From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Fri Sep 14 2001 - 03:47:36 MDT

On Thu, Sep 13, 2001 at 07:49:30PM -0500, Greg Burch wrote:

> You say that very few modern Arabs read the entirety of the Q'ran.
> It's actually a very slim book and of the three religions that have
> "sacrelized the text" (a term I have developed in my own study of
> religious memetics), Islam seems to be the most concrete in its
> apotheosis of the "logos" . . . so I wonder about that. Anyway, I mean
> to find out.

When reading the Q'ran, one has to place it in the right cultural
context as it was written (just like for the Bible and other
scriptures), and in the context of how it is interpeted tody. These
are fairly different things, although the gap might be lesser than
between the contents and interpretations of the Bible. Much of it only
makes sense in terms of local politics near the life of the prophet,
which means that the layers of interpretations that have been added
gain extra weight.

There are plenty of quite secular muslims today, and while their
beliefs are based on the Q'ran and the islamic culture that emerged
around it, they are just as free-thinking as the secular christians of
the US.

That said, I think there is a conservative aspect of Islam due to 1)
the stated determinism, 2) the idea of an already completed revelation
and 3) the common cultural idea that consensus is important. This
doesn't mean it is against (say) new technology per se, but such
things always has to be judged against the pre-existing standards in a
way which the western post-renaissance progress and individualism
oriented cultural atmosphere did away with. Note that this
conservatism can be more or less strong, and is also quite different
from the hate fuelling terrorism. But conservatism helps sustain
closed societies, and this is the breeding ground for prejudice and
hate. So maybe the real target of change should be irrational
conservatism (of whatever creed).

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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