Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Never Make a God of Your Religion, or Free Your Madrasahs and Your Asses Will Follow

Yesterday we were discussing the cognitive pathologies of the Islamic world, before I was cut off by the dictates of reality. If only Muslims could be influenced by the dictates of reality. Instead, they are spurred by the inexorable demands of fantasy.

Among the ten commandments is the injunction that "you shall not make for yourself a graven image." Why would that be? And what relevance could it possibly have for contemporary people? We don't worship rocks or pictures (perhaps rock stars and moving pictures).

The purpose of this commandment is to check the human tendency to worship idols, the ubiquitous tendency to "bow down and serve" manmade gods, whether secular or religious. Idolatry occurs whenever one holds a value higher than God. Thus it is actually possible to turn one’s religion into a false god, and to value it above all else. Certainly in the Muslim Middle East, it would appear that the worship of God has been completely replaced by the worship of Islam.

For a person who is not operating in Piaget’s fourth stage of cognitive development, formal operations, it is almost impossible not to be an idol worshiper in some form or fashion. Only a person capable of abstract thought can understand that all religious talk is a symbolic representation of something that entirely transcends religious talk--that religion is not about religion, but about something radically beyond religion.

Thus, the injunction against worshipping graven images is an ingenious biblical device for saying, Thou shall not get stuck on stupid. That is, don’t get hung up in pre-operational or concrete operational thought. Rather, God can only be properly thought about and encountered in the more abstract regions of formal operations thought and beyond.

When we talk about the "third world," we are presumably talking about economic development, but there are also first, second, and third worlds of cognitive development. In fact, most of the Islamic world retains a retrograde cognitive style that features transparently infantile mechanisms such as paranoia, grandiosity, denial, and splitting. To the extent that they are literate--and even in a country as “advanced” as Egypt, some fifty percent of the women are illiterate--religious narratives are simply superimposed over a magical and mythological mode of thought. Thus, although they have a “written” religion in the form of the Koran, it is really treated more as an idol, fetish object, or graven image, as defined above.

For example, not only is no Muslim free to interpret the Koran in a symbolic or non-literal manner, but pathetic souls who spend their lives literally memorizing the Koran are revered as people of great spiritual achievement. They may not even understand what they have memorized--in that regard, they are more like idiot savants than anything we would recognize as a saintly person of spiritual discernment. Imagine revering someone who had wasted his life memorizing the Bible cover to cover, but never seeing into its wisdom.

Of course, the Koran is a wildly disconnected jumble of incoherent and contradictory sayings, dreams, visions, threats, and warnings. To a large extent, one may similarly regard the Bible as lacking innate coherence. The big difference is that Biblical exegesis has always involved trying to see through the contradictions to a higher unity, whereas this higher mode of cognition would be expressly forbidden in Islam.

It is almost as if Islam mandates that its followers remain mired in a lower level of cognitive development, where they cannot think abstractly and apprehend the hidden unity underlying the diversity of the world: thou shall get stuck on stupid. As is to be expected, in reacting so infatoddlerously to some silly cartoon images, they have taken an injunction against graven images and turned it into one.

Naturally, this developmentally earlier form of cognition also poses a great impediment to the emergence of scientific thought, since science always proceeds by reducing an outward multiplicity to a higher unity. But long ago, the Muslim world decided that if science discovered something that confirmed the Koran, then it was irrelevant, while if it discovered something that contradicted it, it was blasphemous. As such, they can only imitate science, but not think scientifically.

Concrete operations thought does not look for an overall unity in the universe--it doesn’t construct a logical analysis that makes all aspects of reality fit into a coherent system. Instead, it merely collects facts and tells stories. Facts that contradict the story are either omitted or else somehow fitted into the mythological framework. It is a fact, for example, that Muslim culture could not have discovered Einstein’s “Jewish physics” in a thousand years of trying. But the mad mullahs of Iran have no difficulty in being parasites on science and integrating atomic energy into the myth of inevitable Muslim superiority and entitlement.

The lower orders of cognition are inherently narcissistic and egocentric, in that the individual has difficulty decentering himself and adopting the point of view of another. Thus, in the Muslim countries reacting most violently to the cartoons of infamy, Christians and Jews have no rights at all, and are routinely depicted in the most degrading way. Throughout the Muslim world, their print and broadcast media feature the most lurid and grotesque anti-Semitic images the world has seen since nazi Germany. And yet, they are violently outraged by some comparatively benign images published in a country that isn’t even Muslim. What could be more childishly narcissistic and egocentric?

Unfortunately, one of the downsides of the universalizing tendencies of formal operations thought is that it can lead directly to the modern cognitive pathologies of cultural and moral relativism. That is, the person in formal operations can see that there are always multiple perspectives, so why should one perspective be privileged over another? Islam, Christianity, wicca, what’s the difference?

The difference, of course, is that only someone in formal operations thought has the luxury of this kind of liberal tolerance that is unknown--and unknowable--in the cultures that he is elevating to the moral and intellectual status of his own. If there is one thing that is not tolerated in the Muslim world, it is tolerance. As such, the modern “tolerant” liberal equates intolerance with just another form of tolerance.

This is how the most sophisticated thinkers and wackademics of the West conspire with the totalitarian con-op thinkers of Islam, producing a new cognitive offshoot that hamstrings us in properly dealing with our sworn enemies: totolerantarianism, or the enforced tolerance of the intolerant. This politically and academically correct stance is the sine qua non of a graven image, for it involves bowing down before a manmade ideology that equates the lower and the higher.

Thus, there is a hidden unity between the postmodern left and the premodern Islamists: it is a tacit conspiracy between those who make a god of their religion and those who make a god of their irreligion, between the intolerable and the intolerant.

15 Comments:

Anonymous Bubba Kartoffel said...

I guess this news could be posted after Petey's rant about the cowardice of left-leaning media, but I suspect he is still winding down.

US paper defends printing Mohammad cartoon
Sun Feb 5, 2006 4:45 PM EST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Philadelphia Inquirer, one of the few U.S. newspapers to publish a caricature of the Prophet Mohammad from a series that sparked a wave of protests by Muslims, defended the action on Sunday by saying it was just doing its job.

"This is the kind of work that newspapers are in business to do," said Amanda Bennett, the newspaper's editor.

The Inquirer on Saturday published the most controversial image, which depicted the Prophet with a turban resembling a lit bomb, and it posted on its Web site an Internet link to the rest of the cartoons.

For many Muslims, Islam forbids images of the Prophet. The publication in Denmark and elsewhere in Europe of a series of satirical cartoons depicting Mohammad has sparked protests in many countries and some have turned violent. Moderate Muslim groups have condemned the violence and urged restraint.

The Inquirer included a note with its publication of the image which read, in part, "The Inquirer intends no disrespect to the religious beliefs of any of its readers. But when a use of religious imagery that many find offensive becomes a major news story, we believe it is important for readers to be able to judge the content of the image for themselves."

The note compared the image with the earlier publication of a 1987 photograph by Andres Serrano of a crucifix in urine, a work which angered many Christians.

Bennett said in an article on the Inquirer's Web site that the newspaper published the Mohammad cartoon to help convey the issue.

"We're running this in order to give people a perspective of what the controversy's about, not to titillate, and we have done that with a whole wide range of images throughout our history," Bennett said.

Most U.S. news outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today, have declined to run any of the images so far, instead describing them in words as they cover the outraged reaction by Muslims to the cartoons.

Many broadcast programs and news networks including ABC have shown either full or partially obscured images of the cartoons.

"You run it because there's a news reason to run it," the paper quoted Bennett as saying. "The controversy does not appear to have died down. It's still a news issue."

The Inquirer is owned by Knight Ridder Inc..

Wow! A GIRL journalist shows the boys what journalism might be about.

2/07/2006 09:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Bubba Kartoffel said...

I almost forgot:

Terrific post!

2/07/2006 09:54:00 AM  
Anonymous inquisitve in chicago said...

the easy two step; rioting maniacs in the Arab world = academics you have probs with.


So the wackademics went too far from tolerance into moral relativism. But YOU know EXACTLY where the proper line is to be drawn between the level of tolerance of dissenting views essential for cultural and scientific progress and the dark wacko side?

And the folk who shouted down MLK becausing equal rights for blacks was moral relativism, your position would have been ? They had millions who thought society was "going too far" and they were being pushed by "outsiders that didn't understand their society".

and the folk who lambasted Ulysses as heresy and trash ?

And the folk that think gay couples shouldn't be discriminated against in housing ?

And we know what u think about the woman who thinks she should have equal access to employment...she is not "feminine" any more. But that's not judgemental intolerance, just "correct" thinking.

And your view of those with no knowledge of science that want non science taught in science class ? Both sides (science and myth) should be taught on an "equal basis" because "children need to get both sides of the issue." Talk about relativism ! Would you call their "experts" wackademics ?

will you be the societal "line drawing" umpire ?

btw any reaction to the WH condemnation of the cartoons ?

2/07/2006 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Unquisitve in Chicago--

"But YOU know EXACTLY where the proper line is to be drawn between the level of tolerance of dissenting views essential for cultural and scientific progress and the dark wacko side?'

--You're missing my point. I'm FOR tolerating any and all Mohammed cartoons. Liberal papers are against it.

"And the folk who shouted down MLK becausing equal rights for blacks was moral relativism, your position would have been ?

--Equal rights for blacks is the opposite of moral relativism. It represents a universal morality that applies to all equally. Sounds like you agree with that moral absolute--unless you favor government mandated racial discrimination.

"and the folk who lambasted Ulysses as heresy and trash ? '

--Is that a question?

"And the folk that think gay couples shouldn't be discriminated against in housing ?

--In a free society, most forms of discrimination should be legal.

"And we know what u think about the woman who thinks she should have equal access to employment...she is not "feminine" any more. But that's not judgemental intolerance, just "correct" thinking

--I think women who think they don't have equal access to employment are demonstrably deluded. Whether delusions are feminine, I'll leave for you to decide.

"And your view of those with no knowledge of science that want non science taught in science class ? Both sides (science and myth) should be taught on an "equal basis" because "children need to get both sides of the issue." Talk about relativism !

--I believe it is up to local school boards to decide, not for the federal government. And I am in favor of vouchers, so that you can decide whether you want your child to be inculcated with secular liberal myths and fairy tales.

2/07/2006 02:33:00 PM  
Anonymous inquisitive in chicago said...

"Equal rights for blacks is the opposite of moral relativism. It represents a universal morality that applies to all equally. Sounds like you agree with that moral absolute--unless you favor government mandated racial discrimination....."


In a free society, most forms of discrimination should be legal

riddle me out of that one because the lunch counter sit downs were all about equal access to be served in public accomodations, as was civil rights legislation and legal decisions that ended discrimination.

So I have no idea how you reconcile the two statements above...unless you believe in separate but equal. And if you do you would have opposed everything MLK did.

So equal rights are part of universal morality but all forms of discrimination should be legal.

Which i guess means we should rely on the belief in universal morality by employers, landlords, restaurant and hotel owners etc etc to give equal access to all.

Let me know how you manage when they tell you at work that the bathrooms are reserved for everyone except white males, so you can take a drive to the gas station down the road to relieve yourself.

makes sense to me

In a free society, most forms of discrimination should be legal

Oh, and when you stop at mcD's for lunch don't be disappointed when they tell you in Feb they don't serve white people named Bob.

2/07/2006 03:30:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"So equal rights are part of universal morality but all forms of discrimination should be legal."

--The lying leftist mind in action. I said "most" forms of discrimination, not all. For example, I believe it should remain legal for universities to discriminate against conservatives, which is probably the most outlandish form of discrimination today, given that many university departments are over 90 percent leftist.

"Which i guess means we should rely on the belief in universal morality by employers, landlords, restaurant and hotel owners etc etc to give equal access to all.

--Exactly. The free market would punish offenders without lining the pockets of parasitic civil rights attorneys who are the primary beneficiaries of these laws.

"Let me know how you manage when they tell you at work that the bathrooms are reserved for everyone except white males, so you can take a drive to the gas station down the road to relieve yourself.

--The paranoid leftist mind in action.

"Oh, and when you stop at mcD's for lunch don't be disappointed when they tell you in Feb they don't serve white people named Bob.

--The frankly delusional leftist mind in action.

Thanks for the insight into how the leftist mind works.

2/07/2006 04:41:00 PM  
Anonymous inquisitive in chicago said...

"Which i guess means we should rely on the belief in universal morality by employers, landlords, restaurant and hotel owners etc etc to give equal access to all.

--Exactly. The free market would punish offenders without lining the pockets of parasitic civil rights attorneys who are the primary beneficiaries of these laws."

yes exactly, as was the case in the united states up until the enactment of the civil rights act

thks for insight into the ridiculous reductionist "free market" school

Ironically your analysis is marxian. Man has only economic interests. Therefore no one would allow their sick racism to get in the way of their economic interest by refusing to serve blacks. And white folk of good morals would pass up that delicious cheap fried chicken out of outrage that blacks are not welcome in the restaurant.

Lester Maddox et al never really existed

And no business in the deep south in the 50s and early 60s faced economic ruin from redneck boycotts when they started to serve blacks. That's called punishment in the mktplace in action.

thks for the bulletin from another planet

2/07/2006 08:14:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

:)

On the question on idolatry, literal and figural:Many Buddhist practises employ idols either in the form of statues, or in the case of the Nichiren Buddhists, a mandala in the form of a scroll that they call the Gohonzon. Part of the thinking behind the use of the mandala is that it serves as a point of focus for the consciousness, a sort of mirror. Similarly most churhes feature crucifixes, and many Roman Catholics keep altars in their homes featuring a statue of Mary, or a crucifix. (Just for the record, I know that Roman Catholics don't worship idols- I wasn't implying the old slander) It seems while idolatry is obviously a hinderance to spiritual growth, on some level there seems to be some acknowledgement of the human tendency to want to have something concrete to pray to.

JWM

2/07/2006 08:21:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

(sigh) didn't preview well enough.
last sentence:

...on some level, even among the enlightened faiths there seems to be some acknowledgement of the human tendency to want to have something concrete to pray to.

(but go ahead and swat the inquisitor first :P )

JWM

2/07/2006 08:28:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Oh yes, don't get me wrong--I'm all for idols. I have them all through the house, like metaphysical road signs. However, as Alan Watts said, you don't confuse a menu and a meal. Or, as is said in Buddhism, you use the raft to cross the river, but then don't drag it along with once you have reached the other side.

2/07/2006 08:32:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Oh, and inquisitive--

I can see why liberalism appeals to you. It's the perfect outlet for your anger, paranoia, and flight from the present. Enjoy living in 1956 for the rest of your life.

2/07/2006 08:38:00 PM  
Anonymous jodie d said...

you go bob

nothing more disgusting than seeing our beloved Pres, hobnobbing and sucking up with those aclu types, civil rights activists and assorted lefties at the coretta king funeral.

as you note the whole civil rights legislation thing was a waste of time. Discrimination should never have been a subject of legislation. Let the market rule !!

2/07/2006 09:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Michael Brazier said...

"But long ago, the Muslim world decided that if science discovered something that confirmed the Koran, then it was irrelevant, while if it discovered something that contradicted it, it was blasphemous. As such, they can only imitate science, but not think scientifically."

Specifically, that happened in the 13th century AD, ending a debate between the followers of the Sufi mystic al-Ghazali and the school of ibn Ruschid (aka Averroes), a commentator on Aristotle. Prior to that Dar al-Islam was doing fairly well with abstract thought. The death of the Muslim scientific tradition in the 13th century began the Muslim world's slide into barbarism that has reached bottom (Deo volente) in the present age.

2/07/2006 11:28:00 PM  
Blogger Steven Tucker said...

Making god abstract is just another way of dumbing religion down. It's no more sophisticated, or enlightened. I personally miss the days of idol worship, back when religions tolerated one another.

With regard to these muslims, it is their inability to tolerate tolerance that is giving them so much trouble. There is no pluralism in the Middle East, or in Islam. Makes them both dangerous. Anyone that cannot tolerate the beliefs of others is going to get themselves into trouble - usually involving violence.

2/08/2006 01:53:00 AM  
Blogger LiquidLifeHacker said...

Wait a minute Bubba...didn't you hear about the "guys" over at the New York Press? The editorial staff walked out after the paper's publishers backed down from printing the cartoons. Gotta hand it to them for holding onto their principals.

2/08/2006 02:00:00 AM  

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