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Jo Nova Redux

This started as a comment on this.

I got to about 5 mins too! essentially it seemed to be taking the moral rather than the hard-edge. I personally regard the existence (or otherwise) of God(s) as a genuine philosophical question. By which I mean one with an objective answer*. If we reduce it to a nanny in the sky judging whether we’re naughty or nice then it becomes meaningless. Because if we think like that then we are denying reality. That is not a statement by me on God’s existence or otherwise. It’s deeper than that. I suspect strongly a lot of folks believe that the belief in God’s existence is more important than God’s existence. You see what I’m getting at? They were arguing the toss as to whether morality is possible without God(s) and it had taken a decidedly instrumentalist approach. Without God(s) can we be moral? A meaningless question as posed and answered. I would have had vastly more respect for Cardinal Pell if he’d said, God exists as revealed in the Bible and he says act like this and not like that rather than weasel himself into a sort of we have to believe in God or all Hell breaks out because you see that would also work if God was merely a polite fiction.

Essentially a moral argument either for or against God is circular. Pell requires God for morality, morality exists and therefore God does. Did we create Him? That is a potentially interesting question in a Spinoza-ish way. Dawkins requires the non-existence of God for the same reasons and I bet if I’d watched more he would have been quoting the Old Testament and I think Deuteronomy and Leviticus would have figured.

But no Pell argued that religion is nice (not the same as arguing it is true) and the questioner when I could take no more was full of the same. But what really turned me was Pell’s argument that Christianity (by which he meant Catholicism being a cardinal and all – so fair play) emancipated women. It wasn’t that long ago folk had to smuggle contraceptives into the Irish Republic. Hell’s teeth the IRA once had a debate. You see they’d figure the best way to add the sulphuric acid starter to a fertilizer bomb was in a condom but could they countenance the use of an immoral object? Tricky this morality lark isn’t it? I found this truly peculiar because as a kid I had a couple of condoms. Yes, I did. They were in a Golden Virginia ‘baccy tin. My survival kit as advised by Brian Hildreth. That was years before I even found girls vaguely interesting. The tin lid was pierced to form a heliograph – I was that sad. In a survival situation your condoms are useful water-carriers. I suspect a survival situation with comely lasses on some desert island is not exactly one you want to be rescued from anyway.

If anything truly emancipated women it was sex without kids.

*Even if we can’t figure it out (and we haven’t) it is still an objective question like Dark Matter or the Solar Neutrino problem. Or (and this is the monster) the interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.


  1. CountingCats says:


    Nice title, but my comment was about the Q&A on climate change, and her posting on it. Pell & Dawkins was just a throw away about what rubbish the program can be – not really about the core issue of her posting at all.

    Just sayin….

  2. NickM says:

    I think it needed to be said Cats. And frankly I find religion vastly more interesting than the cow-fart apocalypse. Anyway, your point is noted and that is why I made this a post, not a comment.

  3. Simon Jester says:

    “I suspect strongly a lot of folks believe that the belief in God’s existence is more important than God’s existence.”

    I think St. Augustine of Hippo once said something to the effect that he believed in the Bible because of the authority of the Church, rather than vice versa.

  4. David Gillies says:

    I highly recommend Daniel Dennet’s Breaking The Spell. He discusses at length this meta-religious idea of ‘belief in belief’. Personally I think it’s just argumentum ad consequentiam and thus logically fallacious.

  5. Single Acts of Tyranny says:

    “Dawkins requires the non-existence of God for the same reasons”

    …and there was me thinking he had rationally examined the evidence and come to a logical conclusion ~ doh!

    Dawkins no more ‘requires’ the non-existence of God than I ‘require’ the non-existence of elves and fairies.

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