Stephen Fry to the Christian god: How dare you?

3 Feb

 

Divine Vengeance

Divine Vengeance

 

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42 Responses to “Stephen Fry to the Christian god: How dare you?”

  1. Elisabeth February 3, 2015 at 6:58 am #

    I think this is marvellous. Put it up on my Facebook feed. It’s well worth sharing.

    Like

  2. doug quixote February 3, 2015 at 7:47 am #

    And although Fry is addressing the Christian version of God, it applies to all the Monotheists – Jewish, Christian and Islamic. They claim their God to be all-seeing all knowing and all powerful, except when it suits them. As Fry mentioned, it is to do with theodicy. (another one to look up 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson February 3, 2015 at 8:09 am #

      I can work that one out.*sends big smile*

      Like

    • Jennifer Wilson February 3, 2015 at 8:11 am #

      Mwahahahaha I looked it up anyway and it doesn’t mean god idiocy *takes big smile back*

      Like

      • paul walter February 3, 2015 at 11:20 am #

        Theodicy..a concept Fry and ourselves, can have a lot of fun tinkering around with.

        But Fry’s argument can be unpicked, too, if we think of life as (necessarily) processive.

        What troubles us is the nature of the game, from Manicheans to optimists.

        Liked by 1 person

        • doug quixote February 3, 2015 at 8:12 pm #

          Processive? What do you mean by that?

          Like

          • Jennifer Wilson February 3, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

            I thought PW meant life as a series of processes….

            Like

            • paul walter February 3, 2015 at 10:50 pm #

              ……that we are not necessarily in control of and may occur for reasons in our ignorance related to our primitive stage in our evolution, not fully comprehending of in some situations, immediately.

              That something countless quadrillions of miles huge and inhering of forces so powerful that matter itself came into being in different forms through these released in the blink of an eye, perhaps even time itself, that this could somehow emerge from something materially smaller than a pinhead, is patently ridiculous, yes?

              Yet this the alchemy that current astrophyisicists claim constitutes our universe and they have already produced a working model of this in the Hydrogen Bomb, most spectacularly Dr Sakharov’s “Czar Bomb”.

              Liked by 1 person

              • doug quixote February 4, 2015 at 7:02 am #

                There may be a teapot in orbit around Jupiter*, or perhaps a ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’ type object, but I think that God is about as likely as that. One cannot be 100% certain that God does not exist, but to borrow a phrase, it is for me beyond reasonable doubt that no such being ever existed.

                * – “Russell’s teapot, sometimes called the celestial teapot or cosmic teapot, is an analogy first coined by the philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) to illustrate that the philosophic burden of proof lies upon a person making scientifically unfalsifiable claims rather than shifting the burden of proof to others, specifically in the case of religion.

                Russell wrote that if he claims that a teapot orbits the Sun somewhere in space between the Earth and Mars, it is nonsensical for him to expect others to believe him on the grounds that they cannot prove him wrong. Russell’s teapot is still referred to in discussions concerning the existence of God.”

                The demand to prove a negative is the last refuge of a religious.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Jennifer Wilson February 4, 2015 at 7:42 am #

                PW, sometimes you remind me of William Blake.

                Like

                • paul walter February 4, 2015 at 1:12 pm #

                  Some times I feel like William Blake.. another nightmare morning trying to sort computer issues out on the phone.

                  Like

                  • paul walter February 4, 2015 at 2:58 pm #

                    Speaking of Blake, I remember being stunned after a lecturer recited “The Sick Rose” at a lecture.

                    I looked at her on recovering a little and she remained sombre, unblinking.

                    The darkest thing I’ve ever heard, although there are different interpretations often overlapping as to its meaning. I have my own interpretation, to do with selfishness and deceit, insidious covert violence and brutality and a soul’s destruction through neglect.

                    I know it could be about the Pox, or a woman distracted from a faithful admirer by a new lover, or even some thing to do with politics. But, in the end, it comes to me as to do with the exploitation of a vulnerable girl or woman whose desires are thwarted by a selfish and knowing lover.

                    Like

          • 8 Degrees of Latitude February 3, 2015 at 8:36 pm #

            I think it means you dress in drag and walk around, conga-line style, chanting things. No, wait … that’s the other mob. 🙂

            Liked by 2 people

            • paul walter February 3, 2015 at 10:59 pm #

              8 degrees:

              “…you dress in drag and walk around conga line style…”

              No. That is what judges do at the commencement of Assizes.

              Liked by 2 people

      • doug quixote February 3, 2015 at 8:17 pm #

        And that is part of the reason I value you so highly, Guinevere. Many a blog host would have deleted that faux pas. That you did not shows your integrity and honesty, not to mention self-deprecation and sense of humour. (stop gushing, DQ!)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. paul walter February 4, 2015 at 2:15 am #

    Btw, just read an article by in the Guardian by one Giles Fraser:

    ” I don’t beleive in the god that Steven Fry doesn’t beleive in”.

    Good to see others are in contemplation of these things also, but as usual my cavil woud be them one involving the final para, where Fraser unequivocally states, “there is no god”, also.

    How does he KNOW that?

    For my part I’ve always enjoyed Neitzsche’s point that “WE killed god”, which maybe the truest thing anyone has written on any/every generation and is much of the source of Existential thinking, altho coming from a different trajectory than Kierkergaard, who is reverential. Don’t both suggest something more Epicurean, in a way, that says stop waiting for other things to happen, be an adult, live as an adult, in the here and now. K includes god in his schemata, N doesnt , but in either conception, assume responsibility if necessary? I think that means not being scared of god,(or not), but not fretting a life away as to whether one is going to cop it in the neck later for taking a minute overtime for the morning tea break.

    “God” probably doesn’t exist and even if “God” does exist, as an identity, there is no guarantee that “God” must be of necessity be hostile- but why begrudge god an existence, if we have one, anyway?

    And if there is a god and this god is adversarial, there isn’t much we can do about it, in this life or any prospective next.

    But then who says we ever deserved a rose garden anyway..or a kick in the guts, some thing we see with life in general in the third world?

    Dunno, blind leading the blind.

    Like

    • Jennifer Wilson February 4, 2015 at 7:30 am #

      I’m an agnostic – I don’t know. Neither do I care very much, like you PW, I think theres little to be done either way and I have far more interesting things to wrangle with in my embodied brain.

      Including why I’m often accused of “fence sitting” as ig the only thing of value is a fixed position on just about anything. I feel a rant coming on but alas, I have to do other things today. 🙂

      Like

      • doug quixote February 4, 2015 at 7:40 am #

        Try the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

        The point is that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is as equally valid (and equally proveable) as any other deity.

        Or this from JB Bury in 1914 :

        “If you were told that in a certain planet revolving around Sirius there is a race of donkeys who speak the English language and spend their time in discussing eugenics, you could not disprove the statement, but would it, on that account, have any claim to be believed? Some minds would be prepared to accept it, if it were reiterated often enough, through the potent force of suggestion.”

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jennifer Wilson February 4, 2015 at 7:50 am #

          Well, this is why I’m an agnostic. Sometimes atheists seem to increasingly resemble the religious in their zealotry and are just as annoying. Fanatical unbelief is as tiresome as fanatical belief IMHO.

          Stop talking to me, you two, I have to get somewhere this morning. 🙂

          (I don’t mean that, btw)

          Like

          • doug quixote February 4, 2015 at 8:12 pm #

            Fanatic unbelief is sometimes necessary to challenge their absurdities. Merely saying “I really don’t know” doesn’t do anything to stop them seizing control of the school syllabus, the censorship of films, art and literature and the like.

            “The best lack all conviction, while the worst
            Are full of passionate intensity.”

            as WB Yeats put it.

            Like

          • paul walter February 4, 2015 at 9:59 pm #

            It’s ok, I wouldnt like someone like me talking to me either.

            I’ll let DQ answer for himself.

            Like

  4. hudsongodfrey February 7, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

    A word also from the master of such arguments

    I may no longer enjoy the luxury of time to chew the fat with all and sundry as I used to, but on this particular subject there is always time to draw upon Hitchen’s opening words.

    “It may not be said that there is no god. It may be said that there is no reason to think that there is one.”

    If you are in agreeance with that statement or indeed you stand opposed to the theistic propositions he outlines then I think agnostic can be too weak a term.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson February 7, 2015 at 3:03 pm #

      Hudson! How pleased I am to see you again!

      Like

    • doug quixote February 8, 2015 at 12:19 am #

      It takes a discussion of religion to bring you out, HG?

      Stick around, there’s fun to be had. The more intelligent commenters there are, the better.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. paul walter February 7, 2015 at 4:11 pm #

    I dunno. Tried to get into it but failed..went to the dentist yesterday for a filling and tooth clean and my gums are aching like f–k. Will try it later, he does sound half -shot.

    Democritus explained simply at Wiki was worth a look, though.

    Am probably somewhere between deist and atheist if that is not too fundamentally contradictory.. would it make me just a common or garden agnostic?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson February 7, 2015 at 6:12 pm #

      I misread last sentence as “am somewhere between dentist and atheist…” I hope your gums stop aching soon.

      Like

      • paul walter February 7, 2015 at 6:44 pm #

        Yes..but it is NOT funny.

        Thinking on HG, much of that seems to come back to teleology- whether or not a person thinks there is a purpose or endgame to do with existence, or whether “this” is just a random thing.

        You can go with Democritus, Epicurus and Aristotle to some extent and instead just be about doing interesting things like observing marine life at a beach, say, to uncover the mysteries of nature for their own sake and because it lets us find better ways of material living.. There is either no point beyond just living life free of concern for the next, or an unmoved mover has locked him(er)self out of mundane material existance so as to avoid interfering with processes that become apparent to those who experience them.

        From here you may ponder, it is funny how everything seems to channel toward this seeming miracleof human existance, with cosnciousness, joy etc and begin to wonder at the Argument from Design, the idea that a Being of Character decided to share the true joys ofl ife with inferior beings and give them a chance at some thing better in the Great Beyond,provided certain lessons were learnt in this life.

        I suspect Hitchens and Dawkins say that we are not hard wired to reject the hope of a future of life beyond death, that it goes against our instincts for survival and such contemplations are just part of the partially evolved human mindset, but we’d need to recall that because the universe is fascinating- a miracle with or without a directing being, we should conclude that it must have purpose- or not.

        Like

        • doug quixote February 7, 2015 at 7:56 pm #

          Humanity seems to be at the apex of Life only because we have nothing with which to compare ourselves, except perhaps for the great apes.

          The apparent apex seems miraculous in its advent, but properly considered it could have happened no other way if we were to exist at all.

          There really is no need for a Creator; but if you feel happier believing in one, feel free so long as you don’t feel the need to share. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Jennifer Wilson February 8, 2015 at 7:01 am #

            We are assuming we are the only intelligent life form in the universe, there is nothing comparable we don’t yet know about?

            Or is the idea of other unknown and sophisticated life forms as fantastical as the idea of god?

            Like

        • hudsongodfrey February 7, 2015 at 8:34 pm #

          Sorry about your brush with the fang farrier Paul, I hope you’re feeling better soon.

          As for teleology or not the bottom line from my perspective is a frank admission that my knowledge has its limits.

          There may be an explanation or there may not. The very fact that science doesn’t just stop tells us something about the human desire for that knowledge. But the difference between teleology and theology is contained within the leap of faith that largely stopped certain cultures from truly exploring the nature of their existence in the moment they pretended to believe in certainty without evidence.

          When they have neither the humility to concede the limits of their knowledge nor the courtesy to reciprocate with intellectual honesty then they offer humanity a great and insulting impediment that has to be resisted and overcome.

          And by that I do not mean to disparage believers so much as to despair of the effect some religion has on the kind of world we share.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. paul walter February 7, 2015 at 6:49 pm #

    And no. I do NOT like the Dentist.

    The witch wants to pull teeth, but I know its just for the fee and what am I supposed to eat with if she yanks out some?

    Besides, losing teeth might indicate that this person is growing OLD and it’s just not a decent or embracable thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson February 8, 2015 at 7:04 am #

      PW I have an ongoing battle to maintain dental health post chemotherapy and various other ghastly interventions that leave the body more trashed than it was with cancer. So you have my condolences, no decent god would have given us teeth and gums capable of causing us so much unsought and undeserved distress.

      Like

      • paul walter February 8, 2015 at 12:00 pm #

        God bless you, Jennifer Wilson.

        It’s a sobering “get real” moment for me, reading that…you’ve actually shamed me a bit.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jennifer Wilson February 8, 2015 at 1:41 pm #

          It wasn’t my intention, friend. We each have our own burdens to bear and who can say which is the most difficult? 🙂

          Like

  7. paul walter February 7, 2015 at 11:11 pm #

    HG, DQ.. thanks for making it a conversation.

    I don’t know if “civilisation” as we know it derives from Northern Europe, its geography history and location that allowed it first grab at the cumulative knowledge of the few thousand years beforehand, acquired through the high Muslim culture of medival times, or not.

    I do think we ( the West) are possibly making the same mistakes as previous empires, eg Rome fifth century or the Chinese circa sixteenth century, in retreating from logic and ideas, wed as we are to a similar delusion concerning our Aristotelian timelessness in the Great Scheme of Things.

    Empires seem to fall when their subjects and rulers fail to detect changes in a wider scheme of things that interrupt their pleasure seeking and certainty derived of ideology or religion serving as ideology. The Moghuls didn’t see western technology as a game changer, not the Chineses of the nineteenth century and paid an unimaginable price for resting on their laurels.

    The lazy thinking behind the attacks on Islam say as much about our open mindedness as it does about the stresses of an empire recently fallen and fed off by so called “civilisers” who deceive themselves into beleiving that they are that, when they are only alibiing plunder.

    But what seems also to be happening is that an oligarchy, using technology has acheived power, against an earlier consensus after WW2 and remains desperate to hold that power, to the extent that even Western Civil Societies themselves are now prey to ransacking by the new barbarians who will be quite happy with a new feudalism without ever having read a religious or any other test beyond Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman.

    I think the reasons for civilisational downfall are much more complex than just the single factor of religion, or at least religion coopted by a state.

    Religion (or ideology) need not be a huge problem. People being people, will always wonder at metaphysical issues and that’s healthy, I’d think. Haven’t we all looked skyward on a starry night, mareveeled and wondered howit came into being or whether there is a point to it we in our fallible states, have not grasped?

    Only when very worldly and brutal players figure out to use an ideas base to justify their grabs for power, self justification and wealth, do things go wrong, but the human at this stage in evolution, seeks some point of reference from which to conduct subsequent affairs, so unless there is some sort of game changer, it will continue as a cultural thing into the future.

    Like

    • doug quixote February 8, 2015 at 12:22 am #

      Try listening – yes, listening – to Hitchens’ arguments in HG’s post.

      Like

  8. hudsongodfrey February 8, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

    Paul,

    It could be argued, perhaps unkindly, that in ranging so widely over history you’d be accused of cherry picking. Sometimes we have to look for the larger scale trends in History if we’re to find any meaning in it.

    The seeds of Ancient Rome’s demise might have been sewn at least as early as the second century murder of Julius Caesar. Sewn that is, by a rapacious Senate whose main problem with him was quite certainly not that they viewed conquest as an insufficiently civilising influence upon others. Their contention instead was that they wanted a larger share of profits at any cost to the empire’s subjects. That in turn lead to increased exploitation hence discontentment at the margins whereupon Rome’s enemies were eventually able to prevail over those territories when many subjects had indeed forgotten, “what have the Romans ever done for us”.

    Take as our second example the Library of Alexandria, contemporaneous with the cradle of Christianity in relatively nearby Egypt. An outpost of the Ancient civilisation that had already laid the foundations of modern mathematics, and founded the study of cosmology when Eratosthenes it’s chief librarian for the first time accurately measured the spherical globe that is this planet. Just a few among many achievements all but forgotten and lost when the great Library was destroyed. First by Caesar himself by fire in 48 BCE, then by the Christian Popes in the 4th century and later the Ottomans in the 6th. We were in effect plunged into mysticism and ignorance for around a thousand years by this and other violent explosions of religious zeal driven by fear of the knowledge that could challenge certainty in the absence of evidence.

    As examples go these are, I hope you’ll agree, writ larger than most.

    In a world I see as the same with or without an imaginary friend, the only interpretations left to us are human failings and the error of superstition.

    The former never entirely retreats, but had the latter done so sooner then the world would not only have been more advanced today, but generations of our ancestors might not have suffered enormous and unnecessary depredations under the regime of deliberately maintained ignorance.

    Again we don’t have to spurn other’s cultural roots our of sheer spite for a non-entity we don’t believe in, but there may be a moral imperative to change the way that we think about allowing those people to dominate any society that say is as incredibly regressive as some are.

    It’s the 21st Century and across the globe we still have the wholesale repression of women’s rights, gay rights, reproductive rights, and even in some cases intellectual freedom of speech to draw cartoons!

    There may be “complex” reasons for many other of society’s problems, but for that short yet devastating list the reasons are completely unequivocal.

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  9. paul walter February 8, 2015 at 10:15 pm #

    Hg.. Starts where it finishes so sweetly.

    From the Senate removing Caesar and the rapacious expansion of Rome, to the twenty first century, “growth” and its dreadful twin, “reform” as the system turns on all, including itself.

    So true that the weird Rand/Tea Party/ Fundamentalist grouping ultimately, at its core, will brook no interference in the execution of its Exceptionalist attempt to plunder and control, even to the death of reason and culture itself.

    It would, of course, be true that an inference that I “cherry picked” selectively historical precedent would be, “ünkindly”.

    It could, however, be said I wrote the post in a hurry and maybe should have had it sit for a night.

    Am pretty sure I am not offside as to the overview.
    My only despairing hope is that people would look to the precedents we see throughout history, but I doubt whether it will happen in a positive way, they are only interested in history as a mean for predicting resistance now, but the time has about passed for a positve use for literacy although there must be hope that resistance remains, as in earlier times.

    Like

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