Saturday, April 09, 2011

The fundamentalist atheists are mighty cross

One of the world's greatest philosophers emails me about the ventings of Dawkins, Grayling and co re Martin Rees getting the Templeton Prize:
"Yes -- the fundamentalist atheists are mighty cross.. to the extent of sounding rather brittle"
Ineed Mark Vernon the The Guardian writes that "Martin Rees's Templeton prize may mark a turning point in the 'God wars' Awarding the Templeton prize to Rees suggests science is rejecting the advocacy of the likes of Richard Dawkins."  This got a typically shrill and ill-considered response from Jerry Coyne.

Meanwhile I hear that the Veritas Forum at UCLA had over 1000 people and they had to turn over 200 away.  Desipite the new atheist propaganda there is a great hunger for truth.  I also see that the ludicrous Sam Harris has been panned (even by atheists like Simon Blackburn) for his absurd book The Moral Landscape:  he describes Harris as "a knockabout atheist" who "joins the prodigious ranks of those whose claim to have transcended philosophy is just an instance of their doing it very badly", pointing out that "if Bentham’s hedonist is in one brain state and Aristotle’s active subject is in another, as no doubt they would be, it is a moral, not an empirical, problem to say which is to be preferred."

A review in the Evening Standard rightly describes Harris' idiotic hubris:"It's the most extraordinarily overweening claim and evidently flawed".  It also knocks for six another idiotic mediocrity AC Grayling, for his "the Good Book", referring to "his fantastic hubris ... The Good Book is unreadable, not merely just because it is boring but because it is nauseating."
You suddenly realise that what you are reading is nothing other than a dud translation of a poem you know well - by Horace, Leopardi, Goethe or Li Po - as channelled by Grayling himself, far from an inspiring writer at the best of times.

The parts where he appears to have made up the gospel of AC all by himself are even worse, Genesis starts thus: "In the garden stands a tree. In springtime it bears flowers; in the autumn, fruit. Its fruit is knowledge, teaching the good gardener how to understand the world. From it he learns how the tree grows..." Even Chance the Gardener from Being There would have blushed.
 And these are the mediocrities who criticise Martin Rees.


Tom Rees said...

The great thing about George Galloway was that he has a wonderful line in insults. You started off well here: "typically shrill and ill-considered..." and "ludicrous" - great adjectives that let us know that people you disagree with are really much lesser than your good self.

But then you seem to run out of steam and get into a bit of a rut. "idiotic hubris" is followed by "idiotic mediocrity". And hubris appears again (albeit in quote form) in the same line - and then another "mediocrity" again at the end.

Really, if you are going to do effective rants then you need to pep them up a bit! Take a leaf out of George Galloway's book. Or maybe just take a lie down and return to the fray in the morning?

starcourse said...

Fair point - but this was a quick blog post not an essay. Galloway was a politican - I'm not.

Please mentally vary "hubris" and "mediocrity" for something else so that it will read better - I leave the choice of alternative words as "an exercise to the reader" :-)