stanley fish

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In his God Talk, Part 2 today in the Times, Fish begins with some statistics: between 79 and 92 percent of Americans believe in God, and 95 percent of readers of his original God Talk don’t. Wow!

The learned professor goes on to say that those unbelieving 95 percent “believe, apparently, that religion is a fairy tale, hogwash, balderdash, nonsense and a device for rationalizing horrible deeds.”

In this part 2 article he provides what may be reasonable answers to these 95 percent by in fact using reason to show that reason has its limitations, limitations because it must operate within a context based on starting assumptions. There’s a lot of heavy epistemology here.

He goes on to say that “talking God” is not about giving proofs of God’s existence but about some kind of conversion experience, and he seems to be accepting that there are many kinds of such experiences. One which particularly resonates with me as a UU is from reader Shannon:

But the kind of religion that moves me and other religious people I know is the STORY of hope and love and sticking to your beliefs in the face of disaster etc., not the idea that any particular story describes concrete, historical “truth.”

To me the key here is “hope and love” and this may be consistent with the thinking of the avowed atheist, Ian McEwan, who has said that there is an important moral center to believing that this is it, that this is all we’ve got, this life; we are instinctively moral beings and have this gift of empathy. Of course to accept this as an abstract principle is not the same as acting on it, which might become a real conversion experience or at least take courage, like for example Dr. Rieux in Camus’ The Plague.

See how difficult it is to deal with this stuff? Whew…. Over and out.
😆 :roll:

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Stanley Fish, professor of law at Florida International University, in Miami, has another excellent Think Again column with the title All You Need Is Hate in the New York Times Opinion section today. Here’s his opening paragraph:

I have been thinking about writing this column for some time, but I have hesitated because of a fear that it would advance the agenda that is its target. That is the agenda of Hillary Clinton-hating.

He then references an article by Jason Horowitz in the January issue of GQ, The Hillary Haters, which finds that the hostile characterizations of Clinton do not add up to a coherent account of her hatefulness:

She is vilified for being a feminist and for not being one, for being an extreme leftist and for being a “warmongering hawk,” for being godless and for being “frighteningly fundamentalist,” for being the victim of her husband’s peccadilloes and for enabling them.

As he points out, this is not to say that there are no rational, well-considered reasons for opposing Clinton’s candidacy. But these attacks by the hardcore crazies are just beyond the pale. And yet, a lot of this gets into the mainstream media (MSM). Check out the article. It gave me pause about the state of our culture and what’s tolerated.

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