Not only is the logic of belief not necessarily the logic of believers, the use of scripture is itself subject to evolutionary processes.
Educator and reform Muslim Irshad Manji and evolutionary biologist and secular Jew Bret Weinstein have a very thoughtful discussion about violence in scriptures and their different manifestation in (historical) Islam and Judaism. To state the obvious, there is a lot of violence in the Quran and there is a lot of violence in the Torah. …
Cousin marriage in the Middle East works differently than does cousin marriage in South India.
Dr Alice Evans has a wonderful blog post, essay really, on why the situation of women in South India is generally better than that of women in North India. The piece is comprehensively researched and very well reasoned.
I do however, have one quibble. It is with Dr Evans using cousin marriage in the Middle East to argue that cousin marriage in South India is not likely to be a significant explanatory factor in the comparatively better position of women in South India. …
Moving beyond political swear words (and grappling with very different life experiences).
Trying to define fascism is possibly a pointless exercise, as it has long since largely lost any specific meaning, becoming a political swearword used for denouncing those you disagree with and establishing how morally wonderful and heroic you are for being against such vile folk. It thus involves equal parts political slander and narcissistic self-promotion.
The more one is addicted to slandering those you oppose, and to narcissistic self-aggrandisement, the more freely one throws about the term fascist. In our time, given the dramatic lack of actual fascists…
The Women’s movement is a product of conditions that existed in Western society but nowhere else.
Feminism was a product of North-Western Europe (and the settler Anglosphere) for very specific cultural and institutional reasons. The women’s movement had to come out of a culture which already gave women’s choices sufficient standing, where elite women could organise and deploy resources, where kin-group loyalties did not dominate and constrain, and where explicit political bargaining was already part of the institutional landscape. This combination of features was true in no other cultures other than in the societies that descended from Medieval Latin Christendom.
In the American West, both Euro-American and Chinese-American societies had a shortage of women: but with very different consequences for women.
Thanks to the Christian sanctification of single-spouse marriage, insistence that a woman’s consent was required for a valid marriage, and the disappearance (under the pressure of Christianity and manorialism) of kin groups from Europe (apart from the Celtic and Balkan fringes, where manorialism did not reach), women had much higher status in Euro-American society than was the pattern in polygynous societies with kin groups, such as Islam and China.
In polygynous societies, particularly ones where men controlled the productive…
What Heidegger took reams of obscure prose to do, C.S.Lewis expressed in a few, clear paragraphs.
I have been struggling to get through Martin Heidegger’s magnum opus, Being and Time. I gave up on my first attempt. Fortunately, I then completed reading Thomas McEvilley’s much clearer, and historically informative, magnum opus, The Shape of Ancient Thought: an examination of the history of Greek and Indian philosophy and the interactions between them. Re-attempting Being and Time, I found it still unnecessarily obscure, but somewhat more approachable.
It was more approachable because Heidegger is attempting to supersede the entire Western philosophical tradition…
The UK Court of Appeal continues the march to give up on all three.
In a recent decision, the UIK Court of Appeal has decided it was fine to ends someone’s employment if they expressed public support for Christian views of sex and marriage, as such views may offend people.
Christians should not be surprised by this. After all, Jesus was nailed to a cross because what he said and did offended people.
Citizens of the United States should not be surprised by the notion that saying things may offend people. After all, the Declaration of Independence offended many, many…
The remarkable thing about European imperialism is how ancillary it was to European states and societies.
Imperialism is what states do, and it is what they do, if they can. Imperialism expands a state’s revenue base and access to resources, to the benefit of rulers and officials and those seeking their favour. As soon as there were states, there began to be imperialism. Without some notion of there being some “rightful” limit to a state, an imperial state is just a particularly successful state. Perhaps with some notion of ruling over sufficiently diverse peoples to count as “imperial”.
Secularism is not a concept that other religions or civilisations developed independently.
The notion of the secular as a public realm not structured by religion is a product of European Christian civilisation.
Islam did not develop it, as sovereignty is held by Allah and Sharia represents the rules of Allah found by fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and grounded in revelation. The religious scholars, the ulema, skilled in fiqh, determined the law via religious rulings (fatwa). Rulers, as Muslims, submitted to the sovereignty of Allah. They appointed qadis (judges) who applied the rulings of the religious scholars. Rulers could only legitimately issue…
It can mean assuming a protective role, or an off-limits status.
Sikhi and Judaism have several things in common. They are both scriptural religions with a line of religious teachers: the prophets of the Torah and the Tanakh and the gurus of Sikh tradition. They are both minority religions who have suffered a long history of persecution. In both religions, it is the men who wear the publicly distinctive clothing, specifically head gear: turbans in the case of Sikh men, various hats and caps for Jewish men.
The last two similarities go together. By wearing publicly distinctive clothing, Sikh…
An accidental small businessman who reads a lot and thinks about what he reads, sometimes productively. Currently writing a book on marriage.