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Chris Hedges - I Don’t Believe in Atheists (merged)
Posted: 03 June 2008 03:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 391 ]
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Balak - 03 June 2008 01:14 PM

I could have chosen a better example, like say, the Spanish Inquisition being more on par with today’s Islam and it’s intolerance of those who disagree. 

Rationalizing the mass slaughter of the Branch Davidians - men, women, children and infants - by the FBI because they didn’t think the ‘right’ thoughts as determined by the state is the correct analogy for the Harris/Hitchens program of enlisting secular humanism to justify imperialist wars of aggression/occupation against Muslim countries.

This is how ‘democracies’ defend themselves from ‘the forces of intolerance.’

I certainly wouldn’t rationalize mass suicide, which what appeared to have happened.  Folks can argue over whether a raid precipitates individuals deciding to commit suicide (or homicide, as it appears some inside the compound took the lives of others and we will never know how voluntary it was), or whether an individual like Koresh has a duty to give himself up once he REALIZES (if you are to take the view the FBI wanted to “murder” them), that they really are going to have a violent confrontation.  One could argue, knowing that, regardless of the FBI’s motive, he had a duty to turn himself in and thwart a mass confrontation likely to end in the death of everyone inside.

Where is the evidence that it was premeditated mass murder by the FBI?  I’ve never seen that.  Most agents are regular people, albeit overzealous at times, who if anything, are guilty of flawed policy.  But they don’t wake up every day planning to kill someone. 

As to the analogy of war against Islamic countries:

I am not sure what imperialist war of aggression we have against the Muslim “countries”.  Islamists attacked sovereign US soil in 1979 and continued to do so with various attacks throughout the 90s and beyond.  Iraq to me, is a natural outcome of the UN (which I am opposed to).  You get yourself involved in a body that goes around telling countries what they can and can’t do, and broadcasts what they find (the appearance of nukes was important to Hussein), and this body starts issuing “resolutions”, someone at some point is going to try to enforce them.  The entire world community believed he had WMDs and as we know, he WANTED everyone to believe that. 

The whole beginning of the war has been discussed for years, and I am not justifying it, just saying that in my view, all those people (*yes, they tend to be liberals) who just LOVE the UN, are now angry that someone (this admin) took the resolutions seriously.  We also know that Hussein was supporting some terrorism (paying the families of suicide bombers, etc). 

Islamic countries have attacked Israel three times (and lost each time)...maybe they should look in the mirror when they talk about the US.

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Posted: 03 June 2008 09:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 392 ]
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UlsterScots432 - 03 June 2008 06:19 AM

What do you mean my “solution”, you mean, the temerity of a “free thinker” to believe in self-defense?

No, I mean your assertion that force is the only solution.
EXAMPLE: UlsterScots432:  Islam lacks “the cultural intellectual capacity to be reasoned with. [...] force is the only thing they respond to, or respect”.

UlsterScots432 - 03 June 2008 06:19 AM

Explain what you mean? And how my words were bigoted

—————————————
EXAMPLES OF BIGOTED STATEMENTS:
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
EXAMPLE 1: UlsterScots432: “Primitive cultures, of which Islam is, beyond any doubt, only respond to power, precisely BECAUSE they lack the cultural intellectual capacity to be reasoned with.” ... admittedly this is more dogmatic than bigoted.  Dogmatic because it is an opinion asserted “beyond any doubt” as a fact. Bigoted because it’s a homogenized characterization of a diverse culture.

EXAMPLE 2:  UlsterScots432: “Islam and it’s followers, culturally incapable of reason as they are ...” is a bigoted comment again because it generalizes an entire group of people based on (if anything) a subset of that people.

EXAMPLE 3:  UlsterScots432: “They cannot be reasoned with, and they have shown that, and that is why their culture looks today, like what you would EXPECT of a culture that lacks reason” is a bigoted comment again because it generalizes an entire group of people (“They” cannot be reasoned with). It’s worse because it’s also loaded with assumptions based on simple-minded claims about why their culture looks the way it does today. 

—————————————
EXAMPLES OF LOADED (AND FALSE) ASSUMPTIONS:
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
EXAMPLE 1: UlsterScots432: “[the reason why Muslim culture (particularly Arab/Muslim culture) looks the way it looks today is because] they cannot be reasoned with”.

EXAMPLE 2: UlsterScots432: “I stand by my premise, Islam does not have the cultural intellectual capacity to allow for free thought, or critical thinking.”

EXAMPLE 3: UlsterScots432:  “Islam does not have the cultural intellectual capacity to allow for free thought, or critical thinking.  It is not supported, not only by the government, but by the people, nor by the Koran. “

EXAMPLE 4:UlsterScots432: “it is pretty clear that [Muslim] culture is incapable as an aggregate of using reason as a guide for nearly anything”
Seven centuries of innovations in math and science within Muslim culture prove your claims in this regard wrong.  (note: this historical context is provided in response to your specific claim with regard to the capacity of Muslim culture to engage in critical thinking. Nothing more. )

UlsterScots432 - 03 June 2008 06:19 AM

Also, why did all these “dissenters” have to leave Muslim nations/cultures, in order to express themselves?

  Because there are Muslims trying to kill them. 
. .
I don’t address the quotes of people you have posted, because I don’t particularly disagree with them. I’m not sure what controversial claim it is that you are attempting to support with those quotes.  I agree that there are very large, well organized, and murderous Muslim groups using Islam as motivation/ justification for violence and suppression of people, and I’ve already said as much. What I disagree with are your blanket generalizations about Muslim culture, your unsupported claims, and bigoted comments. Yes, Islam, like most all other religions, tends to suppress critical thinking, but that doesn’t by a long stretch mean that those people who are part of Muslim culture (or any other religious culture) are incapable of critical thinking.

[ Edited: 04 June 2008 09:33 AM by Riley ]
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Posted: 04 June 2008 07:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 393 ]
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Riley - 02 June 2008 10:27 AM

Two thoughts:

1) Hedges misrepresents the views of Dawkins, Dennet, and most dramatically those of Harris.

2) Hedges relies on false hyperbola to make his arguments. The “new atheists” argue that the world would be a better place ... NOT ...  that the world would be a utopia, just that it would be better. Recognizing the natural human capacity for evil,  the argument is that we should build institutions to mitigate the harmful effects of those natural human tendencies. No one has claimed that we will eliminate this natural human capacity, just that we can mitigate its impact.

1) There are indeed some leaps of logic that Hedges make that I can’t rectify having read most of the books by the authors he mentions.  I’m with you on that.

2) Since I interpret his main argument as stated in my last post, I’m a little more forgiving of Hedges exagerrating to make that point.  Even though I agree mostly w/ the new atheists, I don’t hold them up as the final word on anything so I don’t feel particularly obligated to defend them.  They are much better at it than I.  Further, arguing details obfuscates the take-home message, which you seem to agree with.

Also, I find the argument that “the world would be better (w/o religion I’m assuming)” as a slippery slope towards utopianism.

Some questions: How can science, reason or atheism mitigate emotions?  Can we change nature?  For me these are the questions at the heart of Hedges book regardless of how ham-handed he is in getting to it.  And they are very important questions for secular humanists to ponder.

I look forward to your response Riley.

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Posted: 04 June 2008 08:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 394 ]
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erasmusinfinity - 02 June 2008 01:29 PM

My two thoughts:

1) It may be a mistake to ignore that there is a deeply rooted capacity for misdeeds in the human psyche, but it a graver mistake to dismiss such acts “se la vi.”  If we are prepared to do this, then what is the point in even talking about it?

There is also a capacity in humans for kindness and decency and it is not so that all humans will always cause harm and act cruelly toward others.  Some do and some don’t, and some will and some won’t.  The constructive way to approach human misdeeds is to consider what feelings are behind them (in the cases Chris discusses, for example- greed, anger over perceived economic injustice, etc.) and what thought systems lead toward such inappropriate actions (ding, ding, ding… PARTICULAR RELIGIOUS IDEOLOGIES).  In the case of human animals we can not separate such thought systems from actions.  They are integral motivators for human behavior.  And if we are to be constructive about finding solutions to global problems, we must be critical of the way that people who perform misdeeds think.

2) Chris Hedges book is titled “I Don’t Believe in Atheists.”  Whatever good stuff he may be say otherwise rests along the side of his heathen bash.  Titles generally reflect central themes.  This was also the central theme of the podcast.  His book is not titled “The Socio-economic Basis for Violence in The Middle East.”

I have tended to agree with Chris Hedges about many points over the years.  But it seems rather clear to me that, at this stage in his career, he is just axe grinding over blasphemers.  It’s not very nice what he is saying about people who are not religious.  Unfortunately and despite a very constructive career with The Nation magazine, his current obsession with absurd emotivism drastically lessens his intellectual credibility.  And more importantly, it lessens his moral credibility.

Erasmus, thanks for contributing your thoughts.  Could you explain a bit about the dismissing of misdeeds?  Who’s doing the dismissing and how?

I like your thought systems>>>emotions>>>actions model, it’s very well accepted in Emotion Psychology literature, especially structrual appraisal models (Richard Lazarus, Ira Roseman, etc.), but I’m reluctant to plug religion into the thought variable and accept that inappropriate actions are the logical result.  Maybe that’s what you meant by PARTICULAR religious ideologies, the fundamentalist kind of religion.  But why constrain it to religion?  Wouldn’t any fundamentalist ideology produce inappropriate actions?  Even, dare I say, fundamentalist atheism?  I think that’s what Hedges is going for.

On your second point, I’ll have to fall back on ‘you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.’  If you haven’t, please read Hedges book, if you have, please take to heart the last chapter.  DJ did a great job on the interview, but Hedges was merely answering questions posed to him, so the flavor of the interview was more determined by the questions being asked than anything.

I think it’s very healthy to have someone who is fighting against fundamentalists to put the atheist movement under the microscope.  I’m intrigued by provocateurs and Hedges is doing a great job.

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Posted: 04 June 2008 09:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 395 ]
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mauteman - 04 June 2008 07:59 AM

I find the argument that “the world would be better (w/o religion I’m assuming)” as a slippery slope towards utopianism.

I suppose that promoting reason and science as a central means to improve society could lead some people down that slippery slope (as promoting Darwininsm lead some people down the slippery slope toward eugenics), but that’s not the fault of the argument. It’s a classic logical fallacy (e.g. The Slippery-slope Logical Fallacy) to argue that because the argument could lead eventually down the slippery slope toward a “utopian vision” that the argument itself is a “utopic vision”. Hedges, apparently,  doesn’t even see the need to make the case for the slippery-slope argument, he just leaps to the conclusion that it is in fact a “utopic vision”.

mauteman - 04 June 2008 07:59 AM

Some questions: How can science, reason or atheism mitigate emotions?  Can we change nature?  For me these are the questions at the heart of Hedges book regardless of how ham-handed he is in getting to it.  And they are very important questions for secular humanists to ponder.

The claim is not that we can change nature. The claim is that we can encourage our positive natural tendencies, and discourage our negative natural tendencies. We already do this! It’s our “civilization”! We do this by building institutions of law and education and government and commerce. Science and reason give us the ability to diagnose and improve the designs of our civil institutions in order to further encourage the best aspects of our nature, and discourage the negative aspects of our human nature.

Atheism is simply the state of not accepting the claims of theism it’s not an ideology or a philosophy. Sam Harris has argued that it doesn’t even deserve to be a word (for the same reason we don’t have a word for someone who doesn’t accept the claims of astrology). Dogmas in general, but especially the institutionalization of dogma (e.g. religion) promote the exercise of unreason and discourages the exercise of critical thinking. Dogma is probably an unavoidable part of human nature, but the institutionalization of dogma (e.g. religion) should be something that we can make a less intrusive part of our daily lives, and by doing so we have reason to expect that our lives a little better (our institutions better designed). Maybe a little bit of religion in our lives would be a good thing however; heroic fantasies can be entertaining if not inspiring.

[ Edited: 04 June 2008 09:38 AM by Riley ]
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Posted: 04 June 2008 10:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 396 ]
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Riley - 04 June 2008 09:14 AM

I suppose that promoting reason and science as a central means to improve society could lead some people down that slippery slope (as promoting Darwininsm lead some people down the slippery slope toward eugenics), but that’s not the fault of the argument. It’s a classic logical fallacy (e.g. The Slippery-slope Logical Fallacy) to argue that because the argument could lead eventually down the slippery slope toward a “utopian vision” that the argument itself is a “utopic vision”. Hedges, apparently,  doesn’t even see the need to make the case for the slippery-slope argument, he just leaps to the conclusion that it is in fact a “utopic vision”.

Nice clarification, let me point out that we’re dancing around the difference between an idea proper (or argument) and the individuals who interpret and act on that idea.  Example: I work in a lab and many a newbie spout the “numbers don’t lie” argument about the stats of certain studies they hold dear.  While there’s a kernel of truth in that statement, numbers don’t exist in a vacuum, they need individuals to interpret them and people misinterpret stats all . . . the . . . time.  If we apply this anaolgy to the topic at hand, ideas don’t exist in a vacuum and people twist ideas to their own myopic vision all the time, eugenics being a perfect example (Damn you Galton!).  So I don’t see Hedges arguing against the idea of atheism as much as he’s arguing against certain atheists who he views as upholding a utopic vision specifically b/c they call for the end of religion.  Substitute “feebleminded” for “religion” and you have Goddard’s version of Utopia via eugenics.  I hope this makes sense.

Riley - 04 June 2008 09:14 AM

The claim is not that we can change nature. The claim is that we can encourage our positive natural tendencies, and discourage our negative natural tendencies. We already do this. It’s called “civilization”. We do this by building institutions of law and education and government and commerce. Science and reason give us the ability to diagnose and improve the designs of our civil institutions in order to further encourage the best aspects of our nature, and discourage the negative aspects of our nature.

It is called civilization, but it’s also called religion.  Katrina is a case in point of how charity, the most positive natural tendency, through religious organizations, triumphed over secular attempts.  So to place it in context, getting rid of religion would be detrimental to encouraging positive natural tendencies b/c, dislike it as we may, they excel in an area of charity and altruism that secular government fails.  Science and reason didn’t get supplies to New Orleans, religious charities did, and that furthers civilization.

This example aside, the claim IS about changing nature, b/c the new atheists make a direct correlation between rationalism and improvement.  And emotions, the core of human nature in my opinion, are just not as succeptible to reason and rationality as we may be lead to believe.  We may be able to come up with rational ‘reasons’ post hoc of an emotional episode, but that doesn’t mean that those reasons represent reality at all.  Why do people drink alcohol? B/c I’m stressed, b/c I’m depressed, b/c it’s Cinco de Mayo, b/c it’s Friday, b/c my life is overwhelming. BS! You drink b/c it FEELS good.  All those other reasons are justifications and, while they may be true, they can be experience sans alcohol so they do not logically lead to drinking.  Our emotions do.  I could give you a million logical reasons why strawberry ice cream is better than chocolate, but if you prefer chocolate, my logic is no match for your emotions.  The point: rational thinking is no match for emotion, and emotion is nature, so it is folly to think that substituting reason for religion will make anything better b/c religious beliefs and magical thinking just resonate for some people.  BTW, sorry for all the food references I work in a lab that studies taste and smell.

Riley - 04 June 2008 09:14 AM

Atheism is simply the state of not accepting the claims of theism it’s not an ideology or a philosophy. Sam Harris has argued that it doesn’t even deserve to be a word (for the same reason we don’t have a word for someone who doesn’t accept the claims of astrology). Dogmas in general, but especially the institutionalization of dogma (e.g. religion) promotes the exercise of unreason and discourages the exercise of critical thinking. Dogma is probably an unavoidable part of human nature, but the institutionalization of dogma (e.g. religion) should be something that we can make a less intrusive part of our daily lives, and that doing so would ultimately make our lives a little better.

But religion is not the only instituationalized dogma and I think if you talked to students of seminary you would be disabused of the notion that they, as a whole, lack reason or do not think critically.  Hedges is shining the spotlight on atheists as fundamentists spreading dogma, and CFI may be guilty of institutionalizing such dogma.  Of course I do NOT agree with it, but I am open to his take and find it valuable to engage in that thought experiment.  Maybe his book is just what we need to PREVENT such an institutionalization of that dogma.

Riley - 04 June 2008 09:14 AM

Maybe a little bit of religion in our lives would be nice; heroic fantasies can be entertaining if not inspiring.

That was sincere Riley.  Really nice.  You gave me something to think about.

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Posted: 04 June 2008 12:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 397 ]
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While most religious people are just fine and only a few make the horrors, I would like to see no religion as I would like to see no other superstition as with the paranormal [unlike other schizotypals!]. I find all that just invincible irrational ism.
  There is, for the sake of fallibilism, probably no god.There is no need for one to explain matters and no need for divine love and purposes. The presumption of naturalism and the ignostic-Ockham and the problem of Heaven attest to that.

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Posted: 04 June 2008 03:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 398 ]
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mauteman - 04 June 2008 10:18 AM

So I don’t see Hedges arguing against the idea of atheism as much as he’s arguing against certain atheists who he views as upholding a utopic vision specifically b/c they call for the end of religion.  Substitute “feebleminded” for “religion” and you have Goddard’s version of Utopia via eugenics.  I hope this makes sense.

It makes sense, but it’s still not i think fair minded. Here’s a problem I see:  Hedges inflicts “atheism” with the label of being a philosophy. Only after you define it as such can you be against “it”. But atheism is not a philosophy; it’s not anything that you can be against. Sam Harris deals with this topic so well. As i said before: the term “athesim” makes no more sense than the term “a-astrologer”  - it makes no sense to talk about the philosophy of “a-astrology”, same for atheism. Evoking a conflict between the philosophies of “theism” vs “atheism” as Hedges does is a misleading distraction.

If we clean-up our language and just get down to the basics, what do we have? The question: do we have any good reason to believe a claim (any claim) is true? and that’s all this boils down to: good arguments and bad arguments. Why do we make a special exception for the sake of claims made with the label “religious”? What’s wrong with imagining a world that honors good arguments, and openly ridicules bad arguments regardless of their source? Reading Harris and Dennet, at least, this is all I hear them promoting.

mauteman - 04 June 2008 10:18 AM

It is called civilization, but it’s also called religion.  Katrina is a case in point of how charity, the most positive natural tendency, through religious organizations, triumphed over secular attempts. So to place it in context, getting rid of religion would be detrimental to encouraging positive natural tendencies b/c, dislike it as we may, they excel in an area of charity and altruism that secular government fails.

This I think is a very poor argument. I don’t want to debate this though ,except to say that I think you need to look at the mechanisms of the institutions at work and make a case from that perspective if you want to argue that religious institutions are necessarily better suited to charity than secular institutions.

But I do totally agree with you on the point that religions are institutions that can and have encouraged the positive natural tendencies of people. I think for the most part, that religions have been designed with just that goal in mind. Unfortunately, religions contain are also designed to be dogmatic and inflexible. If an ideology gets planted in a religious institution, it doesn’t easily get removed (e.g. justification for slavery and genocide). This I think is an intrinsic problem in the mechanics of how religious institutions work. Why can’t we look at the ten commandments and say: we can do better than that ... let’s do so. We can do better than the Koran and the Bible ... let’s do so!

It should be noted too, that secular institutions are not immune from being co-opted by religious dogma, and of course, even non-religious dogma.

Less dogma, more reason and critical thought - that’s the drive. Religion happens to be a haven of highly entrenched dogma in need of special attention.

mauteman - 04 June 2008 10:18 AM

Science and reason didn’t get supplies to New Orleans, religious charities did [...]

1) Just because a government is secular, doesn’t mean that it embraces science and reason—the Bush Administration is certainly an example of that. 

2) Science and reason are used to better design the technologies and and institutions that are used by people to respond to situations like the hurricane Katrina disaster. To the extent that anybody was able to help at all in that disaster, they have benefited from the fruits of science and reason. Science had been used to diagnose the danger of disaster in New Orleans long before the hurricane ever hit, but people chose to ignore it. Had there been more science and reason used, we would have had far far less suffering.

mauteman - 04 June 2008 10:18 AM

The point: rational thinking is no match for emotion, and emotion is nature, so it is folly to think that substituting reason for religion will make anything better b/c religious beliefs and magical thinking just resonate for some people.

But that’s just it! The great innovation of science is that it gives us a process to follow. It’s a technology that enables us to better separate our emotional judgements of reality (that cause us to rationalize) from a more accurate and complete measurement of reality.  Understanding the way the world works also gives us perspective which helps us to better train our emotional/intuitive decision-making. If you are operating under a false model of the way the world works, you’re more likely to make bad decisions.

mauteman - 04 June 2008 10:18 AM

But religion is not the only instituationalized dogma and I think if you talked to students of seminary you would be disabused of the notion that they, as a whole, lack reason or do not think critically.


1) I choose to make a distinction between “dogma” and “religion” because I think that when most people talk about religion, they are speaking about institutional religion (i.e. institutional dogma), not just personal dogma.

2) I don’t for a second hold the view that religious people aren’t capable critical thinkers.  What I would say is that such people abandon critical thought in a significant aspect of their life proportional to how seriously they take their religion. All of us are are guilty of non-critical thinking, and probably every day. But religion tends to actively shield people from recognizing their blind-spots in this regard, while at the same time encouraging them to take action based on that blind-spot.

[ Edited: 04 June 2008 04:34 PM by Riley ]
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Posted: 04 June 2008 03:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 399 ]
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mauteman - 04 June 2008 10:18 AM

Hedges is shining the spotlight on atheists as fundamentists spreading dogma, and CFI may be guilty of institutionalizing such dogma.

Can you define what dogma it is that is being spread? And what philosophy is it that they are “fundamentalist” about? I think it’s very important to be specific about such things.

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Posted: 04 June 2008 04:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 400 ]
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Riley - 03 June 2008 09:03 PM
UlsterScots432 - 03 June 2008 06:19 AM

What do you mean my “solution”, you mean, the temerity of a “free thinker” to believe in self-defense?

No, I mean your assertion that force is the only solution.

A right to use force to protect oneself needs no explanation other than natural law.


EXAMPLE: UlsterScots432:  Islam lacks “the cultural intellectual capacity to be reasoned with. [...] force is the only thing they respond to, or respect”.

We can look merely to the last 50 years, and see how Islam, unable to argue a point, has attacked/invaded Israel three times,  and only responded, when beaten back and defeated.  Islam views a failure to take forceful action as a weakness, this has specifically been stated by Muslim leaders, including the former Ayatollah and Bin Laden (who, contrary to some opinion, are greatly admired in the Muslim culture).

Decades of “peace talks” and “negotiations” have failed to bring about the end of terrorism brought by Hamas, Hezballah and similar groups.  They do not believe Israel has a right to exist, therefore they seek to destroy a sovereign nation (and people) no differently than Hitler did. 

What happens when someone actually tries to commit to peace and uses reason?  He is murdered by other Muslims shortly after (Sadat)

UlsterScots432 - 03 June 2008 06:19 AM

Explain what you mean? And how my words were bigoted

—————————————
EXAMPLES OF BIGOTED STATEMENTS:
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
EXAMPLE 1: UlsterScots432: “Primitive cultures, of which Islam is, beyond any doubt, only respond to power, precisely BECAUSE they lack the cultural intellectual capacity to be reasoned with.” ... admittedly this is more dogmatic than bigoted.  Dogmatic because it is an opinion asserted “beyond any doubt” as a fact. Bigoted because it’s a homogenized characterization of a diverse culture.

Beyond any doubt is an opinion, I should have said the evidence has shown that.  For all their “diversity”, Muslims are rather homogenous in many areas of conduct, including their treatment of women for example.  I would contend only a primitive culture seeks to dominate women (their own wives) by BEATING THEM.  This view is held by their culture as acceptable.  This is not the minority speaking, it is individuals on national TV shows (do you think this would go on in a culture that is “tolerant”?):

Beating your wife in Saudi Arabia (an entire nation where women are banned from driving): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9qsLZyJP0E

Beating your wife in Bahrain (a more “moderate” Muslim nation): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wp3Eam5FX58&feature=related

Beating your wife in Qatar (another “moderate” Muslim nation): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mr-vt2DTCFw&feature=related

Some video of a nice muslim guy beating his wife (in our country you go to jail for this, especially if you took a video of it): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6YitNSQuoI&feature=related

At least they debate “light” beating (would you count this as critical thinking?):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yl8g8S6F3do&feature=related

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Posted: 04 June 2008 04:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 401 ]
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EXAMPLE 3: UlsterScots432: “They cannot be reasoned with, and they have shown that, and that is why their culture looks today, like what you would EXPECT of a culture that lacks reason” is a bigoted comment again because it generalizes an entire group of people (“They” cannot be reasoned with). It’s worse because it’s also loaded with assumptions based on simple-minded claims about why their culture looks the way it does today.

Does this look like a culture that supports free thought and expression, and employs critical thinking?  Remember, this is not some backwoods tribal leader, this is the public prosecutor of Jordan (usually considered more “moderate”):

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,363182,00.html

Instead of debating (and then granting) gay marriage, gays are hanged in some Muslim countries (and killed in others): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzFS6msSo80&feature=related

Would you expect a tolerant nation that cares about dialogue over human rights to conduct female genital mutilation/cutting (clitorectomy) ?  In the Sudan it is prevalent (more than 90 percent), and thankfully, it was outlawed in Egypt….last year. 

or as Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Turkish Secretary General of the Jeddah-based Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said of the Danish Cartoons “By reprinting these cartoons we are heading toward a bigger conflict and that shows that both sides will be hostages of their radicals.”  So those who draw cartoons to express satire are on par with “radicals” within Islam (and we all know what that means).  By the way, the OIC is a pan-Islamic political body, comprised of 57 members, including “secular” Turkey.

A culture that lacks reason puts out death warrants on the heads of those who write against their religion (their precious culture).  Not some uppity chieftan in the back woods, but Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, , the leader of a large, technologically advanced “state” against Sir Salman Rushdie.  Why does Wafa Sultan, Nonnie Darwish, and Hirsin Ali have to fear for their lives, if their culture is so tolerant? 

You only say it is loaded with assumptions because you are afraid to answer the question.  Are these the things, aside from the regular “atrocities” (which you appear to dismiss) that you would expect in a tolerant culture?  Is this where you would set up camp and a website like Free Inquiry to discuss the hatefulness and violence of female genital mutilation, or wife beating?  Is this where you would want to live as a gay, not because your neighbors may not like you, or someone calls you a “fag”, but because they will come to your door, arrest you and hang you in the public square?

So answer the question, from Iraq (where athletes had their arms and legs broken for losing an event), to Saudi, where women can’t drive, to the Sudan, where a young girl can expect her clit to be cut off, to Palestine, where parents praise their teen sons for becoming “martyrs” by strapping bombs to their chests and killing innocent Jews, and refer to black people as “abid” (slave)...is this a culture that appears tolerant, non-bigoted and advanced (at least more than moderately primitive)?

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Posted: 04 June 2008 05:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 402 ]
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as usual, Ulster, shifting the playing field, introducing straw-men, drifting off into additional unsupported claims and relying on generalizations.  But at least you did make two meaningful (if loaded) challenges in your post from yesterday. Here are your challenges and my responses to them:

YOUR CHALLENGE: “I’d also like to see you address the lack of response in the Muslim world to things like: Murder over cartoons.”:
I can’t address this directly because you make accusations (or ask questions) based on false premises. I reject your premise that there is a lack of response in the Muslim community.
see: “The Bayan [Fatwa] on the Cartoons” —- http://silvers.progressiveislam.org/The_Bayan_on_the_Cartoons
see: “More Muslim Condemnation of Terrorism & Violence” -  http://facts-not-fear.blogspot.com/2007/11/more-muslim-condemnation-of-terrorism.html
see: “Fatwas By Muslim Scholars” - http://liftingtheveils.com/?page_id=56

al-Sistani, Grand Ayatollah Ali issues fatwa to Muslims in Western nations, urging them to obey the laws of the countries in which they live. 6/06

Indian Muslims in North America official press release (February 19, 2006) : “we categorically condemn Mr Haji Yaqoob Quraishi, the said Muslim politician, for this most reprehensible and criminal action.” [...] “Islam categorically condemns all acts of violence against anyone. The efforts of Mr Haji Yaqoob Quraishi and a few others to incite the Muslim population to violence by exploiting the name of Prophet Mohammad, is a most despicable act worthy of condemnation by all including Muslims.”

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) deplored Sunday the attacks on the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus [...] OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu “expresses his disapproval over these regrettable and deplorable incidents,” the pan-Islamic body said in a statement. “Overreactions surpassing the limits of peaceful democratic acts [...] are dangerous and detrimental to the efforts to defend the legitimate case of the Muslim world and portray the true image of Islam,”.


YOUR CHALLENGE:  “Please provide examples of where Islam is an open culture, for example, where people like any number of the above authors, live and write freely in a Muslim country, without fear of retribution. Please provide examples.”:
Again, your statements/accusatins/questions are based on false premises. I reject the premise that ANY country could be “open” when ruled by religious dictatorship, whether that government be ruled by Islamic or Christian-based laws. I agree that the more secular a government is, the more open it’s society will be, but again, this is an issue related to religion in general, not Islam specifically. In addition to that, only 18% of the world’s population live in “open” societies (according to Freedom House). “open” is not common. That being said, there are numerous examples of practicing Muslims who have built or act in support of an open culture, where authors like those above can freely walk among Muslims in Muslim communities without fear of personal retribution.
EXAMPLE: Mali
EXAMPLE: Senegal
EXAMPLE: Kosovo-Serbia (in recent years)
EXAMPLE: Bulgaria
EXAMPLE: Sierra Leone
EXAMPLE: Indonesia

Add to that numerous and very large population centers of Muslim communities throughout North America and Western Europe, tens of millions of people.
again: as I said before, more than once: “I agree that there are very large, well organized, and murderous Muslim groups using Islam as motivation/ justification for violence and suppression of people. What I disagree with are your blanket generalizations about Muslim culture, your unsupported claims, and bigoted comments. Yes, Islam, like most all other religions, tends to suppress critical thinking, but that doesn’t by a long stretch mean that those people who are part of Muslim culture (or any other religious culture) are incapable of critical thinking.”

[ Edited: 04 June 2008 05:06 PM by Riley ]
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Posted: 04 June 2008 05:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 403 ]
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Riley wrote:
.

I don’t address the quotes of people you have posted, because I don’t particularly disagree with them. I’m not sure what controversial claim it is that you are attempting to support with those quotes.  I agree that there are very large, well organized, and murderous Muslim groups using Islam as motivation/ justification for violence and suppression of people, and I’ve already said as much. What I disagree with are your blanket generalizations about Muslim culture, your unsupported claims, and bigoted comments. Yes, Islam, like most all other religions, tends to suppress critical thinking, but that doesn’t by a long stretch mean that those people who are part of Muslim culture (or any other religious culture) are incapable of critical thinking.

No, you don’t address them because they specifically support my assertions, in one way or another (often to varying degrees).  Wafa Sultan makes it clear, the problem is ISLAM…not moderate Islam, or militant Islam, etc.  The others say similar things in various ways on a variety of topics (to lengthy to rehash, particularly as you don’t “particularly disagree” with them, even as they say that Islam is a bigoted religion that does not support free thinking.  (see the previous post with quotes from this very website).

You casually dismiss atrocities of Islam like someone saying, “Yes, of course Mrs. Lincoln, but other than that, how was the play?”  The atrocities are a function of the intolerance and hateful nature of Islam.  A culture that, as the Taliban showed, targets anyone that disagrees with them, violently: (from Wiki)
The worst attack on civilians came in summer of 1998 when the Taliban swept north from Herat to the predominantly Hazara and Uzbek city of Mazar-i-Sharif, the largest city in the north. Entering at 10 am on 8 August 1998, for the next two days the Taliban drove their pickup trucks “up and down the narrow streets of Mazar-i-Sharif shooting to the left and right and killing everything that moved — shop owners, cart pullers, women and children shoppers and even goats and donkeys.”[54] More than 8000 noncombatants were reported killed in Mazar-i-Sharif and later in Bamiyan.[55]

This is the same culture that banned music, flying kites and forced women to wear Burqas (and they risked beatings and acid if they failed to adhere to the law).  They were also banned from riding bikes, being on TV or radio. 

At least they can listen to prayers, which in most Muslim countries, go on over loudspeakers, all day. 

At least women in Egypt (arguably more tolerant, and remember they banned female circumcision long ago in 2007), can be on TV to discuss the issue, check out minute 1:45:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vs7PX_BulmA&feature=related

One could argue that some of these crazy things are found in various religions, or have been, to some degree, throughout time.  As an atheist, I am aware of this, but as an objectivist, I have no problem stating that Islam is an intolerant religion (culture), is bigoted, violent, and as a whole (which is what a culture always is) it is incapable of being appealed to with reason, or logic.  If it CAN be, please show me where that has worked, long-term (even short-term). 

Riley, if everything of the above, was going on in the State of Kentucky, in the United States, where kids were offered up as sacrifices for suicide missions (homicide is more correct), women were beaten regularly, artists and authors had death warrants on their heads, people tried to covert others by way of the sword, sawed off the clits of young women, banned women from driving, hanged gays, said Jews have no right to even EXIST, and demanded the death of all “infidels”, and did not respond to attempts to reason with them, and on and on and on, I have no doubt that you would believe the people in that state, of that culture, were intolerant bigots that could not be reasoned with. 

Can any single Muslim be reasoned with? Sure. Ever in history? Sure.  But as a culture, their religion, the Koran, their culture, is not one of critical thinking or self-analysis (see the previous quote from the Center for Inquiry, back to my argument that it starts at home).  They are a HYPER-sensitive people in which people are not safe to stand up and disagree without fear of retribution.  That shows they are not a civil society. 

That is why the Muslim world, which has not been invaded or “raped” or taken advantage of any more than any other culture (see Ireland, Poland, Macedonia, Armenia, China, Peru, Mexico, etc), looks the way it looks, while another middle eastern culture, adjacent to the Arab/Muslim world (Israel) looks the way it does, and produces the culture that we see them produce (something like over 150 Nobel Prizes).

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Posted: 04 June 2008 05:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 404 ]
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No Riley, I haven’t shifted the argument at all.  I specifically responded to your comments about my claims. 

Do you believe that Islam is a tolerant culture?  The Muslim countries and cultures that you see (and I provide by no means an exhaustive list of their intolerance and hatred), do they appear to be based on reason, logic, critical thinking? Tolerance?

You can call me a bigot all you want, btw.  I will continue to call the people who call black people “slaves” the bigots.  You can say I make blanket statements.  I make them based on what I see, hear and read.  When more muslims stand up and change their cultures, I will believe reason has prevailed. 

You of course are free to believe as you wish (the beauty of a culture based on reason and critical thinking).

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Posted: 04 June 2008 05:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 405 ]
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Some redirection is necessary.  Hedges is using atheism in an appropriate way for his reading audience to understand the point he makes, and in my reading, he uses it as a general term so infrequently that it’s benign.  Discussing the dismerits of using the term ‘atheism’ doesn’t take away from his prerogative to critique specific atheists. His use of direct quotes from said atheists and critiquing those points specifically pretty satisfying that he’s levelling arguments against individuals, not general ideas.

The points you bring up: “a-astrology”, religion’s exception from the good/bad arguments,  the inadequacy of W Bush and his adminstration, dogma/religion, are fun and I’ll bet we mostly agree on them, but they’re a bit played-out and off-topic.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Hedges is doing a great job as a provacateur by going against the current grain of lapping up everything the “Four Horsemen” put out.  Trust me, I AM that guy that has all the books and has YouTubed every tidbit about them I could find b/c; while I like reading Hedges, I LOVE watching these guys talk/debate/engage.  Maybe I didn’t make that clear from the get-go.  I could listen to Hitchens use the word “piffle” all day long!

But they’re being lumped together and are lumping themselves together by agreeing to be filemed as “The Four Horsemen” which doesn’t take much abstraction to determine upon which worldview they will wreak apocolypse.  They want to end religion, they want to eliminate the “weak” worldview.  This is utopic. 

Have you seen the South Park episode about Dawkins and a future with no religion?  It was an amazingly clever realization of the idea that people will fight even if they substitute reason and science for religion and superstition.  The political/social/philosophical landscape will shift but we will still be dealing with people disagreeing and the consequences thereof.

If science is a “technology that enables us to better separate our emotional judgements of reality (that cause us to rationalize) from a more accurate and complete measurement of reality” then therapists would have a 100% success rate.  Utopic.

This is a discussion about being critical and skeptical to even those from whom we receive our information and Hedges should be applauded for doing so b/c it allows us to look at ourselves and reflect.  And that is exactly what we are asking religious/superstitous people to do.

Hedges book raises the important point of acceptance of diversity.  I’m a student in CFI’s “Science and the Public” program and I want to work toward promoting secular humanism as much as anyone, but only in an open market of ideas.  I don’t want to eliminate the worldviews I disagree with, it’s barbaric.

This is just a thought experiment Riley; you don’t have to believe your opponent’s view, but can you look at your own view throught their eyes?  That’s what’s up.  That’s why I liked Hedge’s book and interview.

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