Friday, June 05, 2009

President Obama: Comparison doesn't necessarily give rise to conflict


Marcello Pera, professor of the philosophy of science at the University of Pisa, in an essay entitled "Relativism, Christianity, and the West," writes, "To argue that the model of Western democratic institutions and rights is better than the Islamic model does not imply taking any particular course of action. One could say that the West is better than Islam and still tolerate Islam, respect Islam, dialogue with Islam, ignore Islam, or even obstruct Islam, clash with Islam, among the many possible stances. According to the old proverb , it's one thing to say, another to do. To rephrase this proposition in logical terms, there are no formal implications between 'is' and 'ought' (ab esse ad oportere non valet consequentia, as one says in Latin). The dominant culture in the West, however, thinks the opposite, and reveals its prejudices through a major flaw in reasoning. It thinks that 'ought' descends from 'is.' According to this way of thinking, if a person maintains that the West is better than Islam - or, to be more specific, that democracy is better than theocracy, a liberal constitution better than sharia, a parliamentary decision better than a sura, a civil society better than an umma, a sentence by an independent tribunal better than a fatwa, citizenship better than dhimma, and so forth - then he or she ought to clash with Islam. This is an error of logic that compounds the error of believing that our institutions have no right or basis to be proclaimed as universal. The consequence of these two errors is that today the West is paralyzed twice over. It is paralyzed because it does not believe that there are good reasons to say that it is better than Islam. And it is paralyzed because it believes that, if such reasons do indeed exist, then the West would have to fight Islam.

I personally reject these positions. I deny that there are no valid reasons for comparing and judging institutions, principles, and values. I deny that such a comparison cannot conclude that Western institutions are better than their Islamic counterparts. And I deny that a comparison will necessarily give rise to a conflict. I do not deny, however, that if an offer to dialogue is responded to with a conflict, then the conflict should not be accepted. For me the opposite holds true. I affirm the principles of tolerance, peaceful coexistence, and respect that are characteristic of the West today. However, if someone refuses to reciprocate these principles and declares hostility or a jihad against us, I believe that we must acknowledge that this person is our adversary. In short, I reject the self-censorship of the West. This self-censorship - much more than the universalist claims of Western institutions...is something that I find unjustified and dangerous."

President Obama does not understand that a comparison of Western institutions to their Islamic counterparts (and acknowledging the logical conclusion that Western institutions are superior) need not necessarily give rise to conflict. Speaking in Cairo, the President asserted that, "Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail."

But why should this be so? Mr. President?

5 comments:

Ellen Wironken said...

Christianity as the religion of love
By Paul Campbell
paulc@buffaloreflex.com

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 6:01 AM CDT

Thirty years ago Daniel Shayesteh
and his wife Mary were Muslims deeply involved in the fundamentalist Islamic movement following the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979. Today, Shayesteh is a Christian minister who espouses the teaching of Jesus while at the same time warning of the dangers of radical Islam.

This transformation started with Shayesteh’s disillusionment with Iran’s fanatical religious leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, and was helped along by a group of Christians in Turkey who gave him unconditional support and encouragement when he was homeless, lonely and broke. They helped him look at the world from a different perspective and showed him the path to Christ.

Shayesteh, who was in Buffalo several days last week, was interviewed by the Buffalo Reflex on Friday and later spoke of his experiences at the Bible Baptist Church at both the Sunday morning and evening services. Bible Baptist’s pastor, Robert Baker, told the Reflex that people had told him, “You must meet this man and hear this man,” so he arranged for Shayesteh to visit Dallas County.

Shayesteh said that he and Mary were born into nominal Muslim families in a small city in Iran, but he later became radicalized. He said their common interest in the Islamic revolution drew them together, and they became married.

“This involvement caused me to advance in the politically oriented religion Islam,” he said. “And with the recognition and support of people in our city, I announced my candidacy for the Islamic Parliament.”

He quickly discovered, however, that the political rivalries in Islamic politics often led to people being killed for their beliefs. He was soon targeted as a threat to Khomeini’s political group that wanted to govern at any cost. He was kidnapped by Khomeini’s revolutionary military and placed in a cell to await a death sentence.

“An Iranian jail is the most horrible jail in the world,” he said.

After spending six months in jail, Shayesteh was unexpectedly released for whatever reason, but was not allowed to work anywhere in his city and was not allowed to leave the city to seek work elsewhere. He tried twice to escape to Turkey, and finally succeeded the third time. He was homeless and without family or friends when he arrived in Turkey.

“My loneliness was overwhelming at the time,” he said, “and I feared for my family’s safety because of my escape...

After listening to the Christians’ message, Shayesteh said he was shocked and amazed how the Bible was so different from the Koran — the “bible” of Muslims — and from other religions. He stressed that he had a dream about Jesus, which encouraged him to read the Bible. He soon discovered that Christianity was about having a personal relationship with God.

“God is so impersonal in all other religions,” he said. “Unlike Allah in Islam, the God in the Bible is not the creator of sin.”

He said the church in Turkey had a right to “tear me to pieces” because in the past he had been trying to destroy Christianity, but instead the Christians showed him love. This is in marked contrast to Islam, which orders Muslims to hate and kill non-Muslims, he said...American politicians often speak diplomatically about Muslims, but Shayesteh minces no words in speaking out about how Christians and Jews need to understand Islamic law.

“Women are considered inferior,” he said. “You can beat your wife and lock her in a room until she dies. In fact, you must be violent towards your wife.”

President Obama recently said that Muslims have made many great contributions to America.

“That was embarrassing,” Shayesteh said. “I have just one answer for that — name one..."

Guy said...

This has nothing to do with this post, but did you know that there was a decree by the Holy Office on Dec 21, 1915 wherein the faithful were forbidden to write commentaries or interpretations on the La Salette Secret.
http://www.traditioninaction.org/Questions/B274_LaSalette.html
If true, I can't understand why the Church would do that?

Samuel Giernan said...

The following article by Judith Gordon provides an explanation Guy:

http://www.eclipseofthechurch.com/Overview.htm

Guy said...

Thank you Samuel.

Guy said...

Thank you Samuel.

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