Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 13, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

BACK FROM VACATION....So, um, I guess we discussed religion in the blog this weekend? Complete with the civil and respectful dialog we've all come to know and love in the comment section?

Sounds like fun! I'm sorry I missed it. But I promised you different, and you got different so many thanks to Ogged, Roxanne Cooper, and Steve Waldman for guest blogging this weekend while I was up in the chilly north. (Amy too, but she's on staff and doesn't count as a guest, regardless of what it says next to her byline.)

Customary secular blogging will resume momentarily.

Kevin Drum 11:39 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (77)

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Comments

Thank God!

Posted by: JC on March 13, 2006 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

I donno which was worse, the less than wonderful posts or the tiresome complaints about the posts.

btw, where the hell is my post card?

Posted by: Keith G on March 13, 2006 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

You've lost that lovin' feelin' - by Dick 'n Bushisms

Posted by: elmo on March 13, 2006 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

Please God, make it stop!

Posted by: craigie on March 13, 2006 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

So, um, I guess we discussed religion in the blog this weekend?

:-)

Welcome back and please, please, never ask Wanker & Wankerette to sub for you again.

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

Nice to see you back, Kevin D.! But please, the next time you go could you have Steve Benen sit in instead of Sullivan and Waldman? The level of conversation here would be much better for it, in my not so humble opinion.

Posted by: David W. on March 13, 2006 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

In case there is the slightest bit of ambiguity about my Wanker and Wankerette reference, let me be explicit: I mean Waldman and Sullivan.

Posted by: Steve J. on March 13, 2006 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

Thank God! - JC

Please God, make it stop! - craigie

At least some of you appreciate the things I do for you. You are welcome, for now.

Posted by: The One and Only God ! on March 14, 2006 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

Just so someone says it: I enjoyed several of the guest bloggers' postings very much; in fact, I preferred much of what I've read here recently to this blog's usual fare. The only unpleasant part was reading response-posts that ranged from vituperative to willfully obscurantist.
I didn't walk away thinking that U.S. liberals were hostile to Christianity. But I did think that Republicans had done a great job of controlling the discussion of morality in the public sphere.

Posted by: brillo on March 14, 2006 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

The refreshing splash of water in the morning, after camping by a glacier fed lake, is nothing compared to the splash of new and different intellects feeding the mind. Thanks to all those bloggers who spent their weekend splashing us.

Posted by: chris on March 14, 2006 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
I'm so glad you're back, and I'm so sorry that Amy is a regular poster. Who did Pat Robertson sleep with to get her this gig? She's horrid.

Posted by: marky on March 14, 2006 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Seems to me it's not so much that liberals are anti-religious as that anti-religious types tend to be liberal. Not all, but most -- or so it seems anyway.

Makes it easy for the right to say the left wants to burn the bible. And then some good folks on the left say "hey guys, we have to stop saying we should burn the bible." Which irritates some of us.

In any case, it ought to be possible to leave space for the language of religion in our political life without giving the state itself a religious tinge. If you're a religious liberal, you should talk like a religious liberal. "'Whatsoever you do to the least of these my brethren, you do unto me,' Jesus said." If you're a secular liberal, you should talk like a secular liberal. And we ought to be able to talk in such ways without arguing that the others should adopt our own language, and without yelling.

So it seem to me, anyway.

Posted by: tom on March 14, 2006 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

i must concur with Tom above. Much like "christians" are all Republicans, so anti - religious people are all Democrats. Nothing is further from the truth. It is just the (obnoxiously egotistical and authoritarianly fanatical) outspoken evangelicals as quasi republicans, and the outspoken God haters as quasi democrats who are the voice of their party. The real silent majority of both groups (christians and environmentalists, for example) fall into a variety of camps. But in an artificial two poled world, what else can one do? there is no political party for the likes of me, for example: fiscally conservative, morally anti God, but pro tolerance of god lovers, socially progressive, but not amoral, and internationally inclusive.

Posted by: Chris on March 14, 2006 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

More like religious people are all fanatically thin skinned. I tried to suggest why earlier, to apparently mass confusion, but, in essence, it's because they're easily threatened.

Posted by: cld on March 14, 2006 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

American liberals, hostile to Christianity? Pshaw, who could imagine such a thing? Steve Waldman probably can after this past weekend. I mean besides him.

Posted by: Zathras on March 14, 2006 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

But where did Kevin go in the cold grim north where he wasn't able to read all of this?

I just saw Grizzly Man the other day. . .

Posted by: cld on March 14, 2006 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

What I get from reading Steve Waldmann and Amy Sullivan is that liberals are insufficiently tolerant of the likes of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Tom Coburn and James Dobson.
If they would stop prefacing all their posts on religion with jabs at liberals for despising the politics of the Christian Right, they would do much better. The fact is, the voters of the Christian Right will not vote Democrat in the foreseeable future, and frankly I don't want to see any Democrat court their votes.

Posted by: marky on March 14, 2006 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK


Glad you're back. Didn't care for Roxanne Cooper and Ogged. The religious stuff gets tedious.

Posted by: Paul Mamerow on March 14, 2006 at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK

Kev, glad we could help you in your little demonstration to your boss of why you should get that raise. Putz.

Posted by: jerry on March 14, 2006 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

HAHAHHAA
Thanks for putting a smiley face on the debacle of Kevin's trip, Jerry.

Posted by: marky on March 14, 2006 at 12:30 AM | PERMALINK

What Tom and Chris said.

And for cld's "More like religious people are all fanatically thin skinned." I would like to offer an alternative for consideration: It's NOT "religious people" who are fanatically thin skinned, but rather religious fanatics.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Posted by: Ducktape on March 14, 2006 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

DADDY'S HOME !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :):):):)

Now where's my goddamned present, punk.

Heh, at least we had Don P. around to remind us that shrill, insufferably smug atheism is as much a property of right-wing would-be Ayn Rand groupies (ooh, she's so *exotic looking*) as it is of Leftist Cultural Decadence(TM).

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 14, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

I never could have imagined that I would miss Kevin so much.
Give me a kiss, daddy!

Posted by: marky on March 14, 2006 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

You should dump all the asshole self-righteous atheists and agnostics. They never stand for shit. Only believers (of whatever stripe) should be allowed to post in an elite forum like this. I would personally love to see humiliations galore administered to about one-half of the above posters.

That's actually what I really think!

On the serious side: I think Kevin does a fine job with his guest bloggers. Moreover, none of the detractors here are fit to shine the shoes of Amy Sullivan.

Posted by: Guy Fawkes on March 14, 2006 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

Guy Fawkes,
Amy Sullivan's posts are a serious impediment towards a fruitful discusion of religion and politics, because it is clear that her religious views are more in tune with those of the right wing fanatics that most liberals abhor.
Political animal should get someone who is religious yet also tolerant and liberal, and who is not obsessed with defending the worldviews of the noxious christian right.

Posted by: marky on March 14, 2006 at 12:49 AM | PERMALINK

Now that you're back, I suggest a thread on the rarely-explored relationship between religion and liberalism, especially as it relates to Democratic Party strategy. It could be a gold mine.

Posted by: Mornington Crescent on March 14, 2006 at 12:51 AM | PERMALINK

Mornington,
Yeah, and Kevin should investigate the enormous influence of atheists and secular humanists!

Posted by: marky on March 14, 2006 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

Yes! My favorite blog returns!

Posted by: harlan on March 14, 2006 at 1:00 AM | PERMALINK

Hmmmm, I know plenty of right wingers who don't have a religious bone in their bodies. But they don't seem to feel the need to lash out at those who are religious. What they say in private is quite different.

When it comes to the media... The only two writers I see on the op-ed page who can convince me they are Christians are Leonard Pitts and Sean Gonsalves, both of whom are more to the left.

I still lament the fact that back in 2000 when George said that Jesus was his favorite philosopher that nobody in the media had the sense to ask him when he was going to sell all of his posessions and give the proceeds to the poor.

Jesus spent a lot of time, according to the New Testament, lambasting the Pharisees. He never criticized their values, he questioned their unwillingness to live by them. If he were alive today He would have a field day with the religious right.

I'm as puzzled as anyone why religion became a big deal in America, starting in the eighteenth century, while it has almost vanished in Europe. It is interesting to note that Christianity has faded where there are state churches while it has prospered where it is opposed.

Posted by: Stuart on March 14, 2006 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

Whooo-HOOOO!

Welcome back, Kevin; hope the trip went well.

Don't ever take one again.

Posted by: grape_crush on March 14, 2006 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

As Digby said, we non-believers are completely tolerant of religious folks. Every single Democratic candidate we've supported has been religious, often preachingly so. And that's the hypocrisy right there. Because if any atheist ran for office... well that can't happen, so who are the bigots here? Guess what: it isn't the godless atheists. We tolerate religious people plenty. It's religious people that don't have an ounce of tolerance for us.

Posted by: plunge on March 14, 2006 at 2:00 AM | PERMALINK

Several commenters suggested Rabbi Michael Lerner as a future guest. No doubt he would get as much abuse as did Waldman, who quoted him, but I hope KD will consider asking.

Posted by: Dabodius on March 14, 2006 at 3:18 AM | PERMALINK

Stuart >"...It is interesting to note that Christianity has faded where there are state churches while it has prospered where it is opposed."

That`s bureaucracies for ya; they would screw up a wet dream & particularly a mythical one

"...Churches have given us great treasures. Whether that pays for the harm they have done is another matter." - Daniel C. Dennett

Posted by: daCascadian on March 14, 2006 at 3:42 AM | PERMALINK

Guest Steve Waldman wrote: "But I would also like to point out that the history also challenges the liberal notion that religious Christians are inherently backwards, regressive and opponents of liberty."

Guest Amy Sullivan wrote: "Finally, a religious candidate who actually deserves the scorn of the knee-jerk left."

Two-thirds of the guests you selected immediately used the bully pulpit you gave them to just lie about liberals being mean to Christians. They did so unprompted, and then when challenged they each took a second bite of the cherry. Blaming the commenters for that is just crass. Pick guests a little easier to distinguish from Joe Lieberman next time, please.

Posted by: derek on March 14, 2006 at 3:48 AM | PERMALINK

The problem with the guest posters is that they have no accountability. Amy Sullivan can blithely and partonizingly characterize liberal opposition to religion as "knee jerk" and never respond to comments either in the comments on in a further post, or an update. Steven Waldman can drop some bomb about how liberal have hated religion since the 60's and not respond to any of the points in the comments about how many of the liberal social change movements of the 60s and today grow out of the churches and how the fundamentalists and evangelicals hate liberals.

Future guest posters should read the comments on what they post and respond. Kevin is here day in and day out, so even if he doesn't respond immediately, he does get back to points that others have raised.

Of course, Kevin is a liberal who prizes openness, diversity and the free exchange of ideas. Stephen and Amy, not so much. They want to tell us how we are wrong, and not listen to what we say, or respond to our comments. Since they have it all figured out already, their impatience is not surprising. Briefly stated, they think we should believe as they do, which surprise! is the thing that liberals don't like about Religionists.

Posted by: Ray on March 14, 2006 at 3:56 AM | PERMALINK

Thank goodness you're back, Kevin, and not a moment too soon.

Somewhere, there is new light to be shed on these issues. From a political standpoint, at least, these problems are not inherently, permanently unsolvable. (Whether they get solved is, of course, a different question.)

And -- from my standpoint as a deeply secular person who wants passionately for my country to keep its promise, while recognizing that most of its citizens hold religious commitments that I can't share (and, yes, at times, find ignorant) -- I need to find that light shed somewhere.

But the discussion here was simply horrid: caught in the same cul-de-sacs over and over and over again. Seventh-circle-of hell-quality. Everyone will depart with their prejudices confirmed, and nobody will depart even the slightest bit wiser.

I hate to say it, but I think your community is now rubbed so raw by these debates that it is now incapable of having a productive discussion on these issues. It will have to happen, hopefully, somewhere else.

Posted by: Bill Camarda on March 14, 2006 at 7:20 AM | PERMALINK

More like religious people are all fanatically thin skinned. I tried to suggest why earlier, to apparently mass confusion, but, in essence, it's because they're easily threatened.

As a religious person, I for one don't care what you think of my beliefs. But from reading your comments, it seems you're hardly willing to discuss the topic of religion without insulting the opinions and belittling the intellect of those who disagree with you. If given that I conclude that you're not worth talking to, it doesn't mean I'm thin-skinned, it just means I have better things to do with my time than listen to smug, self-righteous dicks lecture me about how stupid and backwards they think I am. In case my point is lost on you, let me spell it out: I don't engage you not because I find you threatening. I don't. I have (and enjoy) debates with atheist friends all the time. The reason I don't engage you is because I don't think you're worth engaging. I find you dull, narrow-minded, and unstimulating. And there's no reason to talk to someone like that when there are plenty of people in the world capable of giving me intellectually fruitful, edifying conversation.

Posted by: Xeynon on March 14, 2006 at 7:37 AM | PERMALINK

Regarding Christianity, I think Mark Twain summued it nicely when he said: "When I die I want to go to heaven for the climate and hell for the conversation"

Posted by: Botecelli on March 14, 2006 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

Stuart:
Perhaps for the same reason that Western Europe's foreign policymakers generally don't advocate going to war as a first resort. After centuries and centuries of bloodshed, they're exhausted. We're the new kid on the block. . .still haven't suffered enough or evolved enough to renounce preemptive wars and militant religion as routine instruments of foreign and domestic policy.

Posted by: Sylny on March 14, 2006 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

Stuart, religion has not vanished from Europe, I hardly know how you even got that impression. We have beautiful churches on every street corner, with beautiful devotional music issuing forth from them; church-based charity collectors in every mall, gathering funds to send to Africa or other desparately needy places; priests and rabbis speaking every morning on BBC radio, and televised church services on BBC television on Sunday. Millions of worshippers, quite possibly more millions in the EU 25 than in the USA.

What we don't have is the insistence of the religious that the state should act on their behalf to impose their values on the non-religious. Except in the countries where we do, a bit.

Posted by: derek on March 14, 2006 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

>the issue is not hostility to religion -- the issue is hostility to EIGHT POSTS about religion in a 36 hour period.
Posted by: Pat


No lie. And it was a troll's picnic around here.

Posted by: CFShep on March 14, 2006 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

What I get from reading Steve Waldmann and Amy Sullivan is that liberals are insufficiently tolerant of the likes of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Tom Coburn and James Dobson.

Amy Sullivan's posts are a serious impediment towards a fruitful discusion of religion and politics, because it is clear that her religious views are more in tune with those of the right wing fanatics that most liberals abhor.

Marky, your reading of Amy Sullivan's posts are so willfully twisted that they do more than Amy ever could herself to support the thesis that Democrats have a problem with religion.

Before you attack me, keep in mind that I am deeply atheist. I'm also a liberal. Have been for as long as I've been thinking about either religion or politics.

But to suggest that Amy shares a political ideology with Pat Robertson is just, well, kind of deranged. Why the scorn? And don't answer with another tired diatribe about the religious right -- I have no patience with them either. I'm talking about the scorn toward the people posting on this blog.

Posted by: crabshack on March 14, 2006 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

Amy doesn't share an ideology with Robertson. Just the rhetoric and tactics.

Posted by: Calling All Toasters on March 14, 2006 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

I enjoyed the guest posters - including the "resident Guest", Ms. Sullivan - and feel that the hostility shown them by many in the comments section was unwarranted and rude.

Posted by: S Ra on March 14, 2006 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Glad you're back, but singling out some angry commenters is a tad disingenuous. A lot of people are sick to death of the "liberals want to put my Bible in the paper shredder" meme, and when putative Democrats reinforce it, that just increases the frustration. The guests (chosen by you?) immediately baited a large section of your readership with this nonsense. Should commenters be respectful? Of course. But some intellectual courtesy and probity from those who write the posts would be nice, too.

Posted by: pk on March 14, 2006 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Drum:

You promised us different and we got the same.

The same whine from the religious. The same demand that their fantasies be treated like the untouchable.

Where do these people dream up the non-existant insults to their beliefs, and why do you inflict them on us?

Posted by: lettuce on March 14, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

crabshack, Amy Sullivan has, in her own words, said that William Brownback is the first potential presidential candidate of the religious right who deserves the scorn of the left. Since Pat Robertson ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, it follows that Pat Robertson does not, in Ms. Sullivan's opinion, deserve the scorn of the left.

Posted by: derek on March 14, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Count me among those who also enjoyed the discussions provided by the recent houseguests. Not only the religious fare, but also those of Ogged. They were useful, even if their propensity to discuss religion angers liberals.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on March 14, 2006 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

For the last time, the canard that "discuss[ing] religion angers liberals" is a cynical and honorless lie. What angers liberals is the closely-related lie that liberals hate religion. A lie that both Amy Sullivan and Steve Waldman repeated, each independently and unprompted.

Posted by: derek on March 14, 2006 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Is it really a lie though? Any half-serious perousal of the comments during this weeks discussion, hardly does the meme that liberals aren't hostile to religion a good service.

It doesen't bother me that liberals are laregly secular & non-religious, that's their right & their preference. It's another thing for liberals to then get huffy faced when the Right accuses them of being largely godless, unobservant & hostile to religion. When any good analysis of this week's discussion and the comments riffing off of it seem to bear that out.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on March 14, 2006 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, it's a lie.

I'm a liberal, and I'm not hostile to religion. I believe that there are many other posters even in this thread who are similar.

There are liberals hostile to religion; I daresay there are even more libertarians hostile to religion. But the blanket claim that liberals - all liberals - are hostile to religion is both incorrect and insulting to the many liberals who are not only not hostile, but whose very liberality derives from their faith.

Posted by: S Ra on March 14, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

"I'm a liberal, and I'm not hostile to religion."

Stand then and be counted among the (very) few.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on March 14, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

There's something a little icky about all the Drum-love here. Drum seems like a decent guy, and he's worth reading, but "welcome back, Daddy"? I recognize that it's intended as humorous hyperbole, but I also see that it's joking on the square. And it seems embarrassingly fawning.

Posted by: tom on March 14, 2006 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK
Any half-serious perousal of the comments during this weeks discussion, hardly does the meme that liberals aren't hostile to religion a good service.

Any half-serious perusal of the comments would note that there is a vocal minority of the posters in the comments on this blog that are apparently both liberal and hostile to religion; it would also recognize that that is a minority and that posters to any one blog are unlikely to representative of "liberals" as a whole. So there is no basis to say much about liberals attitude to religion, except that there are clearly some liberals that are hostile to religion (or Christianity) and some liberals who clearly are not, from the threads, and beyond that, you'd need to do more work.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 14, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

It's bad enough when commenters go off on a ignorant rant without having clicked the links provided by the posters. It's even worse when commenters will start off with "Kevin...", when Kevin isn't even the poster.

But what really cracks me up is when the comments section is full of posts beseeching Kevin to not "allow" Amy Sullivan to post. For those of you too lazy or too inept to look up the Washington Monthly masthead, Amy Sullivan is listed at the top - as an editor. Kevin Drum is listed somewhat further down the page - as a contributing writer.

My guess is that Amy can post on this blog any time she feels like it.

Posted by: SteveK on March 14, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a liberal and my highest values are truth and justice. Therefore I am strongly opposed to religion. Get over it. I'm here and I'm rational. I proportion my beliefs to the evidence. Seems that the theists can't handle the truth.

Posted by: The Fool on March 14, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely.... that minority of posters is representative of the party.

THE VOCAL MINORITY is the grass roots. Gays and religion make for a nasty brew. THE DEMS can either stick something long and tasty in the mouths of their homosexual foot soldiers.... or lose elections to moderate Americans who fear Falwell less than Brokeback Mountain.

That's the choice.

It's like trying to get a 'viable' anti war candidate for president. It won't happen so long as Jews control the purse of the DNC.

Sorry. Why doens't anybody tell the truth about designated enemies and the core of the party regulars. Gays and Jews are the bedrock and the burden of the party.

Posted by: curtiss on March 14, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

And to carve it even finer, what the hell does it mean to be "hostile?"

Let me submit as exhibit "A" the post of "lettuce" above, which characterizes religious beliefs as "fantasy." Nicely insulting to be sure. Hostile? Hmm... could be. I'd bet "lettuce" doesn't spend alot of time at church. However, its very typical, anonymous. I somehow doubt "lettuce" is spending any time at all on the weekends walking around neighborhoods offering to discuss the metaphysical truth of atheism.

As exhibit "B" lets go with any of the multiple attempts to insert creationism into science curriculum of, perhaps South Dakota's fine lead in criminalizing an act based, in some large part, on a religious opinon concerning the consequences of consensual acts and the beginning of life.

Now, please, explain to me again how "liberals" are any more hostile to religion than religious people are hostile to the views non-religious people.


If you want to expand your argument to include how wonderfully reasonable religious people tend to act towards one another in other countries, say, for example in the region generally known as "the middle east," feel free to do so, although I'd be careful with that.

Posted by: hank on March 14, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Tom at 12:13 a.m. and Chris at 12:18 a.m. had it right. The invective around here on the subject of religion is really excessive. Derek, I think Amy was guilty of nothing more than sloppy wording when she said, "Finally, a religious candidate who actually deserves the scorn of the knee-jerk left." To latch onto that and say that proves that Amy has thus supported every other religious candidate is just silly. Amy Sullivan is on our side. It's attitudes like the ones on this board that got Ralph Nader so many votes in Florida. Yeah, there's no greater curse than "Joe Lieberman" around here--but who among us wouldn't rather have him as vice president than Dick Cheney? As Sinead O'Connor inveighed when ripping up a picture of the Pope: Fight the real enemy!

Posted by: John on March 14, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

"Any half-serious perusal of the comments would note that there is a vocal minority of the posters in the comments on this blog that are apparently both liberal and hostile to religion;"

I would fundamentally disagree with this conclusion. I would say it's rule far more than the exception.

And again, there's nothing wrong with that. But then don't go and get huffy faced when someone actually points out that most liberals are religiously unobservant, and at best, view the devout as science-challenged superstitious rubes who live their lives according to a fairy tale. Just say "Yeah! We're secular & proud of it, so keep your invisible man talk to yourselves and don't bother us!"

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on March 14, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Just say "Yeah! We're secular & proud of it, so keep your invisible man talk to yourselves and don't bother us!"
Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway

I tried that and it felt *good*, damn it, but for a moment there I thought I might shortly find myself in remake of "Network"...

"If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there."
- Lewis Carroll.

Posted by: CFShep on March 14, 2006 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK
I would fundamentally disagree with this conclusion.

I'm sure you would. I never accused you of being even half-serious.

I would say it's rule far more than the exception.

In the 200+ posts in the last religion thread, I find hostility to religion or even, more narrowly, Christianity in general (but not merely narrower groups within Christianity, nor mere disagreement with truth of Christianity) expressed by:

decon on March 13, 2006 at 8:13 PM
cld on March 13, 2006 at 8:35 PM
cld on March 13, 2006 at 8:58 PM
cld on March 13, 2006 at 9:48 PM
Ray on March 13, 2006 at 10:00 PM
cld on March 13, 2006 at 10:03 PM
Ray on March 13, 2006 at 10:05 PM
jerry on March 13, 2006 at 10:07 PM
koreyel on March 13, 2006 at 10:16 PM
Bob on March 13, 2006 at 11:58 PM
Hostile on March 14, 2006 at 11:35 AM

(there's a few more posts from the same posters, particularly from cld and Ray, that aren't hostile in isolation, but read with their other posts, reinforce the impression of hostility.)

A handful of the dozens of posters participating in the tread, and a small minority of the posts.

That seems far less like the rule than the exception.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 14, 2006 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

I love this argument. If not wanting to read EIGHT threads about religion in a 36 hour period on a website that deals with politics constitutes "hostility to christianity" I guess I am. Enjoy that victim mentality.

Posted by: Pat on March 14, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

replanting from a dead thread, and not to continue the argument, but this is the essence of what is said to be 'hostile' by those over-impressed with a religious distraction,

Like walking back in to the remains of the party the morning after.

As I tried to describe, religious experience is related to structures in the brain that are the same as, associated with or adjacent to, those regions that are involved with the immune system. The best explanation for this is that religious experience is self-consciousness of the immune system, which has been evolutionarily selected for. Some people have more of it, some have less of it, but, probably, everyone is capable of it.

Religious aesthetic is designed explicitly to help people get in the zone.

I think this is illustrated in Tolerant Agnostics' highly defensive reaction against any atheistic argument --it's an immune reaction.

However, religious people have never been demonstrated to be more or less healthy than the average. This suggests two things, that just to remain normal takes a religious dedication on their part; and, that religious self-consciousness can be addictive, requiring greater and greater inputs and public displays for the sense of reward.

Posted by: cld on March 14, 2006 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

cld, do you have some citations for this claim of yours? I'm familiar with the neuroscience of religious belief, and I've never heard ANYONE claim that it's a result of "self-consciousness of the immune system". And these are Ph.D neuroscientists we're talking about, not anonymous people on the internet - so unless you've got some published scientific work to back you up, I'm not going to take your claim seriously. How would one even prove such a vague, semantically thorny assertion scientifically? What you're engaging in isn't scientific reasoning, it's vague metaphysical speculation. How is your vague metaphysical speculation any more worthy of acceptance because it's atheistic than, say, a religious believer's intuition that a higher power set natural selection in motion with the aim of producing intelligence? Sorry, friend - it's hardly "defensive" to call you on your bullshit.

Posted by: Tolerant agnostic on March 14, 2006 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

However, religious people have never been demonstrated to be more or less healthy than the average.

Also, this is flat out wrong. People who have faith, whether religious conviction or just a general sense of higher purpose in life, are happier and live longer than people who don't. Don't ignore inconvenient scientific facts, it's far too reminscent of the creationist yahoos at the other end of the spectrum of belief.

Posted by: Tolerant agnostic on March 14, 2006 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

People who have faith, whether religious conviction or just a general sense of higher purpose in life, are happier and live longer than people who don't.

Couldn't it be that if you are happy, you will have a 'higher purpose' in life, or even believe in God, given that most people lead miserable lives and a happy person would thank his lucky stars for not being one of them..

Posted by: nut on March 14, 2006 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

nut, you're right that it's a chicken-and-egg debate. But the fact remains that cld's assertion that people who believe (in something, not necessarily God) aren't on average healthier than atheists is demonstrably false.

From what evidence do you deduce that most people live miserable lives though? That seems a subjective judgment, and most people I know don't describe their own lives as "miserable".

Posted by: Tolerant agnostic on March 14, 2006 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

...or maybe if you believe in God you don't mind bullshitting pollsters for His sake.

Posted by: Calling All Toasters on March 14, 2006 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

give it up with cld. he's one of those guys who needs to think he's smarter than everyone else because he couldn't get laid in high school and still can't figure out why he can't get a three-dimensional girlfriend. you're wasting your time.

Posted by: One Who Knows on March 14, 2006 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

Calling All Toasters:

No. The studies I've seen on the subject weren't telephone polls, they were comprehensive evaluations. There is a direct, irrefutable correlation between sense of higher purpose and happiness, and between happiness and health. That doesn't prove God exists of course, but it does show that people who believe in God are more likely to be happy and healthy than people who don't.

Posted by: Tolerant agnostic on March 14, 2006 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

Tolerant Agnostic,

Scientific facts are never inconvenient, but there is such an interest in the romanticisation of subjective experience that reports of anything that lessen the mystery get lost in the sparkly vapor. Hardly anyone has seen a ufo, but everyone has an immune system.

Have you ever noticed that a cat will purr when it is injured? Is it not impressive that the primary justifications of religious truth relate to health and well-being? The center of religious interest is health.

What, of you, is interested in your health, if not your immune system? A combination of music and prayer as therapy has been shown to improve the condition of Alzheimer's patients, but not because it's supernatural --because it's true.

Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof. If you are acutally impressed with a Phd find a neuroscientist who believes in god. A Phd in neuroscience.


Accusing others of 'metaphysical speculation' in support of your 'subjective impression', I think was how you put it, of a higher power is exactly the kind of cognitive dissonance we see in Republicans and wrong arguments generally, where they will confuse the issue, and believe their confusion is success, by using a true point as if it supported the very falsehood it refutes.


It's been twenty years since I went through all that material and it was self-evident then and if you would believe,in your heart, that I am too lazy to dig through the internet to turn it all up again, you have me.


This is interesting, though I can't say it's my view, it may speak to the topic,

from http://www.mindhacks.com/

"In a very real sense, then, the purpose of consciousness -- why it evolved -- may be for the assemblage of complex nonconscious skills. In harmony with the general plasticity of human brain development, people have the capability of building ever more complex automatic demons that fit their own idiosyncratic environment, needs, and purposes. As William James (1890) argued, consciousness drops out of those processes where it is no longer needed, freeing itself for where it is...Intriguingly, then, one of the primary objectives of conscious processing may be to eliminate the need for itself in the future by making learned skills as automatic as possible. It would be ironic indeed if, given the current juxtaposition of automatic and conscious mental processes in the field of psychology, the evolved purpose of consciousness turns out to be the creation of ever more complex nonconscious processes."


(Just discovered it's Einstein's birthday, or Pi Day, 3/14!)

This is interesting,

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2004-05/osu-nts052604.php

"Reiss said that each of the 16 basic desires outlined in the book influence the psychological appeal of religious behavior. The desires are power, independence, curiosity, acceptance, order, saving, honor, idealism, social contact, family, status, vengeance, romance, eating, physical exercise, and tranquility."

Are those things not, really, the whole interest in being alive at all?


This book seems to speak to the entire point,

The Link between Religion and Health : Psychoneuroimmunology and the Faith Factor
by Harold G. Koenig, Harvey J. Cohen

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0195143604/103-7861461-4412651?n=283155

The first chapter is called The Connection between Psychoneuroimmunology and Religion. If you doubt the author's cred, here's his bio,

http://www.meaning.ca/conference04/presenters/koenig.htm

Posted by: cld on March 14, 2006 at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK

cld,

I don't know why I'm letting you sucker me into this, but.. I'll answer this question.

If you are acutally impressed with a Phd find a neuroscientist who believes in god. A Phd in neuroscience.

Andrew Newberg, for one. And he's the leader in the field of the link between religious belief and brain function. As for the argument of this book, well, from the blurb version it appears it doesn't "prove" that religious faith is nothing but a byproduct of the functioning of the immune system unless your metaphysical assumptions/reasoning lead you to interpret it as doing so. I don't see the authors anywhere making the claim that you are. One could just as easily argue that God aids those who believe through that belief aiding their immune system as that belief in God is a naturalistic byproduct of the immune system. It all depends on what your baseline metaphysical assumptions are - but you don't appear to even be aware that you have baseline metaphysical assumptions that may not be true.

I'm sick of you. That other poster was right. You're tiresome, shrill, and predictable. And either you continue to willfully misunderstand my arguments, or you're too obtuse or too stubborn to engage them. I'm sorry, but that is the epistemological condition of a child.
By all means go away thinking yourself a superior intellect to me, and have the last word if you like. I'm going to spend my time talking to people who can a.)make an intelligent argument, b.)respond intelligently to my arguments, and c.)evince the respect for people with whom they disagree. In other words, adults.

Posted by: Tolerant agnostic on March 15, 2006 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

Does intercessary prayer work? Let's ask the Skeptical Inquirer,

http://www.csicop.org/si/2005-03/miracle-study.html

Posted by: cld on March 15, 2006 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

Tolerant Agnostic,

A pill and a prayer will help you. You will find peace. Contentment. But it must be the right pill. I suggest one of each, just to be sure.

Posted by: cld on March 15, 2006 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

And even though I'm feeling good
Something tells me I'd better activate my Prayer Capsule

--Genesis, "Ikhnaton and Itsakon and Their Band of Merry Men"

From "Foxtrot" (1972)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 15, 2006 at 2:57 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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