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Still, I wonder if our survival as a species is something we can will, given a consciousness that is able to make its imagination seem real?
We cant stand far enough outside of our dilemma to think it completely through. Its like the mind/body distinction. There may not be a distinction. The mind is clever enough to consider the distinction, but its not clever enough to get far enough outside the body to arbitrate it.
And thats the rub.
We dont know that were not dreaming. Look, we cant resolve these things today. We are having quite a high-level discussion, about things that are fairly imponderable to combat, ??>?up against a phalanx of people who say, Whats the point in having this discussion? We already know the answer. Whats the point of struggling and arguing and researching? This is what I find hateful.
Some people might accuse you of asking everybody to be comfortable living in a Godless universe that is completely indifferent to them. How do you imagine people will go about satisfying their own sense of purpose?
Obviously, its not possible for people to do that all of the time, but it is possible for them not to draw any conclusions from their belief that the universe is all about them. If a huge rusted fridge fell through the ceiling and obliterated you without warning, I would think, well, that was lucky. Presuming that the fridge was directed at neither of us, its not lucky at all. But I would not be human if I didnt think it was a bit of luck. This is why religion cant be beaten, because it does derive from all these forms of selfishness, self-centeredness, fantasy and so on. Fine, I concede to that, but then why do people keep saying that I have to respect it? I dont have to respect any belief, nor do you, that a rusted fridge that killed you and didnt kill me was a piece of luck. You do not have to respect that. You can recognize it and see where it comes from. You can analyze it, you can even sympathize with it. You cant really say that I insist also that you respect it.
There is in religion, however, some practical application. Take, for instance, the very radical notion that the meek have some intrinsic value. African-Americans, just to take an obvious example, were told for centuries that they were something much less than human, so for them to have access to a Bible that tells them that they are significant, that white society doesnt determine their worth is, well, significant. For them it was a belief system that acknowledged, and still does in large part, that they were mistreated human beings. Respecting that aspect of religion doesnt demand that you also kowtow to superstition.
Of course, of course; since theres no justice in this world there better be some justice on offer in the next. Again, you can see where it comes from, fine. Its the same when Karen Armstrong [author of The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions] writes about Islam. Arabs were being teased by Jews and Christians, You havent had a prophet yet. Well, they were going to get one, werent they? Then you have the Archangel Gabriel appear to some fucking peasant merchant who cant read, exactly borrowed from the [Judeo-Christian] faith. Yes, of course I understand that, but its too much to ask me to believe it. Its too much to ask me to respect it. Its too much like I would be, too much like myself. I cant respect something that follows my own wish fulfillment. I dont. The last time I prayed was for an erection. Dont ask me if I got it or not.
Having had just enough Sunday school to know the story of Lots wife and how to recognize an unhealthy temptation when I heard one, I struggled hard to keep my eyes above c-level and asked Hitchens a final question about whose existence was easier to disprove, Henry Kissingers or Gods. He laughed and said that it was the same process for eviscerating each high-profile Jew in print and that, essentially, the quantitative differences between nonexistent entities was not measurable, the difference between the hole in a very old bagel and the hole in a relatively recent one.