On religion again

Frank has responded to my little piece on religion. He has raised some interesting points, with which I will attempt to deal with.

To be honest I dont have a problem with the agnostic tag. I have met people who are theists, and I have met people who are atheists. Lots of them. All very interesting people with very interesting ideas. I have read atheistic literature like say, Ludovic Kennedy and some theistic stuff while studying philosophy.

Perhaps it would be helpful to the debate if I considered some definitions, that is my definitions.

To me at least, a theist is someone that ‘believes’ a greater being, entity or god to exist. ‘god does exist’

An atheist is someone who does not ‘believe’ such an entity exists. ‘god does not exist’

An agnostic is someone who does not know whether god exists or not. ‘I dont know’.

‘Chickenshit sadoes’ doesn’t really cut it with me I’m afraid.

“This idea that “atheism requires as much of a leap of faith as theism” will not stand; any atheist might be converted in an afternoon if God came over to his house and started wonder-working, but few convinced believers seem inclined to switch sides just because of the invisibility, silence, and apparent indifference of God. I call myself an atheist, since I’m an unbeliever”

I think what we are talking about here are the possibilities. Is it possible that god exists. However remote, is it possible? Is it possible that the majority are right; that most of the people on this planet are right about a greater entity? Is it logical, and rational to accept the possibility?

I would say yes. It is reasonable to accept the possibility that god does indeed exist. There is no evidence in my view, but I must accept that I could be wrong. I must accept that the other 5.5 billion (or whatever the number is) people might just be right. Im not trying to cover my ass here, im trying to look at this logically.

I remain sceptical, I will weigh the evidence and make a judgement. As of yet I have come across no evidence to support god’s existence. There are some pointers that he might, just might, exist, but these are flimsy at best, and are argued exhaustively among philosophers.

But the honest truth, is that humans are a limited species. We simply don’t know, I don’t think anyone knows whether god exists or not. The possibility remains open, I just don’t know. I dont think im sitting on the fence here. I dont know, nor do the theists, nor the atheists.

I think Colbycosh is working off different definitions than I, and therefore we disagree on definition, not on substance.

Now to deal directly with Franks comments:

You are making a huge assumption here, which is that the Iraqi soldiers were motivated to fight for idealogical reasons, Sure, national pride might have been involved to a certain extent, but, in contrast to Al-Qaeda and Taliban forces, few Iraqi soldiers were “mujaheddin” motivated to fight “the infidel” never mind for Saddam’s glory. One good explanation for the conventional army’s derisory defence is that they were by an large conscripts and their loyalty to Saddam was “enforced”

Frank, in talking about religion I used an example from the Iraq war. I never made an assumption that they were motivated to fight solely for ideological reasons. The point about Iraq is going slightly offtopic in relation to the subject of religion. But I’ll deal with it briefly.

What you seem to be saying is that American soldiers are being killed because Iraqi conscripts are being forced to kill Americans. In every case? Are you denying that Americans are somewhat disliked by Iraqis, Arabs or indeed Muslims in general? Maybe American soldiers were killed because Iraqis wanted to kill them? Just a thought.

I guess its ‘derisory’ defence against the most advanced army in the world is a matter for debate among military historians. How long could any army withstand such an invasion? Anyway thats another debate.

Touch of the old moral relativism there Gavin, there is a huge qualitative difference between seeing terrorism as evil and seeing death and destruction as “glorification” of Allah. Bush doesn’t insult Christianity by describing Saddam or Al-Qaeda as evil, Wahaabist clerics do insult Islam by using it to justify terrorism. Note that the point of 9/11 was the death and destruction and nothing else, the point of the coalition attack on Iraq was to remove from power a brutal dictator. If you really think there is little to choose between these two try to imagine whether you’d prefer to live in the US or Saudi Arabia. That should clarify things

Again the subject is religion, and its effect on society, not the rights and wrongs of Christianity versus Islam. An example of religion in society is the rightousness prevalent in Bush’s speeches with references to god, in god we trust, god save America, may god continue to bless America, etc.

Further, an example of religion in an Islamic society, is well a very mixed potion of religion and state, but ultimately the same belief that ‘allah’ or ‘god’ is on the side of them, as oppose to the invaders, who also happen to believe god to be on their side.

Whats at issue is not whether I would prefer to live in a state like say the UAE as oppose to America, but how religion is used by the state, in both cases and to different methods and extremes, as a method or tool of nationalism and patriotism, and as a method of control.

Again my using if Iraq was merely as example, there are many other precedents throughout history, I just chose the most recent.






3 responses to “On religion again”

  1. Mick Fealty avatar

    Slightly on a tangent, I’ve blogged a piece (http://www.sluggerotoole.com/home/archives/001810.asp) from yesterday’s Guardian that considers the positive role of religion in shaping altuistic communities.

  2. Gavin avatar

    I read the same article and was going to mention it, will blog on it too.

  3. robert avatar

    Why does President Bush feel the need to add the phrase “continue to” to May God continue to bless America . Does this imply God somehow blessed America in the past?