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Old 2014-02-05, 17:07   #1
Brian-E
 
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Default Religious extremism leading to conflict and slaughter: how to handle this?

Former UK prime minister Tony Blair wrote an interesting piece in the Guardian a short time ago. He argued that (1) wars in the 21st century are likely to be fueled more by religious fundamentalism than by political ideology, and that (2) the way forward is to promote a greater understanding of all religions amongst the world's population so that tolerance and respect for other religions than one's own becomes the world norm.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentis...ast-tony-blair

I found myself in complete agreement with what he wrote in this article. I was then quite surprised by the level of disagreement expressed by Terry Sanderson, the president of the UK's National Secular Society, who is an author, journalist and activist in various human rights fields and for whom I have had enormous respect for the last 30 years. Sanderson agrees with Blair that religious extremism is, and will be, the driving force behind the world's conflict situations for the coming century. But he vehemently disagrees with Blair's solution on the basis that educating young people about religion is something which Europe is turning away from, and this reduced focus on religion has produced, he claims, a climate in Europe where religious wars have become virtually impossible.

http://www.secularism.org.uk/blog/20...e-things-worse

Here's another viewpoint from someone who also disagrees with Blair's solution to the problem of religious fundamentalism. This author's position is that tolerating religion is elevating unfounded beliefs above objective, scientific thinking, and such tolerance will only exacerbate the problem.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/nick...b_4685853.html

So what is the answer? Do we need more education about, and tolerance of, the different world religions in order to reduce the worldwide propensity for religiously based slaughter, as Tony Blair believes? Or do we need to aim to remove religion from the education system and stop tolerating it?
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Old 2014-02-05, 17:32   #2
chalsall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian-E View Post
So what is the answer? Do we need more education about, and tolerance of, the different world religions in order to reduce the worldwide propensity for religiously based slaughter, as Tony Blair believes? Or do we need to aim to remove religion from the education system and stop tolerating it?
Clearly a complex problem space (irony intended)...

I personally agree with Blair. I believe that education is rarely a bad thing, and greater understanding of others may make one more tolerant. (And I used the word "believe" intentionally.)

Note that even Science is a belief system. Rather than blind faith derived from the interpretation of "scriptures", it is based on proposed theories and in-depth testing of same. But, at the end of the day, we'll never *know* for *sure*; it's a "leap of faith".

Now, with regards to tolerance, I do think this should still have limits. For example, someone who believes that human sacrifice is needed to "appease the god(s)" should not be allowed to murder, because society has come to the consensus that this doesn't make sense.

And to share, a very good friend of mine and his wife are Muslim. The most caring, giving and lovely people you could ever wish to meet. And yet he doesn't let this be known to most people because of the general fear of "the other" by the (mostly) Christians here in Bimshire.

I think it is quite sad how religious extremism (on all sides) has taken away from what many feel makes their lives more sensible to themselves.

Last fiddled with by chalsall on 2014-02-05 at 17:45 Reason: Smelling mistake.
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Old 2014-02-05, 18:51   #3
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...The most caring, giving and lovely people you could ever wish to meet. And yet he doesn't let this be known to most people because of the general fear...
Semantic mistakes are arguably even worse than smelling mistakes.

There are some people who would fit even this above description, but somehow we think that that was not what you actually meant, or was it?
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Old 2014-02-05, 18:58   #4
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Didn't read (too long, too late here, 2:00 AM, but I will come back and read it soon,for sure!) I want to make only a small observation. Any kind of extremism, not only religious, leads to bad things... The problem is not the religion, the problem is the extremism. Everybody should be free to chose to believe in whatever, same as I chose to not believe. As long as we are not going to cut each other for our beliefs, everything is right.
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Old 2014-02-05, 19:01   #5
chalsall
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Originally Posted by Batalov View Post
There are some people who would fit even this above description, but somehow we think that that was not what you actually meant, or was it?
LOL... English can be such a difficult language at times....

"And yet he doesn't let his being Muslim be known to most people because of the general fear of "the other" by the (mostly) Christians here in Bimshire."
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Old 2014-02-05, 20:23   #6
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There's a great deal to think about in this discussion, and frankly I don't need another internet "discussion" to waste time, but here goes:

While I find both Blair and Sanderson's arguments severely lacking in cohesion, Sanderson is just plain wrong about so many of his contentions that it is hard to take him serious as a speaker for me (the secularist). For example, his claim that religious extremists are the most educated about religion is patently false. First, the ones that are educated are typically only educated about one religion, their own. And further they are typically educated about only one branch of their own religion. And I'd guess that the vast majority of any religious group is woefully uneducated about even their own sect.

And if we ignore the lack of Ireland (or Yugoslavia) we find that only the lack of religion causes Europe to not be embroiled in continuous warfare (obviously I'm hyperbolizing his claim, but it is so silly that it deserves it.) Europe had war beaten out of it. Then it had the continual threat of war for decades and it has relative economic prosperity. Ignoring all the other competing reasons that Europe might not be having a war to lend support to your own view is called argument by selective observation or cherry picking.

The Huff-po opinion piece is merely that, opinion, with several dubious claims and no reasoning or facts to back them up. Consider: " 'tolerance' will only exacerbate the problem that the former Prime Minister so rightly identifies" Followed by not one shred of evidence that this important cog in the authors argument is true.

Here's my take:

(Religious or political or whatever) extremism + _some sort of other bias (generally economic)_ = leads to war.

For example, if nutters like Pat Robertson lived in extremely poor countries talking to the actual downtrodden and oppressed (instead of just those who believe they are downtrodden and oppressed), he would be calling for a holy war against his oppressors. And they would likely oblige.
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Old 2014-02-05, 20:49   #7
chalsall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chappy View Post
(Religious or political or whatever) extremism + _some sort of other bias (generally economic)_ = leads to war.
Have you considered that war is often quite profitable? (For those not killed, of course.)
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Old 2014-02-05, 21:02   #8
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Originally Posted by chalsall View Post
Have you considered that war is often quite profitable? (For those not killed, of course.)
Of course I have. the trouble is that it almost never is. Despite the conventional wisdom. Sure war often profits small groups of people, but almost never creates more wealth than it destroys.

The other trouble is that this statement doesn't actually address the quoted portion.

Though I suppose profiteers do often use the Extremists to their benefit. But, nowhere did I say or imply (nor did Blair for that matter, and how messed up is this whole discussion that you guys have me defending T. Blair?) that this is the ONLY cause of war.
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Old 2014-02-05, 21:15   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Batalov View Post
Semantic mistakes are arguably even worse than smelling mistakes.
Bats, I stole this line, slightly modified, without attribution for my FB status.

Now people will think I'm clever.
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Old 2014-02-05, 21:18   #10
chalsall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chappy View Post
Of course I have.
Please understand that I'm on your side here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chappy View Post
Sure war often profits small groups of people, but almost never creates more wealth than it destroys.
And this, IMO, is the fundamental problem.

Small groups of people can gain wealth by creating wars, at the great cost of others. It's a "zero-sum game", after all.
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Old 2014-02-05, 21:24   #11
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And this, IMO, is the fundamental problem.

Small groups of people can gain wealth by creating wars, at the great cost of others. It's a "zero-sum game", after all.
Yes, wars are likely initiated by psychopaths who are out for their own personal gain at horrendous expense to humanity. But those psychopaths cannot do it alone: they need to rouse a rabble of supporters under the pretext of a "cause", and religion fits the bill.

I suppose if religious conflict was not available to be used in this way, some other "cause" would be found.
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