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Not bad. A bit simple-minded, though. It would have been nice to see comparisons to the rise of fundamentalism in all world religions. In fact, the "conservative" scholar (female; forget her name) in Cairo, though I disagree with her answer, nailed the key question: Modernity is the cause of the rise of fundamentalism in all world religions. She specifically noted the "failure" of many of the promises of modernity: end to war, want, etc. Very true; I take the antipodal position on the answer, though: the incomplete revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe and the Americas -- and one could say, too, the cynical and stupid destruction of Arab nationalism and socialism (-ish) -- doomed the West to empty alienation. Thus our own fundamentalist revival(s). Without the true levelling of power in all spheres of existence, and true freedom for all, well, you have to expect the yahoos will gain adherents -- no matter what the religion or ideology used as a cover for yahooness.
Not much room for evolution in Islam, it seems. Not much different from other religions, of course. Basically, no matter what the religion, the separation of religion and state must be absolute. That's one Western notion that is worthy. An increasingly unpopular viewpoint.However, the very difficult question of the limits of toleration come in: should one tolerate intolerance that seeks to overthrow tolerance? I don't think so.Ultimately, if people get the sense of community, connectedness, and "oceanic feeling" missing in global capitalism, the need for some supernaturally sanctioned community will likely wane. Dressing the same, doing the same rituals, sharing some (often partially invented) common heritage -- not much different from being a Red Sox fan. Humans need that kind of cohesiveness -- but the tribe has to be extended to the entire species or we're done for. Religions virtually always increase us/them distinctions -- as do nation-states, of course. Eminently fair rules of a default secular state with limited powers in which you can practice whatever insanity you like privately (as long as people aren't hurt), but keep it out of the legal and political structures and institutions: how many Europeans (and others) had to die to get that basic point across in the 17th century?One need not go the ridiculous and needless extremes of Dawkins, Harris, et al -- and I'm a completely secular atheist, btw -- I'd be thrilled to have religiously inspired good behavior in the public sphere. That's the point: who gives a damn about the source of the behavior? It's the behavior that counts -- that seemingly obvious and simple notion has increasingly gotten lost as the promise of modernity foundered (inevitably) on the inherent inequality and inhumanity of capitalism.No, I see very little chance of change...in time.
IMO the 'religious' people don't seek to understand first, or at all. They seek to convert and prove others wrong. I find the same intolerance in Islam that I find in the 'Christian' world. Even worse, they're playing martyrs now, thanks to the U.S. gov.'s actions against Islamic populations, or Bush's Crusade.