A Note In Deconstructing Dawkins on Skavlan

Transcript from the talk show Skavlan December 4th 2015:

Linn Ullmann (norwegian author): «Do you believe in grace? Something as in music or…»

Richard Dawkins: «What do you mean by “grace”?»

Ullmann: «I’d like to know what you mean by it.»

Dawkins: «I don’t, I don’t use the word.»

Ullmann: «Is that a word that is not even in your vocabulary?»

Dawkins: «No, it isn’t, but I don’t want you to get away with saying that Bach sort of belong to the supernatural, because Bach wrote beautiful music, inspired by religion, which I apresiate as much as anybody else, I mean I adore Bach, I don’t want anybody to get away with the sort of thought that an atheist can not apreciate the great art, the great music, the great poetry of the world. Far from it! We can, we do.»

(Applause in audience)

End of transcript.

I have marked in bold the part of the transcript where Dawkins instead of continuing on Ullmanns derivation of the word «grace» in music Dawkins plays on with the phonic signifier of music itself, claiming that atheists can enjoy the art of the phonic signifiers. He get touched by music, by a signifier that comes silently from the sheet music through the ear and into the soul, or in Dawkin’s terminology: the gene for enjoying music. I think it’s interesting how language fall short in describing the experience of the thing that with the linguistic signs is called «grace», and how it kind of flows into music.


Convolute D: Heidegger On Jewry, Simon Amstell on God and Nature

Open Culture wrote an article on Heidegger a while ago. There they quoted from his writings on jewry:

“One of the most secret forms of the gigantic, and perhaps the oldest, is the tenacious skillfulness in calculating, hustling, and intermingling through which the worldlessness of Jewry is grounded.”

The journalist commented:

«In this short passage alone, Heidegger invokes lazy stereotypes of Jews as “calculating” and “hustling.” He also, more importantly, describes the Jewish people as “worldless.” As Critical Theory writes, “Being-in-the-world (In-der-Welt-sein) is the basic activity of human existing. To say that the Jews are ‘worldless’… is more than a confused stereotype.” It is Heidegger’s way of casting Jews out of Dasein, his most important category, a word that means something like “being-there” or “presence.” Jews, he writes, are “historyless” and “are not being, but merely ‘calculate with being.’”»

They also quoted this paragraph from Heidegger:

«What is happening now is the end of the history of the great inception of Occidental humanity, in which inception humanity was called to the guardianship of be-ing, only to transform this calling right away into the pretension to re-present beings in their machinational unessence…»

At the BBC ‘Numb’ show jewish comedian Simon Amstell said this:

«What about when religious people fail to remember that God is nature, there’s nothing more all-encompassing or wise than mother nature and athiests forgot that science is the study of nature, and then they both remembered and had amazing sex by a tree.»

Faith In Words

»Show me the place where the Word became a man«

Leonard Cohen

On Tablet Magazine’s facebook-page there’s been some discussion after the publishing of the article Teaching My Son About Judaism – and Atheism. I  note that the author is proud over her son’s development from what she calls »obsession with Jesus« to atheism. The article ends with her son stating that he doesn’t believe in anything because he has asked his jewish teacher how one could know for sure that the Red Sea parted. The teacher replied to him that one doesn’t need evidence, only faith. The little boy than said »I need evidence«.

Some of the comments on Facebook claims that one can not both be jewish and atheist, other says the same about judaism and belief in Jesus. I don’t have time to dive into every aspect of this, I just quote my comment here, adding that science also requires belief, not in a religious understanding of the Word – »the Word became a man« – but in the sense that one must have trust in the people who researches for evidence, and what is that if not a religious understanding of the word (without capital letter):

»Erich Auerbach proved that christianity and judaism was linked together in the mimetic writing style unique for the time, the stories in the Torah can be read both literal and as parables of the stories in the gospel. Before the law stands a gatekeeper (Kafka), but the gatekeeper didn’t make the law. The word became a man, but man did not become the word«

Source for Tablet article: http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/171223/teaching-son-judaism-and-atheism/2

(Source for linked page: Hacohen, M.H. Typology and the Holocaust: Erich Auerbach and Judeo-Christian Europe. Religions 20123, 600-645.)