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Amused Muse

Inspiring dissent and debate and the love of dissonance

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Master's Degree holder, telecommuting from the hot tub, proud Darwinian Dawkobot, and pirate librarian belly-dancer bohemian secret agent scribe on a mission to rescue bloggers from the wholesome clutches of the pious backstabbing girl fridays of the world.



Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Salman Rushdie: "Creation Myths are Rubbish"

UPDATED: This Chinese journalist took Rushdie's advice, pushed the boundaries, and called for an end to Chinese oppression. How does George "They Hate Our Freedom" Bush feel about that? He's pissed.

Salman Rushdie spoke at Northrop Auditorium at the University of Minnesota tonight.

Gems from Rushdie: "All creation myths are rubbish. The universe was not created in six days plus one day for rest... The cosmos was not created by the sparks caused by two udders rubbed together by cosmic cows..." I can't remember the rest. It was hilarious, and I applauded loudly, as did some others.

When asked the question, "Who gets to tell our stories, and who decides who gets to tell them?" Rushdie replied, "Well, you're talking about religion, aren't you? Religion is some people deciding to tell stories for the rest of us, to us."

When asked what spiritual practice he used in his writing, if any: "I have no spiritual practice. The word spirituality should be banned from the English language for at least 50 years... Talk about a word that has lost its meaning! You can't walk your dog without doing it in a 'spiritual 'manner, you can't cook without talking about spirituality!"

I needed to hear this, because working at my museum, at my job which I love, I am called upon to show tolerance for all creation myths, but I believe that I can do this without buying into those beliefs. And the truth is, I do not buy into these beliefs, not even Native American beliefs, or Buddhist or Taoist myths. I cannot. There has to be a fact of the matter.

As we walked from Northrop Auditorium and toward dinner, my boyfriend John, who adores Rushdie, said, "That was such a courageous thing to say!" about creation myths. I squeezed his arm and teased back, "Well, that's just what I was trying to tell you about Dawkins!" John had told me after we both saw "Root of All Evil?" that he found Dawkins to be "strident." Yet here was his hero (and mine), Salman Rushdie, saying the same thing and being the same wry, witty, and somewhat grumpy foil of religion as well.

Yes, strident. Rushdie's speech was a celebraton of crossing borders, both physical and political, of pushing the boundaries, of the writer (and presumably the scientist, the poet, the artist, and the dancer) of going "too far." Let's all be strident, then.

15 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

First there was nothing, which became dot, and then exploded into everything.

Why can't people just accept it? I mean, it makes perfect sense, and has been scientifically proven. Besides, dots come out of no-where all the time.

Can't wait till we learn how dots evolve into universes and galaxies though... probably take another fossil or two, then we'll have it...

April 21, 2006 12:17 AM  
Anonymous Rey said...

Yes, let's just retreat into our holy books instead. It's easy to have all the answers when you just make shit up.

April 21, 2006 2:04 AM  
Anonymous Christopher said...

"First there was nothing, which became dot, and then exploded into everything.

Why can't people just accept it? I mean, it makes perfect sense, and has been scientifically proven. Besides, dots come out of no-where all the time.

Can't wait till we learn how dots evolve into universes and galaxies though... probably take another fossil or two, then we'll have it..."

I'm not sure I see your point...

Yeah, there are a lot of holes. And?

There are a hell of a lot more holes in any religious creation account you can name.

April 21, 2006 3:05 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Don’t “just accept” anything! Critically think, based upon the evidence—but learn what critical thinking really is and what evidence is.

It is terribly hard for most people to live without creation myths at all, to not have a net of certainty thrown over everyting. Even the Big Bang has come under question, as to whether or not it arose from a singularity—if it did not, then it wasn’t the “beginning” of the cosmos, but a change from an undiscovered previous state into the present one. I tend to favor this view; I’ve even wondered (and this gets into my dabbling in quantum theory) that it’s possible that there are “multiple paths,” as it were, from whatever really happened at the Big Bang to its present expression, as if the universe itself were behaving like an electron being measured—exhibiting characteristics of both particle and wave. I think the “dot at the beginning” idea could have led us down the primrose path to a wrong answer.

April 21, 2006 10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what about people of belief? there are smart people out there who believe. Rushdie, whom i love, shouldn't get points for rudeness, which he can be.

April 21, 2006 11:51 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Believe in what? If in God, well, both Rushdie and I are too busy to personally go around slapping people's hands, so he makes a speech and I write a blog. It's going to offend someone. Actually, these comments came at the end of his talk, which more consisted of stories of transgression (of physical and political borders), so you may want to direct your question to him. Though I can give you a clue as to his probable response: people don't have a right never to be offended. As for me, I've tried to remove "I'm offended" from my vocabulary in favor of "This is why I disagree."

April 21, 2006 6:37 PM  
Blogger Robin Hoode said...

> what about people of belief?

Belief is a means to an end, it is not an end onto itself.

-Rob

April 22, 2006 10:17 PM  
Anonymous Dayv said...

Rushdie, whom i love, shouldn't get points for rudeness, which he can be.

Sometimes, it can be more effective to say a thing bluntly and rudely.  Sometimes, that's the best way to break through someone's defenses and preconceptions and make them really think about an issue.

And sometimes it just feels good.

April 23, 2006 12:56 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

The only thing that offends me is people who think they're somehow immune from having their ideologies questioned. :)

I have a stack of Rushdie novels for summer reading. I got hooked on him a few years ago when I picked up a copy of The Satanic Verses on a whim. The guy is an absolutely brilliant writer.

Kristine, if you haven't already, you might want to check out Step Across This Line, a collection of his essays and columns from 1992-2002. Good stuff.

April 24, 2006 2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I’ve even wondered (and this gets into my dabbling in quantum theory) that it’s possible that there are “multiple paths,” as it were, from whatever really happened at the Big Bang to its present expression, as if the universe itself were behaving like an electron being measured—exhibiting characteristics of both particle and wave."

And this is better than the story of the cosmos being created by the sparks caused by two cosmic cow udders rubbing together, how ... exactly?

Both dreamed up out of whole cloth. You just like the emanations of your own mind better.

April 25, 2006 7:34 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

But I'm willing to change my mind, Anon. It's an idea, not a dogma.

Whaddaya want from me, anyway? What are you still doing here, harping on the same issue all the time? You had better post a real name if you’re going to make me hold your hand like this.

It’s a nice day outside—or at least, it was. Go outside and play.

April 25, 2006 9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kristine,

You come off as being superior to others and smarter than others because you say you don't believe in God. Apparently you are attracted to Dawkins same smug arrogance. Kristine, you aren't smarter or superior, you are just like everyone else. You believe all kinds of stupid stuff too.

April 25, 2006 10:52 AM  
Blogger The Science Pundit said...

"You come off as being superior to others and smarter than others because you say you don't believe in God. Apparently you are attracted to Dawkins same smug arrogance."

Wait a minute! Are you saying that Richard Dawkins and Kristine are kindred spirits?? :-D

April 25, 2006 1:38 PM  
Blogger Doctor Marco said...

I always admired this guy. He is really courageous.

April 25, 2006 8:00 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Say it, Anonymous! Say it! Awww, no one ever says it.

No one ever calls me "Dawkins' Rottweiler!"

April 25, 2006 9:52 PM  

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