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Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile 
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile
Mr.P, what in the world does a crooked CEO have to do with a religious crusade!? I fail to see how immoral and unethical business men are related to a religious crusade.




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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile
riverc0il wrote:
Thoughts in Detailp11 introduces the text with a story regarding a suicide bomber who's parents feel "tremendous pride" that their son has killed other people in a suicide attack. Most notably, the reason for the pride is based on the religious principle that people are rewarded for carrying out a holy war and in particular dieing for the cause. This sets up the most fundamental problem on modern religion in my mind: inevitably people praying to different gods potentially going to war against each other for the same exact reason: for their particular god's favor. Striking. Also interesting is the honor attached to this style of killing. We could learn something from the imaginary Klingon code of honor from Star Trek fame about honor in this regard.p14 Harris interestingly links in sentence structure the "metaphysics of martyrdom" (which I interpret to mean Radical Islamism) and literal belief in the Book of Revelation and labels them both "fantastic notions." While I appreciate the linkage of both beliefs being fantastical notions, I must point out that at least Christian Fundamentalists are not conducting suicide bombings to further their belief. However, I guess it could be argued that they need to be here when Armageddon strikes in order to "be saved," so they do not have the motive. Perhaps with motive this distinction between these two radical beliefs might be different. But it should be noted that a religion that once conducted a religious crusade no longer kills in the name of their god, which argues against Harris stance that all faith needs to be elimited for the human race to safely progress.p15 "I hope to show that the very ideal of religious tolerance


However, Christian Fundamentalists are killing abortion doctors.
Glad you're going to lead this one Riveroil.



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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile
This is kind of weird--talking to people who mostly aren't around anymore. It was a good idea (Chris?) to put this thread back up, though. They were having an excellent discussion. I haven't even been able to read all of it, but I want to finish it. They start out with the problem of whether Harris is accurate in attributing a single cause--religious devotion--to suicide bombings by Muslims. Harris is familiar with all the opinions that the decision to kill oneself for a cause is multi-factorial. He says, come on, no--in this case we have such strong evidence that it's all about the religion. Why are we insisting on leaving the door open? He says that even in the case of the nominally secularist Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, the underlying energy for suicide attacks comes from a culture "steeped....in otherworldiness" (229). In the particular case of suicide bombings by Islamists, the motivation, however, is right there for us to see. We have only to read the Koran to see where all this comes from.

I would again bring up Robert Wright's mention of scriptural determinism and suggest that Harris believes that what is written in a holy book determines the beliefs--and then the actions--of adherents to the faith. Others, such as Wright, would say that scripture isn't so deterministic on believers. Harris' view does make one think of young men (and women) going to their deaths eagerly in anticipation of their reward in heaven. But I have in my mind a different image, of these young recruits needing, first, to be brainwashed, and second to be kept in the company of their masters who will make sure the indoctrination doesn't wear off. Somewhere I've either read about or seen in film such a scenario. It takes an extreme effort to get the recruits to give up their lives, despite what might be held up as the attractions of the afterlife. The otherwordly rewards I think are but one ingredient in the sales pitch. I wonder, too, about the women who blow themselves up. There might not be many of these, but according to Islam, would they have reason to expect a heavenly reward?


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Wed Nov 17, 2010 8:36 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile
DWill wrote:
This is kind of weird--talking to people who mostly aren't around anymore. It was a good idea (Chris?) to put this thread back up, though. They were having an excellent discussion. I haven't even been able to read all of it, but I want to finish it. They start out with the problem of whether Harris is accurate in attributing a single cause--religious devotion--to suicide bombings by Muslims.

As one of those people who is still around, I'll talk back.

In my opinion, both supporters and opponents of religion attribute a lot of stuff to religion that's really due to human nature or real-world circumstances. For example, there have been many wars in which all sides practiced the same religion, and there are many acts of charity performed by atheists. Claims that religion is responsible for war or that religion is responsible for morality are too simplistic.

Now, it's entirely possible that religious divisions have increased the amount of warfare and persecution, over human history, by 10% (a number I'm pulling out of thin air). My personal opinion is that the negative impact of religion, which is exaggerated by atheists, exceeds the positive impact of religion, which is exaggerated by the devout.

Regarding terrorism, there have been lots of terrorists throughout history; al Qaeda, the IRA, violent anarchists, Marxist insurgents, the Contras, etc. Some of those groups aren't at all religious, and they all, in my mind, have been motivated by concerns beyond religion. After considering examples like those, Harris's "religion causes terrorism" argument seems too simplistic.



Last edited by JulianTheApostate on Thu Nov 18, 2010 10:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile
Quote:
However, Christian Fundamentalists are killing abortion doctors.
Glad you're going to lead this one Riveroil.


Rivercoil's post was from May 2006.



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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile
DWill wrote:
This is kind of weird--talking to people who mostly aren't around anymore. It was a good idea (Chris?) to put this thread back up, though. They were having an excellent discussion. I haven't even been able to read all of it, but I want to finish it. They start out with the problem of whether Harris is accurate in attributing a single cause--religious devotion--to suicide bombings by Muslims. Harris is familiar with all the opinions that the decision to kill oneself for a cause is multi-factorial. He says, come on, no--in this case we have such strong evidence that it's all about the religion. Why are we insisting on leaving the door open? He says that even in the case of the nominally secularist Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, the underlying energy for suicide attacks comes from a culture "steeped....in otherworldiness" (229). In the particular case of suicide bombings by Islamists, the motivation, however, is right there for us to see. We have only to read the Koran to see where all this comes from.

I would again bring up Robert Wright's mention of scriptural determinism and suggest that Harris believes that what is written in a holy book determines the beliefs--and then the actions--of adherents to the faith. Others, such as Wright, would say that scripture isn't so deterministic on believers. Harris' view does make one think of young men (and women) going to their deaths eagerly in anticipation of their reward in heaven. But I have in my mind a different image, of these young recruits needing, first, to be brainwashed, and second to be kept in the company of their masters who will make sure the indoctrination doesn't wear off. Somewhere I've either read about or seen in film such a scenario. It takes an extreme effort to get the recruits to give up their lives, despite what might be held up as the attractions of the afterlife. The otherwordly rewards I think are but one ingredient in the sales pitch. I wonder, too, about the women who blow themselves up. There might not be many of these, but according to Islam, would they have reason to expect a heavenly reward?


Harris prefers a monolithic view which ignores the factors other than religion which fomult homocide bombers. The fact is that the culture they live in with its poverty, limited opportunities, political indoctrination (hatred of the West), and machismo are major factors.

As for Wright, I would not place much stock in his comments regarding scripture, particularly the Judeo-Christian scriptures as he has demonstrated a consistent lack of knowledge and understanding of same.


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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile
stahrwe wrote:
Harris prefers a monolithic view which ignores the factors other than religion which fomult homocide bombers. The fact is that the culture they live in with its poverty, limited opportunities, political indoctrination (hatred of the West), and machismo are major factors.

As for Wright, I would not place much stock in his comments regarding scripture, particularly the Judeo-Christian scriptures as he has demonstrated a consistent lack of knowledge and understanding of same.


He's monolithic on the suicide bomber question. Poor Robert Wright, I guess he can't expect to catch a break from you. Scriptural determinism has nothing to do with his specific knowledge of scripture; I don't know if you realize that and can't tell if you understand that concept.


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Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness


Last edited by DWill on Thu Nov 18, 2010 6:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile
JulianTheApostate wrote:
DWill wrote:
This is kind of weird--talking to people who mostly aren't around anymore. It was a good idea (Chris?) to put this thread back up, though. They were having an excellent discussion. I haven't even been able to read all of it, but I want to finish it. They start out with the problem of whether Harris is accurate in attributing a single cause--religious devotion--to suicide bombings by Muslims.

As one of those people who is still around, I'll talk back.

In my opinion, both supporters and opponents of religion attribute a lot of stuff to religion that's really due to human nature or real-circumstances. For example, there have been many wars in which all sides practiced the same religion, and there are many acts of charity performed by atheists. Claims that religion is responsible for war or tat religion is responsible for morality are too simplistic.

Now, it's entirely possible that religious divisions have increased the amount of warfare and persecution, over human history, by 10% (a number I'm pulling out of thin air). My personal opinion is that the negative impact of religion, which is exaggerated by atheists, exceeds the positive impact of religion, which is exaggerated by the devout.

Regarding terrorism, there have been lots of terrorists throughout history; al Qaeda, the IRA, violent anarchists, Marxist insurgents, the Contras, etc. Some of those groups aren't at all religious, and they all, in my mind, have been motivated by concerns beyond religion. After considering examples like those, Harris's "religion causes terrorism" argument seems too simplistic.

I agree with your general perspective on the good/bad question regarding religion. We just have no accounting tools to decide the question with any objectivity, so all we have are opinions and our general sense of the matter to fall back on. My own sense is that religion has been on balance good, or at least useful or functional. It's my version of humanism that dictates this, but I don't need to go any further into it here.

Harris, as well as the other major atheist writers, is in fact writing specifically against faith-based religion. He chooses the word faith carefully for his title. Faith and religion aren't the same thing, and if we take religion to include all the many manifestations of religion, which would include things even Harris regards as benign, it clearly doesn't make sense to be against religion in that sense. But faith is something more specific, and it's not certain that it even was part and parcel of religion from the beginning. What need was there to use faith when the explanations for phenomena given by religion seemed also to be the most likely and sensible? Perhaps faith then is a more modern development, coinciding with the birth of monotheism, which took out of play many of the more visible/tangible aspects of worship and replaced them with a single god with qualities shading to the ineffable.

It has become clear over the past several hundred years that what the Abrahamic faiths required as matters of belief is no longer viable. For a long time, the cosmology and earth science of the Bible had held and required no exercise of faith anyway; even Thomas Jefferson appeared to accept the Bible's view of earth history, while for him the miracles of Jesus and the resurrection couldn't stand scrutiny in a scientific age. Now, of course, the whole lot of what the three faiths contain as core beliefs can and should be seen as the limited inventions of a previous age that they are. It takes a strenuous effort now to maintain these beliefs in any literal form, which is why moderate to liberal "believers" probably don't believe in a neural, "really believe" sense.

People could perhaps be left alone to think these thoughts if it wasn't for the certainties about the world that they can engender, one certainty for each of the three faiths. For Harris, this is the only really serious reason for actively opposing faith, that the clashing certainties could produce a disaster that might dwarf what we've seen so far. I asked at the start of the thread whether Harris may be overstating the threat. Whether or not he is, his concern can't be lightly dismissed.

To my knowledge, Harris doesn't equate religion with all terrorism. It's suicide attacks that he says faith is primarily responsible for.


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No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence--that which makes its truth, its meaning--its subtle penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live as we dream--alone.

Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness


Last edited by DWill on Fri Nov 19, 2010 7:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile
DWill wrote:
stahrwe wrote:
Harris prefers a monolithic view which ignores the factors other than religion which fomult homocide bombers. The fact is that the culture they live in with its poverty, limited opportunities, political indoctrination (hatred of the West), and machismo are major factors.

As for Wright, I would not place much stock in his comments regarding scripture, particularly the Judeo-Christian scriptures as he has demonstrated a consistent lack of knowledge and understanding of same.


He's monolithic on the suicide bomber question. Poor Robert Wright, I guess he can't expect to catch a break from you. Scriptural determinism has nothing to do with his specific knowledge of scripture; I don't know if you realize that and can't tell if you understand that concept.


Wright had a chance to 'catch a break' by answering my question. Since he chose to ignore it; no break.

As far as Scriptural Determinism goes, quoting from RW, TEoG: "Some people, in the sway of scriptural determinism, have a very dark view of the future. They note that the scriptures of all three monotheistic faiths embrace the slaughter of infidels. If these scriptures have the final say in a world of nuclear and biological weapons, we’ll see carnage that makes the Crusades look tame."

In my experience, when an author says, "some people" they mean themselves. If they meant some other group they would identify them by name. Once again this is an example of RW's lack of knowledge of the Bible. The Bible, including the OT does not advocate slaughter of infidels. The OT primarily deals with the nation of Israel. People who opposed Israel were destroyed, people who supported Israel propered. In the NT, a period of grace began operation during which time the Kingdom of Heaven was opened to everyone through Christ.

You're splitting a fine hair indeed if you wish to maintain that you can advocate for 'scriptural determinism' without understanding the underlying scriptures. I would love to explore that with you but suggest a new thread for it. I'm sure the discussion will be arcane and tedious, exactly the way I like it.


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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile
stahrwe wrote:
Wright had a chance to 'catch a break' by answering my question. Since he chose to ignore it; no break.

Au contraire, he answered your question just as directly as required.
Quote:
As far as Scriptural Determinism goes, quoting from RW, TEoG: "Some people, in the sway of scriptural determinism, have a very dark view of the future. They note that the scriptures of all three monotheistic faiths embrace the slaughter of infidels. If these scriptures have the final say in a world of nuclear and biological weapons, we’ll see carnage that makes the Crusades look tame."

In my experience, when an author says, "some people" they mean themselves. If they meant some other group they would identify them by name. Once again this is an example of RW's lack of knowledge of the Bible. The Bible, including the OT does not advocate slaughter of infidels. The OT primarily deals with the nation of Israel. People who opposed Israel were destroyed, people who supported Israel propered. In the NT, a period of grace began operation during which time the Kingdom of Heaven was opened to everyone through Christ.

Oh my, stahwre, you're reminding me of Walter Mondale's reaction to Ronald Reagan: "It isn't what he doesn't know that worries me. It what he knows for sure that just ain't so."
We only have to go as far with this as your "theory" that Wright is veiling his own view with "some people." If you had followed his drift at all, there is no way that you could have concluded this. This is something you're making up.
Quote:
You're splitting a fine hair indeed if you wish to maintain that you can advocate for 'scriptural determinism' without understanding the underlying scriptures. I would love to explore that with you but suggest a new thread for it. I'm sure the discussion will be arcane and tedious, exactly the way I like it.

Your perception that I am "advocating" for scriptural determinism only indicates the futility of further discussion.


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Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness


Fri Nov 19, 2010 7:18 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile
I am really enjoying this book and glad that someone has put these thoughts together so well. I realized these things to be true at about age 11 and can't understand why others don't see the hypocrisy of organized religion. Oh well.



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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile
I started reading the book, and I'm impressed with Harris's writing as well -- he has some devastating critiques of religious belief.

I find his arguments about the motivation of suicide bombers to be persuasive for the most part, but I think you also have to consider the mindset of the soldier who is willing to die for his country as an example. If they have convinced themselves it is a just cause, then it doesn't require religious beliefs to be willing to kill and die and to become desensitized to what most of us would consider horrific violence.

So then it could be that Muslims are motivated in a similar way, believing they are at war with the U.S. and take great offense to wars, interventions and stationing of troops in Muslim countries. (Of course, despite being a critic of U.S. foreign policy, I am not justifying this in any way.)

See note 10 on p. 230, I don't find those arguments to be persuasive at all. (Edit: Where Harris is saying Muslims shouldn't be upset about foreign interventions, in fact they should be grateful, in order to argue it is solely a religious motivation.)



Last edited by Dexter on Fri Nov 19, 2010 9:47 pm, edited 3 times in total.



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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile
Dexter wrote:
I started reading the book, and I'm impressed with Harris's writing as well -- he has some devastating critiques of religious belief.

I find his arguments about the motivation of suicide bombers to be persuasive for the most part, but I think you also have to consider the mindset of the soldier who is willing to die for his country as an example. If they have convinced themselves it is a just cause, then it doesn't require religious beliefs to be willing to kill and die and to become desensitized to what most of us would consider horrific violence.

So then it could be that Muslims are motivated in a similar way, believing they are at war with the U.S. and take great offense to wars, interventions and stationing of troops in Muslim countries. (Of course, despite being a critic of U.S. foreign policy, I am not justifying this in any way.)

See note 10 on p. 230, I don't find those arguments to be persuasive at all.


Why don't you agree with this argument? It seems likely that Muslims don't want other countries meddling in their business.



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Post Re: Ch. 1 - Reason in Exile
lindad_amato wrote:

Why don't you agree with this argument? It seems likely that Muslims don't want other countries meddling in their business.


Yes, I agree. But in that note, Harris is saying Muslims shouldn't be upset about foreign interventions, in fact they should be grateful, in order to argue it is solely a religious motivation.



Fri Nov 19, 2010 8:39 pm
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