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Rabbit is the question - Comments

Paula Kirby's Avatar Comment 1 by Paula Kirby

What, just one rabbit? Not a three-in-one rabbit? That's just not credible at all!

Seriously, lovely take-off, Miranda. It made more sense than the original, anyway!

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 18:12:00 UTC | #427197

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 2 by Mr DArcy

Send for the Holy Hand Grenade!

http://video.google.co.uk/videosearch?hl=en&source=hp&q=holy hand grenade&rlz=1R2ADFA_enGB346&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=Euk8S-G5O4Pu0gTUmqWSBQ&sa=X&oi=video_result_group&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CA4QqwQwAA#

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 18:13:00 UTC | #427198

Mal3's Avatar Comment 3 by Mal3

Lepus 26:10 "Lo, and The Rabbit spaketh; Thou shalt burn the foxes and the dogs out of thine dens; for they are abominations in my sight; And thou shalt not partake of hasenpfeffer, for it is unholy in my eyes..."

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 18:29:00 UTC | #427200

mirandaceleste's Avatar Comment 4 by mirandaceleste

Thanks so much for posting this here! It's an honor.

& Thank you, Paula :) I was extremely nervous about this, as I'd never written anything even remotely satire-y before, so I'm thrilled that it's been generally well-received.

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 18:30:00 UTC | #427201

room101's Avatar Comment 5 by room101

Love this...and is that the same holy bunny that appears in thunderfoot's avatar? He's getting a lot of gigs...;o)

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 18:47:00 UTC | #427206

Mbee's Avatar Comment 6 by Mbee

Sorry, but I cannot buy this new Rabbit religion.
The FSM is far more plausible.

Someone should look into where all these new religions are coming from - we're having enough trouble getting rid of the old ones as it is!

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 18:49:00 UTC | #427207

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Comment 7 by Bernard Hurley

Witness the awesome power of the Rabbit!!

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 18:56:00 UTC | #427208

Chrysippus_Maximus's Avatar Comment 8 by Chrysippus_Maximus

Gavagai!

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 19:11:00 UTC | #427212

Count von Count's Avatar Comment 9 by Count von Count

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 19:16:00 UTC | #427213

flying goose's Avatar Comment 10 by flying goose

To be honest I never really bought the Rabbit/teapot/spag monster argument. These either exist of do not exist in the material universe. Science can or some day will be able to verify the existence or not of these phenomenon.

Vernon's God lies beyond that kind of positivism. A point Miranda makes well.

How convenient that their God is unknowable and cannot be put into words! It’s pretty difficult to question and critique the truth claims of and to point out the real-life negative consequences of the belief systems of those who hide behind strings of meaningless phrases and who refuse to provide even a vague explanation of what in the hell they actually believe in.


But why would anyone take notice of such a being, if indeed it is possible to do so. If to know such a being is not possible, how would one know what it wants or desires in terms of our behaviour?

This God is a world away from the positivist God of Dogmatic religion.

Why then would such a God be attractive? This answer is that it in itself is not.

It is the negative way that is attractive.

Some people just don't want to be pushed around by any kind of positivism.

Science provides us a with a positivism we can rely on, we don't need any other kind.

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 19:21:00 UTC | #427217

Mark Smith's Avatar Comment 11 by Mark Smith

FG

To be honest I never really bought the Rabbit/teapot/spag monster argument. These either exist of do not exist in the material universe. Science can or some day will be able to verify the existence or not of these phenomenon.

I think you might have missed the point? It is an illustration of the ridiculousness of certain theist arguments. Russell chose a teapot (rather than, say, a rock) because it is something that is (almost, to a negligible probability) certainly *not* orbiting the moon and yet we cannot prove that it is not and *never* will be able to. The flying spaghetti monster tries to do the same by conjuring up something yet more ridiculous and yet more 'undisprovable'.

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 19:46:00 UTC | #427218

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 12 by Steve Zara

I (slightly) agree with flying goose: the analogy does not work. I was honest about my opinion on Miranda's blog. I think she writes some fantastic stuff, but this analogy fails (sorry Miranda).

The point of the Karen-Armstrong-theist position about God is that it is trying to point at something that doesn't really exist and to say that it can be the useful foundation of beliefs about the world, and even moral frameworks. They say that because it is "God", the not existence is irrelevant.

You can't parody that with something that both theists and atheists agree exists, like a rabbit! It is the wrong type of entity.

I think a better approach would be to say "Jabberwocky is the question": in other words, to start with something that both atheist and theist agree doesn't exist, and show that basing support for beliefs on that is absurd, and because God is the sake kind of entity, then the position of Armstrong and other fails.

It's comparing (non-existent) like with like.

However, Miranda is one of my favourite bloggers, and I am glad she has gained publicity here.

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 19:53:00 UTC | #427220

Mark Smith's Avatar Comment 13 by Mark Smith

SZ

You can't parody that with something that both theists and atheists agree exists, like a rabbit! It is the wrong type of entity.

I don't suppose Miranda wants discussion of her essentially humorous piece to get too serious, but as I read it she was proposing an entity which does not exist, but gave it the name 'The Rabbit' to point up the ridiculousness of the whole thing, and thereby to show she was making a parody of 'God' talk.

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 20:04:00 UTC | #427222

flying goose's Avatar Comment 14 by flying goose

Yes, I think it is a category error. Is that the right expression?

But I make a further point. Vernon's God may indeed be a fantasy. But it is a fantasy unsupported by dogma, or a tyranny. Nor could a tyranny make much use of a God that no-one, (my seven year thinks I need a hyphen there), including the tyrant that no-one can know the nature or will of.

Its my fantasy verses your fantasy.


Vernon's God like the Earth in Hitch Hikers is mostly harmless.

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 20:06:00 UTC | #427224

jel's Avatar Comment 15 by jel

i read this on Miranda's blog and thought it was wonderful. it is a great take off of the original article and takes the piss out of it in a superb way. more please Miranda.

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 20:22:00 UTC | #427227

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 16 by Steve Zara

Comment #445855 by Mark Smith

Yes, but rabbits exist, and Gods and Jabberwockys don't!

The point should surely be that Armstrong-style theists are trying to make real things that even they really concede don't exist, so the appropriate comparison is with other fictional beings that they also concede don't exist.

It's not "Rabbit" that is the question, but Jabberwockys, vampires, Ogres, Elves, Lords of Rings, Vulcans and so on.

If God does not need to exist, but questions about God that are important, then why can't I found an ethical system based on the belief in, and ideas of, Sauron? Would Karen Armstrong consider that suitable for general use?

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 20:23:00 UTC | #427228

Mark Smith's Avatar Comment 17 by Mark Smith

FG

Vernon's God like the Earth in Hitch Hikers is mostly harmless.

Only if he very clearly differentiates his (non-existent yet existent?) deity from the ones which are used to support all kinds of real-life activities etc. To do that he has surely got to drop the word 'God' and to tell the God-believers that they are mistaken.

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 20:24:00 UTC | #427229

Logicel's Avatar Comment 18 by Logicel

The rabbit analogy works for me. Jabberwocky is so fantastic that the image provides no handle on the reality that many do worship god as a real being, no matter how metaphorically they wax like Armstrong does. Miranda's true rabbit is just as ridiculous as Armstrong's negative version of the true god, but its rabbitness, even if it is just the word rabbit to which it is linked, gives that frisson of a connection to how real these believers take their god to be.

Miranda's rabbit is just not any rabbit, like the god of Armstrong is just not any god. Plenty of untrue gods and plenty of untrue rabbits. Miranda's rabbit is the true one. The way in which Miranda describes the true rabbit, you know damn well she is not talking about the common rabbit, just like we know Armstrong is not discussing the common god.

FG, focusing on what your favorite entity is not is like focusing on the periods when one is not taking drugs, smoking cigs, or drinking booze. And when you do smoke, drink, or fix up, oh wow, how delightful. It's a mind fuck, plain and simple. It's how you can keep yourself not getting acclimated to the high that results from when you do get all wrapped up in the friggin' numinous.

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 20:26:00 UTC | #427230

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 19 by Steve Zara

Comment #445863 by Logicel

Jabberwocky is so fantastic that the image provides no handle on the reality that many do worship god as a real being, no matter how metaphorically they wax like Armstrong does.


Ah. That is an interesting perspective. The sign of a good blog entry (like Miranda's) is that it encourages debate.

I would argue that most people really have no idea what it is that they worship, so substituting "Jabberwocky" for "God" would have no effect. "God" is simply what they want him to be, which is why the substitution of a nonsense word is appropriate.

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 20:30:00 UTC | #427231

flying goose's Avatar Comment 20 by flying goose

Well I will read the above in the New Year.

Happy New Year from a believer in *&%"!??

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 20:32:00 UTC | #427232

SaintStephen's Avatar Comment 22 by SaintStephen

7. Comment #445839 by Bernard Hurley on December 31, 2009 at 6:56 pm

9. Comment #445844 by Count von Count on December 31, 2009 at 7:16 pm

Enough! ENOUGH! Both of my sides have split from laughing! Please, Count von Count, try to at least browse the thread quickly before posting. Two identical posts within 20 minutes of each other is more than my funny bone can take.

You coulda KILLED me! ;-D

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 20:36:00 UTC | #427234

Logicel's Avatar Comment 21 by Logicel

And since New Year's celebrations always brings out the crank in me, this is for NMcC:

Eagleton is a Marxist, Eagleton is a Marxist, Eagleton is a Marxist.

And great rebuttal, Miranda, to NMcC at your blog, who is probably a bigger crank than I am.

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 20:36:00 UTC | #427233

Mark Smith's Avatar Comment 23 by Mark Smith

SZ

Yes, but rabbits exist, and Gods and Jabberwockys don't!

But Miranda's Rabbit doesn't exist, as is clear from her piece. I think it is a matter of literary taste (or effectiveness perhaps). Some people find the ridiculousness of the Holy Rabbit works to point out the ridiculousness of the God-talk, whereas you and no doubt others think Jabberwocky works better. Presumably Jabberwocky won't work for those who haven't read the original Jabberwocky story and who have no idea what it is.

The point should surely be that Armstrong-style theists are trying to make real things that even they really concede don't exist, so the appropriate comparison is with other fictional beings that they also concede don't exist.

I really don't think one approach is necessarily more appropriate than another. You could ask which has a more powerful effect, and that is going to depend on the reader (see above).

If God does not need to exist, but questions about God that are important, then why can't I found an ethical system based on the belief in, and ideas of, Sauron? Would Karen Armstrong consider that suitable for general use?

I don't know. But I guess she would probably talk about what communities have found to work over time, the wisdom of ages etc etc.

(Also I'm not sure she would say God does not need to exist. I think these people (though I haven't read much Armstrong I must admit) claim that we should not talk about God existing or indeed *not-existing*.)

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 20:39:00 UTC | #427235

Logicel's Avatar Comment 24 by Logicel

Steve Z: I would argue that most people really have no idea what it is that they worship, so substituting "Jabberwocky" for "God" would have no effect. "God" is simply what they want him to be,...
____

It is my understanding from discussions with theists, is they need their god to be real no matter how vague, how rationalized, how ridiculous it may appear. Reality is what counts though their belief is couched in the supernatural. For some theists, there is no natural, just supernatural, including our universe. For other theists, what is considered to be supernatural, will one day become common natural knowledge.

So smack them in the face with something real, like a rabbit, and not a jabberwocky. Because that is how they feel about their god, that it is real (and v special like Miranda's rabbit).

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 21:15:00 UTC | #427239

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 25 by Steve Zara

But Miranda's Rabbit doesn't exist, as is clear from her piece.


Yes, but rabbits do exist! The whole point of the Armstrong position is that God isn't the kind of thing that does or need exist. In other words, there need be no connection between God and anything in the real world.

One of my favourite Escher drawings is of a 2-dimensional dragon attempting to drag itself into the real world by grabbing hold of its tail. But the dragon, and the tail, and the paper it is drawn on are all just drawings, and the dragon itself is a fictional being. This would not have worked if the beast in question was a lion, or a dog, or a rabbit, because they are not fictional.

Karen Armstrong is attempting to say that certain kinds of fictional being (her God) should be accepted has having a certain effect on reality. But her God is equivalent to a dragon. No amount of twisting and turning, or tail-grabbing will reify her mythical beast. Gods and dragons don't have the foothold in reality that rabbits do!

I guess I have to give up at this point. I'm a bit puzzled about the why the category problem with the use of a real type of object in the analogy isn't understood. It seems clear to me!

I guess flying goose and I are alone in this :)

Anyway, happy new year to everyone.

EDIT: As I have said, I congratulate Miranda for the publicity for her excellent blog. I hope she has more presence here. She is a thoughtful and intelligent blogger whose views deserve to be widely known.

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 21:23:00 UTC | #427240

jel's Avatar Comment 26 by jel

@steve zara, re : 25.
i do get your point, i just liked miranda's article.

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 21:42:00 UTC | #427246

Dr. Strangegod's Avatar Comment 28 by Dr. Strangegod

Wait, Steve, are you really saying elves don't exist? Because I've read some very long and complicated historical texts of their... and there's a language they speak and... wait... wait so all that stuff in the Silmarillion isn't real?

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 21:43:00 UTC | #427248

SaintStephen's Avatar Comment 27 by SaintStephen

25. Comment #445874 by Steve Zara on December 31, 2009 at 9:23 pm

It seems clear to me!
Actually, what is more than abundantly clear to me, and perhaps crystal as well to Logicel, and perhaps all the other RD.net denizens who haven't felt the pedantic, drug-addictive urge to "deconstruct" a humorous rabbit analogy by mirandaceleste, is that comments such as yours in this thread, have absolutely nothing to do with a holiday spirit of warmth, and comraderie, and good will towards your fellow humans. Trite, banal, and utterly trivial criticism of this sort is best kept to oneself. You, Stevo, seem to have genuine difficulty closing the personal piehole, even if your posts couldn't necessarily be categorized as "Off-Topic", and aren't laced with colourful HTML.

Just my opinion, mind you. Happy New Year to you, too! ;-P

Superb job, miranda, and very funny indeed.

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 21:43:00 UTC | #427247

Mal3's Avatar Comment 29 by Mal3

Lucas, of course Elves exist! Not only do we have a long, meticulous history of their existence, customs and art, but we know for a fact that they still live on, to this very day, in the undying lands! Its all in the book!

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 21:49:00 UTC | #427249

mirandaceleste's Avatar Comment 30 by mirandaceleste

Thank you so very much for the compliments & kind words :)

This has definitely generated an interesting discussion/debate. I didn't think that the choice to use something that does exist vs. something imaginary in my analogy would be a contentious one, but I can certainly see both sides of the issue. I do think that choosing something that exists was the right choice, but I understand where Steve's coming from and always appreciate his thoughtful feedback (and thus don't see the need to be rudely dismissive of him or of the position that he and flying goose are advocating.)

Anyway, in addition to my general disgust at articles/books, etc. that are full of meaningless nonsense meant to sound deep and profound (a lot of that disgust stems from how "postmodernist thinking" was the lens through which we students were expected to interpret literature when I was an undergraduate English major and then a graduate student. This is, unfortunately, the case today in many, if not most, English departments at American universities), I feel especially disturbed and frustrated by the theological-babble variety of meaningless nonsense, for the reasons I mentioned in my post and also because of the nasty and scary childhood religious indoctrination that I experienced.

I want to ask these authors how in the world their ineffable God of magical unknowable sparkly wonderment can be reconciled with the frightening and vindictive God I was taught about as a child and how their delightful God who is an unknowable mystery can be reconciled with the God whom I was told would punish people with an eternity in a literal hell for even small-ish transgressions. I just don't get it, and find their nonsense disturbing on many different levels. (And I don't mean to claim that I had the nastiest childhood religious indoctrination ever or that my experience was particularly extraordinary. It's just easiest to use my own life as an example.)

Thu, 31 Dec 2009 22:17:00 UTC | #427253