Quotulatiousness

December 14, 2017

QotD: Terrorism and mental illness

Filed under: Quotations, Religion — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

In the West, the conviction that you must kill people in order to receive 72 virgins in paradise would be considered a mental illness. In Islam, it’s a mainstream belief. 89% of Pakistanis believe in genies. But then again genies are present in Islamic scripture. 89% of Tunisians believe in witchcraft. 72% of Iraqis believe in the “evil eye”. 1 in 5 Afghanis have witnessed an exorcism. Half of Pakistanis believe in fairies.

Saudi religious police have a special Anti-Witchcraft Unit and there are actual witch trials. Majorities of Muslims don’t believe that Muslims carried out the 9/11 attacks. 40% of Pakistanis believe that fathers have a right to kill their daughters if they engage in premarital sex. Half of British Muslims think that the Jews are in league with the Freemasons. A third believes that Princess Diana was murdered to stop her from marrying a Muslim.

Ideas and behaviors associated with mental illness in the West are mainstream in parts of the Muslim world which exist in a pre-rational medieval universe brimming with conspiracy theories, paranoid delusions, lack of personal responsibility, erratic emotions and an inability to apply reason to reality.

Western psychiatric benchmarks don’t mean much in the Muslim world where witchcraft is a major problem, Jewish conspiracy theories abound and genies are responsible for psychiatric problems. Killing your daughter or just non-Muslims in general is socially approved behavior. The Muslim world has fundamentally different social norms than we do. And that means very different concepts of sanity.

Misattributing Muslim terrorism to madness is convenient, but meaningless. It’s a way for us to avoid dealing with the difficult questions posed by Islam. And that avoidance is also a form of insanity.

Daniel Greenfield, “Insane Muslim Terrorists”, Sultan Knish, 2016-05-13.

December 11, 2017

Khosrau Anushirawan: Like Father, Like Son – Extra History – #1

Filed under: History, Middle East, Religion — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Extra Credits
Published on 9 Dec 2017

Khosrau Anushirawan ushered in a golden age of Iran, but only after his father Kavadh suffered through the near collapse of the empire. Once he broke free from a controlling minister and radical religious reformer, Kavadh realized that the empire needed to change.

November 26, 2017

Rowan Atkinson in ‘We are most amused’

Filed under: Britain, Humour, Religion — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Kevin
Published on 3 Dec 2008

Rowan Atkinson tells the Gospel of John in ‘We are most amused’, broadcast on ITV on November 15th marking Prince Charles’s 60th birthday.

November 24, 2017

QotD: Religion in the Classical world

Filed under: History, Quotations, Religion — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The Jewish law perfectly preserves what any right-thinking Israelite in 1000 BC would have considered obvious, natural, and not-even-needing-justification (much as any right-thinking American today considers not eating insects obvious). By the time the Bible was being written this was no longer true – foreign customs and inevitable social change were making the old law seem less and less relevant, and I think modern scholarship thinks the Bible was written by a conservative faction of priests making their case for adherence to the old ways. The act of writing it down in a book, declaring this book the sort of thing that people might doubt but shouldn’t, and then passing that book to their children – that made it a modern religion, in the sense of something potentially separable from culture that required justification. I think that emphasizing the role of God and the gods provided that justification.

The Hebrew Bible never says other gods don’t exist; indeed, it often says the opposite. It constantly praises God as stronger and better than other gods. God proves his superiority over the gods of the Egyptians when the serpent he sends Moses eats the serpents the Egyptian gods send Pharaoh’s sorcerers. The Israelites are constantly warned against worshipping other gods, not because those gods don’t exist but because God is better and also jealous. This is not the worldview of somebody who has very strong ideas about the nature of reality and how supernatural beings fit into that nature. It’s the worldview of people who want to say “Our culture is better than your culture”. The Bible uses “worshipping foreign gods” as synonymous with “turning to foreign ways”. But God has a covenant with Israel, therefore both are forbidden.

This seems to match religion in the classical world – I’m especially thinking of Augustus’ conception here, but he wasn’t drawing it out of a vacuum. Performing the proper rites to the Roman gods was how you showed you were on board with Roman culture was how you showed you were loyal to Rome. The Roman view of religion seems pretty ridiculous to us – constant influx of new gods and mystery cults that were believed kind of indiscriminately, plus occasional deification of leading political figures followed by their undeification once they fell from power. But throughout it all, this idea that following the rites as Romulus prescribed them showed loyalty, but doing otherwise would result in decadence and defeat, stuck around.

Scott Alexander, “A Theory About Religion”, Slate Star Codex, 2016-04-07.

November 14, 2017

Paradise, the Fall, and the Second Coming … Marxist style

Filed under: Politics, Religion, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

In the latest Libertarian Enterprise, Sarah Hoyt draws a few parallels between traditional Christian beliefs and modern-day progressive ones:

First, I’m going to say that this is to an extent the result of self-selection that has nothing to do with politics.

The left has a narrative that is a just so story. It is, as was pointed out here, in the comments, a Christian heresy, but one that caters to fake “rationalism.” What I mean is that the narrative of the leftist/communist/socialist story includes all the comforting high points of Christianity but avoids the opprobrium of “superstition” cast by enlightenment onto traditional Christianity.

Leftism, whatever they call it, has its roots in Marxism, and Marxism offers a comforting view of paradise (primitive times, when property was communal and blah blah blah. If the flavor is feminist, it was communal property and ruling matriarchs) fall (we discovered something that changed us. These days it’s fashionable in academic circles to blame agriculture, which apparently was no good, very bad, terrible for us, even though, you know, it allowed us to colonize the Earth and have a vast and varied population. In the seventies it was war. There are as many candidates for the liberal sin that caused human fall, as there is for the Christian sin, and honestly, none of them make a heck of a lot of sense) and redemption (here it’s different from Christian redemption, where each individual redeems himself, but the species can’t be redeemed till the second coming. Um… scratch that. Perhaps not that different. It is assumed that the evils of the human species are because we are not designed to live in “capitalism” which these dodos seem to think is any kind of trade or hierarchy. They actually do call monarchies “capitalist” even absolute monarchies. And because we are distorted and made “evil” by this structure, when the communist state withers away into a perfect classless, communal society, we’ll be redeemed, as surely as by the second coming. Frankly, at least the second coming is more plausible from a scientific point of view. At least it doesn’t require a bloated, totalitarian state to behave in ways that no totalitarian, bloated state ever behaved. And while our species might have no experience of the Son of the Creator returning again in full glory this time to rule over us, we do have endless experience of totalitarian states.)

However, all of this mystical belief is dressed up in “science.” History is taught with the idea that it has an arrow and the arrow leads inevitably to collectivism, and because they only teach select portions of history, the poor kids are convinced of it.

This is partly what I meant by self-selected. The people who tend to gravitate left, PARTICULARLY those older than say 25, are the GOOD kids. This is something that is rarely appreciated, and poor things, they view themselves as daring rebels. It’s sort of pathetic, actually. (Having grown up in a village, I’ve had a great chance to observe human nature, and one of the inevitable funny twists of the human mind is that the most flexible of humans like to think themselves steadfast and inflexible. The kindest flatter themselves they’re cruel. Meek women think they’re termagants. I’m not sure why, really. It just seems to be an invariable part of the human “package.”)

They’re the people who went to school and listened really well, and answered what the teachers wanted to hear. They’re the ones who internalized lessons, and explanations, and the ones who want to have a system in which to integrate everything they learn. Everything has to “fit” in their world view.

I kind of understand that because I too like “grand unified theories.” It’s just that after the age of fourteen, I started discovery too many things that didn’t fit anything they’d taught me.

Why the Vikings Disappeared

Filed under: Europe, History, Religion — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

KnowledgeHub
Published on 17 Feb 2017

The Vikings were infamous in the Middle Ages for their raids against the coasts of Northern Europe. Their age however was quite brief in the span of time, only 300 years. What caused the end of the Vikings?

November 3, 2017

Egyptian lawyer discovers a “duty to rape” women who wear revealing clothes

Filed under: Law, Middle East, Religion — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

It may be just a vivid fantasy on western university campuses, but rape culture is real … in Egypt:

An Egyptian lawyer has sparked a controversy by saying that it is a “national duty” to rape women who wear revealing clothes. During a heated television debate on prostitution aired on a local television channel, the lawyer said it would be a “patriotic duty” of citizens to sexually harass such women.

Nabih al-Wahsh, a locally popular lawyer with strong conservative views, was among several guests who were debating a new draft law on prostitution broadcast on the Egyptian television channel, al-Assema. When the panel’s debates became more heated, Wahsh, at one point insisted that females wearing revealing clothes deserve to be punished.

“Would you accept a girl walking around with half of her thigh showing?” he shouted at a fellow panellist before quickly adding: “I say when a girl is walking around like that, harassing her is a patriotic duty, and raping her is a national duty.”

October 28, 2017

Loved by outsiders, hated by insiders … differing views of the Pope

Filed under: Religion — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

In the Guardian, Andrew Brown reports on just how some insiders are eager for the Pope to be promoted out of office:

Pope Francis is one of the most hated men in the world today. Those who hate him most are not atheists, or protestants, or Muslims, but some of his own followers. Outside the church he is hugely popular as a figure of almost ostentatious modesty and humility. From the moment that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio became pope in 2013, his gestures caught the world’s imagination: the new pope drove a Fiat, carried his own bags and settled his own bills in hotels; he asked, of gay people, “Who am I to judge?” and washed the feet of Muslim women refugees.

But within the church, Francis has provoked a ferocious backlash from conservatives who fear that this spirit will divide the church, and could even shatter it. This summer, one prominent English priest said to me: “We can’t wait for him to die. It’s unprintable what we say in private. Whenever two priests meet, they talk about how awful Bergoglio is … he’s like Caligula: if he had a horse, he’d make him cardinal.” Of course, after 10 minutes of fluent complaint, he added: “You mustn’t print any of this, or I’ll be sacked.”

This mixture of hatred and fear is common among the pope’s adversaries. Francis, the first non-European pope in modern times, and the first ever Jesuit pope, was elected as an outsider to the Vatican establishment, and expected to make enemies. But no one foresaw just how many he would make. From his swift renunciation of the pomp of the Vatican, which served notice to the church’s 3,000-strong civil service that he meant to be its master, to his support for migrants, his attacks on global capitalism and, most of all, his moves to re-examine the church’s teachings about sex, he has scandalised reactionaries and conservatives. To judge by the voting figures at the last worldwide meeting of bishops, almost a quarter of the college of Cardinals – the most senior clergy in the church – believe that the pope is flirting with heresy.

The crunch point has come in a fight over his views on divorce. Breaking with centuries, if not millennia, of Catholic theory, Pope Francis has tried to encourage Catholic priests to give communion to some divorced and remarried couples, or to families where unmarried parents are cohabiting. His enemies are trying to force him to abandon and renounce this effort.

Since he won’t, and has quietly persevered in the face of mounting discontent, they are now preparing for battle. Last year, one cardinal, backed by a few retired colleagues, raised the possibility of a formal declaration of heresy – the wilful rejection of an established doctrine of the church, a sin punishable by excommunication. Last month, 62 disaffected Catholics, including one retired bishop and a former head of the Vatican bank, published an open letter that accused Francis of seven specific counts of heretical teaching.

To accuse a sitting pope of heresy is the nuclear option in Catholic arguments. Doctrine holds that the pope cannot be wrong when he speaks on the central questions of the faith; so if he is wrong, he can’t be pope. On the other hand, if this pope is right, all his predecessors must have been wrong.

It might be worth noting that the doctrine of Papal Infallibility was only formally accepted in the late 19th century … long after the Pope was able to exercise secular power of any note.

H/T to Colby Cosh for the link.

October 9, 2017

What does “predictive processing” have to do with religious experiences?

Filed under: Religion, Science — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

ESR linked to this article by Connor Wood, saying “This is the best job of synthesis/summary I’ve ever seen on the topic”:

The theory of predictive processing posits that much of the brain’s activity is geared toward building and correcting internal models using feedback from both the body and the environment. This goes for everything from basic motor acts, like reaching for a cup, to more complicated, higher-level experiences like taking part in a religious service.

For example, if you reach for a cup and saucer, your brain uses feed-forward models to generate internal simulations of the consequences of that motor action, and it uses feedback to correct those simulations if those predicted consequences don’t actually match what happens.

Say you’re on a cruise ship. The seas are rough and the ship is heaving to and fro, so your cup slides a few inches away on the table as you reach for it. The simulated prediction your brain had generated falls flat. Fortunately, you’re probably able to grasp the cup in its new position, because your brain uses that sensory feedback to hastily update its model of your body’s relationship to the room, including your table, cup, and saucer. It even incorporates the rhythmic seesawing of the ship into its models.

(Incidentally, this is part of why you get “sea legs” after you’ve been onboard a boat or ship for a few hours – your brain has learned to dynamically compensate for the constant, rhythmic rocking of the boat. Then, when you set foot back on dry land, your motor repertoire is still trying to match the rhythm of the waves, but there are no waves to match. So you feel wobbly, as the electro-chemical memory of the ocean sloshes around inside your nervous system, telling your brain to expect and compensate for a rhythmic rocking that isn’t there anymore.)

According to van Elk and Aleman, this cognitive process of constantly building and correcting models – or selectively failing to correct them – may explain a lot of what we call religious phenomena. How? A core feature of their model is that religious experiences emerge from changes in how the brain processes the external (or exteroceptive) versus the internal (or interoceptive) data that it receives.

For example, they describe intense experiences of personal prayer as resulting from more intense focus on interoceptive signals. Inward focus enables us to simulate the internal mental processes of other people, creating predictive models of what we would likely be feeling, or what plans we’d probably be hatching, if we were in their circumstances. So, when we’re highly focused on our own interoceptive signals, we may be more primed to attribute mental and emotional states to others – even imaginary or invisible others. In the prediction processing model, then, personal prayer – talking to God or gods – involves focusing so intently on our own internal experiences that we become easily able to attribute mental states, emotions, and desires to whatever divine being we (believe we) are engaging with.

Mystical experiences are another type of religious phenomenon, one that’s often characterized by feelings of expansiveness or loss of identification with one’s own ego or consciousness. In the predictive processing model, mystical experience – unlike personal prayer – is most likely to result from an increased attention to exteroceptive data. That is, the brain becomes focused on external sense data to the exclusion of internal information, and this absorption in external input actually decouples the brain’s self-understanding from its own bodily signals. As a result, one suddenly seems to exist outside of, or to transcend, the body.

Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/scienceonreligion/2017/09/predictive-processing-religion/#sxXKrZ2pPzXWMCUw.99

October 6, 2017

QotD: The likely transnational progressive endgame

Filed under: Politics, Quotations, Religion, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

… if transnational progressivism actually succeeds in smothering liberal individualism, its reward will be to be put to the sword by some flavor of jihadi. Whether the eventual winners are Muslims or Mormons, the future is not going to look like the fuzzy multicultural ecotopia of modern left fantasy. The death of that dream is being written in European banlieus by angry Muslim youths under the light of burning cars.

In the banlieus and elsewhere, Islamist pressure makes it certain that sooner or later the West is going to vomit Stalin’s memes out of its body politic. The worst way would be through a reflex development of Western absolutism — Christian chauvinism, nativism and militarism melding into something like Francoite fascism. The self-panicking leftists who think they see that in today’s Republicans are comically wrong (as witnessed by the fact that they aren’t being systematically jailed and executed), but it is quite a plausible future for the demographically-collapsing nations of Europe.

The U.S., fortunately, is still on a demographic expansion wave and will be till at least 2050. But if the Islamists achieve their dream of nuking “crusader” cities, they’ll make crusaders out of the U.S., too. And this time, a West with a chauvinized America at its head would smite the Saracen with weapons that would destroy entire populations and fuse Mecca into glass. The horror of our victory would echo for a thousand years.

I remain more optimistic than this. I think there is still an excellent chance that the West can recover from suicidalism without going through a fevered fascist episode and waging a genocidal war. But to do so, we have to do more than recognize Stalin’s memes; we have to reject them. We have to eject postmodern leftism from our universities, transnational progressivism from our politics, and volk-Marxism from our media.

The process won’t be pretty. But I fear that if the rest of us don’t hound the po-mo Left and its useful idiots out of public life with attack and ridicule and shunning, the hard Right will sooner or later get the power to do it by means that include a lot of killing. I don’t want to live in that future, and I don’t think any of my readers do, either. If we want to save a liberal, tolerant civilization for our children, we’d better get to work.

Eric S. Raymond, “Gramscian damage”, Armed and Dangerous, 2006-02-11.

October 2, 2017

John Cleese: Political Correctness and Islam

Democracy In Name Only
Published on 11 Jan 2017

John Cleese speaks frankly about political correctness, the right to offend and Islam.

September 25, 2017

The Truth About Stonehenge – Anglophenia Ep 6

Filed under: Britain, History, Religion — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 26 Jun 2014

Siobhan Thompson follows up ‘One Woman, 17 British Accents’ with a video dispelling a commonly believed myth about Stonehenge.

And by the way, Stonehenge isn’t the only stone structure worth visiting in Britain: http://www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2014/06/impressive-british-stone-structures-arent-stonehenge/

Photos via AP Images.

September 23, 2017

Roger Scruton – On ‘Harry Potter’

Filed under: Books, Britain, Media, Politics, Religion — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Conservatism Archive
Published on Sep 4, 2017

September 14, 2017

What Is The Funniest Language? – Stephen Fry’s Planet Word – BBC

Filed under: History, Humour, Religion — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 24 May 2015

Stephen Fry looks at what he thinks is the funniest language along with comedians Stewie Stone and Ari Teman. Taken from Fry’s Planet Word.

September 13, 2017

The Thirty Years War

Filed under: Europe, France, Germany, History, Religion — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 10 Nov 2014

http://www.tomrichey.net

The Thirty Years’ War was fought from 1618-1648 (Thirty Years!) in the Holy Roman Empire. It began as a conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Bohemia, but grew to involve Denmark, Sweden, and France. After the French began helping Gustavus Adolphus, the Protestant king of Sweden, the lines became blurry and the war became more about the balance of power in Europe than about religion. The Peace of Westphalia paved the way for France to become the dominant power in Western Europe and for the permanent decline of the Holy Roman Empire as a political institution.

If you like this lecture, check out my other lectures for AP European History and Western Civilization!

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