Links and Comments: Philosophical principles; social programs; narrative; FDS; religious conflict and the gullible

I’ve belatedly added a link to Adam Lee’s Statement of Principles, a set of philosophical positions that I mostly endorse (I reserve the right to quibble), in the intro to my Provisional Conclusions.


And speaking of Adam Lee, this post makes an interesting point about why the religious right is against government social programs:

It’s no coincidence that some of the fiercest opposition to Obamacare has come from the religious right: they want to shred the social safety net, so that people have no option but to turn to churches when they need help. There’s plenty of research to establish that in societies that are prosperous, peaceful and secure, people see less need for religious consolation; and I don’t doubt the religious right knows this as well. Their defeat has weakened their influence and made us a more just and humane society, and that’s very much worth celebrating.

(He’s responding to the latest Supreme Court decision upholding the intent of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.)


Via Mary Anne Mohanraj on Facebook, another citation about the overarching human mindset to think in terms of narrative:

We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.

–from The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottschall


I’ve not been keeping up with Jeffrey Tayler’s weekly (on Sundays!) column challenging religious verities at, but I wanted to note this one from a couple weeks ago, Antonin Scalia is unfit to serve: A justice who rejects science and the law for religion is of unsound mind, not so much for his commentary about Scalia, but for his description of FDS, Faith Derangement Syndrome:

Sufferers of faith-derangement syndrome (FDS) exhibit the following symptoms: unshakable belief in the veracity of manifest absurdities detailed in ancient texts regarding the origins of the cosmos and life on earth; a determination to disseminate said absurdities in educational institutions and via the media; a propensity to enjoin and even enforce (at times using violence) obedience to regulations stipulated in said ancient texts, regardless of their suitability for contemporary circumstances; the conviction that an invisible, omnipresent, omniscient authority (commonly referred to as “God”) directs the course of human and natural events, is vulnerable to propitiation and blandishments, and monitors individual human behavior, including thought processes, with an especially prurient interest in sexual activity.

Secondary symptoms exhibited by sufferers of FDS comprise feelings of righteousness and sensations of displeasure, even outrage, when collocutors question, reject or refute the espousal of said absurdities. Tertiary symptoms, often present among individuals self-classifying as “evangelicals”: Duggar-esque hairdos and Tammy Bakker-ian makeup, preternaturally sunny dispositions and pedophiliac tendencies, sartorial ineptitude and obesity.

A definition worth capturing, for future reference.

This past Sunday’s post by Tayler is about Sean Hannity, very bad critic: Fox News, Sony, Sarah Palin pal help hit movie prey on the gullible, about how those laughably bad “Christian” movies about how heaven is real prey on the gullible.


Yet, won’t there always be the gullible? The latest issue of The Atlantic is an “ideas” issue, with many diverse ideas about the modern world summarized sometimes very briefly (the trend even in print journalism these days). Here’s a quote from one, by Graeme Wood, about Why Global Religious Conflict Won’t End.

The conviction that every sacred text is a long-winded paraphrase of the Golden Rule requires, among other things, a rather low regard for those texts—and not much understanding of them, either. As the events of the past year suggest, they all contain recipes not just for peace but for conflict, which means that as long as there are literal-minded people, religion will likely remain as much a force for the latter as for the former.

Won’t there always be the gullible and the simple-minded, whose trust in literal readings of ancient writings drive religious wars and denial of the humanity of people unlike themselves? I’m reminded of this quote by H.G. Wells, which I need to highlight somewhere on this site: History is a race between education and catastrophe.

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