Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sec’s Appeal: The Other John Waters Vs Secularism # 1,014

At the risk of oversimplifying John Waters’ most recent book, LAPSED AGNOSTIC, the Irish Times journalist found God through Alcoholics Anonymous, and then learned to justify an entire belief system by viewing it through the prism of his own experience.
  Now I’m delighted, for his sake, that John Waters managed to escape the demon booze, because you wouldn’t wish alcoholism on your worst enemy, but I really do wish that he’d stop trying to belittle those who have yet to share his epiphany by suggesting that they are somehow less human than he.
  He was at it again in today’s Irish Times, when he had this to say:
“Religion, rather than just another “category”, is the guiding hypothesis that makes sense of the whole, the public expression of the total dimension of human nature. No other channel has the capacity to convey the broadest truths about man’s nature and his relationship to the universe. Secularists do not like this characterisation of the situation, but it has long been obvious that they have nothing to offer society as an alternative source of ethics, meaning or hope.”
  Of the first part of his assertion, I’d suggest that science has not only “the capacity to convey the broadest truths about man’s nature and his relationship to the universe”, but is in fact the only rational approach to trying to understand the whys and wherefores of being alive.
  As for secularists having “nothing to offer society as an alternative source of ethics, meaning or hope”: leaving aside the basic human capacity to instinctively understand good from bad, and all that flows from that understanding, Waters fails to suggest how humanity managed to survive for the 100,000 years or so of its current incarnation (up to about 14,000-12,000 BC, when the first inklings of religion appear) without even a primitive system of ethics, meaning or hope to sustain it.
  Humans invented religion, the most perverse case of wishful thinking every visited on the race. And good for us, it’s a tribute to our imaginations and the brainy brains that got us this far in the struggle for survival. In the grand scheme of things, though, religion is Santa Claus for slow learners. Here endeth the sermon.