I am about halfway through "The End of a Faith". I had taken a break to digest the ideas presented in critcism of Chomsky and the American liberal response to global Islam.
I find Harris' treatment insightful but shallow. Several important distinctions are ignored.
It cannot be denied however that the global reaction to the Dutch Mohhamed cartoons is a persuasive example of the insular Muslim mind.
A favorite example of Harris is the suicide bomber. Suicide bombing is a powerful example of Islamic irrationallity but it can be dismissed by some as a tactical answer, in equal degree, to westen violence and oppression.
The cartoons do not enjoy such a defensible position.
The irrational reaction to the cartoons does not have an equally omnipresent reaction or attitude in western civilisation. The West harbors a multitude of easily offended sectarians and ideologues. However none possess the influence or ideology necessary to subvert the secular committment to free expression or to cultivate such a sustained uproar as currently manifest throughout Islam.
This situation forces liberal thinkers (myself included) to take off the kid gloves when exploring the implications of Muslim thought.
The frightening thing is that the reaction by some Muslims is not at all irrational - based on their their basic belief system. Once it is accepted that it is an affront to ‘God’ to publish such blasphemy, and that ‘God’ instructs good followers to violent response, then it is the rational next step to follow the will of ‘God’.
This is why it is that religious beliefs ought not be ‘off-limits’ to rational discourse and criticism. This week, angry Muslims are threatening a violent response to published cartoons they consider blasphemous. It is the response itself – the threat of violence against civilians - that highlights the importance of the desperate need to criticize such a belief system – one whose very scripture condones violence as appropriate reaction to an insult. Let us not for a moment think that Christianity is any better. Those who murder abortion doctors similarly find their justification in the Bible. Belief systems that find justification and even commands to commit violent acts in their scriptures, not only should, but must be criticized publicly and often.
Parsley, you are wrong about Christianity. Ever studied it?
Listening to you is like listening to somebody trying to tell me all about football, but he’s never been to/or watched a game. And I know football, you can be darn tootin of that. I know when somebody thinks they know football but they don’t have a clue what the difference is between a safety and a corner. Kind of like you talking about Christianity.
Take a class, read a reference book. Don’t embarrass yourself. And I say that in a nice way. By the way, welcome to the board. LOL, chuckle. Sorry to jump right in and attack you, but that is to be expected on this board. Better know your p’s and q’s if you want to play here.
Thanks for the welcome and for the feisty reply. This is what I came here for. I concede that I am no Christian scholar, nor even well-read in the world of football. (Personally, I am more embarrassed about the latter.) But, I don’t think I need a bible study class to understand the following passage:
“If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. Your hand shall be the first raised to slay him; the rest of the people shall join in with you. You shall stone him to death, because he sought to lead you astray from the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. And all Israel, hearing of this, shall fear and never do such evil as this in your midst.” (Deuteronomy 13:7-12 NAB)
I must ask, dear responder, what it is that I said that you disagree with, and why.
Parsley, welcome indeed. I love the fact you can be slapped and get right up and give it right back! What a fine example for us all to learn from.
But umm, yes, a bible study would serve you well. Because this usually one of the first scriptures trotted out as pRoOf that Christianity is bad.
First of all, it is in the OT, which would apply to the Jewish religion. But that would be a cop out for a Christian to classify it as such. The Judeo-Christian ethic comprises both the OT and NT. Deuteronomy is a part of the Torah, or what we call the Law. It was introduced to mankind during a time when man was completely wicked. This law ensured the survivability of the Jewish nation, from which the Messiah of mankind would emerge. I mean, “ensured” is understating the effect of the law upon the stability and survivability of the Jewish nation, of that we can agree. It shows how serious God was in sending his son to die for you so you could get access to Heaven.
The essense of God’s law is wrapped up in the 10 Commandments. The 10 Commandments was the beginning of morals for mankind. Never has man improved upon the 10 Commandments. But, believe it or not, God did.
When Jesus came, his sacrifice on the cross began the “New Covenant” with God. Not to banish the law, but to fulfill it in all its glory.
Therefore, we must play by the rules in the NT, which would turn any ordinary citizen into a model citizen. The golden rule is the rule by which Christians must live by. Because, the golden rule is what Christian behavior is all about.
Conclusion, respect the law for what is did, live for Jesus for what he did, and go forward in peace living the abundant life that Jesus came to give you. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10
homunculus, took the spouse out earlier this week and had a glass of Arrow…something Pino Noir with our fancy Italian dinner. There is just something about a real good Pino and real good Italian food…...
[quote author=“homunculus”][quote author=“TheChampion”]Deuteronomy is a part of the Torah, or what we call the Law. It was introduced to mankind during a time when man was completely wicked. . . .
Champion, friend, can you cite any authoritative source for your statement above? I didn’t realize that humanity had improved in its disposition considerably over the past few thousand years.
Well it appears that the improvement of humanity over the course of the past two thousand years has been a mixed bag. However, where Christainity flourishes, humanity improves. This is because Christianity is about the only subgroup of societies that preach the golden rule for behavior, what Jesus was and taught.
However, in many cases Christianity flourished when persecution occurs. It is so typical. We find ourselves in a jam and we cry out to God. Things get fixed eventually and go well. Then we forget about God until the next jam. But I don’t want to be that way. I want to be faithful when things are going great, if I can. But I’m only human. I have to force my flesh to adhere to strive for perfection, like Christ.
Whoa, TheChampion, wait, wait, wait a moment….. You stated that “…Christianity is about the only subgroup of societies that preach the golden rule for behavior.” ?? I do agree that the Golden Rule (Mathew 7:12) is indeed a lovely and enlightened principle. This concept, however, is not even close to being an exclusively Christian one. I offer the following passages for your consideration.
“Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful>”
Udana Varga 5:18 – Buddhism
“No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.”
Sunnah – Islam
This is the sum of the duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.”
Mahabharata 5:1517 – Brahmanism
“Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindness: Do not unto others that you would not have them do unto you.”
Analects 15:23 – Confucianism
“Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.”
T’ai Shag Kan Ying P’ien – Taoism
“Those that are good to me, I am good; to those that are not good to me, I am also good. Thus all get to be good. To those that are sincere with me, I am sincere; to those who are not sincere with me, I am also sincere. Thus all get to be sincere.”
“That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good: for itself.”
Dadistan-i-dinik 94:5 – Zoroastrainism
“The highest aim and sense of human life is the striving to attain the welfare on one’s neighbor.”
But I digress.
It’s time for me to be frank. I concede there is much in every religion that is nice and good. But there is nothing in any of them that convinces me there is a God. People can and do come up with good ideas on their very own, and we can recognize them when others come up with them. Neither religion nor God is not required for morality.
Yes, Champ, your answer satisfies me in the sense that I was fairly certain that no Biblical authority agrees with your sentiment. In fact, many great “evils” cited in OT passages to be deserving of the death sentence by way of stoning occur today in far greater numbers than they did back when the world population count was a small fraction of the billions we now have.
How many gay couples are having sex right this second, in comparison to the number that in ancient times must have taken place in an entire year? My guess is that in California alone, many more gays are going at it at this moment than in a typical ancient year.
Is the Father holding back on His punishment for some reason? Are you Christians frustrated at modern laws that would punish you for stoning me to death for driving to Reno tonight to visit and pay a lady friend?
Oh, that’s right. Sorry. You’re only ordered to stone the female half of the transaction.
(Actually, I’ll be staying here tonight among the Pino vines.)
Any religion has its “extremists”: we find a similar pattern in politics, arts, science, cultures and so on. It is the very human nature after all.
Let’s not forget that religion has been “adapted” to fit specific human groups: Christianity has emerged from Roman Empire’s society and Christians were enthusiastically persecuted and executed by Roman authorities, in the name of some ancient Gods. Eventually Christianity has prevailed not only as a religion but more likely as an important component of the Western Civilization.
What are the differences between a Japanese Kamikaze pilot (WWII, Pacific Theatre) and a contemporary Muslim suicide bomber? The pilot was not only proud of his action (crashing into an US war ship and killing as many soldiers as possible) but he truly believed that from his action it was his country that will truly benefit. He was highly regarded and honoured not by priests but rather by the society.
A Muslim suicide bomber or terrorist is also highly regarded and respected by his fellows: of course, the target of his attack is mostly the civilian population, the “innocents”. Well, not so innocents if we look at the story from a different angle: from a “Muslim freedom fighter” perspective.
During WWII millions of civilians were targeted by aerial attacks and pulverized. It didn’t matter what camp were they from. It didn’t matter they were Americans, Britons, Germans, Russians, Italians or Japanese because they were the “enemy”.
Belonging to a specific civilization today, for example the Western civilization, definitely makes you a target for any “Muslim freedom fighter” just because you are in the “wrong camp”. So is there a connection between religion and acts of “terrorism”? Very much so. If someone in the XIV century would dared to state that the Earth is not flat, he would have found himself in serious trouble with Catholic Church believes and most likely the Inquisition would have “solved” the dispute quickly and efficiently. There are similarities with most other oppressive and dictatorial regimes such as fascisms and communism: every time someone tried to criticize the regime and its wrong doings was rapidly eliminated in the name of the proletarian state, or in the name of the Arian nation. Today, they are eliminated in the name of Allah. By being a Jew, or a Christian or even a Buddhist you’ll find yourself by default in the “infidel” camp and you became a target.
Islamic religion is more and more becoming the instrument used to bring the Islamic world together because the Islamic government cannot work out their differences.
Any religion embeds norms of conduct and solid human principles dedicated to improve the civilization and to provide a better goal. Using the religion as an instrument to achieve power and control on the expense of innocent individual is the same as using a totalitarian government to achieve whatever shady and greedy goals.
This is not about religion but rather about power, control and manipulation in the name of religion. Criticizing the religion itself brings little good: criticizing the people misinterpreting the religion and using it as a tool for mass destruction is what we should vigorously pursue. Think about nuclear power: it could be used for peaceful activities and it brings enormous benefits. It could also be used for weapons of mass destruction and we have Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is not that much about the religion but rather who is using it and for what purpose.[list][/list:u]
The recent events in the Middle East and across Europe in response to the cartoons of Mohammed speak for themselves and earily demonstrate the validity of Mr. Harris’ observations.
What is even more striking, is the response of “moderates” who straddle the issue and purport to defend free speech and at the same time speak about how insensitive the cartoons are. Please!!! We are getting sucked in to the Islamic Fundementalists’ agenda which is to clearly put the Western World on its heals, get us blaming ourselves, all in the face of their very clear aspirations to destroy us all.
My God, the rhetoric broadcast over the Saudi Arabian, Palestinian and other news outlets in the Middle East get very little press and are at the extreme of offensive and hateful.
We need to nip this in the bud and reveal the Islamo-facisit for what they are-living in the 7th Century and bound to attack all non-Muslims for their own insecurities, lack of achievement, and default to a sick dogma that threatens to bring the entire world to its knees.
Is there any reason out their? Where are the leaders who will speak the truth in response to this cancer on the World?
I visualize peace but it is getting more difficult with every riot, embassy burned to the ground, and children armed with AK-47s I see in the press.
Moderate Muslims? If you are out there, you need to stand up and do something, because we simply cannot hear you. And don’t start with how oppressed you have been. The only oppression that would justify the condition of the Muslim world is self-induced or perpetrated by other Muslims.
The US, to a fault, will examine itself and adjust, but teh Muslim World needs to plice itself so it can join the 21st Century. The rest of us are not going back. And remember, a life that is not self-examined, is not worth living. So get started and look in the mirror.
You guys are spirited and I enjoy your posts. On the other hand, your debate over the language in the OT and at least one claim to the purity of Christianity, I think, make Sam Harris’ point. That reliance on religious tradition or texts in a dogmatic fashion is what divides us and sends us down the slippery slope to conflict.
The OT and NT are a collective of writings with many contributors. They provide a jumping off point, in my view, for the personal development of an individual’s spirituality or philisophy, on big issues like who am I, how do I fit, and what is my purpose, if any.
And aside from the dogmatic interpretation of the litergy of the “great religions” of the world, it is the actions of a group that must be judged. When a group of fanatics take action against what I consider to be universal axioms of right and wrong, in the name of any religion, they need to be called on the carpet. Just because fanatical Muslims, Christians and Jews are “true believers ” does not require the rest of us to give them license to a claim of legitimacy. And it doesn’t really matter whose text they are relying on when they bomb your little innocent child in a cafe.
I would suggest that such acts are inherently morally wrong. I don’t know under whose law I would make this assertion, but with respect to fundemental religionist, I say I don’t need to rely on their text. It is wrong and needs to be dealt with.
You very debate over whose litergy is more nasty ignores the central issue. And with these thoughts in mind, I abhore the current conduct and actions of fundementalist Muslims-not all Muslims, but what appears to me to be a boatload of them worldwide. The guy from Iran is in power only through total control over the general millieu with thought police, and efforts to shift the responsiblity for the obvious failings of the Iranian social and ecnomic systems since the Revolution in the 1970’s. Just like Communism brought misery to the world-Stalin, Cambodia, etc…despite their claims to an almost religious view of how scoiety and the economy should be organized.
As far as the cartoon thing goes, I have no time to understand the Muslim response-it is wrong, scary and reminds me of a book you should all read Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds
These Muslim fundementalists are out of control, delusional and best exemplify the horrible by-product of years of oppression and indoctrination by the worst of humanity. If the religious leaders of these various sects would spend half their time teaching the golden rule, the importance of family and the fact that we are all just people living on the Earth, the Pan Arab world would be in good shape, contribute to progress of mankind and live happily ever after. As it stands now, in today’s terms, they represent a dangerous group of thugs who are insecure, live under failed regimes, and simply do not know what to do with themselves other than to embody whatever they believe is the word of their God-very dangerous to deal with and definitive evidence of Mr. Harris’ theory.
Perhaps you fine people missed the point of this book. There are no moderate muslims, or moderate christians or jews either. There are only muslims and jews and christians who arbitrarily ignore parts of their sacred texts. Muslims are becoming violent because of a cartoon? If they are true to their religion they were violent already. Period.