August 6, 2004


U.S. on dangerous course, expert warns (MICHAEL VALPY, Aug 6, 2004, Globe and Mail)

Ms. Armstrong said that, throughout history, when religious fundamentalist movements have been attacked they have become more extreme. "The way we're going -- and Britain is just as culpable as the United States -- we're alienating Muslims who were initially horrified by Sept. 11 and we're strengthening al-Qaeda, which has definitely been strengthened by the Iraq war and its awful aftermath."

The reason religious fundamentalism exists, she said, is because it is the natural byproduct that follows establishment of a secular, liberal society.

The emancipation of women, she said, has fuelled fundamentalism in all major religions. "We've been the worst religion [Christianity] in the world for integrating sexuality and gender with the sacred.

"So to every [secular advance of] society, there is a fundamentalist riposte. We have to be grown-up about it. All major social change is contested. It always has been. Not everyone is going to say, 'Oh boy, what a fabulous idea, let's go along with it.' "

She said the 1925 Scopes trial in the United States that pitted biblical creationism against Darwinian evolution is the prime example of what happens when fundamentalism is attacked.

Yeah, remember the wave of terror bombings that Christians launched? Ooops, never mind. ...

Ms Armstrong's problem here is that she's misconstrued which side of the Darwinism fight was extremist.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 6, 2004 8:31 AM

Yeah, remember the wave of terror bombings that Darwinists launched? Ooops, never mind. ...

Darwinists are only extremists in the sense of wanting and doing things that you really, really don't like.

Which, however, does not keep Ms Armstrong from being an idiot, BTW.

Posted by: Brandon at August 6, 2004 8:57 AM


They murdered and sterilized millions through eugenics, genocide and the like.

Posted by: oj at August 6, 2004 9:07 AM

OJ, a good many of those "Darwinists" were Christian.

Brandon is right, Armstrong is an idiot. Does being "grown up" about Islamo-terrorism mean ignoring it and waiting for it to go away?

Posted by: Robert Duquette at August 6, 2004 10:21 AM

Christian Darwinists were always pushing for eliminating the weak to shore up the species in the name of giving the natural, mechanistic process a helping hand. Marxist/Leninists were simply answering the call of dialectical materialism and forcing the process of historical development, and Stalin was educated in a monastery and Hitler was born Catholic so...

Posted by: Tom C, Stamford,Ct. at August 6, 2004 10:37 AM


Who do you suppose were advocating forced sterilizations in the US, particularly the South?

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at August 6, 2004 11:47 AM


Who? Traditional Christians untouched by the intellectual fashions of the time? Oliver Wendell Holmes was the legal force behind state sponsored sterilizations and he thought of himself as a rationalist of the highest order. I know, I know the south was predominantly Christian and Holmes was a justice of the Supreme Court which opens with a theistic invocation, so by modern rationalist thinking, Christians, whether nominal or practicing, are really to blame.

Posted by: Tom C, Stamford,Ct. at August 6, 2004 12:32 PM

If Karen Armstrong thinks that finding a just solution to the Palestinian problem is step 1, then she needs to renounce her Ph.D.

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 6, 2004 12:43 PM


The forced sterilization movement in America was mainly scientists, pragmatists, Darwinists of all sorts.

Posted by: oj at August 6, 2004 1:20 PM

Social Darwinists. Who are not, in fact, Darwinists.

Edward Larson's "Evolution" has a short but balanced assessment, laying blame on many sides. Some, but not all, Christians, even Catholics, were on the side of the angels that time.

Armstrong obviously does not know anything about Islam. I dislike the term 'Islamic fundamentalism,' because it gets confused with American Christian Fundamentalism, which is not much like it.

Islam is profoundly antimodern, which is what the issue is here. There are not any significant 'modern' Muslims. Oh, a few westernizers here and there, but they are the Unitarians of their religion. Barely acknowledged to worship the same god.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at August 6, 2004 2:02 PM

Karen Armstrong is one inept and culturally ignorant historian. She has been a highly commercail specialist in religious history who has written some of the most biased histories I have personally read and which seem to be based on much of the same research used by the author of "The Davinci Code".

College sophmore material proffered by many a womyns studies departmant one would assume. Her ignorance of the essence of Islam was put on display in a recent short history published prior to 9/11 was so profound in light of the event that the only excuse possible is her reliance on the relativistic view so common among academics.

Harry, I'm glad to see you distinguish between "fundamentalisms" especially since the highly respected and intellectually fashionable Ms. Armstrong cannot.

Posted by: Tom C, Stamford,Ct. at August 6, 2004 2:20 PM

If all the wars and atrocities committed by fascists and communists can be laid at the feet of "Darwinists", can we pin all Christians with all the wars and atrocities from 300 AD to 1850?

Posted by: Brandon at August 6, 2004 2:22 PM


All but the French Revolution, which was secular/Rationalist.

Posted by: oj at August 6, 2004 2:37 PM


All of the agressive wars insigated by christians for purely religious purposes may indeed be blamed on their interpretation of the christian principles which require agressive, imperialistic wars. The teachings of Christ are, afetr all, highly oriented toward the warrior culture with many dirtectives to slay unbelievers and spread His word mercilessly with violence and terror.

Posted by: Tom C, Stamford,Ct. at August 6, 2004 2:38 PM

The problem, Tom, was that evangelism in a velvet glove didn't convert anyone.

Christianity only gained ground against paganism when it allied itself to a warrior culture and converted by the sword.

From that, much flowed. Or, as Professor Bunyip said memorably: 'Once you have compromised the first principle, no other can ever be too important to abandon.'

Posted by: Harry Eagar at August 8, 2004 3:24 PM