A couple more thoughts about the Morality to Change the World Panel

I wrote a knee-jerk response about the “Morality to Change the World” panel that I went to on Friday night.

I had a couple more thoughts about it as time passed this weekend.

  1. Call to action. There was a unanimous response from the panel that if you support a concept strongly, you should be active in the pursuit of promoting whatever it is you support. The encouragement was to learn all you can about a position and “fight” for it. By fight I mean non-violent pursuit of disseminating information.
  2. There is intelligent belief. Should I have had mentors who promoted the forms of belief like Bob Bossie’s, perhaps I would have been less likely to head toward atheism. One questioner asked Bossie why would he associate himself with the Catholic church when there is so much negative associated with it (e.g. pedophilia, corruption, greed, etc.). Bossie’s response was that he directs his attention to the people and their collective pursuit of truth. I may have thought Bossie dodged the question that night. But the more I think about it, I believe he was giving his most honest answer to the question, and I like his answer now. I said it before, but the sheer fact that Bossie accepts science and doesn’t create superfluous rift between perspectives that do not agree with his, I find this to be an important position to take should religionistas care to be taken seriously. It didn’t mean he rolled over and didn’t criticize communism. It just meant he approached the perspective from an intelligent point of view.
  3. It’s important to have strong leadership. I was critical of Sunsara Taylor in my previous post. I said her verbosity worked against her. I have to say, though, she is a strong speaker. She speaks with clarity and vision. Should I be communistically inclined, I would find her charisma and knowledge base admirable. I could find myself following her lead should I hold communistic ideals sacred. That’s not to say she’s not verbose. It’s that there is something great about her, and her cause is better because she’s a part of it. If you’re not helping lead your movement with this kind of oomph, get behind those who are doing it and support them as well as you can.
  4. Dialogue. Between Friday night’s panel and Saturday night’s discussion at Moody Church with Hemant Mehta and Ronald Danatus, dialogue is key. And I’m not talking dialogue with argument or debate. I’m talking dialogue. There seems to be a lot of ignorance regarding atheism from the Christian perspective. In fact, it looks like Christians have lots to learn about other perspectives, and the Moodies have figured that out and are finally pursuing avenues of education. The best way to empathize with another perspective is NOT to take what you hear in the media or from the pulpit as truth. The best method is sitting down with someone. I firmly believe, you can’t hate someone you sat down with. And you certainly can’t hate someone you share a meal with. Gastronomy is the ultimate ground leveler.

It’s most important to sit down and talk tête a tête with oppositional points of view. On facebook, there was a response to Mehta’s blog response about Moody Church that said something about atheists are poked and prodded like aliens. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I find this is a major factor of atheism. It’s a show of ignorance on our part. From the inside, we’re all saying, “D’uh, we’re able to love and be moral.” But from the outside, our marketing and brand color us as baby-eating, Christian-hating, immoral fiends.

We have an ugly stereotype that only we can change. And change comes from dialogue and passing along information. It’s hard work. Why do large corporations spend so much to present their brands? Because it’s really fucking hard to get people’s attention let alone change perspectives.

Read all the blogs you want. There is a call to action, and if you’re a believer or not, it is your duty to pursue the truth you seek, and that includes constant pursuit of education and passing around accurate and effective information.

3 thoughts on “A couple more thoughts about the Morality to Change the World Panel

  1. I appreciate your “couple more thoughts” and especially the ones about Sunsara Taylor. To go into it some more, your initial comments had a theme similar to some others that were posted on PZ Myers’ blog confusing the science of communism and religion. The following is the first part of a reply Sunsara posted and a link to her entire reply.

    http://sunsara.blogspot.com/2010/04/bob-avakian-science-of-communism-and.html

    Tuesday, April 13, 2010
    Bob Avakian, the Science of Communism, and the Stupid Logic of Those Who Call It A Religion

    Recently, on PZ Myers blog Pharyngula (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/04/another_week_another_universit.php), after he announced that he would be joining Bob Bossie and myself at the University of Chicago this Friday for an event titled, “A Communist, a Scientist and a Priest Sat Down to Discuss… Morality to Change the World,” a number of folks wrote comments implying that because I promote the leadership of Bob Avakian that I am just a proponent for another kind of religion. This is simplistic and wrong. But because of the pervasive anti-communism in society this kind of simplistic and wrong argumentation is accepted all too unthinkingly by folks who really ought to know better.

    So, let’s clarify a few things:

    The fact that I cite the work of Avakian makes communism a religion about as much as the fact that evolutionary biologists cite the work of Darwin makes biology a religion. Just as Darwin made a scientific breakthrough that advanced the whole framework in which scientists were able to understand and further explore the natural world, so has Avakian developed a new synthesis of the science of communism which provides a much more advanced framework in which to understand and transform the natural and the social world.

    In evaluating whether something is a religion or science, the criteria is NOT whether or not the works and role of key individuals are recognized and upheld. The criteria is to evaluate whether that person and their body of work (their premises, their claims, their method and their approach to engaging the world) are based in reality and are refined and developed (and at times, ruptured and resynthesized) by a further engagement with reality – or whether their claims are rooted instead in mythology and then stubbornly clung to in the face of (and in conflict with) discoveries about reality. The former is science (and yes, communism – understood and practiced correctly – IS a science) and the latter is religion.

  2. I appreciate your defense of Sunsara Taylor and that you appreciated my sort of retraction of my original statement.

    I figured that I needed to learn more about what I was criticizing. It was unfair, but it was kneejerk.

    Communism has a lot of culturally bad PR. It seems Sisyphean to overcome that perception. My background included a high school course that called Communism a religion (this was 15 years ago). I have since completely abandoned that perception of communism, but I do retain that idea that a close affiliation with one person or name appears cultish and suspect.

    I hope you know that’s where I was coming from with my original response, and I look forward to exploring the topic more.

    Best,

    Jeremy

  3. There is a bit of irony with the argument that if we would only try the “correct” communism it would somehow finally work out and not result in authoritarian tragedies on epic scales… especially when trying to differentiate it from some sort of mythological religious idea for which there are heaps of evidence against it.

    As for a debate on whether communism is religion or science, I’d generally put it in the category of neither. At best it is a political ideology that fails miserably every time its tried, at worst it is pseudo-scientific nonsense that is based on conjecture and playing on the emotions of the masses, promising utopia only to lead to them fighting for their own oppression.

    There’s no question that liberty based political ideologies are imperfect due to their reliance on imperfect people choosing for themselves how to manage their lives in an inherently unfair universe that could care less about us. But imperfection trumps impossibility. I liked “Foundation” as much as the next nerd, but the Heisenberg uncertainty principle gets in the way of being able to observe and predict the future on a macroscopic scale due to microscopic limitations. Attempting to micromanage an entire society has interesting parallels. To micromanage the universe would require another entire universe to observe it all from. Even with the advances in computer technology the essential failure in communist ideology remains. Arguably even with perfect computers to help, it would still face fatal shortcomings that at best could only reach the imperfect limit of liberty itself.

    There are also some interesting parallels with embryological development and why it simply would not work, or be impossibly ineffective, if DNA truly acted as a “blueprint” as religious and pseudo-scientific yahoos tend to depict it as. Dawkins’ latest book gets into this idea a great deal and it’s worth reading again with societal concerns in mind.

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