Thursday, October 6, 2011

Beliefs and believers

I've expressed some pretty strong views on Islam, and I do want to clarify my views.

Islam is not the same thing as Muslims, obviously.

Islam, in my view, has little to recommend it.  I agree with the assessment of emperor Manuel II Palaiologos in the 14th century:

Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.
Islam of course has many good attributes: a call to holiness, to charity, to temperance, etc. But all of those moral imperatives are found in Christianity (and Judaism and many other faiths). What is unique to Islam is violence and a grossly mistaken view of God. Islam is an enormous threat to man, and needs to be strongly resisted and challenged.

But what of individual Muslims? The vast majority of Muslims are decent kind people, trying to live their lives just as I am trying to live mine. They love and care for their families, do good deeds, worship, and try to get through life with as much decency and integrity as they can. Just like the rest of us.

Muslims deserve precisely the same respect and friendship that each of us does. I have many Muslim colleagues and patients, and I must say that they are among the people I most respect. There's a certain courtesy and gratitude from my Muslim patients that I don't often see from others.

On the afternoon of September 11, 2001, I was in the OR locker room preparing for a case, and one of my Muslim friends (his wife was my scrub nurse) was crying quietly. I asked him I could help. He told me that he came to the U.S. about 5 years before, and that he was really trying to build a good life for his family. He was afraid that after these horrible attacks that he would lose all of the goodwill he had built, and that he would have to leave America. I told him that I didn't think that individual Muslims would suffer or be targeted. He moved away from Long Island shortly thereafter, and we recently got a holiday card from him and his family. They have settled in the midwest and are doing very well.

Beliefs should be scrutinized with vigor,and all beliefs-- Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Atheism, etc--  are fair game. I detest political correctness and I'm no multiculturalist. I think Christian culture is better than other cultures. I don't equivocate.

Yet people who hold beliefs with which we disagree should always be treated with decency, no matter how strongly we may object to the beliefs they hold. Every human being bears God's image.

We are within our rights and even our responsibilities to judge ideas and acts, but we must not judge people.

I hope my strong views on Islam (and atheism for that matter) are understood in that light.

27 comments:

  1. Michael,

    I think your views of Islam are imaginary ...

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  2. Well stated, Dr Egnor,
    There is a gulf of a difference between the culture and the individual.
    Islam as an ideology is a very mixed bag, but the individual Muslim should be taken as any other individual.
    ANY individual I come across is approached with cautious optimism. Certain ideologies, however, present themselves as hostile to the interests I am charged to protect. Islam is among them.

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  3. Dr. Egnor, you say (What is unique to Islam is violence and a grossly mistaken view of God.)

    Why ?

    I could proceed to point to a long list of atrocities in the old testament, but maybe I don’t have to because you probably know it better than I. The Bible is just as bloody and cruel. Remember that terrorism isn’t an Arab invention (IRA, ETA). What makes you think Christianity is more virtuous ?

    crusadeRex. – Sorry I didn’t follow up on the classic period debate, but I got caught up in work. We’ll have a chance some day, I’m sure.

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  4. @Iko...
    ...The Bible is just as bloody and cruel...

    You are right 100%. This is why the Son of God came to live among us to help us understand and what He told us is written in the New Testament.

    If you would read the NT instead of the OT would see the light!

    Personally I never read the OT, I only read what Christ wants me to know.

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  5. hurr durr je base ma vie sur une œuvre de fiction dont j'ai lu que le 2e tome herp derp

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  6. @Godless..
    herp

    Comme tu écris dans la belle langue de Molière, je te recommande un "ti-peu" de recherche historique. Tu vas y découvrir que l'historicité du Christ est plus prouvée que la vie de Jules César!

    À moins que tu ne sois bouché de tous tes trous...

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  7. @iko:

    Good and evil are the lot of all men and all ideologies, Islam and Christianity and atheism etc.

    But what Islam has brought to man that is new is evil. Atheism brings greater evil, and stupidity as well.

    Shit happens, ya know.

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  8. TEH BABBLE IS TEH TRUTH ALL HAIL JEEBUSOctober 6, 2011 at 6:49 PM

    "Tu vas y découvrir que l'historicité du Christ est plus prouvée que la vie de Jules César!"
    Protip: 'There was a dude called Jesus 2000 years ago' doesn't mean he was the son of an invisible wizard.

    "Atheism brings greater evil, and stupidity as well."
    Nope, it does not.

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  9. Michael,

    'Atheism brings greater evil, and stupidity as well'.

    Nope, that's what religion does, and it rationalizes it too.

    It allows its adherents to make nonsensical statements, such as giving a definition of 'imaginary' that is 100% wrong (insisting that the correct definition is a peculiar modern one), insisting that 'logic' leads to the knowledge that the supernatural exists, giving definitions of supernatural that are incoherent, changing supernatural to Pure Act, and then descending into incoherence about whether Pure Act is passive or maximally active.

    Your acolyte, CrusadeRex, let the cat out of the bag when he admitted that the supernatural doesn't conform to standard logic.

    I stand by my previous statement that classical philosophy and theology has the risk of dumbing down some of its readers.

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  10. Pepe said (Tu vas y découvrir que l'historicité du Christ est plus prouvée que la vie de Jules César! = You will discover that the historicity of Christ is better proven than that of Jules Caesar)

    You gotta be kidding, that’s ludicrous ! Plain flat wrong. Massive, just absolutely colossal ignorance ! Not even worth getting into this discussion.

    (If you would read the NT instead of the OT would see the light!)

    Jesus (if he existed at all) most probably knew about the old testament, why didn’t he speak up against slavery ? My list could go on indefinitely, but the point is, Jesus, letting much of the Old Testament stand, was tacitly approving it.

    xxxx----xxxx----xxxx

    Dr. Egnor said (But what Islam has brought to man that is new is evil.)

    ‘NEW’ ? Are you naïve to the point of believing that evilness didn’t exist before Islam. Please..

    (Atheism brings greater evil, and stupidity as well. )

    Even though European culture was originally based on Christianity, today it is a diminished force on the fringes, and yet European countries are much safer and fairer than, say, America or Brazil.

    Atheism brought social justice and brilliance.

    Maybe you should visit Denmark some day Dr. Egnor, the land where Atheism shines in all it’s glory.

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  11. "Your acolyte, CrusadeRex, let the cat out of the bag when he admitted that the supernatural doesn't conform to standard logic."

    Did you expect me or anyone here to confuse effect with cause, Bach? Did you expect me to suggest that the same orders of logic that govern natural results would also govern the source OUTSIDE nature? If Dr Egnor thinks that, then we have a difference of opinion.
    No cat. No bag. No big surprise.
    He and I disagree on several points.
    But in all honesty, I do not see that suggestion anywhere here (or on any posts I have read).
    I see Mike suggesting that a religious creed or idea should be judged in a different manner than it's adherents. Makes perfect sense to me, as I stated above.
    Do you disagree?
    Do you think Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists etc (ie non-Atheist) folks should be treated with disdain because they have the 'wrong' world view?
    It does seem so, at least on this post.
    It seems your avoiding the conversation by making assertions that because Mike and I agree on the BIG issues, he or I is somehow a servant of the other's Church.
    Acolyte, eh? An acolyte with a SIG. LOL
    Then you should be careful. I may just use the candles to burn down yet ANOTHER one of your straw-men.

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  12. Iko,
    On the Christ and Caesar.
    Caesar was patrician and a military leader who took over the most powerful city state in his world. He was brilliant. Laid the foundations of Empire and ruled with controversial flair. He was tactically brilliant and has the (sometimes gridging) admiration of all modern military minds, including my own.
    Caesar was brutally assassinated on the steps of the senate, as immortalized by the bard. How many books have been written about him? How many READ? LOTS! TONNES!
    The Christ was born a peasant and preached peace. He lived a short humble, but incredibly profound life and is recorded as practising inexplicable miracles before the masses. In fact, his execution is justified for performing one 'off season'. How many books are written of Him? How many read?
    Even MORE again.
    I think that is Pépé's point.
    Both flesh and blood men are established in the record. Both men have made an incredible impact on history. Denying the PHYSICAL existence of either is just dopey.
    The Christ certainly seemed to think the (contemporary) Caesar was real enough.

    You state:
    "My list could go on indefinitely, but the point is, Jesus, letting much of the Old Testament stand, was tacitly approving it."
    Of course he approved of it, in it's time.
    I do too. I am glad there was a Bronze age and Neolithic. If there was not, we would not be here. Obviously I did NOT create it all, as the Father did.
    So sure He approved of the world in general. That's why it exists.
    The times before and to come.
    I know you don't agree, but that is how a Christian such as myself sees it.
    As to the NEW covenant.
    Are you familiar with super-sessionism? How about dual-covenant theology?
    They deal with the law of Christ. Christ as arbitrator of the NEW covenant.
    Christ did not deny the covenant of the Jews, but he brought forth a new law - for ALL.

    "Even though European culture was originally based on Christianity, today it is a diminished force on the fringes, and yet European countries are much safer and fairer than, say, America or Brazil. "

    Spoken like a true French! LOL
    European Culture, Msr Bonaparte?
    CULTURES - PLURAL.
    Europe is still is Christian where it counts.
    Hence your ability to hold this conversation.
    Also I would add that living in BOTH continents growing up, I would MUCH prefer to raise my children in the New World. Fresh air, open spaces, new ideas, no cameras every three feet...
    As much as I love the land of my fathers, I love this new adopted home of my children more.

    You also posit:
    "Atheism brought social justice and brilliance."
    Where is / are the Atheist rules of justice? Where may we find these codes and legislation? Where is the atheist compulsion to charity, or voluntary military duty? Where is the altruism? Martyrdom?
    The only state sanctioned Atheism in Europe: Social Darwinism, Marxism, and Secular Progressivism. Nothing I would say was 'good' or facilitated justice... Unless Treblinka or The Ukraine Famines are justice.
    Dead children, minorities, and 'defectives' is the trail of state sanctioned atheism in the West and East.
    Moral relativism, state/leader worship, and genocides. Posterity proves state atheism an AFFLICTION not a benefit. The blind cannot help but stumble in strange territory and without help.

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  13. crusadeRex -

    Pepe speaks of historical of facts. If a given individual really existed or was myth. Proof, tangible proof. Something we can look at, touch and know for certain.

    Caesar was a human being that really existed. We have all kinds of documents, including texts from his own hand that survived to this day. There is no doubt.

    Christ on the other hand, maybe did, maybe didn’t. There is not one single document from contemporaries attesting to his existence, and the Romans kept a very good tab on Israel, just like all other provinces – and there is nothing – NOTHING !

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  14. CrusadeRex,

    You wrote on this thread:

    "Your acolyte, CrusadeRex, let the cat out of the bag when he admitted that the supernatural doesn't conform to standard logic."

    Did you expect me or anyone here to confuse effect with cause, Bach? Did you expect me to suggest that the same orders of logic that govern natural results would also govern the source OUTSIDE nature? If Dr Egnor thinks that, then we have a difference of opinion.
    No cat. No bag. No big surprise.
    He and I disagree on several points.
    But in all honesty, I do not see that suggestion anywhere here (or on any posts I have read).


    On the previous thread, you wrote:

    God created all the Universe/Cosmos (your Multiverses etc) and is not OF them or SUBJECT to His creation, unless he deems it so.
    He IS Super Natural, not natural.
    Super Nature does not conform to normal logical principals. It conforms to His will.
    To create what is described as His 'Kingdom' the Universe is a tool, it seems. Part of how that tool works is CHOICE. There does not need to be a defined logical outcome in order for God to achieve anything.



    I suppose you were embarrassed over the 'normal logical principals'. Or perhaps because your comments are so incoherent, you don't understand what you've written after you've typed them.

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  15. "The only state sanctioned Atheism in Europe: Social Darwinism, Marxism, and Secular Progressivism. Nothing I would say was 'good' or facilitated justice... Unless Treblinka or The Ukraine Famines are justice.
    Dead children, minorities, and 'defectives' is the trail of state sanctioned atheism in the West and East."


    bachfiend, why are you wasting your time arguing with an idiot who keeps comparing you with dictators and mass murderers?

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  16. @Bach
    "I suppose you were embarrassed over the 'normal logical principals'..."
    You suppose far too much, that is the whole problem with your philosophy.
    ASSUME, PRESUME, and when all else fails: PRETEND.
    That is the method to your favourite brand of madness, as I see it.
    Where is the contrast or contradiction I am missing in my statements? Have you redefined some words for me again, Bach? Are we going to nitpick over semantics and localisms ONCE more, just so you can avoid responding to the IDEAS.
    It seems to me you are AGAIN confusing the desired outcome OUTSIDE of time/space with the happenings WITHIN time and space. You (Bach) confuse the use and role of natural science with that of philosophy frequently, so this should be no surprise to the reader.

    But here is the good stuff:
    "... perhaps because your comments are so incoherent, you don't understand what you've written after you've typed them."
    Thanks for the support. I enjoy conversing with you too, Bachfiend. What a barrel of laughs you are!
    Once again, it will be up to them to decide if it is ignorance or arrogance that drives these snide attacks.

    @anon,
    "why are you wasting your time arguing with an idiot who keeps comparing you with dictators and mass murderers?"
    Only an IDIOT would think I am comparing his person with those figures. Are YOU an idiot, Anon? Maybe just playing the fool, eh?
    I ALSO would safely assume he does not compare me to Torquemada or Jim Jones...even if he does seem to imagine me as some sort of Forrest Gump :P

    Iko,
    I will make a proper response to your comment after some lunch. I think YOUR comment deserves more than a gassy, hungry, and completely decaf response ;)

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  17. @Iko...

    Plain flat wrong. Massive, just absolutely colossal ignorance...

    Au contraire, if you would just begin to try to do just a little bit of historical research, instead of cultivating atheistic hubris on a grand scale, you will find that what I said is 100% absolutely true. Of course, such truth wrecks your whole worldview!

    FYI, there are about 5,300 Greek manuscripts containing some or all of the New Testament, 10,000 Latin manuscripts and 9,300 manuscripts in other ancient languages such as Syriac. Christ is better known than Julius Caesar!

    So, who's the colossal ignorant?

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  18. Pepe,

    Caesar existed. He was a real person.

    Everything written about Christ.. all the Greeks etc. you mention were written many years after his presumed death. Not a single person who wrote about him actually met the man. There is not a single shred of hard evidence he ever existed. Nothing. Zero. Nada. Rien.

    A little weird, don’t you think ?

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  19. A few years ago I read the Dead Sea Strolls. I found the book long and rather boring. It was repetitive, the same thing over and over. One thing that I thought ‘indicative’ though, was that during year Zero, lots of men walked Galilee proclaiming to be Christ with followers in tow. It was one crazy dude after another. All proclaimed to have made miracles. The villagers had had enough of these loonies and didn’t even let them approach their towns.

    Lots of names in Hebrew, but still, no mention of Jesus.

    Guess one of them – somehow – made an impression.. and hundreds of years after.. all you folks fell for it.

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  20. Iko,
    Caesar is an exceptional case, we both know that. You are a lover of the classical period.
    You must be aware of the standards applied to ancient history.
    MOST of it is written WELL after the fact and with a definite slant.
    What you are not considering is the reasoning behind making so many later copies of the Gospels, when -as we both know - that was an expensive proposition.
    So my position is that the fact Christ wrote nothing himself (at least that has been found) is nothing remarkable. Nor do I find it remarkable the secular (Roman) authorities did not make a big deal out of ANY such event.
    The fact there is so much NOTHING is remarkable.
    If I were investigating an attack or enemy position and found this much NOTHING, I would know SOMETHING was up. I hope that makes some sense, Iko. If not, I will rephrase it somehow if you like.
    As for Messiahs... I have met more than one 'Mahdi' in the field myself.
    As one Israeli historian (spec in Herodian - and Jewish) colleague would say 'none of them have a bible written about them, in 100+ languages. No one will know who any of them (nameless 'chosen ones', prophets etc) they were in 20 years, never mind 2000 years'. He is a Jew, and does not believe in the divinity of Jesus, but like most scholars is completely convinced of the existence of the Rabbi/Man.
    The book HE recommends to Jewish students in Israel is 'Jesus:A Life' By Wilson. Fascinating book. Written by an Atheist too, if I am not mistaken.
    I recommend it for an outsider looking in with genuine curiosity.

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  21. CrusadeRex,

    I must admit your argument is partly true. It does baffle me so many copies were written and it’s true it was exceedingly expensive to do so. I’ll read the book you recommend and see for myself.

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  22. @CrusadeRex

    Marvellous comment! It even swayed Iko... which is no small task! Kudos to you…

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  23. CrusadeRex,

    I was noting your previous comments to show you where you'd claimed that the supernatural doesn't conform to normal logic.

    You'd stated that you couldn't find it.

    And it's 'principles' not 'principals'.

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  24. @bach...
    And it's 'principles' not 'principals'.

    And it's Pépé, not Pepe!

    :-)

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  25. Pepe,

    And you can't put accents on letters on an iPad. And you 'can't cut and paste' on an iPad. How many times do I need to tell you that. But you can get the correct homonym on any keyboard, provided that the Spellcheck doesn't do you in.

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  26. @bachfiend and other atheists
    Why do you hate America? Jesus died for your sins, you should be thankful.

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