Alter_of_reason.jpgI recently read When Atheism Becomes Religion under its more provocative original title: I Don’t Believe in Atheists.

The author, Chris Hedges is becoming one of my favorite authors. The first book that I read of his, The Death of the Liberal Class was a great history of classical liberalism — something that all political ideologies today could learn from.

Chris Hedges is a fascinating writer and the perfect author for a book that offers a critique of the modern Cult of Reason. (It is important to note that the use of the word “cult” here reflects the thinking in this footnote of that article: The word “cult” in French means “a form of worship”, without any of its negative or exclusivist implications in English; its proponents intended it to be a universal congregation.)

In fact, although I had this blog post in mind, it wasn’t till I started looking for a picture to accompany it (the Alter of Reason was perfect) that I learned about the Cult of Reason from the time of the French revolution.

That period of time is a great precedent for what happened since September 11, 2001 in the New Atheist movement.

Some people saw religion itself as the cause for the violence inherent in the terrorist attacks. If religion didn’t exist, the movement seems to say, no one would have an excuse to slaughter any group of people.

Chris Hedges’ book is a powerful antidote to this fantasy. Not only does he remind us that the greatest genocides of the 20th century were secular in nature, but he also asks us to consider human limitations in any solutions we propose: No ethical stance, no matter how pure it appears, is moral if it is not based on the reality of human limitations.

Humans — whether created by God 6000 years ago, or just some random chance of the universe — have some very stark limitations. Making religion a demon while deifying reason will not solve anything.

I came across another book today while browsing the bookstore, You Are Not So Smart, that really began to drive home the point of our limitations. As the book points out, Even when we think we’re being rational and thinking things through carefully, our emotional brain, our subconscious, is the one really running the show. (I’ve requested a copy of the book from my local library, so I’ll post more about it after I’ve read more.)

Amusingly, Penn Jillette’s God, No! was nearby and I had time to read the introduction where he talks about the humility of Atheism. He’s right: we should all be able to say “I don’t know”.

But he says that saying “I don’t know” makes you an atheist and here I disagree. I know we haven’t done a great job of celebrating doubt, but even as great a Christian as Mother Teresa had doubts. That didn’t make her less of a Christian — it was simply part of her humanity. You have the chance to say — like Christopher Hitchen’s did — that this makes her a fraud, but I prefer the title “human.” Not knowing, doubting is a fully human thing to do.

It is fine to celebrate everything that reason gives us — and we’ve been able to accomplish a lot through the use of the rational mind — but, as Hedges rightly points out in When Atheism Becomes Religion, as much as reason has helped us reach new heights, it has empowered evil to new depravity.

There is no scientific utopia and efforts to create one only end in destruction. Achieving Utopia must mean destroying everyone that you can’t convince to join you. St Isaac the Syrian put it this way: “If zeal [using passion to convince others of the truth] had been appropriate for putting humanity right, why did Jesus use gentleness and humility?”

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26 thoughts on “My one-man crusade against the rebirth of the Cult of Reason

  1. I think the book is addressing more of a straw man position than an actual criticism of atheism and the New Atheists at large. This isn’t unsurprising given that often the New Atheists are attacking straw man / extremist religious positions rather than common ones.

    Yes, the communist revolution in China and Russia were atheistic in the sense that there was no religion deity to worship but I think the difference was (especially in China) was that Mao/Stalin/Hitler was a living deity in the same way that Jim Jones was Christ incarnate in Jonestown. The communist revolution was neither scientific nor atheistic it just attempted to justify its ends behind these ideas.

    I think the great criticism of religion by the New Atheists is that religion too often ends dissenting discussion with appeals to the supernatural. Take the current debate in the United States about same-sex marriage. When a religious conservative argues against same-sex marriage they ultimately appeal to the Bible as justification for denying the homosexual couples in love marriage status or worse.

    This ends dissent and debate. How can anyone dissuade someone of the position, “It is wrong because my God tells me it is gone.” No amount of evidence, logic, appeals to compassion or empathy, arguments of equality and fairness can defeat such an argument.

    Science tells us everything we need to know about how things ARE but tells us nothing about how the world SHOULD be. I think too often the New Atheists loose sight of this distinction. (Sam Harris’ latest book definitely does so.) But the point is that when a member of the Cult of Reason puts forth a position that position, if disagreed upon can be refuted with reason. (And if it cannot then that person is not convinced by reason, but faith in themselves.) Religion by nature of its other worldliness does not leave this option available.

    There is a lot of common ground for atheists and theists and I think most commonly the two can (and should) work together for compassion. But when religion advocates removing critical thinking skills from education programs, teaching creation stories shown to be inaccurate over science, and promote faith based bigotry over compassion alarm bells sound off.

    And that’s just in America. The threat of religious extremism abroad is that Islam is being perverted to serve a political end via horrific means. I think the New Atheists are arguing without the sanctions of God and the reward of virgins after jihad would the appeal of suicidal terrorism resonate so strongly? I can’t answer that question but I don’t think it is unreasonable to ask it.

    Rob

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  2. The communist revolution was neither scientific nor atheistic it just attempted to justify its ends behind these ideas.

    So, if you point me to someone doing something I don’t agree with but who claims it is motivated by Christianity, I can say “They aren’t really Chrisitian,” right?

    These sorts of arguments don’t hold weight with impartial observers.

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  3. So, if you point me to someone doing something I don’t agree with but who claims it is motivated by Christianity, I can say “They aren’t really Chrisitian,” right?
    These sorts of arguments don’t hold weight with impartial observers.

    This is indeed a difficult area. Do I think because Hitler happened to be Christian, hated Jewish people, and his propaganda machine often used the Bible to justify their superiority that the Holocaust was religiously motivated or Hilter was a Christian leader? No, not at all. Do I believe that the Protestant Reformation was about religious purity? No, it was about the human desire for power and wealth wrapped in the language and shadow of the Church.

    I agree that there is a difficult potential “no true Scotsman” fallacy problem that gets into a dangerous area but I still don’t that quote hits it. I would argue that we need to look at motivations for actions and NOT the result of the actions themselves to puzzle this out. Did Mao destroy all religions in China because that is the natural, logical result of atheism or did he do so to create a monopoly of power? Did David Koresh have many wives (often questionably consensually and under the age of consent) because he had an explicit mandate from God or did he use religion to fulfill his own desires? I would argue the latter not the former.

    There is a lot to be discussed here and I’m all about it but the link you gave above sadly no longer appears valid.

    Rob

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    • I think if you examine the memoirs Hitler was recording for posterity you’ll find that Hitler was most certainly not a Christian- he detested them. Hitler was into occult mysticism, theosophy and the Norse mythologies and yes, those beliefs most certainly influenced his actions. His close associates even stated that he was hardly ever Hitler, he channeled so many spirits.

      I also find it somewhat silly to believe that Stalin etc did all that they did NOT in the name of Atheism- of course they did. They did it in the name of Self. The God of Atheism is the self, such is the nature of value. For value to exist in a valueless universe, intrinsic value (divinity) must exist as it’s source. If man’s thoughts have value then man has value- if he does not derive that value from an intrinsic source (god) he himself is intrinsic value (god). To accept that value exists is the heart and soul of all religion. Nihilism is the only alternative to religion- but to adopt it is to destroy man along with God. Mutual destruction.

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  4. There is a lot to be discussed here and I’m all about it but the link you gave above sadly no longer appears valid.

    That is weird. Somehow (because the URL was at the end of the comment?) an invisible Unicode character got in there and mangled the end of the URL. Fixed now.

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  5. It is true that there was more going on in the Communist Revolution than Atheism. Saying it was just about power, though, is a bit too simplistic.

    Even modern China (a state that has communist origins) tends toward anti-religious atheism. So, yeah, blaming everything they do on atheism, or using guilt-by-association to condemn atheism is un-thinking, but their government continues to use their materialist, atheistic philosophy as one stated reason to keep out religion.

    (Side note, in The Fat Years, a woman who sees that people have become mysteriously content is drawn to an unofficial church in China because she feels the people there see things more realistically. She maintains her lack of belief, though, and leaves when an old flame finds her. The church provides an interesting setting for part of the story, but isn’t the main point.)

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  7. If you are going to refute reason, then you must use other than reason to refute it. Good luck with that. You don’t have to agree with that reasoning; in fact, if you have truly disavowed reason, you can’t agree with that reasoning. I’ll leave it to you to describe what remains in its place. Intuition? Gut feelings? Whim of the day? Whatever it is, it can’t be based in reason, can it?

    Religious zeal is not limited to Christianity. What made the -isms of the twentieth century so destructive was uniformly their embrace of forced association. Forced association, for example, is the difference between socialism and national socialism. It may be uncomfortable to refer to advocacy of socialism on a national level as ‘national socialism’ — and certainly, those that want to yet advocate for socialism on a national level without yet referring to it as ‘national socialism’ would indeed have ‘reason’ as an unsupportive impediment to getting away with that.

    Without reason, that leaves what endless carny hucksters have claimed in the past, from ancient voodoo priests all the way to Rawls; that they have travelled to the God that Lives under the Volcano, safely far away on the horizon where no mere mortal can go, and have come back with a message of what the God wants. (In Rawls’ case, that God is the perfect state of unbias behind a veil of ignorance that jarringly only he can pierce, from where to conduct his loaded polls of the dnizens who live in that perfect state of unbias. I, too, travelled their, and added my own loaded question to a hypothetical poll: “Without knowing the outcome, would you prefer to live under a paradigm of free association or forced association, driven by rule under a claven of inbred elites?” And hands down, all of the ‘reasonable’ denizens chose free association. See how the Rawl’s hucksterism works? Just like the old voodoo priests…)

    For sure, in order for folks to fall for arguments based on such carny huckster/voodoo priest tricks, they must have the ‘reason’ legs kicked out from underneath them as an absolute requirement to sell it.

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  8. If you are going to refute reason…

    I think you missed the point of what I wrote. I have no intention of refuting reason. Reason is a good thing.

    The core of this is found in this bit that I wrote:: “Making religion a demon while deifying reason will not solve anything.”

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  9. There is ‘R’eligion(instances of religion), and there is the meta-concept religion. I’m not sure there is any widespread making of ‘religion’ a demon; there are plenty of instances of making ‘R’eligions into demons.

    The political context in the US guarantees complete ‘religious’freedom, to the point that our own government is prohibited from even defining the word ‘religion’ in statute. Not even the IRS code. So when you and I(not as officials of government)discuss either ‘R’eligion or -even- religion, it is up to you and I to define the terms, as we are not only completely free to do, but compelled to do because there is no state mandate or definition or establishment (constitutionally) possible. And by state, I mean Marx’s State– the overwhelming power of all of us over any of us; our political context precisely limits that state, and with some brilliance, with religious freedom as the first explicit freedom. When you search for a usable meta-definition of the word ‘religion’ (or ‘politics’ for that matter), the brilliance of the first amendment is apparent. And I say that as a devout athiest leaning agnostic.

    My usable meta-definition of the concept ‘religion’ is any seeking or pondering of the following two questions: “Why am I here? What am I supposed to be doing now as a result of that?” Even when we don’t consciously ponder those questions, we yet answer them; our lives are the answers to those questions.

    Note how easy it is to change the nature of those questions, which many ‘R’eligions do: “Why are we here? What are we supposed to be doing as a result of that?” When “I” becomes ‘We’ in the context of free association, that is perfectly consistent with religious freedom; individuals freely seek socious all the time. When ‘R’eligion becomes a demon is when the definition of ‘we’ lurches outside of the local church and gloms itself onto the Royal Societal ‘We’ — and that is true whether the instance of ‘R’eligion is the Catholic Church or if it is the stealth religion of the Ivies, the Church of Social Scientology. The corrupting element is not ‘religion’, it is the forced association of projecting ‘we’ unwillingly onto free people via the power of the local state.

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  10. By the way: “Politics”: the art and science of getting what we want from others using any means short of actual violence; the subset that includes violence is mega-politics.

    There are other famous definitions, but they are subsets, instances of the above.

    “The art of who get what.” Yes, when what one wants is to be the Emperor of Who Gets What.”

    “The art of ruling others.” Yes, when what one wants is to rule others.

    My meta-definition of politics applies to personal politics as well.

    Sometimes what we want from others is ‘to ride them like a public pony.’ Sometimes what we want from others is ‘to be left alone.’ Those are both political wants, but are not aggressively symmetric.

    Another example: sometimes what people want is to rape others; what others want is not to be raped. That is megapolitical, but clearly not ethically symmetric wants, chocolate vs. vanilla, just two arbitrary choices of ‘wants.’ The clarifying factor is ‘free association.’

    Look at all the ways we can get what we want from others– it is a spectrum of civility.

    We can ask.

    We can offer value for value, exchange in commerce.

    We can beg for subsidy.

    We can seek political remedy(get the state to take on our behalf).

    We can steal/resort to crime.

    We can go to war.

    That is a spectrum, and once again, the clarifying characteristic is free association vs. forced association.

    Religions of all kinds — including those steeped in politics — run down that ramp of forced association in pursuit of religious visions. That is exactly when Religions become demons.

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  11. … our lives are the answers to those questions.

    I love this — it is exactly right. Too often we (those of us practicisng “religion” on purpose) end up with a dualistic approach. We say we believe “Do unto others…” but our lives show something completely different.

    But further on, you seem to say the local church is ok, but the catholic (and I’ll use the more general definition of “universal” rather than referring to the specific Roman variant of it) church is is not.

    From what you’ve said, the distinction seems to be one of culture. The local American church certainly does not force you to be a member of it, but they might end up doing things that have an affect on you. Even the Vatican does not force you to associate with it, but the defiitely are influential.

    Perhaps you mean that as long as some group (e.g. “a local church”, “a small book club”) doesn’t try to influence people, then they aren’t practicicing anything more than voluntary association.

    When they become too powerful (you said the Roman Catholic church, would you include Oprah’s book club?) so that they have some affect on those who do not associate with them, that is when they start becoming demonic and lean towards forced association.

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  12. Well, even the Catholic Church, when limiting itself to free association, is still an example of ‘free association.’ That is, when it is limited to that. And our peers exercising their freedom and politely coming to our doors to politely proselytize are still politely exercising their freedom, and respecting their peers when they -ask- to talk with them. That is freedom. At the boundary of our outward facing doors, we are free to say “No, thank you, I will pass, but good luck.”

    It is only when elements of forced association are injected into any such religion(including Oprah’s Book Club)that I see a lurch towards war. Examples are, literal crusades under arms, participation in actual campaigns of forced association, but as well, seeking indirection through tribal agents of forced association — governments — who all are not equally fettered(including the US government)in the application of forced association.

    The US fettering/wishes on paper/Constitution has an explicit firewall in the first Amendment against using the force of government to impress/establish ‘the’ religious truth on free people, who are individually free to establish religious truth. (‘r’eligious as a I’ve previously defined it; ‘R’eligions are obviously free, under free association, to establish their own ‘R’eligious truth and associatively subscribe to it. Freely.)

    In the current IRS scandal, agents of government asked of citizens their religious activities and views! Towards what licensed purpose? There can be none. (The IRS granting of tax free status has nothing to do with church/religion; the hurdles are the same as for any tax free status seeking organization. If you look in the IRS/ US code, there is no line that begins “The term religion shall mean…’ or “The term chruch shall mean…” because think of what that implies. And yet…

    I do not mean ‘influential.’ Ideas are freely influential. That is polite politics. I condemn only access to the guns of government for such influence,– ie, to enforce supplication to such ideas via forced association — or accessing the political process for the purpose of foisting ones religious views(be they right wing conservative Christian religious views on abortion or gay marriage, ot the Progressive Scott Nearing-esque religious views of the un-named Church of Social Scientology– the unofficial seminary that is the Ivy league for the last hundred years) and ignoring the constitution of liberty.

    When properly fettered by the constitution of liberty, our government is an institution of our state like ‘plumbing.’ We need plumbing, and we need honorable plumbers to keep the pipes clean and -free- flowing. We subject plumber candidates to the scrutiny of election, then we hand them a plunger, not a scepter. What they earn is the responsibility to defend American Freedom, not the power to implement their favorite personal religious belief or whim– no matter how frustrated Scott Nearing was at the lack of ‘Progress’ of Jesus’ mission here on earth, or how far back any religious zealout is about the latest justification for forced association with his religious truth.

    He published “Social Religion” twice at the beginning of the last century. Once as a frustrated Christian, and later as a fristrated Progressive/Socialist. Same book.

    Same religion.

    So why have we let Progressive over-run the machinery of state for the last hundred years, to the present rout?

    The ‘free America’ I wish for is one in which folks are totally free to go form up a socialist commune in the woods of Vermont or wherever, as long as it is under a paradigm of ‘free association.’ And that vision does not include anything like ‘national socialism’ shoved down the throats of an unwilling 49% by a 51% to 49% process identical to what goes on at a gang rape(the perps voted, the victim voted too, but lost.)

    Capitalism(commerce under free association)does not preclude socialism, but it does preclude national socialism. That is why the choice between a free nation that includes both capitalism and socialism is not equivalent to national socialism. One is freedom, the other is a totalitarian theocracy, a forcing of a particular religious view onto an entire nation by force of the state(be it 51% to 49% or 99% to 1%, it is still forced association/gang rape.)

    Our current political advocates of national socialism will never face up to the forced association nature of their religious ferver, and they find plenty of support from the classical religious foundations of the frustrated Progessive Scott Nearing’s of the world over-running the machinery of state to overturn the freedom they see as Satan in the world. For these folks, the polite need to ‘ask’ peers is insufficient to their wants. And so, they seek the guns of government so that they can ‘tell’ their peers their religious truths via activist legislation. There are (or should be) limited justifications for enforcing forced association on a national level. 50 states running in parallel, with the freedom to freely vote with our feet, is exactly the foundation of ‘United We Stand.’

    The American phrase is not “United It Stands.” That is totalitarianism. There is no inherent reason why the people of Oakland, CA and Lancaster County, PA must agree on a federal Minimum Wage, child labor laws, or school curriculum. Or much of anything. The hurdle for applying forced association over ever larger geopolitical regions (city,county, state, federal) should grow higher at each larger level of self-government. It is exactly the lack of diligence to this concept — the view of government as unlimited and available for every religious whim of ours — that is dividing the nation against itself, not uniting it. We cannot unite free people … by force. Even when we roll our eyes back into our heads, inspired by visions, convinced it is for their own good.

    Especially not then.

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  13. So now I’m confused. What did I say that you are objecting to?

    Where and how (specific examples, please!) does any present-day church act coersively?

    You talk about the government-as-religion (and I won’t disagree) but then end up sounding like a libertarian idealist. And most idealists end up being dogmatic persecuters of those who disagree.

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  14. “any” present day “church?” The buildings are indeed inert. But “R”eligions are another thing altogether. As for being a libertarian advocate of free association, mea culpa, gladly. The alternative is being an advocate/justifier of forced association, usually justified by one’s really good idea, or simply, what they want very much. You know, like rape.

    The conservative right inserting its religious views into politics is an example; there is no justification for legislating(at the point of a gun)’the’ definition of marriage; marriage is a status defined and granted by ‘churches’ plural, not ‘the church.’ That is a fundamental act of aggression aimed at the lives of peers in matters that are not any of our concern. I’m a married heterosexual for 30 years, but I’ve known gay couples, have seen the nature of their personal relationships, and can’t distinguish them from mine in anything except the least important aspects, which are none of my concern, nor impact their relationship with others. Attacking their personal happiness is an inexplicable act of aggression justifiable only by totally crackpot claims to speak for God. And that crackpot religious fervor is in full flower in America, “speaking for God.”

    The radical left inserting its Scott Nearing “Social Religion” into point of the gun politics is an example, no matter how frustrated some religionists are with the ‘Progress’ of Jesus’ mission here on earth. The deep fervor of our religious visions are not justification for forced association with them.

    This world is jammed full of examples of unchecked religious fervor bringing misery and death to people. Spend 15minutes in the nominally secular nation of Bangladesh. (I’ve done business on the ground there as well as many parts of the world less traveled.) There is a nominal civil secular government in place, but places like Bangladesh are actually run by the local religious clerics, who in that example, regularly demonstrate that fact by calling for ‘Hartals’ — national religious strikes that shut the entire country down, in spite of the pleading of the civil authorities. These are not ‘religious holidays.’ These are demonstrations of power. Gangs of religious thug ‘enforcers’ will patrol the streets, making sure the Hartal is ‘obeyed’ and violators — such as desperate rickshaw operators trying to make a living getting folks from point A to point B — will along with their riders be hauled out and summarily murdered in the streets. The tally of such deaths are reported in the papers the following day like baseball/cricket scores. “Dhaka 12, Chittagong 7″

    That is what religious fervor does, unchecked by the libertarian principle of free association.

    The best examples of churches and “R”eligions -are- limited by those principles — folks voluntarily coming together and treating each other — and outsiders — with respect, as peers living in freedom. And most “R”eligions and churches are indeed those examples, by far.

    But it is the nature of force and violence that the exceptions — the unchecked variants that have been allowed to blossom unchecked by any principles of free association — have a leverage upon others far in excess of their minority status. With such leverage, they can take over entire nations, including ours.

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  15. What is your alternative to Reason? It can’t possibly be eye’s rolled into the back of the head visions of what God wants. Gut feelings. Intuitions. Roll the dice. Throw a dart.

    So why the crusade, so to speak?

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    • Please look over my post again. I’m not saying reason isn’t useful.

      However reason isn’t the only way to know things. Many people rely on intuition instead of careful rationalization for their actions. Intuition isn’t reason — it is the subconcious prompting us. In fact, I would go so far as to say that most people use intuition and instinct instead of reason as a basis for most of their actions.

      And “crusade” was hyperbole. The only real crusading I’ve done is here in the comments section of this blog post.

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  16. (Do you have a blog of your own? It seems like a lot of this discussion could be done in blog posts, Google Plus, or Tumblr. I’m content to continue here if you prefer, though.)

    “any” present day “church?” The buildings are indeed inert. But “R”eligions are another thing altogether.

    Our semantics are confused. When I said “Where and how (specific examples, please!) does any present-day church act coersively?” I didn’t mean buildings. You’re right, those are inert.

    When I asked where and how present day churches acted coersively, I was thinking of extreme examples like the Inquisition — systematic opression by an organized group whose primary focus is religious. This doesn’t include (in my mind) the Religious Right because their focus is political — changing government policies.

    You use the word “R”eligion but I’m not sure what you mean. Obviously you mean something different than the conventional “religion” which, for example, sometimes just means a “cultural system”.

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  17. This world is jammed full of examples of unchecked religious fervor bringing misery and death to people.

    There are also many examples of “rational fervor” bringing misery and death to people. For example, I just finished reading this book about Ted Kaczynski (blog post coming soon).

    Mr. Kaczynski isn’t clinically insane and isn’t religious. He is an atheist who saw society’s unthinking embrace of technology as destructive and set out to get people to pay attention to his message.

    There are plenty of other examples of completely secular movements killing millions of people. (The communist revolutions of the last century are easy examples, but there are others.)

    I’m not saying reason is inherently dangrous. It doesn’t kill people.

    The same could be said of religion. It doesn’t kill people.

    People kill people.

    Some people are perfectly reasonable — they are very rationale with their killing.

    Some are devoutly religious — they kill because it is part of their religious mission.

    Still, I imagine you’re convinced that “R”eligion (whatever that is) must be eradicated. How do you propose to do that?

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  18. I largely complimented “R”eligions. (instances of the meta-concept religion.) I don’t propose eradicating anything. I am encouraging folks to consider applying the concept ‘free association’ vs. ‘forced association’ to everything we do– including religious activity, and especially, in our joint tolerence/encouragement of public policy/political activity. We should all be asking the question, with every point of the gun action of the state we tolerate, “What justifies -this- instance of forced association?”

    That will not eradicate rapists; what it does is illuminate, in all human interactions, the difference between interactions based on free vs. forced association.

    “R”eligions (instances of religion) that limit themselves to free association are entirely consistent with my utopic view of what the world could be.

    Of course, in response to that naivete, the alternative is expressed as “But forced association is necessary in the world as it is because:

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  19. Yes, the characteristic that lurched the communists(and their turf war Crip brothers to their local Bloods madness)was indeed not religion, but forced association for their really good cause.

    It is the difference between a like minded group of folks -freely- escewing capitalism and forming up a socialist commune in the woods of Vermont, and National Socialism. (What else can advocacy of socialism on a national level be called, other than National Socialism?)

    The defining issue is forced association; not rationality vs. religion. Religion is perfectly able to be rational, and secularists are perfectly able to embrace forced association for their latest really good cause.

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  20. You still haven’t provided any (current) cases of forced association. To what are you referring? Where do you see this exercised widely? You mentioned something you saw in Bangledesh, but I don’t see that problem in the West. If anything, I see forced dis-association in, for example, France, where the hijab is forbidden.

    So far as I see, we’re in agreement: forcing people to do something they don’t want to do is wrong. What does that have to do with religion or reason, except that both are used as excuses to control others — something I think we both agree is wrong.

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  21. ObamaCare is forced association– literally, forced association.
    A national MW is forced association. There is no reason on earth why Lancaster County, PA and Oakland, CA and Manhattan, NY should have the same MW; there is no reason for a federal MW, states are more than able to set local MW laws(and in a nation of 50 experiments running freely in parallel, folks are also free to vote with their feet; not so with federal laws, and so, federal laws– forced association on a national scale– should be few and far between and justified based on some principle other than whim.
    A movement to “define marriage” is an attempt at forced association.
    A movement to implement National Socialism is forced association; when shoved down the nation’s throat 51% to 49%, that is the same ethics as a gang rape, which is also ‘pure democracy’ unfettered by no principle other than majority rule. There is no equivalency between free association and forced association; a nation of peers, free to choose between capitalism and socialism, is not the same as an entire nation forced to participate in either capitalism or socialism exclusively. Capitalism does not demand national allegiance; people are free to vote with their feet and form communes. It is only National Socialism that demands of its intended victims their unwilling participation. National Socialism– as well as any and all movements towards it — is an example of forced association. And in spite of all protests, the Progressives are indeed religious zealots, as whacky as any right wing political religious activist trying to force his divine insight onto the entire nation by force.

    There are limited justifications for forced association(in a free nation; in a totalitarian p-hole, no justifications are needed.) And those that exist are easily justified–on the basis, ultimately, of inhibiting forced association. Laws against murder, rape, theft, fraud, and even fouling of the commons are all readily justified examples of forced association–precisely because their purpose is to thwart instances of forced association.

    National politics in this nation has lurched to a steel cage death match struggle for domination, barely checked by the wishes on paper that are our constitution; our presidents believe they are sent to office not with the responsibility to use that office to defend all American’s freedom, but with the right to implement any pet Soc. gad school theory imaginable and shove it down the nation’s throat 51% to 49%. That is forced association. We elect state plumbers and hand them plungers, ask them to keep the plumbing of state clean and free flowing, not emperors with scepters empowered to national tyranny.

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  22. Indeed, the concepts (free/forced association) and (reason/religion) are orthogonal concepts; yet I wasn’t the one who declared to the world, quote, “My one man crusade against the rebirth of the cult of reason.” — crusade since having been disavowed.

    I see the attraction of eschewing reason; it permits almost anything; including, the very title of the post we’re discussing.

    I guess, sans reason, it would be -me- who can be accused of ever asserting “My one man crusade against the rebirth of the cult of Religion.” Perhaps by intuition? Gut feeling? Tea leaves? Reading the bones? Visions?

    Never said anything remotely like that, and sleep like a baby.

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  23. ” Even when we think we’re being rational and thinking things through carefully, our emotional brain, our subconscious, is the one really running the show.”

    And of course, the author — the person making this assumption — used other than reason to -really- arrive at his assertion.

    See, I can hardly detect the same carny hucksterism employed by charlatans for centuries, through Kant and all the way to Rawls and beyond: trust these carny hucksters selling their politics, they can -really- see the world as it is; be that ‘hear God’s thoughts and desires’ or in this case, look inside the minds of others; only -we- outside the circus tent can’t do that.

    So when they use ‘other than reason’ to realize their divine visions, we are supposed to lay down all doubt and nod along. Hell, its worked for centuries. On some.

    Did anyone ever ask Kant; if there is an undetectable difference between a thing and itself, then why can only he detect it, in order to claim that it actually exists? Perhaps he should have been named Kan.

    Ditto Rawls; how is that only he can travel to that perfect state of unbias in order to conduct polls of non-existing theoretical denizens?

    …and so on, all the way back to that first carny huckster/voodoo priest, standing in front of the alter of sacrifice(of others, inevitably– you never seen these jokers throw themselves on any sacrificial pyres)claiming to be the One Who Hears What The Angry God Wants.

    Trust them; it beats bringing in the harvest, and always has.

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