A. C. Grayling vs noemon - Speech @ Cambridge University "Against All Gods" - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#14993919
Today I attended a speech by A.C. Grayling CBE at Cambridge University. His speech was titled "Against All Gods". I was very disappointed by his lack of intellect, his lack of argument, his arrogance, his victimisation and his various below the belt anti-religious jokes.

He started his lecture by explaining the -isms. Atheism, anti-theism, secularism & humanism. I will lay out his most important arguments and then address them:

1) He said that as a secularist he supports the right of everyone to exist in an open society but then he said that people should combat(exact word he used) the Catholic and Protestant Faith schools in the UK. He said that the campaign against Christian Faith schools in the UK is headed by a Rabbi and that "proves" that you can be secular and religious at the same time.

2) He said that atheism is not anti-theism and that atheist people are metaphysically neutral, they do not make any claim on whether God exists or not and they do not either deny or affirm such a metaphysical position but then he turned around and said that faith in God is irrational and lacking evidence which requires indeed a metaphysical position.

3) He claimed that Justinian closed down the Philosophical Schools of Athens and that led to the initiation of the Dark Ages.

4) He claimed that goblins and fairies are ontologically the same thing as God.

5) While closing he answered his own question: "why am I not doing debates anymore?" to which he said that when they invited him to a panel they would put a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim and a Buddhist and himself and that he was always outnumbered so he gave up the exercise and only does lectures and speeches now. Poor victim, he has got a CBE, he is a Professor in a few British universities but the damn damn world is being cruel and unfair against him.

Funnily enough we have heard such nonsense from our resident atheists in here numerous times, and I was given the opportunity to discuss these matters with him. I first corrected his claim about Justinian during his speech by raising my hand and he asking me: "would you like to correct that"?

To which I replied: "Justinian did not close the Philosophical Schools of Athens, they simply moved to the University of Constantinople". He said that I am right but that he meant that Justinian sacked the Philosophers from Athens, to which I responded that those schools were private and that Athens due to losing its economic & political significance as well as due to the plague, there was no longer enough work for these philosophers in Athens and they packed their bags and moved to Constantinople instead, where the tradition of philosophy carried on being cultivated uninterrupted for another thousand years and more. Byzantium never had a Dark Age as such and is in fact the nation that founded primary, secondary and tertiary education as we know it today. Whether Northern Europeans experienced a dark age is also debatable because they never had an enlightened age to begin with. This "interruption" took place during his speech and was the only interruption that took place. He turned red, gave up the argument and moved on with his speech.

Once the speech was finished, people could ask questions and I too was given this right by the President of the Atheist Society. When my turn came I posed these questions to him:

a) "If you support the right of religion and faith schools to exist in an open society then why are you telling people to combat their existence?" And if you are neutral then why are you giving lectures "Against All Gods"?

b) You equated, goblins & fairies to God in order to ridicule the concept, but ontologically, Anselm's God: "that from which nothing greater can be conceived of" has absolutely nothing to do with a fairy or a goblin, they are totally different beings and when we measure our actions against something, we do not take a fairy or a goblin as our point of reference, rather we take the most perfect being that we can conceive of.

He said "but they are both imaginary magical beings" to which I replied that sharing attributes does not make 2 things equal just like sharing the earth does not make humans equal to each other or to other animals or to micro-organisms and also that a straight line is an abstract, imaginary, non-physical thing but we do use is to make measurements, regardless. At which point he told me that "I am not convincing anybody in here and that I have hogged all the time and that someone else should ask questions".

The next person who asked a question said he was an atheist but interested on the psychological benefits of confession, he said that he found confession beneficial and asked Grayling whether he envisioned atheism offering such a thing at some point in the future.

Grayling replied that it is possible and that he is hopeful that all religious functions should be replaced by secular ones.

Later on I approached that person and told him that in my view religion is not only beneficial through confession but through order and discipline, I asked him whether he has any experience with poor chav people and whether he has witnessed the way they live in squalor and how they raise their children. I told him that poor Christian, Jewish, and Muslim families in council estates raise their children with a lot of education, manners and a moral compass, and that all three are lacking from chav families, he told me that the Italian mafia that goes to church every sunday proves my argument wrong to which I responded that: "Do you believe that if the mafia stopped being religious and catholic, it would also stop being the mafia?"

That concluded our interaction.

Later outside I met 2 young students of History at Selwyn College, a Welsh guy and a person from Hong Kong with whom I had the most engaging debate on the subject as we walked to Selwyn College where I had parked my car.
#14993946
Victoribus Spolia wrote:The guy sounds like your run-of-the-mill anti-Christian d-bag; God is the same as fairies? How original.....I never heard that one before. :lol:

Did you get your money back.


I'm offended; I believe in Fairies too :D .

There are still too many of these sorts, but we'll be crowding them out soon enough.
#14993949
annatar1914 wrote:There are still too many of these sorts, but we'll be crowding them out soon enough.


Without doubt. Its interesting that all these "reasonable" unbelievers who find "meaning" without God cannot seem to find a "reason" to have children or "meaning" in perpetuating their ideas in their own offspring and the continuation of the human race. Makes one wonder whether this is not a coincidence after all. ;) :lol:

In any event; Kudos to you @noemon for making this cliche athiest look clownish.
#14994005
David Bentley Hart on Grayling and the rest of the "New Atheist" hacks:

how long should we waste our time with the sheer banality of the New Atheists—with, that is, their childishly Manichean view of history, their lack of any tragic sense, their indifference to the cultural contingency of moral “truths,” their wanton incuriosity, their vague babblings about “religion” in the abstract, and their absurd optimism regarding the future they long for?

I am not—honestly, I am not—simply being dismissive here. The utter inconsequentiality of contemporary atheism is a social and spiritual catastrophe. Something splendid and irreplaceable has taken leave of our culture—some great moral and intellectual capacity that once inspired the more heroic expressions of belief and unbelief alike. Skepticism and atheism are, at least in their highest manifestations, noble, precious, and even necessary traditions, and even the most fervent of believers should acknowledge that both are often inspired by a profound moral alarm at evil and suffering, at the corruption of religious institutions, at psychological terrorism, at injustices either prompted or abetted by religious doctrines, at arid dogmatisms and inane fideisms, and at worldly power wielded in the name of otherworldly goods. In the best kinds of unbelief, there is something of the moral grandeur of the prophets—a deep and admirable abhorrence of those vicious idolatries that enslave minds and justify our worst cruelties.

But a true skeptic is also someone who understands that an attitude of critical suspicion is quite different from the glib abandonment of one vision of absolute truth for another—say, fundamentalist Christianity for fundamentalist materialism or something vaguely and inaccurately called “humanism.” Hume, for instance, never traded one dogmatism for another, or one facile certitude for another. He understood how radical were the implications of the skepticism he recommended, and how they struck at the foundations not only of unthinking faith, but of proud rationality as well.

A truly profound atheist is someone who has taken the trouble to understand, in its most sophisticated forms, the belief he or she rejects, and to understand the consequences of that rejection. Among the New Atheists, there is no one of whom this can be said, and the movement as a whole has yet to produce a single book or essay that is anything more than an insipidly doctrinaire and appallingly ignorant diatribe.

If that seems a harsh judgment, I can only say that I have arrived at it honestly. In the course of writing a book published just this last year, I dutifully acquainted myself not only with all the recent New Atheist bestsellers, but also with a whole constellation of other texts in the same line, and I did so, I believe, without prejudice. No matter how patiently I read, though, and no matter how Herculean the efforts I made at sympathy, I simply could not find many intellectually serious arguments in their pages, and I came finally to believe that their authors were not much concerned to make any.

What I did take away from the experience was a fairly good sense of the real scope and ambition of the New Atheist project. I came to realize that the whole enterprise, when purged of its hugely preponderant alloy of sanctimonious bombast, is reducible to only a handful of arguments, most of which consist in simple category mistakes or the kind of historical oversimplifications that are either demonstrably false or irrelevantly true. And arguments of that sort are easily dismissed, if one is hardy enough to go on pointing out the obvious with sufficient indefatigability.

https://www.firstthings.com/article/201 ... -it-or-not
#14994006
Noemon,

Great thread, thanks for sharing your interpretation of this experience. I must ask, what entices you to broach these various contentions? Curious because of our recent exchanges or encounter over in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=10&t=167151&start=460

Passionate you are (Yoda voice), thus I'm curious... What's driving your opposition to the dominant church of technological-scientific culture? Science has usurped religion because it has assumed dominion over the natural world via scientific method. The sanctum of science is material reality, and that's why it disdains that which is not physically qualified for analysis. Man has made himself the measure of the world. I'm not equating solipsism with science, rather I offer the notion that the sciences have become solipsistic over time, as data becomes cultural narrative and cultural narrative transforms into normative truth.

Truth to an expert is a matter of study, you see. When you meet a qualified expert in any field, a majority will translate reality into the hubris of their field of research (field of vision). Of course, this is the myth of cyclops. The creature that can only see things as they are through its one eye. Today, the mono-eyed vision dwells in the halls of university where students of modernity compartmentalize books of knowledge. The gospel of competition, progress, and unbridled SELF validation has superseded the great conversation. In the age of scientific materialism (which is likely to end soon, being augmented by a non-Cartesian perception of immaterial-material wholeness.), exploitation of labor and earnest academia has reached new heights, whilst our age of in-formation actively constructs the cybernetic groundwork for control theory to technologically augment a global society that is, for all intensive and metaphorical purposes, hellbound.








-RT
Last edited by RhetoricThug on 15 Mar 2019 16:30, edited 1 time in total.
#14994022
@Sivad David Bentley Hart is indeed spot on, Grayling was a lesser intellectual that many people in this forum, theists and atheists included which was very disappointing considering the venue that this was taking place.

@RhetoricThug well mate, I actually only saw the event the day before yesterday and even though I was busy to attend yesterday I decided to actually go because our recent debate with Xog was fresh in my memory and did not wish the very recent honing of my arguments against him to have gone into waste.

The reasons why I support theism are various:

a) I truly believe in God and I truly consider the utility of believing in God as well as the utility of prayer of great importance to human beings. Every day I witness people combating depression and I am of the opinion that faith in God can heal them and restore to them confidence in themselves and their lives. I believe in the virtue of humility and the protection it affords to the individual from the vices of arrogance.
b) I consider the attack on religion as an attack against ethnic-identity and diverse traditions, I believe that these attacks are very insidious and they attack the right of various ethnic-groups to exist. Atheists wish to make everyone an amorphous nihilist mass with no identity and no spiritual connection to their own ancestors, nation and tradition and if they do not explicitly wish such a thing, that is in fact the natural conclusion of their ideology.
c) I believe that attacking church-going in an era where most people attendance to social groups is confined to Facebook groups, WhatsApp groups & fortnite sessions as extremely hypocritical. The argument that among all those things the greatest danger is apparently going to church and meeting well-mannered people that are most happy to help you without any material return is extremely pathetic.
d) I reject the elevation of celebrities as the new Gods, Heroes and Role Models. Whether atheists admit to it or not their rejection of religious role-models and the nihilism that they are imbuing the young simply accelerates their addiction to celebrity role-modeling.
e) In the era of youtube, netflix, porn, and basically anything goes the collective energy of supposed intellectuals is apparently against the 0.000000001% of religious themes that exist across popular media, like television, music, radio, streaming, youtube. :?:
f) The weaponisation of atheism to attack Muslims and engage in racism and Islamophobia is at this point a very popular undercurrent of pop culture in youtube and TV. Muslims have become the target of the era but this weaponisation can and will be used against Jews and Christians as well.
#14994027
noemon wrote:I truly believe in God and I truly consider the utility of believing in God as well as the utility of prayer of great importance to human beings.


The belief in God and the belief in the utility of believing in God are two different things though.

noemon wrote:Atheists wish to make a everyone an amorphous nihilist mass with no identity and no spiritual connection to their own ancestors, nation and tradition.


That seems far-fetched. Is religion useful to the nation state? I'll quote Rousseau on this:

Religion, considered in relation to society, which is either general or particular, may also be divided into two kinds: the religion of man, and that of the citizen. The first, which has neither temples, nor altars, nor rites, and is confined to the purely internal cult of the supreme God and the eternal obligations of morality, is the religion of the Gospel pure and simple, the true theism, what may be called natural divine right or law. The other, which is codified in a single country, gives it its gods, its own tutelary patrons; it has its dogmas, its rites, and its external cult prescribed by law; outside the single nation that follows it, all the world is in its sight infidel, foreign and barbarous; the duties and rights of man extend for it only as far as its own altars. Of this kind were all the religions of early peoples, which we may define as civil or positive divine right or law.

There is a third sort of religion of a more singular kind, which gives men two codes of legislation, two rulers, and two countries, renders them subject to contradictory duties, and makes it impossible for them to be faithful both to religion and to citizenship. Such are the religions of the Lamas and of the Japanese, and such is Roman Christianity, which may be called the religion of the priest. It leads to a sort of mixed and anti-social code which has no name.

In their political aspect, all these three kinds of religion have their defects. The third is so clearly bad, that it is waste of time to stop to prove it such. All that destroys social unity is worthless; all institutions that set man in contradiction to himself are worthless.

The second is good in that it unites the divine cult with love of the laws, and, making country the object of the citizens' adoration, teaches them that service done to the State is service done to its tutelary god. It is a form of theocracy, in which there can be no pontiff save the prince, and no priests save the magistrates. To die for one's country then becomes martyrdom; violation of its laws, impiety; and to subject one who is guilty to public execration is to condemn him to the anger of the gods: Sacer estod.

On the other hand, it is bad in that, being founded on lies and error, it deceives men, makes them credulous and superstitious, and drowns the true cult of the Divinity in empty ceremonial. It is bad, again, when it becomes tyrannous and exclusive, and makes a people bloodthirsty and intolerant, so that it breathes fire and slaughter, and regards as a sacred act the killing of every one who does not believe in its gods. The result is to place such a people in a natural state of war with all others, so that its security is deeply endangered.

There remains therefore the religion of man or Christianity—not the Christianity of to-day, but that of the Gospel, which is entirely different. By means of this holy, sublime, and real religion all men, being children of one God, recognise one another as brothers, and the society that unites them is not dissolved even at death.

But this religion, having no particular relation to the body politic, leaves the laws in possession of the force they have in themselves without making any addition to it; and thus one of the great bonds that unite society considered in severalty fails to operate. Nay, more, so far from binding the hearts of the citizens to the State, it has the effect of taking them away from all earthly things. I know of nothing more contrary to the social spirit.
#14994032
noemon wrote:Atheists wish to make a everyone an amorphous nihilist mass with no identity and no spiritual connection to their own ancestors, nation and tradition.
This statement is just as bad as the anti-religious crap that guy was spewing.
#14994034
Rugoz wrote:The belief in God and the belief in the utility of believing in God are two different things though.


They are but they overlap.

That seems far-fetched. Is religion useful to the nation state? I'll quote Rousseau on this:


First of all the argument was not about whether religion is useful to the nation-state but whether atheism attacks the nation, ethnic identity and tradition of people and seeks to replace their adherence to their own ancestral traditions with amorphous atheism and in that neither you nor Rousseau take a position. The nation or ethnos exists both outside and within the confines of the state. Second, Rousseau's argument about making people citizens of 2 things is even more potent when applied in today's ideologies and globalisation in which people are more loyal to companies, Facebook, globalisation than their own nation-states, you will find that religion in most cases is far more useful to the unity and social cohesion of a nation-state than atheism. Back in Rousseau's time when the Pope tried to intervene in the political affairs of France, Germany and such and propagate people against their rulers that would have been the case but that is only particular to those cases during specific historical eras in very specific areas. As we saw that is all irrelevant to my argument anyway.

Godstud wrote:This statement is just as bad as the anti-religious crap that guy was spewing.


If you butcher it and try to remove its context, perhaps. This statement refers to militant atheists that engage in active attacks against religion as the paragraph describes and it also contains a disclaimer at the end:

noemon wrote:I consider the attack on religion as an attack against ethnic-identity and diverse traditions, I believe that these attacks are very insidious and they attack the right of various ethnic-groups to exist. Atheists wish to make everyone an amorphous nihilist mass with no identity and no spiritual connection to their own ancestors, nation and tradition and if they [those who explicitly attack] do not explicitly wish such a thing, that is in fact the natural conclusion of their ideology.


There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying that rude extremists who attack others are directly responsible and wish the eradication of their supposed enemies. And that such exist in atheism.
#14994036
I have a rule that has proven pretty useful over the years: never trust anyone who insists on being called by their initials. Anthony Grayling is a classic example.

Also, anyone with the presumption to write and publish a book they think will replace the Bible, is a clown. He's no better than Joseph Smith or L. Ron Hubbard in this regard. :lol:

@noemon Kudos to you for having the patience to bother with him. Grayling and Dawkins (and the late Christopher Hitchens) always were profoundly overrated and uninteresting.
#14994082
noemon wrote:@Sivad David Bentley Hart is indeed spot on, Grayling was a lesser intellectual that many people in this forum, theists and atheists included which was very disappointing considering the venue that this was taking place.
From my experience, knowledgeable people or learned individuals (say folks with postgraduate credentials) rarely engage topics outside of their field. I'm of the opinion that academia should operate as a holistic intellectual institution (interdisciplinary research), but a combination of factors (inflation of information, employment standards, military-corporate influx, peer/group dynamics) have eroded the pleasure of intellectual pursuit. In other words, there's little incentive for an academic to be an intellectual, so they rather become a specialist. Furthermore, specialists acquire privileged or what I call ivory tower language, and get lost in the rabbit (or @Sivad Babbit) holes halls of university. Publishing work or conducting research for profit, while the MACHINE (an archetypal force that organizes society, call it what you want, capitalism, the state, military-corporate edifice, etc) harvests the fruits of labor and sees those who contribute as replaceable parts in an academic system that is more about personal prestige than the collective success of humanity.
@RhetoricThug well mate, I actually only saw the event the day before yesterday and even though I was busy to attend yesterday I decided to actually go because our recent debate with Xog was fresh in my memory and did not wish the very recent honing of my arguments against him to have gone into waste.
I see, perfect timing. :up:

The reasons why I support theism are various:

a) I truly believe in God and I truly consider the utility of believing in God as well as the utility of prayer of great importance to human beings. Every day I witness people combating depression and I am of the opinion that faith in God can heal them and restore to them confidence in themselves and their lives. I believe in the virtue of humility and the protection it affords to the individual from the vices of arrogance.
b) I consider the attack on religion as an attack against ethnic-identity and diverse traditions, I believe that these attacks are very insidious and they attack the right of various ethnic-groups to exist. Atheists wish to make everyone an amorphous nihilist mass with no identity and no spiritual connection to their own ancestors, nation and tradition and if they do not explicitly wish such a thing, that is in fact the natural conclusion of their ideology.
c) I believe that attacking church-going in an era where most people attendance to social groups is confined to Facebook groups, WhatsApp groups & fortnite sessions as extremely hypocritical. The argument that among all those things the greatest danger is apparently going to church and meeting well-mannered people that are most happy to help you without any material return is extremely pathetic.
d) I reject the elevation of celebrities as the new Gods, Heroes and Role Models. Whether atheists admit to it or not their rejection of religious role-models and the nihilism that they are imbuing the young simply accelerates their addiction to celebrity role-modeling.
e) In the era of youtube, netflix, porn, and basically anything goes the collective energy of supposed intellectuals is apparently against the 0.000000001% of religious themes that exist across popular media, like television, music, radio, streaming, youtube. :?:
f) The weaponisation of atheism to attack Muslims and engage in racism and Islamophobia is at this point a very popular undercurrent of pop culture in youtube and TV. Muslims have become the target of the era but this weaponisation can and will be used against Jews and Christians as well.
Sound reasons... Furthermore, compartmentalization of occupation has produced toxic and somewhat paradoxical mentalities. It's difficult to promote undifferentiated intellectual curiosity (broad-spectrum or big-picture curiosity). Moreover, To rekindle the quality of debate is to take a position, and when you take a position in a compartmentalized machine that favors specialism over intellectualism, you become an enemy.

The history of religious peoples is contextual, but revisionists like to paint religion as a modern blight forced upon the age of materialism. SO what do revisionists do to combat theological caricatures? They inoculate the youth and spread the gospel of material wealth. As if radical theology is modern man's present disease... One my favorite poets said "You should fear science, not Satan."
#14994138
Rugoz wrote:It's what religious beliefs ultimately boil down to, fairies. No speeches or books required.



:knife:

God, Gods, and Fairies


One of the strangest claims often made by purveyors and consumers of today’s popular atheism is that disbelief in God involves no particular positive philosophy of reality, much less any kind of religion or creed, but consists merely in neutral incredulity toward a certain kind of factual asseveration. This is not something the atheists of earlier ages would have been very likely to say, if only because they still lived in a culture whose every dimension (artistic, philosophical, ethical, social, cosmological) was shaped by a religious vision of the world. More to the point, it is an utterly nonsensical claim—so nonsensical, in fact, that it is doubtful that those who make it can truly be considered atheists in any coherent sense.

Admittedly, I suppose, it is possible to mistake the word “God” for the name of some discrete object that might or might not be found within the fold of nature, if one just happens to be more or less ignorant of the entire history of theistic belief. But, really, the distinction between “God”—meaning the one God who is the transcendent source of all things—and any particular “god”—meaning one or another of a plurality of divine beings who inhabit the cosmos—is one that, in Western tradition, goes back at least as far as Xenophanes.

And it is a distinction not merely in numbering, between monotheism and polytheism, as though the issue were simply how many “divine entities” one thinks there are; rather, it is a distinction between two qualitatively incommensurable kinds of reality, belonging to two wholly disparate conceptual orders. In the words of the great Swami Prabhavananda, only the one transcendent God is “the uncreated”: “Gods, though supernatural, belong . . . among the creatures. Like the Christian angels, they are much nearer to man than to God.”

This should not be a particularly difficult distinction to grasp, truth be told. To speak of “God” properly—in a way, that is, consonant with the teachings of orthodox Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Vedantic and Bhaktic Hinduism, Bahá’í, much of antique paganism, and so forth—is to speak of the one infinite ground of all that is: eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, uncreated, uncaused, perfectly transcendent of all things and for that very reason absolutely immanent to all things.

God so understood is neither some particular thing posed over against the created universe, in addition to it, nor is he the universe itself. He is not a being, at least not in the way that a tree, a clock, or a god is; he is not one more object in the inventory of things that are. He is the infinite wellspring of all that is, in whom all things live and move and have their being. He may be said to be “beyond being,” if by “being” one means the totality of finite things, but also may be called “being itself,” in that he is the inexhaustible source of all reality, the absolute upon which the contingent is always utterly dependent, the unity underlying all things.

To speak of “gods,” by contrast, is to speak only of a higher or more powerful or more splendid dimension of immanent reality. Any gods who might be out there do not transcend nature but belong to it. Their theogonies can be recounted—how they arose out of the primal night, or were born of other, more titanic progenitors, and so on—and in many cases their eventual demises foreseen. Each of them is a distinct being rather than “being itself,” and it is they who are dependent upon the universe for their existence rather than the reverse. Of such gods there may be an endless diversity, while of God there can be only one. Or, better, God is not merely one—not merely singular or unique—but is oneness as such, the sole act of being by which any finite thing exists and by which all things exist together.

Obviously, then, it is the transcendent God in whom it is ultimately meaningful not to believe. The possibility of gods or spirits or angels or demons, and so on, is all very interesting to contemplate, but remains a question not of metaphysics but only of the taxonomy of nature (terrestrial, celestial, and chthonic). To be an atheist in the best modern sense, and so to be a truly intellectually and emotionally fulfilled naturalist in philosophy, one must genuinely succeed in not believing in God, with all the logical consequences this entails.

And the question of God, thus understood, is one that is ineradicably present in the mystery of existence itself, or of consciousness, or of truth, goodness, and beauty. It is also the question that philosophical naturalism is supposed to have answered exhaustively in the negative, without any troubling explanatory lacunae, and that therefore any aspiring philosophical naturalist must understand in order to be an atheist in any intellectually significant way.

Well, as I say, this should not be all that difficult to grasp. And yet any speaker at one of those atheist revivalist meetings need only trot out either of two reliable witticisms—“I believe neither in God nor in the fairies at the bottom of my garden” or “Everyone today is a disbeliever in Thor or Zeus, but we simply believe in one god less”—to elicit warmly rippling palpitations of self-congratulatory laughter from the congregation. Admittedly, one ought not judge a movement by its jokes, but neither should one be overly patient with those who delight in their own ignorance of elementary conceptual categories. I suppose, though, that the charitable course is to state the obvious as clearly as possible.

So: Beliefs regarding fairies concern a certain kind of object that may or may not exist within the world, and such beliefs have much the same sort of intentional and rational shape as beliefs regarding the neighbors over the hill or whether there are such things as black swans. Beliefs regarding God concern the source and end of all reality, the unity and existence of every particular thing and of the totality of all things, the ground of the possibility of anything at all. Fairies and gods, if they exist, occupy something of the same conceptual space as organic cells, photons, and the force of gravity, and so the sciences might perhaps have something to say about them, if a proper medium for investigating them could be found.

God, by contrast, is the infinite actuality that makes it possible for photons and (possibly) fairies to exist, and so can be “investigated” only, on the one hand, by acts of logical deduction and conjecture or, on the other, by contemplative or spiritual experiences. Belief or disbelief in fairies or gods could never be validated by philosophical arguments made from first principles; the existence or nonexistence of Zeus is not a matter that can be intelligibly discussed in the categories of modal logic or metaphysics, any more than the existence of tree frogs could be; if he is there at all, one must go on an expedition to find him.

The question of God, by contrast, is one that must be pursued in terms of the absolute and the contingent, the necessary and the fortuitous, act and potency, possibility and impossibility, being and nonbeing, transcendence and immanence. Evidence for or against the existence of Thor or King Oberon would consist only in local facts, not universal truths of reason; it would be entirely empirical, episodic, psychological, personal, and hence elusive. Evidence for or against the reality of God, if it is there, pervades every moment of the experience of existence, every employment of reason, every act of consciousness, every encounter with the world around us.

All of which is to say (to return to where I began) that it is absurd to think that one can profess atheism in any meaningful way without thereby assenting to an entire philosophy of being, however inchoate one’s sense of it may be. The philosophical naturalist’s view of reality is not one that merely fails to find some particular object within the world that the theist imagines can be descried there; it is a very particular representation of the nature of things, entailing a vast range of purely metaphysical commitments.

Principally, it requires that one believe that the physical order, which both experience and reason say is an ensemble of ontological contingencies, can exist entirely of itself, without any absolute source of actuality. It requires also that one resign oneself to an ultimate irrationalism: For the one reality that naturalism can never logically encompass is the very existence of nature (nature being, by definition, that which already exists); it is a philosophy, therefore, surrounded, permeated, and exceeded by a truth that is always already super naturam, and yet a philosophy that one cannot seriously entertain except by scrupulously refusing to recognize this.

It is the embrace of an infinite paradox: the universe understood as an “absolute contingency.” It may not amount to a metaphysics in the fullest sense, since strictly speaking it possesses no rational content—it is, after all, a belief that all things rest upon something like an original moment of magic—but it is certainly far more than the mere absence of faith.


https://www.firstthings.com/article/201 ... nd-fairies



Last edited by Sivad on 15 Mar 2019 22:27, edited 1 time in total.
#14994159
Sivad wrote:Obviously, then, it is the transcendent God in whom it is ultimately meaningful not to believe.


Is is though? Religions assign all kinds of attributes to their God(s), it is very much a particular thing. That's the whole point.

noemon wrote:First of all the argument was not about whether religion is useful to the nation-state but whether atheism attacks the nation, ethnic identity and tradition of people and seeks to replace their adherence to their own ancestral traditions with amorphous atheism and in that neither you nor Rousseau take a position.


Atheism attacks tradition but not necessarily the nation, unless national tradition is closely intertwined with religion. It is equally possible for atheism to strengthen the nation since religion usually transcends national borders.

P.S. I didn't know you are so keen on upholding "nation, ethnic identity and tradition of people", given you like the EU.

noemon wrote:The nation or ethnos exists both outside and within the confines of the state. Second, Rousseau's argument about making people citizens of 2 things is even more potent when applied in today's ideologies and globalisation in which people are more loyal to companies, Facebook, globalisation than their own nation-states, you will find that religion in most cases is far more useful to the unity and social cohesion of a nation-state than atheism. Back in Rousseau's time when the Pope tried to intervene in the political affairs of France, Germany and such and propagate people against their rulers that would have been the case but that is only particular to those cases during specific historical eras in very specific areas. As we saw that is all irrelevant to my argument anyway.


I take global capitalism over global Christendom or Islam any day, thank you. It's easy to say religion is not a threat anymore when it has been neutered by secularism.
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Victoribus Spolia wrote:Without doubt. Its interesting that all these "reasonable" unbelievers who find "meaning" without God cannot seem to find a "reason" to have children or "meaning" in perpetuating their ideas in their own offspring and the continuation of the human race. Makes one wonder whether this is not a coincidence after all. ;) :lol:


Why do you need a god to have children?

Grayling apparently found a reason:

Grayling lives in Peckham with his wife, novelist Katie Hickman. They have a daughter, Madeleine, and a stepson, Luke, who both attend boarding schools. Grayling also has two adult children from his first marriage, Jolyon and Georgina.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._C._Grayling#Personal_life

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