Opinions and musings on religion, philosophy, science, politics, and life from a conservative Catholic neurosurgeon.
Nobody is disputing that Radical Islam is the most violent expression of religious fundamentalism in the world today. Unfortunately all religious fundamentalism contains within it the seeds of unreasoned hatred and violence. -KW
That's for sure, KW-san. Why, those religious wackos in Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, North Korea, Laos, VietNam, Bulgaria, and Romania killed millions because of a fundamental religious belief in government. In fact, they invented industrial-scale murder.Kinda makes you yearn - just a little, maybe? - for the jumper cables, doesn't it? You can tell us, KW-san. You're among friends here.And watch out for those mean girls, sailor!
No, KW, I'm not falling for the old "nobody is disputing" routine. People are constantly trying to find an equivalence between Islamic violence and Christian violence. People who try to push this false equivalence do so for different reasons, but some of them are atheists who believe that "religion" makes people kill. Not any particular religion, just religion. As if you're equally likely to be blown up by a Wahhabist or a Lutheran. Eliminating religion is their real goal, but they pretend it has something to do with eliminating violence. Some people need to be reminded that not all terrorists have religious affiliations, and sometimes their religious affiliations are incidental to their terrorism. They might understand this if it were an agnostic like James Holmes, for example. James Holmes murdered a bunch of people in Aurora, Colorado. James Holmes is agnostic. Did he murder those people because he's agnostic? I haven't seen anything yet to confirm that, so I say no. Eric Harris and Dylan Kliebold however, are a different story. I believe that they were militant atheists who wanted to kill Christians. Those could be properly called "atheist terrorists."If you want to see just how different Christianity is from Islam, please refer to this chartOf those who support Sharia Law, look at the large majorities of people in Palestine, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Jordan who support the death penalty for leaving Islam, as well as the significant minorities in Thailand, Lebanon, Iraq, and Malaysia. I've never met a single Christian who wants to kill people who convert. Ever. Unfortunately all religious fundamentalism contains within it the seeds of unreasoned hatred and violence. Actually, all human beings do. I might point out that you're pretty hateful yourself. You're not violent as far as I know, but you are hateful. Those seeds are in you and they're growing.Ben
What exactly is religious fundamentalism, by the way? All I know is that that's what I'm accused of whenever I don't disregard parts of my faith on command.--Francisca S.
Francisca, Fundamentalism had its origins at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, now known as Biola University. The term derives from the title of a set of essays The Fundamentals: A Testimony To The Truth. Hoo
Very educational, Hoo. The good news is that I'm not an adherent to this flavor of Protestant Christianity. I'm a Catholic. So I guess I'm safely un-fundamentalist. Still, people call me that when I refuse to ignore the parts of my Bible that they don't like and assume obviously contrived teachings. --Francisca S.
Glad to help, Francisca. I'll note that when kids call each other Nazis, they don't usually mean it in a literal sense. On the other hand, the ID brigade seems to be serious when they link evolutionary biology to Hitler. For that they deserve to be run out of town on a rail. Hoo
Actually, atheism is much more violent than any other religious fundamentalism. When it comes to violence, state atheism is in a category by itself.
Speaking of Islamic extremists, didn't the US support them in Afghanistan? Here is President Reagan with mujahideen at the White House. Hoo
We did support Islamists in Afghanistan. Because they were fighting the Soviets (atheists), who were orders of magnitude more violent and pernicious than the Islamists.
It wasn't because the Soviets were atheists, but rather because they were communists. To this day, it is against the law to be a communist in the US. There is no legal proscription against atheism, however. Hoo
@Hoo:Could you point out the other political ideologies, besides communism, that state atheism has adopted?
You have it backwards, doc. Communists rejected religion, hence they had state atheism. Communism implies atheism, but atheism does not imply communism. Hoo
What a stupid reply. Typical for a lying troll, though.On a more interesting subject, have you dropped a dime on any thought crimes today? I figure a courageous guy like you might up one or two a day. Am I right? Here's a hint, weasel: Sheriff Ric Bradshaw (Palm Beach County, FL) is your man. He's starting up a "Drop-a-Dime on Your Neighbor if He Hates the Government" hotline. In his own words, “What does it hurt to have somebody [i.e., a police officer] knock on a door and ask, ‘Hey, is everything OK?’”Don't worry... it's all anonymous. Well, until they knock on your door.
Mike, We still do support Islamic power in Afghanistan. I have fought along side them against the enemy tribes/groups , and seen them being trained and armed by the thousands.They key to understanding Afghanistan is understanding that they are ALL fanatic by our 'secular' measure. Both (all) sides of that conflict draw strength and inspiration from the idea that they are doing God's will. Our Muslim 'allies' (actually in a state of 'truce' with them in their own language) may not have the identical beliefs of our enemies, but I assure you: The alliance members are no less devoted to their faith and to violently enforcing it when they see fit. Hoo, There is no denying the correlative between communism (radicalism in general) and atheism. The founders of the ideology were pragmatic atheists and honestly, openly anti-theistic. There's just no escaping those facts, man. It is not a question of perspective. It is a matter of actions and involvement.Nor is it isolated to their triumphant 20th century end of the 'long march'. The 'terror' in 18th century France was another early and unrefined (less clinical, more openly satanic but less 'efficient') example of the state atheist orgy of violence and oppression.
@Hoo:You have it backwards. Marxism presupposes atheism, and asserts that history plays out as a conflict of material forces (dialectical materialism).Atheism is the predicate of communism, not merely one choice made by communists once they attained power. Communism is the only form state atheism has ever taken. State atheism could have taken the form of democracy, constitutional republicanism, monarchy, oligarchy, etc.But state atheism has only taken communism as a governing ideology. You should be ashamed, Hoo, that you have never asked yourself why this is.
Crus, I am sure you have heard the expression "correlation does not equal causation." One can make a connection from communism to atheism, but it does not go the other way. Being an atheist does not commit one to any particular ideology. Simple as that. Hoo
While state atheism has been used by communists to consolidate power, state secularism has been the guardian of freedom and liberty, and is the foundation of the most successful and enduring democracies in history.-KW
@KW:Secularism is state neutrality on religion. Atheism is the least secular worldview, when it assumes power. It is always intolerant of religion, which is not neutrality. Christianity is the ideological basis for secular government-- render unto Caesar. Atheism is the least secular ideology. It is invariably hostile to religion, and state atheism is always totalitarian.
Atheism is inherently more secular than any religion because all debate and decisions happen without regard to the supernatural superstitions that are religion. Ironically, religious conservatives are on the side of those who fight to avoid rendering unto Caesar, as they greedily complain about the government taking their money.-KW
KW,"secularism has been the guardian of freedom and liberty, and is the foundation of the most successful and enduring democracies in history."LOL!You guys can't even wave the flag properly. If you're referring to the 18th century 'Enlightenment' era (some a little earlier) democracies' (actually republics and and constitutional monarchies) they were / are Christian. There are much older experiments with democracy than that, of course - but they were not secular in any sense.Only the revolutionary republics shied away from total commitment. And even they laced their new nations (and empires) with religious overtones. They made a lot of noise about secularism, especially when religion did things like interfere with their multi-billion (today’s standards) slavery industry. No two ways. Their charters, laws, traditions, and culture are Christian. For better or worse, that's what they were/are. They were, in those formative years, neither theocratic or 'secular' by today's standards. Secular Christian nations in the traditional sense of that descriptive, sure. If we were sipping brandy at 'the club' in 1890, I would agree on the term whole heartedly. It would HAVE been accurate then. We are, however, not. We are planted firmly in 2013 and the term 'secular' has been redefined and totally expanded as political convenience saw fit over the generations since it's initial popularity; those changes have been exponential in the last two decades. It has been modified to mean a more extreme ideal. No longer does it simply mean that governments do not force (a) religion or sect on the masses, or pledge loyalty to a foreign pontiff of patriarch against the best interests of their country and people.... No longer does it mean freedom to worship (or not) as you see fit, now it means freedom FROM all forms of worship. No, nowadays it means total religious 'neutrality' (default against any expression) on the part of government, authorities, officialdom etc. The term is especially loaded when uttered by a person like you, KW. We both know that. Consider the following. Before you were a successful plan in your mum and dad's minds, I was growing up in three of those democracies. Know what I saw? Less than 30 years ago classrooms across the USA, All across British Commonwealth and Isles, and in many European countries and their former colonies - the children said the Lord's Prayer EVERY morning in PUBLIC Schools? Right? Prayers BEFORE anthems or oaths. First thing in the morning. Bell, Lord's Prayer, Anthem, announcements.If you did not want to say them, you could just stay quiet. If you were offended by them (JWs often were) the student could leave for that time, no questions asked. In fact, I was asked to leave during the anthem (US) and pledge by one teacher in Los Angeles. He felt it best, as I would not pledge an oath to a revolution against MY people. I was a guest, and was politely asked to leave while the patriots did their thing. I did so each day, no offence taken by any. . Still stood for prayers, though. THAT is where your civilization just came from. Even after years of being 'toned down' already. Nowadays, in your country, you cannot even have a banner from that period on your school wall without fear some tool/shill is going to come along and take 'offence' to it to get attention and a pay off. The reality is that only 30 years ago the rolling, exponential 'secularism' of which you praise was unheard of. This glimpse reality totally nullifies your proposition. Well....That and the fact many of the places in question STILL pray in schools etc and many are openly, officially, and technically Christian nations. But you are right about one thing: You live in a really nice country with strong traditions of individual liberty. Let's hope and pray it can maintain them, for the good of all concerned.
@KW:[Atheism is inherently more secular than any religion}State atheism is the least secular form of government, because it is never neutral regarding religion. It always represses religion, and therefore is the antithesis of secular. Challenge to KW: name the formally atheist states that do not repress religion. [because all debate and decisions happen without regard to the supernatural superstitions that are religion. ]Atheism is a natural superstition, more egregious than any supernatural superstition-- 'everything came from nothing, life appeared spontaneously from the mud, things happened and survivors survived, there is no real objective moral law, etc'Crazy stuff.
Bach & Hoo, KW: "Atheism is inherently more secular than any religion.."Atheism is simply the proposition that there is no Creator or God? Right? So is KW wrong? KW,'Atheism is inherently more secular than any religion "Nonsense. In what specifically Atheist doctrine do we find the definition or roots of secularism? The role of government? Society? "[..]because all debate and decisions happen without regard to the supernatural superstitions that are religion."Nonsense again. Even assuming the assertion that all religion has it all wrong is true (unarguable tripe, actually - hence the assertion), how do you account for the materialist superstitions, which much like theology, fall in and out of favour with the fashion and various 'discoveries'. Should we prefer the opinion of a woman who is fascinated by the abstract study of the sex life of extinct creatures we call 'dinosaurs' over a woman who considers the book of Exodus to be an illuminating personal inspiration?
Dr Egnor, "Atheism is a natural superstition, more egregious than any supernatural superstition-- 'everything came from nothing, life appeared spontaneously from the mud, things happened and survivors survived, there is no real objective moral law, etc'"Nail on the head. Cheers, Doc.
Egnor is a complete idiot when it comes to evolutionary biology. Here is a sample of his monumental stupidity.Hoo
Communism, both idealistically as ill-conceived, and manifest by history, appeals to atheism to eliminate organized religion as a possible source of political opposition. Replacing one religion with another does nothing to eliminate the political power of religion itself. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that dictatorial regimes have used atheism to oppose religion. If your goal is eliminating religion as part of your quest for complete political domination, what other choices do you have?Beyond the unfortunate use of atheism as a rational by some of the most brutal regimes in history, we can’t escape the fact that the highest atheism rates today occur in relatively stable secular democracies that provide their citizens with far greater freedom and liberty than man has ever previously known.-KW
@Hoo:[Egnor is a complete idiot when it comes to evolutionary biology. Here is a sample of his monumental stupidity.]Ahhh... kin selection. Tell ya' what, Hoo: you explain here what is wrong with my post demonstrating that kin selection "theory" falls apart when applied to asexually reproducing organisms like bacteria, and I'll post your explanation, with my reply. Let's see what'ca got.
@KW:At least you admit the link between atheism and communism. You get it wrong-- atheism is not a communist "tactic" to secure power. It is the philosophical basis for communism, which depends wholly on dialectical materialism and an atheist world-view. Some relatively free countries (mostly European) have relatively high populations of functional atheists. Yet all of those countries-- every one of them-- have a 1000 year history of Christian culture and theology. They are living on borrowed culture, and time will tell if they can maintain it. The fact is that every explicit atheist state has been a totalitarian hellhole. Formally atheist states are the least secular-- the least indifferent to religion-- in the world. All atheist states repress religion, most brutally. You've got some explaining to do.
Egnor question: "Could you point out the other political ideologies, besides communism, that state atheism has adopted?"hoo answer: "Communism implies atheism, but atheism does not imply communism."Translation: "No, Doctor, I can't. But look over here!!! A squirrel!!"Lying fraud. When Google fails, hoo fails.If you really corner him he'll post a reference in German. But I say, why not go for Urdu? Or Mandarin?
Nurse! Check admiral's diaper. He sounds upset. Hoo
Egnor: "Tell ya' what, Hoo: you explain here what is wrong with my post demonstrating that kin selection "theory" falls apart when applied to asexually reproducing organisms like bacteria, and I'll post your explanation, with my reply. "It's been done already. You fucked up the calculation by a factor of 5 in one case and 1 billion in the other. Other than that, a stellar job!Hoo
I find it fascinating that Christians so publicly deplore atheists, while at the same time oddly bragging that their superior system is what allowed them to flourish. The rise of atheism beyond the very few intellectuals that would dare flirt with the idea isn’t because Christianity was so great, it was because it was so lacking. As the world changed around them, Churches just became more useless. Materialistic explanations provided a ready alternative to faith, and seemed to be born out by an ongoing scientific and industrial revolution. People saw what science and reason had wrought, both the good and the bad, and the allure of its power turned many people away from the church. Trade unions became a new center of political power inherently tied to the industrial revolution where materialistic explanations ruled.The static nature and dysfunction and irrelevance of the Church is what gave us everything you so deplore. In the grand sweep of history I believe the misuse of materialism and Darwinism for pseudo-scientific political rationalizations is coming to an end. Primarily because so many people know the methods and limits of science, are better equipped to recognize the pseudo in pseudo-science, and are better equipped to judge the applicability of scientific theories, the fundamentals of which where established many decades ago, and are not likely to be eliminated any time soon. Believe me; the “New Atheists” aren’t likely to be swayed by bullshit mumbo-jumbo (like the trinity, and virgin birth).-KW
'The fact is that every explicit atheist regime has been a totalitarian hell-hole'.Actually, all you're saying is that all dictatorships have the seed within them to become totalitarian hell-holes. Whether communist atheist states or theocratic monarchies (as in present day Saudi Arabia or many European countries of past centuries).The best defence against a country becoming a totalitarian hell-hole (as Fareed Zakaria has noted) is to be a liberal (in which the rights of individuals is protected by law) democracy (in which errant governments and politicians can be voted out of office by the electorate exercising a free choice).The secular democracies of Europe don't have a store of something or another derived from centuries of cultural Christianity, which is potentially depleting over time. They have a system of government which developed after centuries of bloodshed, and which is currently renewed whenever there's a free election.
hoo, you seem to have an obsession with dirty diapers. You keep bringing them up in polite company. Are you a secret diaper-sniffer?
backfire, which European theocratic monarchies are you talking about?
Georgie,When you stop playing with your plastic battleships in your bathtub (surely the water is getting cold by now, and it's time to get out?), you can find a YouTube video discussing theocratic European monarchies of past centuries. Failing that, there's certain to be articles on the Internet. Or you could try the book 'Absolute Monarchs' by John Julius Norwich as an introduction to part (certainly not anyway near to all) the question.
@Hoo[It's been done already. You fucked up the calculation by a factor of 5 in one case and 1 billion in the other. Other than that, a stellar job!]That's the best you can do? Kin selection theory posits that alleles for altruism will increase in frequency in a population when the degree of relatedness (0-1) of the altruistic organism to kin carrying its genes is greater than the ration of the cost to the benefit. In asexually reproducing organisms, local populations are clonal, and the relatedness is 1. Each organism is surrounded by identical twins. The selection pressure for altruism is maximal, and any slight benefit/cost conferred to a kin by an altruistic trait would cause that gene to increase in frequency in that population.Bacteria, according to kin selection theory, should be intensely altruistic, far more altruistic than sexually reproducing brothers/sisters, parents/children, etc.Which of course is bullshit. So kin selection theory is bullshit, because the organisms that the theory predicts would manifest maximal altruism (bacteria) aren't altruistic in any actual meaning of the word. Darwinism wrecks on altruism. Like it wrecks on everything else.
@bach:[The best defence against a country becoming a totalitarian hell-hole (as Fareed Zakaria has noted) is to be a liberal (in which the rights of individuals is protected by law) democracy (in which errant governments and politicians can be voted out of office by the electorate exercising a free choice).]The two worst totalitarian hellholes in history arose from liberal democracies (the Kerensky government and the Weimar Republic). Liberal democracy is great, but insufficient. One needs, as Tocqueville observed, a moral fabric, most commonly supplied by Christianity. One also needs to physically stop socialists (national and international) from hijacking your country, which is why I have some sympathy for otherwise objectionable types like Franco, Pinocet, the Argentinean generals, etc. They were deeply flawed, but they had the balls to stop the monsters. If only Russia and Germany had had people with courage (but with flaws) to stop their socialist monsters-- Lenin and Hitler.
Egnor,You made an error of 9 orders of magnitude in that calculation. That is why your calculation was nonsensical. If you still don't understand your error, perhaps you the subject is above your head. Hoo
"The two worst totalitarian hellholes in history arose from liberal democracies (the Kerensky government and the Weimar Republic). Liberal democracy is great, but insufficient. One needs, as Tocqueville observed, a moral fabric, most commonly supplied by Christianity. "Both Russia and Germany were Christian nations. Russia's state religion was Orthodox Christianity. Had been for 9 centuries. Apparently it could not supply moral fabric, eh? Hoo
@Hoo:Atheism and paganism (communism and Nazism) are deep evils, and sometimes they prevail over Christian culture, in this world.
Deep evils? Am I a deeply evil person? Should I be imprisoned for holding an atheist point of view. You say such idiotic things, doc, that I sometimes wonder whether this blog is a setup. Hoo
Atheism is a very deep evil. You are evil in many ways, and so am I. We differ in our evils. Atheism isn't my evil. I have others.
What a cop-out, doc! Here you had a chance to paint me as a evil incarnate. No courage of convictions? LOLHoo
Michael,Kerensky wasn't a liberal democrat. He wanted to continue the war against Germany. Against the deeply felt wishes of the Russian people who wanted an end to years of misery and bloodshed. He was brought down by Christian Germany which facilitated the transit of Lenin and his fellow revolutionaries across German territory to Petrograd.Russian feudal dictatorship under the Tsars was transformed to Soviet Communist dictatorship with hardly a transient phase.Germany went from a similar feudal dictatorship under Kaiser Wilhelm II to a Nazi dictatorship under Hitler after a longer period of the Weimar Republic. But it wasn't a happy or stable period, being marked by initial revolution, resentment at the Versailles treaty, hyperinflation of 1923 (which impoverished the middle class), no acceptance or support from German conservatives (who yearned for a return to the monarchy), the Great Depression of 1929, amongst other factors.And then the Catholics acquiesced to the Enabling Act of 1933, giving Hitler dictatorial power, all for the Concordat, giving the Catholic Church rights in Nazi Germany, which eventually turned out not to be worth the paper it was written on.After the war, Pope Pius XII campaigned to have the Concordat continue in West Germany (although the ethical position would have been to have regarded it as tainted by its association with evil, and renegotiated it with the new state) - and it still does.
@Hoo:[What a cop-out, doc! Here you had a chance to paint me as a evil incarnate. No courage of convictions? LOL]You're not evil incarnate. You may well be less evil than I am. Our ultimate fate is not determined by our evil. If it were, we would all be doomed. None of us will be able to stand on our own, at the end. Our fate is determined by our willingness to accept Intercession for our evil.
Michael,What a miserable ideology Christianity is! I'm glad I'm a humanist, not a Christian.
"What a miserable ideology Christianity is! I'm glad I'm a humanist, not a Christian."That's just about the most stupid thing I have read all day, Bach... and that is saying something today. You're glad you're you, are you? Well then, that IS profound.You should write a book about it. Maybe include something about invisible monkeys.
Crusader Rex,Have you changed your moniker, or is it a typo'? Or someone else? Obviously, you haven't read Egnor's comments, including the one in which he claimed that Kerensky's government was a liberal democracy. Came into power after a revolution. Never legitimised by an election, free or otherwise.
Methinks that KW-san, like a few others that hang around here, is a theophobe. But at least he's not a heterophobe. However, he may be a gynophobe.Personally speaking, I'm a loonophobe. It's why I have so much trouble with Progressophiles that are constantly dog-humping the left-wing cult personality of the day. Why can't they just stay home and watch the "news" on the Comedy Channel? After all, Jon Stewart is the Big Bird of the Neotenized Generation.
Gynophobe? No. More like Gynoholic ;)-KW
I am misanthropaphobic. I ju7st cannot stand people who hate people for simply being alive. That's why I have a problem with Progressophiles , Boggs. All this 'save the Malaysian rock mouse and DEATH TO THE HUMANS' stuff is just too much for me. I am all for saving the mouse. Honestly! If it can be done, I see all life as precious. Plenty of room in this world for Mr Whiskers. It's the whole 'DEATH TO HUMANS' bit that gets me. I am one, you see. My children are too. That's my peeve... and it's a mother of one. The dog humping can get annoying...But as you note: They're only kids, no matter their age. "Why can't they just stay home and watch the "news" on the Comedy Channel?"I lost all interest in the comedy network when Larry King retired from them. They lost that old Vaudevillian kind of shtick.
KW-san, I hate to think what kind of women might be attracted to you. One of those "before-and-after" billboards warning people off methamphetamine comes to mind. I think you're definitely an "after magnet", considering your sparkling intellect.
The comparison is a natural one for the generic 'liberal' (read neo-lib). In fact, it is a necessary one. To contrast the two faiths would be far to complex. It would require an attention / expertise that treads well beyond their collectivist role.The worker bee does not buzz about such things. So, instead they make typically reductionist observations about an incredibly complex set of beliefs based on centuries of competing theologies. Defining what makes one faith better or exceptional in it's nature is almost on a level with making a choice or commitment to an ideal that may prove inconvenient, uncomfortable, or frightening and will require even MORE expertise outside of the collectivist role. That is too much work beyond the role. Easier for the workers of the hive just to think: All faiths are bad. Leave the complex stuff to the important bees with titles. Unfortunately this also seems to be true - on the polar opposite position - of the 'neocon', if to a slightler lesser degree. For them it is 'my religion is good when it works for me ($$) and ignored when it is not, other religions are just the competition.' They have also reduced the conflict of faiths (in all senses) to almost as simplistic a level - but, rather than fall into a collectivist model, they fall into a capitalist one. To them it is about markets and advertising. What gets lost in this team sports politics is the reality of a centuries old conflict between two huge ideological power blocks. Maher has transcended his box. He does do this on rare occasion. Credit where it is due.