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  #261  
Old 04-20-2011, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Saquist View Post
The extremist make it difficult to tolerate religion and I think the future will only make it more difficult.

For the record I DON'T like how religion in America is mixed thoroughly with politics and it causes so many refits and divisions. The Christian faith was never meant to dictate terms to other faiths or to a nation/s it was supposed to make Christians or the new jews more TOLERANT of other nations in which they would reside in. But the wave and popularity took hold and those nations had other ideas I guess...
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That's not faith, that's literalism, fundamentalism or pseudo-science but certainly not faith.

Jesus Christ didn't say anything about dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden or whatever, he talked about how we should live together. As I wrote earlier social sciences are in-between hard sciences and faith, you can understand our social sphere with multiple tools. Science, art, religion, they are all important to understand and influence our social life and I wouldn't want to miss any of them.

The error of atheist fundamentalists like Harris is that they believe that science alone suffices. Sorry, but last time I checked something like the French revolution had little to do with science.
Jesus also didn't say anything about not using condoms, eating fish on Friday's, or not getting married if you want to worship him but Catholicism is pretty popular. There is good and bad in every religion. I find it interesting how many people will say they affiliate with a certain religious group but then when you inquire further it turns out they don't believe or follow half the rules of that religious group. I wonder why so many people associate with religious groups then. Anyone can have faith in a God and not affiliate with any religion. Either way most people realize the problems in their respective religion and don't follow them. Another problem though is having those problems changed officially from the top leaders down in a particular religion. Religion doesn't take kindly to change and tradition seems to be more important in most cases. I just read this piece by Sam Harris and I'm pretty sure he doesn't believe science alone suffices. I think it has a lot of relevance to what we have been discussing and is a good read for everyone. It's defiantly changed my perspective.
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  #262  
Old 04-20-2011, 10:24 AM
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I have to agree.
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  #263  
Old 04-20-2011, 05:50 PM
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Jesus also didn't say anything about not using condoms, eating fish on Friday's, or not getting married if you want to worship him but Catholicism is pretty popular. There is good and bad in every religion. I find it interesting how many people will say they affiliate with a certain religious group but then when you inquire further it turns out they don't believe or follow half the rules of that religious group. I wonder why so many people associate with religious groups then. Anyone can have faith in a God and not affiliate with any religion. Either way most people realize the problems in their respective religion and don't follow them. Another problem though is having those problems changed officially from the top leaders down in a particular religion. Religion doesn't take kindly to change and tradition seems to be more important in most cases. I just read this piece by Sam Harris and I'm pretty sure he doesn't believe science alone suffices. I think it has a lot of relevance to what we have been discussing and is a good read for everyone. It's defiantly changed my perspective.
I think he does belief that science suffices and by picking a few a random Harris lines and elaborating a bit on them I hopefully can make clear why.

To be even-handed when talking about the problem of Islam is to misconstrue the problem. The refrain, "all religions have their extremists," is bull****—and it is putting the West to sleep.

He is basically a carbon copy of Hitchen, another Islamophob. Now I am certainly not somebody who wants to downplay the wickedness of Islamism (which is as not a problem of Islam just like Christian or atheistic fundamentalism is not a problem of Christianity or atheism ... it is as I say all the time a problem of fundamentalism paired with plain evil) but let me mention how we, the liberal secular West, were involved with its spread in the last decades.
We used Islamists in Afghanistan (with the help of Pakistan and Saudi-Arabia) to create a Vietnam for the Soviet Union and now we are supposedly there to get rid of them. I am certainly not a friend of communism but wouldn't it have been better in hindsight for the country if it had went through some communist horrors into Western modernity instead of no modernity at all but just Islamism?
When we get rid of Saddam we brought Al-Qaeda into Iraq. Now I don't wanna defend this mass murderer, Iraq is certainly better off right without him. But he had one asset, that we was a secular guy whereas now the doors for religious violence are open.
Israel did not do anything about the rise of Hamas because naturally they welcomed Palestinians fighting amongst themselves. But they realized too late that they are worse off with Islamists who wanna blow themselves up to eradiacte Israel than with secular lefties who blow themselves up to end the occupation.

So what seems to be a clear category in our eyes, West liberalism vs. Middle-Eastern Islamism, is in political reality nastily intertwined. That's the definition of ideology, you do it but you are not aware of it. Harris who considers himself to be a decent secular rational guy has actually a lot in common with those fundamentalists he attacks.



We are faced with the monumental task of persuading a myth-infatuated world that love and curiosity are sufficient, and that we need not console or frighten ourselves or our children with Iron Age fairy tales.

Monotheistic religions were indeed invented in the Iron Age and they are indeed often used as consolation (Marx' famous words about religion being the opium for the people) or to frighten people. I even totally agree with him that they are myths.
But, guess what, human rights are also myths! You don't find them somewhere in nature or under a microscope, we made them up. They are not real in a hyper-materialistic sense that could only lead to social Darwinism, they become real when we believe in them. Then they are, to (mis)use the famous Tolkien words, a true myth.
Jesus Christ told his disciples how to live together when he talked about the kingdom of God, when he told them to abandon their families. Of course you shouldn't take any of this literal, kingdom of God isn't something metaphysical and you should not really abandon your family. You should just cut tribal ties and consider yourself as part of a larger family. (This is thus a response to your argument that people should just believe privately. This might be fine for a religion like Buddhism with inner retreat, meditation and so on but it's not what Christianity is meant to be about if we take the words of Jesus Christ seriously.)
That we are all human and share a common fate is a very modern idea but the roots of it were laid 2000 years ago.
Interestingly Christianity spread beyond Palestine precisely because of this idea of a new all-encompassing community yet it seems to be totally ignored by contemporary Christianity.



I hope I made a bit clear what my issues with atheistic fundamentalists like Hitchens or Harris are, it's the ignorance of the social sphere. God is not Great is the title of a book of Hitchens and I totally agree, his "God", his belief is indeed not great.

Whenever somebody bombards you with facts, and people on the left like Chomsky also play this stupid game, you should always ask for ideological affiliation (e.g. in the case of Chomsky being an Antizionist he finds many facts to support his belief). You can't play this stupid reason vs. faith game because enlightenment brought us human rights and democracy as well as the Holocaust and the gulags.
Faith, ideology, ideas, these fuzzy and intangible concepts matter very much and while me may think that we are so modern and rational and enlightened we are actually not. We still face the same question as the ancients did, how to live together in the best way.

PS: On a personal note, I understand why you like Harris' text as I also initially liked the few stuff I read by him, Dawkins and Hitchens. It was clear and seemed to make perfect sense. But after some time I discovered their nasty dark side. To end it with a politically incorrect joke, it's like going to Catholic seminary and everything seems so nice and tidy and great ... and then you wake up one night realizing that you get f'ed in the a'.

Last edited by horatio : 04-20-2011 at 06:04 PM.
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