... but I stopped. Now I'm a dad, and may blog again...

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Block Chop 49: Books, not burning.

I need some new books.   I’m having to reread all the old ones and I’ve nearly finished Climbing Mount Improbable by Richard Dawkins.  It’s a joy to read, and the chapter I’m on now is an amazing discussion on each of the minor evolutionary steps leading up to the modern eye.  But I definitely need something new.  Here is my wish list (I need it, I need it, I need it): How Not To Grow Up by Richard Herring, The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris, Hitch 22 by Christopher Hitchens, The Extended Phenotype by Richard Dawkins and How I Escaped My Certain Fate by Stewart Lee.  May I graciously thank you all in advance as you rush to buy me all that I ask for.  Books are best!

While we are on the subject of books; have you ever heard of Pastor Terry Jones.  No not Terry Jones, famed Monty Python member, exceptional in his roles as little old housewifeys, directing the Python films, and latterly presenting friendly history documentaries about barbarians and maps.  I’m talking about Pastor Terry Jones, who presumably is not a fan of Life of Brian.  You may have heard of him in the last couple of weeks, but definitely won’t have heard of this little nobody before now.

He is the petty little prick organising a Burn-a-Koran day.  If you’re interested it’s on 11th September.  But what a disgusting stupid scumbag hatebreeding idea for an activity.  Of course the Koran is a silly book filled with nonsense and violence, but so is the Bible, and so are most other books in the world (holy or not).  There is no problem with the content of any of the holy books; the problem is that people use these weird books as morality guides, they see them as recalling historical truth, and condemn those who disagree.

Pastor Jones, whoever he is, is obviously steeped in self-delusion, verging on madness.  What the hell does he hope to achieve with this ridiculous little stunt?  Presumably it is an attempt to gain publicity for his culty little church in Gainesville, Florida.  His church, the Dove World Outreach Center (wtf?), instructs members that they “are not allowed to visit family members or friends, or receive visits... Family occasions like weddings, funerals or birthdays are no exception to this rule.”  This is the definition of a cult; and this man is either crazy, a vicious sociopath or a ... (insert demeaning phrase here).

Burning books, any book no matter how stupid, is never a constructive positive act.  I don’t want to wobble my argument by resorting to reductio ad Hitlerum, but it’s true that down that route fascism lies.  Book burning is a crime against thought; a disgusting act that serves nothing but to dirty the human species.  If you have to resort to burning a book you don't like you proclaim loudly "I am an idiot, and I can form no coherent logical argument to counter the claims I disagree with.  I am an idiot and I have already lost."  

Like I said, the problem with books only arises when people use them as unchangeable, eternal, infallible and god-given.  And Jones is clearly as guilty of this intellectual sin as it’s possible to be.  If there was a hell this twat will surely burn.  And if there was a heaven it would be a huge library, with the Bible and Koran sitting comfortably and safely in the fiction section.

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