Archive for the ‘theism’ Category

Tolerance from the other side

May 15, 2012

On the religious side, there are those who manage to harmonize with the non believers, and those who respond aggressively. Naturally, I’m more sympathetic to the former. (more…)


My Proudest Moment (and the problem with Dawkins)

May 15, 2012

One of my proudest moments:

A religious student in one of my linguistics classes challenged Darwinian evolution as “just a theory.” For a moment I thought I’d try to explain that the theory of evolution is scientific because it could be wrong, whereas Creationism is not scientific because it can never be wrong, but I realized that even if I spent the rest of the hour explaining that conundrum of falsificationism, they’d come away thinking that science is false and Creationism is necessarily true, so I’d not only be digressing from class topic, but it would be counterproductive.

Instead I suggested that the difference between the millions of years of evolution that resulted in the complexity and usefulness of natural language, on the one hand, and on the other, the clumsy strictures of standard languages, are exactly like the difference between god-given perfection and the imperfect creations of the human hand: helicopters, extraordinary as they are, crash; dragonflies don’t. The theory of evolution is the scientific way of explaining what in religion is called the god-given.

Thereafter whenever I mentioned evolution, I’d parenthetically add, “or in the discourse of religion, the god-given.” Not only did this make her happy, it allowed her to appreciate fully the content of the course without further objection. Here were two opposing theories which now seemed to work together, harmoniously, if not perfectly. It was as if theoretical swords had been turned to plowshares. And that is a desirable result overall and in itself.

When Dawkins calls atheists “brights” he does nothing to sway his opponents, he merely insults them. The religious may be irrational, but they are not stupid. (more…)

Sam Harris and the middle class virtue

May 3, 2012

Sam Harris has been pushing human well-being as a universal goal of morality, without seeing the glaring weaknesses of that assumption. First, he’d have to bite the bullet that human ignorance and illusion might serve our happiness and well-being better than knowledge and understanding. (more…)