Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Wednesday, December 12, 2018

In his highly entertaining book, The Seven Types of Atheism, released in October in the U.S., philosopher John Gray puts it this way: "Religion is an attempt to find meaning in events, not a theory that tries to explain the universe." It exists because we humans are the only species, so far as we can know, who have evolved to know explicitly that, one day in the future, we will die. And this existential fact requires some way of reconciling us to it while we are alive.

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Before you assume you know where this article is going, you might want to actually read it, as it has something for everyone.

#1 | Posted by Corky at 2018-12-12 01:45 PM | Reply

And for a direct, alternative opinion...

The political tribalism of Andrew Sullivan
Sullivan's essay on political tribalism shows he's blinded by his own.

#2 | Posted by Hans at 2018-12-12 02:10 PM | Reply

From the linked article...

Christianity is the only monotheism that seeks no sway over Caesar...
Who is Sullivan kidding?

From the Moral Majority through the evangelicals who give blind support to Trump, Christianity as practiced in America seeks sway over Caesar.

#3 | Posted by Hans at 2018-12-12 02:20 PM | Reply

"It exists because we humans are the only species, so far as we can know, who have evolved to know explicitly that, one day in the future, we will die. And this existential fact requires some way of reconciling us to it while we are alive."

So you're saying man made G-d.

#4 | Posted by snoofy at 2018-12-12 02:30 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 2

#3

Sullivan addresses the rwing version of Christianity and government.

He said that "Christianity is the only monotheism that seeks no sway over Caesar..." and then went on to say that rwing political cults in place of Christianity is not Christianity.

"So what happens when this religious rampart of the entire system is removed? I think what happens is illiberal politics. The need for meaning hasn't gone away, but without Christianity, this yearning looks to politics for satisfaction. And religious impulses, once anchored in and tamed by Christianity, find expression in various political cults.

These political manifestations of religion are new and crude, as all new cults have to be. They haven't been experienced and refined and modeled by millennia of practice and thought. They are evolving in real time. And like almost all new cultish impulses, they demand a total and immediate commitment to save the world.

Now look at our politics. We have the cult of Trump on the right, a demigod who, among his worshippers, can do no wrong. And we have the cult of social justice on the left, a religion whose followers show the same zeal as any born-again Evangelical. They are filling the void that Christianity once owned, without any of the wisdom and culture and restraint that Christianity once provided."

"The same cultish dynamic can be seen on the right. There, many profess nominal Christianity and yet demonstrate every day that they have left it far behind. "

"Yes, many Evangelicals are among the holiest and most quietly devoted people out there. Some have bravely resisted the cult. But their leaders have turned Christianity into a political and social identity, not a lived faith, and much of their flock -- a staggering 81 percent voted for Trump -- has signed on. They have tribalized a religion explicitly built by Jesus as anti-tribal. They have turned to idols -- including their blasphemous belief in America as God's chosen country. They have embraced wealth and nationalism as core goods, two ideas utterly anathema to Christ. They are indifferent to the destruction of the creation they say they believe God made.

And because their faith is unmoored but their religious impulse is strong, they seek a replacement for religion. This is why they could suddenly rally to a cult called Trump. He may be the least Christian person in America, but his persona met the religious need their own faiths had ceased to provide. The terrible truth of the last three years is that the fresh appeal of a leader-cult has overwhelmed the fading truths of Christianity."

"And so we're mistaken if we believe that the collapse of Christianity in America has led to a decline in religion. It has merely led to religious impulses being expressed by political cults. Like almost all new cultish impulses, they see no boundary between politics and their religion. And both cults really do minimize the importance of the individual in favor of either the oppressed group or the leader."

excerpt

#5 | Posted by Corky at 2018-12-12 02:39 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 2

#5 | Posted by Corky at 2018-12-12 02:39 PM

And the retort in my #2 responds directly to that, even citing what you excerpted in your #4:

The "No true Christian" problem

An alert reader, absorbing Sullivan's thesis, might notice another problem: Doesn't religion regularly escalate the stakes of politics beyond proceduralism? Indeed, in many of the periods I've mentioned, Christianity was the handmaiden of political escalation, for both great good and great ill. Sullivan himself gestures toward one side of this reality, writing that "it was Christianity that gave us successive social movements, which enabled more people to be included in the liberal project." And today, there's no single group that supports President Trump as intensely as white evangelicals.

There's a logical fallacy called the "no true Scotsman" problem. As the handy website YourLogicalFallacyIs.com (ain't the internet grand?) explains, "in this form of faulty reasoning one's belief is rendered unfalsifiable because no matter how compelling the evidence is, one simply shifts the goalposts so that it wouldn't apply to a supposedly ‘true' example."

I am not here to judge anyone's religion, and I've been moved many times in the past by how Sullivan writes of his faith. But as a matter of political analysis, Sullivan is trying to close a gaping hole in his argument by defining his Christian practice as true and competing interpretations, no matter how widespread they are, as aberrant. That's a fine hobby, but it's not a useful interpretive lens for understanding America's past or guiding our future.

To state the obvious: Christians were found among both the abolitionists and the secessionists, the segregationists and the Freedom Riders. Study the moments of maximum collision in America's past and you will find them thick with godly rhetoric and devout believers. Political rhetoric in America is filled with signifiers of Christian identity, and it always has been. It is absurd to suggest that Christianity was somehow less of a social and political identity in the past.

#6 | Posted by Hans at 2018-12-12 02:44 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

He said that "Christianity is the only monotheism that seeks no sway over Caesar..." and then went on to say that rwing political cults in place of Christianity is not Christianity.

This is like saying Stalinism wasn't true Communism.

This is like saying Trump isn't demonstrating true Republican ethics and values.

In other words, delusionally wrong.

#7 | Posted by snoofy at 2018-12-12 02:45 PM | Reply

#2

Ezra Klein seems to pretty much miss the point of what Sullivan is saying about rwing politics as a political cult replacing Christianity. He says that Christianity was never a positive restraining force.

"America's political past was not more procedural and restrained than its present, and religion does not, in general, calm political divides."

But then, that's not unusual in this modern world where we forget that Evangels were once liberals and Abolitionists in this country; where the greatest American Protestant theologian was liberal Reinhold Niebuhr... whom both Obama and the Clintons admire....pretty much right up to the Reagan '80's.

en.wikipedia.org

#8 | Posted by Corky at 2018-12-12 02:49 PM | Reply

- delusionally wrong.

The defensiveness of that undermines your argument... as overly defensive.

#9 | Posted by Corky at 2018-12-12 02:50 PM | Reply

"Evangels were once liberals and Abolitionists in this country"

Yeah, well, they were TeeTotalers too.

I don't hear you crowing about that one much.

#10 | Posted by snoofy at 2018-12-12 02:51 PM | Reply

- like saying Trump isn't demonstrating true Republican ethics and values.

Not what he said:

"Now look at our politics. We have the cult of Trump on the right, a demigod who, among his worshippers, can do no wrong. And we have the cult of social justice on the left, a religion whose followers show the same zeal as any born-again Evangelical. They are filling the void that Christianity once owned, without any of the wisdom and culture and restraint that Christianity once provided."

He's not even saying that Christianity is the only thing could ever supply such a restraint against aggressive political zeal; only that it once did and only because it's true version was non-political.

#11 | Posted by Corky at 2018-12-12 02:55 PM | Reply

#10

You still sound defensive... and personal. Try sticking to argument.

#12 | Posted by Corky at 2018-12-12 02:56 PM | Reply

Does buddism try to sway Caesar?
I don't know and don't care much.

In a democracy all people of all beliefs should attempt to sway Caesar.

The challenge is how to promote truth based and moral beliefs. Religions have had mixed results.

#13 | Posted by bored at 2018-12-12 03:17 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

Why Sullivan's considerable intellectual capacity can't be used for something more constructive is beyond me.

#14 | Posted by NerfHerder at 2018-12-12 11:10 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

There seems to be a terrifying connection between increasing secularization of those with low IQ in America and the rise of celebrity worship.

If you don't believe me just look who's living in the White House.

#15 | Posted by Tor at 2018-12-12 11:26 PM | Reply

- is beyond me.

That's gotta be a REALLY long list.

#16 | Posted by Corky at 2018-12-13 12:40 AM | Reply

What an EXTREMELY crappy article that tries to convince people that, regardless of all logic and intelligent thought, people should agree that the exception of everything IS the rule. The premise the author wants you to come away with is ignore the billions with a belief who have done nothing but good, focus only on the few million or .0001% that have done bad.

Not surprisingly, this is also a mentality that has gained traction as Liberalism has gained traction. Instead of telling people there are lessons to learn from the exception that can make the rule better, they want us to just think that the rule is bad because of the exception. That's the entire reason I left the Dem party. I was never a hard Left person but I believed in living liberally, until that started to mean what it does today.

#17 | Posted by humtake at 2018-12-13 12:58 PM | Reply

"There seems to be a terrifying connection between increasing secularization of those with low IQ in America and the rise of celebrity worship."

Trump's strongest supporters are anti-abortion evangelicals.

FACT!

#18 | Posted by snoofy at 2018-12-13 01:20 PM | Reply

"That's the entire reason I left the Dem party. I was never a hard Left person but I believed in living liberally, until that started to mean what it does today.
#17 | POSTED BY HUMTAKE"

Oh, that's hilarious.

If you ever left the Democrat party, it was right around the time Strom Thurmond left the Democrat party, and for the same reason.

#19 | Posted by snoofy at 2018-12-13 01:27 PM | Reply

Why Sullivan's considerable intellectual capacity can't be used for something more constructive is beyond me.

#14 | Posted by NerfHerder

A republican pointing out that modern republicanism is based on religious hypocrisy isn't worth your time to read?

#20 | Posted by SpeakSoftly at 2018-12-13 01:31 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

"A republican pointing out that modern republicanism is based on religious hypocrisy isn't worth your time to read?"

It's been that way for 35+ years.
Ever since Reagan and the GOP teamed up with Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority.

These are the Christians that unquestioningly support Trump.

#21 | Posted by snoofy at 2018-12-13 01:40 PM | Reply

"A republican pointing out that modern republicanism is based on religious hypocrisy isn't worth your time to read?"

Albert Einstein never wasted much of his talent on pointing to a puddle of water and then introducing a circumlocutory theorem that it was, indeed, wet.

#22 | Posted by NerfHerder at 2018-12-13 02:02 PM | Reply

Albert Einstein never wasted much of his talent on pointing to a puddle of water and then introducing a circumlocutory theorem that it was, indeed, wet.

#22 | Posted by NerfHerder

Alcoholics dont quit drinking til they admit they have a problem.

Introspection and self criticism are so rare in the republican party that they should be taken seriously when they occur.

#23 | Posted by SpeakSoftly at 2018-12-13 02:09 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

"#16 | POSTED BY CORKY"

How sweet of you to think of me enough to take time to post, Corky.

And every time I visit the dinosaur exhibit at the Maryland Science Center I also think of you :-)

#24 | Posted by NerfHerder at 2018-12-13 02:10 PM | Reply

#24 | POSTED BY NERFHERDER

I am going to go out on a limb - you're scruffy-looking, aren't you?

#25 | Posted by JeffJ at 2018-12-13 02:11 PM | Reply | Funny: 1

"Alcoholics dont quit drinking til they admit they have a problem."

Some, not all. The rest simply die first.

#26 | Posted by NerfHerder at 2018-12-13 02:12 PM | Reply

Introspection and self criticism are so rare in the republican party that they should be taken seriously when they occur.
#23 | POSTED BY SPEAKSOFTLY

You're right, but it doesn't work that way.

Here's how ig works:

Only RINOs introspect.

You think someone like JeffJ or Boaz has ever changed his mind about a GOP policy because of the actual effects it had?

Not a chance.

As these right-wingers see it, you don't have to THINK about things when you already KNOW the answers. (And the answers are ALWAYS smaller government and tax cuts for the rich.)

#27 | Posted by snoofy at 2018-12-13 02:16 PM | Reply

"I am going to go out on a limb"

You know the old adage-- "in like a lion, out like a limb."

I may be scruffy looking, but, in the end, I always get the princess-- especially if my greatest rival for her affections turns out to be her own brother.

#28 | Posted by NerfHerder at 2018-12-13 02:17 PM | Reply

I also think

#24 | POSTED BY NERFHERDEd

Citation necessary.

#29 | Posted by Corky at 2018-12-13 02:53 PM | Reply

"Yeah, well, they were TeeTotalers too."

Anyone want to let him know that so are Michael Moore and Ralph Nader?

#30 | Posted by Tor at 2018-12-13 03:31 PM | Reply

They're not clamoring to outlaw booze like we outlawed slavery.

#31 | Posted by snoofy at 2018-12-13 03:36 PM | Reply

So use the right word for them and the right one for those you dislike.

#32 | Posted by Tor at 2018-12-13 03:42 PM | Reply

I agree that religion emerges from a need to give meaning to life, it is also often used to defraud people, a practice which becomes easier when falsehoods are deeply seated in the minds of children. While transcendent is a better word than supernatural, it would be better yet to find meaning while one's consciousness has as firm a grasp of reality as human knowledge permits.

Is there really such a thing as a prophet? Is Jesus another human being or a supernatural persona of the Father, the son and the holy ghost? When you accept the later you are treading on thin ice, departing from a science based reality.

Humans are the only species who know that we will die. OK, let's assume that is true, although many higher mammals, such as elephants, may share that wisdom with humans. Even the simplest organisms exhibit fight or flight behaviors when faced with a life threatening situation.

Whether a religion is true or not is not a necessary condition to give any individual life meaning. But false beliefs can and will have catastrophic consequences to a society which denies those realities. Denial of global warming is a perfect example of how a false belief has the potential to destroy a society, if not a particular individual who harbors false beliefs. Most religion is overloaded with false beliefs which are dangerous for the long term health of any society. But that is not a necessary condition of religion.

#33 | Posted by bayviking at 2018-12-14 12:24 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

"The beauty of our system is that it isolates everybody. Each person is sitting alone in front of the tube, you know. It's very hard to have ideas or thoughts under those circumstances. You can't fight the world alone."

-- Noam Chomsky

#34 | Posted by bayviking at 2018-12-14 08:20 AM | Reply

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