I Samuel 15:2-3


2 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.

3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

See other: Often Ignored Bible Verses

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Los Caprichos No. 43


The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters is an etching by the Spanish painter and printmaker Francisco Goya. Created between 1797 and 1799, it is the 43rd of 80 etchings making up the suite of satires Los Caprichos.

The full epigraph for capricho No. 43 reads:

“Fantasy abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters: united with her (reason) , she (fantasy) is the mother of the arts and the origin of their marvels.”

Conversations: Religions and War


Galene
Billions of people share the belief that the creator of the universe wrote (or dictated) one of our books. There are many books that pretend to divine authorship, and they make incompatible claims about how we all must live. Why should this pose a problem?

Sappho
Competing religious doctrines have shattered our world into separate moral communities, and these divisions have become a continual source of human conflict.

Helena
And in response to this situation, many sensible people advocate something called religious tolerance. While religious tolerance is surely better than religious war, tolerance is not without its problems. Our fear of provoking religious hatred has rendered us unwilling to criticize ideas that are increasingly maladaptive and patently ridiculous.

Sappho
It has also obliged us to lie to ourselves—repeatedly and at the highest levels of discourse—about the compatibility between religious faith and scientific rationality. Our competing religious certainties are impeding the emergence of a viable civilization. Religious faith—faith that there is a God who cares what name He is called, faith that Jesus is coming back to earth, faith that Muslim martyrs go straight to Paradise—is on the wrong side of an escalating war of ideas.

Helena
Worse still, religion raises the stakes of human conflict much higher than tribalism, racism, or politics ever can, as it is the only form of in-group/out-group thinking that casts the differences between people in terms of eternal rewards and punishments. One of the enduring pathologies of human culture is the tendency to raise children to fear and demonize other human beings on the basis of religious faith. Consequently, faith inspires violence. Continue reading

On Hopelessness


“There are no hopeless situations there are only people who have grown hopeless about them.”

– Clare Boothe Luce

The Weight of Hatred


‘Well, my conclusion is hate is baggage.’

– Morrissey. J. (Producer), Kaye. T. (Director). (1998). American History X [Motion Picture]. United States: New Line Cinema

Stupidity and the Helmet Law


‘There are many things we can point to as proof that the human being is not smart. The helmet is my personal favourite. The fact that we had to invent the helmet: why did we invent the helmet? Well, because we were participating in many activities that were cracking our heads. We looked at the situation. We chose not to avoid these activities but to just make little plastic hats so that we can continue our head cracking lifestyles.

The only thing dumber than the helmet, is the helmet law, the point of which is to protect a brain that is functioning so poorly it’s not even trying to stop the cracking of the head that it’s in.’

Seinfeld, J. (1998). I’m Telling You For The Last Time. Broadhurst Theatre, New York: Universal Records.

Competing Religions and Peace


‘The idea that Islam is a “peaceful religion hijacked by extremists” is a fantasy, and it is now a particularly dangerous fantasy for Muslims to indulge. It is not at all clear how we should proceed in our dialogue with the Muslim world, but deluding ourselves with euphemisms is not the answer. It is now a truism in foreign policy circles that real reform in the Muslim world cannot be imposed from the outside. But it is important to recognize why this is so—it is so because most Muslims are utterly deranged by their religious faith. Muslims tend to view questions of public policy and global conflict in terms of their affiliation with Islam. And Muslims who don’t view the world in these terms risk being branded as apostates and killed by other Muslims.

But how can we ever hope to reason with the Muslim world if we are not reasonable ourselves? It accomplishes nothing to merely declare that “we all worship the same God.” We do not all worship the same God, and nothing attests to this fact more eloquently than our history of religious bloodshed. Within Islam, the Shi’a and the Sunni can’t even agree to worship the same God in the same way, and over this they have been killing one another for centuries.

It seems profoundly unlikely that we will heal the divisions in our world through inter-faith dialogue. Devout Muslims are as convinced as you are that their religion is perfect and that any deviation leads directly to hell. It is easy, of course, for the representatives of the major religions to occasionally meet and agree that there should be peace on earth, or that compassion is the common thread that unites all the world’s faiths. But there is no escaping the fact that a person’s religious beliefs uniquely determine what he thinks peace is good for, as well as what he means by a term like “compassion.” There are millions—maybe hundreds of millions—of Muslims who would be willing to die before they would allow your version of compassion to gain a foothold on the Arabian Peninsula. How can interfaith dialogue, even at the highest level, reconcile worldviews that are fundamentally incompatible and, in principle, immune to revision? The truth is, it really matters what billions of human beings believe and why they believe it.’

Harris. S. 2006. Letter To A Christian Nation p. 27-28

Human Well-being, Facts and the Arab-Israeli Conflict


The Arab-Israeli conflict is an ongoing and often violent religious clash over the land of Palestine. Both sides claim historical religious rights to the land and use those claims to justify fighting. This fight over the land officially began in 1948 after the UN gave the Jewish population Israel, and the Arabs felt that it was their land that was being given away.

Unfortunately, most of the commentaries regarding this ongoing conflict are heavily politicised and, worse still, often steeped in prejudices fuelled by religious hatred (and to complicate things, this hatred is not only emanating from the apparent religions involved).

If we are to have a real discussion about how we can further the cause of building a more peaceful society in the Palestine region, it behoves us to, firstly, condemn all violence without prejudice; and secondly, state merely facts which relate to human well-being (insofar as this can be determined).

Over a period of nearly 70 years,

  • 72% of the West Bank has been declared ‘Israeli state land’ and has been confiscated from Arab Palestinians who have occupied the region since the time of the British occupation and the Ottoman occupation before that. These confiscations, whatever the policy behind them, have never been compensated. This has, understandably, caused some friction.
  • 400,000 Israelis have settled in the expropriated land, often destroying the olive groves which were the source of employment and income of the local Arab population. This has, again, understandably, caused some friction.
  • Most of these Israeli settlers have access to their part of a 250 mile new highway network which, as opposed to the Arab Palestinians, provides free movement to the Israeli population and the well-equipped army which guards it.
  • As a result, at present, most West Bank Palestinians are confined to 200 disconnected enclaves. Today, this is, arguably, the most common source of friction between the two parties.[1]

“What I discovered was that a West Bank Palestinian could not work, build, study, purchase land, grow produce, start a business, take a walk at night, visit his family in Gaza, enter Israel or travel abroad without a permit from us and that we had imprisoned about one third of the entire Palestinian population.” – Uri Savir (Israel’s chief negotiator at Oslo from 1993 to 1996)


[1] Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (2003).