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(1) Effort spent with the aim of life extension might be engaged in more robustly by those who are not counting on being rescued from death by a god..
2) Plenty of us would rather be dead than submissive to a malevolent tyrant like some gods are described to be
3) I think gods EXIST as psycho-social phenomena. I think that believing one of them to be perfect is theism. If someones god were perfect and "all good", I believe they would demonstrate a mastery of reality that would be unmistakably outstanding. Amazing and miraculous. I think some people like MLK have some pretty cool gods :)
My perspective is somewhat different that the stereotypical atheist you imagine, so I hope you will address MY VIEWS directly rather than your general take on atheists as a group.
The position I hold that I was hoping you could dismantle and expose as illogical is my atheism.
I see no problem describing gravity as a force. I think the question of whether it pushes or pulls is an oversimplified false choice. That the force of gravity seems to obey the inverse square law...I cannot dispute
This discussion stems from the assertion that "until Muslims denounce unequivocally violent jihad and Shariah law" Islam is incompatible with the standards of "Western Society". It was followed by the question of "what parts of Sharia are compatible?"
As to the first part, it seems to me that both of our cultures have a problem with not rejecting violence so long as it is purported to be in defense of our deepest values, (Read: what we hold sacred). Both cultures seem to believe our way of life is superior overall (or in some fundamental sense) to all the others, and that this superiority justifies the violent means employed to achieve dominance. Islam's" Violent Jihad" and the west's acceptance of massive "collateral damage" are totally compatible, in keeping with the highly honored tradition of brutal violent war. If going to war in defense of our highest values is permissible within western culture, I don't think we have any (non-hypocritical) grounds for denouncing Jihad.
Now as to Sharia Law (Islamic Jurisprudence) and it's compatiblity (or not) with justice systems in the West
I think our western systems are able to accommodate a great plurality of religious variants (including Islam) and allow people to practice their faith however they wish so long as their behavior doesn't infringe or violate lawful rights of others. If Islam is as bad as it's being made out to be by celebrities (like Sam Harris) who make a living demonizing this group of people in the guise of the intellectual sounding criticism of an ideology, the merging of our cultures is a "zero sum game" , which basically means that in order for things to go well for one group, things must go bad for the other. I wish I could emphasize enough how wrong headed this "Harrisite" mentality is.
Are there serious cultural differences between Islamic Culture and the west? Yes Is it good to assume that there are incompatibilities that cannot be peacefully or even perhaps elegantly resolved? No.
It is an extremely interesting question to me because I see it as heralding postsecularism, and I'm not convinced that we're ready for it. The relationship between what's held sacred (religious values) and what is legislated must necessarily be an intimate one. The fatal flaw of the ideology of secularism is failure to realize that significant religious unity (sharing of basic sacred values) is prerequisite to the establishment of any system of jurisprudence or government
I do believe that Islam is dramatically disruptive to the ideal of secularism which is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of religion and it's unseverable intimate relationship with government.
Secularists in the West have to operate with a definition of religion that ignores what the phenomenon actually is and instead present it as something that a state or legal system isn't necessarily bound to.
If you understand religion as group unity according to shared sacred values you will see it as intrinsic to all governments and legal systems.
However if to you religion is just this silly thing gullible people are into, that's summed up well in the first listed definition of your favorite dictionary, you think of it in a way that I fancy myself as having outgrown.
My response is partly an attempt to provoke thought about how impractical it is to call for the reform of an entire cultural group such as "Islamic society". It seems to me that clearly there are a number of members of "Islamic Society" who do live according to values compatible with so called "western society" so it is at least somewhat (if not horribly) illusory to claim that the values of islam are incompatible with western society.
I strongly reject the use of the term "Incompatible" because it implies that the differences between Islamic Society and Western society cannot be worked out in mutually beneficial ways
concerning secularism. In the West, the prevailing notion is that matters of public governance can and should be handled in such a manner that certain religious sects are not favored over others. Nevermind the practical impossibility of this.
Islamic Culture on the other hand does not embrace secularism. To them there are no situations to which their religious convictions do not apply, or ought to be put aside.
It feels awkward to admit my opinion on the matter because were it not for the social traction that the myth of secularism moved forward with, I very well might not be alive today to argue against it. It's sobering to realize that wars are always justified by appealing to the strongest values of a populace. That all wars are religiously motivated. That these strongest values (what a group holds sacred) are the basis of the religious positions we necessarily must take. Add to that the realization that actions of a state are always determined by what those in power hold sacred, and the myth of secularism that I cherished for so long dissolves and I am left fearing that we are not ready for the coming post-secular world.
This is where I am afraid to say that "Islamic culture" gets it right and those of us enjoying the fruits of the myth of secularism get it wrong.
Western culture of the variety we have here in the US, was instituted by people who fled religious persecution and idealized the freedom for each of us to practice our various religions without a state dictating what we may encourage our children and our communities to hold sacred. The sense is that the state should in effect defend religious liberty..protect the right to religious diversity. I see this as practical, but I dont see any kind of nonviolent civil cooperation without shared core fundamental (read: religious) values.
Inbreeding within a family leads to a substantial increase in birth defects when procreating.
Granted. But would you grant that inbreeding is basically the cause of what we call races, and further that racism depends on this kind of inbreeding?
No such substantial increase occurs from same-race procreation.
Was there a study you know of comparing rates of birth defects between interracial and intra-racial births? Let's suppose hypothetically that todays most common intra-racial pregnancy is 5 times less likely to result in a birth defect than if first cousins mated. If a study showed that interracial pregnancies were 5 times less likely than intra-racial pregnancies to produce a baby with birth defects would this not justify outlawing them by the same rationale that we ban incest?