Heresy Justified?

It is nice to see science lending some justification to heresy, especially that variety of it that claims to be more objective and rational. I have always observed in the process of my occasional debates with Muslim believers that the Golden Age of Islam in the Middle East coincided by most accounts with the First Abbasid period – a time that witnessed the flourishing of both heresy and traditional faith.

Pity that the tolerance of that period was an inadvertent product of the times, and was never codified, and never became a real article of faith, neither in the traditional faith systems, nor in the heretical ones. Hell, even the more rational Mu’tazilite elements attempted to use the power of the state to impose their views, only to fail and have the tables turn against them. This might prove that heretics are not necessarily just or democrats. Indeed, most secular forces in our region today are not in favor of democracy for fear of the masses and their ignorance.

But then, once you support an authoritarian state, chances are the masses will become even more ignorant and insusceptible to heretical thinking, without which the status quo of intellectual and cultural stagnation and morasse can never be challenged. Just despots, if such types have ever really existed, are not produced in a vacuum, and are often the products of relatively “enlightened” pressures from a variety of sources “below.”

You cannot wait or hope for just despots to appear, this is not how societies are modernized and freedom safeguarded. You want freedom, you want justice, you fight for them, you stand by the people who need them, you gamble on their ability to see the wisdom of tolerance again, the “truth” that states are based on justice and the rule of law, not faith, and you gamble on on your ability to make them see that wisdom and that truth, eventually. Otherwise all is lost, and your alleged yearning for freedom is nothing more than a yearning to trade places with the current tyrant(s).

12 thoughts on “Heresy Justified?

  1. Despite the impressive title
    “Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies: A First Look,”
    These are correlations … not good enought for proving causality. For example owning guns in Texas is a texas thing, religious parts of Greece do not have the same problem. Teen pregnancy in religious Saudi Arabia is also not hte same as in religious Texas.
    There are many other factors that cause these things.
    I think being secular or being religious does not make a difference … it is how extreme you are, and how much you lack maturity that lead to Negative Societal Health… I mean “Quantifiable” Negative Societal Health.
    But in the mean time .. here are some healthy products of “religion”:
    http://www.alarabiya.net/Articles/2007/03/22/32797.htm
    Ammar .. how can we format out comments here? .. to add links, make things bold ..etc.

  2. I wholly agree, Alex, that’s why I said “some” justification, because, indeed, in the final analysis it is really up to how people actually behave.
    As for formatting, I just turned on HTML formatting, so you can do it just as in Blogger. Downside to this, links are not autolinked, and have to be done manually.

  3. Alex,
    welcome man, as for what you liked to as healthy product of “religion,” I sure hope you don’t believe alarabiya! I noticed they use this methode of “interesting” hot news to increase the number of their readers.

  4. Thanks Hammam, Excellent logos! … especially Naseejuna, Cardio medical, and Emirates Engineer.
    And don’t worry about believing those stupid stories that make alarabiya’s site popular… I prefer Elaph’s approach to driving traffic (its left column) instead.
    Thanks Ammar for the html option. I like the wider layout of the blog here.

  5. Ahleen Alex,
    Thanks for your visit, there are many to come, but I don’t have enugh time for all what I am envolved with these days 😉
    the word in my first comment was “linked” not “liked” but I guess you got it anyway.
    Will check out Elaph for sure, and Oh, Great Site you have your self I mean Creative Syria of course, I wanted to tell you that long time ago, great work.
    later…

  6. Not only are the people in the region resistant to democracy out of fear of the peoples ignorance but so is the Western world. They fear self appointed democracies in countries of regional signifficance.

  7. Indeed, Shobrawi, you are right. In our efforts to promote democracy in our part of the world we have to factor into our calculations the fact that western democracies may not necessarily be always supportive of our efforts.

  8. Ammar are you aware of the Sophists in ancient greece? Their leader was Socrates, he was eventually condemned to death for subversion of the state religion and corruption of the youth, his crime was he challenged the masses who followed the demagogues who brought the ancient city state of Athens to ruin in the Pelopenesian War.
    given the opportunity to recant he chose Hemlock over life! The reason I point this out to you is the Label you apply to yourself as a heretic; it is too strong a label you apply. Logic and reason to challenge dogma is not heresy.

  9. The weapons (logic and reason) in themselves do not constitute heresy, but the conclusions we will eventually reach probably will.

  10. Ammar-
    I consider myself a fairly religious person. However, I have not been terribly impressed by any clear difference between the behavior of religious and non-religious people which, to me, is counter-intuitive and depresses me.
    I have met wonderful atheists or agnostics and rotten believers and vis versa.
    You see, underneath it…I believe everybody is religious…some people believe deeply in God, others in say, Libertarianism and I have literally seen shrines built to the LA Lakers and fans willing to physically go to war against those who would insult Kobi Bryant et al.
    Religion POTENTIALLY would take us down a path on non-relativism (if indeed there is Truth). Without it…we are fooling ourselves into thinking like has some kind of meaning.

  11. The heart of democracy is tolerance of others, and of their beliefs. Thisis the spirit of how people feel about other Americans, and how our institutions/government protects many divergent and different views/speech/publishing etc.
    It is not “In God We Trust”, but “E Pluribus Unum”, out of many (we are) one, that American has to offer the Middle East, contrary to what President Bush touts, and countrary to what fundmentalist religious people believe and push for.
    There are very few religions that tolerate differences of opinion, but many governments that do.
    Fundmentalist Christians are intolerant, fundamentalist Jews and fundamentalist Muslems all share the intolerance for other points of view. In countries with close ties between religion and government little democracy can flourish. The American religious right and the wave of Middle Eatern Islamists trying to control their countries, pose the same danger to democracy. Ultra orthodox Jews in America and Israel pose the same antidemocratic dangers.
    But what of the rest of us? How tolerant are we of other points of view? How actively do we push for mutual respect for others’ right of expression even when we disagree with each others’ opinions? An Israeli’s tolerance of another point of view about autonomy for the west bank? An Arab’s tolerance of a Jew’s passion for a safe place for his relatives?
    And that’s where American and European experience with two centuries of democracy can help. there is a place for passionate defense of freedom of speech, but there must be limits on violence. Whether that is by tradition or by governmental structure, people can only speak up and disagree when it is a virture to tolerate differences of opinion, even between Israelis and Palestinians, between Sunnis and Sheites.
    That is the only level at which the autocrats have a value for democracy. In finding some middle ground of safe structure for expressions of democracy.
    this is why Arabs and Muslims in Europe are having so much trouble. They are so used to total authoritarian control of expression of ideas that Western Democracys’ freedom of expression is used but not respected. That is why there is such a back lash. The responsibility that goes with independence is yet to be seen. It certainly won’t come from the religious right or fundamentalist Muslims, who value intolerance, not mutual respect.

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