Friday, October 10, 2008

A comment at MgS’s blog

Here is a comment that I submitted to MgS’s blog. I encourage you, my readers, to pay her a visit and let her know what you think of agnosticism and pure juridical positivism:



“It might have imagination or delusion or grief-induced hallucination or a genuine vision of God (I have no evidence for any gods, but I wouldn't eliminate the possibility).”

So you have confirmed that you are not a believer, but you are proposing to reveal to me the true meaning of Scripture, concealed all these years? No thanks, if I want to hear the ‘Resurrection as metaphor’ heresy I’ll go to someone like Dr. Spong, who at least actually believes that God is real. And I cannot understand why the primitive Christians would have augmented a metaphor with claims of a real bodily resurrection (not a mere resuscitation, since it was a passage to a new life, not a return to the old), when, as St. Augustine points out, this was an even bigger stumbling-block to non-believers.


“You invoke the supernatural as the only possible explanation, but that overlooks numerous perfectly legitimate, non-supernatural explanations - ranging from a form of group hypnosis to conspiracy.”

We’re going round in circles now. I brought up those two possibilities before; you said that you did not think that the Resurrection was a fraud. And the notion of a ‘mass delusion’ (thousands of deluded witnesses) strains credulity.

You have fixated on the need for corroborating evidence, but seem to ignore the fact that any piece of evidence requires motives for credibility. I have explained what these motives would be, but you, like Véronique, try to get round this by telling me that the Apostles didn’t mean what they meant to mean (!).

“The thing you don't seem to get here is that I have no problem with uncertainty.”

That you have no problem with uncertainty is well-established. But you are capable of coming to a conclusion, even if only on the balance of probability. I can agree with Prof. Dawkins on at least one thing: agnostics really ought to make up their minds.

“With respect to your needling about 'justice' - I'm not about to waste my time arguing with somebody who has clearly got their sense of the term firmly rooted in the era of Hammurabi.”

In an earlier post you said that

“The debate itself told me a lot - fundamentally, what it boils down to is the Conservatives are running a campaign that boils down to not saying anything substantive.”

In Australian political discourse we call this a ‘small target strategy’—make oneself as small a target as possible and hope to win by default, or at least minimise one’s losses. Perhaps you have been following Mr. Harper’s doings for too long now, because you are starting to resemble him. You refuse to pin yourself down to a simple definition of the key terms. You say that you told me what justice was earlier, but then were unwilling or unable to point out where. Be honest, MgS. It’s because you don’t know what justice is. Nor do you not what is retribution, conscience or morality.

Perhaps you think that hiding behind glib one-liners you can avoid committing yourself to a definition. But suppose I am stuck in the ‘era of Hammurabi’; what has changed in human nature since then? You will say ‘the social contract has changed’. But if it’s just a matter of a social contract, then if one agrees to enter a social contract that specifies that the penalty for murder is death, presumably this is perfectly just. Presumably a death penalty for, say, parking infringements would be just too, so long as one had agreed to the contract that specified this. Basically, justice to you is whatever your tastes and preferences dictate, varying case by case. Please tell me I’m wrong.


Reginaldvs Cantvar

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