Gentlemen, Pick your Opiate!

October 23, 2006 | By | 3 Replies More

Okay, ladies too. But I was going for a “Sunday, Sun-nday Sunda-ay” feel with the headline.

I’ve always liked this Watterson throwaway reply to Karl Marx from 1987-ish.
Cavin and Opiate
But, after reading some of the firestorm of responses to Erich’s post about Misquoting Jesus, maybe religion hasn’t really lost any ground.

Why is the economy showing signs of both recession and inflation? Which 3 young Americans will be today’s (averaged) fatalities in Iraq? Whatever became of Osama Bin Laden? Why can’t we carry drinking water or letter openers when we fly? Which form of proposed required national ID card will become our travelling papers, and who besides hackers will then have access to all our personal information? Will conservative religious groups continue to succeed in repressing medical research as well as medical procedures?

Let’s just fret about the latest reality show contestants, or whose opinion about ancient religious texts is more believable. Bread and circuses.


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Category: Communication, Culture, Entertainment, History, Religion

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A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

Comments (3)

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  1. Ross Kendall says:

    Hi Dan,

    You list a number of current issues that you are concerned about. In listing them I can see that you are suggesting they are problem situations, in other words you are making value judgements about them and the situations they describe.

    In order for anyone to make 'value' or moral judgements about anything, such as these, it is necessary to have a philisophical basis to make such judgements. Unfortunately, atheism does not lend itself very well to providing such a basis, however religion does. So regardless of how one might feel about the truth claims of any particular religion, to simply dismiss them as an opiate is quite short sighted.

    I do agree that most people are happily diverted on useless concerns, when there are real issues that need attention.

  2. Dan Klarmann says:

    Why does one need a prepackaged religion to make value judgements? Atheism is simply a vote for "none of the above," or perhaps choosing to disbelieve in one more god than those in whom the next guy disbelieves.

    Why would one assume that Atheism is not a religion? Because it doesn't worship invisible, unpredictable deities? Because practitioners generally don't build temples? Because there is no single, collected set of writings to define them? Because they usually judge values and morals based on long-range sociological functionality rather than old lists from foreign cultures?

    I have great faith in the consistency (state of being consistent, not constant) of the universe and the discoverable rules by which it operates. I have a deep feeling and understanding of morality and values some of which are innate, and others that came from my atheistic upbringing. Then I studied anthropology, archaeology, psychology, physics, geology, astronomy, and other sciences to more thoroughly understand and relate to the magnificent universe and the planet on which we live.

    Religion (or television, coca leaves, sugar, etc) is not a metaphorical opiate in and of itself. It is the immoderate consumption of these sorts of things that dulls the will of individuals.

  3. Ross Kendall says:

    Why does one need a prepackaged religion to make value judgements?

    I don't think that it would be reasonable to suggest that 'prepackaged religion' is required to make value judgements, just a philosophical paradigm that provides a basis for meaning and purpose with regards to the human condition. It is just unfortunate that naturalistic atheism exludes meaning in it's presumption that there is nothing beyond what is natural and observable.

    You may be interested in the recent Wired article: Battle of the New Atheism. While the rhetoric of people like Richard Dawkins sounds convincing, it doesn't present a cohesive worldview that fits with with people's life experience of what it means to be human. The following quote from the article is relevant:

    When I arrive at the farm, I find him in the midst of a difficult task. He has been asked by the President's Council on Bioethics to write an essay reflecting on human dignity. In grappling with these issues, Dennett knows that he can't rely on faith or scripture. He will not say that life begins when an embryo is ensouled by God. He will not say that hospitals must not invite the indigent to sell their bodies for medical experiments because humans are endowed by their creator with inalienable rights. Ethical problems must be solved by reason, not arbitrary rules. And yet, on the other hand, Dennett knows that reason alone will fail.

    Any yes, Atheism can even be a 'prepackaged religion', whether or not it makes a good religion is a matter of debate.

    I agree with you last statement about immoderate consumption.

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