What to do with the past?

Those of you, who like me, have been paying attention to the demands of students around the world, especially in Yale,  South Africa and UK, for a rewrite of history would welcome the suggestion by this reader of the Economist who wrote

What to do about Confederate monuments? One suggestion as you reported is to add plaques to them explaining their background (“Recast in stone”, February 6th). Statues and monuments are immediately visual experiences, not reflective mental experiences. Remove the sabre from the hand and put into it a lash and from the other hand a chain that leads to a collar around the neck of some poor miserable wretch. Add one or more statues of slaves to every monument to the Confederacy and the viewer will immediately and viscerally understand what the civil war was about and what Confederate soldiers fought for. Instantly those men will be deprived of the patina of nobility and gallantry that they did not earn and do not deserve to have attributed to them.

Bang Bua Thong, Thailand

This way all groups are appeased; those who want the monuments to stand get their wish and those who feel the monuments don’t tell the entire story also get their voice heard.

But I think there’s a problem when students in higher institutions of learning prefer sanitising their environment of every history. I have read of students voting to ban free speech groups on campus!  What’s the world coming to? Are the current generation of students so pampered they can’t read Huckleberry Finn without crying erase the nigger references! What world will they preside over?

atheism, intelligent design, Pascal’s wager

In this post, Larimore writes of life from the perspective of an atheist. Much of what he says I have no context with. If I would have no contest, it is the extravagant claim about the purpose of life. If any purpose can be identified, I think it is the purpose of life to propagate itself. My friend arch reminds us when he can that reciprocity is a sufficient source of morals or is it good behavior. I think with that we can dispense with his post.

Two others have chosen to respond to his post.

In his response, Jerry Fogltance talks of about Pascal’s wager, albeit in a roundabout way. He asks

Which position carries the greatest risk if in the end proves wrong?

and tells us

Obviously, the atheist takes the greatest risk for the very God he has denied may hold him accountable.

There are many reasons why the wager isn’t a good argument; one could be worshiping the wrong god, the god being worshipped may be angered by every thoughtless worshipper, and especially because the wager demands one forsake reason to accept it.

In response to the claim that religion, for most, if not all its adherents is a crutch, he says

But atheism is also embraced as a crutch by those unable to live up to their own moral standards and afraid of being accountable to God.

to which I can only say the chaplain has met no atheist. He doesn’t know any of us. Anyone who believes following a god who commits genocide is good manners shouldn’t be anywhere near children.

It boggles the mind when an intelligent person claims

Christians believe God is transcendent; that is, he exists outside the system of the universe, beyond the reach of microscopes and telescopes.

and thinks they have made a good argument for belief. I will say here with D’Holdbach that if god is unknowable for the human mind, then maybe we shouldn’t be wasting time talking about it. And worse believing in it.

The chaplain then makes a fallacious argument. He argues, because he is unable to explain something, therefore god. In his words

There are also things in the universe that cannot be explained apart from the existence and creative power of God. None can explain by natural evolution where the personal qualities of humans came from – like love, creativity, the ability to communicate thought verbally, musical expression, moral motions and free will.

All these can be argued to be natural responses observable in most life forms. Freewill is an illusion. And from the chaplain’s argument, I can with justice say that without god we can’t explain racism, hate, jealousy, greed, gluttony and whatever else you can think about.

The chaplain is distressed and is unable to accept the claim that

Humans are the outcome of blind evolutionary processes that operate without goal or purpose. Our actions are not part of some divine cosmic plan . Any meaning that people ascribe to their lives is just a delusion.

He wants to believe that he is the result of a divine plan.

Jerry then goes on a blame game; you atheists have killed so many and we this many. An argument that I think fails to deal with the question at hand. It is unforgivable that atheistic governments have killed so many people, whatever their drives. To kill in the name of god and it does nothing, whether it’s just a single fatality is an indictment on the god. And the believer should explain away the atheist murders as well. What was god doing while they took place? Wasn’t this an opportunity for god to show once and for all its existence?

Annagail Hoskins in her response attempts to make a case for intelligent design. She says she is a student. While I don’t want to distract from her argument, I would be interested in knowing where she goes to school.

She starts by saying

It is more reasonable to believe that an intelligent creator designed the universe rather than the world magically making itself.

which would be reasonable had these two been the only alternatives, but they aren’t.

I agree with her

How illogical to claim the incredibly complex human body randomly evolved from pond scum

but nobody is making that claim.

She is jesting when she writes

Christianity is a worldview consistent with observable fact

for I can bet none of us alive has seen anyone survive in a fish for any moment of time, a person live for 900 yrs, or a woman give birth at 90. Which observable facts is she referring to?

She asks us

But if the Earth created you, who created the Earth

and continues

Every event that happens is an effect of a cause. The beginning of the universe must have had a cause. However, this thing or person that caused the universe to exist must be independent of the universe, or it could not have created the universe. The fact that there is something (the universe), rather than nothing, points to a creator

which is a loaded paragraph. Every effect has a cause; no context. The beginning of the universe, and if had a beginning, is unknown. And beyond what is knowable we are all in the dark. We can speculate. We must always be reminded that speculation isn’t fact.

I think statements like

However, years of rigorous textual criticism have proven the Bible to be historically reliable. It is internally consistent and collaborative of the writings of ancient historians, making it one of the most reliable collections of historical documents. The New Testament is more well-documented than any other religious or historical text, including the works of Aristotle, a philosopher Nicholl admires.

betray ignorance on her part on what is known about how the bible was written and much more.

I agree with her

The 20th century was the bloodiest century in human history. Hundreds of millions of people were killed in the name of atheistic communism.

and it was mostly one Christian killing another for the love of the creator.

It is our hope that we will grow up to stop killing each other, especially for imaginary gods.