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Religious debates

Posted By Sunny On 17th October, 2006 @ 12:52 am In Religion, Humour | Comments Disabled

This is hilarious. It’s worth noting it features zealots on either side and the debate is concentrated into a 3-minute slot. Very much like BBC debates then. [hat tip: bananabrain]


Comments Disabled To "Religious debates"

#1 Comment By Katy Newton On 17th October, 2006 @ 1:13 am

This is so funny.

#2 Comment By Douglas Clark On 17th October, 2006 @ 1:32 am

Excellent stuff.

#3 Comment By Sid On 17th October, 2006 @ 1:33 am

Heehee, excellent. Mrs Sid and I laughed at that til our bilbab jimjams fell off.

#4 Comment By mirax On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:43 am

Ah a religious debate that clearly shows the winners are … atheists!

#5 Comment By razib On 17th October, 2006 @ 3:07 am

note that they did agree on one thing.

#6 Comment By Amir On 17th October, 2006 @ 4:00 am

Mirax,

’ Ah a religious debate that clearly shows the winners are … atheists!’

Hey Mirax! It’s good to have you back. I think you’re an awesome girl. How’s the new house? :-)

As for your suggestion that atheists are the real ‘winners’, I beg to differ. The aforementioned clip is indeed funny, but only insofar that it is wildly off the mark. You can’t eliminate faith from public life; one way or another, it will come back to haunt to. The reason why religion cannot be suppressed, why religion is reasserting itself where it was formerly stifled or thriving where it was held back, is that it speaks to profound questions to which many millions of people seek answers. Neither democracy nor capitalism speaks to these issues. Secular humanism does provide some answers, but not ones all find convincing.

The sketch is misleading in another way, too. It suggests that there’s some sort of theological equivalence between Islam and Christianity, which is patently false. Christianity has very little in common with Islam, and Islam has very little in common with Christianity. After all, British culture is Protestant. That’s both its strength and its weakness. The anti-authoritarian core of this culture has released tremendous scientific and technological power. But it has also prevented the culture from having strong cohesive or defensive powers. Its lifespan is probably destined to be as brief as it has been brilliant. Atheists and agnostics – who inherit 99% of their dispositions from Protestantism – don’t believe in themselves. They believe in stupid, unattainable things such as multiculturalism and internationalism. The moment you accuse them of bigotry, they fold. That’s the last sin they want to be guilty of, and they’ll go to absurd lengths to prove they aren’t prejudiced. So it’s easy to make them feel guilty even when they’re innocent.

The Christian faith conquered the Roman Empire because Christians took their commandments very literally. These were the countless martyrs who died under hideous tortures to bear witness to Christ’s resurrection. Typical was St. Lawrence, who, while being sizzled to death on a giant griddle, quipped to his tormentors, “You can turn me over now. I think I’m done on this side.” Sometimes the martyrs’ example converted their persecutors on the spot.

Needless to say, the rest of mankind is cashing in on this naked, feeble Protestant conscience. “[1] Anti-discrimination” laws, lawsuits, diversity training, unrestricted immigration, and unremitting Islamist propaganda are gobbling up the virtues of Protestant culture and dispossessing its former proprietors.

And guess what…? You atheists aren’t going to enjoy the decline of Protestantism, nor will you enjoy the religious or secular traditions that fill its place. Oh no.

Amir

#7 Comment By DR1001 On 17th October, 2006 @ 4:08 am

what? ??

Aren’t you being being a tad intolerant towards aethists??

For a guy who is also always on an anti Islam rant …funny how the sign on name used is actually Islamic !!

#8 Comment By razib On 17th October, 2006 @ 4:21 am

is that it speaks to profound questions to which many millions of people seek answers. N

no, the questions aren’t profound. yes, religion is omnipresent and will be, but that’s because most people aren’t very bright and habitually demon-haunted.

Christianity has very little in common with Islam, and Islam has very little in common with Christianity

there is a long tradition of christian thought which dissents from this. see [2] st. john of damascus (the last church father) Concerning Heresy, clearly he (and many christians) viewed islam as a debased derivation of christianity. this does not bespeak someone who says there is ‘little in common.’

But it has also prevented the culture from having strong cohesive or defensive powers.

protestantism served british culture for several hundred years. do you think it mysteriously lost those powers after world world ii? perhaps it is the god who answers the ‘profound questions’ you allude to who
wills it?

who inherit 99% of their dispositions from Protestantism

this is false. see [3] Alternative Tradition: A Study of Unbelief in the Ancient World. unbelievers like the carvakas, skeptics, cynics, epicureans, xunzi have emerged in most civilized cultures. certainly the religious tradition of the culture in which they arise shape the nature of their unbelief, but it is false to say that atheism is someone a response to protestantism.

The Christian faith conquered the Roman Empire because Christians took their commandments very literally. These were the countless martyrs who died under hideous tortures to bear witness to Christ’s resurrection.

this seems false. see [4] the rise of christianity by rodney stark for the relatively small numbers of martyrs, and the stronger correlation with hellenistic judaism as loci of christian growth. see [5] the barbarian conversion and [6] the germanization of early medieval christianity to see that the nature of ‘christendom’ was a rather shallow affair, and real christianization for most of europe (especially the north) occured nearly 1500 years after the martyrs’ death.

The moment you accuse them of bigotry, they fold. That’s the last sin they want to be guilty of, and they’ll go to absurd lengths to prove they aren’t prejudiced. So it’s easy to make them feel guilty even when they’re innocent.

you speak of many unbelievers, but certainly not all.

And guess what…? You atheists aren’t going to enjoy the decline of Protestantism, nor will you enjoy the religious or secular traditions that fill its place. Oh no.

you contradict yourself. the fact is that religiosity will be remain, and yet you imply that ’secular traditions’ might fill the vacuum?

fundamentally i think you are attempting to point to historical patterns which you don’t fully grasp. perhaps i overstep my bounds as a new commenter, but i have to call a spade a spade here.

(though from other comments i’ve seen of yours i don’t actually disagree as much with your general opinions, but i am nonetheless offended by bad arguments and shaky facts in the service of nobles ends)

#9 Comment By Amir On 17th October, 2006 @ 4:28 am

DR1001,

‘Aren’t you being being a tad intolerant towards aethists??’

Urggh,… no. They’re the ones who are usually “intolerant” towards me and my metaphysical beliefs. Which, of course, doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Mirax and Don and Razib, for example, are all principled atheists who are very good at debating. I’d rather joust with someone who has thought clearly about their position and is prepared to argue about it to death, rather than having to debate with a politically-correct jellyfish and a professional mud-slinger.

‘For a guy who is also always on an anti Islam rant …funny how the sign on name used is actually Islamic !!’

“Amir” isn’t exclusively Moslem. It’s also given to Christian and Jewish babies. If, by ‘anti-Islam’, you mean to say that “I don’t agree” with Islamic precepts or Sharia Law, then I’m guilty as charged. Why the hell should I pretend otherwise? Are Moslems expected to pretend that they believe in transubstantiation or the Trinity or the Resurrection of Jesus Christ? Nope. Didn’t think so. Stop being so hypocritical.

Amir

#10 Comment By Amir On 17th October, 2006 @ 5:56 am

Razib,

Welcome to PP. :-) Thank you for the response. Any mate of Jai’s is a mate of mine. I enjoy reading all of your contributions, even though we reside on opposite ends of the metaphysical spectrum. Let me respond to your articulate rebuttal:

(I) ‘no, the questions aren’t profound. yes, religion is omnipresent and will be, but that’s because most people aren’t very bright and habitually demon-haunted.’

The reason for the unending discussion about the existence of God is that our scientific knowledge cannot explain the beginnings of the universe in which we live, and that the missing parts of the equation might conceivably be divine. Do not seek to mock what you do not – yet – understand. Do not assume that religious believers are stupid. Treat your opponent’s arguments with respect and answer his case. That way, at least, you may be a more competent atheist at the end of this discussion than you are now.

(II) ‘there is a long tradition of christian thought which dissents from this.’

There’s an even [7] larger tradition which doesn’t.

(III) ‘but it is false to say that atheism is someone a response to protestantism.’

Actually, I was referring to the dispositions of British people, not atheists worldwide. Everything that we hold dear – freedom of expression, the rule of law, private life and property, policing by consent, the presumption of innocence, religious tolerance, habeas corpus, voluntary charity, public health – owes its existence to the Protestant [8] work ethic. Examine the globe and see how rare these things are, and how infinitely precious to those who do not have them.

(IV) ‘protestantism served british culture for several hundred years. do you think it mysteriously lost those powers after world world ii?’

No: I believe it lost those powers after World War I. If the Central Powers had won the war, the disintegration of Protestantism might not have been so complete. There would have been no Communism, nor a republic in Russia; a victorious Germany would have never tolerated it, and unlike the Western Allies, Germany was positioned geographically to do something about it. Hitler would have remained a non-entity. And the Christian conservatism represented by the Central Powers would have been greatly strengthened by their victory. Instead, the fall of the German, Austro-Hungarian and Russian monarchies let the poisons of post-modernism loose upon the West, and upon the world. WWI is the reason why we live in a cultural and moral sewer.

(IV) “… relatively small numbers of martyrs, and the stronger correlation with hellenistic judaism as loci of christian growth.”

I agree. Christianity, at first, was preached by Jews to Jews, as a reformed Judaism, until it was changed by St. Paul, who was determined to admit gentiles without demanding circumcision or submission to the Mosaic Law. As Christianity became Hellenized, it also become theological. Jewish theology was always simple: Yahweh developed from a tribal deity into the sole omnipotent God who created heaven and earth and divine justice; it had no mysteries and every Jew could understand it. This simplicity, in many ways, still characterises the synoptic gospels (Mathew, Mark, Luke), but has already disappeared in St. John, where our Lord Jesus Christ is identified with the Platonic-Stoic Logos.

(V) “you contradict yourself. the fact is that religiosity will be remain, and yet you imply that ’secular traditions’ might fill the vacuum?”

Ah yes: well spotted. But what you’re forgetting is that many secular traditions – i.e. nationalism, socialism, anarcho-primitivism – are religious in nature. Those who choose ‘evolution’, assuming they understand it, choose a chaotic, purposeless universe. Those who choose ‘religion’ (or pseudo-religions like football or environmentalism), assuming they understand it, choose an orderly, purposeful universe. Atheists (such as yourself) don’t realise how much of our thought, our law, our education, our family relations, are founded on Christian rules and practice (you would realize it pretty quickly if they were replaced by Sharia Law). Yet we abandon our churches and our faith, while expecting the civilisation based upon them to continue unscathed. It doesn’t.

Amir

#11 Comment By razib On 17th October, 2006 @ 6:15 am

The reason for the unending discussion about the existence of God is that our scientific knowledge cannot explain the beginnings of the universe in which we live, and that the missing parts of the equation might conceivably be divine.

this is empirically false. this is the reason intellectuals give, but most people are not intellectuals. see [9] religion explained and [10] in gods we trust for the cognitive anthropological state-of-the-art for why people are religious. a 1998 survey by frank sulloway and michael shermer provided an interesting result: most religious people ascribe their own religiosity to cosmological questions, but, they ascribe the religiosity of others to psychological variables (fear of death, comfort, etc.).

There’s an even larger tradition which doesn’t.

you oversimplify roman catholic tradition. after all, muhammad is not in the deepest level of dante’s hells because he is from an alien tradition, it is because he leads a heretical counterfeit tradition.

owes its existence to the Protestant work ethic.

no, i think that is false. but in any case, the consensus in social science today rejects webber’s original hypothesis and model (it isn’t born out by the german examples he initially used). you can continue to assert this truism, but i am simply stating for the record that this is not the scholarly consensus. the point about religious tolerance is particularly humorous, seeing as you post on a forum populated by members of one of the most promiscuously religiously tolerant traditions in the world: hinduism. i suppose hindu rishis were time travelers who went into the future to learn of latitudinarianism from the acolytes of the broad church?

And the Christian conservatism represented by the Central Powers would have been greatly strengthened by their victory. Instead, the fall of the German, Austro-Hungarian and Russian monarchies let the poisons of post-modernism loose upon the West, and upon the world.

you meander here from protestantism to christianity, unless i am wrong and austro-hungary was not catholic and russia orthodox?

I agree. Christianity, at first, was preached by Jews to Jews, as a reformed Judaism, until it was changed by St. Paul, who was determined to admit gentiles without demanding circumcision or submission to the Mosaic Law.

you misunderstand me. starks’ argument, which i am agnostic about, but which is more plausible that your quaint martyr thesis (which is convincing only to christians who are convinced of the truth of their faith a priori), is that hellenistic judaism served as a percursor for the spread of christianity deep into the 3rd century. christianity did not spread by the blood of the martyrs, but via more prosaic factors of cultural diffusion. additionally, as i noted before christianity was a thin elite over much of europe for nearly 1,000 years. christianity was not the official religion of the roman empire until theodosius the great banished the pagan cults, and even into the reign of his grandson in the early 5th century pagans were such a large proportion of the centurionate that theodosius II had to revoke a ban on pagans in the officer corp because they were so depleted with those who protested and left. my point is that christianity did not win simply by force of example of the martyrs, even when christian mobs tore down pagan temples like the serapion in alexandria and assault pagans in their private rites the old religion survived for several centuries in the shadow of the new dispensation which ascended through the iron grip of the most christian emperors.

But what you’re forgetting is that many secular traditions – i.e. nationalism, socialism, anarcho-primitivism – are religious in nature./i>

i think you debase the term ‘religion.’

don’t realise how much of our thought, our law, our education, our family relations, are founded on Christian rules and practice

please don’t lecture me on history, i take a keen interesting in church history. you ascribe to christianity all that is great and noble in the west, but many pagans and secularists assert that christianity swallowed whole the greatness of the pre-christian west and made it in its own image. the [11] Corpus Juris Civilis was reformed to bring it into line with christian morality, but its basic core was still roman and classical. platonic and later aristotelian philosophy was brought in line with christian principles (e.g., a created universe), but its fundaments were pre-christian. christianity imposed monogamy on the pagan tribes of europe, but that monogamy was adopted from greo-roman practice. as for our education, the classical education is based on the liberal arts of the ancients.

i do not deny christianity a critical role is a vessel for the greatness that is, was, and will be, western culture, but, i hold that you elide the importance of the distinctive strands this culture. i do hold the west precious, and i do reject the validity of sharia and its barbarism, but, the fundamental core value for me is a reflective analysis of the world as it is, and as it was, and that requires a more nuanced understanding of the historical issues which have led us to where we are than i can see in your comments above.

#12 Comment By razib On 17th October, 2006 @ 6:29 am

also, let me state my own general political stance re: race, religion, culture in the west, for the sake of readers of this site so they know where i came from: i believe that western nations should cease allowing immigration aside from a small super-elite of scientists and scholars. i believe that the west needs to assimilate and absorb the minorities it has now, and i believe that some minorities such as muslim are in the short term extremely problematic. in short, many of my attitudes and policy stances are very right-wing. but the reasoning for my position has to do with my enthusiasm for the perpetuation of the culture of the [12] symposium in the modern west. i value honest and informed analysis of issues above all, and cognition in the ends. my main reason for objecting to amir’s comments are not disagreemants of policy (i suspect i am closer to he than most here), but because i find casual & lax usage of intellectual arguments offensive. most of ‘civilized’ history is characterized by intellectual discourse being sophistic rhetoric and propoganda, and the anglo-saxon world has broken out of that box. for now.

#13 Comment By justforfun On 17th October, 2006 @ 10:25 am

Razib & Amir - think of the bandwidth your using up!!

Seriously can any of you two address this question that is at the top of my mind and I need relief.

Ever since I can remember, I have always stood on a stool when I turn on my kettle, to boil the water. The kettle boils everytime and has never failed once , and the question I want answered is -

If I don’t stand on the stool, will the kettle still boil?

I can’t risk for one moment not having the kettle boil but I am getting infirm and climbing on the stool every hour takes alot out of me.

Should I stop standing on the stool and risk it?

I look forward to your advice, and no dodging the question!

Justforfun

#14 Comment By Chairwoman On 17th October, 2006 @ 10:39 am

Justforfun - When my mobility reduced recently, I had to stop standing on the stool, and my kettle still boils.

I don’t know whether yours will.

#15 Comment By justforfun On 17th October, 2006 @ 10:53 am

Chairwoman - thanks for the reassurance, you are obviously braver than me and not scared of the unknown.

What is the brand of your kettle? - as I am sure if we have the same brand I will be even more reassured!

No wait - thinking about it, it is the brand of the Stool that is important here, surely, as the stool has placed me above the kettle and being above something is always the way to command action. A surgeon stands above the patient during the operation, not below.

I am confused but I await advice :-) - and I have my reading specs ready as fear they may be needed.

Justforfun

#16 Comment By Don On 17th October, 2006 @ 11:00 am

You don’t have to do this stool-kettle thing every 108 minutes, do you?

#17 Comment By justforfun On 17th October, 2006 @ 11:04 am

Don - Is that relevant and important also?

So many variables and I thought I had asked a simple but important question.

Justforfun

#18 Comment By TheFriendlyInfidel On 17th October, 2006 @ 11:17 am

Let me get this straight …. you tread in a poo each time you want a cup of tea?

TFI

#19 Comment By bananabrain On 17th October, 2006 @ 11:26 am

someone said on the original thread that “Allah and muhammad are now both on the comedy radar” - i agree. that is a good thing. muhammad certainly had a sense of humour (although he didn’t like satire much, apparently) and G!D certainly does too - look at genitals, for a start.

did anyone see that thing last night on porn that involves people dressed up like nuns or in hijab and niqab? it was quite interesting, at least the little of it i saw (during the ad breaks for “51st state”, just in case anyone thinks i am kismet hardy in disguise) - whether this is about actualising a deeper impulse to, ahem, “appreciate” people who would normally be forbidden, or about the desire to degrade or insult them, i don’t really know. a bit of both i suspect, although personally i thought the lady in the niqab (but wearing nothing else at all) was really rather sexy - although mrs bananabrain would, i am sure, take it amiss if i asked her to cover her face during, er, conjugal relations. either way, that’s clearly on the radar too and i wonder if that isn’t in some ways a good thing. i certainly don’t know just yet.

b’shalom

bananabrain

#20 Comment By sonia On 17th October, 2006 @ 11:36 am

well you’re not far off bananabrain. all the lure of the forbidden fruit and what have you.

#21 Comment By justforfun On 17th October, 2006 @ 11:38 am

Let me get this straight …. you tread in a poo each time you want a cup of tea?

If my question was about religion I would call you a blasphemer for deliberatly using the other meaning of stool. But its not,and I will answer a question yet again - I don’t stand in poo. But stop asking more questions, answer mine first.

And by the way who mentioned tea? See!! - you’re already changing the orginal question to your own agenda!

Justforfun

#22 Comment By Jai On 17th October, 2006 @ 11:47 am

I’m actually enjoying reading Razib’s posts facing off to Amir. I think the latter has finally met his match on PP !

I did tell you all that my buddy Razib is quite a baadaaass guy ;)

(Amir, I’m just pulling your leg. Your ongoing debates with Razib are very interesting reading).

#23 Comment By sonia On 17th October, 2006 @ 12:19 pm

debating society type debates. find a question, express it rigidly, ask people to hold forth on two opposing ends which generally leaves no room for subtlety of opinion or accepting the other ’side’ ( linear thinking and all that) : entertainment value. i never thought such debates were actually ‘debates’.

“After all, British culture is Protestant”.

( so one day Henry VIII’ culture is one way and the next day it’s somehow different.?.most enlightening !)

now how exactly does that work out? what is protestant culture amir do tell us - im most intrigued.

the ‘anglo-saxon’ world - by golly. don’t we love ahistoric labels. razib i hear what you’re saying about rhetoric but im afraid i disagree re: the breaking out of that box. there’s just as much sophistry and propaganda about if not more.

and actually ‘minorities’ have always been ‘problematic’ as viewed by the ‘majority’ - and im not talking in the context of race or religion or some other conventional understanding of minority here. rather in the context of an interest in social psychology - just purely in terms of numbers, groups and individuals.

let’s assume for a moment that the borders have been closed up, that there is no more immigration: let’s see if that solves the ‘problem’ of ‘minorities’. Ha should be a fun experiment. ‘minority-hood could simply become not about minorities based on appearance/origin/etc. or whatever, but based on some other notion. no matter how homogenous one tries to ‘make’ a group, people will look around and either find some other element of difference - like ‘im a goth and you’re a punk’; i’m a rugby lad and you’re not’ or they’ll always be someone who says fuck you i don’t agree with you majoritarian bullies, ill be me and different and sod your silly conformity.

:-) hurrah for individuality.

assimilation indeed. what a funny term. HA HA HA. i guess that’s the thing with obsessing over the whole ‘ethnic minority’ business. people can’t see past bloody race or religion - do we seriously imagine if those particular boundaries were erased magically everyone would be the ’same’? no more difference construction will happen!! does anyone seriously think that fretting about ‘people not conforming’ to something or other won’t take place in societies if there is some degree of homogeneity in terms of ethnicity/origin? Puh-leez.

#24 Comment By sonia On 17th October, 2006 @ 12:26 pm

in any case atheists are hardly free from dogmatic opionions on religion :-) other side of the coin and all that sort of thing…

#25 Comment By Chairwoman On 17th October, 2006 @ 12:29 pm

bananabrain - I saw a bit of it. It was an accident. I am very embarrassed.

#26 Comment By Robert On 17th October, 2006 @ 12:46 pm

Calm down folks. The Daily Show video is not promoting aetheism. It is just satirising the absurd use of religious language in political debate.

I watched a long but interesting [13] interview with Andrew Sullivan yesterday, where he complained about the same problem (though he was less funny, bless him).

See for me Christianity is not about controlling people. It’s not about telling people what to do. It’s about telling yourself what to do. It’s about what you – faith is what you believe when no one’s watching. And to me if God is God He is by definition beyond our total understanding, we’re humans, we’re limited. And if He is beyond our understanding then those people who claim to know everything about Him, not only what He is, and where He’s going, and what He means, but also the way you should cut your hair … what clothes you should wear, what you eat, I mean all these minutia that fundamentals (sic) are obsessed with, they’re not real – they’ve mistook God.

Sullivan is not really a political soul-mate of mine, but his complaints about the way religion has hijacked rational political discourse are spot on, I think.

#27 Comment By sonia On 17th October, 2006 @ 1:44 pm

yeah Robert you’ve definitely got some good points there. i hear what this sullivan bloke’s saying as well. definitely he’s got something to what he’s saying. course the Clergy or the Mullahs don’t like people to think that sort of thing :-)no one would take much notice of all their Dogma then.. ho ho

#28 Comment By Sunny On 17th October, 2006 @ 1:48 pm

Razib & Amir - think of the bandwidth your using up!!

I was thinking the same thing :(

I find many of these discussions around atheism and religion too western-centric too. I’ll explain more on this later. Anyway, I think Robert got it bang on.

#29 Comment By sonia On 17th October, 2006 @ 1:49 pm

Amir definitely has a very interesting take on history:
“The Christian faith conquered the Roman Empire because Christians took their commandments very literally.”

right - so nothing to do with wily politics on the part of ol’ Constantine then. all those vicious blood sports the Romans were fond of..and then boom!bang! they were taken in by Christian martyrdom. :-) aww soo sweet. how nice. {well if you believe that then you’ll believe anything won’t ya?!}

#30 Comment By justforfun On 17th October, 2006 @ 1:50 pm

Sonia - Post 23 -
Difficult to tell what your saying - is my bad English contagious? Anyway - we can all find differences as you say no matter how homogeneous the society - so is the solution to foster a sense that Britain is a place where religion should be a private matter and not something worn on ones sleeve? Then when we die we all have our private confidential interview with God.

Justforfun

#31 Comment By Ravi Naik On 17th October, 2006 @ 1:53 pm

Hi Amir,

“The sketch is misleading in another way, too.”

I believe you missed the whole point of this sketch.

“Christianity has very little in common with Islam, and Islam has very little in common with Christianity.”

This is a very simplistic statement. There are many types of christian churches, from liberal ones such as the anglican church, to the more conservative catholic church, to the ultra-racist christian identity church. Ditto for the muslim faith. So, how can you actually compare both religions when each of them is so diverse?

Beneath religion, there is something called morality. And that’s something everyone can agree on, no matter if you are jew, christian, muslim, atheist, agnostic or whatever. In fact, I think the whole point of this sketch is to demonstrate how futile and ridiculous these comparisons between religions are.

“Atheists and agnostics – who inherit 99% of their dispositions from Protestantism – don’t believe in themselves. They believe in stupid, unattainable things such as multiculturalism and internationalism. “

So, are you saying that neo-nazis and skinheads are profoundly religious people? :) Also, you don’t explain why the lack of religious beliefs makes people more prone to believe in unattainable things.

#32 Comment By Sid A On 17th October, 2006 @ 1:57 pm

Usually an endorsement from Jai means certain credibility-death on these pages. [Joke]
But razib’s erudition and grasp of (Christian) religious history is an obvious sop to Amir’s screeching fundamentalism.

For a precise metaphysic on religion, I’m more receptive to Schuon’s [14] Transcendent Unity of Religion thesis.

But I’ll certainly give Razib’s recommendations (Scott Atran, Pascal Boyer) a once over.

#33 Comment By sonia On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:05 pm

he heh jff no doubt it is contagious. my comments had absolutely nothing to do with religion as a matter of fact! neither was i suggesting a ’solution’. i was having a bit of a giggle re: the razib/amir conversation and razib’s mention of assimilation and i guess if you need a ‘point’ spelled out ( which it seems you do) then it was the futility of thinking along such lines.

#34 Comment By sonia On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:06 pm

ravi great points.

#35 Comment By sonia On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:06 pm

sid :-)

will have a look

#36 Comment By justforfun On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:07 pm

Sonia - in any case atheists are hardly free from dogmatic opionions on religion other side of the coin and all that sort of thing…

mmmmm - some aetheists no doubt, but aethism is not the other side of the coin to a belief in God.

I have no opinions on God, other than my own imaginings, but they are just that imaginings, nothing more nothing less and have no bearing on how I live my life.

Like my question about the stool and the kettle. It will never be answered because there never was a question that could be anwsered, especially for someone who wants to believe, have faith etc. As I have said before, if the devil does exist, he would create belief and faith just to enslave us. It is just perfect to suit the mind that God created. To partially quote Razib - the fundamental core value for me is a reflective analysis of the world as it is, and as it was, We have freewill and on this world for all practical purposes God does not enter into it, unless we want to stop thinking for ourselves and put the planet on Auto-pilot and hope for the best.

Justforfun

#37 Comment By justforfun On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:09 pm

Sonia - #33

Did not want you to think no one had read it :-) - ignore my #36 - its a rant

Justforfun

#38 Comment By Chris Stiles On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:10 pm


After all, British culture is Protestant”.

( so one day Henry VIII’ culture is one way and the next day it’s somehow different.?.most enlightening !)

No, it was a process that took place over a period of years.

[15] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protestant_Reformation#English_Reformation


This is a very simplistic statement. There are many types of christian churches, from liberal ones such as the anglican church, to the more conservative catholic church, to the ultra-racist christian identity church. Ditto for the muslim faith

Interesting - can you tell me the name of a mosque I could visit in London that would be the stylistic and theological equivalent of the Anglican church that wasn’t also thought of as heretical by the vast majority of Muslims?

#39 Comment By Sahil On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:12 pm

Here’s my religion!!!!! Come and join me heathens. Aethists welcome too ;)

[16] http://www.venganza.org/about/open-letter/

#40 Comment By sonia On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:13 pm

jff no worries. when i said other side of the coin you could interpret it the way you did but it’s hardly the only one - i agree with you re: ‘atheism’. but i was talking about people actually - individuals rather than the school of thought. so e.g. some atheists i know are very similar actually ( personality wise and in the strength of belief) to some very ‘religious .i.e. with a belief in God’ people i know. i think that’s what i meant. both lots of people can have very strong beliefs and that they are absolutely right wiht no shadow of a doubt..that sort of thing is what i was referrring to actually..

which im always a bit slightly envious of — it must be nice to have that much conviction. sigh.

#41 Comment By sonia On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:19 pm

dont worry chris they wouldn’t let you in to visit in any case. and i don’t know that the ‘vast majority’ of muslims agree on who’s heretical and who’s not. why they can’t agree on who saw the moon never mind anything else chuckle chuckle.

obviously the Reformation took place over a no. of years (duh)- there’s no relevance to ‘culture’ though -> one could argue that over that time frame culture would change in any case. if people decide to suddenly support different football teams over a different time period ..that might affect how they define themselves sure..
i want to know what characterizes this ‘Protestant’ culture. no doubt someone will say ‘work ethic’ ha ha

#42 Comment By Chairwoman On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:21 pm

Sonia - As far as I know, Constantine couldn’t make his mind up whether to adopt Christianity or Judaism as the ‘official’ Roman religion, and his mother, St Helena, persuaded him to go for the cross.

#43 Comment By sonia On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:21 pm

i like the sound of that CHurch Sahil.

#44 Comment By Chairwoman On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:23 pm

Hm. Almost Lovecraftian in its design. Reminds of his dead god Cthulu!

#45 Comment By Sahil On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:24 pm

#43 It’s good isn’t it :)

#46 Comment By sonia On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:26 pm

Chairwoman - :-) the momma’s boy! I guess we’ll never know really.. theories are fun aren’t they?

Actually the question i’m most interested in is this business of temples and the ’sacred’ space. to me that’s weird, just plain weird. anyone any ideas on why this is such a big deal to religions?

#47 Comment By Sunny On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:27 pm

Interesting - can you tell me the name of a mosque I could visit in London that would be the stylistic and theological equivalent of the Anglican church that wasn’t also thought of as heretical by the vast majority of Muslims?

Just go visit the Ahmadi mosques.
And you miss the point anyway. There are Shias, Barelwis, Deobandis, Sufis, Wahhabis, Salafis, Tablighis - so many strands that this characterisation as a homogeous religion is more similar to Hizb ut Tahrir rhetoric than anyone else.

Anyway, can you guys just laugh at the video and just write “ha ha!” and that’s it. This discussion really is inane and misses the whole point of the video. That Amir has mis-interpreted it and launched into a massive rant is unsurprising.

#48 Comment By Chairwoman On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:32 pm

Slightly off topic. Has anyone else seen the letter in today’s Times signed by representatives of the Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Muslim and Catholic communities protesting against the government’s proposition that ‘faith’ schools should take a percentage of pupils from other religions.

They are in agreement. They don’t want their kids mixing with anyone else’s.

#49 Comment By Chairwoman On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:34 pm

I just thought it was meant to be funny. Am I being naive?

#50 Comment By Leon On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:35 pm

Haha! Great video (it’s up on my blog too).:D

#51 Comment By justforfun On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:43 pm

I’ll give it a go.

Protestant culture - Ring ring - is that God? - what the f**ck is this law you have written down in this memo I have just received? - no intermediaries or operator required - leads to questioning “Is God actually in the building?” - perhaps not? - this leads to direct responsibilty for ones actions - this leads to realisation that God is just like the stabilisers on a bike, a waste of time once you can ride. And as they say once you can ride a bike , you never forget. Of course if you fall off and hurt yourself then do you put the stabilisers back on or learn why you fell off?

Catholic - ring ring - operator - can you contact god for me? I have a question about the memo I received? He said what ? Your kidding? He did ! OK - thank you - can you ring me tomorrow for my wake up call. - - leads to no personal responsibilty - God is in the building - or so the operator said - Life goes on the same.

The stabilisers stay on the bike because you are never told that you can take them off, and you are never told that the gyroscopic action of the two large wheels will keep you upright. Shhhh don’t tell anyone, but riding a bike has nothing to do with balance, its all to do with conservation of angular momentum.

Justforfun

Justforfun

#52 Comment By Sid A On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:43 pm

ha ha great video!

[can i have my chocolate button now?]

#53 Comment By sonia On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:45 pm

chairwoman - interesting. i suppose that’s why they want to send their kids to such schools in the first place! sounds pretty funny to me. they may as well keep ‘em at home locked up or something.

#54 Comment By sonia On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:49 pm

Just for fun - that’s brilliant - ! :-) cheers man you’ve done a great job with that.

oh i think i’ve had enough giggles for the day now. better go back to the paper on changing funding landscapes. *sigh*

#55 Comment By justforfun On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:51 pm

Chairwoman - They are in agreement. They don’t want their kids mixing with anyone else’s

Possibly - or maybe they are thinking long term - it will cost them a fortune to pay aethiests to make up the numbers. And then think of the chaos as little Johnny English poses difficult questions in the ironically named “Charles Darwin Lecture Hall” on the meaning of religion in the mind of his plastic stegasuarus during the Jurassic Period.

Justforfun

PS - I found the video offensive and not at all funny. It is rude to mock the aflicted.

#56 Comment By Sahil On 17th October, 2006 @ 2:58 pm

Sonia if you look at the section on motivations for home schooling, it cites a study saying that 72% of respondents had a “desire to provide religious or moral instruction”. I’m going to try and find the statistics for growth rate on homeschooling, but I bet they’ll be rising.

[17] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeschooling#Motivations_to_homeschool

#57 Comment By Sahil On 17th October, 2006 @ 3:13 pm

This site is a bit crazy, but has some international figures on home schooling:

[18] http://www.hslda.org/research/faq.asp

It certainly seems that more and more parents are worried about religious instruction to their children.

#58 Comment By Chris Stiles On 17th October, 2006 @ 3:33 pm


Just go visit the Ahmadi mosques. And you miss the point anyway.

Well no - because I was commenting on a comment and not the original posting (funny video btw). [and afaict the majority of muslims see the Ahmadi’s as apostates].


This discussion really is inane and misses the whole point of the video. That Amir has mis-interpreted it and launched into a massive rant is unsurprising.

Well - he might have a bee in his bonnet, otoh what did you want, a different sort of debate? lots of me-toos on the topic that religiousity was stupid? People sitting in a circle and singing Kumbayah?

#59 Comment By Sid A On 17th October, 2006 @ 3:43 pm

People sitting in a circle and singing Kumbayah?

Isn’t that what they do in those spiritually-challenged Anglican churches? That an Michael Row the Boat Ashore?

#60 Comment By Chairwoman On 17th October, 2006 @ 4:02 pm

Both my husband and I went to religious schools, mine Jewish, his RC. Apart from the bible stories, our educations were absolute parallels. Actually, his might have been slightly more bizarre than mine. His sex education lesson, which was called ‘Christian Hygene, consisted of an Irish monk saying to them ‘If you see two dogs fighting in the street, don’t look at them, for it’s a sin’. Apparently the class found this very confusing.

School was where I learnt to lie. I might have told this bit before, in fact I think I have. On the first Monday of school, the rabbi said, stand up all those who were not in Synagogue on Saturday. Half the Upper Third stood up. Fire and brimstone rained down on us. Interestingly, no pupil stood up again until the next intake arrived the following September.

We both grew up with a healthy disrespect for men of the cloth.

#61 Comment By Sid A On 17th October, 2006 @ 4:11 pm

I went to a Catholic school run by Jesuit nuns of a Roman Catholic order, in Bangladesh and India (St Johns, Sikkim). I got a great education and I’ll probably be sening my kids there too. I grew up with a healthy fetish for women in nun outfits.

#62 Comment By Chairwoman On 17th October, 2006 @ 4:16 pm

Another male Catholic friend says all Catholic boys fantasise about nuns.

#63 Comment By justforfun On 17th October, 2006 @ 4:18 pm

Further to my post 51

and with the usual proviso - the obvious is not obvious until it is stated, so please forgive me for stating the obvious. This “protestant process” which has occured in many religions and in the minds of men and women over the years is not irreversable. On the contrary - it can be reversed and there is a historical precedent for it. So we ought to be aware and not take for granted these liberties we have from religion, if we so desire.

The Achaemenid and the Parthian Empires practised Zoroastrianism in various guises and allowed many forms of worship and they were mostly ‘protestant’ in nature, in the sense that one had a direct line to Ahura Mazda. The Sassanids usurped the Parthians and for the next 300 years Zoroastrianism entered a catholic phase in a sense that there was a single permittable form of zoroastrianism and this was enforced through a priestly class that gain benefit and power from their position. When the Arabs kicked in the door in the 7th century the Sassanid Empire was already a prison for Iranians and Islam had an easy time of gaining converts who shrugged off the opression of the Sassanids in the South West. Zoroastrians survived in the North East of Iran in their millions for a further 1000 years and further East beyond where they had been beyond Sassanid influence. The Parsis of India are in fact from Nishapur in the North East in what was then Parthia and they fled in the 10th century. They fled persecution by their fellow Iranians and not the Arabs, who had already been repulsed in the previous century. Upto now the Parsi version of Zoroastrianism has been pretty protestant in its moral compass. But even that is changing as the community is declining and many Parsis are handing over the tiller of their community for priests to steer. For a religion that puts freewill at its heart to hand it over control to priest - Madness - and I fear a terminal tail spin into the ground.

Don’t say we are not warned, just look at the article on Faith schools. It is begining here again. We are not free of mumbo jumbo just yet.

Sorry got to rush to buy baked beans and head for my bunker.

Justforfun

#64 Comment By Anas On 17th October, 2006 @ 4:40 pm

To quote Razib:

i believe that western nations should cease allowing immigration aside from a small super-elite of scientists and scholars.

That kind of brain-drain from poor countries to the West seriously damages the potential for development in those countries and is therefore immoral.

Additionally, the West, with its ageing population and low birth rates will come more and more to rely on large influxes of immigrants, and we can’t afford just to cherry pick the elite from the incoming hordes.

So, unless Amir wants to live out his dotage in utter squalor and desperation in a country that can’t afford to support its large elderly population, he should welcome more immigration into this country, as well as an increase in teenage pregnancies.

#65 Comment By sonia On 17th October, 2006 @ 5:28 pm

hey sid that sounds cool -what was sikkim like? it sounds lovely…

#66 Comment By razib On 17th October, 2006 @ 5:42 pm

That kind of brain-drain from poor countries to the West seriously damages the potential for development in those countries and is therefore immoral.

1) empirically the brain drain tends to hit africa much harder than india or china, so if you want to make this argument you have to apply it to african countries.

2) though i hold it is just as immoral to cordon smart people into countries into failing countries where their intellectual capital will go wasted because of a culture of nepotism, venality and corruption.

sonia, you can quibble with definitions all you like, but the united states had a 40 year period of reduced immigration between 1925 and 1965. social anomie which emerged from ‘diversity’ was palpably less of a problem in 1965 than in 1925.

#67 Comment By razib On 17th October, 2006 @ 6:07 pm

and just to be specific, if you turned all the sunnis into shia in iraq, or all the shia into sunnis, there would still be division (e.g., akbari vs. usuli, salafi vs. hanafi), but would there be no qualitative change?

#68 Pingback By The Select Society » Blog Archive » Choice and Chastity, Creed, Coercion and Consensus On 18th October, 2006 @ 11:44 am

[…] Is creed a choice? Do we choose our beliefs? Without wishing to seem trivial, what of the babel fish? Proof denies faith. Bringing in the Pope for a moment, whilst accommodation and tolerance between differing faiths must necessarily be a product of reason, the same cannot necessarily be said of the proponents of a given faith when taken individually. Indeed, it is precisely because faith is irrational that dialogue between faiths cannot depend upon faith itself. […]

#69 Comment By Anas On 18th October, 2006 @ 3:19 pm

1) empirically the brain drain tends to hit africa much harder than india or china, so if you want to make this argument you have to apply it to african countries.

2) though i hold it is just as immoral to cordon smart people into countries into failing countries where their intellectual capital will go wasted because of a culture of nepotism, venality and corruption.

Well IMHO without enough smart, talented people you aren’t going to make a start on getting rid of nepotism, venality, and corruption; or at least you’re losing that sector of people whose existence in a country makes the transition from venality and corruption far more plausible.

Anyway, it’s kinda obvious that poor countries desperately suffer the loss educated people like doctors, nurses, engineers, scientists (I almost typed lawyers there!) even if these people have to work under desperate conditions.

Don’t understand your point re:India and China, since they seem to be very much exceptions and there are other countries in Asia aside from them. Anyway I wouldn’t exactly call China a poor country.


Article printed from Pickled Politics: http://www.pickledpolitics.com

URL to article: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/839

URLs in this post:
[1] Anti-discrimination: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=410150&in_page_id=17
70

[2] st. john of damascus: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_John_of_Damascus
[3] Alternative Tradition: A Study of Unbelief in the Ancient World: http://www.amazon.com/Alternative-Tradition-Unbelief-Ancient-Religion/dp/9027979979/sr=1-6/qid=11610
54806/ref=sr_1_6/104-3602956-8736721?ie=UTF8&s=books

[4] the rise of christianity: http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Christianity-Movement-Dominant-Religious/dp/0060677015/sr=1-1/qid=1161054
914/ref=sr_1_1/104-3602956-8736721?ie=UTF8&s=books

[5] the barbarian conversion: http://www.amazon.com/Barbarian-Conversion-Paganism-Christianity/dp/0520218590/sr=1-1/qid=1161054966
/ref=sr_1_1/104-3602956-8736721?ie=UTF8&s=books

[6] the germanization of early medieval christianity: http://www.amazon.com/Germanization-Early-Medieval-Christianity-Sociohistorical/dp/0195104668/sr=1-1
/qid=1161054991/ref=sr_1_1/104-3602956-8736721?ie=UTF8&s=books

[7] larger: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Catholicism
[8] work ethic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protestant_work_ethic
[9] religion explained: http://www.amazon.com/gp/explorer/0465006965/2/ref=pd_lpo_ase/104-3602956-8736721?
[10] in gods we trust: http://www.amazon.com/gp/explorer/0195149300/2/ref=pd_lpo_ase/104-3602956-8736721?
[11] Corpus Juris Civilis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justinian_code
[12] symposium: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symposium
[13] interview: http://www.q-and-a.org/Program/?ProgramID=1097
[14] Transcendent Unity of Religion: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transcendent-Unity-Religion-Frithjof-Schuon/dp/0835605876/sr=8-8/qid=1161089
653/ref=sr_1_8/202-8959503-2206225?ie=UTF8&s=books

[15] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protestant_Reformation#English_Reformation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protestant_Reformation#English_Reformation
[16] http://www.venganza.org/about/open-letter/: http://www.venganza.org/about/open-letter/
[17] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeschooling#Motivations_to_homeschool: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeschooling#Motivations_to_homeschool
[18] http://www.hslda.org/research/faq.asp: http://www.hslda.org/research/faq.asp