RE: Dawkins was right all along

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Fri Sep 21 2001 - 16:10:33 BST

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: Dawkins was right all along
    Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2001 16:10:33 +0100
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            Hi Philip,

            <Koresh and his cult supposedly lived by the bible,
    > it then certainly helps to understand their actions by using
    > the bible as an explanatory means. I should add
    > that the bible can be interpreted in a multiple number of
    > ways as it's nothing more than a large collection of metaphores
    > on ethics and fairy-tale storytelling.
    > It is therefore tantamount also to extract what kind of
    > (twisted) interpretation Koresh maintained that inspired and
    > spurred the actions taken by him and his cult.
    > I guess the same argument applies perfectly well to Bin Laden
    > as well, and any other terrorist with religious motives
    > for that matter. Also remember the racist outbursts of
    > White Supremacy movements or adherents, thus killing innocent
    > people in the name of christ... >
            I think you're right here. I've always been struck by the double
    standard employed in arguments about the effects of books/sacred texts.
    Many novels have been witch-hunted by some for their presumed effects on
    people's crimes (not just novels of course, films, plays, TV shows, comic
    books, etc. etc.), but the notion that texts like the Bible or Koran may
    induce people to commit crimes is never accepted by these same people. (e.g.
    white supremacists in the US are often linked the influence of 'The Turner
    Diaries' rather than the Bible).

            And yet perhaps the reverse is much more likely, especially in
    cultures or communities where the contents of sacred texts are taken as
    absolute truths, and the possibility of different interpretations of those
    texts are swept under the carpet somewhat. Islam in particular has had this
    problem since immediately after Mohammad's death, hence the extreme
    variations of muslim countries that we see. Nonetheless, each branch sees
    its interpretation as the absolute truth. Despise them as much as we may,
    the Taleban are simply following what they believe to be the truth of God as
    told to Mohammad.

            Looking at the main texts of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, even
    superficially one can find much material that gives scope for the violently
    minded. Don't most Christian based cults concentrate on the book of
    revelations for example?

            I think there are parallels between Koresh and Bin Laden in the way
    they perhaps have utilised religion and religious texts for their goals.
    Perhaps, they both genuinely believe their interpretations also. The other
    possible parallel is of course the one we hope doesn't happen, and that is
    the way the FBI/ATF "dealt" with Koresh, with its immediate and longer term
    consequences. Let's hope that the alliance's response to this tragedy
    doesn't have similar immediate and longer term consequences.

            BTW, just for everyone on the list, if you ever feel I'm butting in
    on something do feel free to say 'sod off I wasn't talking to you', and I'll
    get the message. I do tend to view the list like a virtual seminar room, in
    which comments are made to all for response by all, but it's clear that not
    everyone on the list feels this, so if any of you feel that way just say so.
    (Why do I feel like I've just opened myself up to a long queue of people
    waiting to tell me to go forth and multiply?)


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