Sunday, April 27, 2008

God, One Week Later

My still-unfinished review of all my usual blogs and news sources reveals that, a week later -- a week during which I stayed away from the internets, ran a marathon, explored greater Boston, and paid too much money for bad food -- people continue to believe in god. This disappoints me. I had allowed myself to hope that I would return to a more reasonable and reason-guided world. I feel a chilling decrease of confidence in my hope that I'll return to work to find that I've been expected to work substantially fewer hours for substantially higher pay. Sigh.

Alas, bullshit and its opponents continue their sparring. Chris Hedges continues peddling his book, I Don't Believe in Atheists, and Ophelia Benson has canvassed some of its most galling insipidities (here and here) that the rest of us don't have to; starting from there, Dr. John Carter Wood takes up the (arguably) most wrong-headed of Hedges' tantrum against atheism, that it represents a form of utopianism:

Evolutionary psychology is based on the notion that our minds are shaped by our animal nature with all the limits to perfection that that brings with it. (Dawkins even has a chapter in The Extended Phenotype that is called 'Constraints on Perfection'!) Christopher Hitchens uses the words 'primate' and 'mammal' throughout God Is Not Great to refer to various human beings on practically every other page.

Just precisely where in all this can you find a vision of human perfectionism?
Indeed, on top of the frequent uses of 'mammal' and 'primate' to highlight the limits of human capability, one of Hitchens' central themes in God Is Not Great is the claim that religion is man-made, that religion as it actually exists and has existed through recorded time -- its texts, its artifacts, its histories, its assorted behavioral manifestations -- show every sign of being the ugly, uneven, capricious, ungainly, unsightly, sordid, exceedingly imperfect products of human agency.

Human productions are a fine mess, says Hitchens, and the religions are but a clarion example. It's not easy to imagine how an author could demonstrate a deeper devotion to anti-utopianism and "man's imperfectability" than to write an entire book on the theme that religion is such a colossal fuck-up that it must originate with primates like us.

And so it goes.

2 comments:

Where have my round spherical toys gone? said...

As a "confessed idiot" who claims to believe in God (sorry to continue to disappiont you), I ask myself, why does someone who does not believe spend so much time caring about if others do or not? My belief is a personal thing. Does that mean that unbelief is an impersonal thing?
You spend a lot of time pointing your fingers at those who while created in the image of God, are but a weak portrayal of Him.
My God in a huge and infinite being, and I am but a speck when compared to Him. No matter how large I am in reality, I am always but a speck when compared to infinity. And I am okay with that, because my God not only knows my name, but He knows the number of hairs on my head. How's that for being a rivia buff?
As for those who pray for lower gas prices (another post of your I read), let them. I hope it works, but that does not mean I am ready to plan my cross-country trip in an RV. (And why don't they just fill up and take off, praying that God will multiply their gas as He did the loaves and the fishes?) While I believe in the power of prayer, I also accept that it is not a tool by which I can manipulate God to satisfy my whims. Even Jesus's prayers were not all answered according to his whims ("Father, take this cup from me, but Your will, and not mine be done")
I believe there are as many views of God as there are people on earth. I also believe that one day truth wil reign. How will I find that truth? Certainly not by pointing fingers and laughing at those who in their own way are seeking it.
I read some of what Benson had to say. I find it difficult to accept that Darwin had no teachings. Believing in God or not believing in God definitely has an impact on our actions and attitudes. But Darwinists continue to hide behind that idea that they are not following a religion at all. Hard to reason with someone in such denial.

Dale said...

round spherical, you're not actually in any state of doubt over why I address god belief, are you? Give us both more credit than that.

I *do*, of course, let people pray for low gas prices. I wouldn't presume to claim the right to stop them. But when people do things I find feckless, silly, and illogical, I reserve the right to point it out.

I deny that things done and said in honor of god are out of bounds for ridicule. I reject the idea that religious beliefs merit a special cordoning off from the standards that routinely apply to other thoughts and deeds. You're free to disagree, free not to laugh, free to make fun of atheists, etc., as you wish.

I don't get what you're claiming about Darwin and Ophelia Benson; I'll let you decide whether you consider it worth clarifying.