"Begin at the beginning,and go on till you come to the end: then stop." (Lewis Carroll, 1832-1896)

Alice came to a fork in the road. "Which road do I take?" she asked."Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat."I don't know," Alice answered."Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."

"So long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation. "Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

"All right," said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. "Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin," thought Alice; "but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!"

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Location: Australia

I am diagonally parked in a parallel universe. Like Arthur Dent from "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy", if you do not have a Babel Fish in your ear this blog will be completely unintelligible to you and will read something like this: "boggle, google, snoggle, slurp, slurp, dingleberry to the power of 10". Fortunately, those who have had the Babel Fish inserted in their ear, will understood this blog perfectly. If you are familiar with this technology, you will know that the Babel Fish lives on brainwave radiation. It excretes energy in the form of exactly the correct brainwaves needed by its host to understand what was just said; or in this case, what was read. The Babel Fish, thanks to scientific research, reverses the problem defined by its namesake in the Tower of Babel, where a deity was supposedly inspired to confuse the human race by making them unable to understand each other.


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Thursday, December 21, 2006

When Faith Is Dogma

Image from: Jesus and Mo
Most Christians believe that Jesus was the Son of God and, therefore, divine; Muslims, however, believe that Jesus was not divine and that anyone who thinks otherwise will suffer the torments of hell (Koran 5:71-75; 19:30-38). This difference of opinion offers about as much room for compromise as a coin toss.

If there is common ground to be found through interfaith dialogue, it will only be found by people who are willing to keep their eyes averted from the chasm that divides their faith from all others. It is time we began to wonder whether such a strategy of politeness and denial will ever heal the divisions in our world.

True dialogue requires a willingness to have one’s beliefs about reality modified through conversation. Such an openness to criticism and inquiry is the very antithesis of dogmatism. It is worth observing that religion is the one area of our lives where faith in dogma -- that is, belief without sufficient evidence -- is considered a virtue. If such faith is a virtue, it is a virtue that is completely unknown to scientific discourse. Science is, in fact, the one domain in which a person can win considerable prestige for proving himself wrong. In science, honesty is all. In religion, faith is all. This is about as invidious as comparisons get.

Whenever human beings make an honest effort to get at the truth, they reliably transcend the accidents of their birth and upbringing. It would, of course, be absurd to speak of “Christian physics” or “Muslim algebra.” And there is no such thing as Iraqi or Japanese -- as distinct from American -- science. Reasonable people really do have a monopoly on the truth. And while they might not agree about everything in the near term, common ground surrounds them on all sides. Consequently, there is no significant impediments within scientific discourse: It isn’t always pretty, but the conversation continues without appeals to force or deference to dogma. There are scientific dogmas, of course, but wherever they are found, they are set upon with hammer blows. In science, it is a cardinal sin to pretend to know something that you do not know. Such pretense is the very essence of religious faith.

It is not an accident that scientific discourse has produced an extraordinary convergence of opinion and remarkable results. What has interfaith dialogue produced? Meetings between representatives of the world’s major religions yield little more than platitudinous calls for peace and a willingness to ignore what many participants strongly believe -- that every other party to the conversation will probably spend eternity in hell for his misconceptions about God. The differences between scientific and religious discourse should tell us something about where to place our hopes for an undivided world.
Dictionary Definitions
"Religious faith represents so uncompromising a misuse of the power of our minds that it forms a kind of perverse, cultural singularity—a vanishing point beyond which rational discourse proves impossible." - Sam Harris

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Anonymous JollyRoger said...

Here in the United States, about 1 in 5 of us have blended zelaotry with out politics and essentially come up with a new and dangerous religion that has El Shrubbo del Estupido as its Deity.

Dogma has replaced policy, talking points are the catechisms of the new faith. This country almost certainly will not survive it intact.

22/12/06 1:40 am  
Anonymous Pablo said...

Hi, Beep; I dind't post before, but welcome back to posting, I missed you!

22/12/06 1:50 am  
Blogger Aaron Kinney said...

Sam Harris is teh roxor

And faith is teh suxor

His Letter to a Christian Nation is excellent. And I love how high profile atheists are attacking faith. Its so overdue!

22/12/06 10:42 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

TY pablo :)

22/12/06 10:44 am  
Blogger Red Tulips said...

I completely agree with you.

There is no true 'ecumenicalism' to be found, because the doctrines of both faiths are fundamentally opposed. The only solution is to lessen the fundamentalism and non-thinking.

5/1/07 1:51 am  

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