Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #441 (November 26th, 2007)


Fifteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast That Make You a Good Feminist

1. A mother who works a full-time job and delegates to strangers the raising of her children eight hours a day, five days a week does just as good a job as a mother who hand-rears her children full time.

2. It makes great sense for the government to pay 10 to 15,000 dollars a year to fund a daycare space for a child so its mother - who pays perhaps 2,000 dollars in taxes - can be a contributing member of society.

3. A woman's doctor has more of a valid claim to participate in the decision to abort a fetus than does the father of that fetus.

4. So long as a woman makes a decision after consulting with her doctor, she is incapable of making an unethical choice.

5. A car with two steering wheels, two gas pedals and two brakes drives more efficiently than a car with one steering wheel, one gas pedal and one brake which is why marriage should always be an equal partnership.

6. It is absolutely necessary for women to be allowed to join or participate fully in any gathering place for men, just as it is absolutely necessary that there be women only environments from which men are excluded.

7. Because it involves taking jobs away from men and giving them to women, affirmative action makes for a fairer and more just society.

8. It is important to have lower physical standards for women firepersons and women policepersons so that, one day, half of all firepersons and policepersons will be women, thus more effectively protecting the safety of the public.

9. Affirmative action at colleges and universities needs to be maintained now that more women than men are being enrolled, in order to keep from giving men an unfair advantage academically.

10. Having ensured that there is no environment for men where women don't belong (see no.6) it is important to have zero tolerance of any expression or action which any woman might regard as sexist to ensure greater freedom for everyone.

11. Only in a society which maintains a level of 95% of alimony and child support being paid by men to women can men and women be considered as equals.

12. An airline stewardess who earned $20,000 a year at the time that she married a baseball player earning $6 million a year is entitled, in the event of a divorce, to $3 million for each year of the marriage and probably more.

13. A man's opinions on how to rear and/or raise a child are invalid because he is not the child's mother. However, his financial obligation is greater because no woman gets pregnant by herself.

14. Disagreeing with any of these statements makes you anti-woman and/or a misogynist.

15. Legislature Seats must be allocated to women and women must be allowed to bypass the democratic winnowing process in order to guarantee female representation and, thereby, make democracy fairer.


We left off yesterday with this quote from Albert Einstein in the April 19 issue of TIME magazine:

The religious inclination lies in the dim consciousness that dwells in humans that all nature, including the humans in it, is in no way an accidental game, but a work of lawfulness that there is a fundamental cause of all existence.

This is presumably revelatory for secular humanists and will cause more than a few of them sleepless nights (did Einstein really say that?) but in terms of faith, again, there is nothing alluded to here that couldn't be Mother Nature, Kali or the Easter Bunny. "Dim consciousness" is a freely protected free will choice: if you choose not to believe in God and not to read Scripture and not to pray I think it's pretty much a given that your awareness of God will remain in your "dim consciousness" and your life will instead be dominated by your pleasure centers, vested interest and whatever "particles/waves flying in loose formation" self-hypnotism to which you choose to actively or passively submit. You can believe that nature is "in no way an accidental game" without coming near to believing that there is any purpose to life, and you can believe that life is "not accidental" while still believing that morality is an arbitrary cultural prejudice, that all morality is relative and that all ethics are situational and so on. There is any number of antonyms for "accidental" before you come anywhere close to ethical and moralistic interpretations of the term lawfulness. Newton's laws of motion are very different from Thou Shalt Not Kill but I don't get a sense that Einstein sees it that way. This appears to be as close as he ever came to a religious sensibility and he came to it late in life. The next quote from Einstein is

Through the reading of popular scientific books, I soon reached the conviction that much in the stories of the Bible could not be true. The consequence was a positively fanatic orgy of free thinking coupled with the impression that youth is intentionally being deceived by the state through lies; it was crushing impression.

This is Timestyle again: putting the early youthful rebellion against faith in Scripture after the closest proximity to religious faith that Einstein achieved decades later, obviously to prejudice the article in favour of the former view. To devout secular-humanists like the editors of Time, "a fanatic orgy of free thinking" is the thing devoutly to be wished so long as it steers people away from religious faith. The next quote from Einstein is an anecdote where a dinner guest has lumped in religious faith with astrology as pure superstition and is apprised of the fact that Einstein himself harbours religious beliefs. Disbelieving, the dinner guest seeks verification, to which Einstein replies:

Yes you can call it that. Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in fact, religious.

Again, the secular-humanist mind will totter on its foundation at this, but Mother Nature, Kali and the Easter Bunny are equally subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration can also mean different things for different people and I assume that Einstein's form of veneration was for that which his own empirical scientific mind and philosophy could not encompass, explain or dissect while in no way dealing Scripture and prayer into the game. It has as much to do with the "limited means" of human beings as it does with any kind of Higher Nature. Drawing a distinction between Einstein's views and my own, I don't find God be to either subtle (although He can act with great subtlety), intangible (although He certainly isn't tangible in any human sense) or inexplicable

[that's what Scripture is for as far as I can see: explication of God and YHWH and what the context is in which we find ourselves: to cite to immediate modern examples, feminism and gay liberation are just two manifestations of YHWHist nature, he/she/itism. The fact that Scripture is and has been so widely misinterpreted as to make God and YHWH into the same being doesn't, to me, mean that Scripture is inexplicable any more than the Theory of Relativity is inexplicable because you refuse to apply yourself to understanding it or because you have misunderstood it on your first or one hundredth time through an explanation of it]

Shortly after his 50th birthday, Einstein gave an interview where he offered these views:

On whether he considered himself a German or a Jew. "It's possible to be both. Nationalism is an infantile disease, the measles of mankind."

I find that interesting but glib since the point of the question is really whether it is possible to be a Good German and a Good Jew simultaneously. Einstein attacks the former instance in what I see as a "too general" way. German nationalism hadn't yet hatched out into Nazism and when it did it would change the thrust of the question. And by attacking Nationalism rather than the popular concept of the Good German at the time, he dodged the question entirely on what makes a Good Jew. Eschewing military service, as an example, would have made him a Bad German but a Good Jew (in an Orthodox sense), an irresolvable dilemma particularly when Judaism itself became a pariah reality during the Third Reich.

Should Jews try to assimilate?

Tomorrow: Einstein on "Should Jews try to assimilate?"


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