Tag Archives: Truth

It’s True! – Harry Redknapp

I posted on the nonsense that is the It’s True! claim, which theists are apt to use directly themselves, or which is the basis of the supposed truth of their religious books – that the books contain words proclaiming the truth of the books. LOL!

Well, of course religion isn’t the only source of this stunning[ly useless] argument. It turns out that it’s a favourite defence of the guilty in a court of law, and no doubt some innocent people too, when they become desperate.

Harry Redknapp used this very move in court yesterday. The story so far, from the Guardian piece

Redknapp and the former Portsmouth owner Milan Mandaric, who both deny two counts of cheating the public revenue, have told the court that the $145,000 paid in May 2002 and a further payment of $150,000 in May 2004, were paid by Mandaric as “seed money” for investments to be made on Redknapp’s behalf.

Here, from the BBC

Under cross examination on Thursday, Mr Redknapp said he lied to reporter Rob Beasley about the source of payments to the account because he did not want negative stories ahead of a cup final.

The Tottenham boss said: “I have to tell police the truth, not Mr Beasley – he’s a News of the World reporter.”

So, he lied to the reporter, but he didn’t lie to the police and he didn’t lie in court, honest. It’s true!

Remember, Hitler put his signature to the Munich Agreement, of which Chamerlain said on arriving home to England, “This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine…“. Churchill didn’t buy it, “We have suffered a total and unmitigated defeat… you will find that in a period of time which may be measured by years, but may be measured by months, Czechoslovakia will be engulfed in the Nazi régime.

Of course, Hitler subsequently, metaphorically, wiped his own arse with his copy, and flushed.

All gullible people please take serious note! Liars will not only lie, they tell you they are telling the truth when they are not! It’s part of what they do. It’s what it is to be a liar! When someone says, “It’s true!“, without further justification, then you not only don’t have to believe them, I really recommend you ignore their proclamations and seek evidence of the truth.

Which of Harry’s truths is a lie? Because they are inconsistent. He claims he lied to the press. But if he admits to lying there, can he be trusted now?

Well, perhaps this is convincing, from the Metro newspaper…

Harry Redknapp - Not a liar
It’s true!

The Spurs football manager was even reduced to shouting from the witness box at prosecutor John Black QC.

“You think I put my hand on the Bible and told lies?” he exclaimed. “That’s an insult, Mr Black, that’s an insult.”

No Harry, it’s his job. The whole point of this hand on the Bible bollocks (funny how religion is in on the lies again) is that it doesn’t work, except when told to the gullible. If you are innocent of the charges Harry, the Bible won’t help, and if you’re guilty, the hand on the Bible isn’t working.

“Everything I have told you is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God…”

“I am not a liar.”

Well, that’s that then. Case dismissed? FFS!


Post Script…

Harry is currently manager of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, who denied my beloved Manchester City a place in the Champions League three years ago, though we turned the tables last year. They are now one of the serious contenders to our title hopes this year.

But, Harry is a great football manager, and Spurs are a great club that I actually like. I have no idea whether he’s guilty or not – that isn’t the subject of this post. So this post is in no way biased. Honest! It’s True, I tell you, it’s true!

It’s True!

Great Jesus & Mo cartoon again.

The best bit, and the most crucial bit that applies to all religious books is number 1:

1. This is true

This is the one and only necessary assumption in any religion to make it worthy of the name. It must declare its own truth. Of course (snigger 🙂 (more smugness to come) we all know this is pure bollocks don’t we.

I get regular visits from Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are really nice people (at least to ones who visit me are). I think they like me and return often for the following reasons:

(a) I don’t slam the door in their faces;
(b) they haven’t converted me yet, so I suspect, like a lottery rollover, my cache goes up with each rejection;
(c) the religious are masochists (why else invent sin and then admit to bing up to the neck in it).

Anyway, I keep two things handy for when they call.

The first is a copy of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. They always quote from it incorrectly and it’s an easy book to show them they’ve been misled. They do go through some other topics, such as DNA, irreducible complexity, but I usually wing it once we get past Darwin, because it would take too long to go through any book to convince them (“Let’s start with basic chemistry…”). I know, it’s wrong of me, but I argue from authority of knowing just a bit more about this stuff than they do. As much as I can make points against Behe’s arguments generally, if they brought him along as a guest doorstepper I might be screwed on the biology, because I’m not a biologist.

But I digress, again. The second, and most important thing I keep nearby is a piece of paper, oh and a pen – so that’s three things I keep near by, but you know what I mean.

And on that piece of paper I write words to this effect:

This paper contains the word of God as revealed to Ron Murphy. If you’re here while he’s writing this you too must bear witness to this miracle. Now, as your God I command you to ignore the Bible, Koran, gold tablets and any other bollocks you may have come across telling absolute crap about me. I can swear by the way. I am God after all. Though the atheists got it wrong, they got it wrong for the right reasons – they don’t believe any old crap in a document claiming to be the revealed truth. What sort of fucking argument is that?! Anyway, on this occasion it happens to be the truth. However, I’ll forgive you not believing it if you throw it in the bin. On one condition: you throw your crappy book in the bin too and start thinking for yourself.

No, I don’t really write all that, I just feel as though I want to. A sentence or two is usually enough to make the point.

But, miracle of miracles, their faith survives even this cutting blow. What the fuck can I do?

I thought perhaps I should show them the fabulous Morwenna Banks, from that brilliant series Absolutely.

This for me says everything about religious imaginative invention. It encapsulates millenia of theology as Little Girl rationalises uncertainties and contradictions in what pops into her head.

And her punch line:

It’s true! I know because I do!

And Little Girl here provides us with the best accommodationism I’ve ever come across: Genesis plus Evolution! It’s true!

 


And this is what you get when It’s true! is put into practice. Enjoy!

Truth Matters

A liberal believer may claim that their faith is benign. They want to get on with their own faith, want to do good, want to enjoy the community and other perceived benefits of their faith. It may be a personal faith, where they at least doubt some of the contents of scripture. If challenged about the evidence that supports their faith they might debate some of the details, but in the end both sides have to acknowledge that for many believers, the faith, the belief, in the end need not be justified by rational argument. Such a benign faith is distinguished from ‘fundamental’ faith, in that there are elements of rationality to it. An atheist might agree with such a person in many ways about what should constitute a moral society, for example. Though the atheist might attribute his moral code to evolutionary and cultural developments, the liberal believer might attribute theirs more to God, even if there is some agreement on the role of evolution and culture.

Given this view that it is personal and benign, a question might arise, “Does it matter?” Or, “What’s it to the atheist what I believe or not?”, Or, “What harm is it doing?”. Or, “Given all the good that religion does, provided it’s a benign religion that isn’t ‘fundamentalist’, doesn’t do harm, what’s the problem?”

For me it’s the truth that matters, and the only route to truth we have as far as I can tell is reason and the evidence of science.

One problem as I see it for any benign faith is that it’s a mix of reason, evidence and faith. The reason helps such a believer to dismiss all the nasty and down right obvious crazy stuff, but it stops short with the basic belief in a God of some sort. To give up on reason and evidence at that point seems to have negated much of the benefit put in it up front. But it’s not always obvious where the reason ends and the faith begins. The reason melds seamlessly into confusion as religious reasons merges into obscure religious language.

Confusion and obfuscation are arguably the best way to go. Obfuscation is legal, it’s easy, there’s always an abundant supply and it often does the trick. The more unclear it is exactly what one is arguing, the more trouble one’s opponents will have in refuting one’s claims. [1]

It’s also arguable that obfuscation is what postmodernism is all about. Clouds of squid ink in the form of jargon, mathematical equations whose relevance is obscure, peacock displays of name-dropping, misappropriation and misapplication of scientific theories are often seen as postmodernist ‘discourse’. Nietzsche, Heidegger, Heisenberg, Einstein, Gödel, Wittgenstein are hauled in and cited as saying things they didn’t say – sometimes as saying exactly the opposite of what they said. … The tactic doesn’t work with people who actually know something of Einstein, Heisenberg or Gödel – but what of it? How many people is that? And it does work with many who don’t. [1]

I’m not out to criticise the ignorant simply for being ignorant. None of us has the capacity to know all that has been discovered – we may be limited by time, access, interest or intelligence. The problem is that those making great claims for their world view that use these references should really check with those that have a better understanding before jumping straight in and acquiring this knowledge in the construction of their pseudo-knowledge.

The confusion of course raises it’s own questions for the believers.

Asking unanswerable questions is an inconclusive but useful tactic. … “But why did all this happen? Why is there something rather than nothing? Why is there Mind? Why is there order? … The fact that no one can answer such questions is taken by the pure of heart and limpid of mind to entail divine explanation. The fact that such explanation allows the questions to be asked all over again seems not to trouble the divinely inclined. [1]

i.e. God answers nothing.

Of course if the questions are allowed to continue, the contortions of explanation become greater and greater, more obscure language is employed. It is more important that the faith is maintained, at the expense of clarity and reason.

In fact, the contortions are a giveaway not only that the explanation is not the right one, but that something is badly wrong with the method of generating the explanation, that things are back to front, that the enquirer has started, not with a desire to produce an explanation, but with the desire to produce a particular explanation, or a particular kind of explanation. [1]

What is necessary to get at truth?

What should trump what? Should rational enquiry, sound evidence, norms of accuracy, logical inference trump human needs, desires, fears, hopes? Or should our wishes and beliefs, politics and morality, dreams and visions be allowed to shape our decisions about what constitutes good evidence, what criteria determine whether an explanation is supported by evidence or not, what is admissible and what isn’t? [1]

How much do we want the truth?

The truth is important to us, but so are our needs and desires and hopes and fears. Without them we wouldn’t even recognise ourselves. Without them, we think, we would merely be something like an adding machine. An adding machine can get at the truth, given the right input, but it doesn’t care. We want the truth but we also want to care – wanting the truth is indeed inseparable from caring. We want it, we care about it, it matters, and so do various other things we want and care about, some of which are threatened by the truth. … But we have to choose. … If we’ve never bothered to decide that truth matters, and that it shouldn’t be subject to our wishes – that, in short, wishful thinking is bad thinking – then we are likely to be far less aware of the tension. We simply allow ourselves, without much worry or reflection, to assume that the way humans want the world to be is the way the world is, more or less by definition – and endemic confusion and muddle is the result. [1]

The muddle and confusion is so obvious in the Alice in Wonderland nonsense of much religious language – the desire to believe in the impossible (or at least un-evidenced) things manufactures incomprehensible language about incomprehensible beings, agents that interact yet don’t exist, that we can’t know of yet we know what they want from us.

Religion and related modes of thinking such as New Age, Wicca, paganism, the vaguely named ‘spirituality’, are where this outcome is most obvious. Public discourse features talk of God-shaped holes, of a deep human need for ‘faith’, of the longing of transcendence, of the despair and cosmic loneliness that results when God is doubted, and the like … without apparently stopping to notice that there may be reasons to prefer true beliefs rather than false ones. [1]

What reasons? There are many. One is truth is something of an all-or-nothing proposition. It is intimately related to concepts such as consistency, thoroughness, universal applicability, and the like. If one decides that truth doesn’t matter in one area what is to prevent one deciding it doesn’t matter in any, in all? [1]

It’s surely the nature of truth that it has to be all of a piece. It’s norms have to apply here as well as there, if they are to apply at all. That is why relativism about truth is always self-undermining. If we say, ‘there is no truth, truth is an illusion, a myth, a construct, a mystification’ then that statement is not true – so there is truth then. [1]

Does it matter that we kid ourselves?

Our internal private thoughts might not matter at all. … But how we influence each other, how we teach – by writing, by journalism, by talking on the radio, on platforms, in churches, in mosques, in classrooms – it does matter. If we are going to influence people, it’s important we get it right. [1]

This is crucial as far as I can see. There’s enough fog, lack of clarity, confusion, in transcribing thoughts from one mind to another as it is. The last thing we need is the obfuscation of falsehoods. But it doesn’t have to be lies. There doesn’t need to be intentional dishonestly. The transmission of unsupported ideas, non-truths, non-facts, sold as truths, or alternative truths is an easily acquired skill.

It might seem like there are good reasons to hide from truth. When it’s trivial, when it’s short term, then maybe we can excuse it. It might be a useful coping mechanism that allows us to avert pain, to concentrate on work, to withdraw from anger. But this isn’t to deny the truth, it’s just to postpone it, compartmentalise it, to push attention to one side. But this shouldn’t become the rule, if we want to avoid living outside of reality. Truth isn’t subject to our whims, our wishful thinking. But it’s possible to live that way if we get into the habit.

If we minimize true facts that we dislike too often, we may lose sight of the fact that it is our reaction and degree of attention that is subject to our wills, and start to think that the facts themselves are subject to our wills. But on the whole they’re not. [1]

Religious scholarship, theology, seems to me to be worst of the search for the answers. What kind of search for truth is it, when the truth is declared before the search begins, when search is directed at affirming what is already believed to be the truth? This isn’t the discovery of truth; it’s rationalising away the evidence to affirm the truth. Religion is often explained as a journey of discovery. This is the poorest form of journey of discovery; it’s a journey through the front door that ends on the doorstep, where the ‘truth’ is already packaged up neatly into a three letter word, God. The only remaining work to do is to go back inside and rationalise about how this might be, or what it might mean, or how it can be applied to persuade people to conform to it. No evidence is required; in fact evidence has been a nuisance for religion from the start. As soon as someone asked, “How do you know that?”, religion was on the defensive.

Religion is a big part of our lives, even if we are non-believers, because it is so ingrained in our history. But religion is supposed to be an honest affair isn’t it? Don’t we have enough to contend with?

There are fields where indifference to truth is no handicap – advertising, PR, fashion, lobbying, marketing, entertainment. In fact there are whole large, well paid, high status areas of the economy where truth-scepticism, wishful thinking, fantasy, suspension of disbelief, deletion of the boundary between dreams and reality, are not only not a handicap, but essential to the enterprise. … We need our dreams and stories, our imaginaries. They are good for us. We need the cognitive rest from confronting reality all day, we need to be able to imagine alternatives, we need the pleasure of fantasy. But we also need to hang on to our awareness of the difference between dreams and reality. [1]

The more we realise both our fallibilities at knowing, and the more we realise that our only route to knowledge is through our fallible reason and senses, and the more we realise that the best we can do is repeat and repeat, thrash out what we think we know, hammer it into submission to our inquiry, the more religion, mysticism and other ‘ways of knowing’ has to retreat into the obscurity of mystical language.

Given religions penchant for morality, why isn’t it the most rigorous of our philosophies? How wrong can we be in our search for alternative realities, alternative truths? It’s not all religion’s fault, though religion is often happy to jump on the bandwagon of unreason.

There is a profound irony in the situation – in postmodernist epistemic relativism. It is thought to be, and often touted as, emancipatory. It is supposed to set us all free: free from all those coercive repressive restrictive hegemonic totalizing old ideas. From white male western reason and science, from the requirement to heed the boundary between science and pseudo science, from the need to offer genuine evidence for our versions of history, from scholars who point out we have our facts wrong. … Take away reasoned argument and the requirement for reference to evidence – by discrediting them via deconstruction and rhetoric, via scare quotes and mocking capital letters, and what can be left other than force of one kind or another? … This is emancipatory? Not in our view. It is not emancipatory because it helps emotive rhetoric to prevail over reason and evidence, which means it helps falsehood prevail over truth. [1]

Even for benign religion? Well, precisely the same mechanisms, the same poor reasoning, the emotive language, the same style of faith, is used to justify a liberal believer’s opinion as is used to justify a fundamentalist terrorist’s opinion. The subsuming of reason and science to faith is the same in both cases. If you have faith in a benign God, from what stance to you argue against faith in a vengeful God? No matter how much you think you might reason it will do you no good, because you have already abandoned reason yourself – it’s clear to all concerned that any reason you apply is only a token gesture, because to you your core is faith, not reason.

So, why does truth matter? It’s hard figuring out what ‘truth’ is and how to get at it. We have only limited means at our disposal. I’d rather all our efforts go into finding the truth for what it is, not inventing ‘truth’ for which there’s no evidence, no matter how cosy it makes us feel, no matter what the short term pragmatic value.

[1] http://www.whytruthmatters.com/
Why Truth Matters – Ophelia Benson, Jeremy Stangroom