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Rape (pg 90)
Posted: 09 October 2006 06:49 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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Mr. Harris states on page 90:
"There is, after all, nothing more natural than rape".
Was anyone else as stunned and baffled as I was by this? How can he state that rape( and religion) was once evolutionarily necessary for our ancestors?
He lost me on that one.

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Posted: 09 October 2006 07:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Finish the quote….

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Posted: 15 October 2006 05:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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[quote author=“ctrone”]Mr. Harris states on page 90:
“There is, after all, nothing more natural than rape”.
Was anyone else as stunned and baffled as I was by this? How can he state that rape( and religion) was once evolutionarily necessary for our ancestors?
He lost me on that one.

Here is the entire passage:
[quote author=“Sam Harris”] Some researchers have speculated that religion itself may have played an important role in getting large groups of prehistoric humans to socially cohere. If this is true, we can say that religion has served an important purpose.  This does not suggest, however, that it serves an important purpose now. There is, after all, nothing more natural than rape. But no one would argue that rape is good, or compatible with a civil society, because it may have had evolutionary advantages for our ancestors.

It is a philosophical truism that what is natural isn’t necessarily good. The OP seems to believe that a bare statement of fact constitutes an endorsement of some sort. He needs to read more carefully.

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Posted: 15 October 2006 05:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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[quote author=“ctrone”]Mr. Harris states on page 90:
“There is, after all, nothing more natural than rape”.
Was anyone else as stunned and baffled as I was by this? How can he state that rape( and religion) was once evolutionarily necessary for our ancestors?
He lost me on that one.

He didn’t say it was necessary, but a male who produces offspring with absolutely no investment beyond a minute or so of effort is getting a good deal, provided he can escape other consequences.

It is in the everyone else’s interest, of course, to see that there are consequences…

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Posted: 21 October 2006 10:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Let me try to be clearer:
“There is, after all, NOTHING more NATURAL than RAPE.” (?)

True or False?
Fact? or Opinion?

and yes , I did carefully read the entire passage and understand it is an analogy TYVM.  I just think it is a bizarre statement coming from someone so reasonable, logical and rational.  It sounds like something that men who crash airplanes into buildings would say.

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Posted: 21 October 2006 02:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Let me try to be clearer:
“There is, after all, NOTHING more NATURAL than RAPE.” (?)

True or False?
Fact? or Opinion?

and yes , I did carefully read the entire passage and understand it is an analogy TYVM. I just think it is a bizarre statement coming from someone so reasonable, logical and rational. It sounds like something that men who crash airplanes into buildings would say.

Short answer: To assert that some act is natural is not to praise or condone it. The assertion in the quotation is true. It states a matter of fact although of course, rape is not so common as eating or sleeping. Examining a sentence out of context is not conducive to understanding any writer.

Long answer:

Behavior is natural if it occurs among animals whom humans have not trained to demonstrate that behavior. Determining whether rape is natural is not a matter of deductive logic but of observing nature. If someone makes a statement that is contrary to objective reality, he is not failing at being logical but at being factual. Of course, it is rational to stick to the facts.

Does rape in fact occur in animals other than humans?
http://www.answers.com/topic/animal-sexuality

Animal sexual behavior takes many different forms, even within the same species. Researchers have observed monogamy, promiscuity, sex between species, sexual arousal from objects or places, rape, necrophilia, and a range of other practices among animals. . . .

Rape and apparently coercive sex

Controversial interpretations and implications aside (see Sociobiological theories of rape), sex in a forceful or apparently coercive context has also been documented in a variety of species. A notable example is bottlenose dolphins, where at times, gangs of bachelor males ‘corner’ females. The behavior is also common in some arachnids (spiders), notably those whose females eat the males during sex if not tricked with food and tied down with threads, and in some herbivorous herd species or species where males and females are very different in size, where the male dominates sexually by sheer force and size. Other animals which appear to combine sexual intercourse with apparent violent assault, also include some species of bird such as ducks and geese.

Rape reportedly occurs among the great apes too. 
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3659/is_199902/ai_n8838004

Chimpanzees not only kill each other like humans do, but also “share other evils: political murders, beatings, and rape” (p. 131).

When society determines that some behavior natural for people is not acceptable, then it institutes various social and legal inhibitions on that behavior. Laws and customs would not forbid murder if people were not capable of murder. (No law forbids people to grow wings and take flight.) To assert that some act is natural is not to praise or condone it, but to establish that it might be appropriate to control it socially.

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Posted: 21 October 2006 03:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Ctrone, just to add a footnote to Ted’s expansive and eloquent response, you seem to be objecting to a point that was made by an author for a reason, due to its annoying level of honesty. What is natural? Would you mind telling us what you think? Aren’t many underhanded and even criminal tendencies natural? Or are you applying moralistic nuances contained in modern usages of “natural” that Mr. Harris did not take into account? What is “natural” is “good,” right?

Find something more salient to object to in Harris’ writings.

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Posted: 22 October 2006 10:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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[quote author=“SeanK”]It is possibly ‘natural’ for males to want to do it.

To rape women?  Possibly, but not very likely, since rape involves so many maladaptive behaviors in “ancestral”-type societies (but see below).  It doesn’t confer a reproductive advantage as far as we can see, and it doesn’t offer a whole lot of sexual gratification either, unless a particular man’s idea of sex is mighty peculiar.

Certainly males want to do “it” but “it” is pleasurable sex without the likely risk of having your brains bashed in for it, or being ostracized, or starting a blood feud.  (I’m talking here about the famous Pleistocene environment as extrapolated back from historically observed hunter-gatherer societies, or over from contemporary primate relatives, which is a questionable endeavor in itself.)

Little-known fact: rape can be quite painful for an uncircumcised man to engage in.  Is it an accident that rape - which I define in the classic sense as abrupt sex forced on someone else with threats, as opposed to coercing someone into eventually having sex with an unwanted partner, which is abundantly seen in the Victorian novels of Anthony Trollope - seems to be more common among societies where males are circumcised than not?

This isn’t necessarily contradicted by the inclusion of rape as a tool of war and conquest, or of domination, regardless of circumcision status.  If one is willing to kill and die one will hardly flinch at some genital pain.  Same if one’s a sociopath who gets pleasure from hurting others and is willing to take significant personal risk in doing so.  (And when it comes to gang rape, only the first uncircumcised male would find it painful, if you see what I mean…) 

I’m not going the “rape is only about violence, nothing to do with sex at all” route.  Clearly this isn’t true and clearly some men get sexual pleasure from rape.  I’m just questioning the “most men have rape willingness as an instinct if their reason didn’t get in the way” premise.  For it to be “natural” it would have to be most men, and what does it mean anyway?  What human men do not have reason, or at least culture (which I believe is the product of reason, other claims to the contrary - see below) modifying instinct since the beginning?  So how can we tell what the instinct is, since it certainly isn’t expressed in any predictable way?

(Do other animals ask? Not many.)

Because their behavior is solely driven by instinct.  How can a duck “rape” another duck in any meaningful sexual sense of the word?  The entire context of humiliation, guilt, shame, behavior outside of social norms (which is appealing for some people), stigmatization of the victim, dire consequences of and to resulting offspring - all are absent.

A duck can rape another duck only in the sense of human beings raping the environment.  It’s not even quite that, but it’s closer.  But that’s not the sense in which sociobiologists use the word.

Our reason defines it as improper.

But why?  Our commonsense tells us it’s stupid and dangerous, too. 

Something to think about perhaps:  New England colonists were stunned to find that North American Indians did not rape their European female captives (although it was hinted at in more lurid “captivity narratives”).  Indians were certainly willing to kill female captives when they became burdensome or looked like they wouldn’t survive the march from settlement to Indian homeland, or to French Canada (where many English captives of both sexes were sold to the French for eventual ransom - the greatest fear of captives’ familes back home, once they knew their loved ones had survived, was that they would convert to Catholicism or “turn native” and refuse to come home*).  Eastern Indians did not rape each other either.

I’ve read that no American Indian tribes raped female captives.**  I am not so sure about this in the case of Plains Indians, although I haven’t seen reliable evidence that they did rape, either.  (Remember that reports of rape of victims found dead by Americans are not necessarily reliable, as the idea of sexual congress with an Indian was almost as horrible as the idea of that with an “African”, and both loomed as shadowy terror even when a vanishingly likely probability.  Portrayal as potential rapists of white women helped justify the treatment of Indians as it did that of blacks.  My grandmother in North Carolina was afraid of being raped by a Negro well into the 20th century, even though she would have been far more likely to be struck by lightning and being raped by a white man would’ve been a risk to be given serious consideration.)

California Indians did not have a chance to rape white captives because they didn’t have any.  They also didn’t rape each other.  I don’t know what the practices of more “advanced” native people like the Tlingit of the Pacific Northwest were.

*One source: The Unredeemed Captive : A Family Story from Early America by John Demos.

**One source: some history of sex in America which I now can’t find on Amazon or B&N by title… Sorry.

Get over the alarmist attitude to it and see the real meaning.  Things that we may normally do, we keep from doing because it is reasonable to not do these things.

Again, if one is looking at hunter-gatherers just when contact with civilization first happens, rape isn’t something that “normally” occurs.  It certainly develops in some societies as unusual behavior under common circumstances (within a group that’s intact, not under pressure) and common behavior under unusual circumstances (towards members of another group during war), but not in others.

We don’t know what behaviors not substantiated by physical evidence went on in at the time when our genes were differentiated from those of common chimpanzees and bonobos, i.e. when the chromosomal inversions, translocations, and fusions were happening that eventually resulted in “us”.  Sexual behavior apart from the bare fact of reproduction is one of those not substantiated.  Unlike, say, upright walking.
 

If you do not agree with using rape in this construct, fill in your own example.

Okay, something noncontroversial: upright walking.  Or better yet, speech.  This behavior is instinctive in humans.  Every human being is naturally driven to acquire speech at a certain early point in development unless they are severely damaged.  (All babies babble and all parents talk back to them, again unless some extremely damaged scenario is under way.)  Every human society uses speech.  So speaking is “natural”, “normal”, universal, and its predictable acquisition and use are more easily observed as such than any sexual behavior (even among hunter-gatherers we see serial monogamy, sort of; polygyny; polyandry). 

Culture overlays some mild restrictions on use of speech (here I’m only talking about verbalization, not flag burning) but no culture tries to forbid its members from ever speaking nor weights the behavior with the same angst as sex.  Hence, to speak is not as fraught with cultural baggage as to engage in consensual sex, let alone rape, so we can come to more conclusions about speech as persistent, adaptive, encoded instinct.  We can also look at the physical brain and get evidence about speech, which is much harder in the case of sex. 

Incidentally, “feral” children or children who have apparently not been spoken to in the so-called critical period are rare but even they can eventually acquire some speech - apparently the critical period isn’t so critical after all.***

***Source: Savage Girls and Wild Boys: A History of Feral Children, by Michael Newton.

To have sex is obviously instinctive also, but it’s been so influenced by culture that we can hardly know what the instinct might be on its own - indeed, how could it exist on its own?  I do not know of any feral children growing up to be sexual savages, but then again we only know of feral children who must have lived within culture at some point (or they wouldn’t have survived) and who are returned to culture at an early age (or we wouldn’t know about them).

There don’t seem to be any feral children who lived “in the wild” to full adulthood and then went around behaving instinctively. 

Comparison to the sex lives of ducks and insects is futile.  Comparisons to common chimps and bonobos aren’t much better, because we don’t find the same behavior in ourselves in groups that are assumed to be closest to “ancestral” behavior. 

But of course we don’t know if they are at all close to ancestral behavior when we are talking about our ancestors who were close to chimps of either kind.  We don’t have the slightest clue what their sexual behavior was, and never will. 

We might be able to get an idea what the behavior of our most distant homo sapiens ancestors was by looking at hunter-gatherer societies of historical times, but again, they were us - not that far back, so probably no significant difference in DNA to influence behavior (as compared to the influence of culture).  We don’t know what they did as far as rape goes, though we do know observed hunter-gatherers didn’t do it.  We do know they spoke from the very beginning…

Final note: Julian James in his Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind suggests that consciousness as we know it today did not arise until 3,000 years ago and this can be seen by comparing the Iliad and the Odyssey.  He claims that in the bicameral mind, one half was concerned only with survival and reproduction and the other half was a conduit for communication with the gods (hallucinations of course).  This changed between the creations of the Iliad and the Odyssey.  James sees the Iliad as expressing only the voices of the gods; the Odyssey as concerned with those of men.  A reviewer on Amazon.com (from which I’m liberally plagiarizing this whole description) wrote that ‘By the conclusion of his analysis you may be convinced that if there really is such a thing as “genetic determinism” it certainly resided in the brain of humans who went through life without a single “conscious” expression.’

Of course, we can’t empirically verify this hypothesis nor does James suggest any physical mechanism by which it occurred.  He discusses Aztecs and Incas and societies all around the Mediterranean, but leaves Asia out of the discussion.  So, big problems.  But interesting.
(Plagiarized source:   , first review - he describes the book as I remembered, so I just lifted it.)

(P.S.  I know I’m largely repeating myself from another post that was probably directed at you, but who knows who else is just starting to read and might respond to this one… I need more information here.)

(Edited to correct a typo.)

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Posted: 22 October 2006 11:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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[quote author=“Ted Shepherd”]Behavior is natural if it occurs among animals whom humans have not trained to demonstrate that behavior. Determining whether rape is natural

among those animals

is not a matter of deductive logic but of observing nature.

I agree with the statement as modified, if you want to insist on the absurdity of using “rape” in the context of ducks and spiders.  (“Rape” may well be appropriate for primates.)

Does rape in fact occur in animals other than humans?

Irrelevant to what humans do.  I think it’s interesting to learn that some kinds of homosexual behavior occur in nonhuman animals, but so what?  While I disagree that homosexuality is “just a choice” as the religious crazies do, I can’t say that animal behavior proves it “natural” for us.  What would prove it “natural” would be its commonplace existence across all human societies.  I believe this has been substantiated, but I’m not sure.

When society determines that some behavior natural for people is not acceptable,

My only question is, where can we observe human behavior that is not affected by human behavior?  This is not meant to be a joke.  Your definition of “natural” in non-human animals is fine.  There are no humans who are not trained by other humans, though, so how can we determine what our “natural” behavior is?

then it institutes various social and legal inhibitions on that behavior. Laws and customs would not forbid murder if people were not capable of murder. (No law forbids people to grow wings and take flight.)

I see, you are saying that “natural” behavior is anything that humans ever do… which we cannot necessarily disentangle from what other human beings teach.  So this is still different from what you characterize as “natural” animal behavior.

To assert that some act is natural is not to praise or condone it, but to establish that it might be appropriate to control it socially.

I just want to know how we can observe it.  Your definition of “natural” is a bit different than mine, which is something like “driven by instinct little if at all modified by culture”, e.g. bipedal upright walking is “natural” for human beings since that’s how we all get around unless some kind of damage has occurred.  I would not consider income tax evasion “natural” behavior, but rather entirely “cultural” (it can’t even exist without law, paper, writing, calculating, etc.), although the motive (greed?) may well be “natural”... but oh, goodness, look at this:

 

Okay, income tax evasion is a natural low-entropy behavior clearly designed to attract a mate.  I stand corrected.

Bwahahahaha…

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Posted: 22 October 2006 05:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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I’m still thinking about the rape thing.

First of all a question: is there a difference between rape and sexual assault?  In other words, conversationally we say that men rape men, women rape women, and women rape men - and sometimes that’s apparently penis in vagina sexual intercourse achieved by threats too.  Are any of these not rape in the sense you are using it?

Next, I’ll take your definition of natural as you stated it: anything that people are capable of doing.

Thus, the hypothesis is that rape is natural in humans and we observe that indeed it is so.

So what can we predict?  That rape will occur at some level of frequency.  Since we don’t like rape, we want to try and prevent it.  How best can we do that?

We’ll need to establish frequency in order to evaluate risks and consequences.  That will need to be adjusted for different places and situations.  E.g. rape is more common in war, so there may need to be special provisions there.  (Is rape still punishable by death under the US Military Justice Code?)

One typical suggestion might be to make it a crime.  Can we show that this helps prevent rape?  We’ll need more data here. 

For instance, marital rape was not a crime under English common law and so in the United States until quite recently in some states’ criminal codes.  Has marital rape decreased, increased or stayed the same since it was criminalized?  Any other factors to explain a change, if there was one?

Length of sentence obviously affects the likelihood of another rape commited by the same person outside prison, but does it deter other potential rapists? 

Is prevalence of rape affected by different laws in different countries, and how do you control for other variables?

We apparently need to make rape a crime to satisfy public indignation, to remove rapists from society for a while, perhaps to try and rehabilitate them… or just age them out of the rapist-likely population. 

Plus, of course, to prevent the need for private individuals to take revenge, which is messy.  Although there was a case in the Bay Area a while back when several women got together and raped (with an object) a man who’d raped a child.  They were charged but got off with probation and maybe a fine.  A lot of people regarded them as hero(in)es… 

Should we suggest, or require, that potential victims change their behavior (too?) and if so how?  We’ll need data here as well. 

How best to minimize the incidence of rape in prison (assuming that qualifies as rape)?  Assuming also we agree that goal is desirable.

I have a crazy sociobiologist friend who believes that rape should be a capital crime and that the offspring of rapists should be sterilized so that rapists’ genes aren’t allowed to be passed on. 

Yes, he seriously thinks that would deter rapists because he is sure they do it to gain a reproductive advantage.  (He would permit abortion for rape within 24 days of fertilization - but pregnancy can’t be detected until a couple of weeks later, which makes things pretty tight.)

You try to explain that if rape is punished by death there is no reason for a rapist not to kill his victim, but he doesn’t think it makes a difference.

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Posted: 23 October 2006 09:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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[quote author=“ctrone”]Mr. Harris states on page 90:
“There is, after all, nothing more natural than rape”.
Was anyone else as stunned and baffled as I was by this? How can he state that rape( and religion) was once evolutionarily necessary for our ancestors?
He lost me on that one.

I was as stunned by the rape comment as you were when I first read it as well; but not by the reference to religions place in our evolution. 

If I may… To help lift your confusion; re: rape as natural you might wish to consider the following:

http://researchmag.asu.edu/stories/rape.html
Article:  Code to Violate by Diane Boudreau - A commentary on “A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion, authors Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer”

For your wonderment concerning the part religion has in our past evolution, you I suggest either of Karen Armstrong’s work:
The History of God or The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions
For information about Karen Armstrong, I recommend beginning here:
http://www.thelavinagency.com/college/karenarmstrong.html

and then reading here/this info:

Source:
http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/biblio?isbn=0375413170
The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions
Synopses & Reviews
Publisher Comments:

In the ninth century BCE, the peoples of four distinct regions of the civilized world created the religious and philosophical traditions that have continued to nourish humanity to the present day: Confucianism and Daoism in China, Hinduism and Buddhism in India, monotheism in Israel, and philosophical rationalism in Greece. Later generations further developed these initial insights, but we have never grown beyond them. Rabbinic Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, for example, were all secondary flowerings of the original Israelite vision. Now, in The Great Transformation, Karen Armstrong reveals how the sages of this pivotal “Axial Age” can speak clearly and helpfully to the violence and desperation that we experience in our own times.

Armstrong traces the development of the Axial Age chronologically, examining the contributions of such figures as the Buddha, Socrates, Confucius, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the mystics of the Upanishads, Mencius, and Euripides. All of the Axial Age faiths began in principled and visceral recoil from the unprecedented violence of their time. Despite some differences of emphasis, there was a remarkable consensus in their call for an abandonment of selfishness and a spirituality of compassion. With regard to dealing with fear, despair, hatred, rage, and violence, the Axial sages gave their people and give us, Armstrong says, two important pieces of advice: first there must be personal responsibility and self-criticism, and it must be followed by practical, effective action.

In her introduction and concluding chapter, Armstrong urges us to consider how these spiritualities challenge the way we are religious today. In our various institutions, we sometimes seem to be attempting to create exactly the kind of religion that Axial sages and prophets had hoped to eliminate. We often equate faith with doctrinal conformity, but the traditions of the Axial Age were not about dogma. All insisted on the primacy of compassion even in the midst of suffering. In each Axial Age case, a disciplined revulsion from violence and hatred proved to be the major catalyst of spiritual change.

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Posted: 23 October 2006 05:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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[quote author=“SeanK”]Here are some Canada numbers.  Again disgustingly high…

http://www.wavaw.ca/informed_myths.php

I have a crazy sociobiologist friend who believes that rape should be a capital crime and that the offspring of rapists should be sterilized so that rapists’ genes aren’t allowed to be passed on.

Well that would possibly do away with about 50% (plus) of the Canadian population.  Seems like such a shame…. they are such nice people - eh.

Those numbers aren’t for rape, but are more likely for sexual misconduct, which can include, by some standards, whistling at a girl walking down the street, telling a joke with sexual content, or just making an unwanted pass. And any inappropriate touching is considered sexual assault in Canadian law.

I remember coming across a right wing screed which compared crime statistics across the Canada/U.S. border. When I traced the numbers, I discovered that he had compared data for forcible rape (male on female) to the numbers above, and had considered assault (which includes, in Canada, shouting in someone’s face or panhandling with a fake weapon visible on your person) equal to aggravated assault (physical attacks with a deadly weapon causing grievous bodily harm.)

Never trust the statistics of someone with an axe to grind…

I have to agree with made_maka on this. While rape might be advantageous in spreading offspring for males if all else where equal and there were no other consequences, it never works out that way, except in circumstances where the levels of civilization in the area are so disfuntionally low that life itself is nearly unliveable. Otherwise, rape is cheating, and our instinctive reaction (far more powerful than any urge to rape in all but a small minority of the population) is to find and levy draconian punishment on the rapist. That some societies blame and punish the woman is a strong indication of just how messed up these cultures are. The treatment of women is a good indicator of the level of civilization in a society.

And a word on Karen Armstrong: she paints a rosy picture of religion that does not match the historical record, claiming that Islam is a religion of peace. It isn’t. The earlier peaceful pronouncements of Mohammed in Mecca were later overidden by his Jihadist message in Medina. Mohammed himself was a brigand, who waylaid and killed people for a living even before he raised an army. Once he did have an army, he slaughtered people by the thousands, and urged his followers to do the same. Armstrong may be deliberately trying to reinvent the religion in a more pacifist form—I suspect many moderate Muslims are attempting the same thing—but this is an innovation, rather than drawing out something that is already there.

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Posted: 24 October 2006 11:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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[quote author=“Elentar”]And a word on Karen Armstrong: she paints a rosy picture of religion that does not match the historical record, claiming that Islam is a religion of peace. It isn’t. The earlier peaceful pronouncements of Mohammed in Mecca were later overidden by his Jihadist message in Medina. Mohammed himself was a brigand, who waylaid and killed people for a living even before he raised an army. Once he did have an army, he slaughtered people by the thousands, and urged his followers to do the same. Armstrong may be deliberately trying to reinvent the religion in a more pacifist form—I suspect many moderate Muslims are attempting the same thing—but this is an innovation, rather than drawing out something that is already there.


Your suspicions of Karen Armstrong’s ethics and motives are particularly are unfounded, but I can understand why you’d have suspicions, particularly if you haven’t read any of her books or read/heard any of her lectures.

Karen Armstrong probably has the clearest picture of all, concerning the pros & cons of the major religions of our time, and their histories.  Plus, she’s very aware.  That’s why her insights now are especially valuable and helpful.

In fact, you may find yourself as pleasantly surprised as I was,  in finding out how many ways and areas of most importance Karen Armstrong and Sam Harris agree,  and are speaking with the same insights and awareness on the same areas of concerns and issues.    Refreshingly so, imo.

I’ll post that as separate topic.

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Posted: 24 October 2006 03:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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[quote author=“Anonymous”][quote author=“Elentar”]And a word on Karen Armstrong: she paints a rosy picture of religion that does not match the historical record, claiming that Islam is a religion of peace. It isn’t. The earlier peaceful pronouncements of Mohammed in Mecca were later overidden by his Jihadist message in Medina. Mohammed himself was a brigand, who waylaid and killed people for a living even before he raised an army. Once he did have an army, he slaughtered people by the thousands, and urged his followers to do the same. Armstrong may be deliberately trying to reinvent the religion in a more pacifist form—I suspect many moderate Muslims are attempting the same thing—but this is an innovation, rather than drawing out something that is already there.


Your suspicions of Karen Armstrong’s ethics and motives are particularly are unfounded, but I can understand why you’d have suspicions, particularly if you haven’t read any of her books or read/heard any of her lectures.

Karen Armstrong probably has the clearest picture of all, concerning the pros & cons of the major religions of our time, and their histories.  Plus, she’s very aware.  That’s why her insights now are especially valuable and helpful.

In fact, you may find yourself as pleasantly surprised as I was,  in finding out how many ways and areas of most importance Karen Armstrong and Sam Harris agree,  and are speaking with the same insights and awareness on the same areas of concerns and issues.    Refreshingly so, imo.

I’ll post that as separate topic.

ummm…
Not sure why my post showed up as “Guest” ~ anyway here’s the link to the additional information regarding Karen Armstrong in General Discussions for those with interest. 

Karen Armstrong and Sam Harris Agree on many issues

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Posted: 26 October 2006 03:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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[quote author=“SeanK”]Sam’s intention, based on the whole of what he wrote on the subject, was to state that malevolent inclinations of the past are no longer validly accepted in society… and you do not need to hold religious belief *now* to see why such is the case. He consistently argues secular morality, and I see this as just another attempt to prove religion is unneccesary to form modern morals.

Actually, I’m agreeing with Harris… and I suspect made_maka is too. Rape is more prevalent where primitive religious morality takes precedence over secular morality. And there was no “Golden Age” where rape was unknown, as the behaviour of our closest primate relatives illustrates. But as Aristotle observed, humans are political animals, which means we always live in human society, where such actions have consequences.

Unfortunately, the second-class status of women in religiously based societies minimizes these consequences, by shifting the blame onto the woman. See this disgusting bit of divinely inspired bullshit, where the senior Imam in Australia says that women wouldn’t get raped if they wore bhurkas. I’ve heard similar nonsense out of the mouths of evangelicals and catholic priests—apparently, the ethical standards for men in these faiths is so low that they can’t be expected to behave any better than a child or a chimp. One of the marks of maturity is the ability to delay gratification, but I suppose that’s asking too much.

The link between civilization and regard for women becomes obvious when you consider that males excel in physical strength, women in social aptitude. This isn’t all rosy; women, especially at a young age, can be social bullies (just as nerds can be intellectual bullies.) There is something to be said for “taking it outside”. You get the conflict over and done with, and you can be friends after. But the emphasis of male over female is the triumph of brute force over social negotiation. This is the essence of rape. It is also the driving ethic of war and tyranny. This was the state of affairs during Biblical times, and the prevalent attitude of Mohammed. By trying to return to this standard, believers are attempting to wipe away 1000 years or more of civilization. If people of this mentality could wipe out whole cities with no more than the strength of human limbs, imagine what they would do with nuclear weapons.

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Posted: 09 November 2006 07:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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Yes, I was pulled up short by that bit too…”...nothing is more natural than rape.” 

I would say that breathing, sleeping, eating, defecating are more natural than rape…everyone living does these things, male and female.  In the case of rape mostly males do this and very few women and more specifically, most men do not rape.  SO if most of the population DO NOT rape, how can it be considered so natural?  It seems to me a different idea might work, oh wait, unless the idea was to compare religion to rape, as in they are both offensive?!

clever, yet repulsive and not necessary I think.

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