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Go to: Ayaan Hirsi Ali versus Timothy Garton Ash

LookToWindward's Avatar Jump to comment 70 by LookToWindward

I think Ayaan inadvertently hit on a fairly fundamental problem: can we really talk to the Muslim as a person endowed with the faculty of reason? Or indeed anyone who takes their religion seriously?

I believe, in fact, that we can assume that everyone (worth talking to) has the faculty of reason, but isn't one of the primary effects of religious indoctrination to incapacitate any process of reasoning, whether internalised or external, that contradicts certain crucial precepts of a faith?

Surely discourse on almost any subject central to this debate would eventually come back to the basic contradiction: the believer must reconcile the apparently sensible conclusions of reason with the central tenet of the perfection of their sacred text or the divinity of their prophet. And someone who takes their religion seriously would, I would argue by definition, always choose the central tenet over reason. In other words, they would say "that cannot be right because my religion (my book, my prophet) says otherwise", and at that point you must ask them to question the validity of their religion, which they are not prepared to do.

This is if you can persuade them to engage in discourse on a subject that appears to have a clear religious response on non-religious terms in the first place. Am I not right, isn't that one of the main disabling effects of indoctrination? In many cases it hardly seems clear how you could possibly frame your discourse in non-religious terms. A discussion about the wearing of the veil for instance - the only reason it is in question is because of the religious belief, so you are immediately faced with the proposition of engaging in a fundamental debate about the validity of your opponent's religion - right from the outset! Is that really realistic?

I was largely on Ayaan's side of the room, but perhaps Timothy Garton-Ash had a point. Someone, with greater ability than I to disregard truth in pursuit of a longer-term goal, might just need to encourage the liberal thinkers just so that one day in the future we can even /approach/ the argument as purely one of reason, and not doctrine.

Fri, 14 Dec 2007 09:13:00 UTC | #94229

Go to: Frequently Asked Questions about the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust

LookToWindward's Avatar Jump to comment 42 by LookToWindward

nothing asked about PeterK's comments about bedclothes.

Answer: it is a snide reference to the phrase "You made the bed, you lie in it".

Individuals with high profiles /can/ generate the public will for change. You naysayers hide your heads in the sand and pretend that everyone's opinions and actions have equal impact if you like. Some of us have a better understanding of history.

edit: response to the above. Everyone is entitled to their opinion about what impact Ayaan's willingness to speak out about her faith is having, however moronic. Giving money is not compulsory. So give nothing.

Wed, 21 Nov 2007 07:01:00 UTC | #85456

Go to: I didn't know the FLEA CIRCUS was back in town!

LookToWindward's Avatar Jump to comment 198 by LookToWindward

Did anyone listen to Tina on Sunday Worship on Radio 4? She was talking about Mother Teresa and issued such a classic it should go down as one of the most profound theist statements ever issued. She was talking about Mother Teresa's anguish over losing any feeling of the presence of God in her life for 50 years. She said

"Sometimes God's presence is most intensely experienced as a form of absence and yearning."

There you have it. God must be present /precisely because/ he feels so completely absent.

Stunning. It just makes your jaw drop, doesn't it?

The link to listen again (go to 23 minutes in):

Tue, 06 Nov 2007 09:20:00 UTC | #81701

Go to: Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc. were atheists, and they were terrible! Answer that!

LookToWindward's Avatar Jump to comment 43 by LookToWindward

I agree largely with Richard's main line: that there is no rational path from atheism to atrocity, but there is from religion (or, at least, most of them).

In general I would start by agreeing that the debate is a little too focussed on atheism vs theism, rather than on whether reason is desirable, and whether religion represents unreason.

Secondly, I would point out what an admission it is for the theist to use this argument: essentially they're admitting that the value of Christianity is as nothing more than a dam against human nature. Not only is it a very negative stance on religion, it is a very negative stance on human nature.

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 05:50:00 UTC | #77996

Go to: War in Heaven: Hitchens Meets D'Souza on Home Turf

LookToWindward's Avatar Jump to comment 50 by LookToWindward

Clearly we need to break this meme that there's something terrible about us being a product of simple chemistry and the wranglings of selfish genes (let us not forget that even our desire to 'overcome the tyranny of the selfish gene' is born of competing genetic traits). It makes not a jot of difference to me whether I enjoy giving blood or the laugh of a child because of an instinct or because somebody else made me that way - I enjoy it nonetheless!

There is no view of life more meaningless, in my opinion, than one in which all objectives are part of someone else's plan, and not our own. That is the nihilistic view, not atheism's.

Wed, 24 Oct 2007 01:46:00 UTC | #77332

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