- The American Conservative - https://www.theamericanconservative.com -

Islam: ‘The Last Badass Religion’

Here’s a great interview by Razib Khan with Shadi Hamid, the Egyptian-American Muslim writer. [1] I love this excerpt:

As for Christianity, I thought about it intellectually, but I didn’t think about it much as something real and lived-in, in part because it’s actually not super easy to meet outwardly and openly Christian people in the generally liberal setting of Bryn Mawr, PA.

I guess, even if subconsciously, this must have had an effect on me – this idea that the Christians I knew generally didn’t seem all that serious about their faith, where at the local mosque it was pretty clear that there were Muslims who were pretty serious about their faith.

I’ve always tried to be careful in how I talk about this, because it can pretty easily be misconstrued, but I remember talking to some friends a couple years back and someone described Islam as the “last badass religion,” which I thought was an interesting turn of phrase.

It’s this part of Islam that helps me understand and even empathize with why some atheists or secularists might be suspicious of Islam.

(But it’s this part of Islam that also helps me understand why Muslims themselves, even those who aren’t particularly religiously observant, seem so attached to the idea of Islam being unusually uncompromising and assertive).

If you’re nominally Christian and you see that your own faith, for whatever reason, can’t compete with Islam’s political resonance, then you might find yourself looking for non-religious forms of ideology which can offer a comparable sense of meaning.

That’s why the rise of Trump as well as the far-right in Europe is so interesting to me; these are fundamentally non-religious movements that are, in some sense, reacting to Islam but also mimicking the sense of certainty and conviction that it provides to its followers.

That’s something I respect about Muslims in general: they take their faith a lot more seriously than we Christians do. The only forms of Christianity that are going to survive the dissolution now upon us are going to be those that are serious about the faith, and incorporate it into disciplined ways of living. What would it mean for Christianity to be “badass”? Not violent, or intimidating, or cruel, but serious and countercultural. This is one reason that Orthodox Christianity is so attractive to men. It sets serious challenges in front of you — fasting, prayer, and so forth — and expects you to rise to the challenge. It’s not rigidly dogmatic and moralistic, certainly, but it’s not sentimental either. It sees the Christian life as a pilgrimage toward God in which we die to ourselves every day. That’s not Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. That is the faith.

Shadi Hamid identifies himself as a political and cultural liberal. His book Islamic Exceptionalism [2] is an attempt to explain what’s happening now in the Muslim world. In previous interviews, he has talked about how Westerners have a bad habit of not taking Muslims at their word about what they believe and what it means. More from the Razib Khan interview:

My bigger issue, though, has to do with political scientists’ unwillingness to take religion seriously as a prime mover. In other words, because most political scientists in the academy aren’t particularly religious or haven’t spent much time around religious people, they usually see religion not as a cause, but rather as something caused by other more tangible, material factors, the things we can touch, feel, and of course measure. So if someone joins an Islamist organization like the Muslim Brotherhood, the tendency is to explain it with things like rural-urban migration, underemployment, poverty, being pissed off at America, the list goes on. Sure, all those things matter, but what does political science have to say about “irrational” things like wanting to get into heaven? It’s not everything, but it’s one important factor that has to taken into account.

This is something that becomes more obvious when you talk to Islamists about why they do what they do. They don’t say, “hey Shadi, I’m doing this because I want to get into heaven.” It’s more something that you feel and absorb the more you sit down and talk to a Muslim Brotherhood member. It matters to them and it’s something that drives them, especially when they’re deciding to join a sit-in and they’re well aware that the military is about to move in and use live ammunition. It’s not so much that they want to die; it’s more that they are ready to die, and it doesn’t frighten them as much as it might frighten someone else, because they believe there’s a pretty good chance that they’ll be granted paradise especially if they happen to killed while they’re in the middle of an act that they consider to be in the service of God and his message.

Another example: after the failed coup attempt in Turkey last year, President Erdogan said something that raised a lot of eyebrows. He called the coup attempt “a gift from God.” What could he have possibly meant by this? Does that mean he wanted it to happen or even that he was behind his own attempted assassination? No. There’s nothing weird about what he said. There’s no doubt in my mind that Erdogan really believed that this was, quite literally, a gift from God and that God was sending him a somewhat tailored message.

Which brings me back to the question of “rationality.” If you believe in this kind of cosmic universe – a universe where one experiences daily God’s magic, if you will – then sacrificing something in this world for the next is pretty much the most rational thing you can do. After all, this is eternal paradise we’re talking about.

Yes, exactly! If Christianity has lost its sense of purpose and meaning among contemporary Americans, this has a lot to do with the loss of a sense of supernatural reality.

One more quick thing. I admire Hamid’s intellectual and moral courage in not towing a PC line about the Islamic faith:

So, in my new book, there are definitely some ideas and conclusions that I’m not quite comfortable with, which is sometimes a bit of a weird feeling. When the book came out, I was nervous, not just for the usual reasons, but also because there were certain distillations of my argument – the sound bites – which, when I said them, it was almost like I was straining myself. This is an era, perhaps the era, of anti-Muslim bigotry, and I couldn’t bear to think that I was contributing to that. The thing, though, is that I know that I have. But, just the same, I can’t bear the idea of not saying the things I believe to be true just because someone might use it for purposes I find objectionable. To me, the alternative is worse, the whole “Islam is peaceful” nonsense. “Islam is violent” is just as nonsensical, but we don’t fight those stereotypes of Islam by pretending the exact opposite is true.

Read the entire interview. [1] It’s well worth your time. I’m going to have to pick up Hamid’s book [2]. It sounds challenging and important.

Funny, but I feel that in general, I have as much or even more in common with a believing American Muslim than with a modernist American Christian.

UPDATE: Reader Firebird writes:

Your WEIRD bias is showing. A practicing Muslim in the WEST is serious and counter cultural. The vast majority of believing, practicing Muslims are not in any way doing anything countercultural. The exact opposite, in fact.

Having lived in majority Muslim nations, including one that is partculularly known for conservatism, I cannot say that I saw a great deal more seriousness from self-identifying Muslims than I do among practicing Christians. I do not see a greater dedication to textual study, or philosophy, etc among the average mosque goer as opposed to the average church goer. The society is simply not as far down the line as we are towards default secularism, so mosque goers make up a bigger proportion of the population.

I do see a stronger societal bias towards conformity and traditions, of which Islam is a part (but by no means all). A perfect example of this is the ongoing dedication to the de facto caste system that exists in Pakistan, which while foreign to Islamic thought, coexists and thrives in the minds of plenty of Pakistani Muslims.

To sum up– practicing Islam is indeed a counterculural, badass statement in the U.K. or California. It is nothing of the sort in most of the Muslim world. In those places, a better analogy would be that practicing Islam is like being a liberal professor at Yale. Expected and enforced through coercion, persuasion, and simple inertia.

No doubt a fair and accurate point.

Advertisement
171 Comments (Open | Close)

171 Comments To "Islam: ‘The Last Badass Religion’"

#1 Comment By The Autist Formerly Known as “KD” On March 3, 2017 @ 10:47 am

MH-Secular Misanthropist-

I don’t know what you mean about the “Innocence Project”.

“Innocence” is a concept which is socially constructed, and sometimes it is necessary for the greater good that someone be considered “guilty” for pragmatic reasons, even if that does not accord with old fashioned bourgeois reactionary concepts of “guilt and innocence”.

While Stalinism was not scientific, Stalinist justice was the most utilitarian and pragmatic legal system ever devised. Stalin carefully “managed social problems” and pragmatically “muddled through” even the Great Patriotic War. Part of that pragmatic management style was the conviction of our scientific martyr, which was necessary for the cause of communism, e.g. Stalin. Stalin did not care one whit for truth “T”, what Stalin said was truth, capital “T”. If you disagreed, he had a place for you.

If you abandon truth “T”, then worldly power will always be put in its place. Either God defines what is good and true, or people will find a Fuhrer to take the place of God.

#2 Comment By The Autist Formerly Known as “KD” On March 3, 2017 @ 11:07 am

MH-Secular Misanthropist-

You conflate the ability to reach universal consensus with “knowledge”. Actually, in the outer reaches of natural science, there is little consensus. If we include “social science”, you don’t even have a consensus in the field that such a beast exists. Likewise, even where you have 100 years of data, such as in IQ testing, if you read the media, you see that we have no “consensus” on IQ testing. A well replicated finding in social science that contradicts a political consensus is “pseudo-science”.

However, I would tend to distinguish between a discipline and a science. The subject of philosophy, theology and law concern the fundamental things. Thus, disagreements in these areas constitutes disagreements over the fundamentals. By definition, this entails that there will be no universal consensus. [If there was a universal consensus, then there would be no philosophical, theological or legal question.]

Yet they are functional disciplines, and people rank practitioners of these disciplines. For example, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas are generally considered the greatest pre-modern philosophers. That is to say, these people are viewed as having the greatest merit in their disciplines, ergo, its not subjective. [If relativism is true, then all must be equal, Plato is no better than Ibn Sina, is no better than a stoned sophomore in a dormitory, etc.]

All these disciplines are rooted in language and interpretation, and hence, inherently circular. This does not mean that all interpretations are equal however, it means that it requires discipline, training and judgment to discern the difference. However, this is not entirely different than someone working on the cutting edge of scientific inquiry and knowledge.

#3 Comment By Igor On March 3, 2017 @ 4:25 pm

Every nation and every person has his own way to God.
Your way – the Christians.
Your – Muslims.
Your – Buddhists.
And representatives of other religions – it is also a different.
Your way to God the godless and atheists because godlessness and atheism – is also a creation of the Creator and they are also necessary for cognition of God in all aspects of his Creation.
Your way to God those who worship knowledge because knowledge also lead to the understanding of the greatness of Divine Creation.
Everyone comes to God his way, and only the destruction of other people and their greatest creations (science, culture, architecture, architecture, painting, etc.) only because they chose another path to God is not barbaric, it’s just savagery.
And it’s got to stop.
But in any case, state should have the right to impose restrictions on the aggressive spread of religion, especially if this religion is alien to the civilization on the basis of which was created by the state.

#4 Comment By Joys-R-Us On March 3, 2017 @ 4:55 pm

btw, I’m enjoying the debate on scientific epistemology and “Truth”. Who cares if it has little to do with the OP?

One thing I’ll relate from my own thread here with Hector on Hinduism vs. Christianity that bears on this, is that in Hinduism they have long ago differentiated between relative and absolute truths. They see the relative world as “relatively true” within its own context. So even while the relative world is, in the absolute sense, an illusion, it is not to be judged by that understanding within its own realm of things. It rests within a greater reality that is indeed absolute and unchanging. And that is the actual definition of the absolute: that which never changes, which is always and already real.

The entire changing world is therefore understood to be the product of maya, and one cannot find the absolute within that changing world. The problem with Christianity and many other western religions is that they think there really are some kinds of unchanging, absolute truths within the changing realm. Hinduism understands that this is false, and futile to assert some relative truths about the changing world as absolutes, and others as not. All such truths are not absolute, and do change, because they are seen from a perspective that is always changing. Only the perspective of the absolute sees the unchanging reality, and also sees that the changing relative world is, ultimately illusory. To see the changing world in the context of its source is what frees us from it, not by trying to locate some sort of unchanging laws in the changing world that can form the basis for a “true” life. Only surrender to the unchanging source that lies beyond the illusions of the changing mind can offer that foundation. And when located, the changing world becomes an unnecessary dream play, a leela, with no ultimate reality or value other than the recognition of it as a reflection of the Self.

#5 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On March 3, 2017 @ 9:05 pm

@The Autist Formerly Known as “KD”, the claim that humans can do awful things if they don’t believe in God is an argument from consequences. It does make God’s existence true, only a necessary fiction.

#6 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On March 3, 2017 @ 10:39 pm

Joys-R-Us, that’s somewhat similar to what I was clumsily trying to say.

Relative truths by necessity depend upon axioms that cannot be proven. We accept axioms because everyone agrees that they appear to be true. So the criticism that science or mathematics rest upon axioms isn’t a devastating attack as that weakness is admitted up front. Philosophers may challenge these axioms as a rhetorical device, but their actions tend to show they actually believe them.

Although I’m somewhat agnostic on the existence of absolute Truths (with a capital T). My issue is that I don’t see anyway for humans to possess absolute truth. The religious will often claim divine revelation as the source of such truths, but that’s only convincing to that religion’s faithful. Meanwhile it’s heresy to others.

#7 Comment By Joys-R-Us On March 4, 2017 @ 4:54 am

MH,

Yes, I understand what you mean. However, even axioms are relative. We can choose them, or not, or choose different axioms, and the truths we arrive at will be different but no less valid without that system. Non-Euclidian geometry changes those axioms, and still remains valid and even very useful in the “real world”. Other forms of mathematics also uses some very strange axioms, and also remains valid and meaningful.

And the same goes with philosophy and a great deal of religion and “natural law”. However, the absolute is necessarily beyond all axioms and their logical extensions, because it transcends the natural, relative world. Western religion has a strange way of trying to combine the relative and the absolute, assuming that the Absolute sends down dictums to the relative world that become absolute and unchanging laws within that realm, that the relative world is supposed to live by. And yet, any law in the relative world is by its very nature inherently relative. So then there are conflicts, arguments, and even wars about that, proving once again to anyone with half a brain that it just can’t work that way. The mixing of levels is a terrible mistake not just in logic but in life.

It needs to be understood that the Absolute in simply not in the business of creating absolute rules or axioms or laws in the relative world. The Absolute is only interested in turning our attention from our exclusive fixation in the relative, so that we can see the Absolute for what it is, the absolute, unchanging reality at the very heart of our very being. How that is understood never varies in absolute terms, but in relative terms its descriptions and prescriptions cannot help but vary, even conflict with one another, and also be inadequate at describing or understanding the Absolute.

If we understand that, most of our unnecessary conflict about such matters comes to an end – not because we finally grasp the answer with our minds, but because we recognize the futility of that approach. The Absolute can only be fully understood from the perspective of the Absolute. Most of western religion is at a loss to accept that route, because it assumes that everyone has lost the ability to apprehend the Absolute through our “fall” from grace, and can only be redeemed through belief that certain relative precepts or truths are actually absolutes. But we haven’t actually lost that ability, we have merely mislayed it and misunderstood it. We just use the wrong tools. We try to use relative tools and observational methods to try to grasp what are the absolute and eternal verities. Both science and much of traditional western religion makes that mistake.

Instead, we have to make use of the unchanging absolute that is at the very heart of our own being, that we have neglected in favor of exclusively worldly occupations. That’s hard to do, because we are so accustomed to putting all our faith in relative things, whether that be religious or scientific truths. It isn’t that such things are untrue, it’s that they are incapable of reflecting the Absolute. The pursuit of an absolute and final unchanging answer or revelation in a world that is always changing is the very definition of insanity. Even God can’t do that. Nor would it even be necessary. Instead, God points us to the tools and methods of the absolute itself, which never change because they are not a part of the relative world, that allow us to see beyond the confusion of relative truth to what needs no explanation or description because it is more obvious even than the world before us. It lies in the opposite direction, in the very consciousness that observes the world, whose root is the very heart of the unchanging reality.

#8 Comment By The Autist Formerly Known as “KD” On March 4, 2017 @ 7:34 am

MH-Secular Misanthropist-

With respect to the realm of the invisible, what is the difference between a necessary truth and a necessary fiction? As far as I can tell, only our attitude.

However, if a fiction is necessary to inculcate virtue in a people, e.g. tending toward the good, then is it not a true “orienting truth”. What is God if not good?

#9 Comment By The Autist Formerly Known as “KD” On March 4, 2017 @ 8:05 am

MH-Secular Misanthropist-

Just so we are clear, I don’t believe someone should be a Christian because of some argument. I don’t believe “faith” in the Christian sense is a synonym for “belief”. I believe people come to true faith through the experience of the Resurrection, which is more about correct “seeing” than it is about asserting some proposition. [This “seeing” is more like “seeing” for the first that this piece is the missing piece in the puzzle, than seeing a puzzle piece. . . an interesting form of knowledge for a positivist with a correspondence theory of truth to examine!]

From the standpoint of scholarly neutrality, I believe the Christian chauvinist perspective that widespread belief in Christ, or maybe God, is necessary for a stable civilization, as well as the secular humanist position, you don’t need God, are wrong.

In India, both Buddhism and Hinduism emerged with influential non-theistic strands, although it is clear that devotion is fundamental to human worship, and it is hard to have a devotional sect without a de facto personal deity coming on stage. In China, Confucianism was a very secular philosophy.

So if you look at India and East Asia, you possibly could have something like the foundations of a secular or at least non-theistic society. But I don’t actually think it is possible in the West, because all our legal and cultural institutions flow out of ancient philosophies that were either monotheistic or proto-monotheistic, and then tempered through Christianity’s cultural influence. It is in the nature of the foundation that it is easily ignored, and that we lavish our eyes on the brilliant structure it supports. . . at least until you attempt to remove the cornerstone.

#10 Comment By The Autist Formerly Known as “KD” On March 4, 2017 @ 8:37 am

Joys-R-Us writes:

The problem with Christianity and many other western religions is that they think there really are some kinds of unchanging, absolute truths within the changing realm. Hinduism understands that this is false, and futile to assert some relative truths about the changing world as absolutes, and others as not.

Which is why modern science developed in Europe, not India.

I think the triumph of Western philosophy came about in its understanding that the Absolute and the Universal could only be manifest and known through the relative and particular.

I think the problem of modernism is its attempts to divorce the two realms (universal/particular or timeless/historical), and one can see how this might incline one in the direction of Indian philosophy.

#11 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On March 4, 2017 @ 9:30 am

@Joys-R-Us, point of order about alternative systems of geometry and mathematics. They share almost all of their axioms except a few postulates.

In geometry it’s how they treat the parallel postulate and theorems derived from it. A point is still a point, a line a path of points, and an angle a pair of intersecting lines. The ancient Greeks were well aware of the shape of the Earth and did some investigation into spherical trigonometry.

In the alternate number systems I am aware of the differences are in the treatment of infinity and zero, but they otherwise share their basic arithmetic rules. So in ordinary real numbers you can’t count to infinity, divide by it, etc. But in the hyperreal numbers you can and get numbers like the infinitesimal which is arbitrarily close to zero. There’s also breaking the rules of infinite sums done by Ramanujan, but again it doesn’t invalid the mathematics it rests upon.

None of these eliminate the axioms for the bulk of mathematics, so there’s no mathematics where adding one to two yields five.

Within regards to an absolute ground of all being beyond all phenomenal experience. I will paraphrase Protagoras.

I know nothing about the absolute due to the brevity of my life and the obscurity of the topic, so I will take a wait and see approach.

#12 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On March 4, 2017 @ 10:15 am

@The Autist Formerly Known, I believe that you believe in Christianity, but you tend to make arguments about the social good of Christianity as a form of apologetics. But I don’t think any human being can will themselves to believe something for that reason alone. With regards to your question. Those terms actually have definitions.

A necessary truth is a proposition that is true in any possible reality. Its negation implies a contradiction in reality itself. For example the existence of positive nothing is incoherent because positive implies a quantity while nothing implies absence of quantity.

A necessary fiction is a social construct that people act as if it is true for the smooth functioning of society. A failure to believe in them results in the Tinkerbell effect and social turmoil. Examples would include fiat currency or intellectual property.

When believers make a necessary fiction argument for their God they significantly devalue the concept which is why I point it out.

#13 Comment By The Autist Formerly Known as “KD” On March 4, 2017 @ 4:17 pm

MH – Secular Misanthropist-

You misunderstand me completely. To the extent that I am an apologist, I am an apologist for Zarathustra. I enjoy smashing idols, especially the idols of “nice people”.

The existence of God is, of course, a necessary truth, as developed in Godel’s ontological argument, as well as a necessary fiction per chance. [You look it up online.] As the uncaused cause, obviously, God can neither be created nor destroyed, so God’s exists in any possible world.

I suspect that you recognize I don’t believe in “proofs”. Logic is just a set of rule-based systems, and a necessary truth in logic is simply a rule in the system. Atheism and theism you can say are just dueling logics, one has a rule (“God is impossible”), the other a rule “God exists necessarily and God is possible”). We simply cast these conceptual nets on the realm of sensibles.

For me, God is like the principle of noncontradiction, which both A and ~A have in common. What do you say to someone who tells you they don’t believe in the principle of noncontradiction? Or that the principle doesn’t make sense logically, because the principle of noncontradiction has no negation?

You can try to show them how the principle works, but what if they still don’t get it? Are you engaging in apologetics?

#14 Comment By Joys-R-Us On March 4, 2017 @ 4:23 pm

Which is why modern science developed in Europe, not India.

I think the triumph of Western philosophy came about in its understanding that the Absolute and the Universal could only be manifest and known through the relative and particular.

I think there’s some truth to this. I tend to look at it more through the influence of monotheism, which promotes the notion that there’s one and only one truth. Science takes that approach, and applies it to the natural world, looking for the one “true” answer to how things work. However, science (and the monastic scholars who helped lay the foundations for it) were smart enough to recognize that relative truths were different from absolute truths, and that by investigating the natural world’s mechanics they were not threatening the absolute truths of their religion. So it became okay to look at the natural world as a relative place, and the findings of science to not be a threat to the absoluteness of God. And even that since the relative world was created by God, that investigating it empirically was a good and even holy thing, since it was not an illusion, but a reflection of its creator. They even felt that by investigating how the natural world worked, they were getting insight into the nature of the creator.

But as science progressed it dropped most of that rationalization. It never found any convincing indication of a creator, or assumed that one was necessary. So it made that division between relative and absolute into a strict rule. No findings of science are considered to be a part of some higher order created by the absolute. And no scientific truths are claimed to be absolute. Even the laws of physics get modified now and then. And it is generally assumed that even our most cherished theories will be supplanted over time by better ones.

That’s had a devastating effect on religion, which continues to claim that its revelations are forever and irrefutable. THe more people appreciate the scientific approach, the more they question these claims by religion. And that is a huge part of why traditional religion is in decline. Not necessarily applicable to those religions which do not claim absolute truth for their temporal revelations.

#15 Comment By Joys-R-Us On March 4, 2017 @ 4:38 pm

MH,

None of these eliminate the axioms for the bulk of mathematics, so there’s no mathematics where adding one to two yields five.

And yet, it’s never been proven otherwise. Bertrand Russell wrote an entire book on mathematics trying to lay the foundations for its truths. He only got as far as proving that 1+1=2. He realized that going further was just so immensely complex it was beyond his abilities. So he never actually proved that 2+2=4. No one else has, either. Very amusing, of course.

And then there’s Godel’s theorem, which is also proven, that shows that there’s always going to be truths in any system that that system itself cannot prove to be true.

As for math, you also have such things as imaginary numbers, which are simply assumed to exist when by all rights they don’t. And there are huge branches of not just math, but engineering and science that find them incredibly useful.

But you are right that most of math only changes a few axioms or postulates. That doesn’t mean they couldn’t change more of them, it only means they haven’t tried all of the different possibilities or seen a utility in it. And yet, a great deal of math does indeed make speculations about numbers that are as “imaginary” as the square root of -1. I don’t think we’ve at all seen the end of that, or where it can go.

THe general point being that any axiom by its very nature cannot be proven to be true. It is assumed, and can indeed be logically changed if one finds that beneficial. This in contrast to the absolute claims of some religion in relation to the created world, that the axioms for earthly existence are given by God and are irrefutable and unchangeable, and not even subject to logical refutation as in mathematics.

In other words, even mathematics does not consider its own logic to be absolute. It’s merely a system within which rules are made based on their practical utility and sense, and those rules can be changed if we like to form alternative systems.

#16 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On March 4, 2017 @ 4:44 pm

The Autist Formerly Known as “KD”, no apologetics, I just like debating random people on the Internet.

#17 Comment By Joys-R-Us On March 4, 2017 @ 5:16 pm

What is God if not good?

The problem comes in equating God’s absolute goodness with what we see as good in the relative world. We expect God to promote the relative good, and become very disappointed and even enraged when we notice that this isn’t the case. Whereas God’s work in the relative world isn’t to make it all “good”, but to get us to turn from it to see the absolute that is inherent and unchangeably so, regardless of what is happening in the relative view of things. And that may even involve “bad” things happening, to shake us from our worldly sleep.

#18 Comment By Winston On March 6, 2017 @ 2:29 am

Rod,
Muslims come in different stripes. The ones who wear head scarfs of the Arabized sort even if not from that region are confused. The Holy Book only says modest dress, which depending on where one is can vary!
It is too bad you cannot read the Commentary on the Quran written by a mathematician and polymath, a friend of Einstein and other scientists of his time.
[3]

He said it had a very progressive message!

And the Madina Charter actually established a pluralistic area and one that appeeers to be like a decentralized city.
[4]

#19 Comment By The Autist Formerly Known as “KD” On March 6, 2017 @ 6:19 am

MH-Secular Misanthropist-

You got me! But I’ll argue with random people anywhere. I’m am just expressing a point-of-view, which is very different from attempting to persuade someone to become a Christian or something.

I think people can be persuaded maybe on something like abortion or gay marriage, on the margins. Or at least they can maybe appreciate a different perspective on these questions.

But with respect to a paradigm change like becoming Christian, this is about conversion, not persuasion. I don’t do conversions.

#20 Comment By FA Miniter On March 8, 2017 @ 5:17 pm

“If Christianity has lost its sense of purpose and meaning among contemporary Americans, this has a lot to do with the loss of a sense of supernatural reality.”

Once a person reaches a point of questioning the existence of unseen things and finding natural causes for events, it is rather difficult to then believe in a supernatural reality. Such a belief has historically been founded on the lack of natural explanations for events.

#21 Comment By r henry On March 8, 2017 @ 5:43 pm

“That’s something I respect about Muslims in general: they take their faith a lot more seriously than we Christians do.”

This segment indicates the entirely anecdotal and subjective nature of this piece….and its utter meaninglessness.