Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Islam Readings

I have noticed a lot of connections between the Islam readings we were assigned for tomorrows class and the River Between. They both say the same thing and presents the same criticisms against European colonialization in two different manners. Through The River Between the read learns about the hardships and difficulties the Europeans bring to the African villagers through a humanistic realm. We can directly relate with the characters and the tribulations they endure. And through the Islam readings we can see the mechanical and systematic destruction to the individual cultures brought on by this phenomenon. The combination of both really helps to shed some light on all aspects of the colonialization and the many different ways it ruined the local cultures it affected.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

What Makes a Person Adopt a New Religion?

At the end of class today Nathan proposed the question "what makes a person adopt a new religion?" This question has stuck with me through this afternoon. As I have been contemplating this question I have reached the conclusion that there are a number of reasons why someone would choose to adopt a new religion. These include a desire to fit into a new society, sensing an opportunity for power, an act of rebellion, intuition or a profound feeling from the religion, or a need for something more or some sort of fulfillment. I'm sure people have other reasons for adopting specific religions as well but these seem to be the most obvious to me.

However, as I was compiling this list I thought about a point Nathan made in my Christian Traditions class. Regardless of the reason a person had to adopt a new religion it always involves a personal choice. No one ever simply falls into a religion. Conversions personal choices that are purposefully made. This shows a lot about the nature of religion. You must choose to believe in such a thing before you can adopt it. I have yet to actually figure out the repercussions of such a notion, but I can't help but shake the feeling that this is a really profound quality. I think it may have something to with the connection people feel with those who share in their religion. No matter what your purpose for conversion was, you must still possess a faith in that religion. This faith is something you share only with those of your religion; its a special connection only a select group of people have. This quality is constant through out every religion.

I'm not sure where this conclusion is taking me but I felt it was important to address in context of the question "what makes a person adopt a new religion?" All of the reasons I listed above could be driven by the desire to develop this spiritual connection with others in society as well as a spiritual connection with some higher power.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ramblings About Nietzsche

Nietzsche's break down of the moral code of his time period seems very difficult to handle. On the surface he seems to simply support the barbaric and animalistic nature early civilizations. He condemns the new Christian morality found across Europe because it makes everyone weaker. Rather than allow the strong to prosper and continually better the society, civilization evolved to protect everyone. Thus, rendering the entire population mediocre.
As disturbing as some people may find this, I believe there is an even deeper issue at work within Nietzsche's conclusions. He demonstrates how morality has evolved over time. This completely destroys our basic concept of morality. Many people believe morality is either natural ingrained in people at birth or it was placed on Earth directly from God. But if we believe Nietzsche's argument then morality can be neither. It removes the sacred nature from morality, reducing it to another social invention. This presents a huge issue. If morality does not have that divine power, then why follow the code. Why not act unjustly, taking advantage of the weak to better yourself? Embracing Nietzsche's concept of "master morality" seems like the smarter option.
Yet, I can't help but wonder what such a decision on a massive level would do to our society. Humanity as we consider it will be transformed into something we currently consider barbaric and unjust. Justice would be eradicated in favor of an attitude of survival of the strongest. As Nietzsche argued this would eliminate the "mediocre" quality of society that has developed, but I cannot concede to the idea that this would better the society.

Friday, March 7, 2008

CIE Movie

In class today Nathan brought up the possiblity that we, as an audience, project our own views about humanity and morality onto representations of nature, like the video we watched. As a collective bod, I believe we had a tendency to root for the lions and wished harm upon the hyenas. Disregarding the biases included within the film, I really believe we can gain a strong understanding about our ideas of justice from this experience. In Plato's Republic one definition of justice he suggests is that justice is simply the rule of the stronger. I believe our willingness to cheer for the lions stems from our natural inclination towards this definition of justice. Lions are naturally stronger, thus we will naturally support their victory. The lion's victory appears just. On the contrary, the successes of the hyenas appears to go against the laws of nature. Even when the young hyena princess is ostracized by her clan, I struggled to sympathize with her situation. I found myself almost happy when she fell from her glory. However, any time one of the lions was harmed it pained me to watch, especially if it was caused by the hyenas. It does not seem like these judgments are conscious decisions, but they are ingrained in our subconscious. Some may argue that we have a tendency to root for the underdog, but that cannot be validated in our consideration of justice. I believe people root for the underdog because they subconsciously believe it is against the natural order for them to win. This still supports my notion that our natural inclination is to believe justice is the rule of the stronger.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Role Christianity Played in Darwin's Popularity

After reading all of the Darwin pieces and our discussion in class, I really began to think about why the theory of evolution became so influential in such a short period of time. To really consider this point I think it is essential to look at Paley's attempt to defend the doctrine of Creation.

Growing up in the church I always had a tendency to lean towards Creation, since that is what I had always been taught. However, after reading both Darwin's arguments and Paley's arguments there is no way I could subscribe to Paley over Darwin. Paley completely failed to convince his readers of the inaccuracy of Darwin's ideas. Paley used the concept of a watch to disprove Darwin's ideas about animals. Any logical person can see that these two items simply cannot be compared. Paley argued that since an artificer had to create a watch for it to come into existence, Creation must be true as well. All organisms must need a similar artificer for them to exist. However, this argument does not line up. There is no logical connection between an inanimate object like a watch and an animate object like a cat. Why should the method in which one comes into existence have any effect on the way the other comes into existence? To the rational mind it can't.

I believe this may have been one of the reasons why Darwinism caught on so quickly; the religious groups seemed to have failed to provide adequate arguments to convince people of the illegitimacy of evolution. They may have even made themselves look more foolish by creating such illogical arguments are the one present by Paley. Had Christians been able to provide better reasoning to support their own ideas they may have been able to prevent Darwinism from becoming so widely accepted.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Communist Manifesto

This was not my first time reading the Communist Manifesto. However, after reading it for CIE rather then a history class I was able to take a much different perspective of the text. It is amazing to see how revolutionary this piece of text really is. Not only does Marx claim the needs to be a proletariat revolution to save society, he says a violent revolution is the only way. Reading this from a modern perspective and with all of the previous conceived notions we have developed about communism, it is almost difficult to take this text seriously. Communism has such a horrible connotation since its institution in Russia. Everyone knows that ideologically Communism may seem to work, but as a society it is not only impractical, but impossible as well. We do not have the capacity to treat everyone as equals and not embrace advantages or improvements as they present themselves. Marx had good intentions with his creation of the Communist Manifesto but his goals were too lofty and his perception of humans was too positive.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Reflections on Today's Class

After our class today I really began to think about the purpose of poetry and the way authors intended their writing to be read.

After reading the poem 4 times, I have come to the conclusion that many of the statements made in class today were products of superficial interpretations of the text. Wordsworth wanted his audience to read the text literally, but this does not detract from the necessity to read into the deeper meanings embedding within the text. I believe Wordsworth was discussing physical nature throughout his entire poem, I don't see any text that points to nature being a metaphor for a larger idea.

It also seems to me that we tended to jump to the conclusion that Wordsworth was angry at his corruption through his loss of his childhood outlook on nature. Again, I don't really see any evidence in the text to support this claim. Rather it seems that he is content with his new perspective on nature. He is now able to see the deeper purpose and benefits of nature. Instead of losing a connection with nature, Wordsworth has actually just developed a different, more mature relationship.

It's important that we remember not in interject our own assumptions into the text. We can only base our conclusions on the evidence we have in front of us. It is true that there are historical clues that can help us speculate some of the author's motives, but it can never be more than speculation. Conclusion need to have textual support to hold any validity.

I didn't mean to rant but I'm worried we may lose some of the integrity of our discussion if we continue to fail to properly support our assumptions and conclusions.