If…, then…?

If Heaven is just an illusory way to assuage the fear of mortality, then is the assertion of nonexistence upon death a way to assuage the fear of eternal retribution?

* * *

If euthanasia is so good, why do we try talking people down from suicide?

* * *

If scientific theories do not simply “fall out” from natural sensation and perception, are they purely natural?

If medicine is intended to redress the errors of natural biology, and if medical equipment is an artificial appendage to natural organisms, then is everything even possible wholly natural?

If even one thing is artificial as distinct from natural, can everything be subsumed under nature?

If everything is lumped together ontologically as one whole “sheer Nature,” then is it even coherent to make distinctions? (If everything is the same, then nothing is different, and therefore it makes no sense to ascribe common properties to different objects. If every thing, in other words, is everything, then no thing exists. If I say everything is water, with reference to what do I contrast ‘this’ and ‘that’ as exhibits of water? Insofar as all assertions presuppose distinctions, how we can assert ontological uniformity without presupposing ontological diversity? Is monism, of which naturalism is a type, even coherent?)

We’re all in this together, asunder together…


Great, but not funny… funny, and may be great…

The Mystery of Unfunny Great Actors


Free to be determined…

“It is a repressive, medieval myth that homosexuality is a perversion of human nature. There is no such thing as an ‘essential human nature’. Homosexuals ought to be able to marry each other; to demand otherwise is a violation of their basic human rights. Homosexuality is as essential a part of human nature as heterosexuality is. Homosexuals are free to do whatever they like, sexually, since they are genetically determined to be gay. They are just trying to be who they are by nature.”

Religious education is an oxymoron…

Angus: “Religion and education have no place being together. Religion is about converting people to a specific set of beliefs and values. Education is about giving people skills and knowledge that equips them to function in the real world. Religion is inherently sectarian; education is meant to be universal. Religious schools can’t function like real schools because they are trying to mold non-believers into their belief system more than trying to teach students about the real world.”

Hercule: “I see you feel strongly about the matter. But how is an anti-religious theory of education not a religious entanglement in education?”

Angus: “Look, real education affords no place for religion in the classroom. But religious education insists that religion take first place in the classroom.”

Hercule: “Is not religion a part of the real world? If students are given no real contact with and instruction in religion, can they really be said to know the real world we live in?”

Angus: “You’re being sophistical.”

Hercule: “Oh? You say students must learn that religion has no proper place in their studies. Religious instructors say that religion does have a proper place in their studies. The difference is only a matter of degree, of proportion. You are making a religious claim about education, namely, that education ought to be non-religious.”

In the age of godmaking…

Here’s the received wisdom:

Humans have long suffered from various emotional and psychological needs and fears. So, seeing as the real world is harsh, indifferent, and unresponsive to these needs, humans in every age have fabricated gods and godlets to meet every little need. Finally, however, mankind has been freed from this craven superstitiousness and can now walk on two feet into the horizon of pure reason and exact science. There is no God; He’s just been made up by precocious anthropoids in an existential bind. This is certainly the most basic objection to theism: “You know that’s true, it’s made up. So believing in X, Y, and Z is not only pathetic but also immoral. Humans should only believe what is objectively true and should proportion their adherence to a concept or claim based on the evidence for it. God is just a crutch.”

Unfortunately, however, the psychological needs are still with us. We still limp. We simply can’t function without meaning and purpose, value, hope, and unhinged love. So the new wisdom’s solution is to beat the religious at their own game. Seeing as, on the one hand, there is no Meaning in the cosmos, since there is no “Meaner” in whose divine eyes anything and everything has meaning, and seeing as, on the other hand, humans are driven by their irrational evolutionary heritage to seek what is called “meaning,” the best solution is just to make Meaning up as we go. If there is no meaning in the world to be discovered and cherished, then we had better just make it up ourselves.

At this point, however, the jig is up, rationally speaking. For it is the same people who in one breath castigate Christian believers for “just making up their god talk,” for cherishing a make-believe world, who now, in the next breath, praise nonbelievers for making up the meaning in their lives, for cherishing a make-believe schema of value and meaning that has no more “objective” place in the world than, arguendo, God Himself. The atheist way, thus, enjoins men and women explicitly to believe in a fabricated Meaning and to proportion their evidence precisely in inverse proportion to the evidence for cosmic Meaning, namely, the total lack thereof. Precisely because there is literally no evidence for a higher purpose or a grand meaning in our world, we have to believe we can forge it every step of the way, and that, in an explicitly anti-evidentialist manner.

I have written before about the failure of paganism — which I dub “utilitarian piety” — to meet the true needs of human nature, even as it is mounted on precisely the premise that meeting those needs is the essence of religion.

The Pharisee fallacy?

The following is taken from a Northern Irish blog. One of our readers here would like to know if others can spot any fallacies/incoherence in Jonathan Bartley’s position.

Commenting on the statement issued today by six churches and Christian groups against US anti-gay hate group Westboro Baptist Church, who proposed to picket in the UK on Friday but were yesterday banned by British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith from entering the country)[,] Jonathan Bartley, co-director of the religion and society thinktank Ekklesia, said: ‘‘It is welcome that a number of churches and evangelical groups have made a public statement and joined the many others who are opposing Westboro’s Baptist church-style hate speech. But it is relatively easy to issue statements against extremists, distance oneself, and condemn them. It is more challenging, and uncomfortable, to acknowledge what one might have in common with those we find abhorrent. But that is what the message at the heart of the Christian faith requires.

“This is the real challenge that Westboro Baptist church presents. And among those who have condemned Westboro are some who preach rejection of faithful gay relationships, who deny their baptism and Christian ministry, and who refuse their wisdom. Some have attempted to negotiate opt-outs from equalities legislation so they can themselves discriminate against lesbian and gay people in employment and in the provision of goods and services. The Evangelical Alliance in particular removed the Courage Trust from its membership when the Trust made a Christian commitment to affirming lesbian and gay people.

“The six churches and groups have said with one voice: ‘We believe that God loves all, irrespective of sexual orientation[.]’ We invite them to reflect these words in their actions.”