Love is the Drug

December 6, 2006 by

Dear Readers:

Getting back to my science roots for a bit, here is an essay I wrote a while back.  Due to popular request and a discussion on another board, I am reprinting it here:

Oxytocin

(Note: I must give a hat-tip to Pat Allen, the author of Getting to I Do, who presented aspects of the following material in a wonderful lecture I attended. I also attribute her book and insights to the fact I was engaged within 6 months after hearing her speak).

Birth control and abortion options, which have expanded considerably in the past 40 years and have been promoted by feminists as emancipating for women, has given both sexes the mistaken notion that they can have brief sexual encounters with serial partners with no consequences.

For men, that remains somewhat true — or as true as it has been throughout history. However, for women, that remains as untrue today as it has been since Eve (for “intelligent designers”) or Lucy (for Darwinian evolutionists). The reason is a wonderful biochemical — oxytocin.

Essentially, if you were ever wondering about a “love drug” (i.e., a compound that when taken, makes people fall-in-love), it already has been created. It is oxytocin. When pumped into the bloodstream, it gives people the warm-and-fuzzies and increases the emotional bond between that person and the second individual (whose presence is stimulating the production of this hormone).

During the three-million-years or so of human evolution (note – my religious friends, I am a scientist, so I will take the scientific perspective for the duration of this essay; please do not take it as a sign of disrespect), the female system has been designed to begin a cascade of oxytocin production — when being intimate with a male AND when breast-feeding an infant. On the other hand, human males have very limited oxytocin production (and actually release some of the little oxytocin they produce when “involved” with the woman of the moment).

Now, oxytocin is a wonderful thing. It energizes you, and makes you feel good about life. It helps stimulate all sorts of good actions in the immune system, as well as other biochemical processes in the human body. Personally, after accutane and strawberry margaritas, oxytocin is my favorite chemical (and I have a graduate degree in biochemistry, so I know chemicals).

However, as with everything, there is a downside. Once you produce oxytocin, you want to do everything in your power to keep up the production levels. For example, have you ever heard stories about women who nurse their babies for many years (until 3, 4 or 5 years in age)? This is related to the fact these women want to continue generating oxytocin (even though they will have other rationalizations).

The same thing is true following intimate relations. Oxytocin production can be stimulated in a woman through her lover’s voice, scent, sight and touch. That is why a lot of women get very stupid after they have sex with someone. These women will call up frequently. They will steal their lover’s shirts. They will invent excuses to see their lover. Essentially, the more oxytocin these women generate when with their lover (or by talking to him), the more emotionally attached they get.

Now, a couple of points to keep in mind:

* Though men do generate oxytocin, they don’t match the production levels in women.
* As noted before, men can release small amounts of oxytocin into a woman (increasing her “rush), thereby creating more of a bond between them.
* Women will generate fairly substantial amounts the first time they are intimate with anyone (therefore, the biochemical basis for the focus on virginity), and increasing all the affects I have previously described.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, if a woman is involved with a nice man and is in a committed relationship. However, it can really complicate life if those conditions are not met. And, the bad thing about it is, the presence/voice of a lover can trigger oxytocin production for up to 2 YEARS!!!!!!! Basically, to guarantee a man will no longer have an affect on a woman, this woman can never hear/see/touch the man in question for up to 2 full years. Fortunately, once the man is “out of her system”, that same individual tends not to trigger such a production again.

Ever wonder why woman goes back to a man who beats/abuses her? Do you ever wonder why a girlfriend cannot seem to get over a guy, and will call up is number just to get his answering machine? Do you know a girl who will drive out of her way, to check to see if current/ex boyfriend his home? Yes, people, all-knowing Mutnodjmet has provided you with an answer: OXYTOCIN ([Disclaimer — NO, I HAVE NEVER DONE THE ABOVE, though I will own other stupid acts committed in the name of love ….no, oxytocin production).

Thirty years of birth control and abortion can not get around this three-million-year honing of biochemistry, designed to create strong bonds between a female and her provider (the male) and offspring (her children). To think otherwise is arrogance and/or stupidity.

Therefore, women cannot “hook-up” like men. An intense biochemical bond is formed when women are intimate with men. To break that bond is exceedingly difficult, and places women in the position of having the quench a biochemical reaction, and in doing so, causing both physical and emotional stress that is unnecessary and unhealthy. Casual sex is devastating to women in so many different ways, and to pretend that women can have serial sex with many partners is foolish.

PS. As an aside, check out the classic video of Bryan Ferry performing “Love is the Drug“.

The Grand Odalisque

November 23, 2006 by

Dear Readers:

I just came across a remarkable site: Revolt in the Desert. Lawrence of Arabia has done a wonderful essay about one of my very favorite masterpieces: Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, “The Grand Odalisque” (1814).

I am a scientist, but I do enjoy taking the right side of my brain for a spin (occasionally) to appreciate fine art. I had to share this exciting Internet find.

Eteraz: Open Letter to Western Muslims

November 23, 2006 by

Dear Readers: Ali Eteraz (Eteraz.org, on my blogroll) has published this letter on his Internet community. He would like it widely distributed. As it addresses many points that commentators have discussed on this site, I link to it and publish it in full below. I will attempt to ensure Ali is kept abreast of your responses here.

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Unlike some of my fellow believers I don’t think that the recent glut of Westerners calling for the reformation of Islam is due solely to an imperial Western ambition. I believe that some of non-Muslim engagement with Islam is premised upon a well-intentioned impulse. I believe that some Western antipathy towards Islam(ism) is due to decency. It is quite plausible that a generation that faced off against two totalitarianisms might be right about a third. It is also plausible that for every Westerner who calls for the destruction of Islam in order to defend the Western status-quo, there is another Westerner who agitates for change in Islam because has a Muslim friend who has been hurt by what passes for Islam, or has a glimpse (in Hafiz, perhaps in Ibn Rushd), of what Islam could be; and as such, is upset by what Islam today is not. I believe that there are many in the West capable of recognizing beauty — and they have recognized the beauty that Islam was in the hands of Rumi, and also have recognized the potential of that beauty in Islam today, in Muslims today. This is another way of saying that I believe there are many in the West who are driven by the humanity of the Muslim, who faces daily in Iraq, in Punjab, in subversive mosques in Europe, the inhumanity of a utilitarian death theology.

Yes, I know that there was a time when the West went to ‘civilize’ and ended up conquering; when it went to ‘keep the dominoes upright’ and ended up slaughtering; when it went to ‘trade’ and ended up colonizing; when it went to ‘liberate’ and left civil war behind. Yet, in spite of this I believe that there are Westerners who are impelled solely by the humanity of the Muslim, because when the West conquered there were Westerners who spoke against it; when the West went to Vietnam there were Westerners who spoke against it; when the West colonized there were Westerners who were anti-colonial. Even still, all Westerners cannot be held accountable for the sins of their leaders. Muslims can, and do, ask that others forgive what Muslim leaders do in the name of God. Why cannot the West be forgiven for how its leaders have manipulated humanism? I forgive.

If, then, there are those in the West who challenge what passes for Islam today, on the basis of their humanity with the Muslim, then we Muslims must embrace them as our brothers. It is conceiveable, yes, that there are those in the West with as much sadomasochim (or courage, if you will), as the reformists of Islam; with as great a penchant for human rights as the reformists of Islam; with as great a willingness to face off against the edifice of a corrupt theology as the reformists of Islam. We must embrace them as our brothers, be they Latino, Black, or dare I say, white; be they Hindu, Jew, Christian, or dare I say, secular-humanist. We — this is the ‘we’ that refers to all those who fight injustice — did not exclude such helpers when the evil was Soviet Union. We — this is the ‘we that refers to all those who fight injustice — did not exclude the helpers when the evil was Jim Crow. Nor when the evil was the patriarchy which denied female equality. In fact, if reformist Islam is to stand a chance, it has to be open to those who want to help. There has never been a case in history where change has occurred without participation by some members of the dominant discourse joining in the efforts of those who agitate for change.

There is a concern that some of those who wish to ‘join’ are dissimulators. That they want only to use our ‘reformist’ critique to demonize Islam. That there are hypocrites in the lot of the so called helpers. That they are drawn only to the exoticism of the Muslim woman, or the virility of the Muslim sperm, and so on. My reply is to not be frightened by this possibility. At this time the fight between our philosophy of the future and yesterday’s death theory, has not even begun. When it begins, those who joined for illegitimate reasons will reveal themselves. But that remains to be seen. In fact, who is to say, given the magnitude of the confrontation and given what is at stake — enlightened living for our children — that there will not be individuals amongst us who turn tail in the face of the gravitas? Who is to say, given that our activism will pit us against our elders, our ancestral homes, our history as it has been so far written, that there will not be individuals amongst us who simply turn traitorous and expose us to the frothing fundamentalism we face off against? When we see those who appropriate our efforts, well, we’ll call a spade a spade, but that is no reason to not start gardening.

Man has always come to the assistance of man. The Helpers of Medina to the migrants of Mecca; Indians to the Pilgrims; Ottomans to the Sephardigm; Albanian Muslims to the Jews of Europe. There are men and women in the West who wish to be of assistance to us. So what if they sometimes say things that you find offensive or incorrect. To correct them by way of friendship is much better than to sneer at them. We must judge them, not by their ancestors’ history, but by their love of the oppressed. We are clear, are we not, that there has been one too many Mukhtaran Mai? We are clear, are we not, that there has been one too many tyranny? We are clear, are we not, that there has been one too many Bin Laden? One too many 9/11, 3/11, 7/7, and Aksari Shrine and Shia massacre and Baha’i jailing and Jew-baiting. One too many Bamiyan Buddhas. One too many novelists accused. One too many suicides. The task ahead will be difficult enough. If, then, there are those who will link their arms with us, we must not hesitate. When the moment of reckoning comes — and there is no reason to believe that time is not now — we will be in need of every able mind, profligate pen, and nervous smile. Do it out of pragmatism, or do it out of love, but do it you must.

All those then, theists, secularists, atheists, deists, refuseniks, peaceniks, Jews, Gentiles, Unitarians, Episcopalians, Baptists, Methodists, Philosophers, who wish to walk for humanity: speak up and do not stop speaking. Walk with the believers. There are believers who will walk with you.

Sincerely,

Ali Eteraz

Thanksgiving and Capitalism

November 22, 2006 by

Dear Readers: Smart and I will be blogging lightly over the next two weeks. She and I are planning some thoughtful analysis of the American Healthcare System, in light of recent discussions among the newly-elected Democrat Congressional membership.  In part, it is in response to an analysis of this subject by one of my blogging icons, Dean Esmay.  I thought the better of leaving a comment in the comments section of his blog, because I wanted to delve into the topic further and in a more scholarly fashion.

Also, this marks the start of the holiday season.  Like many of you, Smart and I will be busy with family and friends.  My dear husband is teasing me about my blogging distraction, so I need to step away from the keyboard a bit. 

In the meantime, the following article from Christian Business Daily brings together economics and history in an elegant way.  Happy Thanksgiving!

William Bradford & America’s (First) Failed Flirtation with Socialism

by Rick Williams Jr.

Both state and federal governments in the United States ought to take a very simple lesson from America’s first failed experiment with socialism.

The Pilgrims are generally credited with starting the Thanksgiving tradition. What many people forget to attribute to them, however, are business and political practices that would’ve set America’s future on a much different path. America, in fact, would be a very different place today, if not for the actions of one brave man.

It is common knowledge that the Pilgrims settled in America in 1620 for religious freedom. Driven by a desire to worship their Creator free from the decrees of mother England, they risked all they owned to establish a colony at Plymouth and further of the gospel of Jesus Christ. William Bradford left no doubt as to the Pilgrims’ intentions:

“…they cherished a great hope and inward zeal of laying good foundations, or at least of making some way towards it, for the propagation and advance of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world, even though they should be but stepping stones to others in the performance of so great a work.”

Bradford was born in the small English village of Austerfield in 1590. His parents died when Bradford was a young child. Bradford’s grandparents, along with some uncles, raised the young orphan and taught him the trade of “husbandry.” William was a sickly boy and, in addition to studying history, philosophy, theology, Latin, Greek and Hebrew, the young lad looked to the Scriptures for comfort. Bradford embraced Christ and, as he grew, he increasingly came under the influence of the Separatists. Despite the disapproval of his family, Bradford fully accepted their beliefs. He united with the Separatists and, due to the persecution in England; he fled with the sect to Amsterdam in 1608. It was from Amsterdam, at the age of 30, that Bradford and the Pilgrims decided to strike out for the New World.

The Pilgrims knew that the new Colony would need a means of support—an economy. King James I of England also knew this. As the late and renowned free-market economist Kirk Russell noted:

“When the Pilgrim leaders sought from the king of England, James I, his permission to settle in America, James asked his chief secretary, ‘What profit might arise in the part they intend?’ ‘Fishing,’ the secretary replied. ‘So God have my soul,’ declared King James, ’tis an honest trade. ‘Twas the Apostles’ own calling.'”

So the Pilgrims’ plans were to catch fish, dry them, and ship them back to England—hopefully at a profit. This group of highly intelligent and highly motivated men presented their plans to a group of British merchants known as The Virginia Company. The Pilgrims were able to secure from these merchants an investment of 7,000 English pounds—a large sum of money in those days. With this money, the Pilgrims were able to purchase supplies, seed for crops, tools, and also hire a ship to carry them across the Atlantic—the Mayflower.

On December 16, 1620, the tiny ship loaded with “tools and weapons, a stock of dried and salted foods, a few goats, pigs, and chickens” landed at Plymouth Rock. Their hardy Christian faith and work ethic enabled them to hang on with tenacity, despite battles with the elements and Indians. The Pilgrims also experienced the devastating “Starving Time” when half of them perished from malnutrition, pneumonia, and tuberculosis. This time of want was due primarily to their unbiblical economic system.

For the first two years of the settlement, the colonists labored under an economic system that they called, “The Common Course and Condition.” This was a primitive and simple form of socialism. The family households commonly shared whatever products they could produce. If one family worked diligently, rising early, working hard until sundown, and produced a bumper crop, while his neighbor lay in bed until noon and produced little, they shared equally the sum of both. There was no incentive to work hard and apply one’s God-given talents and abilities. This system produced consistent shortages. There was never enough food for everyone. It also produced squabbles among the colonists. There was resentment and envy—predictable results in socialist economies. Fortunately, the colonists had elected a young, but wise and godly governor for the colony—William Bradford. In 1623, Bradford recognized the failure the “Common Course.” Bradford would later write that this failed economic system “was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment.”

Bradford had a better plan. Each family would be given a piece of land based on the size of their family. Larger families received larger tracts. Each household was allowed to grow corn for their own families and to do with it what they wished. The results were phenomenal.

“This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use.”

While under the original system, the women of the colony had complained that they were “oppressed.” The Pilgrims experience proved that a biblically based economic system could provide liberty and a “family-friendly” means of production: “The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn.” Bradford had recognized that “the primary agency of economic planning is the family, as the primary owner of property.” Bradford realized that the family and ownership of the means of production were an unbeatable economic formula. This recognition caused the economy of the fledgling settlement to flourish and when 60 more settlers arrived in 1623, there was more than enough food for them as well. And despite continued challenges from Indians, pirates, and sometimes harsh weather conditions, the little colony prospered as God blessed their steadfast faithfulness.

Bradford’s unwavering faith in God amazed even the Indians. During one particularly dry season, the colonists had no other option but to pray for rain. Bradford would later write how God abundantly answered that prayer:

“The rains came, without wind, or thunder or any violence and by abundant degrees it wetted the earth and soaked the crops. Within a quick period of time, the decayed corn and other fruits began to wonderfully revive. Even the Indians were astonished to behold the transformation. And afterwards all through the hot summer months, God sent seasonable showers. Through God’s blessings, He caused a fruitful and liberal harvest to our comfort and rejoicing.”

A group of Puritans would also establish a colony in Salem in 1630 and the economic foundations laid by these two groups would eventually make America the financial powerhouse it is today.

William Bradford went to be with his Savior on May 9, 1657 at the age of 68. The lessons Bradford and the Pilgrims have taught us have allowed them to become “stepping stones to others in the performance of so great a work” and made America the primary source of funding for missionary endeavors around the world. It is a lesson our nation so desperately needs to revisit.

Pope’s Regensburg Address

November 21, 2006 by

Dear Readers: Too often I find myself on the Internet relying on the insights and interpretations of specific pundits to form my opinions on certain matters. I think it is important to have the discipline go back and look at the source documentation, making my own judgements and questing for additional insights when warranted.

I must admit, in matters of theology, I am limited. I am a scientist. However, I would like to introduce Rust57. He is extremely well read and well versed in religious history and comparative theology. In the interest of full disclosure, Rusty57 is an atheist. However, I have found him profoundly respectful in discussions of faith (a rare, fair trait), and asked him to discuss the Pope’s Regensburg address. His writings are below.

In the next day or so, I will place my comments on the Letter to the Pope prepared by Muslim clerics, which have been mentioned here. Many in the Rightosphere deride the Muslim letter as whiny complaints against the papal leader, and that the Pope was simply calling for an interfaith dialog to fight godlessness. However, looking at the source documents, I think the matter is far more complex.

I do acknowledge that Islamic radicals used this opportunity to foment terror. The Muslim contributors on this site are not those Muslims. Let us be willing to explore both source documents.

In this matter, I am a student. I will be inviting Rusty57 to lead this discussion. As a reminder to all, this as an Insult Free Zone. Disagree, yes. But do so politely, and with quality links and references so we can consider your views with respect and render our own judgements.

For clarity, Rusty57’s comments are blockquoted, and the Pope’s address are in the main body of the following text:

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Dear Isis:

My apologies for not having my critique of the pope’s Regensburg Address done sooner, but Pope Benedict’s speech leans heavily on ancient Greek philosophy and Medieval theology. Two areas I haven’t studied in great detail. Which is why I kept getting different impressions of the meaning, each time I read it. I knew this wasn’t going to be a quick read, but this one was even harder than I figured it would be.

The Pope’s address before the theological seminary in Regensburg is understandably loaded with references to philosophical and theological concepts that are unfamiliar for the average reader, but even considering the audience, this speech is a riddle, wrapped in an enigma. It seems that unlike the commonly reported story that the pope spoke extemporaneously and was not aware of the impact his words would have, on the contrary, if you consider all of the symbolism of the references he used, there is no way he could have been unaware of the implications that can be drawn from this speech.

Considering some previous speeches, where the pope has indicated a tougher line with the Muslim world. Demanding reciprocity by insisting that Muslim countries allow new churches to be built as new mosques face no barriers in Europe. And he has a different conception of dialogue with Muslim leaders than Pope John Paul II did.

This appears to be a kind of turf war as the pope wants a Christian revival in Europe and a halt to the growth of Islam in European countries. The previous pope saw Muslim leaders as an ally against secularism. Pope Benedict’s address indicates an opposite policy, hinting for rational secularists to extend reason to examine Christianity and see its superiority over Islam. And the homage paid to a revered Byzantine emperor and the references to the Greek Church clearly indicate he wants an alliance with the Eastern Orthodox Churches in a common front against Islam.

The pope is 79 years old and apparently in poor health, so he won’t see much in the way of results of his policy shift. Perhaps he sees himself as a catalyst in saving the Church in Europe. I just hope he’s not part of a process that could end with religious war.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a moving experience for me to stand and give a lecture at this university podium once again. I think back to those years when, after a pleasant period at the Freisinger Hochschule, I began teaching at the University of Bonn. This was in 1959, in the days of the old university made up of ordinary professors. The various chairs had neither assistants nor secretaries, but in recompense there was much direct contact with students and in particular among the professors themselves.

We would meet before and after lessons in the rooms of the teaching staff. There was a lively exchange with historians, philosophers, philologists and, naturally, between the two theological faculties. Once a semester there was a dies academicus, when professors from every faculty appeared before the students of the entire university, making possible a genuine experience of universitas: the reality that despite our specializations which at times make it difficult to communicate with each other, we made up a whole, working in everything on the basis of a single rationality with its various aspects and sharing responsibility for the right use of reason– this reality became a lived experience.

The university was also very proud of its two theological faculties. It was clear that, by inquiring about the reasonableness of faith, they too carried out a work which is necessarily part of the whole of the universitas scientiarum, even if not everyone could share the faith which theologians seek to correlate with reason as a whole. This profound sense of coherence within the universe of reason was not troubled, even when it was once reported that a colleague had said there was something odd about our university: it had two faculties devoted to something that did not exist: God. That even in the face of such radical skepticism it is still necessary and reasonable to raise the question of God through the use of reason, and to do so in the context of the tradition of the Christian faith: this, within the university as a whole, was accepted without question.

I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (Münster) of part of the dialogue carried on– perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara– by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both. It was probably the emperor himself who set down this dialogue, during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402; and this would explain why his arguments are given in greater detail than the responses of the learned Persian.

The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Qur’an, and deals especially with the image of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the relationship of the three Laws: the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Qur’an. In this lecture I would like to discuss only one point– itself rather marginal to the dialogue itself– which, in the context of the issue of faith and reason, I found interesting and which can serve as the starting-point for my reflections on this issue.

In the seventh conversation edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the jihad (holy war). The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: There is no compulsion in religion. It is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat.

But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur’an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the “Book” and the “infidels,” he turns to his interlocutor somewhat brusquely with the central question on the relationship between religion and violence in general, in these words:

Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.

The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul.

God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats… To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need
a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death….

As far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we find ourselves faced with a dilemma which nowadays challenges us directly. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God’s nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true? I believe that here we can see the profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God. Modifying the first verse of the Book of Genesis, John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words: In the beginning was the logos. This is the very word used by the emperor: God acts with logos.

At first, it seemed the speech was primarily an attack on secular reasoning, and a quotation of the Byzantine emperor condemning Islam was just added as an aside to bolster his claim that because modern secular reasoning doesn’t consider religious claims proveable, then they consider all conceptions of God beyond rational criticism.

Some media reports(like the New York Times) stated that it was mainly a condemnation of secularism that contained an unfortunate, poorly thought out quote from Emperor Paleologus. I thought the same thing at first, because content-wise, the address devotes more attention to modern reasoning than it does to Islam.

But considering the use of the quote from the second last emperor of Byzantium, I wondered why did the pope make the dangerous analogy of using Islam as the example of forced, violent conversion, instead of using one of the myriad examples from his own church’s history. He could have used the 4th century persecution of gnostics, arianists and other significant opponents of the growing Roman orthodoxy. Or he could have pointed to slaughter of heretics during the inquisitions of the Middle Ages. He conveniently ignored the bloody history of Europe’s dark age that the Church was either powerless to alleviate, or contributed to that era of misery. In comparison, during that time, the Muslim world was at least tolerating non-Muslim minorities and preserving art, medicine, music and science.

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God’s nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: “For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality.” Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God’s will, we would even have to practice idolatry.

This one surprised me. I was under the impression that mainstream Christian theology contended that God was omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. In other words, under no constraints or limits. Here Pope Benedict is proposing that the Christian God has limits. He cannot violate universal moral and ethical standards.

Logos means both reason and word– a reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason. John thus spoke the final word on the biblical concept of God, and in this word all the often toilsome and tortuous threads of biblical faith find their culmination and synthesis. In the beginning was the logos, and the logos is God, says the Evangelist.

The encounter between the Biblical message and Greek thought did not happen by chance. The vision of Saint Paul, who saw the roads to Asia barred and in a dream saw a Macedonian man plead with him: Come over to Macedonia and help us! (cf. Acts 16:6-10)– this vision can be interpreted as a distillation of the intrinsic necessity of a rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek inquiry.

In point of fact, this rapprochement had been going on for some time. The mysterious name of God, revealed from the burning bush, a name which separates this God from all other divinities with their many names and declares simply that he is, is already presents a challenge to the notion of myth, to which Socrates’s attempt to vanquish and transcend myth stands in close analogy. Within the Old Testament, the process which started at the burning bush came to new maturity at the time of the Exile, when the God of Israel, an Israel now deprived of its land and worship, was proclaimed as the God of heaven and earth and described in a simple formula which echoes the words uttered at the burning bush: I am.

This new understanding of God is accompanied by a kind of enlightenment, which finds stark _expression in the mockery of gods who are merely the work of human hands (cf. Ps 115). Thus, despite the bitter conflict with those Hellenistic rulers who sought to accommodate it forcibly to the customs and idolatrous cult of the Greeks, biblical faith, in the Hellenistic period, encountered the best of Greek thought at a deep level, resulting in a mutual enrichment evident especially in the later wisdom literature.

Today we know that the Greek translation of the Old Testament produced at Alexandria– the Septuagint– is more than a simple (and in that sense perhaps less than satisfactory) translation of the Hebrew text: it is an independent textual witness and a distinct and important step in the history of revelation, one which brought about this encounter in a way that was decisive for the birth and spread of Christianity. A profound encounter of faith and reason is taking place here, an encounter between genuine enlightenment and religion. From the very heart of Christian faith and, at the same time, the heart of Greek thought now joined to faith, Manuel II was able to say: Not to act “with logos” is contrary to God’s nature.

In all honesty, one must observe that in the late Middle Ages we find trends in theology which would sunder this synthesis between the Greek spirit and the Christian spirit. In contrast with the so-called intellectualism of Augustine and Thomas, there arose with Duns Scotus a voluntarism which ultimately led to the claim that we can only know God’s voluntas ordinata. Beyond this is the realm of God’s freedom, in virtue of which he could have done the opposite of everything he has actually done. This gives rise to positions which clearly approach those of Ibn Hazn and might even lead to the image of a capricious God, who is not even bound to truth and goodness. God’s transcendence and otherness are so exalted that our reason, our sense of the true and good, are no longer an authentic mirror of God, whose deepest possibilities remain eternally unattainable and hidden behind his actual decisions.

As opposed to this, the faith of the Church has always insisted that between God and us, between his eternal Creator Spirit and our created reason there exists a real analogy, in which unlikeness remains infinitely greater than likeness, yet not to the point of abolishing analogy and its language (cf. Lateran IV). God does not become more divine when we push him away from us in a sheer, impenetrable voluntarism; rather, the truly divine God is the God who has revealed himself as logos and, as logos, has acted and continues to act lovingly on our behalf. Certainly, love transcends knowledge and is thereby capable of perceiving more than thought alone (cf. Eph 3:19); nonetheless it continues to be love of the God who is logos. Consequently, Christian worship is worship in harmony with the eternal Word and with our reason (cf. Rom 12:1).

This inner rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry was an event of decisive importance not only from the standpoint of the history of religions, but also from that of world history-– it is an event which concerns us even today. Given this convergence, it is not surprising that Christianity, despite its origins and some significant developments in the East, finally took on its historically decisive character in Europe. We can also express this the other way around: this convergence, with the subsequent addition of the Roman heritage, created Europe and remains the foundation of what can rightly be called Europe.

If European culture is to be interpreted as a synthesis of Greek philosophy, Christianity(including the Eastern Rites), and Roman heritage; that could be a message that Islam doesn’t belong in Europe. Combined with the previous condemnation of the Prophet and the Islamic conception of God, this seems like the pope is reaching out to the Orthodox Christians in a unified effort to oppose the spread of Islam within Europe.

The thesis that the critically purified Greek heritage forms an integral part of Christian faith has been countered by the call for a dehellenization of Christianity-– a call which has more and more dominated theological discussions since the beginning of the modern age. Viewed more closely, three stages can be observed in the program of dehellenization: although interconnected, they are clearly distinct from one another in their motivations and objectives.

Dehellenization first emerges in connection with the fundamental postulates of the Reformation in the 16th century. Looking at the tradition of scholastic theology, the Reformers thought they were confronted with a faith system totally conditioned by philosophy, that is to say an articulation of the faith based on an alien system of thought. As a result, faith no longer appeared as a living historical Word but as one element of an overarching philosophical system. The principle of sola scriptura, on the other hand, sought faith in its pure, primordial form, as originally found in the biblical Word. Metaphysics appeared as a premise derived from another source, from which faith had to be liberated in order to become once more fully itself. When Kant stated that he needed to set thinking aside in order to make room for faith, he carried this program forward with a radicalism that the Reformers could never have foreseen. He thus anchored faith exclusively in practical reason, denying it access to reality as a whole.

The liberal theology of the 19th and 20th centuries ushered in a second stage in the process of dehellenization, with Adolf von Harnack as its outstanding representative. When I was a student, and in the early years of my teaching, this program was highly influential in Catholic theology too. It took as its point of departure Pascal’s distinction between the God of the philosophers and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

In my inaugural lecture at Bonn in 1959, I tried to address the issue. I will not repeat here what I said on that occasion, but I would like to describe at least briefly what was new about this second stage of dehellenization. Harnack’s central idea was to return simply to the man Jesus and to his simple message, underneath the accretions of theology and indeed of hellenization: this simple message was seen as the culmination of the religious development of humanity. Jesus was said to have put an end to worship in favor of morality. In the end he was presented as the father of a humanitarian moral message. The fundamental goal was to bring Christianity back into harmony with modern reason, liberating it, that is to say, from seemingly philosophical and theological elements, such as faith in Christ’s divinity and the triune God.

In this sense, historical-critical exegesis of the New Testament restored to theology its place within the university: theology, for Harnack, is something essentially historical and therefore strictly scientific. What it is able to say critically about Jesus is, so to speak, an _expression of practical reason and consequently it can take its rightful place within the university. Behind this thinking lies the modern self-limitation of reason, classically expressed in Kant’s “Critiques”, but in the meantime further radicalized by the impact of the natural sciences. This modern concept of reason is based, to put it briefly, on a synthesis between Platonism (Cartesianism) and empiricism, a synthesis confirmed by the success of technology. On the one hand it presupposes the mathematical structure of matter, its intrinsic rationality, which makes it possible to understand how matter works and use it efficiently: this basic premise is, so to speak, the Platonic element in the modern understanding of nature. On the other hand, there is nature’s capacity to be exploited for our purposes, and here only the possibility of verification or falsification through experimentation can yield ultimate certainty. The weight between the two poles can, depending on the circumstances, shift from one side to the other. As strongly positivistic a thinker as J. Monod has declared himself a convinced Platonist/Cartesian.

This gives rise to two principles which are crucial for the issue we have raised. First, only the kind of certainty resulting from the interplay of mathematical and empirical elements can be considered scientific. Anything that would claim to be science must be measured against this criterion. Hence the human sciences, such as history, psychology, sociology, and philosophy, attempt to conform themselves to this canon of scientificity. A second point, which is important for our reflections, is that by its very nature this method excludes the question of God, making it appear an unscientific or pre-scientific question. Consequently, we are faced with a reduction of the radius of science and reason, one which needs to be questioned.

We shall return to this problem later. In the meantime, it must be observed that from this standpoint any attempt to maintain theology’s claim to be “scientific” would end up reducing Christianity to a mere fragment of its former self. But we must say more: it is man himself who ends up being reduced, for the specifically human questions about our origin and destiny, the questions raised by religion and ethics, then have no place within the purview of collective reason as defined by “science” and must thus be relegated to the realm of the subjective. The subject then decides, on the basis of his experiences, what he considers tenable in matters of religion, and the subjective “conscience” becomes the sole arbiter of what is ethical. In this way, though, ethics and religion lose their power to create a community and become a completely personal matter.

This is a dangerous state of affairs for humanity, as we see from the disturbing pathologies of religion and reason which necessarily erupt when reason is so reduced that questions of religion and ethics no longer concern it. Attempts to construct an ethic from the rules of evolution or from psychology and sociology, end up being simply inadequate.

Before I draw the conclusions to which all this has been leading, I must briefly refer to the third stage of dehellenization, which is now in progress. In the light of our experience with cultural pluralism, it is often said nowadays that the synthesis with Hellenism achieved in the early Church was a preliminary inculturation which ought not to be binding on other cultures. The latter are said to have the right to return to the simple message of the New Testament prior to that inculturation, in order to inculturate it anew in their own particular milieux. This thesis is not only false; it is coarse and lacking in precision. The New Testament was written in Greek and bears the imprint of the Greek spirit, which had already come to maturity as the Old Testament developed. True, there are elements in the evolution of the early Church which do not have to be integrated into all cultures. Nonetheless, the fundamental decisions made about the relationship between faith and the use of human reason are part of the faith itself; they are developments consonant with the nature of faith itself.

And so I come to my conclusion. This attempt, painted with broad strokes, at a critique of modern reason from within has nothing to do with putting the clock back to the time before the Enlightenment and rejecting the insights of the modern age. The positive aspects of modernity are to be acknowledged unreservedly: we are all grateful for the marvelous possibilities that it has opened up for mankind and for the progress in humanity that has been granted to us. The scientific ethos, moreover, is the will to be obedient to the truth, and, as such, it embodies an attitude which reflects one of the basic tenets of Christianity. The intention here is not one of retrenchment or negative criticism, but of broadening our concept of reason and its application.

While we rejoice in the new possibilities open to humanity, we also see the dangers arising from these possibilities and we must ask ourselves how we can overcome them. We will succeed in doing so only if reason and faith come together in a new way, if we overcome the self-imposed limitation of reason to the empirically verifiable, and if we once more disclose its vast horizons. In this sense theology rightly belongs in the university and within the wide-ranging dialogue of sciences, not merely as a historical discipline and one of the human sciences, but precisely as theology, as inquiry into the rationality of faith.

I got the impression from this part of the dissertation on reason that the pope wants the definition of reason to be broadened to include concepts that cannot be verified objectively. He lets the reader know how unhappy he is with Immanuel Kant for proposing these limits in his Critique of Pure Reason.

Only thus do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today. In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world’s profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures. At the same time, as I have attempted to show, modern scientific reason with its intrinsically Platonic element bears within itself a question which points beyond itself and beyond the possibilities of its methodology.

Modern scientific reason quite simply has to accept the rational structure of matter and the correspondence between our spirit and the prevailing rational structures of nature as a given, on which its methodology has to be based. Yet the question why this has to be so is a real question, and one which has to be remanded by the natural sciences to other modes and planes of thought: to philosophy and theology.

Is the pope proposing that modern scientific reason should remove the Christian God from the safe zone provided by theology and insert God into the natural processes that govern nature. This might be a reason why some are speculating that the Catholic Church is going to abandon its acceptance of evolution and embrace Intelligent Design. Not all scientists are afraid to discuss belief in God or the value of religion. Before the pope made this address, he should have been informed about people like Daniel Dennet and Richard Dawkins, who are willing to take up the challenge of examining evidence for God and the merit of religious belief. The pope would not like the opinions expressed by these scientists about the things the pope holds dear. And let’s not forget, there are other Gods. Other religions like Islam and Hinduism could claim it’s their God or Gods that are the life force of the natural world

For philosophy and, albeit in a different way, for theology, listening to the great experiences and insights of the religious traditions of humanity, and those of the Christian faith in particular, is a source of knowledge, and to ignore it would be an unacceptable restriction of our listening and responding. Here I am reminded of something Socrates said to Phaedo. In their earlier conversations, many false philosophical opinions had been raised, and so Socrates says: “It would be easily understandable if someone became so annoyed at all these false notions that for the rest of his life he despised and mocked all talk about being – but in this way he would be deprived of the truth of existence and would suffer a great loss”.

The West has long been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlie its rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur – this is the program with which a theology grounded in Biblical faith enters into the debates of our time. “Not to act reasonably (with logos) is contrary to the nature of God”, said Manuel II, according to his Christian understanding of God, in response to his Persian interlocutor. It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures. To rediscover it constantly is the great task of the university.

Here the pope links his appeal to expand the boundaries of reason with Manuel II’s appeal to distinguish between a righteous faith and a dangerous, violent one.

Right now, I’m thinking that it’s a good thing even most of the critics didn’t get the true meaning of the pope’s dissertation. Because it appears that he is welcoming scientific inquiry of his religion, but he believes an analytical analysis of Islam will find it inferior to Christianity. Considering the dangerous times we live in, if the pope is hoping to inspire Christians in Europe to forge an alliance with secular humanists and Eastern Orthodox to stop a Muslim takeover of Europe.

.

“Obsession”: Muslim Views, Please

November 17, 2006 by

Dear Readers: I have two questions to ask of the Muslim contributors on this board: 

a) Have any of you seen the program, Obsession (promoted by Glen Beck) on Fox News.

b) If so, what are your initial thoughts, comments, and critiques.

Here is why I ask:  My husband is a reasonable man and when he was done watching this film, came away espousing the anti-Muslim sentiments of a Jihad Watch fan.  Fortunately, after about 30 minutes of discussion (and mind you, I was exhausted after a long day of work after a restless night), I was able to get him to distinguish between Radical Islam and the type of Islam I sense contributors here practice.  However, I am deeply concerned that this film essentially lumped Muslims into one terror-loving group. I have not seen the piece.  I would rather get your comments, then view the piece if/when it is rebroadcast.  I think watching “Obsession” after getting some of your input would direct me to look for materials and nuances I might miss otherwise. Here are some links related to “Obsession”.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4HqGQLWtUM
http://www.obsessionthemovie.com/

Please leave your comments, as the Rightosphere is very much focused on this film and is promoting it heavily.  I will be back once I have had a chance to see it with my thoughts.  Thanks.  

UPDATE 1: Once commentator on Eteraz.org specifically indicated there were existing fatwas against Osama Bin Laden, as in this case.

UPDATE 2:  Examples of U.S. Muslims scholars issuing fatwas against terrorism and the Council of American-Islamic  Relations supportive stance. Specifically:

(Washington, D.C., 7/28/05) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today offered its support for a fatwa, or Islamic religious ruling, against terrorism and extremism issued by the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) and endorsed by more than 120 U.S. Muslim groups, leaders and institutions. (The term “fiqh” refers to Islamic jurisprudence.) The fatwa, released during a news conference this morning at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., states in part: “Islam strictly condemns religious extremism and the use of violence against innocent lives. There is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism. Targeting civilians’ life and property through suicide bombings or any other method of attack is haram – or forbidden – and those who commit these barbaric acts are criminals, not martyrs … In the light of the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah we clearly and strongly state: 1. All acts of terrorism targeting civilians are haram (forbidden) in Islam. 2. It is haram for a Muslim to cooperate with any individual or group that is involved in any act of terrorism or violence. 3. It is the civic and religious duty of Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement authorities to protect the lives of all civilians. We issue this fatwa following the guidance of our scripture, the Qur’an, and the teachings of our Prophet Muhammad – peace be upon him.”

UPDATE 3: According to a Muslim contributor, fatwas are issued more against ideas and individuals. The following .pdf file is the specific Fiqh Council of North America’s fatwa.

UPDATE 4: A good summary article of fatwas against Osama Bin Laden, and offers this point.

PS As for Friedman’s main point, that Muslims haven’t done a good job of fighting jihadi ideology and terrorism, it is bizarre. The Algerian government fought a virtual civil war to put down political Islam, in which over 100,000 persons died. The Egyptians jailed 20,000 or 30,000 radicals for thought crimes and killed 1500 in running street battles in the 1990s and early zeroes. Al-Qaeda can’t easily strike in the Middle East precisely because Syria, Egypt, Algeria, etc. have their number and have undertaken massive actions against them. What does Friedman want? And, besides, he is wrong that this is only a Muslim problem. In the global age all problems are everybody’s. That’s part of flat world, too, Tom.

UPDATE 4: Muslims are donating to rebuild churches in Palestine.

UPDATE 5: An exhaustive listing of anti-terror fatwas and their usefulness in the Global War on Terror was posted by Aisha Eteraz. And offers this insight:

So: documented resistance to terrorism by media and clerical bodies in the Muslim world.

Why hasn’t it worked?

It hasn’t worked because our much-lauded Islamic law is far less powerful than it seems, and far far less powerful than the militants would like you to believe in the West. The reach of any given sheikh goes only as far as his charisma; even in countries where Shari’a is the law of the land, a cleric with state-appointed powers has no authority beyond those powers. A militant group working outside the law certainly isn’t going to stop its activities because of a few decrees by sheikhs working for the law. Fatwas are strictly temporal decrees; no sheikh has the authority to speak for God, thus, any attempt to convince terrorists to give up their pipe bombs using the tools of Islamic law is likely to end in failure. If they don’t like what you have to say, they are well within their rights as Muslims to listen to someone else. Someone who is already saying what they want to hear.

Shari’a law is not all-powerful. Shar’ia law, today, is almost useless. Saint Ali, grandson of Muhammad, said it best: “Shari’a only functions in a just society.”

Azerbaijan

November 17, 2006 by

http://www.eteraz.org/story/2006/11/16/135328/91

A wonderful synopsis of history and society, written by Haroon at Ali’s new site.  As a history buff, I was so excited to learn something new, I had to share.

Did you know, for example, that Azerbaijan was once known as Albania? Did you know that more Azeris live in Iran than in Azerbaijan? Did you know that Azerbaijan was the world’s first Muslim republic? (Hint: That lasted two years.) On a more personal note, did you know that Azerbaijan is my favorite Muslim country which has lost a war to its smaller neighbor, which then went on to occupy an unforgettable chunk of its clearly violable territory? (No, not Egypt Syria Jordan Lebanon. Azerbaijan!)

Islam Internet Community

November 17, 2006 by

One of my blogging icons is Ali Eteraz.  He has a genuine gift as an essayist, combining insight and humor in an engaging manner.  He has acted as my gateway into the Humanist Muslim Movement.

 He and other Muslims have started a wonderful new internet community, Eteraz.org.  I highly recommend this site for students of current events and past history, as well as those interested in supporting the Humanist Muslim ideals.

Eteraz is an online forum whose goal is to mobilize people of conscience throughout the world to identify, discuss, and take action on political and religious issues involving Islam and the Muslim world. Eteraz seeks a humanist vision of Islam for the future and looks to illuminate the wisdom and spirituality that made Islam a great religion historically by creating community, promoting informed opinions and more than anything else, moving its members to real world action.

Most, if not all topics touching on the religion and politics of Islam are appropriate at Eteraz. This forum represents people of widely diverging (and even conflicting) theologies. However, the soul of Eteraz is, and always has been, a) the simple idea that every human, man or woman, believer or atheist, wealthy or poor, has the same intrinsic worth, and can only be judged on the basis of his actions; and b) that it takes more than emails, and more than flowery articles, to stand up for the intrinsic worth of individuals.

Definition of Terms and Goals

November 17, 2006 by

Dear Readers:

Starting a blog is quite a thrilling experience, filled with learning opportunities.  I wanted to take some time to review some general terms and goals of my portion of this site, to better enhance dialog and communication.

Humanist Muslim:  This is a general term I use to segregate peace-desiring, religiously tolerant Muslims from terror-fomenting, Jihad-embracing terrorists.  I will interchange this word with Islamo-friend, peace-loving Muslims, and other similar terms.

By Humanist Muslim, I am not deeming one path of Islam better than the next.  I will leave discussions of the nuances of Islamic practice to writers much more knowledgeable. I am merely a weigh-station on the road to Conservatives desiring additional information on the American Muslim Community not typically available in other blog sites.

One interesting aspect I have learned during recent discussions is that the term Humanist Muslim is bandied about carelessly. For example, one commentator here stated:

“LGF (littlegreenfootballs.com) does post the words of lots of Humanist Muslims and applauds their efforts. Ali, Rushdie, Sultan, Phares, the list goes on. You can’t say they never do.”

Samaha, in a very illuminating post , disagrees with how the term is applied in the above context. Rightly so, I feel. Samaha has the following assessment of these cited Humanists:

Ali:“Islam is a cult created by a psychopath. It cannot be reformed. It must be eradicated. Islam must be eradicated not because the Quran says Earth is flat or the shooting stars are missiles that Allah fires at the Jinns who climb the heaven to eavesdrop on the conversation of the exalted assembly. These stupid tales could even amuse us. Islam must go because it teaches hate, it orders killing of non-Muslims, it denigrates women and it violates the human rights. Islam must go not because it is false but because it is destructive, because it is dangerous; a threat to peace and security of humankind. With the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in Islamic countries, Islam has become a serious and a real threat to the survival of our civilization. ”

“Let us save the world from its certain destruction. We don’t have to face another world war. We can stop this madness now. We can love each other like members of one family and celebrate our diversity like flowers of one garden. We can build a better world for our children. We can sing the songs of joy together. We can make a difference. Let not a psychopath liar fool you. Do not become an instrument of hate. Muhammad lied. This site is the proof.”

Wafa Sultan: The Muslims are the ones who began the clash of civilizations. The Prophet of Islam said: “I was ordered to fight the people until they believe in Allah and His Messenger.” When the Muslims divided the people into Muslims and non-Muslims, and called to fight the others until they believe in what they themselves believe, they started this clash, and began this war. In order to start this war, they must reexamine their Islamic books and curricula, which are full of calls for takfir and fighting the infidels. …

I am not a Christian, a Muslim, or a Jew. I am a secular human being. I do not believe in the supernatural, but I respect others’ right to believe in it.”

Clearly, neither of the above writers can be classified as Muslims, Humanist or otherwise. I would have not known about their real opinions of Islam were it not for the input of a practicing Muslim such as Samaha.

And that is a key purpose of my discussions and dialogs about Islam. My portion of this blog permits Muslims to tell us something about their faith without insults and derisions. As a scientist, I cannot fathom the logic of asking a Christian to explain fine-points of Islamic theology. It would be like asking a medical doctor about the nature of a strike-slip fault (a geologic specialty). Though the doctor may sound informed and wise, important details would be neglected and may be misinterpreted. You need a seismologist for the best answer in this case.

This site also allows Islam Questioning Conservatives to politely and rationally express their very reasonable concerns to their fellow Americans who practice Islam. I hope our Muslim readers can take their viewpoints and ideas and utilize them to enforce Humanist Muslim actions and ideals in the Muslim community — in America and abroad.

I am facing some real challenges now, as not every Conservative seems willing to distinguish between Islamo-friend and Islamo-foe — instead, lumping them into a many-headed Muslim monster that needs to be slain. However, I struggle on because this site and others like it offer another tool in the war against Islamic extremist terror. Friends and allies that promote peace and can help our servicemen take-out terrorists need our support. Words like this leave me encouraged:

From Jarhead, a Marine:

So perhaps it is time for me to admit that I have been wrong about blaming all Muslims for the actions of a few.

From Fibbonaci, a Catholic:

I must say, your exemplary posts make me think. I started on this forum defending Islam for I know good Muslims. You have reminded me to be more tolerant. Thanks.

One last thought: Those who believe we are on a collision course with Islam and are destined to be an a global war are as dangerous as the Jihaddis. Alienating an entire population of people can be deadly, leaving us with no allies, tipsters, or intelligence resources within the Muslim community. Recall the transatlantic attacks from London slated for this summer were foiled, thanks to a tip from a Muslim. Hate could cost us future tips.

P.S.  I also like the phrase “Humanist Muslim”, for it reminds people that Muslims are human — a fact seemingly forgotten by certain members of the Rightosphere.

Gold, Dredging, Dams, Environmentalists, and Truth

November 15, 2006 by


 

Dear Readers: It is my privledge to be a member of a wonderful chat room of Conservatives. Some of the most articulate, bright and interesting people I know post there regularly, and expand my knowledge and horizons.

One such member is Matt Mattson, who wrote the following piece. I am delighted he has allowed me to publish it here, as it demonstrates how harmful the bad-science generates poor environmental policy that is ultimately deterimental to the very Earth it seeks to protect.

*****

Above on the left, is a picture of the S. Umpqua River, opposite space 78 at the River’s West RV Park, on Jan. 20, 2002 when the river is at its normal winter flood stage. Note the color of the water, a soupy red/green. This date is also the height of the winter steelhead trout season, as any State Oregon Fish and Game booklet will attest. The picture of the dredge working on the right is taken at the same location during the 2001 Dredge Earth First Rally. Note the dredge is not: making the river cloudy; moving so much water it covers the boulder beside it, affecting the steelhead trout (which have long since gone out to sea), or turning the river red/green — only Mother Nature has the power to do that! The next time you hear xyz environmentalist say gold dredges are harmful, take a moment to reflect on this picture. Each year the gold bearing rivers flood, at the same time steelhead and salmon are running up them to spawn, so reddish-green water produced by Mother nature is no impediment to them, and hasn’t been for eons. That is a fact. Mother Nature, each year, is moving millions of pounds of material and boulders the size of Cadillac cars at flood stage, and no dredge yet designed by man does that, let alone a small gold dredge. Second, reflect on this: all states have dredge seasons, ahead of the spawning cycles, because forest managers know that loosened and aerated river gravel is exactly what salmon and trout look for to spawn in, and that is exactly what the dredge produces.

The Gold Dredge of yesteryear (and what greens want you to always think of as “gold dredging”):

The enormous, awkward-appearing gold dredge was operated in the Goldstream Valley starting in 1928 and extracted 7.5 million ounces of gold before being shut down in 1959.

Gold dredging today:

 

Dam Removals Vs Gold Dredging:

I am not an expert in dam removals but everyone should keep a watchful eye on them as they are slated for places all over, especially when the dams have out-lived their life’s purpose in some cases and some have even totally filled so they are merely a man-made “waterfall”.

The reason to keep an eye on these is based on the fact that even in the case of a “dinky” little dam there are tens of thousands of cubic yards of sediments that will be flushed downstream (which is the equivalent of more than centuries of what the collective suction dredge gold miners could move in a state (and the miners are spread out over dozens and dozens of separate places and not a single stream).

The point should be that the results from these removals with the massive volumes should put a nail in the coffin of the suction dredge critics based merely on the silly contrast of the drop in the bucket to the ocean in volume comparisons, area effected and persistency. Of course the intellectually dishonest hypocrites of the naturalist movements will never settle for letting the “truth” keep them away from something.

The big question specific to these power generating dams and reservoirs for steady flows of water and irrigation has to be for what reasoning are they going to be taken away?? If they are to be sacrificed on the “holy grail” of salmon they need to have their heads examined. No salmon species is threatened with extinction in N.America …and though they are in decline presently in different streams or watersheds there is not even the complete knowledge as to all the reasons why. I think that logically speaking if portions of the watershed (branch tributaries)that are not in fact affected by dam flow, temp., etc. are not demonstrating that there are in fact significantly more fish then what is the point???

I don’t believe the evidence suggests that is true that certain parts of streams are fine but quite the contrary, these portions of watersheds though not influenced by the dams are similarly seeing reduced numbers compared to historical amounts (where any real good information existed)….that has to PROVE without a doubt that the declining trends are rooted somewhere else and these efforts to try to squeeze out small little increases here or there are essentially “witch hunts” and not the primary problems. They have to try to make people believe that traveling some miles up the main tributary is lethal I would love to know if they have anything that shows that is the fact. Consider the Fraser River for example up in B.C. where the natural geologic conditions based on the sediment types have the River flowing 35 NTU all summer long and yet they have a strong salmon population…I do not know about temperature differences.

I went to the University Library to look up old records from the State game wardens office on these matters and wasn’t at all surprised to see that right around 1900 they were encouraging all who were out and about to eradicate the sea lion by whatever means necessary….in addition they had hatcheries releasing millions of fish every year all along the coast in the late 1800’s. Let’s just say that back in the 1950’s the game dept. decided to ship in some Roosevelt elk from Canada into places in the Oregon Coast range….approximately 50 years later are the elk there now “wild” and “indigenous”????

The fact that fish can be “planted” anywhere we want shouldn’t be ignored as anything different than replanting a forest that burns up. Yet they scoff at “planting” fish?? If released outside the hatchery they will forever more populate a totally indistinguishable fish from any other in the life cycle.

The real problems is the Gaea (Greek, Earth Mother – plug it into your search engine for some real enlightenment) folks and their quasi-RELIGIOUS war that they are waging which in reality hits alot more than merely the farmer, rancher, logger, fishermen, miner, factory owner, city sewage treatment… in reality it is a disdain and hatred for humanity.


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