Sharing thoughts with atheists could help counter abuse of faith, says Karen Armstrong

Religious traditions are highly complex and multifarious. Like art, religion is difficult to do well and is often done badly; like sex, it is often tragically abused. I hold no brief for witchcraft or the superstitious trading of body parts. Like many religious people, I do not believe in demons. I abhor violence of any kind, be it verbal or physical, religious or secular.

Distorted View
I have written at length about the desecration of religion in the crusades, inquisitions, and persecutions that have scarred human history. I have also pointed out that, driven by political humiliation and alienation, far too many Muslims have in recent years distorted the traditional Islamic view of jihad, which originally referred to the ‘effort’ required to implement the will of God in a violent world.

But these abuses do not constitute the whole story. Religion is also about the quest for transcendence, the discipline of compassion, and the endless search for meaning; it was not designed to provide us with the same kind of explanations as science, but to help us to live creatively, serenely, and kindly with the suffering that is an inescapable part of the human condition. As such, it continues to appeal to millions of human beings across the globe. To identify religion with its worst manifestations, claim that they represent the whole, and then demolish the straw dog thus set up does not seem a rational or useful way of conducting this important debate.

Listen To Others
Historically, this kind of attack only serves to make religious fundamentalists more extreme. Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens have flung down the gauntlet in their spirited — some would say intemperate — manifestos against religion. They cannot be surprised if people challenge their critique in the way that I attempt to do in my writings.

In the past, theologians such as Rudolf Bultmann, Karl Rahner, and Paul Tillich enjoyed fruitful conversations with atheists and found their theology enriched by the encounters.

We desperately need such interchange today. A truly Socratic dialogue with atheists could help to counter many of the abuses of faith that Harris so rightly deplores in his work titled The God Fraud.

From: foreignpolicy.com

          by: Karen Armstrong

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No Khem, I do not personally know any of them.  But what's your point?

I am still waiting for you to introduce this group to Gurdjieff.

As you have not, should I deduce that you do not know what you are talking about?

Karen Armstrong is a friend.  And if you attend to her, she can become your friend too.

She wrote a best seller called History of God. 

You may not wish to familiarize yourself with it because it destroys myth and superstition of the past - or at least puts it into a context that destroys. Are you having a fun time Khem?  We listen, We learn, and as a result few pay much attention yo your website. Are ther millions or am I correct?

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