Category Archives: Islam

The Druze

There is a little known sect of Islam called the Druze. They are a small group mostly located in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan. Their faith is similar to that of other Ismaili Shi’a Islam with a little bit of Gnostic Unitarianism thrown in for good measure. What makes the Druze interesting though is the number one Pillar of their faith:

1. (Truth in words) Speak the truth to other Druze. However, lying to unbelievers to defend yourself or the community is OK.

That’s right, rule number one of Druzism is that you don’t talk about Druzism. And if you do talk about Druzism, feel free to lie through your teeth about it. This, of course, makes it completely impossible for outsiders (especially anthropologists) to study their religion. As Daniel Dennett put it in Breaking the Spell:

But if it was true, this would create a dilemma for any anthropologist: the usual method of questioning informants would be a hopeless wild-goose chase, and if he made the ultimate sacrifice and converted to Druze himself so as to gain entrance to the inner sanctum, he would have to admit that we on the outside shouldn’t believe his scholarly treatise, What the Druze Really Believe, since it was written by a devout Druze (and everybody knows that the Druze lie).

This naturally leads you to a Liars Paradox: if all Druzes lie about their religion then how do we know that they are telling the truth about their First Pillar? Maybe the Druze have become expertly adept at knowing when to tell the truth and when to tell a lie. They know to mix honest fact in with complete bullshit to constantly befuddle anyone trying to discover what they really believe.

And that seems like an admirable quality to me. Since beliefs are so immutable and silly in the first place why should we treat them so seriously? Lie about your beliefs as often as you can. Completely confuse your friends by telling them you are a Baptist Pagan. Mindfuck your family by saying that you believe every word of both The Urantia Book and Dianetics. Tell them that you believe six impossible things all at the same time! It’s not like they can prove you wrong anyways. Follow the path of apologetics everywhere by coming up with the most twist pretzel logic in the history of man. And tell them that Eris made you do it.

John Gray kicks up a storm at Comment is Free

While some of you may remember that I was not totally impressed with the conclusion to John Gray’s book, Black Mass, I nevertheless found it a good and enjoyable read, which tied up the links between utopianism, religion, the Enlightenment and secular extremist movements rather well. Gray’s got a lot of perspective in his worldview, which I like. He instinctively understands both the historical context of the movements and how that applies when considered in the current context of events.

Which is why I am enjoying his book review/Comment is Free article. Gray committed the hideous crime of knocking down a few New Atheist sacred cows, and so the usual suspects have come running, howling and moaning with their usual strawmen about atheist inspired terrorism, totally ignoring the context of the argument or addressing any of the issues.

I have yet to see a commenter actually address his point about repressed religion being much like repressed sexuality, or the origins of secular liberalism being tied into the history of Christianity, and Nietzsche’s critical attacks on this. I have yet to see someone either deny that belief in such secular follies as free markets, global revolution or the global spread of democracy and progress are any less ridiculous than belief in a god, or try to claim they are in some way different.

Sure, the comments page may be filled with 300+ screaming monkeys trying to make Gray look like an idiot, but if they think they succeeded in this task, they’re only fooling themselves.

Even a committed agnostic such as myself can take pleasure in such a spectacle.