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I finished listening to The Power of Myth this week. There was actually a point in the program where Bill Moyers asked Joseph Campbell about those "without any invisible means of support". Campbell's answer was incredibly condescending. He suggested that such people deserved a believer's compassion. And see, I was thinking the same thing about his need to read mysticism into human psychology.

After that I listened to the abbridged audiobook for Atheist Universe. I doubt I'll be buying the rest of the book. Not because I disagreed with anything in particular, or didn't think it had it's value, it's just that, at this point in my life, I'm not really looking for Bible verses to quote back at believers. One of these days I'll finish reading the Bible myself.

Another one that went really quickly was Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris. That was really enjoyable. If nothing else, it was an interesting exercise in how to argue one's case in a way that understand's one's audience. It reminds me of teaching math. I don't try to teach my students the way I would learn it best, but the way I hope they will understand it. However, asking a believer for consistency is usually asking a lot. But I'm looking forward to listening to The End of Faith.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 8th, 2007 01:16 am (UTC)
(I think it's Sam Harris who wrote Letter)

I took a class on mythology through history as an elective in college. I was hopeful that it would be interesting, as it was based on Campbell's work. I approached the class as a discussion of literature and the seeming need in many of humankind to believe in a rather silly set of metaphors rather than in objective reality.

Alas, most of my classmates seemed to think we were in a comparative religion class, incapable of seeing that the massive batch of parallels between older religions and their own might render their own just (gasp!) a copycat, not different in any substantial way from previous mythologies. Nope. It's amazing how the believer's mind is impervious to logic and simple fact-based reality.

And, Campbell was incredibly full of himself.
Jul. 8th, 2007 01:54 am (UTC)
I fixed the Sam Harris thing. I didn't have the CD in front of me anymore, but Richard Harris is a dead actor, isn't he?!

My bachelor's degree is in Classics, so I KNOW it's possible to study this stuff objectively, and despite the information buried in Joseph Campbell books, I fear I won't be able to tolerate reading any more of them.

Campbell also pissed me off at the very end because even though he thinks contemplating space is good for the soul, so to speak, he also thinks we have no business GOING to space. His anti-technology views are, well, counter-productive it seems to me.
Jul. 8th, 2007 02:14 am (UTC)
I didn't remember Campbell being anti-technology, but I'm not too surprised. The arrogance of the Science major toward the stereotypical Liberal Arts types, ya know. :-)

I've seen plenty of good arguments against humans in space, while still being pro-space exploration. But, being anti-space entirely is a rather narrow view of the universe.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


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