The Issue of Religion in Society

Page 1 of 1
27 posts
The Issue of Religion in Society

Chaos
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2014 3:44 pm
All right, let´s get some discussions started...

I´m sure you are all aware of the religiously motivated violence going on these days (Syria, Iraq, Burma, Nigeria, you name it), but also of the incidents even in secular Western countries where members of some religious group or the other (well, okay, it´s Christians some 99-ish percent of the time, but only because Christians are the largest group there and the only one with any leverage to actually pull something off) do their level best to demolish the separation of church and state and impose their religious views on others.

Due to these kinds of events, I have increasingly been coming to the conclusion that we are about to face a sort of conflict to resolve this sort of issues. I have no idea what form this conflict will take, or how soon it will come; I am however afraid it might end up as vicious and violent as the wars resulting from the Reformation and the reactions to it ended up - religious conflicts are UGLY - and that quite possibly it is going to happen within our lifetime.

It´s going to happen. I am sure of that. Religious fanatics are feeling too entitled to force their religion on others, and too many secular people as well as religious moderates are too determined not to let that happen (at least not to themselves), for things to simply resolve themselves. The only choice we have is about what sort of conflict we´re going to have.

Possibility #1: There is a major confrontation between the world´s two largest religions, Islam and Christianity - increased polarization of the Muslim world versus the Christian world causes people to rally around the most fanatic extremists on either side, with the rest of us - atheists/agnostics as well as followers of most, if not all, smaller religions being caught in the middle of things.

One thing is clear in this sort of conflict: No matter who wins, everyone else is epically screwed. Religious tolerance, nevermind the freedom to practice a religion of once´s choice and not having the dominant religion´s laws forced upon yourself is going to be first thing lined up against a wall and shot in this sort of conflict. Once the dust settles, there´ll be either an ISIS-style caliphate or a Christian theocracy that would be just as bad. Or perhaps we are "lucky", and the conflict ends with an Islamist theocracy and a Christian theocracy dividing the world among themselves in preparation for the next round of conflict.

Possibility #2: The moderates, both self-styled and real, finally grow some balls and run their assorted extremist brethren out of town on a rail, figuratively speaking. Secular people in the US, for example, quit their constant whining and actually DO SOMETHING about the religious fanatics pissing on the principles that the US allegedly stands for. If moderate Christians were able to look past the "Christianity good, Islam bad" crap they´re being fed, they would be able to see that they have far more in common with moderate Muslims than with Christian fanatics - and those atheists and agnostics able to not simply condemn religion and its adherents as wrong and deluded and evil might realize that moderate religious people are their best allies against the encroachment of theocracy.

Mind you, this version of the conflict isn´t going to be any less ugly. Religious fanatics are on a mission from god, and it´s going to take a lot more than laws and elections and the occasional Facebook meme to get them to stop trying to do god´s work on Earth. But, in this version of the conflict, IF the fanatics lose, we might actually end up with a society worth living in for the majority of humanity.


Well, those are my decidedly unpolished thoughts on the matter. Any comments?
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society
User avatar
Beleth
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2014 2:30 am
Great topic!

Here's a third possibility: Give the fanatics what they want, so that they realize that it's not what they really want. I came to this conclusion after reading about the Sovereign Citizen movement. If they don't want to follow the nation whose name is on their birth certificate, fine; cordon off their house and treat them like any other foreigner. Make them need a passport to get into and out of the USA, etc.

If they want a caliphate, let them have one! Just impose one rule on them: no one who doesn't want to live there has to live there. Think Salt Lake City. If they can get along with their neighbors, great! More diversity and happiness for all of us. If they can't, well, they will just starve themselves.
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society
User avatar
JohnLombard
Site Admin
Posts: 60
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2014 3:18 am
I wouldn't entirely agree. I guess that your scenario is possible, but I would neither see it as inevitable, nor even as particularly likely.

My biggest area of disagreement with you would be in the fact that the more and more extreme different religions get, it doesn't result in unifying them...quite the opposite, it results in causing greater fragmentation and divisiveness. Consider the example of Muslim extremists. For all their pontificating against the 'evil West', they actually have killed far, far more of their fellow Muslims than they have non-Muslims. Similarly, among the more extremist Christian groups, despite the fact they attack atheists or other religions, they generally reserve their greatest condemnation for those who call themselves Christian, but don't share the same beliefs or values.

It's the nature of extremism, and its greatest weakness. As you become more and more extreme, the pool of people who agree with you becomes smaller and smaller, and the pool of your 'enemies' becomes larger and larger.

So yes, I see conflict coming. But I'd predict that the greatest conflict will come as Muslim groups attack each other, or as Christian groups seek to tear each other down.

And in that process, they will cause a great deal of disillusionment among their more moderate believers. In fact, we already see this today...more and more people abandoning their religious beliefs at least in part because they see the hypocrisy and divisiveness of the beliefs they've been raised in.

I'd argue for a different kind of battle. In fact, that's very much what this whole site is about. A battle to shift our entire educational philosophy from teaching people what to believe, to teaching people how to think for themselves. We live in an age of unprecedented access to information. If presented in a chaotic, unorganized manner (ie. the internet in general), it can be confusing and overwhelming; but if presented in an organized, cohesive manner, it can be a significant aid in helping people to understand their choices, and to make their own decisions.

Ultimately, yes, I think it will be a battle between moderate voices in the middle -- moderate voices composed of people from many different backgrounds and beliefs -- and the voices shouting from extreme viewpoints. The difference is that the moderate voices, while not agreeing with each other about everything, will still be able to work together...whereas the extremists, by merit of the inherently exclusionary nature of their beliefs, will lack any real unity, and will not only end up fighting the moderates, but fighting each other, as well.
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society
User avatar
arthwollipot
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2014 4:14 am
Beleth wrote:If they want a caliphate, let them have one! Just impose one rule on them: no one who doesn't want to live there has to live there.
Unfortunately for this idea, many religions impose upon their followers the desire to convert nonbelievers. It's going to be hard to ensure that they only do this by peaceful means.

Personally, I think that there's a fourth option: more of the same.

I think that what we have is broadly similar to what we always have had, and what we probably always will have. The vast majority of religious believers being peaceful and minding their own beeswax, and a fringe of fanatics who get all the press.
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society

Chaos
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2014 3:44 pm
Beleth wrote:Great topic!

Here's a third possibility: Give the fanatics what they want, so that they realize that it's not what they really want. I came to this conclusion after reading about the Sovereign Citizen movement. If they don't want to follow the nation whose name is on their birth certificate, fine; cordon off their house and treat them like any other foreigner. Make them need a passport to get into and out of the USA, etc.

If they want a caliphate, let them have one! Just impose one rule on them: no one who doesn't want to live there has to live there. Think Salt Lake City. If they can get along with their neighbors, great! More diversity and happiness for all of us. If they can't, well, they will just starve themselves.


That´s the problem with religious fanatics: they will not ever be satisfied until EVERYONE does as they say. You can give them concession after concession after concession until almost nothing is left, and they STILL won´t be satisfied.

You CANNOT negotiate with a fanatic - that is the core of being a fanatic. Both Christianity and Islam have, at their core, the urge to spread their faith to everyone, and until that has happened they will NOT stop until they are forced to stop.
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society
User avatar
JohnLombard
Site Admin
Posts: 60
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2014 3:18 am
Chaos wrote:That´s the problem with religious fanatics: they will not ever be satisfied until EVERYONE does as they say. You can give them concession after concession after concession until almost nothing is left, and they STILL won´t be satisfied.

You CANNOT negotiate with a fanatic - that is the core of being a fanatic. Both Christianity and Islam have, at their core, the urge to spread their faith to everyone, and until that has happened they will NOT stop until they are forced to stop.

But of course, most religious people are not fanatics...but proclaiming a message that their religion must be "forced to stop" will most certainly turn them into fanatics, and for good reason!

The whole "we've got to destroy them before they destroy us" argument has been used to justify some of the greatest tragedies and atrocities in history. And the very sentiment is rather antithetical to the purpose of this site.

I'd say that it is far, far better to focus on the moderates, be they religious or non-religous, and encouraging greater understanding and tolerance among them. Yes, the true extremists and fanatics won't be swayed, but they are the minority; and my option is far, far superior to an option of depicting all religion as a threat that 'must be stopped'...which far from gaining moderate allies, will push those moderate voices straight into the arms of the extremists.
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society

Chaos
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2014 3:44 pm
JohnLombard wrote:
Chaos wrote:That´s the problem with religious fanatics: they will not ever be satisfied until EVERYONE does as they say. You can give them concession after concession after concession until almost nothing is left, and they STILL won´t be satisfied.

You CANNOT negotiate with a fanatic - that is the core of being a fanatic. Both Christianity and Islam have, at their core, the urge to spread their faith to everyone, and until that has happened they will NOT stop until they are forced to stop.

But of course, most religious people are not fanatics...but proclaiming a message that their religion must be "forced to stop" will most certainly turn them into fanatics, and for good reason!

The whole "we've got to destroy them before they destroy us" argument has been used to justify some of the greatest tragedies and atrocities in history. And the very sentiment is rather antithetical to the purpose of this site.

I'd say that it is far, far better to focus on the moderates, be they religious or non-religous, and encouraging greater understanding and tolerance among them. Yes, the true extremists and fanatics won't be swayed, but they are the minority; and my option is far, far superior to an option of depicting all religion as a threat that 'must be stopped'...which far from gaining moderate allies, will push those moderate voices straight into the arms of the extremists.


Sorry - I did not mean to say that Christianity and Islam, as such are the problem; the problem is that they include tenets which a major portion of their adherents are ignoring, which another major portion might be willing to ignore for the sake of peaceful coexistence, but which the most fanatical portion of their adherents WILL insist in enforcing - with fire and sword, if it comes to that.

And that, combined with the whole us-versus-them thing fired up not just by their own faith´s fanatics, will drive a lot of moderates into supporting their fanativs to a greater or lesser degree. I mean, if you were a moderate Muslim, who are you going to support, if you have to choose - the Islamists who are not really encroaching on how you live right now, or the Westerners who demand that Islam must be destroyed? I´ve met a lot of Muslims who are extremely pissed about the islamophobic hatemongering prevalent in the West these days, and who feel betrayed because the West lumps them together with the fanatics without giving a damn about what they think. And with all that harping on and on about "Christian heritage" and "the US is a Christian nation" and whatnot, I can´t blame them for thinking that Christianity has declared itself their enemy.
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society
User avatar
Beleth
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2014 2:30 am
I think we in the US are actually doing a pretty decent job at doing things in opposition to the religious fanatics trying to take over. Same-sex marriage is being allowed all over the place. Ten Commandments monuments on public land are being taken down, or paired up with monuments representing atheism or other religions. The Westboro Baptist Church is recognized as a laughingstock. And so forth.

The only entities who seem to be retreating in the face of fanaticism are large corporations, like Sony and Intel. And it's hard to blame them - their business models aren't designed to be moral, they're designed to be profitable. When standing up to fanatics becomes more profitable than bending to them, they'll stand up to them.

But I'm comparing apples and oranges. There are internal fanatics and external fanatics. The US is doing well at stemming internal fanatics (Christian fundamentalists) but not so well at holding down the external ones.
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society
User avatar
arthwollipot
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2014 4:14 am
Chaos wrote:Both Christianity and Islam have, at their core, the urge to spread their faith to everyone...
It's not necessarily at their core. There are millions of both Christians and Muslims across the world who aren't spreading their faith to others. Some groups do - the Pentecostal church I went to put great stock in "witnessing", as do the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, for example. But a majority of Christians, while they acknowledge that they would like you to be saved and avoid punishment in the afterlife, acknowledge that only you can decide to come to God - free choice is more important than spreading the faith. Without the freedom to choose to come to God, salvation is meaningless.
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society
User avatar
JohnLombard
Site Admin
Posts: 60
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2014 3:18 am
Chaos wrote:And that, combined with the whole us-versus-them thing fired up not just by their own faith´s fanatics, will drive a lot of moderates into supporting their fanativs to a greater or lesser degree. I mean, if you were a moderate Muslim, who are you going to support, if you have to choose - the Islamists who are not really encroaching on how you live right now, or the Westerners who demand that Islam must be destroyed? I´ve met a lot of Muslims who are extremely pissed about the islamophobic hatemongering prevalent in the West these days, and who feel betrayed because the West lumps them together with the fanatics without giving a damn about what they think. And with all that harping on and on about "Christian heritage" and "the US is a Christian nation" and whatnot, I can´t blame them for thinking that Christianity has declared itself their enemy.

You seem to be making my point for me...yet in a very, very confusing way. Your own comments come across as religious fearmongering, predicting an upcoming apocolypse in which religious people will seek to obliterate everyone who disagrees with them, and that we therefore must take action first to destroy them. Which, quite frankly, seems almost certain to have exactly the effect you describe above, driving moderates towards the extremists.

If I were a Muslim moderate, and read some of the stuff that you yourself have written here, the main impact it would have on me would be to feel that not only Christians, but also atheists are determined to attack and destroy us.

Again, I think that the best strategy is to reach out to and engage with the moderate community -- be they Muslim, Christian, atheist, or other -- and show that we share much in common, and can interact with and even cooperate with each other peacefully, without needing to share the same beliefs. Do that, and not only do extremists lose much of their power to recruit/convert more people to their extreme views, but will face greater and more unified opposition not just from people outside their religion, but from people inside of it, also.
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society

Chaos
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2014 3:44 pm
It seems I have not been expressing myself well here.

Arthwollipot:
Yes, many, perhaps most of the moderates don´t really give a damn about spreading their faith - at least enough of a damn to actively do something about it. But unfortunately, the fanatics do, and they can quote scripture in their support which is, for once, fairly unambiguous.

John:
Was I really that confusing? I thought I had made it clear that I was speaking about the intentions of fanatics, not religious people as a whole, to force their version of the faith on everyone else.
I feel I should point out that quite a few vocal atheists do want to destroy Islam, or at least come across as wanting to do so; many of them want to get rid of Christianity, too, eventually, but Islam is the bigger target these days. Plus, there´s the whole non-religiously motivated Islamophobia making the rounds in the West these days. Muslims these days could be easily excused to think that the West is out to get them.
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society
User avatar
arthwollipot
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2014 4:14 am
Chaos wrote:Arthwollipot:
Yes, many, perhaps most of the moderates don´t really give a damn about spreading their faith - at least enough of a damn to actively do something about it. But unfortunately, the fanatics do, and they can quote scripture in their support which is, for once, fairly unambiguous.
So because some do, therefore all are to blame. Am I reading that right?
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society

Chaos
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2014 3:44 pm
arthwollipot wrote:
Chaos wrote:Arthwollipot:
Yes, many, perhaps most of the moderates don´t really give a damn about spreading their faith - at least enough of a damn to actively do something about it. But unfortunately, the fanatics do, and they can quote scripture in their support which is, for once, fairly unambiguous.
So because some do, therefore all are to blame. Am I reading that right?


Where, exactly, am I blaming them all?
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society
User avatar
JohnLombard
Site Admin
Posts: 60
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2014 3:18 am
Chaos wrote:John:
Was I really that confusing? I thought I had made it clear that I was speaking about the intentions of fanatics, not religious people as a whole, to force their version of the faith on everyone else.
I feel I should point out that quite a few vocal atheists do want to destroy Islam, or at least come across as wanting to do so; many of them want to get rid of Christianity, too, eventually, but Islam is the bigger target these days. Plus, there´s the whole non-religiously motivated Islamophobia making the rounds in the West these days. Muslims these days could be easily excused to think that the West is out to get them.

When you are saying things like, "Both Christianity and Islam have, at their core, the urge to spread their faith to everyone, and until that has happened they will NOT stop until they are forced to stop", then yes, it is very far from clear. In generalizing about Chrsitianity and Islam, it sounds like you weren't talking just about fundamentalists...you were talking about Christians and Muslims in general. If I were a Christian or a Muslim reading that statement, even a moderate, I'd most certainly interpret it as meaning "Christians and Muslims must be forced to stop spreading their faith."

I'd suggest that you need to write much, much more clearly, because you are failing to A) differentiate explicitly and clearly between fundamentalists and more moderate people within the same belief system, and B) failing entirely to respond to some points that contradict your position, such as my twice-stated claim that fundamentalists tend to attack moderates within their own groups more vehemently than they do outsiders, which will also be a significant factor in limiting the growth of such extremism. Look, for example, at how even the majority of the fundamentalist Muslim world is condemning ISIS, and joining with Western nations in combating them.
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society
User avatar
arthwollipot
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2014 4:14 am
Here:

Chaos wrote:...the problem is that they include tenets which a major portion of their adherents are ignoring, which another major portion might be willing to ignore for the sake of peaceful coexistence, but which the most fanatical portion of their adherents WILL insist in enforcing - with fire and sword, if it comes to that.

And that, combined with the whole us-versus-them thing fired up not just by their own faith´s fanatics, will drive a lot of moderates into supporting their fanativs to a greater or lesser degree. I mean, if you were a moderate Muslim, who are you going to support, if you have to choose - the Islamists who are not really encroaching on how you live right now, or the Westerners who demand that Islam must be destroyed? I´ve met a lot of Muslims who are extremely pissed about the islamophobic hatemongering prevalent in the West these days, and who feel betrayed because the West lumps them together with the fanatics without giving a damn about what they think. And with all that harping on and on about "Christian heritage" and "the US is a Christian nation" and whatnot, I can´t blame them for thinking that Christianity has declared itself their enemy.
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society
User avatar
MattusMaximus
Posts: 13
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2014 1:01 am
JohnLombard wrote:My biggest area of disagreement with you would be in the fact that the more and more extreme different religions get, it doesn't result in unifying them...quite the opposite, it results in causing greater fragmentation and divisiveness. Consider the example of Muslim extremists. For all their pontificating against the 'evil West', they actually have killed far, far more of their fellow Muslims than they have non-Muslims. Similarly, among the more extremist Christian groups, despite the fact they attack atheists or other religions, they generally reserve their greatest condemnation for those who call themselves Christian, but don't share the same beliefs or values.

It's the nature of extremism, and its greatest weakness. As you become more and more extreme, the pool of people who agree with you becomes smaller and smaller, and the pool of your 'enemies' becomes larger and larger.


This ^

For example, as much research on religious demographics (here in the U.S.) has shown over the last decade, the more fundamentalist/evangelical element of Christianity is in decline while the more secular, non-religious segment of the population is growing. In fact, just a couple of years ago the number of self-identified "nones" outnumbered the self-identified evangelical Protestants.

Part of this has to do with the Internet and access to information, part of it has to do with younger people getting fed up with fundamentalists attempting to impose their beliefs regarding gays/etc on the rest of us, part of it is a more general feeling of people being fed up with attacks on science, and so on. It's not any one thing, more like a confluence of many things which are all driving the new skepticism of organized religion.

The religious right is well aware of this, too. They've done survey research with their own pollsters (like the Barna Group) and their conclusions are the same: organized religion is in decline in the U.S.

The reaction that I've read from the religious right has been mixed. A few more progressive voices have said that the Church needs to modernize and adjust its views on homosexuality, for example; however, far more voices I've read have gone the more extremist route, as John mentioned above. In response to the fact that more and more young people are leaving the Church, these extremists have adopted a bunker mentality and openly say things like "Well, that just leaves behind a purer form of Christianity".

I think that, over time, we will see these Christian fundamentalists become more and more extreme as they see their influence over society waning. Just look at how they are bemoaning how the GOP is starting to distance the party from them and their more extreme views or how even conservative states like North Dakota reject so-called "personhood amendments" to state Constitutions.

And now, even on the local level, more and more secularists are standing up to the religious right and saying "no more"; this is happening from the school board level to the local public park where secularists are demanding Festivus poles next to Nativity scenes during the holiday season.

Thus, within the U.S., I do see more conflict coming, but I see the fundamentalists on the losing side. In response, they will continue to get more and more extreme, even to the point of getting violent, but that will only serve to hasten their demise.

So yes, I see conflict coming. But I'd predict that the greatest conflict will come as Muslim groups attack each other, or as Christian groups seek to tear each other down.

And in that process, they will cause a great deal of disillusionment among their more moderate believers. In fact, we already see this today...more and more people abandoning their religious beliefs at least in part because they see the hypocrisy and divisiveness of the beliefs they've been raised in.


Yes. Like you said, we're already seeing this happen within Christianity, but as extremist groups like ISIS propagate more and more violence (especially at other Muslims) more people within the Muslim world will start to ask questions about the nature of their own religion and how it is practiced.

In this sense, it is ironic that the extremists are their own worst enemies.

I'd argue for a different kind of battle. In fact, that's very much what this whole site is about. A battle to shift our entire educational philosophy from teaching people what to believe, to teaching people how to think for themselves. We live in an age of unprecedented access to information. If presented in a chaotic, unorganized manner (ie. the internet in general), it can be confusing and overwhelming; but if presented in an organized, cohesive manner, it can be a significant aid in helping people to understand their choices, and to make their own decisions.


There is a reason why fundamentalists don't want their children to have access to information which exists outside of their particular religious bubble; they want their kids to go to church schools because they know that a more secular, less-overtly religious education will cause them to start asking questions. In this sense, I think it is imperative to support a strong public education system, which is the same reason so many religious extremists want to tear down the public schools.

Ultimately, yes, I think it will be a battle between moderate voices in the middle -- moderate voices composed of people from many different backgrounds and beliefs -- and the voices shouting from extreme viewpoints. The difference is that the moderate voices, while not agreeing with each other about everything, will still be able to work together...whereas the extremists, by merit of the inherently exclusionary nature of their beliefs, will lack any real unity, and will not only end up fighting the moderates, but fighting each other, as well.


As someone upthread mentioned, one of the great ironies is that if, for example, fundamentalist Christians were to, say, amend the Constitution to declare the U.S. as a "Christian nation" the next thing we'd see is a rush to divide certain branches of Christianity off as "not being real Christians" and so on. And in so doing they would immediately lose the unity which would have been required to get to that point in the first place; I think shortly thereafter we could easily see religiously-motivated civil war.

Cheers - MM
Check out my blog: The Skeptical Teacher
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society

Chaos
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2014 3:44 pm
Sorry for the long silence. Holidays, family and stuff got in the way.

Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. You´ve certainly shown me that my ideas need a lot of work...
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society
User avatar
JohnLombard
Site Admin
Posts: 60
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2014 3:18 am
Chaos, I think that the main issue is one of clarity. I think that, in actual fact, what you are trying to say is quite similar to my own position. However, indiscriminate use of the word 'they' (where there is confusion as to who you mean by 'they'), and the use of rather sweeping generalizations, can lead people to misunderstand your arguments, and certainly would make it very easy for others to make it appear that you were supporting ideas that you actually oppose.

I'd also encourage you to re-examine the threat that you describe from extremists. While I agree that that threat exists, and should not be ignored, I also don't think it is as dire as you propose, for the reasons that I've cited above.

And in regards to those who are more moderate, regardless of their beliefs, they are one of the main reasons that I started this site. To provide a place where they can engage in peaceful interaction with others who hold different, opposing beliefs...where they can see that there is a viable alternative to the extremism and intolerance promoted by fringe groups.
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society

Chaos
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2014 3:44 pm
The Charlie Hebdo attack and its aftermath goes a long way towards convincing me that there is something to the idea of this whole situation coming to a head.

First, of course, there´s the attack itself. Storming into a magazine´s office and killing people there is about as "coming to a head" as things come.

And then there´s the reaction. As far as I can see, the overwhelming majority of reactions from Muslims are shock, horror and outrage at the killers. And, for a lot of Westerners, no matter how loud and how public and how frequent those reactions are, they might as well not exist. Maybe these people have a "Muslim outrage at islamists killing people"-shaped hole in their perception. Maybe they - like one of my Facebook friends who is otherwise disturbingly sane - have simply convinced themselves that any statement by a Muslim which does not confirm that all Muslims support and celebrate the murders is by definition a lie. Maybe they´re just lying through their teeth to push their own xenophobic agenda. I don´t know - I simply see what´s happening.

(By the way, did anyone notice the statements by Catholic groups shortly after the attacks that the cartoonists had it coming? I wonder why THAT didn´t trigger an anti-Catholic shitstorm...)

The aforementioned Facebook friend of mine has also stated, even before the Charlie Hebdo thing, that he thinks Islam needs to be destroyed. He is in fact abusing the Cato quote ("Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam") for this purpose, which you probably know (and he definitely knows) Cato used to demand the complete destruction of their nation and culture and the murder or selling into slavery of everyone in Carthage, i.e. the next best thing to genocide. He failed to explain how he plans to do so without committing genocide himself. I mean, he stated that any Muslim who disavows the practice that Westerners object to is by definition lying, so how could anyone be sure a Muslim is no longer a supporter of violence against infidels, short of killing them?
And the same people who peddle this sort of crap then turn around and wonder why Muslims don´t like the way the West treats them...
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society
User avatar
arthwollipot
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2014 4:14 am
Chaos wrote:Sorry for the long silence. Holidays, family and stuff got in the way.

Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. You´ve certainly shown me that my ideas need a lot of work...
We're all learning. :mrgreen:
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society

magpie
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2015 9:50 am
I will give you another option. This is a variation of the second and one I believe is happening in Australia. The moderates slowly realize their religion is not the right one and that no other religion is any better. So they cease to go to church or other place or worship. Eventually they become atheists. The extremists are isolated domestically. They start getting violent, either domestically or go overseas to fight. The former can be handled by the normal police. Slowly the extremists are reduced in number until they are nothing but mentally disturbed people with not much ability to learn to fight. An example happened recently in Sydney where one of his demands was to get a flag.

Not sure what the authorities can do against people who go overseas to fight. Maybe hope they get killed? Or work out that they made a mistake and come home. 
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society
User avatar
MattusMaximus
Posts: 13
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2014 1:01 am
You all might find my recent blog post here at WIP of interest...

The Dangers of NOT Offending Religious Sensibilities
http://wrestinpeace.com/2015/01/18/dangers-not-offending-religious-sensibilities/
Check out my blog: The Skeptical Teacher
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society

Chaos
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2014 3:44 pm
MattusMaximus wrote:You all might find my recent blog post here at WIP of interest...

The Dangers of NOT Offending Religious Sensibilities
http://wrestinpeace.com/2015/01/18/dangers-not-offending-religious-sensibilities/

You´re making a mistake in that blog post, by conflating satire (or general free expression) on the subject of religion with "criticism of religion".

It can be that, true - but it isn´t necessarily.


To illustrate the difference: what I wrote above this line is criticism of your blog post - I may be right, I may be wrong, I am certainly too brief, but I am addressing your post in a critical manner. A cartoon of your (pardon my Latin) having sex with the prophet Mohammed in the ass would not be, even if it is perfectly valid and protected speech, purportedly in reaction to your expressed opinion. And I do not see any danger in bemoaning the prevalence of the latter form of "criticism" and wishing that it didn´t poison any attempts at actual criticism.

**Chaos, please refrain from the use of profanity; I have edited your post above to remove your "Latin" ** -- John Lombard
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society
User avatar
JohnLombard
Site Admin
Posts: 60
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2014 3:18 am
Chaos wrote:To illustrate the difference: what I wrote above this line is criticism of your blog post - I may be right, I may be wrong, I am certainly too brief, but I am addressing your post in a critical manner. A cartoon of your (pardon my Latin) having sex with the prophet Mohammed in the ass would not be, even if it is perfectly valid and protected speech, purportedly in reaction to your expressed opinion. And I do not see any danger in bemoaning the prevalence of the latter form of "criticism" and wishing that it didn´t poison any attempts at actual criticism.
Chaos, I take your point...but I think there's an important point to note here.

I don't think that Matt was saying that people should create cartoons to deliberately mock other beliefs.  I myself believe that such efforts are largely counter-productive, tending to exacerbate the us-vs-them mentality that is a source of great difficulty in trying to gain greater dialogue and understanding between different groups.  Yes, if one creates a comic that depicts a particular religious icon being sodomized, it's not going to accomplish any goal related to greater understanding, communication, etc.  And even more moderate voices among those being attacked will likely react quite negatively.

As such, I will feel quite free to oppose such comics, and to state my reasons why I'm opposed to them. 

However, I will also defend absolutely the right of those people to write such things.  And that, I believe, was Matt's main point.  One of the most critical indicators of a free society is how tolerant we are of those opinions and beliefs which we oppose.

And Matt is also correct that the moment we start granting any group -- religious or otherwise -- some sort of 'special status', that they cannot be mocked or criticized, then we are entering very dangerous territory.  Nobody has the 'right' not to be offended.
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society

Chaos
Posts: 28
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2014 3:44 pm
JohnLombard wrote:
Chaos wrote:To illustrate the difference: what I wrote above this line is criticism of your blog post - I may be right, I may be wrong, I am certainly too brief, but I am addressing your post in a critical manner. A cartoon of your (pardon my Latin) having sex with the prophet Mohammed in the ass would not be, even if it is perfectly valid and protected speech, purportedly in reaction to your expressed opinion. And I do not see any danger in bemoaning the prevalence of the latter form of "criticism" and wishing that it didn´t poison any attempts at actual criticism.
Chaos, I take your point...but I think there's an important point to note here.

I don't think that Matt was saying that people should create cartoons to deliberately mock other beliefs.  I myself believe that such efforts are largely counter-productive, tending to exacerbate the us-vs-them mentality that is a source of great difficulty in trying to gain greater dialogue and understanding between different groups.  Yes, if one creates a comic that depicts a particular religious icon being sodomized, it's not going to accomplish any goal related to greater understanding, communication, etc.  And even more moderate voices among those being attacked will likely react quite negatively.

As such, I will feel quite free to oppose such comics, and to state my reasons why I'm opposed to them. 

However, I will also defend absolutely the right of those people to write such things.  And that, I believe, was Matt's main point.  One of the most critical indicators of a free society is how tolerant we are of those opinions and beliefs which we oppose.

And Matt is also correct that the moment we start granting any group -- religious or otherwise -- some sort of 'special status', that they cannot be mocked or criticized, then we are entering very dangerous territory.  Nobody has the 'right' not to be offended.
The thing is, we as a society are being far too supportive of mockery and abuse directed at those on our "naughty list", such as Muslims these days.

Like you, I will defend people´s right to be vile disgusting (bleep)-(bleep)ers - like for example the ACLU took the brave decision at one time to defend the Nazis´ right to have a rally in a town that didn´t want them. However, I bet the ACLU never claimed, or pretended to believe the Nazis´ claims, that the Nazis´ beliefs were anything but vile hatred and that their eventual goals were opposed to anything that the ACLU stood for.

Today, on the other hand, I see far too many self-proclaimed defenders of Western (Christian or secular) society swallow anything as alleged "criticism of Islam" - anything that offends Muslims is "critiicism of Islam" and as such is itself beyond any criticism. In an awful lot of people, perhaps most people in the West, beneath the veneer of tolerance and equality and human rights and stuff, there´s a strong, extremely toxic current of hatred for everything that is too different, especially Muslims these days, and "criticism of Islam" is a useful fig leaf for venting that hatred.


Criticism always implies a certain commonality of purpose. You or I wouldn´t criticise a Muslim extremist´s criteria on where to conduct his suicide bombing for maximum bloodshed, as we do not share his purpose in killing infidels; we would, however, criticize this interpretation of Islam (with the intent of helping him choose a less violent way of expressing his devotion to Allah), as we do, to a degree, share his purpose of living a good life, even if we have radically different idea of how to go about doing so.

Now, the "critics of Islam" these days, other than a relative handful of idealists like you and me and a few learned experts nobody really listens to, do not really share a purpose with Muslims that could form a basis for actual criticism. Their purpose is to make it clear that Islam is irredeemably evil, and all who follow it are evil as long as they follow it. I´ve heard and read it often enough, especially since the Charlie Hebdo attacks: Islam must be destroyed, Muslims must stop being Muslims, either by conversion (to Christianity or to atheism, the "critics" do not all agree here) or by death, otherwise the problem will not be solved. One otherwise sane and reasonable Facebook friend of mine even explicitly said that if nothing else can destroy Islam, genocide against Muslims becomes a viable course of action; I got called a "dhimmi" for referring to that option of last resort as "the Final Solution of the Muslim question" and reminding him what happened the last time we Germans decided that a religion must be destroyed.


The bottom line, I guess, is that while we absolutely must criticize anything that deserves criticism, we must at the same time not go so far as to allow everything that attacks the target of criticism to label itself "criticism". Most of us wouldn´t let Nazis get away with calling themselves "critics of the ongoing judaization of the world", so we should not let islamophobic hatemongers get away with calling themselves "Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West" (yes, there is a group in Germany calling itself exactly that), If people are being (bleep)ing (bleep)-(bleep)ers in the name of "criticism", we who actually try to criticize must tell them in no uncertain terms that they are NOT criticizing, and that we who criticize want nothing to do with them.
We should NOT, on the other hand, declare it dangerous not to offend; offending people is sometimes unavoidable, but it is always a regrettable side effect of trying to help further whatever common purpose we and those we criticize have. (Think about it, John - how much of your success in China, for example, was due to you offending people, and how much was due to convincing them that you want the same thing as they do and that you think you have a better way of achieving it?)
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society
User avatar
MattusMaximus
Posts: 13
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2014 1:01 am
JohnLombard wrote:However, I will also defend absolutely the right of those people to write such things.  And that, I believe, was Matt's main point.  One of the most critical indicators of a free society is how tolerant we are of those opinions and beliefs which we oppose.

And Matt is also correct that the moment we start granting any group -- religious or otherwise -- some sort of 'special status', that they cannot be mocked or criticized, then we are entering very dangerous territory.  Nobody has the 'right' not to be offended.
Bingo.
Check out my blog: The Skeptical Teacher
Re: The Issue of Religion in Society
User avatar
MattusMaximus
Posts: 13
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2014 1:01 am
Incidentally, I have offended more than a few people on Facebook lately for pointing out the error of equating Muslims with terrorism. And to drive the point home, I remind them of a fact that most of them would prefer to forget:

Image
Check out my blog: The Skeptical Teacher
Page 1 of 1
Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron