An almost reasonable debate

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Lausten
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An almost reasonable debate

Postby Lausten » Fri Aug 09, 2013 2:01 pm

Aslan vs Harris

Reza Aslan recently came out with the book Zealot, a modern historical analysis of a very political Jesus. He is very liberal compared to the mainstream of religion in the US. In this debate, he argues for the idea that all ancient scriptures are “encounters with the divine” and should be understood in their historical context with a different meaning of “sacred” than we have today. He does a poor job of it. His protests of Sam Harris get repetitive. To me, he does that because that is all he has. He can complain that Harris is presenting a narrow version of religion, but if he could have broadened it, why didn’t he?

When Aslan does try to explain himself it occasionally bordered on the absurd. He said several times that Harris was completely ignoring cultural context. Then when they were arguing about the Israel situation he said, “before 1948 there were thousands of Jews living alongside their neighbors without any problem at all.” This is worse than a Junior High School level of understanding of Zionism. Unfortunately the moderator cut this off before Sam could say much.

At about 40 minutes in Harris finally gets his say. He says it is not easy to convince a modern person to perform a suicidal act of terrorism. He says Aslan’s conception of religion is “infinitely elastic” allowing any definition that suits the moment. If we can’t ever “call a spade a spade” and call religion on its transgressions then this just gives shelter to literalism. The issue, says Harris, is dogmatism. Religion should not be given immunity to the normal tests of reasonableness.

He says, ”Only in religion do we put a veneer of sanctity over dogmatism… once something is called ‘faith’ it becomes an apparently necessary part of the human experience.”

At an hour and 17, Sam Harris’ strength really shows. He has practiced meditation and is willing to grant that experiences that are called spiritual are real to the person experiencing them. We should discuss these, but not use them as proof for a particular god. As he says, the alternative to dogmatism is a truly open ended unconstrained discourse about the human experience. This should have been a chance for Aslan to give some ground, show a little agreement, but he goes off on a rant saying sarcastically, “science proved spiritual experiences are chemical, so what”. This tells me he is more committed to the dogma than to a better understanding the” human language of the divine”, as he puts it.

Anyway, there’s more, give a listen, tell me if I missed anything.
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octopus1
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Re: An almost reasonable debate

Postby octopus1 » Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:14 am

No, I don't think you "missed" anything there ;)

I would suggest perhaps that there was repetition from both sides (Of older arguments, long since made)

Beyond that, it seemed like a fair debate where the scales ultimately tipped in favor of Harris.

Thanks for the link! :-D
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Re: An almost reasonable debate

Postby Gord » Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:33 am

Wasn't Aslan the lion in the wardrobe?
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Re: An almost reasonable debate

Postby octopus1 » Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:35 am

Gord wrote:Wasn't Aslan the lion in the wardrobe?


:lol:

See, I deliberately chose not to go there! But I'm glad that you did, Mr. Gord Pevensie... ;)
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Re: An almost reasonable debate

Postby fromthehills » Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:35 am

Gord wrote:Wasn't Aslan the lion in the wardrobe?



https://www.google.com/search?q=Aslan&o ... e&ie=UTF-8

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Re: An almost reasonable debate

Postby Gord » Tue Aug 20, 2013 12:38 pm

I barely ever know what's going on anymore, so I have to ask questions.
"Knowledge grows through infinite timelessness" -- the random fictional Deepak Chopra quote site
"You are also taking my words out of context." -- Justin
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Re: An almost reasonable debate

Postby octopus1 » Tue Aug 20, 2013 5:05 pm

Gord wrote:I barely ever know what's going on anymore, so I have to ask questions.


That's a good policy ;)
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Re: An almost reasonable debate

Postby kennyc » Tue Aug 20, 2013 5:23 pm

I need a good policy, and cheap, insurance is so darn expensive!
Not even reasonable despite the subject title and Obama's exchanges.
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Re: An almost reasonable debate

Postby Gord » Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:40 am

kennyc wrote:I need a good policy, and cheap....

Eat more cheese.
"Knowledge grows through infinite timelessness" -- the random fictional Deepak Chopra quote site
"You are also taking my words out of context." -- Justin
"Nullius in verba" -- The Royal Society ["take nobody's word for it"]
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Re: An almost reasonable debate

Postby Austin Harper » Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:46 pm

Gord wrote:
kennyc wrote:I need a good policy, and cheap....

Eat more cheese.

That's always a good choice.
Dum ratio nos ducet, valebimus et multa bene geremus.


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