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Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

This Just In: Science Explains Evil – The Media Says So

Saturday, July 30, 2011 8:35 pm Leave a comment

In the aftermath of the horror that took place in Norway recently, the headline on the Globe and Mail print version today reads:  Can Science Really Explain Evil?   Doesn’t that seem just a bit sarcastic to you?  It did to me.  Let’s have a look at that statement – shall we?   First of all the statement belies an underlying assumption about science, in this case, as an authority that makes you sit up and ask challengingly, “Yeah? Can they?”  Note that I did not write it. I wrote they. That is because here is another assumption:  That science represents the collective opinion of a group of people rather than a system of knowledge.  Now let’s imagine that I am ultra-religious.  Or even a little bit religious. Or even religious in a tiny way ; in a way that has been unexamined, say the type of faith you have in a belief that you have never bothered to question. Like Christmas: good; Ramadan: makes me feel funny and uncomfortable.  In this case the belief is:  There is a group of people called scientists that arrogantly believe they can solve the mystery of life, the universe and everything (to turn a phrase).  Oh and by the way these stuck up geeks think I caused global warming.   This ingrained belief in the truth of what a scientist really is leads me to the next question I then ask myself:  If science can’t explain evil, what can?  What is the next choice?  Oh!  Maybe faith?  Maybe religion?  It doesn’t matter. The question is the hook that makes you buy the paper.   If you’re a skeptic like me, the last thing you want to do is fork out the coin.  Instead I went to the internet version and read the associated article.  Nowhere in the article is there any implication or certainty that science has the answer to this pseudo-authoritative question.  I’ll repeat it again – just in case you forgot : Can Science Really Explain Evil?  Who said science ever has explained evil?   There is only discussion of neuroscience and psychology.   In fact one of the more banal statements that is made in the article is that the scientist, who is representing the complexity of this question, reveals that empathy is on a spectrum and that “[t]he spectrum approach reminds us that none of us are angels and none of [us] is the devil [sic] …”  Well.  Thank you so much for that gem of wisdom. Now I understand everything.   You may be wondering as I did, why there is no mention of that other discipline that explores the problems of our day known as philosophy.   Oh, but there is.  It is explained that the scientist’s “…investigations are more practical than philosophical”.   It seems to me – call me a little out of it – that neuroscience and psychology, being rather young disciplines, ought not to have been called upon as the only route to explain the question of acts as disturbing and vile as the recent events in Norway.   Using philosophy is wanting because, well, it’s difficult to distill and present the difficult concepts to a layperson – especially when, as a writer, you are trying to make deadline to keep the paper afloat in these times of yellow journalism.  And anyway – philosophy is way beyond what most of us can handle in the age of quick sounds-bites and headlines delivered to our already overflowing inboxes.

Was the media ever anything more than yellow journalism?   That’s a good question to ask too.  And mostly I want all of us to ask a lot of questions.

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The Search for Comfort is Not the Same as the Search for God

Monday, August 31, 2009 9:09 pm Leave a comment

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Hellbound Alleee of Mondo Diablo fame gets it right on the nose.  There is no rhyme nor reason to the world and this life.  There doesn’t have to be.  But that is not the subject of this post.   I am responding to her episode number 195 of Mondo Diablo where a believer says that the number one question of non-believers is “Why is there evil if there is a god?”.  Of course it’s the number one question that non-believers asks because the answer, that normally involves how god gave us free will to test our faith, is incomprehensible. It simply does not answer the question.   This whole business of free will and its relationship to evil begs the question of god,  as Alleee points out in Mondo Diablo #195 :    “What, indeed, do we need god for if we have free will”, she asks.  What exactly would be the point?

The whole question of a free will and the fallen world is very foreign to all other non-christian religions because no other religion has this concept of original sin.   Why bother to create an Adam and Eve if they’re going to disappoint you and once they’ve disappointed you why not just destroy the world and all its sinners and start over?  Oh sorry.  Is that what is supposed to happen with the coming of the apocalypse and Armageddon?  One might argue that the ways of the superior being are not understandable to us.   Then why bother at all believing?  If his ways are not penetrable, then why should I waste one moment on it?  I’ll tell you why:  because there are only about 1.5 billion of us in the world who are self described non-believers in a god and the rest believe in one (or many), much to the  puzzlement of non-believers, who spend a considerable amount of time defending ourselves against this offense to our sensibilities called “belief in a god and all that it means.”

Alleee hits another one right on the sweet spot in that episode.  I have to say it again because I love it:  “The search for comfort is not the same as the search for god.”   These are indeed and importantly two very different things.  A god is a very terrible thing to believe in.  A “bubba meisis” as my mother would say, “an old wive’s tale”, a scary monster thing to tell your children to keep them in line.   And then we tell them that it’s ok to believe in the scary monster because they’ll be rewarded when they die by some other fabrication called heaven or resurrection or rebirth as a brahmin, or with virgins in an afterlife that they can rape with abandon.

On the other hand I would like very much to remind Alleee how she got here –  Her wonderful show Mondo Diablo, that I have been enjoying for 4 years wouldn’t even exist if it were not for someone’s belief in god.  How’s that for a slap in the face?

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