"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Does Critical Thinking Prevent Extremism?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Does Critical Thinking Prevent Extremism?

In his column today, Nicolas Kristoff says that Islamic scholars are beginning to apply tools of critical scholarship to the Koran. He argues that ultimately scholarship and intellect are one way to fight fundamentalism and intolerance.

But are they?

An excerpt from the article:

n Afghanistan, 300 brave women marched to demand a measure of equal rights, defying a furious mob of about 1,000 people who spat, threw stones and called the women “whores.” The marchers asserted that a woman should not need her husband’s consent to go to school or work outside the home.

In Pakistan, the Taliban flogged a teenage girl in front of a crowd, as two men held her face down in the dirt. A video shows the girl, whose “crime” may have been to go out of her house alone, crying piteously that she will never break the rules again.

Muslim fundamentalists damage Islam far more than any number of Danish cartoonists ever could, for it’s inevitably the extremists who capture the world’s attention. But there is the beginning of an intellectual reform movement in the Islamic world, and one window into this awakening was an international conference this week at the University of Notre Dame on the latest scholarship about the Koran.

“We’re experiencing right now in Koranic studies a rise of interest analogous to the rise of critical Bible studies in the 19th century,” said Gabriel Said Reynolds, a Notre Dame professor and organizer of the conference.

And a comment from a reader:
"Absolutely, but note that there is an increasingly large number of "Christians" in the US (and I suppose elsewhere) who decry biblical scholarship as the work of the Devil. They prefer charismatic, uneducated leaders who will open the book to whatever page comes up, read the text that God points their finger to, and lead off from there, as they believe they are then hearing the Word of God, and these people are as increasingly intolerant of any religious views differing from their own as anyone in the Taliban or any other fundamentalist religious group is."

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. Based on my experience, the more you know, the more you know you dont know :p The more one is exposed to different opinions and worldviews, the more that one realizes the diversity that exists.

    If they are of the mindset that God created us all, they could not fail to be in awe and become more accepting, less judgemental and less narrowminded. They experience for themselves that they are not the "only" kind of anything.

    I thouroghly enjoy people who have had diverse experiences; ie traveled around the world and truely taken time to get to know other cultures, customs, attitudes and beliefs, "walked a mile in someone else's shoes" etc. They seem to be more concrete about the biblical core and less concerned with the trivials that can seperate and divide so many of us.

    I wonder though, if a person starts out with the attitude that they ARE the ONE and ONLY of something, if the experiences would change them or if they would stubbornly hold on to thier original view?

    I think it would depend on how much fear is attached to that belief -ie they will be eternally damned if they accept others... fear can be more powerful than love -if we insist on holding onto it.

    I believe Christ always promotes love of people, intolerance of sin and its us people who confuse the two. If God is a part of the journey, love will win.

    But again, people to terrible, horrific things in the name of God (by whatever name) I truely dont understand this and believe misrepresenting God is what the commandment "Dont use the Lords name in vain" means.

    So I would like to believe that exposure will change us for the better, but that really depends on if we let it. Just like people can chose to learn from life experiences, forgive and love or they can become hateful and bitter.