An Old Prediction About Trump, the Left, National Pride, And Scapegoating

Here is a fascinating, deep, albeit brief look at something unexpected: A liberal philosopher predicts of the rise of a Trump-like figure 20 years ago based on the worst elements of the left’s political  and philosophical blunders. He is not the only one to make such an observation (note the linked video from Jonathan Pie is one profound explanation of the rise of Trump, but it is NSFW- lots of bad language). Back to Rorty. He explains:

“National pride is to countries what self-respect is to individuals, a necessary condition for self-improvement”

My thoughts: A few things that are becoming more apparent to me:

The political left despises America, many of its historic values, and many of its citizens. They don’t want to improve America so much as bury it and create something new in its place.

The modern left, just as the neoconservative movement, has departed from it’s more historic values (liberalism).

In the article there is another insightful paragraph. In trying to remove the stigma from minorities and the underprivileged, the left has shifted it onto middle class white people. Many of them were glad to throw it back.

The lesson? Demonization doesn’t work.

“Rorty’s only issue with identity politics was that the left, having worked so hard to transfer stigmatic cruelty away from received categories like race and gender, had done too little to prevent that stigma from landing on class—and that the white working class, finding itself abandoned by both the free-market right and the identity left, would be all too eager to transfer that stigma back to minorities, immigrants, gays, and coastal élites.”

Source: Richard Rorty’s Philosophical Argument for National Pride – The New Yorker

You Should Worry About Scientists-Frauds, Hoaxes, Nonsense, and Bias in Scientific Papers

This essay takes a few words to discuss the problem of false reports in peer-reviewed academic journals. Evidently, there are a number of problems with publishing scientific “facts” these days. There is the garden variety error. Then there is the fraud. After this is the Hoax, in which clever pranksters make fools of the system.  Evidently there are more than a few PhDs that are eager to confirm their bias about the emperor’s clothes. Last is the nonsense paper. Keep reading.

Remember, science is NOT what scientists say. And because of this you should always be skeptical. And we are learning that we have to be skeptical even when groups of scientists insist on things. And sadly, the scientific community has no one to blame for themselves for this mess. Thankfully there are some whistle-blowers in the ranks.

This article is entertaining and frightening at the same time. Someone actually published an article on the feminizing of melting glaciers…

The authors mention how the progressive-left bias of scientific community, especially social scientists, makes them easy prey for claims that fit their pre-conceived view of the world. Of course that danger doesn’t only affect the left, it just so happens that they have a majority, and they are the ones insisting that their beliefs are facts.

Note well how he ends the article:

“Social science is especially hard-hit these days; one psychologist described it as “riddled with flaky research and questionable theories.” There is a surprisingly broad consensus about the cause—that is, everyone from Michael Shermer to Uncommon Descent agrees on it—namely, that the field’s overwhelmingly progressive-left bias makes it an easy mark for both hoaxes and frauds.

“It also makes it an easy target for a third category of problem paper that is neither a hoax nor a fraud exactly: the nonsense paper that may well be believed by its authors. Examples of these include the widely cited “positivity ratio” in psychology, which was assessed as “entirely unfounded” in 2013, and the recent, apparently serious attempt to “feminize” melting glaciers.

“This sort of thing should come as no surprise. Monochromatic bias exposes a community to greater risk because few of its members even notice a hoax, fraud, or nonsense thesis that passes their bias filter. Usually, the person to whom it doesn’t sound right has different commitments and life experiences, and he or she is the one motivated to investigate.

“Ironically, many defenders of the status quo in recent years have claimed to be “scared to death of the anti-science lobby.” Their worries are misplaced. It’s actually science that is coming to get them. Soon.” (emphasis added)

Source: The Hoax on Us by Denyse O’Leary

The Barbed Gift of Leisure – The Chronicle of Higher Education

 

Here is a thoughtful essay on the fact that the leisure we all desire is actually fraught with significant dangers and temptations. Mark Kingwell (the author) is obviously a scholar and his writing cuts across the standard short-attention-span variety of prose that flows in the gutters of the internet (translation: this is not an easy read).

In any case the article is thought provoking and profound. He concludes with something significant. What to do with our time when we don’t have to work to put food on the table? That question brings up the greatest question all: What is the meaning of life? Why are we here anyway?  He writes:

“More profoundly, though, is a point that returns us to the original vision of a populace altogether freed from work by robots. To use a good example of critical consciousness emerging from within the production cycles of the culture industry, consider the Axiom, the passenger spaceship that figures in the 2008 animated film WALL-E. Here, robot labor has proved so successful, and so nonthreatening, that the human masters have been freed to indulge in nonstop indulgence of their desires. As a result, they have over generations grown morbidly obese, addicted to soft drinks and video games, their bones liquefied in the ship’s microgravity conditions. They exist, but they cannot be said to live.

The gravest danger of offloading work is not a robot uprising but a human downgrading. Work hones skills, challenges cognition, and, at its best, serves noble ends. It also makes the experience of genuine idling, in contrast to frenzied leisure time, even more valuable. Here, with only our own ends and desires to contemplate—what shall we do with this free time?—we come face to face with life’s ultimate question. To ask what is worth doing when nobody is telling us what to do, to wonder about how to spend our time, is to ask why are we here in the first place. Like so many of the standard philosophical questions, these ones butt up, however playfully, against the threshold of mortality.”

And this thought about our social media addiction is the best line I have read in while:

We are no longer owners and workers, in short; we are, instead, voracious and mostly quite happy producers and consumers of images. Nowadays, the images are mostly of ourselves, circulated in an apparently endless frenzy of narcissistic exhibitionism and equally narcissistic voyeurism: my looking at your online images and personal details, consuming them, is somehow still about me.”

Source: The Barbed Gift of Leisure – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Why Oxford Dictionary’s 2016 Word of the Year Matters

Another great contribution by Ravi Zacharias. What comes through so clearly is the irony of scholars and media personalities who will insist there is no truth and then complain about lies. It shows the emptiness of postmodernism and its self defeating attempt to destroy the truth by denying its existence. I have said it before, but it bears repeating, people who deny the existence of rules only want that privilege for themselves.

Ravi writes:

“We now live in a “post-truth” culture where misremembering is normal. (Not surprisingly, within hours of the American elections, a French television network baptized our culture as “post-logic.”) These two bastions of values, the academy and the media—where relativism flows in their veins—have become the town criers of this new word. Castigating the politicians, they untruthfully predicted the destination of the untruthful. Excoriating an electorate gone amuck, they wondered how people could be duped into a lie. Having themselves swallowed a camel, they strained a gnat. They are the primary carriers of word manipulation, repeating distortions often enough to make them into truths. Caring not for truth but for effect and for the manipulation of all thinking, their victory is pyrrhic.”

Again:

“It used to be said, “If a Cretan tells you all Cretans are liars, can you believe him?” Now we have to ask ourselves if we can believe it when a post-truth culture tells us it is a post-truth culture.”

And this one wins the day:

“And we have so extinguished the light of truth in our halls of learning that it is possible for a Harvard student to say, “I can believe anything I want, so long as I don’t claim it to be true.”

Source: Why Oxford Dictionary’s 2016 Word of the Year Matters

When and Why We Overlook Unethical Behavior

The folks at the Harvard Business Review point out the natural ways that employees punish unethical behavior-often through social means like walking away from an unethical person or leaving the room when someone enters. Basically this means that when we know someone is a cheater, it is so distasteful that we don’t even want to be around them. But there is an exception, and it is revealing.

When we are willing to tolerate or overlook really bad behavior there is always a reason. Often it is because we are benefitting in some way. It may be financial, social, career advancement, etc.  But the reason is revealing.  If there is real evil in your circumstances and you are unwilling to take a stand against it, you can learn something important about character. The reason you won’t take a stand may reveal what you value most.

Here is something from the article:

“Unethical high-performing employees, however, appear to receive a free pass for their unethical behaviors. These people may be unethical, but they get the job done, and enhance the organization’s short-term profitability along the way.

“This is the case even in organizations that on the whole are considered highly ethical. In our third study, we took into account the organization’s ethical environment and still found the same pattern of results. Irrespective of the extent to which the organization prioritizes ethics, unethical high-performing employees still had better working relationships with their peers and were less socially rejected than their unethical low-performing counterparts. There’s something about being a high performer that appears to mask concerns related to immorality.”

Source: We Don’t Shun Unethical Coworkers If They’re High Performers

The Power of Conscience

Kronk

We all have an inner voice with a moral bent. It talks to us and we talk back, usually in our heads but sometimes out loud. The Bible calls this conscience. Here is an example of this conversation from a bizarre story that is stranger than fiction. It is from a Forbes article documenting how the uber rich do not escape the hardships of life.

“One of the strangest and disturbing tragedies involves a billionaire heir, Robert Durst who was arrested in 2015, after implicating himself in the suspected murders of three people in HBO’s documentary “The Jinx.” Durst, who is a member of the New York real estate family worth $4.4 billion, had long been suspected to have killed his first wife Kathleen, who went missing in 1982. After leaving an on-camera interview for the documentary, his lapel microphone was still on, and Durst said to himself: “What the hell did I do? Killed ’em all, of course.” And humiliated a family that once had the world in their palm.”

Romans 2:14-15 “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them…”

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001. Print.

Source: Aubrey McClendon’s Sad Death And 8 Other Tragic Stories Involving The Super Rich – Forbes

What Science Can Tell Us About Bad Science

Scientists and scientific claims are too often regarded as unquestionable.  Yet, few things are manipulated as often as scientific data points.  I feel like I am more aware of scientists making confident claims in nonscientific areas (like politics, morality, etc).  Is it happening more often? I don’t know, it could just be me. But I do know that scientific failures are under more scrutiny that in the past.  Because of all this,  I am fascinated when scientific researchers point out what is behind the curtain in Oz. Here is yet more information confirming what we would rather not believe: scientists are frequently wrong and sometimes intentionally so. 

“By one estimate, from 2001 to 2010, the annual rate of retractions by academic journals increased by a factor of 11 (adjusting for increases in published literature, and excluding articles by repeat offenders)…”

“Retractions are born of many mothers,” write Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus, the co-founders of the blog Retraction Watch, which has logged thousands of retractions in the past five years. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reviewed 2,047 retractions of biomedical and life-sciences articles and found that just 21.3 percent stemmed from straightforward error, while 67.4 percent resulted from misconduct, including fraud or suspected fraud (43.4 percent) and plagiarism (9.8 percent) .

“Surveys of scientists have tried to gauge the extent of undiscovered misconduct. According to a 2009 meta-analysis of these surveys, about 2 percent of scientists admitted to having fabricated, falsified, or modified data or results at least once, and as many as a third confessed “a variety of other questionable research practices including ‘dropping data points based on a gut feeling,’ and ‘changing the design, methodology or results of a study in response to pressures from a funding source’ ” [4].As for why these practices are so prevalent, many scientists blame increased competition for academic jobs and research funding, combined with a “publish or perish” culture.” (Emphasis added)

Yikes, this is scary. This kind of attention has the potential to be good for science in the long run. Hopefully it will bring some much needed humility.  It should definitely put to death the false notion of objectivity. Science is always a handmaiden to the allegiances of the scientist.  

Source: What Science Can Tell Us About Bad Science – The Atlantic

What’s Wrong With Teaching 9 Year Olds To Murder?

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I recently watched the movie “The Beasts of No Nation” on Netflix. The movie was recommended on several critic top movie lists and so I was lured in. The film is about child soldiers in Africa. It is extremely violent, very graphic, and vulgar language seeps throughout the script like water from a clogged toilet. It is absolutely not for children, and in general I cannot recommend it. I had to turn my eyes away several times. For instance there is a scene in which a child is pressured to kill an unarmed prisoner with a machete while he begs for mercy.  It frustrates me when directors make movies this way. There seems to be a loss of subtlety and no concern for the imagination of the audience.

Why would the film’s creators make the movie this way? Why would they produce a film with so much gore and graphic bloodshed? I do have a little sympathy in this case because I think they were trying to reveal something of the depravity of a situation that has been hidden out of site. They were trying to open the door for the rest of the world to see what is actually happening. Simply put, armies in Africa are recruiting orphans to become members of death squads.

I spend a lot of time in my life thinking about morality and ethics. Movies like this can be a challenge for Christians because it brings up the problem of evil. How could a good God allow such things? And in my opinion this is an important question that has compelling answers. My intent is not to provide answers here, but to suggest that the people that use such questions to dismiss Christianity need to provide an explanation as well.  In my experience people of faith are the only ones that blush when faced with such questions.   But they shouldn’t be.

The atheist that uses the problem of evil to undermine Christianity (or any other religion) is also in a difficult spot. In order to shoot at theists like this he has to walk out on the quicksand. I say this because they have to assume that evil actually exists in order to use it as an argument against God. Then after they “win” the argument and the embarrassed Christian goes home, the honest atheist must face the world he has tried to articulate. It is a world in which there is no consistent reason to believe in the existence of good or evil as anything other than a cultural construct. That means that good an evil don’t really exist in the world. They are a matter of human perception much like our hatred of brussel sprouts.

I don’t mean to suggest that atheists don’t really believe in good and evil. They do. In fact they get angry if you suggest that there is any problem with their morality.  Further, they behave in ways that are often moral and virtuous, and I applaud this. I don’t mean to imply that every atheist is a monster. My point here is more subtle. At the risk of over simplifying things (I realize there is a broad spectrum of beliefs out there), the atheist narrative provides no compelling reason to believe in the existence of evil. It says there is nothing but matter in the universe. We are nothing more than complex systems of electrons colliding according to the laws of physics. From the standpoint of physics, the murder of children is no different from the killing of a rhino or a rose bush.  Just matter in motion.  A world without an absolute, immaterial standard of ethics provides a weak protest against the kind of evil in the “Beasts of No Nation.”

I remember my first day of college chemistry class.  My professor stood up and pointed to the periodic table of elements on the wall. He said, “Everything that exists is on that table. Can anyone name anything that exists that is not on that table?” The class was silent (except for me).  But if he is right, then our actions are just a bunch of chemical reactions from the periodic table. Our thoughts are just the chemical depolarization of neurons in the brain. This is true for all thoughts. Bloodthirsty ones as much as altruistic ones.  Evil and good are the same thing: matter in motion. Nothing more than that. And when we logically analyze the common atheist protests against injustice (things like wealth inequality, rape culture, or the recruitment of children into death squads) the logic sounds a lot like, “I don’t like it,” or “we don’t like it.”  Or maybe, “the brain isn’t wired to work that way.” Which of course is not true, the brains of those child soldiers and their recruiters definitely ARE wired that way. But that point aside, for a system of ethics to be meaningful it must provide a compelling reason for people to live in a certain way. It must tell the bad person why they MUST not be bad. It must tell the person that wants to rebel against the moral conventions of our society why they MUST conform.  What in the universe compels the killer not to kill? Especially when the darker dimensions of human psychology and culture seem to be compelling them to kill and rewarding them for it?

The movie was obviously intended to create outrage. And that is exactly what it has done. There is nothing quite like staring directly in the face of evil at close range to bring out our inner moralist. How could anyone teach children to be so violent and bloodthirsty?   It is hard to watch a movie like this and then conclude that your revulsion is nothing more than a personal or cultural preference.

The great question for the atheist is this: What is wrong with teaching nine-year-olds to maim and murder? If we are just animals, and there is no absolute moral authority, if there is no objective ethical standard that applies to everyone… Then what is wrong with that?

If we are simply the product of time and chance acting on matter… if we are nothing more than biology, what is wrong with people acting like animals?  This is the significance of the movie’s title. The main actor makes a statement at the end of the movie that he has become like an animal. And he’s right. Most of us don’t like it. But what is wrong with it in any absolute sense? Isn’t our outrage just an example of a ethnocentric perspective that wants to tell other people how to live?

In a material world isn’t all of this just a matter of cause and effect? Aren’t we just reactants in a global test tube? If a poor child watches his family murdered by an invading army, isn’t it predictable that he will get snatched up by a violent militia looking for recruits? Isn’t this predictable? If it is nothing more than cause and effect at work, how could we protest? Dogs hate cats. Lions kill hyenas. Humans hate other tribes of humans.  It’s all the result of DNA at work in an unfeeling and uncaring world. It can be nothing more, because nothing more exists.

We could say that people shouldn’t act like animals, that human societies have evolved social norms and mores to control our behavior.  But if we mean by that, that there are no human beings that act like animals, we would be wrong. In fact the truth is exactly the opposite.  The real problem is that a great many humans very frequently act like animals in just this sense.  And its not just Africa. Arguably, European history is far more beastly than anyone other. But why should it be any different?  To say that these things threaten our existence, or cause  psychological pain really begs the question. Of course animals engage in behavior that threatens their own existence, and causes them harm?   The history of the world is a history of extinction.

What is wrong with herds, and packs, and tribes fighting against one another for resources? What is wrong with one organism killing another organism in order to survive? Watch any nature show, this is the way of the world.  And no one ever watches animal behavior and then makes a moral protest.  We don’t say, “sharks shouldn’t kill fish.” To the contrary, in the evolutionary/atheist view of the world it is precisely that kind violence which has helped successful species (like humans) adapt and unsuccessful ones to evolve or become extinct. That kind of behavior has actually helped us to survive.

Social pundits, college professors, and cultural revolutionaries like to tell us that there is no such thing as morality. They often do this in an attempt to normalize their own deviant sexual behavior. When they say, “there are no rules,”  too often they mean “there are no rules for me.”  But if they are right, they have proven too much. “Normal” isn’t a concept that only applies to their preferred version of wickedness, it applies to all behavior. It applies to child abuse and child nurture.  Freedom and tyranny.  Gay marriage and gay bashing.  It is all common and normal.  Of course, there are a few statistical anomalies. But isn’t that the way of nature as well?

Sadly there aren’t enough voices to point out the failings of this kind of moral relativism. These ideas are only seen for what they are in the face of extreme wickedness.  And a movie like “The Beasts of No Nation” has once again reminded me of this. Christians may have trouble finding an answer for why God would allow such evil and suffering in the world.  But the atheist or philosophical materialist has a much greater problem in my opinion.

What is wrong with teaching nine year-olds to murder?

Duty to Die: Author Says Too Few People in Oregon are Requesting Assisted Suicide

being mortal

How about this for piling on.

Here are my brief thoughts about someone else’s article. That article is kind of a review of a book review.  More like a response. And I just happened to finish that book, and I really enjoyed it. The book is called, “On Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande the Harvard trained surgeon who has produced a number of good books in the last decade. I have read them all 🙂

Anyway, Gawande’s book is about aging and dying and how the healthcare system has not done a very good job in actually helping people live better lives during the last phase of their journey. He spends a few pages talking about assisted suicide, and I would disagree with what he says (he thinks it is OK under some circumstances). But regardless of your position, he makes what I think is a compelling point. In America, and other countries, we are making huge strides in palliative care and hospice services.  And contrary to popular conception, those treatment modalities are not about helping people die as much as to live as well as they can during those difficult days.  People with painful and  incurable diseases are choosing to live out their days with family and finding more dignity than they knew was possible. And it is worth mentioning that how we live when we are dying is an important part of the human journey. How the story ends is truly important.

But it seems that in the Netherlands, the availability of assisted suicide has become the quick fix that has railroaded more promising alternatives. Rather than developing health care systems that can help people live full lives to the end, they have opted instead for something more sinister in the name of “dignity.”  Here is a quote from Gawande’s book, ”

 “I fear what happens when we expand the terrain of medical practice to include actively assisting people with speeding their death. I am less worried about abuse of these powers than I am about dependence on them.”

“The implication is that we might begin to substitute assisted dying for palliative care and hospice. He points to the experience in the Netherlands, where he says the fact that “one in thirty-five Dutch people sought assisted suicide at their death is not a measure of success. It is a measure of failure.”

The author of the article at LifeNews.com, Wesley Smith J.D. makes a point that is even more disturbing. Marcia Angell, an author who is an advocate for assisted suicide, has been quoted as saying, “I am concerned that too few people are requesting it. It seems to me that more would do it. The purpose of a law is to be used not to sit there on the books.”

Is this debate about presenting options that people want, or imposing your choice on others?

Source: Duty to Die: Author Says Too Few People in Oregon are Requesting Assisted Suicide | LifeNews.com

A Happy Atheist Challenges The Angry Atheists With The Difference Between A Fact And A Value

I have read several articles by John Gray and enjoy his writing and insight.  I know when an author is connecting with something important to me because I talk out loud while I am reading it.  I mumbled pretty much the whole time I was reading this one. I had to stop and reread several paragraphs for effect, and kept interrupting my wife to read several of his more powerful points to her. Yes, I am a nerd. This essay put into words a number of things I have been thinking.

Gray is not a believer, and so he has a very different outlook than I do (as a Christian), yet his awareness of the history of philosophy allows him to see the naked spots in the emperors wardrobe. He is disenchanted by the vocal tribe of evangelistic atheists that seem to be known for their pulpit-pounding-religion-hating self righteousness. (Dawkins, Harris, etc.) And he takes them to task, not because of their unbelief but because of their inconsistencies in applying what they believe.  He is willing to explore the assumptions beneath their beliefs, and finds them to be often unreasonable.

In this essay, Gray very briefly chronicles the racist behavior of 19th and 20th century evolutionary atheists.  Then he freely acknowledges that while modern atheists disavow these beliefs, they have repeated some of the same intellectual mistakes as their forbears. They have failed to acknowledge the difference between facts and values.  And this is a dialogue-ender if you happen to disagree with them because you will be talking about your values while they dismiss you as unscientific. They believe that their values are scientific, and therefore as unassailable as discussing gravity.  And sadly, too often this leads them to view their opponents with patronizing contempt.

By the way, this was the same problem with the communism of Russian and China. Marx’s writings insisted that his view of economics was “scientific.”

I paused to read several parts of this essay more than once, not only to understand his observations, but also to enjoy them.   I disagree with his view of the world, but enjoy his intellectual honesty and clear view of the logical problems in the foundation of the new atheism.

“It has often been observed that Christianity follows changing moral fashions, all the while believing that it stands apart from the world. The same might be said, with more justice, of the prevalent version of atheism. If an earlier generation of unbelievers shared the racial prejudices of their time and elevated them to the status of scientific truths, evangelical atheists do the same with the liberal values to which western societies subscribe today – while looking with contempt upon “backward” cultures that have not abandoned religion. The racial theories promoted by atheists in the past have been consigned to the memory hole – and today’s most influential atheists would no more endorse racist biology than they would be seen following the guidance of an astrologer. But they have not renounced the conviction that human values must be based in science; now it is liberal values which receive that accolade. There are disputes, sometimes bitter, over how to define and interpret those values, but their supremacy is hardly ever questioned. For 21st century atheist missionaries, being liberal and scientific in outlook are one and the same.”

“For 21st Century atheist missionaries, being liberal and scientific in outlook are one and the same.”

Some other big ideas from this essay:

  • Atheism is not monolithic, and most of the values (and fact claims) advocated by modern skeptics are not self evident, and are not agreed on by everyone in their camp. This alone should challenge their confusion of facts and values.  I have some atheist friends that like to point out how hard it is to find Christians to agree on any matter of doctrine. Well, evidently they live in the same world.
  • Many of the new atheists are ignorant of the nature of their own beliefs. They take their own view of the world for granted and are unwilling to subject it to the same intellectual scrutiny that they demand from others.
  • New Atheists have largely ignored the writings of Nietzsche. Why? Gray writes, “The reason Nietzsche has been excluded from the mainstream of contemporary atheist thinking is that he exposed the problem atheism has with morality. It’s not that atheists can’t be moral – the subject of so many mawkish debates. The question is which morality an atheist should serve.”  Which is to say that Scientific atheism does NOT lead to a self evident view of the moral world. It cannot answer the most basic questions about how we should live without departing from its limiting scientific commitments. Further, many of the tenets of humanism advocated by atheists actually derive from Judeo-Christian religious tradition.
  • The hostility to religion that has been on display from the evangelistic atheists doesn’t make any rational sense.  After mentioning several influential atheists from the past that were NOT hostile to religion, Gray writes, “Above all, these unevangelical atheists accepted that religion is definitively human. Though not all human beings may attach great importance to them, every society contains practices that are recognisably religious. Why should religion be universal in this way? For atheist missionaries this is a decidedly awkward question. Invariably they claim to be followers of Darwin. Yet they never ask what evolutionary function this species-wide phenomenon serves. There is an irresolvable contradiction between viewing religion naturalistically – as a human adaptation to living in the world – and condemning it as a tissue of error and illusion. What if the upshot of scientific inquiry is that a need for illusion is built into in the human mind? If religions are natural for humans and give value to their lives, why spend your life trying to persuade others to give them up?”

I disagree with Gray on much of this, but his point is a good one. If atheism and evolution is true, then it follows that religion is a survival adaptation.  If that is true, why so much angst over gene expression?

Source: What scares the new atheists | John Gray | World news | The Guardian