Started reading this entry in conservapedia about Atheism [link]. It sort of boils the blood but at the same time there is something comforting about this contrarian view. Perhaps I’ll write more later but I certainly encourage you to explore.
Conservative Views of Atheism
by natecooper | Aug 11, 2008 | culture, politics, Science | 4 comments
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Yet more proof on how crazy the US right is.
I don’t think that reading this really holds much purpose to anyone. Ironically, as much as the article itself takes pains to underline the self-serving aspects of the position’s relation to the world at large, the language used is guilty of much the same.
What kills me about conservative writings is their compulsion towards labeling opposing viewpoints as either deliberately misconstrued, misinformed, or altogether intentionally misleading; and the evidence for which inexorably boils down to a close textual analysis. Yet, these argumentative rhetorics themselves are as poor in adherence to sound journalistic practices as the sources they endeavor to de-legitimize. For an extreme example, read “Policy Review”, which to me is a journal of quasi-intellectual sniping.
If anything, the eponymous “Conservapedia” serves as an example of politicizing identity par excellence. I read once that what defines the New Right movement of the post-war era is its fundamental capacity for forging and retaining a coherent and focused party identity; in that they have developed a very sophisticated array of rhetorical devices for controlling the language of the debate itself. If you control the definition of the words used, you control the idea it signifies; therein lies the effectiveness of both their rhetoric, as well as they capacity for rank discipline.
As such, with “Conservapedia” I believe it demonstrates the conservative imperative to debate and control the very definition of our society’s lexicon. Since they could not wrest control from Wikipedia (arguably the premier popular authority on the breadth of human knowledge), they create their own.
This leads me to ask: if conservatives are genuinely interested in truth and liberty, why do they always attempt to dominate the cultural forum?
(DISCLAIMER: I am, to some small degree, unfairly conflating the American conservative body politic with the anonymous authors of the “Conservapedia”. The incongruities in this assumption alone raise a separate discussion about how contiguous the conservative political demographic truly is… )
Interesting assessment Nick. I guess I wasn’t really looking at the motivations behind the article as much. Its interesting to hear about the conservative tactic for controlling debate through language. It makes you wonder if they’ve only read (half of) Noam Chomsky.
To some extent if I was to elaborate on this post I would say that I enjoy having this viewpoint out there even though reading it physically makes me sick. If anything what enlightened, rational society really needs right now is a swift kick in the but as to seeing their paradigm as a paradigm.
What this conservative drivel points out is that at the very least the right has some coherence towards a common goal (of hating or at the very least dislike) atheism. At least, however, they are willing to see what they are doing as a “viewpoint”. Too often for my tastes logical science types in the secular world like to extol their knowledge as if somehow it is above scrutiny of deconstruction.
To some extent laws, theories etc of science and logic serve an immense purpose because they are the most tangible (in terms of breeding results) paradigm in modern society. But nothing is above criticism in my opinion. Just as Atheists or rationalists can debunk non-sensical things like “creationism” (bring your Jesus out of hiding!) they should themselves be just as open to say existentialist deconstruction for example.
Perhaps Conservapedia is the wrong forum or topic to discuss these ideas but for whatever reason it sparked my interest.
Yes, I am consistently guilty of reading an MO into everything (its my MO!), haha.
Can’t say that I’ve read too much Chomsky, though I am familiar with the political-philosophy implications of his ideas surrounding language-based thought-structuring (insofar as it pertains to Derrida).
But to get back to the point, I think we’re in the same vein more or less, identifying the Conservapedia as a “paradigm” (essentially the short-hand to my loquacious ponderings, haha).
More interesting still is your coupling of “paradigm” with “purpose”. Though all paradigm carry forth an inherent purpose, what characterizes this noted “conservative paradigm” is the degree to which it articulates itself as such a strictly regimented, coherent and well-organized paradigm in terms of effecting its intentions. To make a huge leap of associations, one might take note of its similarities to the party lines of more fascistic “paradigms”…
As far as this particular article’s concern, there are some passages that I find (darkly) humorous, insofar as they are presented so infallibly. Namely, the section referring to the four classic theosophical arguments for the existence of God (i.e. the Ontological, the Cosmological, the Teleological, and the Moral Arguments).
The article cites these classic arguments as solid, undeniable proof of the existence of God based on logic and reason. However, the citation conveniently fails to inform the reader of a few key details; particularly that these arguments owe most of their origin to 13th and 14th Century Catholic theological tradition, vis a vis St. Thomist Aquinas (who continues to this day to be the bedrock of the Theist and Christian Apologetic philosophical schools), and the lack of mention of their strongest critics (Kant and Hume in particular). By no means are the classic arguments considered the final word on the discussion, even strictly by the standards of a Logician.
Another thing worth looking at, even beyond the scope of this particular subject to the world at large, would be the following distinction:
What is the difference between claiming God’s existence by arguing proof, versus claiming God’s existence by arguing that atheists are wrong?
Too often in the realm of discourse, one school of thought is given more credence for its critique and deconstruction of its opposition, than it is for the merits of its own assertions…
Apologies again for rambling. Don’t blame me; your posts are too interesting!