Thursday, May 20, 2010

Follow up to my "Invisible Alien" speech

The day following my public comments to Tampa city council members on February 4, 2010 (speech copied in previous post), the St. Petersburg Times picked up on my “invisible alien” as “God” theme ...

John Kieffer, president of Atheists of Florida, said since council members didn't seem to understand the points he made two weeks ago, he would try to put it in "more simple and generic terms."

"Believe it or not, there are people who believe in invisible aliens," he said. "Believers usually talk to these aliens mentally and silently, but sometimes in a standing ritual."

People who don't believe in the aliens and decline to rise, he said, stand out like a "ketchup stain on a white shirt."

"When you do the invisible alien standing ritual at your meetings, I don't know what to do. You see, I'm not a believer in invisible aliens," he said. "What should I do? Lie to fit in, or be the hated ketchup stain?"

Though I’m sure that many on the council and in the audience were offended, as one of the council members alluded to later, my intention was to describe their invocation ritual and its component concepts using descriptive or constative terms rather than those that refer to a socially legitimated subjective reality (normative).

When one uses normative terms such as “God,” “prayer” and “invocation,” even while asserting against such beliefs and practices, one inadvertently reinforces the “taken for granted” facticity of a given social world. Hence, the unintended consequence of using normative terms is that they inherently lend credibility to the very concepts one is arguing against.

By using descriptive words, the subject is no longer presented in the wrappings of social legitimation but is instead described substantively and taxonomically. By doing so, that which is taken for granted by the social world is identified and categorized as a notion that would be otherwise rejected outright.

In my comments, I substitute the normative term “God,” with a description that cannot be refuted: according to any Christian, the God character of Abrahamic mythology cannot be directly seen or detected in any way, therefore “invisible;” further, such character is posited as transcending the natural world, so, it is also an “alien.” The concept of “God,” then, is in every sense an “invisible alien;” moreover, according to Christian doctrine, so too is the Jesus character, as well as the Satan character.

There we have three characters that can irrefutably be described as “invisible aliens.” If Christians believe in those then it can be asserted that Christians believe in “invisible aliens.”

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