RE: Dawkins was right all along

From: Philip Jonkers (
Date: Fri Sep 21 2001 - 17:44:17 BST

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    Subject: RE: Dawkins was right all along
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    > <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.

    Hi Vincent,

    It seems to me almost self-evident that Koresh, Bin Laden and
    the like are convinced of their the righteousness of their
    action and religious way of life. Having doubts about one's
    religious tenets might challenge group coherence and
    will foster disintegration of the religious community at hand.
    It seems to me only natural that evolutionary pressures favor
    the more coherent religious groups; this would automatically
    require adherence and unconditional belief in one's own
    religious postulates.

    Different interpretations are possible to be entertained
    exclusively by outsiders of the religion under scrutiny.
    We atheists have a privileged position in that we are
    universal outsiders of all religions. This permits us to
    study religions with an unbiased attitude; we are
    not hampered regarding our opinion by distorting sentiments
    of one's own religion.
    > 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?)

    No need to be apologetic Vincent. As far as I'm concerned
    your opinions are greatly appreciated, even if we do not
    always agree. In fact, we should *not* all of the time.
    It's precisely *disagreement* wich makes debates fecund
    in that it stimulates further and deeper analysis!
    If everyone would agree with everyone all of the time
    analysis would be halted at an own personal level of expertise
    which may very well be superficial.

    So, and this goes for Vincent as much as everyone on this list:
    pretty please with sugar on top:
    provided of course you stick to rational arguments rather
    than emotional responses.

    Given the typical nature of your responses Vincent,
    you fortunately seem to prefer the former.

    Cheers mate!


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