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Author Topic: 'The Age of American Unreason'
jrose
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posted 30 April 2008 05:18 AM      Profile for jrose     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
This book review from the Tyee asks if Canada (like the United States - as argued in "The Age of American Unreason") is guilty of a "slide to stupidity."

quote:
Of course, Jacoby's point is precisely that intellectual states of mind are connected to regional and national histories and cultures. That would explain such things as relatively less violence, less religious fundamentalism, more tolerance (for same sex marriage and personal choices) and more inclination toward publicly-owned goods in Canada, compared to the U.S. Still, our young people are armed with the same array of mind-distracting gadgets as any other youth population in the world that's economically able to buy the products sold in globalization's toyshop. The pace of dumbing down in Canada may be slightly slower than in the U.S., but it's just as ominous.

... Jacoby reels off a string of statistics indicating that masses of Americans also have problems with everything from whether the sun revolves around the earth to the function of DNA. There's a temptation here to reprise all the gory details and stats of her case, but an "executive summary" of her argument is precisely the opposite of what her book invites, namely, a contemplative reading.



From: Ottawa | Registered: Oct 2006  |  IP: Logged
Michael Hardner
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posted 30 April 2008 06:58 AM      Profile for Michael Hardner   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I reject that review:

quote:
By the way, if you're interested in knowing how Canada stacks up on various measures of irrationality and ignorance compared to the U.S., the news isn't great, but it isn't all bad, and there are significant differences. For example, on evolution, while nearly half of Americans think that God created humans in a single swoop within the last 10,000 years, only a quarter of Canadians share that false belief.

She throws together a lot of different forms of knowledge and understanding.

I know Orthodox Jews who are brilliant and who believe in their holy texts. Jacoby would lump them in with illiterates, I think.

The problem seems to me that consumerist society strives to satisfy the comforts of the consumer, and maintains a culture of coddling and cooing. We are raised to be a part in an assembly line of consumption and production.


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Catchfire
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posted 30 April 2008 07:56 AM      Profile for Catchfire   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
In the quote you cited, the reviewer charges the 25% of Canadians who don't trust evolution or who take the word of sacred texts over scientific evidence when it comes to the history of the planet with "irrationality and ignorance" not "illiteracy." Certainly such people can read, and probably even do basic arithmetic. This does not absolve them of their ignorance or irrationality.
From: On the heather | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
Michael Hardner
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posted 30 April 2008 09:28 AM      Profile for Michael Hardner   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes, but do you not see a problem with lumping such people in under a picture of Alfred E Neuman, presumably because they're stupid ?

It certainly isn't very nice.


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Timebandit
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posted 30 April 2008 10:02 AM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think you're reading some preconceived ideas of your own into this, Michael.

The 25% of Canadians she's referring to are Young Earth Creationists -- this is a group that specifically rejects reason. In fact, the more you reject reason and fact in favour of a literal, supernatural belief the better a person you are. It's a clear rejection of intellect.

Perhaps the picture of Alfred E. Neuman is not "nice", but neither is the majority YEC view (Christian, anyway) that those of us who don't reject reason, intellect and fact are going to burn eternally in a lake of fire. I think it's probably fair game to use an image that isn't "nice".


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michael Hardner
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posted 30 April 2008 10:25 AM      Profile for Michael Hardner   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Thanks for posting back, TB.

quote:
I think you're reading some preconceived ideas of your own into this, Michael.

I don't think so. Here are some terms and phrases she included in her piece:

"that old poster's hiply expressed qualm about the decline of literacy is no joke"

""the inescapable theme of our time is the erosion of memory and knowledge..."

"anti-intellectualism flourish[es]"

"an educational system that does a poor job of teaching not only basic skills"

quote:

The 25% of Canadians she's referring to are Young Earth Creationists -- this is a group that specifically rejects reason.

I think that you're oversimplifying it. I think a better way to put it is to reject reason as the ultimate arbiter of what is true.

Einstein believed in God.

quote:

In fact, the more you reject reason and fact in favour of a literal, supernatural belief the better a person you are. It's a clear rejection of intellect.


Who's opinion is that ? You can't attribute that to every creationist. That's really as indefensible a position as a racial stereotype.

quote:

Perhaps the picture of Alfred E. Neuman is not "nice", but neither is the majority YEC view (Christian, anyway) that those of us who don't reject reason, intellect and fact are going to burn eternally in a lake of fire. I think it's probably fair game to use an image that isn't "nice".


I would say that tolerance includes the idea that others are free to follow their beliefs, and that they're equally deserving of fair treatment and respect, including those that disagree with the origins of the universe.

But, I don't think that tolerance includes the idea that you have to negate the entire basis of your belief system and change your views about the hereafter.

It's an interesting question though. As a Christian, someone believes that only Christ offers salvation. Is that necessarily an 'intolerant' viewpoint ?


From: Toronto | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
DavisMavis
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posted 30 April 2008 11:18 AM      Profile for DavisMavis     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Hardner:
As a Christian, someone believes that only Christ offers salvation. Is that necessarily an 'intolerant' viewpoint ?

Yep.


From: the occupied territory of nova scotia | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
Michael Hardner
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posted 30 April 2008 11:24 AM      Profile for Michael Hardner   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It's interesting because it basically says almost all religions are intolerant at a basic level. That means 'tolerance' is almost equivalent to being non-religious, doesn't it ?
From: Toronto | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 30 April 2008 12:20 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I think that you're oversimplifying it. I think a better way to put it is to reject reason as the ultimate arbiter of what is true.

Einstein believed in God.


Um, no, not as such... In fact, Einstein wrote several rebuttals to those who tried to use his quotes to justify their religious beliefs. He was, in fact, quite areligious. He used "god" in a metaphoric sense.

Here, I think, is one aspect of what the author in question is getting at -- we read bits and snippets of things, quotes of Einstein out of context, for example, without reading him extensively in context in order to have full comprehension. This is a trend in our "sound-bite" culture.

When I talk about some of your own preconceptions, I mean that there are some things you are taking as givens -- that the ability to read equates the ability to think critically, for example. The idea that Jacoby is challenging our culture's average or general level of intellect seems very uncomfortable to you. That one might challenge the religious in terms of their reasonability also seems to trouble you.

quote:
Who's opinion is that ? You can't attribute that to every creationist. That's really as indefensible a position as a racial stereotype.

Well, it's not really an opinion -- it's one of the tenets of fundamentalist Christianity, many of whom are YECs. Don't take my word for it, though, go look it up. Or visit a Pentacostal church on Sunday. Seriously. I am not making this up.

quote:
I would say that tolerance includes the idea that others are free to follow their beliefs, and that they're equally deserving of fair treatment and respect, including those that disagree with the origins of the universe.

But, I don't think that tolerance includes the idea that you have to negate the entire basis of your belief system and change your views about the hereafter.

It's an interesting question though. As a Christian, someone believes that only Christ offers salvation. Is that necessarily an 'intolerant' viewpoint ?


As DavisMavis pointed out, yes, it is an intolerant viewpoint. Arrogant, even. But I don't question their right to believe something that I think is intolerant, arrogant and thoroughly benighted.

People of faith have every right to believe and say whatever they like. However, I also have the right to think that the rejection of scientific evidence and reason is, well, for lack of a better word... Stupid.


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Trevormkidd
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posted 30 April 2008 12:28 PM      Profile for Trevormkidd     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Hardner:
Einstein believed in God.

1) So what.

2) Einstein's belief in "god" - if you could call it that - was entirely natural and not supernatural. "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal god and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."

[ 30 April 2008: Message edited by: Trevormkidd ]


From: SL | Registered: Jun 2006  |  IP: Logged
Michael Hardner
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posted 30 April 2008 07:47 PM      Profile for Michael Hardner   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
TB,

quote:
Um, no, not as such... In fact, Einstein wrote several rebuttals to those who tried to use his quotes to justify their religious beliefs. He was, in fact, quite areligious. He used "god" in a metaphoric sense.

Here, I think, is one aspect of what the author in question is getting at -- we read bits and snippets of things, quotes of Einstein out of context, for example, without reading him extensively in context in order to have full comprehension. This is a trend in our "sound-bite" culture.

When I talk about some of your own preconceptions, I mean that there are some things you are taking as givens -- that the ability to read equates the ability to think critically, for example. The idea that Jacoby is challenging our culture's average or general level of intellect seems very uncomfortable to you. That one might challenge the religious in terms of their reasonability also seems to trouble you.


I don't mind that she's challenging our culture's level of intellect, just that she's doing it in such a magaziney way.

I don't think it's correct to group people who believe in a spiritual realm in with illiterates. These are different conditions.

quote:

Well, it's not really an opinion -- it's one of the tenets of fundamentalist Christianity, many of whom are YECs. Don't take my word for it, though, go look it up. Or visit a Pentacostal church on Sunday. Seriously. I am not making this up.


It's not the way you've phrased it here.

quote:

As DavisMavis pointed out, yes, it is an intolerant viewpoint. Arrogant, even. But I don't question their right to believe something that I think is intolerant, arrogant and thoroughly benighted.

People of faith have every right to believe and say whatever they like. However, I also have the right to think that the rejection of scientific evidence and reason is, well, for lack of a better word... Stupid.


Sure, but there are many flavours of stupid. There are fundamentalist Christians who are quite bright. How do you resolve these things ?


From: Toronto | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
Michael Hardner
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posted 30 April 2008 07:49 PM      Profile for Michael Hardner   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
1) So what.

2) Einstein's belief in "god" - if you could call it that - was entirely natural and not supernatural. "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal god and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."


I also went to Wikipedia after reading TB's post. Yes, it appears that Einstein wasn't as religious as he is generally thought to be, and as I thought he was.

But he wasn't an atheist, just an agnostic which I guess is the least religious position you can take.


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Fidel
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posted 30 April 2008 07:57 PM      Profile for Fidel     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Apparently Einstein said lots of things, such as:

quote:
"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity."

From: Viva La Revolución | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged
clandestiny
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posted 01 May 2008 04:27 PM      Profile for clandestiny     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Harlan Ellison once wrote a story 'i have no mouth and i must scream' and that evokes the feeling i sometimes have posting here at Babble. My angle towards almost everything debated here is through hearing talkradio, however that touches on the topics. Toronto talkradio is ...it is...and to say it plain, it, talkradio, drives me mad! Yet there seems to be an indifference to the ignorance and hatred promoted daily by the hirelings one hears espousing the 'politically incorrect' viewpoint (with the self serving unspoken addendum that 'they', the hate radio goons, are defying the powerful, and speaking truth!) Even at babble, this absurd standard operating proceedure is rarely mentioned - it's a given that rightwing idiots own the airwaves, and thems the brakes. But if modern social entities like the 'US' or Canada have gotten stupider, the role played by media was intrinsic to the getting, and it was intentional. For example: Today, Charles Adler on AM640 interviewed 'Doctor' Pat Moore, who co-founded Greenpeace (in his wasted youth, i guess). Moore assured the goofs who listen to Adler etal that 'global warming' is a myth- Suzuki and Al Gore etc have 'no proof' that human activity is causing blah blah blah, or they'd publish it blah blah. In the 10 years or so listening to Toronto callin radio, i have NEVER heard anyone say anything otherwise then that GW is a myth(excepting the CBC, which is another case'o'worms entirely; almost as if the CBC's main purpose was to set up itself as evidence of 'liberal' media to clear the stage for the likes of cfrb/am640 etc ad nazism) Indeed, name any subject and the reactionary rightwing punks will somehow use it to frame their hateful nonsense in a way that makes chin stroking, nods and head shakes of disdain the only sensible recourse, by the select of intelligence, of course. The POSSIBILITY screams out at the two giggling boors that IF they're wrong, and the enviromentalists right, then ....then what? If they're right, otoh, so frigging what! We'll all be engrossed in something else by then anyway, and blah blah blah! The idea that newsmedia is dominated by 'skeptics' and this skepticism is heavily funded by powerful forces with an agenda , and that agenda depends upon lowering the IQ of the voting public- i wish someone would expose the POSSIBILITY that the unreasoning of so much of the population must be linked to the ignorance the mass media produces and provides them, with catastrophe somehow the objective. The MAN is planning a nuke event involving Iran, within next few months, according to ....is that normal?
From: the canada's | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 01 May 2008 06:08 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I don't mind that she's challenging our culture's level of intellect, just that she's doing it in such a magaziney way.

I don't think it's correct to group people who believe in a spiritual realm in with illiterates. These are different conditions.


What was "magaziney" about it? Jacoby seemed pretty well-spoken where quoted and the reviewer didn't seem to think the book was terrifically superficial (which is as close as I can come to fathoming a meaning for "magaziney" without further clarification). I haven't read the book, but I'm interested -- although this is not a new idea by any means.

quote:
Sure, but there are many flavours of stupid. There are fundamentalist Christians who are quite bright. How do you resolve these things ?

I'm going to quote a line from Forrest Gump: "Stupid is as stupid does."

I'm not impugning the IQ of literal believers. You may find some highly intelligent members in their ranks, however these will be highly intelligent people who have rejected reason and independent thought in favour of an anti-intellectual philosophy or mode of belief. Sometimes smart, well-educated people do stupid things or behave in stupid ways, too. The only thing worse than genuine stupidity, in my opinion, is willful ignorance -- and, having been connected to a fundamentalist church through marriage, this is something fundamentalist Christianity most certainly promotes.

This line of thought also leads me to believe that you are equating the dumbing down of culture to peoples' inability to think -- I don't think that's what Jacoby's getting at. Rather, we're making the choice to skim the surface rather than truly get into anything.

[ 01 May 2008: Message edited by: Timebandit ]


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michael Hardner
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posted 01 May 2008 06:33 PM      Profile for Michael Hardner   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
What was "magaziney" about it? Jacoby seemed pretty well-spoken where quoted and the reviewer didn't seem to think the book was terrifically superficial (which is as close as I can come to fathoming a meaning for "magaziney" without further clarification). I haven't read the book, but I'm interested -- although this is not a new idea by any means.

TB - Sorry, you're right. It's the reviewer, I think, that I have a problem with.

quote:

quote: Sure, but there are many flavours of stupid. There are fundamentalist Christians who are quite bright. How do you resolve these things ?

I'm going to quote a line from Forrest Gump: "Stupid is as stupid does."

I'm not impugning the IQ of literal believers. You may find some highly intelligent members in their ranks, however these will be highly intelligent people who have rejected reason and independent thought in favour of an anti-intellectual philosophy or mode of belief. Sometimes smart, well-educated people do stupid things or behave in stupid ways, too. The only thing worse than genuine stupidity, in my opinion, is willful ignorance -- and, having been connected to a fundamentalist church through marriage, this is something fundamentalist Christianity most certainly promotes.


Ok. So faith, or willful ignorance is 'worse' than being stupid.

And is it stupidity, then ? Or is it just something you don't like ?

And if you're equating something you don't like with "bad" then ... where are we ?

quote:

This line of thought also leads me to believe that you are equating the dumbing down of culture to peoples' inability to think -- I don't think that's what Jacoby's getting at. Rather, we're making the choice to skim the surface rather than truly get into anything.

Maybe that's true, but then again just living in the world today requires more smarts than it did 50 years ago.

I read the review again and Jacoby's book sounds better than I thought the first time, but the theme is tired and well traveled.


From: Toronto | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
B.L. Zeebub LLD
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posted 02 May 2008 03:31 PM      Profile for B.L. Zeebub LLD     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
As a Christian, someone believes that only Christ offers salvation.

I think that's a terrible definition of a Christian.


From: A Devil of an Advocate | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged
Michael Hardner
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posted 02 May 2008 07:43 PM      Profile for Michael Hardner   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Sorry, I didn't mean to try to define Christianity there. I was just talking about an example.
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Timebandit
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posted 02 May 2008 08:29 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Ok. So faith, or willful ignorance is 'worse' than being stupid.

And is it stupidity, then ? Or is it just something you don't like ?

And if you're equating something you don't like with "bad" then ... where are we ?


Dismissing facts because they are at odds with an ancient book that has been rewritten and translated many times is willful ignorance. How is it NOT worse than simple stupidity?

No, I don't like ignorance. Ignorance IS bad. We make mistakes, repeat them over and over and never learn from them if we embrace ignorance. It's not about my personal preferences. Just look at all that has been done in the name of that particular brand of unquestioning faith (the sort that demands you dismiss all evidence to its contrary) and tot up the balance sheet. The bad far outweighs the good.

When we can no longer say "This is bad, it's holding us back..." -- Where are we, indeed.

[ 02 May 2008: Message edited by: Timebandit ]


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michael Hardner
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posted 05 May 2008 05:22 PM      Profile for Michael Hardner   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
TB
quote:
Dismissing facts because they are at odds with an ancient book that has been rewritten and translated many times is willful ignorance. How is it NOT worse than simple stupidity?

No, I don't like ignorance. Ignorance IS bad. We make mistakes, repeat them over and over and never learn from them if we embrace ignorance. It's not about my personal preferences. Just look at all that has been done in the name of that particular brand of unquestioning faith (the sort that demands you dismiss all evidence to its contrary) and tot up the balance sheet. The bad far outweighs the good.

When we can no longer say "This is bad, it's holding us back..." -- Where are we, indeed.


It's not holding ME back. But you sound like you're ready to ban holy books to keep others safe from their beliefs.

Religion didn't invent ignorance any more than Socialism invented totalitarianism. There are ignorant religionists and totalitarian socialists, it seems.


From: Toronto | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 06 May 2008 06:14 AM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Hardner:
TB

It's not holding ME back. But you sound like you're ready to ban holy books to keep others safe from their beliefs.

Religion didn't invent ignorance any more than Socialism invented totalitarianism. There are ignorant religionists and totalitarian socialists, it seems.


Don't be so obtuse. Ignorance holds us back as a culture. I did not suggest banning holy books, but it would make me no end of happy to see people treat them like the myths they are. They may have symbolic significance, but this "living word of GAWD" business and the majority of things people do based on it are destructive. And it does not escape me that you haven't made an argument to the contrary.


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michael Hardner
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posted 06 May 2008 07:30 AM      Profile for Michael Hardner   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
TB

quote:
Don't be so obtuse. Ignorance holds us back as a culture. I did not suggest banning holy books, but it would make me no end of happy to see people treat them like the myths they are. They may have symbolic significance, but this "living word of GAWD" business and the majority of things people do based on it are destructive. And it does not escape me that you haven't made an argument to the contrary.

You have no basis to say that the majority of things people do on it are destructive, nor do you have any way of even beginning to evaluate that.

There's no argument to the contrary. There's just no argument.

It's impossible to summarize the effect that religion had on our world today. The fact that you think it's bad, is based on your religious anti-religion viewpoint. You just have 'faith' that religion is bad.


From: Toronto | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 06 May 2008 08:11 AM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
You have no basis to say that the majority of things people do on it are destructive, nor do you have any way of even beginning to evaluate that.

Are you kidding me?

We can start with such historical goodies as the Inquisition and witch burnings, various wars and genocides. We can look at many senseless acts of violence from the past and present. Gynecologists gunned down for providing abortion services, honour killings, female circumcision, beating children because an old book somewhere says "spare the rod and spoil the child", forced marriage of child brides... I could go on and on here.

Read, my friend. Think. There is a basis in fact for my argument.

quote:
There's no argument to the contrary. There's just no argument.

There I will agree with you. There is no argument that unquestioning religious faith is benign. None whatsoever.

quote:
It's impossible to summarize the effect that religion had on our world today. The fact that you think it's bad, is based on your religious anti-religion viewpoint. You just have 'faith' that religion is bad.

No. As I've mentioned above, I've read and learned and thought. I was involved in a fundamentalist church for a period of time and I was raised in a liberal Christian faith. I have questioned and come to a conclusion.

You, on the other hand, seem to be going on faith that unquestioned faith is a good thing, although you seem incapable of providing any argument to support your assertion. If anybody's going on faith here, I suggest it is you.

Unless you're willing to take a stab at an actual, you know, argument. But I won't hold my breath.


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michael Hardner
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posted 06 May 2008 12:29 PM      Profile for Michael Hardner   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
TB,

quote:

Are you kidding me?

We can start with such historical goodies as the Inquisition and witch burnings, various wars and genocides. We can look at many senseless acts of violence from the past and present. Gynecologists gunned down for providing abortion services, honour killings, female circumcision, beating children because an old book somewhere says "spare the rod and spoil the child", forced marriage of child brides... I could go on and on here.


Please don't.

The examples that you give were done under the guise of religion but to say religion is the cause is quite another thing.

Evil will manifest itself anywhere, and there are hypocrites everywhere too.

quote:

Read, my friend. Think. There is a basis in fact for my argument.


There is a basis in fact for almost every argument under the sun.

quote:

There I will agree with you. There is no argument that unquestioning religious faith is benign. None whatsoever.

I also agree.

quote:


No. As I've mentioned above, I've read and learned and thought. I was involved in a fundamentalist church for a period of time and I was raised in a liberal Christian faith. I have questioned and come to a conclusion.

It sounds to me that you could never be objective on this topic due to your personal bias.


quote:
You, on the other hand, seem to be going on faith that unquestioned faith is a good thing, although you seem incapable of providing any argument to support your assertion. If anybody's going on faith here, I suggest it is you.

I think that all faith should be questioned, but I don't agree that one's world view needs to be tied to materialism, or physics.

quote:

Unless you're willing to take a stab at an actual, you know, argument. But I won't hold my breath.

I prefer taking potshots at others, thanks...

There's very little in this life you can hang your hat on, aside from trying to personally do your best to make this world a better place.

And the person I knew who did the best job at that did so out of religious inspiration, so what do you do with that ?

The harm that religion did through the years - sure enough, that's a big idea. But there were plenty of places that had no religion either, and some of them were pretty crappy too.


From: Toronto | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
Timebandit
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posted 06 May 2008 01:38 PM      Profile for Timebandit     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
The examples that you give were done under the guise of religion but to say religion is the cause is quite another thing.

Evil will manifest itself anywhere, and there are hypocrites everywhere too.


That's just a little too pat. Everybody who does something violent in the name of religion is a hypocrite, or they'd do it anyway? Bullshit. James Charles Kopp murdered Dr. Barnett Slepian because of, not in spite of, religion. The Spanish Inquisition was religious in nature. These were people of FAITH, not hypocrites. In their minds, the defence of faith and morality was at stake -- God meant for them to do these horrible things.

Sure, there's the odd person who does "the right thing" out of faith... I mean, the people who ran the residential schools only did it for the well-being of their charges... I'm sure they meant well, too.

These things were not done under the "guise" of religion. They were religiously motivated.

Funny thing, this manifestation of evil is so much more common when some god or other rubber-stamps it by providing some ancient and moral writing to back it up.

quote:
I think that all faith should be questioned, but I don't agree that one's world view needs to be tied to materialism, or physics.

Where did I say it had to be?

quote:
I prefer taking potshots at others, thanks...

There's very little in this life you can hang your hat on, aside from trying to personally do your best to make this world a better place.

And the person I knew who did the best job at that did so out of religious inspiration, so what do you do with that ?

The harm that religion did through the years - sure enough, that's a big idea. But there were plenty of places that had no religion either, and some of them were pretty crappy too.


Really? I don't think there is anywhere on earth that is devoid of the effects of some form of religion. Where would that be?

There may be some who do good out of faith, but denying reality does no one any good. Sadly, these individuals are so few and far between that it does little to offset the totals at the bottom of the balance sheet.


From: Urban prairie. | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michael Hardner
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2595

posted 06 May 2008 03:39 PM      Profile for Michael Hardner   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
TB,
quote:
That's just a little too pat. Everybody who does something violent in the name of religion is a hypocrite, or they'd do it anyway? Bullshit. James Charles Kopp murdered Dr. Barnett Slepian because of, not in spite of, religion. The Spanish Inquisition was religious in nature. These were people of FAITH, not hypocrites. In their minds, the defence of faith and morality was at stake -- God meant for them to do these horrible things.

Those are good examples, but still examples of people who misunderstood their faith.

I will say that they weren't hypocrites, but people who killed for what they believed to be a good cause.

But again, there are plenty of good causes worth killing for and religion is just one of those...

quote:

Sure, there's the odd person who does "the right thing" out of faith... I mean, the people who ran the residential schools only did it for the well-being of their charges... I'm sure they meant well, too.

You can't POSSIBLY quantify how many people we're taking about.

quote:

These things were not done under the "guise" of religion. They were religiously motivated.

Funny thing, this manifestation of evil is so much more common when some god or other rubber-stamps it by providing some ancient and moral writing to back it up.


Just because something is old, doesn't mean it's bad. If it was, then the Pythagorean theorem would be useless now.

quote:


quote: I think that all faith should be questioned, but I don't agree that one's world view needs to be tied to materialism, or physics.

Where did I say it had to be?


You didn't. But ... well there are those that question their faith and then stick with it.

At least they asked themselves the question.

quote:

quote: I prefer taking potshots at others, thanks...

There's very little in this life you can hang your hat on, aside from trying to personally do your best to make this world a better place.

And the person I knew who did the best job at that did so out of religious inspiration, so what do you do with that ?

The harm that religion did through the years - sure enough, that's a big idea. But there were plenty of places that had no religion either, and some of them were pretty crappy too.

Really? I don't think there is anywhere on earth that is devoid of the effects of some form of religion. Where would that be?


I dunno... the Soviet Union pretty much exterminated it...

There are pagan peoples... sun worshippers...

I guess you could call them religious...

quote:

There may be some who do good out of faith, but denying reality does no one any good. Sadly, these individuals are so few and far between that it does little to offset the totals at the bottom of the balance sheet.

Well, my reality says that there is no benefit in helping anybody else. If I accept an irrational view that helping a stranger is just ... better ... then that kind of denying reality is good.

And, again, you can't say definitively that these individuals are few and far between.

I would think that a basic code of right and wrong, adopted by an individual, would tend to make them a net positive to society.


From: Toronto | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged
unionist
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 11323

posted 06 May 2008 04:02 PM      Profile for unionist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Hardner:
But again, there are plenty of good causes worth killing for and religion is just one of those...

Thank goodness there are so many different religions, too. It would be so hard to pump oneself up to murder if there were only one.


From: Vote QS! | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
George Victor
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Babbler # 14683

posted 06 May 2008 11:27 PM      Profile for George Victor        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm first on the list for a boo at Susan Jacoby's work, now available from the public library here. The Tyee's review also invites the read.

I expect it will make some of the same arguments as Al Gore's The Assault on Reason (2007), which he began by showing how the U.S. administration took America into Iraq without serious challenges.

Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Gore explains, was a lonely, challenging voice on the floor of the Senate, asking why the Senate was silent. "There is no debate, no discussion, no attempt to lay out for the nation the pros and cons of this particular war. There is nothing."

I look forward to reading Jacoby for some explanation, and from that, some idea of the silence of Canada's lambs.

Why do four out of five Canadian twenty somethings stay at home on election day?

Why are they involved primarily in yack lines, rather than public discourse in newspapers?

Why did John English, "Tad" Homer-Dixon and a younger Richler last year find themselves addressing a Waterloo audience (two major universities in town) containing not one person below the age of 40, discussing a biography of P.E.Trudeau's early years, the possibility of an environmental answer to threatening species extinction (ours), and the ideas of Canadian authors, coast to coast? In 1968, students would have dominated the evening's question period.

To wind up with knotted knickers about the implications of religion for a couple of individuals rather than taking up the marvelous invitation by jrose to look at objective answers to that "silence" - and not just in the U.S. Senate - is to underline Jacoby's (and Gore's) point: "Why do reason, logic and truth seem to play a sharply diminished role" in decision-making. And, of course, one has only to look at government in Steve's parliament, as well as the U.S. senate, to understand these writers speak for us all.

Is such reduction to introspection in literary review the product of postmodernism's excuse for analysis?

Einstein on religion? Isaacson's biography explains in depth his subject's humorous take on a belief system that looks for personal salvation - while also personally refusing to accept the uncertainty of quantum machanics in a universe that looks like the product of something more certain, more god-inspired.

I can't wait to read Jacoby, who apparently makes the point that books should be central to our collective intellectual life, and then review the reviews, A.Newman illustrations aside. Thanks jrose!

[ 06 May 2008: Message edited by: George Victor ]


From: Cambridge, ON | Registered: Oct 2007  |  IP: Logged

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