"I agree that the Catholic church has assigned reason a special place: apologetics. Rationalizing the irrational. Throwing up a smokescreen of scholarship to hide the fact that deep down, they're worshipping a jealous bronze age patriarchal myth wedded to a howling crazy Eastern mystery religion. But they aren't any different than any other religion: for instance, the Baptists found universities and pay lip service to logic, too. As Hawking said, science works, and every charlatan in every church dreams of hitching a ride on its record."
This statement can be made about all religious apologetics, not just catholic apologetics. The ‘obfuscatory dust cloud’—as I call it—is a common tool of the educated religious class, and it is a tool that is used in bad faith, because those who use it should know better.
It also stymies inquiry and understanding.
The underlying apparatus of the religious mind is the same apparatus that animates the mind of the religious right: a reliance on truth as delivered from authority and revelation. Now, many liberals hold to sacred dogmas too, some of which I will probably challenge at some point in the future; but this election cycle isn’t about liberal taboos. It is about economics, war, and the environment.
The war issue is more complicated than ideologues in either party are going to admit. To the party out of power, the issue will always be clear cut. To the party in power, all of the many nuances of the situation will be evident. The difference here is that the ideologues had the megaphone in the Republican party while they were in power, and the ideologues have the megaphone in the republican party now. While President Obama may have tipped his hat to the ideologues in our party from time to time during the campaign, he has always essentially been a pragmatist and realist on the war issue, and when war is the issue, we want pragmatism and realism.
The ‘bomb the fuckers!’ line of the tea party crowd is based on a belief in the myth of American exceptionalism, and our inherent righteousness. Tea Party foreign policy is in its very essence a religious doctrine.
The same pragmatic realism versus dogmatic religiosity conflict can be seen in the argument about the economy; except rather than ‘bomb the fuckers!’ the tea party crowd is chanting ‘tax cut the fuckers!’
The right wing approach to the economy is embarrassingly simple minded, and overtly religious. In the place of god, we have the ‘invisible hand of the market’, which can do no wrong. Tax cuts is always the answer, whatever the question may be. Pragmatic Democrats will consider tax cuts when they are appropriate. In our current economic situation, one simple answer is unlikely to yield lasting positive results. Our economic policies may be more complicated (and thus harder to explain sufficiently), but they are not dogmatic, and are subject to change.
The same can be said of the climate change argument. There are authorities upon whom we can put some faith in, and that is the climate scientists. The reason we can put some faith in them is because they—on the whole—subscribe to the scientific method, which is empirical and replicable. Their findings can be examined by the public.
Those who question the impact of climate change are relying on the authority of non-scientists who are not trained in empirical methods nearly as well as they are trained in political rhetoric and hyperbole. The ability to craft a self-serving analogy or metaphor is not the same thing as the ability to rigorously test and examine data.
PZ continues his piece with this statement:
"There is an inherent conflict between science and religion. Mr Donohue believes a cracker turns into a slice of god in his mouth; he thinks there is a magic man in the sky who speaks to the Pope; he believes a series of rituals will allow an invisible ghost in his body go to Disneyland in Space after his meat dies. He also believes that one young species of ape on this planet somehow plays a "pivotal role" in affairs on Jupiter. These are irrational, unscientific beliefs — they are anti-science, because he believes in arriving at conclusions because they are what he wishes to be true, or because the dogma has been repeated to him enough times, or because someone claims a supernatural revelation."
It all boils down to religion. Be your religion secular or supernatural, you’re going about your thinking in the wrong way. If you’re unable to change your opinions in the face of new evidence, if you feel comfortable making claims about things that you cannot possibly have any knowledge about, or approach issues with the one-size-fits-all confidence of the dogmatic, your mind is in trouble.
Basing your opinions on religious dogmas, and looking to unquestionable authorities for revelations about ultimate truths is bound to infect all of your thinking. The subject of our nation’s religious attitudes is absolutely apropos to our current political climate.
cross posted at The Daily Kos