Saturday, November 18, 2006

For the birds!

Why people who claim to have had a "personal experience" of the supernatural (and paranormal, we might add) should take their anecdotes with a chunk of salt.
One of the cleverer and more mature of my undergraduate contemporaries, who was deeply religious, went camping in the Scottish Isles. In the middle of the night he and his girlfriend were woken in their tent by the voice of the devil--Satan himself; there could be no possible doubt: the voice was in every sense diabolical. My friend would never forget this horrifying experience, and it was one of the factors that later drove him to be ordained. My youthful self was impressed by this story, and I recounted it to a gathering of zoologists relaxing in the Rose and Crown Inn, Oxford. Two of them happened to be experienced ornithologists, and they roared with laughter. "Manx Shearwater!" they shouted in delighted chorus. One of them added that the diabolical shrieks and cackles of this species have earned it, in various parts of the world and various languages, the local nickname "Devil Bird." (Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, London: Bantam, 2006, p.87)

To realize that he invested his entire life partly because he mistook a bird for some demonic entity--my, that should really gnaw at him for the rest of his life. (And to think that that bird was the Good Guy's creation. A pretty mischievous trickster, don't you think?)

Remember the lady who heard the voice of God tell her, "Go throw your children into the San Francisco Bay," and faithfully obeyed? She's now on trial for murder. Do Xians believe her, that God had spoken to her? But why not? Why don't they believe those who hear God in their heads and obey by taking a knife and binding their children, when the father of the three great monotheisms claimed and did the very same thing? Why excuse Abraham, call him a man of God, and say he in fact is someone to whom an actual supernatural entity spoke, but then brand as crazy and criminal everyone else who claims to hear God tell them they should slit the throats of their children? Why are the LaShuan Harrises of the world described as delusional and their acts criminal, while Abraham and Co. and their deeds are not, and on the contrary are held up as (gasp!) role models?

Xian brains are so compartmentalized they have apparently lost the ability to think clearly. They are so biased and dualistic, and subscribe to double standards that their capacity for ethical thinking has been compromised. Theism screws brains big time.

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