Monday, 26 November 2012

Tim Minchin & atheist pseudo-philosophy

As the Another Angry Voice Facebook page has grown in popularity, more and more other pages have dropped by to promote their work by posting links and images on my wall. I don't mind this at all, it is one of the techniques I have used to promote my page, so it would be utterly hypocritical to block others from using my page to do the same now that it is becoming reasonably popular. in fact much of the things that are posted are brilliant and enlightening stuff.

One thing I do mind is when people post things that are completely at odds with the ethos of informed critical analysis I've tried to foster on the AAV page. One such item was this quotation by the Australian comedian Tim Minchin.

In a similar way to the fact that my political stance is nuanced and difficult to define, so too is my stance on God and religion. An awful lot of harms have been caused by organised religion, however it would take a huge amount of confirmation bias to maintain that an a lot of good hasn't come of it too. I am perfectly happy to see informed criticism of religious dogma, however I am fundamentally opposed to the modern trend of generalisation ridden militant atheist pseudo-philosophy, which to me is as intolerant as many of the faiths the atheist ranter brigade are attempting to criticise. This Facebook meme that was posted to my page seems to be a classic example of this kind of over-simplified anti-theist propaganda.

That there are so many very strong arguments to be made against the specific crimes and abuses of specific religions, makes this kind of pathetic anti-religious generalisation all the worse.

Instead of criticising the Catholi
c paedophilia cover-up, Islamist fanatics, religiously inspired child genital mutilation, the absurd melding of the CoE and the UK state, homophobia in Africa, Israeli Zionist apartheid, Hindu fascism, widespread religious indoctrination, the complicity of the Catholic church with Nazi Germany, countless examples of religious hypocrisy or any one of hundreds of other specific examples of religious crime and intolerance, this kind of lazy pseudo-philosophical generalisation simply lumps all religious moderates and all religious extremists together as the same.

If you agree with Minchin's glib pseudo-philosophical analysis, perhaps you could tell me:

Which aspects of reality are "denied" when a Quaker maintains faith that there is that of good within every person that should be sought out and nurtured?

What element of the Buddhist philosophy, that contemplation is the key to inner peace and enlightenment, relies on "the denial of observation"?

How about the deist position (that reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to determine the existence of a creator, accompanied with the rejection of revelation and authority as a source of religious knowledge). How is that a denial of reality? It actually seems to be an ideology based on the empirical examination of reality in order to prove a hypothesis, which is pretty damn close to the "philosophy of science".
Yes blind adherence to many faiths has lead to many terrible consequences, but the tarring of all faiths as "irrational" in order to appeal to the reactionary atheist mob is just lazy divisive bigotry. Unless of course it is a joke (he is a stand-up comedian after all) in which case it is an excellent satire of the unthinking reactionary atheist position and I commend him for it.

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