Thursday, November 30, 2006
Julia Sweeney's one woman act called "Letting go of God" is coming out on CD. I saw something on her blog about the book "The Moral Animal" by Robert Wright and how influential it was to her.
It was to me as well. And to Steve. In fact, when I got off the plane in Phoenix and met my anxiety ridden friend and fellow obsessor-about-these-topics Steve J. for the first time, the conversation had turned to this book. Steve had been reading it, I think, on the plane. He had to put it down, because he was feeling like curling up into the fetal position. Steve was deeply affected by this book, and so am I and Julia Sweeney.
Here's from Sweeney's blog:
Okay. There is another book I totally forgot from my 17 and is almost the most important!18. The Moral Animal, Robert Wright.I am still recovering from this book. As I said to Robert Wright, when I met him at the TED conference last year, "Your book totally f**ked me up!" It's so hard to accept that even those qualities that I strive to perfect in myself: compassion, love, sacrifice and so forth, stem from the most unwily and advantage-seeking impulses............
...... In any case, I recently reread the Moral Animal. When I first read it, I had to go lie in the fetal position for what seemed like months, just to recover from it. I gave it out as a Christmas gift to the entire Sex & the City writing staff. This book is so important to me.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Today I'm sitting here snowed in (yes, due to 1.5 inches, only in Washington state) with work being cancelled. I have been wondering to myself what must go through the mind of someone like Dennis Prager. How can anyone possibly believe what he does? And yet probably most of our friends and neighbors have more in common with his worldview than his oppositions.
After watching the recent science conference, it was perfectly clear that the overwhelming majority were embarrassed by faith based world-views, many of them vehemently and outspokenly so. Yet these people with faith based worldviews who poo-poo naturalistic
worldviews literally equating them with "the enemy" of our future, inundate the media and particularly talk radio. When I think of people who call themselves conservatives, the only thing I really acknowledge their designation to mean is that they allow faith to determine much of their opinion. Many of these people almost certainly have never once seriously considered that there may NOT be a holy father pulling strings and ensuring that good things happen to good people, and everything else is a spiritual lesson. I believe that you can distill roughly 85% of politics down to the differences between a faith based worldview and a naturalistic worldview and of course the degrees on the contiunuum where people are. And even part of that remaining 15% is about whether you have a traditionalist religious faith or a new agey sort of faith based worldview. Those two are very different also.
I am saddened by the fact that this bulk of our population, including Prager, do not understand the basic tenents of scientific naturalism. They have not internalized even the utility of scientific scrutiny to understand the world, and they most certainly have not made a serious attempt to understand the world through naturalistic science in an honest way. They have made up their minds before they have started, fitting part of nature, part of scripture, and part of human nature to their worldviews and ignoring the rest as (metaphorically or maybe not so metaphorically) "the work of the devil" or "God's will". People like Prager have said "my oh my, isn't the world pretty, there must then be a creator". On top of that they have said to themselves "my oh my, since the Western world is dominated by cultures which sprung from a Judeo-Christian past, lets assume that we can attribute the entirety of it's magnificence to the Judeo-Christian religion". They go even further and make this massive leap and say "and since the Judeo-Christian religion begat all this goodness, it therefore seems perfectly reasonable to assume that Jahovah is indeed the creator of the universe".
And they'll look at you with a straight face with bewilderment at why you can't see this.This "conservative" worldview is pretty much what I believed as a teen-ager (I still wish to be called a conservative, but I can't in this present political climate). This was before I received a basic science education and learned about natural selection and exposed my mind to the importance of being deeply critical of claims which go against evidence.
I suspect Dennis Prager is a very intelligent person. People who argue seriously and stringently and somewhat coherently with opinions that have the preponderance of evidence against them have to be intelligent (see Michael Shermer's idea that smart people are better at rationalizing bad ideas). Intelligence has absolutely nothing to do with why Dennis Prager believes in the Judeo Christian Jehovah. You could spot him 50 IQ points and it would not make his opinions any more carefully weighed, it would only make him better at defending the same ideas. The issue is that Dennis Prager has not exposed his mind to the "Magisteria" of naturalism enough to even understand that his faith arguments pose no challenge or conflict whatsoever. Anyone who understands the extraordinarily powerful arguments of naturalism would never take seriously a plea to beauty as a reason to believe in a theistic God.
Dennis does. And with a straight face. And with hand-wringing delight.
How do you have a debate with someone whose most powerful and energetic argument is such a blatant non-sequitur to his scientifically informed opponent that it isn't even deemed worthy of discussion? It reminds me of the Dawkins interview with Ted Haggard where Haggard said the bible was so perfectly uncontradicting and flawless that nothing remotely like it has existed and this alone is amazing evidence for Jehovah's existence. Such a ludicrous and easily debunkable statement is so silly to Dawkins that he didn't even acknowledge that it was said. Like other people for whom reason and intellectual honesty is revered, Dawkins didn't find it worth responding. He assumes as good reasoners unfortunately do, that others watching are also reverent towards intellectual honesty and will see the absurdity. But they aren't. No doubt many people thought Richard dodged the question because of it's power of persuasion
And the Aunts, Uncles and Cousins in Prager's listening audience who also are incapable or unwilling to explore the arguments of naturalism in a systematic educational way also accept this argument from beauty as having some sort of obvious opinion swaying weight in debate. "Ah yes, the mountain is glorious, any fool can see there is a God". The flowers, the trees... the 20,000 species of grasshopper, all testiment to nature's moral underpinning. Even the most cursory pop understanding of modern neuroscience, natural selection etc, would evidence the futility of such a statement, yet this is lost on the vast sea of the well intended masses who deem naturalists as blind and insane, made worse and more blinded the more education and knowledge they accumulate. Once again, this anti-intellectualism adored by conservative talk radio hosts is obviously repugnant to those who feel edified by knowledge. Harris and Prager both agreed that more education makes people less religious. So it's natural for Prager to attack that which is making people less religious, namely knowledge about how the world works.
And Prager knows he lacks understanding of the magesteria of naturalism as evidenced by his debate with Harris where he appeals to the rather uncommon opinion of one great scientist (Francis Collins) as reason for intelligent people to believe in not just God, but can you believe it, a personal god named Jehovah who desired burnt sacrifices and demanded that the animal used in bestial acts was also destroyed. The God who shows no sign whatsoever of realizing that homosexuality is almost entirely biologically ordained and not a "moral" choice. Prager knows he would never waste his time seriously absorbing the educational bedrock which solidly encases naturalism into firm ground and unites the major sciences from Biology to Geology to Anthropology uncontested amongst the educated and informed. He would never bother to understand Richard Dawkins much less agree with him. The world is beautiful, therefore Dawkins is wrong. That is enough for Prager, and it's enough for millions and millions of people looking into the Escher maze and seeing no reason to doubt it's coherency or even listen to those who would point out to them how it isn't right. It is blindingly obvious to these people that they are correct, and they can see no reason why greater education would change them to a position they view as absolutely insane. The natural result is for Prager and his ignorant fellows to decry institutes of higher education as bases of conspiratorial assault on God belief as if all the world revolves around this political power struggle between secularists and the faithful, and teenage kids somehow go to college and learn their basic science and sociology or whatever and suddenly lose faith in traditional religion not due to the subject matter, not due to the information, not due to becoming more well informed, but due to the fact that the courses are taught by people who (naturally of course) have worldviews which are based on science and reason as opposed to faith. One wonders what the alternative would be? The Taliban certainly have an answer for me.
Prager would complain that our institutes of higher reason foster wacky ideas such that men and women are equal, and he is correct. There is an insidious and disturbing wave of moral relativity that obscures reason and obvious evidence precisely the way religion does. Despite trying to be clear and evidenced based, even those who revere honesty accumulate pet biases. We are all human. But the difference is that this idea for instance that men and women are equal is in the process of being undone by neuroscience. Yes, it should have been obvious before, but unlike faith, this disease has a simple cure. Reality is clarified over time. Good evidence accumulates and not even the grandest PR firm can maintain beliefs which go against solid evidence. This cannot be said about faith. Faith is the only thing in life where people feel as if they are rewarded more for believing in things which go more against the evidence.
What does Prager think about the beauty of the regal horned lizard which squirts blood from it's eye? What about the orchid mantis pictured below (looks just like a dried leaf or flower petal)? Exactly how committed to intellectual dishonesty does one have to be in oprder to not see that these creatures evolved over vast spans of time via natural selection to fit their habitat? And if predators and prey are both perfectly designed by God, which side is God on?
How comitted to intellectual dishonesty does one have to be to see the quirky, bizarre, and brutal behaviors in nature and not notice that this process has absoutely nothing to do with an underpinning of primate style morality?
Peoople like Prager have a never ending supply of untouchable and unfalsifiable excuses.
As long as Prager and his kind can prevent the populace (and himself) from understanding that maybe, just maybe the foundational understanding of modern science accepted unquestioningly by the world's best and brightest science minds just might actually be true, then Prager will always have a nice porcelain pot to piss in.
We are reliving the Galileo incident in our modern times. Only difference is, evolution through natural selection arguablyt has more compelling evidence for it than Galileo had for a heliocentric universe. At any rate, both propositions should be equally obvious to the intellectually honest.
And it really all does boil down to intellectual honesty. The type of sophistry and non-argument used by Prager in his debate with Harris is a prime example. Prager is a talk radio evangelist for a crafted "conservative" ideology for which Judeo-Christian religious chest beating pride is a key component. The style of argument he uses is foreign to the intellectually honest truth seeker. It's a style of argument which is satisfied with straying from the spirit of a discussion by swapping meat with tangential word-dicing which should seriously have made even those rooting for Prager cringe. Prager's claims that the entirety of Western societal virtue can be credited to the wonder of the Judeo Christian God (who, due to the magnificence of western culture must then exist), is so loony and unconvincing that we can only imagine him struggling to keep his own face straight in front of the keyboard.
A good historian could probably come up with a near infinite number of explanations why Western society is successful in the ways Prager describes without crediting religion at all. To be fair, religion did motivate wonderful art. What better use of time for a talented gay man than to decorate an edifice of worship to a deity which has made it perfectly clear that he detests the architect in question for eternity due to the arbitrary swath of chemicals in his amniotic sac in the second trimester, or perhaps the small alteration caused in the genetic recombination which created the genome of his first cell. Sinful bastard.
The reasons for theism are ludicrous, whether they are espoused by Francis Collins or Ted Haggard. All the education and expertise in the field of genetics that Francis Collins has, and yet his arguments for theism could not possibly be any more sophisticated than those of Ted Haggard. Why not argue on behalf of Hinduism or Buddhism? What profound egotism makes a person insist that their God is true despite the billions of devout people with similar extraordinary feelings who believe their story for exactly the same preposterous reasons?
Another mystery is why is it that these talk radio hosts (Medved, Prager) are Jewish people who don't even believe in Jesus, yet are staunch defenders of the virtues of these falsehoods?
Politics. Intentional distortion. Self-deception so multilayered and deep that it is no longer even noticed by them.
There are many truth seekers in science who value rigorous honesty and disciplined clarity as if it were their religion. Unfortunately, this idea, this noble way of living is quickly beaten out by those who are adept at baiting an ideological hook whith the stink cheese of labyrinthine word games.
In the science conference, one person noted that when he flipped through science journals he would note that most of it was "nonsense". One after another idea that probably wouldn't pan out. But he never felt anxious to write a letter to the editor. He had perfect confidence that the bad ideas would be weeded for lack of evidence and for good counterargument. He pointed out that he could not feel this way in any other public arena. In Prager's world, shit ideas can become the cream of the crop with strong PR. The desire for meaning and the fear of death are a built in PR campaign inside each of us which has insured that even such a blatantly foolish and unmeritorious conclusion such as theism can continue to exist.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
This is from Brian Flemming's blog (author of the god who wasn't there).
It burns. Proceed at your own risk.
Example (condensed from the original):
SAM HARRIS: Even if your claim about the link between faith and morality were true, it would offer no support whatsoever for your religious beliefs. Even if atheism led straight to moral chaos, this would not suggest that the doctrine of Judaism is true. Islam might be true in that case. Or all religions might function like placebos. As descriptions of the universe, they could be utterly false but extraordinarily useful.
DENNIS PRAGER: You are right that this moral clarity and courage among the predominantly religious does not prove the existence of the biblical God. Nothing can prove God’s existence. But it sure is a powerful argument. If society cannot survive without x, there is a good chance x exists.
SAM HARRIS: No, Dennis, this moral clarity is not a “powerful argument,” or even an argument at all; please keep your x’s straight. If humanity can’t survive without a belief in God, this would only mean that a belief in God exists. It wouldn’t, even remotely, suggest that God exists.
DENNIS PRAGER: It is hard for me to imagine that any fair-minded reader would reach the same conclusion. If we both acknowledge that without belief in God humanity would self-destruct, it is quite a stretch to say that this fact does not “even remotely suggest that God exists.” Can you name one thing that does not exist but is essential to human survival?
I know, I just gave your eyes third-degree burns. I warned you.
Is there a word for this phenomenon of relatively intelligent people being suddenly unable to use their brains in the face of an obviously valid point? Oh, wait, I just remembered. It's called religion.
But is there a word for the phenomenon of people in the public eye making such extraordinarily stupid statements and still keeping their audience? Oh, wait, I just remembered. It's called talk radio.
A debate between Sam Harris and talk radio twat, Dennis Prager was posted recently. It took place, I believe, over a month ago. It's great to read because you can really get into the mind-set of a defender of Judeo-Christian conservative and dissect the disease under the microcope. Harris is at his best here, offering unshakably crisp evidential arguments. Dennis Prager does the typical talk radio conservative tactic and tries to appeal to contorted reinterpretations of history and round-about facts as if they contribute to his stance. Examples:
Prager says at one point that he knows of no intelligent atheists. Yes, no kidding. He says they may have great minds but they lack wisdom. Part of his argument is that this is because atheists are totally bizzare due to the fact that they can't see beauty in art, music, and nature without instantaneously coming to the conclusion that there is a creator. Obviously Mr. Prager has never been a serious student of natural selection or basic biological science. Unfortunately, his talk radio audience is surely comprised of the same types of people, for whom a reasoned argument debunking this using the science behind natural selection would fall on completely deaf ears. They take it a priori that beauty is an inherent aspect of the primordial nature of things, and it does not occur to them for a milisecond that beauty may be just a neurological creation of natural selection.
This bastion of ridiculousness also makes the blanket statement that spending time in universities warps people and this is why higher learning is almost linearly associated with atheism (10 % of the lay public are atheists, 40% of doctors, 60% of research scientists, and at the highest levels of distinguishment- 93% of members of the National Academy of Scientists are atheists). I can only imagine that Mr. Prager would like to see the Judeo Christian religion forced down people's throats in the college setting to offset this glaring bias towards atheism as education level grows. I'm sure his talk radio fans (most no doubt with very little science education) eat this explanation up without any internal controversy. Prager makes the suggestion that social scientists are even more atheistic than members of the hard sciences, a stat Harris nor I, am aware of. Prager uses this to suggest that the colleges themselves purposely lead people to atheism. But as I have ranted on for so long about, studying human behavior - self-deception, unconscious bias, interpersonal manipulation etc... perhaps more than anything leads people to be atheists and *certainly* must lead people to dismiss the brainwashing of organized religion in a very strong way. Prager wouldn't catch this.
Here is the actual statement he made:
You write that, "There is little question that exposure to a scientific education reduces the likelihood that a person will believe in God,"
a point I fully acknowledged in my last correspondence. But exposure to other areas of higher education, specifically the "social sciences," further reduces the likelihood that a person will believe in God. We therefore have two choices about how to interpret these data. One is that the more one knows, the less likely one is to believe in God. That is your interpretation. I have another interpretation—that contemporary higher education increases factual knowledge but decreases wisdom. With some exceptions, I believe that the more time one spends at a university the more foolish he or she becomes.
Prager would never understand the following statement made by social scientist Mahzarin, at the conference (not a perfect quote):
Mahzarin said that a humanities person might read a poem and fall to their knees and believe, an atrophysicist may look into the cosmos and fall to their knees and believe, but those of us who are social scientists who deal with human beings, when you do that there is very little reason to see God.
Prager and people like him are simply upset that observing human nature lends no reasons to believe in God. It's not a brainwashing of college students that makes them nonbelievers, it is learning more about reality that makes them unbelievers. It ins amazing that the "conservatives" have invented a loophole out of this obvious fact by pretending that institutes of higher learning just magically became bastions of secularism. Hello? No shit. What do you want, Pat Robertson to come preach at Harvard?
Then Prager makes the following claims, which I find to absolutely hysterically absurd:
I have in fact made the case for the unique legitimacy of the Judeo-Christian tradition in 25 essays I wrote in 2005. Suffice it to that Judeo-Christian values alone gave humanity the notion of the sacredness of human life; linear history and therefore the idea of moral and scientific progress; universal standards of good and evil; the abolition of slavery; the scientific method; the development of democracy; equality of the sexes; the greatest experiment in non-ethnicity-based society (America); the greatest music ever composed; and the greatest art ever drawn.
Ok, it should be obvious that this is a profound warping of reality for reasons that anyone who has read the bible will point out immediately. Prager is equating virtues of modern western civilization with it's Judeo Christian background. I think someone else pointed out that according to this logic, in 100 years a future Prager like person would write something like this:
Suffice it to say that Judeo Christian values alone gave humanity the notion that evolution through natural selection was a better way of understanding the origins of life, that homosexuals should be given the right to consecrate their affinities for each other legally, and that women should be allowed to be members of the Roman Catholic priesthood, and that the eradication of numerous diseases using embryonic stem-cell research was all made possible by our society's deeply entrenched Judeo-Christian heritage.
Sound silly? Imagine going back in time to a group of Christians just a couple of centuries ago and trying to tell them with a straight face that the Judeo-Christian religion was responsible for eradicating slaverly, equality of the sexes, scientific progress, multicultural pluralistic societies etcetera.
The obvious fact is that these things happened DESPITE the Judeo Christian religion, not BECAUSE of it. Religion fought it every step of the way!
And any advancements such as the civil rights movement which were inspired in part by the faith based community were made possible as well by the ability of religious people to begin to reinvent their religion and to literally IGNORE their own Judeo-Christian scriptures in favor of a more modern, secular, pluralistic society. MLK got his doctrine of non-violence from Ghandi who got it from the Jains.
These people astonish me. After watching these forums and debates, it goes to show that clever people can find any twisted and contorted reinvention of the spirit of history to support their desired positions. The difference is intellectual honesty. When you read the debate, you see that Prager needs to result to vaccuous intellectual dishonesty to defend himself. The extent of his argument is simply that god has to be true because nature is mysterious. And since the Judeo Christian religion inundates the modern world, that particular God must therefore be the one true God. The problem is that, for the minions of believers, this is not considered a bad use of logic, as long as it tells them what they want to hear.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
I have finally reached the end of the conference videos. Wow. I can't wait until next year's conference. What an impact the internet makes! Imagine how much money people would be willing to dole out to attend this thing, and here you are given a front row seat, actually better than a front row seat for free.
There were so many highlights and so many amazing conversations I can't recount them all, not even the ones I enjoyed the most. I was most struck by the quality of the usage of language amongst all of the participants. Sam Harris was one of the center-stage discussion members in many topics and he is just as succinct in oration as he is in writing. So much more can be accomplished in discussions when people can use language crisply. And when you are in an audience of people who are trained bullshit detectors, there's none of this getting away with sleight of hand illogic that you might see in a political discussion or an internet chat room, without just a universal and heartfelt disapproval across the room, even by those who might agree with that person's position. This is the beauty of reason, and it can't be easily found in other arenas of discourse.
The emotional focal point of the conference reached a head in the morning of the third day when Sam Harris debated
Melvin Konner and James Woodward.
Konner and Woodward are atheists who think that using reasoned arguments against religion is not going to get anyone anywhere and is a waste of time. Konner even said that humanity is religious and I love humanity, which pretty much sums up his desire to accept religious dogmatism as an integral part of humanity. This is precisely the attitude that Harris considers one of the major inablers of religious insanity. Within the debate you had your standard bullshit response that "its not all about religion because of Stalin and Pol Pot..." blah blah blah. Harris had to waste valuable time refuting this deplorable sophomoric horseshit, and he did so by saying that he could have changed the title of his book to "End of Dogma" and added a chapter about totalitarian atheists and it wouldn't have changed anything. When I hear these religious apologists continuously try to equate these insane dogmatic dictators with modern secular humanists, I know that it's a shit argument laid reflexively and strainingly on the table due to the fact that there isn't any other argument to be made with any impact. It's as if they are saying that since there are other forms of dogmatism which create atrocities, so stop picking on religion. This is just a direct fleeing from the battle, a total cowing away from the issue at hand. Dawkins joined the discussion table and went off noting that just because viruses are not the only things which cause disease, since bacteria do to, we should not quit worrying about viruses (sad that such an observation needs to be made at all, but it did). Then Konner makes this off-handed totally specious remark that we wouldn't be able to live without bacteria. Can you imnagine? What a silly bullshit statement! Dawkins' reply was "but we CAN live without religion". Then Konner and Woodward demanded the "emprical data" that this is true, at which point you can see Sam Harris trying to hold his cookies. For Jesus fucking christ sake what is the point of this manure? Had they been present during the conference at all? Did they not notice 9/11? Did they notice that issues like Gay marriage and stem cell research dominate the national conversation? This is a pure illustration of the absurdity of this moderate religious worldview, constantly doing gymnastics in order to defend religion under any stripe. I am glad this whole thing was caught on tape for all time.
What was readily obvious was that Harris had a full load of ammunition and examples to demolish every whimper of an argument the other two made, and Woodward and Konner were left stammering and stalling. Konner found Sam's reference to Nazism as being specious and tedious. Harris pointed out that the entire concept of anti-semitism which spurred the German public sentiment stemmed "from stem to stern" from religion. Konner pulls out some more gymnastics and notes that anti-semitism pre-dated Christianity by a long time because of tribalism, which is totally besides any point whatsoever because last time I checked the non-Jewish German population at the time was not filled with Arabs debating race issues with Semites and fighting over land. This is common in a debate where you have no valid rebuttal- you choose some totally irrelevent trifle of fact which is unrelated to the spirit of the argument and pretend it discounts the argument. Beautiful piece of work, he should be a Fox news analyst.
Konner's talk was particularly annoying. His attitude was that rational argument is not effective in changing the minds of the faithful. I have already helped convert one Jewish friend in my life to a leaning towards atheism after merely listening to Dawkins and Harris on YouTube and reading their books. She plans to come to my house this weekend because she feels like her life has been turned upside down by this alteration in beliefs and needs to talk to me about it. Her husband didn't take it too well. I suspect she will raise her two children slightly differently now. This is life changing stuff for people, and it wasn't that they didn't already intuit the problems with their religious upbringings, it's that they needed the resources to clarify their thoughts and let them know that it is okay to come out of the closet. I suspect Harris and Dawkins' books are changing lives all over the place. They clarified my position, they offer ammunition to those who enter into debate, they spark conversation. I have not heard a single impactful argument against the positions of Sam and Richard. The only thing argued somewhat effectively is that the staunchness of their atheism scares away the religious and further entrenches them. A fair argument, assuredly true for some people. But it's not a rebuttal of the facts. When you listen to Sam and Richard you see people who devote time and energy to what they do out of a desire to reduce human suffering and to increase human understanding. We need their no prisoners approach, even if it only persuades believers half way.
What happens as Harris has pointed out, is that nobody publicly changes their minds at these conferences. They privately change their minds, then slowly alter their position over time and then try to claim that they always held this position. Nobody is ever allowed the glory of changing someone's mind publicly until perhaps years later. As Kipling said- "those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still".
Religion is getting reduced. And reasoned argument is why it is being reduced. Just because it happens too slowly to be gratifying doesn't mean reasoning is pointless. It becomes more and more obvious that arguments against evolution are embarrassing and dishonest, and some people are realizing that. Creation science will never take hold because there are too many intelligent people in the country who know better, and to any reasonable open minded observer of the data, the facts are just as obvious as any of the other accepted elements of science.
After watching this particular debate I can see the problem more clearly that Harris elucidates. His first response to Konner and Woodward was that he was grateful for their talks because they illuminate the problem itself. I wholeheartedly agree.
Friday, November 24, 2006
It is exceedingly rare that something catches my attention enough to engross me for hours on end. When it happens I savor it, and when I can find nothing to engross me, I search far and wide usually in vain. These science and religion conference archives are a treasure. I stayed up until 2am last night watching and only went to bed so I can get up early enough to continue watching this morning. Okay, I don't expect very many other people to sit through them all with any interest. But what a gift it is to sit and listen to the best and the brightest on this issue. I am grateful for my limited education for giving me the opportunity to understand enough of it to follow the conversations. Fortunately, since I am not married, I can enjoy the benefits of being able to do whatever I want, when I want, and for how long I want (at least during this 4 day thanksgiving break). I will certainly stay this way as long as I can.
Richard Dawkins gave a stunning performance. He seemed a bit tired and sort of stumbled through some of it, but the material grabs the issue by the throat. He speaks of the selfish gene, altruism, and then goes on to completely devastate the idea that religion is responsible for our morality with extraordinary snippets from various writings, notably from Abraham Lincoln and H.G. Wells which, if you have never heard them before, will literally make you gasp. Both were considered luminaries of liberalism for their time, and both were sharply and undeniably racist. His discussion of the evolution of altruism makes it crystal clear to me that a soul has nothing whatsoever to do with it. It is purely selected for the benefits of selfish genes by a random process.
Watching the video, you can tell that many members of the science elite reveal through their questions that they have a very incomplete understanding of modern theory of natural selection. Of course, it's not the business of a mathematician to do this anymore than a highschool P.E. teacher, but it is very telling for how science runs so disconnectedly in it's various branches.
Dawkins raised issues that cut to the very core of what we call our humanity and likens the core of our humanity (our altruism) to a moth who was once guided by the light of the moon and stars only to now be guided into the flames of candles. Altruism the way we evolved to use it, was for the vast majority of our heritage amongst those of our own kin. We did not mix nearly as much genetically, and helping others without question preserved many of the very same genes that your own genome contained.
Now it's different, we help those mostly who have nothing to do with our family line (if you are in a service profession, say). Dawkins says this is an evolutionary mistake, like the moth who flies into candles for reasons which once suited it's navigation for millions of years. It would be idiotic to ask why a moth evolved to fly into flames. It is also idiotic to wonder why humans evolved to help people they don't even know for no benefit to themselves, for the very same reasons. There once was a benefit to their genes for caring for their kin like they would care for themselves (everything makes sense from a "genes-eye-view" and the proper question is not "how does this trait help me" but "how did my genes use this trait to replicate themselves"). But this point is utterly lost on 99.5% of the populace who takes the existence of altruism as a perfectly bullet-proof argument for a moral universe, and can't grasp even the basics of natural selection.
As I said, I could tell that some of the elite scientists who were not biologists, had a shaky grasp of natural selection and it's implications by their questions and their stunned looks as Richard smashed cherished notions with the ease and naturalness of taking a shit. This is not surprising, because I am convinced that half the students who go through biology 101 in college still have no real grasp of natural selection. It isn't really the focus of the class. It is also not surprising that those astrophysicists and mathemeticians who don't dwell on natural selection would be more likely to believe in a creator, and statistically they are. Why do people have trouble grasping natural selection? Because it cuts to the very core of our humanity. The implications can be destructive. We literally fight to ward off this understanding, (I know I did this for a decade even after I had somewhat grasped it). It's not that I didn't believe it, it's that I needed a more human-centric explanation that gave my life meaning. But after having so many of my own experiences with people and being a very self-reflective person, I have come to see that my own mind and the mind of humanity itself is a cauldron of political sales pitches, mostly masquerading as something done for the benefit of others, and mostly having nothing at all to do with the benefit of others directly. Sort of like buying the warranty at Best Buy- a complete rip off, but packaged in such a way that makes you think it might be wise.Part of the discussion was about a man of science who learned about the selfish gene and the origin of altruism. He was a very caring person who would randomly give to the poor and needy, I think he was also a Catholic Priest. As he grasped the concept, he slipped into a profound depression, eventually leading to the taking of his own life. Can't remember his name.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Professional bullshit detector extraordinaire. When I watched her lecture (session 7), I realized I had missed my perfect calling in life.
Mahzarin Banaji, currently Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics at Harvard and Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, studies human thinking and feeling in social context, particularly how unconscious assessments reflect hidden attitudes about social group membership such as race, gender and class. Her research has implications for theories of individual responsibility and social justice.
I was completely hooked after she made a reference to the study of the number of believers amongst the educated elite according to their different academic categories. Why do some sorts of categories have more or fewer believers? Math and physics have more believers, but biologists have fewer believers. Actually, those who work with actual people in the physical world have the fewest believers (except for doctors who have more believers likely due to their task of continuously breaking devastating news to those who need to find meaning).
Mahzarin said that a humanities person might read a poem and fall to their knees and believe, an atrophysicist may look into the cosmos and fall to their knees and believe, but those of us who are social scientists who deal with human beings, when you do that there is very little reason to see God.
Amen to that sister. What good is even asking whether there is a God when the entire foundation of human beingness is just a big complex exercise in memetic chicanery? She gets paid to do what I wish I could- sit around and find ways to show the strings on the puppets.
If you want to see what happens when a masquerading new ager presents ideas about collective quantum consciousness to a group of top scientists in their fields, watch this. He gets shelled in an embarrassing way. His talk is semi-followable, but then he leaps into this sheer speculation about his untestable hypotheses. At the end of the talk I exclaimed "oh thats bullshit", and in the post mortem discussion it seems the experts thought it was even more bullshit than I surmised.
I think Hameroff has some great ideas, but this is a case where we run into the danger of untestable quantum-speak. The issue of consciousness and quantum microtubules is too far out to verify. It is imagination hypothesis. Can it even be called science? I also think this is a case which really shows why, of all the sciences, there are more atheists to be found in biology than anywhere else. Stuart Hameroff can espouse that there is a Platonic underpinning in the conscious fabric of the universe which can motivate gene mutations ( a sophisticated ID mechanism). Most biologists understand too much about the red in tooth and claw aspect of nature to take such an idea seriously, thus their greater likelihood to embrace atheism. Hameroff suggests that there is a primordial moral underpinning to the fabrisc of the universe, whereas what we know of nature seems to reveal quite persuasively (to many of us anyways) that nature couldn't give the remotest shit about morality, and that morality evolved quite recently finding it's use primarily as a tool for social politics and reciprocity. To understand my point, consider only those under age 30 (the population of our species for the vast majority of the time we have been around) and observe people around the ages of 17-22 hanging out in the malls and bullshitting on their cell phones. Observe the way they use morality, observe the way they socialize, and you will see precisely the whys and hows of the evolution of morality. It did not evolve because it made 60 year olds wise and reflective! as so many would romantically like to believe.
V.S. Ramachandran, the author of the great book "Phantoms in the Brain" was the next speaker. His talk was short but interesting as always. I always wonder if the way he rolls his R's is exaggerated intentionally.
He spoke of a person who had a disconnected right and left brain hemisphere. He could turn one side off and talk to each of them individually. The right side believed in God and the left side didn't. He then raised a religiious question of whether the right side would go to heaven and the left to hell.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Ive watched the first 2 segments of the program and the second one is just about as entertaining this subject gets (apart maybe from watching Dawkin's eyes almost pop out when he talks to Ted Haggard). Neil Tyson is a good thespian of science and an entertaining emoter.
So far it is amazingly entertaining (at least to this obsessed nerd). I am listening to segment 3 as I type, and a woman is defending faith by doubting the accuracy of science. A cardinal sin in my opinion. She is comparing apples and oranges. Major scientific "paradigms" will not be overthrown with new information, but put into greater perspective and fine-tuned. Attacking the foibles of early scientists for their incompleteness is pretty underhanded. I have heards that by the end there are emotionally heated arguments.
I apologize for the below poster which is really an advertisement for next years session of "Beyond Belief". I hope this thing gets plenty of play on the net. I think it will inspire the curious to read the speakers books to try to find out why someone can be so confident that something like Christianity is bogus in it's entirety. Now Richard Dawkins is called up to rant about Weinberg's "bending over backwards" to be nice to religion. He cries "I am utterly fed up!". HAHA. Awesome.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
One religious guy made a great point against atheist's duplicity by noting that in one minute atheists can say how meaningless and blind nature is and in the next point out how grandiose and wonderful it is. Very true! Nature is grandiosely FUCKING sick! Beyond all imagination it is reviling and repulsive to behold when one really grasps the blindness of the process. The beauty of design came with incomprehensible suffering, and even the human concept of "beauty" is patently meaningless as far as nature is concerned. Beauty is just an algorithm in the reward and suffering scheme that DNA uses to replicate itself.
I agree with Dawkins in that the mystery of everything coming into existence without a God is no more mysterious than everything coming into existence with a God, and since nature is a patently mindless process designed as an unwinnable reward and suffering game which leads invariably to suffering and delusion and absolutely nowhere meaningful (I consider even the most noble of human promptings to be duplicitious incongruent lies to their very core.. eg Oprah Winfrey).
I can never understand why Dawkins is so humanistic. I agree with John Grey (Straw Dogs) that humanism is really just the new Christianity dressed up for a post Christian world. Humanism the way it is popularly conceived is every bit as superstitious as Christianity (even though as I say again and again... I am willing to pretend that the urging for human nobility is not a selfish lie invented by the gene replication process.. even though it is just as "beautiful" and morally driven as an anal gang bang scene in a midget porno).
I truly am a nihilist at the end of the day. I think the very kernel of our existence is bogusness. The implications of natural selection are too harmful for even Richard Dawkins to take- who uses the grandeur of science as his spiritual manna. Even the experience of grandeur is an illusion itself.
Looking back at our most adept of spiritual heros the world over, I KNOW without a shadow of any doubt that these people were more delusional and deeply misled about the nature of the univere and life than say, Corky from "Life Goes On". None of their efforts to be noble and God-filled got them anywhere at all but deep into the depths of ignorance and delusion. What sort of God would it be who demanded delusion and ignorance to reach Him? The only reasonable conclusion is that all human spirituality is false and merely body driven (an idea which has come to seem blatantly obvious to me in recent years especially after looking into the new neuroscience and finally having enough of the NDE to pull the Wiz's curtain out of my eyes). Of course, religions espousing a personal deity (the one's with all the followers) are even more profoundly and embarrassingly sick and worthless. It seems that seeking God, even if there is one, leads one further from God than not seeking God.
And life is not about learning lessons. Lets get that much straight. Nobody is learning jack shit. If the Dalai Lama doesn't acknowledge basic science (he is self-admittedly closed to the possibility of consciousness extinguishment at death and therefore intellectually disingenuous), then he isn't learning anything but how to lie to himself.
The only lesson I have learned is that all aspects of human spirituality are bullshit social ploys ingrained in our biology by a cunning yet unconscious dick/pussy reward/punishment algorithm. It's so obvious.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Any discussion of the topic of Wisdom, Spirituality, Religion, Altruism, and Love which does not acknowledge and give credence to biological evolution and the arbitrary nature of how these qualities arose naturally, is self-deception. Intentional head-in-the-sand self deception. Evolution is the universal acid. Human beings are natural born liars. Our brains and nervous systems are designed by nature to self-deceive, compete, manipulate and conquer. Even spiritual people are competing constantly over who is more loving, caring, and altruistic. There may be no better way to display one's dominance over another than to give and provide to them. Spirituality is all just as duplicitous and secretly power mongering as the most blatant of Darwinian motivations, it is merely one of natures more ingenious scams.
Deepockets Chopra is a biotheist- a position just as radically asinine and contrary to evidence as young earth creationism. He observes the world through a lens which is intentionally blinded from the findings of evolutionary biology. He invents his own way of seeing as divorced from intellectual honesty as a talk radio spinmeister. His reasoning is perfectly circular in that he "chooses" his way of seeing based on wisdom and love and other emotional qualities, rather than observing the evidence available in the natural world in it's entirety first and then developing a world-view. It's funny that the new age community harps on over the dichotomy of fear and love, when it is stark cold fear which prevents them from acknowledging the universal acid of biological evolution through natural selection which is utterly devastating to their views, and which they scarecely understand or are willing to even try to understand.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Aaron: the only truly honest act a human being can do is to commit suicide at the prime of his life in perfect well-being for no observable reason whatsoever.
Steve: Like Doug Stewart.
Steve: My beloved friend.
Aaron: any other life is dishonest
Aaron: but I prefer the dishonest existence
Aaron: over extinguishment
Steve: unless we survive
Aaron: we dont
Monday, November 13, 2006
I don't know where this came from. I wrote it October 28th and must have meant to post it but never did.
"Stay the Course"
Part of the success of talk radio and cable news programs is their ability to get away time and again with absolute lies with virtually no accountability. Their echo chamber gobbledegook is so belligerent, emotion-laden and void of critique that even the most blatantly false statements are forgotten in the dissonant belch of disingenuous horse-shit faster than Rush Limbaugh's latest one night stand in the Dominican Republic. They say exactly what they want to believe. They say it loud and often, and people want to believe it so much that they start ignoring reality to do it.
It is an effective strategy. For instance, in Sean Hannity's world, the war on terror is a huge success, we freed the Iraqi people, and the economy is better than it has ever been despite the fact that Bush inherited a recession from Clinton. He can say it over and over again. It's his own little world, how dare any biased Darwin believing liberals argue. Since most people are far too busy to learn anything complicated, the one's who live in the echo chamber will hear nothing but the echoes they love so much without all that nasty and confusing counterargument.
What sheer evil it is to be so enthusiastically deceptive.
Last night I saw David Letterman hand Oreilly his ass on a platter. Oreilly was saying something about how simple the Iraq issue was, and Letterman said "it's not simple for me because I'm a thoughtful person". Fast food news (virtually entirely right wing conservative by nature) achieves success by reducing extremely complex issues down to emotional faith based either-ors. It's a substitute brain for those without the energy or capacity to reason (or those who have faith and don't need to reason).
Strangely enough, the only news outlets brave enough to call the cowardly evil bullshitters on their deceptions are comedy shows. Despite the innumerable bald faced lies of Limbaugh, Hannity and Oreilly, you would never see some sort of NBC expose segment describing them in detail and taking them to task for their counterfeit form of "effortless journalism". That would be decried as "biased liberal media" no matter how obviously true the expose was. It turns out that the fake Christianist authoritarians are entitled to their outright lies as much as the next person. Opinions must be balanced, even if some of them are completely and demonstrably counterfactual.
But the comedy shows do the service that the real news is scared to do, thus their success.This is one instance which is amazing, sad and breathtakingly funny.
Sam Harris was on an internet discussion recently. I picked his lines out. There's some good statements in here. My favorite:
"..what is so frightening about religion--it allows normal people to believe by the millions what only lunatics or idiots could believe on their own."
I am, of course, not optimistic about converting many fundamentalists. But the truth is that fundamentalists do, occassionally, change their minds. I have heard from many of them. They have had their religious certainties eroded by rational argument. It is possible. So I keep making noise...With any luck my next book will be about the brain.
Yes, they do change their minds-- but it is frankly amazing how many reasonable people are not aware of this. I left of a scientific meeting where it was an article of absolute certainty for many people that you can never crack a person's faith through rational argument, evidence, etc.
A person, for instance, can lose his feeling of separation from the universe (this is possible)-- but is says nothing (or not very much) about the universe. It doesn't entitle you to make metaphysical claims about there only being the "one mind", for instance.
But it suggests to me that if we make any significant progress, we won't be talking about "atheism" anymore. We'll just demand that people be reasonable. Now, we don't talk about "feminism" very much, we just demand that people examine their gender biases.
Another obvious analogy would be the civil rights movement: does it still exist? I'm not sure, but we condemn racism wherever we find it (more or less). I think the dissolution of identity or the marque (atheist, feminist, etc.) is a good sign.
General comment on arguing (with anyone about anything) -- you almost never get the pleasure of seeing that you won the argument in real time. People just don't like to publicly change their minds. They change their minds in private.
Fundamentalist atheist -- I think this is just a play on words: Like "science is a religion", "atheism is a faith", etc.The question to ask is, can we be too intellectually honest? Too undogmatic? Too open to evidence and argument?
I like the idea of requiring schools to teach more religion. The bewildering multiplicity of beliefs provides its own argument against the likelihood of any one being right.
but I also think that in science class, ID has to be exposed as closet creationism, and creationism has to be exposed as ludicrous.
I think the weirdest stuff is the people who agree with my criticism of religion, point for point, only to then put forward their own totally insane beliefs -- alien superintelligence-channelled-knowledge, etc.
I think that the scariest thing is that most of them are just like us -- that is, not mentally ill, not especially stupid, not sociopaths, etc. That is what is so frightening about religion--it allows normal people to believe by the millions what only lunatics or idiots could believe on their own.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
I've got so much I wanted to write, but everyone's seen it all by now.
Isn't it interesting how the media constructs the dialogue so willy nilly? Unfortunately, I agree with the republicans that this election is not an indication that the country has turned away from emotion-based anti-intellectual faithism as it's source of direction. It was merely fed up with the war. And there's a good chance that the republicans will come back even stronger next go around. What's so entertaining is watching people jump the Titanic. Everybody is pointing at the GOP and saying "I'm not with stupid", or "Im a conservative...the republicans abandoned me". Ahh bullshit.
The garbage being bandied around is absolutely stunning in it's hilarity. Rush Limbaugh basically admitted that he had been bullshitting his audience saying -I'm tired of carrying water for these guys...but the stakes are so high [I'm willing to lie to you all and say things I don't even believe to protect my party because I am a free will-less automaton]. He's been doing it for years for Christ's sake. Funny, I had just got done telling my friend who is a Limbaugh worshipper that he was a lying automaton. He stringently disagreed, then 2 days later Rush gets on the air post-election and basically admits that he would defend his party right or wrong. Even if he believes in global warming for instance, he'll find a way to pretend it's not true if it helps his people get elected. What a prick.
I saw the movie "Borat". Not as funny as the hype, unless you're 17. Childish humor, but some parts had me crying laughing. The social commentary I found mainly directed towards what Ken Wilber calls "the mean green meme" which is where people are so reflexively inclusive that they are willing to take people who are grossly destructive and backwards and accept them with open arms, defending them. This inclusivity meme reaches it's highest danger in its allowance of extreme religion to go unchallenged in society. France and England will be pushed to the edge eventual by Muslim extremists because they are overly tolerant of insane belief systems. As Sam Harris says - the idea that Islam is a peaceful religion hijacked by extremists is delusional. Liberal hyperinclusive green-memers don't understand that these people *actually* believe in their religions and they are incompatible with a functioning society. Something has to give, and will.
As for Borat, he is a homophobic, sexist, ethnocentric, self-centered, egomaniacal pervert and you've got to see the highclass dinner party where they accommodate his insults until they finally snap. His jaunt across America is hilarious, especially when he sings his national anthem at a rodeo and visits an evangelical church in Texas. Worth a look for sure. Rent it.
NEWS- the Jesus Camp, of the movie fame has closed down for "several years" due to outrage and fear of retaliation.
Can this possibly be a good thing?
I am studying Daniel Dennett's book "Darwin's Dangerous Idea". I want to get a deeper understanding of evolution so I can better elucidate my ideas. One thing Dennett said when discussing the faithful versus the scientifically inquisitive- if your spouse was cheating on you, why would you want to know?
Dennet almost died recently from a dissecting aortic aneurysm I was saddened to learn. But his mind is intact. He wrote this extraordinary piece of writing after the incident.
And in our final note of hillarity concerning Pastor Ted Haggard's inconceivable duplicity and incongruity (the official mascot of this blog), James Dobson and a group of councelors were engaged in practice called "restoration" in which they were attempting to cure Ted Haggard of his gayness.
Dobson left the group citing that he didn't have enough time for such a "critical" responsibility. Can anyone imagine a collection of jackasses more thick than these guys.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
--"What the fuck am I doing here? Shit. I just come here to find a piece of ass. Maybe I can slip out the back before the offering plate is passed around."
--"First Sai Baba, then Ramakrishna, then Adi-Da Samraj, then Krishnamurti, then Muktananda, then Yogananda, then Kriyananda, and Vivekananda, and Andrew Cohen,
But Pastor Haggard??? The pinnacle of human enlightenment?? Golly, theres GOT to be a genuine spiritual leader somewhere!
---"It's okay honey, pull your hair over your face and bury it into my shoulder, I don't think anyone watching the national news will recognize us. Then first chance we can get the fuck outta here and joins the Jehovah's Witnesses."
--"I don't want to wait till marriage, I don't want to wait till marriage, I don't want to wait till marriage."
(Nice Tits, maybe I'll join the church))
"Somehow...sniff sniff... I will force myself to continue believing in this bullshit even if I have to denounce the laws of physics to do it... sniff sniff. "
"Daddy, why is buttfucking a sin? Elder Thomas likes to twiddle my ass with his finger after Sunday School all the time, it's fun."
About a hundred soon to be Ex-Christians with one thing on their minds- Get Me The FUCK outta this place!
If you're a new age author, you're about to have a whole new crop of readers soon, staying up late with your books and telling themselves- "I always had a feeling that Jesus shit wasn't true,(sigh) but it wasn't until tonight that I finally realized I am really an Indigo soul from the planet Bleeble come to save a troubled world with my holy vibrations."
"The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality and I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it all of my adult life."
(words of holiness in red)
I know what is most despicable- the fact that he lied straight faced in front of his wife and to his congregation. Imagine what his kids must be going through. Oh god, time to recruit the former cult member deprogrammers. We need about...oh... 30 million of them.Updated information that is very interesting:
More on Haggard's battle against "Control"
Yesterday, Radio France's Rachel Maddow interviewed Jeff Sharlett, the author of "Soldiers of Christ," the definitive article on Ted Haggard published in Harpers last Spring.
From the interview, we learn the following facts about Pastor Ted's battle against a shadowy group of demon-possessed evil doers that he calls "Control."
Pastor Ted staked out homosexual bars and sex shops in an effort to recruit the establishment's patrons into a Christianist lifestyle.
He laid siege to homosexual bars and federal buildings by praying in front of them and rebuking the demons within them.
One Haggard follower would take a garden sprayer filled with blessed water and spray it onto sinful intersections.
Pastor Ted says that Satan sent a witch to stab him.
His parishioners say Haggard resurrected a dead person.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
"Our investigation and Pastor Haggard's public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct," the New Life Church's Overseer Board said in a statement.
Well, looks like he's fried. For the board to come out and not even try to downplay it one bit means they know he did it. They know it was more than a mere massage. On top of that, Haggard is lying and they know that too. Soon we will see the rehearsed confessional, replete with the tears of forced emotion, and a broken voiced pleading for forgiveness from Christ on high. Should be great theater. And the media will no doubt play the succession of those pastors whose footsteps he has traced- Swaggart and Bakker being the most well known.
God, with all these scandals the Republicans may lose their asses on Tuesday. Lets hope. Let the Iraq investigations begin. I can't wait for the day when the talk radio shitheads are made fun of the way they deserve, and the reptile-brained emotocons are marginalized and squeezed between the pages of history like a wilted flower. Our votes should be an apology to the world on behalf of Americans beginning to sober up after a riotous night of insane post-9/11 fear based hysteria.
As Bill Maher intoned (in different words than mine)- Bushes campaign to protect us from terrorism by incessently defending the virtues of a failed military campaign despite all evidence to the contrary is like saying that he keeps smearing our faces with shit while trying to sell us fly repellent. The republicans are the party of fly repellent.
“Hi Mike, this is Art,” one call began. “Hey, I was just calling to see if we could get any more. Either $100 or $200 supply.”
Now, something doesn't make sense here. Haggard claims he bought some but then decided never to use it. So if that's the case, why would he request MORE???
In defense of Haggard, one could also rebut the claims of the escort by asking why Haggard would call and ask for more over the phone when the escort claims that the only meth he used was in front of him during their liasons.
For me, the quantity of a $200 supply and the word "more" are damning to Haggard and suggest strongly that he is lying. If the backwoods hicks around here can afford meth, then a $200 supply must be a pretty good load of the stuff (I've absolutely no idea how much it costs, all I know is that people working at McDonalds can afford it). Haggard is almost assuredly lying, just based on what's available to the public to hear.
In defense of the escort's story, it could be that Haggard just meant that he wanted more meth to be available for their next encounter. According to the escort, the meth was not a standard part of his service, but something Haggard requested, so by asking if they could get some more Haggard was probably just requesting that a fat line was available for the next butt dart session.
Hmm, in the video of him in the car, it even looked like his wife didn't believe him. He's got a good poker face, but his face turned red, he closed his eyes and winced. I could read it. He's lying his ass off and he's goin' down!
Friday, November 03, 2006
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Another one bites the dust. Ted Haggard, possibility the highest of the highest up Christians in America has resigned after allegations that he paid a male prostitute to have sex with him regularly for 3 years.
In a way I feel elated. That the lying bastards get caught. But there is also an overpowering sadness. I feel sorry for the man living such a profound lie. I even feel sorry for the thousands of duped parishoners living their lie.
Haggart speaks to president Bush on the phone every monday morning. Wonder what they discuss...bible prophecy? Does Haggard influence foreign policy based on bible prophecy?
Here's a pissed off Richard Dawkins, watching a sermon by Haggard in his state of the art mega-church. I can read Richard's mind here- "All this hard work I've done all my life, all this data we've collected and dissected, this insurmountable testament to the beauty of the workings of nature.. all trumped by this clown spouting his nonsense to people who don't know enough to even question." As Dawkins gets older, he must realize even moreso than I have that a worldview based on sober educated reason is always merely an aristocrats high parlor game, nothing more. No more significant than an interactive game of Sodoku or the annual Linares Chess tournement. No more influential on the masses than Tiddley Winks.
It is a wonder of wonders that so many of these preachers are gay. If they just wanted heterosexual sex because they felt unfulfilled it would be different. How could anyone read Leviticus and come away feeling safe for being gay..let alone the nations highest ranking Christian leader?
If this isn't curtains for these guys and their integrity what is? But I've said this before. Unfortunately, there is no amount of evidence or persuasion that would change these people's outlooks. But maybe it will keep some of their asses out of the polls on Tuesday.
Addendum: "Jones also said Haggard snorted methamphetamine before their sexual encounters to heighten his experience."
"Jones said he has voice mail messages from Haggard, as well as an envelope he said Haggard used to mail him cash, though he declined to make any of it available to the AP."
"There's some stuff on there (the voice mails) that's pretty damning," he said.
And imagine the devilish little person who came up with this title for their coverage:
Evangelical leader quits amid sex probe