Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The National Post and religious journalism: Dumb and dumber.

Oh, man ... talk about comedic potential:

Have you found religion? Or lost it? If so, the Post Comment section wants to hear your story. In a series beginning today, Faith: Lost and Found, we are publishing the tales of readers whose life-experiences have imbued them with a belief in a higher power --or taken that faith away.

Why, sure, and what better outlet to present a fair and balanced perspective on both sides of the religion issue than Canada's answer to The Drudge Report? I suspect this opening salvo should tell us everything we need to know, as author McCloskey leaves no doubt which side of the fence he's on:

The article described how [Northrop] Frye came to grips with the death of his beloved wife of many years. He began by mentioning the fact that, in 1936, before his academic life began, the author was ordained a United Church minister.

Yet he admitted that during his entire life he had never had faith. Even as the author of the monumental The Great Code: the Bible and Literature, Frye hadn't believed in God. It seems that, for most of his life, he was content to consider all matters of faith as academic.

Yet after his wife died, Frye could no longer sustain an academic distance from his own life. Though he had a masterpiece on the Bible to his credit, on the question of God he now felt the need to go deeper. So he put his giant intellectual motor to work.

What he could not accept was that his wife of a lifetime -- what she had meant to him, the essence of her -- could be reduced to simply a collection of cells that had once lived and were now dead. And since this belief was his strongest impulse, it followed that he must believe that she continued to live in some way. And if this latter belief was really stronger than his former academic belief, he reasoned that this was faith, perhaps not in the accepted pure sense of the word, but what he saw as a negative faith--a default faith.

It was an epiphany. If Northrop Frye believed that the concept of negative faith had merit, that was good enough for me.

After a lifetime of guilt for what I had not been able to believe, Frye's revelation was a welcome relief. Negative faith may not be a fulfilling form of faith -- because it means never really knowing the things we long to know, such as the nature of God and the afterlife.

Well, that is a revelation, isn't it? A religious "faith" based on nothing more than the fact that it makes you feel better. How enlightening. How educational. How ... how ... Church of Scientology, or a hundred other spiritual scams.

And as for any potential fair and balanced, well, let's let McCloskey end the suspense right now, shall we?

But I'll take negative faith with an open mind over the fraudulence of an atheist's claim to knowing what can never be known.

Well, how about that? One wonders what's left to say in the rest of this series? On the one hand, we have the uplifting, emotionally satisfying value of "negative faith" based on nothing more than adorably infantile wishful thinking while, in the opposite corner, we have the closed-minded, fraudulent, intellectual dishonesty of atheism -- at least in the opinion of someone who's so mind-numbingly, jaw-droppingly fucking stupid, he doesn't even know what the word "atheism" means.

I can't wait to read the rest of this series. I always enjoy it when other people make me feel really, really smart.

P.S. If you don't understand the term "atheism," well, let me help you out. And if you still don't understand after reading that, please, for the sake of all of us, don't come back here and whine about it. Just accept that you're too dumb and move on. It'll make life easier for us all.


Anonymous said...

I see religion as one of the downsides of having a brain that can conceptualize the abstract.
From birth we learn there is a causality for events going on around us and seem to want to project that notion to everything else.
We learn fire is hot and like brain dead wankitude, it burns.
Stack blocks up high enough and they fall over.
Simple reactions from understandable causes with visible results.

Our brains seek contentment and in an unstressed state, 'happy' chemicals are released as a reward.
Our brains are also wired for curiosity, it is an important trait to survive in a brutal world.
Having questions without answers leads to creating a reason/myth/guess to get back to 'happy'.
What a better and simpler construct is there to explain all the unknowns as the working of some greater power?
Organized religion needs that continuous delusion reinforced by pack acceptance and it becomes their brand of 'happy'.

An interesting twist to this can be to take the free rein we give religions to define themselves and start a religion of being not a religion.

Still with me?

Partially to thumb a collective nose at the holy rollers and expose the fraud that some might might define religion as, Marc Perkel was able to get his Church of Reality recognized and registered as a religion.

Now atheists can join the club of tax evasion and non accountability with no fluffy cloud being to blame the weather on.
On the other hand, I'll kind of miss the promise of beer volcanoes and stripper factories.
It does however let one still employ the higher faculties without resorting to the god default for the real posers.
Perhaps this flowchart would explain it better:

Now which form of problem solving do you prefer?
The short bus for the box on the right leaves for Katie's place, shortly, so be sure to be on it.
I just know you'll be 'happy' there.

Mike said...

"the fraudulence of an atheist's claim to knowing what can never be known."

Problem is, we atheists aren't making a claim at all. By the proper definition of the term, we hold no belief, either positive OR negative, in a god or gods. It simply never enters our world view.

It is the theist that make a positive claim - that a a sky god exists and interferes with the lives of humans. They know this sky god so well, they can tell what he likes and dislikes, who he likes and dislikes and what kind of punishment awaits those who don't do what the boss says. All of that without providing an iota of evidence for the existenc of such a creature. And they accuse us of "claiming to know what can never be known"". Sheesh.

Shall I trot our Bertrand Russell's celestial teapot?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that Buddhists, Confucians(ists?), or Taoists qualify as atheists, despite meeting your definition of not believing in a mythical god being. Same applies to all those "I'm spiritual, but not into organized religion" folk.

These belief sets do still qualify as religions, even though they are non-theistic. Thus, you can be nontheist without being atheist, although all atheists are nontheists.

Sorry CC.

Unknown said...

Oooh! I should write in with my story, about being a fundamentalist for 38 years and then having a biblical contradiction blow things to absolute smithereens, and once I'd gotten through 6 months of emotional hell as I dealt with the fact that everything I'd been taught my whole life was utterly untrue, I looked back and finally began to notice all the ways I'd been brainwashed and controlled all those years.

Yes. I just may do that. How much d'ya wanna bet they don't print it?

Anonymous said...


No, atheism isn't a lack of religion per se, it's a lack of belief in god(s). Plenty of Buddhists, Zen Buddhists in particular, are atheists. For example, me.

Mike said...


Yeah, I'm with anon. I consider my self a philosophical Buddhist (I like it all except that reincarnation nonsense) but I am most certainly an atheist, just as CC describes.

Jean Townsend said...

"negative faith"???? Semantics, semantics ... where is Wittgenstein when you need him?