Monday, March 19, 2012

Mob rationality

Ed Feser points out that about the last place you'll find reason is in an emotional crowd. But that's exactly the environment in which atheists think they're going to conjure it up at March 24th's Rally for Reason:
How fitting, then, that the Counter-Religion that is the New Atheism has now decided to make of itself a mob. Something called the “Reason Rally” is scheduled for March 24 at the National Mall in Washington, D. C. and the Counter-Prophet Richard Dawkins is headlining as chief rouser of the “rationalist” rabble. The name alone exposes it for the farce that it is -- a “Reason Rally” being (for the reasons just given) somewhat akin to a “Chastity Orgy” or a “Temperance Kegger.” As always, the New Atheist satirizes himself before you can do it for him.
Of course rationality for the scientific materialists putting this show on is just a pose. The implication is that scientific thinkers are rational and religious and philosophical thinkers are not, an intellectual posture that is called into question almost every time Jerry Coyne or P. Z. Myers tries to address an issue of philosophy or theology (politics and social issues don't fare too well either).

I mention before my of applying for an exhibitor's pass so I can hand out a copy of the final exam in my introductory logic course just to see how these champions of reason actually perform. But it would be just as much fun to have copies on hand of random passages from some medieval thinker, say an article from St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica, or a random treatise from William of Ockham or Duns Scotus or Henry of Ghent--just to see if they could even understand it.
The aim of this “movement-wide event,” we are told, is “to unify, energize, and embolden” the secularist faithful. Naturally, this is not the reason of Socrates, but that of the “Religion of Reason,” of the French and Russian Revolutions, of Comte. It is “Reason” as a slogan, something to stick on a banner and march behind, and in the name of which to promote an agenda and shout down critics. Fortunately, the “movement” hasn’t yet reached the guillotine stage, and the mob will have to satisfy itself with “music, comedy, great speakers, and lots of fun” -- rather than, say, storming Vatican City and arresting the Pope, as Dawkins would no doubt prefer.
And Ed has unearthed a preview of the rally, the script for which appears to have been written by P. Z. Myers.

1 comment:

Singring said...

First they ignore you, *then they laugh at you*, then they fight you, then you win.

Just to illustrate Martin's latest beacon of logic, let's sum up his argument:

A large crowd of people organized in a 'rally' that is trying to celebrate and promote rational thought and behaviour can by definition not behave rationally.

By contrast, a large crowd of people standing in a church saying ineffectual prayers and eating a cracker that they think a priest has turned into the flesh of a Jew that died 2000 years ago (but was actually God and flew up into teh sky to live forever) by saying a few magic words over it - *that's* an example of rational behaviour.

Got it.