Links for 2005-11-23

8 replies on “Links for 2005-11-23”

I heard the “There is No God” segment this morning while getting ready for work, and I’ve got to say I’m a bit disappointed. Not at Penn (he has every right to express his disbelieve in God as I have to express my belief), but at NPR. It just seemed odd to have this rather striking Op-Ed piece in the middle of what is ostensibly a morning news show.
Isn’t the news supposed to be objective?

I don’t believe in God either. But the whole thing of people going on about their beliefs is getting a bit passe. I might say I don’t believe in God, but don’t I? In another moment, would I? What does it mean to say, “I believe?” What is belief? Is anything we term “belief” more “believable” than another “belief”? We need to move the debate on, and realise that, above all, we are playing a word game, that there is a struggle for power over certain aspects of grammar. God “exists” in that the word, ‘God’ “exists”, and all his attributes “exist” sociologically in that they can be named.
Whenever “confirmed atheists” go on about their (non-)beliefs, they treat “God” from a completely physical, existential, cosmic point of view. When will we get with the times, and see that philosophy and theology and even physics has moved on to the very thin ice of linguistics. All our empirical work is grounded in word, and we can no longer claim to talk about “belief” unless we also talk about Jacques Derrida.

Great links; a few comments.
Penn fails to mention that the beauty within the earth is what some people see as PROOF of God’s existence–as opposed to searching for something outside of the earth’s natural beauty and being “greedy.”
Also, man…I thought I was a cow killer, turns out I’ve probably only killed 2 or 3. I mean, I guess that’s good but man…more steak!!!

Jonathan’s Miller’s recent series ‘A Brief History of Disbelief’ will tell you all you ever needed to know about atheism and belief systems etc (plus Miller is just cool).
There are torrents of the series knocking about.

Maybe Miss Panda-loving hot-hands should study really hard and invent some bear related research project so that she can cuddle, not just see, a panda. I think this is a bizarre form of a highly selective personal ad.

newfred – I don’t “believe” in the death penalty. No, that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in the meaning of the words “death penalty”, it means that I cannot see any justification for it in terms of crime reduction, crime prevention or in terms of moral justification (this last because I believe that any society that practises the death penalty by default lowers the respect held for human life and thereby coarsens, degrades and undermines what it means to be human). Semantics just aren’t that important in some areas of debate, including the whole god thing.
Re: cowmeat – hitherto I have only been in eating fish. However, I may have to rethink in light of the “lives lost” v. “quality of life of farm animals” imbalance this information suggests.

Patrick: I couldn’t disagree more. It is true that semantics are not traditionally deemed important in certain areas, but I mention Derrida for a very specific reason: under Derrida’s thinking, there is no longer any way of thinking that can be deemed stable independent of language in its broadest sense; by that, I mean language-as-writing and language-beyond-writing.
Even if I were to concede that semantics are not important in some areas, I could not agree that this is not important for such abstracted words as “God”, “belief” etc. On the contrary, where words are so abstract, it is the words themselves, their usage, their inflections, and their history, which becomes important. There can be no signifier without a signified. The empirical existence of God is irrelevant to this question. If the word “God” exists, it must signify something — and this conundrum is not solved by outright denials of God/religion/etc.

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