Skip to comments.Reason vs. Religion
Posted on 10/25/2002 12:14:19 AM PDT by jennyp
The Recent Nightclub Bombings in Bali Illustrate Just What the "War on Terror" Is Really About
On the night of Saturday, October 12--the second anniversary of the suicide bombing of the USS Cole, a year, month, and day after the destruction of the World Trade Center, and mere days after terrorist attacks in Yemen, Kuwait, and the Philippines--two car bombs detonated outside neighboring nightclubs on the island of Bali, triggering a third explosive planted inside, and killing nearly 200 people (the majority of whom were Australian tourists), injuring several others, and redirecting the focus of the war against terror to Indonesia.
Also on the night of Saturday, October 12, the following bands and DJs were playing and spinning at several of Seattle's rock and dance clubs from Re-bar to Rock Bottom: FCS North, Sing-Sing, DJ Greasy, Michiko, Super Furry Animals, Bill Frisell Quintet, the Vells, the Capillaries, the Swains, DJ Che, Redneck Girlfriend, Grunge, Violent Femmes, the Bangs, Better Than Ezra, the Briefs, Tami Hart, the Spitfires, Tullycraft, B-Mello, Cobra High, Randy Schlager, Bobby O, Venus Hum, MC Queen Lucky, Evan Blackstone, and the RC5, among many, many others.
This short list, taken semi-randomly from the pages of The Stranger's music calendar, is designed to illustrate a point that is both facile and essential to reckoning the effects of the Bali bombings. Many of you were at these shows, dancing, smoking, drinking, talking, flirting, kissing, groping, and presumably enjoying yourselves, much like the 180-plus tourists and revelers killed at the Sari Club and Paddy's Irish Pub in Bali. Though no group has come forward to claim responsibility for the bombings, they were almost certainly the work of Muslim radicals launching the latest volley in the war against apostasy.
Whether the attacks turn out to have been the work of al Qaeda or one of the like-purposed, loosely connected, multicellular organizations that function in the region--groups like the Jemaah Islamiyah (an umbrella network that seeks a single Islamic state comprising Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore), the Indonesian Mujahedeen Council (led by the nefarious Abu Bakar Bashir), Laskar Jihad (which waged holy war on Christians in the Spice Islands before mysteriously disbanding two weeks ago), or the Islam Defenders Front (which makes frequent "sweeps" of bars and nightclubs, attacking non-Muslims, and violently guarding against "prostitution and other bad things")--will ultimately prove to be of little consequence. What matters is that the forces of Islamic fascism have struck again, in a characteristically cowardly, murderous, and yes, blasphemous fashion that must register as an affront to every living human with even a passing interest in freedom.
The facile part: It could have happened here, at any club in Seattle. It's a ludicrous thought, of course--at least as ludicrous as the thought of shutting the Space Needle down on New Year's Eve because some crazy terrorist was arrested at the Canadian border--but that doesn't make it any less true. That doesn't mean we should be looking over our shoulders and under our chairs every time we go to a show. It simply means that it could happen anywhere, because anywhere is exactly where rabid Islamists can find evidence of blasphemy against their precious, imaginary god.
Which brings us to the essential part: The Bali bombings were not an attack against Bali; they were an attack against humankind. In all the jawflap about the whys and wherefores of the multiple conflicts currently dotting our collective radar screen--the war against terror, the war on Iraq, the coming holy war, et al.--it seems worth restating (at the risk of sounding pious) that the war against basic human liberty, waged not by us but on us, is at the heart of the matter. Discourse has justifiably, necessarily turned to complexities of strategy, diplomacy, and consequences. The moral truth, however, remains agonizingly basic. We are still dealing with a small but indefatigable contingent of radicalized, militant absolutists who believe that every living being is accountable to the stricture of Shari'a, under penalty of death. As Salman Rushdie wrote, in an oft-cited Washington Post editorial, the fundamentalist faction is against, "to offer a brief list, freedom of speech, a multi-party political system, universal adult suffrage, accountable government, Jews, homosexuals, women's rights, pluralism, secularism, short skirts, dancing, beardlessness, evolution theory, sex." If these were fictional villains, you'd call them hyperbolic, not believable. But they aren't fictional. Their code would be laughable if it weren't so aggressively despicable.
As headlines about Bali cross-fade into news of North Korean nukes, and there are further debates about the finer points of Iraqi de- and restabilization, it's crucial to remember that there is, in fact, a very real enemy, with a very real will, and the very real power of delusional self-righteousness. How to remember? Consider the scene of the attacks (as reported by various Australian and European news sources):
It's a typical hot, sweaty, drunken, lascivious Saturday night. People, primarily young Aussie tourists from Melbourne, Geelong, Perth, and Adelaide, are crammed into the clubs, mixing it up, spilling out into the street. Rock band noises mix with techno music and innumerable voices as latecomers clamor to squeeze inside. Just after 11:00 p.m., a car bomb explodes outside of Paddy's, followed a few seconds later by a second blast that smashes the façade of the Sari Club and leaves a hole in the street a meter deep and 10 meters across. The second bomb is strong enough to damage buildings miles away. All at once, everything's on fire. People are incinerated. Cars go up in flames. Televisions explode. Ceilings collapse, trapping those still inside. Screams. Blistered, charred flesh. Disembodied limbs. Mangled bodies. Victims covered in blood. Inferno.
Now transpose this horrible, fiery mass murder from the seedy, alien lushness of Bali to, say, Pioneer Square, where clubs and bars are lined up in the same teeming proximity as the Sari and Paddy's in the "raunchy" Jalan Legian district, the busiest strip of nightlife in Kuta Beach. Imagine a car blowing up outside the Central Saloon and another, across the street at the New Orleans. Again, it seems too simple an equation, but the fact remains that the victims were not targeted at random, or for merely political purposes. They were doing exactly what any of us might be doing on any night of the week: exercising a liberty so deeply offensive to religious believers as to constitute blasphemy. And the punishment for blasphemy is death.
There is an ongoing lie in the official governmental position on the war against terror, which bends over backwards to assure us that, in the words of our president, "we don't view this as a war of religion in any way, shape, or form." Clearly, in every sense, this is a war of religion, whether it's declared as such or not. And if it isn't, then it certainly should be. Not a war of one religion against another, but of reason against religion--against any belief system that takes its mandate from an invisible spiritual entity and endows its followers with the right to murder or subjugate anyone who fails to come to the same conclusion. This is the war our enemies are fighting. To pretend we're fighting any other--or worse, that this war is somehow not worth fighting, on all fronts--is to dishonor the innocent dead.
Freedom, Wealth, and Peace,
Francis W. Porretto
Visit The Palace Of Reason: http://palaceofreason.com
jennyp, fundie Islam clearly isn't "reasonable." That doesn't mean that all religions are "unreasonable" -- this author paints with far too broad a brush. Arguably, Christianity is eminently reasonable, historically fostering learning, building the first great universities in Europe (and also in America -- e.g., Harvard, Princeton, inter alia had foundings in various Christian denominations); maintaining vast libraries of the great classics of antiquity that, were it not for the Church's preservation, may well have perished.
Not to mention Christianity provides the intellectual and moral basis of the freest society on earth -- the United States of America -- and has done so from the very beginning of our Constitutional system.
Moreover, Christianity insists on the sacred, inviolable dignity of each and every individual human person without exception -- recognizing that man is, as far as he can be, in the image of God precisely because he is the bearer of reason and free will.
I agree with this article, that we are embroiled in a religious war, clearly one that we didn't seek. We are a tolerant, secular people.
But this is a war, not of religion vs. reason, but of a grotesquely savage deformation of a world religion -- Islam -- seeking to destroy any other religion that does not conform to its 7th-century idea of society and the universe. Its specific targets are clear -- they are precisely Judaism and Christianity, wherever they are to be found.
That is, it is precisely "a war of one religion against another" (others).
As oppose to the atheist(reason) policies of the Soviet Union which took its mandate from an all-powerful government system that endowed its followers with the right to murder or subjugate anyone who failed to come to the same conclusion.
Ping, big time!
Yes, BB. But at times people get carried away, and wrongly use their religion as a justification for doing unreasonable things. Religion must always be tempered with reason, wouldn't you agree?
Please define "Reason" to the uninitiated.
This is atheistic elevation of reason over faith. Its basic flaw is of course the existence of Christ and His second coming. But its most fundamental logical flaw is the assumption that rationality is complete. This cannot be proven; rational thought is conducted in a language which has no meaning apart from tradition and is in principle, therefore, inadequate to critique that tradition.--against any belief system that takes its mandate from an invisible spiritual entity and endows its followers with the right to murder or subjugate anyone who fails to come to the same conclusion.
Considering that the Declaration of Independence could not have been militarily supported, nor the Constitution of the United States (including the First Amendment) ratified, without innumerable practicing Christians (among others), this is a smear of the principle of religion, and of Christianity in particular.
The theistic underpinning of the Declaration of Independence in particular is an embarrasment to this viewpoint, and the failure of the language to yield any non-theistic synomym for "blessings" in the preamble to the Constitution is another. Atheistic reason is a false god resting on the sand of incompleteness and ultimate futility, able (see for example Leninism) to rationalize anything.
What did we (in America) learn from September 11, 2001 and the deaths of 3,000 people. I am tempted to admit: Absolutely nothing.
Among the many unlearned lessons of Day-Which-Will-Live-In-Infamy-II-- the necessity to control our borders, the need for a patriotic renewal and the importance of combating multiculturalism -- the most significant is the nature of Islam. You will note that I do not say militant Islam, or radical Islam, or Islamic extremism or other such weasel words but Islam, period.
Every one of the hijackers who flew airliners into the World Trade Center and Pentagon were professing and practicing Moslems, as is Osama bin Laden. The Al Qaeda terrorist network, is based in Moslem countries and supported financially by the so called pious Moslem leadership of Saudi Arabia.
The overwhelming majority of Moslem religious authorities who have spoken out on the subject, including those at the main mosque in Mecca and Egypts prestigious Al Azar University, either endorse or rationalize acts of terrorism. On a day when Americans were incinerated or buried under tons of rubble, Muslims from Nigeria to Indonesia, celebrated in the streets.
Sept. 11 was one chapter in a 1400-year jihad. Every day, the World Trade Center massacre is reenacted on a smaller scale somewhere in the world. Jewish women and children are burned alive in a bus in Israel. A missionary is beheaded in the Philippines, gunmen shoot up a church in Pakistan (deliberately firing into the prostrate bodies of women trying to shield their children). Ancient monasteries and convents are destroyed in Kosovo. Women are sentenced to death for adultery in Nigeria, Hindus are murdered in the Kashmir. In Denmark, the Muslim community there has put a $30,000 bounty on the heads of Jews and those who support Israel. Nuns are beheaded in Baghdad, Christians in Sudan are forced into slavery, and in Britain, Islam openly states it is going to take over not only the UK, but the whole world -- and the beat goes on.
Genocide in the Sudan, ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, religious persecution in Saudi Arabia, calls for another holocaust in mosques from Mecca to Gaza, the imposition of Islamic law in Nigeria, forced conversions in Indonesia, synagogues burned in France, Jews attacked across Europe these are everyday events, as Third World and much of the First slowly turns Islamic green.
Sadly our leaders, from President Bush on down, insist on peddling the absurdity that Islam is a religion of peace a creed of kindness and benevolence tragically and inexplicably corrupted by fanatics.
Why is the leadership of the West reluctant to confront manifest reality? The reason lies partly with our absurd foreign policy. We have declared certain Moslem nations to be our loyal allies including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. We would not want to offend these dear friends by saying something unflattering about their bloody, butcherly, dark ages faith.
Americans are naturally benevolent. Most of us are taught from childhood that is religion is good (and it does not matter which religion). As long as little Johnny believes in God and goodness, its inconsequential whether he lights candles, wears a skull cap to services or prays in the direction of Mecca.
This works with every religion except Islam.
Consider the following: Of the three major western religions: one was started by a lawgiver who helped to free slaves; one by a man of peace; the last one by a man who loved war and having sex with children. Mohammed not only led men into battle, he enjoyed marrying girls as young as six years old (it is in the Koran). The essence of his message is sick and disgusting. A holy war where you slaughter your enemies, while at the same time encouraging followers to have sex with the children they capture (as he did) for the glory of Allah. He even advised his followers to negotiate false peace treaties in order to lull their enemies.
For almost 1,400 years, that has been the reality of Islam. Within a century after the death of Mohammed, Islam spread throughout the Middle East and across North Africa. It overran the Iberian peninsula and was finally stopped in southern France. It spread eastward as far as the southern Philippines. It was not propagated by fresh-faced young men knocking on doors and announcing: Hello. Im from your local mosque. Have you considered the Koran? It was and is spread by force conversion by the sword or death. This is still in practice today.
Some will respond that all religions go through periods of violence, usually in their infancy. Christianity had its crusades and Inquisition, its forced conversions and expulsions. The evil committed in the name of Christ happened centuries ago. The evil committed in the name of the Prophet is going on now, as you read these words. Of 22 conflicts in the Third World, 20 involve Moslems versus someone else. Coincidence? In his brilliant book, Clash of Cultures and the Remaking of World Order, Samuel Huntington speaks of Islams bloody borders.
There is no Methodist Jihad, no Jewish Hasidic holy warriors, no Buddhist monk wanting to have 72 virgins waiting for him after a suicide bombing, no Hindu Holy men plotting to blow up people, no Southern Baptist suicide bombers, no Mormon elders preaching the annihilation of members of other faiths.
Islam is a warrior religion the perfect vessel for fanatics, the violence-prone, the envious and haters of all stripes. This is one reason why Islam is making so many converts among the peaceable denizens of our prison system.
Still, much of the West is addicted to a fairy-tale version of Islam. Christian and Jewish clergy fall all over themselves to have interfaith services with imams. Representatives of Moslem groups are invited to the White House. The president signs a Ramadan declaration. In California, public schools ask children to role-play at being Moslems. Our universities take carefully selected verses from the Koran and present them as the essence of the faith. All thats needed is a Moslem character on Sesame Street. Look its the Jihad Monster!
This perspective engenders a fatally false sense of security. Imagine, in 1940, Winston Churchill taking to the airwaves to announce Nazism is an ideology of peace which, regrettably, has been perverted by a few fanatics like Hitler and Goebbels. But most storm troopers and SS men are fine follows your friends and neighbors.
For the first thousand years of its history from the death of Mohammad to the 17th. century decline of the Ottoman empire, Islam was an expansionist force. For the next 300 years, as the West rose to preeminence, Islam receded. For the past four decades fueled by Arab oil wealth, a surplus population in the Middle East, the waning of the West and the rise of more virulent strains of the faith (Shiism, Wahhabism, Sunni fundamentalism) Islam is expanding once more.
Due to Moslem immigration and aggressive proselytizing, Islam is being exported to the West. Moslem populations are burgeoning throughout Western Europe. (In southern France, there are more mosques than churches.) In Judeo-Christian America, Islam is the fastest growing religion. It is also spreading down the coast of West Africa, through the Balkans (after Serbia, Macedonia is the next target) and up from Mindanao in the Philippines.
Wherever it comes, Islam brings its delightful customs child marriages, female circumcisions, rabid hatred toward Christians, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists and every other non-muslim, terrorism and support for terrorism and a virulent intolerance of other faiths.
Am I suggesting we declare war on over 1 billion million Moslems? The question is moot Islam has declared war on the rest of the human race. When one side knows its at war and the other thinks peace and brotherhood prevail, guess who wins?
Ultimately, it is not about Jews in Israel, or Orthodox Serbs in Kosovo, or Hindus in Kashmir, Buddhists in Thailand, or Maronite Catholics in Lebanon, Taoists in China, or Christians in Sudan and Nigeria, but all of us. As Ben Franklin would have it Either we will hang together, or surely we shall all hang separately.
The spiritual life and the life of reason are not mutually opposed at all. But neither are they equivalents. Man being finite and contingent, reason can only get us so far. When we reach the limit there, then the light and grace of divine revelation are all we have to go on.
So yours is not a simple question, such that I could say "I agree with you" or "I don't agree with you." The reason for that is the structure of the question implies that we are dealing with things of equivalent power and significance. But we are not: what is finite and and what is infinite cannot be equivalent. To put it another way, there is a category error implicit in the way you ask the question.
The life of the mind and the life of the spirit ought both to be cultivated, IMHO. FWIW.
Indeed. Much of the evolution - sorry about the term ;) - of RC doctrine, from Aquinas forward, has been an attempt to reconcile reason with faith. I happen to think that those attempts have not been entirely successful, but not because reason and faith are incompatible. When done properly, reason and faith should never be incompatible - they are instead orthogonal to one another.
And therein lies the conflict, really - troubles arise when there are those who insist that their brand of faith is incompatible with reason, and must therefore dominate and subjugate reason. And, to insure that this door swings both ways, troubles can arise equally well when there are those who insist their brand of reason is incompatible with faith, and must therefore dominate and subjugate faith. I am quite sure we could think of all sorts of candidates to fill both those categories, if we were to sit down and brainstorm for a bit ;)
So for me, that's the bottom line - faith and reason don't have to be incompatible at all, and I tend to get a bit peevish when I see people who appear to be going out of their way to intentionally set them at odds with one another...
Obviously, evil and violent people can interpret any scripture to their ends, but the original words remain...
Some use only the light and grace of divine revelation and call it "reason". They do not weigh issues and make judgements based on logic, but rather cling to notions which have been instilled in them through faith-based principals.