Initially, I wasn't certain what to make of the initial reports I heard on NPR regarding the shooting at Fort Hood. When the name of the assailant was revealed - Nidal Malik Hasan - my first thought was: "Oh, crap, here we go, a Muslim extremist who somehow managed to get past whatever initial filters the Army uses to reject volunteers." Then I learned that he carried the rank of "Major," not a position you get to overnight, so maybe he's not your stereotypical fundamentalist. Then it comes out that he was a psychiatrist, tasked with helping returning soldiers deal with the inherent stress associated with their deployment. Associated with that was a story I heard, again on NPR, about a rant he went onto during grand rounds:

They, you know, dozens of medical staff come into an auditorium, and somebody stands at the podium at the front and gives a lecture about some academic issue, you know, what drugs to prescribe for what condition. But instead of that, he – Hasan apparently gave a long lecture on the Koran and talked about how if you don’t believe, you are condemned to hell. Your head is cut off. You’re set on fire. Burning oil is burned down your throat.

And here I am, thinking: DAMN ... this guy is treating our returning troops and he has issues which damned near make theirs look like a drop in the bucket, while almost simultaneously thinking: DAMN ... religion ... YET AGAIN. WHEN is anyone going to make the connection? Is the world so inured to religion in general, so accepting of its presence in our everyday lives that it cannot see that this irrational belief remains at the core of too many such incidents?

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Comment by Loren Miller on November 18, 2009 at 9:17pm
The banishment of religion is at best a very long term goal, perhaps on the order of 100 years or more, and at worst, an indulgence in wishful thinking. A direct confrontation between rationalists and theists would be, I suspect, unfortunate for us. If we at first target the extremists whose interests and goals are the narrowest and least inclusive, we have the means of creating a starting point, much as the fundamentalists looked to use their "wedge strategy" to remove evolution from American classrooms and replace it with Intelligent Design.

Extremism is not just OUR enemy, but the enemy of anyone who thinks in reasonable, non-absolute terms ... and having allies would be far preferable to attempting a lone confrontation.
Comment by Russell Pospech on November 18, 2009 at 8:25pm
Extremism is no doubt a problem, while there are a vast majority of theists who are generally good. But it is religion overall that gives credence to extremism. Without a trunk, a tree can have no leaves. I wish to see all religion go away, unless people can find some way of keeping their beliefs within the four walls of their home, or otherwise hold personal beliefs without feeling a necessity to spread them with invection.
Although I know I will never live to see it, I truly cannot think of anything that could happen to better this world than when every church, mosque and temple is turned from a place of worship into a place of education. I will work to this goal for the future. I will not attain it, but I take hope in the notion that my efforts will be a building block to future genrations.
Comment by Loren Miller on November 18, 2009 at 5:33am
Okay, question, gang: is it really religion we're up against or EXTREMISM? There are theists out there who CAN live and let live. I know, I've met 'em, and at least one is a very dear friend. I think the real disease out there is extremism, the guys who are utterly determined to make it "my way or the highway" and will brook no middle ground.

I'm not certain that all the Christians in the pie chart below (which is grossly inaccurate, BTW!) hold to the attitude that rationalists / atheists are spawn of the devil, any more than they hold that attitude of gays and Lesbians. I think we need to understand who it is that is REALLY opposing us before we indulge in foolish generalizations.

It may be that I'm fulla beans here ... but I think this is a point worth pursuing.
Comment by Loren Miller on November 16, 2009 at 10:06pm
I'd love to see it ... but how many fuck-ups does religion get before people actually wake up? I'm not even talking about the Bakkers or Jim Swaggert; what about JONESTOWN?!? What about David Koresh?!? If that wasn't a sufficient wake-up call, WHAT WILL BE?!? How many lives must be sacrificed to disaffect people from religion at that level?

To get what you want, someone's going to have to be not just major league but WORLD SERIES STUPID. Certainly, it could happen ... but I don't see it coming ... and I'm not that much of an optimist to believe that they'll just hand it to us.
Comment by Russell Pospech on November 16, 2009 at 9:05pm
I am not disagreeing with you. And I know they will not pass quietly into the night, but pass they will. But before they pass, it will be very ugly, and it will be because of a catastrophic events, brought about by themselves, that will lead people to finally put in place measures of prevention, which would be designed to ultimately push the remainder of those with high levels of religious belief to the margins of society, instead of over-appeasement, which is what today allows tragedies such as Fort Hood to happen.

Today people are hesitant to blame religion for anything. There will come a time when a major global disaster will happen, caused directly by religion. Due to this disaster, people will wake up to the true dangers of religion, and will resist it more and more. They will not give religion the appeasment and respect it has so long so undeservedly received.
Comment by Loren Miller on November 16, 2009 at 8:48pm
Archie, it's good to see you here, but I stand by what I said. If the evangelical church in the US decided to declare holy war against atheists, it would get MAJOR-LEAGUE UGLY ... and if you don't know that, you SHOULD.

I do NOT take the disappearance of organized religion as a given; quite the contrary: the more they are threatened, the more they are likely to react irrationally and VIOLENTLY. Do not make the mistake of expecting either rationality or logic from them. They haven't used either; they barely know what they are. All they know is that they are threatened and are more than happy to lash out at the threat ... and they have the numbers to make such an action costly to us.

Nidal Hasan acted on his own unstopped, even though he was observed, and he is a Muslim-American, FAR more suspect than a Christian-American in this day and age. If Christian Evangelism decides that rationalism in the US is a threat to be attacked, I will have a Glock 22 in one hand and a TEC9 in the other, if need be to defend myself. I am in NO MOOD to be just another casualty, one way or the other.
Comment by Russell Pospech on November 16, 2009 at 8:39pm
I am not sure what you misinterpreted about my post, so I will wait for your answer before I respond, to prevent any further misinterpretation.
Comment by Russell Pospech on November 16, 2009 at 8:37pm
Hi Loren, you may remember by another name, Archimedes. I am not smoking anything. I think you misunderstood what I wrote.
Comment by Loren Miller on November 16, 2009 at 8:20pm
Russell, I don't know what you're smoking, but I do know this: WE are in the minority and THEY are in the MAJORITY, and unless we get something serious working for us, WE can take a MAJOR LEAGUE HURT. Personally, I would as soon that didn't happen, but as irrational as evangelical Christianity is, I'm not going to assume that they will simply go quietly into the night.

I would rather not have to arm myself ... but if I find myself confronted with a serious assault on my integrity (and my LIFE!), I will not only arm myself, but I will take the life of any sonofabitch who threatens me and I WILL NOT BLINK!

And you can take that fucker to the bank.
Comment by Russell Pospech on November 16, 2009 at 7:04pm
Religions have come and gone throughout history. Some lasted thousands of years, much longer than our present religions, others were so laughingly ridiculous that they were beyond notice. The only difference between all religions of the ancient past from those today, is that today's religions are not passive and indifferent to other religions, and frequently employ extreme violence to demand attention.
The disappearance of today's religions, which I fervently wish for, is a foregone conclusion. They will pass, just as all religions have always done. And they will be looked at by future generations with contempt. But unlike religions of ages past, today's religions will regrettably not go quietly in the night.

I have always prophecied that a tragic and catastrophic event will cause people to eventually abandon these religions. It would be an event of the religions own doing, which is entirely like given the rigidity of these religions, and their doomsday phophecies. Rather than change with the times, they will hasten their doomsday prophecies by shaping current events to suit these prophecies (i.e. nuclear weapons, Armageddon, showdown between east and west). Only a catastrophic event can cause a decline in the religions, since not even reason itself seems to have any effect.

When millions have died, and when Jesus or Mohammad do not come flying out of the mushroom clouds on flying unicorns, and hopefully when that eternally accursed city of Jerusalem is in total ruins, only then might people begin to abandon these religions.



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