Oddness of Faith

Two online blogs have attracted my attention, and while there is only a tenuous link between them they are both based on articles of faith. One is slightly better than the other, but that is to be expected.

As mentioned previously, The BBC has a programme targeting Scientology and this has resulted in considerable online debates. One of the sites mentioning it (ReligionNewsBlog) seems more like an aggregator than a blog but it does have this transcript:

JOHN SWEENEY: So, would you say it’s a cult?

TOMMY DAVIS: …no right to whatsoever to say what and what isn’t a religion. The Constitution of the United States of America guarantees one’s right to practice and believe freely in this country. And the definition of religion is very clear, and it’s not defined by John Sweeney. And for you to repeatedly refer to my faith in those terms is so derogatory, so offensive and so bigoted. And the reason you keep repeating it is because you wanted to get a reaction like you’re getting right now. Well buddy, you got it. Right here, right now, I’m angry, real angry.

If you watch the video of this Tommy Davis comes across as a worrying person. If that is him “real angry” then he is a sociopath. There is no overt sign of aggression. No change to his tone of voice. He sounds like a nutcase who would kill you over a packet of crisps… I would be interested to learn what this “clear” definition of religion he talks about is. The blog also has some more, entertaining articles:

  1. Travolta’s attack on BBC man in Scientology expose
  2. John Sweeney explains: Row over Scientology video
  3. Scientologists at war with BBC
  4. The BBC man, the Scientologist – and the YouTube rant
  5. Scientologists to BBC: what planet are you on?
  6. Ronald Hutton: Wicca and other invented traditions
  7. BBC denies ‘death threat’ in Scientology row
  8. Polygamy suddenly is the talk of Texas
  9. Prayers, cash flow into Tulsa
  10. Former child bride asks for LDS action

This went a long way towards improving my opinion of the blog 🙂

The other blog of interest is on Ruth Gledhill’s (Times Online) Articles of Faith blog, titled “Dawkins transcendent.” This is, as always, interesting and well written. It is very interesting to see that Ruth, as a “person of faith” found herself swayed (even if just a little) by Dawkins’ argument. This restores my “faith” in humanity 🙂

I am somewhat intrigued though by two issues which crop up. The first is the implication that Dawkins is developing a new “religion.” This strikes me as a farcical stawman, yet it is often trotted out by theists to attack atheists. Dawkins is not advocated a “religion” in any meaningful use of the word. If you choose to define “free thinking” as a religion, fine — but even then Dawkins is not the “poster child” most people make him out to be.

He is a charismatic (at times) public speaker and advocates people making up their own minds based on the evidence available to them. Is this a religion? If so, I now define my house as a religious place of worship and expect the Inland Revenue to grant me the appropriate tax status.

The other issue which intrigues me is encapsulated in this sentence, where Ruth writes:

There is also an extremely intelligent case made against Dawkins in a recent series of sermons preached by Nicholas Sagovsky, canon theologian at Westminster Abbey.

I find it very strange that Dawkins writes a book explaining the logical flaws in belief in an imaginary being, calls it the “God Delusion” and pretty much all the responses boil down to ad hominem attacks on Dawkins the person. Note how Ruth writes “case against Dawkins” rather than “against what Dawkins says” or something similar. This may simply be a turn of phrase, but I suspect (especially thinking about Nutcase McGath’s “Dawkins Delusion” and the like) it is more an indicator of the Theist Thought process. And yes I do think it is flawed.

[tags]Religion, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Belief, Scientology, John Sweeney, Nutcases, Brainwashing, Beliefs, Religious Fools, Nutcases, Woo, Dawkins, God Delusion, richard-dawkins, religious-idiots, religious-intolerance, Atheism, Theism[/tags]