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← Why do the religious insist on presenting a united front?

Why do the religious insist on presenting a united front? - Comments

nickthelight's Avatar Comment 1 by nickthelight

The view of other religions from those who hold a belief is restrained by the 21st century pain in the ass – “respect”

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 12:50:43 UTC | #923433

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 2 by SaganTheCat

quite.

it's for this reason i'm watching the reaction against secularism with interest. while secularism has been bolted onto atheism in the media and atheism is the common enemy, religious groups have shot themselves in the foot. this united front is a display of secularism and one awkward question from a believer away from unravelling the whole ficade as a misrepresented ad-hom argument against a group of people with a particular world-view, and the only argument they can put up against "militant" secularism is to pretend to be secularists themselves. in all ways except by excluding one group.

pass the popcorn

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 12:52:33 UTC | #923434

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 3 by Alan4discussion

So there's got to be something else going on here and it doesn't seem uncharitable to suggest that it's a kind of sticking together for self-interest, a version of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend"

As secular science debunks wooo and their numbers and finance base drop, they are desperately looking for allies, and an enemy to motivate alliances of the incompatible in fighting a rear-guard action.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 12:57:55 UTC | #923435

potteryshard's Avatar Comment 4 by potteryshard

Its simply professional courtesy. Starting an interfaith squabble will only interfere with the daily business of fleecing the flocks, and might create an opportunity for those atheist wolves.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 13:03:15 UTC | #923436

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 5 by AtheistEgbert

Baggini is getting a bit tiresome. One week he almost comes to the same conclusion as new atheists, and yet in another he's praying hard to a non-existing God. He is confused, but projects his confusion onto others, and then he attempts to understand them.

Religion plays the politics of civility but not reasonableness. It plays civility very well indeed, which is about being nice and respectful and tolerant, so long as you're in power of course, but when that privilege becomes threatened, things turn nasty and very uncivil indeed.

Religion is not rational, it is based on faith or trust in the authority of others, not in the world of facts and the faculties of reason. But it does play a very good game of politics. People are more likely to follow the group, or follow the winners, rather than use their own brains, and so religion is at an advantage politically.

But then, when the not so nice reasonable tones of angry criticism invade the gentleman's club of civility, well then, we can't have all that noise and shrillness, its not nice or civil.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 13:17:55 UTC | #923441

Tony d's Avatar Comment 6 by Tony d

There are plenty of moderate Christians, for example, who have much more in common with sympathetic atheists than they do evangelicals.

Maybe but that does not make them as cool as us. Just saying.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 13:18:57 UTC | #923442

danconquer's Avatar Comment 7 by danconquer

"So why the silence about the errors of other faiths?", asks the article.

It might be helpful to think of this in genetic terms. Despite the differences in the 'DNA' of the various strains of religious belief, they do still share the majority of their 'genetic' makeup. Imagine Islam, Christianity and Hinduism as various apes (perhaps gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos respectively!). Despite some critical differences they nonetheless share 99% of their genes in common. Then along comes atheism which is certainly not a primate, not even a mammal. Infact, it isn't even a reptile so much as an alien life form from outer space.

The writer is coming very much from the perspective of broadly secular and stable European democracies where atheism has long been in the ascendancy. In those times and spaces where atheism and secularism are negligible, then religions do routinely "point out each others error's" (often with swords and guns). But faced with the greater threat of atheism and secularism, the displays of mutual respect that we see here are largely 'marriages of convenience'; they represent alliances that are forged out of a necessity of survival against a greater enemy, with whom they share no DNA at all.

Think also for example of the mutually adulatory wartime propaganda posters that were produced by both Britain and the Soviet Union, "Churchill & Stalin: Comrades In Arms!", etc. Humans will quite naturally form alliances with those we might ordinarily strongly oppose. It is an amazingly ready trait which presents itself all the time in human affairs, which speaks volumes as to how effective it must be that it should come so naturally to us all.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 13:28:20 UTC | #923444

Jarl Carlander's Avatar Comment 8 by Jarl Carlander

I agree with him. There are Christians who ought to align more with us. I remember Two Citations debating Hitch and saying something like 'These theological differences are just differences among brethren...' He doesn't really seem to care what people do as long as they believe in god, and my suspicion is that there are many like this.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 13:50:59 UTC | #923446

Vorlund's Avatar Comment 9 by Vorlund

I think the reason for this is the same reason that it happens everywhere. Nearly all people are inculcated with the notion that you shouldn't criricise someone's religious beliefs even if they are totally bonkers. Many of us atheists and antitheists probably sit on our hands rather too much in the company of aquaintances with religious views. People who demand respect for their own daftness are even less likely to criticise other religions. For my part people I know are aware of my views, I don't get into conflicts because they keep a low profile. I'm happy to discuss issues with those who have the emotional intelligence for it (suprisingly some do).

Politics is also another no no. I have expressed views on various british governments and had staunch party members walk off with their arses in a sling.

I was raised by grandparents who were victorians, I used to be admonished for any views which were anti establishment, such talk was deemed unwise or even dangerous by them. Even at 7 years of age I couldn't see why things like the royal family couldn't be questioned just because it wasn't the done thing.

Sam Harris advocates a conversational intolerance of supenatural chatter, people who talk about doGs and the like should be made to feel our incredulity.

He's correct, we need to begin now.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 14:08:02 UTC | #923450

Jumped Up Chimpanzee's Avatar Comment 10 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee

For once, I think Julian Baggini makes a reasonable point.

I think the reason so many of different religions respect each other is purely out of self-interest. If they were to consider it reasonable to attack each other's beliefs more often, they'd have even less justification for protesting when their own religious beliefs are attacked, whether by athesists or other religionists.

It's also plainly obvious that a broad range of different beliefs, and different sects within each general religion, makes it much harder to make a focused attack on any belief system. The most obvious example is the response to the claims that Islam is an intolerant faith: "no it isn't; it's a religion of peace". Well, it can be whatever you want it to be, or whatever suits your purpose at any given time.

There's no better defence than vagueness.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 14:31:12 UTC | #923455

drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 11 by drumdaddy

Thick as theives.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 15:40:53 UTC | #923475

Wolfgang Brosche's Avatar Comment 12 by Wolfgang Brosche

It´s a fact that members of the Vatican and High Islamic Clergy from Iran meet from time to time. Their common enemy is democracy, an open society, they hate gay and fight against women´s rights. The beliefs of the Pius-Bretheren, the members of Opus Dei and other orthodox Catholic organisations have a lot in common with the beliefs of Islamists. I have no doubt that Pope Ratzinger and many of his followers dream of overcoming democrycy and modern society. Ratzingers idea of the "dictatorship of relativism" condems personal freedom, free science and a liberal society. I´m absolutely convinced that the Vatcan will alos come to terms with the American Evangelicals. The antisemitic reflex of Catholics and Muslims in something else they have in common. We still must observe these criminal organisations with utmost care. Both operate with fear and lies and hate"

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 16:16:54 UTC | #923484

lilliput's Avatar Comment 13 by lilliput

I think this...

Sure, people do sincerely believe the specific tenets of their faith, albeit with varying degrees of intensity and selectivity. But whereas the exact contents of the creed are up for negotiation, that there must be one is not. What matters above all else is to be religious: how exactly you do so is mere detail.

...is the best explanation, along with a) the conflation of religiousness with morality and b) the No True Scotsman fallacy.

I think most or many moderate believers really do genuinely believe that all it takes to be a good person is to believe in God, and that all religions ultimately have the same message and really are equivalent paths. Belief in a higher power is seen as a precondition to being a moral person, and the very human ability to appreciate beauty and wonder in life is equated with believing that a higher power was responsible for it (argh!).

This necessitates that the moderates dismiss the fundamentalists of each faith as loonies, or at least that they take things too far, and that they don't represent the "real" faith; I think that's how they reconcile the "nitpicky" differences between religions.

Edited to add: I think the above applies for "ordinary" folk; probably can't say the same for the institutions like the Catholic Church and the High Islamic Clergy mentioned in the previous comment

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 16:19:32 UTC | #923486

bubbub's Avatar Comment 14 by bubbub

There may be an element of self interest when we're talking about religious leaders, but I find even individuals who believe in woo are happy enough once they (mistakenly) think you believe in some other kind of woo. I get the same thing from new age types or conspiracy theorists. When I give them examples of mutually exclusive types of woo they sometimes say things like, "oh, so you believe that x is how things are, ok". They then seem happy to stop bothering me, so I don't always bother correcting them.

I think what they really bothers them is that until they think you believe in some sort of woo, you are the embodiment of the doubt in the back of their minds. Deep down they might be aware that they are living a self maintained delusion.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 16:59:05 UTC | #923489

prettygoodformonkeys's Avatar Comment 15 by prettygoodformonkeys

They believe in believing. When I was a believer I thought the presence of other religions just meant they were culturally misinterpreting the 'reality' of God: their 'experience' of this divine reality meant that we were just arguing about cultural differences (Babel, the confusion of different languages) but it actually increased my feeling that God must be real.

I know I'm just projecting my own experience on them (who isn't?), but I actually think they are sincerely supporting each other's basic belief in belief. If they read each other's books (and their own, for starters), they might start to see that there is no possible reconciliation between religions, and no possible reconciliation between religion and reality.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 17:50:54 UTC | #923504

Retusa's Avatar Comment 16 by Retusa

All religions have some kind of supernatural boss, that's their unifying factor and it's well known that unification confers power. Religion is willing to compromise to some degree for the greater good, we atheists seem unable to compromise on personally held opinions to the detriment of the greater good. Until we learn to compromise when necessary we will continue to lack unity and therefore be unable to wield the power needed to influence politicians.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 17:58:07 UTC | #923506

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 17 by Mr DArcy

From the article:

The more depressing truth seems to be that for all their aspirations for transcendent truth and higher purpose, religions behave like any other worldly individual or organisation and end up doing what protects their secular interests, not what most aligns with their values.

Well surprise, surprise! Big Man in sky no show!

We have to make it up as it goes along boys! (No gals allowed).

Yes various religions do certainly exist. Unfortunately we are still awaiting the evidence for the various deities. It seems it will be a long wait, so we might as well get on with something else!

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 18:30:38 UTC | #923511

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 18 by Schrodinger's Cat

Hmm. I suspect that If an interfaith meeting were a business meeting.....it would undoubtedly go something like this....

Christian : " I'd just like to say that we have a powerful bond with other sales groups within the company.....our common promotion of snake oil"

Muslim : " I agree. Minor differences over the brand of snake oil pale into insignificance compared with the need to maximise snake oil profits "

Hindu : " Yes it's quite remarkable how all our inter-departmental disputes pale into insignificance when snake oil sales start to fall"

.....and so on.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 18:43:31 UTC | #923516

Zeuglodon's Avatar Comment 19 by Zeuglodon

Surely the fact that they are competing birds of prey with their wings clipped is a factor? The idea doesn't make sense if you suppose that one of them had the power to oppose all the others because then the rest'd all be lumped into the same category. Isn't international secularism, plus the need to appease any powerful nations that are watching them, at least partly responsible for keeping them low-lying and cooperative? This is the "down-on-his-luck sycophant" hypothesis. After all, supposing they got rid of irreligion? Would the supposed truce between them last long?

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 18:43:57 UTC | #923517

Daryl 's Avatar Comment 20 by Daryl

They might be good theologians, whatever that means, but they are lousy businesspeople. Because I can see the bright young kid from the Harvard Business School (OK, Wharton, London School of Economics, whatever) enter the room with all these charts and PowerPoints and say,

"I've found this great untapped market! If we can tap into this 'gay marriage business,' the first division here at GodCoLtd. will have this enormous sign up. We will make a fortune!"

Comment 18 by Schrodinger's Cat :

Hmm. I suspect that If an interfaith meeting were a business meeting.....it would undoubtedly go something like this....

Christian : " I'd just like to say that we have a powerful bond with other sales groups within the company.....our common promotion of snake oil"

Muslim : " I agree. Minor differences over the brand of snake oil pale into insignificance compared with the need to maximise snake oil profits "

Hindu : " Yes it's quite remarkable how all our inter-departmental disputes pale into insignificance when snake oil sales start to fall"

.....and so on.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 20:47:44 UTC | #923556

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 21 by Mr DArcy

Daryl:

"I've found this great untapped market! If we can tap into this 'gay marriage business,' the first division here at GodCoLtd. will have this enormous sign up. We will make a fortune!"

AFTERLIFE GUARANTEED! Or your money back, if not satisfied, within an eternity.

FOR THE ATHEISTS WE HAVE THE GRAND CRUISE OF THE ISLANDS OF THE FIERY LAKE!

FOR CHRISTIANS WE CAN OFFER A CLOSE UP VIEW OF THE PEARLY GATES & THE POSSIBILITY OF MEETING ST PETER HIMSELF!

FOR MUSLIMS WE CAN OFFER A FINISHING LINE SEAT FOR THE WINGED HORSES DERBY!

HURRY! ONCE IT"S GONE, IT"S GONE!

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 21:43:08 UTC | #923576

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 22 by the great teapot

I quite agree with the dalai, capatalism sucks, I have worked in the private sector all my life, like him. Anytime he wants to swap my beaten in, oil burning mazda with his chauffer driven luxury vehicle he can just let me know.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 22:31:14 UTC | #923596

Corylus's Avatar Comment 23 by Corylus

I like Julian Baggini in that I have enjoyed several of his books.

My goodness me though - for a smart person - the penny dropping takes some time.

Oh well, it does seem to happen eventually at least.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 22:33:18 UTC | #923597

squidward's Avatar Comment 24 by squidward

I just debated an Islamic creationist group handing out Qu'ran pamphlets at college. They got offended and refused to continue debating me

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 23:15:11 UTC | #923612

Denial's Avatar Comment 25 by Denial

People tend to be tolerant of what they know. Education correlates with tolerance.

Representatives sent to the interfaith things always know the other religions there at least a little. And they're always quite educated people. Most of them have been to interfaith things before.

Conspiracy theory: unnecessary.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 23:22:01 UTC | #923617

zengardener's Avatar Comment 26 by zengardener

They are fine with arguing about who is wrong amongst the faithful, but when someone comes along and points out that the shade of the emperor's clothes is not the problem, they close ranks and lock arms.

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 23:42:14 UTC | #923625

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 27 by QuestioningKat

So there's got to be something else going on here and it doesn't seem uncharitable to suggest that it's a kind of sticking together for self-interest, a version of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". A religion's direct competitors are not the biggest threat. People rarely switch between them and because the traffic tends to be two-way, the net affect is usually negligible anyway. The real danger comes from people giving up on religion altogether. So religions have an interest in "sector building", seeing promotion of the profile of their kind existential product as being more important than their particular brand.

eeeh, I'm not completely sure about this. I belonged to a very liberal church which sincerely meant it when it was said "what works best for you..." Their view is that everyone is on their own spiritual path and is trying to find their way, including atheists, Islam, etc. "All paths Lead to God." is the view for many liberal and moderately religious.

I think people are like this in general. Everyone is more concerned about themselves and less concerned about what you're doing. How many times have people sat back while a friend made poor choices and said nothing. I think this is similar. Only a few people are so regimented and self righteous enough to make an issue about what other people are doing. Unbalanced people would rather pay attention to other people's issues rather than " tending to their own garden." Frankly most people don't care.

Will the religious stick together? Sure if they are in a situation that calls for it.

Fri, 02 Mar 2012 00:35:07 UTC | #923636

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 28 by Border Collie

Well, that was pretty weak.

Fri, 02 Mar 2012 02:16:26 UTC | #923667

Ocellatus's Avatar Comment 29 by Ocellatus

I think Baggini is really a New Atheist (tm). He's just taking his time finding it out himself.

Fri, 02 Mar 2012 07:04:39 UTC | #923691

SuedeStonn's Avatar Comment 30 by SuedeStonn

I'm with Daniel Clear, let these idiots take away secularism and watch the fight for which religion comes out on top in the good ol' US of A. Pass the popcorn indeed...

non est deus

Fri, 02 Mar 2012 10:09:13 UTC | #923705