Richard Dawkins' oft-publicised arguments about beliefs rest on classificatory dividing lines between ‘religion’ and ‘science’, ‘faith’ and ‘secular’ reason. In his passionate rebuttal, Dr Timothy Fitzgerald suggests that, contrary to popular perception, the armies of generalities so deployed have little meaningful content, but instead serve to legitimate rhetorical positions behind which lie the framework of liberal capitalist ideology derived from colonialism.
In viewing the first anniversary of the 25 January 2011 Revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak and set forth many changes that would have simply been unthinkable twelve months ago in Egypt, we should bear in mind that the deep socio-economic and technological structures of civilisations play out over long periods of time, says Dr Harry Hagopian. Here he offers a perspective on the development and prospects of those recent events in Egypt, and responses to them.
Iran, Israel and the US are equally responsible for bringing the Middle East to the brink of war, a decade after the disastrous assault on Iraq’s presumed 'weapons of mass destruction', says Ghassan Michel Rubeiz. Does Iran have a latent objective in raising the Strait closure now? Should Israel, or the US, launch an air strike on Iran preemptively, Iran may want the world to think about the consequences of such a closure on the world economy.
the most appropriate usage of the term ‘religious conversion’ seems to be – at best – as a descriptor of certain historical attempts to pursue a particular strategy of Christianisation, says Dr Michael Marten. In this form it is best put behind us, but it raises important questions about the contested nature of Christianity and its mission(s).
Everywhere we look see and hear the phrase “The Sick and Disabled”. It is as if somehow 'these people' are a separate commodity - other than us, says Karen McAndrew. A breed apart. Seeing ‘them’ like this is what allows politicians and journalists to discuss ‘their’ future in terms of statistics. Talking of ‘them’ in these terms makes it easier for people to dissociate and thereby give consent for actions which will have an adverse effect. The arguments over the deeply flawed Welfare Reform Bill are a clear example of this. The Spartacus campaign is a key part of the much-needed reversal.
How will the popular uprisings in the Arab world affect the future of states and regimes in the region? All possible outcomes are shadowed by the fate of the contending ideologies and movements - nationalism and socialism, secularism and Islamism, dynasticism and liberal constitutionalism - that have dominated the Arab political landscape in recent decades, says Sami Zubaida. His overview of their rise and fall both illuminates a complex history and indicates the scale of the challenge facing democratic reformers today.
Foreign intervention in Syria would drive the country into a full- fledged civil war, give the regime the excuse to continue the crackdown on dissent, alienate the undecided, and invite destructive groups to fuel turmoil, argues Middle East commentator Ghassan Michel Rubeiz. In joining the uprising, defecting soldiers should not use their arms against the national army. To win a battle of wills a country could be lost.
Palestine remains politically inert despite the artificial fireworks of a UN application for statehood or membership of UNESCO, observes Dr Harry Hagopian. So why is Palestine faced with such a thunderous crime of silence? After all, over the past year, we have been witnessing popular uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa region. Where is the disconnect here?
"What would Jesus do?” Questions being asked by the Occupy movement are a symptom of an even wider movement to read the Bible in news ways, as the alliance of church and state breaks up, says New Testament specialist Lloyd Pietersen. He suggest three interpretative moves that have to be made to re-connection with biblical texts today.
December 2011 was characterised by two key Armenian events - one in France and another in Israel. In France, the National Assembly (he lower house of parliament) approved a draft law that would criminalise the denial of the Armenian genocide. Dr Harry Hagopian questions this approach. The horrific scale of the crime means this sensitive issue becomes laden with profound moral, ethical, legal, political and psychological implications, he says, recommending a pan-Armenian strategy.