Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

Dawkins versus Haggard

What a spectacle. I first saw this video a couple of days ago and have succumbed to posting it today. Its an intriguing display of fundamentalist atheist vs fundamentalist evangelical; whatever else you can say about these two, they seem to be inverse mirror images of one another in some respects — in approach, if not in content.

Dawkins doesn’t exactly exemplify secular humanism to my mind nor does he display a modicum of good manners, even if my own beliefs do align with his far more on science, secularism and rationality (tempered with a sympathy for the “spiritual-but-not religious” orientation, which I imagine Dawkins probably does not have). I’m sure a lot of us shake our heads at Dawkins’ hostile behaviour, and Haggard’s recent shenanigans and lies are of course another thing again …

Nor do I think that secularism and rationality are the be-all and end-all, especially devoid of the spiritual dimension. To paraphrase Gandhi (when asked about what he thought about western civilisation), I too think a purely secular society is … a good idea. I just don’t know that such an unalloyed entity exists, leaving aside any normative question about the desirability of its existence.

As Goethe once wrote in a magnificent passage lamenting modernity’s one-dimensional instrumental rationality (as quoted in Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism):

“Specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart; this nullity imagines that it has attained a level of civilization never before achieved.”

Here’s the video clip, if you haven’t already seen it. Given Ted Haggard’s current political currency, its now really doing the rounds. Run time: 9:48

3 comments on “Dawkins versus Haggard

  1. Rusty Scalf
    10 November, 2006

    “Nor do I think that secularism and rationality are the be-all and end-all, especially devoid of the spiritual dimension.”

    This is a tragically impoverished view of rationality (and of the science that it spawns). People who use reason to understand their world are far more likely to view their world with awe and wonder than those who resort to mysticism. Because the more one knows, the greater is ones grasp of the magnitude of the unknown, the greater ones appreciation for the wonder of natural processes.

  2. peoplesgeography
    10 November, 2006

    Thanks Rusty, point taken and you express it far better than my hastily-made observation. Science does furnish us with a greater capacity to appreciate life’s mysteries, indeed. Thanks for taking the time to come by, appreciate your comment.

  3. anonymous
    30 May, 2007

    Dawkins definitely does take the side of spiritual without religion. It is the basis of his first chapter “A deeply religious nonbeliever”, which explained the beliefs of a fellow scientist who stood in awe of the wonders of nature, without looking for a god to have created it. (He later abandons the word religious in the context of a nonbeliever to ditch all the negative baggage connotated to this word). The wonders of the natural world are Dawkins “religion” and his spirituality, and he like most others well educated in the subject doesn’t need a cartoon character to appreciatet those wonders, and find spirituality in them.

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This entry was posted on 7 November, 2006 by in Christianity, Hegemon-watch, HPST, International Law, Iraq, People, Personal reflections, Philosophy, Religion, Science, USA, Video.

Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

"The only war that matters is the war against the imagination. All others are subsumed by it."
-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"