jackshoegazer: (Jesus/Hipster)
[personal profile] jackshoegazer
So, Chris Hitchens died.  The really snarky part of me wants to say something about evangelical atheism's supreme pontiff dying.  But the less snarky part of me sympathises with their loss.  Atheists don't have an easy time.  And Hitchens was a smart guy who articulated that belief system very eloquently.  Good for them, good for him.  And I applaud a belief system that says that you should be a good, moral person without the promise of a jolly sexy afterlife.

What I take issue with is what Hitchens pushed as "antitheism" which is pretty fucked.  Hitchens said that he didn't need a god, didn't want a god.  That's fine, but to press the idea that no one should have one because they can't prove its existence is fucked.  Some people need a God, or the promise of something better after this is all over.  Life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short, as they say.  Some people, and maybe even a grand majority of people, need something else to relieve that reality.  Let them have it.

My issue is with fundamentalism, evangelism, with pressing your beliefs on others.  I'm not an atheist.  I'm not a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or anything really.  I guess I'm technically a Copenhagen Model Agnostic.  But the way I see it is that the one thing humans do really, really, well is make meaning.  We can take something as mundane as a tree falling in the woods and make it mean something.  We tell stories, we put things in order, we make narratives, and we infuse the world with meaning.

If you live your life and look around and what you come up with, if seeing glory in the random-chance chaotic construction of the universe without a god and that means something to you, awesome.  If this model you've built in your skull helps you live a better, more meaningful life? Keep on keepin' on, brother.  If you look around and what makes sense to you, the way you build your model of the universe, in all this chaos if what makes the most sense to you is a loving creator who watches over you and cares about your redemption, and this helps you live a better, more meaningful life, fucking awesome.

And so forth.

But don't run around like a fucking douche-canoe making everyone else prove their model to you.  We all share our models.  We all like our models best.  We want people to understand us, to see the beauty we see in our models.  It's only human to want to share the beauty we see, the meaning we find in life.  That's fine.  But when you go and break another kid's train, well, fuck you.  Go stand in the corner, you rotten shit.

Date: 2011-12-16 07:33 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-12-16 07:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brdgt.livejournal.com
Yeah, I'm not a fan of evangelicals of any kind. I also think that calling theists stupid or evil doesn't help your cause - I know many intelligent, kind, and non-evangelical deists.

Date: 2011-12-16 08:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chalcedony.livejournal.com
::applause::

Very well expressed.

Date: 2011-12-16 09:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dodger-winslow.livejournal.com
LOL @ "douche-canoe." Well said.

Date: 2011-12-16 09:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lost-in-my-room.livejournal.com
i felt a similar way about Hitchins. i like Richard Dawkins' version of atheism where he points out how amazing and wonderful the world around you is and shows a number of ways in which logic and provable science make the things around you and how that actually makes things BETTER because if you explore and learn then you'll never come to the end of things you don't know because you'll just keep finding out about new things you didn't know you didn't know. Dawkins says that you don't need organized religion or faith to be amazed or be a good person and then offers an alternative

Hitchens didn't. he just said, 'well, you're an idiot' and expected people to thank him for it

Date: 2011-12-16 10:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gislebertus.livejournal.com
I think that Hitchens' true strength was his unwillingness to back down and his frank intellectual honesty -- he was a man who would change his mind, if properly persuaded. No, I didn't agree with everything he wrote, but I always found him insightful and entertaining, and I continued to read his columns every Monday morning. He could be infuriating when you disagreed with him, and he could also be infuriating and smug when you agreed with him. He was a remarkable essayist, and I adored his words.

As for Hitchens, Dawkins, and the New Atheists: evangelicalism is evangelicalism. Same template, different bullshit. The smug superiority makes me want to punch them sometimes -- but, to Hitchens credit, I could respect his position. Dawkins I want to hit with a chair to this day.

Date: 2011-12-16 11:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pinkroo.livejournal.com
yes, yes, and hell yes.

Date: 2011-12-17 01:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trixibelle-net.livejournal.com
Absofuckinglutely. I totally have a brain-&-beard crush on you. Couldn't have put it better myself.

Date: 2011-12-17 01:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trixibelle-net.livejournal.com
Having said that, I like having him (and Dawkins) on Our Side. He could be fun when one can be bothered with baiting other fundamentalists, for an easy laugh.

Date: 2011-12-17 02:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hellocthulhu.livejournal.com
Personally, Dawkins holds the groovy pontiff hat for me.

I think a lot of so-called "evangelical" atheists end up in that position not out of a genuine desire to make everyone not-believe like they do, but as a reaction to the overwhelming dominance of Christianity in Anglo-American culture. The entire New Atheist movement sprung, at least in part, from non-believers looking about and realizing that "um, we tried this whole 'quietly let everyone believe as they will' approach, and now we're desperately fighting to keep basic biology in schools, protect separation of church and state, let women control their own bodies, and to win LGBT Americans the same rights the rest of us have. We need to be a bit more proactive here."

I only point out all the holes, fallacies, atrocities, and plain old silliness of your religion because you keep trying to smack me in the face with it.

("you" not being you personally, obviously, but mainstream American Christianity)

Date: 2011-12-17 11:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] botanical.livejournal.com
Yes. I agree with you 100%.

Date: 2011-12-20 12:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] c-maxx.livejournal.com
Hear, hear! for having your own belief, and letting others have theirs.

I heard a Texas Baptist minister back during the "compassionate initiative (whatever)" during the early W years, on PR- he said he didn't want any of his tax money going to [fill-in-the-blank] nutso religious cultists, and he continued, there are probably honest citizens who don't want their tax money going to Texas Baptists, and he was fine with that!

Date: 2011-12-21 04:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jackshoegazer.livejournal.com
Which is ironic because I'm challenging Hitchens' beliefs in this post. It's also ironic, and I was fully aware when I wrote it, that just the other day, I was getting angry at someone over their religious beliefs.

Good for that Baptist. He's a rare one.

Date: 2011-12-20 10:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] protodisco.livejournal.com
Hitchens' greatest crime doesn't have anything to do with atheism or his intellectual bullying, however. It's that fundamentally idiotic article that he wrote about how women aren't funny.

That said: I love and admire Hitchens even though I didn't agree with him a lot of the time. And I sort of disagree with the assertion that he was breaking another kid's train. His focus (and it was mostly a focus on christianity ((and islam, I guess))) I think careened into the religious effect on the political and the moral, and attacked that model on its inherent immorality. Because christianity is inherently immoral, if only in that it sort of hinges on vicarious forgiveness. Which, vicarious forgiveness is a totally fucked up concept. I don't think, and maybe someone could cite something to prove me wrong, that he was speaking of those people who are quietly devout. If he was smashing another kid's train, it was because the kid's train was carrying a dangerous pollutant on it. Or something.

Date: 2011-12-21 03:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jackshoegazer.livejournal.com
That, and his war stuff really sent up the douche flag.

The thing is, he wasn't just on a crusade against immorality. He was on a crusade against Christianity (and other religions as well, but he really focused his laser-rage at the followers of Jesus.) A lot of ideologies have been used from some pretty heinous purposes. Tuskegee? Nazis? Stalin? But I never heard him attacking non-religious immorality. Plus, he was guilty of the baby-bathwater problem. Yes, historically, Christians fucked some shit up, but I never heard him differentiate between those who used Christianity as a power tool and those who are quietly devout. Granted, I never read or listened to every word he produced, but I do remember him railing against belief in general, and to me, that sounded like an attack on those quiet believers as well.

And I won't argue that Christianity or any other religion is some bastion of morality and often they are backwards since they are basically moral codes written thousands of years ago. That's some problematic shit right there, but the last thing I'm going to go after is the right to believe in a spiritual/divine reality.

Date: 2011-12-21 05:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] protodisco.livejournal.com
The war stuff, to me, makes more sense to argue against, but even that follows a strong moral code. It's easy for people to attack him based on atheism or the war in iraq, but it's reducing an entire career, a lifetime of lecturing and writing against the death penalty, nuclear proliferation, torture, etc. He supported the war in Iraq, which obviously I think was a bad decision, but his support wasn't disingenuous like the reason for the war was; he hated hussein and had been a war reporter there while sadam was murdering kurds, etc. I can see that being tough to get over and wanting retribution -- I feel disclaimery here too; I AM NOT FOR RETRIBUTIVE JUSTIVE, PERIOD -- there are lots of things that make Hitchens frustrating, but overall I think he was incredibly moral and articulate about the reasons for his morality.

Check out his book on Henry Kissinger's war crimes or his book about Clinton. There's a lot to him that in the wake of his death is not being discussed and all those things round out a person.

On to the next great adventures!

Date: 2011-12-21 06:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] interrogobang.livejournal.com
I was an athiestic antichrist for twenty year ( and then became a believer ) and having seen ghosts - I have call 'foul' on the 'atheist' movement for acting like their own theistic enemies and declaring 'religiously' that 'ghosts' are nothing more than a theist element of blind faith. When I didnt believe - I still believed in ghosts - I saw one... ( four, but ) how much more atheistic do I need to be!? I saw a ghost.. that is science. I saw one! Ya - I am spiritual, but...

To 'preach' that the afterlife doesnt exist is more theistic than it is atheistic. So..... *you* refuse to believe in god ( thats *fine* by me - I still have a major problem with *that* bullshit, but.. ) to 'proclaim' that ghosts dont exist.. that is a funky childish fecund 'anti-theism' *not* athiesm. Athiesm is about not believing in bullshit religions and their dogma of obedience. I find them lacking in their *unwillingness* to accept simple 'evidence' of the reality of the afterlife. I am not pushing *any* religious heaven/hell - simply saying -- I have seen a ghost -- and I dont understand ( well - ya know - the.. 'I hate my mommy/daddy' fail style bullshit - and 'I dont wanna be an imortal soul cause I hate living - crap shows ) why.. why!? Why does someone who *believes* that science and atheism is superior ( as I do ) to a faux commandment based thesim *refuses* to believe that there is *real* 'possibility' that after you die ... *something* of you persists. I have been ridiculed by athiests for this simple scientific assertion. In a religiosity style crap session. ( I though yall were anti-that ) I thought atheists were superior to diadactic thought..

The theory that something capable of communicating with the living that retains the concept of having been you persists past the termination of your human shell existence is a reasonable scientific theory. Fucking Hell - the egyption book of the dead said that your soul breaks into seven parts --- *whatever* --- Maybe there *are* twelve ghosts yourself or whatever.. but .. we cant science this unless yall get off your religiosity high hats and start getting real.

I have seen a ghost.
I have seen a ghost.

Science that bitches, and get back to me when you arnt spitting at your parents about why you dont want to worship 'god' - and when you stop doubting my honest reporting. I dont care if you bow/worship *anyone* I *do* care if you believe me when I say that I have seen a ghost. ( am I delusional ) call my psychologists. Cause I go to the goddam doctor and get their professional opinions. When I started hearing ( what I like to call ) the 'wailing of hell' - I went to the doctor and explicated the whole experience, and they touched their nose. Can your 'system' ..give me.. a *better* resolution.. or are you simply screaming at your parents about how you dont want to eat cake :¬

I dont ask questions I dont want an answer to. Recognize.

:wave: I love your posts Fnord! I never heard of that guy before now. :cheers: Una Mass Cerveca! WOOOOHA!

I *hate* it when people call me a liar.

Re: On to the next great adventures!

Date: 2011-12-21 03:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jackshoegazer.livejournal.com
One person's ghost is another person's delusion is another person's alien is another person's what-the-fuck is another person's I-didn't-see-anything is another person's schizophrenia is another person's shamanic vision is another person's spirit guide is another person's haunting.

Re: On to the next great adventures!

Date: 2011-12-21 05:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] protodisco.livejournal.com
Not calling you a liar, but anecdotes aren't science.

Re: On to the next great adventures!

Date: 2011-12-21 05:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jackshoegazer.livejournal.com
The plural of anecdote is not data.

You miss my point gentelmen.

Date: 2011-12-29 03:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] interrogobang.livejournal.com
I did say that 'I and countless others have had experiences with 'something' that we ( who have had the expereinces ) generally agree about what we have experienced' ..basically.

What I am hitting at is that the 'atheism' movements take 'afterlife' conversations - and throw them out of the conversation altogether - that is not science *either* - science is 'hypothosis, analysis, theory, experimentation, recording' - Ghost Hunters - thats science. Goosey Science - but science, and they are producing results - of something. I would love to be on that show if to do nothing more than recite the noises in my head at a haunted location - what if my brain is wired at a different wavelength of light..or something.. peculiar like that. I didnt have to go through any form of brain diving to see the old man sitting on the bench - I was just walking by - I assume ( my hypothosis is - that the ghost knew what I was thinking - or who I was - and decided to show himself to me of his own volition - seemed happy enough ) And I was a boy when I saw the ghost in the attic - I could take them there and see if he remembered me - and was willing to show himself again. He was playing with my friends toy cars.

What I am annoyed at these people who claim to be 'athiests' is that they are 'anti-daddy' they are 'anti-life' and they are *NOT* scientists. They decided before they started to think that what they were told as a child was a lie. Then when *anyone* possits a scientific concept of an afterlife or a demonic/shamanically recognized world of spirits ( outside of any form of hegemony or heretofore religiously idealized format ) -and- they *immediatly* start shouting at that person that 'you cant prove it - you cant force me to go to church - churchie - dirty dirty churchie - your just like my dad - I hate you' and basically create a self fullfilling prophecy wherin they make certain that my theory cannot be proven because no one will so much as listen to it. I cant prove it - because the church dont need me to, and you wont listen to a word I say because it sounds too much like the church!?

Fuck the church! I have seen ghosts. I hear voices in my head that say they are dead people. Ummm.. I aint sayin anything else ( well I am but I can compartmentalize my arguments - I am a scientists for gods sake ( wait - in this conversation allow me to clarify that word ( not a 'diety' not 'anything' it is a turn of phrase that turns into nothing - I might as well have for flark, or dammit, that particular statement 'for gods sake' I use all the time and it has no meaning to me other than 'exasperation' but who says that? ))).

What is 'crazy' about that? If you were really in love with science and the exploration of existence you wouldnt get all fucking post modern on my ass with the 'round talk' and 'one mans this that' anecdotes dont count nonesense - you would say 'Take this man to a sensor bank!' I claim to be haunted - I would rather someone say lets grab an electromagnetic sensor and start a-scannin - because I already went to the psychologists - and they cleared me as sane.

So..now what?

Yeah - I know - they suggested some medications that might numb the voices - but - they made me feel funny - and seeing as I dont do what I am told by the voices - I am not crazy. I hear. Thats all. I am also not telepathic - we tested - that was the voices lying. They were pretending to be my friends and telling me to do stuff that I *assume* was going to ammused them. Also one or two indicated that it is rather rare for a person to die and immediatly substantiate - usually it takes allot of time riding on someone to get more weight - but - some people get lucky. This is science - this is details being laid out on paper humbly. There you have it - what I was told by the supposed subject of the supposed investigation..buuut! You are not looking for science. You are looking for something entierly other. Be it a butt end of a joke - or someone else who hates their daddy as much as you do - or a wife - or a husband - or a nice cat to keep on your lap..

Re: You miss my point gentelmen.

Date: 2011-12-29 03:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] interrogobang.livejournal.com
And while doing so you have to have some morale framework to function within that doesnt include your parents. This leads you into one of the most antagonistic - unaccepting - hostile 'religions' of passive aggression known as 'atheism' - metaphysically their arguments cant win - and philosphically they are busy shooting themselves in the foot half the time. Popularly they are basically a group of people who like to snark on other people and otherwise make people feel bad about listening to someone else for advice - when all they did was read a book of guidance that didnt mention god, dishonored your parents, and said it was ok for you to do whatever you wanted as long as you didnt hurt anyone - now go hurt that guys feelings because he think that god is going to explode the world in about two weeks. Its easy to side with the atheists against your enemies - but you gots ta remember that they are your enemy too - ya know? If you have any agnosticism or real science in you - your not an atheist. Your a seeker :)


And, MXLPLXL
Anecdotal evidence isnt science? Who is your science teacher? Its not hard science - but it is science.. ( Anthropology? ) trust me - my Dad has a PhD in Phycology and my Mom has a Masters Degree in Art and Education. I know science - and screaming 'I hate you dad' when I say I have seen a ghost - is *not* science. It is zealotry. All these people might as well have converted to Thorism - 99% of atheists are actual 'anti-parentalists' and could get the same joygasm out of joining the armies of the Einhariar as they do joining the 'supposed scientific community of atheism' - as a matter of factual ( you can look this up - so issat science protodisco? ) fact - most hard scientists are religious. Far from the temples of science being filled with hedonic athiests scorning their fathers faith - but instead scores of believers marveling at the wonders of creation and piously reporting honestly.

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