Comment of the Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Fick Calls Loretta Lynch’s Bluff”

bible-quran

I think my favorite kinds of Ethics Alarms comment are those in which  commenters honestly, openly and sometimes painfully explore their conflicted feelings on  complicated ethics issues clouded by unresolved, and perhaps unresolvable, gray areas. This, by Ethics Alarms newcomer valentine0486, is such a comment.

The topic is the fair treatment of Muslims, in light of the formal tenets of their religion. Obviously, this is much on everyone’s mind now. An increasingly threatening form of terrorism is emanating from Islam. One end of the political and ideological spectrum holds that the entire religion and all of its adherents, including U.S. citizens, are inherently untrustworthy, and must be presumed to be dangerous. The other end, unfortunately the end resided in by the President (and Hillary Clinton, until the polls dictate otherwise), persists in denying that there is reason to regard Islam as any different from any other religion, and most absurdly, pretending that ISIS isn’t even Islamic. There must be a reasonable, safe, fair, American way between these two extremes, but what is it? This comment doesn’t solve the conundrum, but it opens the window a bit wider to air the inquiry.

Here is valentine0486’s Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Quiz: The Fick Calls Loretta Lynch’s Bluff:

I have read both the Bible and the Quran. That doesn’t make me an expert, of course, but I do think some things should be said. The Bible (especially the New Testament) clearly delineates affirmative duties to treat other people with kindness and to follow the Golden Rule. The Quran seems to create affirmative duties such as “killing infidels.” Now, I know that the Bible’s messages have been corrupted for evil—-American slavery, the Holocaust, the Crusades just to name a few. But I truly believe that at its core the vast majority of the Bible (maybe all of it) is a book that asks the people who follow it to treat other people as they would wish to be treated. Of course, there are questionable passages, but in my view, Mathew 7:12 trumps all of them (that’s the obligation of the Golden Rule).

The Quran’s passages, on the other hand, clearly do not contemplate such a rule. and indeed the Prophet curses his own relative in one of the suras. It seems to me somewhat reasonable to question persons who would follow such doctrine. If you went to a retreat with a group of people and you found “kill all outsiders” in their bylaws, you might want to get up out of there. Now, if the Bible, which is good at its core, can be manipulated to evil, then I suppose the Quran, which to me seems to espouse evil at its core, could be manipulated for good. I am fully aware of that possibility. But something about human nature makes me question the likelihood of this.

This makes me seriously question the ethics of any Muslim, whether radical or moderate. That being said, I certainly disagree with the ex-Congressman wanting to kill all of them. Those who are actively engaging in terrorism, of course, should likely face death. However, those who merely support it should be persuaded not to support it, if possible. Unless, of course, he means financing when he says supporting, and then that’s a much closer issue.

My major point is that there are groups you cannot belong to and maintain an ethical life. The obvious example is the KKK. It seems to me that there is a pretty strong argument that being of the Muslim faith may put you into such a group. My much more liberal friends think my reasoning is ridiculous, and to be honest, I don’t love it either. It reeks of religious intolerance. But I don’t know how to escape it. What am I missing?

The only thing I can think is that perhaps, ironically, you cannot really look to the words of religious texts when trying to understand religious groups because the groups themselves don’t look to the texts overmuch. For instance, my grandmother is decidedly “more Catholic” than I am, and yet I am the only one who has read the Bible between the two of us. She believes that the value of human life is the most important value and the Bible says so. I’ve tried to tell her that it clearly doesn’t say so; in fact, it makes quite clear that it has little value on any given human life, and that it’s predominant value is on the Golden Rule-which makes us disagree strongly on right to die cases. (Grandma thinks doctors shouldn’t be able to assist in suicide because that right belongs to God alone. I believe that the Bible actually may create an affirmative obligation on the doctor to assist in suicide on some occasions). Thus, maybe it’s important to recognize that looking at the text is only a small part of the puzzle.

Furthermore, religion has a lot of cultural aspects and it often gets passed on word of mouth from one generation to the next, with very little attention to the original text. It’s like a great big game of generational telephone. All that being said, when we played telephone in school, I don’t recall the final message ever becoming kinder than the original. Thus, if the core of the thing (the Quran) is evil and knowing what I know of human nature, why should I think the things that stem from that should be other than evil?

All that being said, I certainly don’t need every moderate Muslim to tell me that they despise terrorism. I am going to assume they despise terrorism because I believe in believing in the best of people until they prove to me beyond a reasonable doubt that I cannot believe in them. But if a Muslim came up to me and asked me if I thought there religious choice was an ethical choice, I would have to reluctantly say “No.” I’m going to draw an uncomfortable but possibly apt parallel. If someone who was in the KKK came up to me, and said: “I inherited these beliefs from my father who inherited from his father all the way back from my Great-Great-Great Grandfather. It’s part of our culture, and I’ve never known anything else. I’m personally peaceful. I’ve never hurt anyone. I don’t even march. I just belong to the KKK. I abhor when the KKK uses violence of any kind. That’s ethical, right?” My answer would be a resounding “No.”

Why should my answer be different vis-a-vis Muslims?

 

 

83 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: “Ethics Quiz: The Fick Calls Loretta Lynch’s Bluff”

  1. “The only thing I can think is that perhaps, ironically, you cannot really look to the words of religious texts when trying to understand religious groups because the groups themselves don’t look to the texts overmuch”…I’ve known more than a few Muslims, and lived with several at various times, and I have yet to know one who doesn’t read the Qu’ran daily, and pray 5 times per day.

  2. “Why should my answer be different vis-a-vis Muslims?”

    Parallels in theory are cheap – any group falls well short of perfection, and overlap can be found anywhere.

    But the inability to see a practical difference between the KKK and Muslims screams dangerous intolerance. Flatly calling 1.6 billion Muslims unethical PER SE, as a group, no different from the KKK, is something I’d expect of a demagogue like Trump – not to be put up for admiration as a comment of the day on an ethics blog.

    Words have consequences. These are very poorly chosen words, with no good consequences. Saying the Bible is good at its core and the Quran is evil at its core is – there’s no other word for it, it’s blunt intolerance.

    Comment of the day? It’s a sad day.

    • You need to review the criteria for Comment of the Day, which has never, ever, evernever ( as my dad used to say) been “admiration.” Take this, for example. I believe I emphatically disagreed with one of YOUR posts that was a Comment of the Day. A Comment of the day is one that expands the issue in brave, provocative, unexpected, controversial or revealing ways.

      The reflex “religious intolerance” idea repellent is beneath you. It’s ridiculous to argue that we have to be tolerant of all religions, no matter what they teach, and no matter what their adherents say and do. Are you tolerant of Scientology? Why? I’m not: it’s a criminal cult. Imagine a religion with only the tenets of radical Islam, and devoted to killing all non-believers. Should we be tolerant of THAT religion? Why?

      If Islam was such a religion, and many think it is, what’s the matter with the KKK comparison? I could argue it’s unfair—to the KKK. Who has murdered more innocents world wide in the last 20 years?

      • Re comment of the day criteria, point taken, and it does do those things, you’re right.

        Re intolerance, however: I don’t consider Scientology a religion?. Like you, I think of it more like a criminal cult. By contrast, Islam is one of the three Abrahamic religions, with the second largest number of adherents of any religion in the world.

        You are sensitive to people tarring the police as an institution with the bad actions of a few. Ditto for any diverse group with bad apples. A lot of ethical issues revolve around not tarring an entire group with the actions of a few.

        The beliefs core to Christianity, which your commenter says are peaceful, were the same core beliefs which motivated the Crusades, the world’s largest genocide (Indians in Brazil by Portuguese) a few centuries ago. So was Christianity an unethical religion then, but not now? What changed? Certainly not the core beliefs.

        Calling an entire religion “unethical” PER SE – on the face of it, because of the perceived aggregate belief structure of that religion – is breathtaking.

          • Sure – the ancient Mayan religion that involved human sacrifices might be an example. Maybe Santoria.

            And, if you’re willing to call what ISIS is doing a ‘religion’ – which they at least would – that would qualify too as an intolerable religion. But few would call that “Islam” outside of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

            Here’s a thought: “radical Islam” is to Islam as the KKK is to Christianity. Does that make sense?

            • All of Islam whether radical or not adheres to the belief that Islam must fill the earth by any means necessary and there are specific orders given to kill infidels. The KKK and Christianity do not have the same ultimate goal.

            • No it makes no sense whatsoever.

              When Christianity does evil, there’s a divergence from it’s scriptural basis. When Christianity RETURNS to it’s scriptural basis, there is healing and good done. When Islam RETURNS to it’s scriptural basis, you get ISIS.

            • “But few would call that “Islam” outside of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.”

              An silly claim to make given the polls coming out of the middle east and how favorable ISIS is. Seems they have almost as much of an approval rating amongst the general Muslim population as Hillary has amongst the general American population…

              • “Seems they have almost as much of an approval rating amongst the general Muslim population as Hillary has amongst the general American population…”

                Really? Care to cite evidence?

                • Luckily, we have stats on this. “A new poll by the Pew Research Center reveals significant levels of support for ISIS within the Muslim world. In 11 representative nation-states, up to 14 percent of the population has a favorable opinion of ISIS, and upwards of 62 percent “don’t know” whether or not they have a favorable opinion of the Islamist group.”

                  14% is closer to the support Republicans have for Marco Rubio. The large number of “don’t knows” and presumably an unknown percentage of the negatives are still subject to radicalization. 63,000,000 is about the size of the combined populations of Texas and California. That ain’t hay.

                  No question, Tex was engaging in hyperbole. I’m not comforted, and you shouldn’t be either.

                  • Thanks Jack, yes it was hyperbolic and purely to demonstrate that there is plenty of consensus in the Islamic world that considers ISIS a legitimate manifestation of Islam. Much more than just a handful of Republican politicians.

                  • Thanks for the data. It is indeed not comforting.

                    However, Pew’s headline is quite a bit different than yours. They chose to headline their report as “In nations with significant Muslim populations, much disdain for ISIS.”

                    and the money quote is:
                    ——-
                    “According to newly released data that the Pew Research Center collected in 11 countries with significant Muslim populations, people from Nigeria to Jordan to Indonesia OVERWHELMINGLY EXPRESSED NEGATIVE VIEWS OF ISIS [emphasis added].

                    “One exception was Pakistan, where a majority offered no definite opinion of ISIS. The nationally representative surveys were conducted as part of the Pew Research Center’s annual global poll in April and May this year.

                    “In no country surveyed did more than 15% of the population show favorable attitudes toward Islamic State. And in those countries with mixed religious and ethnic populations, negative views of ISIS cut across these lines.”

                    ————–
                    Still troublesome? Yes. But to headline it as “significant levels of support for ISIS in the Muslim world” is at least contrary to how Pew Research itself headlined it.

                    Your “up to 14 percent of the population has a favorable opinion of ISIS” is pure cherry-picking – it’s only from Nigeria. In all OTHER countries surveyed, it’s less, e.g. 4% in Indonesia, and only 6% even in Palestine.

                    And since Indonesia has the largest population of Muslims in the world, more than 3x that of Nigeria, you really are cherry-picking.

                    At those levels, the comparison is not with Marco Rubio, but with the KKK. I suspect you could find 4% of the US population to “favorably” view any number of vile opinions.

                    It is still troubling, and I confess to surprise at some of those numbers. But you should be more balanced in outlining the findings of Pew.

                    • This still undermines you subtle insistence that looking at ISIS’s low-ish numbers is defense enough for the majority of Islam. It isn’t. Because there are still plenty of other wildly violent sects in increasingly popular sizes of the Islamic world.

                    • Incredible that you will continue to pretend that a substantial portion of the Islamic world supports the extremist interpretations of their religion doesn’t constitute it being viewed as a legitimate religion.

                      Please recall this all points back to your wild assertion:

                      “And, if you’re willing to call what ISIS is doing a ‘religion’ – which they at least would – that would qualify too as an intolerable religion. But few would call that “Islam” outside of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.”

                      ISIS isn’t the only group pushing a more scripturally literal version of the Koran.

                      Now, instead of trying to hone in on single supposed “gotcha” moments (that won’t bolster your argument anyway), I need you to one of the two following options:

                      1) actually bother to respond to the countless comments directed at you on other elements of this discussion

                      2) admit the house you’ve built on sand is losing its foundation rapidly.

                      If you can’t do either of these, we can assume you won’t have this discussion in good faith, but will continue to rely on grasping for “gotchas”.

                      Please, I invite you have a rational discussion with us.

                    • Texagg,there are several reasons I occasionally don’t reply to you.

                      1. You’re occasionally incoherent. I defy you to make sense of the first sentence of your this last diatribe, for example:
                      “Incredible that you will continue to pretend that a substantial portion of the Islamic world supports the extremist interpretations of their religion doesn’t constitute it being viewed as a legitimate religion.”
                      That is literally a non-coherent sentence. And you wrote it. And led with it.

                      2. Occasionally you raise other issues, lots of them, and I don’t feel like dancing to all your tunes. (e.g. “I need you to…bother to respond or…admit house of sand…” Um, no thank you, that’s about YOUR need.)

                      3. In my experience, you ALWAYS want to have the last word, generally preceded by a taunt (like this time). It gets tiresome – it’s easier to just let you have the last word and be done with it.

                      That said, there are occasions where you have said things that, much as I may gnash my teeth to admit it, make a lot of sense, and that I hadn’t thought of. In those cases, I like to think I have always acknowledged those points, notwithstanding you and I are generally on the opposite sides of issues.

                      As far as I’m concerned, the only point of engaging in these dialogues is to find those rare gems of moments where I find myself persuaded by the other person. It does happen, though it seems to happen less often when I’m being insulted.

                    • Maybe this bare revision will aid your literacy:

                      Incredible that you will continue to pretend that a substantial portion of the Islamic world supporting the extremist interpretations of their religion doesn’t constitute that group being viewed as a legitimate religion.

                    • Texagg, I still don’t think you have a coherent sentence there, or maybe it’s just too complex for me. You find it “incredible” that I “pretend” that a “substantial portion” doesn’t constitute “that group” being viewed as legitimate. Huh?

                      –If I’m not pretending, what’s left for you to find incredible?

                      –And I can’t for the life of me figure out what “that group” refers to – Muslims in general, or the small extremist bunch? And what doesn’t constitute them being legitimate? Which? What? I’m lost.

                      But I’ll have a shot at it anyway.

                      What you call “a substantial portion of the Islamic world supporting the extremist interpretations of their religion” is what Pew research headlines as “In nations with significant Muslim populations, [there is] much disdain for ISIS.”

                      You say “substantial support,” Pew says “much disdain.” It’s their data, and they’re in the business of writing accurate headlines to summarize their own survey data.

                      Yes, some of this is to-MAY-to to-MAH-to. If 4% of Indonesians have a favorable attitude toward ISIS, that’s a lot of angry Muslims, I agree.

                      At the same time:
                      -40% of Americans believe in creationism;
                      -5% of Americans support taking unilateral military action against Russia;
                      -4% of Americans believe in reptilian people;
                      -2% of Americans think Obama is too tough on ISIS.

                      So maybe 4% is fringe territory in this country as well. In any case, I don’t find it “incredible.” There are 4% wackos on all kinds of issues.

                      Maybe what you’re saying is that 4% of Indonesians being extreme is enough to tar an entire religion as being illegitimate, wacko, extremist. If so, I respectfully disagree; I think you can find a helluva lot of white supremacist sympathizers within white southern conservative Christian denominations, for example.

                      Maybe you’re cherry-picking Jack’s numbers on Nigeria, where I totally agree with you, the number of sympathizers is well into double digits, and that’s scary. No accident it’s the land of Boko Haram and email scams; I have no desire to go there.

                      Let me be clear what I think, so you can critique something specific:

                      –I think “muslim extremism” is NOT a legitimate religion;
                      –I think Islam IS a legitimate religion;
                      –the vast majority of Muslims AGREE with those two statements; and
                      –good luck trying to convince a single non-extremist Muslim that their religion is illegitimate because of YOUR reading of their holy texts, or finding one who agrees with you.

                    • Islam is a religion per se, and more, but there’s not much in it that’s comparable to Christianity, the spirit of which can be summed up in the Beatitudes. The Qu’ran doesn’t have anything in it comparable.

                • Jack gets it precise.

                  By the by, I note you choose to ignore all other responses except the one where you think you have a “gotcha” that may gain ttraction. Why is that?

                  Is it because you agree with the corrections to your assessment?

                • Additionally, when we focus on ISIS as though it’s the only “extreme” version of Islam, we forget that as extremists go, ISIS is the varsity squad.

                  Let’s look at the b team and the c team of Islamic fundamentalism and you get the takfiris (which ISIS is an extreme branch of) and you get the Salafists. One step outside that and you get the wahhabists. Those guys are no walk in the park when it comes to rampant killing of nonbelievers and using the direct commands of the Koran to justify themselves.

                  And THEY have a much greater approval rating among Muslims than ISIS does.

                  • That’s quite a compilation, thanks for the data.

                    What to your mind are the implications? The greater the acceptance of radical Islam among mainstream Muslims, the more important it is to do ___?

            • No, actually, it doesn’t. “radical” Islam is comprised of muslims who follow that cursed book of theirs to the letter. Christianity is defined by Christ’s words; the new Covenant which replaced the Old Testament, which is antithetical to the KKK, and to Islam, in pretty much every way imaginable. Islam is an evil, intolerant death cult. Being “intolerant” of an evil, intolerant death cult isn’t the same as saying its members are all evil and irredeemable, just like calling cancer evil wouldn’t be the same as calling cancer sufferers evil.

              • The only sect of Islam that actually teaches peace, nonviolence, and tolerance are the Ahmadis, and they are a tiny minority, persecuted by Sunnis since their inception for not being “true” Muslims.

            • I’ll only say that if your grasp of world history and culture is as good as that of your Mesoamerican civilizations your posts have zero basis in fact.

            • “And, if you’re willing to call what ISIS is doing a ‘religion’ – which they at least would – that would qualify too as an intolerable religion. But few would call that “Islam” outside of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.”

              Daesh calls it Islam. And who the hell do you think you are to tell them they’re wrong? Seriously…. This another facet the progressive mindset I just can’t get over. Here’s a group that follows the strictures of a holy book with more raw adherence than even perhaps the majority of the followers of that book, but that isn’t legitimate worship because we don’t approve of it? How massively egotistical to hold someone else’s religion hostage to your standards! I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again:

              In the absence of a central governing body, Islam is decoded from the words of the book by accord. If you can gather enough adherents that believe Islam’s teachings should be interpreted a certain way, then you have just as much legitimacy as any other like-sized group, and more legitimacy than smaller sized groups. By denying Deash legitimacy, you are per se denying the legitimacy of every congregation of Muslims with a smaller population that ISIS, which includes Every. Single. American group. Progressive arrogance does not unmake a religion.

              • HT – excellent comment. Islam is defined by Allah and Mohammad. Is not the Koran the perfect word of God? Is not Mohammad the Ideal Man? Indeed, who are these cosmopolitan types to argue against Allah and Mohammad? If the word of Allah and the teachings of Mohammad are not true Islam, then what is? Does not Allah call on all Muslims to make war on the unbeliever? Did not Mohammad kill his rivals and take sex slaves? To deny this is to deny the word of God and his Prophet.

                Now, one could argue that the calls to violence and other (by our definition) bad behaviors are indeed taken out of context by some readers and/or perhaps these passages are some sort of abstract wisdom, I.E: similar to “people in glass houses should not throw stones”. However, if that is the case, then it is incumbent on whoever is making that argument to clearly enunciate the context / and or the allegorical meaning of the passage / commandment / whatever.

            • “Sure – the ancient Mayan religion that involved human sacrifices might be an example.”

              Here’s the problem with this being your answer:

              In the year 1400, the meso-american version of charlesgreen would turn around and say “THOSE Mayans are only practicing an extreme version of their religion, don’t judge the rest based on them! Look at those moderate Mayans over there!”

  3. How can you ignore more than one half of the Bible, which has several violent directives? Judaism doesn’t adhere to the New Testament, and the Old Testament is regularly read in Christian services. Picking and choosing either Bible or Koran verses does not advance the discussion, in my view, and only serves to reinforce already held beliefs about your own religion or another’s. Reza Aslan, a religious scholar, has been involved in some interesting discussions about how the individual brings their own biases to religion. All religions have a potential for violence, even Buddhism, surprisingly enough. If you are a violent person, you will be drawn to the excuses in the Koran. If you are anti-gay marriage, you will be drawn to those verses in the Bible that seem to justify your beliefs.

      • Gays serve unashamedly in the Israeli military. If there is a religion that has denounced the backwards fundamental teachings of it’s holy book in favor of logic and reason more heartily than Judaism, I haven’t found it.

    • A couple of thoughts….

      The Bible’s exhortations to violence are always limited in context and scope. For instance, the Jews were directed to take specific land to be their home, not to convert the entire world to Judaism (by force if necessary). The New Testament, which all Christians are meant to follow, actively repudiates most of the Old Testament’s more brutal and least tolerant passages, replacing them with the Golden Rule and other similar lessons.

      The Koran…? Well, I haven’t read it, but what I know from the secondhand sources I deem reliable backs up Valentine’s reading. It seems to me that any Muslim who is tolerant, open-minded, and kindly disposed to live and let live is so because of their own individual good nature, and in spite of their religion.

      That being said, I always treat everyone as an individual who is good until proven otherwise, and I try (not entirely successfully) to let some massive generalization like religion goad me into treating groups in a way that I’d never treat an individual face-to-face (when enough individuals in a group cause the same kind of harm to me, my countrymen, and my culture again and again, it starts to make sense to assume they’re all that way and leave the door open for them to prove otherwise).

      It also seems to me that religion is more about culture and deeply inculcated ways of seeing the world than it is any religious text. Just look at the myriad differences in how Christians worship and congregate — all based on the same foundational text. People tend to do what they deeply, emotionally want(need) to do, regardless of what any holy book says. Religion is sometimes a prime mover, but more often (I think) an infinitely flexible moral rationalization.

      Eh…I had two distinct thoughts I wanted to convey when I started, and now I’m not sure I properly remember what the second one was. Anyway, kudos to Valentine on a very thought-provoking comment. In so many ways, I’m in the same place he is.

    • Does this REALLY have to be mentioned in every discussion AFTER it has been DISPELLED time and again?

      Find me an OPEN ENDED command to murder ALL non-believers in the Old Testament. Please. Do it. You won’t find any. There are NO open-ended commands to do so. There are specific commands to make war on specific people who were found to be SO corrupt they were beyond reconciliation. That may seem unpalatable to the modern man, sure, but find me a spare Canaanite or Ammonite laying around so I can warn them of their impending doom.

      However, you can find PLENTY of commands in the Koran to murder ALL non-muslims – UNTIL THEY CONVERT.

      This isn’t apples and apples.

      When a Christian murders for Christ, he has absolutely ZERO foundational documentation to fall back on in his defense. He may say “well a pope told me to”, but that pope has absolutely ZERO foundational documentation to fall back on.

      When a Muslim murders for Mohammad, he CAN cite his founding documents as a defense.

      Can we please lay these FALSE analogies to rest now?

      • The other facet that is never brought up is that Christianity is Judaism with a new statement, but Judaism is a much less violent religion. The difference lies in mission scopes, there is something in the new testament that leads people to action, and that is the active difference between an endurance cult and a death cult.

        The old testament, taken on its own, does not require conscription. Jews live life, and they wait. They don’t care what you do so long as it doesn’t effect them, because there is no requirement to do so. They wait. The teachings of Jesus may have seemed like a live and let live, all good form of religion, but the connotations made Christianity much more active.

        To use their vernacular, Jesus, having died for our sins, and offering us God’s forgiveness, raised all the people who were previously in purgatory into heaven. All people who died after Jesus, being able to ask for forgiveness of their sins, have a choice: Ask for that forgiveness, and believe, and go to heaven, or fail to do so and go to hell. Faced with this choice, believers looked to their neighbors and said: ‘Who cares how miserable we are now… Heaven!’ There’s a certain amount of caring in the poor treatment of sinners. If they believe that people who don’t ask god for forgiveness will go to hell, can they really be blamed for trying to tell the world about it? By this logic, every person who dies without at least been given the opportunity to accept Jesus is the most tragic thing imaginable. Throughout history, death cults like Islam and Christianity found their messages opposed, usually by force, and their logic said that the people opposing them perhaps could be allowed to die and go to hell, they were given the option, but they were in the way of showing other people the truth, and if allowing someone to die without being given the option to learn of God’s love was a tragedy, the death of the sinners actively forcing that tragedy was tolerable in comparison. This is the basis of Christian violence… Not the old testament. Or at least not the old testament on its own.

          • Oh absolutely… You have to follow the white rabbit through a lot of loose logical hoops to make your way to violence in Christianity that the Koran directly calls for.

  4. I think the native peoples of North America, Latin America and the Philippines, just to name a few, would disagree with your assessment that Christians are not called to spread their religion throughout the world, and in so doing aid in the colonization and domination of their people. I’m sure the instruction to “go and make disciples of all nations” has been reinterpreted over the years, and the law that “no one comes to the Father except through me” has been made considerably more flexible. The brutal methods utilized by certain Christians in the past, and even today, and those utilized by certain Muslims is, in my opinion, a distortion of the overall message of both religions.

    • Sigh.

      For Christians to invoke scripture to inflict harm, one must use imaginative and flexible and artistic license in interpreting with a smidgen of adding much to it. That is to say, go off the reservation.

      For Muslims to invoke scripture to inflict harm, one can read the plain print of the text. That is to say, be true to the scripture.

      Can we please quit this tired and worn out meme?

          • Maybe once Hillary’s in office, they’ll stop. And there’s no more private property. Or guns, Or bill of Rights. And no religion too.

            • “And no religion too.”

              Oh there will still be religion and faith. I will always stand by the notion that EVERYONE, even atheists, ultimately have a religion and have faith. They just won’t admit it. The sad thing is, there just won’t be freedom of religion.

              • Atheism absolutely is a faith. It’s no more possible to prove that there isn’t a god than to prove that there is. Which is why I’m a confirmed agnostic; lacking both proof and faith, I can’t hold either religion or atheism as the eternal truth.

  5. Now, if the Bible, which is good at its core, can be manipulated to evil, then I suppose the Quran, which to me seems to espouse evil at its core, could be manipulated for good.

    True – though I don’t think the Bible is as good as valentine thinks, and the early verses in the Koran are no more objectionable.

    Unfortunately, due to the doctrine of Abrogation, later verses supersede the earlier ones. In the Bible, that’s generally an improvement, in the Koran… not so much. Not at all, in fact.

    However, valentine I think underestimates the ability of humans to ignore inconvenient facts. Most muslims aren’t the bloodthirsty maniacs they really should be if they were to follow the Doctrine of Abrogation. If they were, Islam would be extinct, eaten up by its own evil. Instead, most pretend the bad stuff isn’t there, and concentrate on Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

    Just as Christians by and large don’t hold that the Earth is held up by pillars, nor that snow and hail is stored in warehouses in the sky, despite what the Bible categorically states. They too ignore the bad stuff, not that there’s much in the later verses, though still more than I’d like.

    Only the Muslim Fundamentalists, those who take great pains to follow scripture exactly,and authentically, are dangerous nutters. Only Christian Theocratic Ratbags, who ignore 90% of the actual teachings of Christ, are likewise.

    This video (in Dutch) is instructive.

    • Exactly, Zoebrain. Another of Aslan’s arguments is that people do not derive their values from religious writings, rather they bring their own values to the writings and pick and choose the ones to believe and follow. If you are going to accuse Muslims of being inspired by their religion to kill, you have to admit that those Muslims fighting ISIS are also inspired by their religion. In spite of the disturbing statistics, there are still many more Muslims who disapprove, and they are its primary victims.

  6. … The Bible (especially the New Testament) clearly delineates affirmative duties to treat other people with kindness and to follow the Golden Rule …

    In my view, it does not, but rather enjoins something deeper from which those actions, or actions that would also arise under those principles, can – under quite common circumstances – emerge as outworkings. But it is quite wrong to read that as there being any “affirmative duties”, let alone as endorsing “the Golden Rule” as such. Rather, it is convenient though legalistic for many people to adopt that rule or act as though there were such duties as a ready reckoner to live by, as opposed to internalising the actual values to live by.

    By the way, this is one of the doctrinal differences between Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism, of which precious few can be distinguished: the latter’s doctrine often interprets things in terms of resulting implications in the form of positive duties and actions, while the former’s holds that there never are any such things as such even though many things work out with broadly similar practical consequences. Regardless of which position if either is correct, the fact that both exist shows that “clearly delineates affirmative duties to treat other people with kindness and to follow the Golden Rule” is wrong about the “clearly”.

    … Of course, there are questionable passages, but in my view, Mathew 7:12 trumps all of them (that’s the obligation of the Golden Rule).

    In my view, there are many other passages that amplify and clarify that, which make it clear to me that that one is just such a pragmatic ready reckoner as I just mentioned. Why, if we took it as “trumps all of them” we would be throwing out the greater of the two summarising commandments (the one about God) and elevating the second and lesser one (the one about human beings) while also engineering in unintended consequences; see George Bernard Shaw’s reworking of the aphorism as “do not do unto others as you would have them do unto you, your tastes may not be the same” (from memory). Please do not be tempted to argue against that by pointing out that “no rule is without exceptions”, that’s my point, that it is not and cannot be the culminating – trumping – position; deeper positions come after that.

    … She believes that the value of human life is the most important value and the Bible says so. I’ve tried to tell her that it clearly doesn’t say so; in fact, it makes quite clear that it has little value on any given human life, and that it’s predominant value is on the Golden Rule [emphasis added] …

    Bluntly, no. Here, the writer is clearly elevating the Golden Rule over what the Bible actually states – and claiming that the Bible itself backs that up.

    I’m not going to turn this into my claims about what it states versus someone else’s. People who care about it should go and see for themselves (I should warn them, that is a rather Protestant approach).

    • The Bible does back that up. It says precisely: “For whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the law and the prophets.” In other words, all of the requirements in the Bible that came before the New Testament is fulfilled if you follow the golden rule. Even if you assume that the treatment of God trumps that, which I personally think is not very likely, Jesus then later says: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, so you do to me.” So, any time you fail the golden rule vis-a-vis a person, you also fail it vis-a-vis God. Either way, we get back to the golden rule, don’t we?

      To be fair, your writing style may have confused me a touch.

  7. Texagg, I still don’t think you have a coherent sentence there, or maybe it’s just too complex for me. You find it “incredible” that I “pretend” that a “substantial portion” doesn’t constitute “that group” being viewed as legitimate. Huh?

    Context. You made an assertion that the branch of Islam to which ISIS subscribes isn’t a “legitimate religion”. I’m not sure what your standards are for a “legitimate religion”, but it seems to me that when the QUANTITIES of self-proclaimed Muslims as an undeniable subset of all Muslims say that their interpretation is their interpretation of Islam, and it would also seem that the vast bulk of their own assertions are in line with the FOUNDATIONAL RELIGIOUS TEXT of Islam, then they ARE a legitimate religion.

    Now, the follow on posts in this sub-thread point directly at the VAST numbers of adherents to the literal-reading of the Koran.

    So, again, how can you pretend that a large percentage of self-styled Muslims that adhere to a literal interpretation of the overall religion’s foundational text does not constitute a legitimate religion?

    “And I can’t for the life of me figure out what “that group” refers to – Muslims in general, or the small extremist bunch?”

    Yes, the “extremist” (read as literalist) bunch…which is by no means small. Based on the PEW research center’s data, one can average about a 7-10% approval rate of ISIS itself, and by logical extension, there WILL be a larger percentage of Muslims that actually practice the OTHER “extreme” interpretations of Islam…from the Salafists, to the Wahabbists (a stricter extension of Salafism), to the Takfirists (an even stricter extension of the Salafists). So let’s just imagine that is only 15% of practicing Muslims…

    By comparison, Baptists worldwide represent about 5% of Christianity. I’m not sure you’d have a very valid claim to say “That makes Baptists an illegitimate interpretation of Christianity”.

    “At the same time:
    -40% of Americans believe in creationism;
    -5% of Americans support taking unilateral military action against Russia;
    -4% of Americans believe in reptilian people;
    -2% of Americans think Obama is too tough on ISIS.

    So maybe 4% is fringe territory in this country as well. In any case, I don’t find it “incredible.” There are 4% wackos on all kinds of issues.”

    That isn’t a comparison. We’re talking about entire belief structures…not single issues. And we’re also talking religion…no politics.

    “Maybe what you’re saying is that 4% of Indonesians being extreme is enough to tar an entire religion as being illegitimate, wacko, extremist. If so, I respectfully disagree; I think you can find a helluva lot of white supremacist sympathizers within white southern conservative Christian denominations, for example.”

    Nope, as a matter of fact, I’ve said no such thing. I have said in a fairly long expose which I gave you a link to, which seems to be one you’ve conveniently ignored, is that a direct interpretation of the Koran does lend itself to “justifiable” violence, murder, and other atrocity. This is unfortunate as there are sects of Islam that, painstakingly, can divorce themselves from the violence by taking an almost 100% allegorical or symnolic interpretation of the texts. That is burden Islam bears and that is the hurdle that must be leapt if Islam is to have a hopeful Reformation.

    Also of note, in the same link which you seem to have ignored, is an expose that Christianity DOESN’T operate under that textual burden, making analogies of the sort you just made, false. When Christianity returns to it’s foundational text, healing and good occurs…when you see blights like torturing to proselytize or like you mention, white supremacy, it only occurs when there is deviation from the direct interpretation of the text or clearly new teaching is cut whole cloth and forced onto the orginal text.

    When Christianity reformed, it reformed BACK to the text. Islam hope, and many Muslims have already undertaken the heavy effort, is to reform AWAY from the literal reading of the text.

    “–I think “muslim extremism” is NOT a legitimate religion;”

    Too bad you don’t get to define religions…I think you’ve taken the patient virtue “tolerance” to the level of vice and in your desperation to claim tolerance for everyone, you’re just pretending like some things don’t match their definitions.

    “–I think Islam IS a legitimate religion;”

    Well then, you don’t get to pretend like 10%+ of it’s adherents that practice a gruesomely awful true-to-text interpretation of it aren’t legitimate…these aren’t the Branch Davidians…these guys have added nothing to the Koran.

    “–the vast majority of Muslims AGREE with those two statements;”

    Uh huh…and the vast majority of Christians think that Baptist theology is off a bit…the vast majority of Christians think that Lutheran theology is off a bit…the vast majority of Christians think that Presbyterian theology is off a bit…because every time you pull out a denomination to compare to the greater whole, you are always pulling out a tiny minority. Same goes with the Takfirists…only it isn’t nearly as small of a minority as many Christian groups which you would NEVER delegitimize.

    “–good luck trying to convince a single non-extremist Muslim that their religion is illegitimate because of YOUR reading of their holy texts, or finding one who agrees with you.”

    Speaking of incoherent comments…

  8. Texagg, I think our back-and-forth here boils down to just three simple issues.

    1. The definition of a “legitimate” religion. You suggest that extremist Islamists are a “legitimate” religion because “the vast bulk of their own assertions are in line with the FOUNDATIONAL RELIGIOUS TEXT of Islam, then they ARE a legitimate religion.”

    For my part, I classed them with Scientologists, whom Jack called illegitimate. But honestly, the application of the word “legitimate” is something that’s not going to be resolved by arguing here – there is no court of definitional law on this one.

    I’m inclined to go with the majority of Muslims, who consider extremist Islam to be illegitimate; you prefer to go with your own textual exegesis and declare them legitimate. I’m sure many Christians will agree with you; I doubt many Muslims will, but since in your mind “legitimate” is a definitional concept, not a statistical one, that won’t bother you.

    2. The definition of “significant” numbers. We are both appalled at the raw numbers of Muslims in the world who express favorable attitudes toward radical Islam. I am less appalled than you are by the percentages of said group. We probably have different trigger levels of what proportion constitutes “appalling.” When we’re down to disputing the right adjective for some Pew research data, I think we’ve reached the point of simple disagreement.

    3. The characterization of Islam. This is the biggie. You have said “a direct interpretation of the Koran does lend itself to “justifiable” violence, murder, and other atrocity.” You say that a proper, true, legitimate reading of Christianity moves TOWARD its foundational text, whereas a proper, true, legitimate reading of Islam would move AWAY from its foundational text.

    Did I characterize your view correctly in the above? I meant to do so, without spin. Please correct me if I did not.

    If I got that right, then this is consistent with the view that Jack suggested, namely a view that Islam is PER SE unethical, based as it is (as you suggest) on a core, foundational set of principles that lend themselves justifying violence, murder, etc.

    And to be clear, I think that is not a usefully meaningful statement. What do I mean by that?

    I mean by that, I sincerely doubt you’ll find practically ANY Muslims who agree with you that their religion’s foundational principles, their “entire belief structure,” lead via a “direct interpretation” to violence, murder, etc. (Excepting of course, the radical Islamists themselves).

    You can insist on your definition and your reading until the cows come home, but the practical, real-world impact of your insistence is almost certainly going to be to inflame more Christians and enrage more Muslims – I sincerely doubt you will convince ANYBODY of that argument.

    Presumably you’ll say “just because they’re not convinced by my arguments doesn’t mean I’m wrong about those arguments.” Actually, if your arguments are meaningless in the first place, then you don’t even get to claim the high ground of “right” and “wrong.”

    This is the realm of metaphysics, textual exegesis, sectarian squabbling. You have as much right to say “Islam is at heart a violent religion” as Louis Farrakhan has to say “Christianity is a gutter religion.” It’s a free country, you can each utter inflammatory and meaningless statements – and all either of you will do is inflame the true believers and enrage the other side.

    An outsider proclaiming insight about the “true foundational principles” of a religion, in contradistinction to the perceived beliefs of the religion’s insiders is just going to generate useless emotion. Theology and metaphysics tend to be argued endlessly precisely because there is no way of ever arriving at a conclusion.

    This is what I mean by it’s “not a usefully meaningful statement.” You will not convince any Muslims by it; it is not empirically verifiable by any court of judgment; it has all the appearance of a logical argument, but it’s really just a subjective set of opinions wrapped up in the garb of a factual statement.

    What IS clear, however, is the real-world impact. Simply put, you’re telling mainstream adherents of the world’s second-largest religion that the foundational principles of their religion are intrinsically, per se, ineluctably violent, murderous and unethical.

    Will you convince Muslims of your argument? Or just piss them off? Do you really think you can refine and tune your “right” argument so well that they’ll eventually be forced to agree with you? I sincerely doubt it. Instead, they’re more likely to see a direct link between your outsider’s view of their theology and Donald Trump’s real-world conclusion that we should keep them out.

    Sorry for the long-windedness, but that’s the biggest difference between us, I think. I just don’t think your point about Islam is usefully meaningful. And you of course think it is.

    • Trying to be more articulate here without being divisive.

      Seems to me that statements like “Religion X is fundamentally unethical,” or “the core writings of Religion X encourage violence while those of Religion Y encourage peace” are very close in kind to some other statements, e.g.

      God exists, vs. God doesn’t exist, or
      there is a such thing as ‘the good,’ vs. all reality is mere perception, or
      greed is bad, vs. greed is good, or
      tastes great, vs. less filling.

      The trait they all share in common is that they are largely immune to debate. Some because they are metaphysical, some because they are ideological, some because they are a matter of taste or preference. Regardless the reason, debates around these issues share several characteristics:
      –they are endless
      –they generate much heat and little light
      –very few if any minds are changed by debate
      –it is not even clear ON WHAT BASIS one should ever expect agreement to be reached.

      It is in that sense that I suggest those claims are, for lack of a better phrase, not meaningfully useful.

        • Joed68, well, I agree, the core writing issue does in some way feel more concrete and empirical. It deals with actual words that refer to real things (killings, etc.), unlike the god stuff. True dat.

          I guess it’s the evaluation of those things in the massive messy glop that is religion: the conclusion that one set of clauses is “THE” defining set of principles, as opposed to another set of clauses in another religion.

          Maybe a better analogy is that one barbecue artist might say the “secret sauce” to their recipe is jalapeno, whereas another might say it’s the aged vinegar. Those are both very concrete elements (jalapano, vinegar), but who’s to say objectively what is more key to one or the other recipe – even the barbecuers themselves are biased about it, and even judges have to be somewhat subjective. (I don’t know if that example works, I’m makin’ it up).

          To state the guiding principles of mathematics is simple; the guiding principles of Apple vs. Microsoft, not simple, but still do-able. But the guiding principles of one religion vs. another – feels a lot more like the secret sauce argument. Or so it seems to me.

          • That’s a great analogy, actually. There is an important distinction, though. Muslims consider the entire text of the Qu’ran to be the verbatim word of God, and so are taught that its precepts are to be interpreted literally rather than figuratively. In Christianity, there’s a broad variety of interpretations, especially with things like parables, whereas in Islam, the sort of variety you see is in how observant an individual is to the one accepted interpretation. There are some exceptions among some of the very small factions, but they’re derided as not being “true” Muslims. There seems to be a great deal less spirituality involved. This is my understanding, and I certainly can’t claim to be a scholar of Islam, nor would I comment on whether or not this robs it of its legitimacy as a religion. I just think it makes Islam quite a bit more dangerous.

            • Joed, well I’m no Islamic scholar either, by any means, but as to the literal interpretation of scripture, of course Christianity has its own literal adherents as well. For example, what is to be made of the large number of creationists who cite the Bible as their true source for science? I’m not disagreeing with your point, but I do wonder just where the lines get drawn.

              • “For example, what is to be made of the large number of creationists who cite the Bible as their true source for science? “

                Probably left to their own beliefs after engaging in simple dialogue… It’s a far gulf in the effects on others between believing God created the Universe and Believing you have have to kill non-believers.

                I’m not sure how the comparison is salient…

                • “I’m not sure how the comparison is salient…”

                  Totally fair question.

                  I think it’s that you, me, JoeD et al can have all the discussions we want on a website like EthicsAlarms, and while it’s good per se to have vigorous debate, I think the effect of that debate between us on the world is somewhere between vanishing and zero.

                  The discussions that have a chance to have real impact in the world, I suspect, will be two:

                  1. Discussions between disaffected youth and some kind of intervention on social media and locally – some sophisticated combination of counter-terrorism specialists, social workers, cops, psychologists. We really need to figure out what that mix looks like and how to engage it.

                  and

                  2. Discussions between law enforcement and established Muslim communities. Muslims have to be encouraged to ‘see something say something.’ After all, they’re the ones most likely to observe suspicious stuff.

                  Both of those discussions are more likely to be productive if they are approached from an empathetic and collaborative angle, rather than from a condemnatory and accusatory angle. (Of course that’s pretty much true of any human interaction).

                  So we can either say, “Look, we’ve got fundamentalist problems, you’ve got fundamentalist problems. Right now yours are the ones that are out of control, not ours, and it’s not only killing people, it’s turning people against you. What can we do to work together to help?”

                  Or we can say, “Look, you’ve got fundamentalist problems, and they flow from the very heart of your doctrine. It’s a sick religion you’re part of, and your fundamentalists are only reacting to the core messages you continue to put out as part of your religion. Until you renounce the ugly, core parts of your religion, you can expect us to fight back hard. So, are you gonna renounce, or do we have to get tough?”

                  I think the first approach works better (and of course, the terrorists are seeking the second).

                  So, the salience of my making those comparisons is to promote a way of thinking that allows us all to find common ground and a common goal, rather than to promote ways of thinking that are divisive. After all, the way we think and talk amongst ourselves is likely to influence the way we think and talk with others. So why not talk this way now, to ourselves?

                  • You’re absolutely right about which approach would be more effective normally, but it might fail to take into account a mindset of conquest and domination that’s been inculcated since birth. I’ve said it before; you really have to factor in a level of commitment that most Westerners simply can’t begin to comprehend. Would bettering their circumstances change that? I don’t know, but there’s evidence that suggests it wouldn’t. What’s the best approach? Maybe your first paragraph, but ended with ” We truly want to give you the benefit of the doubt, and if you truly want to be here on peaceful terms, you’ll find us welcoming and accommodating, Don’t mistake our kindness for weakness, though. If you put our backs to the wall, we will fight to the last man to destroy you, if it takes us 10,000 years.” I’m not sure the big battle is going to be a physical fight, though. I think that Hijrah (jihad by immigration and breeding) will be our undoing. That’s part of their book, too.

              • The creationalists who dont believe in evolution and that the Earth is 5,000 years old are merely stupid. There was a pope, can’t remember which, that said that the Big Bang finally revealed the hand of God’s involvement in our creation in the unknowable singularity that preceeded it. It naturally follows that evolution took place. Intelligent design has been disavowed by pretty much all of the Christian scientific community as a pseudo-scientific tautology, unsupported by any existing evidence. Its my understanding that most deist scientists have shifted the battleground back to the ontological argument, based on the implications of modern physics. It’s at least a more dignified place to hang one’s hat.

    • “1. The definition of a “legitimate” religion. You suggest that extremist Islamists are a “legitimate” religion because “the vast bulk of their own assertions are in line with the FOUNDATIONAL RELIGIOUS TEXT of Islam, then they ARE a legitimate religion.”

      For my part, I classed them with Scientologists, whom Jack called illegitimate. But honestly, the application of the word “legitimate” is something that’s not going to be resolved by arguing here – there is no court of definitional law on this one.”

      This really isn’t a matter of opinion Charles. Literalist interpretations of Islam ARE a solid branch within the religion of Islam. You don’t get to say it isn’t a religion because you don’t like where their interpretation goes. You could try to argue that it isn’t *really* Islam, much like when mainstream Christianity classifies are particular sect as heretical and therefore not Christian, or cultic and therefore not Christian…but when Christianity, in aggregate, does that, the numbers involved are vastly different compared to the Salafist intepretations of Islam. This really is a matter of simple observation and definitions.

      To be clear, Jack did NOT call Scientology “illegitimate”…he distinctly used them as an example of religion whose practices and teachings compelled no obligation to view with toleration. Yet that does not diminish their religious status one iota. You misread Jack.

      “I’m inclined to go with the majority of Muslims, who consider extremist Islam to be illegitimate; you prefer to go with your own textual exegesis and declare them legitimate. I’m sure many Christians will agree with you; I doubt many Muslims will, but since in your mind “legitimate” is a definitional concept, not a statistical one, that won’t bother you.”

      As a matter of fact, that isn’t what the polls revealed. The polls revealed they disapproved of their actions and them as an entity. The polls shed not one ounce of data on how they view the strictest set of Salafists in regards to the overarching Religion of Islam. That middle section about my own textual exegesis and possible Christian consensus is irrelevant and designed to pretend the analysis is some sort of bias based conclusion – this is well poisoning territory without directly getting there. And I’ve also already demonstrated how your “statistical” method doesn’t hold water given the numbers in question. By your own statistical definitions, almost ALL Christian denominations ought be considered “illegitimate”.

      “2. The definition of “significant” numbers. We are both appalled at the raw numbers of Muslims in the world who express favorable attitudes toward radical Islam.”

      Wait, hold on… just there you slipped and do consider “radical Islam” a subset of the Islamic religion. Do we even need to continue this?

      “3. The characterization of Islam. This is the biggie. You have said “a direct interpretation of the Koran does lend itself to “justifiable” violence, murder, and other atrocity.” You say that a proper, true, legitimate reading of Christianity moves TOWARD its foundational text, whereas a proper, true, legitimate reading of Islam would move AWAY from its foundational text.”

      This is in fact, NOT what I said. You copied that first bit correctly, then misconstrued the last bit. I said that when Christianity moves towards it’s foundational text, good and healing occur…you’ve reversed the assertion and changed the terms. Then the very last bit is inaccurate as well, as I stated: the burden of reforming Islam falls on those whose interpretation moves away from a literal interpretation of the text. You’ve changed many key terms in there.

      “Did I characterize your view correctly in the above? I meant to do so, without spin. Please correct me if I did not.

      If I got that right, then this is consistent with the view that Jack suggested, namely a view that Islam is PER SE unethical, based as it is (as you suggest) on a core, foundational set of principles that lend themselves justifying violence, murder, etc.

      And to be clear, I think that is not a usefully meaningful statement. What do I mean by that?”

      Well, since you didn’t get it right, I’m not sure much of the following commentary holds any weight whatsoever, and upon perusal, I’m not sure it’s really relevant at all. I’ve already identified that there are sects of Islam (tiny though they be) that have recognized that the violent literal interpretations of their foundational scripture isn’t good and have sought reform. I’ve acknowledged they have a long hard road ahead of them. But quite frankly, it’s not my problem if some Muslims aren’t convinced. That’s all the realm of cognitive dissonance. And your sign-off that the having this discussion is not usefully meaningful is telling – you really should read the link I sent you. In the clash of cultures, we aren’t just fighting the radicals, but the circle just outside of them that directly supports them, then the circle outside of them that indirectly supports what they do, then the circle outside of them that won’t oppose them. I think if you really put some thought to this you’ll recognize the cultural issue being faced isn’t accurately represented by a handful of westernized Muslims here in America, who no doubt are good people. It really seems naive to pretend like something isn’t seriously amiss in the Islamic world that isn’t derived from the contemporary religion.

      • “It really seems naive to pretend like something isn’t seriously amiss in the Islamic world that isn’t derived from the contemporary religion.”

        I agree. And I don’t think I’m pretending that something isn’t amiss. I just think that phrasing it in terms of internally-flawed, fundamental-belief-based argumentation is not going to convince the folks you want to convince, and in fact tends just to inflame them.

        And I’ll let you have the last word on all this.

        • 1) Doctors still tell patients they have a cancer even if they think the patient will get angry.

          2) This is less about the patient and more about other people…if there is a good likelihood that your own people don’t acknowledge that there is a serious problem with what will soon be the leading competitor to the West, then there is a good likelihood they don’t think there’s a problem and won’t make their decisions accordingly…which can only be disastrous for the naive side. And it would also be naive to pretend like this isn’t going to be a competition.**

          3) It isn’t about the last word, and that is an absolute juvenile cop out.

          **This will be a competition between the West and literalist Islam. Now there is an aspect of this competition that is internal to Islam, where the West already has incredibly inroads in the Americanization of the world, but the competition, oddly enough is a complete accident. There’s a race of population vs modernization. Does the radical population grow faster than Western Civilization civilizes it? Or does Western Civilization slowly subsume increasing segments of the Islamic world before the radicals can repopulate their base?

          My theory is, the Middle East is “enjoying” and unnatural population boom…that is to say, the region itself would never support the population is currently possesses had it not been for the incredible economic INPOURING from fuel sales for some half a century. Well, the follow on population boom now has nowhere to go and no resources to sustain itself as the world’s fuel sources are diversifying. Well, we know what happens when you have more men than the natural economy can sustain.

          Either way, this boils down to does the population naturally reduce while western materialism slowly modernizes the populations faster than the soon to be older radical generations can re-radicalize the upcoming generations.

          However, this isn’t something to be relied upon. I think western civ will win naturally, but it will take a LONG time and there’s still a good chance it MAY NOT WIN within Islam…meaning there would be a solid competitive block of Salafist Islam that has materially modernized but not culturally. Ignoring this, or as you suggest – avoiding discussing THE PROBLEM, is at our own peril.

          • Re: your last paragraph. …and weve seen that happen quite a few times in recent history. Of course, you know what the only roughly comparable Western equivalent of that sort of regression is.

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