Links Random

Links for 2007-12-23

5 replies on “Links for 2007-12-23”

The Archbish is bravely fighting strawmen, but there’s a shade of a point to smarter critiques of Dawkins and Harris. That’s to say, Dawkins in particular has a quasi-logical positivist approach to the social consequences of religion, which means that he tends to brush theology, religious art, religious literature et al. under the carpet. (Eagleton’s LRB review picks up on these points, as does the Harper’s review.)
As for Tony, it was inevitable, though I didn’t expect it so soon (my Papist Pool entry was for Easter). The Widdicombe comments back up what family’s jokes about the zeal of converts, which always makes cradle Catholics grimace, and it’s a toss-up whether Mr Tony turns out to be one of those annoying front-row Catholics, or whether being a de facto left-footer in a Catholic household has buffed off the sharp edges. Somehow I doubt it.

Regarding the absurdity of Catholicism, I’ll give you a good example. I was raised ‘Catholic’ (I’m a lapsed Catholic now, thought I don’t even think about it) and went to a ‘Catholic’ school (since that’s what virtually all schools are/were in Ireland) but it wasn’t until my late teens, I swear, that I learned about the whole transubstantiation/consubstantiation thing. You’d think that would be fundamental to the indoctrination process, wouldn’t you? I mean, to me the communion wafer was just a wafer; I never thought it was really the body of Christ, and I don’t remember anyone ever telling me it was! And yet, we all had our first communion and were confirmed en masse; the Church must have been desperate.

Your comments on the Archbishop of Wales’ words make an illogical conflation, namely: atheism and logic/science. I know a good number of atheists who nevertheless believe and pronounce on all kinds of bunkum. Being an atheist does not guarantee that a person is accustomed to thinking logically, just as being a person of faith does not necessarily make a person a raving anti-rational lunatic.
I agree with Nick Sweeney that “the Archbish is fighting strawmen” — Christians are certainly not oppressed in this country. Nevertheless, the content of his argument — which is essentially a liberal one — is sound. There is no reason why religious practice should be arbitrarily annexed from the public sphere, and any attempt so to do is profoundly illiberal.

I think you’re logic there is faulty – just because Atheism is (I would argue) based on logic and (a lack of) evidence doesn’t mean either that Atheists will necessarily apply that same logic to every area of their lives. There are as many atheists ignorant of gender politics, how flatscreen TVs work and the motions of the galaxies as anyone else. The difference between Atheism and religion in this particular respect ishoweverthat anyone can go back and try and find fault with the arguments presented by Atheism and check the logic themselves.
If they’re confident in the truth of rational argument, they must – in my opinion – come to similar conclusions: (1) that while there may be a supreme being, there’s no logical need for one (2) that while there may be a supreme being the chances of it resembling any of our drastically different conceptions of it are vanishingly small and that (3) given a total lack of evidence except for occasionally subjective human experience (the same experience that can mislead us so thoroughly in other areas) it makes no more sense to give it credence than any of the other unprobable things that people might propose.
In the meantime, I would argue (as to your latter point) that it’s in the best interests of the public sphere for decisions to be made based on evidence and reason rather than material handed down from a middle eastern community two thousand years ago that’s highly resistant to any examination, scrutiny or change. If someone wishes to believe in Catholicism, that’s a purely personal thing. But if they’re applying their beliefs to decisions that might affect other people around them, then they have to be prepared to have them challenged and opened up for scrutiny. Personal beliefs in the religious sphere don’t have a unique right not be challenged or questioned!

Comments are closed.