Revolution #165, May 24, 2009

Readers Respond to Articles in Revolution

Posted 5/24/2009

Previous Posts:
    December 6, 2008
    February 1, 2009



Comment submitted by Wilson Riles referring to the article by Bob Avakian, “RUMINATIONS AND WRANGLINGS On the Importance of Marxist Materialism, Communism as a Science, Meaningful Revolutionary Work, and a Life with Meaning,” Part 2:

Again, the Chairman makes no distinction between the multitudinous conceptions of reality or "God." He only speaks from the Judea-Christian-Islamic perception and, even then, makes no accounting of the early twisting of that by Roman imperialism. The Chairman does not take in to account the fact that early Jewish authors based their conceptions on the Ptolemaic “science" of the time. Neither does he account for the fact that not all religious believers are literalists. It is a minority and that minority is only fundamental in "name;" they are not fundamental in their status among other religious believers. In a very real way, it is the Quakers, the Church of the Brethren, etc. -- the more mystical -- Christians that are closer to the practices of the early Christians. Many of these groups give very little attention to the Bible. That is not to even mention the Seiks, the Hindus, the Buddhist, and others. Most of who have no problems with the discoveries of materialistic science. In fact, Quantum Physics (the preeminent science) borrowed concepts from Eastern religious philosophers in order to understand what was happening in their material experiments, repeatedly. To put all religions and all religious people in to the same bag -- a uniquely European bag at that -- is sophistry.

We received the following response to a comment by Wilson Riles on the article by Bob Avakian, “RUMINATIONS AND WRANGLINGS On the Importance of Marxist Materialism, Communism as a Science, Meaningful Revolutionary Work, and a Life with Meaning,” Part 2:

Just a very brief reply to the correspondent above: I won’t presume to speak to the questions of Hinduism (although it does sacralize the caste system), Buddhism, Sikhs, etc.  But I will say that in regard to the general criticism being made, you need to read the book a bit more closely.  Chapter Four in particular does in fact make quite a few distinctions among different varieties of religious belief, and addresses several prominent and popular non-fundamentalist thinkers, especially Michael Lerner and Karen Armstrong, as it ranges very widely into questions of epistemology and morality. 

Nor does it do to shrug off fundamentalists as “a minority of the minority,” as the correspondent does – first, these forces are extremely dynamic right now with a lot of initiative, and second, ALL the major denominations referred to base themselves on the Bible or the Koran (and the influence of these dominations is pervasive in Africa, North and South America, Europe, and large parts of Asia).  Even if the interpretation of this or that sect is not literalist, their foundation is scriptural, and what is written in those foundational works can’t be airily shrugged off, or selectively chosen from.  Scripture, whether liberally or literally interpreted, claims to be the revealed truth – and the most essential truth at that, one beyond the ken of reason of ordinary humans.  Finally, there will of course always be one or more particular religions, or religious interpretations, that won’t be spoken to in any particular work; but AWAY WITH ALL GODS! takes on the main expressions of religious belief in the largest part of the contemporary world.  By all means, engage and disagree – but first engage with what is actually there.   

Toby O’Ryan

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