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Sam Harris Strikes Back

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Posted on May 29, 2007
Harris, Scheer and Hedges
Truthdig / Todd Wilkinson

Debate team: From left, Sam Harris, Robert Scheer and Chris Hedges talk religion and politics at UCLA’s Royce Hall, May 22, 2007.

By Sam Harris

Editor’s Note: The following is Sam Harris’ response to Chris Hedges’ essay, “I Don’t Believe in Atheists.” Last week the two Truthdig contributors battled one another over the issues of religion and politics during a live debate in Los Angeles. While they both agree on the dangers posed by religious fundamentalism in America, their views on religion in general differ greatly, as you will soon read. Click here for full debate coverage.

I am hopeful that the editors at Truthdig will eventually post the unedited video/audio of my debate with Chris Hedges to the website. Once these files are available, readers will be able to judge for themselves which of us made more sense on the subject of religion. I would, however, like to offer a few remarks in the meantime.

As I mentioned briefly during the live event, Hedges misrepresented my views on several topics in his opening remarks. Rather than do a little fact-checking after the debate, he chose to make these distortions indelible in his essay, “I Don’t Believe in Atheists.” I have long had an article on my website entitled “Response to Controversy” which addresses many of the spurious points Hedges raises, and I have made a few additions since we met at Royce Hall. The article can be found here.

Beyond putting out these small fires, I would like to briefly address the main claims that Hedges makes in his essay:

Real religion has nothing to do with superstition, irrational beliefs, or tribalism. God is not an anthropomorphic deity; He is just “the name we give to our belief that life has meaning.”

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It should be immediately clear to all readers that Hedges is simply dodging the fact that millions (probably billions) of people practice religion in the naïve, anthropomorphic, and superstitious forms he would rather not defend. By saying that faith is really something other than the irrational belief in magic books, virgin births, the power of prayer, etc., Hedges ignores how pervasive the problem of religious irrationality is. As many readers will recognize, this is one of the sins of religious “moderation” that I discuss in “The End of Faith”—and I really could not have hoped to find a more lumbering, bellicose, and sanctimonious perpetrator of this obscurantism than Chris Hedges.  According to recent polls, 53 percent of Americans think that the universe is less than 10,000 years old and 59 percent believe that Jesus will one day return to Earth wielding magic powers—and yet, religious moderates like Hedges invariably accuse me of “caricaturing” Christianity whenever I criticize these beliefs. Hedges appears to be playing a highly disingenuous game of hide-the-ball with the articles of faith, and it is a game that keeps the world safe for religious lunacy; it also prevents a truly rational approach to spirituality from emerging in our discourse.


Monotheism has been historically indispensable in laying the ground for individualism and the modern concept of human rights.


While this point is surely debatable (and probably false), even if true, it would not (even slightly) suggest that the biblical God exists. Nor would the historical usefulness of monotheism suggest that monotheism is a benign force in the 21st century. In my opening remarks in our debate, I addressed the notion that religion is (or has been) useful. Nothing that Hedges said subsequently (or wrote in his essay) indicates he understood what I was talking about.

There is a difference between the irrational and the non-rational—and the latter is the basis of our spirituality.

I have no problem acknowledging that there is a distinction between rational thought and other features of our subjectivity that are “non-rational.” The taste of chocolate is non-rational (without being irrational), as is almost every other sensory or emotional experience. We can, however, rationally discuss what we know about chocolate—its chemical composition, where it comes from, how we cultivate it, etc.—and we might one day fully elucidate the underlying neurology of taste. The same rational mode of discourse could, in principle, accommodate our “spiritual” experiences and our ethical intuitions as well. One of the greatest impediments to our making progress on this front, however, is the fact that people like Hedges continue to demand that a special strain of irrationality called “religion” remain sheltered from criticism.

Finally, many of the comments posted in response to Hedges’ essay have used the fine art of selective quotation to make me appear to hold positions which I do not hold. Hedges, in part, is responsible for this, having led by example. I advise readers who might be alarmed by these quotations to read my books or the articles on my website. Here is an example of such selective quotation, so that readers can appreciate how the trick is done. A reader going by the name of “Tentaculata” has posted the following passage from “The End of Faith” (p. 194):

What is the difference between pursuing a course of action where we run the risk of inadvertently subjecting some innocent men to torture, and pursuing one in which we will inadvertently kill far greater numbers of men, women, and children?  Rather, it seems obvious that the misapplication of torture should be far less troubling to us than collateral damage: there are, after all, no infants interned at Guantanamo Bay, just rather scrofulous young men, many of whom were caught in the very act of trying to kill our soldiers.  Torture need not even impose a significant risk of death or permanent injury; while the collaterally damaged are, almost by definition, crippled or killed.  The ethical divide that seems to be opening up here suggests that those who are willing to drop bombs might want to abduct the nearest and dearest of suspected terrorists - their wives, mothers, and daughters - and torture them as well, assuming anything profitable to our side might come of it.


Readers are thereby encouraged to believe that I support the torture of the innocent relatives of suspected terrorists. But the very next sentence in my book reads: “Admittedly, this would be a ghastly result to have reached by logical argument, and we will want to find some way of escaping it.” And the endnote to this sentence reads: “It seems to me that we can stop this inquisitorial slide by recourse to the ‘perfect weapon’ argument presented in chapter 4. There is a difference, after all, between intending to inflict suffering on an innocent person and inflicting it by accident. To include a suspected terrorist’s family among the instruments of torture would be a flagrant violation of this principle.”

While I stand by everything I have written in “The End of Faith,” and I encourage readers to consult my “Response to Controversy” article on my website, I cannot be expected to parry every malicious sampling of my text. It is unfortunate that Truthdig has become a forum for attacks of this sort.


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By Dan, March 4, 2012 at 7:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

nahida,
One thing puzzles me. If I were a muslim and sincerely believed that islam is a religion of peace and tolerance, as you claim, I would be absolutely horrified by the reality of the 49 nation states which are dictatorships which have been violently conquered by muslims or have large muslim populations. I would be directing all my energies to campaigning for muslims in those countries to become peaceful and tolerant in order to set an example to the non-muslims of the world. Why aren’t you?

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By Tom1492, July 7, 2010 at 6:33 pm Link to this comment

Nahida! What a beautiful piece of live poetry. All of this lost with men debating over words, their individual beliefs and so call bravado behind a pen and paper. You have described really pain and just cause for anger and yes probably hatred of the perpetrators. The remainder of the discussion was a perfect example of how and why violence begins following the end of reason.

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By Ted Swart, February 14, 2009 at 6:51 pm Link to this comment

Peter Irving:
Your two posts suggest tha tyou completely misunderstand the world of free thinkers.  If you really do think that we are no different to Pat Robertson you have missed one of the most important differences between fundamentalist believers (whether Christian, Muslims or anything else) and free thinkers.
The Pat Robertson’s of this world project an air of complete certainty that their beliefs and there’s alone are the way to salvation.
We free thinkers are not like that at all. Whilst we all think that everyone should be free to think for themselves we live our lives on the basis of probabilities not certainties and have no dogmas or creeds on which we all agree.
It sounds as if you do not have much admiration for pat Robertson you give nary a hint as to what your own views ere.
Maybe you coud explain how you decide that your own views are true and those of others false since the world’s main religions are all mutually contradictory.

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By Peter Irving, February 14, 2009 at 2:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

btw “Freethinkers” your about as close minded as Pat Robinson and have the same though processes you all think your “saving the world from itself”. If you want to know what really causes these conflicts its that kind of thinking that your belief is the only good one and that it must be the way of the world for the world to be good.

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By Peter Irving, February 14, 2009 at 2:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So Mr. Harris all you can do is claim you were “quoted out of contexxt” you know like when you praised the christian right and european fascists for having the right idea on Islam. Oh and lets not forget this

“There is little possibility of our having a cold war with an Islamist regime armed with long-range nuclear weapons….Notions of martyrdom and jihad run roughshod over the logic that allowed the United States to pass half a century perched, more or less stably, on the brink of Armageddon.”

“In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own.”

Because the regime may have extremists does that mean that every person in its capitol is extreme?

Your an extremist like Pat Robertson. You are no different just replacing Jesus Christ with “reason” which you obviously have none.

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By Blueboy1938, August 13, 2008 at 11:53 am Link to this comment

“I’m one of the most durable advocates for space exploration around,” he said just 13 months ago. He supported the Apollo moon landings and missions to service the Hubble Space Telescope, but he said the United States could explore Mars robotically “at far less cost and far greater quantity and quality of results.” That prompted a former senator from Florida to respond, “No Buck Rogers, no bucks.” From a Washington Post obituary for James A. Van Allen, Ph. D., August 10, 2006.  Van Allen died August 9th, almost exactly two years ago.

Please note that this is an account of his Congressional testimony that clearly says, “He supported the Apollo moon landings . . . .”  in his testimony.  The Apollo moon landings put men on the moon.  Hence, although that exact phrase is not used, it is clear that Dr. Van Allen supported putting men on the moon.  The fact that some other obituaries may not recount this testimony or refer to “men on the moon” is irrelevant.  Obituaries are always just summaries of a person’s life and don’t state everything they ever did or all other historical events occurring during their lifetimes.  Dr. Van Allen was not a principal in the Apollo Program, so it is completely unremarkable that is not prominent in his bio.

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By Jim H. 2008, August 13, 2008 at 7:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

—————————————-More for the
———————————-‘Delusional ‘Moonies’

NOTE: Absolutely no mention of “Men on the Moon”! (STRANGE?)

————————-From NASA 08.10.06

Pioneering Astrophysicist James Van Allen Dies
http://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/features/james_van_allen.html
NASA is remembering pioneering astrophysicist James Van Allen, who died Aug. 9 at the age of 91.
“Van Allen was at the forefront of physics. During his career, he was the principal investigator for scientific investigations on 24 Earth satellites and planetary missions, beginning with the first successful American satellite, Explorer I, and continuing with Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11. He also helped develop the first plans for an International Geophysical Year.

In recognition of his contribution to U.S. space research, Van Allen received 13 honorary doctorates,
NASA’s Medal of Exceptional Achievement,
the Commander of the Order du Merite pour la Recherche et L’Invention
and the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society.”

NOTE: Absolutely no mention of “Men on the Moon”! (STRANGE?)

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By Blueboy1938, August 12, 2008 at 6:21 pm Link to this comment

The two hyperlinks in the quote in my previous post did not translate. Sorry.

Here are the web pages referred to:

The Van Allen Belts:
http://www.wwheaton.com/waw/mad/mad19.html

Travel to the Moon”
http://www.braeunig.us/space/69-19.htm

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By Blueboy1938, August 12, 2008 at 6:06 pm Link to this comment

There was no mention in any of the half-dozen obituaries I read that Dr. Van Allen was ever “head of NASA’s Space Exploration Program” or that he resigned in protest over the prospect of manned space exploration.  He did favor robotic missions beyond the Moon as greater in cost/benefits:

“I’m one of the most durable advocates for space exploration around,” he said just 13 months ago. He supported the Apollo moon landings and missions to service the Hubble Space Telescope, but he said the United States could explore Mars robotically “at far less cost and far greater quantity and quality of results.” That prompted a former senator from Florida to respond, “No Buck Rogers, no bucks.”  From a Washington Post obituary for James A. Van Allen, Ph. D., August 10, 2006.  Van Allen died August 9th, almost exactly two years ago.

To address the Van Allen Belt radiation issue:

“To reach the Moon astronauts would have to travel through the Van Allen Radiation Belts, resulting in lethal doses of radiation.

“This is a claim the hoax advocates often make, but it is a gross exaggeration and simply not supported by the data. Radiation was a definite concern for NASA before the first space flights, but they invested a great deal of research into it and determined the hazard was minimal. It took Apollo about an hour to pass through the radiation belts - once on the outbound trip and once again on the return trip. The total radiation dose received by the astronauts was about one rem. A person will experience radiation sickness with a dose of 100-200 rem, and death with a dose of 300+ rem. Clearly the doses received fall well below anything that could be considered a significant risk. Despite claims that “lead shielding meters thick would have been needed”, NASA found it unnecessary to provide any special radiation shielding.

“The hoax advocates also make the mistake of limiting themselves to two-dimensional thinking. The Van Allen Radiation Belts consist of a doughnut-shaped region centered around the Earth’s magnetic equator, and spanning about 40 degrees of latitude - 20 degrees above and below the magnetic equator. The translunar trajectories followed by the Apollo spacecraft were typically inclined about 30 degrees to the Earth’s equator, therefore Apollo bypassed all but the edges of the radiation belts.

“For more information, please see The Van Allen Belts and Travel to the Moon and Radiation Plan for the Apollo Lunar Mission.”
http://www.braeunig.us/space/hoax.htm

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By Jim H. 2008, August 12, 2008 at 4:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

————————FOR THE DELUSIONAL ONES

————————————THE MOON?
When Dr. James Van Allen who was once head of NASA’s “Space Exploration Program” learned of serious plans to attempt landing men on the moon;
              he Quit the program!
When consulted, Van Allen said: “present day technology has not discerned a method to safely pass through a highly charged ‘atomic’ radiation zone.  He was referring to “THE VAN ALLEN BELT”!

James Van Allen PHD. was an Astrophysicist for which the Van Allen Belt was named,
(a turbulent area of radio-active energetic charged particles that swirl about in an area of outer space commencing at 3,700 miles from the earth.)

When Dr. Van Allen was later asked his reaction to “Men having landed on the Moon”, he said: “It was a great television show”! 
—————-(He knew it never happened!)

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By Blueboy1938, August 11, 2008 at 6:31 pm Link to this comment

What’s interesting is that I started off reading Jim H’s post thinking he was making a very good point, until I got to the anti-man-on-the-moon statement.  I guess there’s just no chance of making a dent in armor that thick, no matter what facts you find.  See you around TD, Ted.

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By Ted Swart, August 11, 2008 at 5:58 pm Link to this comment

Well now Blueboy1938 I am alwasy happy to interact with you and I must thank you for the good laugh regarding the possibility sending Jim H on a trip to the moon. BUT . . . there is not enough time in the day to grapple with conspiracy theorists who have very flimsy reasons for their delusions.
If 1938 means you wer born in 1938 then I am ten years older than you but not necessarily wiser.
It is hard to find discussion groups worth participating in but every now and the TruthDig seems to rise to the occassion. A pity that it gets a bit acrimonious at times.
Cheers.

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By Blueboy1938, August 11, 2008 at 5:33 pm Link to this comment

Aw, Ted, have a little more patience.  By his last post, Jim H, really sounded ready to accept the man on the moon reasoning and concrete evidence - NOT!

Hey, I’ve got it, let’s take up a Truth Dig wide call for contributions to send Jim H on the next mission to the moon so he can see for himself;-)

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By Ted Swart, August 11, 2008 at 11:13 am Link to this comment

There seems to be no point in carrying on this discussion.  It is simply silly of you to call me a liar and I must leave you to your own muddled thoughts which mix up some true statements about religion with a phoney rejection of the moon landings.
I hereby quit.

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By Jim H. 8/11/2008, August 11, 2008 at 7:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:Ted Swart, August 10 at 9:12 pm

This LIAR says: “—-you ‘rejecet’ religious claims as utterly unreasonable and,—- you advocate belief in a gigantic conspiracy theory with respect to the moon landings—-”  Why do you find it difficult to be more consistent?”

If you didn’t LIE, you could ‘not’ “find” me “more consistent”!

I do not refer to a “gigantic conspiracy theory” at all!  You LIE!  Check my comment. (below)

I say: ‘Religion” is a “Crime against Humanity” run by thieves!

And I say: “America has NOT “Put a man on the Moon”! 
This too is a “Crime against Humanity” run by thieves!

Or.PROVE otherwise!

THE UNIVERSE
Mass/energy never disappear Ever were ever here!
With nothing to ‘create’, a “so-called “Creator-God”
Is an impossible superfluous nonentity!
J.H. 5/8/07

THE ORIGIN OF NATURE
Beginning is never found but keep an ear to the ground
Accept the word of a friend there’s no beginning or end
Religions pollution is no solution for Dawins Evolution
Natures origin for instance is ceaselessness Existence
The worst form of child abuse is warping of the mind!
J.H.  8/29/06
  Religions are criminal conspiracies!

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By Ted Swart, August 10, 2008 at 10:12 pm Link to this comment

Jim H;

I am really puzzled by the fact that you persist in maintaining that there is no evidence to substantiate the fact that NASA has indeed landed men on the moon and returned them to earth.
You have clearly not read the information which Blueboy provided and ask for a single piece of evidence. You don’t seem to recognize that the many pieces of evidence available includea a lot more than the eingle piece of evidence you are calling for. 
On the one hand you rejecet religious claims as utterly unreasonable and, on the other hand, you advocate belief in a gigantic conspiracy theory with respect to the moon landings for which there is no evidence whatsoever.
Why do you find it difficult to be more consistent?

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By Blueboy1938, August 10, 2008 at 6:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I appreciate so much your kind words, especially all those in screaming caps, Jim H (8/9/2008, August 9 at 7:32 pm).  Your civility is exemplary - of something.

If you had taken the time to read the many, many analyses I referred to @ http://www.braeunig.us/space/hoax.htm you would know the facts.  As I said in my previous post, they overwhelmingly prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Apollo Program did in fact put men on the moon, and just as importantly, brought them back to talk about it and to provide physical evidence of it.  Naturally, the operative word here is “reasonable.”  I leave it up to other readers to determine who in this debate is being reasonable.

I do have an error to correct:  The rock retrieved by Apollo Astronauts totals 842 pounds, not 862.  Sorry.

Now, since you, Jim H, are apparently reluctant to see for yourself the responses to all the significant cavil regarding the authenticity of the manned moon landings, I will run the risk of excessive space by quoting two very cogent points that illustrate the hairsplitting and nit picking of the nay sayers and the excellence of Mr. Robert A. Braeunig’s responses:

“Earth based telescopes should be able to see the Apollo hardware on the Moon, yet none is visible.

“The theoretical resolving power of a telescope, measured in arc seconds, is calculated by dividing the aperture of the telescope (in inches) into 4.56. The largest telescope on Earth is the 10-meter Keck telescope in Hawaii. The theoretical resolving power of this telescope is 0.012”, however the Earth’s atmosphere limits the resolving power of any ground-based telescope to about 0.5”-1.0”. The Hubble Space Telescope does not suffer from this limitation; thus, with an aperture of 94 inches, HST’s resolving power is 0.05”. At the Earth-Moon distance of 239,000 miles, the smallest object that can be resolved by HST is about 300 feet. The largest dimension of any hardware left behind on the Moon is 31 feet, which is the diagonal distance across the LM’s footpads. No telescope, presently in existence, can see the Apollo hardware from Earth.

“The only sure way to prove the moon landings really happened is to return to the Moon and see if the Apollo hardware is there.

“Direct visual verification would certainly put an end to the issue, however there are at least three pieces of hardware on the Moon that are not in dispute. Apollos 11, 14 and 15 erected laser reflectors on the lunar surface. Laser beams are routinely fired at these reflectors through telescopes at McDonald Observatory in Texas and near Grasse in southern France. Timings of these reflected beams are used to measure the Earth-Moon distance to an accuracy of one inch. To explain the existence of these reflectors the hoax advocates have no choice but to claim they were placed on the Moon by robotic landers; a huge undertaking for which there is no supporting evidence. The simple answer: the Apollo astronauts placed them there. (More on robotic missions later.)”

So, Jim H, I suppose that, given your parting description of me, I might just have had a hand in placing those laser reflectors.

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By Ted Swart, August 9, 2008 at 7:55 pm Link to this comment

Jim H:

Why on earth do you weaken anything sensible you might say by falsely claiming that there is NO EVIDENCE that men have been landed on and returned from the moon.  I agree totally with blueboy1938. The evidence is overwhelming tha this has happened.

I am not sure I understand AdvOOcate’s quote from T.S. Eliot to the effect that:
” No great deed is done by falterers who ask for certainty.”
Poets do say the strangest things some times. I would have thought that falterers don’t necessarily ask for certainty and it seems to me that the use of the word flaterers in this quote is pejorative.

Scientists in the main live their lives on the basis of porbabilities not certainties.  In this respect they are totally different to religious advocates who tend to claim that they are indeed certain about their faith.  They (scientists) are not falterers but simply realists. They may well act and in some sense should act as if they are certain about at least some things but the best we can do is do go by the ovewhelming weight of probability.
And sending men to and retrieving them from the moon falls into that category. It is ridicualous to cling to some ill conceived conspiracy theory that it has not happended.

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By Blueboy1938, August 9, 2008 at 5:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In addition to the 862 pounds of moon rocks returned by Apollo Astronauts, there is an entire compendium of facts to establish, beyond a reasonable doubt - and I stress reasonable - that the Apollo Program actually put men on the moon (as opposed to the Man in the Moon;-).  Please see:  http://www.braeunig.us/space/hoax.htm

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By Adv00cate, August 9, 2008 at 4:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you for your response.

No great deed is done by falterers who ask for certainty. T.S. Eliot

Best regards.

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By Jim H. 8/8/08, August 8, 2008 at 5:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

———————I COMMEND SAM HARRIS!

Re: Adv00cate, August 8 at 1:59 pm

AdvOOcate says:  Mr Harris needs to be held accountable for—-the statement—-

“All people of faith are “mentally unbalanced”
————————————————————————-
——————I totally disagree with AdvOOcate!
Sam Harris is to be HIGHLY commended for his astute evaluation of all those ‘mezmerized, indoctrinated delusional Robotic imbeciles who accept the words of ‘Charlatans’, and, absurdities from a book of fairytales; that a non-existant “Wholy Ghost” appeared out of ‘nowhere’ and with the help of a “Jesus” who never lived, “Created a World that already existed for millions of years!  These same ‘Robots’ voted for an imbercile president, and also believe “We landed a Man on the Moon”!, and anything else you tell them despite the ABSENCE OF PROOF!
For they have lost all ability to reason, or think independant thoughts and be critical!
And all those “mentally unbalanced” ‘Robots’ are running around ‘loose’, and are a great threat to those of us who are sane and intelligent, and are out-numbered by a very millions of the idiots that I believe AdvOOcate epitomizes!

—————————-THE UNIVERSE
Mass/energy never disappear Ever were ever here!
With nothing to ‘create’, a “so-called “Creator God”
Is an impossible superfluous nonentity!
————————————J.H.

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By Adv00cate, August 8, 2008 at 2:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr Harris needs to be held accountable for some of the statements he has made and his actions.

All people of faith are “mentally unbalanced?”

His MRI studies will “prove” believers are nut cases?

While this is being all hashed out, isn’t it time to cut back some of the university budgets where this nonsense all started from? How about cutting the budgets in half of these schools that are infected with this new (or is is old) dialectical materialism?

We could start with Tufts. It’s time to put Dan Dennett out to pasture.

Someone needs to investigate the claim that Sam Harris is intellectually lightweight - no make that featherweight.

Sure he stands to make some serious coin with his books. But how about a little truth?

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By Gary, July 25, 2008 at 10:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Given the state of mind of the many religionists in the world, I genuinely fear for the future of mankind.  Reason, science and freethinkers have propelled the human race into a brighter future, while religious believers from the dawn of religion to today have done their best to stifle human growth and potential.  The Middle East is the classic example. 
The unfortunate reality is that believers seem unable or unwilling to face the truth:  That there is absolutely no proof that any sky god exists, and their bible was written by men, not a god.  But they seem willing to bet everyone’s life on it as they prepare for armageddon.  And why?  Because they feel comforted with the belief that there is someone in charge of life and if they maintain a certain belief, they will get to spend an eternity at the foot of god.  And if you don’t believe it, then you will have to die. 
I’ve lost all faith in Mr. Hedges.  I’m just waiting for my first christian suicide bomber.

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By Jim H., February 18, 2008 at 8:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

———————-EVOLUTION IS A FACT!
————-NATURAL SELECTION IS A THEOORY!
Evolution is an observable fact.  We can see it, measure it and record it. 
  A theory is something that explains why facts are what they are.
Natural Selection is a theory that explains the FACT of evolution.
We can debate whether the theory is right or not, but we can’t
debate the facts.  Facts are facts. It is undeniably a fact that life
forms on this earth have changed and continue to change over
generations.  That is the fact of evolution.
Scientists have seen it in our lifetime from bugs to birds.
And most creationists do not deny species do change.

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By Jim H., February 18, 2008 at 8:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

An Enslaving Force

Few people realize the extent of the reach, influence and overwhelming power of religion. Nor do many people have any idea as to the enormity of the Vatican’s financial resources!

Very likely, the Vatican is the wealthiest entity by a factor of 100 that the world has ever seen. And its tax-free status, weekly and “willed” donations of millions, when added to income from all its many worldwide investments, positions those who control that fabulous bottomless pool of wealth as the world’s most influential lobbyist or purchaser!

This may be one of the reasons the Pledge of Allegiance was plagiarized and altered from “one nation indivisible” to the bigoted “one nation (divided) under God.” And why 100 senators disgraced our country and themselves by reciting the religious pledge on the steps of the senate and before television beamed to the entire world!

The time has come to discredit the outrageous assertions by the Ponzi-racketeering charlatans who promote the plague-like disease religion that survives by warping the minds of innocent children and fools, robbing them of their candy and toy money, and enslaving them to a life as shills who help perpetuate the criminal religion schemes.

“Secular humanists,” “non-believers” and other sane and rational people know that no proof survives the fairytales of a magician named Jesus or his magic miracles, nor is there any proof whatsoever that there is or ever was a supreme creator God. Yet this and other lies are used to perpetuate their rotten scheme religion.

People who live in the “real” world refuse to accept silly lies, fairy tales and farce as fact, whether it be about “Santa Claus” “The Tooth Fairy,” “Donald Duck,” a “Jesus” or a “Creator God.” Nor should they be lumped with or considered analogous with a gang of thieving, lying, mind-warping pedophiles who use a how-to manual of pornography, pillorying, stoning to death and other forms of outright bigotry for their weekly stimulus to more proselytizing.

The senators who said that fallacious rendition of our once great Pledge of Allegiance shall be remembered as the promoters of a criminal enterprise and the abettors or cohorts of a bunch of thieving slavers who invade every phase of society with their lying assertions that “our country was founded as a Christian nation. 

With their plagiarism of our once great Pledge of Allegiance, their repeated attempts to force their “Godism” on all schoolchildren and their ever increasing use of all forms of media and gimmicks to mesmerize, indoctrinate and bludgeon the American people with their outrageous, endless efforts to dominate us all with a theocratic form of government renders them criminals!

And the likes of George W. Bush and his ilk by giving millions of dollars to faith-based groups is bidding them “Godspeed!”

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By mejdrich, February 18, 2008 at 5:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I know this is an old link, but claiming Hitler wasn’t christian is just plain idiotic.

He was baptized, raised, and died a practicing Roman Catholic.  It’s true he killed christians, but Hitler seemed to be in the business of killing everyone.

The idea that Hitler was an atheist is purely a myth.  There was a circle of neo-pagans (not atheists) surrounding Hitler, and the man himself remained christian, even using Jesus as an inspiration for his Nazism.  Check out “Positive Christianity” for details.

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

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By j.hud, August 18, 2007 at 10:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re. Jim. H

That link may not have worked. Here it is again:
http://www.geocities.com/chiniquy/Hitler.html

Happy perusing.

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By j.hud, August 18, 2007 at 8:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Jim H.
I think I would have to agree with another member about leaving you alone to yourself with your incoherency. I advise you to peruse this link:

http://www.geocities.com/chiniquy/hitler...

I suppose that you will then begin to plagiarise by using all of Hitlers allegations against Christianity to bolster your own arguments.

Thank you for the amusement you have provided. Henceforth you will only be amusing yourself.

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By Jim H., August 17, 2007 at 6:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re: 95683

j.hud

j. hud, (OBVIOUSLY A RELIGIOUSLY DELUDED IDIOT!) SAYS:”—-Hitler was not Christian.”(?)  (WRONG!)    (THIS IS A LIE!)

In this, the twenty first century, the “Computer Age” there is no excuse for this lie!

j.hud Makes a “BOLD”, ASININE CONTEMPTIOUS PEDANTIC ATTEMPT TO INSULT HIS MENTAL SUPERIORS!

Any ‘LITERATE’ person using Google, or many other Search Engines, can easily discern the ‘FACT’ that Adolph Hitler was “CHRISTENED” A CATHOLIC! “CHRISTIAN”!, and remained a CATHOLIC “CHRISTIAN”! until he died!

He made many speeches confirming this, also, easily available to a ‘LITERATE’ PERSON!

Further, Hitler’s NAZI PARTY was aided by the Italian, “CHRISTIAN”, MUSSOLINI, the “CHRISTIAN” VATICAN, and the “CHRISTIAN” POPE; in his endeavor to KILL all JEWS,  and accede to World dominationn.

“CHRISTIANS”, and others killed were ‘mere’ “COLLATERAL DAMAGE”!

Much as your sadistic buddy in the White House views the two hundred thousand or more women and children he slaughtered in his efforts to “control the flow of “cheap Iraq crude oil”.

About the “Mein Kampf” “Bible”?

Hitler wasn’t the first, nor, the last to realize the other “Bible” is a pornogaphic How-to Manual for pillagers, rapists, sodomizers, slaughterers, an other debauchers of innocent children and fools, and like many others before and since, he justifyably believed any alternative would be an improvement!

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By j.hud, August 17, 2007 at 1:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Jim H.

Unless you haven’t studied history properly, you must be aware that Hitler was NOT Christian.
What was written on the Nazi banner was just a slogan to heighten the ‘grandeur’ of the Nazi regime.
Why else do you think he went off killing Christians and insisting that his own book , ‘Mein Kampfe’ be the ‘bible’ of his country?
Do the background research if you please, and then make bold statements.

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By Jim H., July 25, 2007 at 1:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

MENSA’s GOALS
In response to my recent query about Mensa’s interest or actions relating to Religion, 
Kymberley Wilson Membership Secretary, Mensa, Australia
replied:
” Mensa, as an organisation has no official position on religion, politics or any other subject” (?)
—————————————————————————————
I say: in view of Mensa’s stated aims included in “Mensa’s goals” “—-to identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity;(?)  (Subject?)(and) to encourage research in the nature, characteristics, and uses of intelligence;(?) (Subject?)
ERGO:
How can Mensa ‘reasonably’ ignore the destructive influences to “human intelligence” caused by the World wide propagation of such horrendous lies and absurdly false assertions that perpetuate the delusional mental imbalance of the religiously indoctrinated which is effected by criminal charlatans Fallwell, Baker, Haggard, the Pope, and their ilk, who enslave the masses in their ceasless efforts to replace Democracy with the Theocratic domination of the entire World!

Certainly denial, or aloofness to this, the most serious threat to “human intelligence” on the face of the earth, is an outright contradiction of your “Mensa’s goals” wherein they say: “—-to identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity;(?)(and) to encourage research in the nature, characteristics, and uses of intelligence;(?)

How does Mensa, the epitome of intelligensia of the world, live with the knowledge they, by there ignorance, or ignoring this, the most destructive force to the “intelligence” of “humanity”, are thereby living a lie of cold hearted, unconcerned negation!

If the intellectual, or intelligent elites of the world, will not make any effort to prevent the destruction of humanity’s intelligence, by their: “research in the nature, characteristics, and uses of (false) intelligence”, we, and they, are all doomed to the servitude of criminal charlatan imberciles who shall soon control the entire earth!
————————————————————-
  Mass/energy never disappear
Ever were ever here!
J.H. 5/8/07
With nothing to ‘create’, a “so-called “Creator-God” is an impossible superfluous nonentity!

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By DSA, July 11, 2007 at 6:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Greetings Everyone!

Thanks for your input on the subject of Faith!

As we are currently experiencing great dangers and conflicts largely due to Faith, it is mandatory that the free thinkers speak up and make their voices heard. 

Reasoning does not seem to be a concern of the devout.  All they generally expect is just to believe what they say and join their path…  It does not matter how destructive the consequences can be… 

In reality, all I experienced in this life was just the constant interactions with mankind.  The rest I see… is our beautiful planet with its abundant natural resources and beauty.

While I’m here, I would love to enjoy every moment of this human experience as a free soul, a free spirit.  I do not wish to be burdened with Faith while this life of mine lasts…

When it is time to leave, I will leave it with immense gratitude for the privileges I have enjoyed.  What happens next is to be seen… or may never be seen…

In-the-meantime, I end this note with love & best wishes to all,

DSA

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By Jim H., July 11, 2007 at 4:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

7/11 at 3:39 pm

COPY
NOTE: This was first sent to several MENSA email addresses including “National, International, Australia.
——————————————————————
TO MENSA;
RE: “Mensa’s goals”
“Mensa has three stated purposes: to identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity; to encourage research in the nature, characteristics, and uses of intelligence;?) and to promote stimulating intellectual and social opportunities for its members.”
————————————————————————-

Hello You-all; With the above stated aims in mind,
What, if anything is MENSA and their Members doing to enlighten the world about the EVILS caused by the propagation of the criminal ponzi-like racketeering scheme ‘Religion’, that indoctrinates, and enslaves innocent childrlen and fools and converts them to shills to proslytize and spread their infectious plalgue-like disease that causes delusional thinking, and an absurd child-like fairytale conception of the world that is a constant threat to those of us who live in the ‘real’ world and are ceaselessly threatened by their illogical TAX-FREE AND (faith-based!) GOVERNMENT-FUNDED, BIGOTRY?

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By Jim H., July 9, 2007 at 10:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re: 83666

DSA

Thank you for your good ‘thoughts’ about Sam Harris!
At:http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20070529_sam_harris_fights_back/

He ‘too’, like Rushdie, has taunted a gigantic man-eating octopus, and must take many precautions to prevent a repeat of the Madalyn Murray O’Hair debacle that the “Religious “faithful” fanatics do a dance of joy over! 

Although I too am thankful for “The End of Faith”, I believe no one has come within a ‘light year’ of pointing to, or discussing the ‘epic’ proportions of the ever broadening destructive criminal influence, evil intentions, designs and calamitous results of the Religious “Faith” Organization’s unwavering pursuit of total Theocratic domination our once Democratic, USA, and the entire World!
How many people can even imagine: any ‘one’ organization of any kind, that can, and does accumulate, free from taxes, every day, more money, including donations of taxpayers hard earned funds that are contributed to them by G. W. Bush’s “Faith”-based” operations, than any other company, business, or other type of honest enterprise in the world, accumulates in one month? 
And, how many people can even imagine: the amount of influence all this ill gotten wealth is able to purchase?
Through the use of all type “Holding Companies” and many other similar methods of hiding ownership, the Religious Organizations own, or control a major portion of all Media, including newspapers, radio stations, publishing houses, television stations, and, many Congressmen, and Senators, plus G. W. Bush, and Dick Chaney!
These same Religious “Faith” Organizations have repeatedly caused our ‘bigoted’ Congress, and ‘bigoted’ US Supreme Court, to deny, and violate many parts of our US Constitution, and The Bill Of Rights!
These same Religious “Faith” Organizations have repeatedly supported, and influenced the installation of G.W. Bush a ‘bigot’, and Military Deserter, into the White House!
These same Religious “Faith” Organizations continually object to, and repeatedly violate the Constitutional Law: “Separation of Church and State!
These same Religious “Faith” Organizations repeatedly deny “woman’s rights”!
These same Religious “Faith” Organizations use the “Pulpit” to electioneer and promote religious bigot candidates for elective office, and use big bushels of their money lucre to help this happen!
These same Religious “Faith” Organizations also use bundles of money to pay lobbyists, and influence all Congressional actions that are destructive of our Democratic way of life and detrimental to all US citizens!
These same Religious “Faith” Organizations fight against any and all means of limiting family size, including medicines that prevent childbirth, because without innocent children to brainwash, mesmerize, brand, and indoctrinate into their fantasy world of ‘Godism’ their Religious Organizations would soon ‘dry up’ and go out of business!
Of course this is but a mere minute insight into the monstrous behemoth the ‘Ponzi-like’ racketeering Religious “Faith” Organizations embody and represent, and the perpetual horrific infectious plague-like disease they are ever more widely spreading every hour of every day through the means of newspapers, radio, and television, and even door-to-door-proselytising!

And, if we secularists, the rational ‘ones’, don’t soon confront this war on sanity and reason, before long, if it is not already too late, we will be surrounded, smothered and inundated by the horrible putrid dung these Religious “Faith” Organizations are everyday filling the airwaves, and earthly environment with!
Ciao, Jim

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By Jim H., July 8, 2007 at 5:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re: 83666

DSA

Thank you for your good ‘thoughts’ about Sam Harris!

He too, like Rushdie, has taunted a gigantic man-eating octopus, and must take many precautions to prevent a repeat of the Madalyn Murray O’Hair debacle that the “Religious “faithful” fanatics do a dance of joy over! 

Although I too am thankful for “The End of Faith”, I believe no one has come within a ‘light year’ of pointing to, or discussing the ‘epic’ proportions of the ever broadening destructive criminal influence, evil intentions, designs and calamitous results of the Religious “Faith” Organization’s unwavering pursuit of total Theocratic domination our once Democratic, USA, and the entire World!
How many people can even imagine: any ‘one’ organization of any kind, that can, and does accumulate, free from taxes, every day, more money, including donations of taxpayers hard earned funds that are contributed to them by G. W. Bush’s “Faith”-based” operations, than any other company, business, or other type of honest enterprise in the world, accumulates in one month? 
And, how many people can even imagine: the amount of influence all this ill gotten wealth is able to purchase?
Through the use of all type “Holding Companies” and many other similar methods of hiding ownership, the Religious Organizations own, or control a major portion of all Media, including newspapers, radio stations, publishing houses, television stations, and, many Congressmen, and Senators, plus G. W. Bush, and Dick Chaney!
These same Religious “Faith” Organizations have repeatedly caused our ‘bigoted’ Congress, and ‘bigoted’ US Supreme Court, to deny, and violate many parts of our US Constitution, and The Bill Of Rights!
These same Religious “Faith” Organizations have repeatedly supported, and influenced the installation of G.W. Bush a ‘bigot’, and Military Deserter, into the White House!
These same Religious “Faith” Organizations continually object to, and repeatedly violate the Constitutional Law: “Separation of Church and State!
These same Religious “Faith” Organizations repeatedly deny “woman’s rights”!
These same Religious “Faith” Organizations use the “Pulpit” to electioneer and promote religious bigot candidates for elective office, and use big bushels of their money lucre to help this happen!
These same Religious “Faith” Organizations also use bundles of money to pay lobbyists, and influence all Congressional actions that are destructive of our Democratic way of life and detrimental to all US citizens!
These same Religious “Faith” Organizations fight against any and all means of limiting family size, including medicines that prevent childbirth, because without innocent children to brainwash, mesmerize, brand, and indoctrinate into their fantasy world of ‘Godism’ their Religious Organizations would soon ‘dry up’ and go out of business!
Of course this is but a mere minute insight into the monstrous behemoth the ‘Ponzi-like’ racketeering Religious “Faith” Organizations embody and represent, and the perpetual horrific infectious plague-like disease they are ever more widely spreading every hour of every day through the means of newspapers, radio, and television, and even door-to-door-proselytising!

And, if we secularists, the rational ‘ones’, don’t soon confront this war on sanity and reason, before long, if it is not already too late, we will be surrounded, smothered and inundated by the horrible putrid dung these Religious “Faith” Organizations are everyday filling the airwaves, and earthly environment with!
Ciao, Jim

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By DSA, July 3, 2007 at 5:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Greetings Everyone!

Thanks Sam for highlighting the destructive forces on this earth!

The faithful are proving your point…

How can anyone believe in such suicidal, primitive concepts?

Hope our human race will wake up soon and see the light!

With love & best wishes to all,

DSA

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By Ted Swart, June 25, 2007 at 6:35 pm Link to this comment

BlueBoy1938 #80977

Methinks the treatment the RCs meted out to Galileo was understandable but not justified.  And what was totally unjustified was the inordinate amount of time it took the church to apologize for their behaviour.

I note that the previous Pope ruled that it was perfectly in order for Catholics to accept the occurrence of evolution— without him endorsing any particular theory of evolution. In fact he spoke quite correctly in terms of theories (plural) of evolution.I am not sure the current Pope is equally sensible. 
The trouble with these so-called creation science museums is that they reject the occurrence of evolution by using pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo and totally ignore the mass of evidence which attests to its occurrence. I see from one of today’s news items that scientists have some real hope that they may be able to piece together the Neanderthal genome.

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By Jim H., June 24, 2007 at 7:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re: 80947

Rev. Ted Swart

You say: “—- amenable to being coaxed into—-” (?)

What is it you want to, or need to? “coax” someone into?

I say: Are those the words of someone holding a “Doctorate”?

You sound like you are “proselytizing”!

People do not need coaxing to read interesting sensible words of intelligent people!

“Coaxers” are PHONIES, con men, promoters, salesmen, or “Fundamentalist” religious ‘godists’,  “Evangelists”, and other proselytizers, including sexual predators!

Intelligent people, saying intelligent things (like me) do not have to “coax” people into something!

About “Canning”? Perhaps if you knew ‘he’ was an ordained Minister, you would be more suspect of his reasoning, or his ability to reason? Religious ‘Godists” of all kinds find it impossible to cope with, or avail themselves of ‘critical thinking of any kind, but when it comes to their brainwashed views of their make-believe, fairytales idolatry, they go bizerk, and do, or say things no rational person would ever do, or say!

However, I am flattered that Canning admits to reading several of my postings! At least ‘he’ found ‘something’ therein to repeatedly draw him back thereto!

And although he calls my words “irrational”, don’t take it seriously, because, as I have already said, or implied, he is a Fanatical Godist and takes offense at anyone who shows a bit of rationality when discussing the many reasons for OUTLAWING RELIGION, and locking up all the criminal charlatans who promote that ‘ponzi-like racketeering scheme that brainwashes, indoctrinates, mesmerizes and enslaves innocent and fools like Canning, converts them to shills and sometimes rapes them in return for granting them forgiveness for having “sinned”, whatever ‘that’ means!

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By Blueboy1938, June 24, 2007 at 4:17 pm Link to this comment

From the point of view of the Catholic Church at the time, it made perfect sense to “throttle” Galileo Galilei’s incipient advocacy of a “sun centered solar system.”  It conflicted with the church’s view that God’s creation was perfect and immutable and ran afoul of dogma of the time.  Galileo himself professed to be a devout Christian and Catholic.  After all, the Church was under siege from the time Martin Luther nailed the “95 Theses” to the door of the Wittenberg castle church in 1546 and feeling a bit defensive towards divergent opinion.  Scientific thought and faith are not mutually exclusive, as attested by Albert Einstein as well.  All sorts of mischief stem from the mistaken application of religious ideas, unfortunately.  If the so-called “creationism” continues to make inroads into the benighted pockets of hillbilly education, an ignorant theocracy can’t be far behind.  Vigilance against that possibility must be uppermost.

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By Jim H., June 24, 2007 at 3:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re: 80930

Rev. Ernest Canning

Don’t cry all over your Alb! Or the Altar!

I say: Thank you for reading some of my postings!

You say: “—- pages and pages of irrational(?)  rants—-”(?)

I say: Don’t you mean “—-pages and pages of ‘IRREVERANT RANTS’?

But, even though you have some trouble reading and comprehending the brilliant sagacity of my brief sojourns through the slimy ‘dungeons’ of the fanatical religious minds of those felonious criminal charlatans who brainwash innocent children and fools ‘like you’; that I have so often undertaken, to help bring you, and others of your sick ilk, out of your entranced insanity and into the REAL WORLD, I thank you for taking the trouble of trying to understand it all.

You say: “—-carrying on a civil dialogue—-”(?)

I say: Surely, even ‘you’ know ‘your’ ilk is not capable of “—-carrying on a civil dialogue—-” with anyone who does not accept your absurd parroting of the farcical religious ‘Godism’!

And, regarding my “absence”, perhaps you are ‘married’ to this ‘muddle of smears’ or, your life is so otherwise boring, that this, is your only means for ‘jolly’ contentment! 

But, strange as it may seem to you, besides having numerous other things I must to attend to on a daily basis, I do at times find the idiotic simplicity of you ‘fundamental religious ‘godist’ bigots’ and ‘hypocrites’ tiresome, boring, and otherwise fatiguing, (the ‘repeats’ are intended to stress the point!).  And I realize that
when people are not allowed to be critical of their idiotic notions under pain of “mortal sin”, whatever that is, which they believe might even send them to “Hell”. whatever that is; I am suddenly aware I am trying to reason with the cancer ridden minds of the insane, and that they are better left to their own deserts, or some treatment in the asylum they are patients in!

The fact that you read my “—-irrational rants—-” is proof that I am not “—- talking to (myself) himself—-”!

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By Jim H., June 24, 2007 at 2:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re: 80928

nahida

You say:”—-impose(?) their atheistic ideology—-” (?)

I say: “atheism” IS NOT AN IDEOLOGY! AND, ATHEISTS DO NOT “IMPOSE”!
ATHEISTS REJECT LIES ARE TRUTHS!  AND, CALL THEM LIES! THAT IS NOT IDEOLOGY!

YOU TOO, NEED A dictionary!  SEE HERE BELOW!

DICTIONARY:
atheism
Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.

I say: “Disbelieving” in, or the “denial” of something, does not entail “IDEOLOGY”!
And ,only a FOOL would assert, or imply such!

I say: ‘You’, mezmerized RELIGIOUS ROBOTIC IDIOTS in an effort at PEDANTISM, combine together ALL who do not believe in make-believe fairytales, OR RELIGIONS LIES, AND BRAND THEM “Atheists” when ‘they’ simply do not accept as true, lies about things that cannot be proven true; which Religion, happens to be included in, and ‘you’ asininely, refer to this as an “ideology”!  Honest truth seekers, and non-believers are not believers in an “ideology”!  They merely point out the farce, and evils of accepting absurd assertions as anything other than what they really are; namely, the lies of Criminal charlatans who endlessly ‘PREY’ upon innocent children and fools, and wreak havoc on the rest of World Society!

The branding indoctrination of obsessive robotic religious ‘Godism’ fanatical imberciles, results in the worst sort of bigotry, often causing them to slaughter any who refuse to accept their warped views of the world we live in.  And, it is difficult to imagine that anyone could exceed their rabid zealousness to defend their insane conception of life!  And, of course, any criticism of their insane ideas, is bound to be met with every sort of lying effort to “discredit the messenger’’ in an attempt to draw observers away from the total inaneness of their own naive and chilldish acceptance of unfounded lies about un-proven assertions, as truth!

With respect to ‘nahida’s apparent infatuation with “Islam”?  I find this to be exceptionally strange!
Isn’t it a fact that Muslim ‘women’ are treated like dirt by male Muslims? Aren’t Muslim women required to wear a special costume including a veil over their face? And, aren’t Muslim women forbidden to educate themselves? And, aren’t Muslim forbidden to drive an automobile? And, aren’t Muslim women forbidden to hold a job! And, aren’t Muslim women sometimes murdered by their own family, with full ‘legal’ immunity?

How much intelligence can someone have, lest they are MASOCHISTS, to cause them to WILLINGLY become part of, or, align themselves with, a group of who immediately subjugate them and reduce them in stature to that of a slave, or bonded serf?  Need I say more!

You say: “—-stop blaming religion(?) and faith for the ills of our world.(?)

I say you’re nuts! RELIGION ‘IS’ RESPONSIBLE FOR MOST ALL THE “ILLS OF THE WORLD”!

I say: Wake up!

Religion is cancer of the mind! Insanity!

You must live in a closet!

Religion is the cause of endless wars in the Middle East, and Ireland! And the cause of the present Iraqi conflict, that has resulted in more than two hundred thousand slaughtered, and ‘mangled’, and millions of homeless and displaced persons!  And, Hitler’s Christianity, with the help of the Italian Mussolini, and the Pope in the Vatican was responsible for World War two!

You writelike the religious idiot ‘you’ in fact, are!

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By Ted Swart, June 24, 2007 at 11:18 am Link to this comment

Ernest Canning #80930

Thanks Ernest.  I am relatively new to TruthDig and I fell into the trap of imagining Jim H to be amenable to being coaxed into a more sensible mode of operation. This is clearly not the case.

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By Ted Swart, June 24, 2007 at 11:09 am Link to this comment

BlueBoy1938 #80895

Nice to hear from you BlueBoy.  An interesting run down on American history and its idiosyncratic relationship to religion. The US has come a long way (backwards!) since the founding fathers. All the presidential candidates—whether Democrat and Republican are going around loudly proclaiming the important role that religion plays in their lives.

So, when you say “Would we be better off if everyone were atheists?” a partial answer might be:  We would surely be much better off if not all US presidential candidates felt it necessary to loudly proclaim that they are not atheists/agnostics/free thinkers.

It is obvious that if all humans became atheists this would not result in paradise. Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and many others surely attest to the fact that being atheist is no magic antidote to nastiness. I think all rigidly dogmatic systems tend to be corrupt and destructive. And I would go so far as to say that unless atheism is at least tinged with agnosticism it is at risk of being just as dogmatic as religions tends to be. 

It is actually a very interesting question as to whether or not having more knowledge tends to make us better people. On balance I would have to say it is much healthier to accept the findings of scientific enquiry rather than to reject what we learn in this manner. It was lunacy on the part of the Catholic Church to persecute Galileo.  And the unscientific so-called Creation Science Museums which have been springing up all over the place (even here in Canada) are nothing other than a disgrace.

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By cann4ing, June 24, 2007 at 10:18 am Link to this comment

Ted, I long ago learned that there is no possibility whatsoever of carrying on a civil dialogue with Jim H.  If you go back to the 3/26/07 Chris Hedges post, “A world where lies are true,” you will find pages and pages of irrational rants by Jim H.

From his lengthy absence, I thought perhaps Jim H had taken the advice of some other Truthdiggers and checked himself in for some extensive psychiatric therapy.  But now he’s back, and apparently off his medication.

The best means for dealing with him appears to be to ignore his rants altogether.  After a time, he will likely tire of talking to himself and again go away!

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By nahida, June 24, 2007 at 10:15 am Link to this comment

Fanaticism and extremism are not exclusive to followers of religion.

Atheists; (as demonstrated quite eloquently and explicitly by some posters here- without having to mention names) can excel as being zealous, obsessive and fanatics, with their behaviour and attitude.

I have actually seen that they can surpass religious zealots by their fervent desire to impose their atheistic ideology upon all, and by their craving to “convert” the rest of the world and force them to follow their “beliefs”.

Having said that I guess it’s only fair that other open-minded atheist should acknowledge this fact and stop blaming religion and faith for the ills of our world.

The blame falls fairly and squarely upon our own shoulders as human beings when we cease to tolerate anything that is different.

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By Ted Swart, June 24, 2007 at 9:44 am Link to this comment

Jim H #80795

Okay Jim. You win.  I admit defeat in my attempts to hold a meaningful interaction with you. I make a valid point about it being very questionable to suggest that someone with a mental age of 3—even if bigoted—can be regarded as a hypocrite. And you go off on a tangent about the meaning of the word hypocrisy. It is not the meaning (or meanings) of the word hypocritical on which we differ but rather your whole attitude to the meaning of words. You speak of THE dictionary definition of words as if there is only one dictionary and one rigid meaning which attaches to a given word. The wisdom which attaches to the notion of lying loose to life seems to have escaped you entirely.

I tried to list some of the things on which we do agree—insofar as I can discern them from what you have said—and your reaction is simply to cry:  BULLSHIT! Are you not capable of operating without using expletives and gratuitous insults?  To suggest that I cannot read is quite simply silly. Ever since I can remember I have always loved dictionaries.

My Oxford English reference dictionary defines an agnostic as follows:
A person who believes that nothing is known, or can be known, of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena. 2 A person who is uncertain or non-committal about a certain thing.

That is what I would call a sensibly nuanced definition and despite what you say agnostic is the best word at my disposal to categorise where I am at.

Rest assured I will no longer attempt to interact with you.  It is not because much of what you say is wrong or untrue but simply because your method of interacting is far too abrasive.  You don’t seem to care whether you are interacting with an agnostic or a Muslim or . . . You tend to writeus all off as idiots even when we agree with you.

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By Blueboy1938, June 24, 2007 at 8:51 am Link to this comment

Interestingly, “bigot” is said to have come from a Middle French term for a “religious hypocrite.”  It may have come from an old insult the French used in referring to the Normans as “Visigoths,” who were in turn referred to in Medieval Latin as “bigoths.”  Unfortunately, bigotry is all too often a component of religious fervor.  Apparently, it isn’t sufficient for some individuals and groups to realize their own epiphany, they have to shove it down the throats of others.  The original thirteen colonies had a variety of religious outlooks.  The Puritans in Massachusetts imposed laws that required religious observance of all in the colony, within the Puritan communion, of course.  Roger Williams struck out for Rhode Island to set up a tolerant refuge for those persecuted in other places.  Remarkably, he founded the American Babtist church, which has become one of the most socially and religiously intolerant denominations in the United States.  In mainly Calvinist New Amsterdam, the Quakers were persecuted.  Pennsylvania, the “Quaker State,” was the only other tolerant colony besides Rhode Island.  Maryland was initially set up as a refuge for Catholics, flirted with an “Act of Tolerance,” and was thrust back into an Anglican intolerance that had given rise to so much of the religious migration to the “New World.”  Virginia was Anglican from the start, and Virginians were the first permanent settlers of the Carolinas.  Huguenots fled persecution in France into what became South Carolina.  Georgia practiced religious tolerance, except towards Catholics.  So what eventually became the United States was founded largely by those escaping religious persecution, but who, with notable and partial exceptions, by and large practiced intolerance of other religions.  The U. S. Constitution attempted to do away with the strife that brought by providing for freedom of religion, or rather the separation of church and state.  That has been interpreted to also apply to those who practice no religion.  Unfortunately, even atheists can look bigoted when they go after religious symbols “in the public square,” as it’s so quaintly put.  The fact of the matter is that, where religion is concerned, laissez-faire doesn’t work, as everyone goes for the jugular over religious differences.  Almost all of the current world conflicts are based at least in part on religious animosities.  Would it be better if everyone were atheists?  Probably not, as human beings would undoubtedly find something else to fight over.

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By Jim H., June 23, 2007 at 9:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re: 80795  

Ted Swart

Again I must say: “YOU CANNOT READ!”

And that includes a DICTIONARY!

Or are ‘you’ WRITING YOUR OWN DICTIONARY?

You say:  “—- you must surely realize that imbecile moronic bigots cannot possibly be hypocrites.(?)

Read this! (below ) Or better yet, have someone read it to you!

Dictionary
hypocrisy
The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness.
An act or instance of such falseness.
You say: “—-bigots with adequate intelligence are not necessarily hypocrites—-”(?)

I had said”—-when ‘they’ pretend “Peace”-ful co-existance”, ‘this’ makes them the worst kind of “HYPOCRITES”!

Why don’t you have someone you trust read ALL my emails to you? You keep re-definig words and denying the efficacy of my very careful verbiage and statements that you either DO NOT READ! OR CANNOT COMPREHEND! How much did you pay for those DIPLOMAE? You were cheated!

You Say:”—-definition of the word agnostic—-the difference between do not (currently) know and cannot—-”    “I am a DO NOT kind of agnostic.”

DICTIONARY
agnostic
One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.
One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism.
One who is doubtful or noncommittal about something.

I had said: “As for “Agnostic”, the ‘definition’ seems clear enough? One who cannot decide whether to believe in a “Divine” “First Cause”, or whether there ever was a beginning?

I say: Isn’t the definition ‘above’ simple enough even for “you” to understand?

I quote “One who is skeptical about the existence of God”

You say: “I am a DO NOT kind of agnostic.”

Therefore, isn’t it correct to say: because ‘you’ “DO NOT”, you are unable to, or, “cannot ‘decide’ whether to believe in a “Divine” “First Cause, or whether there ever was a beginning”?

Stop trying to change the definitions of DICTIONARY words!  Or go dry up!

If you don’t know what you believe or don’t believe, how would you expect someone else to?

And I don’t give a damn!

You talk about differences? First, you don’t know what ‘you’ believe!

Second, you apparently have not the least conception of how serious the ‘Godism’ problem is!

Therefore, you do not realize the THEOCRATS have taken over our US Government, President, Vice President, both houses of Congress, the US Supreme Court, and ‘they’ are in control of ALL the media, Press, Radio, Television, magazine and book Publishing!  ‘They’ have infiltrated many of our Public Schools, are denying women medicines, and their rights under the US Constitution. And, there are so many other aatrocities the Religious “Fundamentalists” are guilty of, and inflicting upon American Citizens thet to list all, I would have to skip meals, and sleep, and I am too tired now, to go any further!

Because you are totally numb regarding, all the above, and you have the ‘gall’ to include me in your simplistic attitude regarding ‘this’ asinine determination, ergo: “We both feel that the scriptures of all formal faiths—-are not exactly lofty(?) and that all of them need to be taken with a huge grain of salt.(?)

I say: BULLSHIT

You say:”—- a level headed civil discussion—- (?)

I say: that is impossible, because, you can’t read properly! ‘You’ make up your own definition of words, you, blame ‘me’ for a statement ‘you’ made, and lie about things I have written!

Your HEAD is not LEVEL! You need help!    Go say a prayer!

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By Ted Swart, June 23, 2007 at 7:40 pm Link to this comment

Jim H #80535

Well now Jim if you thought about it a little you must surely realize that imbecile moronic bigots cannot possibly by hypocrites. They simply do not have adequate intelligence to qualify for the epithet.  It is only those bigots who have an adequate level of intelligence who can qualify as hypocrites . And even bigots with adequate intelligence are not necessarily hypocrites if they are consistent about sticking to their bigotry.

I fail to understand why you keep harping on the definition of the word agnostic since its meaning is not fixed in accordance with some international gold standard.  And if you are unable to understand the difference between do not (currently) know and cannot (your word) decide on the truth about life, the universe and everything there is not much further which I can do. The word “cannot” implies “unable to” whereas “do not” is simply an open admission of ignorance and if you are unable to see this difference there is not much I can do to help you.  As I have said before I am a DO NOT kind of agnostic.

There are many things on which you and I agree:

Neither of us believes in a creator God or first cause.
Neither of us believes in heaven and hell and the abominable notion of eternal punishment
We both believe that many people – acting in the name of religion – have caused and continue to cause great harm and suffering to mankind.
We both feel that the scriptures of all formal faiths are contaminated with sentiments which are not exactly lofty and that all of them need to be taken with a huge grain of salt.
We both believe in the occurrence of evolution.
And so on and so on.

The difference between you and me is that I am very sceptical about the wisdom of behaving like a bull in a china shop.  You seem to enjoy throwing around aggressive and not very helpful phrases.  I am not even sure if you are interested in a level headed civil discussion  

There seems to be very little more that I can do to move closer to a common mind in my interaction with you unless you have some bright ideas which currently elude me.

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By cann4ing, June 23, 2007 at 5:51 pm Link to this comment

Nahida, is there anything the Zionists have not stolen from the Palestinian people?

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By nahida, June 23, 2007 at 5:07 pm Link to this comment

Jewish colonizers uproot Palestinian trees, replant them in illegal Israeli colony


http://sabbah.biz/mt/archives/2007/06/22/jewish-colonizers-uproot-palestinian-trees-replant-them-in-illegal-israeli-colony/

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By Logician, June 23, 2007 at 2:49 pm Link to this comment

Thank you, Mr Harris.

After achieving atheism in my 46th year after years of historical studies, I had to admit I had not found anyone in the ‘popular’ press who voiced what had become so apparent to me.

And then I read “End Of Faith.”  While I despair at the internecine squabblings I have encountered in differing atheist groups, at least with your books I find a voice to which I can harken.

Do not despair at the level of discourse on this site.  Two stories will illustrate why:

1) Mory comes home from work early.  Hearing loud noises coming from his bedroom, he runs into it and finds his wife in bed with his best friend.  As Mory begins to boil, his best friend jumps out of bed and says, “Mory, relax, what are you going to believe, me or your eyes?”

2) Two cows are standing in a pasture.  The first cow says to the second one, “You realize, of course, that while Pi is normally truncated to five places, it does go on into infinity?”  The second cow looks at the first and says, “Moo.”

Those who have ears to hear will hear you, Mr. Harris, and those who do not; well, Darwin told us what the evolutionary process will do with them.

Take the comments you read on this site as a good indicator of what truth and rationality have to overcome. 

In the meantime, I salute you, Mr. Harris, as a man who states what is all too obvious but too few are brave enough to enunciate.

We each speak only for ourselves; that is the beauty of freedom.  For myself, Mr. Harris, I stand with you and am proud to be named as a freethinker with you. 

Excelsior!

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By encode, June 23, 2007 at 2:46 pm Link to this comment

While I enjoyed the Harris and Hedges’ debate, I am not sure it met its goals.  The former cleverly dissects fundamentalist orientation of any faith while the latter subjectively, ethically, and passionately defended the motivation of a segment of faith; a subset of the argument.

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By Jim H., June 22, 2007 at 3:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re: 80506

Ted Swart

I repeat: Imbercile MORONIC BIGOTS!, ‘are’ “HYPOCRITES’!

‘This’ takes in all those who believe in some makebelieve fairytale character, or some redefinition of a “first cause”  “Creator God”; and consider ‘theirs’ the only ‘factual’ explanation, while in so doing, relogating all others to something akin to blasphemy and heresy, which ‘I say’ makes them “MORONIC BIGOTS’, a threat to all others, and, when they pretend “Peace”-ful co-existance”, ‘I say’ this makes them the worst kind of “HYPOCRITES”!

All the stories: “Bibles” “Qurans” and related supporting writings emerged from the accumulated twisted conglomerations of memorized ‘fairytales’, intertwined with charlatans lies, and altered truths, passed onto, repeatedly embellished, and conveyed orally by otherwise early illiterate ‘diviners’ and forerunners of the later Middle age troubadours, that became the “Books” once the ‘science’ of printing developed!

And, for some people of ‘today’s world, to accept any parts of those farcical pornographic how-to handbooks for mayhem and murder as something to guide one, or live by, certainly, all the foregoing evidence herein being borne out, suports the belief ‘they are imberciles, and morons!

As for “Agnostic”, the ‘definition’ seems clear enough? One who cannot decide whether to believe in a “Divine” “first Cause”, or whether there ever was a beginning? When, if fact, there is absoutely to reason to cojure up a BEGINNING, because, any truly intelligent person, including some who have Doctorates, know: “beginning” is a relative term used for describing things we comprehend and know did not exist prior to the initial onset! But, if you say “beginning”, there is always a “beginning” except where there is none!
And that is “THE UNIVERSE”! (NATUURE)

For those who find this difficult to understand I suggest you stare at a (printed) circle, and find IT’s “BEGINNING”!

Mass/energy never disappear
Ever were ever here!
J.H. 5/8/07
Without something to ‘create! a “so-called “Creator-God”
is an impossibel superfluous nonentity!

THE ORIGIN OF NATURE
  Beginning is never found but keep an ear to the ground
  Accept the word of a friend there’s no beginning or end
Natures origin for instance is ceaselessness Existence
  JH 8/29/06

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By nahida, June 22, 2007 at 1:55 pm Link to this comment

Dear Ted,

As for my perception of God’s sense of humour, I must admit that I have infinite affection to this concept grin , and I have no doubt that God has the Most Fantastic wit and sense of humour smile

But then again talking about God and faith -as I said many times before- is so very subjective.

It’s like talking about love and trying to convey it to some one who’s never been in love, the immensity, the vastness, the all-embracing, the majestic feelings, the inner delight, the joy, the ecstasy that surpasses all human vocabulary and the bliss that extends beyond any recognisable horizon; all this cannot be verbally articulated, logically explained, scientifically measured, or even passionately shared.

Bliss and beyond

A state of delight
Blissful pleasure
Contentment
Tranquillity
Enchantment and joy

If people knew how it feels
They would’ve embraced
With bouncy heart
And open arms

No privilege
No adversity

No gain
No loss

No health
No pain

No achievement
No catastrophe

No triumph
No defeat

Can Annihilate
Or nullify

Passionately… with a heartfelt desire
I want to share

***********************

Intertwined!


How could one be spiritual
Without being saturated in love?
It’s impossible

How would one experience love
Without being spiritual to the core?
It’s not possible

When you love
You are bursting with curiosity
Teeming with awe

You see splendour all around
In the most unlikely places
And the most unnoticeable things

This beautiful feeling
Immeasurable
Irrational
Majestic
Real
Mysterious
Overwhelming

Defying all laws
Challenging all notions
Transcending all boundaries
Refusing to be defined
Making life worthwhile living
Gives you a glimpse into the unknown

The more deeply you look at the visible
The closer you become to seeing the invisible

As you board the boat of love
You embrace your spiritual-self
Embarking on a magical journey
Floating… following your destiny

Spirituality and love are inseparable… intertwined

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By Ted Swart, June 22, 2007 at 1:06 pm Link to this comment

Jim H #80479

This seems to be getting us nowhere.

You say:

“I say: Imbercile MORONIC BIGOTS!, ‘are’ “HYPOCRITES’!”

Such intemperate language unbecomes you. Am I in your scheme of things an “Imbecile MORONIC BIGOT” or is Nahida so classified by you?

An imbecile is someone with a mental age of about 3 and a moron is someone with a mental age of about 8. Since I have two doctorates in science and mathematics & have an IQ of about 140 and I know Nahida has a degree in mathematics it is hard to know where you are coming from.  As for bigotry what am I or Nahida supposed to be bigoted about?

Incidentally, Nahida tells us in one of her posts that her father was secular and her embrace of the Muslim faith was not the result of childhood indoctrination (as you imply in one of your posts) but a personal choice.

For the most part your discourse is not only unnecessarily inemperate but rambles on in a manner which is hard to follow. You must surely recognize from what I have said that I don’t believe in a “first cause” any more than you do. I know you say that my description of my own beliefs is an oxymoron and all I can say to that is: suit yourself. At least I have tried to explain where I am at.

Am not at all sure that our interaction is leading anywhere but perhaps if you attempted to explain in a few short sentences where you are coming from it might help.

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By Ted Swart, June 22, 2007 at 12:27 pm Link to this comment

Nahida #s 79958 and 80006

Nice to see your sense of humour coming to the fore.

In your long list of attributes of God(Allah) which you included in one of your posts I did not notice anything about God having a sense of humour.  When I am quietly sitting musing about things I have sometimes speculated about what the attributes of God would need too be—assuming he/she/it really exists—and I have to confess that having a sense of humour and being a bit disgruntled at times feature prominently on my list. Years ago now, at the Quaker Selly Oak Colleges I had some long and interesting conversations with a very ardent young Muslim.  He could never quite figure out how I could even suggest such aspects of God’s nature.

Anyway to change the topic slightly, I really had a good laugh about the list of ten commandments which the Roman Catholic Church has invented for drivers.  One of the commandments reads:

” 6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.”

Apart form the awkward use of three “not"s this commandment exhibits an inexcusable confusion about the meaning of words fit and fitting in the English language.  The phrase should be; . . not in a fit condition . .  Presumably it means not driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or other drugs.

Having a fitting means trying on a dress or other item of clothing—made by a tailor—so as to be sure it fits properly. For the Catholic Church to make such a blunder simply caused my mirth to burst forth and it provided my daily medicinal dose of laughter.

I am sorry that your homeland Palestine is going through an unusually rough time at the moment. My own former home country is also in a terrible state.

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By Jim H., June 22, 2007 at 12:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re: 80453

Ted Swart

You say: “—-they, (“Christians, Muslims and Jews”) are illogical but it does not mean they are necessarily hypocrites.

I say:  Another oxymoron?

I say: Imbercile MORONIC BIGOTS!, ‘are’ “HYPOCRITES’! The fact that they give any credence to, ‘read’  and ‘view’ as though there life depended on “scriptures”, (farcical makebelieve fairytales) shows them to be “hypocritic” bigots, and, asinine fools that, because they are off balance mentally with reference to every day reality, and constantly waver back and forth between relying on a farcical character, and relying on there own mixed up idea of the real world, they are a threat to all intelligent people!

You say: “I was in no way trying to exclude Christians and Jews—-”(?)

I say: You said: (79822) Quote: “Nahida does not believe that aheists and agnostics need “TO BE ELIMINTED” (!) Isn’t this “—-trying to exclude Christians ans Jewes—-” (?)

I say: When you ‘quote’ the written ‘words’ of someone in their defense, you ought to at least ‘know what they say’!, and, be cognizant of their gross BIGOTRY!

You say: “—-specific mention of atheists and agnostics—-originated with your own post! (?)
I say: THIS IS A LIE! And, ‘this’ is exactly ‘why’ I say “YOU CANNOT READ”! 

I Say: ‘I’ was quoting Nahida!  And, ‘YOU’! if you were able to read, and understand the language, you would SURELY know that!

You say: (finally) “—- my own current beliefs is in no way oxymoronic.(?)

I say: The ‘explanation’ that follows the above statement (including ‘your’ dictionary interpretation) completely, and totally contradicts ‘it’! And supports my assertion of “oxymoron”! You cannot have it both ways, even if you want to redefine “God” or ‘other ‘first cause’ which there never, never was!

Mass/energy never disappear
Ever were ever here!
J.H. 5/8/07
Without something to ‘create! a “so-called “Creator-God”,
impetus, or “first cause’
are impossibel superfluous nonentitys!

THE ORIGIN OF NATURE
  Beginning is never found but keep an ear to the ground
  Accept the word of a friend there’s no beginning or end
Natures origin for instance is ceaselessness Existence
The worst form of child abuse is warping of the mind!
JH 8/29/06

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By Ted Swart, June 22, 2007 at 10:09 am Link to this comment

Jim H:

No more comments from me on double posting.  Obviously just s a glitch in the system. 

You still fling around gratuitously derogatory remarks about my not being able to read etc. Huge numbers of Christians, Muslims and Jews are selctive about the use of their own scriptures.  This may well mean they are illogical but it does not mean they are necessarily hypocrites.

You ask why I spoke of agnostics and atheists as being eliminated and did not mention Christians and Jews in my comments on your ELIMINATION remark.  If you go to your very own post you will see that specific mention of atheists and agnostics in this context originated with your own post!  I was in no way trying to exclude Christins and Jews so please drop this topic since it is hardly helpful in any interaction between us.

You go onto say:
You say: “I am a radical agnostic pantheist.”

I say: I suppose you are unaware that statement is an oxymoron?

“An agnostic does not deny the existence of God and heaven(?) but holds that one cannot know for certain whether or not they exist.(!)

And, Pantheism is: A doctrine that the universe is God and, conversely, that there is no god(?) apart from the substance, forces, and laws manifested in the universe.

But I forgive you.”

Thanks for the forgiveness which is a happy change from your scathing critique.  Perhaps you will also forgive me for pointing out that my description of my own current beliefs is in no way oxymoronic. 

If you go to the dictionay and check on the definition of agnosticism you will soon enough find that there is more than one definition.  Your definition speaks of “cannot know for certain” whether or not God exists.  That is what I would call strong agnosticism.  My own verison of agnsiticism (weak agnosticism) is of the DO NOT KNOW kind and may well be the kind of agnosticism which Huxley claimed. So when I say that I am an agnostic pantheist I am simpiy affirming that I do not know the answers regarding the nature of any divinty associated with the unniverse.  A pure pantheist does aver—as you say—that the universe and God are the same thing. My pantheism is a little weaker than this since I make no such claim and feel that the if there is a divine attribute to the universe it has to be intertwined with the universe and not separate from it—whence agnostic pantheism. Clearly it is possible to be an agnostic without any pantheistic leanings and I am merely expressing my leanings.
The existence of the concepts good and bad, right and wrong is a really tough conundrum and it seem hard to me to explainan these concepts without some built in norms within the universe.
As for the radical it is surely possible to be a bland—sort of anything goes—agnostic and it is also possible to be a more robust agnostic who is willing to rule out certain options as too improbale and too illogical to be worth waisting time on. So I am radical in the sense that I DO reject the notion of a creator God—separate from an pre-existing the universe which He/She/It made. And together with this rejection I certainly deny the existence of heaven and hell together with that abomanable belief in eternal punishment.

Dare I say:  Peace.

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By Jim H., June 21, 2007 at 10:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re: 80199  

Ted Swart;

About the “double posting”?  I believe this is a result of some malfunction with the submission system, and seems to result when reviewing and correcting a second or third time, or when trying to cancel a submission so as to reformulate, and rewrite. Occasionally when trying to cancel, and without inserting the ‘code’ and without ‘hitting’ “Submit” I get a “thank you”!  Strange! 
——————————————————————
You say: “I—-am saying what I say on the basis of Nahida’s own postings which I have no reason whatsoever to doubt. (?)

I say: If someone talks “PEACE” and then cites a ‘handbook’ for bigotry and slaughter, you do a disservice by supporting what amounts to ‘bold faced lie!

And you say: “You don’t say which book you mean.”

Apparently, you do not ‘read’ very well!

First, Nahida talks of PEACE! and then, quotes a ‘handbook’ for ‘slaughtering’ anyone who does not bow to Allah!    THE ‘BOOK’ SHE LIVES BY!

How you missed her citing the “Quran” is beyond understanding, unless, as I have already stated, “you cannot read”!

And, that you would ‘wonder’ “—-which book you mean”,(?) after Nahida quotes it, and, then, ‘my’ quoting ‘it’, by citing “The Five Pillars of Islam, apparently ‘doubly’ proves that you cannot read the English language!

About Pinocchio? You Had said: “Nahida does not believe that aheists and agnostics need “TO BE ELIMINTED”.(?)  (strange that both you, and she, left out Christians and Jews?) Was it intentional?

When someone ‘lives by’ and quotes the Quoran, ‘they’ ‘believe’ all “Infidels”; those who do not accept “Allah” as their “God”, must be “eliminated”, “it is better to “kill them”!

And, to deny this, and talk “PEACE” is the worst kind of hypocrasy!

I therefore, naturally, assumed you had not read Nahilda’s emails, and for some other reason ‘butted’ into the discussion like someone who’s nose is longer than it ought to be. 

You say: “I am a radical agnostic pantheist.”

I say: I suppose you are unaware that statement is an oxymoron?

An agnostic does not deny the existence of God and heaven(?) but holds that one cannot know for certain whether or not they exist.(!)   

And, Pantheism is: A doctrine that the universe is God and, conversely, that there is no god(?) apart from the substance, forces, and laws manifested in the universe.

But I forgive you.

Mass/energy never disappear
Ever were ever here!
J.H. 5/8/07

Conservation of Mass/Energy     E=mc2
  1.The Universe contains an infinite amount of matter and energy.
    We cannot create nor can we destroy matter or energy. 
2.Matter can be changed in form, or state.
3. Energy can be changed in form.
4. We change matter to energy and energy to
matter never diminishing the totality. 
  ———————————————————
Without something to ‘create! a “so-called “Creator-God”
is an impossibel superfluous nonentity!
————————————————————————
THE ORIGIN OF NATURE
  Beginning is never found but keep an ear to the ground
  Accept the word of a friend there’s no beginning or end
Natures origin for instance is ceaselessness Existence
The worst form of child abuse is warping of the mind!
JH 8/29/06

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By Ted Swart, June 21, 2007 at 5:06 pm Link to this comment

Jim H:

I see you have caught Nahida’s disease an have taken to double posting. What a lot of unfounded conclusions you arrive at without any basis.  Whay are you so aggressive and angry?

YOU SAY: “Ted Smart?  Is this an alias?”

If you read my posts you will see I am Ted Swart (which means black) NOT Ted Smart —no doubt a Freudian slip-up on your part since you imply I travel under an alias and pretend to be smart. Let me assure you I travel under my real name Jim H—whatever H stands for.

YOY SAY:
” You say:  “Nahida does not believe that aheists and agnostics need “TO BE ELIMINTED”.(?)

And, are you her ‘confessor’?”

No.  I am not her confessor and am simply saying what I say on the basis of Nahida’s own postings which I have no reason whatsoever to doubt.

Or, were you the model for Geppetto’s “Pinocchio?

Waht a rude and uncalled for comment.

” How much do you know about ‘that’ “Book”? Or those people who live ‘by’ it?”

You don’t say which book you mean.  The Bible, the Qur’an the OT?  I know the Bible extremely well and have some knowledge of the Qur’an from translations and commentaries.  Both are what I would call a mixed bag.

“You, apparently do not read newspapers, nor are you knowledgeable about the happenings in the Middle East involving those “PEACE”-LOVING people your ‘friend’ refers to!”

What baseless asumptions on your part.  I read a newspaper every day and am very well aware of the sad goings on in the Middle East.

“I suggest you do a bit of research before accepting ‘as fact’ assertions from someone that totally contradict their ‘life-long’ religious devotions based on early brainwashing, indoctrination, and mesmerized enslavement to a makebelieve fairytale conception of reality!”

WOW!  What a mouthful of a sentence.  How do you know I have not done at least as much research as you claim to have done.  I am a radical agnostic pantheist but I don’t think that gives me the right to behave in an uncivil manner. People of worth cut right across all religions and include atheists and agnostics and—dare I say it—Muslims and Nahida’s behaviour speaks of a person of worth.

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By nahida, June 21, 2007 at 9:32 am Link to this comment

Here I go again grin , after being “illogical” smile (posting the same comment twice)

I’ll put the icing on the cake, and I will “selectively” smile choose another quotation from the Quran, for those who can only shout abuse at any one with different views than theirs:

“...do not let one (set of) people make fun of another set. Do not defame one another. Do not insult by using nicknames. Do not spy on one another. Do not backbite or speak ill of one another.”(49:11-12)

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By Jim H., June 21, 2007 at 9:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re: 79822

Ted Smart?  Is this an alias?

You say:  “Nahida does not believe that aheists and agnostics need “TO BE ELIMINTED”.(?)

First!: Why do you leave out “Jews and Christians”?  Does she believe like all other Muslims that ‘they’ “must be eliminated”? “It is better to kill them”?   

And, are you her ‘confessor’?

Or, were you the model for Geppetto’s “Pinocchio?

How much do you know about ‘that’ “Book”? Or those people who live ‘by’ it?

Has ‘she’ renounnced ‘that’ RELIGION, or ‘that’ “Book”?

The way ‘that’ “Book”, and those people ‘treat’ women, why does ‘she’ even acknowledge it?

Do you know what “JIHAD” MEANS?

Are you aware “Muslim” parents and teachers ‘indoctrinate’, ‘TEACH’, “JIHAD”, and self-destructing-slaughter-of-“Infidels” to their young children?

And, then, make celebrations, and rejoice when their little sons and daughters have blown them selves to bits, and done their dastardly deed?

You, apparently do not read newspapers, nor are you knowledgeable about the happenings in the Middle East involving those “PEACE”-LOVING people your ‘friend’ refers to!

I suggest you do a bit of research before accepting ‘as fact’ assertions from someone that totally contradict their ‘life-long’ religious devotions based on early brainwashing, indoctrination, and mesmerized enslavement to a makebelieve fairytale conception of reality!

And, I am very un-“friendly” to all those ‘Godists’ who are destroying the world while fighting over which ‘fairytale’ theology should be the bigoted THEOCRACY that rules, and dominates the entire World!

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By Jim H., June 21, 2007 at 9:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re: 79822

Ted Smart?  Is this an alias?

You say:  “Nahida does not believe that aheists and agnostics need “TO BE ELIMINTED”.(?)

First!: Why do you leave out “Jews and Christians”?  Does she believe like all other Muslims that ‘they’ “must be eliminated”? “It is better to kill them”?   

And, are you her ‘confessor’?

Or, were you the model for Geppetto’s “Pinocchio?

How much do you know about ‘that’ “Book”? Or those people who live ‘by’ it?

Has ‘she’ renounnced ‘that’ RELIGION, or ‘that’ “Book”?

The way ‘that’ “Book”, and those people ‘treat’ women, why does ‘she’ even acknowledge it?

Do you know what “JIHAD” MEANS?

Are you aware “Muslim” parents and teachers ‘indoctrinate’, ‘TEACH’, “JIHAD”, and self-destructing-slaughter-of-“Infidels” to their young children?

And, then, make celebrations, and rejoice when their little sons and daughters have blown them selves to bits, and done their dastardly deed?

You, apparently do not read newspapers, nor are you knowledgeable about the happenings in the Middle East involving those “PEACE”-LOVING people your ‘friend’ refers to!

I suggest you do a bit of research before accepting ‘as fact’ assertions from someone that totally contradict their ‘life-long’ religious devotions based on early brainwashing, indoctrination, and mesmerized enslavement to a makebelieve fairytale conception of reality!

And, I am very un-“friendly” to all those ‘Godists’ who are destroying the world while fighting over which ‘fairytale’ theology should be the ruling THEOCRACY that rules, and dominates the entire World!

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By nahida, June 21, 2007 at 8:08 am Link to this comment

yes Ted, I did indeed grin grin grin

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By Ted Swart, June 21, 2007 at 7:59 am Link to this comment

Nahida:
I am afraid that in your enthusiasm you repeated yourself. Certainly one of the most tragic aspects of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is the way in which children are involved on both sides—both as victims and participants.  Unfortunately it is ever thus in trouble spots of this kind—whether it be Northern Ireland or Sri Lanka or the Balkans . . . .

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By nahida, June 21, 2007 at 6:19 am Link to this comment

Who is being brain washed?

(This was posted by Robert for another article)

Very cute Israeli girls/children writing and sending messages on missiles, bombs and/or shells.

So who is telling these little Israeli girls / children to writesuch messages on such destructive American made weapons. These weapons killed and murdered so many Lebanese children, women, men and caused so much destruction. Who is teaching these Israeli children racial hatred, bigotry, terrorism…etc…?

One can see Israel’s brutal IDF and other Israeli adults standing by the children as they writeand sign these bombs/shells. These children are just doing what they have been told to do by their teachers, brain washers and parents…and others.

So here the link for 3 images of Israeli little girls writing, conveying and sending their hatred on American made missiles & bombs to Lebanon’s Arab children/civilians:

http://www.bubbleshare.com/album/47671/overview#1379648

  The Results of Israel’s American Made Signed Weapons.

**CAUTION TO READERS** THE PICTURES THAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE OF LEBANESE CHILDREN AND CIVILIANS ARE VERY GRUESOME. YOU WILL BE DISTURBED, STRESSED AND YOUR HEAD WILL RECOIL WITH SHOCK AT THE IMAGES.


http://www.bubbleshare.com/album/47671/overview#1356651

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By nahida, June 21, 2007 at 4:30 am Link to this comment

Who is being brain washed?

(This was posted by Robert for another article, and I hope you don’t mind Robert that I use them here):

Very cute Israeli girls/children writing and sending messages on missiles, bombs and/or shells.

So who is telling these little Israeli girls / children to writesuch messages on such destructive American made weapons. These weapons killed and murdered so many Lebanese children, women, men and caused so much destruction. Who is teaching these Israeli children racial hatred, bigotry, terrorism…etc…?

One can see Israel’s brutal IDF and other Israeli adults standing by the children as they writeand sign these bombs/shells. These children are just doing what they have been told to do by their teachers, brain washers and parents…and others.

So here the link for 3 images of Israeli little girls writing, conveying and sending their hatred on American made missiles & bombs to Lebanon’s Arab children/civilians:

http://www.bubbleshare.com/album/47671/overview#1379648

  The Results of Israel’s American Made Signed Weapons.

**CAUTION TO READERS** THE PICTURES THAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE OF LEBANESE CHILDREN AND CIVILIANS ARE VERY GRUESOME. YOU WILL BE DISTURBED, STRESSED AND YOUR HEAD WILL RECOIL WITH SHOCK AT THE IMAGES.


http://www.bubbleshare.com/album/47671/overview#1356651

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By nahida, June 21, 2007 at 4:07 am Link to this comment

Let figures speak:

-There are no civilians in “Israel” (except children), every man and woman over the age of 18 MUST serve in the army for 2-3 years, and they then serve as “reserve soldiers” until they retire.

Israel is not a state with an army; it is an army with a state.

-Since September 2000; Israeli killed 943 Palestinian children, and at least 4,160 Palestinian civilians, and injured 31,403.

-Over a period of 60 years of brutal barbaric racist occupation of Palestine by Israel; Palestinians (regrettably) killed 118 Israeli children,

-1 Israeli is being held prisoner by Palestinians, while 10,756 Palestinians are currently imprisoned by Israel

-0 Israeli homes have been demolished by Palestinians and 4,170 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israel since September 29, 2000. And over 18,000 homes have been demolished since 1967.
http://www.ifamericansknew.org/ 

-Since its creation Israel killed hundred of thousands of Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians, Jordanians, Egyptians…etc. and it ethnically cleansed millions (there are 7 millions Palestinian refugees today) destroying 531 villages in Palestine.
http://71.18.226.238/final/en/journals/printer.php?aid=7175

who is the terrorist, I wonder?

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By nahida, June 21, 2007 at 3:15 am Link to this comment

I Am So blessed

I am so blessed
Being a Palestinian
Being a refugee
For over fifty years
I am so blessed
I wasn’t in the tank
With an army uniform
Killing and destroying
To frighten people away
“It was a barren land”
Later on to say!
I am so blessed

Being under curfew
For most of my life
I am so blessed
I wasn’t with the army
Erecting high walls
Shooting at civilians
At every check-point
I am so blessed

Losing my father
In one of their raids
I am so blessed
That it was not I
Flying planes of terror
Firing that missile
Then Laughing and rejoicing
The mission was a success
I am so blessed

Watching my brother
Being taken away
I am so blessed
I wasn’t one of those
Kicking till he bled
From his nose and head
I am so blessed

Burying my baby
With a bullet in her heart
I am so blessed
I wasn’t that soldier
Who took a baby’s life
Nor was I his mother
Who welcomed him a hero
When coming back home
I am so blessed

Sleeping in a UN tent
Shivering in the freezing cold
I am so blessed
I wasn’t that settler
Who occupied my home
Justifying massacres
With a “PROMISE SO DIVINE”
Then, tossing and turning
All night long
Wondering what’s wrong
Haunted by his deeds
Searching like mad
For a long lost peace
Which he can’t find
I am so blessed

Holding David’s stone
In my little hand
I am so blessed
I wasn’t giant Goliath
With mass-destruction might
Seeing himself invincible
With no hope in sight
I am so blessed

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By Ted Swart, June 20, 2007 at 8:18 pm Link to this comment

Jim H #79792

Com on now Jim.  You know full well that Nahida does not believe that aheists and agnostics need “TO BE ELIMINTED”.  She has stated quite clearly—more than once—that she does not believe this.  Maybe she is sometimes illogical and no doubt her quotes from the Qur’an are selectively chosen but you do yourself a disservice by behaving in such an aggressive manner. Am not sure whether you are an atheist or an agnostic (maybe neither?) but either way there are such creatures as friendly atheists.  Why don’t you try a friendlier tack?

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By Jim H., June 20, 2007 at 6:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re: 79721

Nohida

You say: “Peace” (?)

‘Then’, you have the audacity to quote from a HANDBOOK for KILLERS!

Have you EVER READ “The Five Pillars of Islam”?

You talk of “—those-MOST GRACIOUS-who walk on the earth in humility—(?)

Is this a reference to ‘your’ “SUICIDE” ‘SLAUGHTERERS’?

And, are you suggesting “THEY”, the bigoted “ignorant” killlers, are “Show-ing forgiveness” and “making “Peace!” by killing the innocents?

By ‘citing’, and quoting from those pages, you are not “avoid-ing the ignorant”; you have JOINED THEM!

  The first of:  “The Five Pillars of Islam”
The first pillar is the recitation (preferably in Arabic) of the creed, or shahada: “There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.” If Allah is the only god in the neighborhood, Trinitarian Christians and Hindus are endlessly blaspheming true religion. Despite the occasionally tolerant references in the Qur’an to “People of the Book” (JEWS and CHRISTIANS in addition to Muslims), the non-Muslims NEED TO BE ELIMINATED.(?) Convert them or KILL THEM,(?) or make them pay a religious ransom to continue the private practice of their religion. (Of necessity, Muslims must reject the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.) ATHEISTS and AGNOSTICS, who deny the reality of Allah, are also wicked blasphemers. They NEED TO BE SLIMINATED ALSO.(?) It is preferable to KILL THEM .(?)

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By nahida, June 20, 2007 at 4:30 pm Link to this comment

Dear Blueboy1938

Thank you for your comment in which you said: {Our “once great Democracy” includes freedom of religion, and also freedom of speech.  That is, allowing people of faith, or of no faith, to have whatever belief or non-belief they choose.}

Your stance is one of human integrity, dignity and tolerance. It is precisely what our world is yearning for. And it’s the only way that we can ensure a harmonious peaceful future for our troubled species.

‘O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly, the most honoured of you in God’s sight is the greatest of you in righteousness. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware’. Quran; (49.13)

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By nahida, June 20, 2007 at 3:24 pm Link to this comment

Jim H.

peace


“And the servants of The Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, “Peace!” Quran; (25:63)

“Show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant.” Quran; (7:199)

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By Blueboy1938, June 20, 2007 at 2:46 pm Link to this comment

Our “once great Democracy” includes freedom of religion, and also freedom of speech.  That is, allowing people of faith, or of no faith, to have whatever belief or non-belief they choose.  I don’t remember there being any provision for telling others they should, “STOP IT AT ONCE!” if they try to explain or even promote their faith.  That looks a lot like hysterical intolerance.

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By Jim H., June 20, 2007 at 1:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:76976

Nohida

You say: The essence of my faith is—-(a)—-Loving Creator;—-(?

I say: THERE NEVER WAS A “CREATOR”!

You are a poor “—-little person who spent a major part of her life—-”  a ‘brainwashed’!, indoctrinated!, mesmerized! robotic slave! to a makebelieve fairytale figment of a criminal illiterate charlatan’s evil imagination! 
And your absurd conception of the REAL WORLD (created by)”—- the Creator and all creation—-“is major convincing evidence that you are another victim of that infectious plague-like disease ‘Godism’!

And, having lost your mind to that ‘pig-in-a poke’, ‘tooth-fairy’ conception of the world, you now have ‘cancer of the brain’, and are no longer able to think clearly, or critically about anything that might contradict with your ‘blindly’ accepted idiotic assertions of those criminals who have made you an automaton shill for their ‘Ponszi-racketeering plans to replace our once great Democracy with a Theocracy, and ultimately, dominate the entire Worlld!

And you are helping those criminals who PREY on innocent children and naive fools like you, by by ‘spouting’ ‘their’ prayers! STOP IT AT ONCE!

Mass/energy never disappear
Ever were ever here!
J.H. 5/8/07

Conservation of Mass/Energy     E=mc2
  1.The Universe contains an infinite amount of matter and energy.
    We cannot create nor can we destroy matter or energy. 
2.Matter can be changed in form, or state.
3. Energy can be changed in form.
4. We change matter to energy and energy to
matter never diminishing the totality. 
  ———————————————————
Without something to ‘create! a “so-called “Creator-God”
is an impossibel superfluous nonentity!
————————————————————————
THE ORIGIN OF NATURE
  Beginning is never found but keep an ear to the ground
  Accept the word of a friend there’s no beginning or end
Natures origin for instance is ceaselessness Existence
The worst form of child abuse is warping of the mind!
JH 8/29/06

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By Blueboy1938, June 16, 2007 at 11:41 am Link to this comment

Well, Ted, Madame Nadezhda von Meck and Tchaikovsky carried on an extensive correspondence with no intention of anything further, much to their mutual (or at least Tchaikovsky’s) benefit.  That “platonic relationship” ended, of course, as any such should if either party wishes.  This blog is probably not the appropriate venue for an interpersonal chat, but there are many others.  In fact, it would seem to me that, if the erudite Nahida (interesting that Mme. von Meck’s given name is so similar) has her own web site(s), there must be some contact point that could “keep you talking” so to speak.  I’m not in any way suggesting anything more than that, but I sense an intellectual compatibility that might just lead to greater things - a co-authored book examining the issues you both have raised perhaps?  You’ve already generated a lot of material.  Let me know if you need an editor;-)  Anyhow, I for one, have enjoyed your verbal exchanges and have learnt a thing or two in the bargain.  Thanks to you both, whatever ensues.grin

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By Ted Swart, June 16, 2007 at 12:02 am Link to this comment

Well now Blueboy1938: 
Ever heard of ships passing in the night?  Sometimes transient encounters are meant to be that way.  I did try to find Nahida’s email address without success and have had a look at some of her web pages. I know she lives in Liverpool and has children but am content to let things lie.  Liverpool is not exactly on my agenda at this juncture. Nahida is a person of quality and I am quite sure she can mange perfectly well without actually meeting me or trying to keep this interaction going longer than appropriate.

Unfortunatly communicating on line is limited in what it can achieve and I am afraid Nahida has misunderstood me on the evolution issue. Of course I agree with her that believing in evolution does not obligate anyone to become an atheist. As far as I can tell I have always believed in the occurrenc of evolution ever since I first heard about it—and this was long before I swtiched from being religious to being an agnostic. It is a terrible mistake to talk about the theory of evolution since there is no such thing.  The point is that evolution actually happended and the current forms of life on earth did evolve from much less alaborate life forms. The evidence is there for all to see but as the saying goes;  there are none so blind as those who do not wish to see. Such theries as exist concerning evolution are very incomplete just as other aspects of science are still incomplete. 
Dark matter and dark energy are very new in cosmology and no one has much of an inkling as to what dark matter consists of so all theories about it are very tentative. Just so with evolution.

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By Blueboy1938, June 15, 2007 at 2:19 pm Link to this comment

Dear Nahida and Ted,

I feel a little sad to see your rather final-sounding posts.  I guess I was hoping that those apparently seratonin-inducing alpha-numeric symbols might lead to something more extensive, if not permanent.  You obviously enjoy debating one another.  Maybe there’s another venue that would allow you to continue;-)

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By nahida, June 15, 2007 at 8:21 am Link to this comment

Dear Ted,

It has been a pleasure having this dialogue with you, and I think it has been clearly demonstrated that people with totally opposing views can find ways of communicating respectfully, without infringing on the freedom of each other, without trying to impose their ideas on each other, and without causing hurt or insults to one another.

What we did in this forum, dear Ted, is precisely what I long to see happening in our world.
It is possible, and it’s up to us individuals to make it a reality.

I thank you also for the effort you put in to the dialogue and for reflecting upon the points which we have in common, which to me in fact is the essence of building a harmonious society, where people can identify the huge common grounds that we normally share being humans, and where people can think freely, practice freely, while respecting the right of others to do the same.

Now, just a final comment on evolution, as I mentioned earlier I see no issue with evolution, and I follow the findings of science and logic wherever they are.

In fact there is no contradiction between the Quran, and the concept of evolution in the sense that things develop in stages, there are many verses that talks about the stages of creation of the universe and of life itself, such as:

“…He has created you in successive stages.” Quran (71-14)

‘And God has caused you to grow out of the earth in (gradual) growth.’ (71-17)

But I have many reservations about many concepts of evolution including the initiation of life by pure chance, and the purposelessness of existence as it all came to be by mere chaotic, aimless, meaningless, unintelligent, undersigned, and unguided events.

My problem with evolution is not based on theology, but rather on the fact that many Darwinian followers put it forward as a theory that confirms their atheism; when there is nothing about it that could lead to such conclusion.

Simply put: from my perspective, evolution does not lead to atheism.

It is not the proof (as many atheists like to think) that God does not exist.

Finally, thank you again, dear Ted, for your time, for your open-mindednessand and for your tolerance.

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By Ted Swart, June 14, 2007 at 8:19 pm Link to this comment

Nahida:

It looks to me for all the world that this particular forum is petering out.  And I wanted to thank you for an interesting interaction before it comes to a sticky end.  What I have been trying to do is run through in my mind the points on which we agree.

1.First off we both seem to agree that it is the right and duty of all of us to think freely for ourselves without constraints.
2.Secondly we both seem to agree that worthy individuals who justify their existence on earth cut right across all faiths and include those of no faith.
3.We also both agree that there is often a huge gap between the tenets of all faiths and those who practise or pretend to practise them.
4.We both agree that proselytizing is – for the most part – inappropriate and that individuals only make genuine changes in their lives and beliefs at the right time and in their own way.
5.We both have some knowledge of and competence in mathematics – whcih some refer to as the queen of the sciences.

There are probably many other things on which we agree as well.  You feel the need to dress discreetly and wear a habib (I hope I have the terminology correct since I don’t think you go in for burkas or chadors) .  I note that what you do wear is in bright blue colours with an open face.  Obviously dressing discreetly and dressing elegantly are not mutually exclusive.  My wife always does both.
I grew up in a society where boys and girls were separated and we all wore school uniforms.  I think it was a terrible mistake on the part of America to opt for co-ed high schools and the scrapping of school uniforms.  The way the girls (and the boys for that matter) dress is a disgrace.  The girls dress simply to attract the boys and the boys dress in the ugliest of clothes since that is supposed to be the in thing.

Let me close by suggesting that although not trying to convert others is probably a no no denying the knowledge of the world uncovered by science is a very bad thing to do.  So I have no hesitation in trying to persuade you to accept the occurrence of evolution.  Its occurrence is simply a fact of life no different to Galileo’s observation that the earth rotates about the sun or Einstein’s discovery that energy and mass can be inter converted via his famous E=mc^2 equation.  I live in hope that you will come to accept the occurrence of evolution as a staggeringly interesting phenomenon.

I have a muslim friend called Mo Rajabally (from Mauritius) who hates violence and he and his family put on a surprise birthday party for his wife’s 60th and his daughters 40th last Saturday.  What a lovely time we had and it reminded me how terrible it is that we still engage in mindless conflicts which tear people apart for no good reason.

Thank you for a constructive and interesting interaction.

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By DSA, June 13, 2007 at 2:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear All!

Can someone tell me why the faithful have to sacrifice poor animals in order to request favors from above?

Shouldn’t we respect the lives of all of these priceless creations?

With love & best wishes to all,

DSA

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By Ted Swart, June 11, 2007 at 11:55 am Link to this comment

Nahida:

Thank you for putting our discussion back on an even keel. Just by way of clarification. I don’t mind being called an atheist—since I certainly do not accept the existence of a creator God (nor the numerous gods of Hinduism for that matter)—but I am better classified as an agnostic (which strikes me as a more scientific attitude). Will respond in more detail as time permits.

Blueboy 1938:
As far as your comments on Nahida and me are concerned all I can say is:  Hoorah for seratonin.  The tone of your own contribution seems reasonably seratonin loaded and, at minimum, level headed and courteous.  You have a good day.

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By Blueboy1938, June 11, 2007 at 10:51 am Link to this comment

Well, Ted and Nahida, it looks like a match made in heaven, or paradise, or maybe just genetic code response triggered by sympathetic patterns of alpha-numeric symbols registering on your respective retinas, causing the release of seratonin.  Best of luck, you two.

Now, to get back to the subject that Mr. Harris was writing about:  It is perfectly possible to negotiate this existence without reference to a deity.  However, virtually all (I’m not an anthropologist, so I can’t be definitive about this) societies have some sort of worship.  That pretty much forces atheists to spend their time justifying their existence in reference to the religious practices they distinguish themselves from.  In fact, the very word they use to describe themselves - atheist - derives from the Greek root, theos, or “god.”  Just as most minorities (and I’m one of those, so I speak from shared experience) are at least somewhat defensive, since they are beset to one degree or another by the majority, so atheists, a very small minority indeed, have to spend a lot of psychic energy defending their position.  That’s because majorities, and human beings in general, have a genetic predisposition to regard the “other” or someone different from themselves with suspicion, along with whatever makes them “different,” be it appearance or philosophy or sexual practices.

If the Christians, at least, really followed what Christ taught, they would simply let everyone else alone in their beliefs.  Unfortunately, a lot of them have a messianic bent, and have to evangelize everyone else, or at least impose strictures on others to control their behavior.  At least if non-believers act as though they believe, or abide by the “rules,” it appears to that stripe of Christians that they have made the world right.

Muslims, on the other hand, are instructed by the Q’ran to dispose of (read kill, behead, etc.) non-believers, unless they convert to Islam.  Anything less is not acceptable.  Interestingly, Islam in the 12th century was a lot more tolerant, especially of Christians and Jews, described as “people of the book,” than they are now.  This is inexplicable to me, but somehow makes perfect sense to them, it appears.

Hindus, with their pantheon, can be just as intolerant, which is puzzling, since they believe in an array of gods.  Why can’t they be like the Romans, who pretty much had a “live and let live” theology, and were constantly adopting and adapting gods whenever they conquered a new people.  Of course they got pretty fed up with the odd sect growing out of Hebraism that wanted to bust up the images and substitute a rather vindictive and insufferable deity that you couldn’t even see.  What upstarts!  A lot of mutual grief ensued, which is not done with yet, since Christian denominations are often just as hostile to other sorts of Christians as they are towards non-Christians.

The “bottom line,” it seems to me, is that in this country all forms of religion or non-religion are supposed to be able to practice their faith, or lack thereof, without interference by the state.  Unfortunately, some of the “faithful” want to chuck that and have at the others.  Fortunately, it has not gotten as bad here as Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Israel/Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the beautiful but war-torn Kashmir.  I suspect that it is disgust with this behavior on the part of people who claim that their respective religions are “peaceful” and “tolerant” and “loving” that drives many into atheism.  The elaborate justifications follow.

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By nahida, June 11, 2007 at 4:11 am Link to this comment

Dear Ted,
Part-1

I am sorry if my last interaction with you appeared as blunt and insensitive, but as we are discussing this in the luxury and safety of our homes, lives of millions of people are at stake as you know.

What has been happening in the world generally and in the Middle East specifically is a major cause of distress and concern, not only to me (being directly affected and wronged by it) but to every caring human.

I am sure that -as you indicated- you can appreciate the emotions involved, staying level-headed and composed with seeing such monstrous injustices and cruelty is not easy, especially when your loved ones are directly involved.

However, this is no excuse for me; and one must still endeavour to apply the principles of civilised discussion under all circumstances.

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By nahida, June 11, 2007 at 4:09 am Link to this comment

Ted, part-2

Now; when discussing a belief system, one must distinguish between the principles of that ideology and the practice of those principles by followers or those who claim to be followers.

The ideals and principles are the pure form of a belief system, and the practice is the human interpretation and implementation of those ideals.

Some of the practices of Taliban or the Saudi government and other Muslim governments and groups are a disgrace to the message of the Quran, but in fairness one must acknowledge that other Muslims should not bare the responsibility of the deeds of a small minority. Blaming the entire Muslim world is utterly unfair.

The existence of such people who try to justify their bad deeds by hiding under the banner of Islam does not pollute the principles, nor does it change the fact that their deeds are in contradiction with the message.
Abusers of every ethical system exist; criminals and those who act evil for their self interest or out of ignorance also exist in every society.


The message of the Quran is clear and simple, it has two main components; “allatheena amanou & waamilou essalehat”, which translates: believing (in a Creator) and doing good deeds.

The Quran also emphasizes that it is precisely the message that was taught by ALL the prophets. (i.e believing in God and doing good)

Millions of books have been written since; these books are the modest human effort to explain, elaborate, and expand on this message. In the process, no doubt that human imperfections, defects and flaws will manifest in their efforts.

Thus, the understanding of religion must be taken in that context, and the room of human error must never be neglected.



We have clear values that are presented by the Quran, at the heart of these principles is the belief in the Creator God
The manifestation and translation of that belief into actions is through doing good.

As for my unassuming understanding; the simplicity and comprehensibility of my faith (from my limited and modest perspective) is entirely meaningful, logical, coherent, satisfying, fulfilling, and beautiful.
Furthermore; it perfectly fits my ability to reason, my thirst for meanings, my emotional state, and my spiritual experiences.

I did not become a Muslim because I was born to a Muslim family; in fact my parents were not practising Muslims, my father is a secular, and when he and my mum learned of my wish to dress in a modest way they were devastated. My mother was in tears, and my father ridiculed me at every opportunity, he also thought it’s only a phase that I will grow out of it (I was 18 at the time)

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By nahida, June 11, 2007 at 4:07 am Link to this comment

Ted, part-3

Now coming to another point of your inquiry, namely: Muslims believe that Muhammed is the last prophet, you see dear Ted, as we are creatures with a intellect, emotions and sensual components that enable us to perceive the world individually, we are entitled to have any belief system that corresponds to our intellect, emotional capacity and experiences.

Now if you or others chose not to share our views that is perfectly reasonable, and it’s your essential human right, it’s all good.
And if it does anything; it only highlights the fact that we are intellectually free beings, and we are entitled to express this freedom of thought and choice through our ideologies and actions.

No one is under any obligation to share any view or perception if it sounds absurd or unconvincing to them. You and every human on this planet are entitled to perceive the world through your logic and reasoning.
When we –Muslims- say we believe in a Creator to this universe… you are absolutely free to disagree with us.

When we say we believe in life after death, again you are entitled to reject that concept and have a different opinion that fits better with your logic.

When we say we believe that Muhammed was the last prophet, again you are most welcome to disagree.

In all these cases and in any other concept or view point, we are both (and all) entitled to adapt a subjective vision that attempts to explain to us the meaning and purpose of our existence.
And I say subjective because coming to an objective all inclusive vision is not possible.
Our diversity is –as it seems- a fundamental part of our existence.

There are as many ideologies perhaps as there are people, each human should have the freedom to adapt the ideology that corresponds best with his/her ability to rationalise, and which give him/her the mental, emotional, and spiritual fulfilment.

For you as an atheist, I have no business in coming and telling you what your views of the world should be, if it makes sense to you, you are entirely free to have them.

The only sensible thing that I can do is to share my views with you (if the interest is there that is); sharing our views by no means indicates disrespect or implies that you are not entitled to your own.
And why should we share views one might ask, without that sharing there will be no understanding, with that there will be fear of the other, the unknown, and with that comes mistrust and animosity.

Our world needs to move on beyond this narrow-mindedness, we need to learn to accept the diversity and the richness of human mind and cultures, and we need to learn not only to tolerate them but also respect them.

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By nahida, June 11, 2007 at 4:06 am Link to this comment

Ted, part-4

Now, dear Ted, if we retreat to the original point of discussion, namely the purpose of our existence, I can only talk about it from my perspective, and through the eyes, heart, mind and soul of this little person, who spent a major part of her life contemplating and questioning.

The essence of my faith is that mankind can achieve peace by knowing and loving the All Loving Creator; for souls can only find tranquillity, happiness, and contentment by being in a state of constant awareness and remembrance of the Most Loving through which intimate closeness and true inner and outer peace can be achieved.

This faith I embrace is that of Love and pure goodness; it is summed up by the words “allatheena amanou waamilou essalehat”; those who believe and do good deeds.

Love of the Creator and all creation is the hub of that faith; aspiring and striving to live by the highest moral attributes that belongs to the Most Perfect and exists in its Ultimate Excellence in the Most Loving Creator.

This faith leads to inner and outer peace through following the fitra (innate nature) that has been implanted inside each and every one of us.
This embossed intrinsic yet veiled knowledge is where all our morality stems from. This subtle awareness is precisely what leads us to long for, love, mimic and impersonate the example of God’s perfect and beautiful attributes.

The all Merciful (Ar-Rahman)
The Most Merciful (Ar-Raheem)
The Most Gracious (Al-Hafi)
The Most Friendly Most Kind (al-Rafeeq)
The Most Compassionate (al-Shafeeq)
The All-Loving (al-Wadoud)
The All-Gentle (al-Ra’uof)
The Most Tender (al-Hannan)
The Beneficent (al-Muhsin)
The All-Subtle (Al-Lateef)
The All- Good (Al-Barr)
The Enricher (Al-Mughnî)
The Ever-Giving (Al-Wahhab)
The Benefactor (Al-Mannan)
The Magnanimous (Al-Jawâd)
The Light (An-Nur)
The Guide (Al-Hadi)
The Ever-Truthful (As-Sâdiq)
The Secure (Al-Ameen)
The Faithful (Al-Wafî)
The Guarantor (Al-Kafeel)
The Praiseworthy (Al-Hameed)
The Guardian (Al-Wakeel)
The One Who Suffices (Al-Kâfî)
The Timelessly Eternal (Al-Qadeem)
The Pre-Eternal (Al-Azalî)
The Post-Eternal (Al-Abadî)
The Abiding (Al-Bâqî)
The Everlasting (Ad-Dâ‘im)
The Constant (As-Sarmadî)
The Safe-guarder (Al-Muhaymin)
The Ever-Forgiving (Al-Ghaffar)
The All-Pardoning (Al-Afuw)
The All-Forbearing (Al-Haleem)
The Most Patient (As-Sabour)
The All-Perfect (As-Subbuh)
The Utterly Pure (Al-Qudus)
The Perfect Peace (As-Salam)
The Pure (At-Tahir)
The Magnificent (Al-Adheem)
The Majestic (Al-Jaleel)
The Most Beautiful (Al-Jameel)
The Most Generous (Al-Kareem)
The First (Al-Awal)
The Last (Al-Akher)
The Outward (Az-Zahir)
The Inward (Al-Batin)
The Trust-worthy (Al-Mu’min)
The Most Faithful (Al-Wafi)
The Just (Al-Adl)
The Equitable (AL-Muqsit)
The Judge (Al-Hakam)
The Ever-Thankful (Ash-Shakour)
The Unique (Al-Waheed)
The Unequalled (Al-Fard)
The Originator with beauty (Al-Badee)
The Creator (Al-Khaliq)
The Ever-Truthful (As-Sadiq)
The Ever-Sure (Al-Mateen)
The Lord of Majesty and Generosity (Dhû‘l-Jalâl wa’l-Ikrâm)

The more we live by, and the deeper we acquire of these attributes the more joy and delight our souls could experience and contain, and the more people recognize and appreciate. The more hope for our world to attain peace and justice for all.

Whether we recognize it or not, this engraved undeviating yearning for God is what leads us to pursue every good sublime principal and ideal there is.
It is the real drive behind our desire for perfection and the longing towards pure goodness and excellence. And this is what’s meant by the concept that we are created in the image of God (it’s a moral not physical)

That is why whoever strive for, and live by these high morals are much closer to the Most Loving than they can ever imagine even if they deny it; yet those who act evil in the name of religion yet claim to be religious are much further away.

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By Ted Swart, June 9, 2007 at 1:39 pm Link to this comment

Nahida 75715 & 75714
Part 1
I am so very sorry that our interaction has run into heavy weather.  You quote me correctly as having said:

“You must surely recognize that you are not a run of the mill Palestinian and whilst you seem to be entirely opposed to violence this does not appear to be a view shared by Palestinians at large or Muslims in countries other than Palestine”
And, for reasons which elude me,  you were/are unhappy about that statement despite the fact that it was not meant to be provocative or offensive and is almost certainly true.  I did not say you were THE exception but from everything I have learnt about you —from this forum and other writings of yours—
you are indeed exceptional and do indeed stand out from the crowd.  Not many women – from Palestine or anywhere else – have degrees in mathematics and you are extremely articulate to an extent which goes well beyond the average level of articulateness.  And precisely because you are opposed to violence – with the sole exception of self-defence – you do indeed seem to be out of step with the suicide bombing and other aspects of the Israeli/Palestinian warring.  It must surely be clear to all concerned that Hamas & Fatah are currently at each others throats and that all Palestinians are not of of one mind.  So I assume that the views which you hold accord with one or other of these groups (or neither) and it is therefore hard to talk about the views of ALL Palestinians.  To take a concrete example, I just don’t know what percentage of Palestinians approve of suicide bombings – but it seems fairly clear that it is not an insignificant percentage.  Perhaps you know the answer.

I fondly imagined that when I wrote: “No one in their right mind can defend the treatment meted out by Israel to the Palestinians . . .” that I had made my position clear.  In no way do I defend the treatment meted out to Palestinians by Israelis.  Nor is it defended by the many of the more secular Israelis who – in the Israeli press – do not scruple to criticize their own government and their defence forces.

Precisely because you are personally involved in and affected by the Palestinian/Israeli warring it is understandable that you are much more emotionally involved in this particular trouble spot than outsiders like myself.  And, for precisely the same reason, I am much more emotionally involved in what is going on in Zimbabwe and know much more about it.  You need to understand that us outsiders have to cobble together our knowledge and understanding of what is going on in Palestine and elsewhere in the Muslim world from whatever reading material happens to come our way.  I recently finished reading Irshad Manji’s book entitled “The Trouble with Islam Today” and whilst there is some overlap in what you say and what she says there are many differences in emphasis and attitude.  If ever the two of you met and tried to reach a common mind I’d love to be a fly on the wall.

We all belong to various cultures and subcultures —sometimes defined by religion or race but sometimes by interests that take us beyond and out of these divisive categories (mathematics?).  And, in Africa,  there is a strong tendency to go for racial solidarity.  Thus it is that at a recent African get together the African leaders all expressed support for Mugabe (for solidarity reasons) despite the fact that he deserves no support whatsoever – given the deplorable way in which he has demoralized and dehumanized his own people.  We see the same kind of thing with unthinking support of Israel on the one hand and Palestine on the other.

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By Ted Swart, June 9, 2007 at 1:35 pm Link to this comment

Nahida 75715 & 75714
Part 2
You sometimes say things that are extremely astute and what might be termed bang on. Let me refer, for example, to your contention that the bringing into being of modern day Israel was due – as much as anything – to a guilty conscience about Hitler’s treatment of the Jews in the Holocaust and how little we did to defend the Jews at that time. (Incidentally I am well aware the Hitler’s pogroms were not confined to Jews but included gypsies and homosexuals). This is entirely correct and one of the world’s worst taskmasters is a guilty conscience since it all too easily leads us to totally wrong and sometimes hasty decisions.  We see this only too clearly in North America where the treatment of the aboriginal inhabitants was deplorable or worse.  But the effects of the resulting guilty conscience have been totally disastrous and have instilled in the aboriginals a dependency culture and badly undermined their self-worth and their ability to stand on their own two feet. . . 

You say in Part 1 of your response to my previous posting that
“ Regarding the bad practises of some Muslim countries and some Muslims, I can only say that; we have got the principles laid down, dear, now whether people adhere to them, to some of them, or to none at all; remains a matter of freedom of choice.”
This strikes me as an example of solidarity gone wrong and a rather weak reaction to something that does not qualify as exercising “freedom of choice”—and is more like evil on the loose and a complete denial of freedom of choice.  By all accounts the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which banned music, denied education to women and would not even let boys fly kites, was/is one of the worst in the history of the world.  And, whether, you like it or not, they did all these things in the name of Allah.  It is also my understanding that the 9/11 hijackers were all Wahhabi indoctrinated Saudi Arabians.  And, although Chris Hedges draws attention to the point that most Muslims are not Arabs the Saudi Arabians do play a central role in your faith. 
In your “Letter from the heart to my Jewish friends” you say:

“ Why is it then that Judaism, the Jewish people and the holocaust – unlike anything else in the world—are so sacred and holy that no one is allowed to doubt, examine, or criticise? If people try to include the suffering of other groups during holocaust memorials, or if they attempted to compare the suffering of other groups to the suffering of Jewish people there would be uproar.”

And you go on to say:

“The Jewish extremists (Zionists) believe/want the world to believe that the Jewish people are chosen, special, unique, light onto the nations.”

These words of yours are completely defensible and largely true but they only serve to reinforce my contention that there is a real problem with the three most prominent monotheistic religions. 

Consider the words in Mark’s gospel:
“”Those who believe it (Jesus’ resurrection) shall be saved and those who believe not shall be condemned.” Mark 16:16
And consider the words attributed to Jesus in John’s gospel:
“I and my father are one.” John 10:30
“I am the way the truth and the life and no man cometh unto the father but by me.”John 14:6

Then consider the claim (already mentioned) by Islam that Muhammad is the <final>  prophet who supersedes all previous prophets and can never himself be superseded.  Hitchens refers to this claim by Islam as as an “extremely dangerous claim” which “forbids itself from having a reformation”.  Remember when the Pope recently visited Turkey there were posters all over the place saying:  “Jesus was/is not the son of God”

And lastly consider the claim by the Bahais that Baha’ullah does indeed supersede Muhammad – that I have already mentioned but regarding which there has, as yet, been any response from you.

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By Ted Swart, June 9, 2007 at 1:32 pm Link to this comment

Nahida 75715 & 75714
Part 3

All of these variants of monotheism claim special top dog status and their claims cannot all be true.
You spend a good deal of time explaining that Islam – at least in times gone by – treated Judaism and Christianity as worthy of respect since they were regarded as precursors of Islam.  But this does not vitiate the fact that Islamic beliefs, as set out in their own holy book and other writings, do affirm that Muslims are – as it were – first among equals.  It is very far from the truth to contend that our choice of monotheistic religion is regarded by Islam as merely a matter of personal preference.  It is extremely hard to maintain that Islamists are not of the view that we would all be better off if we followed the Qur’an and worshipped Allah.

When I was still very young I remember thinking that the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible was highly illogical.  Here were Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden living an innocent life not knowing the difference between good and evil and God supposedly instructs them NOT to eat the fruit from the tree which would give them the knowledge of good and evil.  And the devil, in the shape of a serpent, tempts Eve to eat the fruit and she persuades Adam to do the same.  And then they suddenly become aware that they are naked and reach for fig leaves.  Then God protests and Adam blames Eve and God kicks them out of the garden of Eden . . .  And, in my young mind, I decided that this had to be a truly crazy story since I couldn’t see and still don’t see how you can blame anyone for sinning if they don’t know the difference between good and evil.  And I have nevertheless seen theologians discussing at great length the supposed wonderful insights in the story. 

The story about Abraham and God’s supposed request of him to kill his own son as a sacrifice is probably even less logical and less defensible than the Adam and Eve story – despite Inquisitor’s valiant attempts to find an explanation of its supposed profundity.

These stories are common to all three of the major monotheistic religions and, since they are such dubious stories, it is no surprise that the superstructure that Judaism, Christianity and Islam have built upon them is flaky at best.

We have both agreed that we are not in the business of trying to convert others (In my Quaker days I was well inoculated with the NO proselytizing syndrome) but perhaps I might be permitted a question. 
Given the mutually contradictory beliefs of the monotheistic (and other) religions and the undoubted involvement of competing religious beliefs in all too many bloody conflicts on earth (right here and now) do you not at least understand why so many of us find freedom in rejecting them all?

I am afraid we have drifted away from talking about the purpose of human existence and it is probably my fault.  I did proffer some suggestions in my previous post but you got distracted and did not comment on them.

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By Norman Doering, June 9, 2007 at 1:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ernest Canning: Good answer.

But it assumes we know what the hell Hedges is talking about when he uses words like “individualism” and “Human rights” and that’s hard to decode because of his unconventional use of euphemisms. Maybe those words are euphemisms?

How about another question?

When Hedges says stuff like:

He [Sam Harris] attacks superstition, a belief in magic and the childish notion of an anthropomorphic God that is characteristic of the tribe, of the closed society. He calls this religion. I do not.

When Hedges claims that religion isn’t a belief in magic and that the childish notion of an anthropomorphic God is a characteristic of the Religious Right Hedges himself railed against, is he redefining religion as atheistic, secular Humanism?

If the Bible isn’t about superstitious people who sacrifice animals, or about magic and miracles and an anthropomorphic God who talks to Moses, gets angry, orders people to kill other people, drowns the world in a great flood, and smashes towers that get too close to heaven because he feels threatened, apparently, then what is it about?

If religion isn’t that then what is it—atheism and humanism? Has Hedges redefined religion into its opposite?

If you can answer that questions, put the answer in the comments section of my blog post here:
Chris Hedges: The new face of anti-atheism?

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By cann4ing, June 8, 2007 at 8:57 pm Link to this comment

Normdoering:  Chris Hedges’ effort to credit monotheism as laying the groundwork for individualism and the modern concept of human rights is fundamentally at odds with the stark reality of the Dark Ages under montheistic, religious hegemony and the Inquisition.  Al Gore’s assessment in “The Assault on Reason” that linked the Age of Enlightenment to the development of the print medium is far more persuasive.

“With time, the print revolution broke up the stagnant midievel information monopoly and led to an explosion of knowledge that was disseminated to masses of people who previously received no knowledge whatsoever that wasn’t transmitted from above by some heirarchy of power, either religious or secular.”

....

“More and more people gained an appetite for current information about contemporary events and confidence in their own ability to use their reasoning capacity to sort through the available evidence relevant to decisions that affected their lives.

“The American experiment was based on the emergence in the second half of the eighteenth century of a fresh new possibility in human affairs:  that the rule of reason could be sovereign.”

Given that monotheism had been with us for centuries but failed to produce “individualism” prior to the development of the print media, I would say that the empirical data is at odds with Chris Hedges’s core premise—one that he set forth as do all adherents to religion—on blind faith.

Finally, Mr. Gore’s latest work, which should be read by all, credits the ability of the modern American hard-right to carry out its assault on reason to the replacement of print by television as the prime source of information, the unilateral direction of that form of communication and the increasing consolidation of power over that medium by an ever shrinking number of giant media corporations. 

The number of Americans who spend the bulk of their discretionary hours soaking in the propaganda is staggering and helps to explain why there has been so little outcry to the Bush administration’s assault on such things as individual privacy (e.g. NSA eavesdropping), the elimination of a right dating back to the Magna Carta (habeas corpus) and the abominable intrustions of the USA Patriot Act.

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By normdoering, June 8, 2007 at 10:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sam,

Chris Hedges claim that “Monotheism has been historically indispensable in laying the ground for individualism and the modern concept of human rights” would seem to be biblically wrong and only “correct” as an accident of history.

Over a thousand years after the Bible was written some people who claimed to be Christian in a world where it was dangerous not to be laid some of the foundations of individualism and the modern concept of human rights.

The bible itself has passages like this:
Acts.4.32: “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.” Is that individualism? Is Islam’s (an Abrahamic faith) call for submission individualism? Is any of it it more individualistic than what we see in Roman writers before Christ? Say Titus Lucretius Carus?

More here:
Chris Hedges: The new face of anti-atheism?

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By Blueboy1938, June 7, 2007 at 4:45 pm Link to this comment

Adhering to some, all, or none of a religion’s precepts is not a matter of freedom of choice.  Not, that is, if the person wants to be considered among the adherents of the religion in question.  That’s the definition of an adherent, after all.  Islam, specifically, allows no freedom of choice.  Women are not allowed to dress as they wish, or drive if they wish, or do anything not approved by their menfolk.  That is not freedom of choice.  Muslims are probably the only people who can couple “honor” and “killing” in the same sentence: the sentence of death.

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By Taproot, June 6, 2007 at 9:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Nahida:

Why don’t you get lost ?  You are turning this message board response to Sam Harris’s debate over religion into a lecture about appreciating Islam. You and other participants here could go on and on about Islam and the rest of the world, and it is not going to change your “faith ” into something it’s not . It is NOT a religion of peace and beauty , as Muslims want the rest of the world to believe. Your flowery words and philosophizing blather are enough to gag a horse, because they are so antithetical to reality.
Sam Harris is right when he says that religion is a fantasy that messes up all humanity ,—especially a religion like Islam. Islam is driven by a need to conquer and control . It maintains itself through fear and illusions of grandeur , promising bliss by beating yourself and everyone else for the love of Allah, which is pie-in-the-sky ; you don’t even know what he looks like , or for that matter, that he exsists , yet all of the Muslim world is having fits,going on mad riots, screaming and pulling thier hair, festering with hate for “unbelievers” (” Behead those who insult Islam !!”) , and wallowing in the magical mud that is Islam . Islam is the moniter for thier whole life’s every move , even if it makes them crazy-in-the-head. The “Allah” worshipers are fanatics .  That’s the best word for them. You are a fanatic too. A fanatic with a smile and a pretty face.
Lets try to save ourselves from the mass hypnosis that is religion and return to reason.

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By nahida, June 6, 2007 at 5:43 am Link to this comment

Dear Ted - part 1

Regarding the bad practices of some Muslim countries and some Muslims, I can only say that; we have got the principles laid down, dear, now whether people adhere to them, to some of them, or to none at all; remains a matter of freedom of choice.

Neither you, nor I, nor any one else can force a belief or a morality or a type of behaviour on any one else.

Now, over many posts and responses I explained to you the views of Muslims and Islam regarding the use of force for self-defence.

As it seems, that has been completely ignored, and you are coming back to talk about the violence of Muslims and Palestinians as if its an intrinsic characteristic of the 1.6 billion people, and as if I was the exception.

As you come to say: “You must surely recognize that you are not a run of the mill Palestinian and whilst you seem to be entirely opposed to violence this does not appear to be a view shared by Palestinians at large or Muslims in countries other than Palestine”

Dear Ted, this is entirely presumptuous and factually untrue, and in fact it is much worse (but out of respect I would refrain from saying anymore)

When many Muslim lands are occupied, when they are subjugated to oppression, when they are carpet-bomb, cluster-bombed, depleted-uranium shelled, when their and their resources are stolen, when their heritage and history is destroyed and vandalized, when their girls and women are raped and murdered before their eyes, it’s criminal to ask them to lie down and take the beating.

Self-defence is a basic human right guaranteed by all human laws and ethical values.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Bishop Desmond Tutu

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By nahida, June 6, 2007 at 5:42 am Link to this comment

dear Ted- part 2

Now then; if you want to talk about violence why not talk about the violence perpetrated by the SECULAR JEWS that you mentioned in your post

As you said: “I learnt from an Israeli consular representative based in Vancouver – who attended the meeting—that a huge percentage of Jewish Israelis are actually secularists (apparently also true to quite some extent of Muslim Israelis).  I found myself thinking:  Would it not be a huge plus if the same was true of Palestinians?”

I think it would be very helpful to compare the “violence” committed by those SECULAR Israeli Jews and the “violence” by those non-secular Palestinians.

Remember that the violence perpetrated by SECULAR Israeli Jews is one of “aggression”; as:

-They are the ones who are occupying someone else’s land.

-They are the ones who destroyed 531 villages in 1948.

-they are the ones who still defying 65 UN resolutions (forget the resolutions that are vetoed by USA) while the Palestinians had NONE against them.

- They are the ones who committed televised multi-massacres and mass murder.

-they are the ones who killed NINE times more Palestinian children against every Israeli child.

-They are the ones who watched 68 women giving birth at checkpoints while 34 of their infants and 4 of them dying.     

-they are the ones who are denying almost 7 million Palestinian refugees from returning to their homes, and giving that right to any Jew, just because of his “Jewishness”.

-They are the ones who gave themselves the right to steal our homeland, just because they claim that God (whom they don’t believe in, as seculars) gave them that land!

Now if all that is not insane, what is?

If all that is not inhumane, what is?

on the other hand; Palestinians are defending their occupied land Palestine and they are fighting to regain their freedom and equality as human beings

Living under occupation and being subjugated to someone else’s brutality, who sees you as subhuman, is not a pleasant experience I tell you.

Would you kindly visit this site and study the information in it:

http://www.ifamericansknew.org/

And would you please be a witness to what Israel is doing to the children of Palestine by watching the photos and the videos in my blog:

http://poetryforpalestine.spaces.live.com/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ym_ZIbQtq1I&eurl;=

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By Ted Swart, June 5, 2007 at 8:49 pm Link to this comment

Nahida # 75433

Aha!  I really went astray that time.  I just assumed from your descriptions of your time in Nigeria and elsewhere that you were some kind of itinerant journalist; except that,now that I know you are a mathematician, it explains – to some extent – why you are so thorough and systematic in what you do.  At least I got the poetry part right.  Some time maybe you will tell me what aspect of mathematics interests you.  I entered the world of mathematics from the world of physical chemistry via the famous four colour problem – which was finally solved by computer assistance with significant input from me (a long story). 

You must surely recognize that you are not a run of the mill Palestinian and whilst you seem to be entirely opposed to violence this does not appear to be a view shared by Palestinians at large or Muslims in countries other than Palestine.  I note, for example, that you are not a holocaust denier—unlike Ahamadinajad in Iran.  No one in their right mind can defend the treatment meted out by Israel to the Palestinians but the situation is so complicated, from an historical and pragmatic point of view, that it would be foolhardy to claim surefire knowledge of how to proceed at this stage.

Nahidia #75429
Thank you very much for the referring us to the islamonline.net web pages.  I found them to be of much higher quality and easier to follow than other Islamic web pages that I have seen.  However, you will forgive me if I remain sceptical.  I read the article by Professor Shahul Hameed entitled “Islam and other religions”.  I find that I have a real problem with some of what he writes. He says that the Qur’an “contextualized the Prophet Muhammad as the <final> messenger . . . confirming the truths of all earlier prophets.”  It is the word “final” which causes me a good deal of trouble.  You must surely know that the Bahais believe that Muhammad was not the final prophet and that – in their scheme of things—Baha’ullah came after Muhammad in the line of prophets and refined his message so as to bring us closer to the mind of God.  The point is not that I think the Bahai religion is necessarily superior to Islam but that the Bahais have been mercilessly ill treated in Iran for daring to suggest that Islamic theology is not unassailable.  ( I have met some of them who have been forced to flee from Iran and I have no doubt that they have been mercilessly persecuted for their particular brand of monotheistic religion).  And the vicious squabbles between Shias and Sunnis do not exactly fit in with your conception of what Islam is supposed to be about.

Perhaps you can at least see why I think it is better to cut loose altogether from the jealous creator God picture of the Abrahamic religions.

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By nahida, June 5, 2007 at 2:14 pm Link to this comment

Taproot and ilk

peace

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