Sunday, August 12, 2007

I disagree as an opponent of alchemy

Mercifully the pollution of Andrew Sullivan's blog is soon to end with the departure of his guest bloggers. Toward the end Liz Mair makes a statement to the effect that 9/11 conspiracy theorists are just as crazy as Biblical creationists. Another guest blogger retorts as follows:

Being the disgruntled atheist I am, I have to point out that George W. Bush definitely exists, and 9/11 definitely happened. So even if some nuts are making an irrational and stupid connection between two facts, there's still some factual basis.

This "God" character, and the alleged marvelous actions attributed to him, on the other hand...

And Mair revealingly replies:

Well, Eric, as a Catholic, I obviously have to (and do) disagree with you. And point out that it appears that all but 6% of the country would disagree with your premise. While simultaneously recognizing that my husband also thinks that a core belief of mine and, apparently, 91% of the American population, is erroneous.

I find it astonishing that almost irrespective of a believers level of education or erudition they still make these claims. I want to know if they truly understand why the fact that a lot of people agree with them that a god exists has any relevance as to the actual truth of the proposition. There was a time when 100 percent of people thought the Sun revolved around the Earth and that the Earth actually was created in Seven days. The extent to which a population believes something has no relevance as to its truth but according to Mair's logic if enough people actually believed in creationist theory then it would be more credible. Does she even believe that for a belief to be credible it has to square with evidence from the real world and not the warm happy thoughts in her head, even if they bear a vague resemblance to the warm happy thoughts that others have?

I would also point out that 91% of the population does not agree with her as they are fractures into innumerable sect ranging from Christian to Muslim, Catholic to Protestant, Baptist to Methodist all of which condemn each other to hell with varying ferocity.

I have seen this pattern of argument and belief my whole life. Part of the comfort and warmth people derive from religion is the sense that they are not the odd men out. They are part of the majority opinion and thus feel as though they can bully challengers with their numbers. They are totally blind to the fact that the esprit de corps they feel has nothing to say about the truth and reality of their beliefs, which have about as much basis in reality as unicorns, and whose followers often display all the intellectual maturity of a high school football pep rally.

And the caveat that "as a Catholic" she has to disagree with him is an odd one. Does she have to disagree with him as human being? Does she think that the fact that she has decided to react with credulity to the assertions of a beuracroacy of elderly virgins entitles her to entirely different standards of proof, reason, evidence, and honesty than the rest of us? Apparently because she has chosen to ally herself with one of thousands of Balkanized sects, she is entitled to a different (a Catholic) view of reality. I often hear people use phrases like "a Catholic perspective" or a "Christian perspective." Just replace the word perspective with "reality" and see how abusrd you sound. Is there such a thing as "Catholic chemisrty," "Catholic math," or "Methodist phyaics?" No. Then why would she have to disagree with Eric as anything other than a reasoning human being? Because as a religious person she has alas sacrificed her reason to credulity.

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