virus: Take a break

Sat, 13 Mar 1999 12:09:13 -0800

Eric Boyd wrote:

> My favorite example of this is an argument than Christians make
> against atheism, which goes something like this:
> "If there is no God, then I can do whatever I want! I'm going to go
> out and rape and pillage the town!"
> The conclusion one is supposed to draw, of course, is that we must
> have a God, in order to ensure the morality of humans.
> However, the conclusion that I draw is that this is a dangerous
> person -- their morality is based on the (supposed) existence of a
> greater being, and not on a strong sense of right/wrong or a deep
> understanding of humans and their societies. Their position is based
> on ignorance, and is unstable (since, if they ever lost their faith,
> one could conclude from the above that they might go on a rampage),
> while a true morality is stable, since the holder understands *why*
> certain are wrong.

This is not just a question for Eric but for everyone who continues to re-present the worst arguments made by the ideologs of pale religious letchery: do you think that ANY of the people on this list who do not accept your catagorical assertions about the utility of faith are advocates of the positions that you continue to hold up as defining examples of the role that faith can play in one's life? Have Richard, Reed, Tim, or I said or suggested that without faith in God that humans will have no moral compass? If you don't think that we're advancing this notion, then why do you continue to bring it up? It is completely irrelevant to the conversation. You have utterly dismembered the straw man, and now you're just kicking loose straw around the room. I'm inviting you to wipe the foam from your lips, take a deep breath, let it out slow, put down the jawbone, and come over here and have a conversation?

One thing I'm hoping to make clear is that I do not think that anyone should make an effort to have faith in the truth of a proposition if they are not inclined to do so. I'm not suggesting that the anyone should "just have faith."
I've written time and again that I value reason. Professor Tim says it is the air he breathes. We can't get along without it, but we don't have to be its puppets.

What I am suggesting is that we all explore. Explore different modes of experiencing the world, different ways of interacting with each other, different approaches to familiar problems. If the tinny voice of Aristotle is always whining in your ear and keeps you from emersing yourself in what could be a challenging, rewarding, growth-inducing experience, put him in a sound proof box ***for the durration of the experiment*** and then let him out later to put things back in order. If you can put the critic aside for a time and let yourself play and explore freely, you just might put something together that the critic will apporve of once it's complete but which he never would have allowed you to assemble were he the on-site supervisor. If, as is likely to happen quite often, what you come up with is complete arse drivel, the critic will set things back in their proper order when you let him out of the sound proof box in the morning.

Your reason will supply you with some very clever rotorts to this post. Rather than just letting Aristotle type for you, image what it might be like to gently usher him into the isolation box for a few minutes and let your unsupervised and unfettered imagination play with these ideas. I'm not saying reply in haiku or song. You don't have to reply at all. Just give yourself a little bit of time away from the managerial voice of Western Civilization. He does a valuable job, and you'll want to stay on good working terms with him, but you can take a break from time to time. You'll be surprised and delighted to discover things that you wouldn't have discovered following the boss's prescribed algorithms.