Ann Coulter Says We Should “Rape the Planet”

Ann Coulter knows how to sell books and antagonize me. While I don't want to give her more publicity, some of her quotes are just too brazen to ignore. Here's an example:

The ethic of conservation is the explicit abnegation of man's dominion over the Earth. The lower species are here for our use. God said so: Go forth, be fruitful, multiply, and rape the planet — it's yours. That's our job: drilling, mining and stripping. Sweaters are the anti-Biblical view. Big gas-guzzling cars with phones and CD players and wet bars — that's the Biblical view.

Ann Coulter

BTW: How many children does she have that will have to live on the raped planet?

The Future of Science in a Post-Petroleum World

John Michael Greer discusses how science survives the collapse of petroleum-based industrial institutions and overcomes antagonism from religious groups in the future. Excerpts below.

Link: The Archdruid Report: Saving Science.

…Such writers as Theodore Roszak and Lewis Mumford have pointed out that the practical benefits of science must be weighed in the balance against the dehumanizing effects of scientific reductionism and the horrific results of technology run amok in the service of greed and the lust for power. Others have argued that scientific thinking, with its cult of objectivity and its rejection of human values, is fundamentally antihuman and antilife, and the gifts it has given us are analogous to the gewgaws Mephistopheles brought to Faust at the price of the latter’s soul.

These arguments make a strong case against the intellectual idolatry that treats science as a surrogate religion or a key to ultimate truth. I’m not convinced, though, that they make a case against the practice of science on the much more modest basis to which it is better suited, and on which it was carried on until quite recently: that of a set of very effective mental tools for making sense of material reality. As the age of cheap abundant energy comes to an end, and the reach of our sciences and technologies scales back to fit the realities of life in a world of strict ecological limits, the overblown fantasies that encouraged people to make science carry the burden of their cravings for transcendence are, I think, likely to give way sooner rather than later.

At the same time, the survival of the scientific method will be crucial to the task of creating sustainable societies in the future ahead of us. That process will be very hard to pursue without the touchstone of quantitative measurement and experimental verification. Thus I suggest that preserving the scientific method as a living tradition belongs tolerably high on the priority list as the Long Descent begins around us.

How could this be done? With today’s institutionalized science unlikely to survive, at least two options present themselves. The first is that other social forms better suited to withstand the rigors of an age of decline might choose adopt the practice of scientific research.

… It takes very little in the way of hardware to identify pollinators visiting a backyard garden, or to track turbidity and erosion along the banks of a local stream; it takes very little more to turn the knowledge gained in these ways to the work of ecological healing – providing nesting boxes for orchard mason bees, seeding erosion-controlling plants, and many other small steps with potentially huge consequences. A grasp of scientific method will be crucial in this work, and if it proves valuable to the survival of human communities and the ecosystems in which they live – as I am convinced it will – the method will be handed down to the future.

… religious tradition, or for that matter any nonreligious one with enough passion and commitment to survive the coming troubles, could make a similar choice, adopting some branch of science useful to its work. It’s a tried and true method – trace the survival of Greek logic by way of Christian and Muslim religious traditions, or the parallel survival of Indian logic in Hinduism and Buddhism, and you’ll find a similar process at work.

Preaching to a Bear

A Priest, a Pentecostal Preacher and a Rabbi…. …someone made the comment that preaching to people isn’t really all that hard. A real challenge would be to preach to a bear…. They would all go out into the woods, find a bear, preach to it, and attempt to convert it.

Conversion

Freedom of Religion and Terrorism in Singapore

Atanu describes how Singapore controls religious bigotry and intolerance. Cable TV must be very different with no preaching!

Source: Atanu Dey on India’s Development ? A Man of Practical Genius.

Freedom of religion is guaranteed in Singapore but freedom to proselytize is not. Proselytizing essentially says that my religion is better than your religion and that if you don’t accept my god as the One True Savior(TM), you will rot in hell that my god has specially prepared for you. This sows seeds of discord in society and soon the newly converted start asking for special treatment and handouts and in the limiting case, when the bunch grows sufficiently large, ask for a separate state of their own because they cannot bear to live with the other people who are destined to go to hell.

So Singapore is strict about proselytizing. In keeping with their policy of discouraging that anti-social behavior, they caught a meek little Catholic lady who was going door to door peddling her religion and threw her into jail after she was found guilty by the courts. Then they publicized the event. This sent the message to all religious bigots who follow the dictates of their own hearts that bigotry is not ok.

They took care of the mullahs as well. Got them together and told them that if they even make a peep in their weekly religious sermons promoting killing and terrorism, they will have their butts in the sling. Live and let live was the message they got and as rational humans, the mullahs got in line. The last time they had communal unrest was sometime in the late 1960s.

Balancing Faith with Reason

I was not aware of al-Ghazali contributions to religious thought, but we would all benefit if his influence on the Islamic world increased. Thanks to Joshua Allen for this post.

Abu Hamid al-Ghazali was an important inflection point in human philosophy. Roughly 1000 years ago, he was instrumental in introducing Aristotle and Plato to the Islamic world. He made several improvements on the work of the previous philosophers and had a lasting impact on western philosophy. However, 500 years before the “cult of reason” swept the west, he saw the potential for a clash between rationalism and mysticism. Soon the Islamic rationalists were hard at work exterminating all traces of revealed authority by making faith subordinate to reason, while the blind faithful attacked the very core of this new threat by attempting to exterminate reason.

al-Ghazali was one of the first to use reason in service of religious doctrine, and the most honest.  In comparison, the attempts of Aquinas and Pascal seem cheap and deceptive.  But Ghazali also realized the futility of making faith subordinate to reason, as well as the futility of making reason subordinate to faith.  He saw both parties in the reason vs. faith debate as being misguided — the two should enrich one another, not obliterate one another.  Through mastery of both systems, he argued that blind faith in reason is just as bankrupt as blind faith in revealed authority.  He made the religious dogmatists just as nervous as the blind rationalists.  During his life, he witnessed the birth of the strain of theocratic philosophy that led to the assassains and predated modern Islamists, and endured threats on his life from these fundamentalists.  He was utimately able to see these extremists brought into check and his more balanced approach prevailed for several hundred years.  It’s only in recent years that Maududi and Qutb succeeded in reviving the Islamist political ideology of the revealed authority dogmatists.

There are several current theories about what the west should do in order to “save” the Arab world from the grip of the Islamists (he would call Batinists).  Popular proposals include imposition of western values of liberty, democracy, free markets, scientific inquiry, and secularism.  The memes competing for supremacy in the world today look remarkably like the “four doctrines“ which Ghazali described competing in his day; reading his writings it is amazing to note how little has changed.  Ghazali’s felt that spiritual enlightenment is a very personal thing which must be gained through experience, and cannot be taught, indoctrinated, or imposed.  He predicted that true enlightenment is impossible in conditions of social strife and upheaval, when indoctrination and propaganda take precedence, and saw a function of government as a mechanism to provide the stability and framework necessary for individuals to find spiritual enlightenment for themselves (the opposite of sharia, which seeks to impose, but also not a “cult of liberty”, which is its own dogma).  This balanced “Zhong Yong” philosophy could seem indecisive in a world of absolutes, but I think it’s closest to what we really want.

Source: Better Living Through Software – Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali.

Islam and the Future

Theodore Dalrymple provides some insight into the Muslim mindset.

Islam was from its inception both church and state, one and indivisible, with no possible distinction between temporal and religious authority. Muhammad’s power was seamlessly spiritual and secular (although the latter grew ultimately out of the former), and he bequeathed this model to his followers. Since he was, by Islamic definition, the last prophet of God upon earth, his was a political model whose perfection could not be challenged or questioned without the total abandonment of the pretensions of the entire religion.

But his model left Islam with two intractable problems. One was political. Muhammad unfortunately bequeathed no institutional arrangements by which his successors in the role of omnicompetent ruler could be chosen (and, of course, a schism occurred immediately after the Prophet’s death, with some—today’s Sunnites—following his father-in-law, and some—today’s Shi’ites—his son-in-law).

Link: City Journal Spring 2004 | When Islam Breaks Down by Theodore Dalrymple.

Compounding this difficulty, the legitimacy of temporal power could always be challenged by those who, citing Muhammad’s spiritual role, claimed greater religious purity or authority; the fanatic in Islam is always at a moral advantage vis-à-vis the moderate. Moreover, Islam—in which the mosque is a meetinghouse, not an institutional church—has no established, anointed ecclesiastical hierarchy to decide such claims authoritatively. With political power constantly liable to challenge from the pious, or the allegedly pious, tyranny becomes the only guarantor of stability, and assassination the only means of reform. Hence the Saudi time bomb: sooner or later, religious revolt will depose a dynasty founded upon its supposed piety but long since corrupted by the ways of the world.The Islamic doctrine of apostasy is hardly favorable to free inquiry or frank discussion, to say the least, and surely it explains why no Muslim, or former Muslim, in an Islamic society would dare to suggest that the Qu’ran was not divinely dictated through the mouth of the Prophet but rather was a compilation of a charismatic man’s words made many years after his death, and incorporating, with no very great originality, Judaic, Christian, and Zoroastrian elements. In my experience, devout Muslims expect and demand a freedom to criticize, often with perspicacity, the doctrines and customs of others, while demanding an exaggerated degree of respect and freedom from criticism for their own doctrines and customs.

If they were content to exist in a seventh-century backwater, secure in a quietist philosophy, there would be no problem for them or us; their problem, and ours, is that they want the power that free inquiry confers, without either the free inquiry or the philosophy and institutions that guarantee that free inquiry. They are faced with a dilemma: either they abandon their cherished religion, or they remain forever in the rear of human technical advance. Neither alternative is very appealing; and the tension between their desire for power and success in the modern world on the one hand, and their desire not to abandon their religion on the other, is resolvable for some only by exploding themselves as bombs.

People grow angry when faced with an intractable dilemma; they lash out.

But the anger of Muslims, their demand that their sensibilities should be accorded a more than normal respect, is a sign not of the strength but of the weakness—or rather, the brittleness—of Islam in the modern world, the desperation its adherents feel that it could so easily fall to pieces.

Islam in the modern world is weak and brittle, not strong: that accounts for its so frequent shrillness. The Shah will, sooner or later, triumph over the Ayatollah in Iran, because human nature decrees it, though meanwhile millions of lives will have been ruined and impoverished. The Iranian refugees who have flooded into the West are fleeing Islam, not seeking to extend its dominion, as I know from speaking to many in my city. To be sure, fundamentalist Islam will be very dangerous for some time to come, and all of us, after all, live only in the short term; but ultimately the fate of the Church of England awaits it. Its melancholy, withdrawing roar may well (unlike that of the Church of England) be not just long but bloody, but withdraw it will. The fanatics and the bombers do not represent a resurgence of unreformed, fundamentalist Islam, but its death rattle.

via Atanu

The Death of Environmentalism (continued)

Catch-22.

Many Christian fundamentalists feel that concern for the future of our planet is irrelevant, because it has no future. They believe we are living in the End Time, when the son of God will return, the righteous will enter heaven, and sinners will be condemned to eternal hellfire. They may also believe, along with millions of other Christian fundamentalists, that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed — even hastened — as a sign of the coming Apocalypse.

Because of its power as a voting bloc, the Christian right has the ear, if not the souls, of much of the nation’s leadership. Some of those leaders are End-Time believers themselves. Others are not. Either way, their votes are heavily swayed by an electoral base that accepts the Bible as literal truth and eagerly awaits the looming Apocalypse. And that, in turn, is sobering news for those who hope for the protection of the earth, not its destruction.

Link: Christian-right views are swaying politicians and threatening the environment | By Glenn Scherer | Grist Magazine | Main Dish | 27 Oct 2004.

via Joel Makower

Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government: Church and State

"Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church and State." –Thomas Jefferson to Danbury Baptists, 1802.

"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes." –Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, 1813.

"In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own." –Thomas Jefferson to Horatio G. Spafford, 1814.

Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government

Terrorism and the Separation of Church and State

Is this a paranoid attack directed at the religious right or a big picture assessment of terrorist strategy dividing our society?

America is by design and practice, a polytheistic culture with many beliefs held in check by the separation of church and state. By attempting to unite these, the evangelicals have played directly into the grand design of Osama Bin Laden. He is a mechanical engineer by education and a religious extremist by choice. He recognizes that exploiting the religious divisions in the American culture by feeding fear into the evangelical right will split the country at a structural seam. He is using our fears of each other in combination with the powerful ambitions of those who have hijacked Christian beliefs and institutions for their own ends to feed that fear back into our system so that we will turn on each other.

He does not seek to overthrow us; he means to cause us to start a second American civil war.

The extreme religious right are his best allies and supreme instrument in his goal to break up our nation. We must come to understand how our actions are furthering his goals not only in alienating our allies and increasing the strength of our enemies abroad, but that they are causing us to crumble from within by invoking our darker nature created by our need to be among the chosen few.

Link Life Among The Mammals