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Go to: Why the 'New Atheists' are Right-Wing on Foreign Policy

JD Cherry's Avatar Jump to comment 29 by JD Cherry

I have to say that I'm a fan of Robert Wright, and I have been for a very long time. He - along with Christopher Hitchens, ironically enough - was one of my prime inspirations to take journalism in university. I do think that he's made a very common mistake in treating Hitch, Dawkins, and Harris as a three-headed monster, but I also agree with him that Harris and Dawkins in particular have a very one-dimensional understanding of foreign policy.

Those who have read his Moral Animal or Nonzero will know that Bob has a very in-depth understanding of human nature through a very deep journalistic profile in foreign affairs as well as in science. He was an editor at scientific american, and one of the most vocal popularizers of evolutionary psychology.

I think that part of understanding human nature is realizing that it is fundamentally irrational. Atheists have to find a nonrational meaning of life just like anyone else. We're the people who see free will and even consciousness as a convenient illusion, right? Fetishizing Truth and viciously criticizing anyone who doesn't drop their faith upon first contact with Darwin is not good policy. It's fruitless and polarizing, and possibly not even factually correct.

I think that the people who react with "you're full of shit," and claim that religion is inherently evil are exactly the types that he's writing about. For me, losing faith has more to do with realizing that all aspects of life are on a grayscale continuity rather than black and white. The fact that the new atheists that he identifies are in agreement that religion is completely and irrevocably a bad thing shows that he understands the subtleties involved in foreign affairs. Have you ever wondered why excellent scholars and journalists like Scott Atran, Chris Hedges and Robert Wright who have actual experience in the middle east are commonly critics of that view?

I am a huge fan of Richard Dawkins, but I am a fan of his work as a popularizer of science - not as a foreign affairs pundit. The man knows his biology and puts his love of nature into beautiful prose but saying that there would be no suicide bombers without the 40 virgins is taking the easy way out. I really suggest you watch Scott Atran's talk at the first beyond belief session and pay close attention to the lashing he gives Harris and Dawkins there.

Mon, 13 Jul 2009 13:33:00 UTC | #378646

Go to: Francis Collins selcected to head NIH

JD Cherry's Avatar Jump to comment 102 by JD Cherry

As far as I've heard, Collins' religiosity is regarded by his scientific colleagues as little more than a curiosity. I really don't think he's considered "a joke" by any but the most militantly atheistic scientists. Honestly, I think his resume is solid enough to warrant his appointment. I really don't think that there is any good reason to discriminate against Collins for this position - the biologos foundation and its opinions are not necessarily those of the National Institute of Health - but it is extremely irritating and disrespectful to godless scientists if he was selected specifically because of his faith.

Sat, 11 Jul 2009 07:46:00 UTC | #377896

Go to: Go gentle into that good night

JD Cherry's Avatar Jump to comment 114 by JD Cherry

People who are not familiar with Ebert's condition should watch this video: It's from entertainment tonight but it's better than the usual piffle.

Wed, 06 May 2009 08:57:00 UTC | #356897

Go to: Go gentle into that good night

JD Cherry's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by JD Cherry

I can't ever come to terms with the fact that I'm going to cease to exist. It definitely fills me with dread, and I think that anyone who says that they are ok with it is in some kind of denial. In the end I agree with the philosopher Tom Nagel that the best we can do is appreciate the absurdity of it all and live life with a sense of irony rather than tragedy or heroism.

Tue, 05 May 2009 15:50:00 UTC | #356631

Go to: Evolution classes optional under proposed Alberta law

JD Cherry's Avatar Jump to comment 46 by JD Cherry

Remember folks, Canada's minister for science and technology recently refused to answer a question about whether or not he "believed" in evolution. When there was an uproar he said that he did believe, but he made an idiot out of himself in the process. People didn't complain about Canada as a whole because of this, and rightfully so.

I agree with Hektor's point about the religiosity of Canadian politicians being a side effect of conservatives, rather than Christians. I live in Saskatchewan and religion is not a big part of life here at all, except for the nearly dead as someone else pointed out. There are probably more religious people in small towns but - and here's some more anecdotal evidence - my family comes from a rural background and is totally secular.

Fri, 01 May 2009 13:29:00 UTC | #355347

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