Why I won't raise my daughters in Pakistan, either

Zack does the legwork and provides possibly the best summary of women's status in Pakistan relative to other countries in the West, the Subcontinent, and the Middle East that I have ever seen. He uses the invaluable Pew Global Attitudes Survey (PDF) as is source. The results paint a grim picture of Pakistan as generally falling far behind other countries in the comparison, such as Bangladesh and Egypt, on attitudes about whether women should be educated or have a say in their marriage options. Zack also looks at the Global Gender Gap Report 2007 and finds Pakistan ranking near the bottom:

Pakistan seems to be really bad for women in terms of economic participation and opportunity (a measure which includes labor force participation, wage equality for similar work, income, legislators, senior officials and managers, and professional and technical workers), educational attainment (literacy rate, and enrollment in primary, secondary and tertiary education), and health and survival (sex ratio at birth and healthy life expectancy).

This is grim indeed. The question that comes to my mind though is why does Pakistan fare so poorly? The data shows that there are numerous Islamic countries far ahead of Pakistan, and there are countries poorer than Pakistan which also are better. So easy answers like "It's because of religion" or "it's because of economics" don't really apply.

Out of curiosity I checked to see how Pakistan ranks in per-capita GDP compared to some of the other countries on the list. Fareed Zakaria argues in his book, The Future of Freedom, that liberal rights should be correlated with this measure (among other things - the book is highly recommended). Wikipedia has a list of countries ranked by per-capita GDP (normalized for "purchasing power" to even out currencies) using data from the International Monetary Fund, and we see that Pakistan is pretty low on the list:

RankCountryper-capita GDP
4United States$43,223

Note that Yemen and Afghanistan do rank below Pakistan here, but they were not included in the Pew survey. Almost all of Africa ranks below Pakistan, but the African countries surveyed still fare better on the Pew questions (particularly the marriage choice issue). I haven't made the effort to see where the African countries fall on the Gender Gap Report, as that is as much a function of poverty and war and hence my assumption is that the African countries will fare worse overall.

So what is going on here? Though I have no doubt it will be spun otherwise by the jafisphere, Islam is clearly not the causative factor. Additional evidence is in the surprising result from Pew on the question of whether a woman has the right to decide whether to wear the veil or not (see chart below - click to enlarge). Pakistan is fairly moderate and has become even more so in the past five years, whereas countries in the middle east have actually regressed. So the attitudes towards women are at least partially separable from attitudes about religion.

The answer probably lies in tribal attitudes. As far as I am aware, Afghanistan and Pakistan have stronger tribal identities than in most of the rest of the world, and given how much of these states are still frontier, the ability of the government to ameliorate and dilute tribal allegiances and values is close to nonexistent. Much of the region exists in a pre-Westphalian condition, which is also why it remains a natural haven for Al Qaeda. In that sense, the situation for women is probably going to remain unchanged until the attending situations of stability, law and order, and liberal rights and freedom are addressed first.


The UMMA Clinic, Los Angeles

A community clinic in the deepest depths of south-central Los Angeles:



what if Barack Obama were a muslim?

I am not naive. It's obvious why the "madrasah" smear against Barack Obama is harmful and unfair. The idea that Obama might be a "crypto-muslim" with secret allegiance to the Enemy is a pernicious one that has spread almost entirely via email, with one purpose, to play into the xenophobic and racist impulses that still lurk at the heart of our society, despite the lip service we pay to MLK's lofty visions to the contrary. And those impulses cross the political divide (though, despite pundit claims to the contrary, it certainly originated from the Right, and has been legitimized by right-leaning news outlets). Still, this is primary season, not the general election, so what matters is how the smear plays out in Left-leaning audiences, not Right-leaning ones. Given that in the South Carolina Democratic primary yesterday, white voters went preferentially for Edwards, there's clearly a reservoir of antipathy for the Other to contend with.

So by all means, Obama must (and has) vigorously defend himself from the charge. Obama's website has a fact-check article that flatly states "Obama is not and never has been a muslim", and which also debunks the assertion that Obama attended a madrasah as a child in Indonesia. However, what the fact-check does not do is to tackle the deeper assumptions behind the smear, and that is a genuinely wasted opportunity.

What if Obama were a muslim? The better response would have been, "So what" and confront the underlying prejudice head-on. That is a risky strategy of course, given the hardball Obama is facing from the Clinton camp (with Bill linking him to Jesse Jackson, as if Obama's politics could remotely be akin). Obama is playing it supremely safe and distancing himself from race and religion to come off as "safe" as possible. He will still lose some votes by virtue of his skin, as SC showed, but not enough to matter (as SC showed). Why risk it by embracing muslims?

As I said, I am not naive, and given that Hillary's record on muslim issues is substantially worse, I would rather Obama not be dragged down by the likes of, well, me. For the greater good. Still, should Obama take the nomination, it will be instructive to see whether he maintains the same cautious stance towards Islam, and continues to keep American muslims at arms' length. Listening to his rhetoric, one would assume so, but the singular question about Obama has always been, can he deliver actions to match his words? hen he's facing off against the Right, the time for caution will be over.



Yelling fire in a crowded theater:

Geert Wilders
Jafi Geert Wilders: pleased with himself

The Dutch Muslim Council has attacked far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders' politics as "racist and fascist".

The council, which includes 200 organisations, appealed for calm ahead of the planned release by the MP of a controversial film.

Mr Wilders says his film will show the Koran as an inspiration for murder.

The Dutch Muslim Council said its members' message to the Muslim and non-Muslim world was that conflict would do no-one any good.

I make zero excuses for any islamafool who gets up in arms about the film and takes to the street over it. However, Wilders' film is essentially islamotrolling - a classic case of poking a hornet's nest, solely to elicit a response with which he can then use to "prove" the original assertion that Islam is intrinsically violent, etc. The fact that the vast majority of Dutch muslims will not riot in the streets is irrelevant to the desired, and manufactured, final product: a marketing ploy, with Wilders playing the role of Western martyr.

I used to have more ire for the inevitable idiots than for the instigators like Wilders, but I've come to realize that the islamofools are simply not capable of comprehending what tools they are. Premeditated mischief, cowardly wrapped in the mantle of free speech as if it were some noble enterprise, by someone who is clearly very intelligent, doesn't have any excuse.


defining a muslim Left II: The Gash of Civilizations

I have previously argued that in defining a genuinely Islamic-American political identity, we must identify what exactly our issues are. This news seems relevant in that regard:

Most people in Muslim countries and the West believe divisions between them are worsening, a Gallup poll for the World Economic Forum (WEF) suggests.

The poll also suggested that most Europeans thought more interaction with Islam would be a threat - though most Americans disagreed.
Describing the position now, majorities on both sides said they did not believe the two sides were getting along.

This belief was strongest in the US, Israel, Denmark - where the publication of cartoons about the Muslim Prophet Muhammad caused worldwide controversy - and among Palestinians.

WEF experts examining the poll data put this down to the effect of the Iraq war and the Middle East conflict.

By contrast, there was a less gloomy response in Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

According to WEF poll, neither the West nor the Muslim world believed the other side respected it.

But while Muslims said they believed their world did respect the West, Western respondents agreed that the West did not respect the Muslim world.

The issue for Muslim Americans is fairly obvious, given that we are highly vested in closing this gap between east and west, because the existence of this "gash" of civilizations serves to strain our own identities. We have family and friends on both sides of the Gash, we have cultural practices and values that span it, and we live in two worlds at once. Hence, a political party or politician that demonstrates an awareness of the Gash, and policies that serve to mend it or bridge it, is one that deserves our support.

It should be noted that neither political party is doing much to mend the Gash at present. The Democrats' seizure of the Dubai Ports World issue was a disgraceful example of latent xenophobia, but had they played it the correct way would have served as a powerful example of an issue which could draw east and west together (on the basis of economic cooperation and mutual gain). However, the Republicans are far worse than this, engaging in a rhetorical war against muslims and engaging in overt religious prejudice by their insistence on the phrase "Islamofascism" :

The pairing of "Islam" and "fascism" has no parallel in characterizations of extremisms tied to other religions, although the defining movements of fascism were linked to Catholicism - indirectly under Benito Mussolini in Italy, explicitly under Francisco Franco in Spain. Protestant and Catholic terrorists in Northern Ireland, both deserving the label "fascist," never had their religions prefixed to that word. Nor have Hindu extremists in India, nor Buddhist extremists in Sri Lanka.

In contrast to the way militant zealotries of other religions have been perceived, there is a broad conviction, especially among many conservative American Christians, that the inner logic of Islam and fascism go together. Political candidates appeal to those Christians by defining the ambition of Islamofascists in language that makes prior threats from, say, Hitler or Stalin seem benign. The point is that there is a deep religious prejudice at work, and when politicians adopt its code, they make it worse.

The use of such rhetoric becomes a feedback loop which drives the GOP further and further into the jafi embrace. There is a real danger that if this continues, the GOP will ultimately become as radicalized as the white supremacist political parties of Europe, except on religious grounds rather than racial. It may be that Democrats are not doing anything to improve the Gash, but the Republicans are actively exacerbating it. The challenge then for the muslim Left is to articulate the concern about the Gash, and present the case for why its existence is not just a threat to our interests but to the nation as a whole.


much thanks

to Paul and to thabet for filling in a bit while I was off. I am in London, stuck overnight after flight delays and missed connections, but should be home by the end of the day (taking into account the timezone transits :)

I'll be posting some of my travel notes and reflections, along with pictures, over the next few days.


An orthodoxy of negation

I thank Aziz for the generous opportunity to brazenly and even impetuously present my mostly inchoate views before his readers: a very different audience from that with which I am accustomed; and I beg these readers’ indulgence to present them as brazenly and even impetuously as I feel I must. For I am, of course, a Christian and a Conservative; and as such I can only be impressed by the dogged persistence of our esteemed host in believing that he and I may truly become collaborators and even comrades.


Every society includes a public orthodoxy. Here we touch an elementary fact of political society which our own peculiar fashions and prejudices have obscured from us.

Without an orthodoxy, there is no society, but simply a decay, slow and excruciating, or rapid and sanguinary, into chaos. “Orthodoxy refers to any public doctrine accepted unconditionally by a community,” wrote Frederick D. Wilhelmsen and Willmoore Kendall in a very substantial essay (pdf format, and rather difficult to read, I’m afraid) from some 35 years ago, “even if the orthodoxy in question is somebody else’s heresy; and the emotional reaction of positivists to the word ‘orthodoxy’ is only one aspect of their orthodoxy.”

Modern Liberalism is our orthodoxy; or is very near to becoming it, notwithstanding the resistance that still endures. This is, in my view, the basic question at issue in our political and cultural disputes. And the emergence, maturation and ascendance of a new orthodoxy necessitates a severe reshuffling of ideological alliances among the constituents of the society which is undergoing this change. It cannot be otherwise.

It is increasingly clear that the big fault lines of this ideological shift are on the Right. For it is the Right whose duty and vocation has usually been to defend the orthodoxy, just as it is the Left whose vocation has usually been to criticize the orthodoxy, whether overtly (when the orthodoxy is weak), or subtly (when it is strong).

The terrible conundrum for many on the Right is that the new orthodoxy is repugnant to them. So Conservatives, under this new orthodoxy, cannot be conservative; indeed, the day may dawn when they will be revolutionaries. Yet some will remain mere conservatives, mere men of the status quo, and turn with loathing on what they see in their former comrades as a new threat to the established order which it is their business to defend. In brief, there will be conservatives whose project is to conserve the status quo, and Conservatives whose project it will be to restore the status quo ante; those loyal to the established order, and those loyal to a transcendent order that is no longer recognized. And they will emphatically not be allies. Wilhelmsen and Kendall go on,

Such a dilemma certainly faces any man who is aware both of the demands of the transcendent and of society, any man whose soul is turned out towards the truth of things as they are (that is, apart from political considerations), but also faces his responsibility as a member within a society that incarnates a way of life involving a certain (at least apparent) commitment to the Absolute.

But the situation today is exacerbated by the fact that modern Liberalism’s Absolute is a denial of the Absolute. Men are asked to venerate a negation.

It is in this context that politics in postmodern America will be best comprehended. In this context the strange and explosive fractures within what was once a more unified Conservative party will become clear in their causes and meaning; as, for example, it clarifies why some on the Right reacted so sternly against a symposium in the pages of First Things about “the judicial usurpation of politics,” which I encourage anyone interested in the true pressures and lineaments of the American Right to read with care. The symposium and the reaction against it, in short, presaged a fracture into a Right that would become revolutionary in its opposition to a tyranny of courts and judges, and, against that, another Right that would be conservative of the status quo, even if the status quo included lawless courts and “robed masters.”

Other controversies which perplex may be illuminated by this dialectic. The fracture over amending the Constitution to prohibit homosexual marriage; the fracture over immigration; the fracture over what is called globalization, the fracture over what we might call democratic imperialism — all of these, I perceive, are related to the transformation of the public orthodoxy of this nation, and the response to that transformation of the men and women of the Right.

It's not just Bush who is touring the Middle East

French President Nicolas Sarkozy began a three-day Middle Eastern visit to boost energy and defense contracts and discuss regional political matters, including Iran, Lebanon and the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Sarkozy’s trip began yesterday in Saudi Arabia and will continue in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Yesterday, he and Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdelaziz al-Saud signed an oil and gas cooperation agreement and an education accord; they also spent more than an hour talking about a series of contracts that could earn the winning companies a total of 39.5 billion euros ($58.4 billion) and about the Middle East political issues.

The French president said France could do “much better” at gaining more market share in the region where it lags behind countries including the U.S., China and Germany. Defense, oil, natural gas, air and rail transportation, and water distribution are France’s biggest exports to the Gulf states.

“The interest of this visit is political, economic, cultural and military,” Sarkozy told reporters yesterday after signing the agreements with King Abdullah. He will make a speech today at the kingdom’s Consultative Council and address French and local businessmen.

Sarkozy’s visit coincides with U.S. President George W. Bush’s week-long trip to the region that will bring Bush to the Arabian kingdom today, less than two hours after Sarkozy will have left for Qatar.

France is due to announce a series of agreements and contracts by the end of the official visit on Jan. 15.


US and Malaysia resume free trade talks

The United States and Malaysia resumed formal talks Monday for a free trade agreement, nearly a year after discussions stalled amid differences over Malaysia's government procurement policy.

The United States — Malaysia's biggest trading partner — is seeking "real, demonstrable progress" in its sixth round of free trade negotiations with the Southeast Asian country, said U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Kathryn Taylor.

"There is no deadline, but there is no indefinite timeline either. We need to be making progress. So that's what we'll be looking for," Taylor said. "Political calendars can affect the way trade negotiations continue."

Taylor said the U.S. wants to seal a deal by summer before a new administration takes over — a target that Washington believes is "achievable."

Formal talks, last held in February 2007, stalled when the Malaysian government said it needed more time to consider its domestic interests.

However, informal discussions aimed at ironing out differences have been held since then, leading to the latest talks in Malaysia, which are expected to end Thursday, Taylor said.

"We're at the point now where both sides are ready to come back to the formal negotiating table," she said. "They are ready to come down and formalize what they've been discussing."

Malaysian trade officials were not immediately available to comment.

What would a Hillary victory represent?

Given that the US has election fever, I have decided to point readers to an article written for the London Review of Books in August 2007:
To be sure, like many left-of-centre individuals of her generation, [Hillary Clinton] has shown a marked commitment to improving the lot of traditionally disadvantaged groups. She became convinced early on, Bernstein remarks, that the ‘tragedy of race in America must be made right’, and from her student days she conscientiously sought out black friends, while also setting out to learn. One of her earliest mentors was Marian Wright Edelman, the first black woman to be admitted to the bar in Mississippi. Hillary has also repeatedly championed women’s rights in the States and overseas, and she makes a point herself of advancing talented women. Her campaign manager, head of operations and policy co-coordinator are all female – as, it bears considering, are 54 per cent of the current US electorate. Yet she can still appear confined within some of the radical priorities of the later 20th century, and unable or unwilling to generate a comprehensive and compelling vision of America and of the world’s present and future. Issues to do with race, gender and the dispossessed come naturally to her. But it is Al Gore who has hammered out an informed and powerful position on the environment, energy conservation and global warming. She has only belatedly borrowed some of his language and ideas. And it has been John Edwards who has tried steering the Democratic Party firmly back in the direction of economics. He, not Hillary, has been the most eager to address the gulf between America’s rich and poor. A one-time Democratic senator’s critique of Hillary’s initial, hard-line support of the Iraq war therefore seems more broadly applicable. She puts herself, he argued, ‘in the position of looking backward, not forward, of caving to conventional wisdom instead of moving in the direction of . . . new ideas, being bold.’

Obama is a little dull

Like Will Smith, who in the new film I Am Legend wakes up to find himself the last man alive in a world of zombies, am I now the only person left on the planet who finds Barack Obama a little bit dull? Every time I listen to him, I start off thinking I'm about to wet my pants, but a minute-and-a-half later find my mind wandering, asking itself things like: 'What does "the challenge of hope" mean?'

Yet I turn and look around and everyone is shouting and screaming. Obama chants: 'Something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it' and there's a collective swoon from grown pundits and hardened reporters, all of them tearing off their shirts and pleading for Obama to sign their chests with indelible marker pen. Will Smith woke up to a world of zombies: in my personal nightmare, everyone around me has an overactive thyroid.

So why does Obama, billed by everyone as a cross between Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln, but without the terrible looks of either, just leave me puzzled? Maybe it's because his is a rhetoric that soars and takes flight, but alights nowhere. It declares that together we can do anything, but doesn't mention any of the things we can do. It's a perpetual tickle in the nose that never turns into a sneeze. Trying to make sense of what he's saying is like trying to wrap mist.

But, rhythmically, it's quite alluring. It can make anything, even, for example, a simple chair, seem magnificent. Why vote for someone who says: 'See that chair. You can sit on it' when you can have someone like Obama say: 'This chair can take your weight. This chair can hold your buttocks, 15 inches in the air. This chair, this wooden chair, can support the ass of the white man or the crack of the black man, take the downward pressure of a Jewish girl's behind or the butt of a Buddhist adolescent, it can provide comfort for Muslim buns or Mormon backsides, the withered rump of an unemployed man in Nevada struggling to get his kids through high school and needful of a place to sit and think, the plump can of a single mum in Florida desperately struggling to make ends meet but who can no longer face standing, this chair, made from wood felled from the tallest redwood in Chicago, this chair, if only we believed in it, could sustain America's huddled arse.'

(Armando Iannucci is a satirist, responsible for, amongst other moments of classic British comedy, The Thick of It. This will help you to understand the above.)


Against man's ingrained inhumanity

Image from www.artsjournal.com

The Third of May 1808 by Francisco Goya.

Image taken from Modern Art Notes.

The nature and style of the Qur'an

For those of you who don't know, the Guardian has started a new blog on the Qur'an. Blogging the Qur'an is being written by Ziauddin Sardar with help from Madeleine Bunting. The approach by the Guardian is based on Slate's Blogging the Bible.

The latest post by Sardar is on the style and nature of the Qur'an, which inevitably raises the point made by Bunting in her response: why is the Qur'an so difficult to read?

I can't offer any particularly unique insights into the structure of the text, but for the purposes of debate and discussion (and for those interested) I would like to link and cite something from Mustansir Mir's "Is the Qur'an a Shapeless Book?", which was first published in the Pakistani English-language Islamic journal, Renaissance:
The completion of the arrangement of the Qur'an was conterminous in time with the completion of its revelation. In respect of order and sequence, therefore, the Qur'an as it was compiled was different from the Qur'an as it was revealed. In other words, the Qur'an had two arrangements, one revelatory and the other compilatory. The question is, why was the revelatory arrangement abandoned in favour of a compilatory arrangement. Was the latter adopted without any special reason? If so, why was chronology not considered a sound enough basis for arranging the Qur'an? And is one today at liberty to discover, if possible, the chronological arrangement of the Qur'an and recite the Qur'an according to that arrangement? Or, if chronology was not an acceptable guide, why was not some rule, that for example of dividing the Qur'an into surahs of about equal length, employed. Nor does the principle of the progressive diminution of the size of surahs go very far because the diminution is not so progressive: We frequently find that long surahs are followed by shorter surahs which are again followed by long surahs and so on. The question continues to stare one in the face: Why a different arrangement?
Mir then goes onto briefly describe the ideas of Hamiduddin Farahi and his student Amin Ahsan Islahi, two scholars from the Indian subcontinent, who detailed an approach in which the arrangement of the Qur'an formed an important part of interpreting the text. The Qur'an for them was an organic whole, and different sets of chapters were interconnected with some overall theme. Those interested in pursuing the Farahi-Islahi approach to the Qur'an should read Mir's Coherence in the Quran or Neal Robinson's Discovering the Qur'an (the only two English-language sources I know of that have discussed Farahi-Islahi interpretive method in detail; Mir's work is largely supportive, while Robinson takes a critical view).

Islahi is interesting because he was a friend of Sayyid Abu A'la Maududi, considered one of the 'fathers' of Islamism -- Islahi parted ways with Maududi on the structure and nature of an Islamic state. Islahi was also the teacher of the somewhat controversial Pakistani scholar Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, who is often associated with more 'liberal' pronouncements on Islamic law.

Asian voters in US 'face discrimination'

Many Asian American voters faced discrimination from voting officials during 2006 mid-term elections in the US, a civil rights group has alleged.

The report is based on a multilingual exit poll conducted among 4,700 Asian American voters in 25 US cities.

It documents alleged violations of the Voting Rights Act and Help America Vote Act and cases of "anti-Asian attitude".


The report by the Asian American Legal Defence and Education Fund (AALDEF), a 34-year-old civil rights organisation, comes as presidential primaries are in full swing in the United States.

The group alleges that poll workers were hostile towards Asian American voters, particularly those not fluent in English, during voting in 2006.

Many voters complained of "rude or hostile behaviour" and an "unhelpful attitude about election procedures", the report said.

It said 59 Asian American voters had complained.

In New York, 83% of voters who were asked to show identification were not legally required to do so, the report says.

It says English-speaking voters were not asked for ID.

The discrimination was "racially motivated and at the same time also demonstrated a bureaucratic approach", AALDEF lawyer Glenn D Magpantay told the BBC.

The survey found 40% of Pakistani-origin, 38% of Bangladeshi-origin and 17% of Indian origin-voters could not speak English well. One-third of Urdu speakers and the same number of Bengali speakers said they needed the assistance of interpreters in order to vote.

One of the new voices around here

Hello all. I have been asked by Aziz to help keep City of Brass ticking over. I irregularly update my own blog, pixelisation. And that's enough about me.


some new voices around here

I'm leaving for a trip to Colombo tomorrow afternoon and will be gone all of next week. However, City of Brass won't be moribund while I am away; in fact I am recruiting some guest bloggers to fill in for me while I'm off. I'll leave their identities a surprise, for now :)


abusing Allah

I tend to have very little patience with people who try to prove the existence of God. I favorably quote Douglas Adams on the matter of faith, even though he is a noted atheist. I've also done my part to refute so-called proofs of faith like the Kalam Cosmological Argument. So, when I read over at Good Math, Bad Math about a supposedly mathematical proof of God from a muslim, I was compelled to reply. I left the mathematical rebuttal to Chu-Carroll and addressed the argument from a more theological perspective. This sort of thing always gets under my skin.


I just may be the lunatic you're looking for

Sepia Mutiny takes Ted Rall to task, somewhat rightly:

I do appreciate Rall’s overarching point— Huckabee is allowed to be as batshit crazy as he wants to be because he’s on the lunatic fringe of my religion instead of any other one— since I’m no fan of the preacher man. It’s a very valid concern.

However, I also cringed slightly at how Rall made his point. I cynically wonder whether people will get mired in “Hinduism is strange” instead of questioning why we aren’t more worried about the rise of this candidate. After all, if Rall’s conception of Hindu fundamentalism (cobras? chanting? SATI??) confuses slightly-familiar-with-Hinduism-me, what will those with even less exposure to the religion think?

The assertion by Anna (echoed approvingly in the discussion) that Huckabee is clearly a lunatic solely because he doesn't believe in evolution. I guess by that standard I too am a lunatic, not because I necessarily disbelieve that men descended from apes (though sci-pedant that I am, I'd point out that apes and men both descended from something else), but because I do think it's perfectly reasonable for another person to believe in creation. It's not an irrational belief. It's as rational as any other rational thought process, which is to say it's your typical black box with inputs and outputs, and garbage in, garbage out.

I am not sneering at creationism at garbage in, either. Just now I read a thread at Overcoming Bias blog where fresh off a tone-deaf and schoolyard-taunting post on Christmas day mocking the Immaculate Conception, the blogger states his belief in Transhumanism and the Singularity.

The ego of man knows no bounds, and neither does his faith. Reason is just a tool applied in service of both.

I tend towards increasing skepticism of "rational thinking" as any kind of intrinsically superior in terms of relative "Truth" (capital T). Overcoming bias? Such righteousness! Such hubris!

Now, however, what is superior is method, not process. This is why the true fruit of the Enlightenment was the scientific method, not secularism and the conceit that any human thought can ever be truly objective.

At any rate, sneering at Hinduism for being "strange" is not much different from sneering at Huckabee for being devout, and you can't take offense at one an dnot the other. Well, you can, but in doing so you are not exactly... reasonable.

At any rate, I believe in both evolution and intelligent design, so there.

(I've posted the above in the thread at SM as well.)