Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Michael Parenti, E. Michael Jones debate God & religion!

Broadcast Sat., Jan. 18th 10-11:00 a.m. Central (1500 GMT) on NoLiesRadio.org, archived here. Note: TruthJihad.com subscribers can listen to shows on-demand before they are broadcast - and also get free downloads! If you are a subscriber, just log in to the members area of TruthJihad.com and go to the "Private Blog" to get early access to the shows.

First half-hour:  Michael Parenti, one of America's great dissident intellectuals, is not so crazy about God - and he's even less crazy about His followers! Parenti's book God and His Demons is a better anti-religious diatribe than those of Hitchens, Harris, and Dawkins - the Three Stooges of neo-atheism - which isn't saying all that much.
The Three Stooges of neo-atheism: Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris
But God and His Demons IS absurdly one-sided...the product of a mind so steeped in its anti-religious viewpoint that it seems incapable of critical self-examination, or considering alternative points of view on this topic...much less bothering to get to know the field of Religious Studies. It's a wittily-delivered laundry-list of items cherry-picked and/or ripped out of context for the purpose of making religion and religious people look bad. (I could easily do the same thing in reverse by writing a book entitled The Secularist Demons - and there would be even more material!) Though the book is lively and amusing, like all his work, I had hoped for more from Parenti, whom I generally admire and respect.

Second half hour:  If we adjust for educational level, it seems that atheists are generally even more boneheaded, dogmatic, and obscurantist than the religious fundamentalists they love to hate. Why IS that? Let's ask America's leading engagĂ© traditional Catholic intellectual, E. Michael Jones!

E. Michael Jones, editor of Culture Wars magazine, is one of America's most interesting dissident voices.  He is the author of numerous books on a wide variety of topics.

6 comments:

  1. Unfortunate about your interview with Michael Parenti. Your arguments were nuanced and cogent, just so you know. Parenti said he didn't know what you were talking about but he should have. By the way, I don't agree with your stance on religion although you did have some gems; the law being sacred was one of them. You seem to not take things to personaly so buck up, you did a good job.

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  2. Just finished listening to the "debate" and decided to weigh in with a few thoughts of my own ... being NEITHER atheist or religious-oriented myself. What struck me about your exchange with Parenti is your use of a religious defense mechanism I've seen used all too often, which is ... "yeah but what about the stuff that happened with YOUR group?" It's about comparing evils. You say that my side is evil but what about YOUR side ... which is just as evil? If I can prove that my side is no more evil than your side ... why then I've won an argument!~ Ultimately, it comes down to NEITHER side is "right" or righteous but rather ... it should be a case of looking at which ideology gets the best results overall. Religion is essentially the effort of man to explain God. Since that's impossible, we end up with umpteen religions that all believe themselves to be the most right. God himself -if he/she/it exists- has never made any effort to inform humanity about its existence or expectations. When claims are made of God's contact with humans, it's always through some "chosen" human who then acts as the spokesperson or prophet of God. So it's still ALWAYS the word of some human that needs to be trusted for the existence and communication of God. If God actually wanted to communicate with humanity to let his expectation be known, it would be very easy to do. He just sends the word simultaneously to everyone on earth individually at the same time and presto! ... there's no debate. Everyone just knows immediately that this is what God wants and they go about doing it (except for the rebellious who have issues with it). So if GOD makes no effort to be in contact with us ... is there any value in us trying to contact God to find out what "the will" of God might be? That, in my mind, is still an open question. The purpose served by acquiescing to a perceived will of God, I think ... is simply to get a bunch of people on the same wavelength, believing in the same values and ORGANIZING themselves into a coherent and strong group ... in order to accomplish something significant that they otherwise would never be able to do if left to their individual wills and devices. Since humans tend to be individually minded or at least, individually willed ... it's kind of difficult for someone -with a good idea- to gain a following because there will always be so many other individuals that will have variations of that idea which they believe to be better than the original ... and so WHO does everyone follow? But if it can be framed as GOD'S idea ... well then, who can argue with God ... since God is above EVERYONE! (cont. next post)

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  3. (cont. from above)

    So God becomes very convenient for catalyzing an agenda that none dare question for fear of invoking his displeasure. In a sense, I see God as being something like "Mr. Speaker" in a House of Commons. Every member with a message stands up and directs his message to "Mr. Speaker" (while at the same time, being fully aware that an opponent about whom and to whom the message is being spoken ... is hearing every word). By using "Mr. Speaker," however ... it eliminates an immediate shouting match between two hostile parties. No one can argue with "Mr. Speaker" because he holds a kind of god-like position that has been granted to him by the agreement of everyone. This is very much like a prayer meeting in church where each pray-er expresses his thoughts to "Mr. Speaker" in the sky, (with all others hearing him) ... and in the process they get to actually listen to the words and contemplate their own response in silence. The BIG question in my mind is whether religion -using God as a focus- has any real advantage over a secular system which might use "Mr. Speaker" as a focus? Do people feel as much passion about a designated man-god as they do about a believed God-god? At the same time, I can't imagine life WITHOUT "God" or something much higher than ourselves. This steady-eddy belief of mine in some organized and greater intelligence/love etc. than my individual self can muster ... gives me hope and inspiration and when I talk to others, I think it bleeds through to them as well ... making THEM feel inspired. To me ... that is the real and true power of God. I call it spirituality. Now, if we could somehow harness THAT power instead of religious dogma, rules and dictations ... we might really have something that's worthwhile. It's sort of along the lines of "God helps those who DO." In this spirituality, you don't force anyone to do anything. Rather, you use the power of charisma and persuasion and example. Does that make sense to you? Or do you still think it's necessary to "worship" something in order to get good feedback?

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  4. Thank you for all these very interesting thoughts.

    I think religion is like many other domains in that:

    *Some people are more gifted than others

    *It's possible to teach it and learn it - but ones gifts or lack of them determine how high one will rise

    *Most people need to learn by starting out with a vastly over-simplified approach, which then can become more nuanced as they advance

    *Since religious systems have to work both at an over-simplfied level for beginners, and more nuanced levels for advanced practitioners, they're going to look confusing (or confused) to people coming at them from the outside

    *If you want to learn, you normally have to submit to the system and learn its language; if you remain on the outside saying "it's all gibberish" you're like someone refusing to learn mathematics claiming it's just meaningless squiggles on paper…but the big difference is that mathematics can't save your soul

    So for all these reasons, I agree with the traditionalists that most people need to practice one of the major deep-rooted religious traditions if they want to really understand what it's all about.

    I try to sort of translate and mediate between those who already know this, and those who don't, so I don't just preach to the converted.

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  5. Jones glibly discounts "evil" as a paean to free will which is single factor reductionist and doesn't address flooding in Bangladesh.

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  6. Some would say a flood in Bangladesh is only truly evil if it was intentionally created through HAARP weaponized weather. In other words, evil is the product of a creature with free will choosing evil, and it's only relative, not absolute. In the larger view creation is perfect (as it has to be given a perfect Creator). The obsession with cherry-picking the most negative stuff (floods in Bangladesh, reproductive and excretory systems in close proximity, etc.) in order to denigrate creation and the Creator is a characteristically modern, post-Christian illness. Christianity (as Girard explains) focuses obsessively on the suffering and the persecuted...which is fine, because that's how it gets to God. Post-Christianity continues to cherry-pick the bad stuff, but uses it to indict God and take a negative view of existence. "Like, wow, if I were God, I'd abolish natural disasters, end all forms of suffering, and make your little finger your sexual organ!" All I can say is, I'm glad God is God - not these pathetic, whining post-Christians.

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