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{Thursday}

 
On September 11, in Chicago, a speaker addressing an assembly representing various religious bodies spoke the following words:
'Sectarianism, bigotry and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it time and again with human blood, destroyed civilisation and sent whole nations to despair.'

These words were spoken on September 11, 1893. The occasion was the Parliament of Religions. The speaker, a man named Vivekananda, a western-educated disciple of the nineteenth-century Hindu mystic, Ramakrishna. A century earlier the French philosopher Voltaire had reached a similar conclusion. Acutely aware of the injustices and cruelty committed in the name of religion, he concluded from his reading of history that 'the differences between religions constituted the single most important cause of strife in the world.'

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The combination of a literalist approach and selective use of foundational or scriptural texts is not a new phenomenon nor is it confined to those who label themselves fundamentalists. It was not until 1943 that the Catholic Church accepted the principle of biblical criticism and acknowledged that the literal sense of the Scriptures is not always obvious because of the manner in which these books were originally compiled. [...] Until that defining moment the literalist understanding of the Bible was used to condemn those who like Galileo dared to question the creationist account of the universe. It was also used to support the doctrinal claims for unity, catholicity and exclusiveness that required the persecution of heretics and were used to justify the horrors of the Inquisition

[. . .]

A new phenomenon, however, is the tendency particularly among graduates in the hard sciences and information technology to use the Qur'an and other foundational texts as if these were instructional or operating manuals. Unlike their counterparts in law, history or theology who are accustomed to critically evaluating the language of texts, the attitude of some religiously minded technology students appears to leave no room for interpretation. The letter of the text is what matters. It is difficult to assess how widespread this tendency is but it is a disturbing development that is likely to lead to the justification of further violence committed in the name of God.


{both quotes:
Oliver McTernan
Violence in God's Name {Religion in an Age of Conflict}

[Darton, Longman & Todd 2003]
{latter emphases I.P.

posted by Ian 9/11/2003 10:54:00 AM

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