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tv   Up Front 2017 Ep 35  Al Jazeera  November 27, 2017 11:32am-12:01pm +03

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asian volcano on the island of bali as you can see it's rumbling and spewing smoke scientists say they could be a major eruption at any moment they've ordered more evacuations affecting about one hundred thousand people mt argonne has been hurling clouds of ash about three kilometers into the sky the first official numbers in honduras show opposition leader salvador nasrallah is slightly ahead of the incumbent when orlando hernandez in the presidential election both of them earlier said they were leading polls have been closed for hours and analysts say the late count indicates a tight race present hernandez is seeking a second term but with about sixty percent of the votes counted the opposition leader is five points in front. if you did twelve o'clock at night i inform you that we're losing well there's nothing to do today at twelve o'clock at night i lead leave this planet which at this moment thousand reloads no for you were. different any fraud against us and funerals of been held in syria for some of
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the people killed in russian and government air strikes over the weekend at least fifty five people were killed in russian strikes targeting i saw in dairies or countryside another twenty five people died in airstrikes in the rebel held enclave of eastern guta those are the headlines up front is up next. on counting the cost crocodile economics what emerson malone guard will have to do transform zimbabwe's finances modern day slave trade in libya and how china's internet giant ten cent over took facebook. account to look at this time on a zero. is religion to blame for the world's violence or is it just an easy scapegoat and in a world of a developed science and technology do we even need religion anymore in this upfront special we'll debate faith reason islam and science with physicist and atheist lawrence krauss and reza aslan author of the new book god a human history.
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is religion a force for good or evil a controversial question i know but one you just can't avoid in the modern world from violence and terror to gender equality to science reason and education the faithful and the faithless tend to repeatedly clash over whether religion is a net positive or negative whether it helps humanity more than it said joining me today to debate all this on a special edition of the show are reza aslan a scholar of religion and bestselling author he just released his latest book god in human history and from chicago lawrence krauss a theoretical physicist atheist and bestselling author of numerous books on science including his latest offering the greatest story ever told so far thank you both
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for joining me from reza let's start with you you've got a new book out god in human history you're a muslim you're an academic someone who studies religions up close and personal what conclusions have you arrived at over your life and your career there i'd say over whether religion is a force for good or evil a positive or a negative it's both i mean religion is both a force of good and evil because religion is a manmade institution and human beings are both good and evil and so i don't know why it would come as a surprise to learn that the religious institutions that we create can also be responsible for profound acts of good and compassion and positivity and for equally profound acts of. linson bigotry and hatred but you're a believer you as a paper because i. believe if a world without belief a world without faith organized religion. would be a better world is what people are safe the world if that were the religion the world would be a better place it's our view whether it's a it would be a better or
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a worse place is in some ways irrelevant because of the fact that faith is deeply embedded in our cognitive processes it's a it's a part of who we are it's a mode of knowing it's an emotion it's an emotion like any other emotion it's not rational it's experience for all to say that we can simply remove faith from society i think is to misunderstand what faith actually is lawrence krauss you're an outspoken writer on this issue you're an atheist yourself not all atheists have a negative view of religion but the new atheists and some would put you in that camp are often seen as anti faith hostile to do you believe that a world without religion would be a better place. well first let me say i hate this term new atheist i don't know what it is. not believing for as long as they are leaving so this new and old thing is just some acronym that maybe makes no sense but look i think the world would be better if we accepted reality for what it is i have to say that i i don't disagree
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with most of what reza said the religion is a man made institution but when what i disagree with was when he said we impose upon the divine he's assuming there's a divine but it's a manmade institution the other thing that i guess i might disagree with is that when he says it's a way of knowing it's not a way of knowing the only way of knowing is to is to test the world and the scientific method is the way to learn about the world to revelation is never revealed anything true about the world but whether religion if we look at the history of things is exactly right religion has done good things religion has done bad things one of my favorite lines comes from a colleague of mine a physicist steven weinberg a nobel prize winning physicist who said there are good people and there are bad people good people do good things bad people do bad things when good people do bad things it's religion is there a sense that in twenty seventeen with all the science your scientists rule of science technology education we have now is it your contention that we you know we all should have outgrown religion. well i'm so i was surprised by when i was
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a young person i thought by now we would have outgrown religion because let's face it the evidence of science is that there's no evidence for anything it's very any purpose to the universe any divine inspiration there's no evidence and all that and therefore not true that is surprising and if you look at and if you look at the first world at least it is true that whatever the noise that's happening in congress or the president or anything else the number of people who define themselves as having given religious faith has been decreasing monotonic lee over the last thirty or forty years and most people and i think maybe reza will agree with this most people define themselves as religious actually don't buy any of the doctrines of their quote religion they just like to think of themselves as good people in fact my friend richard dawkins foundation did a study of people who declared themselves as christian and in england after a census and most of them said exactly that religion is user morality and my big problem with religion if i have one is that and i get letters every day from people
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who say i feel like a bad person because i question the existence of god and the people around me make me feel like a bad person because religion is used more ality and if you just say look i don't accept it you're viewed as a bad person and i think both reson i would agree that's not true certainly not true in fact poll after poll shows that the most moral community in the united states is atheists but i do think that both lawrence and i being professors and academics need to do something first and foremost before we can continue this conversation and that is define our terms because first first of all we're not talking about religion we're talking about faith and those are two separate things we could have a conversation about whether it's right for people to replace scientific fact with mythologies and legends of course it's not but i do think that it's important to understand that that's not where the debate lives the debate lies in something fundamental with something that lauren said and that's that science has shown
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science has proven that there. is know that there is you know nothing beyond the material realm of science oh i don't know i never said that no i. don't there is no evidence there's no purpose right what science has shown is that we don't know whether there is any kind of purpose but there it has there is it hasn't been any evidence that there is a purpose but of course that doesn't mean that there as an end it is a perfectly useful and not it to fear stand i think many in court a new atheist or not it is what if anything i'm an apathy or because of because religion never comes into the question the language we often hear in this debate is we hear about religious fundamentalists but not religious moderates good or maybe they're not good either i'm just wondering first of all reza do you identify with either of those terms and how would you do you see a distinction between moderates and fundamentalists we have about fundamentalism well look fundamentalism is a term that was created about one hundred twenty years ago very specifically to speak about a movement within american protestant christianity that in response to the
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scientific revolution and the the sort of definition of truth being that which can be factually verified and the response to that was to say well if truth is only that which can be factually verified then the only way scripture can be true is if it can be factually verified if it's literal and so there we get the terms literalism fundamentalism nowadays when we use the term fundamentalism what we mean is sort of ultra conservative expressions of religiosity religiosity that is dependent upon the literalist reading of text that actually believe it or not despite i think what most people assume is a minority opinion about religion lawrence is absolutely right many many in fact i would say the majority of religious people do not take their their religious doctrines you know completely. heart and in fact. the
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pew forum of religion in public life discovered that anywhere between ten and twelve percent of self described atheists in america actually believe in god so this is an important point to the religious believers who are not literally is to call the moderates do you identify yourself as a mugger no i mean the words like moderate and literalist and fundamentalist unfortunately have lost a lot of meaning because of the way that they get they get thrown around as pejoratives as value judgments i'm a person of faith i have an experience understanding of the universe and experience that's what that's that's what amazes me because what you just said it seems to me is an oxymoron safe involves believing things for which there's no evidence and the only time you have an experience that science is an experiment is experience understanding universe faith is most certainly exactly the opposite which is why that's what most scientists aren't what most let. well let me let me
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let me just say the point is that most scientists are atheists or and most atheists are racist simply because god is a relevant god as we're done that we've not been a scientist for forty years i've never heard the word mentioned in a scientific meeting we don't need the idea what you understand there are so maybe so maybe you can have faith in it the following you can have faith in a divine purpose to the universe but it doesn't help us understand anything about the way the universe actually works so so i don't care about mormons on that note i mean you mentioned science obviously i think you're right the surveys do show a majority of scientists are atheist but that doesn't change that a lot of prominent scientists all believers in god who have done a lot of great work as i like to say there are some scientists there are some scientists republicans people who aren't all that rational ok but here's my question on the note about different religious folks because i mentioned fundamentalism is your problem as an atheist with the religious fundamentalists who kind of reza outlined who is he says a minority or is it with all religious folks because a lot of prominent atheist have come out and said that moderates. some
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fundamentalists because they act as apologists for the fundamentals that is cause for the fun and that's why you'll have the i don't like labels either as well as reza i think the point is my problem with religion is i generally think that fundamentalism or not their religious institutions have. the notion of morality but on the whole promulgated ideas that are are not useful and often harmful for people and take many people many many many people who simply want to ask questions about the universe and make them feel bad and moreover elevate certain ideas as sacred and without question and there just be nothing sacred in a democratic society true everything should be subject to question radical from religion to sex to politics and science and what i would say just chance and signs that that's what science is based on we all question each other and we don't go for i don't go we don't where road says and you didn't quote on some question which is when i say that you can have religious folks in general just people in general do
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you see them as less culpable for the kind of sins or crimes or that you ascribe to religion would you see them as just as bad as everyone else as a quote unquote fundamentalist literalists extremist whatever word you want to give i just want to nail down what you think of religious people as a whole point is you think i'm complaining about people i'm not complaining about people i'm complaining about ideas there's a very different i get that there are effect wonderful religious people there are crappy religious people my christabel you can't generalize but i don't think you could generalize individuals individuals act in a certain way and and as i say we all believe ten impossible things before breakfast just to get you to believe you love your wife or you love your job or you love coming on this program or whatever it is i'm sure that the law and i do and i really do but what i'm saying is that you know i think to generalize about people because of what how they identify themselves is kind of naive in sa so you say not even just to be clear i'm only mentioning it because a lot of prominent atheists knew atheists and they don't like that phrase how of
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and in fact attacked people in said. moderates so-called moderates are apologists for the extreme a sudden just i think a lot of time with writer and richard dawkins are going to put the words you know that's all i think you're like you're putting what people know i think you're putting words in my friend richard dawkins takes and i don't know if you are. already the results of the very same richard dawkins said and i quote i knowing i know is that there is a sense in which the modern nice religious people nice christians nice muslims make the world safe for extremists is that your view there is a sense in which it's true there's a sense of which it's not your job but there is a sense by accepting look like septic this nonsense this doctoral nonsense and by refusing to say look i have faith but you know what you know when someone blew a horn the earth didn't stop you know there wasn't a virgin birth all of these things you know if you when you in our society except this nonsense and we agree not to talk about it as if it's nonsense and doing that i do think makes the world more safe for
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a fundamentalist less experienced position if you very. close anyone who believes in that nonsense is culpable for that's really what is once again i think actually lawrence a very good job there of differentiating between faith and religion in fact he said we believe you know ten. things we did killers things before breakfast one of them being is i believe my what i love my wife that's a perfect example of what i'm talking about faith is the same exact if i have to love my wife and. everything i thought of everything is fine i'm going to. agree on a subject and ask you first of all reza on the subject of fundamentalism the religion these days most associated fundamentalism islam should rightly or wrongly in terms of what's going on in the middle east in terms of terrorist attacks in terms of you know issues of gender etc etc do you accept that the religion of islam out of all the religions right now being debated in the world or covered it is the religion that most people are most worried about and people are kind of right to worry about it because it is in true. doing into everyday life in
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a way that other religions perhaps aren't i think that most definitely people should be worried about religious acts of violence because religion does lend itself to those kinds of acts as does any other ideology but if you're going to blame religion for acts of violence in religions name then you have to be willing to blame nationalism for fascism you have to be willing to blame socialism for communism you know these are living on and on and these are manmade i think you're making please a little earlier or later ideologies please one moment these are all manmade ideologies all of them predicated on absolutism of one sort or another and any kind of absolutism is a dangerous ideology and it can be used. to respond to the point just said you know how are you doing is there going to do then the people are right to islam at the top of that we should have ideologies to be worried right so what you're asking is
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is there something exceptional about exceptional about islam that makes it more likely in the current to in the current era i mean i think that it's certainly true i think it's certainly true that when one looks at large parts of the middle east what you are seeing is muslims in gauged in acts of violence and conflict that's absolutely true but whether that means that there is something inherent within islam it's texts or it's ideology that lends itself to that violence more so than say judaism or you know it is a more hinduism is false simply by the fact that we have buddhist violence and christian violence and jewish violence let me let me let me jump in finally ok look i think the point is that some of some of what reza said is accurate i think there are thank you aren't. a small percentage the point is that there's a lot of religious violence and i don't think you know and i am not. i don't define myself as a theologian although i've read the all the scriptures of both books though i think the old testament is full of violence and just as as just. miserable as the qur'an
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is i think i said this program before they're all equally violent and miserable if you actually read the scriptures are not they're not guides for good living but the point the real concern i think is that for one reason or other and i think it's just a storable the qur'an is taken by many. muslims to be literal to be sacred to be not touchable the bible isn't anymore my big problem with with islam right now is that people take the qur'an as if it is a meaningful worthwhile document and it's no more meaningful or worthwhile than the bible and i think many christians and jews now say you know what i'm a christian but i look at the bible and i say i pick and choose what i like it's a very very well you know it out of it's advice to fill it out offensive where you can say well you know if i don't know who did it have it's your whole other how do you know you're going to the point therefore you've made a point before you say why it's an amateur point i think it's a fair point i'm going to also lawrence's question do the earlier reza point which is that you can't just blame religions for war man goes to war for all sorts of
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ideologies and you to come fairly all engine of course because you know on world war two the cold war to know how to do well to put that you know well look i mean religion is a huge force in our society and it's a contributor to many things there are many other forces are economic inequities there's so much there's history there's ideology as you point out religion has played a role and a god and i in various times in human history were all either initiating or justifying why but i think the bottom line is that it religion if anything is an outgrowth of something that is i think out of illusionary basis which is in a phobia religion is based on in groups and out groups i'm not talking about faith now i'm talking about religion religion is also versus them and it's been very effective from a tribal perspective of bringing groups together and keeping them there tried together and i think that's probably part of the evolution of the basically right so it's religion is first and foremost a matter of identity not a matter of blood so you realize what you have just simply
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a little bit of the koran being a book that's well and so you know. in a way the bible is a. set you know he admits that he's not a theologian but he's read scriptures i'm not a cosmologist but i've looked at the stars but i have a few that's a very different thing but. you know i think you do not and first and foremost need . go back six hundred years to talk about christian violence ok we have or of course you don't robert dear shut up of planned parenthood because he said jesus told them to do so you know or justify slavery in the united states just showing slaves related with years later that the religion was absolute in order to free slaves and so that's the other little bit of making all of that we wanted to hear is religion can be used different when it is used just a lot of the lowrance a specific role in the writing is that islam is an exceptional example of the old texture and literalism and infallibility of right and again i think that's a very and i'm not using amateurs in a derogatory way here but it is an amateur view of what's happening with religion what's happening in the world right now every religion every texts has verses that
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problem gay peace and love and compassion and verses that promulgated violence and destruction that's the whole thing about religious scripture is that it's infinitely malleable i understand why a lot of americans particularly liberal educated americans would say well christians read their scriptures differently because i feel that's the case because of what i see in the media but it's not true the truth of the matter is that how you read the scripture has everything to do with who you are and very little to do with the scripture of lawrence let me ask you this question about it but very briefly what it shows that most sometimes only don't believe the doctrines of the religion and that i don't think those studies are the same in every and also islam but we're always around the country lawrence and also live in the united states where there are a lot of christian literalists who did help elect the president as they would be a president united states without this christian evangelical who was running out of time with your nose that they don't want by the way which shows they don't believe in the scriptures because they did they would have elected donald trump ok. reza
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you are clearly someone who has no problem signing up for what modern science believes about evolution absolute all sorts of other controversial but the reality is that a lot of religious leaders don't sign up to things like evolution don't have a problem with a lot of cool tenets of modern scientific theory how do you resolve that issue we hear a lot about i don't. resolve it and you know people can people believe what they want to believe people are similar in a good thing because the lives of those really good thing yes but for an entire generation people bringing their kids to believe antiscientific things someone in the name of religion that's not good for you would be pro the absolutely look believing the scientific things i think is incorrect which is a reality in the religious world but the thing yes it is it is a reality in the religious world but it's not the reality within the religious world where you know that americans believe america is the greatest country in the world it's not look that's just leave off they get the thing that's what i guess i am but what i would say is this i think what we need to do is provide greater religious literacy greater education about the religions of the world about the way
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that religion is a historical and fun and phenomenological thing to discuss and and experience we also need to have conversations that separate religious belief from just faith in itself lawrence is right that religious identification is on the decline but you know what is not on the decline is actually belief in god spiritualism is not in decline religious identification is i agree with you about literacy i think literacy is a great thing we should all be literate about really more things role of time time boredom sort of us i mean honestly this do you do it rather on the spiritual point resume the point that you know the belief is not going down because it is interesting as you mentioned polling and i do want to i do want to end this past you know which of you is on the right side of history regardless of whether god exists or not well to a while there where you can if you have to go into ality you know what i like i love the spirituality of science because that as one significant advantage it's real and so when i look at a hopeful space telescope picture i experience saw and wonder about the real
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universe i hear people tell me you know i'm not religious but i'm spiritual and usually that means that they haven't thought about the issue and i think a very important thing is for you to essentially figure out a way to reconcile what you see as real with your subjective experience of what about real thing is and so again. we're. well being wrong that's why i'm a scientist but i love being as they are very clear in the wrong hold on as an atheist you never said i don't know whether there is a god or not you said there is no god because there's no evidence for an a.o.s. so i said there's no evidence yes an agnostic says no evidence and not a tick says i don't know what i want to show and what's another atheist or agnostic i do want to show i don't mean to look in your christian i had claim there is a purpose to well let me not only did i knew a little not a divine purpose fair enough let me ask you both to look at your crystal balls and say it is ten twenty thirty years from now are we going to have fewer believers in the world are we doing belief is on a downward trajectory do we think religion is dying are we outgrowing it or not and
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no we're not growing faith we're not growing belief because here's the thing as i think a lot of people and perhaps lawrence is one of them seems to believe that science can replace faith that if we can prove certain things then people will stop believing in them but the fact of the matter is is that religion has always been in a state of evolution when we discovered that the earth was not the center of the universe christianity didn't go away it just absorbed that information and continued if aliens suddenly appear right now in front of us you know and say you know hello we're from another planet it's not like religion will see them simply go away will accept that knowledge and we'll move on. ok well first of all i generally don't put make predictions about anything less than two trillion years in the future for many reasons not least because none of us will be around to talk about it so i don't claim to have a crystal ball but i think that one thing is true religion has been ubiquitous part of human history it's not going to go away easily but nothing is true is that the
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more scientific literacy there is the less of the. intellectual basis will will be there to support religion or we'll see more and more people finding other ways to add meaning and purpose so their lives are created i'll find spirituality in reality and i think that is a good thing whether but i don't think religion is easily going to go. way it's been around for as long as you might anyway as i've been writing from the scientific knowledge is going to change rely have a lot when will i have the last word scientific knowledge of going to change related religion it's going to ultra religious people but it won't make it go away lawrence krauss reza we'll have to leave it there thank you both for coming on this special edition of outfront that's all show up front we'll be back.
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to. where i think. in syria thousands have disappeared without a trace. forcibly taken from their families when the most terrible thing in syria is to be. this has been the invisible weapon of the syrian dictatorship with others sometimes i thought it would be better to die
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than continue to be she really didn't go to. the disappeared of syria but this time on al-jazeera. from mother to daughter an ancient craft kept alive by a bustling matriarch. from start to finish. all traditions intertwined with new designs making this family's place unique into uneasy as a rich tapestry of the threads at this time on a. the world's most prominent christian walks a political and religious type.


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