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Gibbon's Avatar Joined about 5 years ago
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Go to: Census: How religious is the UK?

Gibbon's Avatar Jump to comment 45 by Gibbon

This is a curious conincident, that the British census is occurring at around the same time as the census here in New Zealand, and that for both the 'no religion' option is the first listed. I however, will not be selecting the first option, but instead the last: 'object to answering this question'.

Tue, 22 Feb 2011 08:32:10 UTC | #594267

Go to: Divided Minds, Specious Souls

Gibbon's Avatar Jump to comment 33 by Gibbon

I suppose I’m the only one so far to see that one or two central tenets of Buddhist doctrine regarding the human mind are in fact entirely consistent with what the author is saying about the subject, which is that the concept of a unified self is an illusion and that there is no soul.

Besides that, I get the distinct impression that the basis of this ‘mind unity’ belief goes much deeper than just religious belief, as it seems that Theory of Mind relies on the very same notion.

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 09:43:06 UTC | #527029

Go to: US Supreme Court - cross is now a secular symbol

Gibbon's Avatar Jump to comment 64 by Gibbon

I find this furore over the courts interpreting the cross as a non-sectarian symbol to be both odd and somewhat fascinating. The simple reason for that is the fact that here in New Zealand small white crosses a placed in the location of a car crash to indicate that someone has died there; if one person dies, one cross, two people two crosses, etc. And that is what the crosses are understood to mean; from what I can recall no one has taken offence at these half-metre tall crosses being placed along the roadside, which is obviously public property.

Clearly a case of the cross being used for entirely non-sectarian purposes without the presence of religious connotations.

Mon, 03 May 2010 01:43:00 UTC | #465146

Go to: What I know about Islam

Gibbon's Avatar Jump to comment 72 by Gibbon

Christopher Davis

However I have to ask you this, does the term "violent extremist" only apply to those who actually commit violence or does it extend to those whose belief's support the use of violence in furtherence of their religion (in this case Islam)? If it does then I think that your estimate of 1% is ridiculously low, if it doesn't then I don't think that it is a term that is inclusive enough to usefully address this issue.

I think if we apply “violent extremist” both to people who commit violence and those who support the use of violence, then it might denote so many people that it becomes borderline redundant; applied too broadly it could lose its meaning. Instead, I would apply the term only to those who actually commit violence, while at the same time using just “extremist” or some other appropriate word to describe those who support violence but don’t use it themselves. This way one can distinguish between the two groups while recognising that together they are part of a single community. My reasoning is that if they support violence but are not actually violent themselves, why call them violent?

I don't know if reminding us what the early 20th century fundamentalist movement was, is all that pertinent.
I think the definition of the word "fundamentalism" has more pertinency (sp?).

But if you’re discussing the definition of a word, then surely its origin is pertinent. The etymology of a word shouldn’t be ignored when trying to figure out what it means, and with “fundamentalism” I can’t honestly understand why anyone would ignore its origins and history. It usually is a matter of returning to the original definition to figure out what a word means, because without that you can make the word mean anything you want.

That a lot of Muslims (not to mention Christians and Jews) are considering applying the instructions in their religious texts ( as revealed knowledge) literally, is what is bothering posters like Border Collie and myself.

Personally, I don’t think there is much to worry about. These people may be favouring a more literalist interpretation of their scripture, and hence changing their doctrine, but their actions aren’t going to change all that much. This is especially important as most religions, with the possible exception of Protestant Christianity; are more orthoprax than orthodox, meaning that they are defined by the actions and not the beliefs, and it is a lot harder for a person to change the former rather than the latter. The people you referred to may be changing their doctrine, but they are still going to stick with the same actions, because if they change those as well they are no longer in the same religion and they will know it. So until those people who are changing their beliefs also change their actions, I’m not concerned to the point of being worried.

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 10:33:00 UTC | #461737

Go to: What I know about Islam

Gibbon's Avatar Jump to comment 61 by Gibbon

It may very well be that the Hindus introduced the zero, but I still stand by my original assertion that if it wasn’t for the Arabs we would still be using Roman numerals, which I might add has no zero.

Border Collie

Furthermore, if what I'm observing about Islam in the world is an illusion, untrue, biased, due to my one-dimensionality or whatever ... why are there so many bodies and why are so many people, much smarter and more informed than I, seeing the same things?

If I assume that what you mean by ‘many bodies’ is the number of dead people as a result of violent extremists, then there is a simple explanation. It has become incredibly easy to kill multiple people in one instance. The most advanced nations in the world can drop ONE bomb from several kilometres up in the air and literally kill a million people, while one person can fill a backpack with explosives and walk into a marketplace and detonate the bomb. If you’re asking why there are so many dead people, it is because technology has made it so easy.

On the other hand, if what you mean by ‘many bodies’ is the number of violent extremists then maybe it is a matter of perception, not so much yours but rather the media. The news media is sensationalist driven; it thrives on providing content that will catch our attention the easiest, so they shock us with news of an extremist killing a dozen people with a bomb next to a cricket match or show us footage of a plane flying into a building. The term “shock and awe” describes just as much the strategy of the news media as it did Bush’s invasion of Iraq. There may only appear to be more violent extremists because the news media is choosing to focus more on them than anything else, thus making it seem like they are so prolific.

So one question Border Collie. Which did you mean: the number of dead people or the number of violent extremists?

One more thing. I think great hesitation is necessary when discussing fundamentalism, because in its purest sense the word doesn’t refer to someone who is violent or extreme, it simply denotes an attempt to return to the perceived fundamental tenets of the religion. That is what the original fundamentalist movement in the early 20th century was about; it had nothing to do with violence. This is why I prefer to use the term ‘violent extremist’ rather than fundamentalist. Additionally, in terms of the number of Muslim violent extremists, it is going to be less than 1% of the entire worldwide population of Muslim. There are roughly 1.2 – 1.4 billion Muslims in the world, so one percent would be 12-14 million, and I haven’t seen any evidence to suggest that the number of violent extremists is that high; it is too high to be believable.

Tue, 20 Apr 2010 06:40:00 UTC | #461224

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