A Twi**er exchange

September 10, 2014 • 10:32 am

Richard was nice enough to tw**t about my post on the fatuity of theology yesterday, which elicited a brief but funny exchange with an advocate of Sophisticated Theology™:

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How militant the man is! Can’t he just get down with the Ground of Being (or the Unity Behind Diversity)?

People complain about Richard being hamhanded with tw**ts, and I can’t deny that sometimes they’re a bit. . . infelicitous. But not this time. A scientist knows bullshit when he sees it.

56 thoughts on “A Twi**er exchange

  1. Well, it’s no “silent waiting on the truth, pure sitting and breathing in the presence of the question mark”, but it’s still obfuscation by high-falutin’ poetic drivel trying to sound thoughtful.

    I prefer the no-nonsense believers; at least they’re coherent and direct. The other sort always sound like drunk romantics imitating mystic poets.

        1. Reminds me of what I heard once when I complained about the obscurantism and mangled language in Heidegger – I got back “he’s sort of doing poetry”. I replied: Poetry should at least be understandable – this isn’t.

    1. That was a particularly eyeroll-inducing statement.

      Well, while Rowan is making himself eminently useful simply waiting for truth to appear to him , scientists are out there increasing our knowledge and improving our world.

  2. “Infelicitous” is a great word. I haven’t seen it used in a while!

    And Dawkins’s response this time IS great and spot on, as the Brits like to say.

    1. I’m guessing that the vast majority of sincere believers would also recognize the comment as BS. The Sophisticated ones are equal opportunity ostriches, remaining equally out of touch with both sides.

  3. You know, I do detect a little snark in some of Richard’s tweets, but I think it’s great. Can you imagine how aggravating it must be to have devoted your life to the methods of intellectual honesty and rigorous, difficult thinking, only to see lazy poseurs not only gain all sorts of approbation and accolades, but also to see them attack, often successfully, the kind of reality-based thinking you’ve been working hard to promote as the best way to deal with our issues. If I were Richard, I’d have exhausted my patience reserves long, long ago.

    1. I like them too, for all their faults. And I am reminded of the glee that Richard put into the “Science. It works, bitches!” quote on stage I saw once.

    2. I also am a fan. I am quite sure it wouldn’t matter what Richard said or how he said it, a certain cohort would complain about him, so he may as well get on with it.

    1. Hell, “a vision of unity behind diversity” could describe humanism. Or science.

      It differs from “Ground of Being” because it places the emphasis on the believer: “I can see what you can’t … and it’s the Ground of Being which unifies a diverse physical reality.”

      So the “a vision” part is nice: atheists are therefore blind. Get it?

      It’s not supposed to make sense; it’s supposed to seem wise.

  4. Wait..which one did he mean was the vision of unity behind diversity -God or Theology?

    I think he must mean the latter. I just can’t imagine how a vision of unity behind diversity can impregnate a virgin, if he meant the former.

    1. I just can’t imagine how a vision of unity behind diversity can impregnate a virgin

      Well, fiance Joe was a big bag of diverse cells that work together to form a single unified organism. Does that count?

  5. First “God” was Finger, then Logos, then Being, now shrunken to Vision.

    But Sophisticated Theology&trade is blind. If this goes on the smaller theological gap must be the Infinitesimal.

    Don’t you know where to find it!? It’s over there next to Zippy the Pinhead.

    1. God is a special subatomic particle found within the elusive agnoston family. A particle so elusive that when almost measured it splits into two smaller agnostinos. It is, by definition, immeasurable.

      1. Kevin, your post reminds me of an example of cyber vandalism I once perpetrated. Years ago, possibly a decade or more, about the time I was enjoying my encounter with chemo and radiotherapy, I posted this on RationalWiki “Proponents of quantum woo are affected by the interaction of neural-energy and their natural bozon field, which results in the creation of one moron and the decay of two neurons. The moron has a half-life of 42 years.”
        And it is still there! The editors must still be on their coffee break.

  6. So why is this unity behind diversity so preoccupied with what gay people get up to?

    The ‘sophisticated theologians’ manage to mix the batshit nonsense of unsophisticated believers with the sense of superiority over common believers they accuse the atheists of having.

  7. “Theology isn’t about God as ‘a Being’ but

    a vision of unity behind diversity.”

    Allow me to translate:

    “‘God’ is the word that expresses how all of reality is — or is grounded in — a basic Mental Agency or Mentality. A Cosmic Mind (the unity) lies behind the Material World (the diversity.) So this means that every criticism of the concept of “God” is now equated with criticism of the concept of reality, or existence, or Being, or some other bloody obvious thing which wouldn’t need/couldn’t have any rational support clearer than itself. And all the arguments in favor of God now get to be treated like wise descriptions of experiences and the desire to find this out. Neener neener.”

    Everything is Mind/Mind is All/Mind Grounds All/Mind is behind Everything: variations on a single theme. It’s not that hard a concept. We get it. Dawkins gets it. Meta-big — and still wrong.

    Because he also gets how believers have to flip flop back and forth between acting as if they were just talking about Reality-considered-as-a-general-whole and then wham — drag in all the damn mental attributes, characteristics, properties, and capacities of God-when-you-get-down-to-specifics while looking innocent.

      1. Yes — except they’d probably prefer to put it as Mind over Matter (with the mere physical world being less than and caused by a higher mentality (Consciousness, Bliss, Love, Intention, Intelligence, Goodness, God, blah blah blah …)

  8. Their version of God reminds me of that car a few years back where they never showed the car in their ads, just the “idea’ of the car.

    If there is a deity, I wonder how he feels about going from an all-powerful kick your butt just cause he can presence in the Old Testament to an “idea”.

  9. Dear Jerry,
    This is an excellent exchange. For once Richard has hit the nail exactly on the head in the twitter sphere. I enjoy your blog every day. By the way keep up the good fight and the delivery of lovely cat photos and telling it as it is.
    Kind regards

    Professor Mike Lyons
    CRANN Institute,
    AMBER National Centre,
    School of Chemistry,
    Trinity College Dublin

  10. “Unity behind diversity” could be describing a concept. A concept is the idea of a class whose members share some similarity. The diversity would reside in the individual members of the class and it is the concept which provides the unity. Although this surely wasn’t his intention, I most definitely agree that the word God is just a concept that subsumes all the individual ideas of this being that have been imagined throughout history.

  11. What’s theology good for:

    Q: What is God?
    Theologists: You obviously can’t understand.

    Q: What is Heaven?
    Theologists: It’s obviously too complicated for you.

    Q: The Shroud of Turin?
    Theologists: Obviously, there are open questions that need significant considerations. We might need centuries to understand it.

    Theology is like the Shroud of Turin. Douse the whole subject in petrol and set it ablaze. If the fire extinguishes itself it will be the first confirmed miracle.

  12. As some of you are likely aware, the U.S. Air Force, is requiring airman to include in their loyalty oath the words, “so help me God”.

    Might they allow, “so help me Vision of Unity Behind Diversity!” as an alternative?

    1. As some of you are likely aware, the U.S. Air Force, is requiring airman to include in their loyalty oath the words, “so help me God”.

      Not my country and not my problem, but surely this would have the constitutional lawyers out, baying at the Moon for the head of the First Amendment rogerer who tried to start, or enforce, that one.
      Citation? And if it has happened, I just bet it will have the likes of FFRF (Freedom From Religion Foundation) on the case.

  13. Vision of unity behind diversity sounds like something that the HR department where I used to work would roll out as an explanation for why we weren’t getting a raise this year.

  14. You know what would be wonderful? If the atheist crowd got together to do a satirical website on sophisticated theology™. It could be a-m-a-z-i-n-g!
    If anyone’s into the idea, I wouldn’t mind paying for it…

    1. How do you know we haven’t already done it? Hehheh.

      In fact … in a way, we’re responsible for all sophisticated theology. If it wasn’t for the atheists, theologians would probably all still be talking about a Spiritual Person who is definitely “a Being.” Our relentless criticisms made that sound stupid even to them. So now that’s not what anybody who is anybody ever really meant, you know.

      They mean something too vague to be rationally attacked, and too closely connected to values to be casually dismissed.

  15. “A vision of unity behind diversity” sounds very much like a rendering of E Pluribus Unum to me. Maybe he thinks America is god.

    1. Sorry, I’ve had too many problems over the years with ground loop faults and floating grounds to take any consolation from this. Are you being theological, and if so, can I prod your ghod with my multimeter?

  16. His response was definitely still “infelicitous” like usual. He could’ve asked what the guy meant to see if he actually had a point but he opted for a verbose way of saying “fuck you” instead.

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