Discuss/Debate: Are Religious Liberals Potential Allies?


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I wish to debate and discuss this point because I believe that its important to discuss.

As we all know, Western Civilization is being threatened, within and without, by religious fundamentalism. Islamic Fascism from without, radically irrational Dionysian Christian Fascism from within. The actual extent of the severity of the threat is somewhat debateable, but it is unquestionably a threat and one that must be fought. At present, the "new atheism" movement (Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, etc.) is proving a force that is expounding enlightenment values and the efficacy of reason. Thus, I think Objectivists should make common cause with them in standing up to Fundamentalism (although yes, we should clarify that we do not always agree with our collaborators on all issues, and we should where possible use uniquely Objectivist arguments so as to demonstrate the contributions Objectivism can make to the anti-Fundamentalist cause).

However, a question I have been pondering for a while is whether or not religious liberals (i.e. liberal Christians and liberal Muslims) can be allies in standing against Fundamentalists. Take two examples: Irshad Manji and Andrew Sullivan. Both are politically atypical within their religion; Manji being (from what I gather) a modern Liberal (i.e. in the "Democrat" sense, although she is Canadian) and Sullivan being a Libertarian-Conservative (he seems to be a Libertarian that justifies his position on Oakeshottian grounds). Both are homosexuals within traditionally homophobic faith groups. Both encourage the pro-reason wing of their faith, and both detest the fundamentalist psychopathy that is eating away at the free world.

Ultimately, these two individuals have made me want to bring a question foward: Can religious liberals like these two join forces with the new secularists, which includes Objectivists, and collaborate against religious fundamentalism?

Whilst I believe sincere arguments exist on both sides, ultimately I think that in the climate of today, religious liberals (i.e. those that have room for reason in their faith, advocate a secular state and (most importantly) openly oppose fundamentalists) are a potentially very strong ally that we cannot afford to avoid enlisting in the fight against fundamentalism.

Any thoughts on this topic?

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I will add more later once I can think more about this, but...

First you have to define liberal. Liberal in the classical sense like the Founding Fathers? or Liberal in the modern sense which is a misnomer. Modern Liberals are mainly global fascist progressive socialist (Wilson->FDR->Kennedy->Obama) i.e. collectivist/statist. Most of them (whether they know it or not) hold pragmatic/existential world views, and worship the state.

Sam Harris quotes which concern me:

"Only openness to evidence and argument will secure a common world for us"

"Examples of well-behaved and comparatively atheistic societies like Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Denmark--which surpass us in terrestrial virtues like education, health, public generosity, per capita aid to the developing world, and low rates of violent crime and infant mortality--are of no interest to our electorate whatsoever"

"Despite all that he does not and cannot say, Obama's candidacy is genuinely thrilling: his heart is clearly in the right place

"I am one of the few people I know of who has argued in print that torture may be an ethical necessity in our war on terror"

"While we hold the moral high ground in our war on terror"

On Christopher Hitchens:

"He does not object to being called a "former" Trotskyist, his affection for Trotsky remains strong, and he says that his political and historical view of the world is still shaped by Marxist categories"

"Hitchens is seen as part of the "pro-liberation left" or "liberal hawks" comprising left-leaning commentators who supported the 2003 Invasion of Iraq."

"This Enlightenment will not need to depend, like its predecessors, on the heroic breakthroughs of a few gifted and exceptionally courageous people. It is within the compass of the average person"

Don't be fooled by most of these Atheist. While they give great arguments against God, they are still religious none-the-less, they have just replaced God with the State. They are clearly in the Neitzsche and Marxist mold. There is no difference between a conservative Christian using the state to beat the bible on your head, and a socialist Atheist using the state to beat wellbeing onto you.

Now on the other hand Ali is not a socialist (any longer) and neither is Dennett or Sullivan. They are probably better allies. Also the largest pool to pull allies from is from liberty-minded Christians/Jews/Muslims/(which ever faith). These people while holding on to their faiths do not seek to impose it upon others, but to merely leave each other alone, this is good enough for me.

Edit: Btw: Considering the modern movement of the Progressive Atheist, I have quite using that term ( I dislike terms anyways), now if people ask what church I go to, instead of saying I am atheist, I tell them I have no belief in a god, which is closer to the truth anyway.

Edited by Aggrad02
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First you have to define liberal. Liberal in the classical sense like the Founding Fathers? or Liberal in the modern sense which is a misnomer. Modern Liberals are mainly global fascist progressive socialist (Wilson->FDR->Kennedy->Obama) i.e. collectivist/statist. Most of them (whether they know it or not) hold pragmatic/existential world views, and worship the state.

I think you are partly misreading the topic. I am talking not about political programmes per se but about anti-fundamentalism. By "Religious Liberals" I mean THEOLOGICALLY liberal, which I defined in my earlier post.

On Christopher Hitchens:

"He does not object to being called a "former" Trotskyist, his affection for Trotsky remains strong, and he says that his political and historical view of the world is still shaped by Marxist categories"

He also did an interview with Reason magazine within which he explains he has much respect for the libertarian critique of state power, and he explains how he deeply abhors dictatorships precisely because they act on the premise that individuals belong to the state. And in Trotsky's defense, he was the first Soviet higher-up to admit that Mises was right re. economic calculation.

"This Enlightenment will not need to depend, like its predecessors, on the heroic breakthroughs of a few gifted and exceptionally courageous people. It is within the compass of the average person"

You are misreading Hitchens. He is not damning the great and praising the average. He is saying that all individuals possess the rational faculty that would allow them to open their minds to higher intellectual issues. During the European enlightenment, normal people were too busy starving to death to philosophize, now thanks to Capitalism they too can take some time and devote it to intellectual self-development.

Don't be fooled by most of these Atheist. While they give great arguments against God, they are still religious none-the-less, they have just replaced God with the State. They are clearly in the Neitzsche and Marxist mold.

Some are, but not all of them. Hitchens for one you are misreading, he is much closer to classical liberal than you may think. Even so, lets please remember that I am not talking about politics per se, I am talking about theology and epistemology.

Do you think that theological liberals (as I explained above) are potential allies with atheists and Objectivists with regards to standing up to fundamentalists? If so, what kinds of actions against fundamentalism would you like to see?

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Christopher Hitchens has been one of the most rational voices on the nature of fundamentalist Islam. He has been pointing out that this strain of Islam is grossly irrational.

I am delighted and honored to stand with him even if he likes Trosky.

Edited by Chris Grieb
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studiodekadent,

I think you are partly misreading the topic. I am talking not about political programmes per se but about anti-fundamentalism. By "Religious Liberals" I mean THEOLOGICALLY liberal, which I defined in my earlier post.

The problem is that the question must be framed within politics. The main reason that Fundamentalist are a threat to our civilization is because they seek to use force, either directly (Muslim Terrorist) or through the state (Fundamentalist Christian Conservatives), to impose their belief systems on others. Fundamentalist that do not seek to use force on others are not a physical danger (from direct force or the state).

This goes back to your original question: Should we form alliances with theologically liberal Christians? The question to your question is WHY?

The only answer to WHY we (objectivist) would form alliances with theologically liberal Christians, lies in whether they believe force should be used (direct or state) to impose ones values on others. In your example, Andrew Sullivan is a Christian, I do not know to what degree he practices his Christianity, but just because he is a homosexual does not mean that he is a liberal Christian. To be a homosexual and still cling to Christianity in the face of so much persecution from that community shows a great amount of faith, I would bet that Sullivan is a closer Christian in the image of Christ than most Fundamentalist. But on the other hand Sullivan is a classical liberal (conservative libertarian) politically. He does not think that one should force ones values via force or the state onto others. He is clearly an ally against Fundamentalist who seek to use force, or anyone else for that matter who seeks to use force.

On the other hand Sam Harris is a fasci-socialist, while atheist, he believes that the state (force) should be used to form society to the good of the group(collectivism). While he is also anti-Fundamentalist, I would say he is not an ally because the socialist atheist and the fundamentalist are fighting over the same cookie, state power. Also while Hitchens (and many other socialist) may not believe in dictatorial power, they do subscribe to the idea that democratic socialism (socialism of the majority) is ethical (which it is not). There is no difference in the fasci-socialism of a dictator and a majority.

Remember that Ayn Rand fled the atheist Soviet Union for the secular but majority-christian United States because of liberty. Do not let your hate for the Witch Doctors persuade you into forming alliances with the Attila's. Be concerned about those who wish to impose upon you and find those that have a moral view of the purpose of government. Philosophically (outside of politics) the Chrisitans are not allies because they believe in Mysticism, but be careful which atheist you align yourself with because not all base their metaphysical beliefs and arguments in firm foundations of reason.

--Dustan

Edited by Aggrad02
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> Are Religious Liberals Potential Allies?

There is a mistake in the question, in even asking (or seriously considering) the question on this categorical a level. You can't answer this in a yes - no form which applies to the entire category.

The productive question is "Is this individual a potential ally?"

Let me illustrate this by changing the question: "Are other Objectivists Potential Allies?" It's not just an issue of the ideology they claim to hold. It depends on a whole host of things. Does he understand the philosophy? Can he apply it? Does he have any people and explanatory skills or does he just turn people off or baffle them? Is this individual really an advocate of Objectivism in any meaningful way other than lip service? Is he a bad or good exemplar?

You can ask and answer many questions regarding a whole category: "Do rocks, unsupported, fall to the earth?" because there are laws which apply to all rocks - gravity in this case. You CANNOT properly ask the above categorical question about a vague, highly differentiated, and very diverse category such as "religious liberals".

It's a form of Platonism or rationalism even to waste your time trying.

And it will get you nowhere...you won't get any productive or valid general answer.

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