Excruciatingly Large Things

Daniel Rourke's new website is:


Picking the Meat from the Bones of Religious Doctrine

→ by Danieru
With all the uproar about religion & state, atheism & creationism, darwinism & design going on at the moment I thought I'd bring attention to what is one of my biggest sore points...


Yeah that's right. Religion as a whole. That majority of increasingly fundamentalist people who still insist that the world was created for human beings. In one sense I am all for other people's beliefs, respect is crucial in today's social and political climate, but the tendancy to respect religious beliefs above all others is a severe pet hate of mine. Why should I show respect for a group of people for whom logic bears no relation to their view of the world? Is that just not dangerous? I believe so, and we're all entitled to our beliefs aren't we?

Does anyone else out there have no qualms about just outright slating religious doctrine?

With this in mind I thought I would bring attention to what is fast becoming one of my favourite blogs. Meat Eating Leftist can sure pack a punch, and in my eyes manages to avoid most of the leftist cliches the liberal world revels in.

Check out these two recent posts on Darwinism and Atheism respectively, and peek at the post below for some Swift humour...

THE WORLD HAS GONE RELIGION BONKERS! So, to stay sane, please check out this article at Fiscal Study about how religion becomes organised religion (and the consequences of mind control):

"Rulers of the cult (and also those who wish to manipulate the cult) embrace conformity. Because, conformity makes it a lot easier to control (and in some cases manipulate) the masses - since masses composed of individuals who are exactly like one another will act and react accordingly and predictably. On the contrary, it is very hard to control a fully independent and liberated individual...

...As you may have guessed, the rest of the picture is quite the same as in any other kind of mind control. Those with slave minds tend to protect what they believe is true, and unconsciously filter out information they don't want to receive."
(Political) control being driven by religious conformity... Sound familiar?

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Blogger The Wearied One said...

I might take issue with the notion that religious people throw their minds (logic and all) out the window when they practice their religion.

It could very well be that a great many religious people are unreflective of their religious views, but to make a universal statement like "all religious people are irrational" is what logicians call an invalid inductive inference.

I find this notion, that "logical" people cannot be religious, very ironic, especially given the fact that one of the great philosophical logicians of all time, Gottfried Leibniz, who codified several logical laws and argument forms, was a devoutly religious person. Not to mention that he, along with Newton, invented calculus (Newton was a devoutly religious man as well).

Religious belief is more than capable of standing up to rigorous rational reflection.

May 26, 2005 6:09 PM    

Blogger Danieru said...

Some good points. I do think generalisation is the bane of all discussion, whether logical or not. I am just trying to re-address the balance for non-religious folk everwhere who have to live in an over-Christianised world. If you examine religion thoroughly then there always comes a point where logic is not available to the questioner. 'Faith' is the final word from a truly religious stand point, and it is this line which we stand either side of. To open debate across this line has always been difficult, and will continue to be so. I fear mainly that religion is at the moment winning the battle of words because of current public's fear in all things scientific - and the increasingly dangerous opinion forming in America that opposing religious dogma is somehow 'unpatriotic'.

Religion isn't always illogical, but break it down, even Liebnizian, Newtonian, Faradayian religious-inspired science, and you ALWAYS end up at the bed rock of faith. The unquestioning, unrepenting, ill conceived belief in faith above all else... I resent this place, because it is at this juncture that relgious belief becomes religious doctrine, dogma and belief in the dangerous. It is here that my opinion on religion is founded, and I apologise if I often seem to question religion on broader grounds, but when someone claims to me that a bloke called Jesus died for our sins and all human existence since has been in that moment's honour I get really pissed off, because nothing, NOTHING I can say will ever sway this person from that position and they out right desrespect my system of understanding, in extreme forms telling I will burn in their imagined hell for all eternity!!!

Atheists, agnostics and down right confrontationalists alike too often deem religious argument a taboo, no go area, simply because belief and faith are somehow sacred. I oppose this whole heartedly. Religion is something I disaree with on a deeply fundamental level, and my opinions toward it will always be based on this bedrock I have formed for my own system of understanding. I apologise for the inconvenience this causes. For my reasons check out any high school science text book (preferably not one used in a creationist driven school) and use some comon sense. Thanks for reading

May 27, 2005 5:19 AM    

Blogger The Wearied One said...

I'm not sure if everyone would agree with your claim that the world is "over-Christianized." This might have been true about 100 years ago, but there are apt cultural commentators who take the view that the West is overwhelmingly secular.

There is another claim implicit in your response, namely, that if everyone would just look at the facts of experience and apply some logic, rather than appealing to faith (whatever that might be), even the religious individual would come to see that his religion were false and/or irrational.

Unfortunately, this claim amounts to warmed over logical positivism. As philosophers of science have been saying for the last century or so, the logical limits of explanation are quite broad. One particular thesis in this line of thought is the so-called Quine-Duhem thesis of empirical underdetermination, which states that the data of experience are never sufficient to exhaustively determine the truth of one particular hypothesis over and against another. Trying to explain why water flows downhill is subject to an infinity of explanations which are consistent with the data available by sense. Even with considerations of simplicity added in (and those considerations are value-laden rather than data-laden) there are still many different explanations available.

The point of all this is to say that even the nonbeliever, at the very base of her belief structure, accepts certain things as basic and fundamental without having any evidential grounds for so accepting. In fact, sometimes these basic beliefs will be highly implausible on their available evidence base.

As I see it, any variety of theism is just as plausible and logical given the available evidence. You are right that faith is the final word, but then again, everyone is in the same boat.

I won't defend Christians who are obnoxious, however. You have my agreement there, that unreflective Christians are a pox on both houses.

May 27, 2005 4:10 PM    

Blogger Danieru said...

I also like simple explanations, and although as you say 'faith' is everyone's last place of refuge in understanding the Universe surely the appeal to Ockham's Razor will banish the very largest leaps of faith from sight?

To propose that the Universe was created by an all powerful, super intelligent, omnipotent being who cares equally for everyone and sent his only son to Earth to die for our sins to prove how much he loved us is not quite as simple as saying:

"The universe has always been here. There is no higher purpose to life. Mankind is just another animal species. Enjoy yourself while it lasts."

I know which side of the Ockham driven razor my faith lies on

June 02, 2005 4:52 AM    

Blogger Danieru said...

Three quotes here that sit nicely with the last few comments made here. Enjoy:

"Faith is believing something you know ain't true"
- Samuel Clemens "Mark Twain", American author and humorist


"Truth does not demand belief. Scientists do not join hands every Sunday, singing 'Yes, gravity is real! I will have faith! I will be strong! I believe in my heart that what goes up, up, up must come down, down, down. Amen!'
If they did, we would think they were pretty insecure about it"

- Losing Faith in Faith by Dan Barker


"The replacement of the planet Earth by the Sun as the centre of heavenly motions is widely (and rightly) seen as one of the great scientific paradigm shifts of all time. But what is often misunderstood is the reason why this Copernican "revolution" eventually carried the day with the scientific community. The commonly held view is that Copernicus's heliocentric model vanquished the competition, especially the geocentric view of Ptolemy, because it yielded better predictions of the positions of the celestial bodies. In actual fact, the predictions of the Copernican model were a little worse than those obtained via the complicated series of epicycles and other curves that constituted the Ptolemaic scheme, at least to within the accuracy available using the measuring instruments of the time. No, the real selling point of the Copernican model was that it was much simpler than the competition yet still gave a reasonably good account of the observational evidence.

The Copernican revolution is a good case study in how to wield Occam's Razor to slit the throat of the competition. When in doubt, take the simplest theory that accounts for the facts. The problem is that it's not always easy to agree on what is 'simple'. The notion of simplicity, like truth, beauty, and effective process, is an intuitive one, calling for a more objective characterization - that is, formalization - before we can ever hope to agree about the relative complexities of different theories."

- J.L. Casti and W. DePauli, Goedel: A Life of Logic

June 02, 2005 5:56 AM    

Anonymous oliver carter said...

I will gladly throw in my 2 cents worth for the general arguement that Danieru is working on. We just don't need a lot of no-answer-possible jive talking from the upper lovers of knowledge (though I'm not really kicking those guys), to understand some basic 'facts of life', if you will, such as why the first century Christian writers shouldn't be trusted in what they had written, at full face value in the first place! The compilers of the Tanakh (the Old Testament) can't be trusted any better--and that can pretty much go for all religious knowledge we humans have come up with, as well.

Taking Christianity as a prime example for the 'Abrahamic systems', it is true that the hope-to-die fundimentalists have refused to acknowledge the simple logic required to answer the matter of the impossibility of more than one direct Jesus quote of the same supposed time and place setting proving the lack of historical knowledge of what had actually been said, and when. That's part of the reason it's called 'the Synoptical Problem'. So it's true--they have to say that all the quotes given for Peter's denial scene, for example, (and don't forget about the inconsistency of the historical reporting) all true historical facts, and that "God" (who is omniscient) caused those claims to be penned, thus making them true even though we know otherwise that it's impossible for a person to say four very different sentences in two or more very different contexts at one point in historical past time!! Oh, I see, you just have to believe it. It's not only illogical, but impossible!! Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot that anything's possible with . . . Go figure!!

July 21, 2005 10:16 AM    

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