[Vision2020] Are you enabling extremism?

keely emerinemix kjajmix1 at msn.com
Sun Sep 30 21:05:01 PDT 2007

Paul, I find your question intriguing, even as I find myself answering "no" almost instinctively.  In fact, it's because I automatically thought "no way" to the premise of religious people enabling extremism, just by being religious people, I'd like to take some time before I answer.  I've learned that writing from gut reaction at 9 p.m. isn't the best thing for me.

I would really be interested in what others have to say -- I'm sure you'll find a lot of people who'd answer "yes" to your question and I'm looking forward to the discussion that follows.


> Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2007 19:49:38 -0700
> From: godshatter at yahoo.com
> To: vision2020 at moscow.com
> Subject: [Vision2020] Are you enabling extremism?
> I was listening to NPR a little while ago, and they had Richard Dawkins 
> on the program.  He is the author of "The God Delusion", and is one of 
> the best-known athiests out there.  Part of his notoriety comes from his 
> clear, direct, and usually taboo questioning of religion.
> For example, in this broadcast, he expressed the argument that the idea 
> of "faith" (meaning unquestioning faith) is dangerous for a number of 
> reasons.  For example, it is dangerous because it teaches you to accept 
> explanations without questioning them, which is anti-science.  He also 
> described the argument that I'm sure you've all heard, that faith 
> encourages certain individuals to commit very anti-social acts such as 
> shooting abortion doctors or flying planes into the sides of buildings.  
> In answer to this, the question that was put to him by the interviewer 
> was: "don't you have to make a distinction between the extremist and 
> everyone else"?  I found his answer intriguing.  He said that of course 
> the average person of faith was a well-mannered individual that would 
> never execute an act of extremism.  However, what they are doing is 
> enabling extremism by putting a moderate face on it.  Not his exact 
> words, but the general gist of it, anyway.  For example, a well-mannered 
> person of faith might raise a child into that faith that becomes an 
> extremist.  The danger as he sees it is that faith allows any act to be 
> justified, no matter how cruel or how evil an act it is.  If you think 
> God is telling you to do it, then, by God, you'd better do it.  This, of 
> course, is not helped by the fact that the holy books of the most common 
> Western religions contain passages that can be rationalized as a reason 
> for murder, among other crimes.  For example, my favorite, "you must not 
> suffer a witch to live".
> So by treating faith as if it was a good ideal, it enables extremists to 
> use it for almost any purpose they care to name.  So, are you enabling 
> extremism?
> I should point out that I don't happen to be an athiest, I'm an agnostic 
> on the idea of a Creator god.  I do have a problem with "blind faith", 
> so I can sympathize with him here.  I also think that this question has 
> a lot of relevance in this particular community.
> Paul
> P.S.  There's nothing like blowing whatever good will you might have 
> garnered in the community with one simple post...
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