RE: Dawkins View

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Thu Sep 20 2001 - 11:22:02 BST

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: Dawkins View
    Date: Thu, 20 Sep 2001 11:22:02 +0100
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            Hi Scott,

            <So you think that being a member of a given faith automatically
    blinds one
    > to the excesses of that faith and precludes critical reflction on that
    > actions of extremists?>
            No, but it predisposes one to be less accepting of the possibility
    of atrocities commited in the name of that religion, or to not seeing such
    things as atrocities at all, or to fail to see them as the fault of that
    religion- the 'they were fanatics, not ture believers like me'. Moderates
    believers often deny the link between fundamentalists' actions and their own

            <Can one generalize that religious moderates (or mainstreamers) are
    > apologists for actions of extremists?>
            In the sense of denying that the religion is to blame, yes, but not
    in the wider sense that my comment may have been interpreted.

    > <Are moderate Christians flocking to support the recent comments made by
    > Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson?>
            I don't know. I do know that Asians and muslims in the US have been
    attacked, and some of their comments about this include 'how come nobody
    went around attacking white christians after Oklahoma city?' I'm sure many
    of the people committing these acts of retribution, and many calling for
    massive military response would call themselves moderates rather than

            < Are moderate Christians flocking to support the actions of the
    > terrorists (who may make up a small proportion of the pro-life movement
    > itself). Are mainstream pro-lifers (or anti-choicers) generally in support
    > of violence against abortion clinics?>
            Extremists are always at one end of a continuum, and simply
    represent those willing to go the full distance where many would not out of
    incapacity, fear, social conformity or whatever.

            < Are mainstream Muslims in general support of the extremists? Are
    they flocking to be apologists for the recent
    > tragedies?>
            What is a mainstream muslim? The difficulty in creating coalition
    stems precisely from the problem of the Islamic world, with all its myriad
    variations from state to state. In Pakistan, for example, it seems clear
    that the rich elite pragmatically support Musharaf's pro-US line, whilst
    many of the poor near the border are pro-Taleban. But is this support (like
    the support of Iran) a true reflection of more moderate muslim nations'
    attitudes, or simple smart diplomacy so as not to become a target?

            <Could one interject that the Soviet Union was under the spell of
    > Communism"? How well did the religious fare under that system compared to
    > other political systems?>
            Despite extensitve persecution, the Russian Orthodox faith survived
    and has been majorly regenerating itself since the end of the Cold War.
    Like the nationalism of Ukraine, Belarus and so on, the oppressive Soviet
    regime, did nothing to quell such feelings, but that's surely a product of
    the oppression of beliefs, not the choice of people to thorw away faiths.

            <I wouldn't say that all atheists or even militant atheists are into

    > religious persecution or capable of evil acts, but it is possible that
    > someone with a militant atheist bent who believed religion to be the
    > opiate
    > of the masses or the occupation of *them* mindless cattle could, in a
    > position of power, do some heinous things in the name of stamping out the
    > scourge of religion. Would moderate atheists act as apologists?>
            Well, if this has ever happened, we'd have to look seriously at it,
    and indeed possibly concede the point, as no doubt atheists might use the
    'they weren't a real atheist' line. In terms of atheism, which after all
    literally means the absence of belief, it might be more accurate than for
    claims that someone isn't a true muslim or christian or whatever. But has
    it ever happened? History is littered with acts of violence done in the
    name of religion.

            <Using rhetoric militant atheists are capable of launcing verbal
    > against the religious. I'm not sure one could generalize that moderate
    > atheists support this verbal extremism.>
            Yes, that's a perfectly fair point. But since we're now engaged in
    a war for freedom and democracy against terrorism, I'd always defend the
    right for freedom of speech as a heartfelt debate and discussion is some way
    from the terrible acots of terror of the past week.


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