Tuesday, October 19, 2010

After Four Years, and a New Post

The best way to start is to start, and so I'll start by saying I'm not sorry. I didn't write a post because I didn't want to write one, for various reasons that I'm sure you will figure out as you read the blog--if you read it after all these years or if you are just starting to read it. I don't feel like rehashing the last three and a half years so I won't, but one thing I can say about my interior and exterior life lately, in a general way, is that I have not been busy. To begin (again):

I have enjoyed reading PZ Meyers for many years, but I did not enjoy listening to him the other day on Point of Inquiry, and I think the reason has more to do with the media than the message. It's funny how I can read the most strident opinions on the web and maintain a distance from the discourse, but the more intimate--if that is the correct term--dialogue of radio, the speech acts wafting into my ears, affects me on a more emotional level, and affects my rhetorical response which, after all, is just as much emotional as rational. Listening to him helped me to locate myself in the spectrum of the debate between atheists and theists, and if he represents, as he purports to do in a rational sense, the atheist point of view then I am squarely not an atheist--not because I do not admire his rationality but because I do not admire him. He has successfully persuaded me to realize that I do not want to think the way he thinks, and to treat the experience of other human beings the way he treats the existential experience of his listeners.

On the other hand, Jennifer Michael Hecht (who is an atheist, too) is able to sum up my response nicely, in an unemotional way: "[rationality and by extension, science] is not the totality of human experience." She does not believe this, but realizes that many people do believe it, and I get a feeling of exasperation from her, coming over the airwaves as if by magic. Hecht is aware that when discussing God, she is in a rhetorical situation, not a rational one.

To sum up, my rhetorical response to philosopher Hecht (in an imaginary bar) is to buy her another beer; my response to developmental biologist Meyer is to pour his beer over his head and remind him that the lab bottles are full of fish urine and need to be wiped out.

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