Monday, March 28, 2011

Shorter R. Joseph Hoffman

R. Joseph Hoffman, "Living Without Religion"

  • Those who have never engineered a clock or demonstrated an exhaustive familiarity with the history of timekeeping devices have nothing to say about the accuracy of this $1.99 Ikea Rusch clock compared with that of the master atomic clock used by the US Naval Observatory. In fact, they don't know what time it is, should not presume to report the time of day, and something something Charles Manson Pol Pot read this gigantic stack of books or STFU about god.

In a comment to a subsequent post, Hoffman lets this roll off his keyboard:
The solution to theodicy is to postulate no God, and the problem disappears: in olden days that might have been a shocking, refusable option, but it isn’t anymore and has been appealing to people for a long time. It has relevance only within theology, not within a scientific view of cosmos and human origins. I’m happy to accept all those points.
Aren't we all happy that R. Joseph Hoffman is happy? No? Yes? Happy or not, I hope he recognizes that there are many vocal, politically active, politically effective actors in the world who are decidedly not happy to accept any of those points. They are shockingly easy to find, in fact. It is still "the olden days" in far too many places.

If he does recognize this, then he should let it inform his puzzlement over the level of heat sometimes expressed in discussions of science, religion, philosophy, and politics among atheists and their adversaries. If he does not recognize this, then he ipso facto disqualifies himself as an observer of these controversies, because it follows that he hasn't exited the faculty lounge in a long time. 

The existence of god and the problem of theodicy, among others, are hotly contested, living disputes in numerous and far-flung quarters of the world. The gnu atheists are popularizing a particular side of these controversies and telegraphing the practice of joining them energetically and unapologetically. If in doing so they are re-raising claims and arguments that Professor Fuddlestuffs finds dull and outworn, it only serves to show that Professor Fuddlestuffs is not their intended audience. They're addressing their writings and lectures to people who recognize that the time of day is important, and the world still hosts lively disagreements over it, whether or not those who rarely leave the faculty lounge consider it passe.

'Shorter' concept lovingly borrowed from Sadly, No!

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