Re: Superstition (A Halloween Message)
Sun, 31 Oct 1999 17:07:03 EST

In a message dated 99-10-31 13:50:57 EST, wrote:

> In a message dated 10/31/1999 8:57:15 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
> writes:
> > When
> > that false tolerance is extolled as an intellectual virtue, one has
> > encountered a vicious circle of mental corrosion. The result is that
> > United States, a country founded on the ideals of the Enlightenment,
> > become the breeding ground for superstition. I say give me a
> > fundamentalist
> > christian any day: At least we share a notion that some things are true
> > and others are false.
> So its just fine for the Southern Baptist Convention to spend millions to
> target Hindu's and Jews for conversion? But maybe the Wiccans and other
> non-maimstreamers haven't had their "go" at power. Tolerance seems to be
> the
> keyword missing here, and it has to be mutual, to be effective. For
> I am currently reading; Hitler's Pope, not a good recommendation for
> shared culture, not at all.

There was a little tongue-in-cheek in my post this morning, but also a kernel of strongly-felt value. Exchanging the mainstream superstition of traditional christianity for some new, more fashionable brand of ju-ju is not a step forward. The point of my post was that the New Age "believe-in-everything" mentality is just as bad, if not worse in its own way, than the rigid orthodoxy of traditional christianity.

I wonder if you find that I am being "intolerant" in my condemnation of New Age mumbo jumbo? I am intolerant of mushy thinking. And I'm especially intolerant of the postmodern notions that any firm foundation for knowledge isn't possible, that "it's all relative" and that non-Western ideas somehow have a special place in some sort of exoneration of imperialist guilt (or something - it's usually very hard to determine WHAT such people are really saying).

At any rate, I see nothing wrong with christians attempting to convert Hindus and Jews. As long as they don't use my tax dollars to do it, why shouldn't they be free to say whatever they want to whomever they want? To me it seems very much like an advertising campaign designed to woo viewers from one situation comedy to another. That they may spend a lot of money doing this sort of thing seems like a terrible waste, but, hey - it's their money; and since they are targeting people who are already religious, at least they're not increasing the net irrationality in the world.

(BTW, I haven't read Cornwell's book, but it looks very interesting.)

In a message dated 99-10-31 13:58:55 EST, wrote:

> On the whole, I think the variety is good. Religions, as Voltaire pointed
> out,
> become tyrannical when alone, participate in gruesome civil war in pairs,
> but
> become well-behaved when facing a slew of competitors. This variety means
> that even if the superstitious types win the day, we won't face a
> just a lot of airheads.

Cold comfort - but if this is the best one can hope for, let us rejoice in the airiness of the New Agers' heads!

In a message dated 99-10-31 14:39:56 EST, wrote:

> For all of its problems, the subcontinent
> of India, and the wars and starvations of China, were not features of
> religious intolerence. Even India, had comparative peace (despite the
> conquest) becuase of its tradition of religious tolerance.

I beg to differ with you in the strongest terms. Cast (pun intended) your eyes upon a map of the subcontinent. Notice the two counties to the northwest and northeast of India. That will be Pakistan and Bangladesh. Now turn your chronometer back 50 years. You will see a bloody religious war between Hindus and Moslems. Legions died. It was a religious war, necessitating the formation of Pakistan and (eventually) Bangladesh.

Now look at last year's Indian newspapers. You will see organized murder and pillage between Moslems and Hindus on both sides of the border. Now turn your chronometer back 2500 to 3500 years ago. You will see the Aryan invasion of the subcontinent and the religious and racial war against the indigenous Dravidian population. This is chronicled in the Vedas - the "Hindu Old Testament". The caste system - as bad as any social practice ever devised in the West - was the result of the religious and ethnic war between the Aryans and Dravidians.

As for China, look back 150 years to the Tai Ping rebellion, arguably the bloodiest war in human history. Western histories of the Tai Pings concentrate on the political aspect of their threat to the Manchu throne, but the Tai Pings were first and foremost a religious sect. Before that there were repeated waves of suppression of Buddhism after the Tang renaissance, and periodic nastiness against Taoists who had the impertinence to challenge the Confucian orthodoxy in any meaningful way.

The supposedly tolerant East is full of such examples. The fiercest combat in mediaeval Japan was between warring sects of Buddhist monks. Last month's bloody violence in East Timor was as much a religious war as anything else.

      Greg Burch     <>----<>
      Attorney  :::  Vice President, Extropy Institute  :::  Wilderness Guide   -or-
                         "Civilization is protest against nature; 
                  progress requires us to take control of evolution."
                                           Thomas Huxley