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Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Celestial Dictatorship and the Failure of Divine Morality

A Michael Gerson piece in the Washington Post has been inspiring a lot of chatter. Gerson writes:
Human nature, in other circumstances, is also clearly constructed for cruel exploitation, uncontrollable rage, icy selfishness and a range of other less desirable traits.

So the dilemma is this: How do we choose between good and bad instincts? Theism, for several millennia, has given one answer: We should cultivate the better angels of our nature because the God we love and respect requires it. While many of us fall tragically short, the ideal remains.
Is Gerson really endorsing the "morality comes from religion" argument? It seems that he is.

Christopher Hitchens is having none of it:
However, it is his own supposedly kindly religion that prevents him from seeing how insulting is the latent suggestion of his position: the appalling insinuation that I would not know right from wrong if I was not supernaturally guided by a celestial dictatorship
Celestial dictatorship...that's rich.

Hitch also points out a whole host of religion-inspired atrocities and evils, contradicting the whole idea that religion is the final arbiter of morality.
Those of us who disbelieve in the heavenly dictatorship also reject many of its immoral teachings, which have at different times included the slaughter of other "tribes," the enslavement of the survivors, the mutilation of the genitalia of children, the burning of witches, the condemnation of sexual "deviants" and the eating of certain foods, the opposition to innovations in science and medicine, the mad doctrine of predestination, the deranged accusation against all Jews of the crime of "deicide," the absurdity of "Limbo," the horror of suicide-bombing and jihad, and the ethically dubious notion of vicarious redemption by human sacrifice.
Ouch.

Hitch has a point though. Either these things are a) completely moral because they are mandated by their respective religions, or b) they are immoral despite the religious inspiration (But wait, an immoral God? Nooooo!), or c) the link between religion and morality is dubious, exaggerated, and/or outright false.

(My vote is for C.) In my view, morality is too complex to be ascribed to one "root cause" like religion. It comes from several factors, parental conditioning, societal influence, individual experience, and cultural consensus.

Oh, I'll concede that religion is part of the "societal influence" (or even "cultural consensus) part of my equation. I'll concede that religion overly concerns itself with moral matters. I'll even concede that religious people often believe they are moral simply by virtue of being religious, whether they are actually moral or not.

But there's no way you'll convince me that religious belief is a prerequisite for moral integrity.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Two Songs I Don't Like

It's funny about Black Sabbath. I love early Sabbath, you know, Ozzy, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward. Paranoid, Masters of Reality, man, that shit is great. But after Ozzy left and they brought in Dio and a couple other guys, I had no interest. And same with Ozzy's solo stuff. It's crap.

His new song is crap too.

Actual lyrics:
All my life I've been over the top
I don't know what I'm doing
All I know is I don't wanna stop
I cringe when I hear this song.

If I wanted to hear a drug-adled old man ramble I'd listen to Rush Limbaugh.

The other song is this one by Finger Eleven. The faux-Disturbed vocals, the stupid subject, the weird vibe. Don't like it. And the interpretive dance on the roof thing? Not feeling that either.

Hey, isn't that the riff from Take Me Out?
Alright, maybe not.

Fair and Whatidy?

Further proof that conservatives/Republicans/right wing nutjobs have no clue what the definition of "fair and balanced" is:

President Bush on the Libby commutation:
First of all, the Scooter Libby decision was, I thought, a fair and balanced decision.
Surely no one in their right mind has argued that the Libby commutation was fair. It is marked by neither impartiality nor honesty. It's not free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism. It also does not conform with the established rules.

Balanced is a little trickier because if you wanted to get super-technical, you could say it is balanced. He still pays his fine, gets his probation, so that's the balance on one side. On the other, he gets no jail time. See? Balance.

How's this for balance? You have the "good" with Justice being subverted by the bad, ie Corruption.

Balance...it's the opposite of spin. (Yeah, right.)

Anyway, my point is...are there any republicans or Bush supporters out there who still get a tingle in their shorts when this man speaks in public?

It's like watching a bad commercial on cable (the Head-on commercials would be a suitable template) where all the information conveyed is exaggerated and half wrong, and it's delivered in hollow meaningless, but catchy slogans. "September the 11th. We must succeed in Iraq. September the 11th. We must succeed in Iraq. September the 11th. We must succeed in Iraq."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Man Versus World

If Bush thinks he can fight Al Qaeda, Shiite death squads, Iranian proxies, Sunni insurgents, incompetent Iraqi politicians, Democrats, turncoat Republicans, and the American people all at once, he's a bigger idiot than I thought.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Who Says Politicians are Cheating Liars?

So let's say a married politician gets outed as a client of the "DC Madam" prostitution ring. Which party do you think he's affiliated with? Come on, 50-50 shot. What are the chances he's a Republican?

In this day and age, I'd say they're good.

And in a cruel irony, on the front page of David Vitter's website, a picture of him and some fellow Republicans "supporting" the Marriage Protection Amendment.

These Republicans, they're such reliable creeps.

Speaking of politicians who like to fuck around, here's a Democrat whose got a little scandal of his own.

Oh, Antonio, you dog. And I've seen pictures of that Telemundo babe. Ay yai yai. Muy caliente!

But this affair does create some problems. Antonio Villaraigosa may have to change his name. He was born Antonio Villar, but when he got married to the wife he would later repeatedly cheat on, he changed it to a bastardization of a "his and hers" surname, Villaraigosa.

I didn't know this, but apparently that is quite popular in the Latin community. Which makes me think... When I get married to Eva Mendes, perhaps I'll do something similar.

James Pearcemendes. James Pearcealba, maybe? James Pearcebiel?

Nah, just doesn't have the right ring to it.