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The Real Enemy as Unmasked by September 11

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
Right, let me start this by saying that I am about to offend a whole lot of people with what follows. Before September 11 I wouldn't have written this piece, but now I feel it is my duty to do so. The thread entitled "RELIGON" has already brought this out to some extent, too.

What I have written draws heavily on the work of Richard Dawkins. Quotations are from the 1989 annotated edition of The Selfish Gene.
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The real enemy that presented its face to the world on September 11 was not Islam. It was not, in truth, Islamic fundamentalism, for that is but one branch of a particularly pernicous weed for which we have a name. The name is this: Blind Faith.
[Faith] means blind trust, in the absence of evidence, even in the teeth of evidence...

Blind faith can justify anything.† If a man believes in a different god, or even if he uses a different ritual for worshipping the same god, blind faith can decree that he should die - on the cross, at the stake, skewered on a Crusader's sword, shot in a Beirut street, or blown up in a bar in Belfast.

... Or in the World Trade Centre in New York.
Blind faith can justify anything.

Faith is such a successful brainwasher in its own favour, especially a brainwasher of children, that it is hard to break its hold...

I don't want to argue that the things in which a particular individual has faith are necessarily daft. They may or may not be. The point is that there is now way of deciding whether they are, because evidence is explicitly eschewed. Indeed the fact that true faith doesn't need evidence is held up as its greatest virtue; this was the point of my quoting the story of Doubting Thomas, the only really admirable member of the twelve apostles.

Faith cannot move mountains (though generations of children are solemnly told the contrary and believe it). But it is capable of driving people to such danerous folly that faith seems to me to qualify as a kind of mental illness. It leads people to believe in whatever it is so strongly that in extreme cases they are prepared to kill and to die for it without the need for further justification. Keith Henson has coined the name 'memeoids' for 'victims that have been taken over by a meme to the extent that their own survival becomes inconsequential... You see lots of these people on the evening news from such places as Beirut and Belfast.' Faith is powerful enough to immunize people against all appeals to pity, to forgiveness, to decent human feelings. It even immunizes them against fear, if they honestly believe that a martyr's death will send them straight to heaven. What a weapon! Religous faith deserves a chapter to itself in the annals of war technology, on an even footing with the longbow, the warhorse, the tank, and the hydrogen bomb.

It now seems very likely that those who attacked America yesterday were Islamic extremists, motivated by hatred of America's values and America's foreign policy. I think it beyond question that they were also motivated by blind faith that they were doing the work of Allah, striking a blow deep into the belly of the infidel, destined to wake up in heaven tended by a dozen virgins.

Religon and faith can bring meaning to the lives of the aimless. However, as a drug, this one has horrific side effects. Thousands of dead on September 11 and millions more over the course of history testify to that.

Quite rightly, the civilized world wants to bring those responsible (if any are still alive) to justice and to prevent further acts of this kind. They may be able to achieve the former objective by force of arms: in fact, it is almost certain that force of arms will be required in this. However, arms will make not one iota of difference in deterring the fanatics of this planet from executing similar and worse atrocities.

Our enemy is blind, unquestioning faith. Our weapons are investment and education. Nothing is more lethal for certain kinds of meme [i.e. faith] than a tendency to look for evidence. If we are to end this scourge we must comprehensively educate all the Earth's population in the spirit of inquiry and rational thought. If this means the iconoclastic destruction of the Christian Churches (the institutions, not necessarily the buildings), of Judaism, of Islam, of Sihkism, of every religon that walks the Earth today, so be it. I cannot see how future generations would forgive us if we were to cling to these insanely dangerous institutions out of some misplaced sense of tradition or nostalgia.

On September 10 I believed that things should be left to take their course in the gradual abandonment of faith. Today I cannot do the same. We can kill individual terrorists, but the threat will remain until we grasp the nettle and tackle the meme of blind faith that allows such beings to be created. Prevention is better than cure. The time has come to rip this weed from the soil, and to do so at the root.

[This message has been edited by MacKenZie (edited 18-09-2001).]

Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru

    Although to an extent I do agree, I think your opinion is somewhat bias.

    First off, science doesn't have all the answers, and any scientist worth his white lab coat would agree. To this extent Science can't therefore state anything with the certainty that some people require.

    Second, many people find great comfort in their faith (misplaced or not) especially in times of hardship. Witness how many prayed after WTC attack. Although much can be made of religious persecution and wars, little is said of the small comforts that millions around the world can draw on. One of my friends is a trainee nurse, as such she has a rugged and practical outlook on life, yet draws comfort from going to church every Sunday and would miss it if she didn't. In millions of small ways, faith helps people.

    Third, faith is a test. It is easy to believe what is in front of you, but faith is a test of man and his perception of the Universe. The easy way is not always the right way.

    I think you are talking mostly of fanatics, who gain their name for a reason. Most religions have a core of social laws that encourage civilizations and societies, it is only Man's interpretation of the religious ideals that allows for fanatics and sects, so I would argue that it is a Man-made problem.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    First off, science doesn't have all the answers, and any scientist worth his white lab coat would agree. To this extent Science can't therefore state anything with the certainty that some people require.

    No, of course it doesn't provide certainty, as anyone with a passing knowledge of quantum theory could tell you. I'm well aware that most humans want certainty. The sooner we wake up and realise that there ain't no such thing, the better. Religon (as the prime manifestation of faith) cons people by providing "certainty" and "answers."

    And it is a slight abuse of notation to say that science "has" the answers; it's more accurate to say "it shows the way to get answers."
    Second, many people find great comfort in their faith (misplaced or not) especially in times of hardship.

    This I also concede, as I did above. Two weeks ago I'd have let such people be. I know that there's a danger that if you take god away from some people, you leave a "god-shaped gap" in their belief systems. Faith can also help many "hopeless" people e.g. drug addicts.

    After the events of September 11, though, I can no longer say with conviction that this anti-depressant we call faith is a "safe" thing to be using.
    Third, faith is a test. It is easy to believe what is in front of you, but faith is a test of man and his perception of the Universe.

    On the contrary, the essence of faith is to test nothing: witness Doubting Thomas. He dared to ask for evidence. Scientific inquiry, on the other hand, takes nothing for granted. When forced to make an assumption, it states it clearly and recognises that all that follows is now conditional upon that assumption. Faith, however, hides behind phrases like "god-given", "divine truth", and even (dare I say it?) "self-evident."
    I think you are talking mostly of fanatics, who gain their name for a reason. Most religions have a core of social laws
    that encourage civilizations and societies, it is only Man's interpretation of the religious ideals that allows for fanatics and sects, so I would argue that it is a Man-made problem.

    Starting from the end, of course it's a man-made problem. There's a man-made solution, too.

    And, yes, I am illustrating my point by referring to fanatics and zealots, who do not comprise the majority of believers. My point, of course, being that faith is inherently dangerous. A phamaceutical with such horrific side effects in even a fraction of 1% of its users would not be cleared for use. Why do we persist in faith? Tradition, and a misplaced aversion to iconoclasticism. Oh, and the fact that faith has brainwashed its hosts so effectively in the first place.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru

    I'll have to take this up when I get some free time, problems multiplying like rabbits at the moment.

    <IMG alt="image" SRC="http://www.thesite.org/ubb/frown.gif"&gt; <IMG alt="image" SRC="http://www.thesite.org/ubb/mad.gif"&gt; <IMG alt="image" SRC="http://www.thesite.org/ubb/frown.gif"&gt;

    Only users lose drugs
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hi. I just stumbled onto your msg about ‘Faith’ and 911. I will come back to this as soon as I can. I am a truck driver and I have to go and deliver a load of furniture. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get back on here, but I will be back.

    Your ideas about faith disturb me. I am a Christian and I believe you should take a closer look at God and what he has to offer. You mentioned doubting Thomas. What did Jesus say to him?

    “Thomas Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing”.

    And Thomas answered and said unto him, "My Lord and my God".

    “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed”.

    I am one of those who believe. No, Jesus is not a drug to me, he is my saviour and the saviour of all who will come to him and accept him into their hearts and lives as Lord and Saviour.

    I’m not sure where you are coming from on this issue, but I have seen God at work in many peoples live including my own.

    I have to go for now, but I will be back.
  • Indrid ColdIndrid Cold Warming up? Posts: 16,688
    ffs this was posted in 2001!
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    It's 10:15 am, or as I like to call it "beer-o-clock"! Let's get drunk and go to history class!
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I will be back.

    Hopefully as quickly as Jesus' return.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    The bible is proof of God...
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    thread's dead dude... thread's dead
This discussion has been closed.