?

Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Previous Previous Next Next
The future is a bright? - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
j4
j4
The future is a bright?
This has just irritated me mightily.


After the first paragraph, I was already gritting my teeth. The first flakes of enamel started fluttering down like dental dandruff onto my keyboard as I reached the third or fourth. By the time I got to "Children are too young to know their religious opinions" (ascribing a religion to a child is "child abuse", whereas writing them off as too immature to have an opinion is somehow not?) I was gnawing the table-edge and muttering "sorrel, sorrel" under my breath.

Despite the damage to my dental regions, I did manage to read as far as the point where Dawkins kindly decides to inform the "gay" community what connotations "gay", "homosexual", and "queer" have. No, I'm not about to be drawn into the deadly dance of self-identification; my objection is nothing to do with obsessive people-pigeonholing, much less poof-specific pedantry. (After all, I suppose it is understandable that he has failed to notice the Queer Rights movement, and thus still regards "queer" as unquestionably an "insult".) But to blithely limit the meaning of one set of words (and, like it or not, identities) while claiming to liberate his own smug subculture from the tyranny of being called a spade... well, I wonder what the current meaning of "double standards" is in Dawkins' ideolect?

Perhaps he is right, and "I am a bright" really does sound "too unfamiliar to be arrogant". Perhaps it really is "puzzling, enigmatic, tantalising", and will revolutionise the world with its daring and memetic (natch) approach to (a lack of) religion. Fortunately, his real message comes out wholly untainted (and unredeemed) by his religious bias, with the resounding familiarity of the shit hitting the bowl: "I am a self-satisfied waste of the planet's vital resources".

Current Mood: ranty
Now playing: Rage Against the Machine: "Take the Power Back"

Read 48 | Write
Comments
beingjdc From: beingjdc Date: August 19th, 2003 10:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I can give him six hundred pages by tomorrow morning on why 'Catholic' defines a great deal more (indeed other) than religious beliefs. Waffling nonsense about Northern Ireland seems to have come into vogue.

I presume the 'Children of Catholic Parents' will go to 'schools to which Catholic Parents send their children and where the teachers are of the Catholic faith, with Church representation on the governing body'. How about 'Catholic Schools'...

Meanwhile, no doubt the children in Derry, Belfast and Armagh who aren't allowed to be called Catholic will be allowed to be called British, unless we're going to abolish passports and birth certificates. Well done there, demand that a community with a historically justifiably paranoia about cultural oppression stop being allowed to express its identity.
addedentry From: addedentry Date: August 20th, 2003 01:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I couldn't attend the RC primary school nearest my house because I was a 'bright' child. Since labels are so important, how about 'apartheid'?

Oh, my passport is an EU passport... (-:
beingjdc From: beingjdc Date: August 20th, 2003 02:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, my passport is an EU passport

Don't even get me started...
taimatsu From: taimatsu Date: August 19th, 2003 11:01 am (UTC) (Link)
You're right, it is annoying and smug.

I'm wondering, though, about his point about children and religion. There must be a debate on this, but I don't know how it would go. Maybe I'm just being prodded by RD into seeing an issue where no issue exists. If my parents had been prevented from teaching me about their beliefs it would have been an unthinkable omission for them, because, obviously, their beliefs are a central anchor-point for their entire lives. I don't know. It's possible to be brought up in a religion without formally assigning the child to it until an age where it can understand the commitment it is making. I think I *do* think that should be more widespread - as opposed to the Catholic system where you are in from day one (baptism) and you make your first 'voluntary' act of assent to that belief-system at about 7. But once again, in that system of beliefs it is important that children be brought into the fold of the church. It's inescapable.

Hmm. No easy answers, perhaps.
From: hsenag Date: August 19th, 2003 01:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm. No easy answers, perhaps.

There are if you don't accept the validity of that system of beliefs :-)

I don't actually see any huge issue with the "commitment" aspects, since as an adult you can choose to renounce those commitments without any negative consequences - indeed, for someone that doesn't believe, they have no meaning. It's like when my aunt tells me she's praying for me - it irritates me, but it doesn't actually have any impact on me.

On the other hand, for a Muslim, to abandon your faith is apostasy, and renders you liable to being killed and your possessions taken (according to the Koran or Sharia law or both, AIUI). I think in some Muslim countries this is actually enforced. This might be considered a bit of an issue if you were such a person and wanted to visit such a country.

Ideally (in my view) children wouldn't be "brainwashed", but how do you define or enforce that? Where does it stop? It's clearly completely impractical, even if society as a whole wanted to. OTOH, teaching in schools _should_ be religion neutral.
j4 From: j4 Date: August 20th, 2003 05:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmm. No easy answers, perhaps.

There are if you don't accept the validity of that system of beliefs :-)


Argh. No, no, no. Listen: SOME PEOPLE DO ACCEPT THE VALIDITY OF THAT SYSTEM OF BELIEFS. Given that situation (which, like it or not, IS THE CASE) there are very few "easy" answers.

I don't actually see any huge issue with the "commitment" aspects, since as an adult you can choose to renounce those commitments without any negative consequences

Have you ever held any religious beliefs?

Some things to think about:

1. It's not always as black-and-white as "I believe all of this" and "I believe none of this". If you've always believed something but suddenly you find that those beliefs conflict with other things you discover/learn/begin to believe/etc., then you may struggle to reconcile the old belief system with the new data. Or else you may simply find yourself questioning some aspects of the belief system, and struggling to reconcile the doubts in one area with the still-strong beliefs in another area. For some people, these inward struggles can be extremely traumatic.

2. The loss of belief can in itself feel like a negative consequence to someone who's used to having a faith -- imagine that all your childhood you've firmly believed that there was a loving God, and the "point" of life (insofar as you thought about such things) was to be good so that you'd go to Heaven. (Grossly oversimplified, but run with the example for now.) As a teenager, you start doubting this; perhaps you can no longer reconcile the idea of "a loving God" with the fact that Bad Things Happen To Good People (more gross oversimplification). Suddenly, you're faced with other options: perhaps God *isn't* loving? (If you've never believed in any higher power, obviously this won't bother you -- try imagining that you're suddenly faced with the possibility that your parents are murderers.) Perhaps God doesn't exist at all? If that's the case, what (you may ask yourself) is the point of life? For some people, coming to that sort of question and -- for the first time -- not being able to answer it is unsettling, upsetting, traumatic.

In summary, if you put your faith in something -- anything -- and then you lose that faith, it will have an effect. Think of losing trust in a friend or a family member; think of the PhD student realising halfway through their thesis that the subject they're researching is irrelevant and benefits nobody. It's as though a bit of mental ground which you believed to be solid suddenly turns out to be quicksand. And if the mental ground underpins every single facet of your life -- as religions tend to do -- then the effect may well be far-reaching.

2. If your belief system is one which you previously accepted without question from your parents/friends/teachers/elders/etc., then beginning to question that belief may result in rejection by the people who previously acted as your family/mentors/friends. Are you really saying that (to take an extreme example) being disowned by one's parents would count as "no negative consequences" -- even for an adult? Would you shrug and carry on regardless if former friends suddenly turned against you? (Have you ever felt emotional attachments to another human being?)

And even if their reaction is still accepting, you may feel that you can no longer relate to them, or even no longer trust them, since they are still running their lives according to a system of beliefs which you now believe to be false. And this (I shouldn't need to explain this, but given your post I feel I do) can be upsetting.
From: hsenag Date: August 20th, 2003 06:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Argh. No, no, no. Listen: SOME PEOPLE DO ACCEPT THE VALIDITY OF THAT SYSTEM OF BELIEFS. Given that situation (which, like it or not, IS THE CASE) there are very few "easy" answers.

There are plenty of easy answers for me - with regard to myself, had I been baptised it would be of no particular consequence to me (although I might have filled out a "Certificate of Debaptisement" to make a point).

With regard to others, I feel sorry for those whose lives have been negatively tainted by religion in the way you describe, and I am strongly in favour of practical efforts to reduce the chances of this kind of thing happening (e.g. by ensuring that schools do make it clear to children that alternatives exist). But in the end, the answer for me is that systems of belief that lead to that kind of effect are fundamentally abusive and should be condemned as such. There's no easy *solution*, however.

Have you ever held any religious beliefs?

Yes, but only because my teachers up till the age of 11 taught the Bible as an established fact. So through ignorance, not faith.
j4 From: j4 Date: August 20th, 2003 05:43 am (UTC) (Link)
and furthermore:

Ideally (in my view) children wouldn't be "brainwashed", but how do you define or enforce that? Where does it stop? It's clearly completely impractical, even if society as a whole wanted to. OTOH, teaching in schools _should_ be religion neutral.

And what do you mean by "religion neutral"? Do you mean that teachers should not be allowed to mention their own religion? Should not be allowed to mention any religion? (Does "any religion" include atheism for the purposes of this argument?) Or if one religion is mentioned, do all others also have to be mentioned in the same breath? Think how impractical trying to implement (never mind trying to enforce) any of these options would be.
ceb From: ceb Date: August 19th, 2003 11:33 am (UTC) (Link)
From our perspective, it is annoying, but you have to remember that being an atheist in America is REALLY WEIRD. There seems to be the same sort of stigma attached to it that there was to being gay in Britain maybe, ooh, 10 or 15 years ago.

(Really, it sounds amazing, but I've heard conversations along the lines of:
Euorpean San Francisco visitor: Wow! This place is so nice, everyone's really accepting and it's great!
American SF resident: Yeah, but try saying you're an athiest, you'll get beaten up.)

So partly the annoyingness comes from him trying to hammer home something to middle America which seems obvious to us (and partly I think it comes from the horrible American feel-good-aren't-we-great? way of doing everything).

So, yes, in Britain it's silly self-satisfied playing with words, but in America it's something very important that really needs doing and I'm with them all the way.
From: hsenag Date: August 19th, 2003 01:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
From our perspective, it is annoying, but you have to remember that being an atheist in America is REALLY WEIRD.

I always find it (on the surface) really strange that the US has this completely secularised constitution that forbids state involvement in religion, and yet a huge majority of the population is Christian and government representatives keep going on about their own faith (and trying to bend the constitution).

[I do understand the historic reasons for it - the US was founded by people fleeing persecution for being the wrong kind of Christians in England, and wanted to avoid the same thing happening here. I suspect they didn't even consider the possibility of non-Christians, though I could be wrong.]
addedentry From: addedentry Date: August 20th, 2003 01:40 am (UTC) (Link)
What I want, better than a new label which makes me self-conscious, is a damn good t-shirt logo.
j4 From: j4 Date: August 20th, 2003 05:48 am (UTC) (Link)
"THIS WOULD MAKE A GREAT T-SHIRT SLOGAN"
better... - (Anonymous) - Expand
sion_a From: sion_a Date: August 20th, 2003 03:05 am (UTC) (Link)
trying to hammer home something to middle America which seems obvious to us

Which is probably why the Dennett article (the middle of the three) comes across as much less ... "posturing" for want of a better word. It's something that affects Dennett, his students, his country on a day-to-day basis, whereas for Dawkins it's just social engineering towards his hyper-rationalist utopia.
j4 From: j4 Date: August 20th, 2003 05:47 am (UTC) (Link)
There seems to be the same sort of stigma attached to it that there was to being gay in Britain maybe, ooh, 10 or 15 years ago.

Which makes it all the more ironic that Dawkins is blithely making statements about what labels gay people want for themselves, while trying to stop people giving him and his cronies a label that they don't want.

So, yes, in Britain it's silly self-satisfied playing with words, but in America it's something very important that really needs doing and I'm with them all the way.

I see your point, but I still think that the way they're going about it is just dismissing one set of labels only to replace them with another -- only the new set is more insidious because they claim to be moving beyond the need to label people like that.
barnacle From: barnacle Date: August 21st, 2003 08:09 am (UTC) (Link)

Smuggery

Which makes it all the more ironic that Dawkins is blithely making statements about what labels gay people want for themselves, while trying to stop people giving him and his cronies a label that they don't want.

And, moreover, he is implying (in his typically patronising and playschool-speak way) a thoroughly insulting label for people with religions other than his own---and nobody can say Dawkins doesn't have a religion. Suggesting that adherents to theistic faiths should be called "darks", "morons" or "dulls" (whichever antonym he has in mind) makes one guilty of the same sort of intolerance that Dawkins claims to be railing against. And when Dennett compares God to the Easter Bunny you can see he's sort of thinking the same thing. Such comparisons have been considered unsound for years and years, and I'm amazed that an "intellectual" would still be making them. Now if Dawkins rather than Dennett had said it, of course....

I'd probably be happy enough being classified with the "brights", especially if it provided enough lobbying weight to avoid the poison evis taking over the White House all over again. But I don't want to join any club that has as its members the scientism-zealot Dawkins (who hasn't read a scrap of philosophy in his life, isn't employed to comment on philosophy or theology, but keeps publicly sticking his thick-fuck oar in) and the reductionist Dennett (who probably has read a good deal of philosophy, especially concerning consciousness, but I imagine reads the more mystical philosophers, chuckles wisely, and considers them to be a trick played on everyone except wise AI/compsci students). It's like these people have just read Occam's Razor and are just dying to try it out without reading the instructions first.

Is it me, or does "brightist" sound very David Icke?

Read 48 | Write