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apple
07-28-2011, 09:56 AM
Since World War II, Naziphobia has only increased in the West. Nazis are looked on with suspicion, they are not treated as full citizens, and in some European countries, they are even persecuted for their beliefs. Nazis can lose friends, be fired from their jobs, not for anything that they have done themselves, but only for their beliefs.

The intellectual leader of the Nazis, Adolf Hitler, is being called a monster, and unflattering cartoons are drawn of him, which is extremely offensive to Nazis. Nazis are routinely called monsters themselves, even though people do not know the Nazis they are insulting by making these gross generalizations. As if every Nazi is a bad person!

When Nazis wanted to march in Skokie, Illinois, everyone was against it, even though these Nazis had nothing to do with the Holocaust that the people in Skokie survived - just like the Muslims who wanted to build the Ground Zero Mosque had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.

Why do you judge the vast majority of Nazis, who are peaceful, tax-paying citizens, for the actions of a few extremist Nazis who kill ethnic minorities? Does any of you people who condemn Nazis actually know a Nazi in real life?

Nazism should be a respected world ideology, and Nazis should be treated equally in every facet of life. We should combat Naziphobia, as it is every bit a scourge as Islamophobia.

AemJeff
07-28-2011, 10:27 AM
Since World War II, Naziphobia has only increased in the West. Nazis are looked on with suspicion, they are not treated as full citizens, and in some European countries, they are even persecuted for their beliefs. Nazis can lose friends, be fired from their jobs, not for anything that they have done themselves, but only for their beliefs.

The intellectual leader of the Nazis, Adolf Hitler, is being called a monster, and unflattering cartoons are drawn of him, which is extremely offensive to Nazis. Nazis are routinely called monsters themselves, even though people do not know the Nazis they are insulting by making these gross generalizations. As if every Nazi is a bad person!

When Nazis wanted to march in Skokie, Illinois, everyone was against it, even though these Nazis had nothing to do with the Holocaust that the people in Skokie survived - just like the Muslims who wanted to build the Ground Zero Mosque had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.

Why do you judge the vast majority of Nazis, who are peaceful, tax-paying citizens, for the actions of a few extremist Nazis who kill ethnic minorities? Does any of you people who condemn Nazis actually know a Nazi in real life?

Nazism should be a respected world ideology, and Nazis should be treated equally in every facet of life. We should combat Naziphobia, as it is every bit a scourge as Islamophobia.

Seriously, this is lame, even as troll-bait. I can guess the point. I expect most people who pay any attention at all won't have much difficulty. It's not like you have an opaque point of view.

miceelf
07-28-2011, 10:46 AM
Seriously, this is lame, even as troll-bait. I can guess the point. I expect most people who pay any attention at all won't have much difficulty. It's not like you have an opaque point of view.

Godwin's law. Apple must be up into the triple digits on this particular analogy.

apple
07-28-2011, 10:58 AM
Seriously, this is lame, even as troll-bait. I can guess the point. I expect most people who pay any attention at all won't have much difficulty. It's not like you have an opaque point of view.

People keep skirting the topic (after making a half-baked attempt to refute the comparison), so I think it deserves a topic of its own. What exactly is the justification for claiming that people should not be despised for their beliefs and the actions of their co-ideologists when it comes to Muslims, but not when it comes to Nazis?

I'm genuinely curious.

apple
07-28-2011, 11:00 AM
Godwin's law. Apple must be up into the triple digits on this particular analogy.

Not really, I'm calling out people for their hypocrisy. The mere fact that this hypocrisy involves Nazis is irrelevant.

If someone says: I despise Nazis, because they follow the ideology of a mass-murderer (Hitler), and I ask them why they don't despise Muslims, who follow the ideology of a mass-murderer (Muhammad), am I doing something wrong? Or am I thinking critically and asking questions, which just happen to involve Nazis?

miceelf
07-28-2011, 11:31 AM
If someone says: I despise Nazis, because they follow the ideology of a mass-murderer (Hitler), and I ask them why they don't despise Muslims, who follow the ideology of a mass-murderer (Muhammad), am I doing something wrong?


yes.

Or am I thinking critically and asking questions, which just happen to involve Nazis?

no.

eeeeeeeli
07-28-2011, 11:32 AM
Or am I thinking critically?

You're thinking something. I'm not sure I would call it critically.

miceelf
07-28-2011, 11:32 AM
I'm genuinely curious.

No, you're actually the exact opposite of that.

apple
07-28-2011, 12:26 PM
yes.



no.

Wow, look at the impressive arguments. Can't blame you, your case is so exceptionally weak that it's hard to come up with good arguments. "Yes" and "no" really is the best you can do.

miceelf
07-28-2011, 12:44 PM
Wow, look at the impressive arguments. Can't blame you, your case is so exceptionally weak that it's hard to come up with good arguments. "Yes" and "no" really is the best you can do.

I am following common sense and giving ideas roughly the attention that they merit.

apple
07-28-2011, 02:10 PM
I am following common sense and giving ideas roughly the attention that they merit.

Arguments? Oh, sorry, I forgot that you don't have any.

Come back when you can actually put up arguments, and not meaningless and empty statements. Bye.

miceelf
07-28-2011, 02:21 PM
Arguments? Oh, sorry, I forgot that you don't have any.

Come back when you can actually put up arguments, and not meaningless and empty statements. Bye.

You asked two yes/no questions, and I answered them.

So sorry.

apple
07-28-2011, 02:33 PM
You asked two yes/no questions, and I answered them.

So sorry.

Your answers were hardly serious. For example, your first answer would mean that you love hypocrisy and think that people who expose hypocrisy are doing something wrong. You're a leftist, so this is no surprise, but it is a surprise that you would be open about it - ergo, not a serious answer.

Of course, you didn't think about it, because you don't have any arguments. My advice: return after you buy one at Wal-Mart. It is rather unproductive to have a debate with someone who has nothing to contribute.

miceelf
07-28-2011, 02:52 PM
Your answers were hardly serious. For example, your first answer would mean that you love hypocrisy and think that people who expose hypocrisy are doing something wrong. You're a leftist, so this is no surprise, but it is a surprise that you would be open about it - ergo, not a serious answer.


Not at all. Your first question was whether you were doing something wrong, and the answer was yes.
What this has to do with me "admitting" a love for hypocrisy is beyond me, not that it matters much. We are probably the only two who are reading the thread at this point.

sugarkang
07-28-2011, 03:02 PM
Your best arguments come from Hitchens. And if anyone draws a parallel to extreme right Christians, you can further distinguish Islam from Christian nutters by virtue of the fact that al-Qaeda has propaganda videos that get national media attention and, therefore, the incentive to participate in terror is bigger. Run of the mill idiot right wingers don't have a worldwide scope.

That said, your Nazi analogy does not work. It's just best not to use the "N" word to describe people. Now, thought processes on the other hand...

miceelf
07-28-2011, 03:07 PM
That said, your Nazi analogy does not work. It's just best not to use the "N" word to describe people. Now, thought processes on the other hand...

I would actually be very open to the possibility that the analogy worked, if, say, it was true that "the vast majority of Nazis [were] peaceful, tax-paying citizens," or if the putative atrocities by Muhammad had been committed in the last 100 years.

sugarkang
07-28-2011, 03:20 PM
I would actually be very open to the possibility that the analogy worked, if, say, it was true that "the vast majority of Nazis [were] peaceful, tax-paying citizens," or if the putative atrocities by Muhammad had been committed in the last 100 years.

There are a number of reasons why the analogy doesn't work, but yes, I agree.

miceelf
07-28-2011, 03:47 PM
There are a number of reasons why the analogy doesn't work

Hence my "say"

;-)

apple
07-28-2011, 04:03 PM
Not at all. Your first question was whether you were doing something wrong, and the answer was yes.

Yes, you said that it was wrong to point out hypocrisy and inconsistency. You did not rephrase my question, you answered it on my terms. Bye.

apple
07-28-2011, 04:05 PM
Your best arguments come from Hitchens. And if anyone draws a parallel to extreme right Christians, you can further distinguish Islam from Christian nutters by virtue of the fact that al-Qaeda has propaganda videos that get national media attention and, therefore, the incentive to participate in terror is bigger. Run of the mill idiot right wingers don't have a worldwide scope.

That said, your Nazi analogy does not work. It's just best not to use the "N" word to describe people. Now, thought processes on the other hand...

I'm not using the word Nazi to describe anyone. I'm wondering about whether one of the people who opposes all criticism of Islam can explain why it's OK to criticize and vilify Nazis and Nazism, and why that is not Naziphobia.

Thus far, even though I have posited this comparison numerous times, no one has been able to counter it with a valid argument.

apple
07-28-2011, 04:08 PM
I would actually be very open to the possibility that the analogy worked, if, say, it was true that "the vast majority of Nazis [were] peaceful, tax-paying citizens,"

There are tens of thousands of Nazis. How many of them are known for committing crimes against ethnic minorities, or not paying their taxes?

Even if a minority of Nazis are peaceful and tax-loving, which I am not conceding, what gives you the right to vilify them because of the actions of people they have nothing to do with. Why should moderate Nazis have to pay for the actions of extremist Nazis?

or if the putative atrocities by Muhammad had been committed in the last 100 years.

Alright, so Nazis will be accepted by you in 2046.

miceelf
07-28-2011, 04:20 PM
Yes, you said that it was wrong to point out hypocrisy and inconsistency. You did not rephrase my question, you answered it on my terms. Bye.

You didn't use the words "hypocrisy" or "inconsistency" in the piece I quoted. Clearly, *you* think "pointing out hypocrisy and inconsistency" is what you are doing, but no one else does, and you didn't even explicitly claim that's what you were doing in what I responded to.

miceelf
07-28-2011, 04:22 PM
There are tens of thousands of Nazis. How many of them are known for committing crimes against ethnic minorities, or not paying their taxes?

"known for committing crimes against ethnic minorities" is a rather high bar to contrast vs. "peaceful." But you knew that.




Alright, so Nazis will be accepted by you in 2046.

Gotcha games work best when you actually get someone doing something. You betcha!

apple
07-28-2011, 04:38 PM
"known for committing crimes against ethnic minorities" is a rather high bar to contrast vs. "peaceful." But you knew that.

It's about the same as the bar used for Muslims: any Muslim not committing terrorist acts is a "peaceful" Muslim. Which is why you even see very conservative people saying (foolishly) that 99.99% of Muslims are great people, which is clearly false.

But please do elaborate. Can you tell me what's wrong with Nazis and their ideology that gives you the right to judge those people?

Gotcha games work best when you actually get someone doing something. You betcha!

Sorry, I didn't twist your words, you stated that the crimes of a person one follows are irrelevant if they took place at least 100 years ago.

apple
07-28-2011, 04:40 PM
You didn't use the words "hypocrisy" or "inconsistency" in the piece I quoted. Clearly, *you* think "pointing out hypocrisy and inconsistency" is what you are doing, but no one else does, and you didn't even explicitly claim that's what you were doing in what I responded to.

The following is a prima facie case of hypocrisy:

"despise Nazis, because they follow the ideology of a mass murderer (Hitler), and I ask them why they don't despise Muslims, who follow the ideology of a mass murderer (Muhammad)"

Person X, when asked why he despises Nazis, states that he despises them because they follow the ideology of a mass murderer. However, person X is hypocritical because he refuses to apply the same standard to Muslims, who follow the mass murderer Muhammad. You didn't dispute this characterization, but you did say that one is "wrong" to point out this hypocrisy. I guess only Karl Marx knows why, eh?

miceelf
07-28-2011, 04:44 PM
Sorry, I didn't twist your words, you stated that the crimes of a person one follows are irrelevant if they took place at least 100 years ago.

No, I said that that's an additional (as in, not the only) way your analogy falls apart.

You are also wrong about the reasons most people despise current day Nazis. It's got at least as much to do with the current goals of said Nazis as it does to Hitler.

Again, you asked if you were wrong, and now you are assuming that my reason for thinking you were wrong is because I accepted all of your premises, but came to a different conclusion.

apple
07-28-2011, 06:22 PM
No, I said that that's an additional (as in, not the only) way your analogy falls apart.

You are also wrong about the reasons most people despise current day Nazis. It's got at least as much to do with the current goals of said Nazis as it does to Hitler.

Really? Enlighten us then, what are the goals of modern-day Nazis? Why do you stereotype Nazis by saying that they have some dark motive?

Again, you asked if you were wrong, and now you are assuming that my reason for thinking you were wrong is because I accepted all of your premises, but came to a different conclusion.

You did accept all my premises, or you could not have answered the question. Sorry.

miceelf
07-28-2011, 07:12 PM
You did accept all my premises, or you could not have answered the question. Sorry.

Your question was whether you were wrong. It was not whether your conclusions was wrong, but all your premises were right.

I know you're bigoted with regard to Muslims, but you're apparently unwilling to even have a minimally honest conversation. Chowder.

apple
07-28-2011, 07:50 PM
Your question was whether you were wrong. It was not whether your conclusions was wrong, but all your premises were right.

Actually, no. Read it again, and you'll see a hypothetical. The hypothetical was not up for discussion, and you did not dispute it. The hypothetical situation was where a person condemns Nazis for following a mass murderer, but fails to condemn Muslims for following their mass murderer. Now, the question. Would I be wrong to call out such a person for their failure to bring their argument to its logical conclusion? You said yes.

And of course, after being... creative yourself, you call me dishonest. Typical leftist.

Anyway, I'm sure that you prefer even this petty debate to a discussion about the merits of the religion of peace - because to throw light on that is "Islamophobia".

Ocean
07-28-2011, 08:02 PM
Why do we have a pronazi thread?

Is this a new fashion at BhTV?

Have some shame please.

sugarkang
07-28-2011, 08:04 PM
Hence my "say"

;-)

hear, hear

sugarkang
07-28-2011, 08:05 PM
Why do we have a pronazi thread?

Is this a new fashion at BhTV?

Have some shame please.

Try to stop acting like one, then. And maybe wonder whether some people have morally valid opinions that don't conform to yours.

apple
07-28-2011, 09:54 PM
Why do we have a pronazi thread?

Is this a new fashion at BhTV?

Have some shame please.

I'm not a Nazi, or even pro-Nazi. In fact, I'm a die-hard Naziphobe. But can you please tell me why you think that there's something wrong with being a Nazi?

Ocean
07-28-2011, 09:58 PM
I'm not a Nazi, or even pro-Nazi. In fact, I'm a die-hard Naziphobe. But can you please tell me why you think that there's something wrong with being a Nazi?

No, I don't have the time or patience to state the obvious. But, I'm relieved to know that you realize there's something wrong with Nazism.

apple
07-28-2011, 10:16 PM
No, I don't have the time or patience to state the obvious. But, I'm relieved to know that you realize there's something wrong with Nazism.

Am I a bigot now, for thinking that there's something wrong with Nazism?

Ocean
07-28-2011, 10:25 PM
Am I a bigot now, for thinking that there's something wrong with Nazism?

I leave that for your self-analysis. It will be immensely more helpful than my opinion.

apple
07-28-2011, 10:41 PM
I leave that for your self-analysis. It will be immensely more helpful than my opinion.

Actually, there is no need to, because I don't believe that one is a bigot for opposing belief systems. Many of your liberal friends do, however.

Hume's Bastard
07-29-2011, 12:10 AM
If someone says: I despise Nazis, because they follow the ideology of a mass-murderer (Hitler), and I ask them why they don't despise Muslims, who follow the ideology of a mass-murderer (Muhammad), am I doing something wrong? Or am I thinking critically and asking questions, which just happen to involve Nazis?

You're equivocating on the term, "mass-murderer". Hitler was ultimately responsible as head of government for the deaths of a wide range of dissidents and classified non-persons, namely, the millions of Jewish former German citizens and citizens of defeated states. In other words, he resorted to some of the technologically advanced means to abuse his position to a narrow cross-section of the political opponents he perceived as inimical to his regime. Muhammad, on the other hand, was recognized by contemporaries, including Christians and Jews, as a prophet. He also combined with prophecy a political role as a uniter of tribes into a confederation, and then as a apologist for wars against non-Muslim Arabs. Your analogy would criminalize any revolutionary movement, especially with non-Christian religious support.

miceelf
07-29-2011, 12:16 AM
Muhammad, on the other hand, was recognized by contemporaries, including Christians and Jews, as a prophet. He also combined with prophecy a political role as a uniter of tribes into a confederation, and then as a apologist for wars against non-Muslim Arabs. Your analogy would criminalize any revolutionary movement, especially with non-Christian religious support.

Oh, shush. It's not like there were ever wars of aggression sanctioned by Christian religious figures. How dare you bring up, you know, facts?

JonIrenicus
07-29-2011, 02:37 AM
Since World War II, Naziphobia has only increased in the West. Nazis are looked on with suspicion, they are not treated as full citizens, and in some European countries, they are even persecuted for their beliefs. Nazis can lose friends, be fired from their jobs, not for anything that they have done themselves, but only for their beliefs.

The intellectual leader of the Nazis, Adolf Hitler, is being called a monster, and unflattering cartoons are drawn of him, which is extremely offensive to Nazis. Nazis are routinely called monsters themselves, even though people do not know the Nazis they are insulting by making these gross generalizations. As if every Nazi is a bad person!

When Nazis wanted to march in Skokie, Illinois, everyone was against it, even though these Nazis had nothing to do with the Holocaust that the people in Skokie survived - just like the Muslims who wanted to build the Ground Zero Mosque had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.

Why do you judge the vast majority of Nazis, who are peaceful, tax-paying citizens, for the actions of a few extremist Nazis who kill ethnic minorities? Does any of you people who condemn Nazis actually know a Nazi in real life?

Nazism should be a respected world ideology, and Nazis should be treated equally in every facet of life. We should combat Naziphobia, as it is every bit a scourge as Islamophobia.



Good for highlighting the general principle of it being perfectly sound to be biased against a group for their set of beliefs.

Too broad though (even for me !). Think of the set of all Muslims more like the set of wwii era Germans. Where the wellspring of people who followed nazi like beliefs was uniquely abundant at the time within the German population, even if most germans would not condone the worst, because they were part of the same group set, they were more apologetic of the group as a whole. Often slower to criticize the worst among the ranks and excise them from power.

An outside observer might wonder about the issues within german society that incubates a subset of the population to cling to nazi beliefs. The leftist of all times, will denounce that, there cannot be a societal source of dysfunction, the source of nearly all dysfunction is something external to the group in question, or something the west did to incite the group to behave in a certain way. In the end of course, it did not matter that most germans did not subscribe to nazi beliefs about racial extermination, it mattered that too many of them did, and their society of the time spit out enough baleful human beings into the world to cause problems for everyone else.

Nazism could not take hold in Germany today in anywhere NEAR the numbers that existed in the past. The society itself today is more progressive, more resilient and strong enough to annihilate such backwards, violent, destructive beliefs on first contact. They could not fester and grow, is that the case in muslim societies around the world? Probably some. Still too much festering for my taste, and for many muslims too. Still plenty of work to be done, and that is going to take decades and alot of people dying and taking their broken beliefs with them. As it's been with the Germans of old, and the american segregationists, and now in modern day, muslim societies.

Florian
07-29-2011, 02:37 AM
Actually, there is no need to, because I don't believe that one is a bigot for opposing belief systems. Many of your liberal friends do, however.

Have you ever read about the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the European religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries? The "belief system" of Christianity, before the Enlightenment, was every bit as intolerant and belligerent as Islam in its triumphant, ascendant phase.

I hope your opposition to obsolete and thoroughtly discredited belief systems extends to Christianity.

jimM47
07-29-2011, 05:03 AM
Not really, I'm calling out people for their hypocrisy. The mere fact that this hypocrisy involves Nazis is irrelevant.

If someone says: I despise Nazis, because they follow the ideology of a mass-murderer (Hitler), and I ask them why they don't despise Muslims, who follow the ideology of a mass-murderer (Muhammad), am I doing something wrong? Or am I thinking critically and asking questions, which just happen to involve Nazis?

The answer to your question is that the analogy between Islam, a world religion, and Naziism, a parochial ideology, is entirely inapt. It misunderstands what religions are and how they function in human society. Naziism offers nothing of value to the world; no one is now a Nazi for reasons that are not abhorrent or juvenile; Naziism does not help society function or people reach maturity. Islam, whatever its flaws, offers the fruits of wisdom of an expansive tradition; people are Muslims for many good, mature reasons; it undergirds numerous societies and facilitates morality and understanding in many people.

Nor is Islam "the ideology of Muhammad." It is a category of religious beliefs, cultural institutions, and spiritual vocabulary that emerged organically over the course of more than fourteen centuries in far ranging parts of the world covering nearly a third of the world's population. As such, it is incredibly heterogeneous over time and space, and very little of its substance can realistically be attributed to any individual person alive in the sixth century. Indeed, very little about the religion, from theology to law to practice, is uniform or uncontested, even within fairly narrow slices of the religion.

Islam is primarily the collected product of the varieties of human experience and macro-events in human history. This is true of every other world religion as well. And not just because of age. This is a quality of religions, generally. Muhammad's younger contemporaries were scarcely in the ground before Islam had fragmented into many parts, and even the main body of it was being driven by people and ideas that went far beyond what Muhammad had conceived. I can point to similar events in the founding of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism. Someone who as studied other religions formally could no doubt give you a similar story for the other world religions.

Sorry if that makes whatever religion you subscribe to seem less meaningful or less special. It shouldn't though. Every one of the great religious traditions has in some way reconciled itself to these realities. Talk to anyone with a mature and knowledgeable understanding of their faith and you'll hear similar themes. That doesn't mean all religions are the same -- no religion is even self-similar enough for them all to be the same -- but they are religions, which is something entails its own categories of analysis.

TwinSwords
07-29-2011, 06:29 AM
Have you ever read about the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the European religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries? The "belief system" of Christianity, before the Enlightenment, was every bit as intolerant and belligerent as Islam in its triumphant, ascendant phase.

I hope your opposition to obsolete and thoroughtly discredited belief systems extends to Christianity.

Good to see you back, Florian.

miceelf
07-29-2011, 07:25 AM
Have you ever read about the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the European religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries? The "belief system" of Christianity, before the Enlightenment, was every bit as intolerant and belligerent as Islam in its triumphant, ascendant phase.

I hope your opposition to obsolete and thoroughtly discredited belief systems extends to Christianity.

There's an answer to this, of course. They weren't really Christians.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman

I didn't say it was a good answer.

Racoon
07-29-2011, 07:33 AM
Indeed.
Welcome back!

apple
07-29-2011, 11:32 AM
You're equivocating on the term, "mass-murderer". Hitler was ultimately responsible as head of government for the deaths of a wide range of dissidents and classified non-persons, namely, the millions of Jewish former German citizens and citizens of defeated states. In other words, he resorted to some of the technologically advanced means to abuse his position to a narrow cross-section of the political opponents he perceived as inimical to his regime. Muhammad, on the other hand, was recognized by contemporaries, including Christians and Jews, as a prophet.

This is incorrect. Christians and Jews who stayed Christians and Jews certainly did not recognize this man as a 'prophet'. It is also completely irrelevant to the fact that Muhammad "was ultimately responsible...for the deaths of a wide range of dissidents" - the very same thing you blame Hitler for.

He also combined with prophecy a political role as a uniter of tribes into a confederation, and then as a apologist for wars against non-Muslim Arabs. Your analogy would criminalize any revolutionary movement, especially with non-Christian religious support.

Not really, I would be content with criminalizing mass murder and wars of aggression (the kind you say he waged against non-Muslim Arabs). By the way, generals Keitel and Jodl were hanged for (among other things) the crime of aggression.

apple
07-29-2011, 11:48 AM
First of all, let me thank you for offering a substantive and serious response, although as I will explain, I don't agree with everything you say.

The answer to your question is that the analogy between Islam, a world religion, and Naziism, a parochial ideology, is entirely inapt.

The has nothing to do with the essential characteristics of these ideologies, and more with historical accident. The only reason why Islam is not a parochial cult in Medina, is because Muhammad and his successors, and Muslims ever after, waged wars of aggression to spread their parochial cult. Had Hitler succeeded in conquering the Soviet Union and exterminating the Slavic "Untermensch", perhaps Nazism would today be considered a respected world ideology.

Naziism offers nothing of value to the world; no one is now a Nazi for reasons that are not abhorrent or juvenile; Naziism does not help society function or people reach maturity.

Well, that's your opinion, and you certainly don't demonstrate it. I certainly hold the opinion that Islam offers nothing of value to the world, and that Islam does not help a society function or people reach maturity (quite the contrary).

Islam, whatever its flaws, offers the fruits of wisdom of an expansive tradition;

So does communism.

people are Muslims for many good, mature reasons;

The number one reason why people are Muslims, is because they were brainwashed into this mind-numbing religion as children.

it undergirds numerous societies and facilitates morality and understanding in many people.

This is actually true. It facilitates what we call extreme immorality: grown men marrying tiny children, treating women as 50% human, denying them their equal rights, denying religious minorities their rights, stoning people and cutting off their hands - just to cite a few examples of the extreme immorality of Islam.

Nor is Islam "the ideology of Muhammad." It is a category of religious beliefs, cultural institutions, and spiritual vocabulary that emerged organically over the course of more than fourteen centuries in far ranging parts of the world covering nearly a third of the world's population.

You are actually correct about your first statement. So I'll ask you this question: would Nazism be respectable if it had an "intellectual" tradition of 14 centuries, that tried to justify their blind faith in Adolf Hitler, and if it managed to convert 1/4 of the world's population. After all, let's not forget that Hitler's aim wasn't to be left in peace, it was to subdue a large part of the world. Had Hitler succeeded, would we be obliged to regard Nazism as a respectable world ideology?

As such, it is incredibly heterogeneous over time and space,

Well, so is Nazism. Nowadays, there are even Russian Nazis, if you can believe it, even though Hitler believed that Russians are sub-human.

and very little of its substance can realistically be attributed to any individual person alive in the sixth century. Indeed, very little about the religion, from theology to law to practice, is uniform or uncontested, even within fairly narrow slices of the religion.

You are right, there are some serious disagreements within Islam. For example, you can see here (http://www.islamqa.com/en/ref/38622/homosexuality) the differing views of Islamic scholars on how homosexuals should be butchered, as "[t]he Sahaabah were unanimously agreed on the execution of homosexuals".

Islam is primarily the collected product of the varieties of human experience and macro-events in human history. This is true of every other world religion as well. And not just because of age. This is a quality of religions, generally. Muhammad's younger contemporaries were scarcely in the ground before Islam had fragmented into many parts, and even the main body of it was being driven by people and ideas that went far beyond what Muhammad had conceived.

Actually, most abominable Islamic practices have a pretty firm grounding in either the Koran or the hadith. So I don't know what you mean. Perhaps you can cite a few examples.

Sorry if that makes whatever religion you subscribe to seem less meaningful or less special.

I subscribe to no religion, but I can see rather clearly that Islam seems to be the worst of the religions out there. I do not think that religion should be given a special category, as you (seem to) state. If this is the case, then Hitler's biggest mistake was not to call his National Socialism a "religion", and himself a prophet. This seems perverse.

apple
07-29-2011, 11:57 AM
Have you ever read about the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the European religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries?

I know more about these things than you can imagine. In fact, I know enough to know that anyone referring to the Spanish Inquisition probably does not know much about medieval history. It is also noteworthy that your first example dates to 1095. You probably don't know that the Crusades were intended to take back the land, mostly majority Christian, that was under Islamic occupation. In the liberal mind, this is a great atrocity. But nary a word about the initial Islamic aggression against these peaceful lands.

The "belief system" of Christianity, before the Enlightenment, was every bit as intolerant and belligerent as Islam in its triumphant, ascendant phase.

You know, I actually do believe that there is an essence to particular ideologies and religions. Which is why we can honestly say that China, today, is not a communist state. Why not? It calls itself a communist state, and it's ruled by the Communist Party. Well, because the country acts in a way completely contrary to what one would expect from a communist country.

Similarly, I would ask you this question: do you think Jesus would approve of all the Christian atrocities you cited? And then I would ask you this question: do you think Muhammad would approve of Sharia punishments and waging wars of aggression?

I hope your opposition to obsolete and thoroughtly discredited belief systems extends to Christianity.

Your words, not mine. I do despise fundamentalist Christians.

apple
07-29-2011, 11:58 AM
There's an answer to this, of course. They weren't really Christians.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman

I didn't say it was a good answer.

Are the rulers of China communists?

apple
07-29-2011, 12:00 PM
Think of the set of all Muslims more like the set of wwii era Germans. (...) In the end of course, it did not matter that most germans did not subscribe to nazi beliefs about racial extermination, it mattered that too many of them did, and their society of the time spit out enough baleful human beings into the world to cause problems for everyone else.

Polls do show that most Muslims in countries like Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan subscribe to extreme beliefs. About 80% of people in these countries support stoning people to death, cutting off people's hands and executing people for apostasy. As you correctly state, most Germans would not have approved of Nazi extermination policies, but I'm not at all convinced that the majority of Muslims disapprove of Islamic extremism. Terrorism, yes. Extremism, no.

Florian
07-29-2011, 01:37 PM
I know more about these things than you can imagine. In fact, I know enough to know that anyone referring to the Spanish Inquisition probably does not know much about medieval history. It is also noteworthy that your first example dates to 1095. You probably don't know that the Crusades were intended to take back the land, mostly majority Christian, that was under Islamic occupation. In the liberal mind, this is a great atrocity. But nary a word about the initial Islamic aggression against these peaceful lands..


You know quite a lot, don't you? It is really too bad that someone of your great erudition uses his knowledge to make over and over again the same rather obvious point: that the prophet Mohammad was a warrior, perhaps a bit of an inspired madman (like Jesus), and that some aspects of sharia law are barbaric by contemporary standards. I think we have all grasped this point.

The "belief system" of Christianity obviously did make possible the Crusades, the Inquisition and the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries---unless you want to subtract from Christianity just about everything from St Paul to Martin Luther. You may say that the Crusaders etc. were not "genuinely" Christians, because unlike the founder of their religion they fought and killed for their faith, but you cannot separate them from the history of Christianity. No more than you can separate from Islam the millions of Muslims who have not been particularly warlike. (Obviously the same goes for Christians "meek and mild.")

And yes, thank you, I did know that the intention of the crusaders was to take back land stolen by the "infidels."

You know, I actually do believe that there is an essence to particular ideologies and religions. Which is why we can honestly say that China, today, is not a communist state. Why not? It calls itself a communist state, and it's ruled by the Communist Party. Well, because the country acts in a way completely contrary to what one would expect from a communist country..

One could also say, for precisely the same reason, that contempory Islam is not truly Islamic, i.e. that it is a far cry from the conquering religion of its founder.

Similarly, I would ask you this question: do you think Jesus would approve of all the Christian atrocities you cited? And then I would ask you this question: do you think Muhammad would approve of Sharia punishments and waging wars of aggression? .


It is notoriously difficult to extract any political doctrine from the eschatological "teachings" of Jesus, but you are right that it is highly unlikely that he would have approved of the Crusades, the Inquisition or the religious wars between the various Christians sects.

Your words, not mine. I do despise fundamentalist Christians.

I don't despise them. I find them bizarre. In some respects American fundamentalist Christians are much closer to the echatological beliefs of the early Christians than are their more "enlightened" brethren.

sugarkang
07-29-2011, 01:45 PM
This is actually true. It facilitates what we call extreme immorality: grown men marrying tiny children, treating women as 50% human, denying them their equal rights, denying religious minorities their rights, stoning people and cutting off their hands - just to cite a few examples of the extreme immorality of Islam.

Apple, you know I have a history of defending you despite your unpopularity and mine. But what is it that you hope to achieve? As bad as Islam might be when practiced in underdeveloped nations, have you considered what life might be like without religion? If God does not exist, everything is permissible. That is, Muslims in those countries had to work their way up to this level of barbarism. It is the progress of man, though, I understand why that progress seems slow to you and it does to me as well.

If you'll recall, it wasn't too long ago that we enslaved millions of people. And it's not as if American whites were alone in their guilt. There were the British. And before them, there was everybody doing it to everybody else. It's man's nature. What do you propose is the solution? Do you want to exterminate all the Muslims? Say what you want.

jimM47
07-29-2011, 03:56 PM
The has nothing to do with the essential characteristics of these ideologies, and more with historical accident.

I think this gets to the heart of it. An ideology like Naziism, and especially a fringe ideology, can have essential characteristics. For the most part, the "historical accident" of a belief system becoming world religion causes essential characteristics to go out the window. I studied comparative religion, and this is the insight that keeps getting hammered home (and which was reinforced when I dabbled into Islamic Law). The founding stories and texts provide a syntax and a vocabulary for talking about religious ideas, but they constrain things only very minimally.

(E.g., The Koran is very open-ended, and the Haditha collections were not compiled until long after Muhammad's death, and even then remained the subject of dispute. Islamic Law actually started to develop before the Hadith had been compiled, and the character of the four schools of Sunni jurisprudence owes its character to the sources that each used. All used local custom and traditions in some measure. Others focused more on reasoning and analogy. The dominant school, quite frankly, chose rules that were practicable for commerce. Also,a reminder: the largest population of Muslims in the world is still in Indonesia, and while the religion as practiced there is not my idea of perfection, it mostly lacks the pathologies produced by the Arab world's recent experience with colonialism, and which people tend to think of as inherent to religion.)

I once went to a conference on "Differences Between Religions" where a bunch of policy types invited religious studies scholars to speak. Universally the scholars all presented papers on the basic theme of: here are two historical or temporal variants of a familiar world religion; notice how they appear to break even the most basic conceptions of what is essential to their parent religions; notice how they emerged entirely separately but resemble each other in exacting detail. The point is that religions aren't designed, they evolve. Divergent evolution within a tradition is very real, and convergent evolution between traditions is also very real.

Religious scholars spend a lot of time trying to make a non-pejorative distinction between religions and cults, and between churches and sects. Probably the chief distinguishing feature is that cults are largely controlled top-down, religions bottom up. Sects have a great deal of uniformity, whereas churches do not. It all relates to the basic question of how much the group is still has a focused and singular ideology that is the product of concerted design, and how much its existence is owed to being shoved off into the ages, where it evolves, and where it must cater to society as a whole, and not parts of it.

If Hitler had conquered the world and recruited enough thinkers into the Nazi movement to run it, would it too have evolved into something worth respecting? Part of the crux of that hypo is assuming that this was possible -- that there wasn't something inherent in the nascent movement that doomed it from the start. But I would answer that if Naziism would have succeeded, then yes, it would be on its way toward becoming a different type of creature. Not overnight, but eventually. And the change would transform its content as well. Give it a few hundred years and Genocide might have as much to do with Nazi self-identification as absolute monarchy has to do with Tory self-identification.

Consider an example. Can you think of any other young charismatic German who tried to weave together a pan-German identity, initiated military campaigns against neighbors, and initiated pogroms against the Jews? Martin Luther was no Hitler, but he did do some bad things, and yet Lutheranism stands a far distance from those things.

Ocean
07-29-2011, 05:02 PM
Have you ever read about the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the European religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries? The "belief system" of Christianity, before the Enlightenment, was every bit as intolerant and belligerent as Islam in its triumphant, ascendant phase.

I hope your opposition to obsolete and thoroughtly discredited belief systems extends to Christianity.

Welcome back, Florian!

Don Zeko
07-29-2011, 05:13 PM
I think this gets to the heart of it. An ideology like Naziism, and especially a fringe ideology, can have essential characteristics. For the most part, the "historical accident" of a belief system becoming world religion causes essential characteristics to go out the window. I studied comparative religion, and this is the insight that keeps getting hammered home (and which was reinforced when I dabbled into Islamic Law). The founding stories and texts provide a syntax and a vocabulary for talking about religious ideas, but they constrain things only very minimally.

(E.g., The Koran is very open-ended, and the Haditha collections were not compiled until long after Muhammad's death, and even then remained the subject of dispute. Islamic Law actually started to develop before the Hadith had been compiled, and the character of the four schools of Sunni jurisprudence owes its character to the sources that each used. All used local custom and traditions in some measure. Others focused more on reasoning and analogy. The dominant school, quite frankly, chose rules that were practicable for commerce. Also,a reminder: the largest population of Muslims in the world is still in Indonesia, and while the religion as practiced there is not my idea of perfection, it mostly lacks the pathologies produced by the Arab world's recent experience with colonialism, and which people tend to think of as inherent to religion.)

I once went to a conference on "Differences Between Religions" where a bunch of policy types invited religious studies scholars to speak. Universally the scholars all presented papers on the basic theme of: here are two historical or temporal variants of a familiar world religion; notice how they appear to break even the most basic conceptions of what is essential to their parent religions; notice how they emerged entirely separately but resemble each other in exacting detail. The point is that religions aren't designed, they evolve. Divergent evolution within a tradition is very real, and convergent evolution between traditions is also very real.

Religious scholars spend a lot of time trying to make a non-pejorative distinction between religions and cults, and between churches and sects. Probably the chief distinguishing feature is that cults are largely controlled top-down, religions bottom up. Sects have a great deal of uniformity, whereas churches do not. It all relates to the basic question of how much the group is still has a focused and singular ideology that is the product of concerted design, and how much its existence is owed to being shoved off into the ages, where it evolves, and where it must cater to society as a whole, and not parts of it.

If Hitler had conquered the world and recruited enough thinkers into the Nazi movement to run it, would it too have evolved into something worth respecting? Part of the crux of that hypo is assuming that this was possible -- that there wasn't something inherent in the nascent movement that doomed it from the start. But I would answer that if Naziism would have succeeded, then yes, it would be on its way toward becoming a different type of creature. Not overnight, but eventually. And the change would transform its content as well. Give it a few hundred years and Genocide might have as much to do with Nazi self-identification as absolute monarchy has to do with Tory self-identification.

Consider an example. Can you think of any other young charismatic German who tried to weave together a pan-German identity, initiated military campaigns against neighbors, and initiated pogroms against the Jews? Martin Luther was no Hitler, but he did do some bad things, and yet Lutheranism stands a far distance from those things.

Excellent post.

apple
07-29-2011, 06:52 PM
Apple, you know I have a history of defending you despite your unpopularity and mine. But what is it that you hope to achieve? As bad as Islam might be when practiced in underdeveloped nations, have you considered what life might be like without religion? If God does not exist, everything is permissible. That is, Muslims in those countries had to work their way up to this level of barbarism.

That is a big assumption. And it doesn't explain why countries that are religiously devout, like Afghanistan and Pakistan, are infinitely more screwed up than similarly poor countries (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2004rank.html) that are not religiously devout and Islamic. Also, it is not clear to me that Islamic countries that are more affluent are less bad. For example, I have shown you the polls from Egypt that show 80%+ supporting stoning and killing people for apostasy. Egypt has an GDP that is higher than that of Armenia and Paraguay. Yet these countries are infinitely more civilized. Why?

I understand that you assume that religion does more good than evil. It remains an assumption, though one supported by quotations from Dostoevsky.

If you'll recall, it wasn't too long ago that we enslaved millions of people. And it's not as if American whites were alone in their guilt. There were the British. And before them, there was everybody doing it to everybody else. It's man's nature. What do you propose is the solution? Do you want to exterminate all the Muslims? Say what you want.

I don't have all the answers. I want people to recognize that Islam is a huge problem in this world, so that very smart people can come with a solution.

apple
07-29-2011, 07:12 PM
I think this gets to the heart of it. An ideology like Naziism, and especially a fringe ideology, can have essential characteristics. For the most part, the "historical accident" of a belief system becoming world religion causes essential characteristics to go out the window.

You really think so? I wouldn't say that Islam has lost its essential characteristics in the past 1400 years.

Also,a reminder: the largest population of Muslims in the world is still in Indonesia, and while the religion as practiced there is not my idea of perfection, it mostly lacks the pathologies produced by the Arab world's recent experience with colonialism, and which people tend to think of as inherent to religion.)

Let me cite Pew. In Indonesia, 42% believe that people who commit adultery should be stoned. 36% believe in whipping and cutting off of hands for thieving. And 30% believe that people who leave Islam should be killed. Perhaps this compares favorably to the 80%+ who support these sorts of things in Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan, but it's still incredibly high.

Also, the vast majority of women have their genitalia mutilated, mostly for religious reasons, but also for "health" reasons (sound familiar?)

This might not be a problem, were Indonesia becoming more civilized. Unfortunately, this is not the case. According to recent reports, the country is radicalizing even further since the introduction of democracy in 1998.

By the way, if you want to blame Islamic so called extremism on colonization, you should know that Indonesia only won its independence in 1950. Also, Afghanistan and Saudi-Arabia were never colonized, but are the two most barbaric Islamic states. Same with Iran, although its population is much more evolved.

The point is that religions aren't designed, they evolve.

I would agree with this. But this does not mean that a religion cannot evolve into something completely putrid, like Islam.

Probably the chief distinguishing feature is that cults are largely controlled top-down, religions bottom up.

Then the Catholic Church is a cult, according to this criterion.

Sects have a great deal of uniformity, whereas churches do not.

One never knows what to count as difference or uniformity. For example, let's take the differing Islamic approaches to homosexuality. One school believes that homosexuals should be burned alive, another believes that they should be stoned, while still another thinks that they should be thrown off a cliff. Does that count as difference or as similarity? It reminds me of the old joke anti-Islamists make about moderate Muslims: an Islamic extremist will cut your throat with a dull knife, while a moderate Muslim will be kind enough to use a sharp knife.

If Hitler had conquered the world and recruited enough thinkers into the Nazi movement to run it, would it too have evolved into something worth respecting? Part of the crux of that hypo is assuming that this was possible -- that there wasn't something inherent in the nascent movement that doomed it from the start. But I would answer that if Naziism would have succeeded, then yes, it would be on its way toward becoming a different type of creature.

Thank you for your answer. However, I must point out that the Nazism I was talking about, remains pretty much the same as Hitler's. Imagine a Nazism that is as close to Adolf Hitler's personal ideology, as Islam is to Muhammad's ideology. Also, Nazis will have to adore Hitler and approve of his genocidal actions, just like Muslims do the same for Muhammad - while still praising his "great humanity", like the fact that he (Hitler) was a vegetarian.

Not overnight, but eventually. And the change would transform its content as well. Give it a few hundred years and Genocide might have as much to do with Nazi self-identification as absolute monarchy has to do with Tory self-identification.

Oh, but the current Tory party is not the monarchist party of old, it only bears the same name. Also, parties evolve in a way that ideologies and religions cannot. The Republican Party can go from being the party of Abraham Lincoln to being the party of Pat Robertson, but Islam can hardly repudiate everything it stands for and turn itself inside out, repudiating Muhammad, Islamic theology, absolutely everything.

Consider an example. Can you think of any other young charismatic German who tried to weave together a pan-German identity, initiated military campaigns against neighbors, and initiated pogroms against the Jews? Martin Luther was no Hitler, but he did do some bad things, and yet Lutheranism stands a far distance from those things.

Well, Luther did not initiate military campaigns or pogroms, but he was anti-Semitic. And had he been a prophet himself, instead of someone offering a reinterpreation, you'd have seen that the Lutherans would have had a very difficult time repudiating anti-Semitism, because it would mean repudiating the very beliefs of their prophet.

apple
07-29-2011, 07:45 PM
The "belief system" of Christianity obviously did make possible the Crusades, the Inquisition and the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries---unless you want to subtract from Christianity just about everything from St Paul to Martin Luther.

Actually, I think that would merely entail erasing Christian history from 1095 through 1648, or 1233 through 1648.

You may say that the Crusaders etc. were not "genuinely" Christians, because unlike the founder of their religion they fought and killed for their faith, but you cannot separate them from the history of Christianity. No more than you can separate from Islam the millions of Muslims who have not been particularly warlike. (Obviously the same goes for Christians "meek and mild.")

Well, look, here's the deal. If we want to see whether Christianity, as such, can be held responsible for the Inquisition, then we must see whether there or not the inquisitors were following whom they pretended to follow. It's not a matter of 'separating' them from Christian history. Obviously, they are a part of Christian history, but that does not mean that they were really following the teachings of Jesus. On the other hand, would Muhammad approve of Islamic terrorism? I don't think he would. Would he approve of waging wars against infidels, and stoning people to death? Definitely.

And yes, thank you, I did know that the intention of the crusaders was to take back land stolen by the "infidels."

Then you probably will not be surprised that I approve of their actions, even though Jesus might not have. Spain is a crusader state, and I'm glad the Reconquista succeeded. Had it failed, Spain would probably be about as civilized as Egypt, with its 80%+ approval of stoning, whipping and killing people for apostasy.

One could also say, for precisely the same reason, that contempory Islam is not truly Islamic, i.e. that it is a far cry from the conquering religion of its founder.

Perhaps, but it's not as if they would be successful if they decided to wage war against the West. I will also note that as long as Islamic powers were powerful enough, whether it be the caliphate, the Seljuks or the Ottomans, they waged endless wars of aggression against the West.

It is notoriously difficult to extract any political doctrine from the eschatological "teachings" of Jesus, but you are right that it is highly unlikely that he would have approved of the Crusades, the Inquisition or the religious wars between the various Christians sects.

And would Muhammad have approved of just about everything we find barbaric about Islam? Probably not terrorism, but the rest? Yes.

I don't despise them. I find them bizarre. In some respects American fundamentalist Christians are much closer to the echatological beliefs of the early Christians than are their more "enlightened" brethren.

Well, Paul definitely thought that the end was near in his day and age, but I don't think that it necessarily follows that the end would be near *now*.

Hume's Bastard
07-29-2011, 08:35 PM
This is incorrect. Christians and Jews who stayed Christians and Jews certainly did not recognize this man as a 'prophet'. It is also completely irrelevant to the fact that Muhammad "was ultimately responsible...for the deaths of a wide range of dissidents" - the very same thing you blame Hitler for.

The establishment in Mecca attacked Muhammad's followers in Medina.* Hitler was an aggressor who violated international law and committed crimes against humanity. Muhammad didn't pen his opponents into camps. Muhammad united the Arab tribes into a confederation and waged war honorably, after the Meccan establishment severed trade routes and beseiged Medina. After that Muhammad fought against Mecca's allies through the peninsula. Also, Muhammad is not the same kind of leader as the caliphs who followed him. Jewish and Christian Arabs both anticipated in their own traditions an Arab prophet, and Muhammad fulfilled that for many Christian and Jewish Arabs. Muhammad also recognized Jesus as a prophet as well as the Jewish prophets, and Jews and Christians lived in Muslim communities in peace for generations. Ant-semitism is a Christian mistake Muslims never made. To a point in another thread also, about Luther, Shi'ites did and do repudiate certain of Muhammad's basic teachings, as do most Lutherans Luther's anti-semitism.

Also, on a point, arguing that Christianity does not include bad Christians like those who led the Inquisition is the no true Scotsman fallacy. Christianity, through its core precept that it fulfills Judaism, is anti-Semitic, unlike Islam which is more respectful of both Judaism and Christianity. Stop watching O'Reilly, he will only deaden your already addled brain.

Why would you and American reactionaries want to return to a disgusting, hateful, minor ideology from a very embarrassing, pre-progressive, pre-FDR period in western history, when eugenics, racism, and hate fed on economic collapse? If you enjoy narrow-minded bigotry so much, can we at least take the more prosperous 50s, McCarthy and segregation even? I'd rather start with the 60s and tweak a few things, but if you could ditch Hitler and your rabid fundamentalism, all the better!

Not really, I would be content with criminalizing mass murder and wars of aggression (the kind you say he waged against non-Muslim Arabs). By the way, generals Keitel and Jodl were hanged for (among other things) the crime of aggression.

That "among other things" includes crimes against humanity, namely their responsibility for ordering opponents and prisoners into camps. That was why both Jodl and Keitel were hanged, not shot. Besides, keep to your original point, Muhammad vs. Hitler.

* Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet, Islam: A Short History, A Brief History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Karen Armstrong
* The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years, Bernard Lewis

jimM47
07-29-2011, 11:19 PM
You really think so? I wouldn't say that Islam has lost its essential characteristics in the past 1400 years.

I do really think so.

That isn't to say that certain things aren't more likely to pop up in Islam. It isn't to say that I can't trace which ideas have been mainstream in the tradition and talk about continuity and effect of those ideas (For instance, I think Islam's greater emphasis on orthopraxy, compared to Christianity's emphasis on orthodoxy, explains both why the Muslim world was for many centuries more tolerant/multi-cultural than the Christian world, and why it has failed subsequently to develop western enlightenment-type notions of toleration/multi-culturalism that appear to be more conducive to modernity.)

But the way your hypo is framed, what matters is not that certain features have been more prominent, or are closer to the mainstream of the tradition. What matters is which features are essential characteristics, such that you can hold all Muslims complicit in them. Indeed, such that you can pronounce "No True Scotsman..." about anyone whose beliefs don't conform, without either committing a logical fallacy or yourself professing belief the religion you purport to authoritatively interpret.

Let me cite Pew. In Indonesia . . .

Those numbers are interesting, and relevant to many questions. But I don't think they provide evidence of essential characteristics of Islam. There is, in my opinion, a pretty overriding determinism that connects the values of a cultural to the level of material prosperity there. And by mentioning colonialism, I don't mean to offer it as an excuse, or as a simple "this is always what happens when there is colonialism" story, but the truth is that there is a real historical break in the Arab world, which corresponds with the colonial period, where you can say: look, this destructive cultural institution wasn't there before, and now it is. But I don't have the depth of field on that topic to go into an exhaustive proof. All I can tell you is that others can, and that their explanations were consonant with a lot of other information I know to be true.

Then the Catholic Church is a cult, according to this criterion.

No. Catholicism as a religion is very decentralized on the level of what people believe at a local level, what institutions they have at a local level, etc. The actual hierarchy of the Clergy is more... well... hierarchical, but even it is largely the result of world-wide political realities and distributed knowledge. The Pope is more like a Prime Minister who wields influence by raising up back-benchers who agree with him than like a charismatic cult leader who tells the clergy what to believe in.

parties evolve in a way that ideologies and religions cannot.

Try to identify the following two religions:

(1) God is perfect. God created the world. Time is linear. We each live once. When we die we go to heaven or to hell. God's law is perfect. Follow God's commandments and be rewarded. Some day the savior will restore our great nation. He will be God's most blessed.

(2) God is limited. The world is the result of a mistake. Time is cyclical. We each live many lives. When we die we are reincarnated. Law and justice are flawed. Sometimes God's commandments must be violated to do good. Some day the savior will restore reality to perfection. He is a great sinner.

If you answered those questions, respectively, with 2nd-Century-Judaism-in-the-Galilee and 16th-Century-Judaism-in-the-Galilee: congratulations, you win the putting-up-with-overly-Socratic-forum-posts award.

* * * * *

To bottom line this, though: I am not really interested in debating what abhorrent beliefs are more or less likely to be found in Islam, or what the relative merits of Islam are to any other religion. My purpose here is to make the point that essentialism is an obstacle to what I regard as a full and proper understanding of what religion (singular) is and what religions (plural) are.

Whether or not you buy this and recognize that, as a result of real differences in reality, different standards properly apply to Naziism and to Islam, I hope I've at least made my position clear enough that you at least have the answer to your question about hypocrisy.

stephanie
07-30-2011, 03:46 PM
Welcome back, Florian!

sugarkang
07-31-2011, 02:49 AM
I don't have all the answers. I want people to recognize that Islam is a huge problem in this world, so that very smart people can come with a solution.

I disagree about smart people coming up with a solution. I do agree, however, with wanting people to recognize the brutality that some Muslims engage in. As you know, we have never disagreed on this.

Hume's Bastard
07-31-2011, 05:30 AM
I disagree about smart people coming up with a solution. I do agree, however, with wanting people to recognize the brutality that some Muslims engage in. As you know, we have never disagreed on this.

You two really miss the Cold War, huh? Every time you mention "Muslims", "Islam", or "Muhammad", you risk fulfilling the opposite of what you want, namely an apocalyptic, zero-sum battle between two monolithic entities that only exist in apple's mind.

sugarkang
07-31-2011, 08:55 AM
You two really miss the Cold War, huh? Every time you mention "Muslims", "Islam", or "Muhammad", you risk fulfilling the opposite of what you want, namely an apocalyptic, zero-sum battle between two monolithic entities that only exist in apple's mind.

Those are inferences upon inferences. That's like me saying that your sense of altruism will lead to socialism. Do we want to go there?

miceelf
07-31-2011, 09:02 AM
I do agree, however, with wanting people to recognize the brutality that some Muslims engage in. As you know, we have never disagreed on this.

Nor has anyone. The disagreement has always been about Muslims who don't engage such things.

sugarkang
07-31-2011, 10:02 AM
Nor has anyone. The disagreement has always been about Muslims who don't engage such things.

Okay, then save for a minority of "the Islamophobes" in the right-wing, the GOP doesn't have a problem with people who don't engage in such things.

Who is actively speaking out against those who do? This is hypocrisy. Your only out is that your party is trying to be sensitive to Muslims who might be marginalized unfairly. The data, however, show that roughly 75% of American Muslims surveyed by PEW say they've never experienced discrimination. There are very few actual hate crimes perpetrated, and certainly not much greater in number than any other groups and way lower than hate crimes against Jews. Did I already mention that this is hypocrisy?

miceelf
07-31-2011, 11:08 AM
Who is actively speaking out against those who do? This is hypocrisy. Your only out is that your party is trying to be sensitive to Muslims who might be marginalized unfairly.

What are you talking about? who is actively speaking out against bestiality or pedophilia? Is that also hypocrisy?

The debate here is what I was talking about. Apple, who is against barbarity is debating you, me, and everyone else who opposes barbarity. The debate here is about whether all muslims are supportive of the barbarity, or prone to it.

Stephanie has specifically discussed the threats of violence around the cartoons and the koran burner.

miceelf
07-31-2011, 11:18 AM
http://crowley.house.gov/list/press/ny07_crowley/GirlsProtectionAct.shtml

sugarkang
07-31-2011, 07:13 PM
What are you talking about? who is actively speaking out against bestiality or pedophilia? Is that also hypocrisy?

The debate here is what I was talking about. Apple, who is against barbarity is debating you, me, and everyone else who opposes barbarity. The debate here is about whether all muslims are supportive of the barbarity, or prone to it.

Stephanie has specifically discussed the threats of violence around the cartoons and the koran burner.

No, you've framed it as who opposes barbarism. Obviously, nobody supports it. My question is who speaks out against it. I can't really be any more explicit. Also, I'm not blaming you specifically, but I am blaming your party for being completely absent. Your party is quick to make apple an Islamophobe and makes little effort to think about the atrocities he speaks out against. That's insanity.

Hume's Bastard
07-31-2011, 07:29 PM
Those are inferences upon inferences. That's like me saying that your sense of altruism will lead to socialism. Do we want to go there?

Kudos for you for recognizing it; I doubt apple would. The inferences you mention are complexities upon complexities. One can accept them and, that easy solutions are impossible. Or, like apple, you can use highly-charged metonyms for epithets and incite those who aren't now radicalized into two armed camps. apple wants that, because he's too immoral and stupid to go beyond the bs he's peddling. You should know better.

apple
07-31-2011, 07:41 PM
Kudos for you for recognizing it; I doubt apple would. The inferences you mention are complexities upon complexities. One can accept them and, that easy solutions are impossible. Or, like apple, you can use highly-charged metonyms for epithets and incite those who aren't now radicalized into two armed camps. apple wants that, because he's too immoral and stupid to go beyond the bs he's peddling. You should know better.

Yes, I am the stupid and immoral one here. Not to dash your self-esteem, but the way you respond to comments on the internet makes you look like you off your medications.

apple
07-31-2011, 07:55 PM
I do really think so.

Well, can you name a few examples of essential characteristics of Islam that it lost during the past 1400 years?

But the way your hypo is framed, what matters is not that certain features have been more prominent, or are closer to the mainstream of the tradition. What matters is which features are essential characteristics, such that you can hold all Muslims complicit in them. Indeed, such that you can pronounce "No True Scotsman..." about anyone whose beliefs don't conform, without either committing a logical fallacy or yourself professing belief the religion you purport to authoritatively interpret.

You've got it exactly right.

Those numbers are interesting, and relevant to many questions. But I don't think they provide evidence of essential characteristics of Islam. There is, in my opinion, a pretty overriding determinism that connects the values of a cultural to the level of material prosperity there.

Somewhat. It is clear that more prosperous Christian societies are more enlightened than impoverished ones. Yet if we compare impoverished Christian societies to impoverished Muslim societies, then we see a rather significant difference in the level of enlightenment. For example, Haiti is about as poor as Afghanistan (CIA Factbook, 2004 estimate), but not nearly as barbaric, though I would obviously not like to live there.

What about richer Islamic societies? Well, the Muslims who live in the West don't seem to be much better. I can't produce them for you right now, but I have seen polls of Muslims living in Western European countries that show that about 30-40% of Muslims there approve of sharia law, or of honor killing or of other abominable practices. You might say, well, these Muslims are less well off than the native population, but I do not expect 30-40% of the more impoverished portion of the native population to be as barbaric as the Muslim population.

So why is that? It runs against a Marxist interpretation of history (no, I am definitely not calling you a Marxist), that emphasizes money about all things, including culture. I think we underestimate the role of culture. Just read this sad story: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/31/world/asia/31herat.html . If modern-day Afghanistan better off than England in the 17th Century, where Shakespeare wrote Romeo & Juliet, glorifying young love?

Do not get me wrong, I actually hope against hope that you are right and I am wrong, because that would mean that Islamic barbarism would eventually dissipate.

And by mentioning colonialism, I don't mean to offer it as an excuse, or as a simple "this is always what happens when there is colonialism" story, but the truth is that there is a real historical break in the Arab world, which corresponds with the colonial period, where you can say: look, this destructive cultural institution wasn't there before, and now it is. But I don't have the depth of field on that topic to go into an exhaustive proof. All I can tell you is that others can, and that their explanations were consonant with a lot of other information I know to be true.

Well, thank you for the information, but there's not much that I can do with that. I can only point to Afghanistan and Saudi-Arabia as two examples where lack of colonization did not prevent extreme barbarism. (Just to give you an example, Saudi-Arabia abolished slavery in 1962.) Or perhaps they would have been even worse, had they been colonized.

No. Catholicism as a religion is very decentralized on the level of what people believe at a local level, what institutions they have at a local level, etc. The actual hierarchy of the Clergy is more... well... hierarchical, but even it is largely the result of world-wide political realities and distributed knowledge. The Pope is more like a Prime Minister who wields influence by raising up back-benchers who agree with him than like a charismatic cult leader who tells the clergy what to believe in.

Perhaps not when compared to a local cult in Waco, but when compared to other religions, Catholicism is probably the most centralized and hierarchical of them all.

Try to identify the following two religions:

(1) God is perfect. God created the world. Time is linear. We each live once. When we die we go to heaven or to hell. God's law is perfect. Follow God's commandments and be rewarded. Some day the savior will restore our great nation. He will be God's most blessed.

(2) God is limited. The world is the result of a mistake. Time is cyclical. We each live many lives. When we die we are reincarnated. Law and justice are flawed. Sometimes God's commandments must be violated to do good. Some day the savior will restore reality to perfection. He is a great sinner.

I would have said:

1. Twelver Shi'ism.
2. Gnosticism.

If you answered those questions, respectively, with 2nd-Century-Judaism-in-the-Galilee and 16th-Century-Judaism-in-the-Galilee: congratulations, you win the putting-up-with-overly-Socratic-forum-posts award.

That is somewhat of a surprise, especially the second form, which does not resemble what I think of as Judaism much.

To bottom line this, though: I am not really interested in debating what abhorrent beliefs are more or less likely to be found in Islam, or what the relative merits of Islam are to any other religion. My purpose here is to make the point that essentialism is an obstacle to what I regard as a full and proper understanding of what religion (singular) is and what religions (plural) are.

Whether or not you buy this and recognize that, as a result of real differences in reality, different standards properly apply to Naziism and to Islam, I hope I've at least made my position clear enough that you at least have the answer to your question about hypocrisy.

It was certainly pleasant to have a debate with you. You actually do know stuff, you don't present prejudices as facts, nor assertions as evidence. And you don't misrepresent one's position to have a better chance of refuting it. So thank you.

sugarkang
07-31-2011, 08:13 PM
You should know better.

Have you listened to Mollie Ziegler Hemingway recently? She's basically advocating my position. The consequences of not doing what she says results in extremist positions. Your team is not helping.

apple
07-31-2011, 08:35 PM
The establishment in Mecca attacked Muhammad's followers in Medina.*

Karen Armstrong, really? The second book you cite is a good one, though very boring.

Hitler was an aggressor who violated international law and committed crimes against humanity. Muhammad didn't pen his opponents into camps.

No, he had them butchered outright. Just to give you examples, he had murdered two poets who had criticized him: Abu Afak and Asma bint Marwan. Abu Afak was one of the oldest men in all of Arabia, but that did not spare him from Muhammad's wrath. Asma bint Marwan was murdered while nursing her baby.

Also, Muhammad is not the same kind of leader as the caliphs who followed him.

Well, Muslims regard the first four caliphs as the "good" caliphs, even if you don't.

Muhammad also recognized Jesus as a prophet as well as the Jewish prophets, and Jews and Christians lived in Muslim communities in peace for generations.

I did not dispute that Muhammad tried to co-opt Jews and Christians. However, you do not mention that Muhammad was extremely angry with the Jews, because they refused to convert. That is why he changed the direction in which Muslims should pray from Jerusalem to Mecca. Also, you do not mention the fact that he murdered 700 Jews in cold blood, and sold their women and children into slavery. A really great man.

Ant-semitism is a Christian mistake Muslims never made.

Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 52, Number 176:
(http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/hadith/bukhari/052.sbt.html)
Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar:

Allah's Apostle said, "You (i.e. Muslims) will fight wi the Jews till some of them will hide behind stones. The stones will (betray them) saying, 'O 'Abdullah (i.e. slave of Allah)! There is a Jew hiding behind me; so kill him.' "

To a point in another thread also, about Luther, Shi'ites did and do repudiate certain of Muhammad's basic teachings, as do most Lutherans Luther's anti-semitism.

Name the basic teachings of Muhammad the Shi'ites repudiate.

Also, on a point, arguing that Christianity does not include bad Christians like those who led the Inquisition is the no true Scotsman fallacy.

No, because I am not saying that they are not Christians, I am merely saying that they are not following the teachings of Jesus. Islamic extremists, on the other hand, ARE following the teachings of Muhammad.

That "among other things" includes crimes against humanity, namely their responsibility for ordering opponents and prisoners into camps. That was why both Jodl and Keitel were hanged, not shot. Besides, keep to your original point, Muhammad vs. Hitler.

My point was that aggression was not OK. Even in the Middle Ages, aggression was not looked upon kindly. And Muhammad and his successors were some of the most aggressive people in history.

apple
07-31-2011, 08:35 PM
Nor has anyone. The disagreement has always been about Muslims who don't engage such things.

Actually, the disagreement is about whether Islam is a "religion of peace".

miceelf
07-31-2011, 09:28 PM
No, you've framed it as who opposes barbarism. Obviously, nobody supports it. My question is who speaks out against it. I can't really be any more explicit. Also, I'm not blaming you specifically, but I am blaming your party for being completely absent. Your party is quick to make apple an Islamophobe and makes little effort to think about the atrocities he speaks out against. That's insanity.

Apple is quick to do it to himself. I gave an example of a real atrocity that Democrats and Republicans are working together to end.

But here's my suspicion about the atrocities. The people who speak out about them the loudest* aren't actually interested in ending them. They are just a useful rhetorical device designed primarily to stir people up here and score political points. When those kinds of conversations get started here, by apple, no one can reasonably expect any useful conversation to be had. His sole agenda is not about ending atrocities. It's about convincing people that Muslims are less than human. It's not surprising that people of good will, right and left, aren't willing in engaging him in this.

But you're also ignoring very well-publicized atrocities committed by Muslims that are vocally opposed by many on the left, like Darfur.

* with the exception of human rights groups, which aren't exactly the province solely of the non-left.

sugarkang
07-31-2011, 09:41 PM
But here's my suspicion about the atrocities. The people who speak out about them the loudest* aren't actually interested in ending them. They are just a useful rhetorical device designed primarily to stir people up here and score political points.
You're right to be suspicious about this, but we should have our arguments with the people here and not with caricatures that aren't here (on this board). Apple seems opposed to all fundamentalist religions. I believe he's spoken out against Breivik, as well. It's just that he sees extreme Islam as the more extant threat. To that extent, I don't believe it's unreasonable. And you also know that I'm not anti-religion and that he goes too far for my tastes. Just recognizing an overlap.


When those kinds of conversations get started here, by apple, no one can reasonably expect any useful conversation to be had. His sole agenda is not about ending atrocities. It's about convincing people that Muslims are less than human. It's not surprising that people of good will, right and left, aren't willing in engaging him in this.

I agree with you more than not on this. It's a sliding scale. I can't say that he has the wrong motivation, I just think he's doing it wrong. But I also think it's wrong to dismiss him as an Islamophobe as people have been doing here. And in fact, I think it's more wrong for people to dismiss him the way they do versus the way he goes about screaming about Islam. 60/40 split, I say.

Hume's Bastard
08-01-2011, 06:30 AM
I'll take caffeine any way I can get it.

chiwhisoxx
08-01-2011, 06:32 AM
I picked a great time to go on vacation

Hume's Bastard
08-01-2011, 06:34 AM
How much longer do you plan to subsume three levels of analysis under the word "Christianity", several religions, ideologies, and a score of unattributed facts, and still believe you're not a lying snake and the whore of a two-bit, radicalized ideology fit only for simpletons?

miceelf
08-01-2011, 07:31 AM
I agree with you more than not on this. It's a sliding scale. I can't say that he has the wrong motivation, I just think he's doing it wrong. But I also think it's wrong to dismiss him as an Islamophobe as people have been doing here. And in fact, I think it's more wrong for people to dismiss him the way they do versus the way he goes about screaming about Islam. 60/40 split, I say.

Well, I guess I see it a little differently. I'd be more charitable toward him, like you are, if he gave even a minor indication that he was willing to distinguish between extremist Muslims and other Muslims.

apple
08-02-2011, 10:05 AM
Well, I guess I see it a little differently. I'd be more charitable toward him, like you are, if he gave even a minor indication that he was willing to distinguish between extremist Muslims and other Muslims.

Give me a definition of "extremist Muslim" and I'll give it a try. Is a Muslim who does what the 'prophet' Muhammad said an extremist?

rfrobison
08-03-2011, 01:55 AM
I was listening to Don Henley yesterday and my favorite tune came up (Sorry, can't seem to find a YouTube link). Anyway, it's a good song and made me think of you. In fact, I can almost see myself having this interchange with you. (You'd be The Frenchman, of course.)

Here's a snippet:

i met a Frenchman in a field last night/he was out there with an easel painting carnival lights/he said: "i used to paint the princes/ i used to paint the frogs/now I paint moustaches on dangerous dogs"/i said: "sometimes it's a country/sometimes it's a girl/you know, everybody got to have a purpose in this world"/he said: you Yankees are so silly about matters of the heart/don't you know that women are the only works of art..?

/"...and you're drivin' with your eyes closed/you're drivin' with your eyes closed/drivin' with your eyes closed/and you're gonna hit something/but that's the way it goes...."

--Don Henley (from the album "Building the Perfect Beast")

No special message there, just a fun song.

Welcome back.

Sulla the Dictator
08-03-2011, 04:13 AM
Oh, shush. It's not like there were ever wars of aggression sanctioned by Christian religious figures. How dare you bring up, you know, facts?

I think the significant difference is that there were no wars of aggression sanctified by Christ. That's a pretty big difference.

Sulla the Dictator
08-03-2011, 04:47 AM
The establishment in Mecca attacked Muhammad's followers in Medina.* Hitler was an aggressor who violated international law and committed crimes against humanity. Muhammad didn't pen his opponents into camps. Muhammad united the Arab tribes into a confederation and waged war honorably, after the Meccan establishment severed trade routes and beseiged Medina. After that Muhammad fought against Mecca's allies through the peninsula.


....Honor is culturally relative, of course. Muhammad did liquidate the male population of the Qurayza Jews, and enslaved the women and children after the siege of Medina. Perfectly customary in the Hijaz; completely understandable in the Classical world, but pretty beyond the pale for a religious leader as we think of them today. Of course, there are also times when Muhammad orders executions in fits of pique that are more like Alexander the Great killing Cleitus the Black than anything else. If memory serves, at one point he executes a notable for his poetry lamenting SOME OTHER guys he had executed.


Also, on a point, arguing that Christianity does not include bad Christians like those who led the Inquisition is the no true Scotsman fallacy. Christianity, through its core precept that it fulfills Judaism, is anti-Semitic, unlike Islam which is more respectful of both Judaism and Christianity. Stop watching O'Reilly, he will only deaden your already addled brain.


I don't know about that. There are some very anti-semitic verses of the Koran, due to its author's political problems with Jews in the Hijaz. There are several notable massacres of Jews in the Medieval age too, in Grenada and in Aleppo, off of the top of my head. If the Inquisition were an ongoing problem, I would agree Christianity has some serious reform needed.


Why would you and American reactionaries want to return to a disgusting, hateful, minor ideology from a very embarrassing, pre-progressive, pre-FDR period in western history, when eugenics, racism, and hate fed on economic collapse?


A couple of things here. First, I would much prefer a "pre-FDR" period of Western history. I would be horrified if that became an actual point at which we measure Western history.

Secondly, obviously Nazism is disgusting; it is also foreign.

Thirdly, I can't help but think of progressive politics from 1900 to 1935 as anything BUT stuffed to the gills with eugenics, racism, and hate fed on economic resentment. Eugenics isn't "reactionary", in fact; it was "scientific". It was the razor's edge of enlightened modernism. It was the ridiculous, provincial, religious "nut job", bumpkins in fly over country who wern't excited about it.


If you enjoy narrow-minded bigotry so much, can we at least take the more prosperous 50s, McCarthy


I still don't understand why people get so worked up over McCarthy.

stephanie
08-03-2011, 01:01 PM
I think the significant difference is that there were no wars of aggression sanctified by Christ. That's a pretty big difference.

Any number of Christians would disagree with you on that, although in some cases they might insist that what you see as an aggressive war is really defensive in some sense. (It's common to find a way to justify the wars you engage in as defensive.)

If you mean that Jesus as portrayed in the Bible didn't do that, some Christians might still disagree with you. (I do not, for the record, but there are many Christians who would insist this is "theological liberalism" and not taking the Bible seriously. I disagree with that too, of course.) I've had fundamentalists dispute a non-violent interpretation of the Bible with the statement that Jesus is God and therefore Jesus can be assumed to have sanctified everything God sanctified, and God in the Bible clearly does sanctify wars of aggression.

More significantly, there is no objectively correct interpretation of any religion that we can demand that followers follow or say from outside they are not good Muslims or Christians or whatever if they don't, IMO. Thus, it really doesn't matter whether you or I think Christians who want non-violence have an easier argument than Muslims who do. It's clear that Christians, historically and now, have a variety of views on how to interpret the scriptures in these areas and same with Muslims. What I care about is encouraging those Muslims who reject or find a way to interpret out or declare as irrelevant to today the things that seem to me inconsistent with a liberal, rights-based government, most importantly with respect to American Muslims and the US.

I do agree with whburgess (I think) who said that it's incorrect to suggest that the problem with Islamic extremism and terrorism is mimicked in or similar to that in Christianity today in any significant way. But the reason Christianity gets brought up is not that, IMO, it's that people insist that there's something essential in Islam that makes it incompatible with US-style government and ideas about church and state. Seeing the variety of ways that the questions were treated within Christianity demonstrates Bob Wright's point in Evolution of God, that religions can't so easily be boiled down in that way, they change and become compatible with other things. With Islam, some of these things have included ideas and political situations that have made it more radical in a negative sense, which is why looking at the specifics matters.

kezboard
08-03-2011, 01:52 PM
http://katie73.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/dont-feed-the-troll.jpg

apple
08-03-2011, 04:15 PM
=

This thread wouldn't be complete without the guy who thought that Czechoslovakia was part of Germany before World War I.

rfrobison
08-03-2011, 08:03 PM
I picked a great time to go on vacation

Me too. Ever feel at a loss for words? I have nearly run out of things to say. Not sure whether this condition is temporary or permanent.

Ocean
08-03-2011, 08:28 PM
Me too. Ever feel at a loss for words? I have nearly run out of things to say. Not sure whether this condition is temporary or permanent.

You seem to be doing quite well with your French people poetry though.

rfrobison
08-03-2011, 09:55 PM
You seem to be doing quite well with your French people poetry though.

Ah, for that you can credit (or blame) Mr. Henley. I'm merely a mouthpiece in this instance.

Florian
08-04-2011, 04:08 AM
I was listening to Don Henley yesterday and my favorite tune came up (Sorry, can't seem to find a YouTube link). Anyway, it's a good song and made me think of you. In fact, I can almost see myself having this interchange with you. (You'd be The Frenchman, of course.)

Here's a snippet:

i met a Frenchman in a field last night/he was out there with an easel painting carnival lights/he said: "i used to paint the princes/ i used to paint the frogs/now I paint moustaches on dangerous dogs"/i said: "sometimes it's a country/sometimes it's a girl/you know, everybody got to have a purpose in this world"/he said: you Yankees are so silly about matters of the heart/don't you know that women are the only works of art..?

/"...and you're drivin' with your eyes closed/you're drivin' with your eyes closed/drivin' with your eyes closed/and you're gonna hit something/but that's the way it goes...."

--Don Henley (from the album "Building the Perfect Beast")

No special message there, just a fun song.

Welcome back.

Thanks, rfrobison. I am not sure what to make of the song as a commentary on France vs. America. But of this I am sure: It is only natural that a painter who says that women are the only works of art should paint moustaches on dogs. He clearly has a peculiar understanding of the relation of art and nature.

stephanie
08-04-2011, 04:34 AM
I was listening to Don Henley yesterday and my favorite tune came up (Sorry, can't seem to find a YouTube link). Anyway, it's a good song and made me think of you. In fact, I can almost see myself having this interchange with you. (You'd be The Frenchman, of course.)

Here's a snippet:

i met a Frenchman in a field last night/he was out there with an easel painting carnival lights/he said: "i used to paint the princes/ i used to paint the frogs/now I paint moustaches on dangerous dogs"/i said: "sometimes it's a country/sometimes it's a girl/you know, everybody got to have a purpose in this world"/he said: you Yankees are so silly about matters of the heart/don't you know that women are the only works of art..?

/"...and you're drivin' with your eyes closed/you're drivin' with your eyes closed/drivin' with your eyes closed/and you're gonna hit something/but that's the way it goes...."

--Don Henley (from the album "Building the Perfect Beast")

No special message there, just a fun song.

Welcome back.

(Welcome back, you!)

Heh. Despite it being from an 1980s album, not not the 70s, I have to admit I'm unfamiliar with that Henley album beyond the obvious (Boys of Summer and All She Wants to Do Is Dance), and may have to check it out. I don't actually admit to liking Henley, but still...

At any rate, I think the Henley reference is relevant to the thread in that he wrote that song about beating plowshares into swords (1989, End of Innocence) which is from the Bible, but so is the reverse, beating swords into plowshares. As I think I mentioned before, I wrote my college thesis on the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, and among other things, the plowshares into swords bit was an important verse to the rebels. But others have tried to used the reverse version to argue for non-violence, so I think this generally speaks for the possibility of interpreting the Bible in a variety of ways.

kezboard
08-04-2011, 08:57 AM
This thread wouldn't be complete without the guy who thought that Czechoslovakia was part of Germany before World War I.

You really did not read any posts I made in that thread, did you.

rfrobison
08-04-2011, 09:39 AM
Thanks, rfrobison. I am not sure what to make of the song as a commentary on France vs. America. But of this I am sure: It is only natural that a painter who says that women are the only works of art should paint moustaches on dogs. He clearly has a peculiar understanding of the relation of art and nature.

I doubt Don Henley thought about it that deeply. Just rhymes a lot, you know? Hey, its a pop rock number.

apple
08-04-2011, 04:34 PM
You really did not read any posts I made in that thread, did you.

On the contrary, I think your problem is that I did read them, and actually remember them. Very inconvenient, I know.

Sulla the Dictator
08-04-2011, 05:49 PM
Any number of Christians would disagree with you on that, although in some cases they might insist that what you see as an aggressive war is really defensive in some sense. (It's common to find a way to justify the wars you engage in as defensive.)


Ah yes but "Christian Just War" theory doesn't claim Christ as a militant. And in many cases, they are right in that wars ARE defensive. There is a fair case to be made that the Reconquista was a just war.


If you mean that Jesus as portrayed in the Bible didn't do that, some Christians might still disagree with you. (I do not, for the record, but there are many Christians who would insist this is "theological liberalism" and not taking the Bible seriously. I disagree with that too, of course.) I've had fundamentalists dispute a non-violent interpretation of the Bible with the statement that Jesus is God and therefore Jesus can be assumed to have sanctified everything God sanctified, and God in the Bible clearly does sanctify wars of aggression.


I think that there are very few who would say that; though we would have to acknowledge that those that DID would be interpreting, as you say. Muhammad in the Koran is not an interpretation, he is a commander of armies on the field. He personally orders things done; he personally orders people to be executed.

His role is, if we were to be generous, more like David in the Old Testament than it is like Christ.


More significantly, there is no objectively correct interpretation of any religion that we can demand that followers follow or say from outside they are not good Muslims or Christians or whatever if they don't, IMO.


I don't know about that. Fidelity to the edicts of the text seem like a good way to measure it. Christians have an advantage in this sense (For the purpose of modernity), in that Jesus Christ represents a "New Covenant", meaning that they can be free from the problematic portions of the Old Testament, and by any measure the new testament is a pretty enlightened book.

The Koran explicitly says that it is the literal last word on these subjects. It isn't parable, or metaphor. It is a way of living.


Thus, it really doesn't matter whether you or I think Christians who want non-violence have an easier argument than Muslims who do. It's clear that Christians, historically and now, have a variety of views on how to interpret the scriptures in these areas and same with Muslims. What I care about is encouraging those Muslims who reject or find a way to interpret out or declare as irrelevant to today the things that seem to me inconsistent with a liberal, rights-based government, most importantly with respect to American Muslims and the US.


How do we do that in a way that doesn't mislead, or obscure, the actual texts? And is this a realistic approach? I would point out that the United States has a great Muslim population; but that is because this is largely a Muslim middle class which FLED turmoil in Islamic societies; largely because of religious purists. (Persians, Lebanese) I would argue that Islam LENDS itself to this kind of religious purity more than Christianity because of its inherent, and deliberate, legalism.


I do agree with whburgess (I think) who said that it's incorrect to suggest that the problem with Islamic extremism and terrorism is mimicked in or similar to that in Christianity today in any significant way. But the reason Christianity gets brought up is not that, IMO, it's that people insist that there's something essential in Islam that makes it incompatible with US-style government and ideas about church and state. Seeing the variety of ways that the questions were treated within Christianity demonstrates Bob Wright's point in Evolution of God, that religions can't so easily be boiled down in that way, they change and become compatible with other things. With Islam, some of these things have included ideas and political situations that have made it more radical in a negative sense, which is why looking at the specifics matters.

Ah yes but that is the rub. Christianity MIGHT HAVE BEEN incompatible with American style government and values if it existed as it did in 600 AD. But we cannot just assume that because they are both monotheistic religions, they are the "same" or have an equal impact on secular governance. Islam has not only been the religion of the state in Islamic history, it has also been the vehicle for RESISTANCE to the State. Ataturk is the first guy who breaks that mold; but you notice that criticisms of secular dictatorships is founded in Islam. The religion lends itself very well to politics.

miceelf
08-04-2011, 07:56 PM
Fidelity to the edicts of the text seem like a good way to measure it. Christians have an advantage in this sense (For the purpose of modernity), in that Jesus Christ represents a "New Covenant", meaning that they can be free from the problematic portions of the Old Testament, and by any measure the new testament is a pretty enlightened book.


But fidelity to the text is almost completely subjective. It's not without reason that there are literally hundreds of different Christian denominations, each claiming to have the true interpretation and the way to fidelity.

And, yes, relatively, the new testament is enlightened. "by any measure"- this is more controversial. Paul telling women to just shut up and listen, the various passages about slaves that was run with through a lot of the history of this country (and others as well, of course), the blood drenched Revelations, etc.

Christians find plenty in the New Testament that they, to varying degrees, find ways to be free of- the aforementioned injunction for women to be silent, etc.

As literal as the Koran is supposedly, Muslims find ways of shaping it to their ends-many western Muslims take the pieces about polygamy to be specific to an earlier time and situation (just as Christians and Jews treat the polygamy of the old testament patriarchs), the devout found a way around the declaration that dogs were unclean that allowed cabbies to carry seeing eye dogs.

You can always find (or create, depending on your perspective) a context which limits commands that are explicitly stated (just as liberal Christians find ways around the passages that are putatively about homosexuality, nearly all Christians do about divorce, and about the absolute command to forgiveness, which is given, by most preachers a whole host of provisios and caveats that are certainly not at the surface of the text)).

When Christianity ruled, it was pretty full of legalism (that I would argue, and I suspect that you would as well, was imposed on the text by those who wanted to create/find it). And even now, there are plenty of smaller protestant groups that have pretty rigid and legalistic approaches that wouldn't take much twisting to be pretty scary to outsiders. The Lord's Resistance Army explicitly claims to be promoting the ten commandments to use a thankfully exceptional case).

Islam is also no more legalistic than the version of Judaism extant at the time that Christianity came into being. But people find a way to get what they believe aare the principles underlying the very specific injunctions, in a way that lets them ignore the letter of the injunctions themselves.

apple
08-04-2011, 08:08 PM
And, yes, relatively, the new testament is enlightened. "by any measure"- this is more controversial. Paul telling women to just shut up and listen, the various passages about slaves that was run with through a lot of the history of this country (and others as well, of course), the blood drenched Revelations, etc.

Is that really the worst you can come up with, some dubious quotes from someone who also stated that "there is no male and female"? On the other hand, the religion that is not to be named counts women as 50% of men, and its prophet believed that most of Hell's inhabitants were women. As for slavery, that was more a matter of submission to authority, as Paul also stated that people ought to obey the "powers that be". On the other hand, the prophet of the religion that is not to be named sold the women and children of a Jewish tribe he massacred into slavery.

As literal as the Koran is supposedly, Muslims find ways of shaping it to their ends-many western Muslims take the pieces about polygamy to be specific to an earlier time and situation

Who? Your Muslim friends? Or can you name any Islamic school of law that teaches such a belief?

Islam is also no more legalistic than the version of Judaism extant at the time that Christianity came into being.

You do know that Pharisaic Judaism was practically the textbook definition of "legalistic religion", not? It's not really a compliment to compare Islam to Pharisaic Jews.

stephanie
08-04-2011, 10:28 PM
Christians find plenty in the New Testament that they, to varying degrees, find ways to be free of- the aforementioned injunction for women to be silent, etc.

Also the idea that the OT is irrelevant for Christians is simply an interpretation (the idea that one can take from scripture without interpreting is idiotic, of course), and not one that would be agreed with by most Christians. Christians do, of course, find a way to deal with (or ignore) the parts of the OT that they may find troubling. But the idea that there's some correct way to be a Christian (or Jew, etc.) that is based on following the book in some particular way that seems right to various people outside the religion (in this case) and which then concludes that Christians don't need to worry about what God said and did as presented in a book they consider scriptural is certainly self-evidently contradictory.

miceelf
08-05-2011, 01:06 AM
Also the idea that the OT is irrelevant for Christians is simply an interpretation (the idea that one can take from scripture without interpreting is idiotic, of course), and not one that would be agreed with by most Christians. Christians do, of course, find a way to deal with (or ignore) the parts of the OT that they may find troubling. But the idea that there's some correct way to be a Christian (or Jew, etc.) that is based on following the book in some particular way that seems right to various people outside the religion (in this case) and which then concludes that Christians don't need to worry about what God said and did as presented in a book they consider scriptural is certainly self-evidently contradictory.

Yeah, agreed. The old testament gets trotted out regularly by Christians, and troublesome bits of the new testament get explained away as well. My sense of it is that any distinction between old and new in terms of guiding principles is of degree, not of kind.

The notion that there's a single correct way to interpret the Bible ("just do what it says") is one that's held by many Christians, but the one way is very much disputed.

If taken literally and with no reference to context, it's got a lot of contradictions, so every one of the socalled literalists has something or other they have to explain away: "well, he didn't really mean that was the ONLY valid reason for divorce," "when paul said that thing about long hair he was talking about a specific situation," "I know it says 'wine', but it actually meant grape juice", etc.

Sulla the Dictator
08-05-2011, 05:15 AM
But fidelity to the text is almost completely subjective. It's not without reason that there are literally hundreds of different Christian denominations, each claiming to have the true interpretation and the way to fidelity.


The divergence of Christian sects is MOSTLY due to different emphasis on text, not disagreement about the meaning of the texts. That kind of disagreement is usually rare; like the Mormons and the "be fruitful" business; but you notice that they've dropped that.

Fidelity to the text is actually usually simple, even in the bible. In the Koran, its more difficult to interpret alternative meaning.


And, yes, relatively, the new testament is enlightened. "by any measure"- this is more controversial. Paul telling women to just shut up and listen,


Now you see, that doesn't strike me as a big deal when compared to problematic religious edicts elsewhere.


the various passages about slaves that was run with through a lot of the history of this country (and others as well, of course),


Slavery was a realty of the ancient world; you had to navigate in a world in which they existed. Of course, the ONLY abolitionist movement in the Roman Empire was Christian.


the blood drenched Revelations, etc.


Which predicts the end of the world, it is not a call for violence. Indeed, it speaks of martyrdom among the last Christians.


Christians find plenty in the New Testament that they, to varying degrees, find ways to be free of- the aforementioned injunction for women to be silent, etc.


I think the problem is that we're talking about Paul telling women to be silent, or telling a slave to return to his Master (Though he writes that the Master should free the slave when he gets back), in comparison to a guy who orders the execution of every male in a tribe of his enemies, and the enslavement of the women and children of that tribe. He executes people who refuse to join him. We're comparing Jesus Christ to a guy who is basically a desert Warlord.


As literal as the Koran is supposedly, Muslims find ways of shaping it to their ends-many western Muslims take the pieces about polygamy to be specific to an earlier time and situation (just as Christians and Jews treat the polygamy of the old testament patriarchs), the devout found a way around the declaration that dogs were unclean that allowed cabbies to carry seeing eye dogs.


You notice that these Muslims are able to do that because they are in the West. These are middle and upper class people, living abroad. In the actual ummah, where flash mobs can be formed at the SLIGHTEST hint of deviance from orthodoxy, these ways of looking at the Koran do not fly.


You can always find (or create, depending on your perspective) a context which limits commands that are explicitly stated


Which I've never understood. There is no need to explain away moral dictates from a GOD, if you're going to be religious. Why would God need to negotiate with you?


(just as liberal Christians find ways around the passages that are putatively about homosexuality, nearly all Christians do about divorce, and about the absolute command to forgiveness, which is given, by most preachers a whole host of provisios and caveats that are certainly not at the surface of the text)).


Well....not quite.

Matthew 12:31

"Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32 "Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come."

Thats pretty clear; everything except for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is forgivable through Christ. Even being gay, or divorced, or what have you.

Do you think the Koran has a comparable section?


When Christianity ruled, it was pretty full of legalism (that I would argue, and I suspect that you would as well, was imposed on the text by those who wanted to create/find it). And even now, there are plenty of smaller protestant groups that have pretty rigid and legalistic approaches that wouldn't take much twisting to be pretty scary to outsiders. The Lord's Resistance Army explicitly claims to be promoting the ten commandments to use a thankfully exceptional case).


When Christianity ruled, it was the feeble light fighting against the darkness. The Church militant was necessary to hold the tide against wave after wave of German and Eurasian barbarians, and then Islamic invasion. When the utility of religious dominance was no longer there, the religious dominance disappeared with it. Of course, Christianity grew around the bones of Rome. And by doing so, it retained some sense of perspective, as did the Europeans who squated in the ruins of the Empire until about 1200 AD.

Islam does not benefit from such a tradition. The equivalent would be if the founder of Christianity was Alaric, rather than Christ, and the Visigoths swept from Germany and carve Christendom from their conquests. The religion and the nature of the culture of its primary adherents would be inexorably linked.


Islam is also no more legalistic than the version of Judaism extant at the time that Christianity came into being.


I agree entirely. That kind of proves my point.


But people find a way to get what they believe aare the principles underlying the very specific injunctions, in a way that lets them ignore the letter of the injunctions themselves.

The only reason Judaism reformed in the Classical world is the Romans literally destroyed the fundamental institutions necessary to continue a hierarchical, legalistic tradition. The fracturing of Judaism allowed it to evolve and grow; though it did remain more legalistic than Christianity.

Sulla the Dictator
08-05-2011, 05:21 AM
Also the idea that the OT is irrelevant for Christians is simply an interpretation (the idea that one can take from scripture without interpreting is idiotic, of course), and not one that would be agreed with by most Christians.


Well I didn't say that the OT is "irrelevant" for Christians. I said that Christ is the "new Covenant" in Christian tradition, which frees Christians from the rules and laws that Jews adhered to. 99% of Christians do not follow Jewish dietary laws, or legal instruction, or religious structure.


But the idea that there's some correct way to be a Christian (or Jew, etc.) that is based on following the book in some particular way that seems right to various people outside the religion (in this case) and which then concludes that Christians don't need to worry about what God said and did as presented in a book they consider scriptural is certainly self-evidently contradictory.

I don't quite understand. In what sense is scripture a negotiation for people to take or leave? It seems to me that the purpose of these books is to give loyalists a path to eternal life at the side of their God. That seems like a great deal; why would God or Allah need to negotiate with people he's offering such an opportunity? Why would he need to "amend" or adjust anything that he says is preferable?

miceelf
08-05-2011, 06:15 AM
Thats pretty clear; everything except for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is forgivable through Christ. Even being gay, or divorced, or what have you.


Except that people don't just claim that gayness or divorce are sins that can be forgiven. They claim that they aren't sins.

And that text is a great example of the varying interpretations- quick, what's your definition of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? Ask ten different Christians and see how many answers you get.

Sorry, I don't think the Christianity that dominated Eurorpe in the Dark Ages, putting heretics and theorists and Jews and scientists to the sword was much of a light.

stephanie
08-05-2011, 08:22 AM
Yeah, agreed. The old testament gets trotted out regularly by Christians, and troublesome bits of the new testament get explained away as well. My sense of it is that any distinction between old and new in terms of guiding principles is of degree, not of kind.

I think assuming a stark difference between Old and New tends to be a somewhat ignorant take on it by some Christians, and often a rather anti-Jewish one. For example, some of the contrasts you'll find people making between the Christian way and Jewish way. The fact is that Judaism was historically a lot more variable than this permits, strains of a variety of Jewish traditional are found in the Jewish scriptures, and Judaism, of course, has continued to develop, but its various forms are unlike what those who pose the black/white contrast between the Old and New Testaments suggest it should be.

And this makes sense, of course, since if one considers the Jewish scriptures scriptural, as Christians do, and involving the same God in which you believe, one wouldn't assume such a break.

But it also means that the parts of the Bible that have God acting in ways that seems inconsistent with the general views of God that Jews and Christians tend to hold are problems for Christians as well. Same with demands by God that seem (or should seem) morally shocking, like for slaughter. Of course, if one isn't a fundamentalist, I think it's less of a problem. Of course, one that many Christians still deal with mainly by ignoring these bits despite the fact that they don't really have a good reason why their religion wouldn't compel them to say that what God demanded must have been good and must have happened the way portrayed. That this doesn't generally pose a problem even for those who haven't thought it through I think speaks to how people actually approach religion, rather than this weird assumption that you can figure out from the text what real Christianity (or real Judaism or real Islam) must look like.

We also then get to the nonsense about fundamentalism being the only approach that "takes the Bible seriously," which I swear I hear from non-religious types* these days more than from fundamentalists, but that's probably because I no longer run into fundamentalists very often.

The notion that there's a single correct way to interpret the Bible ("just do what it says") is one that's held by many Christians, but the one way is very much disputed.

Right, but what actually drives me even more crazy is when people pretend like others are interpreting and they are not. It's just a stupid claim that there's some way to get meaning out of a text, let alone an old and complex text, written in a variety of styles and genres over a long time, without interpreting. And to then go on and make claims about the point of various parts, what it means, what parts of the OT laws remain in force and which don't (as Geoff was going on about on the other thread), and generally how it applies to your life. That's an interpretation. If your eye causes you to offend, pluck it out? Do people "just do what it says"? Or do they use normal interpretive skills and keep their eyes? (Even Origin, who seems to have taken this bit and the one about making oneself a eunuch for the kingdom of heaven more literally was interpreting when he did. Similarly, the claim that we should read the Bible literally is a claim about interpretation, and actually a very weird one.)

If taken literally and with no reference to context, it's got a lot of contradictions, so every one of the socalled literalists has something or other they have to explain away: "well, he didn't really mean that was the ONLY valid reason for divorce," "when paul said that thing about long hair he was talking about a specific situation," "I know it says 'wine', but it actually meant grape juice", etc.

Yep.

*The latest use of this particular argument by Sulla being an example of that in my mind.

Sulla the Dictator
08-05-2011, 03:49 PM
Except that people don't just claim that gayness or divorce are sins that can be forgiven. They claim that they aren't sins.


That is self interest explaining away fault. The text is clear. There are sins listed in the bible, the portion I quoted says they can be forgiven. Only one can't.

My advice is to not claim adherence to a religion if you find the rules it states uncomfortable. If you are a serial divorcee, you're committing a sin according to this book. If you're gay, you're sinning according to this book.

A Communist wouldn't find any problem with theft. The shifting mores of culture should have no bearing on a religious text that has supposedly been inspired by God. (Let alone something like the Koran, which was supposedly DICTATED by him!)

If you are going to take that approach, what doesn't shift with the attitudes of time?


And that text is a great example of the varying interpretations- quick, what's your definition of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? Ask ten different Christians and see how many answers you get.


Within parameters. Clearly "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit", being the one unforgivable sin according to Jesus, is something unique, not general. And unique to the attributes of the Holy Spirit. So being gay isn't it, or getting divorced, or murder. These are sins mentioned in the bible specifically.

So to argue about what is blasphemy to the Holy Spirit is fair. If my memory serves, the argument boils down to simply rejecting Christ after hearing the word, or attributing the miracles of Jesus or the Holy Spirit to Satan. No serious Christian tradition considers, say, premarital fornication to be "Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit".

Which means that your run of the mill sin is covered by the forgiveness clause cited above.

Now, what is the method for forgiveness by God in Islam?


Sorry, I don't think the Christianity that dominated Eurorpe in the Dark Ages, putting heretics and theorists and Jews and scientists to the sword was much of a light.

That is an odd view. Putting heretics, theorists, scientists, and foreigners to the sword was the NORMAL behavior of premodern civilizations, Christian or non-Christian. What happened to Socrates, after all? Or Cicero? Some believe that even Pythagoras was killed by a flash mob urged by by Cylon. The Greeks were notoriously xenophobic, and the Romans regularly put down cults they disapproved of, such as that of Mithras, for a while. Or shutting down the Bacchanalia.

So Christianity acts in a manner appropriate to the time. What it did, however, was preserve the forms of the Ancient world to be used by us now. It preserved Roman texts, kept alive Latin as a language which would be used for international discourse, and served as conduit for the transmission of ideas and people in Europe. It was the sole method by which people could rise above the station they were born into. It was the patron of the arts and sciences, the home of higher learning and education. It keeps the embers of civilization burning.

There is no humanism without Christianity. And there is no Enlightenment without humanism. Frankly, I don't see what moderns are so bothered by this.

apple
08-05-2011, 07:02 PM
(Let alone something like the Koran, which was supposedly DICTATED by him!)

You are generally very well-informed about Islam, but you got this one wrong (though you were very close). Actually, Muslims' views of the Koran mirror rather closely orthodox Christian views of Jesus. Jesus was not created, but begotten, he has always been, and the Koran was not created, but recited (the word Koran means 'recitation'), and the divine book (kitab) of which it was a perfect recitation, has always existed.

Sulla the Dictator
08-05-2011, 08:08 PM
You are generally very well-informed about Islam, but you got this one wrong (though you were very close). Actually, Muslims' views of the Koran mirror rather closely orthodox Christian views of Jesus. Jesus was not created, but begotten, he has always been, and the Koran was not created, but recited (the word Koran means 'recitation'), and the divine book (kitab) of which it was a perfect recitation, has always existed.

Hmmm....perhaps I was mistaken, but I thought Muhammad's role as Prophet begins with a direct dictation from God. In fact, I thought I remembered him being chastised for not being quick enough.

apple
08-05-2011, 08:21 PM
Hmmm....perhaps I was mistaken, but I thought Muhammad's role as Prophet begins with a direct dictation from God. In fact, I thought I remembered him being chastised for not being quick enough.

Well, Muhammad was (supposedly) told to read by the angel Gabriel, but he was illiterate, so he said: I can't read. He had to be told twice more to read until he actually started reading.

Although I won't claim that this is an authoritative interpretation of this story, perhaps he was told to read from the 'kitab'.

Sulla the Dictator
08-05-2011, 08:59 PM
Well, Muhammad was (supposedly) told to read by the angel Gabriel, but he was illiterate, so he said: I can't read. He had to be told twice more to read until he actually started reading.

Although I won't claim that this is an authoritative interpretation of this story, perhaps he was told to read from the 'kitab'.

I'll stand corrected then.