06 February 2006

Brown triangulates with the evangelicals.

Yesterday's Observer highlights the friendship between Pastor Jim and Gordon Brown. As a short term strategy to win the Christian vote, this might be sensible. But in the long term giving credibility to these people is dangerous, play with fire and you eventually get burned.

Of course as Blair famously said about Iraq, "It's worse than that, I actually believe it". I hope this is not the case with Gordon Brown. Lord help us indeed!

23 comments:

  1. How much do you know about Jim Wallis? Because I think you will find that his social ideals are similar to those within the Labour Party

    ReplyDelete
  2. I get the point that the right has hijacked religion so why shouldn't the left use religion as well (as Wallis suggests). But once we do this we give an extra credibility to religion that I don't think it deserves. Soon, like in the US, we will have a situation where politicians can't be openly atheist.

    I know you are going to disagree with me here, but as a political party we shouldn't be pushing religion, in the same way we shouldn't give respectability to racism or any other dodgy ism, even if in the short term it wins us votes. There is a reason why 93% of scientists are atheists. And I would guess the other 7% are lying to protect their families religious sensibilities.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The Blue Foxxx6/2/06 11:49 pm

    You woukd guess that? God forbid they may actually disagree with you.

    Neil if you hate religion so much, you might think about finding another party to malign with your support. As numerous people have previously pointed out, religious tradition is entwined with the development of the Labour party and still runs deep within it. I'm an atheist, but can find it in myself to respect others enougth to:
    1: trust what they sat what they believe
    2: assume they have reasons for their belief.

    Also I am not sufficiently arrogant to write off several thousand years of human thought just because I misunderstood a couple of books.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Blue fox:

    When faced with overwhelming opposition, it is difficult to speak the truth, but I am not going to shirk from it.

    Bertrand Russell (one of the greatest logicians and philosophers) states categorically;

    'intelligence is impeded by any creed, no matter what; and kindness is inhibited by the belief in sin and punishment'.

    This is backed up by Kant's 'categorical imperative'. A belief in that philosophy, leads to the inevitable judgement that religion and morality are incompatible.

    Many other philosophers, like Nietzsche, Epicurus etc, come to the conclusion that religion is immoral.

    Then there are the masses of contradictions, scientific inaccuracies and moral absurdities in religious scriptures like the Bible and Koran.

    I don't think it is me who is misunderstanding religion. I understand it all too well.

    ReplyDelete
  5. But surely these philosophers were criticising mainly modes of worship and religious practices, rather than the concept of belief in a higher being itself?

    ReplyDelete
  6. The Blue Foxxx7/2/06 12:58 pm

    Katy - your distinction will be too subtle for Harding, I fear.

    Neil - you still haven't answered why you think you know what the scientists you refer to believe or why you don't believe what they say. Perhaps we should doubt the 93%, or (radical concept I know) believe what they say.

    "'intelligence is impeded by any creed, no matter what; and kindness is inhibited by the belief in sin and punishment'.

    And atheism isn't a creed? Thought is impossible outside of the concrete circumstances of knowledge production, a relation summed up in Marx's concepts of the concrete-real and the thought-concrete, and the realtion between them. Given, as you have accepted elsewhere, there is no way to prove or disprove the existence of a higher power, either belief, as part of a complex of beliefs, assumptions and social circumstances/positons in social relations, will necessarily impact on the operation of abstracted (falsely abstracted in my opinion) intelligence.

    This is not a relativist position, the relation between the two being akin to that in scientific realism (eg. Bhaskar) of an objective (intransitive) reality, and theories about the intransitive (the transitive).

    I don't follow Kant and as Blimpish has shown you have misunderstood him. Same with Nietzsche. You are aware of the dangers of an eclectic approach?

    "Then there are the masses of contradictions, scientific inaccuracies and moral absurdities in religious scriptures like the Bible and Koran."

    As there are on your site...

    Again, do you seriously believe you can learn nothing from the develpment of human thought over thousands of years contained in various religious texts. If so your arrogance is truly breathtaking.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Neil Harding7/2/06 2:19 pm

    "But surely these philosophers were criticising mainly modes of worship and religious practices, rather than the concept of belief in a higher being itself?"

    They do also criticise a belief in a higher being.

    The thing is, there is obviously no absolute proof of anything (other than 'I think therefore I am'), but we can deduce proofs beyond reasonable doubt which includes scientific proofs (or theories). When you cross the road you deal with the observational evidence of whether it is safe to cross, not philosophical abstract possibilities. The problem with religion is too many people are following the absurd rules laid out by organised religion that are made up regardless of evidence. This is dangerous.

    Taken on the evidence, it doesn't take much intellectual capacity to deduce that (beyond reasonable doubt) there isn't a God. This is why I find it so frustrating that the majority of the people in the world, even in developed countries with supposedly good education, can say they believe in God.
    Of course saying and believing are two totally different things but nevertheless it is worrying.

    "Katy - your distinction will be too subtle for Harding, I fear"

    I'm afraid it is you two who are missing the subtlety. Of all the people who believe in God, how many do not subscribe to one organised religion or another? Very very few is the answer.

    This is why ridiculing religion is so important.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Neil Harding7/2/06 2:27 pm

    "do you seriously believe you can learn nothing from the develpment of human thought over thousands of years contained in various religious texts. If so your arrogance is truly breathtaking."

    You can learn from it and then reject most of it as absurd, which is what I am doing. Religion says we should live your life just on religius teaching. My scope incudes religious teaching but goes much much wider. The biggest part of learning is understanding what you read and rejecting those bits that are wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The Blue Foxxx7/2/06 5:31 pm

    "Taken on the evidence, it doesn't take much intellectual capacity to deduce that (beyond reasonable doubt) there isn't a God. "

    What evidence. Are you now implying all religious believers are intellectually incapable?

    "The thing is, there is obviously no absolute proof of anything (other than 'I think therefore I am'), but we can deduce proofs beyond reasonable doubt which includes scientific proofs (or theories)."

    I think someone already pointed out that 'beyond reasonable doubt' is nonsense referring to scientific theories. This paragraph in total is essentially nonsense.

    ""Katy - your distinction will be too subtle for Harding, I fear"

    I'm afraid it is you two who are missing the subtlety. Of all the people who believe in God, how many do not subscribe to one organised religion or another? Very very few is the answer."

    Any numbers Neil? What does it mean to be part of an organised religion - your conflation of all religious people with fundamentalists has been exposed and ridiculed before. As you must surely be aware, established religions are cultural phenomena and 'broad churches' when it comes to the variety of beliefs possible within them. This is why your infantile ridiculing of religious texts does nothing to disprove religion. I think the lack of subtlety, distinctions or flexibility in your thinking is abundantly clear to all.

    ReplyDelete
  10. "What evidence.

    This could take all week! I suggest you look at some of the many posts here on religion and spend some time reading the Bible. I mean actually reading the bible. Go on, take a look at all of it, not just the bits picked out by those who are for and against. Studying theology is the best way of turning someone religious into an effective atheist. That's why there are those in the C or E who don't actually believe in a personal God. For whatever reason they can't bring themselcves to leave their religion, but at the same time they can't actually bring themselves to believe in God either. Others leave and even more continue to believe by deluding themselves.

    "Are you now implying all religious believers are intellectually incapable?"

    No. Just that it doesn't take much intellectual inquiry to figure out there isn't a God. Religion survives by limiting this inquiry. This obviously places limits on someone's intellectual capacity.

    "I think someone already pointed out that 'beyond reasonable doubt' is nonsense referring to scientific theories."

    All scientific theories are questioned and doubted. The ones that accumulate the most evidence and fail over time to be disproved, gain the most respect.

    If you don't want to use 'beyond reasonable doubt' about theories such as evolution, gravity etc, what would you prefer?

    "Any numbers Neil? What does it mean to be part of an organised religion - your conflation of all religious people with fundamentalists has been exposed and ridiculed before."

    If you ask someone if they believe in God, if will be quickly followed by I'm a Christian, a Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist, whatever, this may also describe their cultural identity but it also shows an allegiance to an organised religion. If you want numbers look at the census.

    Of course people don't follow all the dictats of the scriptures and organised religions. Most people are not that stupid. But having these religions with their stupid rules creats so many problems for our society, because this influence is felt right across society, even if in some people the influence is slight.

    [Covering a few of your earlier points].

    "And atheism isn't a creed?"

    Atheism isn't a creed because it is based on observational evidence, as is science.

    "I don't follow Kant and as Blimpish has shown you have misunderstood him."

    Blimpish has shown no such thing. Kant's 'categorical imperative' clearly rules out religion as being moral. Nietzsche despised religion and extolled its immorality in no uncertain terms. I have provided plenty of quotes that prove this is so. Blimpish has been reduced to pulp over this on the other thread.

    "Then there are the masses of contradictions, scientific inaccuracies and moral absurdities in religious scriptures like the Bible and Koran.

    As there are on your site..."

    Unlike religion, I don't claim to be an all knowing seer of truth and I do change my mind when presented with enough evidence. Nobody is all knowing. Religions claims to be all knowing. That is the difference.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The Blue Foxxx7/2/06 10:32 pm

    Neil, where is your evidence for the non-existence of God - it's not in the Bible. (And don't use that proof of benevolent God rubbish, where is there ANY proof for the non-existence of God. It seems unlikely to me, but there is no evidence for non-existence.)

    "Just that it doesn't take much intellectual inquiry to figure out there isn't a God. Religion survives by limiting this inquiry. This obviously places limits on someone's intellectual capacity."

    Interesting when you think about the intellectual acheivements of believers in various faiths throughout history. Still none of them were as smart as you.

    "All scientific theories are questioned and doubted. The ones that accumulate the most evidence and fail over time to be disproved, gain the most respect."

    Compatability with existing beliefs is a determining criterion for scientific acceptance. Science is a social human activity and when examined sociologically is found not to operate in the way you suggest (and Popper advocates). Kuhn would be a good starting point, or any ethnography of scientific belief. It is far from as simple as your presentation.

    "Atheism isn't a creed because it is based on observational evidence, as is science."

    Simply untrue as there is no evidence for the non-existence of God.

    "Blimpish has been reduced to pulp over this on the other thread."

    You are truly deluded.

    I give up, this is a waste of time.

    ReplyDelete
  12. "Simply untrue as there is no evidence for the non-existence of God."

    There is plenty. If we define God as benevolent, why is there so much cruelty? A perfect god, imperfect world? It just doesn't make sense. And if something doesn't make sense, that is evidence against it.

    Then if God isn't benevolent. Then he is irrelevent, since we have no idea how to appease him and he could be lying anyway. QED, there isn't a God.

    "Compatability with existing beliefs is a determining criterion for scientific acceptance."

    If there is no difference between Religion and Science then jump out of an aeroplane without a parchute and out your faith in God to the test.

    "Interesting when you think about the intellectual acheivements of believers in various faiths throughout history."

    They just didn't have the scientific evidence we have today. Virtually all the greatest thinkers of today are atheists. The brainwashing of our youth is very powerful, it hardwires religion into us at an early age and despite all the evidence contradicting God, it can be very difficult to overcome this brainwashing.

    ReplyDelete
  13. The Blue Foxxx8/2/06 5:27 pm

    On you benevolent God 'proof', consider some of the points here:

    http://66.34.45.14/discus/messages/1100/1151.html?FridayApril520020731pm

    On simplistic ideas on religion:

    http://66.34.45.14/discus/messages/1100/1303.html?FridayNovember120021250pm

    Just a bit bored of your unthinking repitition.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am not a religious person, myself; I have never attended any services except for weddings and funerals and both of my parents were agnostic at best, so I am not missing any subtleties. It's just that you've cited four people as support for your position when in fact only three support it.

    Nietzsche was an atheist, although he was also a loon.

    Epicurus was described as an atheist in its original sense: he rejected the anthropomorthic representation of gods in Greek culture (i.e. the fact that they were basically just more powerful beings with human qualities and human flaws). I don't think he ever criticised the concept of a higher being and he was in favour of religious rituals because they were good for family relationships.

    Kant was not an atheist, as I understand it. He considered that we had to assume that God existed even if we couldn't sense him with our five senses, because there was no other explanation for morality or science. I don't say that he was right about that but that's how I understood his view.

    Russell was an atheist but he specifically said that you could not define rationalism as the rejection of dogma (article, "Am I an Atheist or an Agnostic?").

    So those three can't really be used as support for the idea that rational thought and religion are diametrically opposed. That's all I meant. I am no philosophical expert and am more than happy to be corrected if I have got any of that wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  15. oops.

    That should have read "three of them don't support it at all".

    Rational thinking clearly not as much of a specialism of mine as I had at first been imagining...

    ReplyDelete
  16. The Blue Foxxx9/2/06 12:29 am

    Katy - don't worry about ant mistakes. Neil will just ignore what you've said and repeat his original point - it is kind of hypnotic.

    ReplyDelete
  17. The Blue Foxxx9/2/06 12:47 am

    Your rigidity is just too wearisome - this is my last post on matters religious/atheist (only a particularly asinine mis-reading of Marx will tempt me back)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Blue Foxx "Just a bit bored of your unthinking repitition"

    If someone asks you the same question, it warrants the same answer.

    Thanks for the links; the jist of the first link seems to be that, we need suffering in the world to be able to appreciate happiness, therefore God is being benevolent by inflicting suffering in this short life so we can know true happiness in eternal heaven.

    The problem with this for me, is the distribution of that suffering, the lack of a link between actions and suffering; and suffering is not actually needed to appreciate happiness anyway. Therefore God cannot be benevolent

    As for the other link; after a long winded history of philosophical tradition of religion,the conclusion seems to suggest that all religions should join as one to strengthen their position and iron out the terrorist problems. A poster called 'Chatman' sums up what I think of that.

    "Religion is terrorism. Infecting minds with irrational supernatural superstition while claiming to be "The Truth" is as insidious and harmful as it gets. "The Truth" enslaves minds and often encourages violent acts against those who do not subscribe to its tenets. The Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition is one long succession of such terrorism. Yes, there are those practicing these religions who are not actively violent, but they pass on the superstitious tenets as sleeper agents–-unaware of the danger lying beneath the foundations of their belief. The danger of “The Truth”."

    Katy: "you've cited four people as support for your position when in fact only three support it."

    Kant unwittingly supported atheism with his 'categorical imperative', which he claims must be adhered to in order to remain moral. Unfortunately for Kant this means all religion is immoral by definition.

    ReplyDelete
  19. "oops. That should have read "three of them don't support it at all"."

    I've answered this here and in the other thread. Basically I have provided specific quotes where each outline religion and morality as incompatible.

    Blue Fox: What else can I do but repeat myself when someone asks essentially the same question over and over?

    ReplyDelete
  20. "I know you are going to disagree with me here, but as a political party we shouldn't be pushing religion"

    Yes I will disagree, but I do agree that political parties should not be pushing religion, anymore than they should be pushing athiesm. That said, if many Christians within politics wanted to use a political party to push religion, they would form their own. And before you mention it, I, and many other Christians in politics, disagree with the need for the CPA for that very reason.
    And Nietchze also stated that he hated Christianity for what were primarily reasons of preference, not conviction. Which I applaud as being honest (If only many more were), but that also means that I cannot trust what he says on the subject, aside from the fact that he suffered from sphillys (sic)

    ReplyDelete
  21. What has his Nietzsche's syphillis got to do with anything?

    ReplyDelete
  22. By "specific quotes which show that show religion and morality are incompatible", you clearly mean "I took a couple of quotes out of context to make it look as if highly regarded philosophers share my view when in fact they didn't". Er, okay.

    One of the symptoms of untreated syphilis is insanity, by the way. I think that's probably what Paul meant.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thanks Katy, thats what I meant

    ReplyDelete