Tuesday, June 07, 2016

thou shalt not bear false tweetness

Quick follow-up on yesterday's religious conversion thing - as always I am surfing the bleeding edge of the Zeitgeist, as the appearance of this article in the New Yorker on the same day shows. Lawrence Krauss doesn't specifically use the words "Pascal's Wager", but nonetheless makes the point that people's expectations of deathbed recantations from atheists are based on the assumption that the immediacy of their death makes the terms of the wager suddenly seem more attractive. Which is patently ridiculous, of course, since utter nonsense doesn't stop being utter nonsense just because you happen to be facing up to imminent death.

The questions directed at Richard Dawkins after his recent minor stroke and gradual recovery show a similar sort of thinking, mixed with a bit of the "no atheists in foxholes" gambit, i.e. the assumption that atheists do believe in God really, they just affect not to because they're a bit pissed off about having to go to church when they were kids, or not getting that pony they prayed for, or being repeatedly brutally raped by a parish priest, or some such petty insignificant nonsense.

The accusations by Dawkins' supporters (or, at least, fellow non-believers) that the Church of England were "trolling" him by publicly offering up a prayer for his speedy recovery seem to me to exhibit the same sort of bad faith (no pun intended) assumption in the other direction, though. Yes, obviously the C of E spokespeople will be aware that Dawkins would scoff at the notion of there being someone to offer up a prayer to (as would I), but the point is that the people offering up the prayer believe in its efficacy (well, probably), so let's all just view it as a nice and conciliatory gesture and stop being arseholes for five minutes.

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