Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id OAA14698 (8.6.9/5.3[ref firstname.lastname@example.org] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from email@example.com); Sat, 22 Sep 2001 14:10:51 +0100 From: Philip Jonkers <P.A.E.Jonkers@phys.rug.nl> X-Authentication-Warning: rugth1.phys.rug.nl: www-data set sender to jonkers@localhost using -f To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: RE: Dawkins was right all along Message-ID: <email@example.com> Date: Sat, 22 Sep 2001 15:04:47 +0200 (CEST) References: <F27729cM3oryKFRJrzd000021cc@hotmail.com> In-Reply-To: <F27729cM3oryKFRJrzd000021cc@hotmail.com> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1 Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit User-Agent: IMP/PHP IMAP webmail program 2.2.5 X-Originating-IP: 188.8.131.52 Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Precedence: bulk Reply-To: email@example.com
> >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.
> So are you implying that being an atheist makes you superior
> to someone who is religious? Are you free from the possible
> biases inherent in a mindset and its polarizing
> anti-religious extremes?
Think of it analogous to cases of anthropology or sociology;
does a sociologist or anthropologist have to harbor feelings
of superiority towards the social groups he wishes to study?
Knowledge of underlying mechanisms at the basis of some
cultural phenomenon doesn't necessarily have to impinge fascist
sentiments on scholars investigating it, no?
I'd say a true social scientist must assume impartiality at all
times, no matter how apalling the subject is, in order to
avoid getting emotionally involved and thus blurring his
neutral vision. If not, his research shall be
poisoned with prejudice and bias to an extent that increases
with his partiality.
The other end of the spectrum: anti-religious extremists is
no better of course. Time and again I've supported the niche
that religions bring more grief than joy in the world.
Militant atheists also bring violence and hence more grief
than joy on earth. I advocate striking the golden mean;
get rid of religion and anti-religion, let's be humane and
honest and assume atheism, the non-militant one of course.
> >This permits us to
> >study religions with an unbiased attitude; >
> Could you understand what you study without a little
> participant observation or walking a mile in someone's shoes?
True, imagination is very important if not crucial. But there
is a difference between imagining something and actually believing
it. A good scholar should always be able to land back on his
feet after a little airborne excursion into the realm of
metaphysics or makebelief. Similarly, a good psychologist
doesn't have to get mad first or having a former history of
madness in order to sucessfully understand and analyze
mad people, right?
> >we are
> >not hampered regarding our opinion by distorting sentiments
> >of one's own religion.
> What about the distortion stemming from militant atheist
> extremism and treating religion as a mind virus which
> requires preventative innoculations
> and quarantine measures. I see a bunch of focus on the
> horrid extremes of religions. I agree that these extremes
> are wrong, but I think a crucial distinction needs to be
> made that not all followers of a religion (or mindset to be
> more broad) are extremists. Criticism of religion is important,
> but distinctions need to be made. That's my main point all along.
Like I said, I disapprove of any kind of militant stance based
on religion or anti-religion. I agree with you that most religious
people are synonymous to law-abiding citizins, I only have to
look at my mother or the vast majority of my relatives.
All I'm saying is that humanity is better off without
religion all the same, but I reserve the right for people
to decide that to the people ultimately.
BTW, I share the opinion that religion is like a virus
of the mind; I was infected myself virtually from birth
but had the fortunate de-brainwashing capacity to rid myself
of it in the recent years.
> We all have our blinders or tinted lenses, whether religious
> or not and are susceptible to "infection" by extremist
> variants of our biases.
> Being a follower of memetics may even predispose you to placing
> human behavior into the wrong tidied cubbyholes, just as
> being an atheist may lead to going overboard on an
> anti-religious tirade. I thought objectivity entailed not
> taking a normative stance on what you study or at least
> approaching what you study in a more balanced manner.
> I've seen some anti-religious sentiment focusing on the
You ought to know how I feel about (anti)-religion by now.
I'm not the kind a guy to fall for any kind of extremist
or militant movement. I'm a scientist for crying out loud...
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