Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Responding to SE Cupp's Blind Spot

Fox News Atheist SE Cupp wrote,
"Back in college, while I was busy pretending that a blottoed discussion of Nietzsche over $1 beers made me an intellectual giant, my fiftysomething father, who'd worked so hard to send me there, was quietly being saved. Having long eschewed any ties to his Southern Baptist upbringing, he suddenly found himself born again and on a quest to know God better...
Which brings me to the problem with modern atheism, embodied by the likes of Harris and Hitchens, authors of "The End of Faith" and "God Is Not Great," respectively. So often it seems like a conversation ender, not a conversation starter. And the loudest voices of today's militant atheism, for all their talk of rational thought, don't seem to want to do too much thinking at all."

To start the fact that Cupp thought that a discussion about Nietzsche over beers made you an intellectual giant is troublesome... as troublesome as thinking that bashing Sam Harris and the New Atheists makes you beyond reproach and an enlightened person.

I can appreciate that there are ambiguities but Cupp's delivery can be just as smug as any new atheist she dislikes.

Personally I defend skepticism not atheism. In a world of secular and religious frailty it is good to be a skeptic.

The problem I have with progressives who view the late Christopher Hitchens or Sam Harris with disdain and with words like "arrogant and angry" is their huge blind spot that comes from their own experience or lack of experience. There is some truth to their point of view that religion can be more sophisticated and in some areas beneficial to people. But they ignore the fact that many people do take religion as dogmatically true and to claim that religion is simply benign would be intellectually dishonest to history and the present. The blind spot for people like SE Cupp is that she has received a rich education herself but she forgets there are many students who have not been given the opportunity to learn or be inspired by the scientific narrative because of religion dominating their community. It is easy to be benevolent to something that has never bloodied your particular lip. If you use your imagination you will see that others have been harmed by the sting of religion and stunted by its dogma.

For SE Cupp religion did not complicate her education but for many others it does impact their ability to grow in learning. We know that the two things that inspire children when it comes to Science are Dinosaurs and Astronomy. Both of these subjects can be a problem in many religious homes and school districts in America. That is something to be acknowledged.
Now there are other circumstances where a religious community helped in giving a child a better education. For instance let us say a gang member grew up thinking books were boring and for nerds but he became religious and got interested in biblical literature and that led him to learn to read and to even go to a higher learning institution. That happens but so does the fact that some religious influence gets in the way of the advance of knowledge and education. So let us not pretend that there are simple answers to the ills of society either way. With or without religion the opportunity for a rich education is going to be something of a struggle in a culture that prizes identity politics and cheap fame over wisdom. The arrogance of atheists can be bad taste but the arrogance of believers can have a real impact in the quality of education children are getting in this country. The worst arrogance is from solipsism that creates a blind spot and you forget that others do not walk your same path. The world is a spectrum of realities and sometimes what is benevolent to you is an obstacle to others.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hitchens last Essay

"I am typing this having just had an injection to try to reduce the pain in my arms, hands, and fingers. The chief side effect of this pain is numbness in the extremities, filling me with the not irrational fear that I shall lose the ability to write. Without that ability, I feel sure in advance, my “will to live” would be hugely attenuated. I often grandly say that writing is not just my living and my livelihood but my very life, and it’s true. Almost like the threatened loss of my voice, which is currently being alleviated by some temporary injections into my vocal folds, I feel my personality and identity dissolving as I contemplate dead hands and the loss of the transmission belts that connect me to writing and thinking.

These are progressive weaknesses that in a more “normal” life might have taken decades to catch up with me. But, as with the normal life, one finds that every passing day represents more and more relentlessly subtracted from less and less. In other words, the process both etiolates you and moves you nearer toward death. How could it be otherwise? Just as I was beginning to reflect along these lines, I came across an article on the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. We now know, from dearly bought experience, much more about this malady than we used to. Apparently, one of the symptoms by which it is made known is that a tough veteran will say, seeking to make light of his experience, that “what didn’t kill me made me stronger.” This is one of the manifestations that “denial” takes.

I am attracted to the German etymology of the word “stark,” and its relative used by Nietzsche, stärker, which means “stronger.” In Yiddish, to call someone a shtarker is to credit him with being a militant, a tough guy, a hard worker. So far, I have decided to take whatever my disease can throw at me, and to stay combative even while taking the measure of my inevitable decline. I repeat, this is no more than what a healthy person has to do in slower motion. It is our common fate. In either case, though, one can dispense with facile maxims that don’t live up to their apparent billing."

Christopher Hitchens (Trial of the Will)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tim Tebow and Divine intervention?

If God is involved in football for Tim Tebow and not helping children with cancer then that God is insane or bored.

Human superstition and solipsism are hard to combat in a species that believes it is the center of the Cosmic Drama.

Nietzsche said "God is Dead" but if the Christian narrative is correct it would be better to say God is a little crazy and bored. I think the Gnostic Christians could agree to some extent.