Friday, December 07, 2007

Repudiating the Enlightenment:

Yglesias writes:
... there continues to be something staggering about the extent to which the politicized "faith" crowd believes that it is a right and just thing to do to, say, keep a man shackled naked in a standing posture in a freezing room and then, later, strap him to a board and force water down his throat so as to induce a sensation of drowning ...
And it is staggering. But why would the "faith" crowd be that way? Belgravia Dispatch offers a clue in commentary about Bush's defense of torture:
Rarely has one seen such an edifice of half-truths, lies and obfuscations put in the service of a democracy turning its back on Enlightenment values to cheerlead use of torture against detainees in its captivity.
Because that's what an anti-torture stance is: an expression of Enlightenment values. And the Enlightenment is resented by many Christians, even respectable ones with a mild demeanor such as N. T. Wright. Most prominently with the evolution debate, but also regarding other issues such as due process, equal protection under the law, and a rejection of barbarity.

So it should not be a surprise that there is a contingent of Christians (not all, to be clear) that are four-square in support of, to put it bluntly, a governance and world-view that existed about 400 years ago.

UPDATE: This blog is not asserting that the Enlightenment is "right" and that those on the other side are "wrong". It happens to prefer the Enlightenment, but it's completely legitimate to take a completely different world view. The Enlightenment dispenses with a Manichean perspective. For conservative Christians, there really is an Evil, and you can torture Evil (or those working on its behalf). So away with the Geneva Convention! The Enlightenment tries to stay away from identity politics (everyone equal, etc.) but other may prefer collective punishment. The Enlightenment uses empirical data and rules of inference to determine how the world works (and worked). Others prefer to get that from a book. Deciding on what world-view you would like to support is a matter of choice. In this (two-choice) example, neither one can be proved from the other's perspective, since there is no common ground from which to proceed. Whichever one prevails over the long run is whichever one garners the most public approval. That tends to support the Enlightenment, since it's more in sync with economics and technology. But it's not a guarantee.

The interesting question is why there has been a turn away from the Enlightenment in recent years. Some might say that the increasing change in the modern world triggers a reaction. Too much, too fast, and time to slow down (or reverse). And let's not forget that the Al Qaeda attack was very disruptive and made, for a brief while, Enlightenment "progress" look fragile, and it lost respect as a result.


"a contingent of Christians (not all, to be clear)"

There are no innocent Christers. There are the active radicals that want to turn the country into a fascist theocracy and the rest, who are their enablers.

It's the same with the Islamers. There are the terrorists and the rest, their enablers.

By Anonymous Rockie the Dog, at 12/08/2007 9:44 AM  

If your world view demands that most important thing is saving someone's soul, then destroying their flesh is secondary. That was the justification of the inquisition.

Yet it seems to be a twisted rationailization - to do good one must perpetrate an iherently evil act act.

The enlightenment crowd pointed out this contradicition by adhering to logic, the rules of logic, gained by the rediscovery of greek philosophers in the late middle ages.

Funny, huh?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/08/2007 8:57 PM  

In your update you write: ": This blog is not asserting that the Enlightenment is "right" and that those on the other side are "wrong"."

Actually, here's where I choose to make a stand. Apart from the killing, the reason I dislike fundamentalist Islam boils down to its rejection of Enlightenment values.

I feel much the same about our Christian fundies, but at least most of them have imbibed so deeply from western culture that there's a lot of the Enlightenment they implicitly accept.

And many of them don't want to kill innocent people (unless it's incidental to their Holy-ish war.)

Anyway our fundies are not as bad as their fundies--but still to me I'm right about the Enlightenment and they -- both christian and islamic fundies -- are wrong.

It's about the only big topic I'd make such a manichean distinction about.

By Blogger riffle, at 12/09/2007 12:14 AM  

Let's not forget the "Al Qaeda attack" was, according to Enlightenment reasoning, a false flag operation engineered by elements with in the US defence and intelligence establishments. To believe that 9/11 was the work of 19 crazy Arabs with box cutters is to reject all of the rules of evidence, scientific theory, rational thought, and logical argument that the Enlightenment brought to prominence over superstition and dogma.

What evidence is there for the existence, names and actions of the alleged hijackers? Only "transcripts" of conversations on cell phones that were (and are) technologically impossible.

What evidence is there that jet fuel fires can bring steel-framed buildings down at free fall speed? Only dubious and contradictory assertions from shills and compromised government agencies.

What does the documented and highly prescient futures trading tell us? That connected insiders knew exactly what was going to happen and when and also knew that no serious investigations would follow.

Use your head. Don't support the Big Lie by casually repeating the official story as if it were an accepted fact.

By Anonymous Chris, at 12/09/2007 11:57 AM  

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