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I’m writing you from Saudi, HELP!!! ;)
Posted: 20 November 2008 05:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Chris Crawford - 20 November 2008 04:06 PM

Wow, am *I* out of it! I was under the impression that reading the Quran is so central to Islam that everybody is literate.

Most people are literate here and yes Quran is taught all through out the 12 years of school in most Arab countries. It’s the activity of sitting down and enjoying a book which is not popular as in the western world. To illustrate; when some of my friends ask me about my plans for the evening, I sometimes reply by saying I’m going to sit down and read an interesting book. They immediately ask me back: no seriously, what are your plans for the evening?!

Chris Crawford - 20 November 2008 04:06 PM

Wouldn’t there be a problem with people demanding that you teach only theologically acceptable science? I suppose that you don’t really need to teach evolution..

Actually I was raised in another Arab country, not Saudi Arabia, but now working in it. I think in most Arab countries, Science teaching in school is secular but not that much, evolution for example isn’t taught. Saudi Arabia & Iran might would be an exception in that science books have to checked by the clerics but I think this doesn’t apply to other Arab countries. My mom is a science teacher for 4th graders and she teaches children about animals but she doesn’t dare use the word evolution. I guess she’s afraid of the parent’s reactions.  She tries to get the idea through using the word “adaptation”.

Chris Crawford - 20 November 2008 04:06 PM

I can give you a lot of ideas. But wouldn’t that leave you in Saudi Arabia? I thought it was your desire to leave.

Actually I’m trying to fit in a long term strategy for myself, I only became a non-believer last year after reading some scientific books and from then on got into thinking what to do with myself. What could be the greatest benefit I could give in my short time here on earth? Eventually this search got me to cfi and other sites and I hope eventually to Canada, where I can develop myself in a way that I could return to the Arab world and create some positive impact in the direction of science and reason. Like the science summer camp idea.

If you were in my place, what Major would you specialize in when undertaking a graduate study? What’s the closest Major to “Science & Reason in Society”?

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Posted: 20 November 2008 07:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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If you were in my place, what Major would you specialize in when undertaking a graduate study? What’s the closest Major to “Science & Reason in Society”?

Well, obviously philosophy would be the best place for that—except for the fact that graduate study in philosophy would, in my opinion, be a horrible experience. Besides, who wants to have a degree that says “Doctor of Philosophy of Philosophy”? tongue rolleye

I don’t know what to suggest for you. Perhaps sociology or political science, although I warn you: sociology seems to attract a very odd group of people, very narrow-minded and overly sure of themselves (sorta like Harvard MBAs LOL ) Political science can be good or bad—everything depends on the school you go to. I’ve heard impressive stories about some PoliSci departments being full of broad-minded, stimulating professors, and horrible stories about PoliSci departments with ideologues for faculty. Still, I think you could do some interesting work exploring the political structures of Islamic nations. Why are some Islamic nations strongly influenced by religion while others are quite secular? Certainly the Iranian Revolution of 1979 raises all sorts of fascinating questions. What drove this society to swing so far from a secular system to a theocratic system?

One area you might look into is the history of science. Here’s a Wikipedia page listing many schools with HST programs:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_science_and_technology

I saw three Canadian universities with such programs.

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Posted: 20 November 2008 10:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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I suggest that when you get to Canada, you apply to the college of your choice and select a rather generic major, it’s not important what.  Then, as soon as you start there, find out if they offer any testing programs.  Almost all colleges do.  They will have you take a variety of aptitude and interest tests then interpret them for you.  This should give you some idea of those areas you are most likely to be successful and interested in.  At that point you could transfer your major to one of those.

Occam

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Posted: 21 November 2008 01:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Thanks for the replies smile

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“From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that man is here for the sake of other men-above all for those upon whose smiles and well being, our own happiness depends. ”

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Posted: 21 November 2008 05:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Chris Crawford - 20 November 2008 07:36 PM

Well, obviously philosophy would be the best place for that—except for the fact that graduate study in philosophy would, in my opinion, be a horrible experience. Besides, who wants to have a degree that says “Doctor of Philosophy of Philosophy”? tongue rolleye

Now wait just a second there ...

smile

Graduate study in philosophy can actually be very interesting, but it certainly isn’t for everyone, and probably isn’t the best preparation for you if what you want to do is to make social and political change. On the other hand, it will give you the rational background to parse the arguments.

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Posted: 21 November 2008 11:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Were I able to live a number of lives, I certainly would use one of them to get a PhD in philosophy, however, whatever major you select, I suggest you take the basic philosophy courses along with logic, critical thinking, and ethics which are offered in philosophy departments.  In addition, it wouldn’t hurt to take a course or two on the scientific method, usually taught in one of the physical science departments. 

Occam

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Posted: 05 December 2008 05:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Hello Ain Al-Aql,

I am brand new here as well, but I found your situation so interesting that I have to reply to your introduction before introducing myself. smile (I will do that next.)

I agree with you that books are not the right way to go this day and age if you want to influence masses. Majority of people don’t bother reading any more, in fact, I’m one of them, ashamed to admit, but that is the truth. With the simplicity of media these days, the best way would probably be, as you said, YouTube, together with a blog. If I was you, I would try to tackle this issue with a sense of humour that the Arabic people will understand - as every culture has their own style of humour. You have to make the posts interesting in the way that they spread through StumbleUpon and other social media.

As for young people, I don’t think you have to start as young as children, but the teenagers, that are in the perfect physical state of questioning the old and taking in the new while braking out of the influence of their parents. That is when you have to catch them if you can. Teach them about women and sexuality if you can, because THAT will catch their attention! (As a girl online, I know that Arabic men online are irritatingly curious about women, and that is no surprise given their situation.) I am not even sure if you need high educational level to do this, you can start with very basics with people who are virtually clueless about anything. I can already tell that you are way ahead of those around you, and probably ahead of a lot of western people as well. You can start now, I tell you. smile That is not to say that you shouldn’t seek for high education, not at all, but just to say that I think you are ready to start the change when you have your own situation sorted out.

I don’t know about legal issues in Saudi-Arabia, you say you smuggled books into your room, so I suppose there are some restrictions on expressing yourself? Maybe you do need to get out of the country before you can help people in there, but once you’ve done that, I would set up a blog and get those YouTube videos blazing! You have to start with the lowest common denominator, so that your message will go through without big resistance. You have that big advantage of having the Internet to help you, without it it would be a whole lot more difficult to catch those young people! You have to think like them and imagine how you would react to what you write if you were them.

I wish you luck and I believe you will make a big difference in a lot of people’s lives!

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Posted: 15 December 2008 07:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Thank you Sebastyne , I guess it’s true what they say about the acceptance by others raising ones self-esteem smile However I still don’t see an introduction of you!

Best Wishes,

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Posted: 15 December 2008 09:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Hi Ain Al-Aql.

I’m curious if the Arab country you were raised in is like Saudi Arabia in it’s standards and ideals. If it is, I’m curious how the cycle of those beliefs was broken as you obviously don’t subscribe to them.

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Posted: 15 December 2008 04:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Hello Deftil,

Fortunately few are the Arab countries that are religiously oppressive like Saudi Arabia. During the 20s, 30s & 40s there was an enlightenment period in the Arab world and during that time a lot of skeptics emerged, unfortunately that enlightenment period soon vanished due to the rise of the Islamic identity which was caused mostly by political forces around the world.

My mom was I guess, one of the VERY few people who believed that religious upbringing for children is incorrect and that they should choose when they grow-up what to believe in, so she never influenced me in any way. That explains the difference between me and my brother who prays 5 times a day.

The thing that made religion look dubious for me is the deep belief in Islam that from the moment you’re born, god has already determined your path and has set all your achievements - financial and others- in front of you. That for me just sounded plain stupid, add to that skepticism a book by Richard Dawkins and all the religious mambo-jumbo just vanishes away.

I hope I’ve satisfied your curiosity smile

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Posted: 18 December 2008 03:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Hi Ain,

A lot of this forum is aimed at the US and the Christian right wing movement.  From France it is hard for me to understand why there is so much concern about the Church.  The church in Europe, even with the pope present on our soil, is powerless.  The only area where the church has a large impact that I can see is social work with the homeless and OAPs, areas where Atheist groups have limited or zero passion.  We have come to a state where Christian religious leaders are shot down in the media even before they can open their mouths.  Eastern religions are given more freedom and a bump free ride on the airwaves.  We love the Buddhists the most.

My experience in France makes me worry about the rise of political Islam, I can see it around me.  The young Muslims in France are setting a course for another Islamic state on this side of the med.  If we ever get there it will be civil war and all the fun that goes with it.  We even have Wahibi (Saudi funded and run) mosques active.

Linked to what you want to study I would try to be as employable as possible, once you have money, then you will find the spare time to read and learn all you want about science.

Beware you will find the extremist Islamic movement active even in Canada.  Last winter, I saw people in downtown Montreal out with their prayer mats on the snow in one of the main squares, it was -15 degrees C.  It was some sort of symbolic protest prayer meeting in front of one of the old empty churches.  I did not understand it.

If you want to work towards making a difference in the separation of church and state, then you should join one of the ex-muslims groups that have started in Europe in the past few years.  The UK one is currently working against Sharia Law, which has been given an indirect approval by the UK Labour government under Tony Blair.

http://www.ex-muslim.org.uk  is the UK one and also they have an active forum. 

They started

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Posted: 18 December 2008 05:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Tomtom, you are right that this forum does focus on the christian church to some extent.  This is because the majority of members are in the U.S.  As you mention, the christian church has little power in Europe, but Islam is making a real push for power.  In the U.S. Islam has a smaller role, but most of the varieties of christian churches, while not as obvious as Islam, does subtly but strongly work toward increased power.  This is quite distressing and worrying to non-theists.

Occam

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