Corner Feedback

Some reaction to the new site after I posted a link from NRO’s blog The Corner:

Reader A:

Mr Derbyshire — many thanks for helping provide an outlet for secular conservative views. I think you’ll find there are quite a few of us out there, and while I do share some of the Balkanization concerns from hyphenated conservatism (watch the Democrats eat themselves from within for a preview of that type of coalition), I still think there’s a need for some back-to-basics serious conservatism — and this is where the ideas will come from. I’ve registered and look forward to the site’s growth.

Reader B (a Mormon):

John: I was happy to see that you have participated in creating a new blog that features non-cranky thought from secular conservatives.

I approach my conservatism from a religious perspective, but there is a lot more to it than religion. I find that I agree with you far more often than not, which suggests that our shared view on such issues may just be good old-fashioned common sense.

Your British compatriot Theodore Dalrymple is one of my favorite thinkers (I find myself nodding my head in agreement with just about everything he says), and Heather Mac Donald is likewise smart and convincing. I believe Mr. Dalrymple says he is an agnostic and Ms. Mac Donald says she’s an atheist.

For conservatism to re-assert itself, we need a big tent. The conservative outlook on life makes sense, I believe, within the context of religion and from a secular perspective as well. Religious conservatives should work at being non-cranky as well.

[Me]  While we’re making lists, let’s not forget George Will, a declared agnostic.

Reader C:

Dear John — Is your blog limited to atheists and agnostics or will it take in believers who think God is more worried about the next world than how government should work in this one?

[Me]  That’s nicely said. As usual with enterprises of this sort, we haven’t really worked out the limits yet. We are definitely hospitable to apatheists (i.e. no opinion about God & couldn’t care less) as well as agnostics (not sure) and atheists (sure not).

Reader D:

Mr. Derbyshire — Thank you and your colleagues very much for starting a secular blog with a conservative bent. I have tried many times (unsuccessfully) to convince friends and coworkers that having conservative political leanings does not necessarily mean being a theocon or an anti-science, know-nothing evangelical yahoo. I hope you can provide ammunition for my skirmishes. Maybe you can comment on Robert Ingersoll’s Thanksgiving “sermon.”

[Me]  Thank you, Sir, and thanks for introducing me to Ingersoll’s sermon, which I did not know about,  but … lots of evangelicals are very nice people, useful and productive citizens, and staunch supporters of conservative principles. Plenty of them know stuff, too: One of my regular evangelical correspondents is an accomplished engineer and an appreciator of my math books. We’re not here to tick evangelicals off, so I’m going to rule “yahoo” over the civility line, and censor further occurrences. Our motto will be something like:  “Believe what you like, but don’t impose.”

Reader E:

I think taking your secular stuff to a separate blog is a good idea. Those who feel a need to talk about this stuff now have a place they can commune, and your worst emailers (I think you’ve included me in that group … not sure) have no basis to complain if they choose to go to your blog. I imagine you’ll have more of the kind of exchanges you are looking for at your own blog, and likewise Corner readers won’t see posts that they find off-topic.

One rule though — no cross-posting! And no Corner posts telling Corner readers to run over to your blog for some must-see post. I think today’s general  announcement, however, is perfect.

[Me]  I shall cross-post to The Corner if someone here makes a good political point, or if a contributor here comes up with politically interesting data about the connections between religion and politics. I think most Corner readers will appreciate that and not mind its
having come from a heathen website.

Reader F:

 … but didn’t Russell Kirk say that you can’t be a conservative unless you believe in a transcendent reality?

[Me]  Did he? If he did, we obviously disagree with him. To be perfectly honest, I’ve always found Kirk unreadable.

This entry was posted in debate and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Corner Feedback

  1. Pingback: Secular Right » A broad church, god willing!

  2. Chris Johnson says:

    Mr. Derbyshire,
    I hope this new venture works out and understand the reasoning behind it. While you needn’t be the provocateur, I urge you to continue to stand up loudly for science over in The Corner when the issue arises, as it occasionally does.

  3. Gerry Shuller says:

    Bradlaugh: I’m going to rule “yahoo” over the civility line

    WARNING: lame search engine joke follows

    “Google” may be secular, but it’s relentlessly leftist, so it should also be banned.

  4. Greg Vince says:

    I give this blog my full support! It’s about time one came up!

  5. Robo says:

    Well, so far the Secular Right seems to be almost solely about religious belief. Am I lacking in subtlety or sophistication, because I did not expect that. Anybody want to discuss that wacky economy?

  6. Bob_R says:

    Bradlaugh- I don’t know what Kirk meant by the term “transcendent reality,” but one of the (several) standard definitions of the term is reality or truth that is inaccessible to human senses or intelligence. Doesn’t Godel’s theorem prove the existence of such things? More generally, does it make sense to believe that evolution has produced a single species capable of sensing and understanding all of reality? I put this to you since you recently endorsed Hilbert’s “Wir müssen wissen. Wir werden wissen.” in the Corner. As long as we take this as an enjoyable bit of hyperbole similar to a coach urging a team to “give 110 per cent,” fine. But it’s a bit thin as a serious statement.

  7. Bradlaugh says:

    To #5: Well, yes, I take Hilbert’s motto to be hortatory. It is possible there are things we CANNOT know. Our knowing equipment is, after all, only a
    one-eighth-inch thick rind on a forty-ounce lump of meat — "a food-seeking mechanism," as one British philosopher expressed it, "with no more ability to understand ultimate truth than is a pig’s snout." This is the Mysterian position, more or less.

    I don’t think any sane person believes that we can understand all reality. The point of Hilbert’s apothegm was, that given some specific problem about some specific aspect of reality, we ought to strive to solve it, and probably shall, sooner or later. There will always be the Unknown. Our hope should always be, to know more next year than last year. It is of course absurd to hope that we shall ever know EVERYTHING.

    The difference between the secular and religious approach is, that secularists look at the Unknown as a challenge to be tackled and chipped away at, while religious people take it as affirmation of their religious convictions, and have (it seems to me) no interest in exploring it.

    You have completely misapprehended Goedel’s theorem. He showed that any Principia-Mathematica-style program for reducing mathematics to formal logic will necessarile be incomplete. It will be capable of generating propositions which cannot be decided — proved or disproved — within the given system. By extending the system to a larger one, however, you will be able to prove those statements; but alas, there will now be new statements you cannot decide … and so on. Which is rather like what I just said about knowledge.

    There are many good popular explanations of Goedel’s Theorem, and the heuristic argument is not beyond the scope of anyone willing to give a few hours’ concentration to it. Martin Davis’s book The Universal Computer gives a good account, including, if memory serves, the heuristic argument.

Comments are closed.