or First Nation Folk in your neck of the woods - I suspect.

I have a good friend & former teacher Fr Bern Ryan S.M. now 86 & still at the helm of an Aboriginal Mission he started up in Kempsey Australia nearly 20 years ago.

We keep in touch per phone & when he makes periodic visits across "The Ditch" to Christchurch.

Anyway, like many indigenous peoples the Australian native has been trampled flat through a European distaste for their (to our eyes) rather primitive culture.

Fr Ryan explained it this way. Originally the Aboriginal men were the priests who went away to secret places & communed with the spirits. Then along comes the Colonist (Fr Ryan says "we") who tells them their religion is crap and replaces it with social welfare, booze and drugs.

Why should we be surprised at the unhappy outcomes.
As a traditional Christian, I believe that humanity’s most ancient religions were misdirected to the extent that they worshipped the creation, not the Creator. But a sense of superiority is not, in itself a virtue, especially when knowing a better answer is not the result of much personal effort.


Death: Overcoming cultural taboos

Here we learn:

Dozens of angry Asian residents of a posh, University of B.C., highrise building aim to stage a placard-waving protest rally to protest a 15-bed hospice being planned next door.

“We cannot have dying people in our backyard,” said rally organizer Janet Fan, Wednesday “It’s a cultural taboo to us and we cannot be close to so many dying people. It’s like you open your door and step into a graveyard.”

[ ... ]

Qing Lin, who bought a Promontory apartment for $900,000 almost a year ago, said she and her seven year old daughter will have nightmares if the hospice goes ahead.

“We believe that people dying outside will bring us bad luck,” she added. “I’m very angry and upset. If I had known it was going to be a hospice, I wouldn’t buy it for half the price.”

- Damian Inwood, “Angry Asian UBC condo owners to protest 'bad luck' hospice”, The Province (January 13, 2011)

Read more.
Qing Lin, I don’t know how to begin, but we are all close to dying people. We are all dying people. Philosophy, say the wise, is learning how to die.

Yes: How to die.

Walk with me a moment.
Read more »

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