Question of the Week: January 14, 2014

Jan 13, 2015

With this week’s horrific religiously motivated executions in mind, how do we denounce Muslim violence without blatantly denouncing Islam? Look to the Bad Apples piece by Conor Lynch for ideas.


Congratulations to this week’s winner,j.richard.jacobs, and the runner-ups phil rimmer, achromat666, and Dawkins Goddess! The winner will be receiving a copy of An Appetite for Wonder by Richard Dawkins.

 

134 comments on “Question of the Week: January 14, 2014

  • Blockquote
    “Denounce violence not faith without denouncing attachment as belief”.

    You have the answer in your own questionnaire sir !

    “It’s not the religion that disrupts but understanding that distracts. “

    Violence is a Crime and crime is an individual’s act which has nothing to do with his bearing as caste, color, creed, race, faith and belief.

    It’s an action that shows reaction and reactions are voluntary and involuntary.

    It can be an emotional outburst or deliberate thrust again a matter of scrutiny that categorically demands exhumation to sort out the real cause.

    As long as a legitimate platform owns violent behavior; under the head of deliberate activity; logic demands curtailing denouncement of faith and belief by all means.

    This lack of understanding to act and react cautiously and sensitively is the result of clashes between races, faith, religious and political activist and we see many such incidences among all over the world in the shape and manner of Blacks versus white and Muslim versus whatever.

    Muslim killing Christian and Christian killing a Muslim is not at all a reflection and training of Islam and Christianity.

    What was the religion of Hitler?

    It was an act of time and individuals understanding.

    I am educated throughout in a missionary school Saint Peter’s High school with all my teachers as Christian.

    My baseline in education is an award of my teachers to me; we had a church within school.

    There is no one single Christmas since I remember in which we have not celebrated at home with cutting cake on Christmas.

    The point is I am a Muslim believer as well.

    Islam pays similar homage and regard to Jesus, marry, joseph and David as it pay to Muhammad.(May peace be Upon them)

    So denouncing a criminal act of one in whatever faith with condemning whole community is a flaw and under no means religion or faith shall be put on trial for.

    Mind you religion is beyond belief and belief is not religion for there is a possibility and that is a reality too that one can believe still what religion has never demanded.

    “Wrong belief does not wrong religion” (Dr Raza)

    Blockquote



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  • Well, there are two possibilities.
    Either Islam is peaceful and terrorists are not real muslims, then muslims should not have any problems if we denounce violence. In fact they should denounce the violence of falsely claimed muslims, too.
    On the other hand, if the terrorist are true muslims and their claim is right in the terms of Islam, we should not care if denouncing violence is offending peaceful muslims, because they are only pretending to be peaceful.



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  • how do we denounce Muslim violence without blatantly denouncing Islam?

    But its ok to denounce a religion as it is practised by some. (Muslimophobia is the wicked problem here.)

    It is entirely possible to do this without also attaching any blame whatsoever on any individual nominally attached to that religion, the more so when a religious culture licenses the bullying of its own.

    Whilst religion is a choice, cultures oft times are not, and religion’s keepers seek to weave it in tight to deny that choice. Muslim cultures have been as various as any.

    So we have to learn to be more judgmental about cultures and not just about the archaic texts used by bullies for politically manipulative ends. We can only do this if we are diligent in being corruscating about the faults in our own culture, promoting the honesty of choice and its moral superiority over coercion.



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  • I think it’s simply key to denounce violence, and not allow anyone to hide behind a faith when committing it. We can go back and forth all day over the idea of which religion has been or is the most violent and what that means to the society as a whole but ultimately we need to denounce violence as a viable solution to social ills. We put people in jail for most violent acts, and when kids are violent to each other we don’t encourage them. The fact that religion has a taboo against being criticized in the public square therefore emboldening the perpetrators complicates matters, but should never prevent us from denouncing the actions.

    Until a religion separates itself from its violent social past (or present) it’s hard to separate the 2 in the public consciousness, even if the actions are relegated to a few members of a given faith. As much as people currently denounce Muslim violence, we haven’t exactly eliminated violence in other faiths. The primary difference is the insular nature of the culture in which these sorts of ideas fester which is seemingly more present in Islam currently. Theocracies don’t help that in the least if the people in control are willing to embrace the barbaric aspects of religious ideas (as well as literally translating the most violent of text) and don’t do themselves any favors in how the rest of the world views them.

    Note that I’m focusing on the actions rather than the religion. When 9-11 happened the conversation in the US was focused far too much on the religion as a whole rather than the actions of the terrorists in question. Before that, Muslims for the most part lived their lives in the US like anyone else. After, anyone that identified as Muslim was subject to scrutiny and scorn.

    I’m not a fan of any religion, but as long as a faith isn’t stoning, beheading, mutilating or shooting its adherents or outsiders then I’m fine to let them live as they see fit. And millions of Muslims do. But everyone has to denounce the violence, don’t give it any religious or social license. If there’s one thing we need to be united on, it’s that.



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  • I’m not a fan of any religion, but as long as a faith isn’t stoning, beheading, mutilating or shooting its adherents or outsiders then I’m fine to let them live as they see fit. And millions of Muslims do. But everyone has to denounce the violence, don’t give it any religious or social license. If there’s one thing we need to be united on, it’s that.

    Do you know this video?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpeIS25jhK4



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  • 6
    Dawkins Goddess says:

    We denounce terrorists of any creed or colour who carry out violence and use Islam, Christianity, Hindu, all religions, as their reason for this.
    Perhaps we should just get in to the habit of calling them ‘religious terrorists’.



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  • 7
    david smith says:

    If you want to criticize Islamic violence without painting the whole religion with a broad brush, you focus on the one group or the individual perpetrators responsible for the violence whether it’s isis or hez bulah or AL jedera or Osama bin Ladens sons Forgive the spelling errors, but you know what groups I’m referring to.



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  • dis guy best advertising for atheist and islamaphobes ever. No wonder dey don’t believe in evolution, dis guy stil as dumb as an chimp. (sorry chimps, that wasn’t nice)



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  • 9
    j.richard.jacobs says:

    I never visit Camp Politically Correct, so I can’t be quite so kind as the others. Fact: The origin openly stated by the perpetrators of this most recent incident of violence is Islam. Now, I understand that there are “moderate” Muslims, or at least they say they are. I fear that does not mean a thing. It does not remove Islam from bearing the blame. I have been hearing the word “radicalized” more and more frequently and the question is: Who is being radicalized? The answer is: Muslims who before being “radicalized” were just Muslims. The questions that naturally follow are: How can this be? If their core beliefs are peaceful and consistent with peaceful coexistence with others, how can they be radicalized? Is it that there are teachings within the Qur’an that allow this to happen?

    Sadly, the answers are not encouraging for the future of our world. They can be radicalized because within the structure of their belief system are the seeds for what we have seen and probably will be seeing for as long as the teachings of Islam remain unchanged, their “holy” book revised. I hear the cries already. “The Qur’an cannot be changed. It is the voice of the Prophet as Allah has instructed.” Well, as anyone even moderately familiar with the origins of Islam and particularly the “Holy Qur’an” knows, the book has been through a few writings and much of it changed before it became THE book.

    There must be a fundamental change in Islam before this nonsense can be ended, or at least brought under control. I have no quarrel with people believing anything as long as it does not impinge upon others in any negative way. Though “belief” is not in my vocabulary, I respect the rights of anyone to “believe” if they wish, but it must be borne in mind that what one believes affects behavior and if within the basic foundation of that belief there are ideas that promote negative behaviors of any kind, then that belief needs to be modified or excised.

    I do not limit that observation to Islam. There are elements of all religious belief systems needing scrutiny. One quick observation about religion in general: The practice of religion, by its very nature, is a practice of exclusionism, of separation and division. Religions are not the only culprits in this, by the way. As long as this approach to human relations is in place, there will be conflict. That being said, among the religions, Islam is the current priority because it is providing the fuel, manpower, and reason for what has been happening.



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  • How do we denounce Muslim violence without blatantly denouncing
    Islam?

    The question with violence is “Is it good or bad ?” – The question with a religion is “Is it true or false ?” Those are two very different questions.

    If a “good” religion asked to respect all genders, races, sexual orientations and philosophical claims because Gulugulu created the world in 35 hours last week, which cannot be accepted without evidence, then it should be rejected as a religion. (Though we could use some of it’s philosophy)

    But if an “evil” religion asks to kill homosexuals, atheists and apostates with evidence supporting that its omniscient/omnipotent/omni-benevolent god really does exist, has a divine plan for humanity, really takes care of its believers in the afterlife and makes all others suffer eternally, then it should be obeyed. Who would we be to dare criticizing such a really divine plan ? It would take some nerve to proclaim one’s atheism in the undeniable presence of “real gods”.

    So, if Islam is the literal word of a benevolent supreme being, then shortening mere mortals’ life in its name is absolute goodness. But if Allah doesn’t exist, then killing for Islam is absolute evil.

    Violence is certainly justifiable under certain circumstances (revolution, independence war, resistance…) but never by unproven local superstitions. Condemning religious violence requires to have exposed religion’s uncertainty first. Otherwise, you get the kind of hypocrisy we heard last week : Religious spokespersons condemning the attacks, but only as long as Charlie-Hebdo doesn’t publish cartoons of prophets any more. That is “condemning” violence only if atheists understand that they will be killed if they don’t shut up. One cannot sincerely condemn violence against blasphemers if one believes being in telepathic contact with the the omniscient creator of the universe who revealed absolute truth to his worshippers.

    All evil has to be grabbed by its roots.



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  • I would imagine the best way to denounce Muslim violence without blatantly denouncing Islam is by denouncing violence in general and to promote education. Appeal to a persons reason and natural sense of morality. Hopefully by doing so they could see that one does not need “god” or “religion” to be moral and that their heinous acts are the result of their own doing. The pain they create in the world can only be changed by them.



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  • 12
    Dave Day says:

    The uncomfortable question that springs to my mind for Muslims is “Are you the way you are because of Islam, or despite it?”

    Essentially, are Islamic terrorists violent because of the teachings of the Koran, or despite Koranic teachings?

    Are moderate Muslims (mainly westernised) moderates because of the Koran, or because of western scientific and secular understanding of what makes for a better society for all, and despite what the Koran may teach about faith, religious laws, holy wars, slavery, misogyny, child brides, apostates, etc.

    For me it’s a pretty straightforward answer to a pretty straightforward question, but I see so many Muslims struggle with this question, usually ending up with a complete lack of honesty with themselves and others, and it usually ends up with them engaging in some pathetic exercise in Islamic apologetics.



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  • 13
    Ardo Ci says:

    Without wishing to enter the murky world of religion and politics – indeed, we all know the situation that has given rise to the dilemma facing the West – I would hold with the view that followers of Islam compose a completely foreign society to the one encroached upon, amoeba-like. Given the number that now live in western countries, that it will integrate with societies outside its origins may take hundreds of years, if ever. Its deliberate separateness means its only course is to inveigle itself and slowly overwhelm the society it has moved into and thereby assume power to bring about its own laws. So, the West and its norms are threatened by it and can only affect an answer by removing all our freedoms, which they are doing bit by bit, in a subjugated recognition of sorts that muslims might have more rights than anyone else.

    My answer to this is “when in Rome….”

    I am sure most followers of Islam are very decent folk and, like the rest of us, just want to live happily and peacefully but they are under the yoke of an intolerance which is at variance with the society they have joined just as the rest of us were until a few hundred years ago.

    So what I am going to suggest will appear draconian and open to derision by the untrustworthy, ‘touch-feely’, liberal-politico classes in dealing with those who have chosen to behave like monsters in a fair society. What makes them extremely difficult to deal with is that they welcome death as a benefit in carrying out their barbarous, zombie, acts. They are beyond appealing to but they do have an Achilles heal. It will require the introduction of one new law. A law of terrifying consequences.

    That law will state that in the event of any citizen caught attempting to carry out an atrocity, actually carrying out an atrocity or have carried out an atrocity, within days of it, all their family members and associated family members will be immediately deported to their country of origin (however many generations back it may be) or any other country that will accept them. Their goods will be sold and the proceeds sent to them, and no exception will be made for anyone no matter how long they have resided in or been a citizen of the country they are in. Any other individuals who may be enticed to take up the baton instead and come from abroad will be fully vetted by border guards.

    Preposterous? Of course. You can hear the clamour of the do-gooders about ‘rights’, humanity and all the rest, and no government will ever countenance such a measure. But the fact is it would make a crazy murderer (I don’t like the word ‘terrorist’ – it’s just a badge) think twice when it is his immediate and extended family who will be suffering directly from his actions whether he or she is dead or not.

    I am with J.Richard.Jacobs above when I paraphrase him by saying “any other answers are not encouraging for the future of our world.



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  • 14
    inquisador says:

    how do we denounce Muslim violence without blatantly denouncing Islam?

    Personally I think that the time has come to denounce Islam.

    First of all let me say that Muslims who live within the law must be exempt from personal censure on account of their faith. There should be no special privileges and no mistreatment. One law for all.

    Having said that, I believe it has become unsustainable and absurd to continue to try and maintain a stupid fiction that there is no connection between the Islamic ideology and the Muslims who are committing crimes in the name of Islam.

    We can see from the canonical texts of Islam how a good Islamic society ought to interact with neighbouring, non-Muslim communities. The Muslims who are able to do so are expected to join in military expeditions against any vulnerable non-Muslim groups of people. The “Sirat Rasul Allah” of Ibn Ishaq for example, tells how Mohammad orders his soldiers to quietly surround an oasis where a tribe of Jews live and cultivate their crops. They wait to see whether the Jews come out to observe the dawn prayer. But they don’t. Which means they are condemned as apostates by their omission of that prayer. According to Islamic law. So then the soldiers go ahead and slaughter or capture and sell them into slavery; their crops and land and wealth are confiscated.

    There are many such accounts of the career of Mohammad which illustrate the intolerance and harshness towards non-Muslims and the desire to conquer them, kill or subjugate them and constantly expand the domain of Islam. This is the heritage of every Muslim. It’s been happening for 1400 years. Most Muslims today are the descendants of Christians, Pagans, Jews, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, etc., who were coerced to convert or else endure the humiliation of living under inferior status, subordination and special taxes if they refused. The only other alternative available was death.

    I’m trying to give a hint of the flavour of what life was like in a fully islamised society and how it enforced and maintained its dominance over others by force or by coercion backed by the threat of something worse.

    Perhaps the worst part; the powerful engine of success, was the indoctrination of children from infancy. To become single-minded warriors for Allah, anxious for action, ready to welcome death as martyrdom with all the well known rewards. This set of doctrines is a blueprint for military and cultural expansion and dominance, which has spread far and wide, with no respect for the human rights of non-Muslims. The current terrorist tactics are only the latest manifestation of this pernicious mind-virus.

    The idea that Islam is a suitable ideology for introduction to western societies, by the means of millions of Muslim migrants, is potentially very damaging to those societies, perhaps even fatal in the longer term. Fatal that is, to the multicultural harmony that is being envisaged, fatal to one law for all, for equal human rights, peace, stability, happiness and prosperity.

    So I say: we need to denounce Islam and Muslim violence. For Muslim violence is directly caused by Islam.

    But to repeat: We must clearly protect the human rights and respect due to Muslims as to anyone else. They are not to blame for being born into the faith, and most Muslims are peaceful.

    My hope is that many Muslims in the west may decide for themselves to quietly drop their Islamic faith (as some have done already) and raise their children with freedom of choice of which, if any, religion to follow. But the full story of Islam, as told in the authorized texts, needs to be available, in its true context, not whitewashed.



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  • 20
    peterspc says:

    lets not forget whats gone before in other religeous societys around the world , lessons were learnt and became moderated ie no more capital punishment etc , but the muslims still cut off heads and hands etc ? which one has proved to be more wise ?



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  • 21
    peterspc says:

    muslims are a strange bunch they have been killing each other for centuries due to their beliefs be it shia or sunni ? but when another comes along and disagrees with one or the other they then all come together to kill the intruder via their paranoid delusions , so clearly they are a very very troubled society and need to be challenged because they cannot be allowed treat others as they do upon themselves ? if they donot wish to intergrate with others then they should not be made welcome or abandon their misguided loyalty ? we have done out best to make them welcome but yet they still turn on us non muslims ?



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  • The Answer?

    You Don’t. There is no separating the horrible acts committed from the religion they were committed for. The trick will be denouncing Islam itself without denouncing individual Muslims who would never commit such acts.
    A dialogue must be opened where we can learn why certain Muslims believe in peace and would not commit violent acts, and why there are others who would enthusiastically do so. We also need to consider that some of the peaceful Muslims, while they would never commit such atrocities themselves, cannot bring themselves to condemn those who would and do.
    After all, if a religion such as Christianity can be somewhat reformed from it’s brutal and violent past and made to no longer burn witches and sponsor Holy wars, maybe there is hope for Islam, too. There are just as many vile verses in the Bible as in the Qu’ran/Hadith, but for the most part most Christians (Catholics, anyways) are willing to gloss over those verses in the interest of not being evil sociopaths. If we can slowly get more of the moderate Muslims to admit that such behaviour is unacceptable and that some parts of the Qu’ran and Hadith need to be ignored/reinterpreted (or whatever method of mental gymnastics they need to do to make such a blatantly fraudulent text less barbarous) we may just start solving problems instead of hiding behind weak Political Correctness while letting the world continue to believe in such madness because it is their “right” to believe nonsense that puts all of humanity (the whole planet, in fact) at risk.



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  • Here’s a question in response to the question. Why should we? We never get tired of conflating witch hunts, the Inquisition, the crusades, pedophilic priests, etc, with Christianity; so why does Islam deserve special treatment? To my mind, it doesn’t; especially since terrorist behavior is very much in line with a literal interpretation of the Quran.



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  • In principle, moderate law-abiding Muslims should not apologies for what happen. However, they should start to recognise the imperfection of their ideology, something that applies to all ideologies. Such imperfection allows for the wide interpretation across the spectrum from liberal to extreme. As long as they are in denial of this imperfection, they will not deal with the root of the problem, that is viable extreme interpretations, and will keep going into the circles.

    Additional comment: Some initiatives are starting to tackle these issues, albeit not motivated by the recognition of the imperfection of the religion itself! Much more efforts are needed!



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  • If a political organisation (the Nazi party, say) publishes a manifesto supporting violence against critics, and some of its supporters (not the majority, of course) follow their creed, doesn’t the organisation itself have culpability?

    It’s reasonable to hold any institution responsible for the acts of subscribers following its teachings. If it wants to publicly disown the actions, it must publicly disown any specific doctrines that support those actions. Disown, not simply deny or apologise for. Why would we demand anything less of Islam?



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  • Every time we experience one of these atrocities, the leaders of Islam wring their hands and shout in moral indignation, “This is not Islam! We are a religion of peace and love!”, while in their next breath saying, “… but if they hadn’t offended us, none of this would have happened”. If the leaders and followers of Islam stood up against treating their women like property, and stopped blaming them for the weakness and insecurity of the men, I might be inclined to believe them. If they stood up against selling young girls into marriages to old men (or any men, for that matter), I might believe them. If they stood up against imprisoning, torturing, and executing those accused of heresy and blasphemy, I might believe them. If they stood up against the horrors of ridiculous sectarian violence, I might believe them. If they banded together to fight groups like ISIS and Boko Haram, I might believe them. Until that time, I feel no real compunction to defend either the religion or its followers.



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  • I think the answer is simple but it has a few parts. In the first place, be mindful of language. Simply claifying that one is concerned by extremists, Islamists, Islamofascists, fundamentalist terrorists, etc., should give a careful reader cues that one is not talking about Muslims as a whole. Secondly, it is worth keeping in mind that the extremism isn’t necessarily Muslim in origin. When I think about the ‘Muslim World”, I have to remember that this includes nations like Indonesia, Bangla Desh and others that do not seem to be producing extremists. Canada has Muslims as well, and very, very few are attracted by extremism. Much of the extremism comes from the Middle East. There, many problems mix into a toxic brew — poverty, broken infrastructure, terrible educational systems in many places, unemployment that has left a lot of young men with nothing to do and few prospects, profound suspicion of foreign countries that have bombed them, dictatorial regimes (sometimes supported by those same foreign countries) and in many cases, like Afghanistan, a generation of war. (I sometimes wonder how many people in this part of the world suffer PTSD.) These conditions remind me of Germany in the 20s and 30s, and we all know what sort of extremism that led to.
    In sum, care about the words we use and consideration of the conditions that have allowed extremism to flourish may help us remember that when we consider Islamic terrorism, we aren’t necessarily talking about “Muslims”. As an atheist, I sometimes find myself in the awkward position of defending Muslims, since so many people want to paint them all with the same brush.



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  • Methinks the preacher had learned a wee bit from Shakespeare by the way he addressed the crowd.

    But what a poisonous toad he is. All so calmly shaming ‘moderate’ muslims into condoning stoning adulterers, etc , all because Allah had said it in the perfect book.

    For they are all honourable men !

    The less hold this religion has on the minds of people, the better the world will be.



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  • A few scant minutes searching the internet will determine that the 5 most popular organised religions of planet Earth (comprising around 75% of total population) have doctrines which not only forbid any and all sexual activity outside of ‘marriage’, they all condemn any person even having sexually lustful thoughts, all gods having abilities to hear thoughts… And we won’t discuss anything about the ‘M‘ word, will we, even though 95% of folks have masturbated – and the other 5% are liers…
    According to these organised religion, every single one of us are doomed.

    Or to put this another way, if this inexplicable collective doctrine of prohibiting sexual proclivity in the animal that is homo sapiens was relinquished altogether, then quite possibly there would not be the masses of very angry men wanting to kill and blow things up.

    I know one thing; after orgasm (or two or three) – which ever way this was achieved – causing violence is the last thing on my mind.

    p.s. I often ponder how scarce (or possibly non existent) the sex industries of this planet would be, had this doctrine never reared it’s very ugly head.



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  • Desired Islam only rise with modern educated Muslims.

    Source of all evil are ignorance, this quote valid for all people muslim or not.



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  • Simple. By recognising that there is not one monolithic Islam. There are many Islams just as there are many Christianities. Some, like Sufism, are more peaceful than others.



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  • how do we denounce Muslim violence without blatantly denouncing Islam?

    I shall stand on the shoulders of giants to address the question…we must denounce the text (s) within which this uberviolent cult of death worldview is condoned/supported. We (in particular Muslims that map the precepts of these texts onto thier daily lives) must be able to have an open honest dialogue about the actual contents of scripture, specifically the Quran and hadith. These texts are the tools used to fuel this insanity and are directly culpable for this escalating uberviolence. We debate endlessly whether or not the perpetrators of these atrocities actually believe the wickedness of the scripture they quote. We debate that these groups (and individuals) actually have other motives or not. We debate that they have a hidden agenda, or that they are taking the texts out of context, or that they are interpreting the texts incorrectly. Time and time again these texts (and thier interpetation of them) are identified by the perpetrators as the instruction manual, sanctioned by their god, for the destruction and death they cause. The text promotes a cult of death. The text supports the vile notion that life itself is a small insignificant step towards an afterlife. It is the texts that command its followers to choose the afterlife propostion over life. What the moderate, the radical, the extremist, the terrorists all have in common is this cult of death worldview. This cult of death worldview is drawn directly from the pages of this insidious, ridiculous, ignorant text. Muslims suffer most from the cult of death precepts and until they can bring themselves to admit that life as we know it, is preferable to the afterlife that we do not know, the carnage and bloodshed for us all, but in particular for Muslims, will continue. Those that adhere to Islam, by definition adhere to the cult of death, and therefore



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  • The question should be how does a religious person denounce Muslim violence at all? What gives any person sharing the same generic delusion as the perpetrators of the violence the right to judge the actions of those who act upon their delusion? How does anyone who has been affected by the religious indoctrination process, and holds a faith that many if not all of the actions dictated to us by a particular god, however contradictory of human rights, are to be obeyed, not also realize that they share in, or at least are just as guilty of delusion-based action. Certainly the taking of a human life through a face to face killing spree upon defenseless victims is an unspeakable tragedy.. but what about the loss of life from banning of condoms, gender inequality, genital mutilation, child abuse and the many other forms of religious oppression that can lead to loss of life or a life of misery. These dictates still find favor with people of all faiths, the same people who are patting themselves on the back for not being a jihadist after all. In other words, my delusion is better than yours, hardly the perfect foundation for teaching right from wrong! All faith based action taken that cause loss of human life or are detrimental to quality of human life are immoral and recognition of that shared immorality will be an important step toward recognizing religious delusion for the pervasive evil that it is. Hopefully incidents as news worthy as this will at the very least be a means to steer more moderates in the direction of evidence based belief. Other than that the future is as clearly defined as the current news feed.



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  • how do we denounce Muslim violence without blatantly denouncing Islam?

    I stand on the shoulders of giants to address the question…we must denounce the text (s) within which this uberviolent cult of death worldview is condoned/supported. We (in particular Muslims that map the precepts of these texts onto their daily lives) must be able to have an open honest dialogue about the actual contents of scripture, specifically the Quran and hadith. These texts are the tools used to fuel this insanity and are directly culpable for this escalating uberviolence. We debate endlessly whether or not the perpetrators of these atrocities actually believe the wickedness of the scripture they quote. We debate whether these groups (or individuals) actually have other motives or not. We debate whether they have a hidden agenda, or that they are taking the texts out of context, or that they are interpreting the texts incorrectly or not.

    Time and time again these texts (and the interpretation of them) are identified by the perpetrators as the instruction manual, sanctioned by their god, for the destruction and death they cause. The text promotes a cult of death. The text supports the vile notion that life itself is a small insignificant step towards the real prize…the afterlife. It is the texts that command its followers to choose the afterlife proposition over life. What the moderate, the radical, the extremist, the terrorists, the adherents of Islam all have in common is this cult of death worldview. This cult of death worldview is drawn directly from the pages of this insidious, ridiculous, ignorant text. Muslims suffer most from the cult of death precepts and until they can bring themselves to admit that life as we know it, is preferable to the afterlife that we do not know, the carnage and bloodshed for us all, in particular for Muslims, will continue. Those that adhere to Islam, by definition adhere to the cult of death, and therefore, while some (perhaps the majority) publicly condemn the senseless violence they are all complicit as they all adhere to their scriptural cult of death precepts. It is the adherents to Islam that can be most effective in changing this. It is my submission that those that adhere to Islam must remove/edit the cult of death precepts from their scripture before we begin to see positive progress and less uberviolence. When the adherents themselves denounce their own texts, or at least edit out the bad bits, then the denunciation is not a denunciation at all…it is simply a copyright edit…and we can all, mostly Muslims, be the beneficiaries.



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  • The easy answer is to say we do not discriminate because we denounce all religion. Humanists are neither violent nor do they discriminate. But to be honest, I am finding it increasingly difficult to separate terrorist violence from Islam. This is one of the few times I remember well know Muslims, like the mayor of Rotterdam, condemning these actions. If peaceful Muslims do not let their voices be heard, then they have let the terrorists hijack their religion.



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  • That’s a false dichotomy, it’s not a binary situation. Especially when it comes to religion. The Islam of a terrorist is violent, the Islam of your average muslim is not. The problem is the denouncement of Islam instead of violence, or the denouncement of Islam as violent. I could point to plenty of violent acts in the name of the christian faith, and demand that every christian denounce every one of those acts, but it simply doesn’t make sense to do that. I don’t expect every christian to individually denounce every act of christian terrorism across the world (abortion clinic bombings etc.) because I don’t live under the delusional base assumption that everyone who subscribes to a particular religion approves of all actions of all other subscribers to that religion. Muslims don’t need to denounce the violent acts of other muslims, we should simply expect them not so support those acts, and the vast majority of muslims, especially in the western world, do not support the acts of terrorism.



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  • 43
    Saoirse says:

    One shouldn’t worry about denouncing Islam if the religion (or any other ideology) cannot back up the claims that it is making for itself.



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  • To feed into the religious rhetoric of terrorists is to give them a veil to hide behind. The way you avoid denouncing Islam when denouncing violence committed by muslim terrorists is to leave their religion out of the issue. Theistic religions are non-disprovable claims, so why even recognize justifications based on them. Initiating violence is wrong, there’s no need to bring the religion into it. Any religion can be used to ‘justify’ violence, and pretty much all of them have throughout history, so the fact that Islam is the religion that’s front and center about it right now is pretty irrelevant.

    We don’t need to argue about the nuances of particular religions if we all just agree, as civilized people, that violence is a problem, and isn’t the way to solve problems. Working on peaceful solutions and on protecting those who are concerned with morality from those who aren’t.

    Religion isn’t an institution. Sure, there are institutions that claim to head particular sets of religion, but religion is truly personal. No matter what The Pope says, no matter what any Imam says, no matter what any Rabbi says, people won’t believe that which they are not inclined to believe, and people will believe that which they find appealing by whatever standards they use.

    The Islam of a terrorist is not the Islam of any civil muslim, the Islam of civil muslims across the world is not the Islam of any terrorist. You can branch it and divide it however you want, but everyone’s religion is their own, their set of beliefs. The lines of text they adhere to, and the lines they don’t, the sources they trust and the sources they don’t, and their own personal interpretations of those lines and sources that rises from their individual experience of the world. Unless a religion is explicitly and ubiquitously calling for direct violence addressing that religion is unnecessary. I would go as far as say that the topic of religion degrades discussion of violence at a fundamental level. When someone tries to justify an act of violence by citing their religion they are degrading the discussion, but to respond to that, instead of simply discussing the violence, is to tread onto their territory, a land where discussion doesn’t matter because that person’s beliefs have already pushed them to violence.

    Address violence, address assaults and rapes and murders, but don’t address religion. If someone cites their religion as a reason for such an act bring the discussion back to secular reasons, there are always secular reasons, and attack those instead.



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  • I will never judge a whole person from his religion. But I will judge his religion. And I will be open about it, because I want to break the walls that divide us, and form a better more loving society.

    I am talking about walls of intolerance that we have built while at peace, not while at war. I am talking about invisible walls built among peaceful people and by peaceful, non-violent people. I am not talking about terrorism.

    These walls are the silent and non-violent walls of all religious communities. Non-violent religious communities that preach unity and communion but that don’t really let anyone inside, and that don’t let anyone be truly part of their families, if not only after conversion.

    Their social behavior parallels the social behavior of a non-violent white racist community towards a black guy who knows, that, if he really wants to be considered equal in this loving white community, he needs to bleach his skin until it converts his black skin to white.

    This is of course discrimination and this is stemming from a specific type of intolerance that is neither violent nor illiberal. It is a type of intolerance that can stagnate, survive and even grow freely in a truly liberal and peaceful society.

    Ultimately the black guy will not bleach his skin and he will soon learn to move on, knocking at the doors of another community, hoping to find a family.

    This is why a liberal Western society is full of people moving on, like this guy, who cannot integrate. He is a victim of intolerance and the consequent discrimination.

    This is true for any kind of discrimination: against different skin colors, different sexual orientations, a different gender, and of course against different moral philosophies or different faiths.

    There are many self-loving intolerant communities, which are in fact socially inept communities, and that constitute non-integrating social units.

    We are used to think of intolerance and discrimination in the context of not letting someone into a public place, such as a coffee shop, because of the color of his skin: and this is against the law.

    But we are not used to think of intolerance and discrimination in the context of not letting someone into your own private life because of the color of his skin: and this is certainly not against the law, but also not an inch less racist.

    On a bigger scale, entire intolerant communities are a constant source of this private manifestation of intolerance as opposed to the illegal public type of discrimination. The size of this community-based intolerance forms this huge invisible wall that separates people and stops a society from shifting from a liberal fragmented multi-cultural society into a liberal loving multi-cultural society.

    But in an exquisitely free society there cannot be laws forcing you to let other people into your private circles. Laws can only do and should do only so much.

    But in a free society what laws should not do, education should do.

    To fight private intolerance we must educate and promote dialogue and promote awareness of this type of intolerance and we must point to all those communities that they are responsible for the horrific failure of integration in our multi-cultural society.

    The mother of this type of discrimination is of course religion.

    Intolerant religious communities are the strongest source of peaceful, non-violent social divisions.

    Religious people discriminate in the name of a loving God, and their language is lit up with so much “infinite mercy” and “glorious mightiness” that you may struggle to see what lies through these words. You may struggle to see that in all the “glory and perfection” religious people will participate to real social integration only if the others decide to become, from “not good enough” to “as good as” they are.
    And this is the very core of any type of discrimination: that you are not “good enough”, and someone is better than you. And religious people are humbly better than you.

    Ultimately religion splits society into: “the better people and the others”. Like racism, homophobia, sexism do.

    This happens specifically because the religious method of judging people is profoundly discriminatory.

    Religious people allow themselves to judge a whole person, using divine instructions, which instruct them to focus on what religion a person belongs to.

    By focusing on religion they reach a shallow, incomplete and therefore discriminatory judgment about a person, a judgment that it is not preferred coming from a person’s character or conduct, but that it is preferred coming from the type of religious affiliation.

    If I judge a person by looking at his skin color and prefer to focus on this feature than to look at his moral conduct and character, I am clearly judging this person in a discriminatory way. Does this make me a violent terrorist? No, it makes me a peaceful racist.

    This is why religion discriminates: they believe they can judge a whole person from his religion.

    Now that you have a new insight on this fundamental aspect of religious discrimination, you will be able to appreciate more easily why religious people struggle so much when they receive criticism towards their own theological material. They simply assume that a judgment directed at the content of someone’s book of morals, such as the Quran or Bible, equals to or implies a judgment about the whole person.

    They essentially assume that they will receive from us the same shallow judgment that they give to us, which is judging a whole person from his religious texts.

    Clearly this is not the case. And there is a striking difference between a liberal and a religious way of judging people.

    In a liberal society nobody likes to be judged as a whole and certainly not by using skin, gender and sexual preferences. And nobody likes to judge anybody in this way. We like to make specific judgments confined to a specific time and context, and confined to a specific aspect of a person, whether we judge in a court of law or in a sport competition or anywhere else.

    People change themselves; people don’t like to be labeled conclusively. When we tell someone: “you are bad!” – we imply: “you have done something bad!”, we refer to something specific in time and context. We wouldn’t be implying: “you are bad, you are evil!” or even “There is evil in you!” or “you are just a bad person” – and this is what religious people are more accustomed to imply.

    When I meet a religious or non-religious person I look at a human being and I look at the humanity this person displays, I look at his moral character, at his kindness, at his behavior as it happens. I don’t judge this person’s morals by preparing myself, by reading, studying or memorizing his religious book of morals.

    Nobody should judge a book by its cover and nobody should judge a person by its book.

    I only wish that religious people, from their part, could use a similar non-discriminatory approach towards us.

    I wish religious people could start listening to their own heart for guidance.
    Tragically and ironically, the moment before the beginning of their religiosity they did choose God by listening to their own heart, but unfortunately that was the last time they gave to their own feelings and moral judgment such authority.

    From God onwards it doesn’t matter anymore how they feel about things the only thing that matters to them is what it is found written in the book. So, if for example a religious person feels that someone is a good person, but the book says that he is in fact a bad person, the book wins, and the religious person will ignore and disregard his previous and very own feelings.

    This is the core of any human or divine ideology: people’s feelings, the very definition of humanity, are not a priority in life. The priority is something else.

    Nonsense.

    My dear fellow religious members of our liberal, non-violent society: this is nonsense,

    I am telling you, I want no walls, I want no discrimination, and I only wish that you could appreciate that no matter how convinced you are that your religion is so good for you and good for your family and community, it is not good enough for the rest of the world, which is now needing like never before, to get rid of every barrier between people, which is now so desperate to destroy every wall and defeat any excuse not to integrate and not to love each other.

    Your religion is not good enough for the world outside your communities, and we are waiting for you to finally drop your religious uniforms, which are symbols of superiority, inequality and discrimination.
    We are waiting for you to recuperate the authority of your own humanity, in the form of you own moral sense and of your own heart; the same heart that you once listened to when choosing God, and that you have been deaf to since.

    Our world is not about playing football together, being mates, visiting each other’s homes and sharing cups of tea. Our world, from the Far East to the West is seeking far more than tolerance and hand shakes. This society needs people meeting, loving each other, marrying, making a family together and investing in a future together. It is far more than tolerance that we seek, we need love and humanity at its best. We need to craft a society together based on our deepest and greatest bonds, and not based on bonds barely worth a night out or a friendly chat.

    Drop your religious symbols and “play human” with all of us because this is the only game we know how to play together, this is the only game where nobody needs to bleach his own skin of a different color.

    This is the game that all our children play, children of any race, religious background, and gender. Our children “play human” so well; they play human when they smile and are happy, or when they laugh or when they love you just because you are sitting there next to them. They play human when they appreciate your kindness, your warmth, and your presence, and they let you know how much they need you with their eyes.

    The feeling that they feel and that they make us feel is the best game in life, and this game is called humanity: not Islam, Judaism or Christianity.

    This is the very game of humanity that adults should carry on playing among each other, without ignoring the rules, without corrupting it with powerful ideologies. This is a game that we should be enhancing using the superiority of our children’s innocence, and that we should be protecting using the authority of our children’s simplicity.

    My dear fellow religious members of our liberal, non-violent society, this is how we can be part of the same family:

    Learn how to be human from your children, before they learn how not to be from you.

    Drop your cross, drop you Quran, drop your rosary, drop your Bible, drop your complicated pretentious symbols of fake humility and humbly accept that we are all equal in our humanity, united by our feelings, not by our faiths.

    Nobody should consider himself better than someone else at being a person, as much as no child has ever been better than any child at being a child. Nobody should ever have a good reason to believe otherwise.

    No child needs to follow the Bible or the Quran to become better at smiling and feeling happy or at making you happy.
    No human needs to follow the Bible or the Quran to become better at smiling and feeling happy or at making you happy.

    Humanity is and will always be bigger than any religion, don’t try to squash it into your cathedrals, or to squeeze it into your mosques, or into your synagogues, it will never fit.

    We all cry, suffer, smile and love in the same way, no matter what religious garments we are wearing. This fact is the only source of equality that brings us together and that can survive against any human or divine ideology causing inequality.

    No human or divine symbol should ever divide what human feelings unite. But this happens all the time, and it is time to stop this.

    This is a time where my generation and my society face a delicate passage. Some people will start fighting against Islamic terrorism, but they will end up persecuting Muslims. This is illiberal and immensely wrong and this should never happen: Muslims are peaceful and they are not terrorists.

    But all Muslims, like every religious person with a holy book, belong to a peaceful intolerant enterprise and they need to be made aware of this.

    The sooner they become aware of this, the sooner they will break the walls between us, and the sooner these walls go down, the sooner our society will integrate and flourish in a more loving society.

    Finally, since it is all about aiming for a more integrated and loving society and since more than a half of the world population are women, I’m going to ask you this question, and then I’m going to ask you to generalise and think how every other religious person that follows the Quran or Bible or any other holy text would or should answer this same question guided by their own holy text.

    The question is:
    “If your daughter came to you with a big smile and said: “Dad, I felt in love with a great man, he is an incredibly kind, funny, honest, loyal, charming, hardworking, wealthy, and generous man, I really love him, and he really loves me back” would you welcome and support this love or would you ask her to suppress this love?”

    Because he might be a kind, funny, honest, loyal, charming, hardworking, wealthy, and generous man, but he is neither Muslim, Jew or Christian.

    What would you do? What would every Muslim, Christian or Jew do.

    I know what they should do, and I have written all the things I have written bearing this question in mind each second.



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  • By denouncing this religion and every religion for the misguided literature that it is. You can’t describe it in a rational way without denouncing it. When what is described in any religious text is to commit murder, for any reason, or other atrocities, there should be no place for any god or gods in the society of today. The way to combat these systems is by pointing out concerns openly, sometimes diplomatically, but without being afraid.



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  • A cited cause for an act and the actual cause for that act need not be the same. The actor need not even know that the two do not align.

    For example, after the Charlie Hebdo attack, AQAP cited revenge for a slight on the honor of their prophet as the reason for the attack. Neither the Qur’an nor any commonly recognized hadith describe any worldly punishment for blasphemy (the “crime” that Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons can be most closely tied to), those came about due to various cultures enforcing religious rules in secular ways. I would argue that Islam was not the motivator for this attack. Pride maybe, or a twisted sense of honor, perhaps the need to maintain a sense of fear in order to keep power. Nothing in the raw text behind Islam justifies or calls for such an attack, and as such the claim that Islam was a motivator needs to be thrown out, and we need to search for a cause that has the backing of evidence.

    From the direct claims of AQAP we have evidence that the attack was revenge for a slight against someone’s honor, okay, there’s a start. So now we have a mass murder committed for the maintenance of honor, that’s something we can address in a secular way, and talk about without ethereal things like Gods getting in the way. Now we don’t need to pointlessly suspect every muslim we see of sharing the sentiments of AQAP, because we have no reason to suspect every muslim shares the twisted sense of honor held by this group of people who are clearly insane. Just as we do not hold every man’s mental state suspect after the Elliot Rodger attack, or the mental state of every christian suspect after every abortion clinic bombing.



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  • there is no such thing as multi cultural

    Cultures can be closed or open, isolationist or adaptive. I love living in London because it wriggles and writhes with a myriad of cultures. It thrives upon them with more creativity per square metre than most places on the planet. I will fight for an open, adaptive embracing culture. I will fight cultural forces that seek to own and isolate “their own”. Cultures should not own its “members”. Its members make their culture. Cultural leaders are never elected and cultures are not legal entities within a state.



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  • Keep it very simple. Find and quote verbatim the text in the Quran and/or Sunnah that clearly or could be reasonably interpreted to support the act committed by the perpetrators, and make these textual references front and centre of any public discussion and analysis of the event. In many instances such as Charlie Hebdo it makes for chillingly simple cause-and-effect diagrams:

    The Islamic texts call for the death penalty for blasphemy (cause) > Muslims kill blasphemers (effect)

    The above are simple statements of fact entitely devoid of (false) racism, “Islamophobia” or anti-Muslim bigotry, and will make it abundantly clear that the violence-riddled Quran and other Islamic texts are the root cause of the problem. How will that help? Hopefully it will marginalise from the public discourse the too numerous disingenuous or ignorant apologists and “useful idiots” who claim “it’s nothing to do with Islam”; “they’re not true Muslims”; “their interpretation is wrong”, and encourage so-called moderate Muslims to recognize the true source and scale of the problem and tackle it from within.



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  • Short answer: you can’t! As long as moderate means 50 lashes a week in public and 10 years imprisonment for free speech, a civilized world will never be able to not offend Islam.



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  • how do we denounce Muslim violence without blatantly denouncing Islam?

    Inquisador and others are correct. The question contains the germ of the problem, assuming that denouncing Islam is somehow not to be tolerated. Toadying and submitting to Islam is the western liberal ideal and exactly what this so-called ‘religion’ demands- spineless surrender.

    Stand up for our values of freedom and democracy. DENOUNCE ISLAM.



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  • A good question could be “How can we denounce Islam in a way that would de-convert most Muslims ?”

    Telling them that worshipping a meteorite is stupid often proves counter-productive.

    Maybe repeating it over and over… ?



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  • 55
    Christopher says:

    I believe Blasphemy is not a crime.
    Judaism, Christianity and Islam all believe that it is. At sometime in history all these religions have proclaimed that they kill to protect their honor. At some time in history a Cain killed an Abel and they lied about why. They are still lying. It takes courage to speak up to the face of those that seek power. They can kill for it. To incite others to commit violence is both cowardly and obscene.



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  • Any time the US legal system tries a person for a crime, there is something established and given consideration that can have a heavy influence on the decided guilt or innocence of the alleged criminal.

    Namely, motive. While motive is not a component of the actual crime, motive is usually established and verified to establish the accused’s motivation to commit the crime, and sometimes used to establish intent, but that can be a separate issue.

    Some may say that in a case like this, motive might be insanity or extremism. But that fails to get to the root of the motivation. For, were it not for the fact that a holy book exists, out of which flows a group of followers, there would be no edicts or commandments, correctly interpreted or otherwise, to initiate the line of thought that the these heinous acts are required, and can be justified and rationalized in the context of that faith.

    So, given that. I don’t know how we can fully detach the faith from the acts of the person(s) motivated by that faith to commit these atrocities. If the written motivation clearly did not exist and could readily be dismissed as cause, and instead we could establish an entirely delusional interpretation on the part of the accused, that would be one thing. But whether we are discussing Islam or Christianity, the fact remains that both of the related holy books contain plenty of verbiage that pretty clearly instructs followers to dispatch any outsiders or non-believers for a variety of reasons. And not only is it a mere suggestion, it is often a command. Often times one that once carried out is accompanied by the promise of reward or favor for the one who carried it out.

    I’m a former Christian, and have been an atheist for a bit over 5 years now, thanks in no small part to the writings of our dear Dawkins. I believe that all religions, to greater or lesser degree, are impediments to human progress and societal harmony. There is just far too much modern day and historical evidence backing this up to think otherwise, in my opinion. The harm far outweighs the good. Religion needs to go. period. And I agree with Sam Harris and other that Islam poses a unique and far more serious threat in our modern world. Personally, I don’t feel enough is being done by “moderate” Muslims to denounce and take action against the extremists. Just as not enough was done by US Christians to denounce the likes of Westboro Baptist Church. But I feel that there are an embarrassing number of US Christians who, while they might not visibly act out in the name of the views like Westboro did, they secretly hold similar views and will look the other way due to that. They don’t want to get their hands dirty, but they agree. I see no reason to believe that we wouldn’t have very much that same thing happening in the Muslim world. Silent agreement and condoning by far too many “moderate” Muslims.



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  • Education may be the only answer here. As you can see in some Dawkins’ debates against Islam people, there’s a big wall preventing Logic from happening. Without using violence-against-violence, that religious group will not stop at all, because their acts are derived from Allah himself.
    “Disobeying” God would be a fatal blow for the morality of these extremists. They are ABSOLUTELY convinced: brain-washing might not be so crazy after all, and I’d say there’s no way to avoid this situation in the short term.

    It’s all a matter of Moral. Hitler, Stallin, Mussolini, et caetera. Every single one of them didn’t recognize doing something wrong when commiting genocides: they saw their country, their world, their aspirations being redeemed. Education IS the only way. But it won’t fix anything soon. We will have to wait until the next generation, or maybe the one coming right after that.



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  • I think the question presupposes an incorrect thesis, that the Religion Islam should not be condemned for the violent and murderous acts committed in its name. The correct thesis should be that other innocent Muslims should not be condemned.

    A religion is always interpreted and often distorted to suit the needs of its leaders and followers. With no test based on reason or evidence a religious person can claim that practices such as jihad are true and just according to their faith and beliefs. Others’ views based on widely accepted moral standards or the rule of law can be discounted as contrary to faith.

    So it is nothing but a politically correct fallacy to say that the Islam of the terrorist is not the real or true Islam, because there is no real or true Islam (or Christianity or Judaism or Buddhism …).

    Islam is to blame for illegal acts committed under its banner. Christianity is to blame for illegal acts committed under its banner. But uninvolved co-religionists remain innocent and cannot be condemned for the illegal acts committed by others.



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  • How do we denounce Muslim violence without blatantly denouncing Islam?

    An appeal needs to go out to moderate Muslims for the Koran to be updated to reflect modern human rights standards. Its time for a ‘New Koran’ to free moderate Muslims from having to defend ideas that they know are inhuman.

    ALL Muslims are taught to use the Koran as their guide to life from birth to death. The book contains numerous imperatives for violence and killing (death for apostacy, adultery, infidels etc). The Charlie killings are exactly in accordance with Koranic teaching hence the very muted response to the atrocity by moderate Muslims who are morally disgusted but feel conflicted and fear ostracisim if they support or oppose the killings.
    The argument that it is a matter of interpretation is not valid for a book that is used as a guide to life as life and death issues are too serious to be open to interpretation by a wide range of followers. All references to killing and abuse should be removed so that future generations can actually live out the repeated claim that Islam is a peaceful religion without having to deal with the present contradictions that show that it is far from peaceful.
    I think moderate, modern Moslems would welcome a ‘ New Koran’ that would free them from the aweful tension of having to perpetually defend and rationalise the indefensible.

    (I am personally ‘anti theist’ but am pragmatic enough to know that it is unrealistic and naive to think that Islam can be changed by criticising and opposing it. The answer lies in helping to modernise it so that the violence it currently propagates has no Koranic rationaal. The ‘common ground ‘ that I share with moderate Muslims is that I want to leave in peace!)



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  • Let me elaborate this a bit. The new testament does have no justification for violence at all. So as a Christian you can say, without hesitation, every single act of violence is wrong. And if someone does a violent act, he can not rightfully claim to be a Christian. And there is no justification for violence in the name of Christianity. So you can say, no you must say, that bombing of abortion clinics is terror and has nothing to do with Christianity.

    For Islam, this is different. The Quran says that killing is wrong, but in another verse it contradicts itself and tells that, if someone is commiting adultery or blasphemie, kill him. And if someone hinders you in your faith and he won’t stop, kill him. So if you are a terrorist you can take these verses (and others) and claim that you are just fullfilling gods will, and it is only the interpretation of the quran that makes the difference. Now, you could say, I believe in the peaceful verses, but not in the violent ones. Unfortunately, cherry picking is not allowed in the Quran. And in case of contradictions, there is a rule that says which is the correct verse (it’s the newer ones).
    These are not new arguments, several well known people have said this before and you can check the Quran and the hadith and see for yourselfs.
    The only thing, that would be convincing that Islam in general is a religion of peace, would be if all Imams, even in muslimic countries say openly that violence is wrong. However, you will find Muslims and Imams in Europe, who say this. But in countries like Iran, Sudan etc. you will find enough Imams that say, the terrorists are right and is justified by the Quran.
    From the outside, if you knew nothing about Islam and a terrorist claimed that killing is the will of god and you could look it up and find these verses you would believe he is right. Only if you really carefully read the Quran and take other sources into account, you can come up with an interpretation that this is wrong.
    The video I have posted below makes it difficult to believe, that the majority of Muslims are peaceful.



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  • Very good question. Now, me thinks we find moderate muslims in more secular societies and radicals in more religious societies. So for me the answer to that question is easy.



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  • If you wish to quote someone there are quotations in the upper left hand corner of where you wrote your reply. Please do something to separate your response from your quotes, it’s confusing. Now then…

    Do I know that demagogues of many stripes still preach insular ignorance? Absolutely. It doesn’t make the section of my post you quoted any less true. The fact that people are still willing to defend such horrific ideas and give it religious license is precisely my point. It wasn’t said in naivete, it was to answer the question posed by the OP. Everyone agreeing that this sort of religious bullying and embracing of violence is exactly the opposite of what society as a whole needs. Violence is not acceptable as a solution for societal or cultural ills.

    Like any religion, as long as there are Muslims that preach this sort of intolerance and hatred in the name of their faith it makes it harder both for people to accept them and for people to not look to the destructive aspects of it to judge it as a whole.



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  • How do we denounce Muslim violence without denouncing Islam?

    If a person commits a crime using religious justification, then the religion must be scrutinized to see whether it actually justifies/instructs such crime or whether the individual misinterpreted the religion. It should be noted here that either way, the crime is religiously motivated and caused by the criminal’s belief, irrespective whether it is justified religiously or not.

    In the case of the Charlie killings, the attackers believed that they were honoring the prophet of Islam, Muhammed. Therefore the attacks were clearly religiously motivated.

    The crucial point is whether Islam instructs or condones such action. If so, then it should be condemned.
    If not, then Islam should not be condemned but the attackers’ beliefs must be condemned. Muslims should not take offence to the attackers’ beliefs being condemned since the attackers’ belief would not be considered to be Islam.

    Whether Islam condones such attacks is not a matter that is addressed here.

    In summary, the current issue is simple:
    1. The attackers were religiously motivated, therefore their religion must be scrutinized.
    2. If their religion condones such action, then it must be condemned.
    3. If their religion doesn’t, then the attackers’ beliefs, not religion, must be condemned; A clear distinction between beliefs and religion must be made.
    4. No moderate person should object to the condemnation of the attackers’ beliefs; after all, they have an extreme set of beliefs.



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  • It would have to be the majority of the Muslim community to denounce them. Cast them aside as non or radicals, call them by a different name. All media should also classify them and name them differently A name that suits their barbaric and terrorist ways. Something witty but catchy that will make them cry like a bunch of babies that they are, like These Guys are real “JERKS”. Never to be called Muslims or anything related to the modern peaceful Muslim community. I think the religion is ridiculous and barbaric, but I do not see it going away any time soon. We outsiders, atheist and other wise, can only support the Muslims that must do this, and I am sure they will need the help. This world may make room for religious beliefs, for now, but we have no time for those JERKS.



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  • There are muslims and some non-muslims who say the koran is misinterpreted and quote from different sections. As is with these types of books, people will cherry pick and use whatever suits them, as people have done here. Can we condemn those here that have done that attaching motive and bias behind their accusations? I have posted videos of muslims and non-muslims interpreting the koran as peaceful by negating the violent parts with other peaceful parts. I don’t know which is true and don’t really care. I find it pointless to study the koran and speak with ‘authority’ because those who do are simply ignored and, I don’t think it IS as simple as that because I believe all these religious scripts were written and amended and added to in such a way that they do not make sense and CAN be cherry picked for whatever reason. Those that do are those that accuse religious people of circular thinking when all they are doing is the same. Cherry picking to justify their own prejudices/political aims. It is a sad thing to see as well as dangerous. I came to this site looking for the voice of reason and now kick myself for being so naive. There are some here that are as I expected but not enough.



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  • people will cherry pick and use whatever suits them,

    This is why I repeat often that “a religion, as lived, is what its adherents say it is”. The religious often fail to recognise the power they have in defining their particular flavour of it. Islam doesn’t have quite the spectacular variety flavours that say Christianity does, but I think whilst lacking formal tags of most of its varieties (as lived), these varieties are similarly broad compared with say a six hundred year old Christianity.

    Though often claimed to be, the texts are not treated as sacred, being freely interpretted as political and social expediency demands. It is a grave mistake to do the fundamentalist imam’s job and insist on a literal meaning…that a text has a supernatural power.

    Yet not enough of the faithful have noticed that their own interprtation of the texts are not in fact theirs. It is their trusted imam’s and that of their political leaders. If we could help the faithful notice how often their leaders do the trick of marching in front of them to first create the impression of being a leader then slowly veer to the direction of their own choosing, then we might get the religious to take moral charge again rather than be the moral playthings the parasite shamans.



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  • Not much that I disagree with you on there Phil. I especialy like;

    It is a grave mistake to do the fundamentalist imam’s job and insist
    on a literal meaning…that a text has a supernatural power.

    My hope was that sites like this might serve to help people teetering on the edge which then can have an effect on their own community but the sentiment here of most will scare people away or those that venture in will find themselves locked in argument, which will still have the opposite effect. I am afraid that even RD is too locked in his hate of religion to give himself room to manoeuvre and be strategic ……..but I guess thats the nature of the beast.



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  • Its a spread. RD could be closer than you think. The problem too often (you know this winds me up) is people imputing thoughts of others. Trying to make careful nuanced points that are honest and fair IS a struggle when earlier statements made that show oneself with a modicum of compassion or insight are neglected if a phrase can be read a certain “wrong” way. RD sometimes maddens me because he has often spoken in fuller and more careful ways. I think he suffers from my problem of not realising because I have thought a thing perfectly clearly and with great care, that doesn’t mean it is now in the other person’s head.

    We all try and mind read others and we all do a barely adequate job in my view. We also forget this is a place of education. Most people I hope come here to have their minds changed. I certainly do. (I rejected all claims that atheism caused bad social things to happen. Nordic made me look at the evidence and find a very good example that it did.) Who wants to go where we all agree?

    You and I agree on a great deal but we still disagree on causing discomfort in others. For me such discomfort is how the world works if we have a concern not to be misled. Expressing genuine concerns without let may be as important as any religious tenet is to the believer. Others, who have been misled many times before may yet be even more callous about mere discomfort to others. BUT I can’t begin to see why this site is a failure because views are disparate and some are just starting their journey in thinking through these things.



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  • james Jan 15, 2015 at 10:50 am

    Just stop calling them Muslim or Islamist. They’re not. Call them what they are, cowards and murderers.

    The terms are not mutually exclusive.

    It is quite clear that the killings are motivated by religion, even if some are now being filled with revulsion by the extreme brutal nuttery of the jihadists!

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/05/bloodshed-corrodes-support-boko-haram-201452084357414955.html
    Nigeria’s Boko Haram, which once enjoyed strong support in parts of country’s north, finds itself increasingly isolated.
    In 2011, northern Nigeria’s highest-ranking Christian official warned that the rebel group Boko Haram’s violent campaign seeking to establish an Islamic state could lead to a religious war.

    But nearly three years later, Saidu Dogo – the former secretary-general of the Christian Association of Nigeria in the country’s 19 northern provinces – said “the thinking of the people is changing completely”.

    Christians living in Nigeria’s north, where Muslims make up the majority of the population, have seen themselves as the primary target of Boko Haram, a group that has killed thousands of people since it began its militant campaign in 2009. But as the group’s attacks have become more indiscriminate, killing Christian and Muslim civilians alike, attitudes have begun to change.

    “This thing backfired,” said Dogo. Now, he said, “you can see the condemnation is both Muslim and Christian; everybody is condemning this … everybody is turning against the insurgents”.

    That is the problem with the tribalist cheer-leading of faith thinking!
    It is only when the brutal reality overtakes the whimsical delusions of take-overs leading to utopian faith communities, that the stark reality starts to penetrate to faith-thinkers minds!



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  • Trying to make careful nuanced points that are honest and fair IS a
    struggle when earlier statements made that show oneself with a modicum
    of compassion or insight are neglected if a phrase can be read a
    certain “wrong” way.

    Great point and one I TRY to remember in the heat of a discussion.

    For me such discomfort is how the world works

    I have not been there and can only go on things I have read and documentaries I’ve seen but, there is the New York method and then there is the British method, and all number of variations. This goes for comedy as well and this is my point, discomfort/comedy for one can seem a massive threat to another according to cultural understanding and must be treated with respect. Westerners hear Nigerians shouting at one another and expect them to start throwing punches any moment only to see them hug and kiss soon after leaving the observer flabbergasted.

    BUT I can’t begin to see why this site is a failure because views are
    disparate and some are just starting their journey in thinking through
    these things.

    I don’t particularly see the site as a failure in general terms but it does fail to attract a broader poster……….I do not have the answer to this problem and would hate to see the site develop into a battle field. I have felt pretty isolated at times and this thread is one in which I felt overwhelmed, at times, only to be uplifted by a few sensible and fair posters soon afterwards. By that I mean I felt I could not post comments against certain posters because I knew where it would end and as a muslim atheist I could be further singled out. I don’t know if others like me feel the same but I hope they will post and say either way.



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  • I think it might be a good idea to denounce all the major religions concurrently…especially immediately after high-profile (newsworthy?) actions such as those in Paris last week. In my mind I’m thinking of having a cartoon and/or short canned response at the ready that will be easily understood. It would put all major religions in the same light…an equal critique. That way, perhaps some people might be sort of confused or tricked into taking a closer look at their “faith” and the ridiculousness of it.

    We know this kind of attack (and let’s not forget what’s going on in Nigeria) will continue to happen at a frequent level. Let’s be ready to take 20 seconds to simply go to Facebook or Twitter or one’s preferred method of info delivery…and post that sign/cartoon/blurb…whatever it may be. Keep it consistent and make it eye-catching and easily understood. It’s just a first thought. Maybe someone can mold the idea from there.



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  • I could be further singled out

    That, I did not expect. It has never occurred to me that you have been. I’m a little shocked…

    However, in social matters, I’m as slow as they come. A muslim atheist!! What’s not to like??

    As to the broadness of the posters, I agree we need more variety. Over the years this has gone up and down. I come here “to do” morality. This needs accounts of harms from everyone…



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  • 77
    Lorenzo says:

    I think we should denounce Islam. What’s to be avoided, because it’s hideously dishonest, is failing to denounce all the rest of them, like Judaism and Christianity.
    The problem is not a religion, it’s religion.

    At the same time, I’d denounce any form of religion or ethnic segregation in the name of freedom, safety and justice. Because such a thing is just as hideous as religious violence, because it’s immoral and rapes the very concepts it claims it wants to protect.



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  • A muslim atheist!! What’s not to like??

    Just for the sake of this discussion, you understand. I have no memory of ever being part of the muslim world…only with the smell in insense and smelly feet for some reason.



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  • It needs to be shown that religion is misunderstood poetry……created by the imaginations of humans over centuries, to explain the unexplainable.
    To regard religious ideas as facts ,and to kill those who don’t agree with these facts, is simply demonstrating the primal psychological need that humans have for certainty.



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  • Hello Dr raza; and welcome to this forum.

    I find your post somewhat convoluted; so, as a “Bear of little brain”, I’ll have to give it due consideration, before responding to it.

    Please bear with me.

    S G.



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  • Humanism isn’t about personal belief; or at least it shouldn’t be. It’s about creating a standard of moral responsibility and response, one that encompasses the plight of man as a whole. There will always be those of us who believe the Earth is flat, or that gods exist, but that shouldn’t be indicative of the way we treat each other.

    More efforts need to be towards community and human outreach in a nondenominational way, but also in a nonexclusive manner. Too many atheists are about changing minds, and that’s not what it’s about; it’s about changing hearts and bringing people together. Blur the boundaries that humans created, and you’ll break down walls that were built to separate us. Global Secular Humanism is the future, even for us nihilists.



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  • Humanism isn’t about personal belief; or at least it shouldn’t be. It’s about creating a standard of moral responsibility and response, one that encompasses the plight of man as a whole. There will always be those of us who believe the Earth is flat, or that gods exist, but that shouldn’t be indicative of the way we treat each other.

    More efforts need to be towards community and human outreach in a nondenominational way, but also in a nonexclusive manner. Too many atheists are about changing minds, and that’s not what it’s about; it’s about changing hearts and bringing people together. Blur the boundaries that humans created, and you’ll break down walls that were built to separate us. Global Secular Humanism is the future, even for us nihilists.



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  • Olgun,

    I’ve been posting comments here since 2008, thereabouts, and the frustration you express is par for the course. It’s not easy to be the one who has the different opinion from the majority on these threads. Oddly enough, one does get used to it though. I had the benefit of observing some of our old timers here back when I discovered the existence of this site. It was pretty much an anarchy then… I think you’ve done a great job with your comments and you’ve been diplomatic at every turn. Phil is right when he says that this site would be dull as dust if everyone agreed all the time. Now after several years I must say that I never hesitate to come strolling on into a thread, wind up and toss a wrench into it. When the frustration gets to be too much then I just sign off for a while for a little perspective. The marketplace of ideas is a wonderful place but sometimes I must admit that a colosseum of ideas can be particularly thrilling too.

    but I guess thats the nature of the beast.

    ggrrrrr 😉



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  • I agree Nick, I would add that to achieve your ends we need to work at dismantling the mechanisms that our ‘lords and masters’ use powerful positions in religious and establishment (political) organisations to manipulate the whole population! e.g. religious ‘lords’ in English parliament.



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  • Thank you for your post and your comments LaurieB, they do help. I’ve never been one for roller coasters rides but do agree that the world, and this site, would be dull without them. I will take your advise and walk away sometimes. It’s a family trait to finish what we started in the shortest possible time but I know I must control that part of me. 🙂



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  • Every religion teaches the notion of some in group. God loves these people. He does not like anyone else.
    The holy book somewhere will advise avoiding out group people and killing them.

    Secular morality tempers these religious commandments.

    When people join a religion, it is a bit like joining the Nazi party. When they later kill Jews it should come as no surprise to them or anyone else. They have no excuse and the religion has no excuse either.

    If Christians did not mean you should kill gay people, they should formally disown the bible verses that command them too. Until they do, blood is on their hands.



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  • I submit the problem with religion is the well of bad ideas it incorporates. It seems to me the followers of any religion need to reign in the crazy by rejecting the nonsense that passes for fact with most of them.



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  • I don’t denounce “muslim violence” – I denounce all unjust violence, period.
    Besides, I denounce all (dogmatic) religion – and all other dogma for that matter.

    For the sake of avoiding misunderstanding: I don’t denounce all followers of religions. I was indoctrinated and brainwashed myself, and it took me almost forty years to get out of it.



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  • 90
    M Bradley says:

    Throughout history, all the religions of the world have violently defended themselves against perceived threats. Historically, you cannot separate religion and violence.
    However, I feel that geography has always played the most important part in any exchange of ideas. The heart of Islam is a barren, isolated, desert peninsula. It will take centuries to bring the 21st century to the edges of the world.



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  • If, as I understand it, all people that live will ultimately be judged by Allah on the Day of Reckoning, who are these terrorists who presume to do God’s work for him? Are they not being contemptuous of their own God by administering their form of justice without the benefit of knowing all that God knows? Terrorists should be made aware that on the Day of Judgement at the end of days, they will be called to account for their bare-faced assumption of Allah’s work and the murder of innocents. Send them down!



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  • how do we denounce Muslim violence without blatantly denouncing Islam?

    There are two ways, the anglo-american method and the french method

    The anglo-american method is to lie about islam by pretending the passages in the holy books prescribing violence to others does not exist and insist it’s a peaceful religion.

    The french method is to not focus on the fact that people commiting crimes are of a particular faith and simply denounce their actions as unacceptable and call them what they are, nasty acts of crime against innocent law-abiding citizens and this is how I think we should all denounce violence.

    IMO it’s the purpose of extremists to create a backlash against muslims to give credibility to their actions (acting in self-defence agasint the way people will react to our attack). Say it as it is. some gangsters who have access to weapons acted in a deplorable fashion.



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  • How do we denounce Muslim violence without denouncing Islam? Very tough question. Maybe have a seance and consult with Rudyard Kipling.



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  • …”a religion, as lived, is what its adherents say it is”…

    I’ve thought as much for donkey’s years Phil.

    Multiply that by 1.8 billion, and you get some idea of the scale of the problem.

    …”how can we denounce Muslim violence without blatantly denouncing Islam?”

    I don’t think it can be done; the religion itself has to put its house in order.

    To paraphrase the idiom: are we our brothers’ keepers?

    As things stand, all that can be done is to try and reason with them and defend ourselves.

    What a tragic waste of life and resources all this hateful nonsense is causing.

    Christopher Hitchens was so right when he said that …”religion poisons everything.”



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  • Heard an interesting statistic today on the news, though I haven’t got the details……..342 acts of terror in the EU with 48 religiously motivated. Will try to find the details, unless someone has them already to post.



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  • Last evening, on BBC Radio Four’s Any Questions, for the umpteenth time, I heard yet another Muslim, who was a guest on the panel, refute that those who carry out atrocities in the name of Islam are Muslims.

    He is a leading member of the opposition Labour Party in the UK, and I submit that he is in full-blown denial.

    Which brings us back to what Phil Rimmer said: …”a religion, as lived, is what its adherents say it is”…

    I repeat, Muslims have to put their own house in order; no one else can do it for them.

    Therefore, I think the answer to this Question of the Week is: we can’t do the former without doing the latter.



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  • No one is condemning Muslim people for crimes they did not commit. The belonging to a group does not imply responsibility, not at least any judicial responsibility, for the crimes committed by other member of the group.

    Germans were not responsible for the crimes committed for Nazis, not even in the case of considering themselves Nazis (if no actual implication on particular crimes). These judicial principia apply also to actual case of Islamic violence. But they, innocent Germans of III Reich and innocent Muslims of nowadays, must face the fact that violence emerged from the same respective roots. The root of National Socialism is arguably “Mein Kampf”, and the one for Islam is undeniably the Koran. Of course I am not establishing a moral equivalence with both doctrines. Koran and Mein Kampf are not the same; the first one is a religion capable of doing good, much more than Mein Kampf which is a political legacy to destroy democracy. But the fact is that both have been used for violence in large number, and we should be able to determine where exactly those bad ideas come from. We should be able to reform it and, if necessary, to refund the religion in order to get a pure doctrine that get rid of evil seeds.

    Many will say it is not Koran, but a possible misrepresentation of Koran. It´s certainly possible to have different interpretations for same texts, such as Bible, Koran or Don Quixote. But the massacres committed in the name of god, at least it would make me think that there is some sort of link between the genocides, vendettas, and bloodbaths ordered by god in the holly books, and terrorist attacks like the Charlie Hebdo last week. Same case for discrimination against homosexuals all around the world, and many other issues. Those who misrepresent these religions don’t have to invent that much, it is written down there, the evil and the seed for discrimination, intolerance and killing is inside the core of these religions. Of course geopolitical reasons can explain a lot of the phenomenon. Wars, invasions, imperialism, occidental arrogance, etc, it is worth to look at that. But it´s equally stupid to say that these factors do not exist, than saying that religious factor is does not exist, as French President and others have said.

    Hitler repeatedly hold the need for killing all the Jews, in all possible ways, shape and forms, written and orally, promising what he almost accomplished. No one would say that “eliminationist antisemitism”, as Golhagen named, is not a factor. Actually it was the main factor, which of course benefit from economy, science, politics, war and previous anti-Semitism, etc,… but none denies the hate it resided in his ideology. Why the hell can´t we demand the same mental exercise for those crimes in the name of Ala? How many times we need to hear that suicide bombers hope 72 virgins awaiting for them on the paradise, to understand exactly what they are saying and the main religious character of their beliefs? Misrepresentation or not, it´s written down in the Koran.

    It´s not the case, but if the Mein Kampf would have noble and moral instruction (as the Koran actually has) and many neo-nazis would be motivated to act in such a laudable way (as many Muslims actually do), we still should tell them their book maintain some parts, that history has proved enough dangerous to care about it. We simply cannot play dice hoping not to get a bad result. If those fictitious Germans were motivated genuinely for strong and kindhearted commitments, as many Muslim today in the real world, they wouldn´t mind to reform or even re-write Mein Kampf to adapt it to new times, and new principles they manage in a daily basis with others, despite their incoherence. The problem with Muslims, and well with any other religion, it´s that believers cannot accept such a reform, because they believe their roots are made by God, and therefore, perfect. The most insignificant reform is an outrage and produce schisms.

    It is a moral demand and an intellectual challenge, to indicate what the religion has of evil in itself, and how dangerous can evolve with the same perseverance that we should stress to separate ourselves from those who want to discriminate religious people, just because of their beliefs or for cultural reasons.



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  • There is a common thread running through the fabric of your argument that defines every religion, every dictatorship, every oppression, every bigot, every holy text, every genocide, every fanatic, AND every moderate who stands by and does not take responsibility… and that common thread is delusion.



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  • 103
    Pete M says:

    1st, Name one religion that does not have wrong believers, or even one person within that religion that does not have opposing beliefs; I challenge You! Religion does not meet with humanist deduction, reasoning, understanding etc. There is no dichotomy to religion: It is a disease injected by masters at manipulation; shame on them, SHAME ON THEM!
    In the age of information the future will hold this truth, becoming obvious to everyone in the world. Those who shut down, block, or control information systems cannot be trusted. I am in a state of sympathy when I view the desperate attempts of religions’ scrambling for attire when they have been exposed as dealing in naked truths, for Millennia, but I can’t help smiling in respite.
    I challenge any average person to find a better reasoning for the possibility of religion other than manipulation. Religion is a disease of culture, evolution, psychology, physiology, race… I can’t stop coming up with ways in which religion diseases existence itself!
    The only possible reason for retaining religion, a human manifestation, is to “Cull” the herd. Why should we accept that? We are not undeserving a comfortable place on earth during our life we have not offended the universe. We only offend ourselves.
    Murder and war are not nature’s teaching, it is the teaching of religion through the Manifestations of those in control. I can reason manipulation as evolutionary, but religion? Tertiary at best!



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  • Moderate Muslims may not have as much of their house to put in order if they accept that “a religion as lived etc….” holds for all. By it they have moved or can move from the comparative attrocities of the past to a morally modern future. But it also equally licenses a myriad others to do better or worse.

    If Muslims, generally, are prepared to concede that schism has already happened and can happen again and again then a clean escape to religious decency is within the grasp of those wishing it and disowning the mad bad and dangerous Muslims is possible. And vice versa. But they cannot own the totality of the brand and do this. None can. If they want to own the brand entirely they must personally police it and assume responsibility for it. But from the outset, they must also accept that they have no valid argument against the mad bad and dangerous declaring for Islam if they wish.



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  • 105
    archsceptic says:

    It’s the old magician’s trick of illusion via misdirection. Douglas Murray has noted recently that politicians say a very different thing off-record to what they are saying in public, in public they are saying “nothing to do with Islam” off camera they are saying “of course it’s to do with Islam”.

    The bane with this is that in their attempt to pull the wool over the public’s eye, it is being hijacked by some for reasons of intellectual self-flagellation and others who are in willful denial.



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  • I was outraged at Obama’s recent comment that some ISIS outrage or other had nothing to do with religion. This one cannot be escaped by the religious, any of them. Codified beliefs supported by faith have the capacity to commit outrages. The poison is built into that formulation- “codified belief supported by faith”. All religious people need to understand that religion is like playing with fire and someone’s kids could get hurt.



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  • The main problem is they have no head of ‘house’. There is a rush, at the moment, for who is going to be the next caliph. I have read that the USA have been pushing for this to happen for a while now but am not sure how true it is. The two candidates from the Turkish side are now at war with each other, with a little help from sides in the USA I suspect. Erdogan and the Gulen movement. The story does not end in Turkey though.

    I find it confusing, as an atheist, whether to support such a move for the sake of peace, as only a single caliph can put forward any changes to the koran or rubber stamp any truths to translations, thereby separating islam from terrorists in one swoop, or of course visa versa.



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  • Religions certainly contain more bad ideas than any other grouping, though Republicans can give them a run for their money and for similar reasons. The ideas seem trapped in a dark well of faith, that trust in them for trust’s sake, that prevents the intrusion of evidence or reason or light to better form them and mitigate their harms.

    All ideologies screw up for being a form of dogma that pretends to know a solution before most (or any!) of the facts are in and the nature of the real problem understood.

    The religious mostly think religion is about finding morals. Some realise their own religion has made some terrible moral mistakes. (Most Roman Catholics are infinitely more moral than their church.) I tend to give a pass to those religious who are struggling to change their religion from within.

    The abusive indoctrination of kids by their religious parents prevents any rapid change or sudden insight into the immorality of their religions’s ideas. Inevitably the abused become abusers in turn, confounding easy compassion for them, but, nevertheless, any improvements need fulsome rewarding.

    I hold out the Quakers as a comparative ruler for those religiously dissatisfied but less likely to go the more intellectual fast-track to atheism. Bad ideas have been pretty much shrugged off in this religion save for the imperative to go out and act to the moral betterment of the world as judged by their own best personal understanding. This is more dogma free than most of politics and it has put them at the moral forefront in the UK for the last two centuries.

    In th UK half of Quakers are agnostic. My cunning plan is to urge the increasingly self-centred religious in the US to take a look at Quakerism and consider it as a morally more nourishing religion than their current brand.

    SavroD, I hope you are well and all your Daleks. Later this year I hope to be over there in Skaro. New lighting biz…



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  • @pepe and anyone else who thinks that if the delusion can be improved upon (made less violent usually) then everything will be ok from now on. In the real world, ideas based upon lack of evidence aren’t improved upon, they are put on the shelf or tossed in the trash… they are not made any more valid by the numbers of people believing it to be a useful idea or how many people have not been harmed by it. Those who are holding out hope that an idea will continue to exist beyond all hope of finding evidence for it (because it does some people, some good, some of the time) will remain a part of the problem, not the solution. Moderates leave the door open for any number of not-so-people-oriented-leaders whose agenda is anti-education and anti-freedom of expression for obvious reasons.



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  • For me an attempt to pull it together would be a monumental disaster. It needs to fragment and dissipate into the free-market of faiths, so it can morph again and again. The RCC is maximally criminal in its antique leviathan of a magisterium. We have to aim way higher than this ossified moral scum. We need proper enlightenment values from its golden age to come through and that will only happen shyly and at low levels at first.



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  • @pepe and anyone else who thinks that if the delusion can be improved upon (made less violent usually) then everything will be ok from now on.

    Nothing makes delusion OK. But all idealisms can become locked in delusion. Free market capitalism thinks it can solve all our ills if only we’d get out of its way. All we can do is make things better. All we can see enough to do, to not lay error upon error is to make things better.

    In the case of delusion our task should be not to tackle its occasional violent attribute (the law deals with that) but tackle its delusional nature and do what we can to reduce it.

    The process of making better, rather than idealistically imagining our preferred end state and plotting a course for it is to be infinitetly preferred because-

    a.) it is possible to actually start.

    b.) it rolls up the inevitable second order consequences of our policy/actions and allows successive course corrections as we go.

    Idealism has fucked us over too often. Betterism is pragmatic and a process we can use everyday.

    In Europe the centuries long process of increasing moderation is why we now have a solid rock of cultures built substantially on reason. Education is the engine for making better and part of the reason why it takes time. The solution to add now is to worsen parasite shamans and political leaders unquestioned access to “their” communities”. States must now prevent individuals from being shielded from the state and all its services by unelected community leaders.

    In open and more equal societies religious moderation moves forward quite steadily all of its own as the European statistics demonstrate.

    In the real world, ideas based upon lack of evidence aren’t improved upon, they are put on the shelf or tossed in the trash…

    In cultures this happens one person’s trash can at a time. Cultures can have quite some inertia because of this.



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  • I understand what Marget claim, but as Phil Rimmer pointed out

    “Nothing makes delusion OK. But all idealisms can become locked in
    delusion.”

    It´s not only what we want, but what we have to start with. If millions of people still want to believe in a delusion, and since we live in democratic countries, they should be allowed to keep on their delusion. And since that delusion may have some inner (and outer) troubles, why not to collaborate giving ideas to support the improvement? Of course a delusion can be improved. If you wanna be lied about your health, doctor can always improve the way to tell you the bad news. If we can´t erradicate what we see as evil and delusion, should we stop to helping the world better step by step, just because we cannot reform all at once. Changes, specially mind changes, occurs in slow motion.



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  • If so, I´m sorry for that. Maybe I made my reflexion too long. Actually you may be right, in the sense that my answer is a reply for the exactly the opposite of the question of week. The question of the week is “How do we denounce Muslim violence without blatantly denouncing Islam?”, but my reply was more oriented to answer the question of “How we denounce islamic violence without blatantly denouncing Muslims?”

    So, let reformulate my answer in a more appropiate and concise way:

    Why should we avoid to blatantly denounce Islam? Islam, is a idea, and as such, it deserves all the contempt or praise our reason indicate us. We, as tolerant, modern, democratic and free thinkers, are entitled to be able to denounce violence with the only concern of not blatantly and unfairly condemn innocent people. Innocents who not only did not commit any crimes, but they are in a better position than us to prevent others to do commit them.



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  • Now I’m with you Pepe.

    All I can add at present is that I have no idea how to separate out the two elements: Islam and Muslims.

    The so called “ideas” of the former being so diverse, and the numbers of the latter being so great.

    Its like trying to combat a Hydra-Headed Monster.

    And matters aren’t helped by the leaders of the various religions seeming to want to avoid answering any questions straight forwardly for fear of upsetting the sensibilities of the other faith groups.

    It’s as if they can’t quite bring themselves to condemn the atrocities, because, after all, they are being carried out in the name of a religion, and religion is good, so, they can’t be entirely bad; can they?

    For instance, a few years ago our national treasure the Archbishop of Canterbury said in effect that introducing certain aspects of Sharia law into Britain wouldn’t do any harm.

    I think we have to come to terms with the fact that we are in the throes of a twenty first century holy war.

    Sorry mods, I’ve gone a bit off-piste I’m afraid.



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  • I agree Marget.

    Facts are what matter, and what I can’t understand is why so many people fail to grasp the fact that they are lucky to have be born.

    Further, despite their having good intentions, there is no need for them to add anything to the universe.



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  • A muslim has a windy charachter, u cant easly change a muslim’s mind. They can change moods more than other people in the world,it may misdirect a person. + its mostly hard to communicate with them. In my idea, the best way to show islam’s face to world is to show their believes conflict such as killing a human is not good for them, but if its not for religion, for ”god”.So, the problem is here,they dont like killing execpt for god’s will and then the proof is talking about ‘Cihad’.Also, they believe that islam can save individual’s moral,but they don’t know the importance of system’s moral. If u announce like; muslim’s moral conflict to the world. You wont be that much offensive, this is the key point to start. Also u can say that, Quaran is an old law book and its not that much humanistic.



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  • Once again Marget…I agree with your position as outlined…I submit that if you had also incorporated the following concept/words in your position…moderates to a delusion are at the least complicit, at the worst, supportive of the consequences on the outcomes of the execution of really bad ideas i.e. delusion…I would come close as I dare to being in absolute agreement with a position…nicely put!



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  • 121
    gordon. says:

    Not having read ALL of the responses to this question to date, I am submitting my own thoughts.
    Up to now, we’ve been hearing of horrendous events allegedly perpetrated by non-Christians followed by disclaimers by members of these same groups that the events do not represent the attitudes of the vast majority of those of this particular faith.
    This is not getting us anywhere.

    May I suggest we get entirely OFF this line of thinking and instead make efforts to determine HOW TO STOP IT, rather than analyse the motives of any members of the sects involved and the percentage of the group as a whole these people represent.

    Pointing fingers does nothing to resolve this issue. Talk is cheap, and actions will get results…



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  • Delusion: an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of mental disorder.
    Doesn’t sound like anything that can be readily improved upon. Those afflicted by delusion merely consider more radical delusions to be a misinterpretation of their own but what they really need to recognize is that what they have in fact is the same delusion with different consequences. When a delusion is acted upon without the more obvious harmful consequences, as in Thou Shalt Not Kill for example, it legitimizes their delusion and creates the confrontational ‘my delusion is better than yours’ attitude. True, the historic means of improving upon the delusional action is to hope that more people recognize the harm done and gravitate toward secular laws and scientific truth. In some instances the afflicted person can escape the pull, but most remain in orbit with the god of the gaps helping legitimize the harmful actions of other afflicted peoples. Wouldn’t it be interesting if this educational process could be speeded up by ending the labelling of certain actions as Islamic, Christian etc and start labelling it all as delusional as it should be by definition? Watch a news story today and insert the word delusional wherever it applies. Delusional genocide, delusional terrorism, delusional bigotry, delusional charity and so on. In that way delusion will be properly recognized for what it is not only by the perpetrators but by anyone else who acts upon a directive from the gods whether the consequences are beneficial or not. Headlines read for example: delusional gunmen murder twelve cartoonists, delusional townspeople protest same sex marriage; delusional mother drives her transgendered son to commit suicide; delusional father denied his child medical care, delusional survivor of a motor vehicle collision believes a god saved him, delusional pope canonized a man for working miracles, delusional government whips man for trying to improve upon the delusion. The point is, it is all the same delusion, no better, no worse and could be accomplished with a no more complicated educational tool than a dictionary.



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  • I don’t know, Marget. This hope of yours looks like wish thinking to me. I’d be interested in how you would enact policy to make your wish come true.

    Most cultural change comes about from having more savvy kids.



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  • 124
    Relayer says:

    I couldn’t be bothered wading through all of this, but for Dr Raza’s information, Hitler was a Roman Catholic. (Never Excommunicated)



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  • I’ve worked with a number of Muslims from varying countries. A fellow Muslim employee and myself were talking about Muslim extremists and non-extremists and he cut me short and said ” there is no such thing as an extremist, Muslim is Muslim “. I would have to say that under that mentality (I asked a number of other Islam employees the same question and was told the same answer) you can’t separate acts of violence in the name of a religion without completely denouncing Islam as a whole. If they honestly don’t see a difference between extremism and non-extremism it filters down to the same root issue, the religion.



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  • 126
    hisxmark says:

    “As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities.” ― Voltaire

    Variant translations: “Whoever is able to make you absurd is able to make you unjust” ; “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities” ; “Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices.” – In French: “Certainement qui est en droit de vous rendre absurde est en droit de vous rendre injuste.” – Questions sur les miracles (1765)

    Read more at http://izquotes.com/quote/191107

    Religion is certainly absurd.



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  • 127
    yvchawla says:

    One uses the word God or takes shelter in the ideas about God as if it refers to something. As it does not refer to anything-one can mould the word as one likes, hence religion as organization is born. Unless we are clear that God does not refer to anything-we will be fighting in the name of religion, ideology, ideas about God.
    If we feel satisfied in deprecating evil, we bind ourselves to evil. If we do not feel superior while dealing with evil in any manner, we establish no relationship with evil. Evil evaporates. Then simple operation of facts does not trouble us.



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  • As I said… wouldn’t it be interesting…as a policy of news media, however, unlikely to happen that the word ‘delusional’ would be used to define irrational thoughts as accurate as the definition might be. But since delusion was the trigger word that got me to thinking about my own world view, there is a good chance that it could serve others as well…kind of a no fault exit strategy out of an uncomfortable relationship with faith, even the smartest people can be misinformed enough to be delusional. For most people it is symptomatic of someone who ends up on a psychiatric ward claiming to be Elvis, not for someone who is striving to meet a god’s expectations. Which is exactly why media would not ‘go there’. Unfortunate that a carved in stone dictionary definition could not be used to produce results. Of course getting the D word out there will remain the work of very astute atheists in publication, documentary and media interviews but should be put forward in a more precise and informative way than ever. There a people out there who need a trigger word.
    And don’t even get me started about the world of difference that could be made by proper child care.. Children and youth are starving physically, emotionally, socially and educationally in every culture and on every continent, the result of a vicious, inexcusable cycle of abuse and neglect, entirely falling under the definition of delusion. If the amount of money and resources that is needed to maintain law and order in the world was allocated in equal amount to and proper care and secular education of children from birth, the resulting reduction in spending in security and armaments would be staggering. Another pipe dream? Only if we continue to talk the talk and forget to walk the walk.



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  • Short answer:
    Condemn scriptural literalism unequivocally.

    Justification:
    Violent religious extremists tend to practice scriptural (selective) literalism. They select passages in their favorite sacred texts that justify violence or oppression and act upon them. The fundamental fallacy is taking a book or collection of books written in a vastly different historical context and declare it literally true divine revelation. This freezes in time the moral prescriptions in the sacred book, making them increasingly anachronistic. The Quran contains the famous “sword verse” inciting Muslims to convert infidels by any means possible, including violence. Draconian punishments for various crimes including adultery and domination of men over women are common ingredients of the three monotheistic religions. They are just practiced to very different degrees depending on the level of rationalist progress within each society. As we all know, the Bible contains numerous stunningly brutal passages, including the wholesale massacre of apostates, mass punishment of innocents, genocide, slavery, and of course a hefty dose of misogyny. The Iliad and the Odyssey, great literary works composed roughly within the same historical period as the Bible, are no different in that respect. They describe gods taking sides, supporting one people over another or one individual hero over his enemies and intervening miraculously in human affairs. The Judeo-Christian deity in the Bible takes Joshua’s side at Jericho (leading to a massacre not unlike the sack of Troy), indiscriminately punishes all Egyptians in response to the Pharaoh sleeping with Abraham’s wife (although he had passed her off as his sister) etc. The only difference is that no almost one today takes the Olympian gods seriously (there is a small group of Greeks who are attempting to revive the Olympian religion). So, if there is an epidemic, no one will blame it on Apollo’s wrath for some human transgression (as in the opening of the Iliad). A storm is not likely to be seen as punishment from Poseidon, (who in the Odyssey is punishing Odysseus for blinding Polyphemus) and such suggestions would be thought of as ridiculous. However, there are still far too many people who believe the Judeo-Christian deity or the Muslim one behave in very much the same way as the Homeric gods. They demand that humans perform or avoid certain actions (pray in a certain way, don’t use birth control, avoid eating shellfish or pork, grow a beard, if you are a woman cover from head to toe, don’t listen to music, don’t draw this or that etc.). And these deities prescribe violent punishments against anyone who doesn’t take their wishes (and the beliefs of their followers) seriously. The suggestion by Pat Robertson that hurricane Katrina was divine punishment for the city of New Orleans’ acceptance of gays is no different than Homer’s suggestion that Apollo sent a plague on the Greeks to punish Agamemnon for enslaving Chriseis (the daughter of one of his priests). Both are preposterous and have no basis in reality. The former was made in all seriousness during the 21st century and taken seriously by many Americans who believe in Biblical literalism. The latter is fiction from an ancient poem written approximately 3000 years ago.

    Literalism is often -though not always- associated with low education and low socioeconomic status. I have several Muslim friends who are highly educated (scientists, economists etc.). I can assure you that none of them have ever attempted to convert me forcibly, or threatened to blow themselves up in my office if I don’t turn off my Bach music. They have undergone the same historical metamorphosis as mainstream moderate Christians and Jews, who no longer burn heretics at the stake or execute people for working on the Sabbath (though they may still impose heavy social pressure on “infidels”, despise them, ostracize them and refuse to elect them to public office). Moderate believers understand on some level, even when they don’t articulate it explicitly, that the Bronze Age morals of the Bible, or the medieval morals of the Quran, are not to be taken literally -let alone put in practice and violently enforced. Some segments of the Muslim world have undergone the same metamorphosis, progressively shedding literalism and violence. Other segments, unfortunately still quite large, have not. Entire countries are still run based on literal sharia law. I recently watched a horrific video of a beheading in Saudi Arabia that someone leaked to the BBC. A man with a long curved sword chops off the head of a shrieking woman who is laying on the pavement. Only the presence of paved roads and combustion engine vehicles in the background would differentiate this scene from what happened during medieval times all over Europe and the Middle East. Pressed by Western human rights groups, the Saudis replied through a spokesman that violent corporal punishment is essential to literal Islamic law and defend it as their tradition. It’s easy to see where ISIS fanatics get their ideas about law enforcement. Iran still hangs adulterers and Pakistan’s law includes the crime of blasphemy, punishable by death. Only pressure from the West prevents some of the most notorious cases in Pakistan from resulting in actual executions, and the lynching of apostates is all too common. It is in this cultural milieu that the likes of Boko Haram, the Taliban and ISIS are born. These groups thrive among people who are socially distressed (such as recent immigrants into Europe), poor, and/or ignorant or brainwashed in madrasas. The only antidote against fanaticism is education, specifically education on the value of reason and tolerance in human affairs. It is no accident that Islamic extremists loathe non-religious education, science and reason. Sadly, when Islam was at its historical zenith it nurtured science, medicine and mathematics. At that time, Islam was the cradle of reason and Europe the cradle of religious fanaticism and violence. The rejection of reason and science on religious grounds directly led to the cultural decadence of Islam and the eventual collapse of the Ottoman empire, which by the 19th century had hopelessly fallen behind the West in science and technology.

    The bottom line is that literalist interpretations of any religious texts calling for violence are to be unequivocally condemned without exception. This includes the Biblical “eye for an eye” doctrine used by Christian fundamentalists to justify the death penalty in America, even though to be fair the USA does not apply the death penalty for religious offenses.

    Those who wish to follow a religious doctrine must not interpret calls for violence against infidels and nonbelievers literally, and must practice the same tolerance that they demand of others. Any justification of violent revenge acts in response to criticism or satire or violent imposition of religion is simply unacceptable.

    This is philosophically a much bigger step than one might think, and one that many deeply religious people would find difficult to take. It basically means accepting that human morality does evolve in time, and that whatever is written in one’s sacred text of choice is not in fact the literal word of an infallible supernatural being that can tolerate no reinterpretation. If this is true of moral prescriptions, the same would be true of descriptions of the natural world contained in ancient religious texts, such as the origin mythology of Genesis. Accepting them as allegories rather than factual statements means accepting that he scientific method is the most effective strategy ascertain facts about the real world.

    Change is far too slow, but it is happening. Even within my own lifetime, the interpretation of Catholic dogma (the one I am most familiar with) in majority Catholic societies has changed significantly. Women attend church in jeans (unthinkable in the 50s), nuns no longer wear clothes similar to burkas and most Catholic couples practice birth control and don’t get excommunicated for it. Society has basically voted with its feet, telling the church what rules they are willing and unwilling to accept. Even though the rules themselves have changed very little, they are no longer taken as seriously as they once were. As Dr. Dawkins so clearly describes in “The God Delusion”, human customs change in time. Some religious denominations adapt to change and accept that history moves forward (albeit slowly). Others, the literalist ones, desperately resist any change and insist on upholding medieval or earlier values in today’s world. Their followers are unable to adapt to a changing world, and feel that their core beliefs are threatened. These are the people who are more likely to engage in violence.



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  • This is an edited version of an earlier draft that was prematurely posted.

    Short answer:
    Unequivocally condemn scriptural literalism.

    Justification:
    Violent religious extremists tend to practice selective scriptural literalism. They select passages in their favorite sacred texts that justify violence or oppression and act upon them. The fundamental fallacy of literalism consists in taking a book or collection of books written in a vastly different historical context and declare them to be literally true divine revelation. This freezes in time the moral prescriptions contained in the sacred book(s), making them increasingly anachronistic as time goes on. The Quran contains the famous “sword verse” inciting Muslims to convert infidels by any means possible, including violence. Draconian punishments for various crimes including adultery and domination of men over women are common ingredients of the three monotheistic religions. They are just practiced to very different degrees depending on the level of rationalistic progress within each society. As we all know, the Bible contains numerous stunningly brutal passages, including massacres of apostates, mass punishments of innocents, genocide, slavery, and of course a hefty dose of misogyny, all sanctioned by Yahweh. The Iliad and the Odyssey, great literary works composed roughly within the same historical period as the Bible, are no different from it in terms of describing divine activities. Homer describes gods taking sides, supporting the Greeks over the Trojans or vice versa and intervening miraculously in human affairs. The Judeo-Christian deity in the Bible takes Joshua’s side at Jericho (leading to a massacre of Canaanites not unlike the sack of Troy), indiscriminately punishes all Egyptians in response to the Pharaoh sleeping with Abraham’s wife (although Abraham had passed her off as his sister) etc. The only difference is that almost no one today takes the Olympian gods seriously (a small group of Greeks are attempting to revive the Olympian religion). So, if there is an epidemic, no one will blame it on Apollo’s wrath for some human transgression (as in the opening of the Iliad). A devastating storm is not likely to be seen as punishment from Poseidon, (who in the Odyssey is persecuting Odysseus for several transgressions, including blinding his Cyclops son Polyphemus). Such suggestions would be thought of as ridiculous by most reasonable people. Yet, there are still far too many modern people who believe that the Judeo-Christian deity or the Muslim one behave in very much the same way as the Homeric gods. These deities demand that humans perform or avoid certain actions (pray in a certain way, don’t use birth control, avoid eating shellfish or pork, grow a beard, if you are a woman cover from head to toe, don’t listen to music, don’t draw this or that etc.). And they prescribe violent punishments against anyone who doesn’t take their wishes (and the beliefs of their followers) seriously. The suggestion by Pat Robertson that hurricane Katrina was divine punishment for the city of New Orleans’ acceptance of gays is no different than Homer’s suggestion that Apollo sent a plague on the Greeks to punish Agamemnon for enslaving Chriseis (the daughter of one of his priests). Both suggestions are preposterous and have no basis in reality. The former was made in all seriousness during the 21st century, and was taken seriously by many Americans who believe in Biblical literalism. The latter is fiction from an ancient poem written approximately 3000 years ago.

    Literalism is often -though not always- associated with low education and low socioeconomic status. I have several Muslim friends who are highly educated (scientists, economists etc.). I can assure you that none of them have ever attempted to forcibly convert me, or threatened to blow themselves up in my office if I don’t turn off my Bach music. These highly educated Muslims have undergone the same historical metamorphosis as mainstream moderate Christians and Jews, who no longer burn heretics at the stake or execute people for working on the Sabbath (though they may still impose heavy social pressure on “infidels”, despise them, ostracize them and refuse to elect them to public office). Moderate believers understand on some level, even when they don’t articulate it explicitly, that the Bronze Age morality of the Bible, or the medieval morality of the Quran, are not to be taken literally – let alone put into practice and violently enforced. Some segments of the Muslim world have undergone the same metamorphosis, progressively shedding literalism and violence. Other segments, unfortunately still quite large, have not. Entire countries still base their legal systems on literal sharia law. I recently watched a horrific video that someone leaked to the BBC of a beheading in Saudi Arabia. An executioner with a long curved sword chops off the head of a shrieking woman who is prostrated on the pavement, apparently still protesting her innocence as she is brutally beheaded. Only the presence of paved roads and combustion engine vehicles in the background would differentiate this scene from what happened during medieval times all over Europe and the Middle East. Pressed by Western human rights groups, the Saudis have replied through a spokesman that violent corporal punishment is essential to literal Islamic law and defended it as their religious tradition. It’s easy to see where ISIS fanatics get their ideas about law enforcement. Iran still hangs adulterers (though it has instituted the handy practice of “temporary marriage”, whereby a (male) mullah can essentially acquire a pro-tempore concubine). Pakistan’s law includes the crime of blasphemy, punishable by death. Only pressure from the West prevents some of the most notorious cases in Pakistan from resulting in actual executions, and the lynching of apostates and alleged blasphemers by enraged mobs is all too common. It is in this cultural milieu that the likes of Boko Haram, the Taliban and ISIS are born. These groups thrive among people who are socially distressed (such as recent immigrants into Europe), poor, and/or ignorant or brainwashed in madrasas.
    The only antidote against such fanaticism is education, specifically education on the value of reason and tolerance in human affairs. It is no accident that Islamic extremists loathe non-religious education, and particularly science and reason. Apparently, Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the local language of Northeast Nigeria. Sadly, when Islam was at its historical zenith it nurtured science, medicine and mathematics. At that time, Islam was the cradle of reason and Europe the cradle of religious fanaticism and violence. The rejection of reason and science on religious grounds directly led to the cultural decadence of Islam and the eventual collapse of the Ottoman empire, which by the 19th century had hopelessly fallen behind the West in science and technology.

    The bottom line is that literalist interpretations of any religious texts calling for violence are to be unequivocally condemned without exception. This includes the Biblical “eye for an eye” doctrine used by Christian fundamentalists to justify the death penalty in America, even though to be fair the USA does not apply the death penalty for religious offenses.

    Those who wish to follow a religious doctrine must not interpret calls for violence against infidels and nonbelievers literally, and must practice the same tolerance that they demand of others. Any justification of violent imposition of religion or violent revenge in response to criticism or satire or is simply unacceptable.
    This is philosophically a much bigger step than one might think, and one that many deeply religious people would find difficult to take. It basically means accepting that human morality does evolve in time, and that whatever is written in one’s sacred text of choice is not in fact the literal word of an infallible supernatural being that can be subject to no reinterpretation. If this is true of moral prescriptions, the same would be true of descriptions of the natural world contained in ancient religious texts, such as the myths of Genesis. Accepting these religious myths as allegories rather than factual statements implies accepting that the scientific method, rather than the literal interpretation of ancient literature, is the most effective strategy to ascertain facts about the real world.

    Change in religious morality is far too slow, but it does happen. Even within my own lifetime, the interpretation of Catholic dogma (the one I am most familiar with) in majority Catholic societies has changed significantly. Women attend church in jeans and shorts (unthinkable in the 50s), nuns no longer wear clothes similar to burkas and most Catholic couples practice birth control and don’t get excommunicated for it. Society has basically voted with its feet, telling the church what rules they are willing to follow and which ones they are unwilling to accept. Even though the rules themselves have changed very little, they are no longer taken as seriously as they once were. One might even argue that the undeniable historical success of early Christianity was based on a certain measure of rejection of scriptural literalism. Paul, the true creator of Christianity, understood that in order to spread what he considered a new and improved version of Judaism among the Romans he needed to let go of key elements of Pharisaic law: circumcision and dietary rules. Replacing ritual circumcision with baptism, a much safer and less painful initiation ritual, and loosening up on the dietary rules was Paul’s true “marketing” genius. This is the sense of the Letter to the Hebrews, where he makes the case that the message of Jesus supersedes the ancient law, and the strict rules of Judaic law were no longer necessary.

    As Dr. Dawkins so clearly describes in “The God Delusion”, common morality does not in fact derive from religion, and significantly changes in time. Witness the growing acceptance of gay marriage in America, in apparent contrast with the deep religiosity professed by most Americans. Some religious denominations adapt to change and accept that history moves forward. Other denominations, the literalist ones (fundamentalist Christians and Muslims, ultra-Orthodox Jews), desperately resist any change and insist on upholding anachronistic rules and values in today’s world. Their followers are unable to adapt to a changing world, and feel that their core beliefs are threatened. These are the people who are more likely to engage in violence.
    The rejection of violent religious extremism begins with the rejection of scriptural literalism.



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