a comment on ‘Silence is not moderation’
Posted: 18 September 2010 04:28 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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I almost agree with Mr. Harris’ editorial with this particular exception:

“While the scriptures of Judaism and Christianity also contain terrible passages, it has been many centuries since they truly informed the mainstream faith.”

Not at all convinced that’s true.

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Posted: 19 September 2010 06:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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rabbit - 18 September 2010 08:28 PM

I almost agree with Mr. Harris’ editorial with this particular exception:

“While the scriptures of Judaism and Christianity also contain terrible passages, it has been many centuries since they truly informed the mainstream faith.”

Not at all convinced that’s true.

Good catch, rabbit. Spong’s amazing The Sins of Scripture goes into some detail about truly horrific messages that unfortunately became crystallized into history once a NT went to press, so to speak.

I haven’t seen you around in a while. Harris’ new forum is busier than this one, and I hope to see you there sometime.
http://www.project-reason.org/forum/
As far as I know, you’re already a registered member there just by having signed up here. The new forum features e-mail notifications, which seems like an essential element to a forum that’s not comatose.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
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Posted: 20 September 2010 01:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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I almost agree with Mr. Harris’ editorial with this particular exception:

“While the scriptures of Judaism and Christianity also contain terrible passages, it has been many centuries since they truly informed the mainstream faith.”
Not at all convinced that’s true.

I think the key word there is “mainstream.”  We have Christian Reconstructionists who want to impose the Christian analog of sharia on the U.S.  And we have Orthodox Jews, like Jonathan Rosenblum, who reject Mendelssohn and go all the way back to Maimonides, to the Middle Ages, for what they insist on defining as the cutting edge of Jewish thought (http://fora.tv/2007/07/26/Is_Darwinism_Kosher#chapter_03).  But they’re not really mainstream in the same way.

In a broad sense I more or less agree with you, but I think there is an appealing tendency to slip into a sort of relativism.  That relativism justifies categorizing any unique criticism of Islam as “bigotry,” although that’s obviously not what you’re doing.  The irony is that the religious camps do this interchangeably.  When one criticizes Christian fundamentalists, they whine, “why don’t you ever hear any criticism from liberals about Islam?”  Good point.  But when you criticize Islam, many liberals complain that you’re picking on a minority, saying, “why don’t you go pick on Christianity or Judaism?”  It’s a neat trick.

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Posted: 20 September 2010 09:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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A few recent pieces related to this topic.

Der Spiegel‘s interview with Egyptian-German political scientist Hamed Abdel-Samad - http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,717589,00.html

Fouad Ajami’s excellent op-ed in the WSJ - http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703743504575493711825224290.html?mod=WSJ_article_MoreIn_Opinion

James Taranto’s response to Kristof’s apology - http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703989304575503712157394190.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_MIDDLETopOpinion
I think his use of the expression “affirmative action” is unfortunate since neither religious deference in general nor deference to Islam out of fear for one’s life is really analogous to affirmative action.

And, not closely related, but Alexander Yakobson’s piece, “Secular, Thank God” in Ha’aretz - http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/secular-thank-god-1.314702

[ Edited: 20 September 2010 09:18 PM by Reece]
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