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The day of judgment - Comments

Geodesic17's Avatar Comment 1 by Geodesic17

This is incredibly long, but probably worth reading.

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 09:16:00 UTC | #179961

arthursanford's Avatar Comment 2 by arthursanford

Ian McEwan is a genius.

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 09:38:00 UTC | #179971

Tom Coward's Avatar Comment 3 by Tom Coward

When humankind was armed with swords and spears, or even conventional explosive armaments, doomsday cults, from Millerites to Nazis, could do little permanent harm. This is no longer the case. It is as if civilzation were a 5-year-old armed with a .45. All the gun safety classes in the world will only put off the day that he will kill himself or someone else. One fundamentalist bomber pilot could literally launch the end of humanity.

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 10:00:00 UTC | #179982

JackR's Avatar Comment 4 by JackR

I shall certainly read this when I get time. McEwan is one of my favourite authors and usually pretty solid on atheism and religion.

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 10:16:00 UTC | #179990

JuxtaMonkey's Avatar Comment 5 by JuxtaMonkey

OOOoooooo that is an awesome sentence!

End-time thinking - the belief in a world purified by catastrophe

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 10:32:00 UTC | #180001

thewhitepearl's Avatar Comment 6 by thewhitepearl

"jealous god of the old testament"

Correction this should read "the jealous, petty, unjust, unforgiving, vindictive, bloodthirsty, misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic god of the old testament"

:)

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 11:07:00 UTC | #180013

Chris Roberts's Avatar Comment 7 by Chris Roberts

A must read.

It never ceases to amaze me how religious do-gooders can look upon armagedon as something to be welcomed or even a direction we should actively work towards.

I hope for all our sakes that humanity really does wake up one time soon.

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 11:14:00 UTC | #180015

glenister_m's Avatar Comment 8 by glenister_m

Gotta love all the death cults...

We really need to promote that perspective.

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 11:19:00 UTC | #180019

Jiten's Avatar Comment 9 by Jiten

First, and in general, the resilience of the end-time forecasts - time and again, for 500 years, the date is proclaimed, nothing happens, and no one feels discouraged from setting another date.
This made me laugh!
Natural selection is a powerful, elegant, and economic explicator of life on earth in all its diversity, and perhaps it contains the seeds of a rival creation myth that would have the added power of being true - but it awaits its inspired synthesiser, its poet, its Milton.
For me Dawkins fits the bill.

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 11:37:00 UTC | #180026

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 10 by Border Collie

"the dominion of peace, under Islam" ... gotta love that one ...

David Koresh and the Branch Davidians ... what a frigging waste of manpower and tax dollars taking them down! Nobody gave a damn what they were doing except the FBI, the ATF and other similar enforcement agencies. I mean, what were the Davidians going to do, conquer the Earth? Once the do-nothing enforcement agencies got into it and started mouthing off, a high school psychology student could have predicted the horrible outcome. They could have paid me the millions of dollars they paid (wasted) all those enforcement wankers to stand around and eat doughnuts for 51 days and I could have captured Koresh, by myself, when he went to get his Egg McMuffin and coffee one morning.

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 11:40:00 UTC | #180029

Mike O'Risal's Avatar Comment 11 by Mike O'Risal

Nevertheless, the world is currently being taken over by 13-foot tall superhuman hybrids with mice growing out of their ears from another dimension. There's no debating this point. They're the same Nephilim that built Stonehenge and the pyramids. Soon, fire will rain from the sky and we'll all be turned into pillars of peanut brittle, for the Bible tells this guy so.

There ain't no crazy like a fundie crazy 'cuz a fundie crazy don't stop.

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 12:06:00 UTC | #180040

errm...'s Avatar Comment 12 by errm...

Now see the appendix of Randi's "Encyclopaedia of claims, frauds and hoaxes".
Yes, these nutters want the end and they want to share it with all of us. I haven't bought any McEwan yet; where do recommend I start please?

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 12:49:00 UTC | #180054

Nova's Avatar Comment 13 by Nova

the United States, responsible for more than four-fifths of the world's scientific research
I don't believe that, firstly, it would be very hard to prove objectively and secondly a statement sounding as absurd as that would need very heavy evidence. The EU has an economy larger than the US economy in GDP (nominal) according the World Bank (for 2006) and the International Monetary Fund (for 2007) (the CIA says the US is bigger in that measure for 2007, funny the odd one out is the US own secret service) and all three organizations say the EU economy is bigger than the US economy in GDP (PPP) (World Bank for 2006, the other 2 for 2007), so even if for some strange reason every other country in the world was only putting a tiny fraction of their economy toward scientific research they would still muster more than a fifth.

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 13:56:00 UTC | #180075

drcowboybc's Avatar Comment 14 by drcowboybc

ermm... said
>>I haven't bought any McEwan yet; where do recommend I start please?<<

He writes fiction: Atonement; Saturday; On Chesil Beach. These are the only three of his novels I've read. I'd say read Saturday first, then Atonement. On Chesil Beach was a bit of a disappointment, to me. The main character in Saturday is a surgeon, an atheist. Very good story.

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 14:10:00 UTC | #180081

MelM's Avatar Comment 15 by MelM

Video from Atheist Media Blog.

"Texas Cult Leader: Doomsday begins next Thursday, June 12".

http://atheistmedia.blogspot.com/2008/06/texas-cult-leader-doomsday-begins-next.html

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 14:32:00 UTC | #180088

Gregg Townsend's Avatar Comment 16 by Gregg Townsend

15. Comment #189597 by MelM

Yikes...

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 14:46:00 UTC | #180091

MelM's Avatar Comment 17 by MelM

Then there's the batshit crazy end-of-the-world cult "Strong City" in New Mexico. The leader, Michael, was recently arrested: underage girl problems.

Link: Video

Unbelievable!!

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 14:52:00 UTC | #180093

Don_Quix's Avatar Comment 18 by Don_Quix

"Texas Cult Leader: Doomsday begins next Thursday, June 12".

Yikes indeed! Fortunately I'll be in the Bahamas, which I don't think is a primary nuclear target ;)

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 15:08:00 UTC | #180096

nancy2001's Avatar Comment 19 by nancy2001

I was skimming this interminably long article, when my eyes fell upon two preposterous words and stopped dead in their tracks. Pat Boone -- that white bread, 50s crooner who sang Writing Love Letters in the Sand is now sending junk mail about the Rapture, and he can't contain his glee.

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 16:09:00 UTC | #180104

Frankus1122's Avatar Comment 20 by Frankus1122

11. Comment #189549 by Mike O'Risal
As has been said: Yikes!
15. Comment #189597 by MelM
And: Double Yikes!



The rest of us, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, know that it is highly improbable that there is anyone up there at all. Either way, in this case it hardly matters who is wrong - there will be no one to save us but ourselves.

The end of the article and the above mentioned posts got me thinking about how it isn't just necessary to keep creationism/ID out of schools but to proactively teach thinking skills that would combat such utter lunacy.
'Step Back and Give Your Head A Shake 101' sounds like a good introductory course title to me.

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 16:45:00 UTC | #180110

Laurie Fraser's Avatar Comment 21 by Laurie Fraser

Frankus: I'm already doing it. I've renamed my Critical Thinking class "Wake Up to Yourself 101".

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 16:57:00 UTC | #180111

Shuggy's Avatar Comment 22 by Shuggy

And how could one be more serious than the writer of this prayer for the interment of the dead, from the Book of Common Prayer, an incantation of bleak, existential beauty, even more so in its beautiful setting by Henry Purcell: "Man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery. He cometh up, and is cut down, like a flower; he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay."
Credit where credit is due: Job 14 1-2

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 17:47:00 UTC | #180118

Frankus1122's Avatar Comment 23 by Frankus1122

21. Comment #189620 by Laurie Fraser

I've renamed my Critical Thinking class "Wake Up to Yourself 101"


Good work. Do many people take the class?
I guessing not too many of the people who would most benefit. :(

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 17:51:00 UTC | #180119

Godless Savage's Avatar Comment 24 by Godless Savage

Damn, these people are nuts! But we all knew that. :)

I liked the bit about curiosity:

And yet it is curiosity, scientific curiosity, that has delivered us genuine, testable knowledge of the world and contributed to our understanding of our place within it and of our nature and condition. This knowledge has a beauty of its own, and it can be terrifying.


Which reminds me of another quote by Eugene O'Neill:

Curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought him back.


My cat has resurrectory powers, by virtue of curiosity. Can I aspire to anything less? I'll take my chances by being curious, rather than sheep-ish, thanks. :)

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 19:07:00 UTC | #180126

Laurie Fraser's Avatar Comment 25 by Laurie Fraser

Frankus:
Unfortunately, you're right. Most of my students are already good thinkers. However, I do get a smattering of fundies, with whom I have a jolly good time!

A good tactic is to take on a subject like astrology and explain how to demolish it, using all of the C.T. skills we can muster. Once astrology is dead and buried, I say "Now, let's turn our attention to the subject of God." Leaves the fundies wrong-footed from the outset.

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 21:39:00 UTC | #180146

robotaholic's Avatar Comment 26 by robotaholic

perhaps we glimpse here something in our nature, something of our deeply held notions of time, and our own insignificance against the intimidating vastness of eternity, or the age of the universe - on the human scale there is little difference. We have need of a plot, a narrative to shore up our irrelevance in the flow of things.
- this was right on and totally beautiful

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 22:49:00 UTC | #180157

sarah95's Avatar Comment 27 by sarah95

And how could one be more serious than the writer of this prayer for the interment of the dead, from the Book of Common Prayer, an incantation of bleak, existential beauty, even more so in its beautiful setting by Henry Purcell: "Man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery. He cometh up, and is cut down, like a flower; he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay."


I recognized that one right away...from Ferris Bueller's Day Off when Rooney recites it to Sloane to comfort her (she's "grieving" about her "dead grandmother").

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 23:18:00 UTC | #180162

gcdavis's Avatar Comment 28 by gcdavis

It is remarkable how little of that terrifying event survives in public memory, in modern folklore. In the vast literature the Cuban missile crisis has spawned - military, political, diplomatic - there is very little on its effect at the time on ordinary lives, in homes, school, and the workplace, on the fear and widespread numb incomprehension in the population at large. That fear has not passed into the national narrative, here, or anywhere else as vividly as you might expect.

Well I certainly remember those few days when the world stood at the brink. As a 16 year old with all the uncertainties that age brings, I can clearly remember walking down the road toward a youth club in south London convinced that nuclear war was about to begin. Already an atheist I wondered what death would be like, would it be instant or would we have to endure minutes of knowing that the ICBM's were headed our way. I continued my journey with a deep sense of foreboding.

When I arrived at the youth club talk was of nothing else. In those days there was much mention of the 4 minute warning that we might get in the event of nuclear attack so the conversation quickly turned to the number of girls we could fuck in 4 minutes, as most of us hadn't fucked one yet, the likelihood of a result was unlikely.

There was a huge sense of relief when the Russians backed down and we all went about our daily lives. It was the sixties after all and London was about to swing. Despite all the problems of that decade culminating in the student riots in 1968 there was a massive optimism among the young. We had our own music, fashion and morals and the future looked great. I naively assumed that religion that had not played much part in my life was withering and would soon be part of history, how wrong I was.

PS What a wonderful writer Ian McEwan is

Sat, 07 Jun 2008 02:23:00 UTC | #180205

Logicel's Avatar Comment 29 by Logicel

An informative article with an added plus of McEwan's inimitable style. He manages to be laconic in meaning though he lets the words flow and flow and flow, repeatedly punctuated by the underlying theme/meaning, but in varied historical/philosophical/literary guises.

The will of god was transformed in the 20th century into the will of history, but the essential demand remained, as it still does today - "to purify the world by destroying the agents of corruption". The dark reveries of Nazism about the Jews shared much with the murderous antisemitic demonology of medieval times.
______

And religious apologists who connect atheism to secular killing frenzies only show how ignorant (Are you listening, Chris Hedges?) they are of the dogmatic connection between religious killings (jihad, inquisition) and Nazism/Marxism. To paraphrase C. Hitchens, show us a regime that based its ideas on the teachings of Hume, Paine, Jefferson, etc. that has killed in the name of its beliefs (that is, rationality, science, evidence).

And what exactly have we learned? I draw here from a Steven Pinker essay on his ideal of a university: among other things we have learned that our planet is a minute speck in an inconceivably vast cosmos; that our species has existed for a tiny fraction of the history of the earth; that humans are primates; that the mind is the activity of an organ that runs by physiological processes; that there are methods for ascertaining the truth that can force us to conclusions which violate common sense, sometimes radically so at scales very large and very small; that precious and widely held beliefs, when subjected to empirical tests, are often cruelly falsified; that we cannot create energy or use it without loss.
_____

RAmen, brother!

Sat, 07 Jun 2008 03:00:00 UTC | #180213

alexmzk's Avatar Comment 30 by alexmzk

wonderful article.

Sat, 07 Jun 2008 04:20:00 UTC | #180221