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Get Some Perspective

Entry 610, on 2007-09-18 at 22:13:20 (Rating 4, Religion)

In the past I have defended some of the behaviour of Muslims, especially from the self-righteous Christians who criticise them. I have pointed out that they are a repressed group and that many of their religious beliefs and actions are no worse than similar extreme Christian actions, especially during the height of religious power in the west - also known as the dark ages (which in itself tells you a lot).

But I don't think I can continue to be so generous. I have just listened to a podcast which included discussions by some leading critics of Islam, including Salman Rushdie. I am a rationalist and I am prepared to change my mind when new evidence becomes available. I still totally disagree with the idea that the average Muslim is violent, but I no longer have any sympathy for the plight of Islam because it suffers from a problem which is basically self-inflicted.

Progress in the western world was impeded for centuries by the ignorant attitude of the Catholic church, and pursuing truth was considered an offence punishable by death. The same thing applies to Islam today. But the western world went through the Renaissance and Enlightenment and now we are comparatively free of the corrupting influence of religion. This never happened in the Islamic world. They are still living in the dark ages because they haven't got to the point of accepting that religion can't control every aspect of a society.

It is essential that church and state should be separate. Its not really because of the reason most people give: that freedom of religion is important and the state shouldn't be forcing particular beliefs on its citizens. I think the real reason is that religion is destructive from a practical perspective, and that's not a good basis for running a country! I would like to see religion disappear completely, but if that's not possible at least put it in a corner somewhere where it can't do too much harm!

If anyone doubts the danger of introducing more religion into society (and especially government) as the religious right in America want to do, just have a look at Islam and ask: is that where you want to be heading? So we need to get some perspective on what religion really is. Stop taking it so seriously. Let the things that really matter, like science, move ahead, even if a large proportion of the people insist on burying their heads in the sand and pretending their ancient myths are true.

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Comment 21 (915) by OJB on 2007-10-12 at 17:52:48: (view earlier comments)

I'm asking what should we use to provide our explanation of reality, our world view, our justification for morality, our basis for law, etc? I think science and religion (amongst other things) could both be used in these cases. I have made it clear which one I would prefer!

Godwin's law... right! I haven't made any references to Naziism have I? And I wasn't going to either! :) And OK, we can leave the discussion at this point. I probably do tend to exaggerate my opinion here (blogs are supposed to be somewhat inflammatory) so I will say there is a place for religion, but I still want it kept out of areas where it could have an adverse affect such as political policy, so for example: let stem cell research happen, don't let religious ideas serve as an excuse for war, don't teach religion in schools (even if it is disguised as ID). That's what I meant by putting it in a corner where it can't do any harm.

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Comment 22 (917) by sbfl on 2007-10-14 at 23:55:09:

Godwin's law - No, but I said "a step towards fulfilling Godwin's Law" as you had brought up the term 'propaganda'. Never mind, there was still some way to go!

"That's what I meant by putting it in a corner where it can't do any harm." ... like communism? ;-)

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Comment 23 (928) by OJB on 2007-10-15 at 05:16:36:

True, you did say a step towards it. But I don't think I'm in the habit of making comparisons with Naziism (I only mention it at all three times in hundreds of blog entries). Its just too easy and its done so often it has no real effect any more, which is what Godwin was really saying, I guess.

Well yes, failed political, social, religious systems should be discarded. Christianity has failed in a similar way to communism, its just taking a lot longer for that to become obvious to its followers.

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Comment 24 (944) by sbfl on 2007-10-17 at 06:30:04:

Nice pot shot. Only Communism is going out of fashion in the world whilst Christianity is only gaining in numbers. Nice try though. (in saying that, I don't see numbers necessarily being any validity to truth on any aspect in the universe - it's true the majority can be wrong!)

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Comment 25 (957) by OJB on 2007-10-17 at 10:14:46:

Christianity is only gaining because the churches are proselytising in third world countries. Eventually they will run out of suckers and then what will they do? Another point is that many people who label themselves religious aren't really that committed to the belief they identify themselves with. Its just a label they use at census time without any real thought.

And at one point communism was also gaining in numbers but that didn't last. Maybe the same will happen with religion. Also, the fastest growing religion is Islam. I don't think growth figures mean a lot here.

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