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Category: Interfaith

Sam Harris, Reza Aslan and Hiding the Ball

Sam Harris, Reza Aslan and Hiding the Ball

There’s an interesting volley in the ongoing feud between Sam Harris and people who question his crusade against Islam. During a discussion at the Harvard Science Center, Harris made the claim that Muslim violence is different than any other religious violence. He maintained that when any other religionists commit violent acts, they are individuals committing violent acts unrelated to their faith’s doctrines and “articles of faith”. Islam’s articles of faith were uniquely different. He used as an example the brutality perpetrated against Muslims by…

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A Hero Goes into the West — from my personal blog

A Hero Goes into the West — from my personal blog

I was shocked and saddened to hear that one of my greatest heroes is dying. I have experienced Oliver Sacks as a being of great wisdom and compassion. His work has been a blessing and an illumination to me as both as a writer and a human being, and has gifted me with many deep insights into the human spirit that have informed my own craft. Dr. Sacks has written extensively about conditions that impact the way affected individuals experience the world—migraine, sleeping sickness,…

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My Friend Mycroft, Part Three: Mycroft on Religion

My Friend Mycroft, Part Three: Mycroft on Religion

Having discussed the role of science in the life of humanity, my atheist forum friend Mycroft turned to the subject of religion. The points of view were thus: Mycroft=science is a savior; Me=science is a tool for the exploration of reality Mycroft wrote: “The major organized belief systems are incoherent. Half of mosaic, christian, and muslim theology over the last millennia is devoted to the task of belatedly producing some kind of consistency—often by declaring something impossible a “mystery”, or adding afterthoughts.”…

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My Friend Mycroft, Part Two: Science as Savior

My Friend Mycroft, Part Two: Science as Savior

Echoing anti-theist spokesman Sam Harris, my forum friend Mycroft remarked that: “… a whole branch of science is devoted to the biological and societal reasons for human conditions, the balance of selfishness and altruism, greed and reciprocal behavior, dogma and tolerance, etc.” This is so. There is, indeed, a branch of science dedicated to finding a biological explanation for everything we are and do. Sam Harris has a PhD in this discipline. But the observation begs the question: In what way…

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Unseen Valor: Acts of Interfaith Courage

Unseen Valor: Acts of Interfaith Courage

Editor’s Note: This story is from the Bahá’í World News website. NEW YORK, 16 May 2014, (BWNS) — In this world of division and conflict, it takes a special kind of courage for those in a dominant group to break ranks and speak out on behalf of the oppressed, especially when this comes at great personal risk. Examples, often overlooked, can be found in many places, such as when Albanians refused to round up Jews during World War II, when…

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Part 9 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Part 9 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Why Religion Becomes Corrupt – and How to Fix It   In this series of articles, we’ve looked at the five reasons corruption effects religion, from Dr. Charles Kimball’s fascinating recent book When Religion Becomes Evil. Dr. Kimball, an historian, professor of comparative religion, chair of the department of religion at Wake Forest University and an ordained Baptist minister, concludes his book with a call for all people to recognize those five reasons for religious corruption, and act to understand…

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Part 6 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Part 6 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

The Ideal Time for Religious Triumph The idea of triumphalism – that any particular religion will one day prevail, dispatch the “heretics” and conquer the world – has plagued humanity for centuries.  In his book When Religion Becomes Evil, Dr. Charles Kimball explores the concept of triumphalism, in which some faith groups see the ideal time for their certain triumph as inevitable and desirable: Some religious communities place a great deal of emphasis on a this-worldly hope…. When the hoped-for…

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Part 5 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Part 5 of Religion – The Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

When Religion Requires Blind Obedience Authentic religion engages the intellect as people wrestle with the mystery of existence and the challenges of living in an imperfect world.  Conversely, blind obedience is a sure sign of a corrupt religion.  Beware of any religious movement that seeks to limit the intellectual freedom and individual integrity of its adherents.  When individual believers abdicate personal responsibility and yield to the authority of a charismatic leader or become enslaved to particular ideas or teachings, religion…

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Part 4 of Religion – the Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

Part 4 of Religion – the Most Harmful Agency on the Planet?

No Faith is Final — Religious Claims to Absolute Truth When a religion claims to have access to the absolute truth, religious scholar and writer Dr. Charles Kimball explains, those rigid truth claims can form the basis for demonizing and dehumanizing those who differ: A human view of truth, one that is dynamic and relational, enables religious people to embrace and affirm foundational truths without necessarily solidifying the words into static, absolute, propositional statements.  Conversely, religious convictions that become locked…

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How We Know Stuff: Faith, Reason and Relative Pitch

How We Know Stuff: Faith, Reason and Relative Pitch

It occurred to me as I was writing a piece on what it means to say “I know” something that I will never be able to grasp, on my own, certain scientific or mathematical concepts. Black holes, dark matter, imaginary numbers and mathematical proofs are doors closed in my face. There are other things I can grasp and can articulate, and some I grasp but cannot articulate. When it comes to the things I cannot grasp, I must accept the…

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