A Moment of Shameless Self-Promotion

My weekly blog column for the fine people at Guernica magazine is up and folks, it’s a doozie. Well, it’s alright. Incidentally the apparent etymology of “doozie” is …

[Origin: 1925–30, Americanism; of uncert. orig.; sometimes associated with the Duesenburg, a luxury auto, though the var. dozy precedes the appearance of the car in 1920]

Did you know that in the musical Annie, Daddy Warbucks orders his butler to get the Duesenburg ready? Isn’t the internet wonderful? Reams of utterly useless information at one’s fingertips. And they said it wouldn’t last.

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4 Comments on “A Moment of Shameless Self-Promotion”

  1. Faith Says:

    A doozie indeed. I agree that the arguments of these so-called “New Atheists” are counter-productive. At their core, these atheists are little different from the proselytizing fundamentaltists (of all religions) they’re arguing against. One-sided world views (no matter what the side is that you’re taking) are, by definition, constricting. It’s always important to see both sides of every debate, rather than dismissing your opponents out of hand.

    My father told me a story when I was younger (and he’s told it many times since, as he is wont to do) and it’s stuck with me (in theory at least…I’m admittedly fuzzy on the details but it still works I think). On a tv news show, two men are having a heated debate (in this case, it was about religion, but neither the subject nor which man stood on which side of the debate changes the impact of the story). The first man says, “Well, if you would just read my book…” He is cut off by the second man who says, aghast, “I would never read your book.” To which the first man counters, “That’s the difference between you and me; I would read your book.”

    I worked on a really interesting book at my last job which seems relevant here. It’s called The Secular Bible: Why Nonbelievers Must Take Religion Seriously. The author’s contention is that secularists today do not have an adequate conception of religion and in order to stand in opposition to something, you have to understand what you’re standing against. There definitely seems more intellectual value in this sort of approach than in summarily condemning those with an alternate point of view.

  2. Derek Black Says:

    Not that it is important as to who the speakers were, but one of the speakers was the liberal Senator from Idaho-Frank Church, and the other was the head of the moral majority for New York. Please feel free to pick who said what.
    Derek

  3. Dan Goldman Says:

    What if what we commonly refer to as G-d (does that make me Jewish?) isn’t omnipotent or entirely benevolent, but rather a supreme force regulating the universe? Kinda like the big guy with the white beard as seen on The Simpsons mixed with a little Karma-esque properties.

    Hence, bad things can happen all the time — the flip side of the beauty of free will — but so do good things, on both large and small scales, things both known and unknown (what one former SecDef might call a known unknown). And both good and bad things happen to both deserving and undeserving people.

    The question, I think, is can we as mere mortals have any impact on this Supreme whatever it is? And as a corollary, does this Supreme whatever it is, have any impact on us? Personally, I find this debate to be highly interesting. And although I haven’t followed the Harris-Sullivan exchanges closely, I’m happy that it takes place at all — especially sans violence. Maybe there is a G-d afterall!

  4. HW Says:

    Oh no! My philosophical ruminations on the nature of the divine are spilling over into my pristine international affairs blog. Sullied, sullied.

    Oh well, on to the meat:

    “What if what we commonly refer to as G-d (does that make me Jewish?) isn’t omnipotent or entirely benevolent, but rather a supreme force regulating the universe?”

    Could be, but then it’s of no consequence whatsoever. The question is whether this regulation is sentient in any way that would be meaningful. I can’t think of any way that it could be. And if the incidence of bad and good things is essentially random, then God is again irrelevant. What would make God meaningful is if he/she/it regulated that incidence and was aware of its own regulation.

    As Dan says, the further element that would make God meaningful is if communication were possible, back and forth. But how could it ever be shown that this is anything but a delusion?


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