Friday, May 29, 2015

The Unbelieving Clergy

Dan Dennett has been studying the phenomenon of preachers who don’t believe what they preach, and the paper and commentary are available at the Washington post. Strangely, the newspaper has headlined it as “Skeptical clergy a silent majority?”, which is odd — the work doesn’t attempt to quantify how many unbelievers there are in the ministry, but is more of a case study of those they’ve found…and since they are only describing the in-depth interviews of five people, it’s absurd to try and draw conclusions about proportions.
It’s interesting stuff, but utterly unsurprising to atheists. These are people who entered the ministry out of a sincere desire to do good in the world, and as they delved into religious scholarship, they discovered they couldn’t believe anymore…but hey, they were still humane and concerned about their fellow human beings. They’re also concerned about what will happen to their income if they leave the church, and what will happen to the opinion others have of them. And they engage in some difficult and twisty rationalizations for their situations.
One other interesting point is that several of them came to their atheism by way of reading books by Ehrman and Spong, and also Harris and Hitchens. These works do make a difference. Unfortunately, we also learn that while they have received enlightenment, they’re very, very reluctant to share that shameful knowledge with their congregations, and continue to reassure them about belief in god.
Unfortunately, the WaPo couldn’t just put up Dennett’s bombshell on its own: they’ve surrounded it with a confusing cloud of commissioned articles to answer the question, “What should pastors do if they no longer hold the defining beliefs of their denomination?”. Most of them are believers, except for Rebecca Goldstein and Tom Flynn and Herb Silverman, and most of them are making excuses. You just knew that someone would make the inane argument that “doubt is part of faith.” No, it’s not. Faith is the blunt instrument used to crush doubt.
The comments on Dennett’s article are also fascinating. There are people who are quite upset about his revelation. And there is even a Cracker Catholic there, claiming that an atheist priest at communion turned a wafer into a hunk of bloody meat — therefore, god, apparently.
Just watch. This is news that will provoke protests and complaints and lots of excuses. I hope it also encourages more ministers to come out of the closet and face reality, instead of making it their profession to obscure the truth.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

More Military Madness

The intense US military campaign aimed at crippling AQ and The Taliban has so far failed to inflict more than fleeting setbacks on the insurgency or put meaningful pressure on its leaders to seek peace, according to U.S. military and intelligence officials citing the latest assessments of the conflicts in the Middle East. The recent upsurge of ISIS is another bolt of evidence to prove how bad the American campaign has resulted in. While targeted airstrikes may bring home some results in dampening the enemy onslaugt it is virtually impossible to remove the enemy on the ground using this means. The Israeli bombing of Gaza and the West Bank are also shining examples of this failure over the past 65 years.

Such campaigns in troubled nations where tribes, sects, religious groups, and locally manifested differences causes create tensions internally need to be resolved amicably by all parties if one is seriously interested in peace. Unless of course one has the means to destroy and annihilate an entire people who are a part of the problem.

The situation in Iraq is a glaring example of the mess that the Yankees have got into, no thanks to GWB senior and junior. Ironical it is that the present military strikes on northern Iraq against the ISIS are being carried out from the Anti Aircraft Carrier George H W Bush sitting in the Arabian Gulf.

For how long more do the western allies think and believe they can stop the carnage? It looks so foolish in the eyes of the lay people to watch in silence when these campaigns kick off in the name of "Peace" and "Contentment".

What a mess!