Logic’s Last Stand

February 8, 2008

This is my true criticism

Filed under: Philosophy — Tags: , , , , , , — Zurahn @ 5:48 am

It’s been floating around my head for a while how to properly voice the difficulty I have with those who defend religion against criticism of fundamentalists by the fact that they themselves are moderate. The problem is that moderate religion, at least in terms of the Abrahamic religions, is an oxymoron. In whichever way you interpret the religious scriptures (I can speak most accurately of the Bible), there is an excess of intolerance, hate and violence that is indisputable if you are to consider yourself part of that faith.

The following is a passage from a book that is not the word of a God, but an author named Sam Harris, and it puts it better than I ever could, and acts as one of the most poignant pieces I have read in quite some time.

It is with respect to this rather surprising cognitive scenery that we must decide what it means to be a religious “moderate” in the twenty-first century. Moderates in every faith are obliged to loosely interpret (or simply ignore) much of their canons in the interests of living in the modern world. No doubt an obscure truth of economics is at work here: societies appear to become considerably less productive whenever large numbers of people stop making widgets and begin killing their customers and creditors for heresy. The first thing to observe about the moderate’s retreat from scriptural literalism is that it draws its inspiration not from scripture but from cultural developments that have rendered many of God’s utterances difficult to accept as written. In America, religious moderation is further enforced by the fact that most Christians and Jews do not read the Bible in its entirety and consequently have no idea just how vigorously the God of Abraham wants heresy expunged. One look at the book of Deuteronomy reveals that he has something very specific in mind should your son or daughter return from yoga class advocating the worship of Krishna:

If your brother, the son of your father or of your mother, or your son or daughter, or the spouse whom you embrace, or your most intimate friend, tries to secretly seduce you, saying, “Let us go and serve other gods,” unknown to you or your ancestors before you, gods of the peoples surrounding you, whether near you or far away, anywhere throughout the world, you must not consent, you must not listen to him; you must show him no pity, you must not spare him or conceal his guilt. No, you must kill him, your hand must strike the first blow in putting him to death and the hands of the rest of the people following. You must stone him to death, since he has tried to divert you from Yahweh your God. . . .(Deuteronomy 13:7–11)

While the stoning of children for heresy has fallen out of fashion in our country, you will not hear a moderate Christian or Jew arguing for a “symbolic” reading of passages of this sort. (In fact, one seems to be explicitly blocked by God himself in Deuteronomy 13:1— “Whatever I am now commanding you, you must keep and observe, adding nothing to it, taking nothing away.”) The above passage is as canonical as any in the Bible, and it is only by ignoring such barbarisms that the Good Book can be reconciled with life in the modern world. This is a problem for “moderation” in religion: it has nothing underwriting it other than the unacknowledged neglect of the letter of the divine law. Emplasis added.

-The End of Faith by Sam Harris


1 Comment »

  1. You don’t even have to take it to the extreme of heresy… just blasphemy demands stoning to death according to God.

    “Take the blasphemer out of the camp; and let all who were within hearing lay their hands on his head, and let the whole congregation stone him”

    Look at all the food that Christians shouldn’t be eating. At least Jews, and to some degree Muslims, live by the laws of their God. Christians just ignore anything inconvenient.

    An attempt at justification:
    “Most Christians believe that Leviticus is the word of God, but generally do not consider themselves to be bound by all the laws prescribed by the text, due to the implied antinomianism in some passages of the New Testament, notably the letters of Paul. Most Christians consider 1 Corinthians 10:23-26, in which Paul directs followers to “eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience”, to exempt them from following the dietary laws set forth in Leviticus.”

    This is of course ignoring all the contradictions of the Bible, from Jeebus’ “love your neighbour unconditionally” vs Old Testament “stone those bitches”, all the way down the list.

    Comment by Dustin — February 8, 2008 @ 5:33 pm

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