Sun, Jun 24, 2018 - Page 6 News List


Uninformed criticism

It is important that the Taipei Times — like other international newspapers — publishes conflicting opinions about controversial topics. Readers, but also contributors, might learn from such debates.

However, that is not the case with [Nick Kent’s] letter (June 12, page 6) critically commenting on my op-ed of May 30 (“Missionary positions in Taiwan,” page 8).

In this letter, Mr Kent made several claims; they are either uninformed or wrong.

First, Kent characterizes Nietzsche as a nihilist. He is wrong. Instead, Nietzsche was a diagnostician of nihilism, his whole philosophy being an attack against it.

Kent also thinks I am criticizing Christianity as a Nietzschean disciple who has found the meaning of life in studying his master’s philosophy.

Well, I am grateful to learn more about my life from Kent, and I hope he continues to enlighten me in the future with further precious insights about myself.

Third, Kent thinks that spiritual education (“meaning of life”) should also be considered within academic teaching. Apparently, Kent confuses academic training with solving private problems.

Kent also thinks that I, in a nutshell, think that “children around the world die of hunger, therefore God is dead.”

However, what I said is that believers in an almighty and all-benevolent god must explain the death of several million children each year. That is very different. Besides: Where is the answer?

Next, Kent accuses me of hypocrisy when distinguishing between making people think and making people think like you — which is apparently what I want when making public statements.

Kent confuses teaching (going after ideas and facts) with soul-fishing (going after people). Most teachers, I am sure, understand what I am talking about.

The last point deserves some elaboration: Kent mentions the many positive contributions that missionaries have made in Taiwan.

True, missionaries have done some good things in Taiwan — which, by the way, does not mean they could not have done harmful things at the same time. Who denies this? But why not help others just for the sake of helping others? You do not need the Bible and Jesus if you want to do good. Just do it.

You diminish the moral value of an action if you expect personal gains in return or if you follow commandments given by others.

This moral attitude — expecting, for instance, to be rewarded with eternal life, or pleasing granddad — is a tit-for-tat strategy, its technical name being reciprocal altruism, shared, among others, by vampire bats, prisoners facing dilemmas and missionaries.

I think we can do better.

One more thing. Missionaries devote their life to converting non-Christians; obviously, they do not respect the way they are. They want to change them wherever they are, manipulate their lives until their prey thinks, acts and prays like them. This utter disrespect for people who are different is really not nice.

Being on the nerves of so many who do not wish to be talked to; a permanent readiness to brainwash others who do not think like them in crucial aspects; betting one’s life on fictional stories without any evidence; and, on top of it, taking money for all that — these are, in my view, ingredients of a failed life.

Herbert Hanreich


Stereotypes about gay men

In a response to protect human rights, the policy is to be amended to allow gay men to donate blood (“Minister defends allowing gay men to donate blood,” June 14, page 3).

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