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July 16, 2008

Comments

Bartholomew

I don't regard religion as an inherent enemy of social and intellectual advance; I do consider that it contributes literally nothing to that cause.

Actually, a number of sociologists going back to Durkheim have suggested that the Judeo-Christian tradition set off the dialectic which led to secularisation - Peter Berger describes this as Christianity being its own gravedigger. So maybe religion has promoted advance, although not in the way it intended.

Snorri Godhi

[...] liberals' tolerance of Islamist reaction.

Given the historical associations of Anglo-American "liberals" in the last century, that says more about Islamists than it says about "liberals".

I don't regard religion as an inherent enemy of social and intellectual advance; I do consider that it contributes literally nothing to that cause.

Er ... the abolition of slavery?

See also "What have the Romans ever done for us?" in Life of Brian.

dirigible

"Er ... the abolition of slavery?"

Absolutely. All the slave-owners who believed that it was their God-given right to own slaves were...hang on!

Michael

I joined The Times this week

Something David Lindsay, bizarrely enough given his obsession with you, has failed to notice.

Only yesterday he responded to a clearly loaded question about Oliver's alleged "blacklisting by the media":

He hardly ever pops up any more. I assume that Comment Is Free has decided that the joke has been done to death and that quite so many complaints from readers really is a bit much, while The Times is sick of his pretence to be a Times columnist when he isn't.

Now, Lindsay famously doesn't have a sense of humour, so I'm assuming that this isn't sarcasm and that he genuinely is ignorant of Oliver's recent promotion. But how's he going to take it on board, given that it comprehensively undermines the basis of one of his favourite memes?

simon

One of David's anonymous commenters has also weighed in:

Whereas Neil Clark gets published all the time. An interloper like Kamm should have realised that hacks have a strong craft feeling and are very disinclined to publish someone mostly notable for a campaign of criminal harassment against one of our own who dared to give his book a bad review.

By a remarkable coincidence, it appears that David and 'Anonymous' have both failed to notice Oliver's recent appointment. It's almost as if -- but no.

Michael

It's also curious that just thirteen minutes separate Lindsay's post from that by 'Anonymous'.

Given that Lindsay has barely let any comments through at all in the past ten days or so (largely because he's been away for part of that), we have to believe that 'Anonymous' is so on the ball that he/she visits the blog pretty much as soon as Lindsay's 23:30 comment appeared (if Lindsay offers an RSS feed for comments, he doesn't advertise it) and then, in just 13 minutes composed a comment in almost perfect homage to Lindsay's style and regular obsessions, right down to the phraseology ("an interloper like Kamm", "a campaign of criminal harassment") and exceptionally dodgy logic, namely:

An interloper like Kamm should have realised that hacks have a strong craft feeling and are very disinclined to publish someone mostly notable for a campaign of criminal harassment against one of our own who dared to give his book a bad review.

I myself work as a freelance journalist on occasion, and I can tell 'Anonymous' from a position of some authority that while the profession takes bad reviews on the chin (and indeed delights in writing vitriolic reviews of each other's work on a regular basis), journalists most certainly do not look favourably on one of their number who attempts to silence another through the libel courts, however ineptly.

So if the "blacklist" theory had any validity at all, Neil Clark would be far more likely to be on it. Fortunately for him, this blacklist is yet another of Lindsay's frothing fantasies.

artwebster

Dear Mr. Kamm:

I have read your blog faithfully for many years and normally I agree with everything you say. While I agree in general with your views regarding science and religion, I think you go too far in saying that religion contributes literally nothing to social and intellectual advance.

I have never thought it was an accident that liberal societies arose in Western Christendom. Thomas Cahill, certainly no conservative and certainly no friend of dogma, wrote in The Gift of the Jews, how the Jews first originated the idea of the individual.

There is no doubt that many wrongs have been committed in the name of Christanity, although, even then, I would argue that in many instances, secular leaders used religion to cover their more base motives. Nevertheless, imagine a pre-Christian world. If one Neanderthal killed another over hunting grounds, I seriously doubt that the remaining Neanderthals had a moral sense that the killing was wrong.

Your commentator above, dirigible, while making his snarky comment, is probably unaware of Abolitionists and the contribution of Methodists to the end of the slave trade.


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