Paul Bryant's Reviews > Mere Christianity

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
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Jan 25, 2008

did not like it
bookshelves: abandoned, godreads

I had to stop reading this, it was making me ill. It may be that every single sentence in this book is either wrong or offensive or inane or all three. Here's a passage from page 45 - CS is talking about what he calls Dualism (i.e. Manichaeism) whereby the existence of evil is explained by there being two equal forces in the Universe which are in perpetual contention, the Good one and the Bad one. CS says:

"If Dualism is true then the Bad Power must be a being who likes badness for its own sake. But in reality we have no experience of anyone liking badness just because it is bad. The nearest we can get to it is in cruelty. But in real life people are cruel for one of two reasons - either because they are sadists, that is, because they have a sexual perversion which makes cruelty a cause of sensual pleasure to them, or else for the sake of something they are going to get out of it - money, or power, or safety. But pleasure, money, power and safety are all, as far as they go, good things. The badness consists in pursuing them by the wrong method, or in the wrong way, or too much. i do not mean, of course, that the people who do this are not desperately wicked. I do mean that wickedness, when you examine it, turns out to be the pursuit of some good in the wrong way. You can be good for the mere sake of goodness : you cannot be bad for the mere sake of badness."

I was never that well versed in the subtleties of philosophical debate, and it is true that my brain has been progressively enfeebled by a constant dripfeed of Old Peculiar, chicken tikka masala and Italian exploitation movies, yet even I can see that this adds up to a pile of shit of Brobdingnagian proportions. Dualism is wrong because it is impossible to “like” badness for its own sake, huh? Because when you do bad things you’re really trying to achieve ends which are really good, but you’re going about it the wrong way, huh? Well now, let’s take our old devilish no-friend-of-mine Adolf Hitler. He was quite convinced that he was doing a GOOD THING by ridding Germany of all Jews. The idea was to eradicate every last one of them. The ultimate idea (though he recognised this was something for later generations and he would not live to see the glad day) was to murder every single Jew throughout the world, because in the very depths of his racist insanity he thought the Jews were Evil. So getting rid of them was Doing the World a Favour. As in – eventually, they will thank me for this gruelling but essential task. Okay, C S Lewis – ANALYSE THAT! How in whatever grotesque rhetorical contortion could that be construed as pursuing a GOOD thing in the wrong way?? There was a classic multiple murderer in 1972 in California called Herbert Mullin – he was a schizophrenic who was obsessed with the impending Big Earthquake and went around randomly beating 13 people to death because his brain told him THAT WAS THE WAY TO STOP THE EARTHQUAKE! I get it, CS, he was trying to do a GOOD thing in a BAD way. So he’s your example. But uh-oh, what about Josef Fritzl and the family in the basement? He knew what he was doing was Very Bad and it gave him a big thrill. He would go to friends' barbecues and fry steaks and chuckle to himself "if only they knew about my incest family in the basement!" Or anyway, take the case of any common or garden wife beater – what GOOD are they trying to achieve in the “wrong way”? Oh, wait – CS says that “power” is as far as it goes a good thing. So it must be that the violent man’s partner is preventing him feeling adequately powerful and so he wishes to restore his power over her – which CS thinks is good – but “in the wrong way”. My brain is reeling from the Grand Canyon of wrongness of all of this. I’m a little shocked.

This was written in 1952 and CS comes across as a wise old buffer in a cardigan speaking to an earnest younger man. Both their wives are rustling up something to eat in the kitchen and talking about whatever mysterious things women find so interesting. Meanwhile the men thrash out the deep questions. Here’s a pearl I think we all ought to cherish:

“there are situations in which it is the duty of a married man to encourage his sexual impulse” (p.25)

Here’s another:

“the reason we do not execute witches is that we do not believe there are such things. If we did… surely we would all agree that if anyone deserved the death penalty, then these filthy quislings did?” (p.24)

Surely we would, us avuncular old shitbags in cardigans puffing on our pipes and living in the real world as we do.

I think a copy of Mere Christianity should be provided free to every impressionable schoolchild in the country. It’d put them off for life.


******

WHY I THOUGHT OF READING THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE

Originally Pink Floyd was Syd Barrett's band - he was the lead guitarist, lead singer and only songwriter. Then he drank 5000 gallons of LSD and fried his brains. The other boys in the band were disturbed by his weird behaviour but he was still the golden goose for them. They would go round his house and he would teach them his new songs. One day, just before they decided he was too crazy and chucked him out, they went round and he taught them a new song with lots and lots of chords in it. Syd told them it was called "Have You Got It Yet?". He played it again and gleefully sang the chorus (have you got it yet, have you got it yet). They were baffled. he played it again. They still couldn't figure it out. Then they realised that every time he played it he was changing the chords around completely. "Have you got it yet?" - good one, Syd. Very funny.
For me, Christians are Syd barrett and I am one of the the duller Pink Floyd members. Every time the Christians play me their song they change the chords. So I still can't figure out what they mean when they speak these simple phrases with those little big words - "God", "saved", "life", "sin" - that kind of thing. Are the Christians deliberately vague and terminally woolly or are they subtle and insightful? Are they serious or do they just want to be in a big club? So I thought I would go back to C S Lewis and try to figure it out again.
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 499) (499 new)


message 1: by Manny (new)

Manny This is the best sermon I've heard in ages! I really couldn't see where you were going with Syd Barrett, but indeed it made perfect sense in the end :)


message 2: by Trevor (new)

Trevor Ditto


message 3: by David (new)

David My question is disturbingly superficial. What are Italian exploitation movies, and where can I get some?

By the way, you had my vote at "Brobdingnagian". Even if the rest of the review had read "rhubarb, rhubarb", instead of making many fine points cogently and eloquently, I'd have voted for it there and then.


message 4: by Manny (last edited Mar 22, 2009 02:48PM) (new)

Manny I never even understood where this argument was going until I read (of all books) James Blish's A Case of Conscience. There, I discovered that it is an important tenet of Christian doctrine that evil is not able to create, only to destroy. I suppose that might be true if you give suitable meanings to "evil", "create" and "destroy". But those meanings will be so different from the usual ones that all sorts of odd consequences will follow.

At least, I think that's an important part of the theory behind the passage you quote here. But, as you can see, I get most of my theology from bad SF novels.



message 5: by Paul (new) - rated it 1 star

Paul Bryant Hey Manny - does that mean that you GET what CS is on about in that passage and that in some way if we understand his terms it's actually coherent?

David - you could start with Ruggero Deodato and his Cannibal movies and move on up from there, cause there ain't no moving down from there.




message 6: by Manny (new)

Manny Um. Well, I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say I get it. But I think that if you accept the axiom that evil can't create, you've made progress. I'll let you know tomorrow if I can twist my mind into the right shape for it all actually to make sense. I'm pretty sure that mathematical training will help here.




message 7: by Paul (new) - rated it 1 star

Paul Bryant Either that or some good mushrooms.


message 8: by Manny (new)

Manny OK, I think the argument is that one can never positively will evil, since that's a contradiction in terms. So Hitler was just trying to protect Germany's racial purity, in essence a good thing, having unfortunately misidentified the Jewish race as vermin. This rather reminds me of the scene in Harry Harrison's Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers where the heroes accidentally commit genocide on the wrong alien race. Having killed all but a tiny fraction, they realize they've screwed up, and apologize. The aliens are happy to accept - these things happen, you know!

And I guess Fritzl really loved his daughter, he just hadn't found the right way to express that love. I agree, this creeps me out too. It seems like a very simplistic take on what evil is. But if you are committed to believing that evil is merely ignorance of the good, then I guess that's where you end up.





message 9: by Manny (new)

Manny Alisa, I think the people commenting here are more annoyed with C.S. Lewis than with Christianity. As I said, I do believe there is something very simplistic and unsatisfying about the way he treats the concept of evil. Don't you agree with that?



message 10: by Paul (last edited Mar 23, 2009 10:07AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Paul Bryant Ouch Alisa! Well, I'm trying to find a reasonable explication of Christianity and I just came across CS Lewis because really, he has a lot of fans - check out this five star review on Amazon :

"This is probably one of Lewis's most famous and oft-quoted works, and for good reason. It is an honest and intelligent - not to mention brilliantly written - examination of the many facets of the Christian faith and human nature: the existence of and belief in God, the Trinity, faith, love, pride, morality etc. Although written during World War Two, the subjects explored still resonate powerfully with contemporary concerns.
I found the opening chapters particularly helpful in presenting a well-argued case for the rational foundations of Christianity, or at least belief in the existence of God. It offers a challenge to Christians to question the intellectual grounds for their faith, and the reassurance that sufficient answers can be found. Non-Christians looking to investigate the rational basis of Christianity, or of religion in general, will also find this an accessible and thought-provoking read. "

So I don't think readng C S Lewis was me trying to find a straw man to kick around. It was clearly the wrong one for me to start with. Of course all religion is ultimately faith not reason, and you can't prove Christianity or disprove it, but I'm hoping that other books will not be as preposterous as this one and will give me some insight into what Christians believe. Perhaps you have a recommendation?
I agree that internal contradictions in the Old and New Testaments are beside the point.
Manny - your brave attempt surely exposes the looniness of this argument. Er : "Hitler was just trying to protect Germany's racial purity, in essence a good thing" - why might that be a good thing? (Adolf and many others THOUGHT it was a good thing, but that doesn't actually make it a good thing.) And - er - Fritzl loved his daughter? Nah, not in a billion years did he. This argument is just a crock, it doesn't work at all.


message 11: by Manny (new)

Manny No no, of course I wasn't saying that protecting Germany's racial purity was a good thing! Just that one could argue that Hitler thought it was. But I don't even believe that's very convincing. I don't think we're really disagreeing on anything much here.




message 12: by Manny (new)

Manny By the way, have you read Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers? Some intelligent commentary on E.E. Doc Smith's theories concerning the nature of evil.



message 13: by Paul (last edited Mar 23, 2009 10:40AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Paul Bryant Yes, we are agreeing here. CS Lewis is saying, and others too, that it's not possible to want to be bad : "we have no experience of anyone liking badness just because it is bad". There's a debate about this very point in one of my favourite books "Explaining Hitler" where some thinkers explicitly reject the usual label of "evil" for Hitler. The argument is that you can't call someone evil if they think they're actually doing good - which Hitler did. Fritzl is another example - he deliberately concocted a similar figleaf - "My daughter was getting involved with drugs and was going off the rails, that's why I imprisoned her in my basement and raped her thousands of times". But these are silly quibbles, of course he knew he was doing evil. Hitler can say, and Himmler did say this explicitly, well, this is a disgusting nasty inhumane thing we are doing in eradicating the Jews, but it's for the greater good. Fritzl can't say "I raped my daughter for the greater good". He can only say "I did this because it gave me pleasure". Would CS say "Ah, pleasure is a good thing, Fritzl was attempting to do a good thing but by the wrong method" ? If so, you could say that about anything. Also, remember the Leopold and Loeb case? Two intelligent kids read their Nietzsche and wanted to see if they could murder someone precisely because it was an evil thing to do. So they did.


message 14: by Paul (new) - rated it 1 star

Paul Bryant Alisa - you'll like this:

1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jr-Vxu...

In this clip from the original Bedazzled Peter Cook is the Devil.

I think my next attempt will be

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/63...






message 15: by Philip (new) - added it

Philip As for Fritzl, might he fit under the first part of Lewis's quote?

"But in real life people are cruel for one of two reasons - either because they are sadists, that is, because they have a sexual perversion which makes cruelty a cause of sensual pleasure to them, or else for the sake of something they are going to get out of it - money, or power, or safety. But pleasure, money, power and safety are all, as far as they go, good things."

Pleasure is not an evil. Raping your daughter to get it undeniably is.


message 16: by Lyndsey (new)

Lyndsey I bumped into your review because I am considering this book for my "to read" list. I'll have to come back to these comments if I pick it up.

As far as recommendations go, Messy Spirituality by Mike Yaconelli and What's So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey are two of my favorites. I tend to like spiritual authors that don't assume they have everything figured out. Not that you have a reason to take my recommendation, but I thought I would through it in.


message 17: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Sep 18, 2009 09:26AM) (new)

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Alisa wrote: "It's the popular viewpoint to look down on Christianity, so if you want to just join the herd, go ahead."

Not sure what planet you live on, but if it's Earth then you surely haven't heard of this land called America. Or maybe you're confused about what the word "popular" means.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Paul, great job on the Syd Barrett analogy. It's spot on and worked for me because I'm a long time fan of ol' Syd.


message 19: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Apr 02, 2010 09:17AM) (new)

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio I live in a country where a person cannot possibly get elected to most political offices without professing a belief that a charismatic cult leader died and arose from the grave and is the true son of God, etc, let alone where a person can proclaim that they don't believe in any deities or let alone claim that Christianity just might not be a good thing. I live in a country where the vast majority of people profess to be Christian and where even most non-Christian theists and plenty of atheists give lip service to respecting Christianity. Even in countries like Sweden and Denmark where the vast majority of people are atheists I think it would be a leap in the wrong direction to say that the majority looks down on Christianity.

And no, even my atheistic and otherwise non-Christian friends and people I went to school with don't look down on Christianity per say and rather only call it bullshit when it's conservative, evangelical Christianity. This, it seems quite clear to me, is the popular view amongst liberals in America, including in academia. It's only recently that more and more people like myself have been more vocally broadening these types of criticism to the very idea of faith itself (not just religious faith either).

I'm hardly ever in a room where it's popular to criticize Christianity. Even when it's a room full of committed atheists this is still often taboo. This is my experience at least. And opinion polls, though imperfect, give a pretty good idea of what's actually in popular standing on the larger scale.


message 20: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Sep 18, 2009 10:08AM) (new)

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio And no, on Planet Goodreads I get almost nothing but boos and hisses and groans from secular people (not to mention religious people) all of the time when I criticize religion (unless it's the religion of conservatives/Republicans, then it's suddenly fine and dandy).


message 21: by Stephen (new)

Stephen No one takes C. S. Lewis seriously as theology. He was a grouchy old Anglican, agnostic about half the time.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Francis Collins, now the director of the National Institutes of Health (hardly a fringe figure), who wrote a book claiming to reconcile Christianity with modern scientific knowledge (The Language of God) relied heavily on C.S. Lewis in his arguments and many Christians bought his book and gobbled it up hook, line and sinker. Many, many, many Christians do find C.S. Lewis convincing. All you have to do is look at the number of positive reviews on Goodreads.

Sure, cloistered theologians in the Ivory Tower may reject him now, but academic theology is a joke. I'm familiar with much of it and it's just atheism in denial and bad philosophy in general.


message 23: by Stephen (new)

Stephen I don't care. Clear? Theology is life with God. Not some set of writings. Okay?


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Clear? No.

I do care about what's true. This is where we differ, apparently.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio It amuses/frustrates me to no end how people claim that they don't care about arguments for or against the god they believe in yet constantly try to give reasons along the way for why believing is good, true, etc. This is more Syd Barrett chord changing.


message 26: by Stephen (new)

Stephen You are also a mere child of less than 30, who thinks he knows all there is to know, and scorns everyone who does not think like you. If you don't like religious books, don't look at them, don't review them, don't comment on them.


message 27: by Stephen (new)

Stephen In fact MFSO, you protest so much I think you do believe. I don't present an argument. I believe, and I do not have to give you a reason, or have it make sense for you, or prove it to you or anyone else on this earth. Your constant badgering of people on this issue is tiresome, irritating, and starting to really piss me off.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Is that how it works now? Gotcha.

Just because you feel inferior doesn't mean I think that I know all there is to know. In fact, I'm free to admit that there is much I do not know in a way that people clinging to their favorite Imaginary Friend are unable to. I don't claim to know what the Source of All Things is like theists do. I don't claim to know what happens when we die. I don't claim to know what consciousness is.

If you really don't want to discuss religion in a way that isn't just assuming your religious convictions are true from the outset, then it seems to me that you should be the one to refrain from interjecting yourself into conversations that are open to critical examinations of religion.

And if my objection to certain ideologies is "scorn" then so is any objection to anything. You are as "scornful" of certain things as anyone else with a point of view is.


message 29: by Stephen (new)

Stephen I wasn't until I met you. You are a bully. Are you making up for it now?


message 30: by Ademption (new)

Ademption "And I guess Fritzl really loved his daughter, he just hadn't found the right way to express that love."

Best laugh I had all day. Thanks, Manny.


message 31: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Just because you feel inferior doesn't mean I think that I know all there is to know I never said that. So you see, your perception are screwed up. Leave what you do not know. Walk away.


message 32: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 18, 2009 10:49AM) (new)

'Boos and hisses,' Fleshie? Really?

I think Christianity is ridiculous, and it amazes me how many seemingly intelligent (or non-braindead) people take it for granted, merely on the basis of a creaky, absurd tradition inherited from an archaic past, some 'transcendent' personal spiritual experience (brain chemicals and psychological hocus-pocus, most likely), and/or -- most prominently -- wishful thinking, that a benevolent (or quasi-benevolent) god orchestrates life and maintains a gauzy socialistic paradise for the obedient and devoted to retire to after years of suffering and uncertainty... whilst, of course, the misguided and impudent burn in the eternal fires of hell (or some reasonable facsimile thereof). It's all positively medieval -- if even that philosophically advanced. Don't people stop to think how neatly this religious narrative corresponds at once to the demands of greater authoritarian society and the hopes and fears of the individual? It's all a little too tidy for my tastes, and it effectively serves the needs of this world too precisely.

Nevertheless, I can't completely blame people for wanting to give in to this lunacy. We are a desperate race of humans who have done terrible, unspeakable things to each other and to the planet, and to imagine that this is all there is -- that this place contains all the meaning there is to be had -- is somewhat harrowing.

This calls to mind a discussion I had with Gotti in California a couple weeks ago. The question at hand was (paraphrase): If you could take a pill that would make you believe devoutly and unshakably in god and the afterlife, would you? I was amazed at how difficult I found that question... And my ultimate answer was: YES, I would take the pill. YES, I want to believe. YES, I want to feel at peace with how fucked-up life and the world is. If this is all there is, if this life is all we have, then why would I glorify the abstract notion of 'Truth' at the expense of my own existential solace? Clearly, I wouldn't. But there is no such scenario, of course, and there is no such pill... and in absence of such a pill, it still boggles me not why people want to believe, but that they do continue to believe when to do so seems to out-Kafka Kafka.

Another 'religious' discussion of late (this time, between a co-worker and me):

He: 'So you really don't believe in god?'
I: 'No, I really don't believe in god.'
He: 'So you think this is all there is? And when you die, there's nothing?'
I: 'Yes, unfortunately I think that's the way it is.'
He: 'But how can you believe something so awful?'

Apparently many truths are now truthful on the basis of their palatability. We live in a strange, strange world. I don't begrudge anyone their comforts. Believe in god, America! Knock yourself out. But don't try to make it an issue of patriotism, morality, and cultural legacy, or I'll go off on your medieval asses.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Stephen wrote: "In fact MFSO, you protest so much I think you do believe. I don't present an argument. I believe, and I do not have to give you a reason, or have it make sense for you, or prove it to you or anyone else on this earth. Your constant badgering of people on this issue is tiresome, irritating, and starting to really piss me off."

Stunning psychological analysis, Stephen. But I reject it and don't have to give a reason why (see how that works?).

And your constant whining about people actually looking for the best reasons and arguments for what they believe is supremely irritating to me. So we've found a common ground of irritation. The only difference is that I'm willing to discuss these things and you're not. You simply bitch and moan.


message 34: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Paul, I enjoyed your review, and I voted for it. I'm just tired of MFSO acting like he's the secret police for people who do believe.

Disagree with me, fine. I have voted for countless reviews of books I didn't agree with, but the review was good. MFSO only jumps into threads to attack religion. So I'm sorry I messed your thread.


message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

You are also a mere child of less than 30, who thinks he knows all there is to know, and scorns everyone who does not think like you.

Stephen, this is a totally inappropriate comment. MFSO's age has nothing to do with any of the discussion here.


message 36: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Sep 18, 2009 10:49AM) (new)

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio David, I understand and deeply empathize with the existential-comfort argument pretty well. But I reject it on multiple grounds. One being summarized this way:

"The real question of life after death isn’t whether or not it exists, but even if it does what problem this really solves."

-Ludwig Wittgenstein

Basically, as terrifying as the Void can seem in our lowest moments, the notion of an afterlife (everyone one that’s been proposed) really doesn’t change anything in terms of ultimate purpose and meaning, ethics, or even basic psychological stability or eudaimonic flourishing (to crib the language of Aristotle/Owen Flanagan). In other words we find another egregiously false dichotomy chugging along on the fuel of self-deception and its parental, doctrinal religious/supernatural delusions—the false dichotomy which boils down to "If we don’t live eternally all hope is dissolved, all genuine meaning vanquished, all basis for ethics and refinements of all stripes simply lost to the winds of inevitable mortality", etc. It is clear that this dichotomy can be jettisoned, and joyously so. A truly "spiritual" affirmation of life is extremely possible and has been actualized in the face of oblivion. It’s really not the lazy person’s route though. And many are lazy in relevant ways.

"Man is manifestly not the measure of all things. This universe is shot through with mystery. The very fact of its being, and of our own, is a mystery absolute, and the only miracle worthy of the name. The consciousness that animates us is itself central to this mystery and ground for any experience we may wish to call “spiritual.” No myth needs to be embraced for us to commune with the profundity of our circumstance. No personal God need be worshipped for us to live in awe at the beauty and immensity of creation. No tribal fictions need be rehearsed for us to realize, one fine day, that we do, in fact, love our neighbors, that our happiness is inextricable from their own, and that our interdependence demands that people everywhere be given the opportunity to flourish. The days of our religious identities are clearly numbered. Whether the days of civilization itself are numbered would seem to depend, rather too much, on how soon we realize this." -Sam Harris

The other being that I actually care about the state of the world and see that much (not ALL) of what goes on under the banner of "faith" or "religion" is problematic and there has to be an effective way to publicly critique it without running into these taboos which clearly have been illustrated in this very thread.


message 37: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Look MFSO, I'm getting all kinds of mail from people saying they are sick to death of you and your constant gotta be right, gotta beat the believers. What is your issue? What do YOU need to prove? If you could prove God, it wouldn't be God. Don't you get it? Just shut up, you are such a total prick to people about this. But you can't, because no one will stand up to you and tell you flat out. Shut the hell up.

Why don't you save future comments and just write a book? Wouldn't that be easier? Isn't it also true that you just wait for something like this to come up, that you sit at your computer all day waiting for something like this?




message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

Alas, my decision in the hypothetical pill question is not based on larger issues or rational thought. I want to be deceived (on this issue). I agree that this deception doesn't substantively change anything, but I am speaking not as a philosopher here but as a child crying in the crib. Belief in the afterlife is psychologically (and, yes, selfishly) palliative... I don't think we fully understand why we should find the concept comforting, but somehow we've arrived at that point.

I'll still take the pill. I'm selfish.


message 39: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Sep 18, 2009 11:00AM) (new)

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Can you give me one good reason why I shouldn't be able to voice my opinions? I would never tell you or any one else I disagree with just to shut up. But here again is the major difference: I'm interested in conversation, and serious, critical examinations of things. Especially important things like socio-cultural issues and all the philosophical and religious issues that are inextricably bound up with them.

I fail to see how criticizing religion is rude in and of itself. But you're not interested in giving reasons for things, apparently--except you're giving reasons, albeit terrible ones, for why things are x, y, and z throughout this thread. E.g., I should shut up because you get e-mails complaining about me (which I find shocking, really).


message 40: by D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

D. Pow I believe in God though my belief is about as non-traditional as they come. One thing I am utterly convinced: arguing about belief is useless. You cannot prove God by logic, argument, rational thought.
It's a waste of time.




message 41: by Stephen (new)

Stephen DK that makes a lot of sense. MFSO, just leave me alone.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio DK wrote: "Alas, my decision in the hypothetical pill question is not based on larger issues or rational thought. I want to be deceived (on this issue). I agree that this deception doesn't substantively change anything, but I am speaking not as a philosopher here but as a child crying in the crib. Belief in the afterlife is psychologically (and, yes, selfishly) palliative... I don't think we fully understand why we should find the concept comforting, but somehow we've arrived at that point.

I'll still take the pill. I'm selfish."


I would take the pill, too. I think it's the most reasonable thing in the world to fear death the way we do. My point is just this though: that this isn't a good enough reason to just let all matter of ideas and social movements (like successful religions) mill around unexamined, unchallenged, etc.



message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

Stephen, you're really out of line here.

If you wish MFSO would 'shut up' then why do you keep coming back for more and personally insulting him? He has a right to express his opinion, regardless of how much you disagree with it.


message 44: by [deleted user] (new)

My point is just this though: that this isn't a good enough reason to just let all matter of ideas and social movements (like successful religions) mill around unexamined, unchallenged, etc.

I agree. We live in this (pill-less) world and must deal with it as such...


message 45: by Stephen (new)

Stephen DK I will remain silent, considering the history.


message 46: by [deleted user] (new)

Stephen wrote: "DK I will remain silent, considering the history."

I don't think I appreciate the generosity of this intimation, Stephen. If you want to have it out, we can do that.

This comment from you -- 'I'm getting all kinds of mail from people saying they are sick to death of you' -- is one of the most dramatically ironic things I have read to date.




message 47: by Bram (new) - added it

Bram I fucking love you guys. Great conversation.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio DK wrote: "If you want to have it out, we can do that."

He doesn't want to discuss it though, he just wants dissent silenced and "respect" for his convictions from the get go. But human interaction doesn't work like that, not for anyone. No one simply respects people's beliefs from the outset, we respect their reasons for believing things or we don't.

He gives reasons for not having to give reasons. He reminds people tirelessly about not wanting to discuss religion in a context that makes him uncomfortable, which in itself is discussing religion. The irony is thick in the atmosphere.


message 49: by Bram (new) - added it

Bram D. wrote: "I believe in God though my belief is about as non-traditional as they come. One thing I am utterly convinced: arguing about belief is useless. You cannot prove God by logic, argument, rational thou..."

Agree. Religion is the one topic where you can't have rationality or logic as one of the starting points, so it's automatically futile--even more so than arguing politics with an extreme ideologue. Given the state of the world (i.e. religion--which is so broad a term as to be almost meaningless--isn't going anywhere anytime soon), it would seem to be more effective for humanists of belief and unbelief to band together to affect positive change.



message 50: by Philip (new) - added it

Philip I feel like I'm in a cafe in a booth behind you guys eaves-dropping on this intense conversation.

I wonder if there are other booths listening in as well, and I also think, "Man, I really want to add something in here," but then I don't because I haven't the time or energy right now and I don't feel like it's my place.

It just struck me as funny though, because you're never sure who's listening in...


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