I believe we’ve all heard some version of the aphorism, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. Maybe from the bible? As in Exodus 23:22, “I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you.”
This sentiment is commonly used in international politics. Creating alliances of convenience to achieve gains against another is a common tale. The second world war is replete with uncomfortable alliances, as was the cold war. The Afghan Mujahideen had very little common ground with the United States, except an ongoing conflict with the Soviet Union.
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I would contend that this is not nearly as good a way to select friends as they would have you believe. Just looking at the history of U.S. foreign relations would suggest the long term effectiveness of this policy is quite poor. Shortly after World War II we’re embattled with Russia in a lengthy Cold War. After allying ourselves with Saddam Hussein in an effort to oppose fundamentalism in Iran, we end up in an intractable mess in Iraq after deposing him.
So, I guess it’s time to bring this around to comedian Bill Maher. Maher, host of the show Real Time on HBO, endeared himself to the Non-theist community with last year’s movie Religulous. I enjoyed Religulous and I think it was, for the most part, handled quite deftly. Before the release of the movie, and since, Maher has been an outspoken critic of religious institutions.
I would tend to agree with many of his complaints against organized religions. Yet, is that common cause enough to consider Mr. Maher a friend? I’d have to say for myself, NO. Many others skeptics who happen to share Mr. Maher’s non-theism say NO, as well.
Before I move on, let me be clear. There are many who maintain a theistic position while still holding rationalism in high regard. Many scientists who choose to have a form of faith, still dedicate their lives to advancing our understanding of the world.
Some arrive at an agnostic or atheist world view as a logical conclusion from choosing science and reason as their basis for understanding the world, others through dissatisfaction with their religious experience for one reason or another or just a recognition that our lives should not be under the dictate of clergy. Blah blah blah….
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