The pope continues his confusing thoughts and actions. He is still pissing on the people. The Vatican is worried that he is a workaholic. Perhaps it is his ongoing exhaustion that keeps him from thinking clearly enough. He goes to the Mideast and asks for peace sounding like a contestant for Miss America. Everyone wants peace but not to the loss of justice–punitive, restorative, or just isolating the offending parties. Better that he would declare religious issues are the root of the problem. If all of them put aside their childish texts and follow humaneness things would be different. At least something specific.
The pope inviting the Eastern Orthodox to Rome seems more like inviting the wolf to the house for hopes of conversion. Best beware. The last time this had any real effect was when Constantine visited, decided Rome was too corrupt to bear, and decided the East was to be the center of Christian authority. Perhaps they discussed how they would divide up Russia. Maybe they commiserated on how followers were being attacked by Muslims; a chorus of an enemy of my friend is my friend. Was it to establish how to divide territories for missionary work.
The clean out of the Vatican financial auditory board is more an acknowledgement of its dysfunctionality due to personalities and quests for authority. Where is a real concern to dismantle the money-laundering and money-hoarding schemes of a church that claims it wants to help the poor? That the pope is confused about priorities is well shown in his inane statements that relationships with pets prevent breeder mentality and birthing action. We really do need more people, and more hetero folks at that.
The incredulous example of how the Catholic church abused children sickens. This is the Catholic love of children yet hates abortion and birth control? Women who shouldn’t or couldn’t economically be having children left their children in their care only to have them be treated as less than less. When dead, they were buried, some 800, in a septic tank. Many of these children were used for *scientific* testing. If the Catholic church had promoted family planning and women’s control of their bodies they wouldn’t have needed to create these concentration death camps.
The children were abused in their surrounding society. With shunning, social ostracism, and neglect how did the adults sleep at night? Aaah, but that’s not all Christians. We have to contextualize it to Ireland in their worst days. Hmm, one didn’t need a potato famine or a dysfunctional landlord system to want to get the hell out of Ireland.
As to animals, PETA was quite wrong and lost a lot of support with their ridiculous ad showing milk to be linked to autism. First this supports those who consider autism to be caused by vaccinations since it implies it is all chemical, just which one. Further, that milk can’t be a good middle ground between being a carnivore or a vegetarian. What next? Eggs are the aborted fetuses of chickens and they are people too? I can see their ad now; fried fetus for breakfast is another person down the hatch. This would make egg eaters both abortors and cannibals. The expanding circle of self would cause even eggs to be us in some way. Wouldn’t it be better to promote better conditions for chickens and dairy cows? It would further their cause more effectively to provide examples and recipes of alternatives.
Protestants are proving that they may be even worse than Catholics in their sexual abuse of children. In one month some 25 cases were brought to law in the US and surely more exist. This is scary as does this prove that privatizing religious authority actually enables more abuse? Is Hobbes right that an abusive, tyrannical authority still helps keep renegade individuals in line? I trust not. The issue is the inculcation of religious patriarchal law based on books that are inherently contradictory and inhumane. Good laws make good people. If they don’t we change the laws.
This confusion of fairness is displayed by London College disbanding a Nietzsche club as well as their preventing the speech of atheists-humanists in an attempt to console the offended religious and sensitive liberals. Claiming offense is not an automatic red card to eliminate opposing voices. That past philosophers said things that inspired some to do wrong means these philosophers should be studied more carefully, not less. Or that their words actually promoted violence. On inspection, we can winnow the bad from the good. Just as in the bible, where the messages for the growing number of progressives are love, charity, compassion, and the embrace of the other. Just don’t forget to annotate or edit the texts. Frankly, Nietzsche saying god was dead was an affirmation that society should return to a passion that is so strong it could be considered beyond good and evil. He is important for considering passion an essential aspect of the human condition. Dated yes, obsolete no.
Atheists are themselves showing a startling imitation of past farm, labor, and suffrage movements. Debate has become more centered around members and what membership means. Was there ever an original strategy of uniting to a common goal? It seems that the male-centered, atheist-humanist-skeptic movement really was just another white boys club where the only rally cry was no god(s). Tempting, and happening, to stand on their shoulders and pee. Reasonably so since those still alive seem more intent on protectionism than inclusion. The denial of social justice when atheism is just *no god* is a facile and vapid discussion. It only discourages new members and many older members, white boys even. The only reason we cared to discuss theology was because those who practiced it weren’t doing justice. We wanted to know why, what inspired them.
Dismantling god was a good start. We need to dig deep to follow the evidence of what that means. Evidence shows god to not be true and not helpful. Following the evidence leads to strategies and tactics towards justice and equality. If evidence is the muscle of the arguments on god’s existence then evidence also leads to prescriptions of how to have a better life.
The remarks of atheist-humanist, social-justice bloggers that the most and worst comments are not from the religious but members supports the inability of too many to see social justice as a core value. This is an interesting inversion and example. It mimmics the debate of suffragettes on whether to include atheism in their platform. Elizabeth Cady Stanton said it must but others said no. They worried it would alienate the wider public. In this case social justice is the issue. It is worrisome that online discussions go astray simply because one person uses “” instead of ** when paraphrasing or for emphasis. This should not create a flame war.
I wonder if it isn’t part of follow-the-money. Professional (paid) bloggers vie for followers and *up* marks to get better ad revenue and a larger platform from which to publish books and be asked to lectures (another cost to platform base). If a movement evolves through 10-year generations there must be turnover. This makes profitable, political professionalism a short tenure except for a very few. A contrary view was that this is just more tribalism where disagreements attract audiences with strong but poorly reflected loyalty to a person. My spouse, a retired, evangelizing, political feminist, offered to me that movements tend to try to achieve perfection where any flaw is exaggerated beyond reason. At some point, one stupid remark and you’re out. Shall we all be quiet until we get to 100% right?
The Global Secular Council blew it on a grand scale. It tagged its introduction with a post-dinner, casual-but-posed photo of four white men and two women from the US and UK. This certainly caused me and others to wonder how this could be global. The responses were condescending, patronizing and name-calling. It resulted in some being blocked because they kept asking questions instead of shutting up. I narrowly missed being blocked myself. I was *warned* several times and put on a Level 1 list by an SCA supporter. I had to block him as he sent me incessant messages that I was defending the wrong person and trolling. I wondered if I were skipped purely because I was a man, only women were blocked, or because I was new to the community. My remarks were just as adamant.
In making posts to this new Twitter community of mine I did find that random people would follow me. When I checked their posts I saw they were not *”followers”* but clear opponents. I found “Block” to be one of my more common Twitter words. I didn’t join Twitter to make war but for education and to find community. It seems impossible for many to just let a diametric opinion be. I don’t see how I can deconstruct this kind of binary aggression in digital streams of 140-character flotsam. Just what does trolling mean?
Sam Harris found a winner in his essay contest of whether science informs, proves, or sustains morality. The winner writes there must be something before science that anchors moral value. Harris asserts evidence provides accurate descriptions for creating moral prescriptions and prosthesis, a kind of hindsight accuracy of consequentialism. He seems unwilling to say we can discern what to do in advance without the assumption that well being is always the goal regardless.
Could society choose not to follow well being and even self destruct for the sake of the planet, for example? A death wish is immoral? It gets so much more complicated. Families are a prime example of organizations that sacrifice for continuity, well being. People without children enhance society. It gets difficult to say which action is beneficial until it’s all over. Evolution is the judge. Nevertheless since no knowledge can exist without empiricism, the foundation of science, it would be impossible for any morality to exist without it. This tautology pretty much rigged the contest.
The most grotesque news recently: the rape of so many in India and their excuse by authorities; the refusal of so-called Muslim education societies to admit they support stoning; and the complete obliviousness by the press and public to Boko Haram’s killing of hundreds in Nigeria. I guess it wasn’t as good a photo opportunity as Christian school girls, fully obscured, and reciting forced, Muslim prayers.
At the end of the week, it’s clear that religions destroy more people’s lives than they help, movements shoot themselves in the feet, and women are still at the bottom of the heap.
Jim Newman, bright and well www.frontiersofreason.com