January 11, 2008 - January 4, 2008
Saturday, December 23, 2006
A Step Too Far.
God of the atheists, Richard Dawkins
THUS SPAKE THE BEAGLE
It's understandable that a significant number of scientists
would become atheists. The scientific method that rules their
professional lives insists that they must concern themselves only with
phenomena which can be measured. It's not much of a leap from there to
believing that what cannot be measured does not exist. The concept of
the divine, being a concept, cannot be measured. Therefore, the
scientific mind can easily conclude that the divine does not exist or
is irrelevant even if it does.
Those who observe that there is much which cannot be measured but which
also obviously exists -- e.g., the human imagination -- may disagree
with such a conclusion, but there is no particular need to condemn it
out of hand. It is a consequence of the practical utility of creating
specialists, which is accomplished by establishing within individuals a
frame-of-reference so focused in a particular direction that it may
amputate or truncate other perspectives. We have athletes who know or
care nothing about anything but sports or even their own sport. We have
artists who come to believe that all the experience in their ken is
nothing but fuel for their work. We have mothers who dote so completely
on their own children that they do not accept the primacy of any human
value outside that bond. We have ideologues of every description --
political, philosophical, and, yes, religious -- who behold the
panorama of life and see in it only an allegory of the concepts they
hold most dear.
Specialist viewpoints of this sort become dangerous when they reach the
level of certainty that moves them to insist that all other viewpoints
must be brought into conformance with their own. This is the step too
far which almost always precipitates death and disaster for everyone
involved. This is a step the famous evolutionary biologist Richard
Dawkins has recently taken by condemning all religion and promoting in
its place a philosophy of atheism characterized by such hostile
provocations as The
. (see their major product here
In case you're not familiar with it, here's a brief introduction of the
The rationale of Richard Dawkins for supporting this kind of cultural
flamethrowing is summarized in an interview
he gave to Salon magazine
back in April 2005. Here are some representative quotes:
biologist Richard Dawkins explains why God is a delusion, religion is a
virus, and America has slipped back into the Dark Ages.
so many people resist believing in evolution. Where does the resistance
A. It comes, I'm sorry to say,
from religion. And from bad religion. You won't find any opposition to
the idea of evolution among sophisticated, educated theologians. It
comes from an exceedingly retarded, primitive version of religion,
which unfortunately is at present undergoing an epidemic in the United
States. Not in Europe, not in Britain, but in the United States.
My American friends tell me that you are slipping towards a theocratic
Dark Age. Which is very disagreeable for the very large number of
educated, intelligent and right-thinking people in America.
Unfortunately, at present, it's slightly outnumbered by the ignorant,
uneducated people who voted Bush in...
Q. ...why do we insist on believing in
A. From a biological point of
view, there are lots of different theories about why we have this
extraordinary predisposition to believe in supernatural things. One
suggestion is that the child mind is, for very good Darwinian reasons,
susceptible to infection the same way a computer is. In order to be
useful, a computer has to be programmable, to obey whatever it's told
to do. That automatically makes it vulnerable to computer viruses,
which are programs that say, "Spread me, copy me, pass me on." Once a
viral program gets started, there is nothing to stop it.
Similarly, the child brain is preprogrammed by natural selection to
obey and believe what parents and other adults tell it. In general,
it's a good thing that child brains should be susceptible to being
taught what to do and what to believe by adults. But this necessarily
carries the down side that bad ideas, useless ideas, waste of time
ideas like rain dances and other religious customs, will also be passed
down the generations...
Q. What are... negative connotations
[of "The God Delusion]?
A. A delusion that encourages
belief where there is no evidence is asking for trouble. Disagreements
between incompatible beliefs cannot be settled by reasoned argument
because reasoned argument is drummed out of those trained in religion
from the cradle. Instead, disagreements are settled by other means
which, in extreme cases, inevitably become violent. Scientists disagree
among themselves but they never fight over their disagreements. They
argue about evidence or go out and seek new evidence. Much the same is
true of philosophers, historians and literary critics.
But you don't do that if you just know your holy book is the
God-written truth and the other guy knows that his incompatible
scripture is too. People brought up to believe in faith and private
revelation cannot be persuaded by evidence to change their minds. No
wonder religious zealots throughout history have resorted to torture
and execution, to crusades and jihads, to holy wars and purges and
pogroms, to the Inquisition and the burning of witches.
Q. What are the dark sides of religion
A. Terrorism in the Middle
East, militant Zionism, 9/11, the Northern Ireland "troubles,"
genocide, which turns out to be "credicide" in Yugoslavia, the
subversion of American science education, oppression of women in Saudi
Arabia, Afghanistan, and the Roman Catholic Church, which thinks you
can't be a valid priest without testicles.
Q. How would we be better off without
A. We'd all be freed to
concentrate on the only life we are ever going to have. We'd be free to
exult in the privilege -- the remarkable good fortune -- that each one
of us enjoys through having been being born. An astronomically
overwhelming majority of the people who could be born never will be.
You are one of the tiny minority whose number came up. Be thankful that
you have a life, and forsake your vain and presumptuous desire for a
second one. The world would be a better place if we all had this
positive attitude to life. It would also be a better place if morality
was all about doing good to others and refraining from hurting them,
rather than religion's morbid obsession with private sin and the evils
of sexual enjoyment.
In his intro, the interviewer noted that Dawkins had recently "signed
an agreement with British television to make a documentary about the
destructive role of religion in modern history, tentatively titled 'The
Root of All Evil.'" He also commented that during the interview
Dawkins, though famously argumentative, "was as gracious as he was
punctiliously dressed in a crisp white shirt and soft blazer."
No wonder the scientist was gracious. The interviewer challenged him on
nothing. He failed, for example, to ask the single most obvious
question one could ask of a man who describes religion as "the root of
all evil" and claims that "the world would be a better place" without
it: Dr. Dawkins, hasn't this
experiment already been tried repeatedly over the past century with
expressly rational and atheistic social organizations in Eastern
Europe, China, Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Latin America?
Hasn't it resulted in an aggregate death toll that makes the Spanish
Inquisition look like a walk in the park?
Or: What possible basis can
you have for proclaiming that only people concerned with religion and
the divine "cannot be persuaded by evidence to change their minds"?
Isn't this true of all entrenched systems of thought, including your
own discipline of science?
Of course, there is no
evidence that could make Richard Dawkins change
his mind about the ideas he is espousing. His blind spot is his own
certainty that his personal model of the world is absolutely correct.
his arguments are immune from criticism only to the extent that he
gets to define what constitutes "evidence." Thus, he would probably
discount the horrifying murder rate of Marxism because its professed
rationality doesn't measure up to his own standards of rationality. For
the same reason, he cannot see that much of what is to him evidence of
what is "better" or "worse" in the human condition is mere partisan
political opinion, however derivatively related to the perfect
rationality he (thinks he) sees in his Oxford laboratory.
Most of all he cannot see that his own perspective represents a greater
ultimate danger than all the religions in human history put together,
for the same reason that Communist governments around the world calmly
and systematically annihiliated millions of their own citizens in the
name of engineering a "better" human social contract. Why is that?
Because they lacked the one consistent principle which unites and
redeems all major religions -- the belief in a power beyond men to
which all men are eventually accountable, no matter how august and
mighty. This is the great restraining
power inherent in religion that -- while admittedly tolerating much
abuse and injustice -- can prevent or end the excesses of kings,
emperors, priests, and other tyrants. For the self-anointed gods of
atheistic rationalism there is no such thing as punishment and neither
the fear nor the humility that can cause the most arrogant among us to
question their own certainties.
If we allowed him to, Dawkins would no doubt be happy to impose his
certainties on our societies, to remake our laws and child-rearing
schemes in his own image. He admits of no supreme entity capable of
refuting his logic. All he lacks is the power to set things right.
We've been down that road a time or two in the past hundred years. We
don't need human gods; they inevitably fail. (What kind of "evidence"
might this be?) His inability to see the danger his own arrogance
represents is all the proof we need that his diagnoses of the human
condition are wrong.
He needs to take a step back. Out of the arena of politics. Into the
realm of philosophy, where he properly and safely belongs.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
is mild compared to what she
used to it. Okay. I'm
used to it. I spent the Seventies anxious to debate feminism with
feminists. It never happened. They seemed to sense my extraoradinary
eagerness to discuss their outlandish assertion of female intellectual
equality. They didn't want to play.
Now we have female bloggers. I cited
a site called Politits
ago, written by a woman who calls herself D-Cup. She responded rather
pleasantly and, to my first comment at her site, she replied:
Good morning, IP. I've just published
your comment on my blog. Thanks for your compliments on how I
I'll post more sometime today, but for
now I thank you for your link and want to let you know that we might
agree more than we disagree on certain issues.
A political perspective adjustment would
be quite a challenge, but I see no point in discouraging you.
Incurious, I'm not.
I look forward to more conversation with
you regarding the male/female and conservative/liberal points of view.
I thought this enouraging, so I updated my post with this: "The author
of Politits has responded
to this entry in a very ladylike way. I applaud the tone of her
argument and though I disagree with her on multiple issues -- you can
read my comment at her blog -- I withdraw much of my charge about dual
identity. In truth, she's as frank as I could hope for. Now, if we can
just adjust her political perspective..." I was hopeful about the
possibility of discussion. My mistake. I should have known.
Because that's when everything went to hell. There was a brief (and
highly enjoyable) revolt
this site, which provided a convenient excuse: D-Cup responded
immediately, so incredibly relieved...
Does This Mean I Win?
Here's what you say when you have nothing intelligent left to say. From
, quoted in full.]
Okay, to sum up. Kill anyone who doesn't agree with me. Preferably with
a gun to the head.
All right. Most women don't really have a sense of humor, so how could
Politits have known that InstaPunk was just enjoying an inside joke on
itself by creating a confrontation between the Barbarian InstaPunk and
the Ultra-Barbarian TruePunk? So I inserted a comment at Politits to
alert her that I was still waiting for the promised discussion.
After perusing her site for several days and discovering nothing new on
it but another clicheed attack on Rumsfeld, I inserted a second comment:
Interesting that you failed to post my comment on this, your
presumptuous crowing of victory.
I gather you don't want debate. At least not with a conservative who
knows how to fight back. (TruePunk is only a diversion, something like
your bra. Go
to see how much he has shifted the discussion at Instapunk.com.
Pfui. You still haven't responded to my rebuttal of your Pelosi
pandering. BlueGal hasn't stepped up to the plate either. (I challenged
her to respond to this post about abortion logic, "The
Silence. Feel free to respond in her place.
You've both got lots of attitude. But I don't see much substance.
Believe me, I know there are female intellects, but proving it requires
more than pissing on Rumsfeld. Nothing you've written about him
convinces me that if you met him, his response to your assaults
wouldn't either crush you or make you feel like a rude, ignorant wench.
Which I begin to suspect you are.
Show me I'm wrong concluding you're a lightweight. If you ignore this
second comment on the same post, I WILL be making fun of Politits...
You know: "Hey! Come out and fight! It'll be fun!" This was the
response she finally posted:
IP: This is the first comment I
received from you (since the initial
one) and here it is. You are here with all your name-calling and
threatening for the world to see. No, I'm not interested in debating
you because you've shown yourself to be unable to have civilized
conversation without decedending into schoolyard taunting and threats.
I'm also smart enought to know that with someone like you, it's an
utter waste of time. You hold your views dearly and I respect that.
What I don't respect is your approach.
And no, I'm not interested in responding for Blue Gal. She's perfectly
capable of speaking for herself. If you're really anxious for a
response from her, try again. Perhaps she didn't receive your comments
I'm guessing that the Blogger Beta switch may have caused your earlier
commments (which you accuse me of not publishing) to disappear before
they reached me for moderation, but I can assure you that the only
comments that get deleted are spam.
As for my Pelosi pandering...sorry it bothers you. Traffic is traffic.
You've driven quite a bit to my blog, thanks.
And if you feel better picking on me, have at it. Wouldn't be the first
time, doubt it will be the last. And I'll be happy to have the traffic.
Some come and go quickly. Some stay to read or whack. Some become
And your fantasy of me and Don Rumsfeld having a tete a tete so that I
can ask him why he f***ed [asterisks
min; IP] up this war so badly? Interesting concept.
Really. Glad you used it as another opportunity to call me a name.
Not really. It's a frustrating pattern. Both Politits and BlueGal
responded affirmatively when asked if they'd like to seriously debate
their leftist positions vis a vis InstaPunk's right-wing insanity. BlueGal
is a Brandeis
graduate, but when pressed she finally declared that InstaPunk's
entries are too long and complicated to understand???!!! (I guess
Samuel Johnson is no longer part of the Brandeis humanities curriculum,
or anyone else who writes sentences longer than ten words and essays
longer than ten paragraphs.) Politits has seized on an insult that's
somewhat less inflammatory than what's acceptable in routine
to declare herself above communicating with the
likes of me, even though no
asterisks have been needed in quoting my conversations with her.
I was in college when feminism first reared its ugly head. In all the
time since, I have never
a meaningful discussion with a feminist about her views on sex and
society. Usually, when they learned I really wanted to have that
discussion with them, they mysteriously vanished into the ozone.
Some 20 years later, my last attempt failed when my own sister averred
that a woman could pitch like Sandy Koufax if she got the right
training. I didn't ask her what regimen a girl would need to become
Koufax or Muhammed Ali or Abraham Lincoln. Would it require never saying anything
even moderately offensive to their fragile female egos? I'd have been
fascinated by the response. But she'd already stalked out of the room
in a huff by then. That was a big disappointment because she had a
Ph.D. in the Natural Superiority of the Female Sex from no less an
authority than Cornell
. Go figure.
And now Politits and BlueGal have left the room, too. My supposition?
They're cowards. After all, to quote Politits, "Traffic is traffic." She
doesn't have to like me to debate me. But like most liberals, and most
feminists, her favorite sounding board is a well filled with the echo
of her own voice.
Now. Have I called her a name? Geez, I hope not. I am earnestly
soliciting her participation in an experiment to introduce the great
liberal truth to my readers and to demonstrate that it is superior to
the logic and rhetoric of InstaPunk. Is she willing to talk?
Or should I release TruePunk from his chains
one more time and let him do his uncouth worst?
Oh. Excuse me. That will be perceived as a threat. I beg a thousand
pardons. Far be it from me to engage in the implied sexual violence of,
in the whole f***ing blogosphere.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
feel liberated. How about you?
. Once again, we see why I'm needed. [Go screw yourself,
InstaPunk.] This Behar
isn't a loose cannon. She's a useful idiot, which the left
has always utilized abundantly. Any political movement that builds its
platfom on the assumption that it is intellectually superior to all its
opponents operates according to the rules of high society. There's an
in-crowd so lofty that all the hangers-on are willing to do anything
to impress, always hoping
for the glamorous invite. (One reason the Hollywood set fits in
perfectly.) The hierarchy is so well established that the peons expect
to be sacrificed from time to time and experience no resentment when
So Joy Behar is a sacrifice. She's an absolute nothing in liberal
society, a D-class celebrity with zero accomplishments in the world of
intellect or politics. Just a loud-mouthed comedian on the lowest scale
of humor -- a self-caricature whose punchlines all depend on the
stereotypes of her sex, station, and ethnicity. A dead typical female
stand-up, as predictable as she is hackneyed and obnoxious. An Italian
version of her equally rude Irish counterpart, Kathy Griffin. Both of
them share the neurotic self-awareness that despite their unending
ambition to be admired, the sad truth is that deep down, no matter how
much they set store by their own wit, they themselves are the butt of
their own jokes, pitiful, ridiculous, and flatly unlikeable people
whose need for attention trumps even their own human dignity.
Untouchables. (Cue laughtrack
is a neat metaphor
for the social caste system I'm describing. Barbara Walters owns the
show. It doesn't matter how thoroughly she enters into the byplay with Joy and the trailer-dyke Rosie O'Donnell. She has the infinite
freedom of the quality slumming with the help. With a nod or a curled
lip, she can set her clowns loose to wreak havoc or incinerate them in
their tracks. This past week, she gave an infinitesimal nod to Behar
that granted permission to accuse Republicans of causing Senator Tim
Johnson's stroke and then to compare Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld to
Hitler. Walters's motive? Very much like that of the Zulu chiefs who
sent warriors up to the British lines to be shot down like dogs. By
doing so, the Zulu lords learned the range of the British guns. Barbara
is learning what libs can get away with in the new political season.
Apparently, the experiment was a marginal success in the eyes of the
liberal nobility, despite some boos from the audience. No one produced
a noose the way they would have if Elizabeth Hasselbeck had compared
Cindy Sheehan to a fascisti collaborator. As a result, Behar was
not disciplined for accusing Republicans of Putin-like assault tactics.
She wasn't compelled to apologize for being a grossly slanderous
low-class shrew about Rumsfeld; she was allowed to offer a lame
explanation that she was only making a joke, because isn't it really
funny to compare a Republican retiring from 35 years of government
service to the most frighteningly evil dictator in recorded human
history? Of course it is. It's a hoot.
Me, I'm happy. I'm celebrating with the graphic above. InstaPunk took a
lot of grief for posting a photo of that Nazi bastard Pat Buchanan in
an S.S. uniform. I thought IP should have done it again, and again,
just to drive home the point that Buchanan is
a Jew-hating Nazi bastard. But I
Now I've been vindicated by the most illustrious grande dame of
political society. According to Barbara Walters, I have carte blanche
to depict Joy Behar as a Nazi dominatrix, just because her politics are different
That is just so cool. Thank you, thank you,
thank you, Baba Wawa. You're my idol, my ice queen, my punk babe of the
week, and my future sex-slave. Consider yourself complimented.
Sieg heil, Behar bitch. How do you like it? Is it just another joke
when you're the one wearing the swastika? Of course it is.
If I'd had more time, I'd have shopped Barbara Walters into a leather
and latex nightmare too. But I'll leave that for another day. Maybe the
next time Unteroffizier Behar follows orders without question.
if there's anything you don't like about this post, stuff it. Remember,
I'm the Time
Person of the
Year, every bit as great as you are. Don't you forget it.
One more thing. Mrs. Wuzzadem hit a grand slam this week. Read this
all the way through.