Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Religious Humanism vs. Darwinist Animalism

(not spell-checked yet -- may contain random mutations)

Perry writes that "Of the forces at work radically modifying the nature of Western and Christian civilization, there are those which are open and violent and easily discernible [e.g., the left, Islamism], and there are those which are covert and subtle and easily ambiguous." Reductionistic Darwinism falls more into the latter category, but it transitions to the former in the hands of demagogues and polemicists such as Dawkins, Harris, or Hitchens.

To paraphrase the Upanishads, the world is a mirror, a window or a door for the sage, a wall or "stopping point" for the spiritually untutored man, for whom reality "is what it is" and nothing more. And to plagiaphrase Richard Weaver.... Well, lets just list some bullet points that I placed at the back of the book:

--The world is intelligible and man is free.
--Without imagination, the world is simply a brute fact, with nothing to spiritualize it.
--Every group regarding itself as emancipated is convinced its predecessors were fearful of reality.
--When matter is placed over spirit, quantity is placed over quality. But quality is not just another quantity.
--In the scientistic flight from the center to the periphery, they become lost in details which cannot be understood; this downward pull puts an end to ideational life, and the world shrinks down to an image of our most crude way of knowing it.

Schuon describes the situation well: the scientific reductionist, like a machine, "has reversed the roles, turning its creators into its own creatures; it escapes the control of intelligence as such from the moment that it claims to define the nature of intelligence from the outside and below." People forget that the quantification of all knowledge "necessarily entails an inward impoverishment, unless accompanied by a spiritual science that re-establishes unity and maintains equilibrium."

This is one of the points I attempted to make at LGF, but to no avail. The bulk of commenters there seem to think that the "wall of separation" between church and state (itself a gross misunderstanding) must somehow extend to science and religion. Talk about a "wedge strategy"! But American schools are not failing because of "too much religion" (and by this I do not mean a religion, but simply a more sophisticated transcendental viewpoint that easily accommodates religion as such). To the contrary, our schools only began to fail after they were taken over by the radical secularists of the left. It could hardly be otherwise. What did you expect, wisdom?

For this reason, I will be sending the Gagboy to a religious school, for, among other reasons, I have no doubt whatsoever that he will receive a superior science education there. And this will be because he will be able to place science in a much grander divine-human context that imbues the scientific endeavor with real meaning. After all, there is a reason why America is 1) the most scientifically advanced nation, and 2) the most religious. The two fundamentally go together. They were never antagonistic -- at least not on a widespread basis -- until leftist activists came in with their radical agenda of draining science of any transcendent meaning and purpose, in order to advance their atheistic political religion.

Anyone who claims that their life is meaningful in the context of reductionistic Darwinism is strictly fooling themselves. I won't argue with them, because there is no reason to take them seriously for even a single moment. If they don't understand this, they are either stupid or intellectually dishonest. The same applies without qualification to morality, beauty, and truth. Obviously, I will not waste my time "debating" someone who simultaneously believes in Darwinism and truth, as if the transcendent absolute could ever be derived from matter.

I notice that the unsophisticated commenters at LGF also have a caricatured view of the scientific endeavor, as if it is a strictly mechanical process that results from "facts + induction" -- as if it requires no imaginative leaps, or an overarching paradigm in order to even perceive a fact! I cannot see that any of them are the least bit acquainted with the philosophy of science, e.g., people like Whitehead and Polanyi.

As Ben said, one stupidly arrogant commenter even said in response to one of my queries that he believed in "absolute facts" but not "absolute truth." How to even begin to respond to such sophistry? There is no fact that "speaks for itself," no experience that tells us what we are experiencing. To paraphrase Weaver, only by knowing little may we know much; logic depends on our "metaphysical dream," not vice versa. And it should go without saying that it is this Dream that unites men, not the logic. Nazis and Islamists are rational within the logic of their sick dreams.

Obviously, I don't think my huge mythunderstanding detracts one iota from scientific truth. To the contrary, the whole point is that it places scientific truth in a much wider and grander coontext that does indeed imbue science with the intrinsic meaning it otherwise lacks. For it places science in the context of the antecedent reality perceived by the higher intellect and not merely the senses. To deny this imaginative vision is to deny the unity that transcends experience, and therefore compels the acceptance of relativism, pure and simple.

This is the very real danger of reductionistic Darwinism, don't you see? Charles keeps harping on the scurrilous charge that Darwinism had something to do with nazi ideology, but that is somewhat beside the point. Rather, I would like someone to explain to me how reducing man to a mere replicating machine cannot inevitably, in the long run, lead to the abolition of Man as Such.

In my opinion, Charles is quite naive about the inevitable implications of such an intrinsically anti-human ideology. Indeed, I see the results all around me. The adverse changes in the culture over the past 40 years have been undeniable to anyone who has lived through them. Do I blame only reductionistic Darwinism? Of course not. I blame the general "materialization" of man, of which that is just a reflection. And materialization means dehumanization. Again, it is inevitable. Ideas matter!, especially the organizing ideas that make culture possible.

The word culture is derived from "cult." As all conservatives -- and no leftists -- understand, culture is something that grows "organically" through time. It is like a tree planted deep in the soil, that is nourished "vertically" by the divine-human revelation that gave birth to it, as it is "prolonged" in time. In turn, from the root we eventually see a trunk, branches, leaves, etc, all nourished by the spiritual sap that flows through the tree.

Scientistic materialists -- including the radical Darwinists -- are like defoliants, or people who would take an axe to this beautiful tree that has organically grown over the past 2000 years. Please, I am not being polemical here. When you mess with the fundamental vision that holds a culture together "from the inside," you are messing with the equivalent of nuclear physics on the collective human plane: an Adam smasher, if you will. You just have no idea what you will unloose from the bowels of hell.

And one thing you will unloose will be unbridled spirituality, no longer channeled or guided by the perennial truth of revelation to "contain" it. When this happens, genocide results. Again, to not understand this is so preposterously naive that it boggles my mind. First they came after the fetuses. Now the elderly. Who's next? Please, this is not hyperbole. Just read the works of Peter Singer, a man who is at least intellectually consistent. But under his ethical terms, I should have the right to kill him, because he clearly isn't a person in my book.

Perhaps it is my psychoanalytic training which makes me very aware of the thin membrane that separates man from his most primitive and regressive impulses, and which prevents man from seeing his fellow man as prey. But if my fellow man is not even a man, just a self-replicating animal.... To me, this looks like a nightmare come true -- like a living hell. And it will naturally require a leviathan state to keep these animal-machines in check, and perhaps that is the point.

Human beings do not live in world of sense-data. But the postmodern vertical barbarians do. In their small minds, they are "liberated" from the "childish mythologies" of the past. In this regard, such an impoverished scientism "is assuredly cut to the measure of modern man who conceived it and who is at the same time its product" (Schuon).

This isn't liberation but a special kind of tyranny, for to strip away the veils that simultaneously conceal and reveal the higher realms is to immerse oneself in "the ravages of immediacy" (Weaver). Ironically, it is knowledge of death, not life, because that is where the downward flight into matter inevitably leads. To paraphrase Weaver again (this is from my notes, so I'm not sure if it is a direct quote), "behind the veils is a reality of such commonplace that it is merely knowledge of death.... The raw stuff of life is precisely what the civilized man wishes to have refined."

And with the loss of transcendentals comes the loss of the human -- not to mention the hero, the saint, the sage. These are our fixed "vertical stars" that have always guided us up the ladder of ascent, but in the Darwinian paradigm, these are all illusions, pure and simple. Richard Dawkins is greater than Shankara. Chrisopher Hitchens is superior to Meister Eckhart. Ray Ingles is on a higher plane than Jesus.

If culture is to be understood, it must have a structure; if a structure, a hierarchy; if a hierarchy, an end. Nor is "infinite progress" possible. Rather, if a series is hierarchically ordered, it is conditioned from top to bottom and cannot be infinite; if it is infinite, then it cannot be conditioned from top to bottom. In other words, in the latter scenario, there is no higher and lower, just a kind of infinite horizontal dispersion in all directions.

No. Man, because he is man, may know the absolute within his own transcendent interiority, which paradoxically "contains" the infinite. Conversely, to deny this absolute is to deny man and to reject the measure of all knowledge: the uncreated intellect.

The world is not real, contrary to what the reductionists tell you. And when I say this, I mean "absolutely real," in that if it were absolutely real, then we couldn't be. Rather, we would be reduced to the "real nothing" beneath our feet, as opposed to the transcendent absolute above our heads: "The common illusion of an 'absolutely real' within relativity breeds philosophical sophistries, and in particular, an empiricist and experimental science wishing to unveil the metaphysical mystery of Existence." But to pursue this illusion is analogous to believing "that an animal endowed with sight were more capable than a blind man of understanding the mysteries of the world" (Schuon).

As Perry writes, "man is virtuous because God is Good." To the extent that the latter is not known, the former will eventually not be realized, for virtue is not mere behavior but consciousness of a reality. Nor will we know anything worthwhile, for we will have abolished the measure of all things, and thereby live long and meaningless lives that make up for in shallowness what they lack in depth.

*****

Related, as it is a reflection of the same dominant stupidity: at the University of Chicago, free market capitalism is as dangerous as God, and why not, since both are the quintessence of liberty?:

"Having a drudge like Lincoln call to reject a real intellect such as Friedman only underscores the leading affliction in the Groves of Academe today: Intellectual Insanity, a dread disease that cripples and kills minds that might otherwise have been used to ask the universe: 'Do you want fries with that?'"

129 Comments:

Blogger NoMo said...

I am again reminded of this little saying that applies in so may areas - "A text without a context is a pretext". Science without God is an excuse for almost anything.

6/18/2008 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"The bulk of commenters there seem to think that the "wall of separation" between church and state (itself a gross misunderstanding) must somehow extend to science and religion. "

Pardon my reposting a comment from the end of yesterday, but it seems to fit here:
Regarding the wall of separation between church and state, I think Jefferson's later letter Thomas Jefferson to Rev. Samuel Miller, 23 Jan. 1808 is much more indicative of his intent, than is the heavily edited Danbury letter usually referenced. In this, Jefferson is more clearly seen to be protecting Church's from Gov't, rather than the other way around, ensuring that Religion would be free from Gov't - and though he certainly would have objected to that as well, he knew the more substantial danger lay with Gov't.

"...I consider the government of the US. as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment, or free exercise, of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the U. S. Certainly no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the general government. It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority. But it is only proposed that I should recommend, not prescribe a day of fasting & prayer. That is, that I should indirectly assume to the U. S. an authority over religious exercises which the Constitution has directly precluded them from. ... I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct it's exercises, it's discipline, or it's doctrines; nor of the religious societies that the general government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them...."

FYI - To gain an understanding of the full context of ideas the Founders understood to bear upon the issue of Church and State, this link on the Amendment I is hard to beat, as is the parent site The Founders Constitution, hosted by the University of Chicago. A truly outstanding resource.

The parent article for the Danbury letter, before and after edits - quite interesting.

"Talk about a "wedge strategy"! But American schools are not failing because of "too much religion" (and by this I do not mean a religion, but simply a more sophisticated transcendental viewpoint that easily accommodates religion as such). To the contrary, our schools only began to fail after they were taken over by the radical secularists of the left. It could hardly be otherwise. What did you expect, wisdom?"

If you look into the origin of the public schools, you'll find that they were conceived and created with that purpose in mind. To put all the necks into one noose, and then begin tightening the rope of Proregressivism about them.

It is a horrifying history to read with your eyes open.

6/18/2008 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yup.

Again, the naivete of people who do not see this is truly stunning.

6/18/2008 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"When you mess with the fundamental vision that holds a culture together "from the inside," you are messing with the equivalent of nuclear physics on the collective human plane: an Adam smasher, if you will. You just have no idea what you will unloose from the bowels of hell."

Well said. It would seem to be self-evident... but I suppose it requires a self with more understanding of himself than hissoph.

Some soph's resist any dents.

6/18/2008 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"And with the loss of transcendentals comes the loss of the human -- not to mention the hero, the saint, the sage. These are our fixed "vertical stars" that have always guided us up the ladder of ascent, but in the Darwinian paradigm, these are all illusions, pure and simple. Richard Dawkins is greater than Shankara. Chrisopher Hitchens is superior to Meister Eckhart. Ray Ingles is on a higher plane than Jesus. "

I forget whether it was Richard Weaver or Irving Babbitt... maybe both... who often remarked upon the temporal provincialism of the moderns and darwinista's... as if it has been all... all of time... was for and about them, and lacking their cool ideas, styles and gizmo's, other times have no place or meaning to them. Spiritual Gilligan’s, castaway on their own desert of an isle, calling the wider oceans and continents lost.

6/18/2008 09:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

no speakee Ingles

6/18/2008 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Van--

Yes, like the insular minds of the New York Times or liberal academia, they exhibit the most flagrant provincialism and transtemporal myopia.

6/18/2008 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

From Irving Babbitt, the Moral Imagination, and Progressive Education on Humanitas:
"Now more than ever, Americans argue the purpose and value of education and debate the central issues of educational content and methodology, as Babbitt did one hundred years ago.
Babbitt’s voice should continue to be heard in the public debate because his central concern was with that timeless question raised by the Greeks and most explicitly put forth by Christ: For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Matt. 16:26). The purpose of education, Babbitt emphatically answered the reformers, was not to train to acquire wealth and power, but rather, in the time-honored tradition of humanistic studies, to teach to assimilate the wisdom of the ages, an assimilation that could be fostered primarily through the right use of the imagination."

6/18/2008 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Bingo. The imagination is both quasi-divine and the gateway to the infrahuman. In a way, it is everything.

6/18/2008 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger Elephant said...

Nomo said:

Science without God is an excuse for almost anything.

And elephant says:

Wow. I'm speechless here.
True to the kazillionth power. Oooo. That just rips the top (cover) right off of a big idol of these modern times. Not feeling verbally brilliant this morning so can't put it better than that right now. But, thanks for that statement. True!

6/18/2008 10:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to testify that I was personally harmed, and harmed others, as a result of Darwinism taught to me in grade school.

I was an intelligent lad, spiritually untutored, and based on the information presented in my grade school science classes concluded that the highest goal in life was to reproduce. At the same time I felt despair that this was all there was to live for.

I went on to purposefully impregnate two women and possibly two others. I am the progenitor of at least 4 abortions. I have two of my own kids and two possible out of wedlock. I did all of this breeding activity because I thought reproduction was the sole aim of life, as a direct result of being taught Darwinism (and having moral training withheld) in public school. I did not use condoms and sought out women who did not use birth control. I thought I was living the best possible life, considering the options.

The misery I inflicted on these women (none of whom wanted children) is incalculable-not to mention what the children have been through with their absent or flagrantly promiscous father.

I had a turnaround later and am now converted to Hinduism of the Aurobindonian variant, and am deeply disturbed by what I have done and the forces that seemed to help me harm myself and others. I repent completely and realize how deeply wrong it is to expose children to Darwinism without a mitigating psychoreligious/transcendant adjunct to balance it.

I take some of the blame because my ego and sex pleasure buttons were continously pushed as well and I have to own that part.

6/18/2008 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

The lightning bolts are flying fast this morning.

If a tree falls in the woods and no hippies are there to hug it, does it matter? The original koan took on an extra dimension for me this morning; I'm not sure why I was even thinking of it, but there it is.

I suppose my point is that for anything to matter (and perhaps I'm really just re-stating Bob's post in my own simplified way), there must be an intellect to ascribe meaning to it. Science is great for studying the physical and biological changes that have occurred since the universe first banged. But what science can't explain is why any of it matters. If Darwinism and atheism are true, then none of this actually matters.

The fact that the universe is capable of supporting life, and that stardust molecules just happen to be versatile enough that under the right (and impossibly - yes, impossibly - specific) conditions they might, for no apparent reason, start to self-replicate, and eventually, after millions upon millions of years of self-replication they become somehow self-aware, this fact becomes irrelevant if it's all just dumb luck (regardless of whether it is caused by complex organic reactions found in chemical patterns or not). Because life in this material sense is not infinite. Eventually, the self-awareness will cease to be, and the universe may as well have never existed in the first place. Period.

And whatever we do to each other or even the planet in the meantime, well it's all really just stardust shifting forms in a backwater branch of a random, common galaxy, from dust to ashes. There is no hierarchy, there is no purpose, there is no meaning - regardless of how well we can comprehend the physical patterns from the smallest particles to the farthest reaches of space. None of it matters, it just is.

When those wetware circuits in your head throw in the towel, what will your purpose in this life have been? If the atheists are right, then there is no purpose; each of us is just another smart monkey, one of billions, flinging metaphorical poo with a keyboard and screeching loudly to claim our territory.

Blessedly, thankfully, I know there is far more to us, and to existence, than that.

6/18/2008 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I don't know that I was harmed by Darwinism per se, but I was certainly harmed by the materialistic paradigm which I imbibed throughout my education. There is no way I would ever expose my son to that kind of soul-killing ideology, at least without a way to put it in context. It's child abuse, really. (And ironically, Richard Dawkins calls religion child abuse! Truly breathtaking stupidity.)

6/18/2008 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Gee, and people think I misunderstand them.

But some of this does remind of Screwtape, C.S. Lewis's demon. "Believe this, not because it is true, but for some other reason." Even if evolution did have all the horrible effects claimed - how would that - by itself, or in combination with anything else - make it not true?

6/18/2008 11:00:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Gee, thanks Julie.
I wake up, check out the OC, and after readin' Bob's post what do I find? A good comment by Julie which coulda been great, but she hadta mention monkeys.

G-d, I hate monkeys!

6/18/2008 11:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Ray:

I have a question for you. It requires only a simple yes or no answer: Would you say that you have a passion for truth? I could be wrong, but it seems to me that you do.

6/18/2008 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Speaking of screeching...I'll be back later.
I just got busted by the "you didn't sleep long enough" police.

Have a good mornin'. :^)

Ow! Dang it, she saw what I wrote! Does nothing escape her eagle eyes?

6/18/2008 11:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Scatter said...

FU too, Ben.

6/18/2008 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Perry writes that "Of the forces at work radically modifying the nature of Western and Christian civilization, there are those which are open and violent and easily discernible [e.g., the left, Islamism], and there are those which are covert and subtle and easily ambiguous."


Kanye West meanwhile writes: "Sex? I don't know what it is, but I bet I could add up all the change in your purse real fast"

6/18/2008 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Singer's just as consistent - and just as wrong - as the Nazis, Islamists, and people who murder abortion doctors. "There is no cause so noble it will not attract some kooks."

Julie says, "If Darwinism and atheism are true, then none of this actually matters." I have to ask, matters to who? Since no one - not even the 'materialists' - deny that people do, in fact, have an intellect (though they may not agree as to its origin), we have something right there for the universe to matter to. And as that link notes: "The flaw in logic comes with the idea that a life lived or an experience and memory that ends has no meaning but one preserved for eternity does. But the math here simply doesn’t work. Either even the briefest span of thoughts and actions can be meaningful all on their own, or an eternity of them can never add up to anything. Zero multiplied by infinity is still zero: a life without meaning on its own terms, meaning moment to moment, does not gain meaning from eternity."

The fact that life ends does not rob it of meaning while it's here.

6/18/2008 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

ray:

Since no one - not even the 'materialists' - deny that people do, in fact, have an intellect

You -- nor any of your colleages, friends, lovers, advisors, agents, seeers, priests, helpers, butlers or professional philosophers can account for an intellect.

6/18/2008 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Ray - first, I think Petey's question deserves an answer.

And second - "matters to who?" is exactly the point.

"Either even the briefest span of thoughts and actions can be meaningful all on their own, or an eternity of them can never add up to anything."

Once we decide that the briefest span of thought and action has meaning all on its own, we're basically validating anything (so long as we think it's meaningful at the time) and everything - and ultimately, it's all still meaningless.

If meaning is a standard all by itself ungrounded in an Absolute, then it is truly meaningless. For instance, NAMBLA members seem very sincere, and find real, personal meaning in the idea of a sexual relationship between men and young boys. Are they wrong? Why or why not? Is their personal, unique meaning any less valid than your own, which I'm certain would find such a thing deeply repugnant? And who are you to make that determination anyway?

It's all well and good that you personally manage to find meaning, and for what it's worth I know that you do, in your own life in an atheistic context. But you are not everyman, nor even every atheist. And the evidence is all around us that humans, when unmoored from the Absolute, start in general to accept things that in Truth are not acceptable, by virtue of the fact that there is no good reason, beyond their own personal meaning, not to do it.

6/18/2008 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

ray said "Since no one - not even the 'materialists' - deny that people do, in fact, have an intellect (though they may not agree as to its origin), we have something right there for the universe to matter to."

Really need to take a look around at the folks you're standing with. Read some modernist philosophers, read some modernist lit, read some tenured wackademics - look at these people. No, I don't have the links at the moment... I'll get you some examples later; really ought to be able to find them on your own though.

And I would answer the old Pascalish saw (which I personally find of no merit) of the believer to the atheist "If I'm wrong, no harm, if you're wrong, big problem", with 'If the religious are wrong about the next life, no harm done, but if the atheist is right about religion, then they've wasted this life - here and now".

It is this life that I'm concerned with. Without living deely into the vertical, then this life, here and now, becomes meaningless, flat and empty. It is for this Life, NOW, that you should be concerned with the religious dimension and point of view. Any afterlife that may follow is just a bonus.

6/18/2008 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Petey - I accidentally answered this on the other conversation. Just for completeness, I'll repeat it here. Of course I have a passion for truth. Unambiguous "yes".

There are things that I disagree with C.S. Lewis about, but he was right about many things. And one of the 'rightest' was that we should believe things because they are true, not because they are useful or beautiful or bold or noble or...

6/18/2008 11:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Ray:

Very good. Now two further questions, and I would appreciate it if you would not return until you have arrived at a plausible answer that doesn't require me to ask, "but why?" or "how can that possibly be so, given the principles you espouse?"

First, define what you mean by "truth."

Second, explain why you have a passion for it, as you have defined it. Please answer both questions within a materialistic paradigm, evoking no spooky, supernatural essences or categories of the kind bandied about by Gagdad Bob. Preferably you will be intellectually consistent and stay within the confines of a Darwinian explanation of the human mind.

6/18/2008 11:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ray Ingles wrote "The fact that life ends does not rob it of meaning while it's here."

Ray makes a good Tollean point. Now is what matters. The past is memory, and the future is speculation. Past and future are mental artifacts. But the Now is not a mental artifact. It is real.

Look for meaning in the Now. The Now is eternal. It will always be Now. Now does not perish.

Take away experience and thinking and sensation from Now, and you get a background chaff of silence and peace and love/delight. These are the default settings of Now when you empty it of everything else.

This default or environing stillness, or emptiness, paradoxically, is what contains the meaningfulness. It is direct contact with..(supply your label here). I call it Vasudeva. Therefore, yes, Ray, the fact that life ends does nothing to rob it of meaning. Nothing to can take away meaning, because it is always there behind our noisy minds and lives.

The harm of believing in Darwinism goes away as soon as you stop thinking and acting stupid in the Now. Cultivate virtue this instant, and do it for all instants, and you achieve enlightenment. No waiting period, act on this offer now.

Up with Tolle, I say.

6/18/2008 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Ray - I don't know why, but you reminded me of this comedy sketch from Firesign Theater's album "Everything You Know is Wrong!"

We now focus on the newscast and it's two ancormen, RAY and HAL.
HAL:
....and what about that big local story, Ray?
RAY:
Thank you, Harold. As some Chinese philosopher once said, just dig a hole that's deep enough and everyone will want to jump into it. Well, as you know, that big old comet did the digging and now, daredemon Revis Kenevis is going
to do the jumping later today, weather and authorities permitting. And, now, here's Pat Hat with the story right in our own backyard.
Cut to a location near the hole. PAT HAT, a sportsanchor, is standing next to REVIS KENIVIS (wearing a cheap jumpsuit similar to Super Dave's own outfit but
cheaper with a Mojo Nixon swagger to him). While PAT introduces REVIS, REVIS waves his hands to his off-camera fans.
REVIS: (to an off-camera "chick")
Hey, honey. You ever heard of me?
PAT: This is...Pat Hat and I'm hear near the temporary Principle Angela Li Memorial Statue Resting Place with Revis Kenivis. Here, in a few hours, over 210 fine million Americans will turn their 420 million blue-eyes upon this man and it's GOT to be a fake.
REVIS: This is no fake, Pat! I'm going to fall into the biggest damn hole anybody has ever seen.
PAT: He's referring to, of course, the hole that many people say goes
straight into the center of the earth.
REVIS: That's right, Pat. The only other thing that's been down there is that comet and those two dumbshits.
PAT: Aren't you scared, Revis?
REVIS: I'm not as scared as you are, Pat. I got the best equipment; I got special trick shoes and a reverse drag shoot.
PAT: When will you open the parachute?
REVIS: Well, I may never get to know that, Pat. They say I may fall into the sun in the center of the earth.
PAT: ...or you could go all the way through and be projected into orbit over Katmandu!
REVIS: That's why I got the parachute.
PAT: Well, as the great sport scientist, Marv Albert Einstein, once said, 'What comes down, must go up'.
REVIS: Pat, I'm not down and out. Live or die, I'll make millions!
PAT: You're insane, Revis!!
REVIS: I'm not any more insane than the hundreds and thousands of my fans who come here and help me have the biggest damn party this stupid piss-ant town has ever seen....
PAT: (cutting in, to the camera)
Well, I don't want to sanction stupidity as our national sport, still I have to admire this young man's dogged nerve and rubber determination. Yes, it's a
small step for this little fellow, but he's taking a big fall for all mankind! This is Pat Hat near the big hole at Principle Li barial plot, Lawndale.


Hey, sometimes a little serious levity is called for...and it feels like Friday.

6/18/2008 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Petey - Truth is "that which is in accord with reality". Reality is, a la Philip Dick, "that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".

As to why I care about it, I'll go to another of my pithy quotes I've mentioned before, this one by David Gerrold. "We don't necessarily want accurate maps, we want useful ones. But accuracy is extraordinarily useful."

I don't want to believe comforting lies, for example, because if I don't know they're wrong they might trip me up badly later. And, in addition, if I knew they weren't true, perhaps I could find a way to make them true.

6/18/2008 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

julie,

Completely apropos of nothing, Kanye West's dual gift to art (College Dropout, and then Late Registration) have to have backers somewhere.

Writers (some of them 50 or 60 years old) fawned over Abbey Road decades ago.

6/18/2008 12:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

Ray:

You have failed most miserably, in ways too numerous for me to catalogue. Frankly, I expected better.

Thank you for your cooperation. I will send you home with an indulgence anyway, just for playing.

6/18/2008 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

(Ray) "I don't want to believe comforting lies, for example, because if I don't know they're wrong they might trip me up badly later."

You should really stop and think for a while about what you just wrote. Seriously.

6/18/2008 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Great stuff but little time today.

For Ray, you asked for specifics on Dawkins. Here you go.

6/18/2008 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Smoov,
I gotta say, Kanye doesn't do much for me (though admittedly, I haven't been exposed to much of his music). Right now I (or more accurately my husband, who gets caught up in adding to the musical collection far more than I do but I'm usually delighted to tag along) am in more of a swing/ big band kinda mode, spurred on by the Richard Cheese concert we attended a couple weeks ago. Stray Cats/ Brian Setzer and Squirrel Nut Zippers are what's got me boogeying right now.

6/18/2008 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

BTW, julie,

Amy Winehouse has apparently come back to life.

I want to see what she does next artistically. Very easy to copy a Gladys Knight -- I hope she will forge new ground.

6/18/2008 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Also, Julie,

I LOVE the Stray Cats, as does my better half. Most of the time she (my girl) has to drag me up for a dance or two.

Once I get started, I can shake a leg ;-)

6/18/2008 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Re. Amy Winehouse, I would love to see her pull herself together; her talent is incredible, and I have tremendous respect for anyone who manages to get their lives on track after the kind of problems she has. I can't say that I'm very optimistic, though; I've known a few people who are nearly that chaotic (though never with the means to take it as far as she has). Though it happens, it is rare indeed for them to really come out of it. But even when they do, it generally takes years, and an awful lot of rock bottom moments.

6/18/2008 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger TWP said...

I find it remarkable that my rabbi has spent his entire life studying Torah and would assure me he's barely scratched the surface, yet some bloke at LGF will pontificate with grand self-assuredness that he knows fully what is meant in all the intricacies and layers of Torah and the rest of we believers are a bunch of deluded dummies.

There's nothing to be said to such people.

6/18/2008 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Agreed. It's truly pointless. The ignorance is only matched by the arrogance. I'm certainly through commenting there.

6/18/2008 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Julie:

From Amy:

"We only said goodbye with words
I died a hundred times"

Not shallow for a 24 year old.

6/18/2008 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Charles ungraciously compares people who believe in ID with Islamists, but I wonder how many Darwinian atheists are willing to die to protect this country, compared to the religious believers? A Darwinist would have to be an idiot to put his life on the line for his country, unless it could somehow guarantee more reproductive success.

6/18/2008 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Julie - Similar tastes to my wife's and mine. Been enjoying Squirrel Nut Zippers for many years. Hmmm, you might check out Pink Martini - one our faves.

6/18/2008 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Smoov, no she's definitely not shallow.

Nomo, thanks, I'll check them out!

6/18/2008 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

When I was 21 I hated AC/DC. Now when I listen to those opening chords, and that hoarse-yet-open cry from Angus...

I may strike up some Stones on this new $137K system I've had installed.

6/18/2008 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

There you go, Darwinism proves it: evildoers get the chicks.

6/18/2008 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

And on yet another note, before I forget,

Ben!

It's been good to see your words back in the comments sections. You've been missed.

6/18/2008 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

For pure rock'n'roll abandon -- toss your hair back, take a slug of that gin and tonic -- remember that God loves you even if you're a bad boy from time to to time:

Sweet Child of Mine/Guns and Roses.

6/18/2008 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Bob, re the dark triad guys, while it certainly sounds plausible, isn't it possible that guys who score highly for the dark triad traits may be more likely to lie about how many women they've actually slept with? And how would the researchers know?

Just curious.

6/18/2008 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Smoov said "I LOVE the Stray Cats"


"We're gonna rock this townnnnn, rock it insiiieede ooouuuuut..."

I know it old cats, but I used to love playing that one...

Yow!

6/18/2008 01:46:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

I can hardly wait to see Van Morrison in Toronto on the 7th. My girlfriend thinks I'm nuts. I'm attending with a former motocross champion. He's promised he won't ask me to get on the back of his bike ;-)

6/18/2008 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gagdad said "There you go, Darwinism proves it: evildoers get the chicks."

So... if evolution selects for the bad guys... what're we doin' here still?

(Oh Ray... don't even)

6/18/2008 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Julie:

I was thinking more of the caliber of woman who is attracted to them. Who but a sociopath would want such a woman?

Smoov:

I wouldn't get your hopes up. From what I understand, Van pretty much phones it in these days -- 90 minutes of an efficient show and he's gone. Occasionally he gets frisky. This site often has reviews of recent concerts.

6/18/2008 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Just in case everyone didn't already catch this from the front page of yesterday's Wall Street Journal -

"Globalization and technology and automation all weaken the position of workers,” he said, and a strong government hand is needed to assure that wealth is distributed more equitably." - Barack Obama

Ahhh, I feel better already. I like "equity".

6/18/2008 01:57:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Bob:

Van was born in 1945.

I'm not surprised the energy has diminished.

(Although James Brown kept it going until the end, as did Tito Puente)

6/18/2008 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

As some of you know, I'm bi-national (American father, French-Canadian mother).

One of my favorite bands from the early days is Bachmann-Turner Overdrive. I'm still in touch with Randy Bachmann, and he still grinds an axe at almost 70.

6/18/2008 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Listening to Randy now:

"Out on the road for 40 days"

"We're an American band (they weren't -- they were Canadian save one backup drummer)

Sounds appealing to me. A Harley makes sense. New York to Florida in Spring...

6/18/2008 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

"Who but a sociopath would want such a woman?"

I'm kinda torn on that one. I know some normal women who have a hard time seeing through the glamour until it's too late, but I know others who just eat up the crazy like there's no tomorrow, and can't handle guys who aren't that way (too boring). They are the ones who tend to be (tactfully) a poor choice of partner.

6/18/2008 02:16:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, my point is that the reasons for the attraction are psychological and not "genetic," and that we always have free will anyway. In my clinical experience, the women who choose bad men always have father issues.

My other point is that a man who lowers his standards sufficiently can get as much sex as he wants.

6/18/2008 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Julie:

Many, many women are drawn to bad men.

Michelle Tradif was a girlfreind of mine (a catwalk model in Paris at 17, a corpse a few years later).

http://music.aol.com/artist/meat-puppets/biography/1004181

6/18/2008 02:27:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

!
Oh. Yep, that's true enough.

6/18/2008 02:28:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

I wasn't the "bad man"

I was in love with her and cried for a while the day after she left me for the lead singer of the Meat Puppets.

Those guys murdered her soul.

6/18/2008 02:31:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

So I was with the Angels for a brief period.

The most intelligent advice I got im my life was from a life-long member with full patches, who told me I was not cut out for the 1 percent.

6/18/2008 02:38:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

I had abrother who wore patches. I've been thinking about him lately.

I don't know whether he's alive or dead. I don't even remember his first name.

6/18/2008 02:52:00 PM  
Anonymous christopher said...

Bob, I love this post for its remembrance of the baby while you throw out the bathwater.

Materialism is your real beef.

Darwinists as you call them don't follow Darwin, who was a religious man, and so in spades was Newton and even Einstein was a deist in a real sense.

It is usually not the pioneers who ruin things but the dogmatic followers. For this reason Jung abhorred Jungians.

You are quite right about the priority of the spiritual center, but there have always been those who do not see this priority at all. You are also right that the discussion stops right there. This is one of the mysteries that old new agers hoped "the hundredth monkey phenomenon" might fix, since it looked like that blindness would destroy the world. It still looks like that, even though the world has survived several pinch points. Perhaps it has always looked like that...

6/18/2008 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I'm taking Terry to see the Stray Cats for his birthday in Costa Mesa. Should be a fun show.

Terry and his brothers and son are all very musical. They sang and played Rockabilly songs for my birthday. It was 50s style and very fun. I got this beautiful red vintage dress that fit perfectly. The woman in the store said it was rare to find a red dress from this period because they didn't make many as it symbolized a "bad girl". Funny how colors are actively being resymbolized by different groups. It's like they are trying to convince everyone that black is white and up is down and the sky is green. Who are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?!

Anyway, it is a shame that clothes are not made as well today. I may start buying mainly vintage.

6/18/2008 03:02:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

If I'm not mistaken, Darwin actually lost his faith after the death of a child. He died a very bitter man. I think. I'd better go look it up, before I start spreading a bad meme....

6/18/2008 03:02:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Sonny -- his name was Sonny.

Hope he's still kicking -- no way to find out as he's outside the law (but defended women and children

Angels were WW2 vets who either fought, or were denied the opportunity. Ben could fill you in better than I can.

6/18/2008 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Years ago, I held a Mossberg pump 12 in my hands.

In those days it was to defend the group.

Ms13 and similar which infect California now are nothing like I was 20 years ago. They kill for no reason at all.

MS13 should be exterminated, by the Guard if necessary.

6/18/2008 03:19:00 PM  
Anonymous christopher said...

You might be right about Darwin losing his faith. The crush of this world can do that. I seem to remember knowing that at some point. However, it is not how he was when he was developing his theories and also his theories were not the cause if he did lose his faith.

If you put God back in Communism you have something like the first disciples lived as described in the Gospels, and this reveals what I consider the Communist Manifesto to be, a Christian heresy, and the heresy being that God is absent and the fall nonsense. The rest of the faith is assumed as the backdrop of Communist vision.

The Communist heresy and its offspring lead to the materialism of today.

6/18/2008 03:42:00 PM  
Anonymous bob f. said...

Nice guys may finish last, but he who laughs last found another meaning. For example, if a woman with a smile on her face agrees that nice guys finish last....

6/18/2008 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger QP said...

Breaking: House Democrats call for nationalization of refineries

Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), member of the House Appropriations Committee and one of the most-ardent opponents of off-shore drilling:

"We (the government) should own the refineries. Then we can control how much gets out into the market." [read: rationing].

@ Fox News

6/18/2008 05:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

I blame Darwin.

6/18/2008 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

QP, let's hope and pray their plan doesn't come to fruition.

6/18/2008 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger QP said...

Me too, Cuz.

Pardon Us for Living

6/18/2008 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"We (the government) should own the refineries. Then we can control how much gets out into the market."

A party of thugs, theives and tyrants.

They must be named for what they are and defeated. Hoping and praying is fine, but please do much of it out loud.

Loudly!

6/18/2008 06:12:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Good afternoon, gang.
When the ID threads first started at LGF I enjoyed jumping in and contributing whatever wisdom I've gleaned to the the discussion. But when the ID issue started showing up frequently I started getting queazy. I remember wishing that Bob would jump in and do a little Coong-Fu on a few of the commentors. But when it did happen it was like trying to do gymnastics in a mosh pit. Largely pointless. Charles always makes the disclaimer that he's not hostile to people of faith, nor does he wish to create a hostile environment for believers. He sees the Discovery Institute, and their work as potentially dangerous. Maybe they are. I don't know. And I do not think Charles is being disingenuous. But the constant ongoing pissing match that these threads fuel has driven a wedge down the center of the whole community. Faith is constantly being hauled before the inquisitors of "science and reason". It gets damn tedious. Some, like Buzzsawmonkey, have done yeoman's work in those mudfights. Many others have simply left. The whole tone of the blog has changed. Natural selection? Maybe.
But pehaps this must happen. The parting from the left is now a parting on the right. The winnowing goes on. The alignment of sides continues.

JWM

6/18/2008 06:53:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Excellent meta-observation. Something to ponder.

6/18/2008 06:55:00 PM  
Blogger QP said...

What Van said.

Here's what "loudly" looks like ->

If your Representative is not on the this list, give them a call and encourage them to sign Rep. Westmoreland's pledge to increase U.S. oil production.

Say it like VDH: Mine, Build, Drill NOW

and

Sign Newt's petition.

6/18/2008 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger QP said...

More on Mine, Build, Drill NOW at the quipTorum.

6/18/2008 07:50:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

You got it QP.

And if some of you don't know how to contact your Rep or Senator''s (are you serious?!), you can find them here:
U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Senate

Tell it Loudly!!!

6/18/2008 08:45:00 PM  
Anonymous walmart shopper said...

Well, I think RAY put in a pretty good performance. It's tough to put a number on it, but I'd say RAY had 60 to 70 percent of the realism of an actual person. For the most part RAY's comments looked like they could've been the product of a conscious intelligence. It would be interesting to interview the guy who programmed RAY.

6/18/2008 09:28:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

Might have been the guy who did Hal.

6/18/2008 10:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Alan said...

jwm:

amen.

6/18/2008 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Scatter, didn't you escape from an animal testing facility?
I wonder if there is a reward...

Ha ha! J/K. I reckon I shoulda been more specific.
I only hate stupid monkeys that go apesh*t everytime a human shows up.

6/19/2008 12:14:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"This is one of the points I attempted to make at LGF, but to no avail. The bulk of commenters there seem to think that the "wall of separation" between church and state (itself a gross misunderstanding) must somehow extend to science and religion. Talk about a "wedge strategy"! But American schools are not failing because of "too much religion" (and by this I do not mean a religion, but simply a more sophisticated transcendental viewpoint that easily accommodates religion as such). To the contrary, our schools only began to fail after they were taken over by the radical secularists of the left. It could hardly be otherwise.
What did you expect? Wisdom?"

That is something that most on the secular right share with the secular left. Particular the RDers.

I call it the Wedgie strategy.
And anyone that defends the Wedgie strategy is just trying to get some brownie points with the hip, conservative, RINO-Randians.
Or is that Randi RINO's?

6/19/2008 12:27:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hey, John!
Coong-Fu? I like it! :^)

6/19/2008 12:37:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

What if it just a comforting illusion that our life won't be remembered for eternity? What if it is just a daydream that we will simply disappear without our life being reviewed?

Materialism is not based on unbiased observation, but rather requires an active - even intense - EXPLAINING AWAY of much of everyday observed reality. Consciousness must first be explained as a property of neurons, conscience must be reduced to a kind of programming by parents, and love to a way of spreading and protecting our genes.

Yet direct observation shows that consciousness and the invisible world are as real as the material world. We could just as easily explain the material world as an illusion made by our consciousness.

Just like the physical world exists prior to our exploration of it, so do the higher worlds. This is easy to prove to anyone who goes there. But for those who wish they were mere animals, no proof is enough to convince them otherwise.

6/19/2008 04:27:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Bob,
This is a magnificent post. Truly one of the best. And the comments. I wish I had the time this morning as well as the ability to express the value of the work you did here - promoting, which is to say, elevating, the value of human life to where is belongs. And it belongs to God. Even if someone were to invent some “life” in a laboratory, this is still a fact as we could not have invented the Inventor by inventing an imposter.

Bob, I never ask for much (I hope :-), but could you please place a link to this post in you’re side bar. It is too good to see fade into the archives. That’s coming from one father to another.

For me the central topic comes down to this. There are three choices in how you may regard “evolution”: you can evolve toward God, away from him, or chose to remain where you are and ride out the randomness as if it mattered. Staying the same is not evolution. Staying the same may not be possible; but if so, I think it tends toward the “away from Him.” How you regard this subject of “evolution” is inseparably linked to the degree to which you value life; a point central to this post.

To say I agree with every word of this post is an understatement. Here are just some of the parts that hit home while I have time:

“In the scientistic flight from the center to the periphery, they become lost in details which cannot be understood; this downward pull puts an end to ideational life, and the world shrinks down to an image of our most crude way of knowing it.”

Yes. It is just a matter of time. “I would like someone to explain to me how reducing man to a mere replicating machine cannot inevitably, in the long run, lead to the abolition of Man as Such.”

“But American schools are not failing because of "too much “religion”."

“For this reason, I will be sending the Gagboy to a religious school, for, among other reasons, I have no doubt whatsoever that he will receive a superior science education there.”

This is what we did. He is in public school now, 10th grade, since the 5th grade. The most valuable thing about the first 4 years of that religious school I believe now was that they truly and properly respected religion and were not hostile to it. Yes. Obviously. That’s all I could ever hope for in a public school, and that’s not exactly what we have now. It’s only evolving worse by this trickle drain of “God” at every turn from our “evolving” culture. Intentional or not, it is happening.

My son’s religious perspective should come from his home and church. I can’t be with my son every minute. I shouldn’t anyway. But how much time and space in his head is left for my son’s proper evolution toward the spiritual if I have to spend so much of it undoing what he may be getting while immersed in a culture of “separation of Church and state”, the constant rejection of God in public “speech” and it’s inevitable devaluing of human life? These things are all linked.

6/19/2008 06:01:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Luck runs out for pigs caught in flood

Thanks, CNN. News I can use. These agencies seem almost on pause. Like the next really big story is about to erupt.

Better keep those burying skills up to snuff!

6/19/2008 07:00:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

I'm thinking about creating a closed road course on private land. About 2.8 miles of fresh track. Nomex itches the hell out of me, but just being properly strapped into a modified Viper reduces the risk to almost nothing.

Cars like that are part of the second renaissance of Big American Muscle. Buy them up while you can.

They can only be exercised realisitcally on a track, and should never be pressed on a public road.

6/19/2008 07:11:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

The Viper is an amazing car. Essentially it has a truck engine -- a V10 -- and it gets so hot almost right away that you can get a second degree burn brushing your leg against the pipe as you get in.

A Corvette is much more refined in that way, but it does not offer the raw appeal of the Viper. Keep it on a private track (never, ever "exercise" these cars on public roads) and the Viper starts to talk to you. At speeds of about 100 mph (on short courses) it comes alive. If there is a stetch, you can hit almost 180 mph before those huge brakes bring her back.

I like Ferraris as well. But a prime example is too rich for my blood. I can maintain Vipers, a few Porshes, etc for a fraction of what the prancing horse goes for. Especially the old ones.

6/19/2008 07:21:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Smoov!
You got a viper? Cool! Does it handle better than a porsche?
It must be fun to cut loose when you feel a need for speed!
Be careful though, okay? :^)

BTW, do you have any horses?

6/19/2008 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

No horses, Ben.

To tell the truth, I've never been brave enough to ride a horse fast.

Under contolled circumstances I can get a Viper to behave, but I'm no professional driver.

It's fun to do now and then.

My big thing right now (between me and 'Coons) is that I have a bit of a wad I'd like to donate somewhere. I'd gladly parcel it out amonst 'Coons, except I know from experience that doesn't work.

I guess a local fire department or school would be best.

6/19/2008 07:43:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Switching topics yet again,

I don't think you've weighed in on Janis, Bob.

She certainly had a handle on something, but I suppose she was so self-destructive that it was inevitable.

"Take another little piece of my heart, now, baby" has a different resonance almost 40 years later.

6/19/2008 07:50:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Oy. Hard to keep up, especially when I do, in fact, have a life elsewhere. Anyway, a grab-bag reply:

Van - "the hero, the saint, and the sage" can still exist without the 'transcendent' in the sense used here. Watch Sagan's "Cosmos" or read his "Demon-Haunted World". "At great personal risk, von Spee protested the witch mania. So did a few others, mainly Catholic and Protestant clergy who had witnessed these crimes at first hand... Along with von Spee and the Quakers generally, they are heroes of our species. Why are they not better known?"

Julie - Different people come to different meanings, certainly. That doesn't mean there aren't commonalities - strong ones - and things that are important and apply to all humans, because they are human. (As an analogy, differential valuing is the soul of economics. You make chairs, your neighbor grows corn. You trade a chair for corn... and you both have more value by your own measures. Different standards, but that doesn't mean there aren't facts that apply to both standards...)

I've already linked to this before. In the case of something as twisted as NAMBLA (sometimes I wonder if their main reason for existence is to allow people to circumvent Godwin's Law) I'd say that history makes pretty clear that treating people as objects - that is, affecting them without their meaningful consent - leads to terrible consequences. In this world.

There are slippery slopes sometimes, and a NAMBLAized world is not a stable world. The point is, atheism doesn't have to lead to NAMBLA - and very rarely does. The reason I'm dubious about claims that atheism leads inevitably to horrifying immorality is the simple fact that it's not true for me or any atheist I know.

Perhaps I'm unusual, and so is every other atheist I happen to know - maybe I'm a thermodynamic miracle, an incredible statistical fluke. (The data I've seen don't indicate that - atheists aren't vastly more likely to do bad things than the religious, in general.) But even if so, the fact that the trick can be worked at all leads me to think it can probably be worked more generally. Universal literacy was once a laughable concept, and these days, we're most of the way there in many areas of the world. A silicon chip is wildly unnatural - the purity is such that if the entire continent of North America were an apple orchard that pure, there would be only three oak trees - but nowadays they literally come free with some breakfast cereals.

I may have to take some of my birthday money next month and ship some copies of "Evolution For Everyone" to a few people here. In it, Wilson makes the point that religion has been very, very useful in the past and that a lot of wisdom is bound up in tradition, which shouldn't be casually tampered with. Of course, the same is true for biology - lots of very complex interactions there, a lot not yet understood - and yet we come up with medicines. Very good ones, quite often. (Smoov, there's something you might consider donating some money to.)

Smoov - We didn't used to be able to account for lightning, disease, reproduction, and comets. All of those were also contended to be obviously, inevitably supernatural, too.

Van - I think you need to read a little more carefully. Asserting that consciousness is actually of a different nature than it immediately appears to us is not the same thing as asserting that it's not there at all, in the same way as claiming that the stars aren't affixed to a giant crystal sphere is not the same as asserting they aren't there at all.

Petey - You can hang onto the prize. That's not the game I'm playing, anyway.

Nomo, Magnus - You're, uh, not the first to ask that, but Van already dealt with Pascal here.

6/19/2008 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Smoov-
Give it a try sometime.
Start out slow of course, until you get used to ridin'.
Find someone that knows horses.
I learned from the best...my Grandpa.

When I was a kid I had a friend, his father owned a ranch, and we used to ride a lot.
Not much compares to ridin' good horses, IMO. :^)

As for charity, there's plenty of good causes out there, and you mentioned some excellent ones.
I know they'll appreciate your generosity as much as I did when you helped me out last year. :^)
And thanks again, Smoov!

6/19/2008 08:02:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Ben'

I've always loved the beasts from afar :-)

I've had better luck with dogs. My Dad was a big fan of bird dogs (raised and trained them from puppies) to hunt upland game in Mass., New Hampshire and Nova Scotia.

6/19/2008 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Dood grief, you are DENSE, Ray!
Once again, without absolute Truth,
then fallable humans and subhumans define it.
And that in turn extends to life (or the opposite of), liberty (slavery) and the Pursuit of Happiness and Property (Communism and the State telling you how to best be "happy").

Without G-d we see a reversal of everything our Founding Fathers and millions of Americans fought and died for.

Damn! Just look at what the secular humanists atheists have done to our schools!

If you can't grasp those simple concepts then you are wasting your time and ours by repeating your circular, static and decomposing ideology.

6/19/2008 08:15:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

That sounds like fun, Smoov.
I never got a chance to try any bird huntin', but I did hunt deer a few times and rabbit...and, of course fishing, which is more my style. :^)

Our neighbor and landlord, who is an avid hunter, got a bird dog but she's afraid of rain and water, LOL!
Nice dog though.

6/19/2008 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Ben,

You expressed it well. Some folks are not willing to learn. Heck, I have learned so much from Bob -- and Bob is just a messenger.

He's a darn good one though!

6/19/2008 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Smoov - If you think that I think that NAMBLA is anything but reprehensible - or that I think their actions (as opposed to their words) deserve anything other than the death penalty - you're mistaken.

Unlike Hitler, however, they are - to the relief of everyone sane - in no danger of ever forming a national movement.

6/19/2008 08:26:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Ben:

So what sort of breed would she be? Pointers -- especially Brittany Spaniels -- were always a fave of my Dad (while he wasn't doing cardiac surgery -- literally.

6/19/2008 08:26:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

OK, once more and to the point.
Ray, most of us here are actively exploring the realm you don't believe exist. We are not playing some kind of tabletop RPG here with miniatures based on some book which may or may not be fantasy. We are out there in the world and we observe things, then later we find that others have made the same observations thousands of years ago or on a different continent, without our knowing, and have left some sketchy map. If we recognize, even if not completely accurate, the first part of that terrain, we are very likely to believe in the map of the terrain ahead. We are certainly not likely to believe someone who thinks it is all a kind of "comforting" fantasy.

You are welcome to join us. You are welcome to leave us. But don't have opinions on the map when you don't believe that this world exists.

Unless you believe that evolution accidentally made us with some kind of wireless built-in massively multiplayer fantasy game that we all tap into, an imaginary persistent world that has lasted for thousands of years without any central server or any power supply.

You are clearly a very intelligent fellow, you just lack (and would rather continue to lack) the experience that binds the people here together.

6/19/2008 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Ray - Imagine a world entirely void of the influence of believers in God. Is that not the atheist's utopia? (Or perhaps just a fool's paradise.) Imagine.

6/19/2008 08:31:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Ben:

I know you and yor wife went through a rough time about a year ago. My sister is going through something now, and I'm trying to absorb as much of her pain as I can (she's got two teenagers, her husband left her, and she's got cancer)

It is fucking hard, man. Excuse my language, Ben.

6/19/2008 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Smoov,
She's a chocolate lab. Great for his kids, but useless as a huntin' dog.
He hunts pretty much everything.
And he has an impressive assortment of rifles and a hunting bow.
If I were younger (and had more energy) I would go with him when he goes deer or elk huntin' (love venison and elk).

That must've been great, huntin' with your Dad and the dogs.
Bein' a surgeon I reckon he spent a lot of time workin'.
That's a hard and demanding job!

6/19/2008 08:35:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Ben:

Yours was a flood, right?

A storm came close to wiping you out?

6/19/2008 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Ben, Sir

I do get to call you Sir, right, because you served in the USN.

My Dad served in 1960 as a ship's doc.

I have not served, and besides everything else, it eats me up.

A man should serve.

6/19/2008 08:40:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Ben - There can be things that are absolutely true, which humans have only an imperfect grasp of, correct?

Science doesn't progress by finding truth - it progresses by testing and discarding falsehood. Like the progression from the flat Earth to the spherical Earth to the slightly oblate (pear-shaped) spheroid Earth.

I'll take the laws of nature as absolute until we find, say, a flying carpet. Those effective absolutes do have implications for how humans should behave - given what humans are and what humans want. As noted a few days back, "all things are permitted, but not all things are beneficial".

Some things are worse than before, but some things are better, too. Kids these days are vastly less race-conscious than they were even a couple decades back, for example. Not nearly so many race riots now. Not a solved problem of course, but, well, progress has been made.

Oh, and if you think I'm a fan of the Democratic party (or the Republican party), or communism - think again.

6/19/2008 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

My thoughts and prayers go out to your sister, Smoov, and her children.
I hope the docs are able to put her cancer in remission, and hey, I'm not offended by salty language, my friend. I was and still am (at heart) a sailor.

6/19/2008 08:42:00 AM  
Anonymous christopher said...

" Smoov said...
Ray Ingles:

"I've already linked to this before. In the case of something as twisted as NAMBLA (sometimes I wonder if their main reason for existence is to allow people to circumvent Godwin's Law)"


Get the fuck out of here. I mean it.

Do not return."

How rude! Outrageous.

6/19/2008 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Ben:

Thanks for that.

It makes me feel better to know that old guys like you are out there.

In Halifax harbor they still have docked examples of the sub hunters that were hastily built in 1943-44.

6/19/2008 08:47:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hey Smoov, I was enlisted, so you don't hafta call me sir. :^)

Your Dad was a Navy Doc? Cool!

You do serve, Smoov, as all Raccoons do, just in a different way than I did.
Now we fight a spiritual battle, and it's just as real as the battles our Military fight.

Don't have regrets or guilt about not serving in the Military, because you are a Patriot!

Look at it like this, Benjamin Franklin didn't serve in the Military during the Revolution, but he still fought with his pen, and thank God he did!

You are crucial in this war on terrorism with your job so don't sell yourself short okay?
As a Marine Major I know says:
"One team, one fight!"
And he's talkin' about the Military and civilian Patriots in every aspect of life fightin' evil.

6/19/2008 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Ben:

The Canadian side of me -- in Newfoundland it was necessary to take down a 1600 lb moose at a mile away -- beacause otherwise your family would starve.

Those skills persist.

So I know 5 or so youngsters who are deployed in Afghanistan -- mostly following orders to -- well, you know the rest.

6/19/2008 09:00:00 AM  
Anonymous christopher said...

Drunks have salty language too, it's not that.

We say in AA that it is one place on the planet you can say God and f*ck in the same sentence.

"Don't come back" is the outrageous part.

6/19/2008 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I hear ya Smoov.
If I could, I would take the place of those young men, or at least be fightin' beside them.
And I know my good friend Jim (JimmyJ.) would do the same, and he's in his 70's.

But we have a different mission now, and CDR Jim, Bob, and all you Raccoons have helped me to learn to accept that.

I won't say it ain't hard, 'cause it is damn hard!
But those young Heroes over there need us to cover there backs here at home, all according to our particular gifts and talents and means.
So that's what we are gonna do!

6/19/2008 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Magnus - That's just it. I believe in such a world. I just don't think it's constructed the way and of the materials you think it is.

Bob talked a while back about phase spaces, strange attractors, and such. Simple phenomena on one level that display or develop - in many senses literally - infinitely complex structures when looked at in a different way.

Being human is like that, and because people are human they will experience and understand things in a common way. Religious tradition does have profound insights on how to life a fulfilling life, on how to make sense of life. But that doesn't mean that it's right about everything, or even about some very central, important things.

People have been fundamentally wrong - just plain wrong - about how their own bodies work. For most of human history, in fact. (Bleeding as therapy? The brain is a cooling system for the heart? Female 'circumcision'?) Doubtless we're still wrong about a lot of it. Having intimate lifelong experience with something is not a foolproof guard against error.

Then there's being right for the wrong reason. Storing cheese with meat is a really bad idea absent pasteurization and refrigeration. A rule that has the effect of mandating separate storage of cheese and meat (like, say, the Jewish dietary laws) will have good effects regardless of the rationale. The same for a rule that encourages cleanliness, even if nobody knows about germs. Why can't there be psychological rules like that, too?

Mathematics is an example of "an imaginary persistent world that has lasted for thousands of years without any central server or any power supply," too. That doesn't mean one has to be a Platonist about it.

(And yes, evolution can produce extravagances that are even, overall, counterproductive, like the peacock's tail. Arms races can do that - and there's a certain amount of evidence that a cooperative, social species develops cognitive faculties to cope with remembering alliances and policing betrayals, and then more brainpower evolves to get around that, and then... I'm not claiming that religion is like that, just that it's not a priori impossible.)

6/19/2008 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Ben,

You old salt!

I only know a small amount (a Russian-born Canadian squad leader is over there now)

I will sure as hell be telling Anton about my friend Ben online -- if you give me leave...

6/19/2008 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

By all means, Smoov!
You can give Anton my e-mail addy too if you want.
And please tell him I salute him and his friends and I thank them for their service!

6/19/2008 09:24:00 AM  
Anonymous cousin Dupree said...

Boys, could we please settle down? Even I don't want to get involved.

6/19/2008 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Cuz,
You are right of course, and I apologize.
Sorry about lettin' my emotions get the better of me.

Smoov, some things are better left unsaid because you know dirtbags would use this against us.
Let's take a clue from Cuz and change the subject...and read Bob's new post.

6/19/2008 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Smoov-
I sent you an e-mail, man.
Check it out.

6/19/2008 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Smoov:

I'm going to have to delete some of your threatening comments. I don't know what your problem is, but they're out of line.

6/19/2008 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Bob:

The moment this man mentioned NAMBLA, it fired red flares across FBI, RCMP, etc.

6/19/2008 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, he said they were "reprehensible." Now leave him alone and stop acting like you're insane, because that's what it sounds like.

6/19/2008 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

thanks for that, Bob

The ultimate slap in the face.

6/19/2008 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Not only have I not heard from my girefriend over the past 24 hours, I have not heard from the mother of the 23 year old sniper in Afghanistan.

6/19/2008 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Smoov,
I sent you an e-mail, let's talk.

6/19/2008 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Bob,
I 'm afriad that Lisa has dumped me.

6/19/2008 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Smoov:

I'd appreciate it if you'd stop making comments that are irrelevant to the discussion. If you need to discuss your problems, just email someone directly.

6/19/2008 11:18:00 AM  

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