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Fundamentalists v. Moderates 
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Post Fundamentalists v. Moderates
p20 harris says "moderation ... does not permit anything very critical to be said about religious literalism"

Henry VIII was very critical ::01 ;)

Then again, you might(!) argue that his Christianity wasn't very moderate either.

But, to defeat Harris' statement, you only have to look at the recent comments of Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury inopposition to the teaching of creationism in UK schools.

"I think creationism is ... a kind of category mistake, as if the Bible were a theory like other theories ... if creationism is presented as a stark alternative theory alongside other theories I think there's just been a jarring of categories ... My worry is creationism can end up reducing the doctrine of creation rather than enhancing it," he said.

In this opposition he goes further than atheist members of Blair's government who have provided no opposition to Blair's support of faith schools and their teaching of Creationism. (Blair is a slightly less than moderate Christian).

Maybe Harris' problem is that he can't imagine moderate Christianity as the powerful American versions are so extreme and fundamentalist. He needs to check out the UK's "comedy vicar" (less formal title for Rowan Williams).

I think Harris goes too far in dismissing religious moderates, they may prove better allies to atheists than other atheists in some circumstances.

I see three atheist categories emerging from my musings - fundamentalist atheists (Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Harris?), hypocritical atheists (Blair's pals) and moderate atheists (me?) Someone must have come up with these categories before. Any references?

P.S. Are you shocked by all this Blair bashing? They only love him in America.

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 4/7/06 10:26 pm



Mon Apr 03, 2006 4:35 am
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Post Re: Ch.1 - Fundamentalists v. Moderates
I think you hit the New Post button instead of New Reply ;) , but no worries as I think this is actually a major theme of the book and deserving of its own topic.

As I mentioned in Chapter One discussion, this is my major point of contention with Harris so far. Moderate belief in organized religion doesn't seem like a bad thing to me even though I am a non-believer. Harris makes the point that Moderates encourage fundamentalists and extremists. IF moderates did no exist, fundamentalists would look like loony wackos that believe the tooth fairy is real. But because Moderates exist, they can say nothing against fundamentalists without sacrficing their own beliefs. They need to cator towards toleration even for fundamentalists and extremists in order to justify their moderation. Most moderates draw the line at suicide bombing in the United States, but moderates in Islamic States may support those efforts. So I understand Harris's point that religious moderation encourages fundamentalism because there is no critique, no downplay of the beliefs.

However, I go back to the point I made in regards to it being society's and government's fault of not bringing these issues to a head. Western Religion has calmed down from the days of the Crusades, the Inquisition, etc. Western Religions still present an agenda, but they don't physically or mentally pose a threat to non-believes, heretics, or anyone else that disagrees with them, even the fundamentalists of Western Religion. However, I think the political climate, societies, and governments of the Middle East have encouraged, or at the least, allowed fundamentalism to bring violence to the table. In my opinion, this has less to do with Fundamentalism vs. Moderation, but rather societal handling of the situation. If a Hamas existed in the United States, the entire organization would have been brought down and many people throw in jail or at least tried for criminal activity. Who would even associate with someone involved with a campaign like Al Quida in the United States even if the organization pushed for views they agreed with? Most people would report to the authorities even their best friend if they bragged about being part of a society that killed innocents.




Mon Apr 03, 2006 5:51 am
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Post Re: Ch.1 - Fundamentalists v. Moderates
Quote:
Most moderates draw the line at suicide bombing in the United States, but moderates in Islamic States may support those efforts.


Can anyone supporting these efforts be called moderate? If so, what would you call the Moslems who do not support suicide bombing?

Quote:
So I understand Harris's point that religious moderation encourages fundamentalism because there is no critique, no downplay of the beliefs.


But Harris is wrong. The A of Canterbury opposes the teaching of creationism in UK scools.

Quote:
Western Religion has calmed down from the days of the Crusades, the Inquisition, etc.


I'm surprised at an American saying Western Religion has calmed down - from what I see American fundamentalism is often far from calm. For example: speaking in tongues, falling over at the touch of priest, playing with snakes, and shooting abortion doctors.

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Western Religions still present an agenda, but they don't physically or mentally pose a threat to non-believes,


Shooting abortion doctors...

Quote:
If a Hamas existed in the United States, the entire organization would have been brought down and many people throw in jail or at least tried for criminal activity.


The 9/11 bombers lived in the US for a significant amount of time.

Quote:
Who would even associate with someone involved with a campaign like Al Quida in the United States even if the organization pushed for views they agreed with? Most people would report to the authorities even their best friend if they bragged about being part of a society that killed innocents.


In Britain the London suicide bombers did not brag about their views. For instance, the oldest bomber had worked as a well-liked teaching assistant in schools for many years without anyone knowing anything about his views.




Mon Apr 03, 2006 6:51 am
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Post Re: Ch.1 - Fundamentalists v. Moderates
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I'm surprised at an American saying Western Religion has calmed down - from what I see American fundamentalism is often far from calm. For example: speaking in tongues, falling over at the touch of priest, playing with snakes, and shooting abortion doctors.

I never wrote that American Fundamentalism is CALM, I wrote that they have CALMED DOWN. Your examples hardly compare to the Crusades, the Inquisition, torture, burning, etc. especially in systematic and organizaed manner. Yes, there are a few extremist fundamentalists in the United States, but they're actions are not condoned by the Fundamentalist movement and are isolated occurances rather than systematic and church driven.

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Shooting abortion doctors...


See above.

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The 9/11 bombers lived in the US for a significant amount of time.

Again, you take my words out of context and twist them. HAMAS does not exist in the United States. If any terrorist unit establishes a Cell in the United States, the government is working to eliminate the cells. They are not being tolerated. As an example of the 9/11 bombers, check out the news and notice Moussaoui on trial currently which supports my statement that if such folks existed in the United States, they would be thrown in jail or at least tried for criminal activity.

Quote:
In Britain the London suicide bombers did not brag about their views. For instance, the oldest bomber had worked as a well-liked teaching assistant in schools for many years without anyone knowing anything about his views.

Irrelevent to my original statement.




Mon Apr 03, 2006 4:25 pm
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Post Harris analogy
Harris's attitude towards moderates reminds me of the way radical leftists view liberals. Specifically, radical leftists believe the system must be overthrown, and dismiss the efforts of liberals to gradually make the system more humane. Similarly, Harris vigorously opposes religion, and feels that religious moderates can't mitigate the negative impact of the fundamentalists.

I view the Muslim perspective of religion as akin to the Christian perspective a few centuries ago. During the Middle Ages, the Church was all-encompassing, but its influence on daily life has diminished since then in response to the Enlightenment, secularism, and the scientific revolutions. The Muslim world has less historical exposure to the forces of modernism, which they experience as an outside influence.




Fri Apr 07, 2006 10:10 pm
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Post Re: Harris analogy
mal4mac

Please don't use that format for creating new threads. You are welcome to create your own threads, but by mimicing the exact format as the official chapter threads people don't know where to post.

You will notice that I created ONE thread for each chapter, and each of these threads starts with the chapter number and then the name. If you want to create your own threads this is fine, but just don't make them look identical to the threads I'm creating or we end up with two threads appearing to be for each chapter.

Did that make any sense? I edit your subject line so that it doesn't say, "Ch. 1..."




Fri Apr 07, 2006 10:29 pm
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Post Re: Harris analogy
Quote:
Harris's attitude towards moderates reminds me of the way radical leftists view liberals. Specifically, radical leftists believe the system must be overthrown, and dismiss the efforts of liberals to gradually make the system more humane. Similarly, Harris vigorously opposes religion, and feels that religious moderates can't mitigate the negative impact of the fundamentalists.

Great correlation. Another is extreme Libertarians. While I value the desire to reduce government spending, extreme Libertarians would have the Government cut off all spending on all social programs and privatize everything, a combination that would probably leave the underclass of the country struggling at best and resorting to criminal activity at the worst. A friend of mine had a comparison to a train gone out of control. Regular Libertarians want to derail the train and set it on a new course whereas the extreme end wants to run the train right off the cliff and to hell with it. Extremism in almost
Quote:
any
point of view is not tolerable. I certainly can not think of any Extremist point of view that has merit. What if people of faith came to the extremist point of view that athiesm would no longer be tolerated?

Quote:
The Muslim world has less historical exposure to the forces of modernism, which they experience as an outside influence.

And the outside influence they receive they mostly resent because of the conflicting moral and ideological view points that come with the influence. Could Muslim values and ideals be changed from within, like the West, under the right circumstances? Or is the religious orientation of their societies too integrated to permit secular thought and division?




Fri Apr 07, 2006 11:01 pm
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Post Re: Fundamentalists v. Moderates
Mal(adroit):

Quote:
fundamentalist atheists (Stalin, Mao, Hitler...


Was'nt Hitler a Xtian? I think I have read that.

Quote:
Can anyone supporting these efforts be called moderate?


I think Moderate is a subjective term and it can be applied as it was in this case. It is moderate compared to what surrounds it.

Quote:
But, to defeat Harris' statement, you only have to look at the recent comments of Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury...But Harris is wrong. The A of Canterbury opposes the teaching of creationism in UK scools.


So ONE weak example does away with what Harris said? No. Nothing is 100%, but there is stigma when it comes to criticizing those who profess a faith in a religion. A stigma that does NOT exist when addressing atheists. Those of faith are usually the most intolerant bastards around! No offense...actually...nevermind.


Mr. P.

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Once you perceive the irrevocable truth, you can no longer justify the irrational denial. - Mr. P.

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Tue Apr 11, 2006 1:04 pm
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Post Re: Fundamentalists v. Moderates
This Straight Dope column explores the question of Hilter's religion, which doesn't have a simple answer.

As mal4mac says, you can find numerous examples of religious moderates criticizing fundamentalists. That portion of Harris's argument doesn't hold up.

Edited by: JulianTheApostate at: 4/11/06 11:18 pm



Tue Apr 11, 2006 10:17 pm
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Post Re: Fundamentalists v. Moderates
So you both have said, but I only see one instance of 'proof'. And even if there are many moderates who can be offered as proof, does that kill the idea that on the whole it happens that criticism is generally taboo? Does a theory have to be supported by 100% occurence to be a valid working theory? If NOT, then what number do we look for to say: THATS IT...the theory is bunk!

How are we defining "moderate" in this case as well...that would be important, no?

Mr. P.

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

Once you perceive the irrevocable truth, you can no longer justify the irrational denial. - Mr. P.

The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper

Edited by: misterpessimistic  at: 4/12/06 12:59 pm



Wed Apr 12, 2006 11:57 am
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Post Re: Fundamentalists v. Moderates
Yes, perhaps someone should define "moderates." I definitely agree that mainstream Christians have been incredibly spineless when it comes to criticizing American fundamentalism, but they're generally spineless about anything that might cause them to veer for a second off a well-trod path of conformity.

However, liberal or progressive Christians have been quite vocal in their criticism of fundamentalism; they just happen to be a minority that the media conveniently ignores. Every asinine idiocy that is vomited out by Pat Robertson gets media play, but I see that John Shelby Spong, Bruce Bawer, etc., etc., aren't even listed in Sam Harris's index. A criticism of the media by Bawer makes the point that journalists all across the spectrum in the U.S. tend to know nothing about religion, so they have allowed the right wing to define it, and often play the right-wing views without asking critical questions or including other points of view (see the reference in Stealing Jesus to Mike Wallace's interview with Gordon Hinckley, at that time head of the Mormon church).

And I'm not sure I agree about the nonlethality of American fundamentalists, but that's probably not for this thread.




Wed Apr 12, 2006 4:34 pm
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