Thursday, September 30, 2010

The good and the bad, side-by-side

Within the past six weeks, I've been pleasantly surprised by three different websites that I usually disagree with. I have never shied away from vocally disagreeing with people, so the least I can do is extend a little credit from time to time.

Of course, each site has also said something jaw-droppingly stupid since then within the scope of my usual interests, so I'll take note of that, as well. I discuss the details below the fold.

At the beginning of the month, the Illinois Family Institute put together a surprisingly well-balanced take on the misnamed Ground Zero Mosque to kick the month off. Not only do they give, unequivocal support to the right of the Muslims to build the structure, they make a direct comparison to churches all over the country that are facing restrictions on building based on zoning codes. Sure, they forget to mention that some 60+ Muslims (not including the terrorists, of course) were killed on 9/11, but for the IFI, it's better than I ever expected to see. Of course, they have since followed it with the traditional confusion of being anti-bullying with pro-homosexual and some willful blindness to the funding priorities of Republicans in the midst of a rant where they somehow think there are no warnings in the media concerning promiscuous sex. Still, 1 out of 500 is better than 0 out of 500.

Just a couple of days prior to that, Martin Cothran of Vital Remnants showed unusually good judgment in his dismissal of Glenn Beck as a leader for the conservative movement, and more importantly to me, his confirmation of the fundamental personal credibility of Dr. King. There are rare occasions I think Cothran could be promoted from pure blog fodder to the "a little of both" category, that he might one day actually produce information that would be worth reading. Then, he drops a couple of truly stupid posts that arbitrarly criticize public pensions without examining overall total compensation at all and a little gem about Jerry Coyne pulling the last sentence out of context and portraying it as being about something else. With such poor investigative and reading skills, I see little chance of anything valuable coming from his site.

The earliest came from the keyboard of Dr. Feser, with a smack-down of the attempted rebranding of "suicide bomber" to "homicide bomber" by conservatives. While I disagree with his take on Dr. Vallicella (if not paranoid, Dr. Vallicella certainly seems pathologically fearful of Muslims, and his attempts to rationalize his fear bring me regular amusement), otherwise his post was clear and well-thought-out. Of course, that's not going to change his devotion to an outdated metaphysical system, such as exemplified in his incorrect generalizations on same-sex marriage or the grandiose claims regarding classical theism and it's importance today.

Even stopped clocks are right twice a day. Still, three such posts in less than month created quite a surprise for me.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wonder what would happen if suddenly you agreed with these different groups. Would you seek out other blogs to disagree with? Are your postings sport or therapy?

One Brow said...

I'm not sure. I started out commenting on Usenet to defend what I believed in at the time. However, since I've become a skeptic, there isn't that much I believe in anymore. So, in a way, I suppose I'm defending my viewpoint.

It's true I don't post often on people whose posts I agree with. I'm just not much of a me-too-er, I guess. However, there are three times as many links to places that I visit where I tend to agree with people as places that I visit to see how I disagree. However, my posts are probably partly sport and partly therapy, along with genuinely trying to make a small difference.

Anonymous said...

I think I'm a bit voyeuristic. Sometimes, one must enter the conversation to get more out of a blogger, like with you.

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J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J said...

Of course, that's not going to change his devotion to an outdated metaphysical system, such as exemplified in his incorrect generalizations on same-sex marriage or the grandiose claims regarding classical theism and it's importance today

Nothing will likely change that devotion, OB, and I don't think there's really a rational explanation. Traditional catholics--like traditional protestants, jews, or muslims--uphold dogma because their particular dogma serves their purposes most effectively--it's more machiavellian in a sense than purely logical.

The traditional catholic idea of God as the "sustainer" of Reality, which Feser alludes to, is particularly odd (related to Aquinas' chestnut, the Argument from Contingency). Without getting into a boring old metaphysical dispute, I humbly suggest the argument for a "sustainer" God is really a sort of veiled rightist political agenda--ie more Mussolini than Jeezuss. In other words, we need to placate the supposed Deus--hardly different than the ancient pagans sacrificing to the volcano gods.

The Feserite believer insists God controls every aspect of our existence .. so we better do all we can to make sure He like keeps the world spinning, the rain falling, the harvests coming, the profits coming. So, bless the church, and King, and the powers that be, who know what God wants--prayer, mass, large tithings, etc Or else. When things go wrong--whether earthquakes, or cancer in one of the faithful, it's due to human failings. They didn't pray enough. Or someone's committing adultery, or there's a lesbian couple in the congregation, etc. Orthodox muslims and jews often think like this as well--Allah as King. It's the view of those who assume that God has nothing to do with justice, or reason. Of course if a monotheist God did exist, the argument from contingency would sort of hold--He would be the greatest tyrant who ever lived--Tamerlane on high, who could wipe us out just for kicks. But the absurdity of that view doesn't bother the dogmatist such as Feser.

lala said...
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One Brow said...

Kraxpelax,

Thanks, but I'm not into advertising.

One Brow said...

lala,

No spam, please.

One Brow said...

J,

I agree that the use by Feser, et. al., of the sustainer God is intended by them to cause fear. However, the concept of the sustainer God can be just as liberal as it is conservative. It's just as easy to use natural law to support homosexual marriage as it is to use it to opppose it.

As for their choices being convenient to serve their dogma, I can hardly expect them to not be human.

J said...

That doesn't hold within judeo-christian tradition--Leviticus doesn't offer liberals much if any support. Natural law's a bit trickier, but most believers follow the Bible before they do Aristotle, Aquinas & Co. (unless they're regs at Feser.com)--The Natural Law is assumed to be ...in accordance with Holy Writ, right? Traditionally at least. Birds n bees--Jack and Jill. Not that the old dogma of the Torah was correct, but that's the tradition. --

Aristotle & Co's a bit ...different--many WASPs think of the ancient greeks as kinky pagans, but they haven't ever bothered to read the cliffsnotes to The Republic (or Euclid or Pythagoras for that matter). The Athenians were not moral zealots--usually-- but Socrates actually disapproves of the, shall we say, theatre queers and outright ...sodomites. Soc (via Plato) does praise agape between males (and the rare intellectual females...there are no Sapphos in the Torah), but that was not primarily erotic in nature (tho of course it happened--as did with semites as well--).

Moderation was the key-- one pederastic general, Alcibiades, is mocked by the Academicians, more or less. Soc.'s moral lessons are not hysterical fundamentalist outrage, and ...not "paganism" as a Hagee would have it. They were fairly militaristic but not quite nazis.


Moreover saying "christians are human, so they should be expected to advance their own goals, lie cheat, as needed," doesn't hold. Yes, they do so, but again Holy Writ demands they uphold certain principles. Not that many do, but that's what it says. So when believers bend the truth to their ends (as Feser does) agnostics, skeptics..and atheists--should call them on it.

One Brow said...

J,

Believers of any stripe, whether they say they are following the Bible, natural law, or the tooth fairy, believe pretty much want they want to believe anyhow. For example, religioustolerance.org has a whole page on why you can't find a clear condemnation of homosexuality in the Bible.

While I agree we should call out hypocrites off all stripes, especialy those seeking political power, I was merely saying can't generate much outrage at the prospect.