Reading Ridiculousness

Breaking the Spell. Chapter One

I started reading Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell.  As I was reading a few things made me start to think (as it is meant to).  I only finished the first chapter, but even for how little I’ve read I feel I have to question a part of it.

Can all of the conclusions made in the introductory portion of the book be taken as absolute?

I completely agree with Dennett about everything concerning humans as animals.  I understand that there is almost a parasitic dependancy that we have to ideas, how religion is that parasite that we’ve created in order to create a sense of what to do with our lives (just like the ants climbing to the sheep because the parasite forces the decision to do so on their brain).  I have to agree with Dennett about his argument that we need to study and understand religion in general since it is a major part of the lives of most people in society, and even though I have a blatant disagreement with religion and spirituality in the most general sense of its being, I still feel like learning as much as possible about it is of utmost importance in order to benefit society.  But I disagree with Dennett on a few issues not concerning what religion is but who the religious are.  I feel like his argument that there is a paradox between religious people is flawed. I believe that religious people who pray for peace and feel that their religion is the beacon of said peace, and religious people who feel like their religion will bring dominance and power are the same, and not separated by different idealistic views.  The basis of both ideas is to create a uniform idea of absolution for all people, like monopolizing the individual understanding of the greater picture.  Both the peace prayers, and the war makers are searching for the same Kantean idea of perpetual peace via religion.  This idea is what makes me feel like some of the simple observations on religious people that Dennett addresses are false.  I cannot say that if I agree with the statement, “we others have no right to intrude on their private practices” as a virtuous statement with the best intentions and say that some religious people simply looking for peace are also holding good intentions.  Religious people are part of a monopolistic system which contrasts greatly with the protections of minority right or individual liberty.  I guess to sum this argument up I feel like there is a generic mold of the religious person, that every religious individual does shares the same view in mind and does so without good intentions.  As a person I have never encountered a religious person who is not generally concerned with the way other people think, and I have come to believe that they don’t exist.  But then I’m from Kansas so the probability that I would be exposed to such a person is slighter here than almost anywhere else…well maybe not as badly as Utah but that’s not the point.  The point is that the argument by Dennett is that even religious people with good intentions are not enough, but I disagree.  The overall outcome is the same I suppose but its still a slightly different means to that end.  

I could be wrong, please tell me why if I am.  Honestly I absolutely love the book so far, I’ve underlined at least a fifth of the text I’ve read, but I probably will need some help figuring it all out.

BTW what is a Bright exactly?  All I know is that its supposed to be how Dennett characterizes himself but I still don’t have an absolute definition.  Its just a little confusing.

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  1. Rebekah
    Posted June 5, 2009 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Hey, Tater, I saw this on Facebook and decided to have a look finally. I totally agree that the prayers and fighters are ultimately the same, just one group wants God to do the dirty work for them. It probably also makes them feel better about themselves that they’re praying for “world peace” rather than “bloody death for the heathen unbelievers.” I suppose the world-peace bunch are the same ones who changed “imagine no religion” to “imagine one religion” for their rendition of the song.

    Bright is a word for atheist; he came up with the idea for it when he was thinking about how people have switched from saying “homosexual” to “gay” because it has better connotations, and wanted to do something similar for atheists. I recently read about a politician who says he’s a “humanist,” but of course the religious right quickly countered that “it’s just a euphemism for atheist.”

  2. Posted June 12, 2009 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

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  3. Posted June 13, 2009 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

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  4. Posted June 14, 2009 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

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