Violent Muslims — Just A Few Bad Apples?

Jan 13, 2015

Photo: AFP – Joseph Eid

By Conor Lynch

Every once in a while we experience a brutal attack in the Western world by Islamic extremists, like last week’s assault on Charlie Hebdo for publishing provocative cartoons of Muhammad. Islamic terrorist attacks are rare in the West, especially compared to Muslim countries in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, but they always provoke a debate over whether the religion of Islam, itself, bears some responsibility for the attackers’ actions.

Many people immediately defend the religion of Islam and say that violent extremists are a very small minority of the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world and that Islam is a religion of peace. “We cannot generalize and blame all Muslims or the religion itself,” they say, and, “the great majority of Muslims condemn terrorism.”  While it would be wrongheaded to regard the Islamic world at large as inherently violent, it would be simply wrong to regard it as all peaceful, too.

It is true that most Muslims do condemn extremist violence, though not as small a minority as might be hoped. According to a 2013 poll by the Pew Research Center, a majority believes that suicide bombing is rarely/never justified. But in certain countries, disturbingly healthy minorities believe it is often/sometimes justified. For example, 39% in Afghanistan, 26% percent in Bangladesh, 29% in Egypt, 40% in Palestinian territory, 18% in Malaysia, and 13% in Pakistan feel that suicide bombings are justifiable.

To be sure, most of these countries are geopolitical hot spots, and terrorism clearly can be motivated by politics at least as much as by religion — although suicide attacks are somewhat peculiar to Islamic fundamentalism. Islamic terror organizations have been responsible for more than 85% percent of suicide bombings since the 1980s, according to the Institute for National Security Studies, an Israeli think-tank. There is certainly a large political role at play in these attacks, especially as a radical reaction to the very real imperialism these countries have suffered, but it would be naive to say that the doctrines of Islam have had nothing to do with it.

Politics and Islam go hand in hand in some parts of the Muslim world. In much of the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia a majority of people, according to a 2013 poll by the Pew Research Center, favor making Sharia (Islamic law) the official law in their country. 99% in Afghanistan, 91% in Iraq, 89% in Palestinian territories, 84% in Pakistan, and 82% percent in Bangladesh, etc. In other predominantly Muslim regions in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, however, only minorities favor Sharia. For example, 12% in Albania, 27% in Tajikistan, 8% in Azerbaijan, and 15% in Bosnia. This signifies that these beliefs also have much to do with culture.

In the regions where only minorities believe in Sharia (Eastern Europe, Central Asia), few of the people who do believe in it actually condone draconian punishments that it prescribes, such as stoning an adulterer or executing an apostate. On the other hand, in many Muslim regions where the majorities believe in Sharia (Middle East, North Africa, South Asia), majorities also believe in severe corporal punishments.

For other draconian punishments it once again depends greatly on region. For example, 86% who believe in Sharia in Egypt favor the death penalty for converts, but only 8% in Albania.

So, a startlingly high percentage of people in some parts of the Muslim world hold many aspects of their religious texts literal and believe society should be governed by these doctrines. Christian and Jewish religious books have pages upon pages of barbarity (especially the Old Testament) but the overwhelming majority of Christians and Jews have stopped taking these books as the law of the land, or at least secular societies have prevented them from doing so.

Sadly, however, 28% of Americans still believe the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, according to a June 2014 Gallup poll. This brings me to the threat of terrorism in the homeland, good ole USA. We also have a history of vile acts committed in the name of another prophet, Jesus Christ. The Ku Klux Klan and attacks on abortion clinics and medical professionals are not ancient history. Religious terrorism is in no way just an Islamic problem, as certain right-wing conservatives might have you believe in this country.

Both Christianity and Islam have the potential to produce disgusting and violent acts through extremism. The problem is that the Islamic world seems to have more of these “extremist” type views. Some may not consider killing apostates or stoning adulterers to death “extremist,” but they should. These may not be terrorist acts, but they are barbaric and uncivilized, and many in the Muslim world believe in them. Extremists who take Islamic doctrines literally believe they are following the example of the prophet Muhammad, who waged violent wars to spread Islam.

The Charlie Hebdo massacre is only the latest example of how extremists have tried to use violence to silence or punish artists and journalists for drawings or books or films. Salman Rushdie, whose book, “The Satanic Verses,” earned him death threats and a death fatwa from the Iranian clergy for years, said: “Religion, a medieval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. … This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today.”

True liberals should not avoid criticizing Muslim voices that promote modern barbarity. Not every Muslim holds extremist or Islamist beliefs, but enough do that we must criticize those that endorse violence and reactionary, fundamentalist doctrines severely. If we choose to sit back and say that Islam only has a problem with a small minority, the real reformers in these societies who risk their lives for liberty will no doubt fail. We must support liberty, even if it offends ones sacred beliefs.


conor-lynchConor Lynch is a writer living in New York City. He regularly blogs on Daily Kos about politics, economics, religion and science. He can be reached and read at clynch2890@yahoo.com, https://twitter.com/dilgentbureauct and http://www.dailykos.com/user/diligentbureaucrat.

 

335 comments on “Violent Muslims — Just A Few Bad Apples?

  • It seems that some aspects of behavior are too systematic to think it just as “bad apples” (an unfortunate bad combination of individual features and intelligence), so far as Warfare seems endemic in human species (as Edgar Morin argues, and the behavior of a species has some repetition too), as far as many other aspects of behavior that education should try to correct. Education cannot reach a significant part of world population, even so, there are still “bad apples” of course, and this was certainly the case as far as those young men were french citizens.
    I remember once while I was sitting in a bus station I have heard someone making a “beautiful” point against his pair to educate him and not to discriminate others, and I just thought well, education reached him exactly in the same way it did to me.
    When I mention “education” I don´t mean children should not play pretending that they can make war, perhaps it would be better to them to play enough while they are children.
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  • As a Christian, I need to make one observation about this article. Many people have done horrible things in the name of Christianity (the same is true for atheism), all of which I abhor and adamantly denounce as a Christian, but the New Testament has absolutely no teaching of treating anyone (believer or unbeliever) with violence (verbal or physical). It preaches love: for neighbor and for the entire world. Those who commit violence on behalf of Christ are completely out of step with NT teaching. This is not the case for the Koran.
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  • 4
    aquilacane says:

    Many people immediately defend the religion of Islam and say that
    violent extremists are a very small minority of the 1.6 billion
    Muslims around the world and that Islam is a religion of peace.

    For example, 86% who believe in Sharia in Egypt favor the death
    penalty for converts

    Killing converts is one of the definitions of violent extremism. A person who believes in death for apostates is an extremist at the core. You don’t have to use bombs to be extreme, stones will do. Never made it to the end of the article, hope I am not duplicating anything.
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  • 5
    archsceptic says:

    Compared to the gang/child raping, sex-slave taking, child murdering, limb amputating, public stoning, blunt-knife beheading, mutilating, mass executing, and general savagery and depraved nihilism of the ‘armies’ of ISIS and Boko Haram you might even have a point. And most of the above leaves you at risk simply if you happen to be the wrong ‘type’ of Muslim, not to mention a Yazidi – can you imagine how they would treat an infidel like you? Doesn’t bear thinking about.

    They probably even give the SS a run for their money – maybe even reaching the depths of depravity of the Muslim units that served the German army so ‘well’ in Russia during the 2nd world war. Around the same time Belgian children were collecting autographs from British tank crews who had freshly liberated them in Brussels – I doubt any children will be collecting autographs from the jihadists of ISIS or Boko Haram. But I guess that wasn’t the self-flagellating, logic-twisting point you were trying to make.

    Never mind, you can (probably) sleep peaceably at night, knowing you have the “armies” and intelligence services of democracy protecting you while you dribble onto your pillow. As Christopher Hitchens once said “this is masochism – and it’s being offered to you by sadists”.
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  • Many people have done horrible things in the name of Christianity (the
    same is true for atheism)

    Hey, fair go. Yes, some atheists have done horrible things, as have some Christians, and most recently some Muslims.

    But never has an atheist, including people like Pol Pot, committed his atrocities “in the name of atheism.”
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  • I’m very aware of the atrocities committed in the name of Christianity – mostly in the past; and painfully aware of atrocities committed in the name of Islam – mostly in the present. However, I’m not aware of any atrocities committed in the name of atheism. What would they be or where would I be able to learn about them?
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  • I am finding what is going on in France quite disgusting. It has turned into a orgy of self-righteous self-congratulation. The French are deliberately ignoring the fact they they too are terrorists. They attacked Afghanistan and occupied it in an illegal “aggressive” war. They killed civilians and children in an attempt to pressure their political affiliations. Their ally, the USA used banned weapons and torture. France looked the other way. They have been lucky to have been spared retaliation for those war crimes.
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  • What is a real or proper Muslim? There are said to be 1.8 billion Muslims, and I submit that every one of them considers themselves to be the real McCoy.

    Are our neighbours true Muslims? Despite our having got on well for over twenty years, there is now a herd of elephants in the room.

    Do we acknowledge the fact and screw everything up? After all, Omar gave us a gift of the finest Asian sweetmeats at Christmas.

    An acquaintance of mine has just been sacked from a television soap for making “disparaging” remarks about Islam.; he’s someone who speaks his mind; is he to be prevented from doing so? Apparently.

    I was brought up in a town where the first Mosque in England was built circa 1895.
    There was never any hint of trouble. When we were nippers we’d be invited to functions, and lap up the food and drink, not to mention the wonderful aromas.

    So, what’s gone wrong?

    I have said repeatedly that I would never criticize a religious individual, they have enough problems as it is, but which ever way it’s sliced all the arrows point towards organized religion being the problem; it seems to generate mass hysteria, something which Hitler and Stalin understood only too well.
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  • There was never any hint of trouble. When we were nippers we’d be
    invited to functions, and lap up the food and drink, not to mention
    the wonderful aromas. So, what’s gone wrong? … but which ever way
    it’s sliced all the arrows point towards organized religion being the
    problem…

    In my opinion the problem is America. Perhaps if there was no their involvement in Middle East there would not be extreme forms of religion. It seems that these extreme forms of religion were born as a response to inhuman pressure from USA towards them. Somehow as all of the rage of oppressed believers was channeled through an deviant form of their religion, giving them “legal” right to fight back. Organized religion has transformed itself into organized crime.
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  • the New Testament has absolutely no teaching of treating anyone (believer or unbeliever) with violence (verbal or physical). It
    preaches love: for neighbor and for the entire world. Those who commit
    violence on behalf of Christ are completely out of step with NT
    teaching. This is not the case for the Koran.

    No so fast, Jesus preaches plenty about the torture of hell that awaits us non-believers. The the book of revelations is full of violence against non-believers. Now if your God does exists and this is the future he has put in place then like the sins I have not committed yet but am already blamed for hence Christ’s past execution, and the sins of Adam which I did not commit but am still blamed for there is plenty of violence in the NT. And before you throw away the OT please explain Matthew 5:17 *

    Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not
    come to destroy, but to fulfil.

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  • Atheist states-such as Albania- are real, and in in fact there were no freedom of religion in some as it followed a totalitarian communist doctrine, and I am not troubled that most of people make analogies with “atheism” in the some aspect- although the geography of hell might be larger than what they might have supposed.
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  • Christians don’t have the commandments?!? Abraham doesn’t try to kill his son? Have you read Kings, Leviticus, numbers……Open the book and read it!

    [Slightly edited by moderator to bring within Terms of Use]

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  • The French are deliberately ignoring the fact they they too are terrorists.

    The Muslims….The French.

    This essentialism is the very heart of the problem. Roedy. The French people are not their state. Charlie Hebdo are not the people. I am not the son of Adam and guilty of his sins.

    We are free women and men.

    We need no apology for seeing differently from others and calling it how we see it. Indeed this is the path to more moral behaviour.
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  • Modesti, why are so many Muslims happy to live in America? And why are they so well integrated and assimilated?

    We can continue to hark back to the stupid colonialist arrogance of the Sykes Picot agreement and the Balfour declaration until we’re blue in the face, but that will simply provide the Islamist thugs with excuses for their atrocities.

    This is the twenty first century, but Islam languishes for the most part in the eleventh.

    It’s not the victims who have to reform, it’s the perpetrators of the crimes against humanity; crimes which intimidate their fellow Muslims into silence.

    Oh, and an Islamic group, new to me, AQAP, is now raising its vile head, and crowing about having planned the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

    I’ve never read the magazine, and I think its satire is crude and gratuitous, as is that of Martin Howson, but this isn’t about taste, it’s a struggle to preserve freedom of expression; and as such, must be won.

    “Religion poisons everything.”
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  • Once I have read Mirce Eliade, from my early 17 years, I still remember that “religious thought” itself needs separation of sacred and profane, as far as I seem not having this kind of thought, we are all human infact, but perhaps a reform of Islamic Institutions is necessary.
    We are poisoned anyway.
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  • The belief in an afterlife is not a harmless fantasy. When part of a death cult that believes special privileges can be obtained by slaughtering opponents and apostates (people who change their mind about the ideology) it is a sinister mental disorder often accompanied by a morbid morality. The supposed learned clerics(imams) who promulgate this nonsense have much to answer to. Sadly they derive their teachings from the holy book which may not be criticised or amended and religions in general share the same tendency to favour the ‘next life’ over this. This is the poison which sits at the root of much of the harm of religion.
    RPE
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  • Let’s be honest. Most people who commit atrocities in the name of religion are only using religion as an excuse. They want wealth or power. Also, repressive atheistic regimes have used atheism to suppress and persecute people such as religions have.
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  • 20
    Mattias says:

    When you cite statistics, it’s prudent to provide sources. Why have they not been provided in the post? I do not like when people fling all kinds of different statistics around, and there’s no way to verify them. This being a scientific site, makes it a bit embarrassing in my view.
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  • The book of revelations is a symbolic/ allegorical work that first century Christians would have understood quite well. It is a picture book of the struggle between God/good and Satan/ evil. It is not meant to be read literally, which many Americans make the mistake of doing turning it into a puzzle book.

    Jesus never talks about a permanent hell. He uses the word Gehenna (translated as hell) 12 times, and each time it refers to the burning garbage heap outside the city walls. He speaks of judgment, but many Christians when reading the original languages do not interpret these statements as permanent damnation. (Good news for all of you guys!!)

    If you want to understand Matt 5:17, read Galatians first; then we’ll talk.
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  • In general I appreciate the perspective forwarded in this article. The only thing I’d caution against is citing “an israeli think tank” without insuring readers of its objective origins. I don’t know anything about the organization, but simply from a strategic standpoint you might think twice about using sources from within Israel on the issue of Islamic terrorism. The danger of getting biased figures is one issue–that your readers may write you off as naive or bias yourself is another. Of course, this isn’t to say all Israeli sources are bias…you get the point. Overall, good read.
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  • “Many people have done horrible things in the name of Christianity (the same is true for atheism)”

    Please, can you write some cases of people doing horrible things in the name of atheism, I have never heard of that before and it would be very interesting to know what you mean !
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  • How about that bit where Stalin starved Ukrainians for about two years straight?

    Just about everything that Stalin did to the religious also qualifies.

    I’m not any theist apologist, quite the opposite. However, I believe in first the truth, and second that religious liberty is a paramount part of free thought and speech. Under no circumstances can we as Atheists demand that religion be abolished, as the early communists did. That is just as evil as a marriage between church and state.
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  • Atheists leading communist regimes persecuted, tortured and executed people of faith for decades just because they had faith.

    Are you guys really going to completely disown the atrocities of the atheist regimes of the 20th century? If so, I guess I’ll abandon all reason as well.
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  • I think, though considering the newness of the concept of atheism a few early mistakes are not to be unexpected. This kind of thing is very rare. The “Social Darwinism” error of some was kicked into touch pretty thoroughly, also. People were still thinking in rather dogmatic/religious type modes.

    Rationalism at least can learn from its mistakes. Dogmatism never works as the sad social experiments show.
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  • All I know is I’ve yet to read a story about anyone committing an act of violence while yelling out “Moses Akbar,” “Jesus Akbar,” “Buddha Akbar,” “Krishna Akbar,” “Joseph Smith Akbar,” or even “L Ron Hubbard Akbar.” The only incident that even came close was on July 22nd, 1988 when, upon receiving his conviction of life in prison without the possibility of parole, Richard Ramirez the Night Stalker’s final public statement was to shout out “Hail Satan!” while they led him away in chains.
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  • Humans can be violent. Independent of religion. However, in my opinion, religion can pollute the mind by often countering, covering, dissolving, muting, or leaving no room for logic, reason, and relentless inquiry. This “religious pollution” stymies progressive thoughts, geopolitical stability, and neighborly discourse. Religious pollution becomes a dangerous catalyst when one follows it into fundamentalism, extremism, and fanaticism. There are plentiful morbid outcomes throughout human history that are a direct result of religious pollution. At this time, society doesn’t have the science to prevent human violence, but society does have a better approach to the human condition: logic, reason, relentless inquiry, and secularism.
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  • Does this count?

    Mr Blair last year told ITV1 chat show host Michael Parkinson he had
    prayed while deciding whether to send troops into Iraq.

    “In the end, there is a judgement that, I think if you have faith
    about these things, you realise that judgement is made by other
    people… and if you believe in God, it’s made by God as well,” he
    said

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7157409.stm
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  • I can imagine a time, if atheism becomes the norm and powerful, that those that thrive in politics and real politik will again become the, so called leaders, and use the movement just like any other movement. Do you trust that control would be as logical?
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  • 40
    Maximiliano says:

    I don`t agree with the general view of the article. Yes, every religion has a potential for fundamentalism. Yes, Islam is under the light at the present times. Yes, many countries are ruled by a religious goverment and uphold laws that we seculars find appalling. But the author also downplays the importance of politics in terrorism, of social dynamics, of poverty and oppression. He quotes this or that poll, but statistical data in it self proofs nothing. The questions asked, the way they are asked and who you ask them to are more important that the number at the end of the sheet.
    Of course, not allowing for any religion to create fanaticism is naieve. Any religion (including judaism and all forms of christianity). More so in monotheistic religions. And more so in non participative religions.
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  • I know an author, antropologist, sociologist of religions that has written a book about the main theological differences among islam and christianity.
    (another book for my list, but I´ll try to quote something on the issue).
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  • These butchers did it in the name of Islam. The atrocities were committed in the name of religion as they yelled “Allah Akbar”
    Meaning – “an exclamation used in the call to prayer and also used as a call to the defence of Muslims, an expression of approval, and a funeral litany” (The Free Dictionary)
    These terrorists did did not use religion as an excuse they used it as the reason. There will be more to come and they too will yell “Allah Akbar!”
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  • 43
    autodidact says:

    I am not aware that any one person or state has committed any atrocities specifically “in the name of atheism.”
    This is trotted out every time someone bashes a religion, especially Christianity and Islam for their human rights record. Please provide Please provide any statements by any world leader past or present, where they state categorically, for the record, that their actions were directed solely by their belief in atheism, rather than politics, security, bigotry and paranoia. In contrast, Christians, and Muslims have never been shy about the religious basis for their actions throughout history.

    Secondly, you specifically mention the New Testament of the Bible as a contrast to the apparently barbaric Qur’an. You state that the New Testament “has absolutely no teaching of treating anyone (believer or unbeliever) with violence (verbal or physical).” I am curious as to why you omit the Old Testament of the Bible, since it is an integral part of the Bible, and is also revered by the Jews and Muslims. (Perhaps it is because the Old Testament God is a petty, possessive, bloodthirsty, psychotic, paranoid, emotionally immature God who undergoes an amazing transformation in the New Testament?)

    Please see below.

    Romans

    Homosexuals (those “without natural affection”) and their supporters (those “that have pleasure in them”) are “worthy of death” – – along with gossips, boasters, and disobedient children. 1:31-32

    The guilty are “justified” and “saved from wrath” by the blood of an innocent victim. 5:9

    God punishes everyone for someone else’s sin; then he saves them by killing an innocent victim. 5:12

    Matthew

    Those who bear bad fruit will be cut down and burned “with unquenchable fire.” 3:10, 12

    Jesus strongly approves of the law and the prophets. He hasn’t the slightest objection to the cruelties of the Old Testament. 5:17

    Jesus recommends that to avoid sin we cut off our hands and pluck out our eyes. This advice is given immediately after he says that anyone who looks with lust at any women commits adultery. 5:29-30

    Jesus says that most people will go to hell. 7:13-14

    Jesus says that he has come to destroy families by making family members hate each other. He has “come not to send peace, but a sword.” 10:34-36

    Jesus condemns entire cities to dreadful deaths and to the eternal torment of hell because they didn’t care for his preaching. 11:20-24.3

    Ephesians

    We are predestined by God to go to either heaven or hell. None of our thoughts, words, or actions can affect the final outcome. 1:4-5, 11

    God had his son murdered to keep himself from hurting others for things they didn’t do. 1:7
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  • Excellent article, but the title makes me wonder…. In the west we regard zealots as somewhat abnormal, “not the way to be”. So we regard extremists as bad apples. But do Muslims think the same way? I seems to me that many Muslims have an inner feeling that one who is more devoted to his faith is automatically a better person. And there are no limits to the devotion to Allah, the more the better. In stead of being bad apples or weirdoes these extremists are secretly or openly regarded as examples to every true Muslim.

    Many well to do Arabs graduate from western universities. They aquire our knowledge but not our values. As soon as they are home it’s sharia as usual.
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  • Islam is on the agenda. however what the Portuguese reader knows of
    Islam are a school stereotypes or disseminated by propaganda. In that
    distinguishes the Koran of the Gospel? The system created by Mohamed
    reproduced without changes? What do the theological point of view the
    Sunni and the chiismo? Why is Islam difficulties in the face of
    modernity? The author exposes the differences between Islam and
    Christianity; analyzes the Quran and explains what the Sunnah
    (“tradition”, attributed to Muhammad). Islam that the Iberians met (.
    To the XII century) was not present, because – and is an unknown
    aspect among us – the system has suffered, in the century. XII, a
    radical change with the imposition of the Sunnah and some dogmas that
    make Islam is caught until the end of time, the entire creative
    process (philosophical, theological and scientific) anathematizing any
    change in theology and right. The reason Islam is fundamentalism.

    (from Sociologial Introduction to Islam)

    Ooops, it seems there can be no “reform”?
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  • Do we want to convert them to atheism or another religion? So far, pushing one religion over another is confusing me, let alone the devout.
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  • Name the horrible things done in the name of atheism, and the names of the atheists behind them. And don’t say Hitler or the other usual suspects used by Xtians to ustify their intolerance of intelligence.
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  • 48
    autodidact says:

    I do not agree with your statement.
    While there may be imams and clerics out there who urge others on for political reasons aside from religious extremism (Hamas? Iran?), one doesn’t blow oneself to pieces because of a desire for “wealth or power,” one does it because one believes beyond a shadow of a doubt that one will thus be embraced as a “martyr for Allah,” and be entitled to one’s 72 virgins in Paradise.

    As with Christianity during the Crusades and the Inquisition, fundamentalist/Wahhabi Islam seems to bring out the absolute worst in those who are already predisposed towards intolerance, hatred and bigoted zealotry. In that regard, Islamic philosophy is virtually indistinguishable from the indoctrination of Nazi Germany or Communist Russia.
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  • 49
    Maximiliano says:

    Our Knowledge? Arabs were the peak civilization when christians were figthing for scraps. One must not forget history, one must not believe one is the center of history
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  • 50
    autodidact says:

    Until such time that all people in the world mature enough and come to the dawning realization that organized religions have slowly but steadily transmogrified from primitive but honest attempts to explain Nature, to rigidly organized and tightly controlled organizations that strive to control and brainwash the weakest of their members, parasitical in nature, encouraging the insecurities, ignorance and uncertainties of the masses, there will be those people, desperate to ingratiate themselves with their “Pastors” or “Imams” or “Priests,” (who will then intercede with God on their behalf because most just aren’t worthy), who will do anything, up to and including mass murder for that chance.

    @Olgun; Atheism is not “another religion.” It is the rejection of religion based on an absence of valid proof of its existence. Conversion is pointless since it merely replaces one set of beliefs with another, equally invalid set of beliefs.

    Rather, consider a world of human secularists, where all of the energy of “devotion” is towards our fellow beings, human or otherwise, untainted by the biases of any religion. Jainism is the only religion I can think of that even approaches that ideal.
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  • Yes, Albania was an communist/atheist state that did restrict religious freedom. Here is a paper that describes the communist restrictions in Albania. http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CCwQFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.georgefox.edu%2Free%2FHiorth_Albania_articles_previous.pdf&ei=la62VN6PJMr_yQT4zYDwDw&usg=AFQjCNHQehOxe2rWvOhU0izm8Lzjb0TBYg&sig2=7zHJ1ICAf8qtQCcQfDBWqA The restriction of religion may not have been reported accurately as the paper “…does not present an objective study of the Albanian position on religion, but mainly reiterates the anti-Albanian propaganda of the Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches.” In fact, “…the National Assembly in Tirana on 9 May 1990 decided to reintroduce freedom of religion.” No doubt there was state/partisan clashes over religion as far back as WWII.

    On a September 2014″Pope Francis hails Albania as model of religious harmony in attack on religious extremism.” See… http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/albania/11111600/Pope-Francis-says-Albania-is-a-model-of-religious-harmony-during-first-visit-to-Muslim-majority-nation.html

    It appears to me, that at least in Albania the restriction of religion and persecution of religious leaders by atheists was greatly exaggerated.
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  • Nordic:

    Are you guys really going to completely disown the atrocities of the atheist regimes of the 20th century? If so, I guess I’ll abandon all reason as well.

    Oh I think anyone was ‘fair game’ for Stalin. He put all types against the wall including his military leaders, scientists, advisors, artists, priests, whatever, religious or not. Early on he got rid of the Bolsheviks who had carried out the 1917 seizure of power by force. The closer you got to Stalin, the more at risk you were. But I don’t think his motives were to rid Russia of religion, but more to keep a tight hold on his political power as supreme dictator.
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  • The NT also tells the likes of me that I will end up in the “lake of fire”. Yes gentle Jesus used those words. So much for Jesus loving me ! The kind hearted torturer !
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  • Phil,

    I think it is obvious that Christianity (as an orthodox religion) has learned plenty from its mistakes. The RCC and Protestant churches are not our conquering people, and aside from extremists (which are in every religion and philosophy), Christianity is not committing violence around the world.
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  • I’ve had 10 atheist friends throughout my adult life. Four of them believed we need to purify the gene pool of the world by legislating the sterilization of minorities. Their reason? There is no higher, moral authority. We, as humans, make our own rules, and the “intelligent white” need to take steps to better our species and its quest for survival.

    How’s that for “atheist pollution?”

    To be fair, two of my current atheist friends (a gay couple) are far nicer and more supportive of my family than half the Christians I know.
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  • The gospel of Matthew was written in the 2nd century ACE to the best of my knowledge. The gospel of Thomas about 50 years after the death of “the Christ.”
    There were very few (if any) first century “Christians” excluding those who were in positions of power. ie. Romans
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  • Jesus never talks about a permanent hell. He uses the word Gehenna (translated as hell) 12 times, and each time it refers to the burning garbage heap outside the city walls.

    So will I end up in the burning lake or in the burning rubbish tip forever ? Or, far more likely, just die, and my atoms will be recycled back into the biosphere. Rubbish tip or lake, it still sounds like a threat to me.
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  • I would disagree Mr DArcy,

    A clear objective of the Stalin regime (among several other objectives) was to stamp out religion entirely. I guess my point is that an atheist Stalin, a Christian pope during the crusades, and a Jihad Muslim today share many of the same desires, objectives and methods. To say religion is the root cause or atheism is the cause (as I hear in Christian circles) trivializes the complexity of these issues. Many atheists on this site will not recognize the logic blinders they are wearing, and in the name of rational thought, always find religion as the root cause of the world’s problems. This is naive and counter productive to any meaningful dialogue about solutions to our problems.
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  • I would be interested in hearing from all of you about a country or civilization that abolished religion and faith completely but still created a society that you would want to live in.
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  • You need to visit more churches. I cannot even recognize your description of religion in the churches I frequent in my area. This is the twenty first century, by the way.
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  • 61
    autodidact says:

    “Arabs were the peak civilization when Christians were fighting for scraps.”
    Much (but by no means all) of the Arabs’ knowledge came from the Greeks via Ptolemaic Egypt and the Library of Alexandria. The Arabs thus retained some of the knowledge lost to the Europeans after the collapse of the Western Roman empire and the subsequent barbarian invasions and disruptions that followed. There was also much intellectual interaction between the Jews of Spain and the Arab conquerors. This does bring up a question regarding the Arab culture versus the European though:
    Why did the Arabs “peak” in Medieval times, and remain static as Western Europe struggled out of the ashes of the post Roman Empire, to eventually enter the Renaissance and the Enlightenment? One possible answer is that Arabs became Muslims right about that time (seventh century), and the liberal progressive cultural engine that drove Arab scientific innovation was effectively shut down.

    There are many preeminent Muslim scientists, philosophers and researchers around the world, but the vast majority of them live outside of their native countries where they thrive.
    In general, modern Arab Muslim culture is stifling to personal and societal progress and enlightenment.
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  • Nordic 11

    If you want to understand Matt 5:17, read Galatians first; then we’ll talk.

    Go on Nordic, save us the suspense, give us the gist please ! As you well know, time is short.

    Best wishes.
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  • For all the rather unpredictable weather I’m quite happy in rather godless Britain. Here there was no need to abolish religion, it isn’t dead, but more or less on its last legs. Reality intervened, and people found other “opiates” to take their minds off wage slavery. I see similar things in other north western Europeans countries, including the Scandinavian ones.

    Of course if Nordic 11 is talking about places like Russia, a country of peasants in 1917, the Russian Orthodox Church never really lost its hold on the minds of many of its population, despite the many purges of Stalin’s regime. Indeed during WW2, even Stalin sought the support of the Church in support of the “Motherland”.

    Gentle Jesus, please give us help in murdering as many Germans as possible, for they are not the true believers of Christ

    Je suis Mr DArcy
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  • You did not read the next chapter of Romans.

    You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. (2:1-3)

    Over and over again, the NT writers says NOT to judge others, which obviously includes not doing others harm.

    Ephesians can easily be interpreted in light of universal salvation (a concept I have come to believe), so that’s a good news verse even for you guys who do not believe.

    What worse city was there than Sodom (from which we get the word sodomy), but in Ezekiel 16:53, God says, “I will restore the fortunes of Sodom (there are many other restoration verses in this and other books for nations who were nasty to Israel). Again, the idea of future restoration for everyone.

    The hell Jesus speaks is a literal place in Jerusalem (Gehenna) symbolizes judgement and punishment but not eternal damnation.

    Revelations says that people of every tribe and nation will be with God, and the OT talks about all nations of the earth enjoying the blessings of God’s Kingdom.

    I could go on, but you get the point. You accuse Christians of cherry picking verses, but you guys do the same and pull verses completely out of context because you’ve never studied the Bible in depth.
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  • If your happy with godless Britain, I’m happy with Christian America, but we both know these are false titles. Britain has not abolished faith.

    Name a country or civilization where faith is/ was abolished (which all of you strive for) that you would want to live in.
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  • So at the very best we have a “holy” book that is wildly internally contradictory, and is yet expected to be taken seriously? Please don’t accuse me of wearing logic blinders and at the same time take this book, and the fairy in the sky who obsesses constantly about you, and his/her/it’s pet talking snake, etc etc etc, seriously.

    My previous comment stands requesting the name of any atheist who committed atrocities of any form “in the name of atheism. And please don’t drag up Stalin or Hitler, both of whom as young men intended to join their churches as monks, and whose later atheism is at best ambiguous and in Hitlers case highly unlikely. This is best covered in another current thread.

    Suppression of religion for for political or other ends does not qualify as happening “in the name of atheism.” I doubt Stalin or Hitler ever uttered the word, let alone launched pogroms in its name, or in Hitlers case, launched Christian armies against nearly the rest of the world.

    This of course is at the very public level of atheistic (maybe, maybe not) people. It gets even harder at the “common people” level. Finder me an atheist Anders Breivik, or Peter Knight, or suicide bomber whose cry was “I do this to spread atheism.” Their atrocities were done in the name of Christianity and Islam.
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  • Ernie, how does everything Stalin did to the religious qualify as being done in the name of atheism? Supporting statements to that effect?

    In the name of communism, perhaps. In the name of Stalinism, certainly. Stalin was ruthless against anyone he perceived as a potential threat to his power. Organised religion represented an alternate power base to Stalin’s own and, as such, he had to quell it. I’m prepared to be corrected by evidence to the contrary but what Stalin did wasn’t done in the name of atheism, it was done in the name of Stalin.

    Dragging up from an unreliable memory, I seem to recall reading that actions against religion in Albania were stated as being done to further the spread of atheism, on the grounds that religion held back educational and scientific advancement.
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  • Let’s be honest. Most people who commit atrocities in the name of
    religion are only using religion as an excuse.

    A classic “No true Scotsman!” I will do you a deal, I will read the Bible again, when I have time, with particular reference to Galatians and your other cherries carefully picked, if you will go to Wiki and read up on “logical fallacies.”
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  • “It is true that most Muslims do condemn extremist violence, though not as small a minority as might be hoped.”

    No matter how many times I read this, it doesn’t make any sense. Shouldn’t it be, “…though not as big a majority as might be hoped?”
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  • Modesty, I fully agree American foreign policy is problematic, eg. their longstanding support of the Wahabism exporting Saudis (they would support anything, vile or not, if it was anti-communist) or the unwarranted invasion of Iraq. However, although it -USA foreign policy- may have contributed to exacerbate, I do not think it is at the the core or the source of the present problems with Islam.

    The antagonism between ‘the West’ and ‘Islam” goes back for centuries, most of it well before the very existence of the USA: think of Charles Martel, the ‘Reconquista’, the crusades, the siege of Vienna or the north African ‘Barbarian Pirates” taking European and American slaves (they took close to a million over the decades). The latter were the reason for the USA to have a Mediterranean fleet, btw.

    If you would have read the Qur’an, Hadith and Sira, you would know that present day ‘radical Islam’ is not deviant, but basic, the core. ‘Moderate Islam’ is deviant. World peace will only be achieved when the world is Islam, as opposed to the world of War (al Harb), ie. any part not subjugated to/by Islam.
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  • Tell me how easy it was to get a Bible in the USSR.

    Oh, this old chessnut. Look, just because someone IS an atheist does not mean they are doing something in the NAME of atheism.

    Find me the atheistic doctrine Stalin was following, and then we can talk about atheistic terrorism. Until then, the smart money is on realizing that Stalinism was a political religion. Religious thought is not confined to claims about divinity.
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  • How’s that for “atheist pollution?”

    Well, it doesn’t work, because what is being described is nihilism.

    As always, atheism is not the -ism you’re looking for.
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  • It preaches love: for neighbor and for the entire world.

    Well, upon point of either obedience or eternal damnation, but let’s set that aside a moment.

    How do you explain the vitriol of the Epistles, then, condemning various peoples and their behaviours, requiring that society purge themselves of these ‘evils’ or else risk incurring the wrath of God? Do you suppose Paul meant that this should be treated as a mere suggestion?

    The New Testament is comprised of a lot more than the Gospels, you know, and most of it is pretty awful stuff.
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  • So where in the atheist doctrine are out-groups defined, and violence advocated? What negative things does the atheist bible say of the believer?

    Do you really believe your lazy attempts to conflate Marxism-Leninism with atheism, and the hyperbole you employ about ‘abandoning reason too’ if atheists don’t confess to being aligned with 20th century Communists? If so, you have no reason to abandon.
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  • In my opinion, Turkish writer Mustafa Akyol said it best in an editorial quoted in the BBC when he said: “Rage is a sign of nothing but immaturity. The power of any faith comes not from its coercion of critics and dissenters. It comes from the moral integrity and the intellectual strengths of its believers”.

    He is basically saying, grow up and don’t be so thin skinned.

    It’s time the moderate masses who claim islam to be a religion of peace to embrace this concept, and actively condemn the acts of terrorism conducted in its name, by reclaiming the limelight and marginalizing terrorism. jcw
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  • It is irrelevant which religion is in question. What is relevant and should prevail are ‘human rights’. I don’t dislike Muslims, I do dislike the absence of human rights associated with Islam on a sliding scale depending on the views of ‘a’ Muslim.

    The world needs a mass education campaign. Mass change management plan. To try to get the uneducated, those lacking critical thinking, and those who may be intelligent but blindly follow values handed down to them; to consider and think for themselves.

    Many westerners have learned this skill, surely eastern countries can be taught – eventually.

    The disrespect for women is immense and is the underpinning element of Islam.
    Also of concern; if you believe that when you die there is a ‘paradise’ waiting for you, and if you die a martyr you will be rewarded – well we have a problem don’t we? No fear of death, and a belief that to die for the cause is a privilege. Big problem right there. Now lets add a touch of mental illness.
    Major problems. When a mentally ill person (sliding scale) makes a plan, they make that plan based on their culture and their belief and their value. You can see that in a christian culture. Seeing it play out in an Islamic culture is treacherous.

    Even seemingly ‘nice’ people (muslims) around the area I live will comment ‘women are stupid’. Truly, many Muslims, do believe women are less than men.

    Focus on changing the human rights views, avoid the islam or religion argument – can’t call me a bigot if I maintain my distaste of human rights rather than the ‘brand’ which carries the human rights breaches.

    I do believe from what I have seen, that muslims do not assimilate very well into western living. They like Australia, they just don’t like many people who live a traditionally Australian lifestyle. They would prefer we were not here. That is, in the extreme areas such as Lakemba, Wiley Park, Bankstown. Extreme muslims rarely move to areas like Northern Beaches or Eastern Suburbs.

    They are grouping together to try to push their own culture and lifestyle on to society.

    I believe we should not allow any more Mosques to be built ANYWHERE.
    Westerners are not allowed to build Churches and places of worship in Arabic or Islamic countries. Why are we so stupid???
    Can people not see what the plan is?
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  • Apart from being a straw man, it is also an ad hominem error, or a sweeping generalisation, or both. It is almost remarkable, although probably not a record, for the number of logical errors in a short sentence.

    There is no country, not even North Korea with it’s living cult god, that is devoid of religion, despite attempts to suppress it. While this may speak to its persistence, and in many cases the courage of it’s adherents, it does nothing to prove the actual truth of the foundations of religion. Just because I believe something, that does make it true, not without evidence.

    Nor do I, and, I suspect, at least many of the other people here who have no religious belief, wish to see religion suppressed or abolished. Be careful when you use a totally inclusive “all.” I am a part of “all” and I do not want to “abolish faith.” How could I? Time, and increasing answers to the questions that religion stood for as the solution will let religious faith wither on the vine without forceful suppression, although it may take several or more generations. And, faith can also refer to belief in evidence based reality, rather than bronze age myth based beliefs.

    This does not mean that the barbaric acts, and demands for an utterly superstition based and anti human control espoused by one particular religion at the moment should be permitted to continue unchecked.

    Sorry, I am wandering away from answering your question. There are several countries where an increasing secularism is starting to make inroads, despite strong and near panicky response from the churches. Australia, where I live, both by birth and by choice, having lived in several other countries, being the most obvious. We even recently had an happily acknowledged atheist Prime Minister, who even more shockingly, was a woman. Try to do that anywhere in or around the Arabian Peninsular, or in the other countries where religious bigotry and reaction against scientific thought exists. Or, weirdly seems to be even increasing, the obvious example being of course the US of A.
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  • “Better judgement” ? Bollocks ! Come on out with these damning quotes for all to see, and I might use the word “judge” ? And don’t forget Galatians either ! A brief summary will do just fine, and yes of course I can go off and read it, but I suspect you had other motives to sidetrack the discussion.

    That bit of the Bible is clearly wrong as interpreted, but it was out of context, did you read the bit before it ?

    Hmmm !
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  • You took some short-cuts here and there, but you are basically spot on, methinks. However, it would be interesting to research the real contributions of the scientists under Islam before the tenth century`(?) shut down – I’m sure there must have been some.
    The shut down itself is interesting, was it , Al Ghazally? The Mongol destruction of eastern Islam? or what? Did science continue longer is the West (West = Spain here: Toledo, Granada)?
    So many questions of which we’re not sure about the answers…
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  • Try Holland, Belgium, France, the Scandinavian countries, Japan, Taiwan… maybe not ‘completely’ abolished faith, but still overwhelmingly so. I have this suspicion they are not the worst countries to live in 🙂
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  • Christian America? Which Christians? Baptists, Methodists, Catholics (which some American “Christians” don’t consider Christian), Eastern Orthodox, Calvinists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc., etc. etc.? Do Mormons who also worship Jesus count? Choose carefully, lest different denominations must plead for protection against others, as the Baptists wrote Jefferson about the Congregationalists persecution.

    Not all atheists seek to abolish religion. It’s not necessary. Many would be happy if it’s kept a private matter and removed from the public discourse. Religion still exists in places like Scandinavia and parts of Eastern Europe and the Far East, where mostly the standard of living is high and crimes low, where religion can no longer impose its dogmas. It has merely become irrelevant.

    Jesus’ love? The people of Capernaum would hardly think so – Luke 10:15. What kind of love, jealous, possessive? “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” – Matthew 10:37.
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  • 87
    Maximiliano says:

    I stand corrected. But what i ment to say is that reducing the problem to us or them, (they come for our knowledge and not our values) is ill adviced. Simply because the complexity of the matter doesnt allow reduccionism. And European knowledge is, american knowledge, arab knowledge, asian... the world has been compiling knowledge, loosing it, burning it, sharing it and rediscovering. It is a simple matter of historical perspective. I dont defend or approve fanaticism. I simply refuse to belive that 1.8 billion people can share a view of the world that applaudes terrorism.
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  • Name me a country where “faith rules” where you would actually want to live. Iran? Eastern Syria (IS)? Saudi Arabia? Vatican City? Buthan? Texas?….. (well I guess I would not mind Buthan or Texas, but that would be despite religion, just as I like to live in South Africa despite the overwhelming religious narrative here).

    Actually, Nordic11, you asked a ‘Good Question’. It appears the more secular, faithless, the country, the more attractive to live in.
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  • I’ve read a few articles like this in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo tragedy.

    I think it’s a mistake to paint a picture that Muslims fall into 2 distinct groups: extremists and non-extremists. It strikes me as a case of, as Richard Dawkins puts it, “the tyranny of the discontinuous mind”.

    In reality there must be a gradual continuous scale of extremism in Islam; from the (almost?) completely innocuous beliefs of some, through to the most violent and intolerant beliefs of others.

    In the particular case of Islam, I don’t think you have to travel very far from the harmless end of the scale before you enter what I consider extremist Islam.

    If it is the case, as I’m lead to believe, that most Muslims indoctrinate their children into Islam, then I consider that to be extremist or fundamentalist. One indoctrinated generation indoctrinating the next is not a phenomenon unique to the Islamic religion, but it does seem to be particularly strong in Islam, due to the nature of its doctrine. I consider the indoctrination of a child, such as being brought up to be fearful of ever leaving their religion, to be extreme and disgusting behaviour in itself, and it also provides the basis from which all of the even greater atrocities committed under Islam stem.
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  • Islam is a bad apple itself, its core.
    Most of the Qur’an, Hadith and Sira is ‘hate speech’, hate of the kafir that is.
    The Kafir is atheists, christians, jews (jews are particularly hated), you and me, any not Muslim.
    Any religion may be rotten, bur Islam takes the apple.
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  • 95
    Maximiliano says:

    What is the conclusion then? Suppouse that islam tends more frequently to extremism than christianity or judaism. What then? Let´s asume that the reasons given are enough to predict this level or an increased level of terrorism. What then? Do we ban islam from non islamic countries? Do we deport all islamics? And after that? Do we take them to the wall and shoot them? Are we going to start saying that arabs are genetically predisposed to extremism?
    The path is dangerous. The road is paved with hatred and misinformation. The destination is well known to everyone: crusades, jihads, pogroms, extermination camps.
    It´s a big risk to put opinions and interpretation in the pedestal of truth. That also has a name: fundamentalism, and it can come from religious fervor as well as pride. Many atheist are proud of it, as if not believing in god or the divine made you better than others.
    I am en atheist, i don´t need god to make sens of the world. But we should start traying to get along and not enlighten anyone. After all, non of us have a clue…
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  • Possibly you should visit some churches in other areas, such as the Vatican, or Westminster Abbey, where men in frocks and pointy hats mutter sonorously in Latin, and wave incense, and bugger the altar boys, and all the rest of the medieval claptrap before you get too carried away about which century this is, at least in some places.

    Your own church, I suspect, since many in the US do, will rabbit on about damnation, and how the Bible should be the “State Book,” maybe not your state, I accept, and a whole lot of tommyrot that maybe be an update to the “pointy hat” crowd, but really does not get you much past the 19th century, which is when most of your internal national religious nuttiness started.
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  • @Nordic

    Some little bits of Christianity have learned lots. Nowhere near enough of it has and with very little sense of that shortfall.

    I have reason to be disgused with the moral position of the CoE most recently over not dealing with its homophobic and sexist Bishops a few years back. It should have been taken to schism, but no, the body of the church was deemed more important than a moral stance.

    It is a marvel that most Roman Catholics are hugely more moral that their church or its execrable dogma. The wanton wickedness of far too many Christian priests in Africa, the sickening inability of half decent priests to howl at the disgrace of it, but pretend all is good, makes me no lover of the the whole of that proselytising pompous, self-important enterprise. It stinks of parasitism upon the needy. Not committing violence? They will incite it though, feeding a gay hating frenzy. Not killing people with guns? That doesn’t mean they are not killing as many with lies about condoms.

    The absolute pinnacle of moral religious thinking for me is Quakerism. A flower of the Enlightenment. A dismissal of almost all moral dogma replaced with simple human (god-given to all as they would have it) compassion. Throughout the last two centuries they have been at the forefront of the very best moral thinking and practice. Nor have they traded that for evangelising gain. They preach little or not at all to their kids and haven’t flourished in the free market economy of faiths, losing badly to the greed preachers and the eternal salvationists. They give heed to today.

    99% of Christians don’t match up. They still don’t know enough to ditch the moral dogma, shot through with ideas of personal salvation. They are making more mistakes than Humanists, say, who most nearly resemble Quakers. It is no wonder that many British Quakers are untroubled agnostics. They know what they are doing.
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  • 98
    archsceptic says:

    The conclusion would seem to be there are two roads forward from here, one preferable to the western democracies, the other mandatory to jihadist Islam. The ideal for the west is reformation within Islam, with the moderates reclaiming their self professed religion of peace from the extremists – this seems impossible without full scale civil war within Islam.

    The other road forward, preferable to the other side is 110% appeasement – starting with the abolition of Israel, through to things like fatwa’s on building snowmen (see below) – not only does this also seem impossible, it clearly is impossible.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/12/saudi-arabia-snowmen-winter-fatwa
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  • A clear objective of the Stalin regime (among several other objectives) was to stamp out religion entirely.

    I think it was rather more for the totalitarian objective of absolute control. Simply anti-religious power and influence and not some pro-atheist “mental hygiene”. This is to be contrasted with Albania where a genuine move to atheism became part of the country’s culture before the advent of its communist dictatorship.
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  • If you want to understand Matt 5:17, read Galatians first; then we’ll talk.

    Have done. Please make your point.

    The book of revelations is a symbolic/ allegorical work that first century Christians would have understood quite well. It is a picture book of the struggle between God/good and Satan/ evil. It is not meant to be read literally, which many Americans make the mistake of doing turning it into a puzzle book.

    Sorry I must have missed the disclaimer, is it with the other bit that says that …..the events and characters described in this book are fictional and any similarity between the characters or events in this book to the real world are coincidental….

    In all seriousness, many people who describe themselves as serious Christians disagree with you. I as an atheist should not have to sort through the numerous threads of self justification all the different sects of religious belief go through to try to square the circle of religion. You saying is was meant to be allegorical means exactly nothing to me – because it is not obvious – that an omnipotent god provided the only only evidence for his existence a book so clearly open to interpretation and in your words requires me to think like a first century Christian to understand what is being written speaks in favour of my position not yours.

    Jesus never talks about a permanent hell.

    Oh I see, so being burnt alive for a few thousand years is not violence because at some point they will be let out or destroyed? I’ll remind you of your original point which you have evaded.

    I understand and am not offended personally by your glib remarks about it being good news for you guys that we won’t burn forever in the context of a friendly debate (and I’m making and have made plenty a glib remark on this site myself) but many an ex-Catholic here terrified by Priests and Nuns during their indoctrination/education may see it as offensive (again more than happy to be offended-free speech and all, but you should be aware of the weight of statements you make – it won’t help you convince anyone about the peace and love bit).

    the New Testament has absolutely no teaching of treating anyone (believer or unbeliever) with violence (verbal or physical).

    Now clearly the threat of burning me alive is a physical and mental threat specifically because I remain unconvinced. So you have dodged this one which was my main point to begin with.

    You have also not answered my question in relation to Jesus stating he had not come to undo the laws of the old testament but to fulfil them. This it seems to me to leave a wide open door for all the cruelty and violence of the old testament to be referenced at any time by any Christian who chooses to interpret it this way. Given that if you follow the rules of the OT you must then be in favour of Slavery, child sacrifice, genocide, death penalty for everything from children being disrespectful to parents to picking up sticks on a Sunday. Throw out the OT and you have no foundation for the Human Sacrifice in the person of Christ – (no Adam – no original sin). You have a clear contradiction to explain here please let’s hear how you do it.

    Again this is not for me to decide who is right I think the whole thing is patently ridiculous and whatever knots you want to tie yourself up in to justify your continued belief is up to you, I am only interested in what is possible as an interpretation and to ensure that those beliefs do not impact on me or mine, they do, every day. So until you have convinced every other Christian out there that your particular interpretation is right then exclamations about the NT being free of cruelty and violence will be rightly refuted. Likewise I will hold you to account for conveniently choosing to ignore the OT which is after all the very foundation of your whole belief system, when your sect removes and condemns the OT for the vile, cruel piece of work it is I might listen to you.
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  • Today’s Jihadists are of minor geopolitical importance, justifying nevertheless the mobilisation in France of security forces to protect potential targets. If the Jihadists ever become heads of state, as happens to terrorists sometimes, they may then have the means to present a threat of major proportions. With the political organization and the technological means of a modern state, they might be able to emulate the ‘West’ and commit a Dresden or Hiroshima.
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  • Islam or any other religion is to blame only in as much as they represent a well of bad ideas. If the fanatics and crazies didn’t have this well to draw from, they would have to look elsewhere to justify the murder they commit. This is why the moderates of every religion need to rid their religions of these bad ideas right away; if they don’t they are only going to suffer themselves and extend that suffering to their progeny.
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  • I think it’s a mistake to paint a picture that Muslims fall into 2 distinct groups: extremists and non-extremists.Simon Tuffen

    Quite right and an even greater mistake to focus on beliefs instead of actions. We have the example of Christianity to comfort us. How much ‘turning of the other cheek’ have we seen over centuries of warfare and colonial conquest? Muslims seem not to be any more inclined to participate in crusades than Christians are to make conspicuous peace.

    What we have to worry about are Jihadists, not Muslims.
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  • No, I believe we must never put anyone against the wall and shoot them. But here in Australia, I think we should have thought more carefully, even piloted Islamic culture in our culture for 10-20 years before we encouraged a mass migration. I think many people of Islamic belief (more radical) are not happy here. Discontent builds on discontent.

    And yes we do need to get along. I can assure you I try. But when, a woman, (7th generation Australian, of Scottish and British decent – me) wears a singlet top and shorts (in my own country of birth and that of my ancestors) I am looked at with disgust by men and women of Islamic faith (more fundamentalist types). I really can’t move much in either direction. One must walk in the shoes (directed at politicians who say meaningless words in the media) before one can know the feeling.

    A woman of western culture living in an area where she is a minority among Islamist, has been the biggest educational tool for me – ever.

    I understand the divide now. I understand it doesn’t matter how nice i am to some muslims, they will hate me and be disgusted in me for who I am and how I live. This concerns me for the future of me, my children and my grandchildren.
    I want us to all get along. I have the critical thinking function to do that, but if it is not reciprocated. What next? I am open to hear ……………..?
    So much political correctness is covering up the real problems. We politically corrected ourselves into a corner of lies and denial.
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  • My concern is and always has been, in the idea of a ‘religious belief’ driving any human being (any religion) to commit atrocities. That boggles my mind.
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  • Atheists leading communist regimes persecuted, tortured and executed people of faith for decades just because they had faith.

    Atheism is just an absence of belief in a God or Gods. We would mostly agree that Communist regimes committed Atrocities, and that they may have targeted Religion as method of suppressing dissent among the religious. However the reason they were killing people was not because some of them did not believe in God it was because they believed in the brittle dogma of Communism. Same for Pol Pot etc.

    Not believing is Santa Clause does not make me suddenly obliged to change my behaviour because I’m not going to miss the opportunity to get presents.

    Before the Communists in Russia took over the state the vast majority of Russians were religious, are you suggesting that the moment Stalin took power every citizen suddenly in one swoop suddenly saw the light and decided that there was in fact no god? The destruction of the Communist regimes can be laid squarely and fairly on the cause, power hungry dictators following a set of Dogmas. That they had to eliminate the competition is telling though, it tells you that Christianity was a threat to their power, a competing dogma.

    In modern Russia now the Russian Orthodox church has now come back in favour and the favour is being returned in the form of the typical lack of tolerance that many religions show, the jailing of Pussy Riot for an act of blasphemy is a case in point. The Russian Orthodox Church could have protested “This is too much, as offensive as we find these activists please do not jail them on our account…” but no they are all too happy to see their position and power re-established even if it means complicity with Putin – of course I could just be cowardice, but that doesn’t really speak too highly of them being inspired by the loving turn the other cheek Jesus does it?

    Atheism describes one thing about me, and only one thing my absence in the belief of a God or Gods. There is no logical pathway from the sudden realisation that there is likely no God to I must now take over my country and persecute Christians. However as all religions rely heavily on Dogma’s there are many very specific charges that can be laid at the feet of religion, the Jewish practise of circumcision has no secular foundation it is purely religious, anti-gay legislation is in place because of the religious, creationism being taught is schools, religious hospitals refusing to perform medical procedures (in-spite in my country receiving public money), bans on euthanasia, and the list goes on. I could as an atheist be a homophobic, anti-abortion, anti-euthanasia and for circumcision but not because of a God, I’d have to find a better reason and that is the point.
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  • What next? I am open to hear ……………..?
    So much political correctness is covering up the real problems. We politically corrected ourselves into a corner of lies and denial.

    It isn’t too late Gina. If Australia was to close all Xian churches and resume all the cathedrals for public use, in lieu of taxes avoided, and ceased all funding to Xian schools, the mosques could be next.
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  • We need no apology for seeing differently from others and calling it how we see it. Indeed this is the path to more moral behaviour.

    I endorse Phil’s post.

    It is individual human beings, who hold extreme irrational views that are the problem, not the dogma, flag, ideology, religion, mahdi, prophet or sundry other motivating factors that extremists claim justify their actions. The struggle is to reduce the number of irrational people on the planet, thus reducing the likelihood of an extremist, putting into action their irrational views.

    And as Roedy correctly points out, western governments have blood on their hands too.
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  • 113
    Jeggie43 says:

    ****the New Testament has absolutely emphasized textno teaching of treating anyone (believer or unbeliever) with violence (verbal or physical****

    Read the book of Revelation. Read Acts 5: v1-11 – the story of Ananais and Sapphira. What a loving God who he kills them because they didn’t give all that they had promised i.e. the whole proceeds of the sale of their property. If this story were true, how frightened should every Christian who ever lived or is alive today, be about how he lives fearing retribution (from a loving god!)
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  • I would be interested in hearing from all of you about a country or civilisation that abolished religion and faith completely but still created a society that you would want to live in.

    That’s the point almost all of us on this site are secularists. That is we don’t believe in abolishing anything (provided it does no harm to us). Civilisation has slowly, slowly been wrestled from your religious dogmas, it is currently a work in progress.

    By the way still waiting for you to answer my simple questions, how about you stop lobbing hand grenades and start engaging in discussion, a number of people on this site have asked you questions for which you should have an answer you seem to be evading quite a few of these. So as a reminder you made the assertion that the NT contains no violence or threat of violence, you dodged that by suggesting that hell is not forever, does this mean you concede that your original statement was incorrect? Your original post you see seemed to try to tar the Koran as an exclusively violent text, such comments in this climate are probably not helpful which is why I have pursued this. I agree it is violent (I’ve read it too) but it is hardly exclusively such. Your own holy book (which again I have read several times now, most recently last year) is full of violence and threat of violence, it is gapingly full of contradiction and open to any interpretation (including peaceful-pacifistic ones – if you ignore the majority of it), pretending this is not so does no one any good.
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  • Gina,

    Thank you for that. Very nicely worded, much better than I could do. All I can think is that they must be exposed to cognitive dissonance. We need genuine public (mixed) education so that our kids grow up with Muslim kids and visa versa. Allowing government funding for private religious schools is cultural suicide.

    I firmly believe most Muslims would over a generation or two of mixing with us change both us and them into a more tolerant society. All our previous waves of migration have been met with the same xenophobia (on our part) and a gradual integration into our society. I grew up Queensland in the 70’s under Sir Joh (you know to whom I refer I’m sure) and I remember the bigotry and tension of the Greek, Italian and Vietnamese immigrants at school, but look now, everyone is pretty much getting on and our food if nothing else is so much better for it. It was worked out over lunch breaks in state schools one friendship/argument/fight at a time. Many teenagers when confronted with the truth of friendships and relationships at school rebelled against the bigotry of their parents to categorise the other as a wog, nip or ching. They chose not to listen to their parents BS and made up their own bloodly minds and got on with it, and we’re a richer nation for it. This can not happen though if we encourage and subsidise private education, having a whole section of our country effectively cut off from our culture. I think it is going to take a generation though.
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  • About this trouble, I think that religion t’s the last thing left for a community of people, when you have already lost everything else. it is the only thing that gives them back their identity, is like the table that holds shipwrecked in a sea of adversity. Ultimately I believe that to understand the other, the first thing to do is to put ourselves in the place of another, and this sense we must put aside our own ideas about it, to understand what happens to that person .
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  • I must apologise to you Nordi11, You have provided some answers so some of our questions So lets have a look.

    When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. (2:1-3)

    But Jesus makes it clear he (god) will punish anyone who does not believe in him. So yes we might concede that humans are not the threat(In the NT), the threat comes from God.

    What worse city was there than Sodom (from which we get the word sodomy), but in Ezekiel 16:53, God says, “I will restore the fortunes of Sodom (there are many other restoration verses in this and other books for nations who were nasty to Israel). Again, the idea of future restoration for everyone.

    Is he saying he will bring back to life those he killed? Pat them on the head and apologise for murdering their unborn (blameless) children, their children and those they held in bondage. Let us also recall who he chose to save, what do we remember of the moral family who were saved? The father (Lot) offers up his virgin daughters for rape, his wife is turned to a pillar of salt for curiosity and his daughters robbed of opportunity to marry get their father drunk and fornicate with him to incestuously carry on the bloodline, nice.

    Ephesians can easily be interpreted in light of universal salvation

    This is the primary problem, multiple possible interpretations.

    The hell Jesus speaks is a literal place in Jerusalem (Gehenna) symbolizes judgement and punishment but not eternal damnation.

    Okay lets have a look at some of the passages in question…

    Matthew 25:46 And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the
    righteous into eternal life.”

    Relation 20:10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet are too, and they will be tormented there day and night forever and ever.

    Matthew 13:41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom everything that causes sin as well as all lawbreakers. 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    John3:16 For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 36 The one who believes in the Son has eternal life. The one who rejects the Son will not see life, but God’s wrath remains on him.

    Not all warm and fuzzy in the NT. This does not seem symbolic to me. When last reading the bible I was overwhelmed with whole chapters of brutal rant an venom against non-believers, the whole feel was highly threatening and very much read as a very real threat that if I believed I would be rightly terrified of. You suggest that we are taking this out of context? Yet you’ve chosen to ignore the whole OT, trying to justify your psychopathic deity by only focusing on the Cuddlier NT version, in which Jesus says he has not come to throw out the old rules but to fulfil them (you haven’t addressed this yet) and who according to most Christians and many a celebrated theologian means what it reads like it means a literal physical hell of fire and brimstone. Thomas Aquinas for example:

    the blessed in heaven will often walk to the battlements and look down and delight in the justice of God being properly carried out in hell.

    Apparently he thought hell was a real permanent place of torment. Of course you are not obliged to believe his interpretation (I don’t). But you can see my problem, you are pitting your theologians against everyone else’s. What exactly is required to come to some conclusion about the truth a PHD is theology? Learning ancient Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic? And even when I do I still won’t reach a consensus as every other bugger with similar qualifications will have a different opinion. This would be fair enough if we could carry out an experiment to test which hypothesis holds weight but of course short of dying, there would be no way to be certain.

    So just be aware please when you claim things like there is no violence or threat of violence in the bible that many a well qualified theologian disagrees with you, at least one of them has to be wrong and it could just possibly be you.
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  • 121
    mralstoner says:

    Here’s a crash course in Islam …

    Islam is defined as the worship of Allah, and the imitation of Mohammed. There are 90 verses in the Koran which implore Muslims to imitate the prophet Mohammed. He is the perfect role model for all Muslims to follow (“a beautiful pattern of conduct”).

    Unfortunately the biography of Mohammed reads like a war documentary:
    https://archive.org/stream/TheLifeOfMohammedGuillaume/The_Life_Of_Mohammed_Guillaume#page/n3/mode/1up

    Mohammed beheaded 600-900 Jews on one day.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasion_of_Banu_Qurayza

    Mohammed ordered or supported 43 assassinations.
    http://wikiislam.net/wiki/List_of_Killings_Ordered_or_Supported_by_Muhammad

    The prophet Mohammed commanded 65 military campaigns, and fought in 27 of them. He averaged an event of violence every 6 weeks for the last 9 years of his life.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9sYgqRtZGg

    The prophet Mohammed beheaded poets who criticised him.
    http://www.answering-islam.org/Authors/Arlandson/dead_poets.htm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Muhammad_12.jpg

    The prophet Mohammed took a Jewish girl (Safiyah) to bed on the night of torturing her husband to death.
    http://www.faithfreedom.org/Articles/sina/safiyah.htm

    Mohammed sanctioned sex slaves as the spoils of war.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Csl0gxWnyzs

    In early Islam, the biography of Mohammed was known as Maghazi (literally, stories of military expeditions).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sirat_Rasul_Allah

    The Islamic holy books (Koran, Hadith, Sira) contain more Jew hatred (9%) than Mein Kampf (7%).
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjBDDC4wVxk

    The Islamic calendar begins when Mohammed stopped being a peaceful preacher in Mecca and became a violent warlord in Medina.

    The prophet Mohammed was poisoned by a Jewish women, following his attack on the Jewish settlement of Khaibar. He died three years later as a result.
    http://www.answering-islam.org/Silas/mo-death.htm

    Three of the first four Caliphs (Muslim rulers after the death of Mohammed) were so well loved and respected, they also met with violent death.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caliphate#Rashidun_Caliphs

    Bottom line, the extremists have an awful lot of material to present a very plausible version of Islam. Dare I say, it’s the more credible interpretation. Consequently, we have to treat the Islamic holy books as a clear and present danger, much like other dangerous ideologies such as Nazism and Communism.
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  • I wonder how much of these statistics conflate extremism with ignorance?

    I’ve often wondered “where are the moderates…?” like most but recently come to the conclusion, they have more to loose than me by speaking up.

    If you’ve been brought up to believe what your clerics tell you as absolute fact, and that allah is watching you and listeneing to your thoughts, chances are even in a secret ballot you’ll vote for the party line.

    If you live in a country where you might fear for your safety and have seen the most unexpected, innocent individuals beaten to death for blasphemy, do you even trust the secrecy of the poll? might be a government trick, or not the government but the more powerful clergy.

    We’ve seen the numbers of out atheists rocket in the last few years in secular countries (and some non-secular), I can’t believe it’s because everyone suddenly gave up their beliefs but more they gave up kidding themselves or gave up pretending for the sake of family or community.

    expose these high percentages of suicide bomber supporters to enough reason and security in being open and I think those figures will drop considerably. the thing that makes humans evil is fear and high levels of extreme views go hand in hand with high levels of fear and ignorance
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  • @Phil

    This is to be contrasted with Albania where a genuine move to atheism became part of the country’s culture before the advent of its communist dictatorship.

    I found this on Wiki:

    “Monarchy stipulated that the state should be neutral, with no official religion and that the free exercise of religion should be extended to all faiths. Neither in government nor in the school system should favor be shown to any one faith over another. Albanism was substituted for religion, and officials and schoolteachers were called “apostles” and “missionaries.” Albania’s sacred symbols were no longer the cross and the crescent, but the Flag and the King. Hymns idealizing the nation, Skanderbeg, war heroes, the king and the flag predominated in public-school music classes to the exclusion of virtually every other theme.”

    “The first reading lesson in elementary schools introduced a patriotic catechism beginning with this sentence, “I am an Albanian. My country is Albania.” Then there follows in poetic form, “But man himself, what does he love in life?” “He loves his country.” “Where does he live with hope? Where does he want to die?” “In his country.” “Where may he be happy, and live with honor?” “In Albania.”

    Seems more like a genuine move towards nationalism to me. They could have ended up as a sort of Eastern European version of North Korea if they hadn’t later got caught up in another totalitarian ideology, communism.

    If you were King, how would you attempt to move a whole country towards atheism?
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  • Seems more like a genuine move towards nationalism to me.

    Indeed, that was what I posted up the way about Albania. Idealism of any sort is a road to hell going via the pretty route.

    So let me be idealistic in just one open ended way. The answer to most things is education, education, education. Ain’t no faster route. As the great Dorothy Parker said when challenged to produce an epigram containing the word horticulture-

    You can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think.

    Education is first and foremost about bringing us problems and making us care about them.
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  • 125
    Verónica says:

    I think that we should learn from these horrible experiences now and so many in the past, that we should be tolerant. It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you respect others who believe or don’t believe to live their lives as they wish. It is a pleasure to talk to civilized and respectful people about believing or not in God and why without being nudged or ridiculed. I have found that religious people (some, not all) may be judgmental while atheists sometimes (again; some of course not all) believe they are wiser and think the reason that others believe is because they are not intelligent enough. I just think that it shouldn’t matter as long as we respect each other. I am really confused right now, I believe in God because it doesn’t make sense to me that the big bang and evution (which I of course know that it is a scientific fact that is real and happened and evolution still happens and it is amazing!) started by themselves or by a bunch of physical laws that have always existed! Laws that can decide to start something! Or probably I nust don’t get it! But anyway, to get back to the topic of intolerance I think that any idea driven to the extreme can bring violence. Religion has done that, and atheism (to the extreme of hating those who decide to believe) has done that too. Exames of religion of course the Crusades, Inquisition. And atheism you have mentioned Russia, which some said is Communism and not Atheism, but Communism didn’t tolerate any religion, it supported not believing or Atheism and it was intolerant too. In Mexico there was intolerance to religion too during the Mexican revolution; nuns were killed and priests too. Maybe some of hou will mention that religion brought bad things and murders before and it might be but it also brought education and hospitals, orphanages, etc. even if not perfect (nothing is!) they helped a lot of people who after the religious persecution ended up in the streets. So I wish ee all learn to be tolerant. We, as a society, will mever all think the same or believe the same, but if we learn to respect all and have civilized conversations, it would be so wonderful! Unfortunately we have a lo g way to go and these type of violent acts show how far we are from that goal.
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  • mralstoner Jan 15, 2015 at 8:14 am Here’s a crash course in Islam

    One of the plagues of the internet is totally unqualified American anti-Muslim zealots intent on ‘educating’ the world about Islam.

    Why are you posting nonsense from Bill Warner? ” PhD in physics and math, NC State University, 1968., university professor, businessman, and applied physicist.
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  • 128
    Maximiliano says:

    I understand your position, but i don´t share it. The problem is not Islam. That is, the problem is not “the other”, it´s how one approaches problems.
    You say its politocal correctness, a position that blinds. I think that the way we difine democracy is the problem. We view democracy as good, as the best way of goverment. I agree. But democracy is not just voting and freedom of press. The real challenge in democracy is tolerating difference. Not accepting it. You say that islamic men look at you with disgust. Of course they do! You represent evil for them. Same with jewish ortodox. Or catholics. Or repressed old people. As long as they dont act upon their feelings, sadly, you do have to put up with them. That is tolerance, that is democracy. It´s easy to live democratically when your neighbour thinks and lives like you.
    Also, my point is what to do with this problem. For my part, i haven´t got a clue. But abscribing to the idea that certain people that share something also share a common nature is very dangerous. And in my country, Argentina, we know it first hand. We didn´t need religion, or an invasion, or terrosism (thou we did suffer 2 terrorist attacks in the 90s against jewish buildings). In late 70´s and early 80´s we suffered a coop, military goverment was installed, and 30000 people were kidnapped by the state and disappeared. Not just killed. They threw them from a plane into the ocean with cement in there feet. They burned them, burried them under building fundation, gave them to cattle for food. And previous to that they tortured them, raped them, took their children and gave them away like conquest bounty. They did it in the dark, but everybody knew. And many people were ok with it. Why? Because the military goverment said they where fighting comunism, insurrection, rebels. If the rebels had 30000 people in their organization, my friend, they would have taken the goverment down. No, they where teachers, workers, intellectuals, artists. Some of them did fight clandestinly, for their ideal, and some even put bombs or kidnapped a coronel and killed him. But most of them just thought differently. The reing of terror that followed is still haunting us. I tell you this because hate and fear, once unleashed, makes this out of your best country.
    I don´t know what is the answer. But i know that stigmatization and racianalization of hatred is a one way ticket. It´s the begining of horror. You don´t need a religion for it. You need the right social conditions. If we change that, we at least avert easy recruitment of fanatics.
    Anothe4r thing i wanted to reply: Reciprocity is not balancing the books (i give you one, you give me one). Reciprocity is: for the same amount of energy i spend in this change, you spend a similar amount. Not an eye for an eye. It´s meeting in middle ground.
    The social conditions are complex, of course. But the first thing one should do is not judge. Try to understand the other point of view. For religious people (wich i am not) God IS the truth. It´s not open to interpretation. Then you can have people that accept certain amount of change, and some that don´t accept change at all. But you can´t ask a religious guy to applaude your liberal choices. You can ask him to keep quite, but not to accept them.
    Understanding, tolerance, everyday practice of democracy. Those are the only ways to break the cicle. It´s hard, some times it´s impossible to follow. In that case, let´s take of the mask and don´t talk about freedom and democracy if we jump to the “seperate but equal” wagon because it´s inconvenient for us to live together.
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  • 129
    Maximiliano says:

    Communism isn´t a dangerous ideology. The russian communist are another matter. But communism is a wonderfull ideology, althoug is a bit to “state dependent” for my taste. Nazism is not an ideology. It´s a comglomerate of ideas that follow a fascis ideology.
    Islam is not dangerous. If it were, with 1.8 billions of followers and oil and resources to waste, we would all be islamic by now.
    The first rule of critical thinking is not taking for granted nothing, not even the first, second or third impression one gets from an answer. Questions are misleading in themself. One must never conclude in absolutes.
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  • I understand the divide now. I understand it doesn’t matter how nice i
    am to some muslims, they will hate me and be disgusted in me for who I
    am and how I live.

    Doesn’t that also go for the rich looking down at you because you live in a ‘normal’ house or wear lycra or have a trashy haircut that did not cost you 500 bucks? I think you are over projecting your prejudices at a group of people too easily identified. I have been looked down on by Jews, French, English and my own etc…..If I am to take offence then I should do to all. It is the same everywhere. If you don’t fit then…..
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  • 131
    archsceptic says:

    One thing’s for sure, there’s no chance of a Jihadist “committing” a Fritz Haber, a Karl Landsteiner, a Richard Lewisohn, a Edward Jenner, a Norman Borlaug, a Linn Enslow, a William Foege, a Leslie Collier – the list goes on and on and…

    http://www.scienceheroes.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=258&Itemid=27

    Added to the doubling of the human population of the planet in the last 35 years through modern scientific agriculture, aid programmes and the like. It appears the improving of the human condition, life quality and longevity is achieved through spending time in laboratories – not subscribing to medieval belief systems

    If Bill Warner doesn’t fit your profile as an educator on Islam, try Ayaan Hirsi Ali – she’s black, female (obviously), beautiful and a former Muslim.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcWjbZmBIBo
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  • “As to the center versus the fringe, I get this all the time, ‘Don’t judge religion by its fundamentalists and its extremists.’ No, why should I? I don’t have to. I judge it by its foundational texts and I judge it by the statements of its authorities. Take a case from the Koran, just for once, does it—actually, it’s not the Koran, excuse me, take a case from the Muslim foundational documents, the Hadith, which have equal conical authority. They say if someone becomes an apostate, leaves or changes their religion, they must be killed. The sentence is death. Don’t anyone be telling me that’s a metaphor. Oh, it’s just intended as just a sort of admonition. No, it means what it says…” – Christopher Hitchens in a debate with Alister McGrath, 2007-10-11.

    As long as those violent injunctions remain in the foundational texts, the license, in fact, edicts remain for present and future “true” believers to follow through, and they would be equally justified by holy text as the “peaceful” variety of believers. Why have those violent injunctions not been redacted through the centuries? Because that gesture of peace will also meet with violent threats, implied or explicit as stated in the texts.
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  • It needs to be said that it is not atheism that is violent, but atheism + another philosophy makes it violent. Stalin didn’t kill in the name of atheism, but his atheistic brand of communism and totalitarian personality most likely caused him to target the religious in the U.S.S.R. along with any other perceived threats (atheist or otherwise). Likewise, theism in and of itself is not violent because the only statement you can derive from theism is that some type of deity (or deities) exists (nothing about creation or morality, just existence). Its only when you begin to add to what the nature of what that god is can violence occur. That’s why you can have peaceful and violent Muslims because they both add (or reinforce) different aspects of their religion. Religion can make theists violent, but Philosophy can make atheists violent as well.
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  • Maybe the Muslims are not violent enough. The Pope said today that if someone insults his mother, he will punch them in the face. How Christian of him.

    Like what ? Like saying she is not a virgin ?
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  • an educator on Islam (archsceptic)

    You have to make the distinction between education and advocacy. Putting the case against Islam is not the same as being an educator. It would be very strange to recommend The God Delusion as a source of information about Christianity. It’s an excellent polemic, even underestimated by many of its fans, but Dawkins is not giving a course in the history and literature of Christianity.

    Dawkins knows Christianity just as well as Christians because he was one. That’s the religion he was brought up and educated in. When it comes to Islam, there’s the issue for non-Muslims of getting to know enough about the texts, the history and practice of the religion to discuss it from a reasonable and informed point of view. Self-teaching about Islam is often not a great success.
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  • Atheos Jan 15, 2015 at 4:09 pm Why have those violent injunctions not been redacted through the centuries?

    You might ask the same question about the Old Testament. Knowledge of the texts is essential in understanding a religion but it would be unrealistic to believe that words have a magic, compelling power which forces believers to act in accordance with them.

    Jihadism is a big issue at present, but this is because of current geopolitical and economic factors. Give Muslims time and they’ll be as well-equipped as Christians to make war in our civilized way.
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  • 142
    mralstoner says:

    Okay, here are some ex-Muslims who say the same thing as Dr Warner. What diversionary character smears are you going to make up for these guys?

    A Message to President Obama from a former Muslim
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqNH0hDqVu4

    Nabeel Qureshi at ISNA 2009: The Dangers of Preaching a “Peaceful” Islam
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXJy7vZANuk

    BTW, Dr Warner only works from a statistical analysis of Islamic doctrine, he doesn’t make things up.
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  • 143
    mralstoner says:

    “The first rule of critical thinking”? If you read the biographies of Jesus and Mohammed to a 5th grader, even they can see that one is a far more violent role model than the other. Your “critical thinking” skills wouldn’t pass that grade. You’re obviously arguing not from facts, but from bias or ignorance or meaningless abstraction. Back to school for you…
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  • Several posters on here confuse the role and power of politics and religion. There is a big difference between motivation and inspiration. While the motivation of the terrorist leaders and some perpetrators may be political, the inspiration with which they control and direct their followers is religion. Religion is the perfect indoctrination with which to brainwash your followers and would be martyrs because it demands unquestioning obedience to authority, blind and total faith, and certain belief in the after-life and the rewards of the hereafter. No need to develop mind control drugs. You have religion! No need to develop the technologies of programmable drones and smart bombs when you have perfectly controlled biologically based ones!!
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  • 147
    Imperius says:

    I think people fear atheism not so much for what it has done (although certainly there have been horrible, mass-murdering atheistic regimes), but what it might make possible. As the saying goes, if there is no god, everything is permitted. If a group of atheists gets powerful enough and decides that in a godless universe, there’s no reason not to breed superhumans or build Skynet and exterminate an obsolete humanity, what will stop them? As Nietzsche pointed out in the 19th century, with the demise of Christianity, the strangest of all guests now stands at the door: nihilism. There are literally no limits other than the laws of physics to what an atheist civilization might decide to do. This is the reality; I think most atheists (aka “nice nihilists”) just don’t have dark enough imaginations, or psychological insight, or are still too conditioned by your Judeo-Christian heritage to see the postmodern horrors that lurk at our door.
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  • 149
    mralstoner says:

    The woman admits herself that she’s an outsider. I stopped watching after 5 minutes. I’m guessing she’s trying to rescue the image of Mohammed from violent “misinterpretations”. Good luck to her. But even if she comes up with a peaceful interpretation, that’s nothing new. Moderate Muslims do have some explanations for Mo’s violence, although not very convincing ones.

    The bottom line is, the violent interpretation will still be the more persuasive strain for the devout Muslim, for the forseeable future. All the main sects of Islam still have offensive jihad/violence on their books.

    That’s the difference between Islam and Christianity. Jesus is very clearly a peaceful prophet, although he said some dark things. Mohammed is, at best, open to interpretation. You can make a very credible case that Islam really is a religion of the sword. And that still makes Islam a very dangerous religion.
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  • As Nietzsche pointed out in the 19th century, with the demise of Christianity, the strangest of all guests now stands at the door: nihilism. There are literally no limits other than the laws of physics to what an atheist civilization might decide to do. This is the reality; I think most atheists (aka “nice nihilists”) just don’t have dark enough imaginations, or psychological insight, or are still too conditioned by your Judeo-Christian heritage to see the postmodern horrors that lurk at our door.

    Imperius, replied once to this message and it seems to have vanished, so I will attempt to repeat what I have said but if another shows up my apologies.

    I respectfully disagree.

    Social Darwinists make the same mistake here IMO. Darwin himself realised that empathy was key to human success. Social Darwinists love to overlook this part of Darwinian evolution instead thinking that it’s all about one on one battle for survival of the fittest. Anyone who really bothered to read his work would have never made that mistake.

    Empathy is built into us humans and to some extent all mammals (along with many other organisms) and is a major part of our success. We are squishy ill-armed, creatures with not much going for us other than big brains and empathy. You could be much smarter than us and do very poorly without empathy. A smart crocodile for example (even twice as smart as you or I) would never be able to build a house, car, invent medicine etc. They wouldn’t have time, they would never write books, teach their kids, have hospitals etc. To do any of this you need cooperation along with an understanding of what the other is thinking. Nihilism ignores this reality that has been evolved into us. Yes there are relics of the reptile still lying inside our brains waiting for an opportunity to come out but as an atheist I know the only people who can help me are those around me which makes their cooperation and therefore my empathy all the more important. It has nothing to do with a lack of imagination or my judo-christian upbringing. In fact as a Christian I was homophobic racist (I was a Mormon and was suspicious of Blacks because I had been taught that they were Noah’s sons cursed- it turns out for the sin of laughing at their drunken dear old – 900 year old dad staggering about in the nuddie), I didn’t trust anyone who drank or smoked or swore or had pre-marital sex. No I am far more empathetic now than I was then.

    If you want to understand this better check out these.

    Richard Darwkins Tit for Tat

    Darwins views on empathy
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  • 152
    Fernando says:

    The Muslim countries listed as having only a minority defending Sharia are all countries that had a Communist past: Albania, Tajikistan and Azerbaijan (both part of USSR), Bosnia (part of Yugoslavia). For decades (since the 1920’s or 1940’s) people there had a secular upbringing and religion was out of the public sphere. People there were not as heavily indoctrinated in Islam as in the Arab world, on the contrary.
    Also: to make the text clearer, where is says “favor the death penalty for converts” it should say “favor the death penalty for apostates”.
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  • 154
    Darius says:

    Christianity has 500 years more practice in mass delusion than Islam. Wasn’t Jesus a martyr himself? He would have been called a Terrorist by today’s standards. Again the biggest terrorist act in history was when harry the asshole truman incinerated 150,000 Japanese in Hiroshima and Nagasaki but no one said Christians did it! The problem is not religion, it’s lack of education.
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  • 156
    Light Wave says:

    Reword the whole article and it might be worth reading….its so loaded with labels already that its just gone over the top of my head as my eyes roll…..Violent people are human like the rest of the world and some violent humans even think they have the right to be so…not all of the murdering humans on Earth are even terrorists….some are state sanctioned murderers ….perhaps a ditching of religious labels as well as hypocrisy is in order….
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  • 157
    Maximiliano says:

    Biographies… firts of all, these religious figures are described by people who believe that they lived and existed, but there is no actual proof of it. And, secondly, when i say the first rule of critical thinking is not jumping to your first conclusion (impression) i´m not inventing anything. All modern logic is anti-intuitive. You shoild formilize your own assumptions and try to put them to the test BEFORE taking them for granted.
    And, my dear friend, some people talking on youtube is not a very reliable source of information. There is plenty writen about Comunism, Nazism, Christianity, Islam, Sionism, Liberalism, and so on. You shold try that first, read the original source and try to make your own ideas about it. You shouldn´t go to school, thou. I asume you have a pretty good education.
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  • 158
    Maximiliano says:

    I agree. But religion as a concept, not this or that particular religion. You should put nationalism and ideological fervor in the same bag, don´t you think?
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  • 159
    Maximiliano says:

    My friend, during the crusades the holy church sated that everythig a crusader did was forbbiden for the cause. Nazism was profundly Christian. Is obvious that you forget that humanity is extremly resourceful in its ethics and cruelty. What puts a stop to man is education in ethical values. Ethics have nothing to do with religion. Nieztche also spoke of the superman. Not considering it supirior, but abscribing to him the highest ethics and self responsabilitie. When you delegate the responsabilities of your actions to an external source you weaken yourself. The strength of the “better” man comes not from his posibility to explore anything his imagination can create, but from the knwoledge that his actions have consecuencies that are solely his to bare.
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  • Alain de Botton quotes Nietzsche beautifully in one of his books (although I don´t recall at the moment the title of the book). In fact Nietzsche thought something like: what will persist over time is our good common sense- perhaps, our universal morality.
    God is by no means equivalent to morality and atheism the opposite, but in fact that´s what most theists fear, as a researcher scientist in the field of behavior and study of emotions has pointed out as the main opponent for some theists to recognize Darwin´s reasoning that morality is rooted in natural world.
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  • 163
    Andrew says:

    I’m about to make a very radical claim. The religion DOES NOT MATTER. The circumstances (oppression, illiteracy, subjugation by foreign powers, etc) are what matter. Ever see the the movie ‘Red Dawn?’ (The one from the 80’s, not the lame remake from a couple years ago) If you haven’t, then you should. It might give some perspective on what it would be like if our families were being murdered, our land invaded, pillaged and occupied by a foreign power. If these vile deeds were perpetrated by some foreign corpacracy on our homeland, we would react the same way. Our leaders are not acting in our best interests. They use our tax financed military to expand an empire that has absolutely no benefit for most of us in this forum. They send our mostly working class men and women off to kill the working class men and women of other countries, and the citizens of those countries understandably get upset about it. They wonder, “why do the American citizens let their leaders do these things?” When they get no answer, they assume we are complicit.
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  • I do pose the same question to all religious texts that suggest or outright command violence. It’s one thing to recommend acceptable behavior, quite another to instruct “ordained” punishments for behavior (and thoughts) unacceptable.

    it would be unrealistic to believe that words have a magic, compelling power which forces believers to act in accordance with them.

    Isn’t believing those words the whole point of religions? Or should holy texts on which they are founded be ignored by the believers?

    No, there is no “civilized” war. The reason Christian fundamentalists, who also derive authority from their texts, are not executing their violent, “divine” instructions is because most of their societies no longer tolerate it. Terrorism is not new to humanity and it is committed for variety of reasons. There are geopolitical and economic factors (though the latter is sometimes questionable), but what’s wrong with giving people one less irrational reason, one with the fanatical force of the “will of god”?
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  • 165
    mralstoner says:

    A – it’s irrelevant whether Mohammed existed or not, what’s relevant is that Muslims believe he did and the traditional biographies are violent and gruesome. That is what makes Islam a clear and present danger like other dangerous ideologies.

    B – Dr Warner does not give opinion, he has done a STATISTICAL ANALYSIS of the Islamic holy books (Koran, Hadith, Sira, i.e. the ORIGINAL SOURCE TEXTS) in order to draw out the main themes of Islam, independent of subjective opinion.

    C – You are fixated on truth, but that subject is irrelevant unless you’re an academic stowed away in some ivory tower. What matters is what Muslims believe about Mohammed, and the consequences of these beliefs for non-Muslims.
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  • 166
    mralstoner says:

    Olgun, like most moderate Muslims, you are all heart and no head. You will twist facts and arguments to make reality fit your EMOTIONAL DESIRE that your god and prophet are not as violent and bloodthirsty as they obviously appear to be in the traditional Muslim source texts.
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  • I am not a moderate Muslim but an aggressive atheist and only deal with fact. It is you that’s twisting here. I gave you a perfectly good video to watch and you lasted five minutes because it did not suit your needs. Moderate Muslims do not take the texts as seriously as you do, hence moderate. If they took them as seriously as you imply then there would be no drink problems, no drug problems, no gambling and all the other sins that SOME muslims practice. If one rule can be bent then your accusations mean nothing. Watch the video and stop all this outsider rubbish. You are an outsider and you seem to think you can make judgements so what’s stopping someone who has actually studied the religion in detail. Thems the facts.
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  • To be sure, many self-professed christians might fairly be described as terrorists, but they’re NOT true followers.
    The christ never personally perpetrated any such acts, nor did he advocate them. Quite the opposite in fact.

    But those self-professed muslims who might fairly be described as terrorists; in what sense exactly are they NOT true followers?
    The prophet was personally violent: he killed, he raped, he enslaved. He also recruited followers and entreated them to do the same, and even recited justifications for these actions and called it the word of god.
    In my book, doing as the prophet did, and doing as the prophet said, that makes you a true follower.

    Christianity and Islam are mirror images in this regard. If I haven’t made it clear already:

    Christianity is a religion of peace, born in oppression amongst the underclasses, though its name is often used by leaders to justify war.

    Islam is a religion of war, born in war amongst victorious invaders, and though its name is often identified by followers with peace and the rule of law, it’s the kind of peace and law that comes after a successful invasion.
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  • 169
    Vertigrator says:

    Steven Pinker’s book The Better Angels of Our Nature shows quite clearly that as cultures become less religious they also become less violent.
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  • Yes…. but I would still argue that religion in and of itself may be stupid, but the problem with it is when they endorse and try to codify into law bad ideas.
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  • (…) if our families were being murdered, our land invaded, pillaged
    and occupied by a foreign power

    Remember that for now Nigeria is demanding help from foreign countries against people that share the same nationality, the same language and even apparently the same religion, as far as a alliances are taking place between westerners and arab world countries to fight Islamic state´s menace, as far as native populations that might consider that it could better their lives are now striving to get rid off the Islamic state occupation on their home land, let alone that islamic state could occupy the world in a global scale as medieval caliphates (which were by no means a reign of terror). War is necessary I am afraid, let´s not pretend there is no solidarity among different peoples using a wrong moral perspective that by the way, doesn´t convince any one with normal moral faculties.
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  • Remember that for now Nigeria is demanding help from foreign countries against people that share the same nationality, the same language and even apparently the same religion.

    That may not convince your religious apologist. Some would still find a way to blame outside forces – Nigeria was a British colony up until 1960. And if all else fails, they can always say the offenders were not true Muslims/Christians/Hindus etc. Imagine some religious fundamentalist group straps explosives to a child and uses her as a human bomb – for an unthinkable crime such as this, it’s best to go straight to the “they have nothing to do with X religion, X is a religion of peace” argument.
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  • At last, a comprehensive decoupling of individual Muslims from Islamic doctrine; a clear and unequivocal dismantling of the conflation of the individual member of the Muslim tradition with its dogmas.

    Thank you Bill Warner.

    That, for me at least, provides something to consider with great care in an attempt to answer this particular Question of the Week.

    If rationalists can avoid being dragged down into the mire of opportunistic obfuscation, a prime example of which is the semantic confection “Islamophobia”, it may be possible to combat these Jihadist onslaughts.

    Now, a glass or two of the blessed nectar beckons.
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  • Say that after your train or bus explodes. Granted national armies have bigger guns but they don’t normally invade offices and kill cartoonists.
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  • If rationalists can avoid being dragged down into the mire of opportunistic obfuscation, a prime example of which is the semantic confection “Islamophobia”, it may be possible to combat these Jihadist onslaughts.

    One of the signs of Islamophobia is a phobic reaction to the word ‘Islamophobia’.
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  • “Phobia”: an extreme or irrational fear of something.

    I put it to you aldous, that to not be fearful of Jihadist doctrines is irrational.

    And the fabrication of the word “islamophobia” is a politically motivated act designed to block criticism of the said doctrines; it is a form of intimidation and emotional blackmail.

    Similarly, the term “antisemitic” is being employed against all critics of successive Israeli government policies.

    Many Jews are themselves extremely critical of Israeli government policies; does that make them antisemitic?

    All such blanket terms must be examined, and any ulterior motives they contain exposed.

    If you haven’t already done so, I strongly recommend that you watch the Bill Warner video, and pay very careful attention to what he says.

    The other two monotheistic religions have undergone reformations, for the most part, for the better; Islam’s reformation was, according to Professor Warner, a backward step, and we’d better wake up to the fact.

    And we’d better stop apportioning blame to Muslims, and instead focus on the basic tenets of the “reformed” Islam; within which, I think, many of them are trapped; that’s why I would never criticize or argue with a Muslim.

    At all costs, the ad hominem approach must be avoided.

    Yesterday I heard a Muslim medical Doctor being interviewed on the radio, and when she was asked to imagine what her life would be like without her faith, she said it would be empty.

    I don’t want to be thought of as patronizing, but I have to say that I think that’s terribly sad; and a bit frightening.

    I think I need of a cup of tea.
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  • I substitute the word “Muslimophobia” now when the idiot I-word charge is flung out. I ask if this is what they mean, a phobia of individuals who are Muslim (a legitimate candidate for a phobia). Sometimes they say yes and sometimes no. Then a more tractable discussion can be had.

    This whole area of debate is so nuanced and in need of detailed understanding and subtle politics to make progress that when the debate is joined by those who argue by imputing bad or malicious intentions on our (various) parts, we might just as well pack up and go home.

    I disagree with just about everyone here on some aspect or another. Even those I most disagree with I can honestly say I believe are well intentioned (or they wouldn’t keep coming back here.). Imputing malice or some intellectual disablement, though, is not helping anyone.
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  • This is a depressing but rather US view of things. In the US we have seen a backswing to fundamentalism in Christianity as a more defensible position (see it says here in my book). I think his view that peaceful variants of religion must be ustable and revert needs much more analysis and evidence. The educated peaceful have no desire whatsoever of losing much control of their happier lives. What he needs to concentrate on is solving the problem of bully parasites claiming authority from antique texts. State reach into communities to support individuals in their access to state services would be a start.
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  • No, indeed! I was speaking of those who used arguments like “Islamophobia” to undercut debate. (And just to be clear. I think the complaints are earnest and well intended….just misdirected.)

    But on another front I am not happy about the Dr Warner. Not because his facts are wrong. But because they are wrapped in unhelpful opinion. “Islam is not what Muslims do”.

    This is doing the fumdamentalist imam’s work and giving spooky power to the texts.

    A religion as lived is what its adherents say it is….is as much a political aspiration. But the terms the adherents want to use to describe themselves and their religion will need to be what they wish also. They want to imagine a purposed continuity as we imagine we have always been us. (Teenage me was horrible and entirely different from twenties me, but this time cringeworthy and quite another person from…etc.) All these different people were called Phil and I never once doubted that.
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  • Hello Phil,

    We had this discussion before but it’s worth having it again, I think. I could have suggested you just look up a dictionary but the Anti-Defamation League provides a text for underlining the equivalence of Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Both are real phenomena but the definition is vague until you apply it to real occurrences. The dispute should not be about the existence of Anti-Semitism/Islamophobia but just whether the term applies in this or that case. Granted, it might be better to keep both these terms out of the debate but they are there whether we like it or not.

    Anti-Semitism/Islamophobia

    The belief or behavior hostile toward Jews/Muslims just because they are Jewish/Muslim. It may take the form of religious teachings that proclaim the inferiority of Jews/Muslims, for instance, or political efforts to isolate, oppress, or otherwise injure them. It may also include prejudiced or stereotyped views about Jews/Muslims.
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  • but they are there whether we like it or not.

    The term irreducible complexity is there whether we like it or not, an entirely unscientific term (because it is a non-negatable hypothesis), yet treated by uncomprehending advocates as if it were scientific. It equally draws contempt from me and creates terrible, terrible debate.

    I have no problem with anti-semitism which is coherent and now helpfully differentiated with the coining of anti-zionist.

    When you talked of Islamophobia I trust you did not intend Muslimophobia?
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  • The belief or behavior hostile toward Jews/Muslims just because they are Jewish/Muslim. It may take the form of religious teachings that proclaim the inferiority of Jews/Muslims, for instance, or political efforts to isolate, oppress, or otherwise injure them. It may also include prejudiced or stereotyped views about Jews/Muslims.

    The word Muslim(s) is used 4 times. Islam is not mentioned. If the definition is prejudice against Muslims then, as Phil has often pointed out, why not use the word Mulimophobia – then there would be no excuse for people to accuse those who are actually criticising the ideology of Islam or Islamism. People don’t like being called prejudiced or racist, so they will naturally object to the word Islamophobia because it is so easy to misuse. And you seem to think the mere objection to the word is a sign of Islamophobia!
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  • Thanks, Mark. We’ve had the argument so often. Vocabulary frames thinking for those who don’t do it too often or are inexperienced and I think it is for the sake of these others we should discourage ill formed terms or try and encourage alternatives. I would love to see Muslimophobia used as a term.
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  • We must support liberty, even if it offends ones sacred beliefs.

    Yes Liberty is what we must support and defend, and the first step to do that is to face reality.
    For years now we hear that violent muslims are such a small part of the islamic world, what they do is not islam, and moderate muslims are just peaceful people.
    Well, we now see where this Manichean vision of “good and bad” muslims leads us. This is the language of most of our politicians in Europe, and they go on with that no matter what happens, in Europe, or anywhere in the world : not to confuse islamic extremists with moderate muslims.
    There are no good and bad muslims, there are only muslims who want to live – in occidental countries or not – a quiet life, being citizens of these countries and, if believers, practicing their religion in a peaceful way. And there are others muslims.
    So there are not good and bad muslims.
    There are unbelievers, atheists, among muslims.
    There are people practicing their religion in a “moderate” way. Those muslims know what, in their practice, is acceptable by our habits and customs, by our laws.
    As anyone in France, where I live, I know some of them, and some of them I call friends. I do not cook pork, I do not propose alcohol when I know they don’t eat or drink these things. Not to mention that, of course, they do not pray on my carpet when invited, women are not veiled, and they never threaten me with hell. Their opinions are theirs, not those of prophets or clerks, and we can talk about it.
    Then there are others. Those who believe that the world’s destiny is to be ruled by islam, and that it is just a matter of time. Lot of them are not violent people. Lot of them are not brave enough, or desperate enough, or in a hurry enough to take a gun or a bomb and to go in an office to kill journalists, or in a casher grocery to kill customers, preferably jewish.
    Those ones will possibly disagree with terrorists, whether they are really non violent people or think that such a violence is a disservice to their goal.
    I do not know their number. I do not know how many muslims, living in France, want just live in France and how many want France become a part of islam world or any type of caliphate.
    The number does not matter, statics do not matter. We can now see that they are enough to be a real threat.
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  • The nuclear attacks on Japan were an awful but pragmatic decision taken in the heat of war to reduce the risk to American lives of suffering the consequences of a fanatical, indeed suicidal rear-guard defense of a large-scale mainland Japan invasion that the US would otherwise have faced. Calling it ‘terrorist’ is not helpful in the context of this, or any other discussion.
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  • I just watched the Bill Warner piece and another of his videos saying similar things but stretched out a bit – which made his thesis more understandable.

    I’ve never heard of Bill before but watching the video, my first impression was that his rhetorical style was similar to the evangelical christian preacher and the creationist “scientist”. This instantly raised my suspicions.

    And on upon finishing his videos the impression remains – a man with an agenda, an anti-Islamic message and a scare story implication : every country that lets a muslim in becomes 99% muslim within 600 years – we need to wise up and defend ourselves before it’s too late.

    It’s interesting as an outsider to see a religion deconstructed with statistics – I enjoyed Dan Dennett’s “Breaking the spell” simply because he approached religion as a phenomena to be studied rather than revered – but I wonder if these postings have been allowed to slip through the usual scepticism of this site…
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  • Phil, msy I suggest that the reason the argument does not go away is because, unlike you, most cannot handle the concept of Islam and Muslims as separate, in the way that you do. Look at the ‘good’ doctor above, he tries very hard to convince us that is what he is doing but then reverts back to ‘they’ from ‘it’.
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  • When you talked of Islamophobia I trust you intended Muslimophobia? (your corrected version)

    Prejudice against Muslims comes from their supposed adherence, or aspiration to adhere, to the morality and customs of 7th century Arabia. It is using the Islamic texts as the primary framework within which to discuss Muslims which is the error. We don’t write the history of Europe by assessing how closely Europeans followed, or deviated from, the standards of behaviour followed, or recommended, in the Old or New Testaments. True, this is part of the culture and has to be taken into consideration but we see ourselves as human beings first and being followers of a religion (or none) as one aspect of who we are, among national, class, professional, gender, age and other factors.

    Muslims are dehumanized by seeing them as the embodiment of Islamic texts. By ignoring the Old Testament and other religious texts and the entire history of the human race, ‘critics’ of Islam are able, absurdly, to portray it as uniquely vile and those who follow it as tainted (compared to ‘us’) to a greater or lesser extent.

    Claiming to be vilifying the scriptures, and not the people who are ‘programmed’ to follow them, is transparently unconvincing in a whole swathe of anti-Islam comment.
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  • Pertaining this, I’m not sure if you saw my reply to your comment addressing me 3 days ago. I stated I do not ignore the Old Testament and other religious texts. I am equally critical of all religious texts that contain violent directives, precisely because to most believers, in those holy texts (in your words)…

    words have a magic, compelling power which forces believers to act in accordance with them.

    That is the essence of religions, magical doctrines. There is a difference between criticizing bad ideas and people.

    Muslims are dehumanized by seeing them as the embodiment of Islamic texts.

    Not by me and I am critical of their holy texts. For instance, I have no issues with Muslim women who veil their faces as part of their culture, as long as the women prefer it, but does nonconformity of the dress code truly justify the punishments prescribed in the holy texts? If the texts did not encourage or command such punishments, I would have no cause to criticize them.

    “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire

    The point of criticizing the scriptures is to point out their absurdities and hopefully discourage current and potential, future adherents from committing the same “divinely sanctioned” atrocities.
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  • This is not a comment about Islam as such but about human nature in general… this phrase:

    “I have no issues with Muslim women who veil their faces as part of their culture, as long as the women prefer it”

    ,,,bothers me.

    Surely the key issue here is not about whether someone volunteers for a particular cultural practice they prefer but whether they were ever free to make an informed choice in the first place.

    There are plenty of examples in history of where people effectively oppress themselves by adopting and enforcing the values of their oppressors (possibly as a simple survival strategy). It may not feel to them what they are doing is being oppressed but often is. For instance, I read that rather than fighting against it, FGM practices are often maintained and enforced on the next generation by victims of the previous generation. This sounds more like the oppressed embracing their oppression rather than exercising free choice to me.

    It seems unusual for women in freer cultures to adopt practices such as covering their faces out of simple preference – quite the opposite in fact. Are the enthusiastic female supporters of oppression within a particular culture expressing personal preferences or examples of those who have succumbed completely to oppression without knowing it?

    Sometimes it needs outsiders to change the balance of power so the oppressed can free themselves not only from their oppressors but the conditions under which they themselves promote the oppressors methods – and in many cases when this does happen, it is too late for the previous generation and they’ll never be free.
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  • The point of criticizing the scriptures is to point out their absurdities and hopefully discourage current and potential, future adherents from committing the same “divinely sanctioned” atrocities. Atheos

    Perfectly reasonable but I suspect it is a very serious overestimation of the power of rational argument. Refraining from bombing Muslims and wrecking the countries they live in would be of some help as well. Delivering homilies about their failings, especially against the background of our own peccadilloes – world wars and that sort of thing — is less beneficial, I should think, than policies which promote economic, educational and health improvements. As it is, selling weapons to dictators is too much of a priority. If it goes on like this, they’ll be as able to conduct warfare, in a civilized manner, against one another — and us — as we have against one another — and them. Jihadism is such a primitive business.

    The United States, which is not a model to follow in its foreign policy, has a lot to teach about the integration of immigrants. Its Muslim immigrants appear to have been thoroughly domesticated, with few exceptions, whereas we haven’t done so well in Europe.
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  • Phil, further to the Bill Warner video, I take your point about it being some what opinionated, but over xmas and new year I was in bed with gastroenteritis for a couple of weeks, which gave me a chance to re-read God is Not Great, and when I saw the Bill Warner presentation I was struck by its similarities with the Hitchens book.

    I think both men have approached the subject of Islam in a scholarly manner, and I’ve taken note of what they say.

    I maintain that the individual Muslim and the doctrines of Islam, especially those of Jihad, can and must be recognized as separate entities, only then can the argument be joined and, I think, won.

    I also think it’s a good thing that the subject has now been broached publicly here in the UK, with the Pickle’s letter, and Cameron’s backing of it.

    Freedom of expression comes with the territory if you want to live in Britain, it’s not a privilege but a hard won right, and a such is non negotiable.

    I don’t suppose for one moment that I’ve come anywhere near to answering the question posed, but it’s the best I can do for now.
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  • 201
    Maximiliano says:

    It´s important to remember that the same happend with communism in the 50´s. “Beware of The Other, he brings your doom”. Whats more, Lombroso did a similar job pointing to scientific based racism. First of all, the problem is believing that one can treat social phenomena the same we treat physics or chemistry. The complexity and the lack of historical reliable data should be problem enough for anyone to believe that statistics can proof anything. Correlation is not causation, and one should remember this.
    Of course, the question one should ask is: if you think you are right, and muslims are evil, what should we do? Because the only way one can deal with evil is obliteration.
    And it would also be good for this man to remember that there have been some terrorist attacks on US soil, wich are regrettable and shoul never have occured. But the US has invaded 2 countries, in the meantime. So, statistically…
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  • 202
    Maximiliano says:

    As long as you are aware of the consecuencies of freeing someone against their will, so to speak. Remember: your society carries a lot of oppression to a certain group, a lot of values that will undermine the social structure of an other society. It´s easy to point out this or that terrible thing in another culture and be condescendent with them. One should be aware that there is no cultural evolution, only cultural diversity. And that it is better to help someone when that person asks, or at least ask them before jumping ahead and saving them from themselves. Identity is not something to play with.
    I´m not saying you are not right, i´m saying this is not 2 plus 2. This is hisctorically and culturally determined, and one should bare this in mind so as not to be struck by suprise when there social structure collapses and they are unable to fit in. Look at what happend in latin america with the aborigins.
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  • Stafford,

    First of all, I am amazed that you think there is freedom of speech anywhere in the world, let alone the UK. Secondly, be careful what you ask for ……

    I have posted, several times, the video of the massacre of 160,000 Iraqis by the USA. Will new laws see me as inciting hatred and ban me from posting it again? Will my phone be tapped and my internet history searched (if the law goes ahead to give the police more powers) when all I am doing isointing out facts? I propose we have two tiers. One in which we watch what we say in public (real) time) and we leave the Internet alone for FULL ON free speech with anoniminity. How does that sound.
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  • My comment was about religion. The choice of veiling was juxtaposed with punishments prescribed by Islam to show a difference. We are all products of our respective cultures. It is “unusual for women in freer cultures to adopt practices such as covering their faces out of simple preference” because they, too, are or have become products of those cultures.

    I agree with the distinction “whether they were ever free to make an informed choice in the first place.” Freedom of information, thought and choice is the message, based on our empathy of what it’s like to live without it. And that is all we can assert as outsiders to a culture. The same generational angst exists in all cultures. Even in “freer” societies, societal, family and parental expectations exert that kind of “influence”, often opposing the youngsters’ choice. There’s a fine line between social pressure and oppression.

    If, without violent enforcement, a woman associates head and body coverings with the concepts of beauty, dignity, a statement of identity, which may not agree with our views, who are we to insist otherwise? Would we not be doing the same as the more conservative cultures criticizing our women for being too “immodest” in public? If we can respect the cultural significance and freedom of ear, lip, nose and body piercings (at voluntary physical pain) as fashion in isolated tribal cultures as well as our “more advanced”, own culture, why is the use of garb unacceptable?

    One day, there may remain only a uni-culture on the entire planet, which may or may not be a good thing. Until then, we should respect the social norms of given societies, except in the case of obvious atrocities.
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  • 206
    mombird says:

    Nordic11-

    New Testament has absolutely no teaching of treating anyone (believer
    or unbeliever) with violence (verbal or physical). It preaches love:
    for neighbor and for the entire world.

    Seriously???!!! What about end of days in Revelations when half the living will be burned in the fiery pits of hell for eternity? The apocalypse is the most violent of all and done by none other than God himself. By comparison violence in the Koran is probably milk toast. And Nordic, atheism is not a religion and nothing is done in its name because it doesn’t have a name. It is not an organization it is only people who don’t believe in a vindictive Christian God or any other man made God.
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  • 207
    mombird says:

    It seems that these extreme forms of religion were born as a response
    to inhuman pressure from USA towards them.

    Then say so and fight back. It is pure cowardice when people use religion as a political tool. Not only does it make your religion look stupid and vile it weakens your argument. Using religion as a shield never gets to the root of the problem.
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  • Claiming to be vilifying the scriptures, and not the people who are ‘programmed’ to follow them, is transparently unconvincing in a whole swathe of anti-Islam comment.

    But that is exactly what I do. (And quite a number of us.) Over the years I have found swathes of Muslims (individuals, groups and whole cultures) not programmed. Quite a few bullied. Quite a few blithely indifferent. One or two actively trying to rebuild the golden age narratives. Many thinking themselves cultural Muslims.

    Why on earth would you try and hobble intelligent debate so for the sake of a dull witted political cudgel that of itself denies that such important distinction is both possible and necessary?
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  • Hitch had more than a few Muslim friends. He was proud to align himself with, and be called brother of, the Sunni Kurds. His view was far, far broader about the varieties of Muslims. Sure his particular driver was 9/11and the rise of fundamentalism, but Hitch22 shows a lot of political nuance.

    Warner simply hasn’t the intellect to envisage such a complex world.
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  • What you are missing is that Muslimophobia is the better cudgel to use for these folks. It points up to them their idiot essentialism and thus challenges them that their hatred is of people NOT the ideology.
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  • 211
    mombird says:

    Totalitarian government just tried/tries to replace religion with its own dogma and power base. Dictators just put themselves in the place of a god. So you either have to worship a dictator or a mythical creature . Getting rid of totalitarianism is the answer, religious and secular.
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  • Muslimophobia is the better cudgel to use for these folks. phil rimmer

    The distinction is not as clear cut as you make out. Dictionary definitions of ‘Islam’ usually indicate that it means both the religion and those who follow it. e.g.
    1.
    the religious faith of Muslims
    2.
    the whole body of Muslim believers

    In any case, ‘Muslimophobia’ will meet with the same defence as ‘Islamophobia’ . “No, I don’t hate all Muslims, only the bad ones.” or “I ‘criticize’ the religion because it’s so evil”. As a rhetorical device, as a change of tactic, ‘Muslimophobia’ could be handy but it’s facts, concepts and logic we have to deal with and a word doesn’t solve the issue.
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  • People

    Ideology

    This passivity about language is puzzling. Words evolve to work better. Coining anti-zionism solved a lot of the problem of anti-semitism as a catch all.

    Being phobic about people, like being phobic about mice (as I am) or phobic about daffodils (as my friend’s wife is) is using the term helpfully.

    “No, I don’t hate all Muslims, only the bad ones.”

    Exactly. You may want a cudgel to blame people’s malign thinking. I want a tool to force them to think about how they say things and bring them up short. Thats exactly why we should mind our own language to ensure we speak carefully and resort as little as possible to essentialism and catch all terminology. Helping to make other peoples thinking more precise and considered is what this site should be about.

    The next sentence is to then explain what they are complaining about is open to misinterpretation and appears phobic.
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  • Was Captain Hooks hand eaten by an alligator or crocodile? mmmm!

    Sorry Phil, posted this before seeing yours. Of course it matters….just not enough people who actually have the phobia will know or want to know the difference.
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  • 218
    Márcio says:

    Great observation. People try to compare the atrocities committed IN THE NAME of religion with the atrocities committed BY atheists (that’s different from IN THE NAME of atheism). In the same way, these people try to compare faith with scientific thinking.
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  • I agree with you about Hitch 22 Phil.

    I’m not attempting to make comparisons between Hitchens and Warner, it’s just that I think the different approaches of the two men to the history of Islamic doctrines compliment one another.
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  • Aldous, January 19 – Perfectly reasonable but I suspect it is a very serious overestimation of the power of rational argument.

    Note the venue for our conversation, the global website of an atheist, nonprofit foundation for reason and science. The power of rational arguments in science and sociology is how we managed to get this far. I would think most who participate here attribute at least some improvements in the human condition to the same. Here, at least we are able to voice our disapprovals without violent repercussion, a privilege nonexistent in various forms of theocracies past and present. The success of rational arguments, accompanied by social advancements, is also responsible for the abatement (or restraint) of similar extremism in the sibling Abrahamic religions of Islam.

    I support efforts to “promote economic, educational and health improvements” and acknowledge and condemn the irresponsible behavior of various governments. Of course imperialism, colonialism and thirst for power in general left and continue to leave scars on our “pale blue dot” and its inhabitants. That the top five countries profiting from the arms trade are the same five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council represent at minimum a conflict of interest. However, the subject here is Islam.

    The question is do failings in other human endeavors, most all of which is open to criticism and subject to potential improvements in “freer” societies, excuse or except the failures of certain holy books where violence is commanded and warrant denial of criticism of these doctrines?

    If you are sympathetic to the plight of Muslims, shouldn’t you be equally concerned with their suffering inflicted internally upon each other as well as by outsiders, through sectarian wars, which began prior to and without any foreign influence, and draconian punishments, both also justified by the holy texts?

    The United States, which is not a model to follow in its foreign policy, has a lot to teach about the integration of immigrants. Its Muslim immigrants appear to have been thoroughly domesticated, with few exceptions, whereas we haven’t done so well in Europe.

    The Muslim immigration issue may be a numerical one. The 2010 Pew study reported Muslim composed only 0.8% of the US population compared to 6% of the European population. A greater number typically means a greater spectrum and audacity. We will see what happens if the percentages were similar across the pond.
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  • 222
    aroundtown says:

    It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a thimble full of crazy, or a bucket load of crazy, it is still spooky crazy supernatural nonsense all the same. By all means please try to side step the massive elephant in the room and give this crud notion a free pass but the outcome will always be the same, zero gain and utter nonsence.

    This is a game that has been played for eons and the free pass given to religion will always resolve to the inevitable – bat sit crazy by the truck load – interspersed with occasional modifications to meet the needs of the ignorant masses who waver in resolve. Amazing that they always seem to buy this crap sum game offered in a new shiny wrapper. Go figure.
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  • If you are sympathetic to the plight of Muslims Atheos

    I don’t think Muslims have any particular ‘plight’. In Africa, they are among the world’s very poor. In Qatar, they are the wealthiest people in the world.

    In Europe, there are Muslim communities which have been there for centuries — in the Balkans. In the European Union, there are immigrant communities which are Muslim but far fewer than Christian and other immigrants.
    American Islamophobic websites promote the scary story of ‘Eurabia’ but I don’t think it’s justified.
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  • Atheos Jan 20, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    If you are sympathetic to the plight of Muslims, shouldn’t you be equally concerned with their suffering inflicted internally upon each other as well as by outsiders, through sectarian wars,

    There are indeed places where there is a “plight of the Muslims” which is not simply generated by other Muslims.

    . . . . Myanmar should remain a Buddhist country and calls for restrictions and boycotts on Muslims. – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-30928744
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  • If we engage with them we can better tease out their thinking if we talk carefully. We may even help them see with a little more nuance. Nuance stays our hand to think again.

    Phil summarizes the best we can do to cope with this seemingly intractable blood feud.

    It is important for us to incorporate the question of the week into historical perspective, to understand why so many Arabs hate us. The historical geopolitical nexus for the enduring conflict is the foundation of the Jewish State of Israel. In the early decades of the 20th century, the Jewish population of Palestine comprised about 10%; and even augmented under the growing impetus of Zionism grew to only 17% by 1931. By 1948, the U.N. imposed the partition of Palestine into Israeli and Palestinian territories. After victorious expansion of Jewish territory in the 1948 war capped with the ethnic cleansing of 700,000 Palestinians, the Israeli government proclaimed the establishment of The Jewish State. The rest as they say is [also] history. Today, settlement building and the security network of road construction in the West Bank (combined with embargoes and isolation of Gaza) advances the process of territorial expansion, evisceration and impoverishment of Palestinian Arabs. Though western factions take opposing views about which side is to blame for this or that outbreak of killing, westerners are much more alarmed by Islamic/Muslim terrorism when reducing the conflict to “religious causes.” Granted, the secular Jewish majority is much less religious than their Muslim opponents. Nonetheless, if we are inclined to use “religion’ as an fatuous frame for the conflict we must go back to its origins and persisting dynamic up to the present. No one would describe the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a war between Islam and Judaism. Yet in strictly “religious” terms that is what it must be. No, it is “about’ disputed territory.

    Regional Arab countries perceive Israel justifiably as a Western [U.N.] insertion of a de facto colonial militarized power into the Arab world to maintain a “balance of power” favorable to western interests. Through Arab eyes western pro-Israeli policies, especially the generous military aid and defense alliance guaranteed by the U.S., reinforces unpleasant memories of European colonialism in Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and Algeria in the 19th and 20th centuries -the preemption of Arab nationalism in order to keep the free-flow of middle eastern oil to the west unimpeded by any “rogue” regime.

    The recent military conquest and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan have been greeted with less than sanguine ambivalence by the region’s natives. Whatever the good intentions of the Bush-Blair coalition, and whatever the relief felt by Iraqis at the removal and hanging of Saddam Hussein, along with the temporary overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Arab consensus is that American and British armed forces have assumed the role of an occupying infidel power whose mission is to safeguard oil resources for western consumption and preserve the state of Israel as a western bastion of military deterrence to Arab aspirations for self-determination pursuant to nation building.

    The tunnel vision that reduces Jihad to a “teaching’ from the Koran put into action through senseless killing of fellow-Muslims in civil conflicts, attacks on Israeli civilians, and, worst of all, the barbaric beheading of “precious” human beings from the west, reported on the nightly news is naive, ahistorical and hypocritical.

    In hindsight, the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the Cold War represented, in the famous words of Karl von Clausewitz, “War..[as] the continuation of politics by other means.” As the current geopolitical struggles, characterized vehemently as a “war of civilizations,” find peaceful resolution over coming decades in [internet] communication, the interactions of people, commercial and cultural; in engagement and progressive consensus; in diplomacy and negotiation, the conflagration of blood, torture and terror so apparently intractable at present will burn itself out. Part and parcel of this process will be a reformation of Islam into a secularized accessory of cultural humanism.
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  • True. That is why I said “suffering inflicted internally(,) upon each other(,) as well as by outsiders.” I added commas here to clarify. Religions take turns flexing their muscles and insanity by location and time, pending which has the political strength.
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  • 227
    TexasRanger says:

    My take is that the position of atheism can be believed in the same way as religion (in fact like many other believe systems, and I hope everyone can imagine the possibility,) and this is perhaps what most religious people are saying, that when seen in this sense, atheism is like another religion.

    So I think that the real focus shouldn’t be on the believe of god/gods or the lack thereof, but rather the process or rationale for arriving in such positions as being an atheist or believer of a certain religion. I believe that Olgun above do have a valid point that if a regime based on atheistic values do come into power, it is conceivable that it could use atheistic values as justification for “evil” deeds. And this is the reason why I think scepticism, free-thought, and humanism should lead our way of thinking. Any person’s atheism and religiosity should both be valued based on their careful (or not so careful) rationale in arriving at that position.

    The position of religion or atheism (in fact any position), therefore, should always be the result of our thoughts, not the other way around.
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  • My take is that the position of atheism can be believed in the same way as religion (in fact like many other believe systems, and I hope everyone can imagine the possibility,) and this is perhaps what most religious people are saying, that when seen in this sense, atheism is like another religion.

    This has allegation has been done to death in these forums and disposed of by rational thinking people all over the world. For atheism to even come close to being a religion, it must require its adherents to do something. It must impose an obligation. ‘Given that not believing in a god is the end of the statement, and nothing follows after, means that not believing in god imposes no obligations. That’s where the argument stops. So no, for the 10 to X times, atheism is not a religion, even though the ardent theists try their hardest to make this very same argument Texan.

    Politically, rational people can see a better world if decisions were made on available evidence, rather than mysticism. But that is political, not religious and still doesn’t categorize a person who doesn’t believe in god as analogous to a religious person.
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  • You’re floundering, Nordic. Why didn’t you reply to the remarks of Sheepdog, Atheos, and Nicolaas? It isn’t a dialog when you evade the question and throw in an irrelevant remark.
    A bit like a basketball player who runs around the court with his own ball and ignores the one everyone else is playing with.
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  • I was seated at a table during a dinner party with Latino guests. Someone posed the question to one gentleman about how he identified himself. “I’m a Mexican Catholic” he said. (He was also “in fact” a naturalized American citizen.) I realized then that a patriotic WASP American, also a devout Christian, could just as easily have said, “I”m a Christian American.” It’s difficult to separate “national” or other forms of identity from “religious” identity.

    The horrific sectarian violence in the Arab world (and in many other global hot spots not specifically under discussion), I believe, is integral to a larger revolution fighting for the creation of viable nation states solidified by a puritanical form of Islam in opposition to secular western states. Muslims come by extremism easily because Islam is fiercely monotheistic, theocratic and hostile to deviance from strict doctrines governing all aspects of personal, family and social behavior. Simply put Islamic authority, concentrated in a small cadre of ruling caliphs and imam councils, imposes harsh totalitarian control over society.

    The encapsulation above is woefully inadequate to describe the myriad movements – beliefs, purposes, dispositions and events on the ground in the Muslim middle east. Fortunately we do not live in the dark ages or even any longer in the 20th century. Progressive forces disseminated in real time communication, social media and increasingly restive young generations yearning for jobs, prosperity, and personal freedoms reflecting European or American standards of living and life styles, will come to the fore and extinguish the fanatical ambitions flashing in the pan at present.

    For now I believe we are facing a revolutionary movement, led by fanatical terrorists to be sure, but appealing more broadly to deeply religious majorities in parts of the Arab world, who feel, with much justification, marginalized, impoverished, exploited and oppressed, despised and dehumanized by the imperious West. Millions there are seeking a place in the sun, attracted for the moment by the old promise of all revolutions of the Utopia to come. A long road lies ahead filled with sectarian violence, revolts, coups, civil wars; and, unhappily for us, further acts of terror against western targets, the murder, torture and maiming of small numbers of “our” precious people.

    I believe that most of the diverse perspectives offered on this thread provide invaluable insights into aspects of the problem. Informed by fanatical fundamentalist Islam, another perspective should comprehend Jihad as another “name” taken on by the warrior-martyr throughout history in the cause of revolution -nationalism, ideological dominance, and imperial-global expansion. “Jihadists” under different names formed the firing squads in the French revolution, the Communist revolution, and the Nazi revolution.

    Ironically the recent developments of history have rendered the grandiose revolution and grandiose ideology itself a thing of the past.. Current revolutions have shrunk to civil conflicts within countries, involving sectarian or partisan firefights confined to internal efforts to overthrow dictators or capture power for this or that ethnic-religious group. Fortunately the countries in which these revolutions are largely confined, crowded with impoverished, oppressed and wretched people, can mount no credible agression against western powers. Fortunately the west, informed by secular humanist aspirations, or at least the benefit of rational law which strives to enforce human rights, liberties, and welfare can cope with the challenge -sometimes through limited, very limited, military intervention, foreign aid, engagement, and consensus building negotiation.
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  • Aldous – I don’t think Muslims have any particular ‘plight’.

    Very well.

    American Islamophobic websites promote the scary story of ‘Eurabia’ but I don’t think it’s justified.

    I agree. That is also an unjustified bad idea.

    My question remains –

    Do failings in other human endeavors, most all of which is open to criticism and subject to potential improvements in “freer” societies, excuse or except the failures of holy books where violence is commanded, and warrant denial of criticism of these doctrines?
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  • Name one war or act of terrorism done in the name of theism.

    The killing fields, the cultural revolution, Stalin’s purges were all done in the name of an ideology that grew out of atheism, namely Communism. 9/11 was done in the name of an ideology that grew out of theism, namely Islam. Nobody ever said “God exists, therefore you must die” anymore than anyone ever said “God didn’t exist, therefore you must die.”
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  • What’s relevant is whether or not the killer’s motives were a consequence of atheism or theism, not what name was used to justify the killng. A killing committed by an atheist to collect on a life insurance policy is no more an indictment of atheism than a killing committed by a theist to collect on a life insurance policy. But a killing committed in consequence of an ideology for which atheism is central is no less an indictment of atheism than a killing committed in consequence of an ideology for which theism is central. Otherwise we end up blaming Christianity for 9/11 and holding atheism harmless for the Cambodian killing fields. Obviously atheism doesn’t render one immune to hypocrisy.

    If we are merely collections of molecules and nothing more, than killing a human being is simply increasing the entropy of a biological stystem, nothing more. And since we can always make more human beings through reproduction, the life of the individual can be subordinated to “higher” social and political goals. THAT is the pathway from atheism to mass murder, and it is just as direct as “God told me to kill these infidels.”
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  • Of course, no TRUE atheist would have killed all those people in Cambodia, Russia and China… Of course, Communism doesn’t “count” against atheism because it adds additional premises to the original premise that God doesn’t exist. Then Islam shouldn’t “count” against theism either, since it adds additional premises to the original premise that God exists. No..oh wait a minute..no, THAT’S different…
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  • So no religions count because they have a wealth of dogma on top of a belief in the existence of a god?

    I think you’ll find all idealisms risk becoming harmful through the blind adherence to dogma, but it is only religious dogma that is shielded by the carapace of faith, that has its ancient harms locked in for centuries and millenia at a time.
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  • Quiz:

    “There are no absolutes; except in the mind of fundamentalists.”

    Is this statement absolutely true, or relatively true? Because if it is absolutely true, you are a findamentalist. On the other hand, if it is relatively true, then there must be at least some absolute truths out there. How about “God doesn’t exist”? Absolute or relative?
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  • Its never easy to strike the balance, Olgun. Nor should it be. We need always to review it.

    But I’m for the maximum free speech we can stand and I will judge a culture the higher the more it can.

    Anonymity is the reverse of what I wish. I want to see who thinks what.

    And just to up the ante here, I wish to see an end to all hate speech legislation, replaced with incitement to violence legislation, assiduously policed and prosecuted. A test for hatred is a terrible legal test. One for incitement to violence somewhat easier. I don’t believe hate speech worthy of prosecution would be anything other than an incitement to violence.
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  • Jake Jan 25, 2015 at 5:13 am

    What’s relevant is whether or not the killer’s motives were a consequence of atheism or theism, not what name was used to justify the killng. A killing committed by an atheist to collect on a life insurance policy is no more an indictment of atheism than a killing committed by a theist to collect on a life insurance policy.

    An individual atheist committing fraud to collect money from an insurance company bears no resemblance to a jihadist culture of murdering apostates or rival sects. Nor does it resemble the religious wars of crusaders.

    But a killing committed in consequence of an ideology for which atheism

    Atheism is an absence of belief in gods! It does not have an “ideology”!

    is central is no less an indictment of atheism than a killing committed in consequence of an ideology for which theism is central.

    You are confusing atheism with political ideologies which are anti-theist – usually due to active religious opponents confronting them, or trying to undermine them.

    If we are merely collections of molecules and nothing more, than killing a human being is simply increasing the entropy of a biological stystem, nothing more. And since we can always make more human beings through reproduction, the life of the individual can be subordinated to “higher” social and political goals. THAT is the pathway from atheism to mass murder,

    Oh dear! Not the old, “Humans must be given morals by the religious representatives of fantasy gods, because they are too thick to work out moral philosophies and only mystical magic versions from antiquity are valid!”

    While theists, dependent on being spoon fed moral by priests may run amok, those who think out morals themselves, can do just fine!
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  • Its never easy to strike the balance, Olgun. Nor should it be. We need always to review it. But I’m for the maximum free speech we can stand and I will judge a culture the higher the more it can.

    One place where we should strive for the maximum free speech is at our universities. Unfortunately I don’t think the term Stepford students was too far off the mark in this Spectator article. The John Stuart Mill quote at the end was appropriate here:

    “As John Stuart Mill said, if we don’t allow our opinion to be ‘fully, frequently, and fearlessly discussed’, then that opinion will be ‘held as a dead dogma, not a living truth’.”

    And just to up the ante here, I wish to see an end to all hate speech legislation, replaced with incitement to violence legislation, assiduously policed and prosecuted.

    Agreed. And it’s about time those laws in some European countries against denying the holocaust were repealed.
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  • Thoroughly depressing Spectator piece…

    ‘The idea that in a free society absolutely everything should be open to debate has a detrimental effect on marginalised groups.’

    Being on the approved list of marginalised groups will be handy, the tyranny of the majority being ensured.
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  • TexasRanger Jan 23, 2015 at 12:34 am

    The position of religion or atheism (in fact any position), therefore, should always be the result of our thoughts, not the other way around.

    I agree.

    My take is that the position of atheism can be believed in the same way as religion (in fact like many other believe systems, and I hope everyone can imagine the possibility,) and this is perhaps what most religious people are saying, that when seen in this sense, atheism is like another religion.

    Atheism has no creed or beliefs. It is just an absence of belief in gods, due usually to an absence of evidence for gods. There are many gods claimed thoughout the world, and throughout history, but there are no “default gods” which are acceptable without evidence.
    What many religious people fail to understand, is that atheism is a “religion”, in the same sense as “bald” is a hair colour, or “off” is a TV channel.

    Religions and gods are simply irrelevant to an atheist’s world view and moral philosophy.
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  • Do failings in other human endeavors, most all of which is open to criticism and subject to potential improvements in “freer” societies, excuse or except the failures of holy books where violence is commanded, and warrant denial of criticism of these doctrines? Atheos

    The violence in the Old Testament and the Koran was’commanded’ by Middle Eastern tribal chieftains of many centuries ago. It’s not exactly a ‘failing’ of these documents to have recorded the battles of this ancient period of history or the barbarous moral codes and pre-scientific beliefs of the time.

    Violence for political ends is not a particularly Islamic problem. I mean by that that war, civil war, insurrection, terrorism are carried out by those of all ideological and religious positions (except for tiny numbers of pacifists). The response to criminal violence, such as the Charlie Hebdo massacre, is what occurred — the terrorists were tracked down and shot. ‘Criticism’ of ancient texts is not effective in this situation, especially not when it comes from non-believers.

    I’m all in favour of Westerners learning about Islam and discussing it from an informed point of view. The two points I’d make are that many ‘critics of Islam’ overestimate the extent to which they have understood an alien culture and that vituperation and sermonising, while it may be enjoyable to dish it out, does not necessarily have a positive effect.

    What we need, perhaps, is a Muslim Richard Dawkins.
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  • Never has a theist, including people like Bin Laden, committed his atrocities “in the name of theism.” In the name of Islam, yes, and Pol Pot in the name of communism.
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  • Jake Jan 26, 2015 at 4:38 am

    Never has a theist, including people like Bin Laden, committed his atrocities “in the name of theism.” In the name of Islam, yes,

    Islam is a theology!! (Theists are those who believe in and study (their) theology.)
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  • From RationalWiki: “Negative proof: A negative proof (known classically as appeal to ignorance) is a logical fallacy which takes the structure of:
    X is true because there is no proof that X is false.”

    It wasn’t my point to argue for or against the existence of God, but instead to argue for the existence of absolute truth. The statement “God doesn’t exist” either has truth value or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, the statement is like the saying “red is a beautiful color” — in other words, a relative statement that can be true for one person but not true for another. So, if “God doesn’t exist” is a relative truth, then God can exist for me but not for you, without any contradiction, which is clearly absurd.

    On the other hand, if the statement “God doesn’t exist” does have truth value, then by definition it is either true or false all the time for everyone (it doesn’t matter whether true or false — “2+2=4” and “2+2=5” both have truth value–one is true and one is false). Presumably, both of us would agree that the statement “God doesn’t exist” has truth value (for an atheist, a theist or an agnostic, this is a logical necessity). Therefore, the statement “God doesn’t exist” is either absolutely true or absolutely false. Regardless of whether Stafford Gordon believes that the statement is true, or whether he believes it is false, an absolute truth exists in his own mind. Since, according to him, no non-fundamentalists minds contain absolute truths, he must be a fundamentalist, by his own reasoning.My point is that by his definition of fundamentalism, we are all fundamentalists because we all hold certain beliefs to be absolutely true.

    Sigh…I cant believe a superstitious theist such as myself has to come into these forums and teach you atheists about elementary logical reasoning! (-;
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  • I once read a convincing and interesting explanation of why so many suicide bombers are Muslim. The idea is that Islam allows a man who can afford it to take up to 4 wives, leaving a shortage of available women for all the other men. So many men in Muslim societies face the prospect of lifelong bachelorhood because the women are all being scarfed up by rich men like Osama Bin Laden. Since you can’t exactly go to a bar and pick up women in Saudi Arabia, lifelong bachelorhood probably means lifelong involuntary celibacy. Moreover, Islam, unlike much of Christianity, offers no 100% assurance of salvation except to die in battle as a martyr. I heard one Islamic cleric explain that even Muhammad himself is not 100% guaranteed of getting into heaven, because he didn’t die in battle. So, go look for criminally inclined, sexually frustrated youth who are insecure about whether they’re getting into Heaven or not because of their many sins (Internet pornography, for example), offer them 72 virgins in Heaven, and they’re ready to do whatever you tell them to. I suppose that non-sexually frustrated Muslims like Bin Laden (multiple wives) are just using the suicide bombers to accumulate political power for themselves. After all, when the US invaded Afghanistan, did Bin Laden wade into the battle with dynamite strapped to his chest, or did he run and hide in a cave? These guys are assembling themselves zombie armies powered by sexual frustration.
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  • I’m a Christian, but I have seen fundamentalist Christian denominations use religiously enforced sexual frustration to manipulate young men (not to kill people, fortunately). So it doesn’t surprise me that Muslims do it too.
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  • a Muslim Richard Dawkins .Jake

    I was thinking of The God Delusion, of course. Here’s a book written by somebody who has a complete understanding of Christianity from the inside. Somebody who was a Christian, who knows what it means to be a Christian. What’s more, it’s by somebody who quite rationally gave it up because it seemed absurd, not somebody who turned against the religion because he had a personal grudge against it, even a completely understandable one, in the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Islam.

    There are all too many ‘critics’ of Islam who don’t accept Muslims as fellow human beings and view them as robots programmed to act as if they were living in the 7th century.
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  • Not entirely true, strictly speaking. Religion didn’t feature as the strongest factor in any of the trends Pinker outlined. It did get an honourable mention in the last chapter, along with resources and power, affluence, and weaponry and disarmament, but mostly to point out that, as potential causes, these candidates are inconsistent compared with the causes outlined elsewhere. He did point out that religion feeds dogmas and ideologies that inspire atrocities, but he also points out that religious movements are so diverse that the edifice as a whole shows no clear tendency one way or the other, since particular religions can sometimes push in less violent directions.

    That doesn’t mean it’s a minor factor, but it’s not quite a strong correlation either.
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  • I think a more pertinent point is the contribution to a moral or cultural system people set up, pass on, and inherit. One of the (few) universals when it comes to religions is their cosmological accounts and explanations of humans and society fuel and support their moral convictions, which translates into action. Of course, religions vary hugely on this front, but tenets such as theism have quite direct effects on human behaviour. Someone who believes fairies exist is that much closer to being nasty because the fairies say so.

    Atheism’s links to same, by contrast, are tenuous, akin to trying to demonstrate that someone’s nonbelief in fairies caused them to be nasty. You can’t really get the ball rolling until you either resort to supplementary non-religious claims or start wearing an anti-religious badge, i.e. being nasty to fairy believers. And quite frankly, when that happens, there’s usually a strong political or economic ideology involved rather than atheistic tribalism.
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  • New Testament has absolutely no teaching of treating anyone (believer
    or unbeliever) with violence (verbal or physical). It preaches love:
    for neighbor and for the entire world.

    It demands unconditional love for the in-group unless they’re a bit iffy, instructions for which are contained in Paul’s letters. Membership to that particular club is also on the condition that they’re gullible enough to believe the fantasy narrative contained therein. Otherwise the only reason for the lack of violence is because of the self-righteous assurance that nonbelievers will get what’s coming to them on Judgement Day.

    The New Testament is a textbook example of how to make a cult of shamelessly moralistic smugness.
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  • Jake:

    Sigh…I cant believe a superstitious theist such as myself has to come into these forums and teach you atheists about elementary logical reasoning! (-;

    Well when you can produce some evidence for the existence of your God, you won’t have to resort to clever word and ‘logic’ games. Unfortunately for you, you can’t talk your God into existence.
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  • Jake Jan 26, 2015 at 5:09 am

    From RationalWiki: “Negative proof: A negative proof (known classically as appeal to ignorance) is a logical fallacy which takes the structure of:
    X is true because there is no proof that X is false.”

    It wasn’t my point to argue for or against the existence of God, but instead to argue for the existence of absolute truth.

    Outside of mathematics and formal logic exercises, “absolute truth” does not exist.

    The statement “God doesn’t exist” either has truth value or it doesn’t.

    Nope! – false dichotomy. Without the definition of a specific god it is meaningless.

    It would then require to have evidence of that god, in order to have substance!

    If it doesn’t, the statement is like the saying “red is a beautiful color” — in other words, a relative statement that can be true for one person but not true for another.

    This has nothing to do with “truth” or fact. It is an expression of a subjective opinion.

    So, if “God doesn’t exist” is a relative truth, then God can exist for me but not for you, without any contradiction, which is clearly absurd.

    Not necessarily absurd!
    Once again it comes down to the definition of the “god” being discussed.
    It is quite possible for you to harbour a god-delusion in your brain, while I do not. – and of course while others of different views, cults, or religions, harbour entirely different god-delusions.

    Scientists have speculated that the human brain features a “God spot,” one distinct area of the brain responsible for spirituality. Now, University of Missouri researchers have completed research that indicates spirituality is a complex phenomenon, and multiple areas of the brain are responsible for the many aspects of spiritual experiences. Based on a previously published study that indicated spiritual transcendence is associated with decreased right parietal lobe functioning, MU researchers replicated their findings. In addition, the researchers determined that other aspects of spiritual functioning are related to increased activity in the frontal lobe. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419091223.htm

    Sigh…I cant believe a superstitious theist such as myself has to come into these forums and teach you atheists about elementary logical reasoning!

    I think you might have to up your game a bit!
    This is Richard Dawkins’ Foundation for Reason and Science, and while there are no entry requirements for posting, many people here are well versed in reason, science, and logic.
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  • Aldous – The violence in the Old Testament and the Koran was’commanded’ by Middle Eastern tribal chieftains of many centuries ago. It’s not exactly a ‘failing’ of these documents to have recorded the battles of this ancient period of history or the barbarous moral codes and pre-scientific beliefs of the time.

    They are indeed failures since works of religion and philosophy could very well have been and were written to denounce violence and encourage peace. Even in that epoch, some such thinking was humanly possible. A comparison of the schools of thought: The Big Religion chart

    And no, the Abrahamic religious texts were not works that merely recorded ancient battles, but barbarous moral codes as you said, as well as explicit exclusion, hatred and directives against those who were…different. We’ve already discussed the proven persuasiveness of these magical doctrines earlier.

    I’m all in favour of Westerners learning about Islam and discussing it from an informed point of view.

    So am I. I don’t pretend expertise in Islam, but I don’t speak from complete ignorance either. I’ve researched and discussed the religion with Muslims and learned of the central theme of submission, the goal of emulating the life of their prophet, the multiple meanings of Sharia, the accompanying Sunnah, the origin of the schism between Shiites and Sunis, the assassination of the first caliphs and standardization of and the 10 currently recognized schools of Qira’at, variations to the Quran, among other Muslim “traditions”. Here’s a view of Islam produced by Muslims: Life of the Prophet

    What seems inconsistent to me is the recognition of all other possible causes to the current strife be it current geopolitics, culture (part of which I defended in this thread), chronology and tribalism (the out of context defense), remnants of imperialism, historical injustice, bias, ignorance and bigotry, all other possibilities I acknowledge, except what is the manual of life for many Muslims, the elephant in the room, the texts.

    I’ve taken enough space and time here. Thank you for the discussion.
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  • Its so hard to remember which thread you posted something on!!!!!

    If I can reply with the two posts by yourself and Mark below in mind;

    The Stepford students don’t come as a shock to me because that is what I imagine free speech to be, anarchy! Free speech has to be governed by respect and understanding because we end up with that and what I saw the other month with Pro-Life supporters taking pictures of women going in to have abortions and posting them on the Net.
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  • Hi Nordic,

    You posted some time ago, so sorry for the late response. However, my point will be mercifully brief.

    Atheists leading communist regimes …

    Evidence please.

    Communists regimes were, as far as this historian can tell, led by communists not atheists.

    Christian = dogma of Christianity

    Communist = dogma of Communism

    Islamist = dogma of Islam

    Atheist = negation of dogmas

    Yes, the non-existent doctrine of ‘atheism’ was claimed as a motivation by Stalin, among others, as a cover for their dogmatic beliefs in order to try and avoid (and always to fail) throwing fuel on the fires of sectarianism.

    Many have also claimed to do things in the names of other dogmas that, today, are denied by those who use the same label. Many Muslims, as we speak, deny the validity and actions of the so-called Islamic State.

    I should perhaps mention that I am not a professional historian, though in my book no such person exists.

    Peace.
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  • Once fundamentalists take over a state, bigotry and victimisation follow as tools of politicians and religious leaders.

    http://ukpost.org.uk/news/anwar-ibrahim-given-fiveyear-prison-sentence-for-sodomy
    The 67-year-old de facto Pakatan Rakyat leader was first accused of sodomising a former political aide seven years ago. He was acquitted in 2012, but this decision was overturned by the appeals court in March last year and upheld today by Malaysia’s federal court.

    Anwar was the “rising star” of Malaysian politics in the mid-1990s before he fell out with then prime minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1998, says The Guardian.

    Since then, he has been targeted with successive prosecutions and spent several years in prison for alleged corruption and another case of sodomy, which is illegal in Muslim-majority Malaysia.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/3149896.stm
    Proposals for a revamp of the Indonesian civil code could make sex outside marriage a crime.

    The world’s most populous Muslim nation is drafting regulations that could ban unmarried couples from having sex or living together.

    The new laws would also make forcing a woman to perform oral sex a crime.

    And homosexual acts by those under age 18 would be breaking the law.

    Among the proposed punishments are:

    Couples found to be living together before marriage would face up to two years in prison.

    A man breaking a promise to marry a woman pregnant by him could end up in prison for five years.

    Acts of oral sex and sodomy would be punished by between three and 12 years in jail.

    Homosexual sex could result in between one and seven years in prison.

    “This is a response to the wishes of the people,” Abdul Ghani Abdullah, Indonesia’s director general of legislation, told the Associated Press news agency.

    However, the authorities will only investigate if someone lodges a complaint about another person’s behaviour

    This looks like a bigoted busy-bodies charter to me, with lots of potential for blackmail!

    “If the society chooses not to do anything and has no objection to any cohabitation for example, then it is not a crime,” Mr Abdullah told Reuters.

    The proposed laws are part of a major revamp of Indonesia’s Criminal Code – a legacy of the country’s Dutch colonial rulers.

    Don’t those faith-heads love interfering in other people’s sex lives!! No doubt there will be further up-dates on these proposals.

    The laws also propose to ban black magic and witchcraft.

    Right! Someone must have put a spell on them, to generate this sort of bigoted stupidity!
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  • Alan4discussion ,

    I see you’re worried about something proposed years ago. What happened? Have the laws in Indonesia been revamped?

    Proposals for a revamp of the Indonesian civil code could make sex outside marriage a crime.* ** Monday, 29 September, 2003,**
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  • I realise this is an old post, but I’ll nevertheless reply. As others have pointed out, the best places in the world to live tend to be the least religious ones, but not because religion has been ‘abolished’. It has simply ceased to matter.

    A reference to ‘abolishing’ religion displays a certain mind-set common amongst the religious, but alien to most non-believers, of a ‘struggle’ between supposed ‘truth’ (i.e. religious dogma) and attempts to undermine ‘faith’ in that ‘truth’. Such a mind-set requires the elevation of religion to a position of great importance, which is deeply embedded in their worldview, but not in the worldviews of non-believers. There is no need to ‘abolish’ religion. As long as the religious are not able to dictate the law, religion simply doesn’t matter. When people are well educated, religious belief tends to die out naturally, leaving harmless, and indeed often rather pleasant, ritual and ceremony in its place.

    Your choice of name is rather ironic, because it is in the Nordic countries that the natural death of religious belief is the most advanced. In the Nordic countries, most people belong to the state (or national) church and pay taxes to it, but do not believe in God or in any of the Christian mythology. Thanks to science, there is no longer any need to turn to mythology for explanations of the world. The rituals and ceremonies, however, many of which are linked to traditions that pre-date Christianity, can continue without belief or dogma behind them. They can be enjoyed by believers and non-believers alike, as can those with links to Norse/Germanic, Roman and Greek mythology.

    I fully respect people who believe in some sort of ‘life force’, or even a deistic god or intelligence, although I do not believe in either. I consider the former to be beyond the realm of that which we can comprehend (at least with current technology). The latter was largely made redundant by Darwin, and the remaining gaps are being gradually filled in by physicists and other scientists.

    In contrast to people with vague, mild beliefs in the supernatural, I find people who believe in mythology (Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, et al.) to be rather frightening. They frighten me because I cannot comprehend the way they think. It is self-evident to any educated person that the myths described in these holy books could not have happened. To believe them, one must therefore abandon reason. It is not only the followers of religion who abandon reason — followers of ideological systems from Nazism and Communism to Thatcherism have often done so too. Nevertheless, those who believe in religious myths must abandon reason, and the abandonment of reason is terrifying, because with it goes the philosophical foundation of morality.
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  • aldous Feb 14, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    Alan4discussion ,

    I see you’re worried about something proposed years ago. What happened? Have the laws in Indonesia been revamped?

    Proposals for a revamp of the Indonesian civil code could make sex outside marriage a crime.* Monday, 29 September, 2003,

    The situation has not changed much!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/22/premarital-sex-indonesia-jail_n_2932464.html
    Premarital Sex In Indonesia Could Be Punishable By Jail Time Under Proposed Criminal Law

    Unmarried couples in Indonesia will have to be cautious of where they get frisky, if a recently proposed adultery law is passed.

    According to a Huffington Post translation of Indonesian magazine Tempo, single people who engage in premarital sex in Indonesia could face up to five years in jail. Currently, Indonesia’s criminal code does outlaw adultery, but only for married couples.

    In some post tsunami (Wrath god god) areas, they are worse, and seem to mirror Saudi Arabia!

    http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/10/02/indonesia-aceh-s-new-islamic-laws-violate-rights

    (Jakarta) – Indonesia’s central government and the Aceh provincial government should take steps to repeal two Islamic bylaws in Aceh province that violate rights and carry cruel punishments, Human Rights Watch said today.

    On September 27, 2014, the Aceh provincial parliament approved the Principles of the Islamic Bylaw and the Islamic criminal code (Qanun Jinayah), which create new discriminatory offenses that do not exist in the Indonesian national criminal code (Hukum Pidana). The bylaws extend Sharia, or Islamic law, to non-Muslims, which criminalize consensual same-sex sexual acts as well as all zina (sexual relations outside of marriage). The criminal code permits as punishment up to 100 lashes and up to 100 months in prison for consensual same-sex sex acts, while zina violations carry a penalty of 100 lashes.
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  • 271
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Hi everyone.
    I am very happy to be here and I believe the level of discussion here is High enough that I can introduce my solution to the problem of West with what they call “Violent Islam”.
    As you might know, there are a lot of branches of Islam. It certainly is the most diverse religion in the world and that is beacause of its Original principles that can be very misinterpreted. Like any other religion in its first days.
    The question is Can you call them all muslims, while some branches hate and even think of others as Infidels and call for killing them? I think not. I am a Shia. ISIS think of me as its worst enemy even worse than US. Now you think I should come here and try to defende my religion in front of you because of the actions of my worst enemy? It is not logical. Maybe we shouid go even hand in hand. So what is the solution? How can someone knows the Violent from non Violents.
    The answer is very simple: CALL THEM BY THEIR NAMES!
    every branch has its own idealogy and its own name. ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram,… All are from the WAHHABI (also called SALAFI) section of Islam. They hate Shias like me and they strongly believe if they kill 7 of us they earn Paradise even if they do not pray until their death!
    If you distinguish them from other sections like Shia or Mainstream Sunni, then ont only you know bad apples better, you can go hand in hand with the good ones to expell and fight them.
    Islam is not about Violence. The vast majority of Muslims are peacful not just because of a natural response of humans, but according to very teaching of Mohammad which is to my opinion the most balanced man about Peace.
    I want you to start here and call those ideologies by their very own name, not a general name like ISLAM because the only group of people who take advantage of that is VIOLENT WAHHABI Terrorists.
    Best wishes.
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  • Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) Feb 16, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    How can someone knows the Violent from non Violents.
    The answer is very simple: CALL THEM BY THEIR NAMES!

    There were similar divisions with sectarian strife between Christians in Ireland, with violent Catholic and Protestant terrorist organisations fighting each other.

    The problem arises when larger sections of the population line up, or see reprisals, along sectarian lines as conflicts escalate.
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  • 273
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Hello dear friend Alan4discussion.
    I agree with you but because this topic is about Islam lets stay around it.
    If western people and authorities believe that Islam is ALL violent then we have nothing to discuss. But if they believe in oppsite, like Obama always says or Holland said after Paris attacks, they should acknowledge the difference between nonviolent sections and violent ones, which are completely recognizable by their set of beliefs and actions.
    I am tired of typing that Islam is not violent in every chatroom or website. I want everyone to know that Islam is in one level, and its sections are in another level. Violence is a specificity for some of its sections not all of them and Islam itself. So as soon as we realised the difference between Salafist Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and peacful others Like Dr.Shabir Ally. Mehdi Hassan, Reza Aslan and others we can fight terrorism and go for a better world for our children, which I don’t have any!!! 😀
    I hope we help eachother for a better future.
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  • Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) Feb 16, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    It sounds like you can be helpful in identifying the different sects, to help us be better informed, and perhaps some geographical areas related to them.

    A few years back we had some interesting discussions with someone whose avatar was TANWEER about the radical Khatme Nabuwwat group currently engaged in a hate campaign against the peaceful and law-abiding Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the UK.

    http://old.www.richarddawkins.net/discussions/560557-hate-campaign-against-peaceful-community-in-uk
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  • 275
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Wow! I registered here 2 days ago. You have been here for years? My RESPECT man!
    Sure my friend. I’ll be gald to do that because that “IDENTIFYING” thing can solve very problems. For example you knew those days that those people are Violent and these people are Peacful. Then what happened? You helped Ahmadiyya and opposed KN group without saying anything about Islam itself.
    That is exactly what I’m talking about.
    As you know there are many sections and even subsections i Islam. Two majors of them are Shia and Sunni Islam. But I believe we need first and foremost to Identify Salafism and Wahhabism. which is the cause of almost every atrocities attributed to Muslims around the world.
    SALAF means Past and some Muslim cleric named Mohammad-Ibn-Abd-Ol-Wahhab Sarted a movement that we should get back to the Past days and very first days of Islam is the only Islam and anything new is Infidelity and the Quran should be percepted literally. For example if it says: Kill infidels, we should Kill every Atheist and every Shias because we believe that they are not Muslims and they are sort of an Infidel. Then those who followed him were called Wahhabi or Salafi.
    ISIS is a Wahhabi group. You shouldn’t call them just Muslim because I am a Muslim too. They Kill Shias, Sunnis, Jews, Christians, Yzidies, Atheists and even themselves for unbelievable reasons.
    Here is a helpful article from HuffPost:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alastair-crooke/isis-wahhabism-saudi-arabia_b_5717157.html
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  • As an Irish person I realise that religiosity has nothing to do with acts of terrorism (as seen with the IRA vs the UDA). The ideals that Christians or Muslims adhere to in no way contribute to radial action. What we are seeing in the world today are collections of sadists combining together (made easier by social media) into groups to warp the minds of weak individuals of any or no religion. They are driven by an inherently evil desire to control others and have them do their bidding. They want to be gods! So what you are suggesting is actually preposterous. But because you don’t believe in God you also don’t believe in Evil! So you cannot understand what they are doing or what is the driving force behind them. What we must never do is think that religion or a belief system is the cause of holy wars. The actual reason for such killings is evil inward wants, hateful desires and a love of land, money or resources. Nothing more, nothing less. Do you think for instance that Constantine was a radial Christian? Or course he wasn’t. He wanted Christians to join armies so he made everyone a Christian. He expanded his empire by invading and using the weak as human shields. Sound familiar? You can see why 19 year olds went to Vietnam. Again, the weak, the vulnerable are used in wars and don’t even know why they did what they did. Why did Bush go into Iraq? To help the people? Of course not. Wake up to what is within a man (particularly men, even more so that women). There is a desire to have power and dominance.
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  • It’s actually not difficult to tell true Islam and Christianity.
    Just study the lives of the founders – Jesus in the case of Christianity and Muhammad in the case of Islam.
    Unfortunately I know of no atheist role model who can compare with Jesus. But there are many who would be the anti-role model a la Muhammad is to Islam – Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao etc.
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  • Andrew #278
    Aug 24, 2018 at 10:05 am

    It’s actually not difficult to tell true Islam and Christianity.

    Unfortunately this smacks of the “No True Scotman fallacy

    Just study the lives of the founders –

    Jesus in the case of Christianity

    Unfortunately there are no contemporary records of Jesus written within decades of supposed events, so all the stories from conflicting sources, are later mythology about some itinerant preacher(s), told to the agendas of particular sects, and the (NT) edited selection made 300+ years later which the Roman bishops found useful to the Constantine and the empire.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Gospels#Gnostic_gospels

    and Muhammad in the case of Islam.

    There are records of Mohammed as a warlord., but like Christianity, there are diverse conflicting Islamic sects with differing views.
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  • Andrew, #278

    Hang on a minute there, Andrew, you’re not comparing like with like.

    Atheism doesn’t have either a founder or a leader, so Pol Pot & co do not stand in the same relationship to atheism as Jesus does to Christianity (for example).

    What you have done is to pick on 3 – admittedly well-known – atheists and extrapolate to draw conclusions about atheism.

    But it doesn’t follow. If I were a Christian or a Muslim, I would be required to see Jesus and Mohammed, respectively, as people to emulate. As an atheist I am in no way required to see Pol Pot & co as my role model.

    So if you can conclude that atheism leads to immorality on the basis of 3 random atheists (and given the lack of any kind of atheist leader or founder or doctrine, there really isn’t any other kind), then I can also look at 3 random Christians and conclude the same about Christianity.

    But why limit myself to 3?

    The European Wars of Religion in the 16th and 17th centuries killed over 10 million people. Every single one of the killers was a Christian of one hue or another.

    And we don’t have to delve into the depths of history either.

    Just within the last week, 300+ Roman Catholic priests have been named as child sex abusers in Pennsylvania alone. The Vatican itself admits that, worldwide, between 1.5% and 5% of Catholic clergy have been involved in sexual abuse. An investigation by the Catholic Santa Clara University found that 4% of priests had had a sexual experience with a minor. But even taking the lowest estimate, 1.5% – based on 2012 numbers, that’s 6215 priests who’ve sexually assaulted children. If we take the highest estimate, 5%, it’s 20,716.

    That’s a lot more than 3.

    Do either of those stats tell you anything about you? Do they turn you into a murderer or a persecutor or a child rapist? Do they make you more likely to be a murderer or a persecutor or a child rapist?

    Personally, I don’t assume anything about you or your morals or your behaviour on the basis of what rather large numbers of other Christians have done over the centuries. Nor do I assume anything about you and your morals or your behaviour on the basis of what you believe about Jesus, either – since that belief didn’t stop a single one of the Christians in the stats I’ve just cited.

    Religious or non-religious – the world consists of some people who are kind, generous, caring and compassionate, some people who are violent, cruel, controlling and exploitative, and a whole lot of people somewhere in between. It’s certainly handy to be able to tell the difference between them, but religious labels don’t help there very much, since neither the religious nor the non-religious have any monopoly on either virtue or its opposite.
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  • Eamonn Kenny #277
    Aug 19, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    As an Irish person I realise that religiosity has nothing to do with acts of terrorism (as seen with the IRA vs the UDA).

    This I’m afraid is simply wrong! It is the tribal;ist divisions of religion which create the divided social groups which come into conflict.

    The ideals that Christians or Muslims adhere to in no way contribute to radial action.

    I think you should read the Koran – particularly the sections on killing apostates and unbelievers! (Still in operation in some Islamic theocracies.)

    What we are seeing in the world today are collections of sadists combining together (made easier by social media) into groups to warp the minds of weak individuals of any or no religion.

    It is those who have blind “faith” in the teachings of their religious leaders (particularly in fundamentalist sects) who are most vulnerable to such manipulation. Those brought up with critical scepticism in place of religious dogmas, are much more resistant than the indoctrinated easily led.

    They are driven by an inherently evil desire to control others and have them do their bidding.

    That is what religious indoctrination imposing dogmas is about!

    They want to be gods!

    Or at least the infallible representative of god(s) and exclusive spokesman for gods!

    So what you are suggesting is actually preposterous. But because you don’t believe in God you also don’t believe in Evil!

    The religious definition of “evil” is defying the dogmatic requirements of gods.

    The Humanist definition of “evil” is abusing or damaging our fellow humans!

    Where the dogmas of gods cause human suffering or community damage, Humanists are in conflict with those religious dogmas.

    It is a rather arrogant and untrue preached dogma, that atheists don’t believe in “evil”! They just don’t believe that superstitious requirements are “good”!

    So you cannot understand what they are doing or what is the driving force behind them.

    Understanding what social groups or individuals are doing, is a matter of psychology, and not necessarily anything to do with the delusion of knowledge imparted by indoctrination. – Although that itself is a matter of psychological study.

    What we must never do is think that religion or a belief system
    is the cause of holy wars.

    I realise that preachers seek to keep believers minds closed, and away from inconvenient facts, but the crusades, and the historical, present, and recent, holy wars between Catholics and Protestants, Shia and Sunni Muslims, Hindus and Muslims, Zionists and Muslims, Christian colonists and native peoples, etc, have EVERYTHING to do with communities and nations, divided by religious social groupings, and tribalistic support in conflicts for those sharing the same religious identity badges!
    That does not mean that unscrupulous politicians or greedy elites, do not take advantage of this

    Why did Bush go into Iraq?

    It is reported that he said he did so because the god in his head told him to!
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  • Eamonn #280 and Alan #281

    I agree with some of what both of you have written. But it is always a mistake to view questions of morality through the sole prism of religion or lack of it.

    Violence between groups generally boils down to some form of tribalism.

    Humans are horribly wedded to their in-groups and out-groups. And they take many forms: national, racial, political – and also religious.

    Take religion out of the equation altogether, and you’d still be left with national, racial and political tribalism, and they’re more than enough to ensure there’ll always be conflict and violence in the world. (Though the same applies to any of the other tribalisms too.)

    Leave religion in, and you have an additional complicating factor, an additional dividing line, an additional tribe-identifier, and an additional obstacle to be overcome.

    Not all the world’s ills boil down to religion alone. But religion isn’t the solution to them either. And it certainly plays its part in them.
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  • @Eamonn #277

    There is a desire to have power and dominance.

    There is also a more powerful desire to believe in a supernatural deity that might lead to ‘everlasting life’ in the hereafter if the believer thinks that he/she can fulfil their deity’s desires. In Islam’s Koran there are verses that recommend the killing of ‘unbelievers’ which is one reason why there has been a massive rise in attacks in recent years by fundamentalist Islamists towards more moderate Muslims and/or other religious groups. There’s no getting away from the causal reality of religion-based terrorist actions in recent years!

    Incidentally, what are your views on the apparent decline in the last decade or so of religious belief in Ireland itself?
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  • Eamonn Kenny #277
    Aug 19, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    As an Irish person I realise that religiosity has nothing to do with acts of terrorism (as seen with the IRA vs the UDA).

    I think this is just denial of reality!

    The ideals that Christians or Muslims adhere to in no way contribute to radial action.

    I think you should read the article at the head of this discussion!
    One of the features of belief based on indoctrinated “faith”, rather than evidence, is the unquestioning acceptance of preconceptions, – such “religious belief = good”!

    @OP – In the regions where only minorities believe in Sharia [that is Islamic law] (Eastern Europe, Central Asia), few of the people who do believe in it actually condone draconian punishments that it prescribes, such as stoning an adulterer or executing an apostate.
    On the other hand, in many Muslim regions where the majorities believe in Sharia (Middle East, North Africa, South Asia), majorities also believe in severe corporal punishments.

    For other draconian punishments it once again depends greatly on region.
    For example, 86% who believe in Sharia in Egypt favor the death penalty for converts
    [from Islam to Christianity or atheism], but only 8% in Albania.
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  • Erol #283
    Aug 24, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    There is also a more powerful desire to believe in a supernatural deity
    that might lead to ‘everlasting life’ in the hereafter
    if the believer thinks that he/she can fulfil their deity’s desires.

    I seem to recall historically large numbers of people being burned at the stake “to save their souls”! (Sometimes associated with (mis)appropriation of their lands by Christian invaders.)
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  • Whenever the topic of morality arises, it always seems to me that there’s a fundamental misconception on the part of the religious as to what atheism actually is.

    The religious not only believe in a god, but see that god as the source of all morality, and following that god as the only sure path to morality. And since they define their religion as being pretty much synonymous with morality, they see rejecting their religion as rejecting morality too.

    To atheists, the two things are entirely separate.

    Atheists don’t believe claims about the existence of gods. That’s it. That’s all the ‘atheist’ label tells you about us. We don’t believe there are any gods.

    Yes, you can extrapolate from this that we don’t believe any of the knock-on claims about ‘reality’ made by the various religions: the existence of heaven and hell, for instance.

    And again, many religious people extrapolate from this to assume that this means we feel free to do all kinds of things pretty much universally accepted as bad: murder, rape, theft etc etc. Because what’s to stop us, if not the belief that we’ll either be rewarded for our virtue or horribly tortured for our failings after death?

    For atheists, the concept of life after death simply doesn’t enter into it. We have this life, and that’s it.

    But the idea that morality is inherently the product of religion is of itself a religious claim. And we reject religious claims. Morality is every bit as much our affair as it is yours.

    There is no atheist doctrine: no creed that we have to sign up to. So the only thing you can be sure of when you encounter an atheist is that we don’t believe in any gods. That’s it. Atheism does not purport to be a source of objective morality, there is no atheist code of conduct, but that doesn’t mean atheists aren’t interested in leading a good life. We’re human, after all, and as for all humans, some ways of living work better for us than others.

    When you strip gods out of the story of morality, what you are left with is the simple, obvious fact that some behaviours contribute more to human flourishing than others. We are all happier and safer when crime is low; when we look out for one another; when our societies are kind, and compassionate; when we are pain-free; when we don’t have to live in fear; when we treat one another well; when we value one another’s individuality and tolerate – or even better, celebrate – diversity; when we seek peaceful solutions to conflict; when we pull together; when we look after our environment and don’t exploit it beyond the point of recovery.

    You don’t have to believe in any gods to recognise these things. You don’t have to believe in any gods to desire these things. And crucially – because this kind of morality benefits us all – you don’t have to believe in some kind of post-death reward and punishment to incentivise you to pursue these things. Morality – defined as that which promotes happy, healthy, flourishing societies and a cared-for environment – is its own reward, right now. And even if those rewards can’t be achieved in our lifetimes, atheists have children too, and we care about their futures too, even if we won’t be around to see them.

    The religious see these things as good because they believe they are decreed by the god they believe in; reinforced by the promise or threat of post-death reward or retribution.

    Atheists see these things as good because they they create the environment in which humans flourish best.

    Atheists and the religious may disagree about what it is that makes these things good, but we can agree that they are. And most atheists, and most religious, will do their best to live their lives by this sense of what is good. And some atheists, and some religious, won’t. Neither religion nor atheism can shield us from megalomania or any other kind of psychopathy; or from childhood trauma, or from overwhelmingly disturbing experiences in adulthood that may result in behaviours that are harmful to ourselves and others.

    We’re all just humans, muddling through, doing our best. Atheists don’t think that requires belief in a god; the religious, on the whole, do. But declaring any set of people – religious or atheist – immoral or amoral by definition contributes to the very tribalism that is at the root of so much human misery, and is therefore, of itself, an inherently immoral thing to do.
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  • Erol #283

    In Islam’s Koran there are verses that recommend the killing of
    ‘unbelievers’ which is one reason why there has been a massive rise in
    attacks in recent years by fundamentalist Islamists towards more
    moderate Muslims and/or other religious groups.

    I don’t for one moment want to downplay the role of Islam itself in Islamist terrorism. By definition, it is an important factor.

    But the offending verses in the Koran have been there since the birth of Islam in the early 7th century CE. And while Islam has a long history of violence (interspersed with periods of surprising peacefulness and tolerance), you yourself say that the massive rise in attacks has taken place “in recent years”.

    So, since the texts haven’t changed in the last 20 years or so, there has to be some other factor involved too. Putting all the blame on Islam lets Western politicians off the hook, yet the fact is we have interfered – violently and rapaciously – in Islamic countries over and over and over again, destabilising them horribly in the process. It’s hardly surprising we have sown resentment, rage and hatred.

    But Islam plays a role. It plays a role because Islam is part of the definition of the “us” and the “them”. And, for believers, it gives the conflicts a supernatural dimension. It means Western interventions in Islamic countries are understood as attacks on Islam, which in turn means attacks on Allah, which then means that “good Muslims” are required to fight back. (And it also sets up another divide, between “good” Muslims – the fundamentalists willing to fight – and the “bad” Muslims – the moderates seeking peace.)

    This is the point I was making earlier. The sources of conflict are there, with or without religion. But religion adds a specific, intensifying filter to view them through. It adds another, highly unhelpful dimension to them. Another dimension which, by its very definition, cannot accept compromise – for no believer thinks their god should have to compromise or give way. It is one of the big problems with religious beliefs: they are absolute, because believed to be handed down “from above”. They leave no room for manoeuvre. They inherently lend themselves to fanaticism, for how can a believer say of their god, “Well, he gets X right, but I think he goes too far on Y”? And when you then add in notions of having to earn your place in an eternal paradise (or face the prospect of eternal torment), there is a real, active incentive to prove your allegiance to Allah by hitting back, hard. This is where those verses in the Koran come in. They shape the response.

    So it’s a factor. A definite factor. A highly problematic factor. And there would be far more hope of resolving the hideous tangle of various long-standing conflicts if religion did NOT play a role in them. But let’s be honest and admit there’d also be far more hope of resolving them if the West would behave more responsibly in its foreign policy too, rather than starting and then stoking multiple conflicts in the endless pursuit of oil and arms sales.
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  • Marco #287

    My view of the rise in recent decades of Islamist militancy is that the catalyst was the Iranian revolution of 1979. After the fall of the Shah, the installed Shia mullahs embarked upon pushing their ideology to neighbouring countries (e.g. Iraq), with the result that a backlash occurred from the vehemently opposing Sunni factions from within those countries. In particular it initiated the spread of fundamentalist Wahhabi (Saudi) and Salafist doctrines that ultimately led to the formation of the murderous ISIS. The people that follow these sects are ultra conservative by nature and hate everything that the West stands for – hence their targeting of western cultures.

    The original instigator of the 9/11 attacks in New York was the Saudi national Osama bin Laden who co-founded Al Qaeda in 1988 and then declared war on America. In a letter published in late 2002 he criticized the U.S. for its secular form of governance, calling upon Americans to convert to Islam and “reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling, and usury”.

    This is the reality of the situation. Undoubtedly naïve actions by the West to try and introduce or even force Middle Eastern countries such as Iraq or Libya to adopt democracy (an alien concept to Sharia followers) would not have helped in this situation, but that idea was at least a noble one, even if flawed.
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  • Erol #288
    Aug 25, 2018 at 11:57 am

    My view of the rise in recent decades of Islamist militancy is that the catalyst was the Iranian revolution of 1979. After the fall of the Shah, the installed Shia mullahs embarked upon pushing their ideology to neighbouring countries (e.g. Iraq), with the result that a backlash occurred from the vehemently opposing Sunni factions from within those countries. In particular it initiated the spread of fundamentalist Wahhabi (Saudi) and Salafist doctrines that ultimately led to the formation of the murderous ISIS.

    If we look behind the scenes, we find an Iranian authoritarian monarchy – propped up by Western states – being over thrown in a peaceful revolution, and the repressive fundamentalist Wahhabi Monarchy in Saudi-Arabia manipulated into power by western oil interests.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_Revolution

    . . . profound change at great speed,[26] was massively popular, resulted in the exile of many Iranians,[27] and replaced a pro-Western authoritarian monarchy[16] with an anti-Western authoritarian theocracy

    The Shah’s regime became increasingly oppressive, brutal,[36][37] corrupt, and extravagant.[36][38]
    It also suffered from basic functional failures that brought economic bottlenecks, shortages, and inflation.[39]
    The Shah was perceived by many as beholden to – if not a puppet of – a non-Muslim Western power (the United States)[40][41] whose culture was affecting that of Iran.
    At the same time, support for the Shah may have waned among Western politicians and media – especially under the administration of U.S. President Jimmy Carter – as a result of the Shah’s support for OPEC petroleum price increases earlier in the decade.[42]
    When President Carter enacted a human-rights policy which said countries guilty of human-rights violations would be deprived of American arms or aid, this helped give some Iranians the courage to post open letters and petitions in the hope that the repression by the government might subside.

    In Iran, they kicked out the shah and Shia Islam filled the power vacuum while the shah moved abroad to join his money!

    Foreign interference in the Middle-East, has a lot to answer for – including setting up the state of Israel and abandoning it to the Zionist terrorists of the Stern gang, when the going got rough!
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  • Alan#289

    In Iran, they kicked out the shah and Shia Islam filled the power
    vacuum while the shah moved abroad to join his money!

    Yes, unfortunately those that helped in the kicking out of one authoritarian (but secular) leader were blind to see that they were introducing an even more ruthless and backward-looking one!

    It seems that people trying to improve their governing system in a Middle Eastern nation only ever succeed in creating a worse one – because the natural end-point is a government based on religious ideology.
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  • Erol


    This is the reality of the situation. Undoubtedly naïve actions by the West to try and introduce or even force Middle Eastern countries such as Iraq or Libya to adopt democracy (an alien concept to Sharia followers) would not have helped in this situation, but that idea was at least a noble one, even if flawed.”

    Are you being serious?
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  • Erol #292

    Just about all of it Erol. Key words; Naive, democracy and noble offend greatly. I commented recently that Trumps actions have an honesty about them. An honesty that just reveals that America has always come first no matter who is in control.
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  • Olgun#293

    Well, you can choose to be perpetually cynical – but I do not. I think that the main reason behind seeking the fall of Saddam Hussein (apart from the eventual removal of non-existent WMD) was to at least give the Iraqi people a Saddam-free chance to govern themselves in a democratic manner. This seems now to have succeeded to a degree – despite the usual Shia vs Sunni conflicts in that country.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Iraq
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  • Erol #294

    I hardly think a series of facts and incidents can’ be classed as cynical, as you meant it anyway. A war declared illegal by Kofi Annan and condemned by the vast majority being described as noble by yourself. How does that work?
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  • Olgun#297

    Note that I am calling the ‘intention’ as being noble! No one could have predicted the outcome of the military intervention in Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein. It was a very heavy price indeed – and with hindsight – too costly! Perhaps – naively – it was thought at the time that the instigation of action might have hastened Saddam’s downfall through an internal coup, thus greatly limiting the number of casualties. In gambles such as this, it’s always easy to be critical after the event.
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  • Erol #298
    Aug 26, 2018 at 5:24 am

    Note that I am calling the ‘intention’ as being noble!

    There was nothing noble about wrongly associating Iraq with the Twin Tower attacks! It was just wishful stupidity!

    No one could have predicted the outcome of the military intervention in Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein.

    Actually, after Bush senior’s lack pf a post-war plan left saddam in power and the slaughter of rebels who were encouraged to rise up, lessons might have been learned! Chaos is very predictable in a disruptive environoment with a power vacuum, and foreign interfernce trying to install a puppet government, wish-thinking about locals “welcoming democracy”, and a near total lack of forward planning – apart ftom corporate designs to grab oil assets by Bush-buddies!

    It was a very heavy price indeed – and with hindsight – too costly! Perhaps – naively – it was thought at the time that the instigation of action might have hastened Saddam’s downfall through an internal coup, thus greatly limiting the number of casualties.

    The brutal unprevoked attack was bound cost locals and combat troups a heavy price. Saddam’s mistake was was disarming his “weapons of mass destruction”, the threat of which which was holding foreign invasive forces at bay.

    Iran and North Korea, which were also on Bush’s list, have learned from that mistake, while they west learned NOTHING, and repeated their mistakes in Libya and Syria promoting the rise of fundamentalists in the same manner as before.

    In gambles such as this, it’s always easy to be critical after the event.

    Those whose warning Bush ignored, were wise before the events! –
    (As were those who warned American voters about Trump!)
    But there is a US/Western feedback loop, where politicians accept junk propaganda information from the irresponsible sensationalist gutter press – and then give it credibilty by repeating it!

    These repressive regimes were repressive, BECAUSE repression, is the ONLY way to keep armed fundamentalist fanatics under control!
    Jihadists are not interested in education, reasoning, mutual respect for other citzens, or evidence based knowledge!
    They can wave holy books over their collective ignorance with airs of superiority, and demand adherance to their bronze-age, backward, war-lord culture, – backed up with murderous attacks on critcs and unbelievers!
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  • Erol #296
    Aug 25, 2018 at 6:28 pm

    The noble intention was there to achieve a dictatorship-free Iraq – which ultimately happened, albeit at a heavy price.

    It didn’t! Iraq is still ruled by factions of military regime puppets, backed by foreign troops and weapons, or in some pockets, by Jihadists!

    Afghanistan is also divided with chaotic warring factions! So are Israel Libya and Syria.

    The majority of local people who under previous regimes had a structure of government and relative peace, have had decades of civil wars, inflicted on them by foreign powers and the factions armed by foreign powers!
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  • Erol #298

    This “noble” intention would never have got off the ground had personal interests not been involved.

    Alan (above) covered the planning and warning questions I think.

    I don’t think protecting your own interests no matter what deserves to be called noble. I acknowledge that there is a little nobility in trying to minimise the damage but it soon cancels out when warnings and objections were not listened to.
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  • Alan#300

    It didn’t! Iraq is still ruled by factions of military regime puppets,
    backed by foreign troops and weapons, or in some pockets, by
    Jihadists!

    I don’t think you can call the present governing system in Iraq as a dictatorship.

    Also, at the time there was a great emphasis on Saddam’s WMD and its potential danger towards the west, and there was general agreement that this ‘threat’ needed to be neutralised, which was an additional incentive to go into Iraq.

    As I said before it’s very easy to be critical and all-knowing after the event, and the West is rightfully now much more wary of getting involved in such affairs. A case in point was the UK Parliament’s refusal vote to interfere in the Syrian civil war.

    Marco#302

    Zimbabwe’s Mugabe wasn’t perceived to be as murderous as Saddam’s regime, and neither did it have any WMD threat.
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  • Erol #303
    Aug 26, 2018 at 7:57 am

    Also, at the time there was a great emphasis on Saddam’s WMD and its potential danger towards the west, and there was general agreement that this ‘threat’ needed to be neutralised, which was an additional incentive to go into Iraq.

    Iraq was never “a threat towards the West” apart from to Isreal, which was attacking Palestinians and its Arab allies.

    It did pose a threat of effective retaliation if it was invaded BY the West, as any self respecting state would.

    Saddam had traded peacefully with the West for years, and had been supported by the West in its earlier war with Iran!

    It was the corporate Bush buddies who had eyes on Iraq’s assets who were behind the wars – along with Israel and the US Zionist lobby!
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  • Erol #303

    Since the end of WWII, the USA has been involved in attempts to effect regime change in:

    South Korea

    China

    Greece

    Egypt

    Italy

    Syria (1949)

    Iran (1953)

    Guatemala

    Laos

    Cuba

    Brazil

    Iraq (1963)

    Vietnam

    Dominican Republic

    Indonesia (1957-59)

    Bolivia

    Iraq (1972-75)

    Chile

    Afghanistan (1979-89)

    El Salvador

    Nicaragua

    Grenada

    Panama

    Haiti

    Iraq (1991-2003)

    Iraq (1994 – 2000)

    Indonesia (1997)

    Yugoslavia

    Iran (2005)

    Palestine (2006-7)

    Syria (2005 onwards)

    Libya

    Yemen (2015 onwards)

    Were these all perceived to be more murderous than Mugabe’s Zimbabwe?

    Were they all believed to have WMD?

    Were they all ‘noble’ interventions?

    Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe was one of the most corrupt, brutal and despotic anywhere in the world at that time. Not only was there widespread vote-rigging and voter intimidation, there was massive repression of any opposition of any kind, using all the standard methods in the dictators’ handbook: disappearings, extrajudicial imprisonment, torture, extrajudicial murders, all on a vast scale. Mugabe went even further than most, actively preventing desperately needed aid supplies reaching starving civilians in MDC-supporting parts of the country. Here’s the account of a single incident from the far from snowflakey Telegraph, but such incidents were widespread: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/zimbabwe/2170138/Zimbabwe-Death-toll-rises-in-Robert-Mugabes-reign-of-terror-before-election.html

    So why didn’t the noble USA intervene?

    You can’t say they’d learned their lesson from previous disastrous interventions. Mugabe’s regime lasted from 1987 to 2017. In other words it started before the US’s attempt at regime change in Panama (1989), was still going strong throughout all the US’s interventions in Haiti, Iraq, Indonesia, Yugoslavia, Iran, Palestine and Libya, and was outlived by the US’s interventions in both Syria and Yemen (both still ongoing).

    Did the USA simply not have enough nobility to go round?

    Or is the simple fact that Zimbabwe didn’t figure on the American geopolitical map? That the number of Zimbabweans locked up, tortured, beaten and murdered was of no interest to successive US administrations because there were no gains in US wealth or US power to be had by intervening? That US interventions in other countries’ affairs aren’t, in fact, driven by ‘nobility’ or altruism or a passion for democracy, or justice, or peace, but purely by naked self-interest, as you might expect from one of the world’s last remaining truly expansionist, truly neocolonial powers?

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  • Erol #303
    Aug 26, 2018 at 7:57 am

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1530375/Bushs-top-aide-wanted-Rumsfeld-sacked.html
    MARCH 19, 2008

    Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador to Baghdad, rebuffed the renewed chorus of calls for American troops to withdraw from Iraq because the battle had become a recruiting ground for Islamic terrorists.

    “If we leave Iraq before the job is done we will be faced with a problem of global terrorism that will be worse than before,” he said.

    Separately, a new biography of Colin Powell, the former secretary of state, says that Mr Bush sacked the former general and bluntly rejected his analysis that the war in Iraq had become a failed project.

    Like Trump, the Bushes sacked advisors who told them thigs they did not like to hear!

    https://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/19/washington/19cost.html

    At the outset of the Iraq war, the Bush administration predicted that it would cost $50 billion to $60 billion to oust Saddam Hussein, restore order and install a new government.

    Five years in, the Pentagon tags the cost of the Iraq war at roughly $600 billion and counting. Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and critic of the war, pegs the long-term cost at more than $4 trillion.

    The Iraq war “plan” was to take over the country and pay for the war with Iraq’s siezed oil assets. That’s why saddam set fire to the oil wells when they were going to fall into US hands.

    Bush’s economics advisor was sacked for claiming the war would cost US tax-payers as much as an (allegedly wildly over estimated) $200 billion!

    Lawrence B. Lindsey, who was ousted as President Bush’s first economic adviser partly because he predicted the war might cost $100 billion to $200 billion, also has a new book that serves in part as an I-told-you-so.

    According to a more recent study by Harvard – it cost between 4 and 6 $trillon! – most of which was borrowed and added to the national debt for the US tax-payers to repay – along with interest charges!

    The levels of wish-thinking incompetence in American government, were mind boggling – even before Trump!

    Reports such as these make it abundantly clear that far from awaiting “being wise after the events”, the competent advice and warnings were freely available BEFORE decisions were taken, but prejudice, greed and deluded thinking, rejected it!
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  • Alan#306

    Like Trump, the Bushes sacked advisors who told them things they did
    not like to hear!

    I never considered Bush Jnr to be a wise POTUS. He made big mistakes in Iraq that allowed the Jihadists to eventually flourish. But that doesn’t take away from the initial moral stand that was adopted to remove Saddam Hussein and try and give back the Iraqi people their freedom (as well as remove WMD)! The problem that the U.S. administration had was in thinking that there were ‘simple’ solutions in the Middle East which unfortunately were then hijacked by Iraqis following a fundamentalist ideology. Because the latter is alien to the western mindset, it wasn’t taken into account in the planning stage of the Iraq campaign. The U.S. administration believed that once Saddam had gone a democratic Iraq would follow – simple!

    But over and above the shambles in the Middle East I believe that U.S. power and presence on the world stage is a good thing. Even now with the rise of China’s military power and the cheeky way that nation has put claim onto the whole of the South China Sea by fabricating islands within it and which their military are now stuffing to the hilt with the latest technology. This is rightfully being seen as a threat to the other nations in that area (Vietnam, The Phillipines, etc) which are doubtless pleased that a large U.S. carrier force sails through it intermittently to emphasise freedom of navigation there.

    Remember also that the U.S. has also intervened in places such as Korea and Vietnam in order to combat that other fundamentalist ideology – communism! It’s fair to say that if the U.S. had remained isolationist during WW2 the world would now be a different place. Europe would certainly be shackled in a Nazi Empire (or a Soviet one if the Russians had succeeded in overcoming the Nazis themselves through sheer manpower!).
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  • Marco#305

    That US interventions in other countries’ affairs aren’t, in fact,
    driven by ‘nobility’ or altruism or a passion for democracy, or
    justice, or peace, but purely by naked self-interest, as you might
    expect from one of the world’s last remaining truly expansionist,
    truly neocolonial powers?

    I simply do not agree with this cynical standpoint, as explained above in my reply to Alan. You tend to view things in a poor light as I’ve noted in our previous discussions on Brexit. Perhaps you would be happier if South Korea had turned out just like North Korea if the U.S hadn’t intervened there militarily?
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  • Alan#304

    It was the corporate Bush buddies who had eyes on Iraq’s assets who
    were behind the wars – along with Israel and the US Zionist lobby!

    What is your evidence for this?
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  • Olgun#310

    From the article:

    But senior civil servants are not so naive. On the eve of the Butler
    report, I attended the 40th anniversary of the Mandarins cricket club.
    I was taken aside by a knighted civil servant to discuss my contention
    in a Guardian article earlier this year……..

    Citing the opinion of another cynic in a newspaper article is NOT evidence.
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  • Erol #311

    It is not Erol but reading more from the actual time it happened and before will always give you a better idea of what it was all about. Evidence for this kind of thing is hard to come by but I think you already know that? The reports of how Saddam was going to effect oil prices seemed to have been put on the back shelf when WMD’s came along. A case of reading between the lines I think. Call it cynical, not a bad word in my books, but I was more interested in what was not being said when reports of Iraq were coming in but WAS being said elsewhere.
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  • Erol #309
    Aug 28, 2018 at 5:40 am

    Alan#304 It was the corporate Bush buddies who had eyes on Iraq’s assets who were behind the wars – along with Israel and the US Zionist lobby!

    What is your evidence for this?

    https://www.ft.com/content/7f435f04-8c05-11e2-b001-00144feabdc0

    None has benefited more than KBR, once known as Kellogg Brown and Root. The controversial former subsidiary of Halliburton, which was once run by Dick Cheney, vice-president to George W. Bush, was awarded at least $39.5bn in federal contracts related to the Iraq war over the past decade**.

    See link for details .
    There are plenty more similar examples and historical records if you look for them!
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  • Alan#313

    The KBR contract is described elsewhere as:

    The company was given $39.5 billion in Iraq-related contracts over the past decade, with many of the deals given without any bidding from competing firms, such as a $568-million contract renewal in 2010 to provide housing, meals, water and bathroom services to soldiers, a deal that led to a Justice Department lawsuit over alleged kickbacks, as reported by Bloomberg.

    Also:

    The Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University said the war in Iraq cost $1.7 trillion dollars, not including the $490 billion in immediate benefits owed to veterans of the war and the lifetime benefits that will be owed to them or their next of kin.

    And:

    It is estimated that in the region of 4,500 U.S Army personnel were killed during the Iraq war.

    So, are you suggesting that this number of troops were sacrificed while incurring a total estimated cost of 2.2 trillion dollars (or higher!) mainly in order for Bush’s buddy Cheney to get rewarded with a contract worth 1.8% of the total cost?!

    I’m sorry, I don’t buy it. The contract deals reportedly worth $138 billion in total (6.2%) were collateral effects of the war, and not the main cause for them! Yes, there likely was favouritism in their awarding, but that’s hardly surprising under the circumstances.
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  • Olgun#312

    A case of reading between the lines I think.

    But that’s precisely what you should not be doing! Because it leads to a tendency to ‘read into it’ what you want to hear. It can then become a known ‘fact’ because you ‘read it somewhere’. I asked Alan for evidence because I knew it would be difficult to find. It likely doesn’t exist in my opinion.

    As you can read above in my reply to him his example of the evidence I requested is not something I would accept as such.
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  • Erol #315

    You are making it sound as if everything was planned and went exactly to plan in Bush’s world. You have put together a mathematical solution and are really doing what you suggest I am doing and finding the result I want. Making the best of a bad situation is what it looks like to me but his cronies did make in the end even if incidentally to what was required. Everything I heard and read at the time was about oil and it’s price. I admit I ignored the WMD thing because it seemed to me as a smoke screen to what it was all about. It has lead to the refugee crisis in Europe. Another unexpected results of the mess. Turkey reminded them how involved in the mess they were.
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  • Erol #317

    My sources were many Erol. I also listened when Obama threatened to remove the troops, Turkey acted. Are we to believe that “people trafficers” were really able to act so freely too because that is the official line? Sorry Erol, I value my cynicism. You make it sound like a dirty word???
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  • Erol #314
    Aug 28, 2018 at 9:35 am

    I’m sorry, I don’t buy it.

    Why not? The Bush plan was to seize Iraqi assets, use them to pay for the war and the restoration, and take over the country and its assets in the process!

    The “plan” was based on wish-thinking and greed, so it was grossly incompetent, in denial of evidence, and unrealistic – as subsequent events have shown!

    The contract deals reportedly worth $138 billion in total (6.2%) were collateral effects of the war, and not the main cause for them!

    They were one of the main causes, with potential conflict with Israel and Iraq’s influence on oil prices being others.

    Yes, there likely was favouritism in their awarding, but that’s hardly surprising under the circumstances.

    Yes the contracts were in place amazingly quickly, while the strategic planning for post-war stability, was non-existent!
    Don’t you think that would indicate forethought, given the close association of people in the the corporations with the Bush administrtion? – and the evidence of prior discussions of the subject?

    If you look at the F.T. link you will see reference to “massive waste, fraud, and abuse, in miltary contracts”.

    A 2011 report from the commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan estimated that defence contractors had wasted or lost to fraud as much as $60bn – or $12m a day – since 2001.

    Meanwhile if we look at reputable records of meetings!

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/secret-memos-expose-link-between-oil-firms-and-invasion-of-iraq-2269610.html

    Secret memos expose link between oil firms and invasion of Iraq

    Plans to exploit Iraq’s oil reserves were discussed by government ministers and the world’s largest oil companies the year before Britain took a leading role in invading Iraq, government documents show.

    The minutes of a series of meetings between ministers and senior oil executives are at odds with the public denials of self-interest from oil companies and Western governments at the time.

    The papers show that Lady Symons agreed to lobby the Bush administration on BP’s behalf because the oil giant feared it was being “locked out” of deals that Washington was quietly striking with US, French and Russian governments and their energy firms.

    Minutes of a meeting with BP, Shell and BG (formerly British Gas) on 31 October 2002 read: “Baroness Symons agreed that it would be difficult to justify British companies losing out in Iraq in that way if the UK had itself been a conspicuous supporter of the US government throughout the crisis.”

    You really need to look at the evidence, rather than choosing which story you “choose to buy into”!

    BTW. There is no evidence, that the populations at large, in any overseas countries actually want corporate rip-off dominated US style “democracy” – although clearly some wealthy elites do!

    Most of the population of Iraq, think they were much better off under Saddam!
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  • Erol #320

    Sorry Erol but “I don’t buy it” isn’t factual either is it. There will be evidence of sorts but no one is going to leave a trail of breadcrumbs on purpose.
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  • Alan#319

    Most of the population of Iraq, think they were much better off under
    Saddam!

    Of course they do – because they didn’t have the jihadist threat when Saddam was in power! This was the big factor unforseen by the Bush administration!

    Here’s my counter to your oil link. At the end of the day we will just have to agree to differ on this.
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  • Erol #322
    Aug 28, 2018 at 11:34 am
    Alan#319 – Most of the population of Iraq, think they were much better off under Saddam!

    Of course they do – because they didn’t have the jihadist threat when Saddam was in power! This was the big factor unforseen by the Bush administration!

    It was – but was not unforseen by much of the rest of the world outside of the US media bubble!
    The same could be said of the repeated mistake in removing Gaddafi!

    Here’s my counter to your oil link.
    At the end of the day we will just have to agree to differ on this.

    That link is just an opinions piece, which is mainly rhetoric and citation of opinion articles in (mainly) low grade newspapers.

    The link I gave you refers to the official minutes and document references, recording UK government meetings with oil executives and discussions of US deals with foreign governments and oil companies!

    There is no comparison in regard to the standing and credibilty of your link and mine. Yours is an opinion piece by a pundit!

    You need to seek out verifible records rather than journalist’s opinions, rhetoric, and speculations, if you want to present actual evidence.
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  • Alan#326

    And your link only amounts to speculation about what might happen after the war:

    “Five months before the March 2003 invasion, Baroness Symons, then the Trade Minister, told BP that the Government believed British energy firms should be given a share of Iraq’s enormous oil and gas reserves as a reward for Tony Blair’s military commitment to US plans for regime change.

    The papers show that Lady Symons agreed to lobby the Bush administration on BP’s behalf because the oil giant feared it was being “locked out” of deals that Washington was quietly striking with US, French and Russian governments and their energy firms.

    Minutes of a meeting with BP, Shell and BG (formerly British Gas) on 31 October 2002 read: “Baroness Symons agreed that it would be difficult to justify British companies losing out in Iraq in that way if the UK had itself been a conspicuous supporter of the US government throughout the crisis.”

    The minister then promised to “report back to the companies before Christmas” on her lobbying efforts.

    The Foreign Office invited BP in on 6 November 2002 to talk about opportunities in Iraq “post regime change”. Its minutes state: “Iraq is the big oil prospect. BP is desperate to get in there and anxious that political deals should not deny them the opportunity.”

    There’s nothing there to indicate that any of what’s mentioned actually occurred! It may be that all such plans were eventually dropped for some reason or other.

    I have a proposal – why don’t you dig into records post-invasion and find out what actually happened after Saddam was deposed?!
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  • Erol #327
    Aug 28, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    And your link only amounts to speculation about what might happen after the war:

    Nope! – a year BEFORE the invasion, the diplomats and government ministers knew what was going on:-

    . . . . lobby the Bush administration on BP’s behalf because the oil giant feared it was being “locked out” of deals that Washington was quietly striking with US, French and Russian governments and their energy firms.

    These UK government records are quite explicit about what was going on in making plans to carve up Iraq’s oil assets.

    The speculation was about who gets what in the carve-up, NOT if the carve up of Iraq’s oil assets was being planned a year before the invasion.

    There’s nothing there to indicate that any of what’s mentioned actually occurred!
    It may be that all such plans were eventually dropped for some reason or other.

    Why speculate when what happened is a matter of record!
    Saddam set fire to the oil wells to deny the captors the spoils of war, and the Western powers put in a great deal of effort and money into putting out the fires and stopping the flow, before taking control of the oil fields.

    There was also a lying propaganda war with high profile denials of an oil grab, while the clandestine arguments about who grabbed what, went on under cover!

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jul/07/us-and-britain-wrangled-over-iraqs-oil-in-aftermath-of-war-chilcot-shows

    US and Britain wrangled over Iraq’s oil in aftermath of war, Chilcot shows
    The US and British governments fought bitterly over control of Iraq’s oil following the toppling of Saddam Hussein, the Chilcot papers [the official UK inquiry into the war] show.
    Tony Blair seemed more concerned than the Americans about any invasion being seen by critics as a war for oil, telling them it would be very damaging if the two countries were seen to “grab Iraq’s oil”.

    But Sir David Manning, foreign policy adviser to Tony Blair, told Condoleezza Rice, the US national security adviser, in Washington on 9 December 2002 that Britain still wanted more of the spoils.

    “It would be inappropriate for HMG [Her Majesty’s government] to enter into discussions about any future carve-up of the Iraqi oil industry,” he said. “Nonetheless it is essential that our [British] companies are given access to a level playing field in this and other sectors.”

    UK government officials called in a team from BP for a briefing about the prospects for the Iraq energy sector on 23 January 2003, two months before the invasion, which ended in May.

    All this evidence is availble on the record, if reputable sources are sought!

    Sir Jeremy Greenstock, UK ambassador to the United Nations, identified budgeting and oil as the two clearest examples of issues on which the UK was not consulted by the US-run coalition provisional authority put in to run Iraq.

    “We did not see anything whatsoever in the oil sector; they [the CPA] kept that very closely American, because they wanted to run the oil sector,” he told the Chilcot inquiry, and was quoted in the final report.

    These quoted testimonies are from people who were actively involved, and in statements to the official inquiry, – not speculative opinions from some media pundit or propagandist!

    I have a proposal –
    why don’t you dig into records post-invasion and find out what actually happened after Saddam was deposed?!

    Why don’t you look up the records for yourself, instead of asking me to do it for you, and then denying the accuracy of results?
    The failed plan was undoubtedly wishful thinking and an economic, humanitarian, and political disaster, due to incompetence, and the ignoring of evidence and key issues, but it is very clear, there was nothing noble about the inputs to it, or the people behind it!
    That is simply the propagandist image projected on to the media smoke-screen!
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  • Erol #322
    Aug 28, 2018 at 11:34 am

    Here’s my counter to your oil link.

    Perhaps you should have read this Rational Wiki article BEFORE quoting Michael Moore as reliable source challenging my links to official records!

    https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Michael_Moore
    Conservatives often accuse him of being exactly morally opposite to Ann Coulter.
    As being the moral opposite of Ann Coulter is what virtually all liberals and moderates aspire to, this is not much of an insult.

    However, he is also despised by some liberals, for engaging in the same kind of distortion and hypocrisy, thus undermining the left’s credibility. Some have called him the “left-wing Rush Limbaugh” (though that is questionable, since his films have at least some form of truth).[1]

    His movies/books are as subtle as a sledgehammer and have been criticized for inaccuracies.
    Moore usually responds to criticisms of his works with ad hominem attacks as opposed to answering to said criticisms, since he has no valid defenses against them.

    At the end of the day we will just have to agree to differ on this.

    You must be joking if you think I am going to agree that a web comment from MichaelMoore is equivalent in standing and credibilty, or effective counter, to the report of an official UK inquiry and quoted testimonies from witnesses to events!
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  • In the late 13th century, the last Christian crusader stronghold of any relevance in the “Holy Land” was conquered by Muslim forces, almost 100 years after their last philosopher of world note, Ibn Rushd (Latinized as Averroes) had died. Not their last great thinker, this was Ibn Khaldun (died 1406), sort of a predecessor by 400 years of Edward Gibbon and the latter’s six-volume “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”. Ibn Khaldun warned his fellow Muslims that empires, never mind dynasties, do not last. They ignored him. Then, just over 500 years after the crusaders had been expelled (in which time Islam had become seriously fossilized), some crazy Corsican landed in Egypt (once again close to the center of Islam on the Arabian peninsula). Somehow, defeats in Spain and the extended Balkans (like at some odd place on the northern Danube in 1683) had not gotten rid of the mental fossilization. Since then, to the horror of Muslims, their arrogant self-overestimation has been crushed to powder by people from regions that had been immensely more primitive at about the time that Islam’s fossilization started. And since then, Muslims (and as everywhere when such situations occur, mainly men) have been in a raging state of self-denial whenever reality has pulverized their self-conception of natural rulers of the world. It may take a millennium for them to get over the 1967 six-day war. What’s the Muslim world without oil? A gigantic Somalia.
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  • GK#331

    Erdogan in Turkey is currently trying very hard to revive the prestige of the Muslim ’empire’. Faced with recent sanction threats by the U.S. if he didn’t release the Christian pastor held in prison on trumped up charges Erdogan’s proud response was that he didn’t care – because he had God on his side! Such is the mentality in that country right now.
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  • Alan#326

    You need to seek out verifible records rather than journalist’s
    opinions, rhetoric, and speculations, if you want to present actual
    evidence.

    But you’re the one who’s making the claim that Bush Jnr was criminal enough to take America into war with thousands being killed for the main purpose of helping his buddy Cheney financially. You have shown that Cheney did benefit – but only incidentally in my opinion through contracts that were awarded to his company. This is no big deal in my view.

    However, with the system of checks and balances that are present in the U.S governing system, going to war is a big deal!!! and meant that both Houses had to debate and vote in order to pass the resolution which occurred on October 2, 2002.

    Here are the list of factors that were taken into consideration for the vote to be passed:

    Iraq’s noncompliance with the conditions of the 1991 ceasefire agreement, including interference with U.N. weapons inspectors.

    Iraq “continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability” and “actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability” posed a “threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region.”

    Iraq’s “brutal repression of its civilian population.”

    Iraq’s “capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people”.

    Iraq’s hostility towards the United States as demonstrated by the 1993 assassination attempt on former President George H. W. Bush and firing on coalition aircraft enforcing the no-fly zones following the 1991 Gulf War.

    Members of Al-Qaeda, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq.

    Iraq’s “continuing to aid and harbour other international terrorist organizations,” including anti-United States terrorist organizations.

    Iraq paid bounty to families of suicide bombers.

    The efforts by the Congress and the President to fight terrorists, and those who aided or harboured them.

    The authorization by the Constitution and the Congress for the President to fight anti-United States terrorism.

    The governments in Turkey, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia feared Saddam and wanted him removed from power.

    Citing the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, the resolution reiterated that it should be the policy of the United States to remove the Saddam Hussein regime and promote a democratic replacement.

    Now, do you honestly believe that all the Senators involved in the voting were hoodwinked by Bush simply for the purpose of him gratifying his cronies? The notion is patently absurd, and I’m frankly surprised that you’re even suggesting it.
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  • Erol #334
    Aug 29, 2018 at 5:27 am

    Now, do you honestly believe that all the Senators involved in the voting were hoodwinked by Bush simply for the purpose of him gratifying his cronies?

    Of course they were – along with the UK parliament and the UN!
    What do think the faked report of imaginary “weapons of mass-destruction” was about, when the UN weapons inspectors had found none, and had requested everyone to be restrained until they had finished their investigations and written the UN report.

    You really should carefully readthe links I have posted, and then look up some proper historical records.

    The notion is patently absurd, and I’m frankly surprised that you’re even suggesting it.

    Perhaps thats because you are taking information exclusively from “opinions” in the US false news media, instead of using reputable prime sources and historical records.

    The governments in Turkey, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia feared Saddam and wanted him removed from power.

    The governments of Turkey, Canada, Mexico, China, Germany, and Australia, probably want Trump removed, but that is not a justification for invading the USA!
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