Pharyngula

It could be worse

Taner Edis has written a short summary of Islamic creationism. It’s not a pleasant picture.

Muslims hold a variety of views on evolution; Yahya-style creationists do not speak for all. Some Muslim thinkers accept evolution in the sense of descent with modification, provided that this evolution is explicitly divinely guided. Even such comparative liberals, however, almost always reject the Darwinian, naturalistic view of evolution that is current in natural science. Human evolution meets with particularly strong rejection. Indeed, it is safe to say that most committed Muslims take naturalistic evolution to be religiously unacceptable. Most would consider the evolution of complex life forms through natural mechanisms alone, without the visible direction of a divine intelligence, to be an intellectual absurdity. The Harun Yahya material has no scholarly standing whatsoever. But more sophisticated anti-evolution views have wide currency among serious Muslim intellectuals, including very well-known Western-based scholars of Islam such as Seyyed Hossein Nasr.

That’s really a shame, that an entire culture has closed itself off to a significant and well-tested scientific concept. I wonder what the Christian creationists here would think of the idea that the Islamic world has achieved the anti-evolution ideal?

Comments

  1. #1 Elf M. Sternberg
    February 21, 2008

    If you think that’s sad, PZ, consider the following from MemriTV: A physicist and an astronomer, both Iraqis, debate whether or not the world is flat.

  2. #2 Barry
    February 21, 2008

    If the discovery institute (which I refuse to capitalize) is truly not religiously motivated, why are they not over in the Middle East performing valuable research? It’s a great “design-friendly” environment far beyond the suppressive reach of BIG SCIENCE.

  3. #3 pkiwi
    February 21, 2008

    Aris – The worst?
    But there are so many contenders:
    Scientology, culturally & intellectualy stuck in bad 1950′s sci-fi;
    Mormons, culturally & intellectually stuck in 1800′s gold rush, promised land mythology;
    Catholicism, culturally & intellectually stuck in misogyny, funny dresses for men, and 3-into-1 magic.

    The imams just have better control over their flocks bad PR skills. Oh as well as being inane and superstitious.

  4. #4 Midwest Product
    February 21, 2008

    I wonder what the Christian creationists here would think of the idea that the Islamic world has achieved the anti-evolution ideal?

    Fundies don’t hate Islam because its beliefs are different, they hate Islam because they’re beliefs are exactly the same but Islam has achieved greater success.

  5. #5 tsig
    February 22, 2008

    You can bring a believer to the facts but you can’t make ‘em think.

  6. #6 Milawe
    February 22, 2008

    “Push come to shove, they would make common cause with the muslims to persecute the unbelievers (us), before they then have their civil war”

    This might be true for a tiny minority, but the Christian fundies who are represented by such forums as the Free Republic are fully in support of murdering Iraqi women and children in the name of destroying the heretics.

    It’s all a part of the rapture logic, come on.

  7. #7 battletoad
    February 22, 2008

    Milawe: “but the Christian fundies who are represented by such forums as the Free Republic are fully in support of murdering Iraqi women and children in the name of destroying the heretics.”

    But the bible says, “thou shall not kill.”

    No, why defend religion at all?

    We have enough problems (war, pollution, scare resources) that need to be addressed, religion will only hinder our efforts.

  8. #8 Alfonso Armenta
    February 22, 2008

    Just because people want an explanation of everything in the universe that doesn’t either mean they will get one that they will understand, or that they will be pleased with the answer.

    But from an honest (yet deluded) desire to explain the universe, which is what some use to justify the existence of religion, to what we have to day known as ‘religious morals’ and ‘religious ideals’ there is a very long stretch.

  9. #9 negentropyeater
    February 22, 2008

    G.Tingey, #27

    “Push come to shove, they (the US Christian fundies) would make common cause with the muslims to persecute the unbelievers”

    Interesting. I actually think that this is untrue.

    First because two sets of highly deluded people, even if some of their delusions do overlap to certain extent, will focus on the non overlaping areas, and both consider that they are mandated by their God, to convert the other ones. Finding common cause in this context is very unlikely, if not impossible.

    Second, because, as I have been witness to, during my years spent in Malaysia and Morrocco, Muslim clerics consider, generally speaking, non believers to be less of a problem than Christian or Jewish fundamentalists.
    In many occurences, I was told, they consider it to be a worst evil and even more heretic, to believe in what they consider as false notions, than to not believe at all.
    For instance, how many times were I told, as a non believer, “ah well at least you don’t believe in these nonsensical ideas that God reincarnated himself, the virgin birth, the resurection from the dead, etc…”. Many Muslim fundamentalists view non believers as a kind of “blank state”, which is easier to part with, than fundamentalists of other religions, as they say, it is not necessary to “erase false beliefs first”.

    Let’s not forget also, that muslim countries view the US, as the nest of Judeo-Christian fundamentalism, and their prime enemy, and on another hand, view W.Europe, as the nest of non belief, and a lesser enemy. And I do believe, that the reverse is, by and large, also true.

  10. #10 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    February 22, 2008

    Nadia, you appear to be saying that you can have good science education in an Islamic country so long as you have no Islam in the science education.

    s/Islam/Christianity/ as necessary.

    Exactly; there are some cultural universals, after all.

    But in the main Nadia, Milawe and others makes an excellent case that there is enough diversity that one can’t lump all islamic nations into one homogeneous culture. I do recognize the tendency of PZ to do this, and I do think he is trying to discuss the muslim religious culture more than the culture of the muslim nations at large (s/muslim/christian/jew), but it is what amounts to a US-centric perspective that is presented.

    As for cultural diversity, I have problems to grok it, as I’m from a basically monocultural nation that now tries to embrace a reasonably large (~ 10-20 %, depending on definition [don't ask - or perhaps, do]) amount of immigrants and their views. Travel and stays help, but this is something better getting used to while growing up.

    The point I wanted to make after this prelude was that during my year long stay in US I had this unsubstantiated feeling that while US citizens embraced more diversity within their nation, they never the less weren’t particularly subjected to much foreign culture as such. Why would US coffee and bear be watered down variants of the real stuff if not a strong homogenizing factor to embrace the least common denominator were naturally present, either by market mechanisms or by cultural preferences?

    So yeah, while religion has some universal evils (coming back to the quote), it is a mistake to lump all nations or their citizens under the same description. Most atheist would agree of course, for example Dawkins makes this point (more exactly, about not defining children after their parents religion) a major part of The God Delusion.

  11. #11 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 22, 2008

    perhaps there is indeed a vibrant islamic creationist group intent on ruining education in Minnesota, but I tend to doubt it.

    Not in Minnesota, no…

    knowledge was something every Muslim had a responsibility to acquire even if, if I remember my teacher correctly, he or she had to travel all the way to China to acquire it (China being appropriately far away, I assume).

    ‘Utlub al `ilm hatta fi Sin — seek wisdom/knowledge/something all the way to China.

    I bet, though, that many interpret this as philosophical and/or outright religious “wisdom” rather than as science.

  12. #12 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    February 22, 2008

    Why would US coffee and bear [sic] be watered down variants

    The irony that I’m happened to do exactly what I’m arguing against is not entirely lost on me.

    I meant coffee and beer in general, damn it! The micro breweries started a revolution thankfully felt all the way here, and the coffee bean supply at stores where more diverse than those available in the nearest coffee shops here.

    @ Milawe #32:

    Battletoad, you need to offer the hope of something better, or more real to the religious than contemptuous dismissal.

    That is another major point in Dawkins TGD [recently read, if it isn't obvious by now] – the alternatives are present, and often much better than the religious – cultural and/or humanistic morality [way superior], secular laws [way, way superior], scientific knowledge of nature [way, way, ..., way superior], secular and/or humanistic interest organizations, secular charities, et cetera.

  13. #13 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    February 22, 2008

    Why would US coffee and bear [sic] be watered down variants

    The irony that I’m happened to do exactly what I’m arguing against is not entirely lost on me.

    I meant coffee and beer in general, damn it! The micro breweries started a revolution thankfully felt all the way here, and the coffee bean supply at stores where more diverse than those available in the nearest coffee shops here.

    @ Milawe #32:

    Battletoad, you need to offer the hope of something better, or more real to the religious than contemptuous dismissal.

    That is another major point in Dawkins TGD [recently read, if it isn't obvious by now] – the alternatives are present, and often much better than the religious – cultural and/or humanistic morality [way superior], secular laws [way, way superior], scientific knowledge of nature [way, way, ..., way superior], secular and/or humanistic interest organizations, secular charities, et cetera.

  14. #14 Duff
    February 22, 2008

    Milawi,
    You seem to be unduly influenced by the fact that 80percent of the world is religious. Other than being a basic fact, what significance is that regards this discussion? I dare say at one point in history 100% of the inhabitants of the planet thought it was flat. Also meaningless and incorrect.

    If you are sensitive to criticisms of Islam, I would suggest you get busy and start doing what you can to influence the radical islamist of the world because things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

    We atheist in christian society are doing what we can to point out the utter stupidity of our fundamentalist christians. Science will win that battle here, but science is losing the battle in the fundamentalist muslim societies.

  15. #15 CalGeorge
    February 22, 2008

    Seyyed Hossein Nasr (as glowingly described on his own foundation web site):

    Nasr chose to go to M.I.T. for college. He was offered a scholarship and was the first Iranian student to be admitted as an undergraduate at M.I.T. He began his studies at M.I.T in the Physics Department with some of the most gifted students in the country and outstanding professors of physics. His decision to study physics was motivated by the desire to gain knowledge of the nature of things, at least at the level of physical reality. However, at the end of his freshman year, although he was the top student in his class, he began to feel oppressed by the overbearingly scientific atmosphere with its implicit positivism. Furthermore, he discovered that many of the metaphysical questions which he had been concerned with were not being asked, much less answered. Thus, he began to have serious doubts as to whether physics would lead him to an understanding of the nature of physical reality. His doubt was confirmed when the leading British philosopher, Bertrand Russell, in a small group discussion with the students following a lecture he had given at M.I.T, stated that physics does not concern itself with the nature of physical reality per se but with mathematical structures related to pointer readings.
    [...]
    Nasr’s continued interest in science is made evident by his latest book on this subject, The Need for a Sacred Science. Also, together with one of his former students, Mehdi Amin Razavi, Nasr is now bringing out a major four volume work, An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia which will be published by Oxford University Press. Razavi also edited earlier, The Islamic Intellectual Tradition in Persia, which is a collection of Nasr’s articles on Islamic philosophy in Persia written during the last forty years.

    Yet another example of someone who stopped thinking after becoming disillusioned with science.

  16. #16 CalGeorge
    February 22, 2008

    Seyyed Hossein Nasr = Deepak Chopra.

    A quotation from The Need for a Sacred Science:

    “The Ultimate Self in its inner infinitude is beyond all determination and cosmic polarization, but the Spirit or Intellect which is both created and uncreated, is already its first determination in the direction of manifestation.”

    Published! In a book!

  17. #17 Lilly de Lure
    February 22, 2008

    CalGeorge said:

    Yet another example of someone who stopped thinking after becoming disillusioned with science.

    Reading the quote you provided he sounds more to me like someone who gave up on science once he realised that no, physics wasn’t going to give his pre-existing religious ideas a free pass into the classroom, and has been in a snit with it ever since.

    he began to feel oppressed by the overbearingly scientific atmosphere with its implicit positivism.

    This bit gave me a giggle, he was in a physics class for FSM’s sake! Why the hell did he enroll he found a scientific atmosphere oppressive?

    Silly, Silly little man (Islam has evidently found it’s CS Lewis).

  18. #18 Matt Penfold
    February 22, 2008

    “That’s a point, almost 50 comments in and not a peep yet. You don’t think MOSSAD actually do have him tied up in basement somewhere do you (and if so how large a bribe do you think it’ll take to get them to keep him)?

    ;-)”

    If MOSSAD do have him then they will they will know what he is like. I think they would keep him locked up for free.

    I often think the Big Brother TV programs missed a trick. They could have done a really worthwhile public service in inviting some of the worst loons around into the house, locking the door, turning off the lights and walking away.

  19. #19 poke
    February 22, 2008

    Don’t fret. One day they’ll progress from denying evolution to denying that science can produce truth of any kind and we’ll happily welcome them into our midst and pronounce them “sophisticated.”

  20. #20 Ian Gould
    February 22, 2008

    “In my neighborhood, migrant women wear the veil as a symbol of defiance against anti-Arab racism. ”

    And in Malaysia and Indonesia women wear it because it was symbol of nationaliam and assertion of their local cultural identities in the face of British and Dutch colonialiam.

    No, wait, they were it because they’e brainwahsed slaves in constant fear of torture and murder by their blood-crazedesadistic male relatives and acquaintances.

    It says so on the internet so it must be true.

  21. #21 raven
    February 22, 2008

    Plenty of good science comes from Muslim countries, along with good sicnetists, and from Western Muslims. Even biologists, because I see many Turkish, Iranian, and Pakistani, researchers coming into the British system – as post-graduates, and as post-docotoral researchers.

    Sure, there are many smart Moslem scientists. They tend to get their higher education in the west and stay and work in the west. A classic brain drain. The head of the US NIH is a Moslem. IIRC a Pakistani scientist from a Xian derived sect even won a Nobel prize in physics.

    For the amount of money and population they have they do very little science and being a scientist in some countries isn’t particularly valued. Look what happened in Libya with their AIDS problem. They didn’t even understand routine infectious disease control in the medical system.

  22. #22 poke
    February 22, 2008

    In the Middle-Ages, the Islamic enlightenment movement was fed by religious leaders and scholars. It was considered to be the main duty of a Muslim to seek personal education and improvement. Islamic scientists led what might be called the known-world as scientists.

    Science was opposed by Islam even in the Middle Ages. Natural philosophers were always on the defensive and natural philosophy was never institutionalized or considered a part of normal education. It was never a major part of Islamic society. Furthermore, “science” in this context means mostly commentaries on the works of Aristotle; i.e., philosophy. Only historians could consider something that involves no observation, no experiment and no quantification or mathematics “science.”

  23. #23 battletoad
    February 22, 2008

    @ #32

    | “Battletoad, you need to offer the hope of something better, or more real to the religious than contemptuous dismissal..”

    Milawe, what is more real than reality? I can only offer that much to the delusional. I can’t offer hope for fantastic things like eternal life, virgins in heaven, or using the force. However, science might one day provide extended life, unnatural abilities (human flight), and near perfect paradise (just ask Hue Hefner about Viagra). Oh wait, science already provides these. This is real hope. Science is real hope. That is the better hope, that I propose. And, who knows, the future of science could hold hope for life eternal and things greater than anything in those myths. But at least, if we believe in science, we can keep progressing, instead of regressing.

    Science is based on observations of reality, and it cuts across all cultures and religions. My culture is no different (yours too). If 80% of the world is steeped in cultures that cannot see the hope that science offers, and not free themselves from their opiate addiction, then we have to help them break free. I agree with you, we have to offer them an alternative; fortunately, we already have one.

    And, if I have to piss on 80% of the world (to wake them up to reality), then watch me die trying to drink enough water.

  24. #24 CalGeorge
    February 22, 2008

    (Allah is the one God) who made all things He created excellent; and He began the creation of man from clay. Then He made his offspring from the extract of base fluid; then He fashioned and breathed into him of His Spirit; and gave you hearing and sight and the faculty of inferring. And yet how little are the thanks you offer! Qaliluma ma Tashkuroon (Al-Quran, 32:7-9)

    Is this idiotic statement part of the Muslim culture we are supposed to respect?

    I think I’ll save my respect for other things.

  25. #25 tyrone slothrop
    February 22, 2008

    Dear CalGeorge,

    This is either intentionally dishonest or unintentionally dishonest, either way it is certainly a factually false claim:

    “Americans are residents of a continent.”

  26. #26 poke
    February 22, 2008

    Chav,

    But Battletoad, what does that mean in reality? It means, providing the governments of the US, the UK, Australia and the EU with the justification they need to keep killing thousands, if not millions of people in the Muslim world.

    I’m pretty sure secular criticisms of Islam played absolutely no role in the decision to invade Iraq. Half the population are probably as likely to know Iraq’s religious affiliation as they are to find it on a map anyway. Spreading America’s civic religion – liberal democracy – is enough to get people all wide-eyed and frothy these days.

  27. #27 Ian Gould
    February 23, 2008

    “Therefore, the seeker after the truth is not one who studies the writings of the ancients and, following his natural disposition, puts his trust in them, but rather the one who suspects his faith in them and questions what he gathers from them, the one who submits to argument and demonstration, and not to the sayings of a human being whose nature is fraught with all kinds of imperfection and deficiency. Thus the duty of the man who investigates the writings of scientists, if learning the truth is his goal, is to make himself an enemy of all that he reads, and, applying his mind to the core and margins of its content, attack it from every side. He should also suspect himself as he performs his critical examination of it, so that he may avoid falling into either prejudice or leniency.”

    Alhazen

  28. #28 Ian Gould
    February 23, 2008

    Spend five minutes with the average scientist discussing sport, politics; their capacity to hold their liquor; their sex appeal; their singing ability or the uniquely wondrous qualities of their kids and you’ll soon realise that they’re as capable of self-delusion as anyone else.

    As a further example, AQ Khan managed to combine the intellectual capability to build Pakistan’s nuclear weapons with support for militant Islam.

    The point isn’t whether a belief in Islam or any other religion is desirable or positive for a scientist. The point is scientists all over the world seem to function perfectly well while adhering to all sorts of nonsensical beliefs. I fail to see why Islam should present a different and insurmountable barrier.

  29. #29 Jake
    February 23, 2008

    I haven’t read the comments yet, but I just wanted to point out (as someone who lives in a city with a large Muslim population, and who attends a campus where Muslims make up a very significant proportion of the student body) something that may not be known to people whose knowledge of Muslims is entirely theoretical:

    When a Muslim religious leader makes a comment of the form “Muslims don’t XYZ” or “Muslims believe ABC,” he’s always committing a No True Scotsman fallacy. What he means is “I don’t XYZ and I believe ABC. Any Muslim who wants to be in my good graces had better believe ABC and refrain from XYZ as well!” while completely ignoring the large numbers of Muslims who, sure, believe some wacky stuff, but aren’t batshit insane.

    Which is all to say that there are plenty of Muslims who accept the theory of evolution.

  30. #30 battletoads
    February 23, 2008

    @ #75

    But Battletoad, what does that mean in reality? It means, providing the governments of the US, the UK, Australia and the EU with the justification they need to keep killing thousands, if not millions of people in the Muslim world.

    Chav, it means: I’ll do what I can to promote science and “real” hope, even, if 80% of the world needs to hear it. In NO way did my statement justify the war on terror, or incinerating people with bombs. That said, war should never be an option, but unfortunately mass movements are the most effective way to motivate change in large demographics; and war is usually one of the bi-products of a rapid movement. In Iraq, the rapid mass movement (not speaking of our wiping out the Saddam regime)of religion, which resulted in civil war, and the movements associated with the political void are at fault for the high number of deaths. Again, religion and politics are to blame for loss of life and suffering. I don’t condone this atmosphere of suffering, and that is why I want to change it through other means; mainly, to increase science and education in these poor regions. Please. Don’t equate my efforts to justification for war.

  31. #31 gerald spezio
    February 23, 2008

    PZ, here is a very unpleasant picture to go with the “unpleasant picture” drawn by Taner Edis about Muslim creationism.

    As you say they are “not pleasant” pictures.

    http://poetryforpalestine.spaces.live.com/photos/cns!92AA638F9B6EA940!1628/?startingImageIndex=28&commentsExpand=1&addCommentExpand=0&addCommentFocus=0&pauseSlideshow=0

  32. #32 SteveF
    February 23, 2008

    Gerald,

    A recent study in the UK asserting the overwhelming anti-Muslim distortions prevalent in the UK media.

    This study wasn’t necessarily overly reliable, as 10 seconds on google will reveal. Your uncritical acceptance wouldn’t have anything to do with your deep ideological prejudices would it?

    http://www.nickcohen.net/?p=268

    http://hurryupharry.bloghouse.net/archives/2007/11/13/livingstone_islamophobia_report_finally_published.php

    These critics are war mongering zionists though, so you can dismiss them if you like.

  33. #33 gerald spezio
    February 23, 2008

    Battletoad, your statement at #64 that you may have to piss on lesser mortals for their lack of scientific enlightenment is a cardinal crime against the “objective science” that you claim to respect.

    Being an omniscient autocrat in the name of sacred science is a most egregious and glaring contradiction.

    Your correction is received, but I would suggest that you consider checking your metaphysics and pre-conceptions about what science is about.

    It is not a big jump from pissing on them to killing them, and it was very much in order to bring your “crypto imperialism” to the fore.

  34. #34 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 23, 2008

    Al Ghazali cited Islamic justifications for his views. Lysenko cited atheism and scientific views for his.

    Lysenko cited Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism for his. “Mendelism-Morganism-Weissmanism” (as he called the science of genetics) had to be wrong because, he said, it was incompatible with communism.

    In other words, both of them cited religious justifications for their views.

  35. #35 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 23, 2008

    From comment 92:

    ” … how do we effect (sic) change in the Muslim world?”

    No, no, “effect” is correct here. The idea is not to affect a change that’s already happening, but to produce change, to put change into effect — to effect change.

  36. #36 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 23, 2008

    From comment 92:

    ” … how do we effect (sic) change in the Muslim world?”

    No, no, “effect” is correct here. The idea is not to affect a change that’s already happening, but to produce change, to put change into effect — to effect change.

  37. #37 mmghosh
    February 23, 2008

    Jake,

    60% of my neighbours are Muslim. None of them think deeply about the subject of evolution. Most, if asked, have some dim idea of creationism, and that’s about it. Very few Muslims examine their beliefs in the light of reason.

    Nadia,

    If you have gone to a subcontinental school then you have never had to be taught creationism because that was not a part of the syllabus laid down by the Brits. It wasn’t a well thought out policy by educationists. And you were probably lucky not to have been educated in a madrasa anyway.

    Here, in India, evolution is the only viewpoint that is taught in schools at any level. Creationism is not even discussed, far less considered as any form of an “alternative”. Fortunately, evolution is very complementary to Hinduism, so it has not been a problem to Hindus at all – rather it vindicates their world-view.

  38. #38 gerald spezio
    February 23, 2008

    mmghosh, would you consider giving us some more specific commentary about your statement; “evolution is very complementary to Hinduism so it has not been a problem to Hindus at all.”

    As you may have noticed, there is an ongoing industry hereabouts concerning the ramifications of the evolution/religion controversy.

  39. #39 gerald spezio
    February 23, 2008

    Yessir SLC, not only have the Israelis herded almost two million Gaza Palestinians into a concentration camp for starvation & genocide, the kindly and benevolent Israelis are murdering them on a daily basis with weapons bought by more than four billion in US foreign aid – the largest foreign aid to any country.

    Yessir, not only is this true, the unlimited open checkbook Israeli propaganda machine is working round the clock to make sure that most Mericans don’t even know it.
    The insidious Israeli anti-Muslim framing too is supported by the 4 billion in US foreign aid to suffering Israel.

    Grazie for bringing it to our attention.
    It is so horribly gruesome and cruel that it is difficult to keep in one’s awareness.

  40. #40 Ichthyic
    February 23, 2008

    When you hear iyama sociologist, run for cover.

    BS.

    I call you on that one.

    I call you on including yourself as a scientist.

    put up or shut up.

    I can cite a paper I’ve published in a journal.

    you?

  41. #41 gerald spezio
    February 23, 2008

    Here is Tom Freidman on video giving us an “objective account” or “our problems” and telling us what to do in order to save ourselves from filthy Arab oil.
    http://setamericafree.org/

  42. #42 gerald spezio
    February 23, 2008

    Ichthyic, mea culpa. A Bayesian correction – as a result of more data coming in.

    Run – as fast as you can.

    Life is precious, and a good brain is too.

    What is your major?

  43. #43 SLC
    February 23, 2008

    Re gerald spezio

    So Mr. spezio doesn’t think it would be a good idea to free the US from dependence on Middle East oil. Actually, if the US were not dependent on Middle East oil, we wouldn’t be in Iraq now nor would we be bent out of shape by events in Iran. If it were not for the dependence of the world on Middle East oil, the Israeli/Palestinian problem would have been solved a long time ago.

    By the way, Tom Friedman hardly qualifies as a creature of AIPAC and the Likud. In fact, when he was invited to address a symposium on the occasion of an anniversary of Israels independence several years ago, there was pressure put on the organizers of the symposium to exclude him on the basis that he was pro-Arab.

  44. #44 tyrone slothrop
    February 23, 2008

    I am neither pro nor anti framing.

    The influences in that post were Roman Jakobson and Joseph Greenberg. Jakobson for the poetic function, the axis of selection (pardigmatic) on the axis of distribution (syntagmatic), and Greenberg on markedness theory (though Greenberg did not originate markedness theory, I have always found his writing on this quite interesting). On indexicality, Michael Silverstein and Asif Agha. Though, of course, frame analysis is also important, especially by way of Erving Goffman.

    I simply find the choices of linguistic tokens to be interesting in relation to stance. That is, in the creation of types.

  45. #45 windy
    February 23, 2008

    Mr. spezio claims that Israel is behaving in a beastly manner towards the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. One might have some sympathy for them if they ceased firing qassems into Sderot and sending homicide bombers to blow up pizza parlors.

    Spezio may be out there, but does that justify advocating the other extreme? If all Palestinians deserve to suffer because some of them commit terrorist attacks, I guess all Americans deserve to suffer because of the Iraq war?

  46. #46 Ian Gould
    February 23, 2008

    SLC: “Re Ian Gould

    Mr. Gould is obviously an apologist for Islamic fundamentalism. ”

    Re S:KC, as noted previously SLC continues to have problems with English grammar and normal standards of polite discourse.

    He also apparently believes that arguing that Islamic fundamentalism is not only nonsensical and absurd but inconsistent with Islamic law, constitutes support for Islamic fundamentalism.

  47. #47 Ian Gould
    February 23, 2008

    David Marjanovic: “Lysenko cited Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism for his. “Mendelism-Morganism-Weissmanism” (as he called the science of genetics) had to be wrong because, he said, it was incompatible with communism.

    In other words, both of them cited religious justifications for their views.”

    Well I guess redefining an explicitly atheist political philosophy as a religion is one way to support the “All religions are evil” proposition.

    Can I define Telemarketers as a religion? Because they annoy the fuck out of me.

  48. #48 SLC
    February 23, 2008

    Re windy

    I wonder what Mr. windys’ attitude would be if somebody was firing qassems into his back yard. I suspect that he would be down at his local cop shop demanding that the gendarmes put a stop to the activity forthwith.

    Re Ian Gould

    Would Mr. Gould care to comment on whether he thinks that Hafaz Assad was being beastly to the inhabitants of Hama? Let’s look at the record. So far, an estimated 4000 Palestinians have died in the intifada which has been raging since 2000, some 8 years. Hafaz Assad killed in excess of 20,000 people in two days in the city of Hama. Now who is being beastly?

    Re gerald spezio

    I see no need to be nice to an antisemitic Israel bashing lying SOB like Mr. spezio. He is cordially invited to take his comments and put ‘em where the sun don’t shine. I agree with Mr. MAJeff, Mr. spezio is the posterior of an equine.

    Re Rey Fox

    If Mr. Fox doesn’t like the phrase homicide bomber, tough noogies.

  49. #49 Ian Gould
    February 23, 2008

    “Would Mr. Gould care to comment on whether he thinks that Hafaz Assad was being beastly to the inhabitants of Hama?”

    Would SLC like to pull his head out of his arse long enough to consider that just as one can condemn both Christian and Islamic fundamentalism one can condemn both Syrian and Israeli human rights violations.

    SLC should also be thanked for a classic example of clinical monomania.

    “Ian Gould doesn’t think Islam is innately irrational therefore Ian Gould supports HAMAS.”

    SLC is a jackass.

    Ian Gould is a nonobservant Jew.

  50. #50 windy
    February 23, 2008

    I wonder what Mr. windys’ attitude would be if somebody was firing qassems into his back yard.

    As long as we are trolling: I’d probably be so mad that I’d go bulldoze some houses. Heck, maybe I’d even bomb some UN soldiers for the heck of it.

    Seriously, anyone who says that a whole nation deserves no sympathy because of acts of war or terrorism by members of that nation, is despicable.

  51. #51 Moody834
    February 24, 2008

    May I suggest this article from the Telegraph?

    Science: Islam’s forgotten geniuses

    Of course, the word “forgotten” is key. But perhaps it would serve us to remember where Islam has been (in terms of its understanding). Look:

    In the Book of Animals, abu Uthman al-Jahith (781-869), an intellectual of East African descent, was the first to speculate on the influence of the environment on species. He wrote: “Animals engage in a struggle for existence; for resources, to avoid being eaten and to breed. Environmental factors influence organisms to develop new characteristics to ensure survival, thus transforming into new species. Animals that survive to breed can pass on their successful characteristics to offspring.”

    The problem is not so much the religion as it is a) the people who would represent it and b) the people who follow those representatives. I don’t care if someone is Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Jainist, Buddhist, or whatever flavor of any of them. What I care about is how they behave in the world I inhabit with them. I don’t know their gods or have any reason to believe in their metaphysical postulations. What I see is how people live, interact with each other and the world, and affect others.

    Fundamentalists are crazy people. Religious moderates who don’t speak out against them are irresponsible people. Non-believers (like me) who can’t stand craziness and irresponsibility are — fairly or not — stuck with learning what believers won’t, the better to argue against the intrusive nonsense. This does not necessarily mean reading a bunch of their theological hoo-ha, but I think it can be argued that it does mean having a fair grasp of their religion’s historical development, including not only its egregious errors and ugly faults but also its good contributions to the world as we know it today.

    Islam has contributed to science. Better to acknowledge that fact so as to strengthen one’s attack on what some would have Islam be today. Same for Judaism and Christianity, each in light of its history. I am perfectly happy to rant against the delusions, the insanity, the cruelty, etc., of whatever religion. But I want, too, to take a step back and point out the secular benefits of its universally worthwhile successes.

    Anyway… Just my two cents.

  52. #52 SLC
    February 24, 2008

    Re Ian Gould

    1. Mr. Gould apparently hasn’t been reading Mr. Spezios’ comments or he would have realized that it was Mr. Spezio who hijacked this thread by bringing up the Israel/Palestinian issue. As proof, I refer him to comment 92. My response to Mr. Spezio came in comment 107. Any time Mr. Gould, Ms. windy, and Mr. Spezio wish to stop responding to my responses to their comments, I will be more then happy to cease and desist.

    2. In comment 134, Mr. Gould denigrates Steven Weinbergs’ knowledge of Islamic scientific history. Just for the information of Mr. Gould, Prof. Weinberg was a good friend of the only Muslim ever to win a Nobel Prize in physics, Abdus Salam. Most of his information about the history of Islamic science was obtained from the late Prof. Salam who in addition to being a first rate physicist was also a student of the history of Islamic science. But of course, I guess Mr. Gould probably thinks that Prof. Salam didn’t know what he was talking about either. Only Mr. Gould knows anything about the subject apparently.

    Re windy

    Surprisingly enough, I am also a critic of the Dresden bombing, although more on the grounds of military effectiveness rather then humanitarianism. As for feeling sympathy for Palestinian and German civilians, I have no objection to that. Unfortunately, as General Sherman once said, war is hell and butchery and can’t be civilized. The object of fighting a war, especially one started by the other side, is victory. If Roosevelt and Churchill had not authorized a strategic bombing campaign against Germany for fear of collateral damage, it is entirely possible that Mr. Hitlers legions would have been conducting triumphal marches through the streets of London, New York, Washington, D.C. etc. as they conducted a triumphal march through the streets of Paris.