The intensity of the debate will not be defused. Its an old argument. Revelation versus reason. Certainly, Darwin played an accelerating role, but the old scuffle could go back all the way to Moses and the Pharaohs of Egypt invoking the validity of tradition, revelation and miracles against logic, reason and empirical truth, the deification of science and technology and the backbone of modern day liberalism or perhaps more appropriately named self preservation against the nominal tag of conservatism.
Many of us still miss Christopher Hitchens, not because of agreement always, but rather how his own famous statements of conflict being “the narcissism of small differences” and what appears as enormous confrontations such as in the Middle East as “trivial” can be equally used against Hitchens, Harris etc. as the posited differences in their views versus the traditionalists is closer than it appears; like the small print in the rear view mirror. Hitchens style rants seem to use religion as a pretext for settling scores with Western liberalism, which at its extreme is as Hitchens implies, basically a fifth column and against the institution of religion, often like liberalism, also concerned with self preservation; many strong points, but not always placed in the right contexts, but comprehensive when so-called spiritual values are lobbed, shelled out and dropped behind enemy lines as part of an ideological war….
Hitchens: ( see link at end) :The first is novelist Martin Amis, ridiculed by Steyn for worrying about environmental apocalypse when the threat to civilization is obviously Islamism; the second is Jack Straw, formerly Tony Blair’s foreign secretary, mocked for the soft and conciliatory line he took over the affair of the Danish cartoons. The dazzling fiction writer and the pedestrian social-democratic politician are for Steyn dual exemplars of his book’s main concern: the general apathy and surrender of the West in the face of a determined assault from a religious ideology, or an ideological religion, afflicted by no sickly doubt about what it wants or by any scruples about how to get it….
I might quibble about Steyn’s assessment—Amis has written brilliantly about Mohammed Atta’s death cult, for example, while Jack Straw made one of the best presentations to the UN of the case for liberating Iraq. But it’s more useful to point out two things that have happened between the writing of this admirably tough-minded book and its publication. Jack Straw, now the leader of the House of Commons, made a speech in his northern English constituency in October, in which he said that he could no longer tolerate Muslim women who came to his office wearing veils. The speech catalyzed a long-postponed debate not just on the veil but on the refusal of assimilation that it symbolizes. It seems to have swung the Labour Party into a much firmer position against what I call one-way multiculturalism. Prime Minister Tony Blair confirmed the shift with a December speech emphasizing the “duty” of immigrants to assimilate to British values. And Martin Amis, speaking to the London Times, had this to say:
There’s a definite urge—don’t you have it?—to say, “The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order.” What sort of suffering? Not letting them travel. Deportation—further down the road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they’re from the Middle East or from Pakistan. . . . Discriminatory stuff, until it hurts the whole community and they start getting tough with their children. . . . They hate us for letting our children have sex and take drugs—well, they’ve got to stop their children killing people….
I know both of these men to be profoundly humanistic and open-minded. Straw has defended the rights of immigrants all his life and loyally represents a constituency with a large Asian population. Amis has rebuked me several times in print for supporting the intervention in Iraq, the casualties of which have become horrifying to him. Even five years ago, it would have been unthinkable to picture either man making critical comments about Islamic dress, let alone using terms such as “deportation.” Read More:http://www.city-journal.org/html/17_1_urbanities-steyn.html
There will be other Hitchens that will come and go, and convincing and with the conviction he had, the question is still what is the ultimate source of truth and the ultimate guide to human behavior. There are good arguments of it being based on human reason, observation and some conjecture; but equally plausibly is divine instruction as revealed in the Torah, Bible or Koran. And, it does not seem to be basic disagreement between good solid science and religion that leads to acrimony and to transgression of religious based precepts. It is probably, or should be totally consistent with divine providence if a scientific observation, proven, reveals a previously hidden truth about our physical universe or well-being. Our health. Obviously, there can be no inconsistency between truth and truth,and what can be seen as reality and reality.
However, the mistakes in science and the misunderstandings in religion appear to be the stumbling blocks in thi
alogue. There are too many self-serving hypotheses that charade as science, pseudo science and junk science, and the so-called dogmas that have been peddled over the last century impede an honest and transparent examination of the issues.More importantly, the impede the honest seeker for truth, an obstacle in their quest, from exercising his or her free will.
Hitchens: ( see link at end) :But in the liberal mind, to concentrate on the fertility of any one group is to flirt with Nuremberg laws. The same goes for “racial profiling,” even when it’s directed at the adherents of an often ideological religion rather than an ethnic group. The Islamists, meanwhile, have staked everything on fecundity.
Mark Steyn believes that demography is destiny, and he makes an immensely convincing case. He stations himself at the intersection of two curves. The downward one is the population of developed Europe and Japan, which has slipped or is slipping below what demographers call “replacement,” rapidly producing a situation where the old will far outnumber the young. The upward curve, or curves, represent the much higher birthrate in the Islamic world and among Muslim immigrants to Western societies. Anticipating Harris in a way, Steyn writes:
Why did Bosnia collapse into the worst slaughter in Europe since World War Two? In the thirty years before the meltdown, Bosnian Serbs had declined from 43 percent to 31 percent of the population, while Bosnian Muslims had increased from 26 percent to 44 percent. In a democratic age, you can’t buck demography—except through civil war. The Serbs figured that out—as other Continentals will in the years ahead: if you can’t outbreed the enemy, cull ’em. The problem that Europe faces is that Bosnia’s demographic profile is now the model for the entire continent.
This is a highly reductionist view of the origin and nature of the Bosnian war—it would not account, for example, for Croatian irredentism. But paranoia about population did mutate into Serbian xenophobia and fascism, and a similar consciousness does animate movements like the British National Party and Le Pen’s Front Nationale. (Demographic considerations do not appear to explain the continued addiction of these and similar parties to anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism.) Read More:http://www.city-journal.org/html/17_1_urbanities-steyn.html