Salon has published a rather incoherent piece by Francis Spufford defending Christianity on the grounds that it makes emotional sense. His resentment of the so-called "new atheists' is palpable and while he insists that he believes Christianity is true, his emphasis is on the emotional.
His writing is so hysterical that it is hard to read. This is an excerpt from his book Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surping Emotional Sense.
William James remarked on the notion of truth in his book, On The Varieties of Religious Experience:
Up to a comparatively recent date such distinctions as those between what has been verified and what is only conjectured, between the impersonal and the personal aspects of existence, were hardly suspected or conceived. Whatever you imagined in a lively manner, whatever you thought fit to be true, you affirmed confidently; and whatever you affirmed, your comrades believed. Truth was what had not yet been contradicted, most things were taken into the mind from the point of view of their human suggestiveness, and the attention confined itself exclusively to the aesthetic and dramatic aspects of events. —p. 335 On the Varieties of Religious Experience"
It seems to me that it is science with its more precise notions of what constitutes truth and knowledge that has changed the general epistemological outlook.
So it isn't knowable ... and yet he knows that there is.
This is the kind of twisted excuse for logic that I have come to expect from a believer. As for the Mozart Clarinet Concerto ... he can keep it ... and I'll keep Prokofiev's 5th Symphony, which is gorgeous, and which I can still enjoy and be inspired and moved by and STILL not believe in a god.
The Mozart Clarinet Concerto and Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony are both masterpieces in my book. I won't hear anything against the Mozart.
I've made a playlist of Fifth Symphonies by various composers and the Prokofiev ranks high among them. Myaskovsky's Fifth is also a beautiful work. Although somewhat older, he was a colleague and close friend of Prokofiev.Supposedly they wrote a symphony together, but it has never been found. Myaskovsky wrote twenty-seven symphonies and Svetlanov has recorded them all. Great stuff.
The Mahler Fifth with its famous adagietto is another exceptional fifth symphony. And let me recommend the Glazunov Fifth Symphony too.
Don't forget the Shostakovich. Man, HIS Fifth probably saved his life! Astonishing that he or any other artist of that time survived the Great Terror, never mind produced the kind of magic they did.
I don't connect as well with Shostakovich as with other Russians, but the Fifth is a great work and a tremendous addition to the grand tradition of Russian symphonies. The Russians are particularly adept at orchestration.
ps I used to watch debates about whether religion is good for the world - Christopher Hitchens vs someone. I never saw why they would debate this - I thought, the important question is the truth or falsity of it.
But I can see now why the harm vs. benefits in religion matter - because believers justify their faith by its benefits - to themselves or humanity - and atheists see the harm in religion. It confronts both atheists and believers with information they might want to ignore.
The message of religion is:
We have this dream, and we don't know if it's true, but it's such a GOOD dream that you should believe it whether or not it's true!
The problem with the picture he sets forth is that it is true for a very small fraction of Christian intellectuals and leaders. Most people of faith--including most of the leadership--whether Christian or some other religion, really do honestly believe their "comforting fiction" is true.
Most people of faith really do honestly believe their "comforting fiction" is true.
I've often heard religious people say things like "it's my hope, I don't know if it's true". So I get the impression that Spufford's attitude is common.
The world's holy books are supposed to offer the "proof" about god, or gods. Sadly, they offer no more than stories and fairy tales that the "wanting to believe" person is to accept without question if he wants to be in good standing with god. Modern science has proven already that if our world was created in the time frame set down in Genesis, that the known universe alone (as proven by Hubble) would not all be created yet. You have to think on that one a moment. It simply shows the error of Bronze Age thinking and that the writers were not infallible. Therefore they could not have been "inspired by god."
Next the "wanna believe" crowd talks to you about fingerprints, snow flakes, DNA, the grand canyon, and other bullshit that proves nothing about any gods. Then they throw in phenomena and supernaturalism to baffle your mind with the "what if." NONE OF IT proves anything really.
This brings them to the stage of believing anything they want to believe because they don't want to be the outsider. They want to keep their jobs, have a good relationship with family and friends, be favored by everyone, (including god) so they are now "making it up as they go " just to keep everyone happy. It works for them and they don't know why you don't try it or believe it.
This reminds me of the You Tube video where the news person did not understand why atheists would have a memorial for dead war veterans. It was an irony to her because atheists do not believe in an afterlife, so just WHO would they be honoring? Immediately I could imagine her take on this event where imaginary spirits are setting in imaginary bleachers somewhere in the sky in some imaginary place. They cannot be seen by the living but they are all nodding their heads at being so honored. This bimbo was about as believing as most of the gullible today.
Believe what you want but leave me alone. It is true because I wanted it to be true.