Saturday, October 22

End of Faith at Pop!Tech

Listening to Sam Harris at Pop!Tech here in Maine - and loving his discussion on the incompatible differences between different books different religions believe were written by God.

Paraphrasing Sam's thoughts:
Interesting poll result: 22% of people in the US are convinced that Jesus will swoop down from the sky and save the world in the next 50 years. Another 22% believe it will probably happen in the next 50 years.

Great quote: "Land of Israel was promised to the Jews in G-d's role of the omnipotent, all-seeing, real estate broker..."

We do not respect other persons beliefs (when it comes to things other than religion) - we evaluate their reasons. In religion, we are admonished to respect their belief, but we would never hear that in discussions of history, business, etcera. The only time we allow for this is when we turn to matters of faith.

I am advocating a kind of "conversational intolerance" - we challenge bad ideas, especially when they are given some form of ascendance.
Interesting thought - has the Republican party figured out the fact that, in order to pass beyond the rational filters that we utilize to engage in discourse, that tying the memes to religion allows people to maintain their stance on issues that do not survive scientific scrutiny.

Continuing the paraphrasing of Sam's thoughts:
People who believe things strongly - and then people who engage in discourse.

Discussing suicide bombers: where are the Tibetian death cults that are creating suicide bombers? Martardom and jihad are essential in Islam, which create the culture of these suicide groups. He is discussing the conditioning that created the mental state of the bombers in Hamburg - how at the mosque they would talk about the pleasures that await the martars would have at the end of their work.

Books are engines of intolance - always able to refresh fundamentalism from the book. Doors leading out of fundamentalism do not originate from the inside - they have to come from the outside.

Problem with religious moderation - limits the solutions to be generated to address fundamentalism in the modern realm. The only way to invoke the power of ritual is to use religious language. How can we modify this?

We hold a disproportionate leverage in the spread of ideas in the world. Our discourse here at popTech is to jettison dogma in the discourse of ideas. Religion - it is impossible to eliminate such attachment to dogma.

2 comments:

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Tish G. said...

Hi Sanford...

I kind of wish I was at Pop!Tech as I could have called Sam on a number of problems with his supposition.

As a student of religion for years well beyond my mere bachelors, who has had some of the most incredible people within the spheres of religion as my mentors, I can say that Sam is very, very wrong when he stresses the differences in what religions say. What Sam *should* be looking at is the basic tenet of all religions that is said one way in the West and another in the East but says the exact same thing...

In the West we say "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." That sentiment runs thru Judaism, Islam and Christianity. In both Buddhism and Hinduism (not necessarily considered "religions" quite the same as Western religion), it is said as "do not do anything to another that you would not want done to you."

The phrases mirror one another.

Yet this essential philosophy that undergirds all belief systems gets buried under dogmas, rituals, practices, and then politics. As is emphasized in Buddhism, we are dualistic creatures. Without guidance to find the way of compassion and the elimiation of dualism, we seek to create further divides in order to shore up what ever side of the divide we live on.

What Sam should have been calling for was an end to dualism. Then again, who ever said he was a saint, let alone a bodisattvah?