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After Religion Fizzles, We’re Stuck With Nietzsche

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Posted on May 9, 2010
AP / Olivier Laban-Mattei

By Chris Hedges

It is hard to muster much sympathy over the implosion of the Catholic Church, traditional Protestant denominations or Jewish synagogues. These institutions were passive as the Christian right, which peddles magical thinking and a Jesus-as-warrior philosophy, hijacked the language and iconography of traditional Christianity. They have busied themselves with the boutique activism of the culture wars. They have failed to unequivocally denounce unfettered capitalism, globalization and pre-emptive war. The obsession with personal piety and “How-is-it-with-me?” spirituality that permeates most congregations is narcissism. And while the Protestant church and reformed Judaism have not replicated the perfidiousness of the Catholic bishops, who protect child-molesting priests, they have little to say in an age when we desperately need moral guidance.

I grew up in the church and graduated from a seminary. It is an institution whose cruelty, inflicted on my father, who was a Presbyterian minister, I know intimately. I do not attend church. The cloying, feel-your-pain language of the average clergy member makes me run for the door. The debates in most churches—whether revolving around homosexuality or biblical interpretation—are a waste of energy. I have no desire to belong to any organization, religious or otherwise, which discriminates, nor will I spend my time trying to convince someone that the raw anti-Semitism in the Gospel of John might not be the word of God. It makes no difference to me if Jesus existed or not. There is no historical evidence that he did. Fairy tales about heaven and hell, angels, miracles, saints, divine intervention and God’s beneficent plan for us are repeatedly mocked in the brutality and indiscriminate killing in war zones, where I witnessed children murdered for sport and psychopathic gangsters elevated to demigods. The Bible works only as metaphor.

The institutional church, when it does speak, mutters pious non-statements that mean nothing. “Given the complexity of factors involved, many of which understandably remain confidential, it is altogether appropriate for members of our armed forces to presume the integrity of our leadership and its judgments, and therefore to carry out their military duties in good conscience,” Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien, head of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, wrote about the Iraq war. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, on the eve of the invasion, told believers that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was a menace, and that reasonable people could disagree about the necessity of using force to overthrow him. It assured those who supported the war that God would not object. B’nai B’rith supported a congressional resolution to authorize the 2003 attack on Iraq. The Union of American Hebrew Congregations, which represents Reform Judaism, agreed it would back unilateral action, as long as Congress approved and the president sought support from other nations. The National Council of Churches, which represents 36 different faith groups, in a typical bromide, urged President George W. Bush to “do all possible” to avoid war with Iraq and to stop “demonizing adversaries or enemies” with good-versus-evil rhetoric, but, like the other liberal religious institutions, did not condemn the war. 

A Gallup poll in 2006 found that “the more frequently an American attends church, the less likely he or she is to say the war was a mistake.” Given that Jesus was a pacifist, and given that all of us who graduated from seminary rigorously studied Just War doctrine, which was flagrantly violated by the invasion of Iraq, this is a rather startling statistic.

But I cannot rejoice in the collapse of these institutions. We are not going to be saved by faith in reason, science and technology, which the dead zone of oil forming in the Gulf of Mexico and our production of costly and redundant weapons systems illustrate. Frederick Nietzsche’s Übermensch, or “Superman”—our secular religion—is as fantasy-driven as religious magical thinking.

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There remain, in spite of the leaders of these institutions, religiously motivated people toiling in the inner city and the slums of the developing world. They remain true to the core religious and moral values ignored by these institutions. The essential teachings of the monotheistic traditions are now lost in the muck of church dogma, hollow creeds and the banal bureaucracy of institutional religion. These teachings helped create the concept of the individual. The belief that we can exist as distinct beings from the tribe, or the crowd, and that we are called on as individuals to make moral decisions that can defy the clamor of the nation is one of the gifts of religious thought. This call for individual responsibility is coupled with the constant injunctions in Islam, Judaism and Christianity for compassion, especially for the weak, the impoverished, the sick and the outcast.

We are rapidly losing the capacity for the moral life. We reject the anxiety of individual responsibility that laid the foundations for the open society. We are enjoined, after all, to love our neighbor, not our tribe. This empowerment of individual conscience was the starting point of the great ethical systems of all civilizations. Those who championed this radical individualism, from Confucius to Socrates to Jesus, fostered not obedience and conformity, but dissent and self-criticism. They initiated the separation of individual responsibility from the demands of the state. They taught that culture and society were not the sole prerogative of the powerful, that freedom and indeed the religious and moral life required us to often oppose and challenge those in authority, even at great personal cost. Immanuel Kant built his ethics upon this radical individualism. And Kant’s injunction to “always recognize that human individuals are ends, and do not use them as mere means” runs in a direct line from the Socratic ideal and the Christian Gospels.


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By nemesis2010, May 12, 2010 at 10:27 am Link to this comment

By Avdvelden, May 11 at 6:52 am

” Morality has nothing to do with religion. Moral judgements are made by humans irrespective of religion or non-religion. Atheism doesn’t go with a lack of morality, as religion doesn’t guarantee humane morality. This is what scientific study of history and anthropology teaches us. Man is week, thus greed should not be given free reign. State capitalism leaves free play to greed. That is why we need more socialism and transparency in our democracies. We don’t need more myth, we need more protection on the basis of the oldest capacitiy of mankind: empathy.”

Well said!

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By nemesis2010, May 12, 2010 at 10:23 am Link to this comment

By Daw33d, May 11 at 5:13 pm

” Although it’s quite evident that religion is in
decline, it’s not equally evident that morality is in decline.

Perhaps this is just a wonderful opportunity for us
to find some grounding in reason for our morals.. be
it a theory of altruism, self-interest, duty, virtue
and so forth. For so many years people have been
satisfied with the idea that morality is synonymous
with man-made institutions that claim that they know
the answers through God. However, that time may be
coming to an end, as a new secular consciousness is
arising (or has been arising).

Why should we rely on a religious institution to
provide us with the answers? If you want answers of
reason, you won’t find them there. If you want
answers of “spiritual guidance”, then I suppose
that’s the only thing the church can be offering.”

Well said! And I would add that given religion’s track record it’s the last institution we should be looking to for moral guidelines.

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By nemesis2010, May 12, 2010 at 10:15 am Link to this comment

By Inherit The Wind, May 11 at 3:46 pm

”Nematoad:
You’ve said nothing other than to vent your bile at me.  You wanna go around preaching and screeching
“GOD DOESN’T EXIST! GOD CANNOT EXIST! IT’S IMPOSSIBLE! I KNOW IT BECAUSE I’M THE GREAT NEMATOAD!”
Well, go ahead. It’s still basically a free country.
I must confess to one thing:
I’m really glad I’m not you.”

There was no bile vented at you and I would have had to say something in order to vent bile, so either I vented or I didn’t say anything. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Once again you’re shown to be lacking in vocabulary skills and comprehension.

You constantly misquote, twist, and misrepresent what others have said because you are unable to construct an argument that can stand on its own merit and you quickly label any countering by others of your misguided and fallacious arguments as an attack on your person while overlooking all your ad hominem. You went so far as to ask Truedigger3 if you had to spell it out. Spell it out? How in the hell can you spell it out if you don’t even know what the eff you’re talking about?

I never said all the things that you have put in caps in the quoted section. You’re just flat out lying! All I did was point out your use of an equivocation fallacy and your labeling of all atheists as “cynics” when you didn’t even know the meaning of the word! That’s f—king audacity! (or perhaps just plain stupidity.) You’d think that you’d at least look up the definition before labeling multi-millions of atheists around the world. It doesn’t surprise me because you don’t understand the definitions of “bigot” or “racist” either.

You enjoy mislabeling people and you obviously enjoy playing the victim almost as much as you enjoy thinking yourself an enlightened intellectual. You’re not an intellectual and you’re not enlightened, you’re a pretentious and pompous peacock. But despite all that you are a victim, I’ll agree to that. The problem is that you’re a victim of your own making.

There’s no belief system associated with atheism. Atheism is simply disbelief in a divine. When human beings are born they aren’t believers in a divine anymore than they are democrats or republicans. They have to have all that religious bullshit inculcated into them by their parents and others. Humans are natural born atheists!

Atheism is not an “ism.” It’s not a religion, nor a creed, nor an ideology, nor a philosophy, nor a belief system. The suffix “ism” has more than one meaning; not every word that ends in “ism” is a belief system. It also means a “state, condition, attribute, or quality. Is stigmatism a religion? How the hell does one define a non-belief belief system? Do you have faith in your metabolism? Do you believe in pauperism?

Jeebus on a grilled cheese sandwich!

We’re still BFF, aren’t we? Bwaaaaaaaa! smile

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By Leefeller, May 12, 2010 at 10:11 am Link to this comment

Since the Wedggie awards we have many new posters on TD, me thinks Shester is loading her satire six shooters for the future?

Dear elisalouisa;

since I have been unseated from my throne twice in one month, we need to discuss my “Chicken Little Award”. Do I get to hang onto the award until November, if I recall it was called the “The Chicken Little Award of the Year”?  It was never made clear and I would like to know who the competition may be for next year and am I even in the running? My ego demands to know. 

Sincerely Leefeller

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By velses, May 12, 2010 at 10:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Extremely well written description of state of affairs in the parts of the world
dominated by the religions of the Abrahamic variety. But there are a couple of
interesting ironies and omissions in this otherwise effective piece which a
non-westerner would observe!!!

.The first error on his part is that the sum total of the world’s religious
traditions is assumed to consist of only the Abrahamic traditions. A blind side
to his thinking to begin with and the second error would be that it seems for
Mr. Hedges,  Western Man is what he has in mind as representations of all
Humanity..  !! TWO UNWARRANTED LEAPS OF FAITH SHALL WE SAY?

At a minimum Mr. Hedges betrays his circumscription within the western
Abrahamic traditions and proceeds to generalize from it thereof. A not
uncommon error in such thought exercises.

It would be worthwhile for Mr. Hedges to observe, note and consider that a)
The concept of individual responsibility overweighted and overvalued as
opposed to individualism AND the good of the collective overriding the good of
the individual, Abhorrence of violence, is the hallmark of the GREAT EASTERN
RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS,
b) and that the Abrahamic traditions have as a dominant characteristic, the
exclusion, demonization and even exhortations to extermination of the
“OTHER”, which may also lie at the root of the maladies that he outlines, in
addition to his correct conclusion that western man has moved away from the
same exhortations that are internal to the western traditions.

While it would be unjustified to accuse Mr. Hedges of embodying these
characteristics, it is fairly obvious that his non-inclusion of the content of the
Eastern Traditions in his otherwise poignant overview and generalizations,  not
of the current condition of ONLY Western Man but of all HUMANITY is in itself,
ironically a direct further manifestation of perhaps the most significant and
Major Characteristic of the Abrahamic Traditions. namely..the unwarranted
assumption/presumption/dictate that these are the only true, authentic and
valid religious traditions.!!

A more comprehensible approach to reviewing the current condition might
be to include ALL of Humanity and ALL of the world’s existing religious
traditions. One could easily conclude in the sense of the big
picture/evolutionary sense that we may be approaching the end times of the
Abrahamic Traditions and perhaps returning to the more Planet
Friendly, Collective Oriented, Inclusive traditions of the East??

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By Night-Gaunt, May 12, 2010 at 10:01 am Link to this comment

Time heals all wounds and buries all secrets and covers all that has been uncovered. What was learned and lived is lost. Understanding the universe is what intellects do, if you exist without it, like most life on this planet, then it is moot and of no concern. Existence is just a series of sensory impressions that is responded to by the nervous system from eating to mating to sleeping. Only intelligence can give more to it, meaning to it. If we think then we ponder then we speculate then we want answers. If they aren’t forthcoming from on high then we (a general collective pronoun) will do so.

Because we have the ability to make things up that never existed in the world we have a great power. But one that can give us great works of art, fiction and also lies, cheating and Ponzi schemes too. It is all in the will of the wielder. We are from which morals flow, what is good and evil is dependent on who we are. How we treat others. How selfish or selfless we are is very important. Religion is a framework for such things. Not all of them are benevolent to all either as we have seen and will see. Secular or occultic is irrelevant to who we are and what those who formulate such frameworks want from it. So it is the human factor that is foremost in this discussion. Without it there would be literally nothing here but wilderness.

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By Orbis Unum, May 12, 2010 at 10:00 am Link to this comment

I appreciate the ardor of Master Chris Hedges (Hodges) eloquence expressing his heartfelt and intellectual loss of faith in matters close to his own private concerns.

Secondly, while I tend to agree in simply terms with Hodge’s conclusions about the state of present reality, I wish to use this moment in spatial viability to proffer chance for opportunity to serve a prepared mind for those of us with differing holistic ardor. From the standpoint, faith in any substance of matter designed to advance harmonious treatment of All Walks of Life, will always find a seat before the table of Science of Right Reason!

Now, if anyone maybe contemplating what form of cognitive behavior such a table gives form in reality, to place one’s faith in, he or she needs look only within the framework of their own mindset to determine whether there exists the necessary character to sit at the table of Right Reason.

The first evidence of Right Reason is predicated on the cognitive ability to Stand for something. This is true from the point of right reasoning that if one cannot or will not stand for something, then it goes without saying that he, she, or they will fall for any and everything, even to their own utter demise and this willingly!

The second evidence of Right Reason is predicated on the cognitive awareness and ability to Stand in Honor for rational fortitude’s which one determines worthy of giving one’s life in their entirety to maintain such fortitude’s for benefit of future generations. This is done for the sake and viability of spatial continuance of the species universally.
Having said all this in simply terms, as has been stated by Hodges, one is confronted with a reality, or the lack of reality, for continuance of the species as provided by Hodges. It behooves us to shore up exhortations for those serving Honor and strength of mind in Right Reason, even against all odds, to accept Hodges statements Cart Blanche without Right Reason. Solely for the chance opportunities for prepared minds to serve Right Reason and the viability of the species universally.

Now to the matter at hand: Yes, Hodges has pointed out many calamities throughout recorded history. And yes, such calamities have occurred due to endeavors not harmoniously concerned for viability or continuance of the species in toto. But lest we let Hodges leave us on the field of Honor sitting on our laurels at the table of Right Reason, forever holding our Peace when to his conclusions, leads us to oblivion, let us at least proffer considerations for his time and eloquent efforts expressed by his direst somber loss of faith in humanity! I do this in service of Honor for the chance opportunity as stated above-mentioned, to serve a prepared mind!

The solution to Hodges somber reflections rest within each breast of every individual to accept responsibility whatever the cost, to serve Honor by the Science of Right Reason, to strengthen the viability of the species universally. To do otherwise, would condemn generations to an oblivion so well deserved, if Hodges reflections weren’t opposite of what Honor and Right Reason serve. This service is nothing short of fostering species viability via the self-evident principles of freedom and self-determination, which have led Honor and Right Reason to sacrifice upon the altar of liberty, their full measure of precious life-force to maintain the eternal burning flames of universal liberty, for All Walks of Life willing doing the same for the Right Reasons!

It matters little in time and place, whether there are many or fewer who serve Honor and Right Reason by the Standard of Measure which can only maintain the necessary strength that is required to give each generation the chance opportunity to advance the species universally. What matter is that the idea of freedom and self-determination survives the calamities which vex Hodges to his very intellectual core!

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By Shenonymous, May 12, 2010 at 9:59 am Link to this comment

balkas I was not responding to your post per se.  But thank
you for your clarification as that always helps, at least those who
misunderstand esoteric thought.  Moi!  I don’t believe I put words
into anyone’s mouth, ever.  Though to ameliorate what I do say, it
might be comforting to say I did.  With no need to do so, I have
plenty of my own to spit out.

But understanding others, now that is a challenge I heartily take to
heart!  Pretending to give clarity about the knowledge that one thinks
someone else has is always idiosyncratic, both theirs and the one
whose thinking is being “clarified” and the Socratic injunction, to first
Know Thyself, demands that any knowledge one might think they have
of what another has (Palin) is in reality a conceit.  Have you studied
how Palin acquired what she thinks she knows?  Have you
studied who-why-where-when she was taught?  Amazing.  But no, isn’t
it likely that Palin will not know according to her “knowledge”,
what she thinks she knows?  What she may or may not
know about her “knowledge” is really irrelevant because
appearances are everything, isn’t that right? 

So you seem to imagine if there was a god, it would be a completely
benevolent god, not one who would wreck mayhem on the human race
with disease, war, and other evil things???  Is that right?  Just checking. 
Is it true then that we are born without any sense of morality?  Can you
prove that?  What universals are you suggesting?  “Don’t kill people for
any reason whatever except….”  Was that one?  If there is an intuition
of this more or less self-evident edict, wouldn’t that be an innate
notion, meaning we are born with this intuition?  Isn’t that what
intuitions are, innate apprehensions?  And apprehensions are a species
of knowings?  Just checking.

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By Shenonymous, May 12, 2010 at 9:27 am Link to this comment

On the other hand, with regard to…!  STOP!  BACK!  THINK!
Given the existence as uttered forth in the public works of…. a
personal God?....qua qua qua qua qua…. with some exceptions
for reasons unknown, [God does not love us]..... but time will tell
...who can doubt, who can doubt, who… can… doubt..?

Oh Sammy, youse was such a fine Irishman.  Established beyond all
doubt.  Time, in its indubitable inscruitable mutism, will tell.  We are
Avenged!

I can continue one more day…Merci!

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By Barksdale, May 12, 2010 at 9:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Wow!  Wow!  Wow!!  Chris Hedges is one journalist who knows his business!  Education oozes from each of his lines as well as logic and reason.

Nietzsche wouldn’t be at all surprised, could he know, that his meanderings are here and now, in action, as described by Hedges.  Greed has overtaken everything we once thought good and moral and it is the world over.  I do not speak in religious terms.  Religion has, since I was a small child, frightened me unbelievably.

I am sorry to see the world overcome by greed but I am not sorry to see religion going…, going…, gone!  I will never forget my introduction to religion.  I lived in GA and was probably seven years old and forced by my mother to walk the half mile with my brother and sister, up the hill to the Baptist church on Sundays.  The sight of the man pacing across the floorboards in front of the building, holding a bible high above his head and screaming to the top of his lungs had me slinking out and running through the woods at full speed til I reached the river.  I lay on the bank and cried til it was time to go back home.  My brother and sister underwent the baptism ritual in a slimy little cement pool in the woods.  I was never baptised and rarely have I set foot in church since growing up.  It would be correct to say that I became an atheist at seven years of age, although there was a time that I did study the bible and tried to force myself to believe in it.  It simply always felt like a book I was holding, not some magical object that was going to make me forever happy and free of cares.

I was a philosophy student but perferred Plato, Freud and Kant to Nietzsche.  I am grateful to Hedges for his excellent explanation of this old thinker and his own interpretation and philosophy of the human, where he’s been and where he’s going.

I think of HG Well’s, “Outline of History”.  A brilliant thinker and writer.  By golly, it is all a matter of evolution!

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By elisalouisa, May 12, 2010 at 9:22 am Link to this comment

Avdvelden:
Saying the majority of Churches in Europe are empty and out of use is a strong statement, at least at this time.  In former East Germany and the former U.S.S.R. some Churches had been renovated into Museums and the government made quite a point in making this known to visitors. However, that is neither here nor
there. The Cathedrals have a certain ambiance that cannot be denied to those who are in tune to that harmony,  That was the thrust of our discussion.

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By balkas, May 12, 2010 at 9:18 am Link to this comment

She,
If u’r responding to my post [it seems so], i do not think u understood what i said. Not only that, but if u’r responding to my post u’r not citing what i said; u’r mostly puting own words in my mouth.

I’l try to clarify some notions. Knowledge1 [that of palin] is not knowledge2 [mine or urs].
Denials of this fact leads even to warfare. This does not mean that one cannot study how palin acquired what she KNOWS.

One also needs to study who-why-where-when she was taught. And palin WILL ACT according to her knowledge.
Not to worry, both of us wld ACT SOLELY on our respective knowledges!

Palin may not even know that her knowledge1 1991 is not her knowledge1 ‘10.

Yes, there is no right or wrong; neither god1 or natuere1 recognizes such categories.
If they did there wld not be cancer, hatred, floods, famines, wars, etc.

This does not lead to a negative conclusion;in fact, this knowledge leads to a positive outcome.
Since we do not know a priori right from wrong, we err on the side of universals [calling people evil offers only confusion]: don’t kill people for any reason whatever except while defending naked life.

That US ruling class does not include this in schooling, even as theoretical knowledge, goes to show how frightened it is of it.
The familial-rule in US knows, possibly intuitively only, what i am saying.tnx

This observationis valid for one person bossing another or one person owing a plant and another not. tnx

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By SeanEK, May 12, 2010 at 9:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As I state all my friends, all arguments about God
rest upon the presumption that God is a noun: I
suggest god is a verb. This paradigm shift tends to
eliminate most arguments as to the nature of god, and
thus allows spirituality to be less fettered or to be
drowned out by the noise of organized religion of any
stripe. This also means that a reasoned atheist like
myself can talk about morality in a meaningful way
without becoming trapped in the prevailing debates
between those folk who believe and those who don’t.
Perhaps this is a path that can circumvent the “Last
Man”

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By Shenonymous, May 12, 2010 at 9:05 am Link to this comment

Are you including yourself, felicity, or Leefeller’s
Discriminating Goat

Let’s see…now there are those who would defend to the
death the existence of striped unicorns. 

Leefeller’s Goat does not just bang his head at any old wall, it
has to be the walls where vast amounts of both rational and emotional
thinking goes on.  It reminds me of the Roshi’s bat.

By the way, what study was it that yielded the shutting down of
rational/reasoning when thinking navigates to religion and politics?

I will have an exaggerated feeling of well-being today because a
second truly funnyman has been revealed on Truthdig
DJmysticDJ.  Youse too made my day! 

I was loathe to think Leefeller soulfully sat on a throne by
hissssself.  It is lonely at the top.  Butt be careful of billygoats.

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By Night-Gaunt, May 12, 2010 at 9:05 am Link to this comment

christian96, just look at the evolution of the heart and you will see from a single pump to four or five chambers over time and species. Some animals like cephelopods have multiple hearts! No magic, no mysticism, and no god needed. How about studying some of those books on morphology and evolution for a change? No special creation is evident within not just the fossil record but the genomes of numerous species supports evolution, not special creation. They are all interrelated and only evolution fits that. So if special creation is wrong how much else?

dissentispatriotic, you will find that there are plenty of intellectuals who are religious and believe and vigorously support their position with their minds. So the premise you have is incorrect, I would say. Like Warsong who didn’t read enough of Nietzsche or understand what he was saying to get that he wasn’t looking at things “darkly” at all. Different from looking a dark things. As to his break down I have yet to see any correlation with what he wrote and thought had anything to do with it. He wasn’t a physically robust man anyway. But then the Bible isn’t exactly all sweetness & light either. By-the-way what is wrong with accelerated education? Wouldn’t it have benefited you in 7th grade? Maybe is was the type of school you were in. I didn’t score so well but I get by anyway & I am just 52 and not well traveled. Just curious as to the reasons. Also Nietzsche didn’t commit suicide he died naturally. (He was in a non-responsive catatonic state. He could be positioned like a manikin but couldn’t initiate anything himself. I don’t recall any definitive diagnosis as to his condition. Only speculation.)

Yes the Al Aqsa mosque must go in order for such “prophecies” to come true. Is it worth a world war? Now if some kind of meteor should fall directly on it then the Moslems & Hebrews could call it “God’s will” and then see what happens. Maybe Obama has a silver forked tongue and can talk the Islamic countries out of war. [Why would you think he would “side” with them?] If any such thing as that were to happen. The thing about prophecy is that you can read it wrong and the meanings could be something less than what you see as obvious. {I’m writing my variation of it now that takes place in 2060 as per Sir Isaac Newton‘s calculations.}

Also Dissentispatriotic, we are covering those items in other forums but we can multi-task. No need to go into autistic mode and concentrate on one item to the exclusion of all else. The world isn’t operating in that way and neither should we.

Actually there is no proof that I exist! I know I do but you don’t. So believe without proof and you will have Paradise! But if you don’t…

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By elfuncle, May 12, 2010 at 8:59 am Link to this comment

You know I like your articles, Chris; I think you’re one of the best reporters around and I love your hard-hitting polemical style. And most of the time I agree with you, but not always. In this piece, it seems to me that you’re throwing the baby away with the bath water. I certainly agree that traditional religious institutions are in rapid decline; their days were counted since the middle of the 20th century. All these churches and their councils are worth ignoring. Like you, I don’t attend church. But we don’t need churches, or any other man-made authorities, to cultivate our individual relationships to higher powers, or the spiritual world. The evil that men do, and the corruption that is allowed to drag those institutions into the sewer and destroy them, does not make the Spirit non-existent, and the purity of the real Christ is not stained by such things. Underneath all the noise of pompous institutions and churches, the vulgar tabloid media, and the knuckleheaded TV-preachers and other fundamentalists who make their religions look ugly, there are also people, hidden from the public eye, who cultivate real spirituality and are selflessly laboring for the advancement of mankind.

In other words, most of the time I appreciate your cynicism because it’s a sharp sword and a wakeup-call, but in some instances, like this one, I have to point out why I don’t share all of your dark visions. I still love your writings though, so keep them coming!

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By bart, May 12, 2010 at 8:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

dear chris,

being an admirer of your columns i must however reject this either-or dichotomy and
believe people [never everyone] can often stoop to compassion and forethought
and goodness without divine guidance and despite the distractions of greed
and rampant consumerism.

i think it is simply good news that every year several hundred churches close
their doors in northern europe [specifically the Netherlands] and these
churches are converted into help centers, social clubs, public facilities, movie
theatres, daycare centers, etc. this region of course has its own problems of misery and
worthlessness, of inequality and other normal sufferings but when one looks at
most of the social indicators one sees that the least-religious countries are
perhaps the least prone to starting a war, or being involved in one or prone to
use the righteousness of some holy book to foist their system/beliefs on
others. in general, the least religious region in the world is northern europe
and according to most oecd/un indicators, the people are - relatively speaking
- happier, less scared, aggressive, have less poverty, violence and are more
generally satisfied with life than most other regions…

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By Iftekhar, May 12, 2010 at 8:57 am Link to this comment

According to your analysis, civil society - the churches and synagogues - have been directly complicit in the violence of war. That is not surprising: civil society has a long and dishonourable record as an instigator of violence from the Inquisition to the slave trade.

On the other hand, Islamic civilisation has hardly any civil society: western donors are busy trying to create one. Heaven forbid!

Take jihad. According to the Britannica, jihad is a recent phenomenon (I mean, of course, after the initial 100-year expansion of the Muslim world); when the west began to colonise the Muslims world, only dervishes, according to Bernard Lewis, showed some resistance.

Jihad was revived (after a brief spell in Africa) by the Americans when confronted with expansionist communism in Afghanistan. Since then, the same holy war - with almost the same personnel - has been turned against the west. And how many people have the jihadis killed? A couple of thousand.

It is interesting that the article does not mention the number of children murdered through sanctions in Iraq between the two Gulf wars: 1.7 million. During the height of the sanctions, a lower figure (still seven-digit), was cited by Norman Finkelstein in his book “The Holocaust Industry”. When the figure stood at 500,000, he observes, Madeleine Albright went on prime time TV to say that it ‘was worth it’.

Is it surprising that jihadis should try to hurt the west? Is 911 really a conundrum?

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By Leefeller, May 12, 2010 at 8:50 am Link to this comment

ITW, I remember seeing those after coming back from Viet Nam!

““God is dead”—Nietzsche
“Nietzsche is dead”—God”

Of course at the time, I did not know who God was!

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By felicity, May 12, 2010 at 8:41 am Link to this comment

Well, the comments seem to confirm the findings of a study done a few years back that all thought ‘processing’ of religion and/or politics occur on the ‘emotional’ side of our brains - the rational/reasoning side shuts down completely.

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By Leefeller, May 12, 2010 at 8:30 am Link to this comment

Taking a position on what dost not exist seems possible and to be fact, for believers make sure of it!

Never has it made sense to me, why a non believer needs to defend the position of non believing, except for the history of harping or worse from true believers and alleged true believers!

Billy the Goat must be a perfect example of a non believer, for he only defends himself by banging his head against walls!

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By Alturn, May 12, 2010 at 8:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Religion is having the same challenge that most people are having today - recognizing that the Christ, Messiah, Buddha, Kalki Avatar or whatever other title you wish to use is physically in the world and has been since 1978.

A ‘star’ similar to the one heralding the birth of Jesus has been in the sky for everyone to see since December 2008. Yet while millions have seen it and photographs have been taken of it (including by television stations) all over the world, this phenomena has yet to make it into public discussion even to the level of the associated crop circles.

A multitude of signs and researchable documentation are everywhere for anyone to see.  Yet the conditioning and dogmatism polarized in a materialistic orientation obscures the view of the Christ standing in our midst.  That the Christ differs greatly on policy with the establish church particularly on matters of war, economics, politics, abortion, sin, hell, reincarnation, global relations and immigration is likely the reason that regular people - whether lovers of the Christ or atheists - will recognize and embrace the Christ far sooner than theologians or media pundits.

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By Inherit The Wind, May 12, 2010 at 8:19 am Link to this comment

That is such a howl, ”there is no evidence that Nietzsche ever
existed.”  That is indubitably, the best line on the entire forum.
I will appropriate that for my own use, if you don’t mind.

**************************************

This used to appear as graffiti on construction site walls and in hallways, etc in the 1970’s:

“God is dead”—Nietzsche
“Nietzsche is dead”—God

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By JDmysticDJ, May 12, 2010 at 8:18 am Link to this comment

Any in depth discussion of religious belief should include all attitudes concerning belief or non belief. So far we’ve discussed the beliefs of:  believers, agnostic theists, agnostics, agnostic atheists, theist atheists, and atheists, as well as some interesting comments about hitherto unknown sects such as the “Chicken ballers,” but there is another class of believers that we have not yet discussed, I’m referring to that class of believers who believe that they are God.

Those that maintain that they are God are interesting. Those that believe I am God, tend to be very individualistic, but there are several sects within this class of believers. Sometimes they’re seen on busy city sidewalks, hawking their belief, some are found to be residents of certain institutions, others incorporate psychedelic drugs into their belief systems. Finally, there is a new and interesting sect of these believers, who are composed primarily of young females, or effeminate individuals. Their particular belief system incorporates elements of eastern religion. They are known as the “Ohm, I Godders.”

(I heard yesterday on CNN radio news that a man named “The Lord Jesus Christ” got run over in a crosswalk.)

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By Shenonymous, May 12, 2010 at 8:12 am Link to this comment

Leefeller, Your Eminence, hahahahahahahahahahaha
hahahahahahaha…....................youse is da bomb!

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By Shenonymous, May 12, 2010 at 8:08 am Link to this comment

And of course, knowledge is relative.  Right?  If so, then there
ain’t no sech thang as knawleege and right, knowing has no
meaning?  To say that you know something means you are
empty headed but full of ****.  And yes, if as the Hebrew says,
one cannot “know” god, then it’s all made up, that is where
the logic leads. And therefore, all the Abrahamic religions suffer
the same ignorance?  So why would anyone believe Sarah Palin?
Because one who is desperate to believe anything, crap and all because
they have no discriminating thinking brain of their own and who did
poorly in school is gullible enough to believe even the most vacuously
screeching of the vulgar, sticky-brained politician set.  5 Yups.  You do
have that right, least ways in America you do.

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By Leefeller, May 12, 2010 at 7:58 am Link to this comment

She appreciated short history on Atheism and those who did not believe and some who still don’t!

I relate to the Hrafnkell, the Icelandic chieftain story; the world seems to be full of a co-inky-dink’s, like the time I was doing the river dance on the highest peak during a lightening storm with a long aluminum pole, (I recommend dispensing with the pole); for recently I had a similar experience to Hrafnkell!

“Hrafnkell the Icelandic chieftain who turned atheist after his temple was destroyed”.

I was out back behind the barn in the temple of thought on my throne contemplating an article in Playboy and wondering how anyone could not believe in god, when all of a sudden my outhouse was struck with a loud bang!  This happened several more times and one last time the whole temple fell over with me in it. (a reason for throne belts?)  Lucky for me the temple was still in one piece and fell sideways, the door fell open and there was Billy the goat looking at me,.....(I think Billy is an atheist?)  if this is not a revelation for tiny little chicken balls,..... I don’t know what is?

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By Anarcissie, May 12, 2010 at 7:45 am Link to this comment

There is also the position that, as “God” is undefined, questions as to whether there is a God and what his, her or its nature might be are meaningless.

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By Fran Schiavo, May 12, 2010 at 7:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is possible to believe in the power of God and to also believe that man created
God and not the other way around. And that man will continue to reshape God
and create belief systems that address the needs of society. Nietzsche articulated
one idea, but it is a conceit to argue that his is the only alternative.

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By Warsong, May 12, 2010 at 7:23 am Link to this comment

By elisalouisa, May 12 at 10:39 am #

I’m glad there is someone here who agrees with me. I’m skeptical of many things…God is not one of them, anymore, but, I had my years when I was agnostic, though not militantly so.

Incidentally, I have had my rounds with Richard Dawkins, but, whether he would remember me, or not, is something else again. That was back in my days on the old “Encounters Forum” of Compuserve, when he would drop by occasionally to make a snarky comment (I was the “Dragon at the Gate”), and, I was required to leave claw marks in his Paper Mache Shield, and, tie his Rusty Tinfoil Sword in knots.

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By Avdvelden, May 12, 2010 at 7:00 am Link to this comment

elisalouisa, just for your information: a majority of churches in Europe are empty and out of use. Of course the most famous cathedrals from an art historical point of view often are an exception to this rule. In my neighbourhood there are several churches which are now being used as concert halls, polling stations, office space or dwellings.
Fortunately, being connected in the age of Twitter is not confined anymore to places like churches but can commence now in cyberspace, thus no Gods needed there.

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By elisalouisa, May 12, 2010 at 6:39 am Link to this comment

omygodnotagain:
Must agree with you as to the sense of the human interconnectiveness some towns and small cities have, especially in Europe. The Cathedrals are indeed something special. The good thoughts of those who have been in such places of beauty linger and can be felt by those that follow. A Rabbi in
Reconstructionist Judaism once confided to me that when she was in Europe she made a point to visit every Cathedral she could find and we both knew why.
Warsong:
On these threads Nietsche is referred to quite often, it’s good to find someone who impression of his writing is similar to mine. However, I have always deferred to those with more knowledge in such matters and kept my thoughts to myself. Having said that, in spiritual matters, knowledge is not supreme, for as you said that spark within must guide you, that spark that does not emanate from the head. Obviously, Nietsche’s spark was not advanced enough to make a difference.

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By balkas, May 12, 2010 at 6:37 am Link to this comment

I do say that religion and god are too important to leave solely to priests.

I see nothing wrong with a person’s belief in god. However,linguisticly looking, seeing-knowing is not believing.

For me [hope for others] this linguistic distinction solves forever the burden of talking ab god or [dis]proving its-her-his existence.

If i remember correctly, even a hebrew priest says explicitly that one cannot know [?he didn say “see”] god.

Using a different structure of language, one cld posit that P1 [person one] knows god2; P2 knows god3, and so on.

The actual creator of the cosmos [i often use the slav word “svemir” {one peace} for universe] cld be called CAUSE1 or god1
This obviates all rancour, arguments, frustration and even wars, etc.
So, every last human being, has the right to own god.

And every person has the right to her/his knowledge. It shld be respected.
So, sarah palin is right according to what she KNOWS! tnx

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By Shenonymous, May 12, 2010 at 6:24 am Link to this comment

A very brief history…of atheists in two short parts.
1.
Appearing from a natural inclination or impulse, the idea that
there may be no gods after all is logically as old as theism itself,
and the proposition that there may be no God is seen in the
literature to be old as the prelude of monotheism, or the polytheists
known as henotheists who believed a god could take on an form at
any time and retain an essential nature.  Henotheism also allowed that
while there is a Supreme Being there may be other gods.  As one of the
several Hindu schools, the Samkhya believed in a dual existence of
nature and spirit and had no place for a God in its system of beliefs. 
They argued that the existence of an Ishvara (a god) cannot be proved
and hence cannot be admitted to exist.  A more materialistic and
actually anti-religious group the Carvaka was explicitly atheist whose
‘proper aim’ was to live a prosperous and happy productive life and
both the wise and the foolish are annihilated at death. 

I’d add Socrates to the list of ancient atheists as he preached against
the pantheon but he did have his Daimon or divine voice and made
oblations to Apollo of all things (similar to the bread and wine offerings
by Christians except in the case of Christians, they are eating the body
of Christ, something I think Socrates would have found disgusting). So
in his case he would be considered a heretic and impious which was a
common (Republican-like, ahem…the tradition continues) tactic or
political tool to remove opponents from consideration.

The much maligned sophists who were traveling teachers in Greece
about 5th century were early interrogators of traditional assumptions
about the gods.  Clearly an agnostic, Protagoras, opened one of his
books, “With regard to the gods, I am unable to say either they they
exist or do not exist.”  And contrary to popular belief, Plato spoke
highly of him even though taking him to task in a dialogue bearing his
name.  Agnostic with atheistic tendencies, he is responsible for the
saying, “Man is the measure of all things, of things which are, that they
are, and of things that they are not,” definitely leaving dieties out of
the equation. 

Not too generally known is the 9th c. Islamist skeptical scholar, Ibn al-
Rawandi who criticized the idea of religious prophecy including that of
Muhammad, and maintained that religious dogmas were not acceptable
to reason and must be rejected. A biography of this fellow is
interesting given the extreme piety of Islamism.

Hey, Leefeller, (he is our resident Norwegian) there is of all
places an Old Norseman, Hrafnkell, the Icelandic chieftan who turned
atheist after his temple was destroyed and “who arrived at the
conclusion that the true basis of power does not lie in the favor of the
gods but in the loyalty of one’s subordinates.”  Seeee yer Highness?

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By Shenonymous, May 12, 2010 at 6:16 am Link to this comment

2.
We cannot forget, ever, the persecution of thousands of atheists
for heresy by the Inquisition.  And again in medieval Christianity,
charges of atheism was used to attack political or religious enemies.

The term athéisme was coined in France in the 16th c. mostly used
as an insult as a lack of moral restraint.  It was a very dangerous time
to be a non-believer subject to stranglation or burned to death or
beheaded as was Polish nobleman Lyszczynski and his tongue pulled
out with a burning iron and his hands slllooowly burned.  Others
suffered similar fates. Thus is the bloody march of atheism through
history up to now through such struggles of characters from the French
Enlightenment and The Cult of Reason, and Marx, Stirner,
Schopenhauer and the refound darling of atheism, Nietzsche, to Henry
L. Mencken who believed science and religion were not at all
compatible and that science was just as dogmatic a belief system as
religion. He was wrong and right, but that is another argument for
another time. 

It is almost acceptable now to claim publicly to be an atheist.  Will the
vagaries of life and the rise of fundamentalism in the Abrahamic
religions begin such persecutions again sometime in the future?  There
is one, and only one atheist state, but there is one, the country of
Albania became atheist in 1967 and prohibited religious observance
though religion was allowed again in 1991. 

Madalyn Murray O’Hair was the most outspoken of American atheists of
the early 60s who brought a suit against the compulsory prayer in
public schools and won.  She was murdered years after that Supreme
Court decision.  Contemporary loud spoken atheists are such
celebrities now as Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, and the much seen
in the media, Christopher Hitchens who are called the New Atheists. 
Dawkins goes so far to call what he and his other Atheist Horsemen,
militant atheists.  I think they are right to bring to the consciousness of
the world the real freedom of thought that is an inherent right of all
individuals without the fear of murderous apostatic reprisal from any of
the neo-fundamentalist fascistic belief systems.

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By Shenonymous, May 12, 2010 at 6:00 am Link to this comment

5 Yups, skeptics have nothing but questions. But, cynics think
this is a dog’s life, they do not think they are omniscient. I’d be
skeptical if they did.


ITW, you don’t strike me as old enough to have suffered
forced atheism by the Communists.  I’m sorry if you did.  You
seem to have evolved quite intact and retained a healthy outlook on
life.  The mind you show on these forums are highly appreciated by
this commenter, well…most of the time.  LOL But you are only human,
oh too human, Ecco Homo.  There isn’t a ‘new’ breed of atheist.  A
brief history is to follow in a separate post.

That is such a howl, ”there is no evidence that Nietzsche ever
existed.”
  That is indubitably, the best line on the entire forum.
I will appropriate that for my own use, if you don’t mind.

Just having fun with Your Humorous Nonpareil, your pardon,
Leefeller, is humbly requested.  What if logic is painted
into a corner?  Can’t it just wait until the paint dries?  Formally
speaking, logic, remember, does not prove anything except consistency
in arguments.  Perfectly wrong premises can be found to be logically
sound.  Hitler’s logic was sound, it is just that his premises were full of
filthy pigshit.  That is why one has to be very careful of one’s premises.
 
A human heart is nothing compared to the entire spectacle of the
universe where millions of hearts had come and gone.

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By Warsong, May 12, 2010 at 5:46 am Link to this comment

Mr Hedges, et al,

An interesting article, but, I tried Nietsche about 50 years ago, and, put it down. I never was much good at doing anything ‘darkly.’ And, as far as I was concerned, he was far past the looking glass. It was much later that I learned of his breakdown and suicide. I understood that…with his philosophy, there were few other choices.

But, then, things like that are why they tried to stick me in “Special Education” in the 7th Grade, because I scored 170++ on their ‘Achievement Test’ (disguised IQ test), and, insisted on telling them things they didn’t want to hear, in the early ‘50’s (”...the Universe is configured for life”; God is within each of us, etc). That lasted about two weeks before they had to pull me out, I was re-educating the teacher.

You are correct that God cannot be contained in Churches, unless it is filled with those who contain the spark of His consciousness. He fills the Universe, but, if one cannot feel the Fragment of God within, that person has been abandonned and the result will be an ability to believe in atheism, which is simply a belief in nothing.

I’ve spent my life chasing knowledge: Astronomy, Archaeology, Anthropology, History, including that beyond the memory of man, while embarked on a 33 year walk in the wilderness…running from things I didn’t wanta know. I walked away from religion, for many of the reasons you point out in your article, and, at almost 70 years of age, had a series of personal revelations that brought me back to where I started, my faith in God, which restored my faith in me.

I agree, there are few lights on the road ahead, and, a darkness descending on the world that has been predicted for almost 8,000 years. All but three of the prophesies of Armageddon are done deals, with the latest being the announcement that one of the Rockefellers will provide the funds, in toto, to build the “Third Temple on the Mount,” in Jerusalem.

The building of the “Third Temple on the Mount” will require that the Al Aqsa Mosque be totally destroyed, and, the Muslim world will explode into full battle fever. The biblical “False Man of Peace” in the White House will join the fray on the side of Islam (a Nobel Peace Prize which he accepted…then, snarkily notified them that Peace was not one of his objectives).

But, the Tea Parties are proof that personal religion is not dead in America, and, the peacefulness of their demonstrations testifies to their sincerity of belief that America must be restored to Constitutional principles. And, a society built around respect for life, and, our fellow men, including those that do not respect our beliefs and values.

Sitting here in Baghdad, I’ve reached the conclusion that it is time for me to end this trek, and, return to help fight the battles that must be won.

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By Peter Beacham, May 12, 2010 at 5:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris Hedges did a fine job of skewering the western organized religions and the religion of Athiesm. However, while he distinguished between the living core of the organized religions and politicization of those religions, Hedges did not take the opportunity to point out the living heart of those religions is alive and well in the people who are leaving those religions and moving to other religions such Buddhism, Wicca, Hinduism (via Yoga), and the various New Age approaches to the Divine.

Hedges neglected this important development because he made the logical error of bifurcation or false dichotomy as he mistakenly presented a situation as having only two alternatives. Perhaps his seminary training left him with only the two alternatives he presented or perhaps he just wanted to add zing to his journalism and this was the only way he could see to do that.

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By Avdvelden, May 12, 2010 at 5:42 am Link to this comment

Yes dissentispatriotic, I do care. Therefore I ride a bike (not always possible) and am opposed to letting the Giro d’Italia have it’s prologue next year in ... the US, which as the rumour goes the organisation of the Giro would like to see. This will bring about a superfluous amount of polluting transport by air, which we can easily do without.

Coming back to the original topic, I fear Chris Hedges is missing the point why media like Truthdig are so important. Without them we would easily get the impression that desintegrating individualism is everywhere. What progressive media are and should be doing is show the unifying efforts of those individuals who organize to critize fighting wars for oil. This is the role of reporters like Hedges. One of the reasons why it looks like there is no dissent over capitalism, is because of the commercialization of the media.

God cannot and will not save progressive media. This is what us humans should do.

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By dissentispatriotic, May 12, 2010 at 5:27 am Link to this comment

Religion vs. the intellect. The least debatable argument known to
man. I guess old Chris did do his job well. Not because of his
exceptional writing or biting insights but because this is a thread
which can stretch into eternity. I know, let’s play a game. Three
teams. Team one intellectualizes the existence of faith. Team two
tries to quantify faith through intellectualism. Team three
paraphrases Nietzsche to every permeation imaginable. GO! Round and
round and round we go. Where do we stop? I know! BACK AT THE
BEGINNING!

The Last Man is a myth which facilitates the perpetuation of the
idealization of individualism, without which free market capitalism
cannot work. Each human being is unique by nature making the idea
of “the individual” inherent to our existence, whether we
consecrate it into it’s own ideology or not. The information age
has further homogenized our collective consciousness in fact. Free
thought, the domain of the individual, is actually in decline.
Struggling out of the dark ages only to be beaten back again by Fox
News. The Last Man is just a watered down version of an old idea,
existentialism. I think that the more provocative discussion would
about how to define community over nationalistic, cultural, socio-
economic, racial, and religious barriers.

Meanwhile back in Iraq….the rocket’s red glare the bombs bursting
killing innocent human beings.

If we cut our disposable plastics and personal recreational oil
consumption in half(immediately dismissed as unreasonable, naive or
bad for the economy, I know) we would not be killing Iraqis or
Americans. Any number of the following can help us reach that goal.
Walk, bicycle, bus to work(or train), carpool, record your mileage
and set realistic goals for reduction, record everything you buy
for two weeks and set reasonable goals for reducing plastics and
waste, eat more local produce, reusable containers instead of
bottled water, more local vacations, buy only cars with 50mpg+ to
force changes in the market, reusable shopping bags, call your
family just to say hello, buy products with the least packaging,
give up one wasteful convenience, properly inflate your tires,
accelerate and decelerate gradually.

Does anybody even care? It doesn’t seem like it sometimes. No one
really wants to give up convenience or their Hummer. I think we’d
rather win an argument than change. Well in the words of
ofersince72; “lets all go get in our cars and drive, drive,
drive..” I’m sure that your intellectual juggernaut or deity of
choice will be along any time now to save us all from ourselves.

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By "G"utless "W"itless Hitler, May 12, 2010 at 5:22 am Link to this comment

I have faith that we will eventually be able to understand through the power of human intelligence and reason alone.  God is unnecessary.  God is the lazy answer.

Tell me this:  If God did exist, what do you think He would say about a “Christian” who is an active apologist for the perpetrators of hate crimes?  Hmmmm?

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By christian96, May 12, 2010 at 5:01 am Link to this comment

A few days ago while awaiting the doctor to enter
the exam room I was looking at a diagram of a heart.
I thought, “Wow, how can people doubt the existence
of God?”  How does an atheist explain the creation
of a heart and it’s functions?  From the complex
atomic structure to the vastness of the universe
how does an atheist explain their creation and
function?  Maybe an atheist could explain that to
me.

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By Dhamma3, May 12, 2010 at 4:59 am Link to this comment

Below is an excerpted passage from a document of the Catholic Church, when—in spite of all the problems many rightfully have with religion—the Church was more interested in social justice.  This pope, and the last one who is on the fast track to sainthood, completely stamped out this dimension so that in most churches today, the words “social justice” might be met with perplexity in the minds of those sitting in the pews. Pope John XXXIII flung open the doors of the Church, but they have now been closed.

From: PACEM IN TERRIS

ENCYCLICAL OF POPE JOHN XXIII
ON ESTABLISHING UNIVERSAL PEACE IN TRUTH,
JUSTICE, CHARITY, AND LIBERTY

Rights

11. But first We must speak of man’s rights. Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services. In consequence, he has the right to be looked after in the event of illhealth; disability stemming from his work; widowhood; old age; enforced unemployment; or whenever through no fault of his own he is deprived of the means of livelihood. (8)

Rights Pertaining to Moral and Cultural Values

12. Moreover, man has a natural right to be respected. He has a right to his good name. He has a right to freedom in investigating the truth, and—within the limits of the moral order and the common good—to freedom of speech and publication, and to freedom to pursue whatever profession he may choose. He has the right, also, to be accurately informed about public events.

Economic Rights

18. In the economic sphere, it is evident that a man has the inherent right not only to be given the opportunity to work, but also to be allowed the exercise of personal initiative in the work he does. (14)

19. The conditions in which a man works form a necessary corollary to these rights. They must not be such as to weaken his physical or moral fibre, or militate against the proper development of adolescents to manhood. Women must be accorded such conditions of work as are consistent with their needs and responsibilities as wives and mothers.(15)

20. A further consequence of man’s personal dignity is his right to engage in economic activities suited to his degree of responsibility.(16) The worker is likewise entitled to a wage that is determined in accordance with the precepts of justice. This needs stressing. The amount a worker receives must be sufficient, in proportion to available funds, to allow him and his family a standard of living consistent with human dignity. Pope Pius XII expressed it in these terms:

“Nature imposes work upon man as a duty, and man has the corresponding natural right to demand that the work he does shall provide him with the means of livelihood for himself and his children. Such is nature’s categorical imperative for the preservation of man.”(17)

21. As a further consequence of man’s nature, he has the right to the private ownership of property, including that of productive goods. This, as We have said elsewhere, is “a right which constitutes so efficacious a means of asserting one’s personality and exercising responsibility in every field, and an element of solidity and security for family life, and of greater peace and prosperity in the State.”(18)

22. Finally, it is opportune to point out that the right to own private property entails a social obligation as well. (19)

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_xxiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_j-xxiii_enc_11041963_pacem_en.html

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By Inherit The Wind, May 12, 2010 at 4:23 am Link to this comment

truedigger3, May 12 at 7:13 am #

Many times, but not every time, when I select an article in truthdig, I find myself switched to a full page ad for Nation Wide Insurance, and I have to keep selecting the article for at least 3 times before I get the article and this is very irritating.!!
Is this a common problem confronting truthdig’s readers or I was hit with a “Nation Wide virus”??!!

********************************************

Maybe God is sending you a message.  (J/K smile )

She,

Perhaps there is a new breed of Atheist that is much closer to my definition of Agnostic.  And you are correct, of course, that one need not prove a negative.

But I am still burned by the hard-core Atheism of the former and current Marxist states that DEMANDED the acceptance that God does not exist as an article of faith, just as they demanded acceptance of their Marxist views on the future on faith as well.  The absolutist contentions I heard growing that God does not exist did instill in me a lack of that bizarre feeling called “faith”, but also turned me off to absolutist assertions.

To say “We can assume God does not exist because there is no evidence of God’s existence and we are not required to prove a negative” is one thing.

But to say “Marxists know God does not exist” becomes an act of faith—and that I decry.

To another poster:
If someone wants to leave this thread because of my strongly-held views, that’s their problem.  I then simply assume they cannot make a strong argument for their position.

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By YamaZaru, May 12, 2010 at 3:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree with Hedges about the depth of fraud and criminality present in religions of today.  But really, when has it ever been different?  The vast majority of the history of any of the “Great Religions” has been one of intellectual and political intolerance…I can’t believe that he actually thinks that these faiths were a clear advance over Epicureanism or Stoicism in the ancient world.  I mean, the christianity that Hedges says “set free the critical powers of humankind” was the one that tore Hypatia limb from limb, burnt the library at Alexandria, and for over a millennium tortured and executed people for not adhering to some constantly changing and utterly unprovable doctrine. 

Hedges may give deserved praise to the well meaning liberal clergy and “liberation theologians” purged by the last two Popes, but those progressives were the historical anomaly in the Church’s history and the Popes, unfortunately, much more the norm.  For 99% of its time on earth the Church has pandered to power, or groped for the reigns of political power itself which it then used in a terrifyingly authoritarian manner. 

I agree with him about the lack of a secular, progressive alternative as well.  We’re at a bad point here in the West, with the nihilistic market-obsessed capitalism seeming set to hollow out all our last ethical impulses.  Let’s not forget, though, that it was both fundamentalist and “liberal” religion that was often used as a rallying tool by the right against progressive liberal and socialist movements.  Playing on working class religious sensibilities to keep them away from considering “godless communism” was a common tactic since the time of the reactionary backlash following the French Revolution.  This same formula has been used by religious reactionaries and exploiting elites in the Third World as well- you can’t understand the spread of fundamentalist Islam without understanding how secular progressive alternatives were marginalized.

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By Barbara, May 12, 2010 at 3:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is one of the only articles I’ve seen Hedges write where his courage, and fearlessness in stating uncomfortable truths with no hesitation has worked against him.  This is far too generalized to be useful for much of anything.  For once, it’s obvious that his seminary background is clearly shaping his views more than it should.  It’s blocking off alternate possibilities. 

We are definitely not in some age of reason and science.  Maybe you should stop reading Nietzsche for your atheism quotations.  Read John Dewey, “Individualism: Old and New.”  It was written right before the great depression, so it’s about as relevant as anything you will find out there.  Science is just a slave to the capitalist system.  It is not even remotely close to acting at its full potential right now.  You can’t point to the current state of things and say, oh science will never save us anymore than you can point to the current state of the catholic church and write it off completely.  It sounds ignorant.

I actually agreed with Hedges’ attacks on overly dogmatic and racist atheists like Sam Harris, but Nietzsche is just not a good example to use to describe an absurdly broad and undefined school of thought, and Hedges always does that. 

And your half-apologetic excuses about the Catholic Church are beyond ridiculous.  Tell the thousands of abused kids out there that the world will not be a better place without the Catholic Church.  Tell the aids victims in Africa who listen to the pope and don’t use condoms.

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By truedigger3, May 12, 2010 at 3:13 am Link to this comment

Many times, but not every time, when I select an article in truthdig, I find myself switched to a full page ad for Nation Wide Insurance, and I have to keep selecting the article for at least 3 times before I get the article and this is very irritating.!!
Is this a common problem confronting truthdig’s readers or I was hit with a “Nation Wide virus”??!!

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By Avdvelden, May 12, 2010 at 2:53 am Link to this comment

Inherit the Wind,
I discontinue to participate in a discussion ment to be serious and without fallacies where as an atheist I am judged by you as a cynic. If anything I am absolutely not it’s a cynic.
I believe in the power of reasoning and science, in the ability and will of mankind to develop it’s own moral compass without recuring to myths or believes. History shows that when people unite they can achieve goals that make this world at least a tiny bit better, more fair and just to all it’s human animals.
I don’t accept the attitude of believers like you who feel morally justified to judge non-believers in a negative way. If that is justified on the basis of religion, I start losing my respect for religious people, because this attitude implies that religion is not equal to tolerance. That in my view is morally unjustifiable.

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, May 12, 2010 at 2:07 am Link to this comment

PrematureFactulation:

Don’t be discouraged by the mundane thoughts and virulence you find here.  TruthDig is, in fact, one of the more intelligent places on the internet.  Much of the arguing you see here is between folks who have genuine differences of opinion about what is going on and it gets a bit personal sometimes.  Your voice is welcome here and appreciated.  I too am an older guy and a find some of the youthful enthusiasm a bit hard to handle but continue to voice my opinions because I think it is important for those who have wisdom to try and pass some of that on.

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By Leefeller, May 12, 2010 at 1:43 am Link to this comment

Like the Cold rationalism of the kid who wants a red rider bb gun, instead of the great beauty of the new Ipad. To notice all things contrived and trite, especially anything I do not happen to prefer or like, for instance that darn alleged music called hip hop, lucky of course there is always the spirt and soul sound of the bag pipes to fall back on. 

Why must my distaste for cheap beer and everything I despise be disposable and unforgettable?  Why must I use reason to justify something that does not exist, when I should not need to justify anything at all? 

Being told the spirit and soul of the fulfilling metaphysical presence is far more enriching, than the cold abstract of not believing in Santa Claus!

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By Shenonymous, May 11, 2010 at 10:57 pm Link to this comment

Looking back, ITW, I apologize as I did not see that you
capitulated to Pascal at all, it is my error.

A few inaccuracies about agnosticism and atheism.

“Do I have to spell it out? You as an atheist, believe in your
heart of hearts that there is no God.  You take it on faith that
God does not exist.  Denial of God without evidence is as much an act
of faith as acceptance of God without evidence.”

Atheist do not dwell in faith.  Faith is a strong or unshakeable belief in
something that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. 
Given that atheism completely relies on proof and evidence, that
cannot be farther from the truth.

A denial is not required to prove an existence.  Burden of proof
falls to the one making a declaration.

It is not true that atheists “believe in their hearts that there is no god”
or “take it on faith that god does not exist”.  That is a perversion of
what atheists believe.  It actually is a favorite index card description
given by theists.  Nothing as simple as the idea of atheism gets as
much distortion, bigotry, and invention.  Atheism is the absence of
belief in the existence of any gods, one, two, tripartite, or any number. 
Simply said, an atheist is someone who is not a theist. Disagreement
with theists does not mean claiming the exact opposite.  All that can
legitimately be assumed when someone is identified as atheistic is that
they lack belief in the existence of any gods. If atheism is simply the
absence of belief in any god, and the theist cannot demonstrate that
their belief is reasonable and justified, then atheism is automatically
credible and rational.  It is also a favorite strategy to claim others are in
the same fix than to admit they have failed.

It is also not true that atheists have no beliefs.  They believe that
accumulated evidence as produced through science, that is observation,
identification, description, experimental investigation and theoretical
explanation of phenomena provides a rational basis for belief.
There is an appearance that agnosticism is more open-minded,
because of their claim that they do not “know” for sure. 

“I, as an agnostic, deny that belief is valid or that faith is a valid form
of knowledge.  I have NO belief in God, nor in God’s non-existence. I
have NO faith in God, nor in God’s non-existence.”

Agnosticism is the doctrine that certainty about first principles or
absolute truth is unattainable and that only perceptual phenomena are
objects of exact knowledge, or because of the lack of knowledge, it is
the belief that there can be no proof either that God exists or does
not.

“Since you have faith and I do not, you have far more in common with
the religious than I do.  I am utterly opposed to the concept that faith
or acts of faith have any validity whatsoever.”
 
Also is a patently false perception of atheism to assume because it
misrepresents and misunderstands atheism, theism, agnosticism, and
the nature of belief itself. What some agnostics do not understand is
that atheists are those who have no belief in any gods.  Plain and
simple.  Agnosticism is not about belief in god, but is about
knowledge. 

Agnosticism is really compatible with both theism and atheism.  A
theist can believe in a god without making to claim to know for sure if
that god exists.  This is an agnostic theist.  Or an atheist can
disbelieve in gods without claiming to know for sure that no gods can
or do exist.  This is an agnostic atheist.  One can be both, and usually
are both, agnostic and atheist.  Agnosticism is not an alternative to
atheism.  Agnosticism is strictly speaking about knowledge, and
knowledge is a related but separate issue from belief and almost solely
with respect to theism and atheism.  A belief is an internal thought or
memory which exists in one’s mind.  For a belief to be considered
knowledge it must be, at least, true and justified.

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By christian96, May 11, 2010 at 10:26 pm Link to this comment

It is obvious Chris Hedges knows very little about
true Christianity when he makes a comment like,
“spirituality that permeates most congregations
is narcissism.” The statement also questions his
intellectual abilities.  How could he possibly know
what permeates “most congregations?”  Since he
mentions spending his formative years in a
Presbyterian congregation it appears he has generalized his interpretations of his experiences
to “most congregations.”  If true it cast more
questions about his intellectual functioning.
Chris states he has no desire to belong to any
organization which “discriminates.”  Does he realize
such an attitude is itself “discriminatory?”  All
organizations “discriminate” including Christian
churches.  Christian churches discriminate against
sin.  I didn’t get far into this article before I
realized it would be a waste of my time to finish
reading it.  Obviously Chris didn’t spend must time
reading the Bible or he would have know that Jesus
teaches Christians to deny self in order to love and
serve others.  A teaching which contradicts his
“narcissism” theory.

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By Clash, May 11, 2010 at 9:44 pm Link to this comment

Or morality is an evolutionary trait as proposed by Frans De Waal, that if healthy we are born with the basic intuitions and emotions that make it possible to make the leap to moral conciseness, if we are properly guided by the collective we arrive in. The possibility of such an evolutionary trait is made more plausible after observing the changes in behavior as children of the species are manipulated and inculcated by by the institutions of the societies they must come to survive in. The twisted perverse anti social actions of some, maybe attributed to the twists and perversions of the cultures they are born into.   

Man is still an animal, an organic being no matter what his view of himself in the mirror is, emotions such as empathy, sympathy and social interactions such reciprocity are all in the social domain, that is to say that ones survival depends at least in some part on how an animal interacts with their group. The ability to decide quickly in circumstances what is best for our selves and others is based in these emotions and survival of the group is enhanced when they are present. Evolution rarely discards that which enhances survival.

It is unfortunate that more scientific inquiry has not been done in the field of animal social behavior, but it seems that the religious and scientific communities fear what they may find, maybe that we the living are all connected by more than just words.  It is only   my own personal belief that we are not moral, empathetic, sympathetic, or indulge in acts of reciprocity and disinterested altruism because of God but in spite of him.

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By Leefeller, May 11, 2010 at 8:55 pm Link to this comment

It is nice to see, piety is alive and well!

Hey! Did you hear about the Agnostic guy who went into a bar and told the bartender he heard a good religious joke!

The bartender said “wait a minuite,... we are haveing a pious conventions in town and all these angry people croweded in the bar are pious relgious folks!”

The agnostic guy said “okay… I’ll tell it slowly,......did you know agnositics have tiny little chicken balls”!

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By gerard, May 11, 2010 at 8:48 pm Link to this comment

David Reese:  Google Quaker.org and see where it takes you.  Also maybe American Friends Service Committee and Friends Committee on National Legislation, or Quaker United Nations Center.

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By Inherit The Wind, May 11, 2010 at 8:17 pm Link to this comment

Well, She, maybe I was too rough on you.  But while I haven’t been reading the VERY latest cosmology and I’m not a physicist, I am aware that they are finding that empty space isn’t so empty.  And that maybe the “sub-space” that Star Trek talked about is realer than they thought.

But I refuse to accept the clap-trap that Agnostics are Atheists without balls—and you were backing that argument.  I have never met either an Agnostic or Atheist who accepted “Pascal’s Wager” as valid.  Clearly he was a man who saw his impending death and it scared the shit out of him.  So he copped out.

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By JDmysticDJ, May 11, 2010 at 8:04 pm Link to this comment

There is no evidence that Nietzsche ever existed.

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By David Ehrenstein, May 11, 2010 at 7:30 pm Link to this comment

Pascal’s Wager is the Ultimate Cop-Out.

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By faultroy, May 11, 2010 at 5:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The one thing about Hedges is that like a box of chocolates you never know what you will get. Sometimes he is profound and dead on;other times you get a tirade. In this column…a tirade. I empathize with Chris’ pain and disappointment. But really, He asks too much. Organized religion is merely a reflection of societal mores and values at any given time. Whether you believe in God, Christ, Allah, Jehovah,Buddha is not nearly as important as how you fit in with your community of worshippers. Organized religion has always been at the forefront of common man thought/values until the last 100 years. Even today, for example the Catholic Church extols the teachings of Christ in assessing secular positions. Do they always get it right? No, but then again only a very simple mind really believes in the idea that God bequeaths infallibility on mere mortals. And that in essence is Hedges’s complaint. After the dust settles and the tirades subside, the question remains: “Are we better off or worse off with or without religion?” Chris has seen more death,hatred and malevolence than the entire world of soccer Moms and Metrosexuals for whom he feverishly writes. But I believe in his heart of hearts he knows the answer. This world, while full of nasty, self absorbed and thoroughly reprehensible humans is really better off with religion—even if it does not move as quickly efficiently and morally as I or Chris would like. And like Prometheus railing against the Gods as an Eagle tears at his liver, I will forgive His rage and frustration knowing that Chris is moving up the chain of evolutionary morality to a place that many aspire but few reach.

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By Dave24, May 11, 2010 at 5:40 pm Link to this comment

Imagine, POOF, we knew definitively there was no God. 

Would you love your family less?  Would beauty be any less beautiful?

If you say yes to the above questions, it speaks more about you than it does
society.

People can believe whatever nonsense they want.  Just leave me the f*ck alone
(that is, keep it out of public policy).

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By omygodnotagain, May 11, 2010 at 5:34 pm Link to this comment

Elisalouisa
Great posting. One other factor to look at is environment and architecture. Anyone who has travelled to Italy or France or Southern Germany has to be impressed by the Cathedrals, small towns and a sense of the human interconnectiveness of it all. Modern cities don’t feel that way, when they get old they get decrepit and ugly, meanwhile those old European towns become more appealing.
The cold rationalism of skyscaper can never replace the majesty of the Cathedral.
This also applies to art, music, modern art is for the most part contrived and trite, music today is disposable and mostly forgetable.  Modernity and Beauty are often incompatible.
Chris is right the spirit and soul implied in religion and the metaphysical presence, is far more enriching than cold abstract reason driven by a selfish will

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By Night-Gaunt, May 11, 2010 at 4:32 pm Link to this comment

I would say that our leaders are examples of the “Nobles” who set themselves above all others and tend to only work together when they have to but at the first chance go back to themselves or stab a rival in the back on the way out. Selfish and a feeling of superiority permeate them. For them hunting is an important component of their primal urges to hunt and kill. Whether physically or through social and financial actions to bring down their rivals in society. To them “mutual aid” is a dirty phrase on par with “equality” & “fairness.”

Agnostics wait for proof but won’t automatically rule out some kind of theology when no proof had yet materialized. They have to prove it to me so until then it is relegated to the myth category.

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By elisalouisa, May 11, 2010 at 4:15 pm Link to this comment

In traveling, one cannot ignore the places of worship that are part of every hamlet, town and city in our country and also other places in the world. Our moral code was formed by those who were/are part of these religious institutions. Those who have desecrated what these institutions stood/stand for are continually in our news. The many people of these institutions who taught children and set an example as to sharing and loving are almost never mentioned, nor are those who gave their lives to help the poor, needy and sick. Many do not even have a grave marker. Yet, they helped form the moral fiber of
this country and much of the world. I know all about the dark side of those who were part of religious institutions, such   heinous crimes and coverups had been told and should be told, once again bearing witness to the light and dark side of who we are.I have also witnessed the cruelty that Chris Hedges spoke of.  Yet, at birth, adolescence, marriage and death traditional ceremonies were/are religious. Spiritual nouishment to many was part of everyday life. Even the United States Air Force Academy Mission is: “To inspire men and women to become leaders of character through spiritual formation.” Many men and women in the Air Force have a noble look, especially the young. Spiritual values have taken hold. The Cadet chapel at USAFA is for want of a better word, awesome. In my view, there is no church, Cathedral or Temple that I have entered that can hold a candle to this Chapel. How can one who makes an effort to promote Peace and Justice say this? I don’t know. Yet, there it is, laid out before you. You can use spiritual values very effectively to inspire people to war. This is part of our Judeo-Christian
culture that is coming to a close. Besides practicing war and committing acts of genocide, these religious institutions placed value on family, community and the golden rule allowing everyday life to provide stability to its offspring. Things are winding down, what the future brings no one really knows. I would say, there will be genetic engineering using superior genes; the big question is: Superior in what respect? The State will most likely be in charge of this task, eliminating those who are unnecessary and do not “add” to life. Family will no long be, as it’s use is outdated. I shall end with Chris Hedges last sentence:
“And the death of religious institutions will only cement into place the new secular religion of the Last Man, the one that worships military power, personal advancement, hedonism and greed, the one that justifies our callousness toward the weak and the poor.”
Fox news already has us half-way there.

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By Hammond Eggs, May 11, 2010 at 4:06 pm Link to this comment

Curtis White in “The Middle Mind” argues that most Americans are aware of the brutality and injustice used to maintain the excesses of their consumer society and empire. He suspects they do not care.

How right he is.  George Worthless Bush and Barack Who’s Sane? Obama are the new exemplars of The Last Man.

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By omygodnotagain, May 11, 2010 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment

Mike112769
“OMYGODNOTAGAIN: A story written 100 years after a person has died is proof that he existed? How?”

The Epistles and Gospels were not written 100 years after he died. The Epistles were written very shortly after he died, and the very last Gospel expert believe around AD 70. So soup to nuts that is
40 years. Equivalent to writing WW2 History from 1945-1990
Do you dismiss that as no evidence that Hitler existed

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By omygodnotagain, May 11, 2010 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment

Mike112769
“OMYGODNOTAGAIN: A story written 100 years after a person has died is proof that he existed? How?”

The Epistles and Gospels were not written 100 years after he died. The Epistles were written very shortly after he died, and the very last Gospel expert believe around AD 70. So soup to nuts that is
40 years. Equivalent to writing WW2 History from 1945-1990
Do you dismiss that as no evidence that Hitler existed

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By dissentispatriotic, May 11, 2010 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment

RE: gerard, May 11 at 6:16 pm

I’m just sharing some truth as I understand it. I’ve enjoyed several
of your posts on this and other threads.

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By Shenonymous, May 11, 2010 at 2:53 pm Link to this comment

Wait a minute, now wait just a minute…The Void in the sense
that the cosmologists are discussing is not really empty, now
is it?  Technically speaking.  So maybe you are not up on your
finer arguments about cosmology ITW.  Waves making
quantum leaps?  Possibly. Neutrinos are top candidates now
for filling in the Void.  See Science News, Gabriel Gache. 
Or the so-called vacuum is filled with Higgs field, (The Higgs boson is
a massive scalar elementary particle predicted to exist by the Standard
Model in particle physics.)  Then see The Void by Frank Close.
Dark matter and Dark Energy and Dark this and Dark that are not
nothingness.  See Nasa Science, copy/paste to browser at
http://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focus-areas/what-is-dark-
energy/

For the sake of friendly argument…if science comes up with ways to
test it, let us presume, even hypothetically, they are testing something
and not nothing???? Could that work?  Simply because they are
retarded in finding ways to test the ubiquitous somethingy stuff doesn’t
mean that something is not there.  What they thought to be untestable
become testable once someone rises out of the swamp of ignorance
and sees the way. It is similar to Columbus who sailed off to the west
and all on the mainland thought he was nuts and about to drop of the
edge of the earth, because once past a certain distance, as the boats
appeared smaller and smaller, they literally disappeared from view.  “it
IS testable,”  yeah, it IS testable where the ‘it’ is something materially
testable.

And by the way ITW I would not suggest you were not at your
brightest if I did not agree with you, so you don’t have to demean my
comments in such an adolescent way.  Perhaps you are too used to
sparring with flamers.

Did I ask you to test for god?  NO.  You take your usual defensive
attitude once more.  You don’t really need to as you are smart enough
to make good arguments. 

So because there is a way now to test for extra-solar planets, which
are material entities, and most likely thousands if not millions of them
throughout the universe, you think there might, just might be a
way to test for the disembodied supernatural (which means existence
outside the natural universe), okay, but me and my tribe won’t hold our
collective breath.

Pascal’s Wager might come to the wrong conclusion, and I do think it
does, but you would be surprised how under the guise of some other
theory, his probability theory still holds a high rung on the ladder of
guessing games. While, you stated his non-argument very well I smelt
Pascal.  I’ll follow the scent to see where.  Contrary to popular belief, it
isn’t really an argument.  Since to call it such would violate his theory
that the existence of god cannot be determined through reason, and
arguments are exercises using reason.  It was a demonstration in
probability and said to be the first use of decision theory that has to do
with the infinite expected value that believing is always greater than
the expected value of not believing.  Cover your bets!  He merely
wanted to avoid tossing a coin, which is what I propose to do in every
case where a dilemma really is a dilemma.  Pascal did not offer the
wager as a proof.  It was offered as a conclusion to his other arguments
against certainty that depends on the idea that reason is untrustworthy
and that proving God’s actual existence appears to be “a coin toss.”  If
reason can be trusted on the question of God’s existence, then the
wager simply does not apply.  Do give a better definition of agnostic,
pretty please.

PrematureFactulation I hope I did not offend you in any way as I
thought you were one of the brightest bulbs to show up.  It is my wish
that you stick around and you can brag to your friendly geezers that
you have a definite invite!  I will tell you a secret next time.  Well
maybe it isn’t such a secret.

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By Night-Gaunt, May 11, 2010 at 2:37 pm Link to this comment

I wonder how long it has been going on in secret? There are a wide variety of such drones and APV’s in use. Also don’t forget satellite imagery too from the NSA & the NRO.

As for the “mythical” Christian fascists the Dominionists are everywhere and in the highest places in gov’t. In both parties and the Libertarians too. Why are neo-Nazis back in our special forces and nothing is being done? http://www.talk2action.org/ is one place where they are reported on. They are spreading their particular brand of Nordic-Christianity anywhere they can. Including in main stream churches turning them to their power and privilege is god given and war is a holy action to “spread the word” in order to prepare the earth for “his” coming. [The problem is that “he” won’t come back until their job is done preparing the way. So no rapture. A self serving version of Christianity where our form of gov’t isn’t Biblical (it isn’t) and the higher you are on the social ladder means you are that much more blessed by their Calvanist god.]

But when it comes down to it whether you are a believer or not it doesn’t matter what it says because if human life to you means little. Then other people’s that is it doesn’t matter how much “love” you may have on paper and in slogans thier lives will be forfit. So Torcemada , Hitler, Mao, Stalin and Genghis Quan the Khan are equally cruel whether believers or not. It is humanism that is the key not religion or a secular substitution of state power still will be cruel without that humanism so much needed to produce a benevolent organization. Essentially a place where psychopaths would not be happy unlike in our present culture or corporate ownership of all things.

We are approaching a time where the Dark Ages will arise again but powered by the latest in war and snoop technology behind 1st century values and practices. Including in the budding American Holy Empire. Climate change also promotes the formation of such cruel and absolutist types of regimes. We are primed for it. Not a good future for most of us.

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By gerard, May 11, 2010 at 2:16 pm Link to this comment

dissentispatriotic:  Thank you!

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By ofersince72, May 11, 2010 at 1:57 pm Link to this comment

The Ausin Statesman newspaper is reporting that

they are going to be flying drones in southern Texas

buy this summer.

JESUS, JESUS, JESUS.

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By ofersince72, May 11, 2010 at 1:51 pm Link to this comment

Here is something to pray about

They are sraying a chemical “dispersent” in the Gulf
that is so strong, they won’t even release to the public
what is in the chemical.  Adding chemical to chemical
is as dumb as the box on the leak.  The plankton beds
are probably already dead, if not , the dispersent will
break the oil on the bed and kill them. They don’t know
what they are doing.
It is the public’s right to know exactly what they are
sraying into the atmosphere, what kind of secret society
have we become? They are even low balling the rate of
flow.. Why can’t we know??  If they can’t even tell their
citizens this, do you believe on word what they are saying
about what is going on overseas?
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus….....Nietzsche, Nietzsche, Nietzsche

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By robertr, May 11, 2010 at 1:32 pm Link to this comment

As beautifully expressed as is Hedge’s argument, I simply cannot agree with his conclusions. I do not see the historical evidence that religion ever provided the moral framework for human existence that Hedges posits. He states we “are not going to be saved by faith in reason, science and technology.” We are not going to be saved by “faith” in anything. We have certainly not been “saved” by faith in gods and religion and I don’t believe we ever have been. But we certainly could use a great deal more reason in our lives. We have religious idiots like Palin stating that the U.S. government should be based on Christian doctrine. We are to the point at which we can elect an African-American president, but can we elect one who doesn’t claim to be a “person of faith” whether he or she really is or not? I doubt it. We may not do any better without religion than with it, but I certainly would like to give it a go.

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By Daw33d, May 11, 2010 at 1:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Although it’s quite evident that religion is in
decline, it’s not equally evident that morality is in
decline.

Perhaps this is just a wonderful opportunity for us
to find some grounding in reason for our morals.. be
it a theory of altruism, self-interest, duty, virtue
and so forth. For so many years people have been
satisfied with the idea that morality is synonymous
with man-made institutions that claim that they know
the answers through God. However, that time may be
coming to an end, as a new secular consciousness is
arising (or has been arising).

Why should we rely on a religious institution to
provide us with the answers? If you want answers of
reason, you won’t find them there. If you want
answers of “spiritual guidance”, then I suppose
that’s the only thing the church can be offering.

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By dissentispatriotic, May 11, 2010 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment

PART II “something in the way of things” By: The Roots


My mistake is I kept sayin’ “that was proof that God didn’t exist”
And you told me, “nah, it was proof that the devil do”
But still, its like I see something I hear things
I saw words in the white boy’s lying rag
said he was gonna die poor and frustrated
That them dreams walk which you ‘cross town
S’gonna die from over work
There’s garbage on the street that’s tellin’ you you ain’t s**t
And you almost believe it
Broke and mistaken all the time
You know some of the words but they ain’t the right ones
Your cable back on but ain’t nothin’ you can see
But I see something in the way of things
Something to make us stumble
Something get us drunk from noise and addicted to sadness
I see something and feel something stalking us
Like and ugly thing floating at our back calling us names
You see it and hear it too
But you say it got a right to exist just like you and if God made it
But then we got to argue
And the light gon’ come down around us
Even though we remember where the light is
Remember the Negro squinting at us through the cage
You seen what I see too?
The smile that ain’t a smile but teeth flying against our necks
You see something too but can’t call its name

Ain’t it too bad y’all said
Ain’t it too bad, such a nice boy always kind to his motha
Always say good morning to everybody on his way to work
But that last time before he got locked up and hurt, real bad
I seen him walkin’ toward his house and he wasn’t smiling
And he didn’t even say hello
But I knew he’d seen something
Something in the way of things that it worked on him like it do in
will
And he kept marching faster and faster away from us
And never even muttered a word
Then the next day he was gone
You wanna know what
You wanna know what I’m talkin’ about
Sayin’ “I seen something in the way of things”
And how the boys face looked that day just before they took him away
in that face and remember now, remember all them other faces
And all the many places you’ve seen him or the sister with his child
Wandering up the street
Remember what you seen in your own mirror and didn’t for a second
recognize
The face, your own face
Straining to get out from behind the glass
Open your mouth like you was gon’ say somethin’
Close your eyes and remember what you saw and what it made you feel
like
Now, don’t you see something else
Something cold and ugly
Not invisible but blended with the shadow criss-crossing the old man
Squatting by the drug store at the corner
With is head resting uneasily on his folded arms
And the boy that smiled and the girl he went with

And in my eyes too
A waving craziness splitting them into the jet stream of a black bird
Wit his ass on fire
Or the solomNOTness of where we go to know we gonna be happy

I seen something
I SEEN something
And you seen it too
You seen it too
You just can’t call it’s name name name name name name name

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By mike112769, May 11, 2010 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment

OMYGODNOTAGAIN: A story written 100 years after a person has died is proof that he existed? How?

From what I can find, the first mention of “Jesus Christ” was by the Roman historian Josephus. This was about a hundred years AFTER the crucifiction. This is not proof that “Jesus” lived.

I find the idea of waiting on a dead man to come back to life and save you from your “sins” quite infantile.

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By dissentispatriotic, May 11, 2010 at 12:51 pm Link to this comment

PART I “something in the way of things”  by: The Roots

Something in the way of things
Something that will quit and won’t start
Something you know but can’t stand
Can’t know or get along with
Like death
Riding on top of the car peering through the windshield for his cue
Something entirely fictitious and true
That creeps across your path hallowing your evil ways
Like they were yourself passing yourself not smiling
The dead guy you saw me talking to is your boss
I tried to put a spell on him but his spirit is illiterate

I know things you know and nothing you don’t know
‘cept I saw something in the way of things
Something grinning at me and I wanted to know, was it funny?
Was it so funny it followed me down the street
Greeting everybody like the good humor man
But they got the taste of good humor but no ice cream
It was like dat
Me talking across people into the houses
And not seeing the beings crowding around me with ice picks
You could see them
But they looked like important Negroes on the way to your funeral
Looked like important j***boos on the way to your auction
And let them chant the number and use an ivory pointer to count your
teeth
Remember Steppen Fetchit
Remember Steppen Fetchit how we laughed
An all your Sunday school images giving flesh and giggling
With the ice pick high off his head
Made ya laugh anyway

I can see something in the way of our selves
I can see something in the way of our selves
That’s why I say the things I do, you know it
But its something else to you
Like that job
This morning when you got there and it was quiet
And the machines were yearning soft behind you
Yearning for that n**ga to come and give up his life
Standin’ there bein’ dissed and broke and troubled

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By gerard, May 11, 2010 at 12:28 pm Link to this comment

This long string of statements about religion is clear evidence of the human desire to believe—to believe in something, or to believe in nothing—God or No God.  And to convince others that their belief is justified by “reasons”—not necessarily rational reasons, but personal evidences, personal hopes, personal insistences, or doctrines.

Whether one belief is right and the others wrong can never be proven beyond the shadow of a doubt, and in the last analysis (as well as in the first) it is necessary to rely on belief.

The real test, of course, is what that belief contributes to your own life and to the lives of others.

My belief is weak.  I simply have to admit that, move out of my little limited quarter, look around, see the joy and the suffering, the beauty and the horror—and act.  Even if I do nothing, I am acting.  I hope that I do the right thing, choose the lesser of evils, leave things better than I found them.  Hope can fill the religious chasm in the human soul—or if not fill, at least stop the infernal howling.

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By balkas, May 11, 2010 at 12:22 pm Link to this comment

Oh how i love those simplicities! Here’s one:
In the beginings, and for eons, there was no state. Then,ca 6-7 k yrs ago, city-states arose; followed by regional states,vast region-states [known as empires, and now familial-states, and one vast [planetarian]family-state.

For eons people fished, hunted; picked berries, nuts, fruit; plucked greens or shoots; laughed, sang, danced together.

Nobody was small, stupid, lazy, arrogant, ignorant; everybody ate and slept under roof or branches; felt secure.
No one feared anyone else nor a family.

And then came visionairies, charlatans, snake oil salesmen, magicians, sorcerers, clergy, and nobles and in that order and the hell decsended upon us.

And now people like hedges working in hell still says, tacitly tho, we can fix it! Fixing hell, now that is hellish work.

Btw, hell’s been around so long, it has cooled dwn sufficiently to suit everybody; including genghis khan, hitler, stalin, truman, and BHO.
And that’s why hell-on-earth had not been noticed by ab 98% of americans, japanese, ‘jews’, mexicans, et al.  tnx

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By "G"utless "W"itless Hitler, May 11, 2010 at 12:21 pm Link to this comment

thebeerdoctor said:

“Atheism is a religion. It does not worship god or gods, just dogmatic belief that there is no metaphysical dimension to existence. Commune115 is correct in pointing out that atheist advocates such as Hitchens and Maher embrace violence as a solution. An agnostic is humble enough to admit not knowing. An atheist simply KNOWS there is nothing else.”

WRONG!  The atheist has faith that the answer can eventually be reached through the power of human reason alone.  Thus, applying Occam’s Razor and all that, God is unnecessary and therefore does not exist.  Q.E.D. Blam!

Interesting side note:

The analyses of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Study 1) and the General Social Surveys (Study 2) show that adolescent and adult intelligence significantly increases adult liberalism, atheism, and men’s (but not women’s) value on sexual exclusivity.


Social Psychology Quarterly, Vol. 73, No. 1, 33-57 (2010)

Intelligence Volume 37, Issue 1, January-February 2009, Pages 11-15

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By amunaor, May 11, 2010 at 12:18 pm Link to this comment

The church is not a mystery as much as it is a misery and Rome is the crossroads onto which the, Egyptian, dying-god myth metamorphosed into its current psychodrama; carved into stone as a political expediency to satisfy the growing pangs for power; a bloody psychological wedge culminating in turmoil, trauma, terror and the multitudinous separations evinced today. A confirmation for where the church’s fealty lay came in the early sixteenth century, as Pope Leo X went on record declaring: “It has served us well, this myth of Christ.”

Heretics fled underground to escape the prosecutorial wrath of this new creature’s flaming rotisseries.

The term ‘God’ is a misnomer; it is only an anthropomorphic projection of self, onto the forces presented to our external senses: hence the old man, or old girl, as the case may be, on a throne in the clouds.

Nevertheless, the inexplicable irrationality for a sentient breeze in the void still puzzles the caged brain in some. For this: Gnothi Seauton – herein rest Wisdom and Understanding.

As regarding the halo symbol found in medieval paintings; symbolically represented as Kether within the geometry of ‘upside down’ The Tree; symbolically a dot on the forehead depicting the pineal gland, or the crown chakra, all are references to consciousness, but a consciousness that is veiled by the senses: therefore, normally, inaccessible; a consciousness which permeated Gnostic thought throughout the Languedoc region of France,  perturbing the great intolerable mind of the church sufficiently so that it found it necessary to reign down a genocidal extermination upon it; ensuing a gluttony of gore not to be exceeded until WWII.

Today that halo-consciousness is labeled a disease; targeted by state sponsored industrial science for eradication by the pharmaceutical industry; its end desire: erase the seeker aspect while producing easily programmable, uni-polar automatons.

I found this, which struck me.

Utilizing the metaphor of a battlefield, the following words describe the struggle between ego and the halo-consciousness:

***
Light on the Path – Mabel Collins, taken from Israel Regardie’s tome: The GD –

Stand aside in the coming battle, and though thou fightest be not thou the warrior. Look for the warrior and let him fight in thee. Take his orders for battle and obey them. Obey him not as though he were a general, but as though he were thyself and his spoken words were the utterance of thy secret desires; for he is thyself, yet infinitely wiser and stronger than thyself. Look for him, else in the fever and hurry of the fight thou mayest pass him; and he will not know thee unless thou knowest him. If thy cry reach his listening ear then will he fight in thee and fill the dull void within. And if this is so, then canst thou go through the fight cool and unwearied, standing aside and letting him battle for thee. Then it will be impossible for thee to strike one blow amiss. But if thou look not for him, if thou pass him by, then there is no safeguard for thee. The brain will reel, thy heart grow uncertain, and in the dust of the battlefield thy sigh and senses will fail, and thou will not know thy friends from thy enemies.

He is thyself, yet thou art finite and liable to error. He is eternal and is sure. He is eternal truth. When once he has entered thee and become thy warrior, he will never utterly desert thee, and at the day of the great peace he will become one with thee.
***

The above text is, obviously, dated, in which the halo-consciousness I speak of, is actually referred to as ‘The Holy Guardian Angel’, also referred to by Obama during some of his, long forgotten, speeches as: ‘Our Higher Angel’. In the later, it appears the size of our - ring-bear’s - new opulent desk may have pulled the veil shut, but I hope not.

Happy trails…

Peace, Best Wishes and Hope

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By prole, May 11, 2010 at 12:09 pm Link to this comment

“It is hard to muster much sympathy over the implosion of the Catholic Church, traditional Protestant denominations or Jewish synagogues”…Amen! “These institutions were passive as the Christian right, which peddles magical thinking and a Jesus-as-warrior philosophy, hijacked the language and iconography of traditional Christianity”…in order to revert to pre-Christian roots in a re-inversion of a historical conjuration. As the peerless sage Nietzsche recounts the tale in his classic Genealogy of Morals : “We know who has fallen heir to this Jewish inversion of values…. In reference to the grand and unspeakably disastrous initiative which the Jews have launched by this most radical of all declarations of war, I wish to repeat a statement I made in a different context [Beyond Good and Evil], to wit, that it was the Jews who started the slave revolt in morals; a revolt with two millenia of history behind it, which we have lost sight of today simply because it has triumphed so completely… From the tree trunk of Jewish vengeance and hatred—the deepest and sublimest hatred in human history, since it gave birth to ideals and a new set of values—grew a branch that was equally unique:  a new love, the deepest and sublimest of loves. From what other trunk could this branch have sprung? But let no one surmise that this love represented a denial of the thirst for vengeance, that it contravened the Jewish hatred. Exactly the opposite is true. Love grew out of hatred as the tree’s crown, spreading triumphantly in the purest sunlight, yet having, in its high and sunny realm, the same aims—victory, aggrandizement, temptation—which hatred pursued by digging its roots ever deeper into all that was profound and evil. Jesus of Nazareth, the gospel of love made flesh, the ‘redeemer’, who brought blessing and victory to the poor, the sick, the sinner—what was he but temptation in its most sinister and irresistible form, bringing men by a roundabout way to precisely those Jewish values and renovations of the ideal? Has not Israel, precisely by the detour of this ‘redeemer’, this seeming antagonist and destroyer of Israel, reached the final goal of its sublime vindictiveness? Was it not a necessary feature of a truly brilliant politics of vengeance, a farsighted, subterranean, slowly and carefully planned vengeance, that Israel had to deny its true instrument publicly and nail him to the cross like a mortal enemy, so that “the whole world” (meaning all the enemies of Israel) might naïvely swallow the bait? And could one, by straining every resource, hit upon a bait more dangerous than this? What could equal in debilitating narcotic power the symbol of the ‘holy cross’, the ghastly paradox of a crucified god, the unspeakably cruel mystery of God’s self-crucifixion for the benefit of mankind? One thing is certain, that in this sign Israel has by now triumphed over all other, nobler values.”  Thus spake Zarathustra sixty years before the Nakba. What goes around, comes around.

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By Leefeller, May 11, 2010 at 12:04 pm Link to this comment

“Atheism is simply disbelief in a divine” why would it be
otherwise,....... unless it was a raging disbelief! From
Chris Hedges article I seem to get the feeling he is
sitting on the agnostic fence post, though I do not know
about the tiny little chicken balls thing!

When I was in the service we used to eat chicken balls
down at the local pub, hope they were not agnostic. Now
that I think of it those were chicken gizzards.

Yes, the us and them thing does get old, memories of GW.

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By Inherit The Wind, May 11, 2010 at 11:46 am Link to this comment

Nematoad:
You’ve said nothing other than to vent your bile at me.  You wanna go around preaching and screeching

“GOD DOESN’T EXIST! GOD CANNOT EXIST! IT’S IMPOSSIBLE! I KNOW IT BECAUSE I’M THE GREAT NEMATOAD!”

Well, go ahead. It’s still basically a free country.

I must confess to one thing:

I’m really glad I’m not you.

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By nemesis2010, May 11, 2010 at 11:30 am Link to this comment

By Inherit The Wind, May 11 at 10:39 am

”Do I have to spell it out? You as an atheist, believe in your heart of hearts that there is no God.  You take it on faith that God does not exist.  Denial of God without evidence is as much an act of faith as acceptance of God without evidence.”

Well, well, well, if it isn’t my BFF, PassinWind, doing what he does best; trying to convince the unwary that his breaking of wind is anything but.

I see you decided not to take my advice about adult education classes in reading comprehension, heh windy?

The first thing that has to be pointed out is your use of an equivocation fallacy. This is when someone—you for instance—stands on sinking sand and purposely and deceptively misuses a word that has more than one meaning. In this case YOU are using the equivocation fallacy with respect to a suffix; “ism.”  Atheism is simply disbelief in a divine. Nothing more; it stops right there.

Atheists do not take it on “faith” that a divine does not exist. You’ve, once again, got it all backackwards. There is absolutely no evidence to support the “belief” that a divine exists. To believe in a divine requires “faith.” It requires no act of “faith” on the part of atheists to disbelieve in the existence of pink unicorns. The same applies to a divine for which there is no reason to believe, because there is no evidence. Disbelief is the default position.

The term “theist” is usually understood as one who believes in a personal, intervening god or gods such as those in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, and Hinduism. Thus if an atheist is described as a non-theist the definition would now include agnostics, Buddhists, and spiritualists because they too, do not believe in the personal, intervening god of the aforementioned. Your convoluted explanations sound very much like the argument that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” If this is your position you are more a deist than agnostic.

A cynic is NOT a person who has all the answers. No one has all the answers. You have to be pretty damn stupid to make such an idiotic statement. A cynic is a person who believes all people are motivated by selfishness. A cynic was also a member of a sect of philosophers in Ancient Greece who believed virtue to be the only good and self-control to be the only means of achieving virtue. (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition copyright © 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company.) I suggested that you buy a dictionary for a reason you feeble-minded twit.

Agnostics are disbelievers (with tiny, chicken balls) in a divine. Atheists as well as tiny, chickened balled agnostics can accept the existence of a divine should the evidence indicate such.

You really need to consider getting a quality education and cease dumbing-down other Americans to your level with all of this misinformation you keep trying to pass off as fact.

”I do not pretend to be able to prove that there is no God. I equally cannot prove that Satan is a fiction. The Christian god may exist; so may the gods of Olympus, or of ancient Egypt, or of Babylon. But no one of these hypotheses is more probable than any other: they lie outside the region of even probable knowledge, and therefore there is no reason to consider any of them.”—Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

”Ignorance more frequently begets confidence, than it does knowledge.” –Charles Darwin

smile

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By nemesis2010, May 11, 2010 at 11:27 am Link to this comment

By Virginia777, May 11 at 12:00 pm

”Moral guidance isn’t only found in one’s conscience, thank goodness, moral guidance is found in religion and in the living word of visionaries throughout time - like Martin Luther King - who found plenty of moral guidance through Christianity.
The belief that the Self can and will exert moral guidance at the appropriate moments in history, is an arrogant one. The Self, by definition, is selfish, concerned only about the self, the individual, and not others, certainly not others like the poor and downtrodden.
Good religion emphasizes the importance of removal of the individual from the Self, into collective consciousness, into taking care of each other.testing”


Do you mean moral guidelines like child genital mutilation, selling one’s children into slavery and indentured servitude, stoning of Wal Mart workers for working on Sunday, homosexuals, and incorrigible children? Perhaps you mean moral guidelines like hating one’s own family should they not accept your version of religion, or taking no care or precautions against detrimental events or saving for retirement?

Ohhhh… and there’s that moral guideline that slaves should obey their masters. Wives too! Wives should obey their husbands as unto dah lawd and not dare think to be over a man.

Yeah… nuttin like dat olde tyme religion!

[I]”My conclusion is that there is no reason to believe any of the dogmas of traditional theology and, further, that there is no reason to wish that they were true. Man, in so far as he is not subject to natural forces, is free to work out his own destiny. The responsibility is his, and so is the opportunity.” –Bertrand Russell

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By JohannG, May 11, 2010 at 11:26 am Link to this comment

“The great religions set free the critical powers of
humankind.”

NO…there are not “great religions”. Religion is bunk.
It is another word for superstition. It is possible to
NOT BE RELIGIOUS and STILL BE A MORAL; to lead an
existence that benefits the many, not the few.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, UNDERSTAND THIS.

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By nemesis2010, May 11, 2010 at 11:25 am Link to this comment

Arrrgggh! I cannot believe that Chris Hedges is possessed of such myopic thinking. Jeebus on my grilled cheese sandwich! What has happened to America?

Religion fizzling DOES NOT mean we’re stuck with Nietzsche. Unfortunately, we are not going to lose religion. Even if that wonderful dream did come true there are many more options for Homo sapiens besides Nietzsche. This is the type of myopic thinking that religion produces; the Manichean good vs. evil, either/or, black/white, etc.

Chris apparently has been on a very long vacation to another world. Take a look around and tell me if it seems that the dim-witted of the religious world are in a state of demise or rearing their ugly heads attacking every enlightened institution mankind has? With the exception of modern technological gadgets does anything resemble the Dark Ages Europe under Catholic control than the Middle East?

In the U.S. our secular, constitution based, representative republic is under constant attack by ignorant-as-the-day-is-long evangelicals and amoral predator capitalists who have embraced Randian objectivism as their religious dogma. They even have an unholy trinity; Ronnie the father, W the messiah son, and the unholy ghost Dick Cheney. Like Catholics they have their own queen of heaven in Sarah Palin, the gender opposite of the village idiot son of god, W.

There are manifold reasons for dwindling numbers of dupes filling church pews. Science is a major factor. As new discoveries become known the Bible is always caught with its pants down and bent over. Adherents to the so-called inerrant word of god find it increasing difficult to veg-o-matic the Bible’s flat-earth view of cosmology and astronomy to fit into our increased knowledge of the universe and justify the psychopathic moral code of Bronze and Iron Age tribal Hebrews to that of the 21st century, enlightened man.   

Diminishing numbers mean that the most radical element is what’s left. That’s not a good sign and can mean danger for the rest of society if we’re not prepared to biotch-slap religion to where it belongs; in history books as examples of early man’s vain attempts to explain his existence in this big scary world.

”Count your rights—political, religious, social, intellectual—and tell me which of them was conquered for you by the priest.”—M.M. Mangasarian

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By Night-Gaunt, May 11, 2010 at 11:24 am Link to this comment

I would recommend many more sources than that to be sure. Also remember Nietzsche hated the anti-individualistic, anti-intellectual and anti-artistic biases of democracy, socialism and obviously communism. Remember that Tennessee-Socialist.

As for the so-called “superman” it actually translates as “overman” and I don’t think you understand what he meant by such a concept.

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By felicity, May 11, 2010 at 11:20 am Link to this comment

Hedges seems to have a definite ‘problem’ with the people running the churches - Catholic or otherwise.  And he doesn’t stop with them - just about anyone in the secular world who is in a position of power/policy making sickens him.

But I also detect a profound disdain for us, the little people, the large percentage of whom as we live our day-to-day lives of ‘quiet desporation’ allow ourselves to be amused, even titillated by the vulgar, the vacuous, the trite.  We over-spend and under-achieve.  We prefer the surfaces of our daily experiences rather than their realities. We find comfort in magic and mystery and angels.

The fact is, we’re only human.

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By Tennessee-Socialist, May 11, 2010 at 11:13 am Link to this comment

WATCH THIS VIDEO OF AN INTERVIEW WITH CINDY SHEEHAN SAYING THAT US FASCIST EMPIRE IS A CANCER AROUND THE WORLD, SPREADING BLOOD, PANCAKES, MCDONALDS AND EVIL FATTENING FOODS !!

http://tennessee-chaviztas.blogspot.com/2010/03/cindy-sheehan-says-that-us-fascist.html


.

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By Tennessee-Socialist, May 11, 2010 at 10:57 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges is wrong about the philosophy of Fredrich Nietzsche in fact without the philosophy of the will to power and The Superman there can be no change in the USA.  The key to USA’s salvation lies in the writtings of Fredrich Nietzsche, Marx, Lenin and Trotsky.  Nietzsche because he wrote about the importance of will-power and personal-strength and Marx, Lenin and Trotsky because they wrote about classes and how the history of the world has been a dictatorship of a few minority of elites, against the great majority, the history of the whole world has been a history of slavery of kings, wealthy oligarchs and rulers against the majority of oppressed humans.

It is time for a revolution in USA of the poor americans against the rich americans in combination with other revolutions around the world. We need a whole world-revolution, of the poor average people against the rich

So read Nietzsche, Marx, Lenin and Trotsky

.

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By SoTexGuy, May 11, 2010 at 10:57 am Link to this comment

Another great piece by Hedges. Bravo.

And there have been a few challenging comments added here as well.. thanks to those contributors… and especially to the author of the post exposing so-called agnostics as being non-players, neither fish nor fowl. Well said.

Just to expose my own position, not to restart any debate, I find the goings on in the world in all their variety and tragedy to be utterly inconsistent with the concept of an omnipotent and beneficent God. Nor do I for a moment buy into the idea of any vengeful deity.. an especially one worthy of worship!

I do believe there are rewards for being a good neighbor and a good citizen, living within my own means without seeking a step up on the necks of others, avoiding excess, needless violence of word, action or thought and being generous to others. I hope and expect the good derived from those choices in life now, on the ground, in my life and in the lives of those around me. Heaven can wait.

Considering what I have just wrote I suppose I’m in the heretic camp! and I surely do agree with Mr. Hedges’ views on organized religion.

Most of all.. reading through the daily news and these comment pages I understand now why it is such a good idea to keep God and Religion out of Politics and Government!

Adios!

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By Night-Gaunt, May 11, 2010 at 10:54 am Link to this comment

I would classify what is going in in the Gulf of Mexico a growing mega-disaster as an Act of Corporation upon the world. With our gov’t as their handmaiden in allowing it to happen. Another example of Libertarianism at work. No regulation.

Atheism sounded too absolute so the Agnostic was born. However I would be an Atheist but following specifically what “agnostic” means that which is without knowledge. And since I am no omniscient, therefor de facto I am an Agnostic—-strictly speaking. Like the word “occult” means hidden from knowledge or sight.

The conundrum is that in many relgions, you must have absolute faith without proof as proof of your devotion which sinks agnostics on that fence. It isn’t Pascal‘s wager if you don’t play. Pascal that sly old devil just made it to fit his religion not anyone else. So if Pascal‘s Wager was expanded to encompass it all then you would have to be devoted to every religion that has ever existed and those yet to exist, just to be sure. Otherwise then you have insulted some god and therefor the torment will be yours. I suspect Heaven will be nearly empty and Hell will be chock full of just about everybody by that particular logic. For those religions that actually have some kind of celestial torture zone that is.

I won’t even go into the problem about all of those who spell out their exclusivity of their belief systems, “Let no god before me…” messes up that. But then Blaise Pascal was a brilliant man that gave us the hypodermic and a mechanical calculator, among other things, but was under such pressure from his father that for his last 20 years of life he turned his considerable intelligence to Christianity. Such a pity as I see it. But then I am biased in that area.

C. hanna, May 11 at 3:45 am # Too bad that particular story of Joshua’s descent into Hell after the crucifiction isn’t accepted among most of the versions of Christianity here. The Apocrypha is interesting reading especially such things as “Leave It To Joshua” stories where that scamp had a penchant for using his powers for selfish reasons. Mom Mary continually had to browbeat the petulant godling to resurrect those people he would strike down in a fit if peak. That and he would fashion birds out of mud and bring them to life with a touch. Plus other wonders of a super being at home. (Such a TV show that would make!)

Who exactly, elisalouisa, has promoted themselves as a “super person” in your eyes? We need each other, that was on of the points Nietzsche made in his writings. What you were saying fits the nobles that Nietzsche saw in every culture, every race and they considered themselves islands where self interest is the only norm for them and damn everyone else, even among their own social types. See “Master Morality.” I don’t and due to certain inherent problems I do poorly with people very poorly so it is an especial hardship for me. So it wasn’t me you referred to then whom? Why would you say that in the first place?

“And BTW, I’m an agnostic who has no patience for “atheism.”  (How the hell do you know for certain there is no God?  Pfft!  Neat trick if you do.) “-Interesting

The universe operates just fine without god(s) so it is up to the believer to show that 1) Such a being needs to exist,2) still exists 3) can be proven to exist. To me the ideal of god(s) is just a primitive concept to sort of fill in the blanks of understanding of the universe and how it operates. Science keeps pushing that veil.

Just that the void is full of invisible matter/energy.

We change the grammar. But then good and god are together lexicographically. Now what?

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By omygodnotagain, May 11, 2010 at 10:28 am Link to this comment

“It makes no difference to me if Jesus existed or
not. There is no historical evidence that he did.”

Thats odd, there are over 24,000 codices in the Vatican, parts of the New testament that have been dated to the first Century AD, and they all talk about a person called Jesus. All his followers suffered torture, death and were thrown out of their communities for a non existant person…

Chris thats bunk…
It can be argued his teachings were modified or adapted by Paul and others but the fact he never existed nonsense.

Further Chris, I seem to remember condemnation by the Vatican of the War in Iraq, they were so angry they refused to see Condeleeza Rice. Why because the oldest of all Christian communities the Syraic Christians living in Iraq who say a Mass in Arameic no less would have to flee and be persecuted by the Muslim majority, who still haven’t forgiven them for siding with the Mongols who sacked Baghdad in the 13th Century.
Chris your facts are muddled…

All this is Protestant angst.. there are 60 Million Catholics now largely from South of the Border in this country,  and the Catholic Church runs many of the hospitals and social services these people use. They will not forget. In this century Evangelical Protestantism, one of the main catalyst for atheism with its doctrine radical individualism, pessimism, narcissism, self hatred and distain for tradition, community and history will diminish with it.

Secularism will flounder, no-one wants to live in Nietzche’s Ayn Rand world. Scientifically one might add invoking Godel’s incompleteness theorem, reason can never find a bases for itself, and hence will always be subject to whims and the will of tyrants. I believe Nietzche spent many pages in his writing making just that point about reason’s limitations.

Chris I believe that humans have written in their DNA what is right and wrong… the question is have they courage to listen as Elijah did in his cave.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, May 11, 2010 at 10:26 am Link to this comment

I blame this last moment of folly on Night Guaint for it
is most common to find or pin blame on others. Yeah thats
it!... Night Guaint’s homework assignment! 

Damn it Night Guaint, I try to be serious and then I get
slapped on the side of the head with a split bamboo
stick!

My Nietzsche ranting days are over and completely out of
my system, and I will attend the local Nietzsche
Anonymous Association meetings asap!

I promise I will not mention the Beatles and how girls
fawned over them and tossed their panties and bras on
stage and passed out!.... Nope I will be nice!

She wrote;
“are you suggesting there could be a universal moral?”

No! I am not suggesting just asking! After I gave Ozark
Michael such a bad time about “Universal Morality” I feel
my comments about universal joints were not very nice!

Okay, anyone out there as part of the resident Moral
Contextualists you are welcome to comment on Morals or do
I need to send smoke signals?

It seems some people believe morals are only learned
through commonality of religion, well according to the
religious? Does this mean anyone not religious does not
have morals because they are individuals…..
Virginia777?

Absolutisms paint logic into a corner, but religion and
logic seem to have little in common so painting in the
corner is of absolutisms is business as usual.

Again, I am asking not commanding (like I can command?)
otherwise I will fall back into my Last man stagnating
rant!

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By PrematureFactulation, May 11, 2010 at 10:11 am Link to this comment

Well, this was my first try at “blogging” or whatever you young folks call this.
(Yes, I’m a virgin.) I’m an old retired geezer who thought that this would be an
exchange of ideas rather than an orgy of ad hominem and sarcasm. But despite
the valiant efforts of Night-Gaunt and several others to keep the conversation
civil, rhetorical thuggery persists in a significant minority of the posts. I saw
plenty of ad hominem discussions in my 40 years in academia, and today’s
political discourse is almost completely ad hominem. I don’t need any more of it.
But, at least now I can brag to my fellow rest-home geezers that I tried blogging!
(They’ll be impressed!)

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By Inherit The Wind, May 11, 2010 at 10:10 am Link to this comment

Glad you didn’t let that one go by ITW. Also, I would say that there are degrees as to skepticism in Agnostics. Some Agnostics continually wrestle with God or the thought of God and almost want you to prove them wrong. At the same time, they respect all life and put “believers” to shame as to a moral code. Atheists have an inner rage that Agnostics lack. My personal observations and I confine my remarks to generalities.
***********************************************

Thanks, EL….glad you are not generalizing! (J/K smile )

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