Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Chincy bits from around the 'Net

So I'm minding my own business, snooping around my usual haunts, when I find a couple odd things I couldn't resist commenting on.  First:

What I find so amusing is that Christians will criticize Islam for promoting slavery, complete destruction of their enemies, etc. when the Bible says almost the exact same things.

This one got my attention because the critic doesn't even go so far as to say "Well, Crusades and Galileo and the Inquisition; that's the same as 9/11 and what's happening to the Chaldeans in Iraq."  He only goes so far as to say "Sure, Christians might condemn Islam because some Muslims of dubious fidelity can justify their actions by the Q'ran, but the Bible has examples of violence and human rights violations too!"

So what?  My response was "Show me the Christians today who kill their daughters for being raped."  The Crusades didn't happen because some "warrior pope" noticed that Psalm 150 gleefully endorses smashing the skulls of an enemy's children.  They happened because--and I realize I'm grossly oversimplifying, so bear with me--the Seljuks replaced the Arab hegemony in the Levant with something that took a much dimmer view of European pilgrims and traders.

All those nasty Bronze Age values taught in the Bible?  Old Testament.  Not to say they don't have their own significance, but there was never a time during Christianity when that stuff was considered the right and proper behavior of a Christian.  Unless you count the 21st century GOP.  Maybe that's what is inspiring this critic.

So yeah, the response to people who criticize terrorism and dhimmitude doesn't even rise above "Well, your past is checkered!"  Maybe so, but we know better now.  If opposing terrorism and dhimmitude is also wrong, then what's right?  Or is it just wrong because we're the ones doing it?  Do you have some better ideas, or are you just going to sit up there and gloat about how you and your intellectual tradition have never been uncharitable to people outside your in-group?


Atheism isn't an ideology.  It is the default position for understanding the world.

Okay, so atheism is your ideology of choice.  Good to know.

All I can figure here is that this critic soaks himself in a positively atheistic scientism.  He went on to say something about how belief in an afterlife is not exempt from science, because "the soul survives death and goes to exist in some new state outside the universe" is "vaguely scientific" because it describes something that is partly in nature.

No, it isn't scientific, unless you are the one who is vague about science; and not every phenomenon in the natural world is subject to science.  Some of those phenomena can be cataloged obliquely, but science won't reveal to you what they truly are.  If you're not sure, try to calculate for me the difference between the density of boogie woogie at STP, using the van der Waals equation, and the relativistic length of umami traveling at 0.92c. 

Whether the soul occupies or animates the body during life is a philosophical question.  Scientists may see the change when a soul departs from a body, but the sciences don't.

I think this distinction gets overlooked a lot.  Most scientists, believers and otherwise, just go about their business doing research and pimping for funding and whatnot.  A few atheistic evangelists who happen to have a STEM degree or pursue science as their day job or avocation then get credit for being "prominent and well-respected scientists who don't believe in God."  Okay, that's a half dozen any American might be able to name off the top of his head, compared to thousands or millions who don't sit down each morning at their lab benches and say "Okay, I do/don't believe in God, so this is the experiment I'm going to do to prove it for my next book."