The God Who Wasn’t There

Link to a movie I’d not heard of, picked up from Ronelle in the Sam Harris “Politics of Ignorance” discussion thread. (In fact I see Sam Harris has some commercial involvement in the film, and Dawkins provides a commentary too. Can’t see what the existence or otherwise of Jesus has to do with it, mind – ah I see, it’s the mythos again, personification of the myth, see the final comment below.)

Ronelle says

President Bush, I fear, may intentionally be kicking off a zero-sum game of “Armageddon” and the “Rapture.” I don’t believe in this but he certainly does.

Not usually my kinda conspiracy theory stuff either, but did pick up on that Bush & Armageddon thread a couple of years ago.

Ronelle also quotes

As Carl Sagan pointed out in The Demon Haunted World it is more dangerous today for society to tolerate and promote any pseudo-scientific belief – like ID and Creationism – than any previous time in history. Those fanatics had no A Bomb back then and the unimaginable eradication of human life on earth could not have been accomplished with spears, or even, cannons and guns. Our technology has advanced way beyond our capability to let go of childish mythology which is the basis of all religion. Irrational thinking of how the world really operates will probably be the downfall of our technologically advanced society.

Too true. I’m not sure it’s the weapons that make it the urgent issue “of our times”, but the ubiquity of information technology, that allows ignorance to spread like wild-fire. It’s not the “childish mythology” but the religion that’s the problem, the mythos is merely the basis for misuse by the latter.

8 thoughts on “The God Who Wasn’t There”

  1. The only solution to bad religion is good religion. Thinking we can do without religion (social patterns) is like thinking we can do without food (biological patterns). In other words, we don’t have the option about whether to worship or not, only about what it is that we do worship (what we see as of most Quality). And the more conscious we become of that, the better, because we are then able to say ‘is that really of more Quality than this?’

    But I’m sure you expected me to say something like that :o)

  2. Hi Sam

    Good to meet with you and hear your first hand reading of Wittgenstein Mark-II, fitting with my second hand knowledge – I guess I must read “PI” in the original.

    The paper / post about the mythology of science, supported by Midgeley, I need to take one exception to. The key phrase for me is “We have a choice of what myths, what visions we will use to help us understand the physical world.” I say that choice must be based on quality. A key aspect of scientific arguments is the “suspension of disbelief” – only so long as consistent quality explantions are forthcoming, once they fail what is believed is automatically re-set. (This needs development, but I can’t accept the “any theory is as good as any other” argument that keeps arising in the IDC debate.)

    The Onion spoof is a good one. Parody is a valid part of debate as we know. How are we going to persuade Horse to let Glenn and Struan back on board, and how are we going to get Ant and Horse to widen editorial control of the two key MoQ sites ? There is a wider common interest here.

  3. hi ian
    there’s definitely a place for meeting up in person to start pushing things forward – not least coz it’s fun

    re midgley etc, i completely agree about basing discernment on the quality of the myths, that some explanations are better than others, my point is that at some point all knowledge is grounded in a mythology of some sort.

    this links in to the question of ‘suspension of disbelief’ (do you mean ‘suspension of belief’ – ie scepticism?)

    I talk about this in chapter two of my book, where I talk about science being based on what i call the ‘apathistic’ stance, ie it’s not ‘science’ if you care too much about what you’re going to discover. you need to be distanced, ie open, so that you don’t prejudge what the evidence shows. i call this ‘apathistic’, as it is strictly removing the ‘path’ bit, ie the emotional assessment.

    the main point in the early part of my book is that on the most important questions, we can’t actually make a decision until we bring the emotions back into the process.

    and the emotions are structured by myths…

  4. No. I did mean suspension of disbelief. Suspension of belief (scepticism) is too easy, even Platt can play that game 🙂

    The apathistic stance is only the formal “disproof of hypothesis” part of science. Science would get nowhwere if that’s all there was – it needs creative purposefulness too, to build hyptheses in the first place – here you need to suspend disbelief for a while and have even an objective in mind. That objective may well arise from a more intuitive belief of what lies waiting to be explained. That’s “real” science.

    The other place you suspend disbelief is in a more common sense everyday life way. If some “scientific professional” eg your GP recommends some treatment, you may ask a question or two to understand wht it’s meant to do, but you don’t wait for him to perform double-blind placebo tests of a sample population in front of you before you “believe” him. That’s not a faith in his god-like powers, just an acceptance for now that his professional advice is “well founded” until evidence shows otherwise. A suspension of disbelief. Of course if you then sufferred unexpected side effects or no positive effects you’d be right back to him with somewhat stronger questioning of what you had believed (less suspension of disbelief).

    Ah yes, your book. I keep forgetting. How do I get to see it ?

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