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« Bahrain Uprising (omar) | Main | Cairo in Madison »

February 21, 2011


most interesting -- one may be a lapsed catholic, a nonobservant jew, and a former episcopalian, but to fall away from islam is to be an apostate? i am sure that among the muslim faithful, there must be many who think "non-practicing muslim" would do nicely as a designation for those who do not uphold the pillars of the faith. people of every stripe who are simply not religious may yet want to hold onto other cultural values their religious background denotes, so that calling themselves " former"or "non-practicing" or "secular" gives a clearer picture of their identities than calling themselves atheists. unless the chief point one wishes to make is about being irreligious, rather than ethnically identified.

'so that calling themselves " former"or "non-practicing" or "secular" gives a clearer picture of their identities than calling themselves atheists.'

yes. the term 'cultural muslim' is one i've seen. but do note that for *me* specifically this doesn't hold. i find islam to probably be the most vulgar and barbaric of the primitive superstitions which hold the imaginations of the human mind. and personally i don't associate with any believing muslims in "real life" aside from my parents.

oh, and my negative attitudes toward islamic civilization and admitted islamophobia (muslims scare me) is generally why i get irritated when people label me a "muslim blogger" sometimes. not the end of the world, it's just a word. though i do blog about islam obviously.

I'm curious about why Razib uses 'David Hume' as a pen name rather than his own name. Is your name too difficult for the Secular Right readers to pronounce? :-)
(I'll forgive you your inability to get Tamil name pronunciations right- I named my kids relatively simple, North Indian names, and every single desi gets at least one of them wrong, whether FOB or not.)

david hume was a tory unbeliever.

Coming fresh off a reading of Saramago's "The Elephant's Journey", I was intrigued by Hume's opinion of miracles, as a tory unbeliever (another strange point of similarity to your comment- the book dispenses with capitalization of names and proper nouns, paragraphs and is a long series of run-on sentence after run-on sentence. Saramago may well have been trying to emulate the kind of punctuation one becomes accustomed to reading in any non-Roman script based language.) But I digress; back to the miracles.Hume still allows for them, despite his unbelief. From the Wikipedia page:
"Although Hume leaves open the possibility for miracles to occur and be reported, he offers various arguments against this ever having happened in history:[65]

* People often lie, and they have good reasons to lie about miracles occurring either because they believe they are doing so for the benefit of their religion or because of the fame that results.
* People by nature enjoy relating miracles they have heard without caring for their veracity and thus miracles are easily transmitted even where false.
* Hume notes that miracles seem to occur mostly in "ignorant" and "barbarous" nations and times, and the reason they don't occur in the "civilized" societies is such societies aren't awed by what they know to be natural events.
* The miracles of each religion argue against all other religions and their miracles, and so even if a proportion of all reported miracles across the world fit Hume's requirement for belief, the miracles of each religion make the other less likely.

There's a manufactured miracle in "The Elephant's Journey", where the elephant kneels at the doors of St.Anthony's church, acclaimed by all as a spontaneous outbreak of piety in the animal at the power of the Mother Church. Saramago imagines a scene with the priest persuading the mahout to train the elephant to kneel on command and performing this new skill to help heighten the power of the Catholic church to fight back against Lutheranism.

Leave it to the NYT to advance the art of irresponsible writing. Sure, it is possible to be an apostate even if one was never personally devoted to the cause from which one lapses. One might have been associated with a party or group out of convenience or curiosity. Severing that association is a kind of apostasy. But when the context of the story is religion, apostasy takes on a more specific significance, including the premise that one once accepted the faith. The same goes for "faction" as deployed here. The word can mean what the author seems to intend: a class or set of people allied to some enterprise. But when the context of the story is politics, faction takes on a more specific significance, including the additional characteristics of self-interest and even self-dealing. Neither word works here. No wonder political discourse is so dag-blamed stupid.

Ms. Mac Donald's questions, assuming they've been accurately reported here, are astonishingly naive, but then so is the newspaper's flimsy guilt-by-association approach to characterizing her ideology. She studied "literary deconstructionism" (uhm, okay) and clerked for a left-wing judge. On the basis of those facts, we're supposed to assume she votes liberal?

Sujatha, hume's toryism and unbelief can both be plausibly disputed. whether that means he was subtle and nuanced, or incoherent, is probably a matter of taste.

"on the basis of those facts, we're supposed to assume she votes liberal?"

have you taken an inferential statistics course ever?

On the issue of apostasy, isn't it for the religious to decide? Us atheists don't seem to have a horse in that race.

Strange, I had never realized that some conservatives believed arguments for small government, self-reliance, or liberty were of an explicitly religious nature. Maybe this fact explains the course that some of my debates with conservative friends ran. I had always assumed that such principles were perfectly defensible on reasoned secular grounds. Andrew Sullivan seems to do a fine job arguing for conservative principles without having to invoke his Catholicism, yet, apparently admirably, he can write of their resonance without confusing it for necessity.

Either way, I'm happy to hear there are conservatives who are trying to remain firmly grounded in secularism in their argumentation. I guess I had just always assumed it was so. Clearly I read the wrong blogs.

Also, Razib, hope you can get over your fear of Muslims. Some of my closest friends are Muslims, and I think you'll agree that there are plenty of fine folk of all stripes. Don't confuse your understandable disgust at some of what is in the Qur'an with actual believers. No doubt, you have plenty of Christian friends? Have they held any slaves recently? Have you found no inspiration in the Horn of Africa in recent weeks, only fear?

Just because you are an atheist, does not mean you cannot be a selfish asshole.

And if there is one thing that characterizes the modern conservative movement better than anything else, its that its based on being a selfish asshole. Actually, its based on making selfish assholeness a moral value, a la Rand (btw, a massive religion hater).

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