“Getting righteously offended has become something of a hobby over the last few decades…”

The ‘outraged supernaturalists‘ narrative may already be wearing a bit thin in Libya, and further afield.  But, taking that narrative at face value, there may be some points being made that are applicable closer to home.  From Saturday’s Irish Times

Getting righteously offended has become something of a hobby over the last few decades. Nothing binds people together more securely than a perception that somebody else is saying something nasty about their faith, nationality or hair colour. Rushdie describes the phenomenon as “outrage identity”. We can now define ourselves by other people’s rudeness. [added emphasis]

None of which is to suggest that we should stop decrying racism, homophobia or religious intolerance. Where would this column be without whinges about broad caricatures of Irishness or cheap shots at everyday bigots? But toleration of other people’s right to be intolerant remains a cornerstone of civilised democracy.

And an Irish Times editorial added

If western democrats give an inch on defending the universality of free speech, be it of the vilest provocateurs, Islamophobes, homophobes, or Holocaust deniers, as soon as we accept the criminalisation of speech, we concede the right to religious fanatics to do the same and to draw their own arbitrary line in the sand. It is not a cost-free option. Far from it, as Ambassador Stevens proved. But it is a price democracies have to pay, and their ability to turn the other cheek is a measure not of weakness, but of their confidence in the robustness of their values, the strength of their case.

However, an inch may already have been given…

Still, something to remember the next time it’s claimed that supernaturalists’ sensitivities have been offended.

As Niall O’Dowd said, “leaders need to incite less, understand more.”

Of course, he was only talking about Muslim leaders…

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  • HeinzGuderian

    Religion…..together we can cure it.

  • wild turkey

    well, Christopher Hitchens in one of his last articles diagnosed the pathology and suggested a cure

    “I have just finished reading one of the most astoundingly stupid and nasty documents ever to have landed on my desk. It consists of a letter from a law firm in Saudi Arabia, run by a man named Ahmed Zaki Yamani, to a group of newspapers in Scandinavia. I quote directly from its main paragraphs:

    Over the past months my law firm has been contacted by several thousand descendants of the Prophet, who have learned about your newspaper’s republication of the drawing, depicting their esteemed ancestor as a terrorist suicide bomber with a bomb in his turban.

    ‘As descendants of the Prophet, these individuals feel personally insulted, emotionally distressed and defamed by your newspaper’s re-publication of the drawing. They have therefore retained my law firm and instructed me to approach you …’

    “The thing would be ridiculous if it were not so hateful and had it not already managed to break the nerve of one Danish newspaper. In Ireland a short while ago, a law against blasphemy was passed, making it a crime to outrage the feelings not just of the country’s disgraced and incriminated Roman Catholic Church but of all believers. The same pseudo-ecumenical tendency can be found in the annual attempt by Muslim states to get the United Nations to pass a resolution outlawing all attacks on religion. It’s not enough that faith claims to be the solution to all problems. It is now demanded that such a preposterous claim be made immune from any inquiry, any critique, and any ridicule.

    This has to stop, and it has to stop right now. All democratic countries and assemblies should be readying legislation along the lines of the First Amendment, guaranteeing the right of open debate on matters of religion and repudiating the blackmail by law firms and individuals whose own true ancestry would not bear too much scrutiny.”

    link to article below

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/fighting_words/2010/03/yamani_or_your_life.single.html

  • GavBelfast

    Amen to that.

  • Pete Baker

    Guys

    I’ve emphasised the following paragraph in the original post to highlight the wider point.

    Getting righteously offended has become something of a hobby over the last few decades. Nothing binds people together more securely than a perception that somebody else is saying something nasty about their faith, nationality or hair colour. Rushdie describes the phenomenon as “outrage identity”. We can now define ourselves by other people’s rudeness.

  • gendjinn

    Getting righteously offended has become something of a hobby over the last few decades….

    * There is no evidence presented to support the assertion that people previously did not get righteously offended.
    * There are literally an infinity of things that bind people together more securely than someone else bad mouthing them. Love, blood, country, family and on and on and on.
    * Rushdie is a fucking hack who wouldn’t know good prose from a fatwa and if he’s taking a position on a topic you know it’s the diametrical opposite of insightful, useful or accurate.

  • Henry94

    The powerful were always in a position to take offence and react violently. Offend the King or the Emperor and you could find yourself in the height of trouble. Blasphemy laws protected the Church and in more recent times libel laws protect the rich.

    Casual racism was common in the media when I was growing up. Here’s an example from a much loved comedy

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2z3KdZmPUxg

    What is disparaged as Political Correctness eliminated a lot of it. Do we want to go back? The real question is not about someone getting a rap on the knuckles for telling an Irish joke like Daley Thompson did during the Olympics

    http://www.independent.ie/sport/other-sports/olympics-2012/other-news/daley-thompson-in-race-row-over-antiirish-joke-on-bbc-3179004.html

    The real question, as ever, is what to do about Islam. Their view of the world seems so diametrically opposed to ours that it makes our own differences appear insignificant. Yet we discuss it in our terms. Should we allow veiled women in public we wonder but think in terms of people’s right to wear what they want as opposed to women’s equality. Our concepts applied to their heads and we wonder why they don’t get it.

    Rushdie who is one of our leading serious novelists has struggled with this for years and has reached different conclusions at different times. The urgency of his position hasn’t helped him or us to find certainty.

    If we had an absolutist position on free speech we would be in a stronger position but we don’t want to go that far. Maybe we have to. If the right of the individual to speak his mind trumps the right of the collective to take offence then we will all need to learn to put up with a lot of unpleasantness. But then if we can’t mock the Prophet we have pretty much lost the Enlightenment and that’s far worse.

  • Greenflag

    We gotta keep mocking the prophet not just the islamic one but all prophets and all those who would browbeat people everywhere into submission to their one false faith and/or superstition !

    Christopher Hitchens was right and the Irish Government was wrong to pass that cowardly ‘blasphemy law’
    The next government should repeal it fortwith !

  • Greenflag

    ‘The real question, as ever, is what to do about Islam. ‘

    Nothing . Leave them to their own devices . If they are immigrants to the west then just ensure that they sign documents on arrival or prior to gaining citizenship that they will not indulge in practices such as forced marriages or the non education of young girls etc and if they feel the need to have those cultural/faith icons as part of their daily lives then they should be advised of the location of the nearest airport and provided with a one way ticket to the Islamic paradise of choice .

    They will eventually learn there is no Allah but that could be several centuries from now . In the meantime the ‘western world ‘ must maintain and expand where possible the values of the ‘enlightenment ‘ more so now in it’s own backyard where such values are under threat from the extreme right wing neo cons and monopolistic forces of multinational financial corporations !

  • Pete Baker

    Greenie et al

    Try focusing a little closer to home…

  • President Obama gave a pretty good speech to the UN General Assembly today dealing, in large part, with free speech. Worth listening to if you can find a link.

  • Henry94

    Mister_Joe

    I got the impression Obama was trying some triangulation on a subject that doesn’t really suit it.

    The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. Yet to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see when the image of Jesus Christ is desecrated, churches are destroyed, or the Holocaust is denied.

    Those who riot against films, books and cartoons are not worried about being credible to Obama and who the hell is Obama to tell people they can’t slander “the prophet of Islam”. Not only that but there is a huge difference between burning a Church or a Mosque and merely expressing an opinion that those who attend the Church or the Mosque don’t like.

    What do we do when extreme Islam decides Richard Dawkins is calling the prophet a liar? Ban his books?

  • BluesJazz

    Dawkins books are all banned in (supposedly liberal)Turkey.

    A take on the offence thing here:

    http://richarddawkins.net/foundation_articles/2012/9/21/innocence-of-muslims

  • Pete Baker

    Guys

    The original post is not about “The Innocence of Muslims”.

    As I’ve said, try closer to home…

  • SK

    “As I’ve said, try closer to home…”
    ________

    I think what Pete means is that the Loyal Orders have no right to invoke “religious liberty” whenever they’re overcome by the urge to bang a drum in someone else’s back yard.

    “Respect our traditional route to church” is clearly a demand that holds no water with him. Good point Pete.

  • Pete Baker

    As ever, mind reading doesn’t work…

    “I think what Pete means is that the Loyal Orders have no right to invoke “religious liberty” whenever they’re overcome by the urge to bang a drum in someone else’s back yard.”

    Yet “religious offence” is proffered when a drum is banged outside “someone’s backyard”.

  • Getting offended is a speciality of the Orange disorder. They get offended at ‘themmuns’ questioning their ‘God given right’ to carry out their hate parades whenever and wherever they like. Those days are gone forever as seen by their acqiescence in Ardoyne on the 12th the OD suit them well as most of their followers are on drugs supplied by the UDA and UVF.

  • abucs

    Morality is increasingly tied to government human rights legislation which in turn is tied to the right to not be offended.

    The best way to have the law changed in your favour is to shout long and loud that you are offended.

    In this way both law and government are not seen as agencies built on community consenses of common culture and ideas of right and wrong but a shouting match between different peoples who have learnt how to demonstrate manufactured offence in order to force others to accept their views.

  • Henry94

    abucs

    But would you really want to go back to a world of unrestricted free speech. A world where black people were casually referred to by the N word by politicians and comedians. Where women in the work place were on the receiving end of sexist comment with no recourse.

    I don’t think most of us would but then you have to protect the important stuff like the right of a novelist to offend a religion. The point is we need balance and in the north of Ireland the best we have come up with is the Parades Commission.

    If there is a better basis for proceeding then I haven’t heard it. I think we should commit in advance to abiding by and supporting their ruling for Saturday. Whatever it is.

    Then let anyone who has a better system to offer bring it forward.

  • SK

    “As I’ve said, try closer to home…”
    “As ever, mind reading doesn’t work…”

    Easy on the elipses, Pete… Not every sentence needs to end with elipses…

    It was clear that your article sought to draw parallels between a priest who didn’t want the blue bag brigade playing sectarian songs outside his chapel and Islamic fundamentalists. A novel approach to blame-shifting, but I would suggest that religious fundamentalism and ritual flag-burning are traits that are more closely associated with those who do the marching.

  • Greenflag
  • lamhdearg2

    WOW, first we have Mick linking to a picture of a topless young lady, taken against her will, now we have Greenflags link above, what next links to cartoon kiddy porn, this site is fast becoming the place to be for the sexualy depraved.

    Greenflag, I Agree with a lot you have to say, but I am clicking “flag as offensive” on this one.

  • lamhdearg2

    ps I do not know if your link breaks and rules, but I will take my chances on me receiving a ban.

  • Alias

    There are obvious parallels between those Islamists in Pakistan who use violence against those who offend their religious idols and those Catholics in Northern Ireland who also use violence against those who offend their religious idols in that both are violently intolerant of such offence.

    However, I’m not convinced that the intolerance of NI’s Catholics is actually derived from a demand that other citizens show what they consider to be due respect to their idols, particularly the places where Catholics congregate in ever-decreasing numbers to worship those idols.

    I suspect that the demand for respect for said idol is actually a proxy for another demand, which is actually tribal in nature and not religious. It seems to me that the tribe that is Catholic is issuing a demand that the other tribe should show extend ‘parity of esteem’ to it, and that that demand is disguised as a demand that the idols, and the places that contain statues to those idols, should be accorded respect.

    P.S. I notice that Greenflag didn’t feel brave enough to post a cartoon that might offend a religion where its clerics issue fatwas…

  • Pete Baker

    Alias

    “I’m not convinced that the intolerance of NI’s Catholics is actually derived from a demand that other citizens show what they consider to be due respect to their idols”

    Indeed. But I was also trying to suggest that there is more to the violence exhibited in Libya, and elsewhere, than the much reported ‘outraged supernaturalists’ narrative would imply.

    “The ‘outraged supernaturalists‘ narrative may already be wearing a bit thin in Libya, and further afield.”

    So the parallels may be stronger than you suspect.

  • Greenflag

    @ lamhdearg 2,

    Fair enough. It probably is offensive and not particularly humourous and would never have seen the light of day if that stupid video had’nt been dubbed into arabic and resulted in a needless loss of life .

    While I favour free speech and will defend peoples right to same I don’t favour ‘stupidity ‘ or reckless provocation of others sensitivities be they cultural , religious or ethnic .

    In an age where as Obama put it 10 year old kids can put up a you tube and it can have 4 million hits within a few days . For now there is no Father Ted in the Arab or Israeli worlds and probably not in the Christian Evangelical world either . Speed the day when there is and Ayatollah Ted will enjoy huge ratings on Al Jazzera and Rabbi Dougal will enjoy rave reviews in the Jerusalem press .

  • Alias

    Greenflag, there was no fatwas in Judaism, which is an exclusively Islamic practice. Islam does not recognise a separation of state and church, so the edicts of its religious leaders have the status of law. You should take better care to conceal your anti-Semitism behind its usual veil of anti-Zionism.

  • Alias

    “So the parallels may be stronger than you suspect.”

    Touché.

  • abucs

    Henry,

    my worry is that morality has become the plaything of those that can manipulate the law, not the outward manifestation of community.

  • Greenflag

    @ Alias,

    ‘ I notice that Greenflag didn’t feel brave enough to post a cartoon that might offend a religion where its clerics issue fatwas…’

    Nothing to do with bravery or the lack of it . I think enough people have been killed because of this ‘stupidity ‘ . Next time you are in Belfast try taking a video of a loyalist band marching in circles outside an RC church. .

    ‘Islam does not recognise a separation of state and church, so the edicts of its religious leaders have the status of law. ‘

    Europe in the 15th century was no different .

    ‘Ever since its creation, there have been debates and disagreements about the nature of the state of Israel. Formally, it’s a secular democracy where Judaism is privileged; in reality, many orthodox Jews believe that Israel should be a theocratic state where Judaism is the supreme law of the land. Secular and orthodox Jews are at odds over the future of Israel and it’s uncertain what will happen if Orthodox & Ultra Orthodox Jews ever become a majority .

    ‘You should take better care to conceal your anti-Semitism ‘

    Your paranoia knows no bounds – I don’t conceal anything and I’m not anti semitic . I’m just like the chap from Dundalk who is anti Smithwick because he prefers the taste of McArdles

    ‘behind its usual veil of anti-Zionism.’

    I believe an Israeli State has a right to exist and ditto for a Palestinian State. Someday the Israelis and Arabs are going to have to learn to live together as neighbours in peace .

  • ForkHandles

    “somebody else is saying something nasty about their faith”

    What gives atheists the right to insult the beliefs of other people and to expect those other people to just accept any disgusting and deliberately inflammatory attack on what they hold dear? What exactly is the basis of a right to insult others? Why do atheists believe they have the right to insult, and not just the right to voice their opinions? You can say free speech all you want, but free speech comes with a responsibility. Usually it is attached to legal issues, but it is also attached to reasonable and decent framing of ones views to avoid a crude insult to someone else’s beliefs. This is called civilization.

    Atheists are the most intolerant people currently on the face of this earth. They act as if they can say whatever they want and it is perfectly acceptable for them to go out of their way to deliberately come up with statements that have only one purpose. That purpose is only to find a way to insult and offend someone who does not share their beliefs. Not really only to someone who does not share their beliefs, but really aimed at someone who has beliefs that render the atheist beliefs to be seen as stupid and nonsense. Then when other people react to their deliberate insults, the atheists then try and portray the other persons reaction as wrong. A bit silly when the atheist is the person that has actually set out to offend and insult. The standard reply from the atheist is that they believe only what a ‘scientific’ method of testing and observing a test can produce as evidence. Why does the atheist only accept such a narrow and childlike window on what they are prepared to accept? A great many aspects of life that are known and unknown cannot be measured or understood using a scientific method of testing and observing results. It only takes a few seconds to comprehend this. So where does that leave the atheists narrow scope for understanding the world?
    Atheists may believe that they are just monkeys that have popped into existence by accident. They may also believe that they live in a universe that popped into existence by an explosion of nothing that somehow created an enormous universe of massively complex chemistry and physics rules, all of which neatly fit together, by chance… They may believe that a single living cell with all its massively complex internal workings, can just evolve by chance from nothing to 1 cell. They may also believe that this single cell didn’t just die but actually spawned lots of cells that also didn’t die but eventually formed living animals. All these things may be the core of atheist’s beliefs, but should atheists to constantly referred to as retarded monkeys? Should atheists in whatever field, such as politics, sport, business etc be introduced as retarded monkeys? Should their every mention be a prefix to how stupid their ideas are? Why not? Why shouldn’t atheists be insulted at every opportunity?
    I think the idea of a modern civilization contains the idea that a person’s beliefs should be respected and considered as part of the wide beliefs of the civilized society. If atheists cannot comply with accepting that other people have different beliefs as they do, then atheists are stupid!

  • UserAinm

    Forkhandles,

    In case you wanted to know your argument lost all validity at this point right here:

    “Atheists are the most intolerant people currently on the face of this earth. “

  • abucs

    Greenflag “‘Islam does not recognise a separation of state and church, so the edicts of its religious leaders have the status of law. ‘

    Europe in the 15th century was no different.” ……..

    Both Christianity and Islam have always recognised the difference between Church and state. The degree of separation which is beneficial continues to be an open question.

    In the West we have drawn the line between the religious and the civil on the basis of the doctrines of Christianity. In Islam the doctrines cross over into what we would call in the West civil law. It is the difference in the doctrines of each religion which creates the difference. This is the same in every century and doesn’t change.

    There’s plenty of evidence in Christendom of continual friction between the state and the Church in all centuries including the 15th. The 16th century Reformation was nothing short of the state take over of religion in certain areas. Surely the fact that it was taken over violently by the state in certain countries points to the fact of its previous independence in the 15th century.

    One thing is certain though, the view of state against religion or instead of religion, has created the worst human rights violations in the history of mankind and failed everywhere.

  • UserAinm

    Abucs,

    I’m not sure I follow here, could you expand on this a bit:

    “One thing is certain though, the view of state against religion or instead of religion, has created the worst human rights violations in the history of mankind and failed everywhere.”

  • Alias

    “Both Christianity and Islam have always recognised the difference between Church and state.”

    Now you’re just making stuff up. It’s true that some Muslims hold the view that there should be a difference between church and state but not true that those Muslims are acting in accordance with their faith in holding that view – unless the state is an Islamic state. Unlike the Church of England or the Holy See for Christain religions, there is no organisation or hierarchical structure in Islam to determine collective policy. In Islam, it is the clerics who make the law. Here is a good article that explains it clearly without going into the theology:

    Separation of church and state is widely accepted in the West and thus has become a globally political thought. Historically, the idea emerged as a practical strategy for dealing with issues related to the Christians and other people in the Western culture.

    Gradually, however, separation of church and state has become a popular premise for all modern states. It is now seen that citizenship rather than religion should be the basis for belonging to a state, since different citizens may have different religions. If the state commits to one religion, members of other faiths would feel alienated since a foreign religion would be imposed upon them. They may be prohibited from practicing the rituals of their religion and they may be deprived of their right to hold certain positions in the state, such as president, or other key positions. This would create disturbances and conflicts that would present obstacles for the progress of the state.

    For these reasons, advocates of this policy of separation find that it is best if a state takes a secular approach, neither supporting nor denying any religion. It is up to the citizens to follow whatever faith and values they choose and practice what rituals they please.

    This is the ideal side of a neutral secular state that Western politicians wish to project. However, the theory of separation of state and religion makes several underlying assumptions that are hard to come by in the real world. Let us consider some of them.

    It is assumed that it is possible for a secular state to take a neutral stand toward all religions, based on the implication that religion interferes with, and possibly upsets, matters of state. This could be the case if there was in fact no relationship between state affairs and religion, and the two were separate entities. However, religions do not only deal with collections of beliefs, rituals and individual behaviors that do not affect the society. Most of the well known religions -Judaism, Christianity and Islam- have laws that regulate relationships between people; whether on an individual basis, among the family, or with the society at large, in addition to other laws observed regarding food and drink, and many other daily details that cannot be separated from the business of the state.

    To accommodate for this, Western politicians had to make a compromise. They decided to include some of the values of their religion -Christianity- in the making of the rules of the state. And Christian values are certainly vivid in Western foreign policy, particularly in its dealings with the Islamic world. At the same time, some important aspects of the Christian religion were left out. Recent liberal movements have come to attack The Sacred Book of Christianity, claiming that what was always believed to be the word of God is no more than the writings of people who were deeply influenced by the culture in which they lived. This view was supported by the existence of many different versions of the Bible with discrepancies between them. Thus, certain restrictions made in the scriptures, such as homosexual behavior, should be seen as mere laws of the society at a certain time so that there would be no reason to abide by such dated laws today. This movement has gained support from politicians, leaders and even scholars of religion. The result is that secularism has taken a life of its own and is no longer a neutral or unbiased point of view. It might be seen as a religion in itself, which, in the West, has its own fervent followers who attack and fight Christianity.

    So how are Muslims to approach the modern trend of separation of religion and state in their countries? The basic belief in Islam is that the Qur’an is one hundred percent the word of God, and the Sunna was also as a result of the guidance of God to the Prophet peace be upon him. Islam cannot be separated from the state because it guides Muslims through every detail of running the state and their lives. Muslims have no choice but to reject secularism for it excludes the laws of God.

    Supporters of the secular state argue that the values of one religion cannot be imposed on members of different religions that are present in our countries. However, whether the non-Muslims in a state are few or many, secularism is not the answer. The non-Muslims in Muslim states will either be secularists themselves, in favor of abandoning the laws of Islam in the state, or will be devoted followers of their own religion, who wish that the state follow the rules of that religion. So in either case, a compromise cannot be made in accordance with the Islamic point of view. What needs to be pointed out is that under the law of Islam, other religions are not prohibited. At the same time, people are provided with doctrines for legislation and running of state that will protect people of all faiths living in the state.

    Secularists in the West will agree with this, then they will point out that under Islamic law, people are not all equal. No non-Muslim, for example, could become the president. Well, in response to that fact, in turn, secularism is no different. No Muslim could become president in a secular regime, for in order to pledge loyalty to the constitution, a Muslim would have to abandon part of his belief and embrace the belief of secularism � which is practically another religion. For Muslims, the word ‘religion’ does not only refer to a collection of beliefs and rituals, it refers to a way of life which includes all values, behaviors, and details of living.

    Secularism cannot be a solution for countries with a Muslim majority, for it requires people to replace their God-given beliefs with an entirely different set of man-made beliefs. Separation of religion and state is not an option for Muslims because is requires us to abandon God’s decree for that of a man. – Dr. Jaafar Sheikh Idris

  • No Muslim could become president in a secular regime, for in order to pledge loyalty to the constitution, a Muslim would have to abandon part of his belief and embrace the belief of secularism � which is practically another religion.

    And yet Abdullah Gul remains President of Turkey.

    Perhaps what Dr. Idris meant to say was “No Muslim who agrees with my interpretation could become president…”, which would be closer to the truth. I do hope he is not implying that Muslims who disgree with his interpretation are not really Muslims, which would be unfortunate.

  • Alias

    One of the advantages of a lack of an organisation or hierarchical structure in Islam is that no-one can formally exclude you from being a Muslim – even pork chop loving gingers from Mayo can be Muslims.

  • Well, there are five absolute requirements for being a Muslim: prayer, alms, pilgrimage, fasting and the profession of faith. All else is flexible at least to some extent (and even fasting and pilgrimage have escape clauses). So those people who try to make out that there is only one interpretation of Islam are just as unrepresentative as the Bible literalists.

  • ForkHandles

    UserAinm,
    “Forkhandles,

    In case you wanted to know your argument lost all validity at this point right here:

    “Atheists are the most intolerant people currently on the face of this earth. “”

    To make your point you need to explain why you can argue that my point has lost validity on this point. Please explain your reasons!! You are half way to making an interesting point. Go on and and finish it!!
    Why I say this is that atheists usually say that any point they don’t agree with is wrong and then usually simply insult the ideas and beliefs of the person making the point they don’t agree with. Atheists never make a conclusive argument that uses their core beliefs of scientific testing and observation to prove what they are saying is correct. So please give your detailed argument on why you say my point lost all validity…… ??? 🙂
    By the way, people should not think that I am supporting Muslim beliefs in any way. The reality is that Muslims have been deceived by a false prophet called Mohammed that himself was deceived to believe things that are contrary to what God had already imparted to mankind several centuries before when he sent his son to be sacrificed as a way to allow man to be freed of the consequences of sin. The Muslim faith is as false as any superstition or false gods of other regions of the world today.

  • UserAinm

    Well in simple terms for that statement to be true you would have to be aware of all of the people on the earth and how intolerant they are then you would have had to rank them and have found only atheists in the highest sector of intolerance. This would be an impossibility due to attitudes and population figures constantly changing. Pesky controlled experiments.

  • .. (not) only one interpretation of Islam..

    Absolutely right, Andrew.
    I had interesting discussions on that point with an Islamist in Istanbul a few months ago (he helped to save my life). He had been born to a Catholic family, tried Judaism, then Buddhism, before finding his comfort in Islam. A key point to him was that religion in any place is not absolute. It is a blend of both the core beliefs of a religion and the cultural beliefs or practices of the people of that area. There is, therefore, considerable differences as to how Islam is practised in Turkey or Indonesia as compared with Saudi Arabia.

  • UserAinm

    Forkhandles,

    I’m just one god more atheist than you to be fair. But I don’t come here to engage with people I agree with, that would be boring and I can do that all day so if you give me a bit to reread your explanation above I’ll give a fuller response.

  • ForkHandles

    Yes please UserAinm, Always interesting to hear peoples reasons behind their opinions on slugger!

  • Alias

    “there are five absolute requirements for being a Muslim” – Andrew

    12 pillars according to some clerics. At bit like Christains, how may observe the commandments? A lot less than claim to be Christains. Incidentally, Mecca gets 15 million vistors a year on average (all members of other faiths remained banned from visiting), so how many Muslims visit Mecca at least once in lifetime? If they all lived to be at least 164 they might meet that “absolute requirement” for being a Muslim.

  • Pete Baker

    “By the way, people should not think that I am supporting Muslim beliefs in any way. The reality is that Muslims have been deceived by a false prophet called Mohammed that himself was deceived to believe things that are contrary to what God had already imparted to mankind several centuries before when he sent his son to be sacrificed as a way to allow man to be freed of the consequences of sin.”

    *shakes head*

  • ForkHandles

    Why Pete? Have you got some sort of twitch? 🙂 Or would you care to explain your head movement? Can you? Go on !

  • Pete Baker

    “The Muslim faith is as false as any superstition or false gods of other regions of the world today.”

    Indeed.

  • UserAinm

    The first problem I would have with that statements is that talking in absolutes sets your argument up to fail from the off. You simply can’t talk about groups of people in such absolute and extreme terms. If I were to say that tea drinkers are the most racist people currently on the earth that would be ridiculous. Despite the fact that amongst tea drinkers we would certainly find some of the most racist people currently on the earth we conversely would also find some of the least racist people on the earth. Atheist is a loaded term which covers a broad group of people, some who see themselves as part of a group and some for whom this would be anathema.

    “Why I say this is that atheists usually say that any point they don’t agree with is wrong and then usually simply insult the ideas and beliefs of the person making the point they don’t agree with.”

    I would suggest that the above, taken out of the context of your post, could be said of anyone who starts a debate on any subject but who instead of putting their points across resorts to a slanging match. See football fans for an example.

    “Atheists never make a conclusive argument that uses their core beliefs of scientific testing and observation to prove what they are saying is correct.”

    It gets a bit sticky here in that all atheists don’t believe or disbelieve the same things and I couldn’t presume to talk for anyone but myself. But what you say is broadly true. Atheists get in trouble when they say for definite that there is no such thing as God. Loads of reasons for this, one being that if we are to argue using the scientific method then we can never truly prove a negative, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. In science we accept that there are things that we can prove to a degree, new evidence may come to light however and then we have to shift. This is the beauty of science, it is always open to new evidence and if one day a trumpet is heard and (well you know the rest), then we will all review our positions, quickly I would imagine. At this point though for me I haven’t seen enough evidence to support belief in a God. In fact to narrow it down more for the benefit of our discussion, what I have been taught has led me to believe that if there were to be such a thing as God the Christian God as taught in the bible is unlikely to be it.

    “By the way, people should not think that I am supporting Muslim beliefs in any way. The reality is that Muslims have been deceived by a false prophet called Mohammed that himself was deceived to believe things that are contrary to what God had already imparted to mankind several centuries before when he sent his son to be sacrificed as a way to allow man to be freed of the consequences of sin. The Muslim faith is as false as any superstition or false gods of other regions of the world today.”

    All I can say on this is that it was my understanding that you all shared the same God and that he only cared that you came to him, not how you came to him.

  • Alias

    “He had been born to a Catholic family, tried Judaism, then Buddhism, before finding his comfort in Islam.” – Mister Joe

    I’d guess that your friend was telling you porkies. He seems to trying to present the various religions as consumer goods, not grasping the profound differences between them or that not all of them are self-nominative. Judaism, for example, is non-proselytizing and doesn’t welcome gentiles as converts, subjecting them to a formal and stringent conversion process under the supervision of a Rabbi. Most Jews would hold the view that you can’t be Jewish unless your mother is Jewish, so it is hereditary and ethnic rather than self-nominative. One of my daughters wanted to convert to Judaism, mainly because she felt excluded from that side of her family, but none of them, including myself, would accept it and that was the end of that. Anyone wanting to convert to Judaism would, frankly, be laughed out of it…

  • Alias,

    I don’t believe for a minute that he was telling me porkies. He described to me what counties he went to in trying to find a meaning for his existence. We talked for hours while I was recovering from a near fatal illness. He didn’t say exactly why he didn’t find Judaism was his answer. Perhaps you have explained why.

  • UserAinm

    I like the non prostelatising aspect of Judaism, I’ve often wondered how these faiths feel about the faiths that do practise ministry?

  • Alias

    “I don’t believe for a minute that he was telling me porkies.”

    Hopefully, he had a Reform Rabbi who spotted that he wasn’t suitable and saved him a few years off the conversion process. But if not, he can now understand basic Hebrew, so he came away with something enriching out of it, eh? Same about the mandatory circumcision though… that had to hurt.

  • Alias,

    I’m at a loss as to why you are trying to disrespect a young man (at the time) who was trying to understand the meaning of life.

  • It makes me wonder if some Jewish adherents detest the sect that their religion gave birth to, to the extent that they will disparage someone accidentally born into that sect and who tries to understand the roots of that sect.

  • Greenflag

    userainm,

    ‘I’ve often wondered how these faiths feel about the faiths that do practise ministry?

    Anyone can become a Catholic, Presbyterian , Anglican, Lutheran , Evangelical Mormon or Baptist or Muslim Sunni , Muslim Shiite etc – Judaism is the main exception to the ‘all welcome here ‘ motif although there are probably other ‘religions ‘ which try to maintain an exclusive marketing franchise .The reasons for Judaism’s exceptionalism go back a long way in history as any reading of the Old Testament will show -not for this thread .

    Those truly devoted to finding the meaning of their existence can go the whole hog and even become Scientologists where they get to experience the vacuuming off of their financial assets and any remaining mental /reasoning faculties to a degree not found in the more mass marketing kinds of religions ..Interestingly they also get to believe that humans are the descendants of the survivors of some far galactic empire which was wiped out in some super nova several million/billion years ago or some such crapology.

    Religion gives ‘comfort ‘ to some people and in that sense it’s harmless enough like ‘astrology ‘ But when mixed with a dash of politics , power , money and race /ethno culture it can become a destructive force as anyone living in the Middle East or any part of Europe between 100 AD and indeed up to today can attest .


    In these days of heightening tension re Iran it’s well to remember that war appears to be ‘God’s’ way of teaching American’s geography ‘Far better if they learnt it in school and some world history to.

    There was a pre 1776 world and some parts of the world are still pre 1776 in their mode of thought and some of those parts are even in the USA itself and not just in Iran or Afghanistan or Israel or North Korea !

  • Greenflag

    @ mister joe ,

    ‘It makes me wonder if some Jewish adherents detest the sect that their religion gave birth to, to the extent that they will disparage someone accidentally born into that sect and who tries to understand the roots of that sect.’

    As Alias states above only if the mother is Jewish can a person convert so anybody who’s mother isn’t would find it probably impossible and even if would not be ‘recognised ‘ by devout jews as a ‘real ‘ jew . So any such ‘conversion’ would be self defeating and probably psychologically injurious longer term ?

    Ireland is the only country in Europe in which no jewish people were killed as a result of pogroms etc . Unfortunately the same cannot be said of Catholics and Protestants on this island .

  • ForkHandles

    Appreciate the reply UserAinm. Im spent on the subject for now. Hope you continue to keep an open mind and one day see the light 🙂

  • Alias

    “As Alias states above only if the mother is Jewish can a person convert so anybody who’s mother isn’t would find it probably impossible and even if would not be ‘recognised ‘ by devout jews as a ‘real ‘ jew . So any such ‘conversion’ would be self defeating and probably psychologically injurious longer term ?”

    Almost right, except that a person whose mother is Jewish wouldn’t need to convert as he/she would be born Jewish. It passes along the maternal line, which is why a devout Jewish mother wants her son to marry a Jewish girl – and why I broke my mother’s heart.

    It’s as much a nation and a culture as it is a religion, so anyone wanting to ‘join’ the religious part would find themselves excluded from the other parts and what they might expect to be their ‘brethren’.

    The conservative Jews, particularly, are hostile to converts and even the reformers are wary of them, making sure that whomever wants to convert is earnest and realistic, and not the type of fickle religious butterfly flittering from one religion to the next that Joe referred to.

    Now, back on topic (to avoid a card)…

  • Alias

    “..who was trying to understand the meaning of life.”

    David Lloyd already found the meaning of life, so this will save others some time: “A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.”

  • Alias,

    There was me being fooled for a while into thinking that you were a person who could reason with himself to understand different situations. But now you have convinced me that you are one of the people who believes that an accident of birth makes you one of the “chosen” people and the vast majority of others are condemned to perdition. Perhaps you might care to examine the beliefs of the Jehovah Witnesses. Only 144,000. Such a shame.

  • Alias

    What’s reasonable about love, Joe? Not a whole lot. Do you also dismiss the value of love on that basis? Humans are only partially rational beings but that’s life. If you want to be rational (and Gödel’s incompleteness theorems among others render belief in rationality to an irrational belief), put in a request with Gautama Buddha to be reincarnated as a circuit board.

    But, Joe, I note that you defend your friend for his irrational pursuit of meaning in religion but condemn me for what you assume is the same act. I think one proffering the supremacy of rationality should be a bit more consistent in his arguments, don’t you?

    Or is there something else bugging you? Those porkies again?

  • Sorry, Alias.I’m not willing to respond to your tainted bait anymore. Go your way in peace.

  • Alias,

    BTW, I think you do not understand Godel’s incompleteness theorem. I highly recommend the book “Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid” by Prof. Douglas Hofstadter.

  • Alias

    No problem, Joe. I’d ask you to explain the theorems to me but I wouldn’t like to send you scurrying off to Google at such a late hour.

  • Book is on my shelf.

  • HeinzGuderian

    ‘Almost right, except that a person whose mother is Jewish wouldn’t need to convert as he/she would be born Jewish…….’

    Alas,we are all born Atheists.
    Some parents seek to burden their children with their supernatural beliefs,(which is quite sad),others choose to let their child make their own decision on which brand(or none)of supernatural sky daddy to believe in.

    😉

  • Greenflag

    @ Heinz Guderian ,

    We seldom agree . So I thought I’d just note the occasion 🙂

  • abucs

    Hello UserAinm,

    your enquiry ……….

    “’m not sure I follow here, could you expand on this a bit: “One thing is certain though, the view of state against religion or instead of religion, has created the worst human rights violations in the history of mankind and failed everywhere.”

    This is referring mainly to the socialist anti-Christian philosophy that we saw in the last 150 years where politicians (some ex revolutionaries) explicitly attacked the Churches (or other religious) and put in place either an atheist philosophy or an anti Christian philosophy which was the foundation of the state.

    That has failed everywhere and caused by far the greatest human rights violations in history by a long, long, long way.