The Early Days of a Better Nation

Friday, November 30, 2007

What I've been doing

Two-score and seven days ago, Martin Wisse kindly listed this as one of the top five socialist blogs that are not updated enough. I don't know about socialist, but I'll take my compliments where I find them, so thanks. The lack of updating is mainly because I'm very close to finishing a novel, which has taken longer than I expected.

The Night Sessions is a crime novel set in a future Scotland (and New Zealand) (and space), about fifteen years after the end of the Faith Wars, which began in 2001 and ended in 20--. It's taken so long because (a) I made false starts on two other novels earlier this year before hitting on this one; (b)I made the mistake of spending a lot of time planning it, in what turned out to be not quite enough detail to let me sit down and just write the damn thing; (c) the theme of the story (religious terrorism in a militantly secular society) got me distracted by, um, research.

Stuff like this:
The new atheists use this acultural modernity rhetoric in almost every argument that they make and every topic they touch.

For example, there is a cute saying that many of them trot out every once in a while: "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours." Is this not a shining example of the acultural view of modernity? For the new atheists, it is simply a matter of opening your eyes and getting rid of all the "extra" (non-reasonable) beliefs one might have.
This is a good example of how an intelligent person can completely miss the point. For one thing, I don't know where he gets the 'acultural view of modernity' from - well, he cites where he gets it from, but I don't know of anyone it applies to. And the saying he refers to is not a good example of it. The new atheists (and the old atheists, like George H. Smith, who I think coined it) are using it to try to crowbar in closed minds an opening for the thought that you routinely apply to other religions the same kind of critical reasoning that they - as well as atheists - apply to yours.

And, having read far too many online apologists and sceptics than is good for my productivity, I have to agree. Towards other religions (and, in some cases, towards rival interpretations of their own religion) the typical believer who has considered the matter at all is not only an atheist, but a sceptic, a scoffer, and a higher critic. 'Every sect as far as reason will help them, gladly use it; when it fails them, they cry out it is a matter of faith, and beyond reason.' - John Locke
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Monday, November 12, 2007
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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Germans have a word for this

I was going to make a joke about comedy writers on strike, but I mustn't, because that would be scabbing. So I'll just put in a sympathetic word for the dollar. Losing the supermodels - that's got to hurt.
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