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Rob Bell - Love Wins (Reason Takes a Dump?)

I have seen in a few places today (the comments on the legos link and on slactivist) references to Rob Bell and his new book on religion. I don't yet know what to make of him but I am pretty sure I will find it exhausting. I think the gist is that some Christians don't like the teachings of their religion and are looking to make up a new version. Its pretty much the sugar coated version that we were discussing earlier in the week.

I find this sort of thing interesting. In a way, its like watching evolution. Creating a new religious belief system seems like the most challenging mental activity imaginable for a sane person, let alone one bright enough to recognize the logical problems with their current religion. One would have to both choose what one believes at the same time thinking that you believe it because it is true, and not just because you choose it. To me I think it amounts to people smart enough to see a lie, going up to the liar and giving tips on how better to fool them.

Something to watch.


 

Comments

I predict this will end Waco-style.

I'm pretty sure that according to most Christians there's only ONE way into heaven, and it's "do you accept Jesus as your personal savior?", and Gandhi absolutely fails this criteria - so tough luck on that one buddy.

This guy reminds me of the liberal(ish), hippy-dippy Christians I met at university who don't want to accept any of the nastiness that goes with their religious beliefs.

At its core, this strikes me as just another underhanded attempt at conversion. No true Scotsman indeed...

I am pretty sure Jesus mentioned that.

I really liked your take on this Red, but when I got to the end of your comments I thought about it a while and decided that if it is like evolution, I think this lovey-dovey mutant doesn't stand much of a chance. God without the viciousness just won't catch on. Why do I think that? Because I'm sure this mutant has appeared in the Christian population many times and has been outcompeted over and over again by the old-fashioned asshole God - at least when the nutrient on which the God-parasite feeds is the human brain. Don't ask me why, just making an empirical observation.

Isn't this evolutionary take on culture the reason Dawkins invented the word "meme"?

And, I don't agree completely with you, Tim. Catholicism has been diluted a lot, albeit with a lot of resistance, in order to keep up with the times. Didn't you hear the Jews aren't Christ-killers now?

I guess that means I'll have to throw out a bunch of my T-shirts and coffee mugs.

Boy was my face red in 1992 after I said all that shit about Galileo.

LOL - don't you hate it when the pope leaves out there on a limb like that?

Oh sure, they've toned it down for western tastes a bit. But the threat of hell is just too effective a survivial trait for the mutant strain to be more than endemic in the overall population, I think.

I'm not sure if here in the US it's more like what you say, but for instance, when I was hanging out with a catholic group, "hell" was diluted to mean "eternity in the absence of god". You might even get sent to a Chinese restaurant instead.

just more evidence that "new atheists" are focused on christianity (since that's all they know, or think they know, and feel most threatened by- sillies), and christians/ christianity will make whatever adjustments necessary to defend themselves ("the jews are not responsible for the death of christ" and other "too little, to late" pronouncements of this nature.)

the atheist position re: religion as a WHOLE rests on one sliver of an argument, a word they themselves cannot really define ("you can't prove a negative")- the non- existence of the "supernatural".

so while the "new atheists" are focusing on christianity and it's particular view of "what god is", all the other religions (including judaism, my own area of study) slip out from under the microscope slide, all with their own ideas of what god, or the gods, or a god, or the god, might be like. (the jewish idea of god, for those who have missed my years of commenting on this here, does not necessarily include being a "nice guy"- this in itself pulls 90% of your arguments out of the running, and there are many other religions who's beliefs are much more extreme than jewish ones and run all the way to a purely evil supernatural demon running the show- what do you have to say to them?)

modern christian (and other, including jewish :)) apologists are not complete idiots, and will, like this guy, use whatever they can find from wherever they can find it.

my advice to you (o atheist minions): stick to trying to define "supernatural" and focus on that as your "talking point", since that's really all you've got when it comes to religion itself, as opposed to christianity specifically. just remember, your main "power sources"- science and reason- are forever changing, by their very nature, and may not back you up forever.

oh, another piece of advice: the fallacy of "argument from authority" can also be useful to you as a weapon against the fanatics. but not for ALL religions, far from it.

eventually, if you're really against religion, and not just christianity, you're going to have to hit the books. and you might not like what you find. then again, you might- hate to make snap judgements. :)

You think your god is any less ridiculous? Don't go down that road, you'll find it is generally one way.

I guess Christianity has never changed before in the past two thousand years, never had a schism, never had a new idea that either caught on or fell by the wayside, and never had a sect that had an issue with Hell - at least not until God gave us the youtube.

How is this like "evolution?" If you think that religion is a goofy fantasy, isn't it just another random offshoot of the goofy fantasy, as opposed to an adaptation in the face of new reality? Has the problem of morally admirable unbelievers gone unnoticed all these centuries? Wasn't the harshness of Hell part of the reason for the invention of Purgatory, about a thousand years after the founding of Christianity?

I guess Christianity has never changed before in the past two thousand years, never had a schism, never had a new idea that either caught on or fell by the wayside, and never had a sect that had an issue with Hell - at least not until God gave us the youtube.

Well, I do not know what the Mormons say about hell, but they are very clearly Such a schism in their own special way.

How is this like "evolution?" If you think that religion is a goofy fantasy,

I think the formation of religious belief is a particularly interesting part of human culture. Interesting to study the formation to inform how all religious beliefs form.

In this particular instance I think its interesting because this guy does not seem to be a martin luther or a Joseph Smith, in other words, he does not seem to be insane or a con man. I think the ability of a person to hold fantastic beliefs that they invented is in face an interesting psychological ability.

I think the ability of a person to hold fantastic beliefs that they invented is in face an interesting psychological ability.

agreed. and so is the ability of non-scientists to "hold fantastic beliefs" put out by "scientists", who they hold absolute faith in without understanding an iota of the science behind these "fantastic beliefs" merely because of their personal/political/psychological agendas- their pitiful definition of "freedom"- that is, the "freedom" to work for someone else, be totally dependant upon that job, and their psychological need to call this something other than slavery. (i'm a slave, too, or maybe an indentured servant, but i'm not pretending i'm "free" just because i have the option to quit and starve to death.)

does theoretical physics lead to the justification of wage slavery by the semi-educated? is semi-education a means to an end for the top 10 percent of the economic pyramid? someone should write a thesis on this, i think. but not me- i want to stay alive. :)

signed, really, really ott conspiricy central

agreed. and so is the ability of non-scientists to "hold fantastic beliefs" put out by "scientists", who they hold absolute faith in without understanding an iota of the science behind these "fantastic beliefs" merely because of their personal/political/psychological agendas-

What are you even talking about?

...so is the ability of non-scientists to "hold fantastic beliefs" put out by "scientists", who they hold absolute faith in without understanding an iota of the science behind these "fantastic beliefs" merely because of their personal/political/psychological agendas- their pitiful definition of "freedom"...

To more concisely echo R7: wtf?

sorry, just having a bit of fun. i was just thinking of how people get on planes and in cars knowing they are built using "sound scientific and engineering principles" without actually knowing, or caring to know those principles, and how people used to/still go to alchemists, witch doctors, seers, fortune tellers, etc, because they trust in the greater knowledge of these people, and how much these phenomena are like religious people who don't know anything about their own religions clinging so fiercely to them.

yes, i understand the difference between how an airplane flies and why a witch doctor (or a religion) might be successful. i just think it's interesting that in all these cases the majority of people using these "services" are just trusting other people.

i'm not sure where the wage slavery rant came from. i do actually feel that way but i know how silly it sounds and i wanted to be clear that i was just having fun with a few truths i personally hold to be self-evident. not expecting anyone to take it seriously, don't worry. noses back to the grindstone now, my pretties. cackle cackle, etc.

which reminds me of a story my dad told me: dad, who was a science professor, and a scientist, and has a very sound understanding of engineering principles, befriended the native american author n.scott momaday as a young man. he told me when i was a little boy that momaday didn't believe in bridges. "what does that mean, he doesn't BELIEVE in bridges?" i asked, incredulous. (momaday was highly educated and a succesful author.)

dad said he had studied the engineering principles behind the big bridges and it appeared to him that they were flawed, and couldn't understand what held them up or allowed them to support the weight of all those cars. he refused to cross them and often drove far out of his way to avoid having to do so, or would fly if necessary.

to this day i have no idea if he was pulling my leg.

Either pulling your leg or suffering from anxiety.

The sad thing is that the scientists/engineers and witch doctors are obviously different, even to those who haven't the slightest idea how the physics works. Were there a high incidence of planes that didn't fly, dontcha think the trust that people have in them would be eroded? The mystery is why people go to priests or witch doctors even after experience demonstrates that their results are exceedingly unreliable.

That is, of course, the reason that clerics continually elevate faith to such a lofty position - without "spirituality" and bogus associations of religion with "morality", these clowns are out of business.

Amen to that!

Yeah, the debate is more about who you believe than how you believe.

The vast majority of people have to take any number of things on a a sort of "faith" You can't know everything. But any individual can always learn the science on in any one field, and know with some certainty that its not magic.

In religion there is no such option. This guy is trying to apply some reason to his religion and what he gets is, half a religion and a need for mental divergence.

The idea that we take airplanes and Ipods with the assumption that someone carefully thought out that how they would work and be safe, is somehow equivelant to the faith that someone (mainly god) thought out religion is an assumption that can only be made by denying scores of evidence.

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Obviously Luther and Smith didn't seem like insane con men to their contemporaries. If they were on the historical equivalent of youtube, you'd likely pronounce them sane, just as their followers did. Passing these sorts of judgments is certainly revealing.

Why is it so hard to disagree without assuming insanity or bad faith on the other side?

Well, I believe smith was convicted several times, so that isn't a judgement.

Luther's diagnosis I gain from this anthropology talk

http://www.boingboing.net/2009/06/06/evolution-religion-s.html

So Smith would have been pretty obvious on youtube in my opinion. Something Tells me Rob Bell isn't off flogging himself, sooo...

How is this like "evolution?" If you think that religion is a goofy fantasy, isn't it just another random offshoot of the goofy fantasy, as opposed to an adaptation in the face of new reality?

No one is saying that the claims or religion are scientific. Their goofy beliefs keep changing, randomly or not, and what works better (i.e. more people accept it and spread it) then stays, that's why the catholic church has been so resilient. It's an analogy to natural selection.

Also doesn't mean that religion is adaptive (has evolutionary advantage). That's a completely different subject.

Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme

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If I decide one day to believe x, and another day to believe y, and then another to belive x again, because it "works better," there is no legitimate analogy to natural selection, whether I do it or an entire sect or culture does. It's just people changing their minds. It is voluntary, a decision which may not be remotely necessary for the survival of the belief, and which one can change in an instant. Natural selection is not voluntary, not a decision, necessary for survival, and can't be changed in an instant.

I could detail a dozen other signfigant differences between changing views in people's heads and natural selection, but if it isn't fairly obvious upon a few moments of consideration that the "analogy" is worse than useless, I doubt the effort is worthwhile.

like natural selection, it doesn't work at the level of the individual.

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There isn't any "it" to work at either the level of the individual or any other level.

My implication was not that it is analigous to Natural selection. But only that it holds similar importance to the development of the human mind and human culture. Also it is something we think of as happening thousands of years ago. We spend hours and years of debate on religions origin, as science and philosophy do with many things. My implication was that this is an opurtunity to watch at least an attempt at the formation of a neew sect. One not born from political disagreements or the rampblings of an insane person that starts out as a cult leader, but by someone trying to insert some reason into the religious system.

It will likely fail, but that doesn't mean it isn't interesting.

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BTW, you might notice I avoided the discussion of "memes." It isn't that I'm not familiar with the idea. It just seems to me that the transmission of ideas has been understood pretty well for centuries: ideas thrive because they are promoted by dollars or guns. That is why it is silly to try to find evolutionary patterns in the ideas themselves.

Tribe A believes in a Blue God with Wings, and Tribe B believes in a yellow God that looks like a slug. Tribe A vanquishes Tribe B in battle, not because of the superiority of winged gods over slug gods, but because they have more gold, or better generals. Force and money imposes and invents culture and promotes ideas.

Memes, in addition, to being a horrible example of the Cartesian error, have been aptly described as a solution in search of a problem. The only benefit I see to meme theory is that it is a handy shorthand for demonizing ideas by comparing them to viruses.

I feel the same way about most of "evolutionary psychology," by the way, except in small, not-very-ambitious doses. Social science has its place, but it is by nature soft. Analogies to evolutionary theory won't turn soft science hard.

I don't think even Dawkins pretends meme theory to be "hard science" like evolution is.

Your proposition that ideas thrive through force, is it any more scientific? (Serious question, not rhetorical.)

Wasn't it Ghandi who said "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." ?

Sounds about right.

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