I want a pistol in my hand

23 04 2013

All day long a post fermenting, only to end up boiling away to nothing.

Is Islam uniquely violent? That Christ died on the cross and Muhammed took up the sword—does that matter in some fundamental way?*

It does, I suppose, if you want it to. If not, then not.

This isn’t a slam against Christianity or Islam or belief (in anything. . . ); it is an observation of the condition of belief.

We construct our beliefs, believe because we want to believe, have to believe, believe how we want to believe. Or not.

We deprecate this and emphasize that, as is our preference, driven by yet other preferences.

I don’t mean to be a lazy relativist, even as this reads as lazy relativism. That is not my preference. No, it is just that beliefs arise from narratives, and the more complicated the narrative, the more beliefs can arise, and the more complicated the beliefs about the beliefs, the greater the likelihood that the beliefs and the beliefs about the beliefs can and will justify anything.

Hitchens said “religion poisons everything.”

Perhaps. But it is not the only source of poison. It is not the primary source. For if, as Hitchens believed, there is no God, and religion a construct of humans, then would it not be more accurate to say that the source of the source is the problem?

I’m tired and my thoughts are fading, and I do not wish to excuse ideologies and religions that celebrate or even excuse violence, but it seems rather too convenient for those who profess belief in Narrative C (of which some streams has in the past celebrated or excused violence) to claim that Narrative I (of which some streams currently celebrates or excuses violence) is inherently violent, while the former, only contingently or mistakenly so.

Shorter version: double-reverse No True Scotsman!

Be glad that my brain is flat, or else I’d ramble on trying to puzzle out if this means we are all Scotsmen or if there are no Scotsmen or how does one come to construct a Scotsman. . . .

*By way of Sullivan and Dreher




4 responses

24 04 2013

in terms of developmental psychology/socialization beliefs precede narratives and I don’t really see any basis for this “and the more complicated the narrative, the more beliefs can arise, and the more complicated the beliefs about the beliefs, the greater the likelihood that the beliefs and the beliefs about the beliefs can and will justify anything” as various folk theories are equally given to justifications as far as I can see but yes people who assume that certain beliefs cause set outcomes (like some kind of computer program) are just wrong we aren’t that logical/predictable, and are all in the grips of faith positions religious or otherwise, such the the lot of the human all too human…

24 04 2013

I was trying to puzzle this out last night: do the beliefs lead to the narrative, or does the narrative shape the emergence of beliefs—another round of induction-vs-deduction.

I doubt the notion of naked belief, unencumbered by experience, although I readily accept that experience won’t necessarily lead to coherent narratives, as well as the notion that narratives may be both incoherent and belief-generative. Unsurprisingly, I also think that beliefs, from wherever they emerge, shape narrative (and the experience which gives rise to beliefs and narratives). It’s a big ol’ roundelay.

As for “complicated”, I was imprecise. It’s not that the story has to be theory-laden or expressly multidimensional—although it could be that. The presence of doubt or ambiguity—the necessity of interpretation—allows the possibility of multiple interpretation, which might lead to dramatically different conclusions.

And justification? I started working on that, decided I’d be lucky if I remembered how to turn off my computer, and bailed. Short version: One, I don’t think justification requires complication, and two, what requires justification (or cannot be justified) in culture x might not require justification (or may be valorized) in culture y. I’m not a fan of violence and think it’s use (mostly) must be justified, but that’s hardly a universal sensibility: in some times and places, NOT taking up arms would need justification or could not be justified.

Upshot: This was far too, um, complicated a conversation to have begun right before heading off to bed.

24 04 2013

heh, you started it
hope your dreams are kinder

25 04 2013

I started to compose a deep and meaningful answer but, honestly, I’m too stressed and tired, so I think I’ll just say this:

All hail the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

That is all.

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