Pakistan was fucked up from the start. As a kid I watched it happening. As someone said earlier, the partition of India was a tragedy, and it is unfolding with the desperate inevitability of all tragedy. I hold out no hope for the region. Religion, you know, really does poison everything.There's a lot in this, and I don't expect you to agree with it all. I really, really hope Eric is not completely right, because things are grim if he is. But I do think we need to think about this.
I thought, years ago, that liberal religion was a possibililty, and that the traditions that I thought so valuable were worth preserving, and liberal religion would provide the way. I really no longer think this is possible. I am reading of Philip Kitcher’s three papers in which he explores this, but I think it is too late. There is no way to save the aesthetic traditions of religion from the belief traditions before the belief traditions themselves have brought about catastrophe.
I may, of course, be wrong, but at the moment that is the way my thought is trending. There might have been a liberal understanding that could have made Pakistan both secular and in that marginal sense Islamic, as England, for example, is secular and Christian. But Islam will not be moulded to secular realities, and neither, we must admit, will Christianity. Time to say goodbye to religious traditions, and try to make something better. Kitcher thinks there are not enough of the kind of secular institutional realities that can provide the kind of surrogate community that might replace the loss of religious institutions, and that a transition to secularism cannot work until there are. That may be so, and it may be a pipe dream anyway. But I don’t think, given the time table that religions seem to be on, that there will be time to create them before we are in the midst of some kind of religious cataclysm. Perhaps I am just a apocalyptist manqué?
I supported Jerry's anger a couple of posts back. Let me now say this. I'm not angry at all religious people. Really, I'm not. I totally understand the views of Philip Kitcher that Eric refers to (Udo Schuklenk and I published one of the three essays that Eric mentions, and I still think it's a brilliant piece). I'm not angry at my liberal religious friends any more than I'm angry at anyone else whose worldview differs from mine, but who is a good person by my standards. I'm definitely not into indiscriminate anger.
My main feeling about liberal religion is not that it's harmful or wicked, or even that it's wrong (we may all think things that will eventually turn out to be wrong; that goes with the human situation). It's that it's fighting a losing battle, at least over any timeframe that I can comprehend. Sure, lots of people turn away from organised religion to something more personal or vague or New Agey, while retaining a residual belief in God or a supernatural world. But I'm like Eric. alas: looking at the scene across the world, I can't see the liberal religion that I even feel some fondness for actually prevailing. In some locations it may, but not in the larger scheme of things. It's not really my target, and it only bugs me if it tries, in a misguided spirit of niceness, to shut me up. More strength to the arms of some of the genuine religious liberals.
I wish I were wrong, and I'm open to argument, but I just don't think liberal religion is going to be the solution to our problems.