Pharyngula

Cleanse your palate of the unpleasant aftertaste of that last video with this loud instrumental from Rush — it’s the “Malignant Narcissism” video at the top of the page. I like how it illustrates the advance of religion as a branching snake. If you don’t like wmv or mov formats, it seems to be popular among the guitar heroes of youtube, so you can at least listen to it, even if you don’t get to see the abrahamic viper.

Comments

  1. #1 wildlifer
    July 27, 2007

    And my favorite:
    There is unrest in the forest,
    There is trouble with the trees,
    For the maples want more sunlight
    And the oaks ignore their pleas.

    The trouble with the maples,
    (And they’re quite convinced they’re right)
    They say the oaks are just too lofty
    And they grab up all the light.
    But the oaks can’t help their feelings
    If they like the way they’re made.
    And they wonder why the maples
    Can’t be happy in their shade.

    There is trouble in the forest,
    And the creatures all have fled,
    As the maples scream “Oppression!”
    And the oaks just shake their heads

    So the maples formed a union
    And demanded equal rights.
    “The oaks are just too greedy;
    We will make them give us light.”
    Now there’s no more oak oppression,
    For they passed a noble law,
    And the trees are all kept equal
    By hatchet, axe, and saw.

  2. #2 Steve P
    July 27, 2007

    Just saw Rush on Wednesday in Irvine, CA. One of the most amazing shows of my life! No band can compare to the musicianship of these three individuals. In the liner notes of their newest album, Neil Peart references “The God Delusion” and his outrage over religion.

    My favorite lyrics are from the aptly titled song “Free Will”

    You can choose a ready guide
    In some celestial voice
    If you choose not to decide
    You still have made a choice

    You can choose from phantom fears
    And kindness that can kill
    I will choose a path thats clear
    I will choose free will

    AMEN!

  3. #3 Caledonian
    July 27, 2007

    Djur, I think you’ve gotten a little too much of the catnip, man. Time to lay off.

    ***

    Did you people also hate “The Incredibles” because it references the works of Ayn Rand?

  4. #4 Janine
    July 27, 2007

    “Free Will” is as close to an atheist theme song as you’ll ever find IMHO.

    Posted by: flame821 | July 27, 2007 07:13 PM

    Sorry, that would be XTC’s “Dear God”. Though Andy Partridge does dismiss his own song because he feels he cannot express the plilosophy of atheism in a pop song context.

  5. #5 notthedroids
    July 27, 2007

    “[H]e feels he cannot express the plilosophy of atheism in a pop song context.”

    This is perhaps a bit rich; I’ve read that the band just didn’t think very much of the song. Partridge wrote it and recorded a demo very quickly, the next morning felt it to be rather trite and hamfisted. They were surprised when Todd Rungren had such enthusiasm for the demo and had to be cajoled to record it for real. The idea for the girl singing the first and last bits was also forced on the band by Rundgren.

    I loves me some classic Rush, but Peart’s lyrics are dated and ponderous, whether or not from his Ayn Rand phase.

  6. #6 Blake Stacey
    July 28, 2007

    It sure must be hard to walk with your nose stuck up in the air like that.

    It’s a known hazard of trying to walk while gazing upon the stars.

    Haven’t you ever seen the outtakes from Carl Sagan’s Cosmos? “A galaxy is made of gas and dust and stars, billions upon billions of — ouch!”

  7. #7 ChemBob
    July 28, 2007

    Here are some great atheist lyrics from the song Faithless of the new Rush “Snakes and Arrows” album. Great album, imho.

    I’ve got my own moral compass to steer by
    A guiding star beats a spirit in the sky
    And all the preaching voices –
    Empty vessels of dreams so loud
    As they move among the crowd
    Fools and thieves are well disguised
    In the temple and market place

    Like a stone in the river
    Against the floods of spring
    I will quietly resist

    Like the willows in the wind
    Or the cliffs along the ocean
    I will quietly resist

    I don’t have faith in faith
    I don’t believe in belief
    You can call me faithless
    I still cling to hope
    And I believe in love
    And that’s faith enough for me

    I’ve got my own spirit level for balance
    To tell if my choice is leaning up or down
    And all the shouting voices
    Try to throw me off my course
    Some by sermon, some by force
    Fools and thieves are dangerous
    In the temple and market place

    Like a forest bows to winter
    Beneath the deep white silence
    I will quietly resist

    Like a flower in the desert
    That only blooms at night
    I will quietly resist

  8. #8 Blake Stacey
    July 28, 2007

    Director Brad Bird on The Incredibles and politics:

    I think it got misinterpreted a few times. Some people said it was Ayn Rand or something like that, which is ridiculous. other people threw Nietzsche around, which I also find ridiculous. But I think the vast majority of people took it the way I intended. […] But you can’t control how people interpret your stuff. Have you ever met someone and you say something nice to them and they make a face and are deeply offended? You just don’t know how people are going to take things. Ninty-eight percent of the people got that stuff the way I intended and two percent thought I was doing The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged.

  9. #9 Another Rush fan
    July 28, 2007

    Lulu,

    I would agree with most of what you said, but wouldn’t you say that your criticisms mostly address the aspects of Objectivism where Ayn Rand’s own eccentricities got in the way of what could be a truly rational philosophy? Some self-described objectivists, regard objectivism as an open and evolving philosophy, wherein Ayn Rand’s baggage was jettisoned long ago, or was never taken seriously to begin with. The point you raise about the strict rejection of all determinism is a legitimate criticism that’s a fairly integral part of Objectivist philosophy. For me, it’s enough to say that I have confidence (but not faith) that when I’m writing a piece of music or planning a chess strategy for example, that I have some measure of free will resulting from the complexity of a neural network that is both self-aware and capable of some degree of intentional rewiring.

  10. #10 Lulu
    July 29, 2007

    Oh, I was just stating criticism to Ayn Rand in response to “what’s your trouble with Ayn Rand?” comments. j.t. delaney posted a pretty brilliant comment above that I pretty much wholly agree with. (Damn! I forgot about the “benevolent rape” scene… that’s one more reason to be wary.)

    Also, I’d argue that Ayn’s eccentricities were fundamental to the creation of her philosophy – not that her personal prejudices taint the entirety of what she says. It’s just that whatever the purported rationale for her beliefs, her real rationale for believing that certain actions fit in the ultimate rational framework was that she was part of a rich family exiled from a newly communist country. Many of the “rational” reasons cited for her beliefs and actions were simply uniquely convenient for her to believe – like that privately earned property should merit ultimate respect and that all “evil” concerns for the environment and welfare are the result of looters and are really just exclusively designed to take away opportunity for the major invester and corporation.

    However, I don’t automatically discount her ideas. I wouldn’t be a (moderate) libertarian if I did. (Although libertarians were “hippies” to Ayn Rand. They didn’t agree with all areas of her philosophy, just the economics.) She’s an inspiring writer, too. Although she brushes very broad strokes and stereotypes quite a bit, she can make you want to get out there and live life. And for that reason, I’m glad she wrote and went through all that trouble with her crazy movement.

  11. #11 Caledonian
    July 29, 2007

    Once a position on a philosophical issue had been rationalized by their neurotic leader, that position was taken as Truth, and anybody who disagreed was irrational/anti-human/whim-whorshipper, etc. This overemphasis lead to all sorts of staunch positions on how society should be run, what music to listen to, why women should not e allowed to be President of the United States (Rand’s position), etc. If you hang out with die-hard Objectivists, you soon discover it’s a mostly all-or-nothing/with-us-or-against-us sort of proposition. Either you agree with Rand’s positon on laissez-faire capitalism, Mozart, cigarette smoking, and Kant (approving the things she approved, disdaining what she disdained), or you are a slavish, subhuman irrationalist.

    Such behavior is precisely the opposite of what Rand explicitly espoused.

    I’m afraid that strong doctrine producing its opposite is a common feature of human social movements and groups of all types. We could see similar cases with turn-the-other-cheek Christianity formenting witch burnings, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and so forth. Religious anti-abortionists murdering to support their cause. The abomination of the First World War spawning rhetoric about its being necessary to abolish war itself. And so on, and so on.

    I suggest you reject the cult, and sift through the original teachings of the cult’s founder, keeping what is of value and discarding the rest.

  12. #12 arensb
    July 29, 2007

    Thank you all for reminding me why my favorite tagline in the 1990s was “Insert cryptic Rush lyrics here”.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.