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Ch. 4 - The Problem with Islam

#26: April - June 2006 & Nov. - Dec. 2010 (Non-Fiction)
JulianTheApostate
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Re: Ch. 4 - The Problem with Islam

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I don't think this is why Harris attacks Chomsky's ideas. Harris is arguing against liberal moral relativism.While Harris does argue against moral relativism, you can't label Chomsky a moral relativist. After all, Chomsky has very strong, and often hostile, views on the morality of many government policies. However, Chomsky comes to different moral conclusions than does Harris, or for that matter, most Americans. Chomsky does equate the 9/11 attacks with the deaths caused by US policies, an attitude that massively pisses off people like Harris with a more charitble view of the US government.
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Re: Ch. 4 - The Problem with Islam

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Tobiahsgirl:Does "faith" only apply to religion? Is religion only an obvious belief in a supreme being?There's a difficulty in accusing people of basing their beliefs on blind faith. It's tempting for a person to claim that their views are fact-based, while those who disagree are oblivious to real-world evidence. Meanwhile, the disagreers could make the reverse claim.
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Dissident Heart

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Will the Real Religion please Stand Up?

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Tobiahsgirl,I'm glad you mentioned Farid Esack and his challenge to view Capitalism as a type of Religion. Esack is an example of Liberation Theology in Islam, and represents the kind of self-critical, justice seeking, ecologically astute Religion that I don't think Harris takes into consideration...nor do most Atheists, or Fundamentalists either.TO WHOM SHALL WE GIVE ACCESS TO OUR WATER HOLES?by Farid EsackQuote:Most of us have a sense of what religious fundamentalism is. The Free Market is one. All adherents of the Free Market see their lives driven to the worship of the One All-Powerful and Jealous God -- Capital. Underpinned by its theology -- economics -- it has numerous huge temples in the form of shopping malls that are bent on driving out all the little corner churches propounding insignificant little heresies such as "the humanness of chatting to your own friendly butcher." Our lives rotate around the worship of Capital and many of us, like suicide bombers, drive ourselves to death as sacrificial lambs (or martyrs) at the altar of success. (Heard of "shop till you drop?" ) You cannot leave your home or switch on your TV without being confronted by its missionaries or having a pamphlet thrust in your hand: "Convert Now or You Will Lose Out! Buy Now. The Sale Ends Today!" So successful, however, have their missionary activities been that we restrain our annoyance at these intrusions, while we might not do so with Jehovah's Witnesses. The major symbol of this religion, the notorious "M" arch of McDonalds, has driven out that other symbol of a now old-fashioned religion, the crucifix of Christianity, as the most widely recognized symbol in the world. It's as if the arch is telling the cross: "The Lord, Your God is One; You shall have none others in my presence." Paradise awaits those who believe and hell to those who reject or who fail -- or who have failure written in their destiny. ("The unemployed are just lazy; the poor shall always be with us." ) Consider Free Market images of the ideal: The Gloriously Carefree Resort! The perfect toilet for you! The BMW accompanied by your very own sex-bomb, etc. How do they really differ from the images of paradise presented by other religions that sometimes have your own sex-bomb (an houri or two) thrown in as an added incentive?The religion of the Market is also a fundamentalist one. The struggle against socialist countries is unashamedly described as a "crusade" with collateral damage. ("There are no innocent victims in our crusade against Cuba; those children dying under our sanctions are the offspring of infidels. So who cares?" ) There is damnation for those who do not believe as we do, and even for those who fail despite being faithful practitioners, as most are. (And, inevitably, many must fail. Under the market economy, success can only come to a minority, for -- and here lies the damning rub -- its paradise is founded upon an earth that has limited resources.)This fundamentalism of the Market, with Capital as its God, seeks to convert all other cultures in its image, utilizing them for consolidating the system. It presents itself as the only way, and claims that outside its pale there is no salvation for the world, but only the hell-fire of destruction or the limbo of "primitivism." As Buddhist thinker David Loy has said: "The collapse of communism makes it more apparent that the Market is becoming the first truly world religion, binding all corners of the globe into a worldview and set of values whose religious role we overlook only because we insist on seeing them as 'secular.' "
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Re: Will the Real Religion please Stand Up?

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Dissident Heart, THANK YOU SO MUCH for adding the essay by Esak. When I heard him speak on the radio and talk about this, there was humor in his voice as he described our slavish devotion to "the market." He is passionate about justice and has a deep understanding of what is going on in the world. Interestingly enough, to tie into this thread, he went to religious school in Pakistan with boys who joined the Taliban, and he talked about the unwholesome environment of this school where there were no women, and the relentless indoctrination.
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Re: Will the Real Religion please Stand Up?

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Quote:Most of us have a sense of what religious fundamentalism is. The Free Market is one. All adherents of the Free Market see their lives driven to the worship of the One All-Powerful and Jealous God -- Capital. Underpinned by its theology -- economics -- it has numerous huge temples in the form of shopping malls that are bent on driving out all the little corner churches propounding insignificant little heresies such as "the humanness of chatting to your own friendly butcher."Let me preface this statement with my opinion that the current United States styled Capitalist system is not ideal, that I think more socialistically oriented influences (such as Universial Health CARE--as opposed to insurance) and tighter regulation of corporations (which is actually how corporations originated, with tight public controls) are good things to work towards. I think the invisible money of wall street and the market mentality of pleasing share holders rather than employees, customers, and long term success of a business are bad things. Investment is a powerful tool but the market is getting carried away. I have read and believed heavily in Lasn's "Culture Jam" and the entire Adbusters and subverting movement. But such comparisons of capitalism to religion is quite frankly tough to swallow and kind of silly. Malls are a good way to group together commerce. Does America have a problem buying too much crap? Absolutely! But comparing a mall to a church? Ouch. That would explain why I don't much like malls perhaps? Or rather, I just don't like homogenization in which every mall looks and feels the same and offers the same shops that carry nothing that I want. Rather, malls are usually crowded and full of people that often do annoying things. Capital? A God? Money is a means to an end, something we must obtain to satisfy our needs and desires. In a money less society, our "God" would be the food we grew or the services we offered in echange for other goods and services. Perhaps we could earn credits instead of money, then we have a credit god. All hail the banks! This is just silly to me, an unabashed critic of capitalism.
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Quote:Malls are a good way to group together commerce. You know, downtowns were a great way to group together commence, so this argument in favor of malls is a little thin. My father commented in the sixties that shopping at the strip mall (didn't have enclosed malls in Ohio then) was the new form of Sunday worship.How does anyone live in America and not think Money is Our God? I've never heard of people worshiping flint (exchanged and used for making points) or wampum, though of course people saw spiritual significance in the return of the sun, the miracle of seeds, etc. Money is a means to an end for you and for me, riverc0il, but it's a lot more than that for many, many people, from people with little who hoard even that and envy everyone else to those with billions who want more, more, more.Some of the people who write on these threads are incredibly literalistic. I have got to assume that we don't have too many poets, writers, or other artists contributing here. When someone uses a word with artistic license or writes a very clever piece (such as Esack's) intending to make us think, it is read with the utmost dreariness and lack of imagination. I would like to recommend "Daily Afflictions," a little book by Andrew Boyd, to all of you to hone up your rusty senses of humor.
Tobiahsgirl

Re: Will the Real Religion please Stand Up?

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Now that I think about it, I have to believe that Riverc0il was being terribly ironic. So ironic I didn't laugh. Sorry. A number of theologians have suggested that your god is not the one you talk about or say you believe in, but is whatever is central to your life, what you spend the most time pursuing, what is most meaningful to you. Hahahaha, for some people this appears to be Money! (I hear Pink Floyd in the background.)
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Re: Will the Real Religion please Stand Up?

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river: But such comparisons of capitalism to religion is quite frankly tough to swallow and kind of silly.I think Esack's comparison of Capitalism and Religion is worthy of serious consideration, even if his analysis is light on specifics. He's not the first to make the comparison. Marx identified what he called Commodity Fetishism in Capitalism, where commodities aquire abstract values and special powers...forces that define human relationships, goods and services, and what is worthy and meaningful in society. Of course, Marx saw this as a detrimental process that devalued human and natural resources and alienated people from their labor, their communities, and themselves...in essence, an Idolatry.Dr. Harvey Cox is professor of Christian Ethics at the Divinity School of Harvard University and has spent a lifetime examining the relationships between the religious and secular worlds. In this article from the Atlantic Monthly 1999, he makes a strong case for "The Market As God" and Capitalism as Living in The New DispensationalismQuote:Discovering the theology of The Market made me begin to think in a different way about the conflict among religions. Violence between Catholics and Protestants in Ulster or Hindus and Muslims in India often dominates the headlines. But I have come to wonder whether the real clash of religions (or even of civilizations) may be going unnoticed. I am beginning to think that for all the religions of the world, however they may differ from one another, the religion of The Market has become the most formidable rival, the more so because it is rarely recognized as a religion. The traditional religions and the religion of the global market, as we have seen, hold radically different views of nature. In Christianity and Judaism, for example, "the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and all that dwell therein." The Creator appoints human beings as stewards and gardeners but, as it were, retains title to the earth. Other faiths have similar ideas. In The Market religion, however, human beings, more particularly those with money, own anything they buy and-within certain limits-can dispose of anything as they choose. Other contradictions can be seen in ideas about the human body, the nature of human community, and the purpose of life. The older religions encourage archaic attachments to particular places. But in The Market's eyes all places are interchangeable. The Market prefers a homogenized world culture with as few inconvenient particularities as possible.Esack quotes the Buddhist scholar, David Loy in the brief excerpt I included above. Loy, speaking at a conference titled The Religious Consultation on Population, Reproductive Health & Ethics offers this lecture Religion and the Market from which the following quote is taken:Quote:Later chapters in this book explore the ways Buddhism and other religions diagnose and attempt to resolve this problem. If we contrast their approaches with market indoctrination about the importance of acquisition and consumption -- an indoctrination that is necessary for the market to thrive -- the battle lines become clear. All genuine religions are natural allies against what amounts to an idolatry that undermines their most important teachings. In conclusion, the market is not just an economic system but a religion -- yet not a very good one, for it can thrive only by promising a secular salvation that it never quite supplies. Its academic discipline, the "social science" of economics, is better understood as a theology pretending to be a science. This suggests that any solution to the problems they have created must also have a religious dimension. That is not a matter of turning from secular to sacred values, but the need to discover how our secular obsessions have become symptomatic of a spiritual need they cannot meet. As we have consciously or unconsciously turned away from a religious understanding of the world, we have come to pursue this-worldly goals with a religious zeal all the greater because they can never be fulfilled. The solution to the environmental catastrophe that has already begun, and to the social deterioration we are already suffering from, will occur when we redirect this repressed spiritual urge back into its true path. For the time being, that path includes struggling against the false religion of our age.So, I think there is something worth considering from these Muslim, Christian and Buddhist perspectives regarding the Religious elements of Capitalism. I think Capitalism, like any all-encompassing ideologies that propose definitions of human nature, the good society, worth and value, meaning and purpose...involve many of the same machinations of Religion: faith, worship, sacrifice, missionary zeal, heresy and orthodoxy, sacred temples, and elaborate theologies.
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tarav

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World Government

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The idea of a world government fascinates me. On a simple level, I feel that a world government is what we need to survive. However, I must confess that I haven't given it enough thought to really imagine how such a government would operate. I couldn't argue for or against it. On p 150 Harris states, "...we need a world government." Harris sems to feel we need a world government to rescue the world from religion. He may be right. Does anyone have any thoughts on a world government? Could it liberate us from tribalism? Is it just a nice idea that is impracticle or impossible for some reason?
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tarav

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Arab world and book talk

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Harris reports, "...Spain translates as many books into Spanish each year as the entire Arab world has translated into Arabic since the ninth century." The italics are mine. Oh man, that just made me stop reading and reflect on that fact. Wow.
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