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← Macleans interview: Lionel Tiger

irate_atheist's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by irate_atheist

...as Richard Dawkins and others have said—if you believe in religion you’re a moron.
Strawman alert.

Since five billion humans seem to accept that there is a heaven or reincarnation or something after death...
Evidence for this assertion?

I was invited to a meeting in Beijing two years ago sponsored by the government which wanted to see if there was something else they could teach people in China other than to get rich or that Mao was a great leader. I think they’re still struggling with that.
How about - and here's a novel idea - teaching them critical thinking instead of dogma and lies.

Q: Despite increasing secularization, especially in the West, most people have not become flat-out rationalists. Do you think that for many environmentalism is a religion?
A: That’s absolutely right, and that’s interesting because it is finally the fruit of pantheism, a very, very old religious idea. For many people, not using more than four sheets of toilet paper is an act of moral purification.
Many people? How many.

Q: That’s because religion eases stress, and what causes more stress than sexuality?
A: Well, precisely, and mate selection. I hope that in the book we were respectful of the fact that it’s not just mad Puritans that are interested in this; it’s a more general kind of issue about human affairs. We can’t just assume that any effort by religious people to intervene in private sexuality is one of those bad things that we’re now rid of, without acknowledging the complexity of the reproductive urge and its relationship to the future and to social probity, and to taking care of kids. I just read an article by an orthodox Jewish woman about how restrictive their sexual rules are—for example sex only 10 or 12 days of the month—but that people in this system are in fact very happy. And not only are they happy but they will have seven, eight, nine, 10 children. So in that regard, it’s working biologically in terms of reproduction.
WTF? Srsly? Happy? Repressed, controlled, deluded yes. But happy? Oh, FFS. Give me a break with the moral relativism please. Truth matters, Lionel, truth matters.

Q: From the outside, then, it’s not religion’s strangeness you see, but its naturalness?
A: I’ve been on panels a couple of times with Richard Dawkins and invariably we come to the point where Richard will go on about how terrible religion is, and I’ll say, “Richard, are you a naturalist?” And he says, “Well, of course I am.” And then I say, “Would you agree, as you’ve in fact argued in your books, that over 90 per cent of people have some religion?” and he finally says, “Yes.” “How can you be a naturalist and assume that the great majority of the species is not natural? That doesn’t make any sense.” As a social scientist I wanted a deeper explanation for this otherwise remarkable activity. When you think of the cost of religion—the buildings, the tax exemptions, the weekly offering—it’s not trivial, it’s simply not trivial. If only out of respect, one has to pay attention to this.
Equivocation. And one can hardly accuse Richard et al of regarding the breathtaking fuckwittery that is religion as trivial.

pkruger Thanks for pointing out the false dichotomy he presents. You saved me from writing a couple of lines of depressing prose.

Fri, 05 Mar 2010 16:41:00 UTC | #446781