This article proved very interesting. I am currently in a course learning about Islam and all kinds of issues that are involved but I do have a question. What do you feel are the major distinctions between religious Islam and political Islam? Sometimes the text gets confusing so I found this article and thought I’d ask your opinion.
>What do you feel are the major distinctions between religious Islam and political Islam?
It is a category error. It is like “major-distinguishing” between humans and blacks, but of course blacks are not a different species, they are humans only that their skin is black.
Islam is a ‘total belief-system’ which attempts to regulate every single aspect of life. It includes the political and
it [ie Allah] commands the Muslim to jihad the non-belivers until the islamic law is imposed everywhere.
The distinction is a PC, “wishing it were true”, masquearde. Just as with “islam is peace” ( “islam” means submission, “salam” means peace, the idea is that you get peace by submission to Allah, otherwise you get jihad from Muslims), or with the ‘moderate’ Islam, (there may be moderate Muslims, but Islam itself is not moderate).
Ayatollah Khomeni had it very striking :
“We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah. For patriotism is another name for paganism. I say let this land [Iran] burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world.”
Concerning Mr Standing’s article about the Koran, I say so what else is new? Anyone who takes the time to look at it can see that it is a disjointed and awkward jumble of invective directed at Christians and Jews. And it’s a laugh for Muslims to assert that their religion came first and that Judaism and Christianity are corruptions of Islam. To believe this, one has to conveniently overlook the fact that the Muslim faith arose hundreds of years after the other two religions got started and that the Koran contains stories borrowed from the Bible.
The Muslim faith, like most or perhaps all others, is based on earlier faiths and evolved over many years to reach its present form. There was no Mohammed who wrote the Koran–it developed and changed over perhaps 200 years and there is no reliable evidence that Mohammed even existed.
The Muslim faith is a virus of the mind, and unfortunately, many are infected with this dangerous disease.
I like so many of your articles. I am disappointed in you after the Jesus article. You have no evidence. The burden of proof is on you.
Jesus, like countless characters before him, is a personification of the sun. It is so obvious. Jesus is no different from the main character of other mystery religions of the time. Likely the original version has the story taking place in a spiritual realm just like other mystery religions. His life story is identical to many other mythical people.
There was only one historian to mention Jesus and that was proven to be a fake. Josephus, was the name if I remember right. None of the historical events mentioned during his story took place at the same time. Some of the events never even happened.
The reason all these characters have the same story is due to astrology. It all has to do with the path of the sun through the heavens. They are all personifications of the sun. Jesus is just the most recent. Jesus and Satan are just distant descendants of 1 of the versions of Horus and Set. It is just a silly myth invented in the 2nd century and later used by the Roman emperor to control his people.
In one way Jesus IS real and DOES exist. Look up in the sky, but don’t look too long it will hurt your eyes. We orbit around him. He is a huge ball of hydrogen super heated to a plasma state fusing into helium. Worthy of awe and wonder. But absolutely positively NOT a person.
I know biblical historians all think he is real. But what do you expect from christians? You will find other characters in the bible were also stolen. It is full of plagiarism. The moses story came from King Sargon. There was a big flood story in the epic of Gilgamesh. The 10 commandments are much like those in the Egyptian book of the dead.
With a book that is nothing but lies and stolen tales, why would you think there was a historical Jesus?
Again the burden of proof is on the claimer.
I could say that there really is a Luke Skywalker. He wasn’t a Jedi, just a wise man that was great with a sword. Just because George Lucas wrote movies about him doesn’t mean he isn’t real. It’s because Darth Vader made it happen so you won’t believe in Luke. See what I mean? You can do that with anything. Being an atheist you should know all that. Hence my disappointment.
Sounds like you’ve swallowed a load of pseudo-scholarly new agey conspiracy theory type stuff on the historical Jesus. Your ‘so obvious’ theories sound like part one of the whackjob internet movie ‘Zeitgeist’.
‘His life story is *identical* to many other mythical people’ is just simply inaccurate from the point of view of serious scholarship.
There is an excellent critical evaluation of these ‘Jesus is the sun’ and ‘Jesus is a pagan god’ ideas here:
But I have a funny feeling that you’re already too much of a wide eyed ‘true believer’ in these theories to take the time to read serious criticism of ideas that are ‘so obvious’.
An excellent article that lays it on the line.
I have become increasingly alarmed by the current tendency to make Islam a special case and to tiptoe around the “feelings” of its followers.
This is a religion based upon violence and the threat of violence. It lacks any of the more spiritually uplifting aspects of the other major world religions. It is also the only one that clearly sanctions the use of force to win conversions.
A world dominated by Islam will be one characterised by ignorance, intolerance and violence to a degree that will make daily life a misery for most and little more than the exercising of dominance and self-indulgence for a few.
It should be resisted.
Edmund, I am a true believer of nothing. The evidence looks sound, but I can’t say I have investigated it in detail, like checking all the references and such. If your link shows me it is false, I will believe it is false.
Lets suppose none of that stuff is true. The first problem is the history does not match up to the events.
Second, the point still stands that much of the bible has been stolen from earlier books.
Finally the most important part. You can’t spread a religion like this until the death and resurrection already happened. So a Jesus-like person couldn’t have been the person who started this. Religion is always led by the humble messenger. He can get things from god and get credit for it, but if things don’t go well, he can just say it was gods will. He doesn’t have to produce miracles, but can tell them the stories of the miracles performed by the actual son of god. So a Jesus-like prophet is very unlikely.
What is very likely is a group of men who said they, or at least their senior member, knew Peter or one of the other 12. Then say they have scrolls that were inspired by god.
If Jesus was not supposed to have done all these miracles and his death and resurrection wasn’t the main focus, then I could believe there was some guy walking around saying he was the son of god and someone else made up tall tales.
Now I could believe there was someone who said he was Peter running around with the early scrolls saying it was the word of god. Or that a man named Peter said he was to start this thing for Jesus. Then some of the later books were written about him later.
There also does not need to be an actual Jesus, who would have been some ordinary nut telling people he was god. The writer could just write a story about someone who is like the “prophets” of the time, but in this case the claims are true. It would have been a wonderful idea for a work of fiction. After being translated and rewritten many times, for all we know it could have been originally presented as fiction.
The views of most biblical scholars are tainted with bias, as they are usually christian apologists.
Of all the nutty prophets of the time, why write about that one? Making it up from scratch from a divine revelation is much more likely then picking out a nut and blowing it up into a tall tale.
I see no evidence to support that there ever was such a person, nor is it even close to being likely. There are many other much more likely ways that it happened which I just pointed out. Also the historical jesus would be such a nice guy for people to model their lives after that people want it to be true, which are the best seeds for bull$h!7. The jesus that could have existed would have been way too unremarkable for people to follow or write about. But a group of people who have divine writings and the writings of those who witnessed miracles, those people could start a following for sure. One of them would have probably said he hears jesus speak to him too. We see it happen right now in various cults.
By the way, if you’re interested in some proper scholarship on the historical Jesus and early Christianity, try Gerd Lüdemann, Géza Vermes, Bart D. Ehrman, Dale C. Allison Jr., Birger A. Pearson, and Hyam Maccoby.
Your contention that ‘biblical historians all think he is real’ because they are Christians is false. There is a large body of excellent scholarship on the topic by non-believers, including the above writers.
Edmund, it does look like the link disproves the astrology angle and the repeated god part. Thanks for that information.
Do you have anything showing that there really are not any discrepancies in the historical events in the gospels as presented in The God Who Wasn’t There and books it was based on?
The link has a reference to a supposed 2nd Josephus quote. However there is nothing there but the debunked one, so not really any proof there.
He gives the example of Appollonius as a Jesus like person. However the article he sites, mentions that there is debate about weather or not he exists. So that sounds more like proof that the whole thing was made up.
Lucian is also mentioned. However Lucian believed the whole myth, so obviously he had read the earliest texts and is not giving a historical account.
Finally, at the end of the link where he responds to the conclusion, he says this.
“While it’s true religion can be bad, it can also be good for some people.”
This shows his true colors as an apologist. So any claims that unsupported or poorly supported are likely just apologist sentiment.
So there is still no proof.
Let’s say you can show that my proposed scenarios aren’t the most likely as I think, or that we ignore those points. Just saying no negative proof. There is still no positive proof. So if there was a man Jesus was based from, he would be so unremarkable as to go completely unnoticed by anyone but a handful of loonies. If the miracles could be invented, then so could his beloved ideals. So the man you are left with would be no more like Jesus than any other man from that area and period. So then what is the point? The original writer of the story had a few noble ideas. I’m sure they were the same sentiments shared by every ultra liberal of that time. Hence their appeal.
So is it possible there could be a Jesus? I suppose so. However it is about as likely as there being a god. Which is just as likely as unicorns, celestial teapots, pasta based deities, or anything else one could imagine. In other words the standard atheist arguments against god apply.
No proof gives exponentially low probability. I like to round down slightly to 0. Hence my being an atheist. However as you see, presented with evidence, I will change my mind on any given subject instantly on receipt of the new data.
But thanks again for setting me straight on the astrology. With the dubious nature of the film, I would not have been fooled had I not seen it previously presented in other sources.
‘Do you have anything showing that there really are not any discrepancies in the historical events in the gospels as presented in The God Who Wasn’t There and books it was based on?’
Of course there are discrepancies!
‘So if there was a man Jesus was based from, he would be so unremarkable as to go completely unnoticed by anyone but a handful of loonies’.
Yes, just like Jim Jones, David Koresh, Joseph Di Mambro and Luc Jouret… We only know of them widely because of the tragedies associated with them. Without the deaths surrounding them they would be minor figures, despite being seen as divine or prophetic figures by their circle of followers.
‘The original writer of the story had a few noble ideas. I’m sure they were the same sentiments shared by every ultra liberal of that time’.
Jesus in the gospels is no ‘ultra-liberal’!
Please check out my article here if you get the chance:
Well, actually I meant the writer was liberal for the time he lived in. Just breaking from eye for eye, is a radical concept. Obviously he’d be considered a crazy right wing bigot nowadays.
So seeing as how there are discrepancies, I think that does rather support the idea that jesus was made up. However if you want to admire the person behind those ideas, the original author of the first gospel, whoever he was, has to be 100% real. We know because we have what he wrote, and many people copied it.
The article is good. You seem to be surprised, or at least pretending to be for the purpose of the article, that jesus was addressing jews. We are pretty sure the author was a jew. We are pretty sure this was the start of a jewish based cult. They were waiting for there savior. So of course people will find what they are expecting.
The only problem though, is you seem to assume everything that is not utterly impossible to be historical. I think it’s an error to make that assumption. Every story must have truthful sounding mundane elements.
I do particularly like the way you point out that jesus wasn’t always such a nice and reasonable guy. That his niceties are mostly reserved for the jews. That neighbor really just means fellow jews. And of course that you did this in response to the pope’s silliness. Very nice.
I think it’s easy to understand the afterlife and apocalypse angle. It makes sense the cults would be like that with jews under the oppression of the roman empire.
In closing I would like to say thanks for putting all the most interesting parts of the gospel together. I can usually only find a couple verses when arguing against the “but it got better in the new testament” position. That will no doubt come in handy in the future.
Although the preponderance of the evidence does indicate that sexual orientation is largely genetically determined, it is of course true that advocacy of equal rights for Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transgenders, and Intersexed Persons does not require that sexual orientation be genetic. We oppose religious discrimination even though a persons religion is not inborn and people can convert to another religion. A Jew can covert to Christianity but we are still opposed to antisemitism. And neither would proof that a trait was genetically determined prove that discrimination against people with the trait is wrong. If the likelihood that an individual would commit murder was genetically determined, imprisoning murderers would still be justified.
What is relevant is whether the trait or behavior harms others. A persons’ race, religion or race does not harm others. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
Sonny & Edmund,
Isn’t it possible that you are both right?
I think what Edmund is saying makes good sense. That a real person once existed, and the mythicism later became overwhelmingly attached to him. To the point where it is really the only thing that remains.
Then Sonny’s points about his mythicism being so typical and cookie-cutter from other myths, also makes sense.
Going back to the Luke Skywalker analogy. Someone might say that Luke could use the force and move things with his mind, and that he could also push a button on his wrist and “beam” himself anywhere. We would know he is confusing Star Wars with Star Trek, but in a more technologically primitive world where stories go by word of mouth and evolve over time, you could see how this might happen. In the end, we may have a sci-fi ‘bible’ written about Lukes journeys on the Starship Enterprise against the Decepticons.
In short, I think that Edmunds case for an actual Jesus is not that implausible, but that Sonny is right to think that most of the biblical stories are really just typical mythological mix-ups and are not original, or in any way grounded in any actual events at all. They are stolen from the many other tired myths that have been passed around for generations.
JM, If there was a real person it was based on, the person would be absolutely nothing like jesus. The reason I think this is because of the discrepancies in the historical events in the gospel. The only reason it would be like that is if a story was being fit into recent history. It could have been made up as I said. However lets say your idea is right, which it very well may be. It certainly is possible. But it couldn’t have been recent otherwise, why the history problems?
So what likely happened in that scenario is say 3000 years ago, there was some guy who preached religious ideas of the time. Over hundreds of years the story is passed by word of mouth and it gets bigger and bigger. Finally around 2000 year ago, someone writes the story down, give him contemporary religious views, and tries to fit him into recent history.
You see if the guy lived around the time it was written, why would you need the guy to write a story so fantastic? Why try to wedge him into history? So it makes sense but only if the guy lived hundreds of years before. In which case that guy was no more like jesus than you or I. It take time for a story about a real person to get blown up, normally only pure fiction starts out that way.
On a side note, I like the point about the genetics of homosexuality not mattering. Comparing it to religious discrimination is a great point. And one I haven’t heard mentioned before. What a good one to throw at the faith heads to. Hoist on their own petard eh!?
Regarding the Koran:
I am not an Arabic reader, but I have seen indications that the Koran is regarded as a great literary work by Arabic speakers, and not just as a matter of tradition: even young Islamic punk-rockers (see taqwacore) find beauty in the text.
This makes a certain amount of sense: there has to be some reason for the Koran’s enormous and persistent influence and prestige.
Certainly the stilted language of typical English translations is not very inspiring.
Another point: the Koran condemns “unbelievers”. What religious text does not? If there is a revelation, then denial of it is wrong. Mr. Standing makes somewhat too much of this.
However he has a very good point about the relative violence of Islam. Its founder was a warrior who killed his opponents in battle and wielded political power, not a teacher who renounced all worldly goods or a martyr who told his followers to render unto Caesar.
The Koran reflects this. It does seem that jihadist ideologues can claim to be more authentically Islamic than “tolerant” Moslems, and that it is pathetic hypocrisy to pretend that “true Islam” is peaceful.
But this raises the question of What Is To Be Done?
The forcible abolition of Islam would be a gigantic task, both practically and philosophically – and it would include war upon hundreds of millions of Moslems who have never Done Anything. Among other things, it would be an implicit declaration that the jihadists are the true Moslems, leaving the devout but moderate no choices except jihadism or apostasy.
Almost as drastic (and perhaps more absurd) would be the “reformation” of Islam by outsiders: representatives of non-Moslem societies acting as an Islamic Inquisition, removing Moslem clergy whose preaching is unacceptable and censoring unacceptable doctrine.
I can’t see any possibility of an internal Moslem Reformation: the moderates are too weak politically, and as Standing shows, the text of the Koran really is jihadist.
the moderate, the shocked, and the masquerade which is nowadays the main stream media :
“Suspect ‘almost in shock’ over wife’s beheading,” by Fred O. Williams for the Buffalo News, February 19
Under arrest in his wife’s brutal death, Muzzammil Hassan is ‘almost in shock,’ his attorney said Wednesday following a court appearance in Orchard Park.
“He’s having difficulty coping with this,” attorney James Harrington said.
(This letter was provoked by Andrew Taggart’s article)
I just returned to your website after a 5-year absence. In Aug. 2003 I had a couple of exchanges with Ophelia Benson in which I argued against the focus on religion as making truth-claims. I said that even when religious persons treat their own discourse as propositional, it is often more useful to regard it as expressive or transactional; and I made an analogy with metaphysical discourse, which is treated by philosophers I admire as being subject to a distinction between surface grammar and functional meaning. In the end we could not agree on the proper extensional definition of “religion”, nor, more importantly, on the most useful rhetorical strategy for dealing with religious literalism. The question I still find myself having for Ophelia is: what is your honest assessment of the likelihood that your arguments will persuade those whom you oppose?
On returning to the site, I find that some of the same cross-talk is still happening, as in the criticism of Michael Ruse which continues to insist that a more sophisticated analysis of religious discourse is “not what most people mean by religion.” Beyond pointing out that if you are disdainful of what “most people mean”, you are not in the best position to analyze their meaning fully, I won’t return to that battle.
But I was drawn to Andrew Taggart’s diagnosis of relativism, because I find him approaching another topic on which we all fundamentally agree (that is, just as Ophelia and I are both naturalists, so Andrew and I both oppose moral relativism) in a rhetorically positive manner. Therefore if I again offer a more sympathetic view of the opponent (relativism, and especially “postmodernism”), it is in the spirit of advancing our common cause.
I first take note of what Andrew calls the “breezy answer” that postmodernism is “fashionable nonsense.” This seems to fit in with the general tone of this website, in which disdain for theism is married to disdain for a certain wide swath of 20th century philosophy (and its echoes in the broader culture). Now I happen to be an admirer of Heidegger and Gadamer, and to a lesser extent of Lyotard (especially his little book “Just Gaming”) and Derrida (whom I regard as often doing little more than rendering Heidegger’s unfortunately opaque language vastly more opaque). I do not regard them as promulgating relativism. Instead, I will characterize their efforts (simplistically, for purposes of this piece) as emphasizing the contextuality of meaning.
Now it’s easy to go from “all meaning is contextual” to “the truth of all assertions is relative to their contexts.” Easy, but entirely wrong. When I speak to nonphilosophers, I sometimes approach the matter as follows. Think of the context as the soil in which a plant is rooted. The same seed planted in different types of soil will produce somewhat different results (sometimes the seed won’t sprout at all), each result constrained by the genes in the seed. Here the genes analogize the words of language, each with a particular history and range (open but not unlimited) of possible meaning. And the soil is analogous to the objective grounds of meaning (the historical practices of previous speakers). The soil is our connection to the earth as a whole; the objective constraints of the immediate context are ultimately connected to the objective constraints of other contexts. (I almost wrote “all other contexts”, but let’s wait for the “all”.)
Different types of plants thrown together in neighboring soil are constrained by their genes, by the soil and by the presence of the other plants. The truth of our assertions is constrained by our biology and natural history, by their correspondence to the natural environment, and by the pragmatic value of the assertions in the social environment. Often the most useful ways of assessing truth involving increasing our awareness of all these contextualities. The value of postmodernism is to give us an expanded and more nuanced set of strategies for assessment, and to help us shake off narrow conceptions of truth (e.g. a simple correspondence theory, leaving out the aspects of coherence and pragmatism) that limit our grasp of complex situations.
Mr. Taggart’s narrative methodology is commendable. I suggest that its positive rhetorical value can also be pursued more directly — in terms of reasons as well as causes — in specific cases. Does the honor-killing of a divorced woman have cultural and historical support that resists our condemnation? Don’t ignore that support, but engage with it; question the emotions of family members, the practical economic alternatives available, the gaps and ambiguities in the tradition, etc. Try to get people to put themselves more in the place of the woman. Suppress your own sense of superiority, at least for the moment.
Truth isn’t relative in the nihilistic sense, but it is often partial. And the universal agreement that the concept of truth implies is an ideal that we should expect to pursue out to infinity. When you encounter someone who has been overly impressed by simplistic relativism, don’t begin with a demonstration of their incoherence, but with the positive value of their increased attention to contextuality. Then use that increased attention as a way of leading them back to the overlap between the specific contexts in question (as in Shafer-Landau’s analysis). Only after that, if at all, is it wise to broach the prospect of a universal context-of-contexts that the concept of truth implies, but which in practice will always remain ideal as regards the practical sphere.
“The question I still find myself having for Ophelia is: what is your honest assessment of the likelihood that your arguments will persuade those whom you oppose?”
That depends on what you mean by “those whom you oppose.” Everyone I disagree with about the truth-claims of religion? Zero, of course. Some people? That seems to me to be at least possible, because there are a lot of people, and they’re all at different places in their thinking, and the attention can be grabbed by an observation or argument or assertion or joke at one moment that would go by unnoticed at another moment. I’m not embarked on a campaign to convert the world – but I am irritated by the automatic unthinking deference that gets paid to religions and their truth-claims in public discourse, and I like to do the opposite. This does not mean that I am under any delusion that if only everyone read B&W the pews would empty.
“This seems to fit in with the general tone of this website, in which disdain for theism is married to disdain for a certain wide swath of 20th century philosophy (and its echoes in the broader culture).”
Really? Where is that?
>Truth isn’t relative in the nihilistic >sense, but it is often partial.
That’s correct, or at least partially so.
>And the universal agreement that the >concept of truth implies is an ideal >that we should expect to pursue out to >infinity.
‘to infinity’ ?
people have endured persecutions, have died, have been executed for their beliefs
>the positive value of / increased >attention to contextuality.
right, everything is context relative except the context, the context is everything ergo nothing in particular
>The value of postmodernism is / to >help us shake off narrow conceptions >of truth
why ? were they false ? or relatively true perhaps ?
>’to infinity’ ? people have endured persecutions, have died, have been executed for their beliefs
I don’t catch your drift here. I was just saying that we should keep working to communicate with those with whom we disagree, or who seem (to relativists) to inhabit alien conceptual spheres, even if it’s slow going.
>right, everything is context relative except the context, the context is everything ergo nothing in particular
Don’t follow this either. The word “strike” means one thing in baseball and another in labor relations. You have to know where you are. At the same time, both uses share etymological/historical connections. There’s no “everything and nothing” here at all.
>>The value of postmodernism is / to >help us shake off narrow conceptions >of truth
>why ? were they false ? or relatively true perhaps ?
They were fittingly applied to some kinds of cases, and were unhelpful when applied to others. This motivated the development of other conceptions.
Sometimes antipathy to “postmodernism” (not here, but in the cultural mainstream) masks a laziness with regard to thinking through the diversity of available theories.
>That depends on what you mean by “those whom you oppose.”
Fair enough. I was recalling our earlier exchange, where you seemed to focus on the most hardheaded and superstitious end of the religious spectrum. (Those obnoxious people who tell us that “science is just another religion”, etc.) My thought was that that’s where we have the least chance of success. But to focus elsewhere in the spectrum, you would have to loosen your insistence on “what most people mean by religion”, which you think is limited to truth-claims.
>I am irritated by the automatic unthinking deference that gets paid to religions and their truth-claims in public discourse, and I like to do the opposite.
I’m irritated by that too. But “the opposite”? Wouldn’t that be an unthinking hostility? Surely we should seek critical thinking and open-mindedness. No?
>Really? Where is that?
The disdain for theism is obvious. For the rest, I read your mission statement. The “wide swath” is “Those disciplines or schools of thought whose truth claims are prompted by the political, ideological and moral commitments of their adherents, and the general tendency to judge the veracity of claims about the world in terms of such commitments.” I find this too vague, because it seems that people on either side of any fundamental disagreement will characterize their own standards as objective and those of their opponents as ideological. (I recently engaged — painfully — with a Bible fundamentalist who characterizes my support for evolutionary theory as ideological.)
Because of my education in continental philosophy, I am naturally sensitive to those who dismiss “postmodernism” out of hand. Very often people impressed with Sokal’s book manifest a cultural narrowness, and the laziness I referred to above.
You were ‘recalling our earlier exchange’ – which you said was in August 2003, nearly six years ago? I’m sorry to say I don’t remember it that vividly (I don’t remember it at all), so I can’t really carry on from that point as if there had been no interruption.
No, I don’t think ‘what most people mean by religion’ is ‘limited to truth-claims’ and I’ve never said that. I simply say that what most people mean by religion includes truth claims.
‘But “the opposite”? Wouldn’t that be an unthinking hostility?’
No of course it wouldn’t; it would be the refusal of automatic unthinking deference.
‘The disdain for theism is obvious. For the rest, I read your mission statement.’
No, sorry, that won’t do; that’s just sloppy. You don’t get to translate our mission statement to ‘disdain for a certain wide swath of 20th century philosophy (and its echoes in the broader culture).’ Especially not when you immediately go on to say that the mission statement is too vague. If it’s too vague, how do you know it means ‘disdain for a certain wide swath of 20th century philosophy (and its echoes in the broader culture)’?! You don’t.
>You were ‘recalling our earlier exchange’ – which you said was in August 2003, nearly six years ago? I’m sorry to say I don’t remember it that vividly (I don’t remember it at all), so I can’t really carry on from that point as if there had been no interruption.
It still exists in your archive (unless I’m wrong and I got back to your site only via a google cache); I guess it would be too much trouble to look.
By the way, if you find no value in this current dialogue, please say so and I’ll quit wasting your time.
>No, I don’t think ‘what most people mean by religion’ is ‘limited to truth-claims’ and I’ve never said that. I simply say that what most people mean by religion includes truth claims.
Can you point me to somewhere you discuss anything besides their truth-claims? I may well be off base here. But it seems that whenever someone wants to emphasize something besides truth-claims, that’s when you start talking about “what most people mean.”
>No, sorry, that won’t do; that’s just sloppy. You don’t get to translate our mission statement to ‘disdain for a certain wide swath of 20th century philosophy (and its echoes in the broader culture).’ Especially not when you immediately go on to say that the mission statement is too vague. If it’s too vague, how do you know it means ‘disdain for a certain wide swath of 20th century philosophy (and its echoes in the broader culture)’?! You don’t.
Again, my purpose is not to pin you down to anything you don’t freely acknowledge, so please show me what’s wrong about what I said. Today I visited your “quotations” section, which has good guys and bad guys, i.e. objects of praise and disdain. Just looking at the bad side, I see a fairly wide swath! (Barbara Bush to Cardinal Ratzinger to Jaques Derrida!) Would you disagree?
While I’m at it, let me take a crack at some of the quotations. It surely seems that the “bad” guys get cherry-picked for weakness, the “good” guys for strength. But even so…
>One can no longer distinquish between technology on the one hand and theory, science and rationality on the other. The term techno-science has to be accepted.
In support of this statement I urge you to read some of Ian Hacking’s work, where he follows the course of an experiment involving a particle accelerator and other high-tech gadgets. He shows how no one person holds all the details in his head; nor is all the behavior covered by any single theory. Rather, certain effects that are desired by team A, who are primarily theorists, can only be produced by members of team B, who are experts in certain technologies. It is appropriate that I refer to Hacking, no friend of continental philosophy, who once refused to answer a question of mine because, he said, I had used the word “Heidegger” in it. (And Heidegger was a Nazi…)
>Religion of every kind involves the promise that the misery and futility of existence can be overcome or even transfigured. One might suppose that the possession of such a magnificent formula, combined with the tremendous assurance of a benevolent God, would make a person happy. But such appears not to be the case: unease and insecurity and rage seem to keep up with blissful certainty, and even to outpace it.
This statement is disingenuous in several ways.
First, it assumes that moral truths or poetic insights can be reduced to formulas. This is to ignore the fundamental logical difference between science, wherein we get to stand on the shoulders of giants (a high-school student easily absorbing the life work of Newton), and morality, where everything taught by Plato or the Talmud must be painstakingly re-experienced, almost “reinvented”, by each individual in the course of his/her moral development. Only the shoddiest purveyors of religion say they have a “formula”.
Second, it obscures the difference between religious persons who ARE happy and everyone else. That there is a stability or increase in unhappiness at large is not logically tied to any specific failures of religion.
Third, it avoids the questions of whether misery and futility CAN be overcome or transfigured, or whether this is even worthwhile as a goal. If everyone is condemned to be as miserable as poor old Hitch, then I agree that religion (and art, poetry, music and basically everything else) is futile. But Hitch doesn’t try to demonstrate this.
>When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles, what havoc must we make? If we take in our hand any volume, of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.
I have certainly learned a lot from Hume, but this quotation by itself is weak. Most obviously, it condemns itself to the flames. More importantly, it cries out for complementary statements from Hume’s “student” Kant, who showed the metaphysical implications of his work.
Well I could have looked in the archive (though I thought you perhaps meant it was an email discussion) but yes it would be some trouble to have to read an old discussion in order to make sense of a new one. I didn’t simply assume that what you said now took off from what you said in 2003.
No that’s all right – though a discussion this detailed would make more sense via email, I think.
There are several places where I talk about things other than the truth-claims of religion, but I don’t have time to hunt them down. But in any case – even if it’s the case that that’s all I talk about, that doesn’t translate to me saying that ‘what most people mean by religion’ is ‘limited to truth-claims.’
‘I see a fairly wide swath!’
Yes – so how does that get you to your claim?
‘In support of this statement I urge you to read some of Ian Hacking’s work’
I have read some of Ian Hacking’s work, and I would so much rather read Ian Hacking than Derrida.
To Azar Majedi
I have watched this movie. I see no opinions expressed in it by Geert Wilders; in fact he is not in the movie. Only muslims and quotes from the Quran and news footage of disgusting terrorist crimes. What about this makes Heer Wilders a “racist” or an extremist? This is something that all people need to be made aware of. The only thing you are correct about is that he does indeed have a right that must be protected, as your right to speak must also be protected, even though you are wrong.
Okay then. If you can’t be bothered, you can’t be bothered. It’s easier to simply announce your personal preferences (I like Hacking; I don’t like Derrida) than engage the substance of my comments.
Maybe I’ll check back on you in another 6 years. Maybe not.
Gabe: 1) There was no substance to your comments; there was a lot of verbiage but no substance. 2) You didn’t engage with the substance of my replies. 3) I look forward to being checked on every six years, or not, as the case may be.
A very enlightening artical on Quran.Tis must be read by every nonbeliever so thathe and his family his children would be very much aware about an important section of the society.Any type of dogmatic view espcially if it is mandetory to believe then the same people are capable of atrocities mercillesly like a robot.These living fossil ideas must be recognised and the civilised world must be made aware of the same.lest it shall completely wipe off the gains of civilization and in turn the civilsed world