The Emerson Avenger

The Emerson Avenger is a "memory hole" free blog where censorship is scorned. This blog will "guard the right to know" about any injustices and abuses that corrupt Unitarian Universalism. Posters may speak and argue freely, according to conscience, about any injustices and abuses, or indeed hypocrisy, that they may know about so that the Avenger, in the form of justice and redress, may come surely and swiftly. . . "Slowly, slowly the Avenger comes, but comes surely." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

In 1992 I underwent a profound revelatory experience of God which revealed that the total solar eclipse "Eye of God" is a "Sign in the Heavens" that symbolizes God's divine omniscience. You may read about what Rev. Ray Drennan of the Unitarian Church of Montreal contemptuously dismissed as my "psychotic experience" here: - This revelatory religious experience inspired me to propose an inter-religious celebration of Creation that would take place whenever a total solar eclipse took place over our planet. You may read about what Rev. Ray Drennan and other leading members of the Unitarian Church of Montreal falsely and maliciously labeled as a "cult" here: - I am now an excommunicated Unitarian whose "alternative spiritual practice" includes publicly exposing and denouncing Unitarian*Universalist injustices, abuses, and hypocrisy. The Emerson Avenger blog will serve that purpose for me and hopefully others will share their concerns here. Dee Miller's term DIM Thinking is used frequently and appropriately on this blog. You may read more about what DIM Thinking is here -

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Yet Another U*U Blog Post About The Freethought Bus Sign Campaign - My Response To Paul Oakley's 'Literalism, Outrage and Imagined Victimhood' Post

This response to U*U seminarian Paul Oakley's 'Literalism, Outrage and Imagined Victimhood blog post was accidentally published when I absent-mindedly clicked on the 'Publish Post' tab rather than the 'Save As Draft' tab. I guess this is a case of what's done is done and I will leave it up as a cross-posting of my comment. I have corrected a couple of typos and may add some pertinent links to the post later -

It looks like we have to disagree on several important points too Paul.

:Do any God narratives depict literal facts about God? Of course not!

Neither you nor anyone else living on this planet can make this rather dogmatic assertion with any credibility. You are effectively saying that there are no "literal facts" about God because God does not exist. If God exists there are "literal facts" about God and it is entirely possible that any number of God narratives, not just Jewish and Christian ones BTW, do in fact depict literal facts about God.

:Only the literalist/fundamentalist would even claim that Bible or other narratives of God are literal truths.

You are painting with a rather broad brush here Paul. I dare say that many liberal Christians and Jews would say that parts of the Biblical narratives of God do convey literal capital 'T' Truths about God whereas other parts are indeed largely fictionalized aka mythical.

:But non-literalness is a far different thing from non-truth.


:So, when we look at the Darrow quote ("I don't believe in God because I don't believe in Mother Goose."), what we see is literal mindedness.

Aka "fundamentalist atheism". . .

:For him, if this quote actually represents his belief, truth lies in factual verifiability.

As with most ultra-skeptical fundamentalist atheists, except when they choose to turn blind eyes and deaf ears to factual verifiable truths of various kinds.

:Only. It is a statement of a worldview that is narrow but that no more maligns God and believers in God than it maligns Mother Goose and people who find truth and utility in those narratives and rhymes.

What about if Darrow had just come out and asserted that belief in God is nothing but "silliness and fantasy" rather than simply hinting at that idea?

:In short, all the Darrow quote tells us is that Darrow was a fundamentalist/ literalist, a position most UUs would be uncomfortable with but that most of us would be willing to grant one has the freedom to believe and express.

Many of the U*Us I know seem to be very comfortable with fundamentalist atheists and even hire them as U*U ministers who preach Sunday sermons dogmatically asserting that God is a "non-existent being" and that belief in God "seems primitive".

:I do not believe that the quote is inherently offensive to people who aren't looking to be offended.

It is borderline. It suggests that those people who believe in God are immature and childish. That God is nothing but a "fairy tale". In light of the fact that many fundamentalist atheists, including Richard Dawkins and P. Z. Myers et al, engage in that kind of not so subtle put-down of God believing people on a quite regular basis I expect that many of the U*Us who were offended saw the quote in that context.

:As for the Twain quote ("Faith is believing what you know ain't so."), that is just a non-theological way to phrase the exact same thing that plenty of mainstream Christian theologians have claimed through the centuries. Twain had a streak of bitterness and enjoyed his barbs.

Apparently the Freedom From Religion Foundation has a similar streak of bitterness and quite enjoyed repeating Mark Twain's barb. . . N'est-ce pas?

:But, agree with him or not, there is nothing in this quote that is inherently upsetting to anyone except so far as they gain pleasure being upset by the long-ago statements of the dead.

I disagree. The statement clearly implies that faith is nothing more than delusional thinking or lying to oneself. That kind of "blind faith" does exist, I even know plenty of fundamentalist atheists who engage in their own version of such "faith", but I would say that most faith is actually founded in a realistic assessment of available information and then extrapolating from it. I might add that the comment is a quote from one of Mark Twain's *fictional* characters and thus may not reflect Twain's actual beliefs about faith.

:Dawkins meant to be provocative ("The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction."). Yes. But where is the problem? Calling God a fictional character? The only people who should have any trouble with that are fundamentalists/literalists.

A whole lot of people *literally* believe that God exists and has certain attributes Paul. I would say a few billion do. . . Certainly millions of Americans do. The strong suggestion, or indeed dogmatic assertion, that God is a purely fictional "character" who does not actually exist is a slight to believers. It is one thing to say I do not believe in God, it is quite another to suggest or assert that people who believe in God are delusional as Richard Dawkins quite *literally* does along with other fundamentalist/literalist Atheists. . .

:Most of us believe that God narratives are not literally factual, that their truth lies elsewhere.

Most U*Us perhaps, but by no means all U*Us. The ads are offensive to those U*Us who do believe that *some* of the God narratives are at least in part "literally factual". The ads, at least those few that are provocative (and no doubt deliberately so) essentially tell God believing people that they are delusional and even lying to themselves. That being said, I naturally agree that Richard Dawkins is quite correct in his assessment that God, as portrayed in the "Old Testament", is a rather unpleasant character on more than one occasion. Those accounts may well be fictional aka mythological but who's to say that God cannot be rather unpleasant in character in *fact* assuming God exists? One need only look at the Creation to quickly determine that the Creator is not all sweetness and light. Right Paul?

:To say that God as narrated in the Bible is not, in a real sense, a fictional character is objectively incorrect.

You left the ized off fictional Paul. God has been mythologized but I challenge you or any other human being to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that God is a purely fictional character. Neither you, nor anybody else on this planet, is in a position to credibly declare that all of the stories about God in the Bible, or indeed other God narratives, are pure fiction and not founded upon *some* facts about a God who actually exists.

:And to say that that character did not do or command some of the greatest imaginable evil in the history of story telling is not correct.

Correct. The only question remaining is whether or not God actually did any of those evil acts or commanded them.

:People have argued about the appropriateness of the ads to the venue and UUWorld has decided that they were inappropriate. But regarding Dawkins', Twain's, and Darrow's quotes themselves, the only reasons for anyone to be seriously bothered rather than mildly annoyed is either that they too harbor literalist views or that they enjoy playing the victim.

I seem to recall UU World advertising manager Scott Ulrich formally acknowledging that the Freedom From Religion Foundation ad "seems hostile to all religion". Was he wrong Paul? I can assure you that I do not enjoy playing the victim. Au contraire. . .

Quite frankly I think that you just managed to ad insult to injury (or vice versa) to those people who found the ads offensive with that victim blaming statement.

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