Sunday, February 22, 2015

how history shows that omar vizquel was a devout muslim

input X ➡️ system ➡️ outcome Y

eating salmon instead of lollipops ➡️ human body ➡️ longer lifespan

violence instead of non-violence ➡️ child's body ➡️ violent adult

video games ➡️ body ➡️ probably some bad things

reading Quran ➡️ body ➡️ probably some bad things

Depends what the control is. On a desert island, soda is better than nothing. White bread is better than lollipops. We've got a lot of moving parts, systemic complexity.

People eat a lot of white bread in Japan. Not so good. But people in Japan live relatively long. The outcome is the sum of all the moving parts. From a naturalistic, scientific perspective, there's absolutely nothing in the outcome that didn't come from all those moving parts.

Input #343 out of 10,000 ➡️ society A ➡️ violence?
Input #212 out of 10,000 ➡️ society B ➡️ violence?

#343 seems terrible. Can't prove it but it just has to be. #212 seems pretty rational to certain people.

The U.S., empirically, has been the most violent country in the world over the past 50 years, at least, and the pattern of constant expansion goes back to the very beginning of the European invasion and conquest of America. What's the explanation? The outcome of all those moving parts is off-the-charts violence levels. Where's the analysis of those moving parts, among which are new atheists, by new atheists?

I agree that #343 is bad, but what about #650 when society B deposes society A's democratically elected government, #5,610 when society B chokes society A's economy and so on? And why has the society with the greater #343 input been less violent than the one with the greater #212 input? #343 is the Quran. #212 is new atheist political ideas. Unlike the case of the white bread above, whatever impact each of those inputs has is entirely unclear. Could be pretty close to nothing. Could be one is lollipops, the other candy canes, with both taken in such small quantities that it doesn't matter if one is slightly worse. That I have to explain basic methodology to professional scientists is [expression of exasperation]. 

A right-wing relative (think Krauthammer, Rumsfeld) on fbook typed this:
Yes, the US killed thousands in War. It is an ugly business. But no one was killed by the US with intent of conquering lands, enslaving the conquered, and subjugating to a hateful, VIOLENT religion.
I'll wait till you're finished lolling. OK, the crying, the banging of your head on the desk. Get it all out. Whew!!!

(I responded:
So if members of a peaceful religion (for example, the Russians) were to invade the U.S. and non-violently, with love and democracy in their hearts, use chemical weapons, WMDs, fighter jets, etc. to kill millions of American citizens without intention to subjugate Americans to any religion, you'd be fine with that? We wouldn't have to include that on our Russian violence scorecard?)
Now try to find a difference between this and the new atheist position. In fact, that hilarious comment got a "like" from a new atheist (an otherwise lovely person, by the way) who'd, upthread, been defending Harris as a peace guy. When I mention that society B is the most violent society in the world today, in my experience, new atheists don't dispute it directly. They want to keep bringing it back to how violent the Quran says believers should be, or the violent God (Allah)-religious words that some violent Muslims use when they do violent things. They don't dispute that the U.S. is the most violent organization in the world today. It's hopeless. But when they talk about how violent Muslims are, with the implication that Muslims are relatively violent, i.e., more violent than Christians and atheists due to their Musliminess, they demonstrate that they aren't actually counting Iraq invasions, drone bombings and the like as acts of violence. They actually think Muslims are more violent, not just in the nasty religious text sense but in terms of real world actions. They think this in spite of mountains of evidence showing systems with input #212 to be more violent and in spite of not being able to make a semblance of a case. Their argument, generally unspoken, rests on the characterization of acts of military aggression that kill on a scale not of handfuls or dozens, but on a scale of hundreds of thousands as non-violent. Their case rests on mass organized killing not counting as violence. Imagine you wanted to compare the power-hitting skills of Barry Bonds and Omar Vizquel where slugging is an act of violence and Bonds HRs count as "whoops, didn't mean it!" ground balls, his triples count as bad apple pop-ups, his doubles count as freedom-providing strikeouts, and his singles count as "did that really happen? I don't think that happened" do-overs, stricken from the record. Meanwhile little Omar Vizquel is spraying death-seeking singles all over the field and, anecdotally, hitting freedom-denying opposite field bombs far more often than the old box scores suggest.


d.mantis said...

This is great.

Tribalist thinking comes packaged with the separation of war and violence, army and weapon, military operations and death/destruction. These are the manifestations of the powerful in how meaning is deliberately dissolved and digested into a primordial soup from which any justification can be made as long as "We" are the actors.

Humanitarian Intervention = restricted airspace and bombing runs.

Fighting Extremism = funding and supplying other extremists.

Promoting Democracy = expansion of funding for authoritarian regimes and overthrowing of secular governments.

The list goes on and on. The problem is that the rejection of God as an instrument of faith does not immunize one from the secular instruments of faith.

Devin Lenda said...

Thanks, and nice summary. Have a blog?

d.mantis said...

I had one for a little while. I found that I was not synthesizing my thoughts well enough. More often than not it ended up being little more than rants and stream of consciousness bullshit. So I noped the hell out of that because, jesus, who needs more of that on the internet? I would like to come back to it one day.

Anyway, in light of this post and the one previous I browsed some old atheist blogs I used to frequent. Its worse than I thought. Holy shit was it a massacre of reason and logic.

Your posts actually create an argument that they never approach. A lot of them harp on religion as a motivator only. They don't even make the leap that religion leads to relatively higher levels of violence. Its simply religion says some bad shit...people of that religion do some bad shit...full stop.

Nothing about other motivations, differing allegiances, local/regional issues versus geopolitical issues, common recruit versus high level leader.

How does one point out dogmatic bias to someone who thinks the rejection of religion ends all dogmatic bias?

Devin Lenda said...

Blogging has its ups and downs, for sure. If you do get back to it, link it here and I'll gladly read and link to it (not much traffic here, mind you).

As for dogmatic bias, it's frustrating of course. No obvious fixes but there's hope for better understanding how it works. This kind of thing, more or less:–Babinski_syndrome