Friday, November 14, 2003

Adam Sullivan quotes a pseudonymous someone in the course of an argument about neocons. It starts off with an aside totally irrelevant to the main point; it is this introduction, and not the general point (to which I am sympathetic if uninterested) which pisses me off:

Agnosticism is intellectual cowardice...

Cowardice. This suggests that unsupported belief is an act of courage - that to believe in something before the evidence is in is bravery. This is bravery as motion - faith in the howling roar of the charge. It's a very Martial definition of faith - forward motion, drive, commitment. Also foolhardiness, rashness, and blind rage. I prefer definitions of courage over bravery. Bravery charges the guns. Courage chooses its ground, and holds it. Courage stands its ground against the charge.

Some sing a song of bravery
Of faith in the rout
Of belief in the battle,
And courage against doubt.

"Cowards!" cry the believers
Against a withholding crew.
Believe in the charge!
Bear arms against reavers!
Believe in the act!
Step out on a field of Mars
Carry our banner's God
Forth 'gainst nonbelievers!

But this is all nonsense.
And muddy-minded rot.

Faith is not courage,
Faith is fear.
Faith is a Godly terror
Fearful and trembling
Or a fear of no god -
An existential terror
That "hideous schizophrenia",
Nietzsche's abyss.

Pascal's bet,
A gambler's fear -
That belief that belief
Is a safer bet,
That the penalty for disbelief in
A God-wrought world
So infinitely worse
Than paltry losses lost
Believing in
A chance-made life;
This those intellects
Will calculate to believe,
Despite all evidence,
Despite all lack of evidence,
Despite the balance, for and against.

Cry you a battle?

Here they come screaming
Death's own avalanche
The horde in a howling rage.
Our backs we have turned to the great dividing depth,
Infinite dark, deep and vast
Abyssal space without
Any bottom that our weak eyes have sought.

The charge sweeps the field like the inevitable sweep
Of a clock-arm driven by God's steel springs
And each clock-tick strikes like the shattering of swords.

The rash rush forth to meet death on
Death's own ground;
The weak have broken and run, are plunging
Even now
Into their bottomless depths.

Come, agnostic souls, here hold your ground!
Here we shall wait,
Await this charge of terror in doubt!
Standing aligned on our own,

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