Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Postmodern Banks Anxiety

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  • Mr Mark,

    Dawkins is undoubtedly correct when he argues that: "As a devout Catholic, he [Ratzinger] would have had dinned into him, along with the Catechism, the obnoxious idea that all Jews are to be held responsible for killing Jesus - the 'Christ-killer' libel - not repudiated until the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). The Roman Catholic psyche of the time was still shot through with the anti-Semitism of centuries."

    The annual Roman Catholic Passion Plays, in particular, appear to have generated a certain amount of anti-semitic violence - especially in Bavaria. And the Catholic Church does appear to have placed a much greater emphasis on the "Jews as Christ-killers" libel than most of the Protestant churches.

    Having said that, it's also a fact that more than a few leading historic Protestant figures - including Martin Luther himself - had anti-semitic leanings. And it 's also true (despite Daniel Goldhagen's nonsense to the contrary) that Religious anti-semitism was not 'eliminationist' or 'genocidal' in the way that National Socialism was.

    Historically, (and,again, this is despite Goldhagen's crude thesis to the contrary), anti-semitism in Germany appears to have varied greatly from region to region. Strong in some areas (both Catholic and Protestant), weak-to-almost non-existent in others. And it seems to be a historiographical consensus that Catholics were, in fact, less likely to vote Nazi ( in both the late 1920s and early 1930s) than Protestants. For example, in July 1933 (when the Nazis were at their electoral apex - taking about 38 percent of the vote nationally), a little less than a quarter of Roman Catholics supported them. The core Nazi vote was Rural and Small-town Middle-class and Lower Middle-class Protestant.

    However, the Nazis did achieve quite significant levels of support in a range of Catholic villages and small towns, especially in the Rhineland, the Black Forest and parts of Bavaria (Ratzinger grew up in the latter). Most Catholics, though, were urban and (like much of the unionised working-class) tended to be immune to Nazi overtures.

    End of history lesson !


    @ Russell: "As last week's BBC Panorama programme,"What the Pope Knew", demonstrated, there is good evidence that Ratzinger left child-rapists in place (or at the very least, delayed their removal for years and kept them from the police)..."

    Yep. I remember seeing a BBC documentary (almost certainly Panorama) on this not long after Ratzinger became Pope. From memory, it focussed on his role in Central America and especially Mexico, revealing how he personally intervened to ensure that a number of Paedophile priests were just quietly moved on to another parish - so to merrily continue their long record of abuse.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2009 • 62 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Only if no one introduces Chuck Norris..

    You think Chuck would side with Hitler? Hitler did hate commies so maybe....

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8450 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Chuck would use that Adolf as a toothpick

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16613 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    God and Hitler together? God wins.

    Only if no one introduces Chuck Norris.

    From Wikipedia:

    [Norris is] an outspoken Christian...he has expressed that those who are troubled should turn to Jesus, and is quoted as saying "true patriots" do not stay clear of discussing religion and politics. He does not believe in evolution and subscribes to intelligent design.

    Chuck Norris asks God for advice and guidance. But God makes it quite clear that he's not trying to tell Chuck what to do or anything, it's just advice, he can take it or leave it, he's just trying to be a friend...

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2396 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    God and Hitler together? God wins.

    I see what you did there. But the pope started it, comparing atheists to nazis and all that.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2396 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    Bhatnagar's complaints paid off: the #johnbanksmayor account has been suspended.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1554 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Bhatnagar's complaints paid off: the #johnbanksmayor account has been suspended.

    Oh dear. That is very funny. Meanwhile, the fake account has changed its name to John Banks PR, to make clear the perhaps not-so-obvious.

    Change Kyber Pass to: د خیبر درہ ?

    More voter feedback: please reply yes or no. New '4wd only' lanes on the motorway, for the more influential members of the community.

    There's some humour there.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2132 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    No, but the next time you try patting me on the head I'll bite off the offending digits.

    OK, I'll be generous and put that down to feeling threatened because your religious beliefs are under attack.
    But dont think you can casually throw in unsupported statements as a diversionary or smear tactic. The bitch gambit.
    And yes we all know Pope Pius got round to opposing Nazism eventually. So that makes it OK?
    So you ask what has Dawkins done for clerical abuse victims?
    That he is using them for publicity. and those in the church who worked on this same issue are forgotten?
    Are you serious?
    You need to open the other eye.

    HORansome

    Really? From the material I've read, and the debates I've been to (and friends I've listened to ad nauseam) that second paragraph actually does describe a lot of what is going on in the New Atheism (especially Hitchins and Dawkins, who are amongst the loudest atheists).

    It really must just come down to personal perception sometimes when we give our individual take on events happening in the public sphere, that swirl around our lives and that are and will be ongoing. While an individual may weary of the debate, there will always be others who come to it afresh.


    And Dawkins and Hitchens are Know -nothing(of religion) atheists?
    Are you saying that?
    And you want to quiz me about my religious past- funny many atheist's have them- go ahead.

    The Huff-Po piece is so overburdened trying to condense the huge social shifts taking place it reduces everything to caricature, and may even contain hints of the author's own disaffection with what is going on around him. And that may be why it resonates with those experiencing a similar fatigue. Go Figure!

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1210 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome,

    Like you, Andin, I have a theistic past; I was all set to enter the seminary and become a Roman Catholic priest, until I had an opportunity to do my MA, which lead to the erosion of my theism (I was still being actively courted to take up a vocation by the Diocese of Auckland four years ago).

    So, I can say that when it come to making claims about what theists believe, both Hitchens and Dawkins act like they know nothing of general theistic modes of belief (I can't speak for Hitchens, but Dawkins has been pressed on this issue and simply defines away the moderate Christians as being not properly Christian (the One True Scotsman Fallacy, if you will. There's a reason why, on matters of atheism, that he's more popular in the States than he is in the UK). To paraphrase John Mortimer, I long for the time when atheists actually engaged theistic belief in debate rather than played to their own choir.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 408 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Dawkins has been pressed on this issue and simply defines away the moderate Christians as being not properly Christian

    Really? I've listened to Dawkins speak many, many times, read several of his books and seen his TV series and I've not taken that from any of his words. Hitchens on the other hand is quite open in his blanket belief that religion, as a form of human constraint, is evil.

    I once used the term moderate in front of a believer, and was corrected: how can I moderately believe in god, I was asked. I either do or I don't, and if I do, it's not moderate.

    There's a reason why, on matters of atheism, that he's more popular in the States than he is in the UK

    The Guardian / ICM survey from 2006, which seems to be the most recent on the matter, put the number of firm non-believers at around 63% in the UK (the balance either don't know or for various reasons claim a belief). Dawkins pulls large crowds in the UK but is largely preaching to the (un)converted there. The US is another story as we know, a place where 2/3 of the nation stil think that the world was created in a mighty sweep of some deity's hand a few thousand years ago.

    Which is the core of Dawkins' message: Ignorance versus knowledge. He, naturally, as a scientist, has less issue with those who believe who are willing to accept that the animal kingdom evolved, as voluminous evidence seems to show, than those who argue, in the face of that evidence that we were placed in this earth just before the pyramids and so forth.

    And yes we all know Pope Pius got round to opposing Nazism eventually. So that makes it OK?

    Individual catholics (and many individual Germans) did all sorts of things in Germany and suffered for it, but the church as a whole, both Catholic and non-Catholic cannot hold their heads up. The response to many things, the murders of the sick and mentally and physically disabled amongst them, was not something to be proud of. Nor was the Vatican's order to the church in Germany in 1943 not to take a stand on the removal of the Jews because the well being of the church took precedence.

    And damned (!) if I can find where in that speech Dawkins blamed Hitler on the Catholics. I'd argue he was saying exactly the opposite.

    To paraphrase John Mortimer, I long for the time when atheists actually engaged theistic belief in debate rather than played to their own choir.

    YouTube has countless debates of the type you require, often involving Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Dennett and others. Mostly the aforementioned seem to have an edge, simply because debate requires the application of rationale, whereas religion requires that you suspend rational thought processes.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3206 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    because the well being of the church took precedence

    Sounds awfully familiar

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16613 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Hitchens and Dawkins act like they know nothing of general theistic modes of belief

    But ...... but what are those? I thought it was the mode of belief as prescribed more or less by one's chosen holy text and all attendant rigmarole. Maybe that was their mistake. The holy texts dont bear any resemblance to modern everyday religious belief anymore.
    And you could just say this is a general theistic mode of belief, and I haven't seen Dawkins or Hitchens address it specifically.
    If you see what I mean.

    Dawkins has been pressed on this issue and simply defines away the moderate Christians as being not properly Christian (the One True Scotsman Fallacy, if you will.

    Yeah... I hope your not referring to when Dawkins, tongue firmly in cheek, said modern moderate christians werent real christians 'cause they didnt live exactly by the bible.
    But "Thank god they didnt!" I think was the resounding, funny rejoinder.

    Individual catholics (and many individual Germans) did all sorts of things in Germany and suffered for it

    I know, I wasnt belittling all their brave efforts. My excuse... allowing myself to rise to the goading tone. Sorry.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1210 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    Bhatnagar's complaints paid off: the #johnbanksmayor account has been suspended.

    Funny how the anti-PC brigade can't stand the tables being turned on them.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4235 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    Ratzinger's speech the “Nazi's were Atheists” and the pitiful manner with which the church has dealt with sexual abuse and the raft of predators doing God’s work are an illustration that he as the head of the church and the church itself have no common humanity for the victims of the holocaust or the victims of sexual predation.

    The comments although made in public to a world wide audience are directed at his “home” crowd the catholic believers, who are largely ignorant or chose for their own convenience or comfort not to acknowledge the truth of these matters.

    You could well consider the church is essentially in the same position as the Tobacco industry in denying that smoking does cause lung cancer.

    Ratzinger doesn’t give a Ratz about offending wider humanity or human suffering; it is the church corporate that is his concern and it is this demonstrative lack of vision (concern for humanity), which will render the church largely irrelevant.

    Seeing Ratzinger and the Archbishop of Canterbury on the TV News linked together in piety made me angry to the point that I visualised what it would be like to give them both a kick in the nuts and bring them to their knees.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1188 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome,

    Mostly the aforementioned seem to have an edge, simply because debate requires the application of rationale, whereas religion requires that you suspend rational thought processes.

    Look, even as an atheist, I find that statement offensive.

    Do you really want to throw out, as evidence, the bodies of knowledge developed by theists, in celebration of their faith, which looked for the patterns behind nature? Brother Mendel and his peas, for example? I'll be the first in line to say that Christianity, especially Catholicism, is responsible for a whole mess of (on-going) evils in our world, but religious belief is not prima facie irrational. Certain modes of theistic belief can be, but not all and it is not even clear that even most are. To say that religious belief requires you to suspend rationality is, for example, to claim that the original scholastics, those who said that religious belief had to be based in rational enquiry, and the work of a large number of Christian ethicists, like Aquinas, duns Scotus and Kant (as examples) were irrational.

    This latter group of ethicists is particularly informative as to just how rational religious belief can be. If we track Christian ethics through Augustine to Aquinas (stopping off to see the developments of William of Ockham and John duns Scotus along the way) we can see that Christian ethics was subject to revision, argument and all the features of rational enquiry.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 408 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    But HORansome, ALL of it based on an irrationality/unproveable scientifically initial posture - gods are/ is-

    I spent nearly 30 years of my life studying religion (and being heavily engaged with it - at one time I was ready to be a member on an enclosed Catholic order). I am an atheist. I am a much happier atheist
    than I was ever a religionist. I do not browbeat religious persons. I just know they are insufficiently informed.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Do you really want to throw out, as evidence, the bodies of knowledge developed by theists, in celebration of their faith, which looked for the patterns behind nature?

    I think you are confusing very separate things. That the search for knowledge began in a celebration of faith doesn't, by logic, take us to a finish point.

    Before Darwin, the theist, began his work on evolution it was not regarded as a scientific reality, or, as it's developed since, about as close to a fact as science can get. Intelligent, rational people, in the absence of this knowledge believed all sorts of things. In the fact of the evidence we now have, it is irrational to claim creation as a possible solution to how we all found ourselves on this rock. Newton was a brilliant man but he also believed in alchemy. His work took us to the moon eventually, or at least played its part. Rational people once understood that if you got in a boat and headed west from Spain, you would find China. We now know that is nonsense. No rational person believes it, although they did once, as a matter of faith.

    but religious belief is not prima facie irrational

    Yes it is. I'm not belittling people's right to believe what they want, but there is not any rational basis, especially in the early 21st Century, for someone to rationally and logically argue that we were created and are guided by a supernatural being. Such belief can only come from faith, which exists in a space in which logic cannot intrude otherwise that faith falls over. That, of course, doesn't mean that people of faith are incapable of rational thought. History overwhelmingly tells us otherwise. But Darwin's turn from faith as his theories developed may show how difficult the two are to reconcile for many.

    Based on what they knew then, the English Parliament and Charles argued to a place where he lost his head and thousands died in the cause. And it was essentially an argument, at least at the beginning, about a common prayer book. The fierce and violent arguments they had were, to them, about ethics and faith, perfectly rational. To us, 400 years on, they are absolutely irrational. To believe in God and search for knowledge as a part of that faith, also seemed perfectly rational to scientists (and the so called Christian ethicists, although I live in part of the world where similar ethical values developed in the absence of Christianity) in centuries past. Scientists now, overwhelmingly, do not subscribe to theist faiths, because they find such beliefs irrational.

    So do I.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3206 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    So do I, Simon Grigg- kia kaha!

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Indeed.
    It's interesting that, in theistic America, apparently only 7% of the members of the National Academy of Science believe in a God.
    HORansome: we all have some irrational beliefs. It's not the black spot, even for great professional philosophers :)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1542 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome,

    I'm not belittling people's right to believe what they want, but there is not any rational basis, especially in the early 21st Century, for someone to rationally and logically argue that we were created and are guided by a supernatural being.

    This is the problem, though; not every theist believes that conjunction "we were created AND are guided by a supernatural being" and not every theist is out to confirm their hypotheses; there are people who came to theism via argument and are not naturally presupposed to it (witness C. S. Lewis's conversion from atheism to theism, as one of many examples; people do, it seems, rationally choose to believe in the existence of a personal god (or gods)).

    I am an atheist (and happy with it), but this condescending "Theists are irrational" vibe the New Atheists give off (especially when they tend to also be naive believers in Science who know nothing, say, of the Duhem-Quine Thesis or the theory-laden nature of observation and inference) really is doing the movement more harm than not. We're not exactly modelling rational argument when we mischaracterise the other side as irrational hillbilly locals who are committed to views that most of them don't hold, are we?

    Also, Darwin was not the first evolutionist; it was a thesis that was widely accepted, even within Christianity, as being likely true. (Darwin's grandfather, Erasmus, had been, for example, promoting evolutionary theories, and the thesis can be found in some references in Aristotle). Darwin merely (I say advisedly, since it was actually a remarkable discovery) worked out the mechanism (Natural Selection), which was also widely accepted as being likely true within Christianity. Creationism is, statistically, a minority view within Christianity; most theists believe in some kind of evolutionary story with either a god-thesis for abiogenesis or god-guided evolution (ala the thesis of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin).

    There is, of course, a secondary point here, about the sociology of Science, which, when you get into it, does rather suggest that scientist are nowhere near as rational, as inferential agents, as we would like to characterise them as being.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 408 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    people do, it seems, rationally choose to believe in the existence of a personal god (or gods)).

    It contradicts. To do so they must by-pass rationality. I'm sorry but I think Islander summed it perfectly:

    ALL of it based on an irrationality/unproveable scientifically initial posture - gods are/ is-

    That is the core of the matter. God / Gods are an irrational premise. Happy to see evidence otherwise, that doesn't rely on words supposedly written by God or others under his direction. Until it's provided it remains the core statement.

    Also, Darwin was not the first evolutionist

    Uhhhh, yes I'm well aware of that but Darwin, and his book, if you will, gave the theory legs and took it on a path to accepted scientific truth..

    Creationism is, statistically, a minority view within Christianity

    Really?

    but this condescending "Theists are irrational"

    I'm happy to believe they're rational in their belief, or faith once I can find a reason to justify such belief. Thousands of years of searching have yet to do so. Science, whether we all understand the fine detail or not (which really is somewhat irrelevant and a straw man) has, instead, taken us further and further away from finding such supporting evidence.

    As I said, I'm comfortable in people believing what they want, as long as it does no harm to me or others, but I've yet to find a believer who can rationally justify their belief in a diety. Indeed most people of faith I've known over the years would likely happily agree with the descriptor "irrational" when tagged onto their faith. It's not about rationale..it's about faith. Perhaps they're "condescending" as well?

    rational argument when we mischaracterise the other side as irrational hillbilly locals who are committed to views that most of them don't hold, are we?

    If I'd said that I'd agree but I don't think I did. Please don't put words in my mouth.

    This is vague and I'm sorry (it comes from a lecture which I have on my hard drive but am unsure where): I'm not sure who it was but a Christian Scientist said, and I paraphrase 'It doesn't matter if all the evidence in the world disproved my beliefs I would, in the face of it, still believe' (I'm pretty sure I got the nub of the statement). That is irrational. It comes from a perfectly rational person, who has boxed off a part of his mind to that logic which tells him to trust his mind and evidence and instead that part of his psyche relies on and is justified by something altogether different.

    most theists believe in some kind of evolutionary story with either a god-thesis for abiogenesis or god-guided evolution (ala the thesis of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin).

    Once again, irrationally. It comes down to faith. God Guided evolution, or a god-thesis abiogenesis is simply a dishonest way to sidestep creationism. They are the same thing in different cloaks. There is no rational evidence to support such theories. You can only accept such if you, subject to faith, accept the existence of a god or gods. Evidence of such?

    not every theist is out to confirm their hypotheses

    In other words: they are reliant on faith. Which rather underlines the point made that started this sub-thread. Thank you.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3206 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Humans are not merely rational - sadly for most economists

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16613 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    ye gods and little fissures... and other smart cracks

    ...but I've yet to find a believer who can
    rationally justify their belief in a diety

    being part of the macro (and micro) biota diet, I find the evidence
    for deities insubstantial and a little thin on the ground...
    ;- )


    manna overboard... drumming up support

    Once again, irrationally. It comes down to faith.

    Blind Faith! and the ambrosia from the Ginger Baker...
    boom boom...


    Market forces...

    Creationism is, statistically, a minority view within Christianity

    while selling books at the St Albans market yesterday I had some interesting interchanges with other bipeds... one heavily tattooed chap denounced the Catholic church, and then went on to inveigh against evolution and the laughable idea that we had descended from the trees, or from anything in fact... he said i would be beseeching God on my deathbed - cheery fella, charitably I'd say he used to be messed up on drugs and now he's messed up on religion...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4847 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    one heavily tattooed chap denounced the Catholic church, and then went on to inveigh against evolution and the laughable idea that we had descended from the trees, or from anything in fact... he said i would be beseeching God on my deathbed - cheery fella, charitably I'd say he used to be messed up on drugs and now he's messed up on religion...

    Sounds like he's a member of that special church, for special people, the name of which I've never bothered to establish. Even the clergy are special - proudly iggerant hillbilly crackers sent out to spread the word, a basic tenet of which seems to be that Americans are somewhere between angels and regular humans. For some reason this seems to go over really well with certain NZers. If he called you brother at any point, and had a rather disconcerting way of stretching the vowel whenever he mentioned the laaaaaaaaawd, he's gotta be one of them.

    A few years back they were preaching that Dubya was ordained by God. I know this because my neighbour sneakily put a leaflet to that effect in my letterbox, which breached our policy of tolerance. After I did my balls he rather sheepishly admitted that the idea was a bit silly, but if he didn't go along with the church's teachings he'd be back on the piss in no time.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3434 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne takes on John Shook's bizarre opinion piece here

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1210 posts Report Reply

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