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Troy Jollimore on the God Debate

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Posted on Apr 2, 2009

By Troy Jollimore

(Page 4)

There is also good reason to resist Micklethwait and Wooldridge’s attack on the idea that Bush’s religiosity, and that of the electorate, had bad effects on his domestic policy. Their reassurance that “Bush and his fellow theocrats ended up doing almost nothing to undermine American secularism” is surely premature: The truth of this claim remains to be seen. (It will depend in part, among other things, on the future behavior of his Supreme Court appointees.) Meanwhile there can be little doubt that Bush’s religious proclivities, and his desire to please his evangelical supporters, had negative consequences on the health of the American republic. Consider the ban on stem cell research, the drastic underfunding of scientific research in general, or the pressure on scientists to skew their research results in order to accommodate the administration’s views on global warming and other such matters. (It is worth noting that the latter two go entirely unmentioned in “God Is Back.”)

Or consider Bush’s backing of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. As Micklethwait and Wooldridge correctly observe, the measure failed to pass, but they neglect to mention that it lent momentum to other, parallel efforts—including the successful effort to pass California’s Proposition 8. The success of Proposition 8—another religiously inflicted social injury that barely rates a mention in “God Is Back”—casts considerable doubt not only on Micklethwait and Wooldridge’s benign view of religion, but also on their anti-judicial bias, and their populist contention that legislatures expressing the alleged will of the people are generally more capable than the courts of reaching acceptable positions on civil rights issues.

 

book cover

 

God Is Back

 

By John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge

 

Penguin Press, 416 pages

 

Buy the book

 

The view of religion as both benign and necessary has deep and insidious roots. In a revealing moment near the end of “God Is Back,” Micklethwait and Wooldridge write, “Secularists hoped that science would marginalize religion. In fact, the advance of science—particularly biotechnology—is raising all sorts of religious questions.” This, to my mind, is fascinatingly confused. The passage is designed to suggest that biotechnology has somehow found evidence for religious claims: If science “in fact” raises religious questions, then clearly religion is validated by science! But of course, what biotechnology raises is not religious questions, but moral ones. The thought that morality must be fundamentally religious in nature—that we cannot talk about values without talking about God—is a preconception, a prejudice, and one that many secularists are growing understandably tired of hearing repeated. (For my part, I must confess that I find morality much easier to understand without the mysteries and confusions injected by belief in God.)

One must already have faith in faith to conclude that the world must be seen through the lens of faith. And one must have such faith, too, to view religion in a predominantly positive light, given all that has been done in its name. Micklethwait and Wooldridge are surely correct to claim that religion—not God, but religion—is back. I remain, as yet, unconvinced that this is either an inevitable development or a happy one.

Troy Jollimore is associate professor of philosophy at California State University, Chico. His book “Tom Thomson in Purgatory” won the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry in 2006.


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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, April 3, 2009 at 10:54 pm Link to this comment

christian96,

FYI: “That’s all Folks” usually said by porky Pig with a stutter.  Find amusing,  your conscience or subconsciousness attempt to make the cartoon fit your attempted premise.

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By christian96, April 3, 2009 at 9:46 pm Link to this comment

Mankind’s limited mind in the restriction of time
and space will never comprehend the mind of the creator God.  We, as science as done, can only grasp
a limited view of the immense creation and only that
which can be seen and observed in our dimension.  There will come a day according to the Bible when all
will be transformed into a different dimension when
knowledge and understanding will be understood from
a different perspective.  The Bible has been amazingly accurate in predicting events in history of
our dimension.  For example, in the 12th chapter of
Daniel, it was predicted that knowledge would increase and mankind would run to and fro before the
end of this dimension arrives.  WE ARE THERE!  To
quote a cartoon when I was just a young lad, “That’s
The End, Folks!”  Are you prepared for the judgment
of your eternal dimension?  I hope so.  There ain’t
no more!

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By elsongar, April 3, 2009 at 8:17 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther:
“Think of a good woman god.”

Sure. Why not? As long as the scenario posits an ‘omnipotent’ female god that can both imagine and create a perfect world in which beauty and love and life and all that’s good can be understood and experienced without the context of ugliness and hatred and death and evil. I’d reject an omnippotent female god that for some reason cannot create a perfect world unless it’s used as a carrot to reward humans for suffering. Not for me the ‘loving’ female god that hands down ten commandments, four of which center around the self-aggrandizement of the aforementioned god.

The right female god just might get me through the night.

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By samosamo, April 3, 2009 at 7:10 pm Link to this comment

“Do you believe that the earth is only 6000 years old, and that 2 of every species were put into a wooden boat 4000 years ago? Some people only believe what someone else tells them and are unable to think for themselves.
************************************************
How did ‘no ah er’ know he had 2 mosquitos on board and why didn’t he kill them so diseases would not spread? How did he go to the amazon and save 2 of every frog from there? Did he sail to Austrailia to pick up a couple of duck bill platypussys and roo or two? Was he able to feed them all on hay and where did that come from? Were the tigers drugged to keep them from eating the crew of the boat? And did his family have to start incestuous conjugations to build the human race back up? Wait a minute, now I know why the human race is so full of genetic defects that can’t run a government, or an economy. God sure messed up here. I don’t think I like god’s sense of humour. And really, if the water covered all the land and mountains where did it drain to when the wate receded?
“To say that god is dead presupposes that he was at one time alive”. a quote from somewhere by somebody.

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By Shenonymous, April 3, 2009 at 7:04 pm Link to this comment

DWIGHTBAKER, I understand your indignation and I palpably feel your angst over the feeling of ineffective participation in our country’s actions and directions.  The impulse to find a group who feel the same is natural since there is magic in numbers, meaning more is better in this kind of case.  More voices and hopefully more pressure for change.  I have read your two last posts and they are decidedly cogent.  Not only I but scores of others would agree that it was the Bush bunch of thugs that uncompromisingly sent us to the hell of Iraq and most likely for the very reasons you identify.  And I believe it is not fiction based on all the reports, interviews, and results in Iraq over the last 8 years.  It also has nearly bankrupted this country which is not being discussed much these days.  Regardless of Congress finally approving the financing that war, it was in my own mind a completely illegal pre-emptive war.  I also agree that impoverishment of Americans has given extensive negative effects not only on the 13 to 28 year age group but from infants to Old Agers (in contrast to the hazy New Agers).  This impoverishment has been unnecessary over nearly the last decade.  Things do have to be fixed. 

All that being said, what you propose seems quixotic in scope.  That in itself is not bad, it has the ring of romanticism actually, the itinerant knight come to save the world with his band of social warriors.  But it does seem to have built-in impediments.  306,143,807 people are a huge number of minds.  This is a democracy, meaning it is a government for the people by the people.  And all the voices that can be heard must be heard.  It is also a constitutionally driven country.  While I do not claim to be an expert by any means on constitutional guarantees and safeguards, I have read it several times, read all the guiding national documents.  I have some familiarity to the degree that I sense they are important documents that protect Americans in ways not enjoyed by any other citizens of any other country, though there are those that come close.  And if we value this foundation of this government then we have to let it work.  Not by a long shot do I think this country is operating in the realm of the ideal. But then people are not of the ideal realm either.  We do have spirit catchers though, meaning it was through the efforts of conscious white people that slavery came to an end.  It was through the efforts of the outraged public the Vietnam War was truncated.  It was through the efforts of Americans that even the crooks on Wall Street and Mortgage companies are caught and will be prosecuted.  Not all will be i.e., Ted Stevens of Alaska!  That is the nature of politics, but they will be found out.  To motivate a large enough body of people to effect the kind of change you have in mind, you will have to be crystal clear in how you frame your project.  No ambiguities, no generalizations.  For instance, when you say, “We the People in Unity want to make a stern call to all elected and charge to govern us to en laws and programs that don’t work…” sounds lofty but is an entirely nonspecific call to action.  It is vague and nebulous.  It is not explicit.  Things not explicit are not graspable.

Your question, “what are we to do? is a rational question, but it will take an unequivocal answer.  A lot of work to do.  There might be others on a forum who would like to help shape change. 

I do not think this forum is the right one.  This forum discusses the relative merits of the review of a book called “God is Back.”  I think it is an important topic as there is the assertion that far-reaching effects are occurring and that religion is the cause.  There has been lots of visitors already who beyond just making a facile comment or so, would be interested in a more penetrating discussion.

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By Folktruther, April 3, 2009 at 6:37 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous-  You mean that the Chinese student’s godess was really the Statue of Liberty?  Hell, there goes a perfectly good example of the comeback of the Great Godess.  It did seem odd to me that a culture that does not personalize their myths would generate a movement that did, but I figured they were being creative.  You have shakened my Faith in the young.  Maybe next time.

Elsongar-  Monotheistic gods are a symbol of power.  Those religions teach us to obey Divine power in order to legitmate obedience to earthly power.  Since the interests of the power structures and the people they rule diverge, all such power ideologies are anti-people ideologies.

They are consequently irrational and rely on the emotional feelings engaged when taught in childhood, when we are most impresionable, credulous and powerless to resist authoirty. 

The Adam and Eve myth symbolizes the ungodliness of people eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, this knowledge of Good and Evil being reserved for the gods.  And their truth agents and truth managers.

The first myth of the Western tradition instills the horror of thinking for yourself, and resulted in the Fall of Man (and yes, of women too.)  Stay away from that stuff, its poisonous.  Think of a good woman god.

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By rwmenser, April 3, 2009 at 6:31 pm Link to this comment

I prefer to think of “god” as the mathematical equation for the grand unified theory of physics.  The unificationof the veery large and the very small.  Astrophysics and quantum mechanics.  That super equation that binds and guides everything.

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By mcthorogood, April 3, 2009 at 5:46 pm Link to this comment

Do you believe that the earth is only 6000 years old, and that 2 of every species were put into a wooden boat 4000 years ago? Some people only believe what someone else tells them and are unable to think for themselves.

Now if you want to discuss religion and the control of humankind’s mind, all we have to do is to look at the Catholic Inquisition that was conducted by the Papacy for 600 years, not to mention the genocide of Greek Orthodox Christians after WWII in the Balkans.  I no longer profess allegiance to any religion which treats fellow human beings as a second rate persons, depending on their beliefs.

Do you think that Rev. Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church is controlling the minds of his sheep, when they parade around at veterans’ funerals with “God hates Fags” signs?  Is Reverend Rick Warren any better with his anti-gay comments?  What about Reverend John Hagee, Christians United for Israel, and his desire to usher in the Apocalypse in support for a foreign policy, which is detrimental to both the U.S. and Israel.  I almost forgot Reverend Ted Haggard, what a fucking hypocrite!

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By Baka Karasu, April 3, 2009 at 5:28 pm Link to this comment

Kudos to Mr. Jollimore - he writes like a blend of Dennett and Dawkins (my highest compliment in non fiction writing).  Science and religion are indeed incompatible and the “non overlapping magisteria” or “mere faith without evidence is enough” views are madness.  Far better to know an accurate uncertainty like science than a certain inaccuracy like religion.

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By samosamo, April 3, 2009 at 5:05 pm Link to this comment

Religion is the commercialization of a person’s spiritualness for the purpose of control by others of that person. Not to mention that religion allows people to compare clothes, cars, vacations and jewelry to gainsaid each other.

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By Karen Leonard, April 3, 2009 at 5:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Slogging through the comments below,I have found many worthwhile gems. My thanks to the following; Shenonymous, Leefeller and Jon. It’s reasoning like yours that make the effort of posting as conversing well worthwhile.

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By Shenonymous, April 3, 2009 at 4:05 pm Link to this comment

We don’t have to worry about being burned at the stake or stoned to death in America, but this does go on in India, Arab countries, and Africa.  That is a large part of the world.  Witches were burned as late as 18th century in Switzerland.  Mankind devolves from ignorance.  The Taliban wants to prevent girls and women from becoming educated.  Women in Islam are considered unclean and equivalent to slovenly pigs.

Death and the fear of it is a large part of the development of religions in primitive societies, but also explanations for huge events like volcano eruptions, famine, tsunamis, animals born with two heads, etc.  It is one thing to have an opinion, uninformed opinion is not very interesting to many people who are informed.  Yes, the notion of an everlasting soul could be a delicious (interesting adjective) notion especially as it eats up the human mind.  Bertrand Russell’s teapot is also an intriguing proposition.

Exactly where are the surplus of people on the planet.  Or if you want to be fair in reducing the number of humans, why not kill ever other person in every country?  Okay everybody, get in a line.  Mere moral disapproval does not have any traction.

Differences of opinion could be because one is more conscious than another.

The Chinese goddess was really a badly crafted ersatz Statue of Liberty, the students even said so.  Look closer then genuflect to more ignorance.  The number of male bimbos throughout history would fill the Atlantic Ocean.

Looks like we all need a Jesus Shield to safeguard our minds.  Don’t hold your breath for the Big Return.

Feelings can be mistaken, particularly when the mind has taken a hike.  Love is a hypothetical construct.  Attraction for all animals, including the human one, is always produced from sexual desire.  The notion of mercy is a moral and is not extolled as such in every culture.  How it arises in a culture might be the fodder for a doctoral thesis.

If God didn’t need the world, it would be a foolish God indeed to have created it.  But since God too is a hypothetical construct, nothing needs to worry about absurdities.

Jon says it in a nutshell!  It should be printed out and pasted on everyone’s refrigerator.

Seems like someone thinks they know what God can reach for, or down to.  Exactly whose revelation are we responding to?  God is pro-active?  at what, killing people?  Jonathan Swift had a fantastic modest proposal for the Irish.  Have a greater plan?  Please explain.

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By Herk, April 3, 2009 at 4:03 pm Link to this comment

The fastest growing religion in the world is Islam.
The fastest growing group in the world is non-believers.
To posit that (Christian) religion is growing or that God is making a comeback is simply dissembling.

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By bogi666, April 3, 2009 at 3:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Muslim fundamentalism is cited as reasons for Muslim countries generally having poor living standards for a large majority of its citizens because its anti-science prejudices which claims God is the sole of creation. The reasoning being that if God did something it cannot be replaced through scientific investigation so why bother with scientific investigation. For instance, if asked to remove a rock a Muslim could and do reply that God put the rock there so I can’t move it because God did it. However if the rock were a piece of gold a Muslim wouldn’t hedge at removing it. It was the disdain of science by the Catholic church and Christians that resulted in the dark ages thereby ending scientific inquiry. The so called Christian fundamentalists disdain science for the very same reason that Muslim fundamentalist do and in the last 35 years American science preeminence in the world has been supplanted, especially by India and China. This indicates a new dark age for scientific inquiry and the signs are evident this dark age is emerging.

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By hark, April 3, 2009 at 3:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Someone above made the comment that atheists don’t believe in any gods because they lack the imagination to think of any.  I think that’s about the silliest statement I ever heard.  There are an infinitude of gods that one can imagine, all sorts of exotic supernatural creatures or beings or ethereal consciousnesses that might inhabit multi-dimensional space-time continuums.  In fact, there are so many possibilities that it seems utterly ridiculous that we have fixated on one who seems inordinately concerned about our affairs.  Indeed, why doesn’t this god evolve with our notion of the universe at large?  It seemed to stop growing after it hopped across the Old Testament into the new.

All that said, I would guess that atheists don’t believe in this, or any other god(s) because there is no persuasive evidence that any of them exist.  Plenty of wishful thinking, but no evidence.  That’s why.  Simple as that.

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By elsongar, April 3, 2009 at 3:16 pm Link to this comment

Jon: The typical Fundamentalist Christian, and some/many(most?) believers of other faiths will damn you (and Epicurus) for relying on logic (using the brain supposedly given to you by God) as you attempt to reach an honest conclusion about the existence or non-existence of a Deity.They’re not interested in your logic. They just want know how to position themselves so they’ll get the best deal available after the final bell chimes.

Folktruther: Not saying I’m an atheist, but if I were to create a God, he’d be much like the current Christian God EXCEPT that, being omnipotent and all, He would have plunked Adam and Eve down in a world just like Heaven, and A&E would not have been thrown out. And all generations to follow would suffer not at all. There would be no need ever to pay fealty to this God in Heaven. And we could appreciate beauty and love without having to experience ugliness and hatred. I can imagine an omnipotent, omniscient, loving God doing all that:eliminating the ruthless, needless testing period of life as we know it . If he can’t get man to come to him but through pain and suffering—if he insists on man bowing before him, what kind of god is he?

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By Bboy57, April 3, 2009 at 2:34 pm Link to this comment

Trying to be intellectual in defining relationships between Man and God is folly. It is the monotheisic God that reaches down to man(kinds)soul/spirit that defines any kind/type of real relationship. We merely respond to this revelation. God is pro-active. If we get responses it is just in the greater plan somewhat.

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By Jon, April 3, 2009 at 1:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What is real and what is not, is not a question of how many people believe or do not believe.  One person believing something doesn’t make it true any more than 1,000 people believing it, or 10,000,000,000.  Truth is truth, and all we’re left with is critical thinking and our own judgment of the evidence.  And logic.
Epicurus, a 3rd century BC Greek philosopher, applied critical thinking and logic to the question and came up with this spin: “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?  Then he is not omnipotent.  Is he able, but not willing?  Then he is malevolent.  Is he both able and willing?  Then whence cometh evil?  Is he neither able nor willing?  Then why call him God?”
Science encourages critical thinking; religion discourages it.

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By cvd, April 3, 2009 at 12:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

god like love and freedom is based upon feelings
feelings are very important to human beings they link us to the animals and the plants and to the universe at large which science has shown to be a cold and lonely place for the most part,all that fancy science fiction space is in fact an inhospitable placeto simple human beings like my baby son -  however, sentimentality aside, I still believe in love and freedom - in fact they are what make me tick -the illusion which is god, like the most symbolic things in life, invisible, eternal, unrepresentable, unfathomable ...(Schoenberg defining God in “Moses und Aaron”)does not so easily go away; Dostoyesvsky got it wrong when in The Grand Inquisitor he has the corrupt cardinal say that mystery and spetacle will rule in the future - in fact mystery is to not be allowed anywhere in the human heart - western civilization (sic.) has always been in the hands of the mystery haters, the death lovers, with never enough human beings to kill in the name of its many gods and god barkers who DEMAND THE TRUTH - the priests, the inquistions, the reformers, the preachers and now some silly ignorant form of Americanism called Christianity with its megachurches and its warrens (as in Rick Warren?) of scared rabbit like believers ready to lash out at a momen’t notice against the Osamas and the Obamas - god help us and save us ... as it pours out of its parking lot in Orange County! For some reason we have to appease this great unwashed crowd -In America 6000 years of culture and civilization dwindles down to “debating” the likes of Rick Warren and Sarah Palin (while Larry King moderates)on the origins of life in Eden and whether Adam and Eve were running away from the dinosaurs ... love and freedom deserve something better than this kind of America which given a chance, will kill the symbolic (god) as it has done to the animals and the plants; as America has become nothing but consumersism, everything must continue to find its place - everything can be replaced - even America - only in America must there be a debate on whether one’s feelings are facts - The ultimate conceit is that God needs the world - don’t count on it folks - it may just be out of an infinite resource of love and mercy that he finds the planet worthy of the miracle that keeps it going - why? - well yes it’s a mystery - human beings should try a little more love and mercy themselves!

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By Leefeller, April 3, 2009 at 11:30 am Link to this comment

Sounds like the old protection racket.

“Hey you, Like your knee caps, be a shame to see them broken, so you need to believe or you better watch out”.

Fear game is never ending.

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By wired, April 3, 2009 at 11:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Entities equivalent in power to “God” certainly exist. Any race, machine or animal, which has survived the trials of existence for several millions of years will command power, energy and technology capable of modifying at least their local group of galaxies. The notion of [a]God, contrary to angry doubters, has precisely zero to do with human-invented religion.

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By elsongar, April 3, 2009 at 11:11 am Link to this comment

DWIGHT——-
What the—-*??

Do us all a favor. Sign up for a literacy course. Then reread those great philosophers and historians you claim to have read. Perhaps you’ll understand them better the second time around.

FYI: This was particularly amusing.

“The reason we find so many new styled self-styled pagans today is that:
1.  The learning experience in total from grades 1-12 to PhD’s has not lead most toward knowing history, languages or philosophy in total”

I’ll bet you a buck you’d have to travel far, far back in the world’s history to find a period when “most” were led(note the word is “led” not “lead”) toward “knowing. . . in total”—-perhaps way back to near the beginning when there wasn’t much knowledge at all. Fact: Even in the 1930’s relatively few Americans were schooled beyond the eighth grade.

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By lastdaywatchers, April 3, 2009 at 10:41 am Link to this comment

If Jesus did not raise from the dead like he said he would, then there is NO GOD!!

But if he did raise from the dead (WATCH OUT TO THOSE WHO DON’T BELIEVE IT)!!!

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By JFoster2k, April 3, 2009 at 10:40 am Link to this comment

“I watch Fox News because it won’t trouble me with evidence contradicting my views”.

This phrase typifies the outlook of most religious fundamentalists. The basic approach to science and religion is diametrically opposed. Science takes NOTHING on faith and scientific truths are only considered to be true by means of constant attempts to disprove them. Religion takes nearly everything on faith and religious truths are only considered true by eliminating attempts to dispriove them.

Dwightbaker,

I’m almost certain I disagree with you, but unfortunately I can’t understand most of what you write. Since I can understand everything in the article and every other post here, I’m fairly certain it’s not my lack of cognative skills. Is English your primary language?

Shenonymous,

Well stated. You are as eloquent and insightful as ever.

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By Leefeller, April 3, 2009 at 10:31 am Link to this comment

Karen Leonard, stated:
“I think that the need to believe is directly tied to the ego-the sense of self.” Could be, but maybe the need is not to believe, but instead to belong as in any mass movement, for some individual thought is frowned upon.

As for the burning of withes, were they all women? If so it sounds religion is more sexiest than I had previously thought, maybe that explains the Taliban, the Catholics and the Mormons treatment of their women, among many others it would seem.  We should ask Hedges.

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By DWIGHTBAKER, April 3, 2009 at 10:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

FOLKTRUTHER

At least you tried—- failed miserably but tried.  You only missed about 99.9% of the history of mankind and the .1% you got to was wrong. OH WELL I guess your yarns and tales gets you a few beers bought now and then.

In the libraries in and around San Francisco they have real history books you can not check out but you can sit and read in the quite all day if you like.  If I were in your need to be educated I would stay away from fictitious accounts of history.

They even have charts that show how mankind has gone from on era to another.  So before you try to strut your stuff again PLEASE GO STUDY.

DWIGHT BAKER

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By Folktruther, April 3, 2009 at 9:42 am Link to this comment

As I’ve said before, atheism indicates an abysmal poverty of imagintion.  Atheists simply lack the creativity to invent a god like everybody else. The first gods of earthpeople were women, as Merlin Stone briliantly sketches in WHEN GOD WAS A WOMAN.  Fertility, love, nurturing, the obvious virtues of women gods.

Then came the Arians seveal millenniums ago, the steppe nomands the the archiologiest Marija Gurlities calls the Kurgans.  the Kurgans domestecated the horse, the major calvary unit of armies until the 20th century tanks.  They conquered the agricultural peoples, and imposed their war gods of masculinity, such as the barbaric one Yahvah in the Jewish Bible. they instilled the perverted values of oppressive power that we still suffer from in our own polities, the religions being largely war ideologies.

I suggest that we go back to women gods.  I noticed that when Chinese students were demonstrating against the Chinese power structure a few years ago, they solidified around a goddess as their standard bearer.  For the West I suggest Clio, the Greek Muse of history.

I can’t say that I have much faith in Clio, who appears to be an absent minded bimbo, but than she may not have much faith in me either. But, what the hell, we have to make do. It is merely a matter of composing the Sacred Bullshit that all religions appear to need, and give the spiritual ideology a progressive content.  Somehow I seem to lack the necessary reverence to do it myself.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, April 3, 2009 at 9:33 am Link to this comment

Differences of opinion can be construed as ignorance only because of differences.

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By AnalogKid, April 3, 2009 at 9:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I don’t know, I don’t care and it doesn’t matter.  There are too many humans on the planet now.  We have already overextended ourselves. We don’t stand a chance of doing anything about this problem because of these sky fairy believing morons that think their beliefs belong at the table with objective truth.  It is too late.  Thanks sky fairy loving idiots.

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By Karen Leonard, April 3, 2009 at 9:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

One obvious advance in human behavior, is that we do not have to worry about being burned at the stake or stoned to death by admitting we don’t subscribe to Brand X ( any of the thousands of religious beliefs can be named here). 

My own take on why we humans can’t get past religion, is not due to its advantage on any social/biological advantage- quite the opposite (consider the Dark Ages when the church decided to devalue woman’s skills by killing the most talented and intelligent ones for “witchcraft” - certainly this had devastating genetic results for humankind).

I think that the need to believe is directly tied to the ego-the sense of self. It is very difficult for humans to accept death. We balk at nonexistence of the unique individual self. Religion holds all it’s power through the idea of an everlasting soul. It could never spread and flourish without this delicious notion.

One of my favorite quotes is from a book by Arthur C. Clark. He imagined a solar driven computer that enters our solar system and begins circling earth “listening” to all broadcasts. Humans wait with baited breath for communication from the first sign of outside intelligence.  Finally, it responds with;
“Unable to decipher differences between religion, football and Beatle Mania. Please explain.

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By Dave24, April 3, 2009 at 8:17 am Link to this comment

“Religion: Bringing people together in a world torn apart, by religion.”

Science corrects religion, and science corrects itself. 

Society has flourished in spite of religious inhibitions, all of which remain based on the imaginations of ancient authors.

Nature is far grander than any petty myth.  The writers couldn’t have conceived of an object such as a black hole, for instance—- yet they knew the mind of God?

Rubbish.

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By Leefeller, April 3, 2009 at 8:15 am Link to this comment

Potential insidiousness of religions capabilities, needs constant vigil. After reading Hedges seminary point of view on Truth Dig over many weeks, with blind support by Hedges followers seeming like lemmings, this article by Troy Jollimore is a most refreshing degree of enlightenment. 

My hope would be everyone should have freedom of speech and thought and if they feel the need they should have the freedom of religion.  Only, I would prefer they would keep it to themselves.  If religion practiced “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” as instituted by our military for certain individuals, articles like this one would not be necessary.

Religion is not benign for many reasons, Jollimore reminds us!

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By tomack, April 3, 2009 at 8:11 am Link to this comment

No, it is not true.

Unless, of course, enlightenment can coexist with a millennia’s worth of hoodo, incense, and fear.

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By Shenonymous, April 3, 2009 at 7:58 am Link to this comment

You strike me as a crank.  Be that as it may, Amen.

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By PogueMahone, April 3, 2009 at 7:51 am Link to this comment

DwightBaker it is pointless to argue or defend the existance of god, a being whose existance there is no evidence for. 

You state Shenonymous has no sense of mankind’s history. All you really have is the bloody history of Christianity, the greatest story ever sold.

Xypher said it best.  It’s time to lose the childish belief in a fatherly figure in the sky.

PogueMahone

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By Juan Liberale, April 3, 2009 at 7:38 am Link to this comment
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Humans always want the easy answer.

The easiest answer of all is always magic.

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By Shenonymous, April 3, 2009 at 7:31 am Link to this comment

Of course the implication is that if one appears to defend a position offered by another, some sympathy to that attitude is likely true.  That in itself does not nullify the criticism leveled at other counter views.  You may stand firmly but you stand on no ground that you reference.  Therefore you stand on shaky ground.  Non-terra firma.  So whatever you say is sheer opinion only and has no weight except for yourself.  A criticism may be seen as a chideful deriding but that is because the sting of the criticism is felt.  A natural reaction to one who dogmatically holds his beliefs.  Abject mental poverty is not something you have the qualifications to judge.  You also nave no credentials to judge what a “real sense of mankind hisotry, philosophy, or language” since you have not given your own academic achievement in those subjects, and it could be autodidacticism at work but then you would have to defend your self-teaching as objective. I am afraid Mr. DWIGHTBAKER, as presented your ideas are empty of content.

To get back to Jollimore’s critical review, he carefully lays out a critique offering the salient points the authors’ present, then one by one gives reasons why they may have some merit and why they do not.  He is true to proceeding through a good solid argument.  Whether one is or is not atheist has no bearing on whether he argues rightly.  I will be glad to recount what he argues point by point, which really will only reinforce his and my positions, but he has already done that and if you can read critically without the hubris of opinion you obviously have brought to your reading so far, you can see for yourself.  You obviously do not have the skills to argue properly hence make no convincing statements.  Reiterating, it is advised you get some education in logic and good English composition either studying on your own, or at some institution.

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By Sage in Zion, April 3, 2009 at 6:53 am Link to this comment
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God is back?  Where’s she been? Shopping? Torturing? Making war.  I hadn’t noticed much difference in her absence.  As long as human beings can invent an invisible god to suit their purposes there will always be god.  Who’s god is back to these guys?  It seems to be alright just to say, “I believe” for most people.  I think they are hedging their bets just in case god really exists.  The god freaks are running scared when they come up with this tripe.

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By Shenonymous, April 3, 2009 at 6:40 am Link to this comment

It is ridiculous to think anyone can “know” history, languages, or philosophy in total. What exactly is meant by “total”?  and do you know them yourself or are you simply reacting to a criticism of religion?  Jollimore was not taking issue with any particular religion except en passant as it applied to Americans and politics, but he was actually questioning the bigger issues of religion in general.  He admits quite blatantly that science is open to revisions as new evidence emerges.  He also rightly notes that religions are not open to revisions at all but are dogmatic and closed in their beliefs and explanations of reality.

At what age does one start setting one’s own agenda, and what is meant by revolting from the known and running to unknown? The #2 statement is incoherent.

#3 is also incoherent.

Jollimore speaks circles around DWIGHTBAKER, who doesn’t seem to have a command of the language he himself is using.  Perhaps you should take a literacy course yourself DWIGHTBAKER?  Also try a logic class.

What exact theories are thought to have been proposed in Jollimore’s book review?  What credentials do you bring in terms of history, language, and philosophy to this discussion?

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By BlindRobin, April 3, 2009 at 6:29 am Link to this comment
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Bollocks. Religion is no more than superstition and hypocrisy in a failing marriage of convenience that has long outlived it’s usefulness for any society that would wish to consider itself ‘civilised’.

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By Frank Goodman, Sr., April 3, 2009 at 6:27 am Link to this comment

The issue is survival value of religion in the modern world.

Like the plumes of a pea cock, religion may have survival value or differential reproductive influence upon the population of the humans. It may well be that the good feeling of religion for believers contribute to their survival and reproduction.

That religion is true or not true does not enter into it any more than the question of the utility of feathers enters the question of their validity in the propagation of birds. It is quite obvious that some birds manage to propagate without such displays of feathers as the pea fowl. Likewise, humans manage to reproduce even if they are atheists.

The question of just what is the ratio of believers to non-believers in the reproductive mix of humans could have significance in a matter of scientific trivial pursuit. Conclusions may be drawn from the empirical evidence of effective sex among believers vs. non-believers. Child nurturing may also come into view. Even the institution of marriage may be affected by believers vs. non-believers.

Is it true that there Jesus is God incarnate? Is is true that Abraham talked to God in his own language? Is it true that Moses saw God in a burning bush? Was Ghandi right when he said that no God is higher than truth?

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By xypher, April 3, 2009 at 6:20 am Link to this comment

The vast majority of religions, excepting Buddhism, are a little more than a scourge on mankind that do more harm than good. It’s time to move away from superstition and accept that there is no old man who lives in the sky who smites his creations for being human.

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By eileen fleming, April 3, 2009 at 5:40 am Link to this comment
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Religion has been misused to divide and control people and the root of this problem lies in depending on others for interpretations of scriptures and failing to wrestle/struggle/question/and even doubt God.

It is the arrogance of certainty that rules many believers and not a LOVE of God.

Spirituality is what connects us to the Mystery we call God [for lack of a better word] to the divine within our self, all others and in every situation.

Life is a journey and the only danger is getting stuck.

BTW-Jesus was never a Christian.

The term ‘Christian’ was not even coined until the days of Paul, about 3 decades after Jesus/AKA:


The Prince of Peace walked the earth and taught that it is the peacemakers who are the children of God, NOT those that bomb, occupy or torture others.


2,000 years ago The Cross had NO symbolic religious meaning and was not a piece of jewelry.


When JC said: “Pick up your cross and follow me” everyone THEN understood he was issuing a POLITICAL statement, for the main roads into Jerusalem were lined with crucified agitators, rebels, dissidents and any who disturbed the status quo of the Roman Empire and Military Occupying Forces.


Jesus, while never a Christian, was a social, justice, radical revolutionary Palestinian devout Jewish road warrior who rose up against the corrupt Temple authorities and challenged their job security by teaching the people they did NOT need to pay the priests for ritual baths or sacrificing livestock to be OK with God; for God LOVED them just as they were:

Sinners, poor, diseased, outcasts, widows, orphans, refugees and prisoners all living under the Roman Empire and Military Occupation.


What got JC crucified was disturbing the status quo of the Roman Empire and Occupying Forces by teaching the subversive concept that God preferred the humble sinner, the poor, diseased, outcasts, widows, orphans, refugees and prisoners all living under the Roman Empire and Military Occupation above the elite and arrogant.

The early followers and lovers of Jesus were called members of THE WAY-being THE WAY he taught one should be and that his sisters and brothers were those that DID the will of the Father:

“What does God require? He has told you o’man! Be just, be merciful, and walk humbly with your Lord.” -Micah 6:8

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By Ivan Hentschel, April 3, 2009 at 5:15 am Link to this comment
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We continue to waste enormous amounts of time and energy discussing a “god” who contributes nothing to our existence besides the bases for hatred and bigotry, and   rationalizations for violence and general discord. Oddly, we call this “love”, or “unity” or “faith based initiatives”.

I am not an atheist: I am simpy a non-deist, because deisim seems only to promote small thinking and prevent wisdom. The obsession with “god” puts shackles on humanity.

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By Shenonymous, April 3, 2009 at 4:19 am Link to this comment

At bottom is “reason to believe.”  The question about the existence or nonexistence of God has to do with the nature of belief and the human capacity to believe when events do not match expectations.  There is a basic need for humans to have beliefs that can account for not just important events but everything.  This need is the basis of both religion and science.  Troy Jollimore in his review of the book God is Back argues well in his contrast between the beliefs of “responsible” scientists and “typical” believers in religion.  He also supplies a concisely stated descriptive inverse ratio of the consequences of faith.  The distinction between fact and the feeling of fact is crucial to understanding the difference between science and religion.

Partly as a vehicle to vindicate the last president for the call by his God to war, the thesis found in the book that the Bush War in Iraq was not undertaken primarily for religious reasons may have some validity since the resources in Iraq was the real quarry and his using religion with the plinth of the religious right falls into the realm of usury where the exorbitant rate of interest was the loss of life of American soldiers and the Iraqi people by the thousands upon thousands, approaching a million and the near destruction of a sovereign country.  That is the price exacted by his God.  Using God is exploitation not of a minor type.

The testament that patriotic political feelings are easily transfigured into religious ones is symptomatic of the psychogenic nature of belief.  God is not back because God was always there under the covers of the apocryphally faithful.

I will read the book to verify what Jollimore says, for no one can get to St. Ives unless one trudges to it.

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By Tom Edgar, April 3, 2009 at 12:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

God(Religion) is back?  Only in the poorly educated States and countries.  Every place, where the average education standards are high, religion is in retreat.

In America the same can be seen. The U S A ranks nearly bottom of the “Advanced” countries in average education standards, has the highest level of religiosity.  Within its own borders, those States with the lowest level of education have the
greatest number of fundamentalist and conformist religious adherents.

GOD is back ?  Wasn’t there in the first place so I can’t see from whence he is returning.

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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By John Catt, April 3, 2009 at 12:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Surely the attitudes shown in the book are those you would expect from economists.

Essentially they view religion as a product and it is the consumers view of truth, not the actual truth that matters.

As with any branded product, the emotional attachment of the consumer is vital.

It would have been interesting if they had looked at religions as probably the most successful marketing organisations the world has ever seen. A low cost product capable of generating very high levels of income with guaranteed repeat sales.

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