This is a very interesting dichotomy proposed by our friend Professor Dawkins and brings to mind the whole, lesser of two evils argument. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.


This post is from the discussion section of the Richard Dawkins Foundations for Reason and Science's discussion section. The link to the site is here.

Support Christian missions in Africa? No, but . . .

Given that Islam is such an unmitigated evil, and looking at the map supplied by this Christian site, should we be supporting Christian missions in Africa? My answer is still no, but I thought it was worth raising the question. Given that atheism hasn't any chance in Africa for the foreseeable future, could our enemy's enemy be our friend?


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Ok, so I assume that each Sunday you head off to the nearest church, a community you can blend into well, and after the service you mingle with the crowd and talk about how all the anti-gay stuff just seems so wrong, and how people should be voting for their economic interests rather by faith based value sets. You do this every week? Tirelessly? Because this is the sort of thing that you are asking of moderate Muslims, and then calling them cowards for not doing so? Are you a coward too, by that analogy?


Heather, that's a total strawman. Have you read all of my posts here? I don't even understand what you are talking about. You seem to be distorting my position. Here is my point:

Moderate muslims are disturbingly quiet on issues: the killings of u.n workers as a result of koran burning, the Danish cartoons, the gang rape of women, the burka, science education, genital mutilation, death to apostates, gay bigotry and so on. Islam is a hypersensitive baby that needs to grow up and talk with the adults. The moderates are the key to this.


I see moderate muslim intellectuals who are in safe positions of power, those who do not go to church every Sunday, I see them as cowards for not condemning this lunacy. They can help by releasing  simple statements of condemnnation, by making tv appearances, by entering debates and denouncing the fanatics. Where are those muslims of good conscience? They are eerily absent. Now is this really the same as me spouting off in a mosque? I don't think so.



Ok, well my point is that moderate Muslims are moderate Muslims because they are moderate - the same goes for pretty much every group.  When I see Christians in the news it is never because they are voicing their opinion that one should love thine neigbour.


As for the political side, we don't hear a strong voice for moderation for the same reasons we don't here that voice from American politicians.  Political rhetoric is defined by polarizing pleas and words of moderation not only go unheard but they are also punished at poling stations.


You can't base a campaign on, "we shouldn't take religion too seriously," and you can't muster political direction from it either.  This leaves one having to take a hard line of, "violence in the name of Islam cannot be tolerated," and that's not just a bold move, it's political suicide.  Reagan got two terms by pandering to fundamentalists because moderates are more difficult to motivate - because they are moderates.


Social cohesion takes time, and the more force put on a nation the greater it splinters.  I don't know if there is a Middle Eastern country/government that is even a century old.  We could have had over 60 years of democracy in Iran now if Mosaddegh had been supported by the international community rather than sanctioned by embargoes and undermined by a CIA coup.  These countries need some time to develop.  I don't see how cowardice/courage even factors into that - it takes brains and time.


Just a supplementary video - not really necessary to my point:

I beg to differ on the moderate muslim's approach to scientific education - I study Civil Engineering, and there are a disproportionately high amount of muslims in the course (as there is within all engineering/ scientific departments). They have all told me that within their families, communities and so forth there is a very big drive towards appreciation of science. Some of them enroll for religious education(while still in  school) that explicitly involves instruction if scientific disciplines (I wish I could recall the particular name they had for this)
You know, western science actually has roots in religion. It was the belief that nature was ruled by a rational mind that set people down the path to discern that mind by nature. There was an assumption of order to things because people believed in god. Take a look a Pope Sylvester II. Things didn't actually get ugly until the answers started moving past their understanding god and the understanding that 'god' provided them. I would be interested in seeing what results would be obtained by a travelling lab that gave kids hands on experience with some really cool concepts in science.
As far as I can tell, the enemy of my enemy is just as much Islam as it is Christianity. This sounds more like a cultural battle to Mr. Dawkins. He sees the European-minded Christian culture as superior to the entrenched theocratic, anti-modernist Islamic culture. In some ways he's probably right. Christian-dominated America is going to have a secular majority at least decades, if not a century before even semi-secular places like Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, Islam in this area seems more clearly evil, whereas mainstream African Christians can mostly just sit around and ignore science while living relatively normal lives. I wouldn't pick a side, though. Supporting either side will lead to more tension, more persecuted-minority mentality, more excuses for religious wars and genocides. Sure, send in a good charity that just wants to get medical supplies and clean water to children, and if it has to have a church attached to it, so be it, but let's not be partisan in a battle over the lesser of two enormous evils. I'm pretty sure that many parts of the population of Africa would want Dawkins dead (and would have the social backing to do it) for what he's said about their particular cult, and religion in general.

this is a very difficult situation to make a comment on.

on the one side, there is a feeling in general that these two abrahamic cultures/religions should be allowed to destroy each other as they are both fanatical and both feel they are the truth and they are vindicated should they wipe the other out and claim the continent for their brand name faith. both sides see the lose of life as either martyrs whose sacrifice will be rewarded or as infidels who deserve painful deaths for not believing the jacob or esau is the correct path to truth. it really is sad that there is little the world community can do to stop both fanatics, but religion does have that power over people.

on the other side, do we pick one side as atheists and put our support there while holding our noses? I am not sure that will do anything for our cause but make the religious community skeptical of our commitment to our systematic approach to life.

so, do we leave them to destroy each other? do we press the world community, which has a poor record of dealing with fanatical devotion to any cause, to step in as it did in Bosnia but still could not stop the ethnic cleansing that took place and would probably result in the useless deaths of millions on both sides of the battle.

it is very sad that the world in general feels it MUST pick sides!


any more thoughts on this?

Here's another way to look at it, at least partially white European man is responsible for the state of Africa right now. So should "we" not be also interested in the survival of it?


"Africa as a continent has been cut adrift. The great powers have no further use for it. It can be left to rot and crash." - Hitchens

I can assure you, the radical muslim movement has a plan for afica, and for those who would oppose it or not become part of it. the world community is caught in the middle of a religious experiment in africa that is demanding a response.


is europe, which basically raped the continent for hundreds of years and then stepped away, going to accept some responsibility for this mess, or will the world just look to the USA to fix this issue risking even more bloodshed as the muslim disdain for the heathen west gains even more momentum. Either way, this situation has no good outcome for the world at large... the UN MUST grow a pair and deal with this, in my opinion... i am not holding my breath...


@ Robert - I have an unpopular opinion. I feel strongly that the entire world will be a place of misery for everybody in the near future. Naturally, I hope I am wrong, but still, due to my negative attitude, I don't see much point in giving a lot of thought to these complex political matters.   


Of course, I realize if everybody thought like me, the very thing I dread (the world falling completely apart) would most likely come about much faster because people would be somewhat apathetic and not try to wrestle with complexities and come up with solutions or at least the courage to try new ideas.


If we are talking "gut reaction" I say we promote the Christians in Africa. As far as I can decipher, at least Chistians don't promote killing people that do not believe. I know that the average Muslim does not promote this either, but the problem is the Muslim leadership lives in fear for their lives and their families' lives for speaking out against radical Islam. That is a huge sign to me that we need to do all we can to get those idiots out of power (radical Islamists). But... I could be wrong - it's just what floats around in the top of my head when the subject is brought up.


On the other hand, If or when the world goes into a spiral of decline and misery for millions, it might not have a thing to do with religion. It could be just some weird natural mutated deadly virus that formed when for some crazy reason a giraffe mated with an elephant. Who knows. The world is a circus.  


"As far as I can decipher, at least Chistians don't promote killing people that do not believe."


Ever hear of the Army of God?

Doug, yes, but lets say you had a choice between the 1% of radical christians versus the 1% of radical muslims, do you think that the muslim radicals would be more likely to use violence to justify their beliefs and punish your lack thereof?  I mean we don't hear about the Army of God much. We do hear about the Westborough Church but as shitty as those people are, they are nothing more than loud and annoying. We hear about the violence of Islam all time. Was it in Pakistan a  member of Parliament was killed for being a christian? Maybe this is choosing non-violenet madness over madness? I'm not sure.


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