Wednesday, January 3, 2007

96)Banter of interest from other websites.

Back and forth between an atheist colleague and myself on the subject of religion:

Atheist:The only trouble is that humans seem to have a [genetic?] predisposition towards magical thinking and superstition---all our mythologies were religions once fervently believed in but which became incongruous with time---one day the religions so fanatically adhered to by Christians, Muslims etc., will become mythologies in the same category as Zeus and Odin---only to be replaced some other mystical belief which will cause humans to kill each other over some petty disagreement over some minutiae.

Me:I am not so pessimistic about religion. I think that those religious systems that are able to achieve a harmonious balance between, on the one hand, knowledge handed down from revelation and that which man acquires through the use of his own rational intellect, ones that profess a dynamic as opposed to a static universe, ones that can easily keep abreast with the torrid pace of scientific and technological progress, ones whose theologies can mix it up nicely with the rationalism of philosophy, and ones that can accept and indeed find strength in cultural diversity and pluralism of interpretations, these religious systems stand a good chance of persisting well into the future, IMHO.

Atheist:Theology is certainly not the answer---religion was/is a primitive attempt to explain the universe, it is the earliest form of philosophy, the earliest attempt to find a 'mission statement'."Revelation" was evidently somehow transmitted from outer space to the intestines of our fore-parents---evidently the messages were not that clear and humans have created at least 2600 gods in the process---the only difference between aetheists and believers is that believers don't believe in 2599 of them, and aetheists don't believe in that one more.

Back and forth with a Jewish colleague of mine about the similarities between Jews and Muslims:

1) Both are circumcised.
2) Abraham sacrified both sons-Issac in Genesis and Ishmael in the Koran (one written 2000 years before the other)-presumably both are correct.
3) Hallal and Kosher are the same except for the Imam and Rabbi who approve the process.
4) Both are buried immediately after dying.
5) Heads are covered by the "believers".
6) Hashem and Allah are one and the same.

Lets not forget another similarity, this one pertaining to the Shia tradition specifically and relating to the relationship of the legislator to his executor: The Prophet of Islam said to the first Shia Imam Ali: "You are to me as Aaron was to Moses".

The Sunni-Shia split had not yet occured when the Prophet was reported to have made that utterance. The initial split came only upon the death of the Prophet and the entrenched doctrinal split(the point of no return) came much later when the Sunnis prosletysed that the eternal, uncreated Quran was the only valid source of knowledge whereas the Shias prosletysed a Quran created in time, and a balance between revelation and reason as sources of knowledge, with the balance tipping slightly in favour of revelation.

I am not that familiar with Jewish theology and religious history but Wikipedia says the following:

"Thus Aaron, the typical priest, ranks far below Moses: he is but his mouthpiece, and the executor of the will of God revealed through Moses, although it is pointed out[23] that it is said fifteen times in the Pentateuch that “the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron.”"

"...held Aaron of old up as a mirror, saying: “Be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace; love your fellow creatures and draw them nigh unto the Law!”"

Aaron was very close to Moses and was also his brother. Much has also been written about how close the Prophet Mohammed and the Imam Ali were during their lives; they were first cousins and the Prophet later also became his father-in-law and the grandfather to his children and descendants, the future Imams in the Shiite progression.

There is also great similarity in the functions of these two illustrious pairs of people. Moses and Mohammed were the bringers of religious legislation, Aaron and Ali were the executors, explainers and interpreters of these legislations; I guess a modern day analogy(sort of) would be the U.S. Constitutional project, with the legislative branch being the Congress and the executive branch being the Presidency.


Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation:Aga Khan 4.
The God of the Quran is the One whose Ayats(Signs) are the Universe in which we live, move and have our being:Aga Khan 3