Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Did I Say "Nuance"?

Well, not every song is a hit. I do like Sam Harris, but here's his dumb-assed response to a Karen Armstrong piece in Foreign Policy--which also has its problems, but is that any excuse for this kind of sub- college newspaper schmuckality?

After all, it would be absurd to criticize witchcraft as unscientific, as this would ignore the primordial division between mythos and logos. Let me see if I have this straight: Belief in demons, the evil eye, and the medicinal value of a cannibal feast are perversions of the real witchcraft - -which is drenched with meaning, intrinsically wholesome, integral to our humanity, and here to stay. Do I have that right?

Dude! That's all, uhh, philosophical and shit! Are you like, an English major?

Predictably, the boys in the dorm are slappin' the Sam-meister on the back--yeah! YAYuh! Go us! Karen Armstrong's a day-um cannibal!

It's true that she's the new whipping girl for the Skepticism Lite™ crowd, who, like delirious drunks at a pep rally who glimpse the straw effigy of the Bad Guys' mascot, are whoopin' and hollerin' for blood... well, Blood Lite™, as is obvious from the passage above. Like gridiron combat, it's blood sport for couch-jockeys... but Foreign Policy??? Didn't that used to be sorta like a wonk analogue of Masterpiece Theatre??? But it's all turning into NFL Fox Sunday, the whooooole culture...

Oh: Armstrong never mentions witchcraft. Or cannibalism. Or the evil eye. Or mythos, or logos. But you knew that.

UPDATE: I just got around to reading Armstrong's response to Harris. She makes the very good point (one we apparently will have to repeat until Doomsday, or after) that "To identify religion with its worst manifestations, claim that they represent the whole, and then demolish the straw dog thus set up does not seem a rational or useful way of conducting this important debate."

And then, unless I'm having a very bad dream, Armstrong asserts, of Harris's admittedly wacko screed, "Historically, this kind of attack only serves to make religious fundamentalists more extreme." Um--like they need someone to "make" them "more extreme"?

I think I get what she's saying... I know she's not saying that critics of religion are responsible for the excesses of fanatics, that cartoonists whose homes are invaded by would-be axe murderers actually invited the attack... is she? The Atheibots are united in their claim that Armstrong sometimes blames the victims of religious extremism, but she doesn't really... does she? She's not unwittingly agreeing with atheists that religious people are mindless hosts to mental viruses... is she?????????

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