babble home
rabble.ca - news for the rest of us
today's active topics

Topic Closed  Topic Closed


Post New Topic  
Topic Closed  Topic Closed
FAQ | Forum Home
  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» babble   » rabble content   » babble book lounge   » The End of Faith by Sam Harris, continued

Email this thread to someone!    
Author Topic: The End of Faith by Sam Harris, continued
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 06 August 2007 05:54 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I know the other thread got ugly, but I'm reading the book now and I wanted to pick up the discussion from this post of Stargazer's, which happened before the other thread turned into a mess, so I'm hoping I won't be dragging us into another screaming match.

Here's what Stargazer thought of the book:

quote:
I addressed Sam Harris in another thread here not too long ago. I read his book, The End of Faith and let me tell you, the man may be an atheist but he sure does give Bush and the US excuses while sermonizing Islam above all religions. I was frankly surprised to see him and Dawkins team up together, as Dawkins in much more balanced. Sam Harris quoted pages upon pages from the Koran, showing it's murderous ways to heathens and Christians, but did not do the same thing with Christianity. In fact, he says that Islam is by far the most dangerous religion - based upon his cherry picked quotes and his non admission of any from the Christian bibles. I'm a lefty and I was not impressed by his book at all.

I'm about half-way through the book, and this is the impression I'm getting, too. My first impressions were mixed, but I'm finding myself getting annoyed. He does focus on other religions as well, but he seems to be claiming that while all religions HAVE BEEN dangerous, Islam is the most dangerous one right now. He talks about the danger of fundamentalist Christianity as if it somehow stopped being dangerous when the Inquisition ended, or once the Holocaust was over.

There have been tons of places in the book where I've wanted to rebut his arguments. It's true, there aren't Christian nations where people are stoned to death for adultery and stuff like that. But he talks about Islamists doing suicide bombing of civilians for religious reasons because of their religion as somehow different than Americans doing aerial bombing of civilians for religious and ideological reasons.

He cites that poll of Muslims where they were asked whether suicide bombings against civilians are ever justified.

But strangely enough, no one has done a poll of Americans and Canadians, asking them whether the mass killing of civilians in Dresden, Germany during the second world war, or the bombs on Hiroshima or Nagasaki which was a mass killing of civilians, was justified. I'll bet you'd get some similar numbers. And all those wars were sold to the people as not just secular wars, but also wars where God was on our side.

Another thing that really annoyed me is that he justifies nuclear first strikes in the book. His claim appears to be that because Muslims are so delusional that they would be willing to nuke the entire world and would not be deterred by mutually assured destruction, that a first strike against them would be justified.

This is not a book that is against religion. This is a book that centres out Islam and gives the PRESENT Christian and other religious fundies a free pass. I agree with him that fundamentalist Muslims are dangerous. I don't agree with him that they're any more dangerous than fundies from any other religion.

[ 06 August 2007: Message edited by: Michelle ]


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
N.Beltov
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4140

posted 06 August 2007 06:23 AM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Michelle, the critique you make of Harris is similar to the critique I would make of Dawkins. Based on interviews and programs with Dawkins that I've seen or read, he seems to make generalizations about religion based on three monotheistic religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. I find myself agreeing with most of his observations and yet disagreeing with (some of) his conclusions.

Then again, it's very difficult to make all religions the subject of a study. I would recommend having a look at Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell when you're finished with the Harris book.


From: Vancouver Island | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
Stargazer
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6061

posted 06 August 2007 08:00 AM      Profile for Stargazer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
This is not a book that is against religion. This is a book that centres out Islam and gives the PRESENT Christian and other religious fundies a free pass. I agree with him that fundamentalist Muslims are dangerous. I don't agree with him that they're any more dangerous than fundies from any other religion.


Exactly Michelle. I felt guilty afterwards for actually spending money to read this book. It is not against religion. This guy has an entire anti-Islam angle, and he tries to sell himself as an intellectual. What a waste of money.


From: Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist. | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged
unionist
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 11323

posted 06 August 2007 08:07 AM      Profile for unionist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Agree with Stargazer - but I borrowed the book from a friend, so I didn't feel guilty about not finishing it.
From: Vote QS! | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 8312

posted 06 August 2007 08:10 AM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I haven't read his book, but from what I have read it seems he comes from the same perspective of Christopher Hitchen's who seems to be buy into the entire "war of civilizations" scenario which is really a call for war against the largest part of the planet. And I think underneath that, if entirely unstated, is the realization that that we are reaching a point of unprecedented scarcity and we, the Western world, have a greater entitlement to what remains of the rest of the planet than anyone else including those who live where the wealth is located.
From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
TemporalHominid
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6535

posted 06 August 2007 08:56 AM      Profile for TemporalHominid   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post
I agree with all the above criticims.
While Hitchens, and to some extent Harris, do promote neo-con ideas and a western sense of entitlement, they are broaching a topic that needs to be discussed.
Hitchens and Harris promote a new imperialism and do not see that economic hardship and inequity help create an environment that aids in the recruiting for extreme Islam. The books are limited by a lack of investigation into context, but I don't think was the goal of these authors. It does illustrate that the authors may be naive or have an agenda, and Hitchens and Dawkins will be honest about their agendas.

Having said that,
the Pope-directed Inquisitions and the contemporary consequences have been discussed a lot, and I don't think these authors had to revisit the Inquisition themes.

The inquisition would be a safe topic, but criticising Christianity, Judaism, and Islam is not politically correct. Few people want to publicly talk about and criticise the irrational Monotheistic religions for fear of being labelled intolerant, racist, and bigots.

I think the best points they bring up is that these hate filled religions, that bolster their bigotry and hate through the Talmud, Torah, Koran, and Bibles; have access and influence to governments around the world. In the west they are often tax exempt. In the United States, the Bush admin (which invokes god when it talks about Iraq and the war on terrorism) has given these faith based interest groups access to public institutions via the Faith Based Inistiatives.

Bill Maher, George Carlin, Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, etc are uncomfortable with these relationships faith communities have with governments and how these interest groups have shouted and threatened to shut up dissent. These groups can shout out "Kill fags", but if Hitchens or Maher say "fuck religion" society is more uncomfortable with Hitchens and Maher than with the religious leaders that shout hate and intolerance from a pulpit.

Mainstream versions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are culpable, as are secularists who give the interest groups a platform to spew their hate. The authority of the bible and the religious leaders have to be challenged, just as we challenge the authority of politicians and secular institutions.

I don't agree with everything Hitchens and Harris state or their biased world outlook, but I do think they are needed to start a discussion about the secular and the faith based and how secular institutions are being influenced and often held hostage by the big 3 monotheistic religions. Nations like Israel, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Canada, England, France, and United States are threatened by a pro-ative religious minority that have a lot of political savvy and are positioning themselves, or all ready have, to determine foreign policy an social agendas.

After the environment, the next biggest challenge


From: Under a bridge, in Foot Muck | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Michael Nenonen
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6680

posted 06 August 2007 09:28 AM      Profile for Michael Nenonen   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I've posted this before, but it merits posting again. The evangelical atheism that Harris and Hitchens are purveying has the underlying structure of a fundamentalist religiosity predicated on the demonization of the "irrational" or "mystical" Other. Incidentally, this religiosity seems to be rather popular these days--check out the neo-Fascist movie "300" for an example of this trend in popular entertainment.

Here, once again, is Chris Hedges' review of Christopher Hitchens “God is NOT Great”. Hedges makes the point better than I can.

http://www.newstatesman.com/200706040045

Here’s an excerpt:

“This is the greatest failing of Hitchens's book. He, like Harris, externalises evil. And when such writers externalise evil, all tools, including violence and torture, become legitimate in order to eradicate an evil outside of them. This world-view - one also adopted by the Christian right - is dangerous. It fails to acknowledge the impulses within us, both dark and seductive, that permit us to carry out evil, often in the name of good.

“This externalisation of evil is what allows Hitchens to continue as an ardent supporter of the occupation of Iraq. He, of course, deludes himself into believing that it is reason that requires us to waterboard Muslim detainees in the physical and moral black holes that we have set up to make them disappear. It is reason that gives us the moral right to wage a war that under international law is illegal, indeed a 'crime of aggression'.

“His assault on what he defines as the irrational force of religion permits Hitchens to sanction the abuse and subjugation of others. This is done in the name of his particular version of goodness, which he calls, repeatedly, 'reason'. But this, too, is a false god: more particularly, the god of death. For once you wage unprovoked wars and embrace torture, for whatever reason, you unleash sadists and killers. You become no better than those you oppose. And as an apologist for the war in Iraq, Hitchens not only has the blood of American and British soldiers on his hands, but the blood of a few hundred thousand Iraqis, too. He is no better than the apologists for radical Islam he so ardently seeks to discredit. His moral certitude is no different and the consequences are as dangerous.

“Hitchens's arguments are the mirror image of those used by the fundamentalists he despises. He embraces a self-serving and simplistic view of the world. This allows him to create the illusion of a dualistic world of us and them, of reason versus irrationality. And once this vision has been adopted, as the events of the past six years prove, it is possible to view military intervention, occupation and even torture - anything that will subdue the 'irrational' or 'dangerous' - as necessary."


From: Vancouver | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 06 August 2007 10:01 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Stargazer:
Exactly Michelle. I felt guilty afterwards for actually spending money to read this book. It is not against religion. This guy has an entire anti-Islam angle, and he tries to sell himself as an intellectual. What a waste of money.

Well, I didn't spend money. I borrowed it from the library.

I guess my first clue, once I got the book home, should have been the glowing review on the back of the book by Alan Dershowitz.

I would have been fine with his skewering of Islam had he given equal time to other religions and recognized the imperialism of fundamentalist Christians (who, after all, are armed to the teeth in the world's biggest superpower) and other religions.

I was even fine with his thesis that "moderate" Christians and Muslims are responsible for creating a climate where religion is this big taboo subject which can never be challenged by non-believers on a rational level, otherwise you get the whole "oh, you're persecuting me and you should never ever question any of my beliefs even though I don't have one shred of real evidence for believing it" hissy fit, which in turn makes it difficult to expose extremists because they can then accuse you of "religious intolerance" when you expose the stupidity behind, say, killing people over cartoons that skewer religious ideas, or trying to get stupid bible bullshit taught in school as science and history. I get the argument, and to some degree I agree with it.

But that's not what I'm getting from his book so far. What I'm getting from his book is that he's justifying "war against Islam" and "clash of civilizations" crap, painting Americans as the good guys and the Muslim world as the bad guys. He even says that "The War On Terror" is inaccurate and we should be recognizing that it is a War on Islam. Well, I agree with him on that. Where I don't agree with him is that he thinks a war on Islam is justified. I don't. And where I also don't agree with him is that he refuses to recognize that this war on Islam is being perpetrated by fundamentalist Christians primarily, as a latter day crusade. He is trying to paint it as a war between secular forces and the forces of Islam. Nuh-uh.

He's blind to the religious extremism on "our side" and that completely undercuts what might have been a good argument against all religion.

[ 06 August 2007: Message edited by: Michelle ]


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Sven
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9972

posted 06 August 2007 10:44 AM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
My first impressions were mixed, but I'm finding myself getting annoyed. He does focus on other religions as well, but he seems to be claiming that while all religions HAVE BEEN dangerous, Islam is the most dangerous one right now.

I'm not sure there are many Christian regimes today like this Islamic regime.


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
remind
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6289

posted 06 August 2007 11:02 AM      Profile for remind     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
this war on Islam is being perpetrated by fundamentalist Christians primarily, as a latter day crusade. He is trying to paint it as a war between secular forces and the forces of Islam. Nuh-uh.

He's blind to the religious extremism on "our side" and that completely undercuts what might have been a good argument against all religion.


Actually, I used to think it was just extreme fundamentalist Christians that were driving the war against Islam. However, really that is not the case. And you actually touched on it in your "Nuh uh", about his trying to portray it as secular forces.

It is actually the "secular humanists" that are against wars, and the "passive" Christians and extremists who are supportive of the war, either overtly, covertly, or unconsciously.

By passive, I mean those who ascribe to believing in God/Jesus, and who are not active against wars and eroding of human rights. They are those o participate in church going activities, or label themselves as "Christians" and only go to church for special occasions, but they are not involved in the extreme nature of the evangelical and Opus Dei types.

However, by their passivity, they are quietly supporting the evangelicals/Opus Dei types. They want the status quo to remain the same, as they understand they live in a position privilege and if a war against Islam, or whomever, will assure things stay the same it is fine with them.


From: "watching the tide roll away" | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 06 August 2007 11:49 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Well, I wouldn't generalize like that. There are lots of "moderate Christians" who are against the war. I would have been one of them had I not lost my religious beliefs a while before The War Against Terror began.

All Christians and all Muslims do not think the same way. Neither are monolithic religions. I think it's far too easy, especially for an extremely disillusioned ex-Christian like me, to fall into the same trap that Harris has fallen into regarding Muslims, pigeonholing everyone who is a Christian with the same beliefs and politics. It's just not true.

Lots of Christians, nominal, religious and otherwise, are against war and are active about it. Lots of religious people recognize the Us Vs. Them rhetoric, and the religious war aspect to current world politics.

I would just argue, however, that by trying to make preposterous and unprovable religious beliefs and dogma exempt from inquiry and criticism by labeling people bigots when they attempt to do so, religious moderates give extremists a place to hide, even if they don't mean to.

One thing Harris says, and I think he has a point, is that the more "perfect" a person's faith is in their religious beliefs, most of which come out of books full of barbarity, religious extremism and calls to murder and martyrdom, the more likely they'll be to hold an extremist and violent outlook. And that the less "perfect" a person's religious beliefs are, or the less observant they are to strict adherence to religion, or the less CONSISTENTLY they adhere to their religion's dictates, the less they will be inclined towards religious violence. In other words, the more a religious person tempers their religious beliefs with doubt and reason, the less likely they're going to be to think that killing and dying in the name of God is a good idea. Makes sense to me.

I can see where he's coming from there. I just don't understand why he can't see the extremism on our side, with some idiot fundy flake running the White House, and convincing way too many Americans that they're killing Muslims in the name of God, and that God supports the war. Heck, God even gave Bush the presidency. Can't argue with that.

[ 06 August 2007: Message edited by: Michelle ]


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 8312

posted 06 August 2007 01:55 PM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
I'm not sure there are many Christian regimes today like this Islamic regime.

Perhaps, not, but given the opportunity it is exactly the type of regime some Christian fundamentalists would like to establish. And they have power.

And, BTW, the Shah's regime, trained by the US and Britain, would have made the current Iranis look like pikers when it comes to repression and terror.

quote:
the CIA sent an operative to teach interrogation methods to SAVAK, the Shah's secret police, that the training included instructions in torture, and the techniques were copied from the Nazis

ZNet

In his book, The Great War for Civilization, Fisk describes how a Savak agent had, in the basement of his home, a device into which a victim's hand would be placed and fed into a bacon slicer. There was a bed under which was placed domestic cookers. The victims would be lowered over them.

This house of horrors, according to Fisk, was discovered and photographed by Derek Ive of AP.

Let's not pretend that Iran as an Islamic state has some sort of corner on barbarity.


From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Sven
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9972

posted 06 August 2007 02:00 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Frustrated Mess:
Perhaps, not, but given the opportunity it is exactly the type of regime some Christian fundamentalists would like to establish. And they have power.

If that is what they want and "they have power" to accomplish it now, why haven't they?


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 8312

posted 06 August 2007 03:18 PM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I didn't say the have the power, if you read it again. I said they have power. They have political power in terms of voters they can pull out giving them leverage (in case you haven't noted both Bush and Harper cater to them), and they have financial power. They are seeking to have the power. And throughout history, religious dogma has only ever found universal application of political rule through a single means.
From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
remind
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6289

posted 06 August 2007 06:20 PM      Profile for remind     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
Well, I wouldn't generalize like that. There are lots of "moderate Christians" who are against the war. I would have been one of them had I not lost my religious beliefs a while before The War Against Terror began.

Actually, I did not generalize, I specifically excluded those "Christians" who were/are active against wars and who want to uphold, and extend human rights.

Which leaves those who passively accept war and who want to keep things the "same", and the extremists. They are not willing to halt the extremists in their pushing for wars, and erosion of rights, as truthfully they want to keep their privileged lifes.


From: "watching the tide roll away" | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged
jester
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 11798

posted 06 August 2007 06:51 PM      Profile for jester        Edit/Delete Post
I listened to the CBC interview with Mr. Harris a couple of weeks ago. To me, he basically reconfirmed that there is a significant minority in the US who consider war against anyone who doesn't subscribe to the "American way" logical and necessary.

It may appear incongruous,coming from a neocon warmongering (insert personal pejorative here and spit on floor) but after reading a few books and numerous articles,I can't mock the conspiracy theorists with any sort of relish.


From: Against stupidity, the Gods themselves contend in vain | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged
Sven
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9972

posted 07 August 2007 12:22 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
He does focus on other religions as well, but he seems to be claiming that while all religions HAVE BEEN dangerous, Islam is the most dangerous one right now.

Radical Islam probably is the most dangerous religion being practiced right now.

Your Black Muslim Bakery


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 07 August 2007 12:24 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Really? I think the tens of thousands of people getting killed by bombs sent with love from the Christian fundamentalist whackjobs running your government would beg to differ, Sven.
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Sven
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9972

posted 07 August 2007 12:41 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Why are we so scared of offending Muslims?
From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 07 August 2007 12:44 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Is that the way you debate, Sven? You say something, someone responds, and then you change the subject?

I'll consider that a concession to my point.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Sven
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9972

posted 07 August 2007 12:52 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
Is that the way you debate, Sven? You say something, someone responds, and then you change the subject?

I'll consider that a concession to my point.


When Hillary Clinton is president, you’ll see more of the same foreign policy, I’m quite certain of that. But, in that case, in stark contrast to GWB, you won’t be able to label her as an extremist Christian fundamentalist.

The point is, it’s not extremist Christian fundamentalism that’s driving USA foreign policy, as much as many here may wish to believe in the interest of ensuring that criticism of Islamists and Christian fundamentalists is meted out with the utmost sense of neutrality and even-handedness.


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Sven
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9972

posted 07 August 2007 12:53 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Rage Boy...and why you should be concerned about Islamists.
From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Sven
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9972

posted 07 August 2007 12:56 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
With all of this discussion of the Harris book, I’m going to have to move it closer to the top of my reading pile. It’s been languishing near the bottom for some months now...
From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 07 August 2007 01:04 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I am concerned about Islamists. All those examples Hitchens comes up with in that other article of Islamic extremism are very scary.

Now. Here's why you should be concerned about Theo-cons.

Get back to me once you've read the whole thing.

[ 07 August 2007: Message edited by: Michelle ]


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Sven
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9972

posted 07 August 2007 01:33 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Michelle, I agree with you that there are legitimate reasons for concern about the Theo-Cons, as you call them (never seen that term before!). Particularly, from my perspective, as they relate to things like abortion rights, school prayer, “intelligent design”, SMS, and the like.

But, look at the means by which Western Theo-Cons advocate change. They are generally peaceful and are trying to effectuate change through the legislative process. I may disagree with their objectives (and strongly) but I support their right advocate their positions in such a manner.

In contrast, you have a country like Iran that is run by Islamist “Theo-Cons”. Need I detail the hideous conduct they routinely engage in?

So, while criticism of extremist adherents of both religions may be warranted, the Islamic extremists deserve a much higher degree of criticism. To me, it makes no sense to lump them all (extreme Xians and Muslims) together as though they were equally evil in their actual conduct (they are not) or to make sure that they are both treated “fairly” by criticizing them equally (nothing justifies that).


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
TemporalHominid
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6535

posted 07 August 2007 01:42 PM      Profile for TemporalHominid   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Sven:

... it’s not extremist Christian fundamentalism that’s driving USA foreign policy.



Are you sure?
Bush (who invokes god at almost every opportunity) and the neo cons' moral absolutism (good vs evil) and faith based decision making is driving USA and domestic policies, as well as Cheney's dream of reinstating the glory and power of the Executive office pre-Watergate.

The neo-cons see the world as their military, political, moral and social battleground.

quote:
To me, it makes no sense to lump them all (extreme Xians and Muslims) together as though they were equally evil in their actual conduct (they are not) or to make sure that they are both treated “fairly” by criticizing them equally (nothing justifies that).[/QB]

the neo-cons and their moral absolutism is very simliar to Radical Islam.

Fortunately 74% of Americans see this now, it took 6 years for them to see what Bush and the neo-cons were, and they now doubt governance and leadership via moral absolutism.
Bush and his admin interfered in State jurisdiction re: abortion, gay rights, individual choices over their own death... imposing their moral absolutism on the individual states and on citizens.

[ 07 August 2007: Message edited by: TemporalHominid ]


From: Under a bridge, in Foot Muck | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
N.Beltov
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4140

posted 07 August 2007 01:45 PM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Hey, Sven. The US and its Canadian military ally has access to nuclear weapons and has actually used them against civilians a couple of times already. Furthermore, the history of threatening to use these weapons by the US is well known. Moreover, the number of countries bombed, invaded, occupied, overthrown, etc. by the US is far too many to count.

Iran, on the other hand, has been involved in one major war in the last number of years; in case you "forgot" that was the war against the then US-proxy (and buddy!) of Saad'am Hussein's Iraq.

Give your head a shake. The biggest threat to peace on planet earth is the USA. And our current Prime Minister can't stuff his head up the ass of the US President far enough. Iran and the USA are different orders of magnitude here.


From: Vancouver Island | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
Sven
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9972

posted 07 August 2007 01:49 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by TemporalHominid:

Are you sure?
Bush (who invokes god at almost every opportunity) and the neo cons' moral absolutism (good vs evil) and faith based decision making is driving USA and domestic policies, as well as Cheney's dream of reinstating the glory and power of the Executive office pre-Watergate.

The neo-cons see the world as their military, political, moral and social battleground.


It’s common to waive a red flag about GWB and his Xian beliefs as being the cause of USA foreign policy. But, that’s mistaken. As I said above, when Hillary Clinton becomes president in 2009, the USA foreign policy is going to change very little. To claim that Hillary is part of the Christian right would be ludicrous.

The place where Hillary will be significantly different that GWB will be in domestic areas, such as abortion rights. And, as I also said above, the difference between how the Theo-Cons push their social domestic issues couldn’t be more different than how the “Theo-Cons” of Iran push their social domestic issues.


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
N.Beltov
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4140

posted 07 August 2007 01:51 PM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Excellent link, Michelle. Is that the same author who wrote about the Straussians in Canada?
From: Vancouver Island | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
Sven
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9972

posted 07 August 2007 01:53 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by N.Beltov:
Hey, Sven. The US and its Canadian military ally has access to nuclear weapons and has actually used them against civilians a couple of times already.

Again, this has zero to do with religion. We bombed the bejezuz out of Dresden, too (and fellow Christians, no less). The point being discussed here is whether Islamists and extremist Christians should be criticized as being equally dangerous.

quote:
Originally posted by N.Beltov:
Furthermore, the history of threatening to use these weapons by the US is well known. Moreover, the number of countries bombed, invaded, occupied, overthrown, etc. by the US is far too many to count.

Ditto.

quote:
Originally posted by N.Beltov:
Give your head a shake. The biggest threat to peace on planet earth is the USA. And our current Prime Minister can't stuff his head up the ass of the US President far enough. Iran and the USA are different orders of magnitude here.

If you want to criticize American foreign policy, you’re obviously welcome to do that. But, to keep tying that policy back to Christian extremism is silly. You’ll see that when Hillary is president starting in 2009.


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Sven
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9972

posted 07 August 2007 01:54 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by TemporalHominid:
the neo-cons and their moral absolutism is very simliar to Radical Islam

In theory, yes. In practice, no.


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 07 August 2007 02:18 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
In practice, yes. George Bush sells this war as a Holy War. God is on his side and everyone else's.

And you know what? Hilary's a religious Christian too, and if she gets elected and panders to the religious fundies in the US who want to kill as many Muslims overseas as possible because of their Holy War against Islam, then yes, that will make her a theo-con too. Because even if you don't believe it yourself, if you're pandering to the theo-cons who do believe it, and you're invoking God at the end of your speeches (God Bless America!) then you're just as bad as they are, and you're using religion as an excuse to murder people.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Sven
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9972

posted 07 August 2007 02:24 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
In practice, yes. George Bush sells this war as a Holy War. God is on his side and everyone else's.

And you know what? Hilary's a religious Christian too, and if she gets elected and panders to the religious fundies in the US who want to kill as many Muslims overseas as possible because of their Holy War against Islam, then yes, that will make her a theo-con too. Because even if you don't believe it yourself, if you're pandering to the theo-cons who do believe it, and you're invoking God at the end of your speeches (God Bless America!) then you're just as bad as they are, and you're using religion as an excuse to murder people.


Michelle, you can't be serious. You believe that Hillary Clinton's foreign policy views are motivated by Christian fundamentlist views that she holds??


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
jester
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 11798

posted 07 August 2007 02:24 PM      Profile for jester        Edit/Delete Post
Anyone here read Charlie Wilson's War by George Crile? Very compelling account of how the Afghans were supported by anti-Communists in the US.

I have not yet read his book but from the CBC interview I heard,Sam Harris raises some scary issues that to me point toward a new Reich arising that the next US president will not be able to rein in.

The present US administration skirts US law to detain,torture,illegally wire-tap its own citizens as well as anyone else they choose to.

This administration also uses its own praetorian guard in the form of Blackwater to provide private military services to the administration. While the US military is prohibited from acting on US soil, Blackwater mercenaries are simply deputised as peace officers (eg: Hurricane Katrina) Since 2004, Blackwater has recieved $750M from providing diplomatic security in Iraq alone,not to mention commanding US Marines to open fire in Najaf.

So,here we have a US administration that goes outside the law with its own law enforcement agencies AND has private mercenaries at hand in case the legitimate authorities baulk at doing its bidding.

Whos the scary one here? The nutter hiding in a batcave in Asia or the stooge in the White House, having his strings pulled by Cheny?


From: Against stupidity, the Gods themselves contend in vain | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 07 August 2007 02:32 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Sven:
Michelle, you can't be serious. You believe that Hillary Clinton's foreign policy views are motivated by Christian fundamentlist views that she holds??

Why don't you try reading my posts instead of twisting what I write?

I'm through discussing this with you.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Sven
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9972

posted 07 August 2007 02:35 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Next thing ya know, people will be calling Christopher Hitchens a "Christian fundamentalist" because of his scathing critique of Islamists.
From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Sven
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9972

posted 07 August 2007 02:43 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
Why don't you try reading my posts instead of twisting what I write?

I did. Here’s what you wrote:

quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
Hilary's a religious Christian too, and if she gets elected and panders to the religious fundies in the US who want to kill as many Muslims overseas as possible because of their Holy War against Islam, then yes, that will make her a theo-con too. Because even if you don't believe it yourself, if you're pandering to the theo-cons who do believe it, and you're invoking God at the end of your speeches (God Bless America!) then you're just as bad as they are, and you're using religion as an excuse to murder people.

Just because her foreign policy views happen to coincide with those of Christian fundies (and she may pander to that politically), that doesn’t mean she’s motivated by Christian fundamentalism to adopt those foreign policy views. Don’t you see that distinction?

In other words, many appear to be arguing here that USA foreign policy is what it is because of Christian fundamentalist views, thus warranting an equal criticism of Islamists (who execute gays because they are gay) and Christian fundamentalists (who bomb civilians). But, when a non-Christian fundamentalist happens to hold the same foreign policy views as Christian fundamentalists, that severs the direct link between Christian fundamentalism, on the one hand, and the bombing of civilians, on the other hand, which appears to be the whole justification for equating Christian fundamentalists with Islamists.


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Sven
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9972

posted 07 August 2007 02:54 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
To claim that the USA is bombing a country because of Christian fundamentalists (thus justifying equating them with Islamists) is to not understand American foreign policy motivations.

What Christian fundamentalist regime in the world does the following:

Kills women for having sex out of wedlock?

Kills gays for being gay?

Executes “anti-Christian hooligans”?

“Disappears” trade unionists, student activists, and journalists who oppose the Christian regime?

Shuts down newspapers because the editor argued for gender equality?

Well?

Now, look at an Islamic regime such as Iran and you can find those things in spades. And, they do those things because they are Islamists. Those leaders are motivated to do those things because they are Islamists.

Yet, people argue that extreme Christians, in practice, are just as evil as extreme Muslims, in practice?

That would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious.


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Sven
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9972

posted 07 August 2007 03:06 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Domestic Terror in Iran
From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Jingles
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 3322

posted 07 August 2007 03:42 PM      Profile for Jingles     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Yer right, sven. We gotta nuke them Iranians now, before they get too uppity.
From: At the Delta of the Alpha and the Omega | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
Sven
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9972

posted 07 August 2007 03:50 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Jingles:
Yer right, sven. We gotta nuke them Iranians now, before they get too uppity.

Very thoughtful counter-argument. Not.


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 07 August 2007 04:00 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I think it's too bad that Sam Harris doesn't recognize that killing tens of thousands of people in aggressive, unprovoked wars is just as immoral as killing them through insane religious domestic policies.

Without the US and other western countries propping up "evil" dictators and meddling in the affairs of countries like Afghanistan and Iran, and installing puppet regime dictators, the people of those countries just might have a fighting chance at getting rid of those dictators.

The reason the US keeps meddling, though, is because they have this weird religious belief that they are superior to all the other nations on earth, and they have the right to everyone else's resources, and that their god is far superior to everyone else's god, whether they're worshipping god or money. So, they cynically prop up religious dictators who will oppress their people and hand over the country's commodities in exchange for US financial and military support, and then when the religious dictators no longer jump through US hoops, the US claims that they have to fight a holy war against them in order to depose the "evil-doers" in a "clash of civilizations". Oh, and murder tens of thousands of civilians along the way, but that's okay, because at least they're not stoning them to death. They're bombing them to death instead.

The US doesn't give two fucks about the rights of Muslims being violated by the dictators they spend so much money propping up. They only care when it's a way to sell their oil wars to the idiots who are too busy stuffing their faces with doritoes and washing it down with big gulps while watching American Idol and COPS, and listening to every fucking Republican and Democratic candidate in every fucking election talk about how they talk to God regularly while they drape themselves in the flag.

But no, none of that is dangerous. Certainly that doesn't pose as great a danger to the world as a bunch of backwards idiot mullahs stoning people to death and forcing women into hijabs. Because hey, that's a-okay if you're an American ally like Saudi Arabia. Or if you're selling weapons to the Iranians. Or arming religious nutcases like Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. Then it's okay for people like that to murder their people out of a desire to get back to the good old days of the 8th century. Because they may be murderous religious assholes, but they're YOUR murderous religious assholes, murdering their people with YOUR weapons and YOUR tax dollars with the approval of YOUR politicians. But that suddenly becomes the most dangerous thing in the world when those dictators stop sucking American ass while doing it.

[ 07 August 2007: Message edited by: Michelle ]


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Sven
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9972

posted 07 August 2007 04:47 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
I think it's too bad that Sam Harris doesn't recognize that killing tens of thousands of people in aggressive, unprovoked wars is just as immoral as killing them through insane religious domestic policies.

Who said it isn’t?

But, isn’t the question here: Is radical Islam more or less dangerous, or just as dangerous, as radical Christianity?

Your whole argument of equating radical Islam with radical Christianity rests on the premise that American foreign policy is dictated by Christian fundamentalists (I think your logic goes something like this: Christians are just as bad as the Neanderthals running Iran because Christian fundamentalists dictate American foreign policy and American foreign policy is evil). And, here’s your premise in your own words:

quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
The reason the US keeps meddling, though, is because they have this weird religious belief that they are superior to all the other nations on earth, and they have the right to everyone else's resources, and that their god is far superior to everyone else's god, whether they're worshipping god or money.

I don’t think I could say it clearer myself that you think that Christian fundamentalism drives American foreign policy.

Your view trivializes the complex motivations that actually drive our foreign policy. In reality, that policy is driven by a desire to obtain oil (that may be greedy, evil, or whatever other term you may want to use—and you may disagree with that policy vehemently—but it has fuck all to do with religion) and a perceived need to enhance its security (again, you may think it’s a stupid way of going about that, and perhaps it is, but religion is not driving it).


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Sven
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9972

posted 07 August 2007 04:50 PM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Michelle, because you seem to think that America is a radical Christian regime similar to the radical Muslim regime of Iran (no worse, no better—just the same), I think you should take a close look at the two countries’ respective domestic policies and then tell me, with a straight face, that you think the rights of the citizens in those two countries are equally oppressed.
From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4790

posted 07 August 2007 05:01 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Twaddle. Foreign policy is an extension of domestic policy. Sure as shit, living in Rome was a lot more civilized than living in Gaul, but it is not as if Ceasars legions were not Roman. The trappings of Romes more tollerant culture, were entirely bought and paid for by its tyrranical wholesale robbery and slaughter of those outside its own borders.

quote:
Originally posted by Sven:

Michelle, you can't be serious. You believe that Hillary Clinton's foreign policy views are motivated by Christian fundamentlist views that she holds??


Because you live in a Christian society, you are completely unable to see its christianess because you are so normalized to it. Compare Amedinejad to Khatami. All and sundry in the main stream press agree that Khatami is the moderate, Amedinejad the extremist, yet, as likely as not Khatami would still be labelled as some kind of Muslim fundamentalist.

It is just that you, and other xenophobes like you, pick up on the "otherness" (in this case the muslimness) of the Iranians, but when you are snug inside the warm confines of the standards which ease your paranoia, you are oblivious, and see nuance in the familiar, while seeing none whatsoever, in that which you fear.

[ 07 August 2007: Message edited by: Cueball ]


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 8312

posted 07 August 2007 05:22 PM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
It is just that you, and other xenophobes like you, pick up on the "otherness" (in this case the muslimness) of the Iranians, but when you are snug inside the warm confines of the standards which ease your paranoia, you are oblivious, and see nuance in the familiar, while seeing none whatsoever, in that which you fear.



Exactly right. And if Sven was Muslim in a Muslim country he would believe the Christian Crusaders were the most dangerous people on earth and he would have at least two million dead Muslims to point to for proof.

From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
remind
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6289

posted 07 August 2007 06:01 PM      Profile for remind     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Cueball:
Because you live in a Christian society, you are completely unable to see its christianess because you are so normalized to it...It is just that you, and other xenophobes like you, pick up on the "otherness" (in this case the muslimness) of the Iranians, but when you are snug inside the warm confines of the standards which ease your paranoia, you are oblivious, and see nuance in the familiar, while seeing none whatsoever, in that which you fear.


That is exactly what I said above about the passive "Christians who are not activists against war,nor those who stand up for human rights in any great measure, they give their tacit support to the Christian extremists, and thus they give their tacit suppost to the destruction of Muslims, no matter their stripe.


From: "watching the tide roll away" | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged
Stargazer
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6061

posted 08 August 2007 03:16 AM      Profile for Stargazer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Not only did Michelle answer your post, she answered it brilliantly. (Way to go Michelle! That was perfect!). That you fail to see that answer? Now that we need to be worried about.
From: Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist. | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged
Michael Nenonen
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6680

posted 08 August 2007 06:07 AM      Profile for Michael Nenonen   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
There is one point that Sven made that hasn't been answered. Is Christopher Hitchens' hatred of Islam (or Sam Harris' hatred of Islam, for that matter) in any way rooted in Christianity? I haven't seen any evidence of this. I also haven't seen any evidence that their hatred is rooted in nationalist sentiments. While I agree with Michelle that money is a god for many people, I don't think its the god that Harris and Hitchens worship. Instead, I think we should--as Harris so often recommends when it comes to Muslims--take them at their word. It's not the nation or money that they've turned into a religious fetish, its "rationality", which they explicitly define as atheistic.

Their reasoning goes like this:

Religion is bad. They see Islam as a sort of uber-religion. Therefore Islam is really, really bad.

They believe that religion encourages irrationality, and they believe that irrationality is dangerous. Because they see Islam as an uber-religion, they believe that Muslims are extremely irrational and dangerous.

What they're doing is offering the growing number of American atheists a non-theistic rationale for religious bigotry. Like all religious bigots, they misrepresent the religions they're attacking, they ignore the most powerful arguments presented by the defenders of those religions, they obsessively focus on literalistic interpretations of those religions rather than acknowledging the roles that metaphor and allegory play in their theologies, they ignore the diversity in the religious traditions they condemn, they assume that fundamentalists are the only religious people who take their religions seriously, and they dismiss analyses of religion that address economic and political and cultural factors.

I believe that many progressive atheists have a hard time seeing this because they assume that atheism is inherently progressive. It's therefore rather bewildering for them when the people who are currently atheism's most public spokespeople use atheism to justify foreign policies similar to those promoted by the 700 Club.

[ 08 August 2007: Message edited by: Michael Nenonen ]


From: Vancouver | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 8312

posted 08 August 2007 06:25 AM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I don't agree at all. I think Hitchens and and Harris view Islam as a threat because it represents a single point of organization and opposition to Western hegemony from which both men have benefited handsomely. I think they use atheism and what they term rationality to justify their attitudes to a people. But, rather than express fear and loathing of a people, they instead express fear and loathing of a cultural practise, Islam.

Harris' and Hitchen's fear and fear mongering of Islam is by no means restricted to atheists and liberal intellectuals. It is shared and promoted by fundamentalist Christians, Zionist Jews, and neo-conservative ideologues.

And the amazing thing is, in modern history Islamic nations have always been willing to trade with Western nations and engage with Western civilizations on an equal and respectful footing.

The threat has always been in the other direction as Western civilization has pursued winning on "the great chess board" or acquiring the "great prize". And the West has done so with complete disregard of Islamic culture and life for the past one hundred years or more.

[ 08 August 2007: Message edited by: Frustrated Mess ]


From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4790

posted 08 August 2007 07:02 AM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Frustrated Mess:
I don't agree at all. I think Hitchens and and Harris view Islam as a threat because it represents a single point of organization and opposition to Western hegemony from which both men have benefited handsomely. I think they use atheism and what they term rationality to justify their attitudes to a people. But, rather than express fear and loathing of a people, they instead express fear and loathing of a cultural practise, Islam.

I'd be more precise than that. I don't think its because their self-interest and greed (benefitting handsomely) which is the key to there distaste for Islam. I think in the current frame Islam as a basis for rejecting the west, christianity, captitalism, socialism, and in fact the whole enlightenement tradtion, which is seen by many Muslim people as all part of the same western incurrsion on their rights.

People of the Muslim lands warmly welcomed the new ideas of the west in the previous centuries, democracy, capitalism and socialism, and each in its turn proved itself to be the cause upon which the repression and indpendence of the Muslim people was justified, regardless of the specific ideology. So Islam has become the rallying point for national salvation in many Muslim countries, because there really is nothing else to which they can trust is not just another Trojan Horse.

It is no accident that the outcome of the Iranian revolution was not the overthrow of Shah (the representative of Capitalist west) and his replacement by the Tudeh Party (the rpresentatives of the Socialist west) but the replacement of the Shah by an Islamic government which could be clearly autonomous from super-power "block" politics. A rejection of both of the main trends enlightenment political tradtions.

The result is that Iran has a mixed economy, interestingly enough.

What Hitchen's and Harris object to is that this retrenchment is also an outspoken and militant rejection of the secular humanist ideology they propound, in favour of local solutions based in national traditions and culture, and moreover they dislike the fact the Islamic based resistance movements reject their right to be right and to impose their rightness on Muslim people.

In short the devil you know is always better than the devil you don't know.

What Hitchens and other fail to see is that this rejection of western ideas, is entirely a result of the many attempts to impose those ideas as part of the various colonial and neo-colonial ventures, and political manipulations since the Ottoman Empire began to collapse as the central authority in the former lands of the Caliphate.

[ 08 August 2007: Message edited by: Cueball ]


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 8312

posted 08 August 2007 07:20 AM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
What Hitchens and other fail to see is that this rejection of western ideas, is entirely a result of the many attempts to impose those ideas as part of the various colonial and neo-colonial ventures, and political manipulations since the Ottoman Empire began to collapse as the central authority in the former lands of the Caliphate.

I am going to disagree. I don't think the Islamic world, and in particular the Islamic world in the mid-east, has necessarily rejected western ideas so much as the western world has deprived the Islamic world of choice.

In fact, the Islamic world has attempted to adopt western ideas from the nationalism of pan-Arabism, to socialism, to secular democracy. It is the west that has punished these nations and people whenever they have done so leaving them no place of retreat but the one institution unbreachable by Western security service and military -- Islam.

I think the recent election of Hamas and the fallout underlines my point. On one hand the US preaches democracy but when the Palestinians exercise that democracy, they pay a horrible price for not voting as told which would seem to anyone the exact opposite of democracy.

What do Palestinians today think of Western style democracy?

I would argue the every political avenue for Islamic independence and expression has been blocked by Western colonialism and militarism which leaves the last and final avenue of Islam.

And when the Islamic world begins choosing that avenue of expression, being left none other, the West starts fear mongering and accusing Islam of seeking the very thing Western imperialism is establishing - hegemony.


From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 08 August 2007 07:24 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
They did the same thing to Iran in 1953 when they funded a coup on a democratically elected, secular government.

I guess the US and Britain figured that the brutal Shah with his dreaded secret service, SAVAK, were much more democratic and "civilized".


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
N.Beltov
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4140

posted 08 August 2007 07:28 AM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Canadian Taliban? From the link to the article "Stephen Harper and the Theo-Cons" we see ...

quote:
Charles McVety ( founder of "Institute for Canadian Values" and President of the Canada Family Action Coalition, whose mission is "to see Judeo-Christian moral principles restored in Canada") has vowed to wrest Conservative nominations from candidates reluctant to vote out same-sex marriage legislation. One sure target: maverick Conservative Garth Turner, who compared McVety’s nomination threat to the modus operandi of the Taliban.

So, even Conservatives are comparing these zealots to the Taliban. But surely, from the right-wing NON zealot point of view, Canada should still be in Afghanistan? Maybe not ...

quote:
This spring, in Kingdom Coming: the Rise of Christian Nationalism, New York writer Michelle Goldberg traced the growing influence of American fundamentalists who embrace what’s known as dominion theology, calling for a society where civil law is replaced by Biblical prescriptions and born-again Christians take over the task of governing to prepare for the thousand-year dominion of Christ. Their first skirmish in that struggle has centred on restoring religious terminology not only to holidays like Christmas, but to official discourse. Goldberg warns that many of those dominionists not only have ties to the Bush White House, but seem determined to turn the US into a theocracy. "It makes no sense to fight religious authoritarianism abroad," she writes, "while letting it take over at home."

So, it's more important to fight these zealots at home. And it's not just Christian fundamentalists we're talking about here.

quote:
To head the ICV, (Institute for Canadian Values - a fundamentalist "think tank" with an academic gloss, founded by McVety because the Evangelical Fellowship was too timid!) McVety tapped someone who shared his taste for a more boisterous approach: Joseph Ben-Ami, an Orthodox Jew who’d been B’nai Brith’s point man in Ottawa and a top operative in Stockwell Day’s leadership campaigns. A ubiquitous presence at Conservative and evangelical gatherings, Ben-Ami emerged during last spring’s child-care debate as more than just a quotable source defending Harper’s family allowance. He showed up brandishing Access to Information documents charging that some advocates of public daycare, including the Caledon Institute, had received Liberal government funding. “It’s a con game,” Ben-Ami declared, “and Canadian taxpayers are the victims.”

But are they really all that dangerous?

quote:
McVety’s preoccupation with Israel has become the thread that knits together his whirlwind organizational activities, from the fundamentalist theology that the college dispenses to the curiously wide-ranging agenda of the Institute for Canadian Values, where Ben-Ami fires out press releases on subjects as apparently disparate as same-sex marriage and Hamas terrorist threats. Both issues are concerns shared by the intensely conservative wings of the Christian and Jewish communities that rally around McVety and his closest collaborator, Frank Dimant, executive vice-president of B’nai Brith Canada, who has an honorary doctorate from Canada Christian College on his office wall.

Dimant and McVety’s mutual interest in Israel and family values is exactly what Stephen Harper had in mind three years ago in his Civitas speech when he laid out his plans for a new Conservative coalition that would unite social conservatives across faith lines. For those who can’t see the connection between so-con issues and Israeli security, McVety offers one practised sound byte. "Israel is the number one family-values issue," he says. "Where does marriage come from God. Where does the Bible come from Israel. The first family of Christianity - Jesus, Mary, and Josep - were all Jewish. Israel is the source of everything we have."

But the connection is considerably more complex, turning on a controversial theological doctrine that argues the apocalypse is just around the corner. Christian Zionists like Hagee and McVety, who embrace it, insist that the end of the world is due any day. How soon? "We’re about three seconds before midnight, " McVety says, "and this bond [between evangelicals and Jews] is part and parcel of it."


As pointed out in the article, indifference to environmental concerns flows from an expectation of the end of the world. Although it's useful to point out that, where fundamentalist unity is required, sometimes the differences are downplayed or ignored altogether, e.g., apocalyptic visions of the end of the world in which only the elect or the dominionists are "saved" are downplayed when right wing Jewish conservatives are part of the gathering. (As pointed out in the beginning of the article.)

All in all a good article outlining why the Harper Conservatives need to be prevented from getting a majority - if anyone had any doubts whatsoever.


From: Vancouver Island | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
contrarianna
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 13058

posted 08 August 2007 08:31 AM      Profile for contrarianna     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
"What Hitchens and others fail to see...."
It's difficult to dig out what Hitchens actually "fails to see" as opposed to what he intentionally misrepresents. He is a neoconservative ideologue of the Wolfowitz-Straussian camp and has taken on the role as a lead "intellectual" pundit and propagandist for the cause.
The language of his pieces for his columns in Slate, "Fighting words: A wartime lexicon", reveals someone who is a master of rhetorical fallacy. His rhetorical skills used do not show a lack of understanding (at one level at least) as much as an intent to persuade and obfuscate rather than to "tell it like he sees it".

That said, Hitchens atheism has pre-dated his conversion to neoconservatism and he could have written an anti-theism book at anytime. (Though earlier, the emphasis would have been different.)
More recently, when running interference for the figure-head president Bush and his wars he has held his nose and written such gems as:

Slate
"fighting words: A wartime lexicon.
Bush's Secularist Triumph: The left apologizes for religious fanatics. The president fights them.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2004, at 10:34 AM ET"

"...
George Bush may subjectively be a Christian, but he—and the U.S. armed forces—have objectively done more for secularism than the whole of the American agnostic community combined and doubled. The demolition of the Taliban, the huge damage inflicted on the al-Qaida network, and the confrontation with theocratic saboteurs in Iraq represent huge advances for the non-fundamentalist forces in many countries. The "antiwar" faction even recognizes this achievement, if only indirectly, by complaining about the way in which it has infuriated the Islamic religious extremists around the world. But does it accept the apparent corollary—that we should have been pursuing a policy to which the fanatics had no objection?"


From: here to inanity | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged
N.Beltov
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4140

posted 08 August 2007 08:51 AM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Wow, what a shit-bag Hitchens is. Anyone with a brain, and who has done a small amount of study, knows that the US (and its client states) put a gigantic effort into destroying secular and socialist opposition around the world.

In Palestine, the PLO was the target. In Afghanistan, it was the Soviet-backed PDPA. And so on. The result of all this is that the inevitable resistance to continuing US atrocities comes from - guess where? - non-secular elements that were initially financed and sponsored by the US, the Saudis, the Israelis, and so on.

Hitchens wants to give credit to the US for fighting a monster of its own creation. A much better approach would be for the US and its clients to stop interfering in other countries affairs and get their own houses in order. Such common sense is, however, impossible for US imperialism. And that's why many are of the view that the biggest threat to peace on earth is, in fact, the US.


From: Vancouver Island | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
contrarianna
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 13058

posted 08 August 2007 09:35 AM      Profile for contrarianna     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by N.Beltov:
Wow, what a shit-bag Hitchens is. Anyone with a brain, and who has done a small amount of study, knows that the US (and its client states) put a gigantic effort into destroying secular and socialist opposition around the world...

Yes,(I'm getting into thread drift here but it does tie into destructive, irrational faith--though of a secular kind) but the Hitchens dodge on that has been to claim that Wolfowitzian neoconservatism is a radical break from the past and represents a benign, "new kind of imperialism" without the historical baggage of the bad old past.
This of course is an absurd Manichaean position which denies all the continuities of the US power structures and policy makers, but that's what makes Hitchens an ideologue--and a more pronounced one than when he was just a Trotskyist.

See:
Slate
Fighting Words
Imperialism: Superpower dominance, malignant and benign.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2002, at 4:42 PM ET
....
...A condition of the new imperialism will be the specific promise that while troops will come, they will not stay too long. An associated promise is that the era of the client state is gone and that the aim is to enable local populations to govern themselves. This promise is sincere. A new standard is being proposed, and one to which our rulers can and must be held. In other words, if the United States will dare to declare out loud for empire, it had better be in its capacity as a Thomas Paine arsenal, or at the very least a Jeffersonian one. And we may also need a new word for it."


From: here to inanity | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 8312

posted 08 August 2007 10:40 AM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Yeah, Hitchens is a piece of work. He and is neo-con supporters keep trying to present him as a reasonable, or should I say, moderate, voice of the left. He is just another shill for the dystopian world of a neo-con empire where "we create our own reality".
From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Michael Nenonen
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6680

posted 08 August 2007 04:25 PM      Profile for Michael Nenonen   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Frustrated Mess:
I don't agree at all. I think Hitchens and and Harris view Islam as a threat because it represents a single point of organization and opposition to Western hegemony from which both men have benefited handsomely. I think they use atheism and what they term rationality to justify their attitudes to a people. But, rather than express fear and loathing of a people, they instead express fear and loathing of a cultural practise, Islam.

Harris' and Hitchen's fear and fear mongering of Islam is by no means restricted to atheists and liberal intellectuals. It is shared and promoted by fundamentalist Christians, Zionist Jews, and neo-conservative ideologues.

[ 08 August 2007: Message edited by: Frustrated Mess ]


I agree that H&H's fear-mongering has parallels in the fear-mongering of religious fundamentalists, etc.

The point that I'm making is simply that the rationale they present to justify this hatred is explicitly atheist...in the same way that fundamentalist Christians use a theistic rationale to justify their hatred.

I also agree that structural factors have to be taken into account when trying to understand their positions, and that their ideologies may well be heavily influenced by the privileges they enjoy and the unjust social structures that create these privileges. The same, however, must certainly be true of theist fear-mongers.

It seems to me that if we're going to largely disregard the atheistic justification that they provide to support their views, then we also have to largely disregard the theistic justification that religious fundamentalists provide to support similar views.

If the theistic rhetoric that fundamentalists use to justify ethical abominations exposes something rotten at the heart of theism, then the atheistic rhetoric militant atheists use to justify ethical abominations must also expose something rotten at the heart of atheism. Conversely, if the atheistic rhetoric that militant atheists use to justify ethical abominations does not expose something rotten at the heart of atheism, then the theistic rhetoric used by religious fundamentalists to justify ethical abominations does not expose something rotten at the heart of theism.

As the examples set by people like Voltaire and Camus demonstrate, atheism can promote profoundly ethical behaviour, and it can serve essentially religious functions by providing metaphysical orientation and a frame of reference that can provide a sense of meaning to one's life. As the examples of Harris and Hitchens demonstrate, atheism can also be used to justify bigotry, to sanction the most horrific cruelties against demonized "others", and to obfuscate the structural factors that shape a person's perceptions and beliefs.

Atheism, in other words, is similar to theism both in its virtues and its vices. It can serve as either a vehicle for human transcendence or for human degredation.

[ 08 August 2007: Message edited by: Michael Nenonen ]


From: Vancouver | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged
TemporalHominid
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6535

posted 08 August 2007 04:48 PM      Profile for TemporalHominid   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Nenonen:


Atheism, in other words, is similar to theism both in its virtues and its vices. It can serve as either a vehicle for human transcendence or for human degredation.


bullshit detection device activated bullshit detection device activated

Atheism is not a vehicle for anything. Atheism is not a belief structure. Atheism is a perspective, not a vehicle.

Atheists may tend toward secular philosophies such as humanism, materialism, and naturalism, but there is no one ideology or set of behaviors/virtues or pratices to which all atheists adhere to.


From: Under a bridge, in Foot Muck | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 8312

posted 08 August 2007 05:03 PM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Atheism, in other words, is similar to theism both in its virtues and its vices. It can serve as either a vehicle for human transcendence or for human degredation.

I have not argued otherwise.

From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Michael Nenonen
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6680

posted 08 August 2007 06:53 PM      Profile for Michael Nenonen   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Frustrated Mess: No, you haven't, but apparently other posters have. Speaking of which...

TemporalHominid. Yeah, well, you've been spectacularly unsuccessful in supporting that claim with solid arguments so far, and Hitchens and Harris have presented a very clear counter-example to your position. If atheism isn't a vehicle for them, then neither is theism a vehicle for theists. Conversely, if theism is a vehicle, then so is atheism.

Forgive me if I question the reliability of your bullshit detector, but not only does it seem to give false positives, it's missing the mess you currently seem to be standing in.

[ 08 August 2007: Message edited by: Michael Nenonen ]


From: Vancouver | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged
remind
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6289

posted 08 August 2007 07:21 PM      Profile for remind     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by TemporalHominid:
Atheism is not a vehicle for anything. Atheism is not a belief structure. Atheism is a perspective, not a vehicle.

Atheists may tend toward secular philosophies such as humanism, materialism, and naturalism, but there is no one ideology or set of behaviors/virtues or pratices to which all atheists adhere to.



Exactly, unlike religious organizations who use their organization as the vehicle to drive their agenda.

Atheists do not have an organization to drive any agenda.

If atheists are bigots and/or war mongers, its their personal choice not an agenda on a collective scale.


From: "watching the tide roll away" | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged
unionist
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 11323

posted 08 August 2007 07:29 PM      Profile for unionist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Nenonen:

Atheism, in other words, is similar to theism both in its virtues and its vices. It can serve as either a vehicle for human transcendence or for human degredation.

My sophistry and rhetoric detector went off as well, TH. I got mine at Costco - what's your model number?

Still, I think Michael may have a point with his "vehicle" metaphor. For example, poverty and desperation can drive you to drink, or to God. Likewise, a Lexus can drive you to the liquor store, or to church. In that sense, either poverty or a Lexus can serve as a vehicle for human transcendence or human degradation.

Further bolstering what I shall call Michael's Proof of the Existence of God by (Automotive) Design, here are some verses from the Gospel according to Jim Peterik:

quote:
Hey well, I'm a friendly stranger in a black Sedan
Won't you hop inside my car?
I got pictures, got candy, I'm a lovable man
And I can take you to the nearest star

I'm your vehicle, baby
I'll take you anywhere you wanna go
I'm your vehicle, woman
But I'm not sure that you know
That I love ya (love ya)
I need ya (need ya)
I want ya, got to have you, child
Great God in heaven, you know I love you


[ 08 August 2007: Message edited by: unionist ]


From: Vote QS! | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
TemporalHominid
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6535

posted 08 August 2007 08:44 PM      Profile for TemporalHominid   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Nenonen:

Hitchens and Harris...


If you read remind's and Michelle's posts they addressed this already. Hitchens and Harris do not make these claims asatheists.


Your tautological arguments are unimpressive Michael, as they always are when you resort to using them. Also your misrepresentation of what philosophical perspectives are is apparent, although I don;t know if you are doing this deliberately or just via ignorance.

If you don't understand what a philosophical perspective is please do some basic research, or alternatively don't do research if you are not interested in genuine debate, but just want to drone out tautological arguments and apologetics. Its your choice really.



These individuals (Hitchens and Harris) make these claims as ideologues, in this case as neo-cons, with a political, economic and cultural agenda.


Atheism is not a social/pol agenda, it has no structure, has no virtues, as remind pointed out above.

quote:
Originally posted by unionist:
model number



My Honeywell made detection kit model number, unionist, is using a random number generator based on the fibonacci sequence and the last number is always the same as the first. It also serves as a rectal thermometer, but the device is stuck since I toggled 'random number generator' so it is not useul for the latter purpose.

[ 08 August 2007: Message edited by: TemporalHominid ]


From: Under a bridge, in Foot Muck | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Trevormkidd
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 12720

posted 08 August 2007 09:10 PM      Profile for Trevormkidd     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by TemporalHominid:
These individuals (Hitchens and Harris) make these claims as ideologues, in this case as neo-cons, with a political, economic and cultural agenda.

What evidence is there that Harris has a poltical, economic and cultural agenda of a neo-con?


From: SL | Registered: Jun 2006  |  IP: Logged
TemporalHominid
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6535

posted 08 August 2007 09:19 PM      Profile for TemporalHominid   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Trevormkidd:

What evidence is there that Harris has a poltical, economic and cultural agenda of a neo-con?


He realised he was not a socilaist any longer around three years ago


From: Under a bridge, in Foot Muck | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Michael Nenonen
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6680

posted 09 August 2007 05:49 AM      Profile for Michael Nenonen   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Tell you what, TemporalHominid, how about if you sit down and read some of Ian Barbour's work before lecturing me about my philosophical ignorance. Ian Barbour--a physicist as well as a religious studies professor--is one of the most respected scholars when it comes to the study of the relationship between science and religion. If you haven't read his work, then you simply haven't done the legwork necessary to make such grandiose claims. I've posted his arguments on other threads, and they've been largely ignored or ridiculed by atheists who simply aren't willing to consider their implications. (For example, unionist prefers to disdain any talk of metaphysics while simultaneously implicitly advancing materialist metaphysical claims of his own, as demonstrated rather well by N.R. Kissed, who exposed unionist's utter philosophical naivety about the relationship between consciousness and matter).

Atheists tend to cling to the notion that atheism somehow makes no metaphysical claims and serves no psycho-social functions comparable to those served by religion (in other words, that it's a "perspective" rather than a "vehicle"). This position is so strewn with self-serving ad hoc rationalizations that it's astounding you can't see it...but, well, people tend to have numerous lacunae when it comes to their own vehicles of transcendence.

The "get out of jail free card" you've given Harris and Hitchens is a perfect example of such self-serving ad hoc rationalizations...of the sort that atheists are loathe to offer theists who make similarly bigoted and imperialistic claims.


From: Vancouver | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged
TemporalHominid
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6535

posted 09 August 2007 06:11 AM      Profile for TemporalHominid   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Nenonen:
Tell .... Ian Barbour's work....(For example, unionist prefers to disdain any talk of metaphysics while simultaneously implicitly advancing materialist metaphysical .....

Unionist and I and others have made it known we have read Ian Barbour, and Deepak Chopra, etc and seen "What the Bleep!" and read many other books you refer to over the threads. We remain skeptical. Some of us are done reading and watching about these fantastical claims because they offer nothing new, offer no insight and are not testable. The last thing unionist and I and others are is ignorant on these fantastical claims. Skepticism is not ignorance.

Metaphysical claims can not be tested, no matter how appealing and comforting they appear. Metaphysical claims are not empirical nor are they experimental, nor falsifiable.

Bertrand Russell used the celestial teapot analogy to demonstrate burden of proof (Carl Sagan the invisible dragon, and pastafarians use the Flying Spaghetti Monster).

If something can’t be detected, quantified, measured, tested in any physical way, then it might as well not exist, as it doesn’t make a difference to our universe whether it does or does not.

You have your faith perspective Michael and I have my empirical perspective. You have a theist perspective, and I do not know or can not know if god exists or does not exist. I do not know and can not know if metaphysical claims are true of not. And because I can not know, theistic and metaphysical claims are inconsequential.

At best, metaphysical claims are comforting, and entertaining on the X-files and in supermarket tabloids, but I don't seek comfort in celestial teapots and invisible pink unicorns on mars. I look to my family, friends, community and the natual world for fulfillment which is awe inspiring and wonderful and stimulates my senses and mind in ways celestial teapots can not.

[ 09 August 2007: Message edited by: TemporalHominid ]


From: Under a bridge, in Foot Muck | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
TemporalHominid
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6535

posted 09 August 2007 06:38 AM      Profile for TemporalHominid   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post
What I am certain of is that the flying spaghetti monster stimulates me, with his noodley appendages on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

[ 09 August 2007: Message edited by: TemporalHominid ]


From: Under a bridge, in Foot Muck | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Sven
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9972

posted 09 August 2007 06:55 AM      Profile for Sven     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by TemporalHominid:
What I am certain of is that the flying spaghetti monster stimulates me, with his noodley appendages on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

I [HEART] the FSM!!! Although, his noddley appendages tend to stimulate me on weekends when I have more free time (which is very considerate of the FSM, dontcha think?)...


From: Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!!! | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
TemporalHominid
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6535

posted 09 August 2007 07:01 AM      Profile for TemporalHominid   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Sven:

I [HEART] the FSM!!! Although, his noddley appendages tend to stimulate me on weekends when I have more free time (which is very considerate of the FSM, dontcha think?)...


I am jealous, you get more quality time with the Great Noodled One! Why hath FSM forsaken me... is it because I don't wear full pirate regalia on the weekends?


From: Under a bridge, in Foot Muck | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
greener
recent-rabble-rouser
Babbler # 13641

posted 09 August 2007 07:40 AM      Profile for greener     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
TemporalHominid...the link you gave quotes Hitchens as saying he is no longer a socialist...not Harris, as you stated.
From: Ontario | Registered: Dec 2006  |  IP: Logged
Frustrated Mess
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 8312

posted 09 August 2007 08:01 AM      Profile for Frustrated Mess   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Was Harris ever a socialist? Does it matter?

Michael does indeed have a point, I think. Certainly there can be no question that Harris is advocating a political position in favour of Western Civilization and cloaking it in an anti-religious, and in particular anti-Islam, veil. As well, Hitchens has been riding his atheist creds to promote the imperial ambitions of Bush and the neo-cons not to mention the illegal war in Iraq.

I don't think that there should be any pretense that these two men are not attempting to sell the war of civilizations to intellectuals and liberals who also happen to be atheists. They are the fifth column, if you will, of the neo-cons seeking influence where traditionally they have no influence among left, atheist, literati.

However, what ever Hitchens or Harris may say, while invoking atheism or not, is their own opinions. Atheism has no dogma, no hierarchy, no spiritual figurehead, no imams, no priests, no advisers. They speak for themselves. It is worth noting that among the most vocal critics of Hitchens and Harris are not the religious right who share their attitudes toward people whohappen to be Islamic, but atheists who reject outright all such fear mongering, triumphalism, claims of cultural and/or moral superiority, and the horrendous atrocity of aggressive war in the name of peace.


From: doom without the gloom | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Michael Nenonen
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6680

posted 09 August 2007 04:21 PM      Profile for Michael Nenonen   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Frustrated Mess: I agree that most atheists are rather individualistic in their atheism, but the same could be said of many theists who operate outside of any organized religion. And hierarchy is not unknown among atheists. The Soviet Union enshrined an atheistic ideology (dialectical materialism) and its governing bureaucracy was extremely hierarchical and authoritarian. Furthermore, consider that Christopher Hitchens (and maybe Harris, although that's a really big "maybe") writes as a neo-con. Neo-conservatism is an intellectual hybrid of two lines of atheistic thought, that of Trotsky and Leo Strauss, and is brutally hierarchical and very concerned with institutional power. Hitchens is NOT writing solely as an individual atheist: he is writing from the belly of an atheist tradition that has a long intellectual history and significant institutional power.

You could argue that this may apply to specific atheist traditions, but not to atheism itself. The problem with this is that the same defense applies to theism. Theism itself is never institutionalized, only specific theistic traditions are. If the atheism embraced by the Soviet Union and the Neo-Cons says nothing about atheism itself, then the theism embraced by the 700 Club and the Catholic Church says nothing about theism itself.

As for the people who criticize Hitchens and Harris the loudest, Christopher Hedges has lately been their most vocal critic, and he's a died-in-the-wool theist. I certainly don't see evangelical atheists like Dawkins taking either Harris or Hitchens to task for their bigotry.

TemporalHominid: I'm sorry, but if you're comparing Ian Barbour to Deepak Chopra and What the Bleep Do We Know then you're either intentionally misrepresenting Barbour's work or you don't know what the hell you're talking about. So, please, enlighten me: which books by Barbour have you actually read, and what specific criticisms do you have of the arguments he presented in them?

Regarding theism's metaphysical beliefs, once again you're assuming that atheism does not rest upon a metaphysical foundation, even though most atheists presuppose a materialist metaphysics that posits that the universe is like a machine. To say that the universe is like a machine is every bit as arbitrary as saying that it's like a mind. In fact, given that at the subatomic level there really is no such thing as "matter", and that whatever mind and matter are they arise from the same mathematically discernible patterns underlying everything else in the universe, the universe-as-mind metaphor is actually free of some of the 19th Century metaphysical baggage materialism's so heavily burdened by.

As for the FSM, there's a fundamental difference between saying that the universe was created by an entity of some kind and saying that the universe is like a mind. Look, if I said that materialists believe that the universe was created by a robot, you would immediately and correctly say that to compare the universe to a machine does not imply that it was created by a different and identifiable machine. Similarly, to say that the universe resembles a mind is not to say that the universe was created by a different and identifiable mind. Like many other theists, I don't support the notion of intelligent design, which is the pseudo-scientific theory that the FSM was designed to rebut. So please, stop humping that Scarecrow while he still has some straw to call his own.

Anyway, for a far more elegant rebuttal of the notion that God is an entity of some kind, check out this article by Terry Eagleton:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n20/eagl01_.html

"Dawkins holds that the existence or non-existence of God is a scientific hypothesis which is open to rational demonstration. Christianity teaches that to claim that there is a God must be reasonable, but that this is not at all the same thing as faith. Believing in God, whatever Dawkins might think, is not like concluding that aliens or the tooth fairy exist. God is not a celestial super-object or divine UFO, about whose existence we must remain agnostic until all the evidence is in. Theologians do not believe that he is either inside or outside the universe, as Dawkins thinks they do. His transcendence and invisibility are part of what he is, which is not the case with the Loch Ness monster. This is not to say that religious people believe in a black hole, because they also consider that God has revealed himself: not, as Dawkins thinks, in the guise of a cosmic manufacturer even smarter than Dawkins himself (the New Testament has next to nothing to say about God as Creator), but for Christians at least, in the form of a reviled and murdered political criminal. The Jews of the so-called Old Testament had faith in God, but this does not mean that after debating the matter at a number of international conferences they decided to endorse the scientific hypothesis that there existed a supreme architect of the universe – even though, as Genesis reveals, they were of this opinion. They had faith in God in the sense that I have faith in you. They may well have been mistaken in their view; but they were not mistaken because their scientific hypothesis was unsound.

"Dawkins speaks scoffingly of a personal God, as though it were entirely obvious exactly what this might mean. He seems to imagine God, if not exactly with a white beard, then at least as some kind of chap, however supersized. He asks how this chap can speak to billions of people simultaneously, which is rather like wondering why, if Tony Blair is an octopus, he has only two arms. For Judeo-Christianity, God is not a person in the sense that Al Gore arguably is. Nor is he a principle, an entity, or ‘existent’: in one sense of that word it would be perfectly coherent for religious types to claim that God does not in fact exist. He is, rather, the condition of possibility of any entity whatsoever, including ourselves. He is the answer to why there is something rather than nothing. God and the universe do not add up to two, any more than my envy and my left foot constitute a pair of objects."

Now, in regards to the metaphysical comforts of theism, William James long ago pointed out that it's just as irrational to disbelieve something because the belief may be comforting as it is to believe something because the belief may be comforting. Along these lines, some atheists (not most by any means, but certainly a few of the atheists on these boards, and no, I'm not including you, Frustrated Mess) come across like embittered ex-husbands who, after the end of an ugly relationship, turn to misogyny to soothe their egos (For full effect, you should read the rest of this paragraph with the best Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel voice your imagination can muster):"That good-fer-nuthin religion done me wrong! I swear, I'm done with looking for spiritual comfort. Ya just can't trust religions, they'll always screw ya over!"

Finally, regarding your earlier comment that my arguments are tautological: since you take issue with my use of the term "vehicle" to describe what you think is a "perspective", would you mind offering me a non-tautological distinction between a "perspective" and a "vehicle"?


From: Vancouver | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged
unionist
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 11323

posted 09 August 2007 05:25 PM      Profile for unionist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Nenonen:
... would you mind offering me a non-tautological distinction between a "perspective" and a "vehicle"?

Sure, from The Zen Site:

quote:
If Thurman and Tsong Khapa are correct, then from the Universal Vehicle perspective, liberation has always entailed both a transcendent, transmundane, “other-worldly” (lokottara) aspect and equally an immanent, mundane, “this-worldly” (lokiya) aspect. Both aspects exist together, nondually, without either aspect collapsing into the other.

quote:
... unionist's utter philosophical naivety ...

You say that like it's a bad thing!


From: Vote QS! | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
spillunk
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 14242

posted 09 August 2007 06:08 PM      Profile for spillunk     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post

From: cavescavescaves! | Registered: Jun 2007  |  IP: Logged
TemporalHominid
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6535

posted 09 August 2007 09:57 PM      Profile for TemporalHominid   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Nenonen:

you're either intentionally misrepresenting Barbour's work or you don't know what the hell you're talking about.

I read Ian Barbour's works in tandem with works by Stephen Jay Gould, who were contemporaries. Gould also attempted to develop a peaceful coexistence between religion and science. I have read a lot of weird, fantastic and wonderful things. I do have access to a library, and subscribe to Inquiry magasines. I read Barbour, Martin Gardiner, Gould, Sagan, Chopra, Redfield, Pinker, Shermer and paper after paper et al because when I read Gould and Sagan, Barbour was either referenced or the public library card catalogue indicated a crossover in subject matter, key words.


Michael, you keep reiterating that people should read all these authors and books, and you keep telling people to read one more book, like reading one more book is going to make a difference. And when they do read them or state they have read those materials and do not accept the claims you say those people do not understand the material. Myself and others have investigated the claims for ourselves, and quite simply, I am not convinced.

There are much more interesting things to explore and sense in this physical world I live in, things that I can observe (sometimes with the aid of tools) and taste and touch and smell and hear. Quite simply, anything that is not testable or observable or knowable is not a priority for me.

We are just talking past each other Michael now, our perspectives differ and our priorities are different. I am moving on and going to enjoy the physical world around me.

Cheers
TH


From: Under a bridge, in Foot Muck | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
jeff house
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 518

posted 10 August 2007 10:20 AM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
the universe-as-mind metaphor is actually free of some of the 19th Century metaphysical baggage materialism's so heavily burdened by.

The universe-as-mind metaphor is far older than materialism, and was prominent among the German Romantics, Hegel, etc. It is replete with theological and metaphysical baggage, much more so than is empiricism.

It is just religion, but religion which does not admit its parentage.

Godthought is inferior to empiricism because it posits existences which cannot be detected. It is no more likely that God exists, than that a giant invisible penis hovers undetected over our very heads.

Materialism/empiricism simply argues that what can be sensed with human sensory organs is more likely to exist than what cannot be sensed/observed, but is merely hoped for.

Positing that what we can sense/observe exists, is not at all analogous to positing that a non-detectable universal cosmic mind exists. There is a difference between evidence and absence of evidence.

It would be strange indeed if humans were on earth yet unable to detect, through their sensory apparatus, prey , predators, or other threats to their continued existence.

Of course, no one will ever be able to disprove the invisible undetectable penis theory, or the invisible undetected universal-mind theory.

Believers in the undetectable penis simply do not accept that their is any method for showing it to be false.

That's handy. Scientific empiricism, on the other hand, accepts that conclusions are tentative, and need to be tested. This leads to learning about the world. In other words, e=MC2
can be relied upon to blow up Hiroshima, while invoking the universal mind cannot. The distinction between empiricism and godthought was quite detectable to those living there in August 1945. But maybe praying to the universal mind would have saved them.


From: toronto | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michael Nenonen
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6680

posted 10 August 2007 03:02 PM      Profile for Michael Nenonen   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Jeff: I've written this before, but here we go again...

Empiricism's claim to fame is the principle of falsification. According to this principle, if there’s no experiment that could conceivably confirm or falsify a given hypothesis, then that hypothesis can’t be considered scientific (or empirical). Many atheists argue that non-falsifiable hypotheses aren’t simply unscientific, but also irrational. By this reasoning, since the God hypothesis is non-falsifiable it should be abandoned.

A significant problem with this argument is that falsifiability has limited jurisdiction even within the sciences. As Ian Barbour writes in Myths, Models, and Paradigms (1974), "Discordant data do not always falsify a theory. One can never test an individual hypothesis conclusively in a 'crucial experiment'; for if a deduction is not confirmed experimentally, one cannot be sure which one, from among the many assumptions on which the deduction was based, was in error. A network of theories and observations is always tested together. Any particular hypothesis can be maintained by rejecting or adjusting other auxiliary hypotheses...In practice the scientist works within the framework of accepted assumptions, and throws all the doubt on one new hypothesis at a time; but it might be just the accepted assumptions which should be questioned."

Barbour argues that science can be divided into four levels: (1) empirical observations, (2) theories and theoretical models, (3) research traditions embodied in key examples or "exemplars", and (4) metaphysical assumptions about the nature of entities in the world such as atomic particles. The higher up the ladder you go, the less falsification operates as a self-correcting mechanism. When you reach the level of metaphysical assumptions—that is, the level that core religious beliefs typically operate on—falsification stops dead.

The empiricism that you're advocating seems to resemble the kind of Enlightenment-era scientific philosophy popularized by Francis Bacon...a philosophy that simply didn't recognize the role that theory plays in shaping the scientific enterprise. Empiricism is grounded in testable hypotheses, hypotheses only make sense within a theoretical framework, and that framework inevitably rests upon metaphysical and decidedly non-empircal assumptions.

Materialist metaphysics originated within a Newtonian universe, and were predicated upon a belief in an irreducible material reality...a reality in which (invisible) solid atoms represented the fundamental building blocks of everything else. Developments in physics in the early 20th Century utterly destroyed these fundamental assumptions. Whatever reality is, it's not "material" in the sense that it's composed of some kind of matter.

As for the universe-as-mind metaphor, yes, it is incredibly ancient. And it doesn't carry materialism's baggage. For all the problems with specific theistic philosophies, theism itself doesn't depend upon a long-discredited vision of a billiard-ball universe.

As for your "invisible penis" reference, this falls into the same "god is an entity" fallacy that underlies the FSM...and I've already addressed it at some length. Re-read the Eagleton article I provided a link to. Here's a hint: what he's saying only makes sense once you accept that the God he's talking about isn't a discrete "thing" of some kind, but rather a metaphysical description of the universe itself.

TemporalHominid: So, no, you aren't willing to present the specific arguments Barbour presents that you disagree with.

unionist: Thanks, but I asked for a non-tautological definition, not a tautological one.


From: Vancouver | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged
Cueball
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4790

posted 10 August 2007 04:04 PM      Profile for Cueball   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Michael I really wouldn't pay to much attention to Jeff House's philosphical musings. They wouldn't pass muster at 1:00 am during frosh night engineering students binge at the Brunswick Tavern.

One of his most recent gems was that noted Holocaust schollar Hanna Arendt was a racist because she didn't think the school bussing program in the US was useful to the civil rights movement in the 60's.

[ 10 August 2007: Message edited by: Cueball ]


From: Out from under the bridge and out for a stroll | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 10 August 2007 05:53 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Cueball, it's nice to see you back, but you need to stop taking potshots at Jeff House. Avoid him if you don't like him, but stop with the drive-by insults.
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
jester
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 11798

posted 10 August 2007 07:17 PM      Profile for jester        Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:
Cueball, it's nice to see you back, but you need to stop taking potshots at Jeff House. Avoid him if you don't like him, but stop with the drive-by insults.

Yeah. Lets talk Turkey.


From: Against stupidity, the Gods themselves contend in vain | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged
Michael Nenonen
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6680

posted 12 August 2007 07:37 AM      Profile for Michael Nenonen   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Cueball: I agree with Michelle--it is good to see you back on these boards. I've honestly missed reading your insights and arguments.
From: Vancouver | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged
TemporalHominid
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6535

posted 12 August 2007 12:25 PM      Profile for TemporalHominid   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post
Sam Harris at Idea City 2005
From: Under a bridge, in Foot Muck | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
spillunk
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 14242

posted 13 August 2007 10:45 PM      Profile for spillunk     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Nenonen:
if there’s no experiment that could conceivably confirm or falsify a given hypothesis, then that hypothesis can’t be considered scientific (or empirical). Many atheists argue that non-falsifiable hypotheses aren’t simply unscientific, but also irrational. By this reasoning, since the God hypothesis is non-falsifiable it should be abandoned.

A significant problem with this argument is that falsifiability has limited jurisdiction even within the sciences...."Discordant data do not always falsify a theory. ...A network of theories and observations is always tested together. Any particular hypothesis can be maintained by rejecting or adjusting other auxiliary hypotheses...In practice the scientist works within the framework of accepted assumptions, and throws all the doubt on one new hypothesis at a time; but it might be just the accepted assumptions which should be questioned."
...Developments in physics in the early 20th Century utterly destroyed these fundamental assumptions.... Whatever reality is, it's not "material" in the sense that it's composed of some kind of matter.


Heh heh heh.

So what you're saying is that scientists are never certain of any part of their knowledge, and so they try to develop broad, sophisticated understandings that include ALL the observations that are made, (not just by reflexively adding weight to one experience or testimonial), and that they come up with assumptions that propel this process along.

Then you note that those assumptions (re: The Newtonian model) were tested (using more science, of course) and were found to be only partially complete, and that the whole of science was then expanded to absorb a much larger, more nuanced understanding of the universe.

You point out that, unlike in theology, canon in science cannot ever be considered canon, but rather part of an ever evolving landscape.

Well, touché, sir.


From: cavescavescaves! | Registered: Jun 2007  |  IP: Logged
Michael Nenonen
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6680

posted 14 August 2007 06:23 AM      Profile for Michael Nenonen   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Spillunk: Actually, no, that's not how the Newtonian model was overturned. As Thomas Kuhn points out in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, the shift from Newtonian to modern physics wasn't in any way a process of cumulative, rational, incremental evolution. It was instead a paradigm shift that utterly re-defined basic assumptions about the universe, and this change was profoundly dependent on sociological and historical factors within the scientific community. Paradigms and theories have their own entrenched constituencies within the scientific community, and often the only way for a paradigm to change is for the constituency of the old paradigm to literally grow old and die. Kuhn makes a strong case that such sociological factors and historical accidents play a very large role in science...that, in other words, "non-scientific" factors strongly influence the history of scientific development.

Kuhn writes, "...the early developmental stages of most sciences have been characterized by continual competition between a number of distinct views of nature, each partially derived from, and all roughly compatible with, the dictates of scientific observation and method. What differentiated these various schools was not another failure of method--they were all 'scientific'--but what we shall come to call their incommensurable ways of seeing the world and practicing science in it. Observation and experience can and must drastically restrict the range of admissible scientific belief, else there would be no science. But they cannot alone determine a particular body of such belief. An apparently arbitrary element, compounded of personal and historical accident, is always a formative ingredient of the beliefs espoused by a given scientific community at a given time."

The same thing is true of theology, which does in fact transform over time, as even a passing familiarity with the field demonstrates. The theologies of Paul Tillich and Alfred North Whitehead are radically different from the theologies of Augustine and Aquinas. Historical and sociological factors play a role here, too, but so do developments in philosophy, psychology, and physics, as well as debates entirely enclosed within the field of theology. Paradigm shifts occur within theology just as they do within science.

In neither case does falsification play a pivotal role in paradigm shifts. The crude positivism that you're arguing for simply doesn't provide an adequate account of either scientific or theological revolutions.


From: Vancouver | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged
spillunk
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 14242

posted 14 August 2007 10:55 PM      Profile for spillunk     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
You ignored the point of my post, opting instead to fight with some straw man who's not me.

I never said scientific revolutions are pretty. That was you, saying that about me. But they happen. It's quite true the old guard is thrown out often kicking and screaming. People are people, and they often resist change. But they still happen.

The entire foundation is brought down to rubble and rebuilt. All that scientists once knew requires re-examination. Life science has re-invented itself at least a dozen times in the last century alone. And scientists regard that as healthy. All the ones I've met would salivate at the prospect of starting their own demolitions in their own fields.

Let's contrast that with religion now shall we.


From: cavescavescaves! | Registered: Jun 2007  |  IP: Logged
Michael Nenonen
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6680

posted 15 August 2007 06:07 AM      Profile for Michael Nenonen   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Yeah...this is what you said in your previous post:

"Then you note that those assumptions (re: The Newtonian model) were tested (using more science, of course) and were found to be only partially complete, and that the whole of science was then expanded to absorb a much larger, more nuanced understanding of the universe."

In other words, you presented this transformation as a perfectly rational, incremental, cumulative process of scientific discovery. Where, exactly, is there room in this passage for the personal and historical factors that Kuhn describes? If the process of scientific revolutions was misrepresented by anyone, it wasn't me.

And, of course, you've completely ignored the transformations and developments in theology that I mentioned, preferring to cling to a petrified caricature of theology. One would almost think that you're completely unfamiliar with the study of theology.

You write, "The entire foundation is brought down to rubble and rebuilt. All that scientists once knew requires re-examination. Life science has re-invented itself at least a dozen times in the last century alone. And scientists regard that as healthy. All the ones I've met would salivate at the prospect of starting their own demolitions in their own fields."

In other words, you tacitly admit that science is an intensely competitive field of study (which is why scientists "salivate" at the propect of their own demolitions"). This, of course, is an expression of the egoism of scientists, and their desire for public recognition. If psychological and sociological factors play a significant role in these changes, then there is absolutely no guarantee that these demolitions are guided by any sort of teleological trajectory typically implied by notions of scientific progress.

You seem to suggest that the study of theology is compromised because it lacks this competitive ethos. I'm wondering...do you also believe that the study of aesthetics, ethics, ontology, and epistemology should also be intensely competitive, and should they be demolished and rebuilt every five years or so? If so, then how exactly should philosophers in these fields go about this competitive demolition, and what exactly would it contribute to these fields? If you don't think that they should be intensely competitive, then, given that theology draws upon each of these fields, it seems unreasonable to demand such competition in theology.

[ 15 August 2007: Message edited by: Michael Nenonen ]


From: Vancouver | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged
TemporalHominid
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6535

posted 15 August 2007 06:35 AM      Profile for TemporalHominid   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by spillunk:

I never said scientific revolutions are pretty. .... All that scientists once knew requires re-examination. Life science has re-invented itself at least a dozen times in the last century alone. And scientists regard that as healthy. All the ones I've met would salivate at the prospect of starting their own demolitions in their own fields.

Let's contrast that with religion now shall we.


exactly spillunk

Religion and theology are perpetucally petrified, they promote stagnant philosophies. Relgion and Theology are intellectual fossils that have lost their relevance because they can not be applied to a progressive society, they rely on magical thinking and ancient superstitions, and are not forward thinking.


From: Under a bridge, in Foot Muck | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
spillunk
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 14242

posted 15 August 2007 08:39 AM      Profile for spillunk     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Nenonen:
]In other words, you presented this transformation as a perfectly rational, incremental, cumulative process of scientific discovery. Where, exactly, is there room in this passage for the personal and historical factors that Kuhn describes? If the process of scientific revolutions was misrepresented by anyone, it wasn't me.

And, of course, you've completely ignored the transformations and developments in theology that I mentioned, preferring to cling to a petrified caricature of theology. One would almost think that you're completely unfamiliar with the study of theology.

You write, "The entire foundation is brought down to rubble and rebuilt. All that scientists once knew requires re-examination. Life science has re-invented itself at least a dozen times in the last century alone. And scientists regard that as healthy. All the ones I've met would salivate at the prospect of starting their own demolitions in their own fields."

In other words, you tacitly admit that science is an intensely competitive field of study (which is why scientists "salivate" at the propect of their own demolitions"). This, of course, is an expression of the egoism of scientists, and their desire for public recognition. If psychological and sociological factors play a significant role in these changes, then there is absolutely no guarantee that these demolitions are guided by any sort of teleological trajectory typically implied by notions of scientific progress.

You seem to suggest that the study of theology is compromised because it lacks this competitive ethos. I'm wondering...do you also believe that the study of aesthetics, ethics, ontology, and epistemology should also be intensely competitive, and should they be demolished and rebuilt every five years or so? If so, then how exactly should philosophers in these fields go about this competitive demolition, and what exactly would it contribute to these fields? If you don't think that they should be intensely competitive, then, given that theology draws upon each of these fields, it seems unreasonable to demand such competition in theology.

[ 15 August 2007: Message edited by: Michael Nenonen ]


This is an awkward view of the newtonian-einsteinian paradigm shift. The real question, is after the evidence began to falsify newton, why it sook so long for the scientific community to accept the falsification and move on (e.g. the failure of ether winds, blackbody models, etc.). THAT is due to social and historical factors- the ones you love.

But you forget, conveninently, that there was a build up of paradoxical scientific evidence first. And then the shift after. The bumblings of humans stalled this shift, no doubt.

But as usual, the mountain of evidence won out, and we all had to change our worldview.
Your (rather patronizing) description of science-as-ego is dismissive of what scientists do to actually effect a demolition- prove to the community that their hunch is right. Simply "being competitive" doesn't cut it. When push comes to shove, your ideas better have a leg to stand on. You take a very theological perspective of science, ascribing it to only one drive at a a time. But science is a largely cooperative endeavour too, in ways I don't have the energy to try to convey to you. Falsification is only part of science, Michael. And competitive discovery is only part, and community consensus is only part, And peer-review is only part, and every other element.

But on to the main point:
To be sure, religious evolution occurs in the monotheistic faiths too, at least of some sort, but I mostly see them do an awful lot of recasting and rationalizing of old assumptions. Sure, the customs change. The edicts change. Who cares?

I have never seen them casting off their fundamental assumptions about their Creator and rebuilding from scratch. You never see any "You know, I haven't heard from God in about a thousand years, maybe we'd better re-examine even worshipping a God".

or "Maybe the reason for no miracles is that God is only able to be omniscient on Monday Wednesday and Friday, but only omnipotent on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Let's do a controlled experiment!"

Good luck.


From: cavescavescaves! | Registered: Jun 2007  |  IP: Logged
Michael Nenonen
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6680

posted 15 August 2007 05:17 PM      Profile for Michael Nenonen   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Again, Kuhn's argument--and it's one that he backs up with extensive historical evidence--is that the choice between paradigms is often rather arbitrary, and that the factors that determine the selection of one over another often occurs precisely because of personal and historical factors.

The shift from Ptolemic to Copernican astronomy, for example, occurred in spite of the available evidence at the time, which the Copernican system didn't explain any better than the Ptolemic system. The shift happened because the Ptolemic system didn't seem to be able to solve the problems it created for itself, and there was some hope that perhaps the Copernican system could solve these problems...even though it hadn't yet been able to.

As for the theological reluctance to overturn fundamental assumptions, this is often true--but only to a point. With the discovery of the Nag Hammadi texts, for example, many Christian theologians profoundly revised their understanding of Christian revelation. Some, like Tom Harpur, have gone so far as to argue that there was no historical Jesus, and that the Christ narrative has to be read as pure allegory. Similarly, as a result of theological debate and ever-more sophisticated reflections on religious experience, many theologians and religious traditions in the last few thousand years have progressed from a belief in God as an entity and an ego (God as a superhuman person who gave order to the universe) to God as egoless ultimacy (God as the order of universe). Such changes are about as fundamental as you can get.

And this resistance to changing one's basic assumptions is hardly confined to religion. In the twenty times that life sciences have been demolished and reconstructed in the last century, for example, how often has the theory of natural selection been abandoned? Please note that I'm not saying I disagree with this theory, I'm just saying that these supposed demolitions have been less thorough than your posts suggest.

This fits with Barbour's scheme that I presented earlier--the one that runs from observations to metaphysical assumptions. The higher up the ladder you go, the more resistant to change science becomes. Metaphysical assumptions about the nature of entities in the universe (subatomic particles, etc) are far more resistant to change than more limited theories.

Paradigms (such as Newtonian physics) don't change because of their failings, but rather because more promising paradigms are offered, and even then the promise of the new paradigms is often rooted in psychological, sociological, and even aesthetic factors rather than in the ability of the new paradigm to account for the evidence better than the existing one can.

As Barbour writes, "There is a greater influence in religion than in science 'from the top down': from paradigms, through interpretive models and beliefs, to experience. But the influence 'from the bottom up', starting from (religious) experience, is not totally absent in religion. Although there is no neutral descriptive language, there are degrees of interpretation. Therefore, religious beliefs, and even paradigms, are not totally incommensurable. There can be significant communication between paradigm communities. One cannot prove one's most fundamental beliefs, but one can try to show how they function in the interpretation of experience...

"Religious beliefs...are highly resistant to falsification, but the cumulative weight of evidence does count decisively for or against them in the long run, in comparison with alternative interpretations. Men do and should modify their beliefs in light of their experience."

Anyway, you didn't answer a question I posed in my previous post: Do you think that such fields as the study of ethics, aesthetics, epistemology, and ontology should be subjected to the kind of competitive ethos that exists within the sciences, or that they should be demolished and rebuilt every five years or so? If so, how should scholars in these fields go about this work, and how would it improve their respective fields?


From: Vancouver | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged
unionist
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 11323

posted 15 August 2007 05:41 PM      Profile for unionist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Michael Nenonen:
With the discovery of the Nag Hammadi texts, for example, many Christian theologians profoundly revised their understanding of Christian revelation. Some, like Tom Harpur, have gone so far as to argue that there was no historical Jesus, and that the Christ narrative has to be read as pure allegory.

No!


From: Vote QS! | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
Kerouac
recent-rabble-rouser
Babbler # 14449

posted 16 August 2007 10:12 PM      Profile for Kerouac        Edit/Delete Post
I believe that there was an historical Christ and the he was Divine. I do not believe in the Gnostic Gospels though. I tend to believe that those were just a gnostic twist given to Jesus. Gnosticism predated Christianity and then made Jesus into what they wanted.

Which many other people do as well?

We have to conservative Jesus going to war, and the Liberal Jesus condoning free-love. And all of these I believe are inaccurate depictions.

I don;t think the USA is a theocracy. If this were so then of course we know that there would be prayer in schools and etc etc. Seperation of church and state is good, but then you must also understand that a great deal of the US is Christian (not by gov force, but by choice) and so therefore it you are going to have a lot of Christian politicians. Though who can say if they are valid Christians. Either way....the US is quite secular and is probably the most open society in the world. I do not think Universities in Iran would ever install Holy Water stations.

[ 16 August 2007: Message edited by: Kerouac ]


From: My House | Registered: Aug 2007  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 17 August 2007 03:33 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I just read Sam Harris's "Letter to a Christian Nation". He mostly redeems himself in it, but not quite. The main reason being that, at least in that book, he differentiates between "moderate" and "fundamentalist" Christians and addresses much of his book towards the fundies. So I found myself agreeing with him all the way along.

But then at the end of the book, he started throwing in comments about Muslims again, with no attempt to differentiate moderates from fundies, and indeed claiming that most Muslims are looking to take over the world and either kill or subjugate every other religious and non-religious person on the planet.

It's really a blind spot for him. It's too bad. I find it frustrating because he's really got a lot of great things to say, and then he completely wrecks it. I find myself really wanting him in "my corner" and then he says something so bigoted that I think, geez, does he have to be on our team?


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Stargazer
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6061

posted 17 August 2007 03:41 AM      Profile for Stargazer     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Pretty much exactly how I felt Michelle.

By the way, I am pretty positive our newest guy above is yet another troll but since his quote was so funny I want to preserve it.

quote:
Though who can say if they are valid Christians. Either way....the US is quite secular and is probably the most open society in the world.

From: Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist. | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged
unionist
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 11323

posted 17 August 2007 04:03 AM      Profile for unionist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Kerouac:
I believe that there was an historical Christ and the he was Divine.

Great - true confessions!

quote:
I do not believe in the Gnostic Gospels though.

Seriously? Give them a chance. They are my all-time favourite heavy metal band. They're simply divine!

quote:
I tend to believe that those were just a gnostic twist given to Jesus.

Amnesty International has condemned that as a torture method. That's a serious accusation, especially since He was historical.

quote:
Gnosticism predated Christianity and then made Jesus into what they wanted.

I can't visualize that without feeling ill. I'm sure it's prohibited by Geneva.

quote:
I do not think Universities in Iran would ever install Holy Water stations.

I am so thankful we live in Canada - they would never get away with that here, because of the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations:

quote:
9.19 (1) Subject to sections 9.20 and 9.21, every employer shall provide for each toilet room wash basins supplied with cold water and hot water that meets the requirements of section 9.18 as follows:

(a) where the room contains one or two toilets or urinals, one wash basin; and

(b) where the room contains more than two toilets or urinals, one wash basin for every two toilets or urinals.

(2) Where an outdoor privy is provided by an employer, the employer shall provide wash basins required by subsection (1) as close to the outdoor privy as is reasonably practicable. SOR/88-632, s. 31; SOR/94-263, s. 25(F).


[ 17 August 2007: Message edited by: unionist ]


From: Vote QS! | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
Kerouac
recent-rabble-rouser
Babbler # 14449

posted 17 August 2007 08:46 AM      Profile for Kerouac        Edit/Delete Post
Your snotty attitude Unionist does not change the fact that I am correct.

I feel sorry for you, Sir.

America is not the "Church" Michelle, so going to war is not a religious decision. You are conveniently saying Christians are doing the same thing as Muslims because the American gov is going to war.


From: My House | Registered: Aug 2007  |  IP: Logged
unionist
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 11323

posted 17 August 2007 08:55 AM      Profile for unionist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Kerouac:
Your snotty attitude Unionist does not change the fact that I am correct.

I feel sorry for you, Sir.

America is not the "Church" Michelle, so going to war is not a religious decision. You are conveniently saying Christians are doing the same thing as Muslims because the American gov is going to war.


Listen, Entrancemperium, how about heading back to Stormfront where you were spawned?


From: Vote QS! | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 17 August 2007 08:58 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Not the same guy.

I'm closing this now.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged

All times are Pacific Time  

Post New Topic  
Topic Closed  Topic Closed
Open Topic    Move Topic    Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
Hop To:

Contact Us | rabble.ca | Policy Statement

Copyright 2001-2008 rabble.ca