Monday, August 29, 2011
Once There Were Giants in the Land
... Well, not really. They were human beings with all the attendant foibles and frailties.
But they valued reason and learning and believed that government should reflect the best of both.
Today, we have people taken seriously as candidates for the highest office in the land who, nonetheless, profess to believe that natural events, such as earthquakes and hurricanes, are messages from gods, not unlike Odin's thunderbolts and Poseidon's sea monsters.
Zeus help us!
But they can believe whatever they want about natural events like birth and death right? Or should Zeus help us then as well?
Sure they can. It's "Zeus, help us if we're stupid enough to elect them."
When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost. The larger the mob, the harder the test.
In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.
The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
-- "Bayard vs Lionheart", Baltimore Evening Sun 26 July 1920
Yep. It's also Zeus help us if we're stupid enough to elect people who think science can answer questions its not capable of answering. In the end it is, like most things in this universe, relative.
I think we have perfected our democracy already ... several times over.
It seems like you're saying we should only elect agnostics with a healthy sense of moderation and jurisprudence.
John, are you planning something that you haven't told us yet?
Im amused. I wonder what the reaction would be if say Richard Dawkins or P.Z. Myers said the same thing.
if we're stupid enough to elect people who think science can answer questions its not capable of answering.
Since this is mostly a caricature, we don't have to worry about this now , do we?. Even someone with as extreme views as mine doesn't think science is capable of answering all questions. I will however state that so far as I know , the method of validating answers to questions are all scientific (and I include logic as a scientific method) or there is no way to validate the answer.
Reaction from whom?
Since this is mostly a caricature
Well, I'm glad you announced what you were doing.
I didn't say 'people who think science is capable of answering all questions' (though there are plenty of those ... see Jerry from yesterday, though, as always, what he says may not be what he means, since his brain seems to disconnect when the subject is religion).
Reaction from whom?
The people who get upset every time Dawkins uses a rude word e.g. Jamie Vernon.
Now I seriously doubt you believe that a candidate who believes in virgin birth is in itself a problem. However its the corner you have painted yourself into. nice try trying to switch the argument to ye olde science argument.
Oh, not me. So?
Now I seriously doubt you believe that a candidate who believes in virgin birth is in itself a problem.
Yeah, someone who believes that there was a one-off violation of philosophical naturalism one time 2,000 years ago but otherwise accepts the scientific evidence for why earthquakes, evolution, climate change, etc., etc, happen doesn't worry me much, even if they like to put a vague theistic spin on it. I wouldn't be too worried about Jerry Coyne running for high office even though he has expressed some very silly ideas.
The idea that I should treat Michelle Bachmann as the equal of Ken Miller is, itself, deeply irrational.
And who asked you to?
The only claim related that was made is that the *idea* of God interfering with nature to send hurricanes as a message is as irrational as God impregnating some virgin(the 2000 years ago makes no difference) - something you sort of admit to with your "yep". That is a far cry from Miller is the same as Bachmann. But somehow when gnu's state the former , it is always turned into the latter.
And who asked you to?
Uh, let's recap:
I said Bachman is seriously nuts for thinking hurricanes and earthquakes are messages from god.
You bring up those who believe in the virgin birth.
I say it's relative.
You say I've painted myself into a corner somehow.
I say NO ... it's RELATIVE, giving Bachman vs. Miller as an example.
You say that neither you (nor each and every Gnu!) ever said otherwise (so it IS relative?).
Then how did I paint myself into a corner by bemoaning a seriously crazy person being considered as a serious candidate?
Or is this just the usual attempt at one upmanship?