6.08.10| Religion, Violence, Entitlement
The first half of this program is described as follows:
Ron Hassner confronts the argument that religions are naturally conducive to peace. He emphasizes, among other things, the ambiguous and contradictory nature of religious texts and passages.[33 min. of 60]Hassner begins by trashing Richard Dawkins' infantile lack of political or historical sagacity involving religion. But he also makes short shrift of the self-serving proclamations of the defenders of religion that all religions are inherently peaceful. Religion is not a private affair between man and God as the Protestant tradition would have it. Religions are not detached metaphysical positions; they inherently make claims about space, time, and behavior. There is, however, a perpetual problem of the interpretation of sacred texts, with and without their internal contradictions, with and without translations in foreign languages. Literalism is an impossibility. Justifying any course of action, warlike or peaceful, based on sacred textual authority is necessarily dodgy. When it comes to skewed interpretations, though, Hassner finds Sam Harris especially guilty of irresponsible cherry-picking from the Koran. Part two of this interview is forthcoming.