Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Religion & meaning: How to talk about Islam and atheism

Let me call your attention to the fascinating exchange between Bill and our very own Pamela K. Taylor. Bill started with a comment on Pamela's post about the veil in Islam, and then a dialogue on Islam, atheism, religion, rigidity and meaning ensued.

It's good stuff, and it shows how people of very different perspectives can talk reasonably. Here are some snippets.

I'm sure there is importance to these rituals, but I think when their observance is seen more important than the underlying reason for them, true meaning is lost in the religion and the religious leaders are capable of corrupting people into following their will instead of the actual religion.
I think you are raising really important issues when it comes to rigidity in faith...To me, it's not extreme at all to pray five times a day in a ritual format, rather the prayers are a beautiful ritual, that provide just the right balance -- short reminders throughout the day of your true place in the universe (something I think atheists can relate to very well, or I least I certainly did when I was an atheist...


Bill said...


I thank you for noting the civility of our discussion. Personally, I think sometimes beliefs get in the way of the common ground in perspective we do hold. Personally, I think Pamela and I hold very similar progressive views. It is important though to strive for understanding other people. This doesn't mean bending to their view in your own belief, but accepting such view.

Certainly, some beliefs are much harder to understand, like your post on Michael Savage. What generates his fear of homosexuals? What generates these people that seem to think in polar opposite to ourselves? I've been following the gay pride parade situation in Jerusalem through one of the blogs. The ultra-orthodox jews and muslims have united over their hatred of gays. Ugh. Luckily this isn't most people, but enough, and as you cited the masses don't need as much persuasion as one would think to act irrationaly.

It's hard to inspire a rational understanding of different viewpoints.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Diane Silver said...

I deleted the comment from The Ripper because it was spam. The so-called "comment" did nothing more than refer to a web site. I don't mind if folks post a link to their sites and blogs, but please do it as part of a comment on the post.

Diane Silver said...


On the Michael Savage's of the world...

I'm not so certain there is a rational understanding, except to know that people often come to those kinds of ideas out of fear. Something about gays or the idea that we might be considered equal to them strikes at the core of their being.

Someone like Savage may just be saying these things to get an audience, but also notice what he says: He's playing to people's fears -- fears that I'm going to somehow destroy them as individuals, destroy their souls and take away their religion.

The question, I suppose, is how do you deal with that kind of fear and not participate in it yourself? I hope by using the term "genocide" that I wasn't promoting more fear upon this Earth, but I think it's important for people to understand the impact of that kind of talk.

Back to the point... How do we find common ground with people? How do we reach out to the non-fearful, compassionate parts of people and side-step the inner something that is terrified.

This is probably the central problem of our time. If we don't learn to do this, we quite likely will end up destroying each other in useless fights to the death.