Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Secular Tribalism

The startling tendency of the unsophisticated atheist to conjure up illusory amalgam groups, totally homogenized and undifferentiated, in order to entirely separate the faithful from the skeptics and unbelievers - the latter being, by definition, good and the former being, by definition and regardless of the content of belief, evil – is fanatic secular tribalism, pure and simple.
The atheist who closes ones eyes in the face of the staggering diversity of religious groups and sects and instead simply pounds ones fists and shrieks aloud that all adherents of religion are raving lunatics and savage terrorists is practicing a from of infantile and narrow-minded thinking that most closely resembles religious extremism. Rather than putting forth the minor effort required to adequately discern the various distinctions which are to be found among immense groups, especially religious, the unsophisticated atheist instead conjures up and believes in a viciously dichotomized world.
In such a worldview there simply is no room for the modern and liberal Muslim who prays five times a day yet defends as strongly as any atheist the principle of free expression. It must be denied that there exist Christians who regularly attend Church services, may contemplate the possibility of an afterlife, yet who view the bible as the fallible product of human endeavor and even question the very divinity of Jesus. It is taken as a matter of course that there is no such thing as the observant Jew who questions even the very existence of a supernatural entity. Instead, every Muslim is understood to be violently hostile to modernity, free expression, women’s rights and so forth; never mind reality. Every Christian is understood to be a bible pounding, anti-gay, anti-science demagogue and every Jew is seen as a torah waving, devout and viciously tribal religious maniac.
There is a startling, even hateful, Stalinist character to this sort of puerile, demagogic tendency. In fact, it is also strikingly biblical, either you are in “our” tribe or you are in the “evil” tribe and “our” tribe – by virtue of being the “chosen” tribe in possession of the infallible “truth” – may do as it so pleases to the so deemed “evil” tribes.
This tendency of secular tribalism must be exposed and combated wherever it is to be found, it is an actual danger.

3 comments:

Fabio said...

Very little to say. I can't but agree with that. I never get tired of stating how harmful ignorance and generalisation of extremely complex matters are. I admit I went through such a phase myself, but I got out of it thanks to some really interesting books which helped me notice the grey areas in the subject, particularly a book by Arturo Schwarz, an Italian historian who defines himself an atheist, Jew and anarchic. It shows Judaism in a way I had never thought possible. I don't know if you can get to read anything by him in English translation, but if you get a chance, give it a try :)

JDHURF said...

fabio:

Thank you for the response and the recommendation. I looked into Arturo Schwarz's work and could find little, if anything, outside of art related material...save for "Kabbalah and Alchemy." I would most appreciate a specific recommendation, if possible, that I could then hunt down and read!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Fabio said...

The title of the book I was referring to, which I have in Italian, translates in English as "I'm a Jew, also". I'm not really sure it was ever translated in English. Actually, it looks like it never was, since I can't find references to it anywhere. That's a pity... :/