How Religion Destroys a Civilization (A Warning For The Present Day)
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18-06-2012, 01:10 PM
How Religion Destroys a Civilization (A Warning For The Present Day)
A good lecture from Neil DeGrasse Tyson about the downfall of Islamic society from a center of scientific, intellectual, mathematical, and medical achievement to being shackled and crippled by ignorance and superstition. It's a good warning for us, given some of the trends in our society today.




"IN THRUST WE TRUST"

"We were conservative Jews and that meant we obeyed God's Commandments until His rules became a royal pain in the ass."

- Joel Chastnoff, The 188th Crybaby Brigade
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18-06-2012, 03:19 PM
RE: How Religion Destroys a Civilization (A Warning For The Present Day)
(18-06-2012 01:10 PM)Carlo_The_Bugsmasher_Driver Wrote:  A good lecture from Neil DeGrasse Tyson about the downfall of Islamic society from a center of scientific, intellectual, mathematical, and medical achievement to being shackled and crippled by ignorance and superstition. It's a good warning for us, given some of the trends in our society today.





This is great lecture by Tyson.

" Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous."
David Hume
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18-06-2012, 04:46 PM
RE: How Religion Destroys a Civilization (A Warning For The Present Day)
I've been thinking about this the last few days on my own.

I see the problem slightly differently.

I have a number of Muslim friends. One in particular, a Palestinian, once sat me down and explained to me the difference between Islam the beautiful religion of love, and Islam, the totalitarian ultra-right monolithic dissent crushing machine that makes life for most Muslims a special kind of hell.

There's a lot to be said for Islam and for any religion for that matter. But like most, I have huge issue with the organisation itself (insert religion here) and its use and abuse of power. It's more that abuse of power that is the issue than any particular beliefs; wacky ones included. But to get to that great nougat centre of goodness, you have to separate out the organisation and as I explained to another friend (who went on to convert to Sufism) I'm not entirely convinced that the good can be extricated from the organisation. But even with that possible difficulty, there is a "baby with the bathwater" dilemma at play.

I like Neil's point that during that 300 year period, Baghdad was an open city. Every one and every view was welcome. When Neil talked about Al-Ghazali, I knew without doubt what had happened. He was afraid. He was afraid of all of the different views in his city. Because every new view meant less room for his view. It's a memepool thing. Every idea has a certain representation in the pool expressed in a percentage. If you're 10% percent of the pool, you're in a far more precarious situation than if you're 100% of the pool. And that's what this chucklehead decided to do. To throw everyone out of the pool so just him and his buddies could have it.

This is the real problem of Islam. From that point, through to today (with notable exceptions like Turkey for example). So many of the Islamic kingdoms and states (someone posted a few weeks ago how visitors to Saudi Arabia exported their particular brand of Islam home) are not just Islamic states, not just theocracies, but totalitarian and closed. They tolerate no dissension and crush it without mercy.

Side story, a friend of mine was in Riyadh (I think, SA for sure) and he said there was a place called Chop Chop Square. It was where they beheaded people. Like he was passing a train wreck, he stopped on the outskirts of the crowd to see what was what. The crowd essentially took him and his friend and moved them to the front of the crowd so they could see what was going on. He said it was a warning. This is how we roll. Recognise.

Al-Ghazali was demonstrating what some associates and I refer to as the Zed Effect. On any given day, the vast majority of any group is moderate. They're close to the bullseye on the dart board. A big gaggle of them. The periphery, the extreme, is sparsley populated simply because the extreme position is exclusive while the centre is inclusive (witness 800-1 100 AD in Baghdad). When a group perceives they are under attack (regardless of the veracity of it) then there is a migration from the centre to the extreme. It is the cultural equivalent of circling the wagons. The people become a hyper-version of themselves. Beliefs become rigid as if preparing to defend against attack. And the people defend their beliefs and their way of life aggressively.

So fast forward almost a thousand years and you have a closed, extreme, rigid, dissent crushing, totalitarian state. The true crime of a totalitarian state is that it does not allow other views.

So now we look at 21st century America. Christians in America are experiencing the Zed Effect. Note, the largest collection of them are called the religious right. Ultra conservative. Ultra rigid. Aggressive. Wanting to crush dissenting views. And Neil is right. If they're allowed to take over, in that form, then we're looking at a shitty time.

But if they're experiencing the Zed Effect, then what is the threat they perceive?

Invasion has never been a problem in the States because of the melting pot. Canada is much different. It's multicultural.

The threat they perceive is from within. And it comes from Atheists.

Before I go on, don't get all butthurt and think I'm saying this is all your fault cuz that ain't it. What I'm saying is that there is a movement within the Atheist community that is just as closed, rigid and dissent crushing as anything the Christian right or Al-Ghazali have to offer (regardless of my personal allegiance to science; that don't make it right). There are some that have no problem living side by side with Christianity. They adopt the "meh, it takes all kinds" mentality. Equally, there are Christians who feel that way about Atheists too. But it seems to me that in the States, on both sides, the ones leading the charge are arguing for a totalitarian state, each in their own right. Neither side wants the other to exist. If the Christian right takes over, then we can kiss science goodbye for a few thousand years (or at least until after the Rapture). If these Atheists take over, then we can kiss religion goodbye and as problematic as religion is to begin with, as important as I believe science to be, I want open Baghdad. I want the place where everyone is welcome. Because any place where ideas are forbidden is a terrible place.

I think what I'm getting at is that the extreme on both sides feed the extreme on the other. It's a positive feedback loop.

The threat isn't religion. The threat is totalitarianism.

An Islamic Cleric, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, said something that has stuck with me for a long time. He was slated to become the Imam at the infamous Ground Zero mosque, and when asked about moving, he said this (moving thing):
Quote:... if we move, that means the radicals have shaped
the discourse. The radicals will shape the discourse on both sides.
And those of us who are moderates on both sides -- you see Soledad, the
battle front is not between Muslims and non-Muslims. The real battle
front is between moderates on all sides of all the faith traditions and
the radicals on all sides. The radicals actually feed off each other.
And in some kind of existential way, need each other. And the more that
the radicals are able to control the discourse on one side, it
strengthens the radicals on the other side and vice versa. We have to
turn this around.
-Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

I don't know what the solution is, but I do know that step one is deescalating the conflict. Nothing productive can happen as long as people have their fingers on the triggers. We need to make people feel safe to put down their weapons and take a deep breath. We should, somehow, focus on ways to make it easier for all parties to walk freely through Baghdad instead of focusing on everything that's wrong with the other, what a threat they are and how to get rid of them. Because when we focus on that, we create the extreme. And if we focus on that, then we just become the next Al-Ghazali.

One can say that a world of pure science is better than a world of pure religion. That person would not be me. They're both shitty options.

Quote:We are not your enemies... And I would like to suggest that, you know, we all have to live by
the highest principles of our faith traditions. As I mentioned, it's
important -- I want Christians to live -- to be perfected Christians and
I want Muslims to be perfected Muslims and Jews to be perfected Jews.
If we don't do that, if we judge each other by the worst of the other's
behavior and by the best of our own, where are we going?
-Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

PS: Thanks for sharing the video, Carlo.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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18-06-2012, 05:00 PM
RE: How Religion Destroys a Civilization (A Warning For The Present Day)
(18-06-2012 04:46 PM)Ghost Wrote:  The threat they perceive is from within. And it comes from Atheists.

Before I go on, don't get all butthurt and think I'm saying this is all your fault cuz that ain't it. What I'm saying is that there is a movement within the Atheist community that is just as closed, rigid and dissent crushing as anything the Christian right or Al-Ghazali have to offer (regardless of my personal allegiance to science; that don't make it right). There are some that have no problem living side by side with Christianity. They adopt the "meh, it takes all kinds" mentality. Equally, there are Christians who feel that way about Atheists too. But it seems to me that in the States, on both sides, the ones leading the charge are arguing for a totalitarian state, each in their own right. Neither side wants the other to exist. If the Christian right takes over, then we can kiss science goodbye for a few thousand years (or at least until after the Rapture). If these Atheists take over, then we can kiss religion goodbye and as problematic as religion is to begin with, as important as I believe science to be, I want open Baghdad. I want the place where everyone is welcome. Because any place where ideas are forbidden is a terrible place.
Where is it you perceive the atheist totalitarians? I would like to see religion wither and die - as would many atheists. But what I perceive is that the fight is about freedom - that religious freedom includes freedom from religion, that religious freedom requires separation of church and state.
Nowhere have I heard atheists in democracies calling for banning religion.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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18-06-2012, 05:42 PM (This post was last modified: 18-06-2012 07:22 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: How Religion Destroys a Civilization (A Warning For The Present Day)
(18-06-2012 05:00 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(18-06-2012 04:46 PM)Ghost Wrote:  The threat they perceive is from within. And it comes from Atheists.

Before I go on, don't get all butthurt and think I'm saying this is all your fault cuz that ain't it. What I'm saying is that there is a movement within the Atheist community that is just as closed, rigid and dissent crushing as anything the Christian right or Al-Ghazali have to offer (regardless of my personal allegiance to science; that don't make it right). There are some that have no problem living side by side with Christianity. They adopt the "meh, it takes all kinds" mentality. Equally, there are Christians who feel that way about Atheists too. But it seems to me that in the States, on both sides, the ones leading the charge are arguing for a totalitarian state, each in their own right. Neither side wants the other to exist. If the Christian right takes over, then we can kiss science goodbye for a few thousand years (or at least until after the Rapture). If these Atheists take over, then we can kiss religion goodbye and as problematic as religion is to begin with, as important as I believe science to be, I want open Baghdad. I want the place where everyone is welcome. Because any place where ideas are forbidden is a terrible place.
Where is it you perceive the atheist totalitarians? I would like to see religion wither and die - as would many atheists. But what I perceive is that the fight is about freedom - that religious freedom includes freedom from religion, that religious freedom requires separation of church and state.
Nowhere have I heard atheists in democracies calling for banning religion.

That was a very nice post Matt. Unlike Chas, I don't really give a shit one way or another whether religion withers and dies or not but I do believe it's collapsing under its own weight and the recent resurgence just represents a violent death throe. But I could be wrong. I do give a shit when religion becomes intolerant and starts to infringe on my metaphysics by trying to impose their own. Then they are just hypocrites not practicing what they preach. Hypocrisy is the unforgivable sin to me. And while Matt's use of totalitarian atheists might be hyperbole (although the USSR and China come immediately to mind), the point that intolerance is necessary to breed and nurture totalitarianism seems sound.

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
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18-06-2012, 06:08 PM
RE: How Religion Destroys a Civilization (A Warning For The Present Day)
If there is a fear of atheism or science it seems to centre around truth claims about creation myths. Creationists are sending their children to school only to find that the school is teaching their children "lies". "lies" are all over nature and science documentaries.

There is a real conflict between what they see as their revealed truths (Let there be light, Adam and Eve, etc) and science's view of truth (that the predictions of this model of reality are not accurate, and that the model as proposed must be discarded in favour of reliable models such as cosmology and evolution). There is also the moral front where again revealed truth (gays are bad mmkay) rubs up against both a humanist morality and the outcome of scientific studies.

There is definitely a feeling I think that there are some things that must be true and must be defended, that they are so central to a person's faith that if you give that away you might as well give it all away. You have to be able to trust the Bible, they say. You have to be able to trust the inerrancy of Genesis or you have no reason to trust the rest. How can there be original sin if there was no garden of eden? How can we talk about God as creator if his creation story is a fiction?

In the search not for answers but for something to hold on to to give stability to their lives they say to themselves. "I know God is real. I know he is perfect.". From this axiom they are able to build back up the inerrancy of the Bible. Any conflict between this view and reality is dealt with by denial and cognitive distortion. Those scientists are only saying Genesis isn't literally true because they're atheists, and they're only atheists because they just want to sin. They're puppets of the Devil. The Devil's trying to get into my household through these books and documentaries. I won't let him. I'll fight for the truth!

This is reinforced by preachers who go around saying exactly this while offering what they claim to be alternative theories. Just look at the evidence with biblical glasses and we'll be able to see how each piece of evidence can be explained by a literal Genesis.

How do you counter that and get them to calm down? I don't really know. To me it's clear that what they believe really is false, and I tend to agree with them that there is a limit to what you can take away from their beliefs before there is really no point believing any of it any more. The thing they're afraid of - losing their faith - is a real possibility. How can the fear of this possibility this be diminished?

The best I can come up with is to show that there are plenty of Christians who accept Big Bang cosmology and evolution, so there is definitely a possibility of retaining your faith even with these ideas displacing some of the literal creation myth. That, and ensuring they know that those atheists aren't so bad and they aren't on the side of Satan. It's tricky.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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18-06-2012, 06:24 PM
RE: How Religion Destroys a Civilization (A Warning For The Present Day)
http://worldnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/201...rikes?lite

...Aaaaaand, fuck islam.
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18-06-2012, 07:28 PM
RE: How Religion Destroys a Civilization (A Warning For The Present Day)
Hey, Hafnof.

Quote:How do you counter that and get them to calm down?

If that's you trying to calm people down, remind me never to let you negotiate anything lol.

I don't mean to be flip, but your post basically denied them everything. How could they construe that as an olive branch?

Hey, Danny.

Aaaaaaaaand, one thing has nothing to do with the other.

Hey, Chas.

Quote:Christian Radio Host: “Well, I wanted to make it
quite clear in our closing moments to you, Christopher, I don’t consider
you an enemy, I don’t consider you, uh”
Christopher Hitchens: “Well, I’m very sorry to hear that.”

Radio Host: “I know, because you want me to be your enemy.”

Hitchens: “Well, no, excuse me, you are my enemy.”

Radio Host: “Well, you’re not my enemy.”

Hitchens: “How do you figure that?”

Radio Host: “No, because I don’t feel the need to have to silence you, Christopher Hitchens.”

Hitchens:
“Well, you don’t have a chance of doing that. I don’t mean that at
all, I mean your preachments are evil and are a direct threat to the
survival of civilization. If you don’t consider me an enemy, then you
don’t know an enemy when you see or hear one.”

Hey, Girly.

Thanks, brother.

You could be right. Religion and nationalism both are against the ropes in my estimation. I'm a Darwinist first and foremost. All things come to an end. As long as there is time, the only constant will be change.

I'm with you, I don't like being told what I can and cannot do. I just don't like telling either.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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18-06-2012, 07:30 PM (This post was last modified: 18-06-2012 07:48 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: How Religion Destroys a Civilization (A Warning For The Present Day)
(18-06-2012 06:08 PM)Hafnof Wrote:  If there is a fear of atheism or science it seems to centre around truth claims about creation myths.

Bah, think that's just a diversionary tactic. Their real fear is that the promise of a postmortem preservation of identity is complete and utter bullshit. And they don't like it when you bring it up so they resort to diversionary tactics. Their ego can't accept the fact that it is just a temporary taxi driver. In other words, they are naive children.

(18-06-2012 06:24 PM)DannyW Wrote:  http://worldnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/201...rikes?lite

...Aaaaaand, fuck islam.

Perfect example of cutting off the nose to spite the face. Perfect example of collapsing under the weight of your own stupidity.

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
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18-06-2012, 07:33 PM
RE: How Religion Destroys a Civilization (A Warning For The Present Day)
Well, I wasn't intending to talk to them with that post but to us. It is not an olive branch, its a statement of the problem. A statement of the difficulty in finding an olive branch to extend.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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