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Cut Off the Head of the Pig Who Says Our Religion "Exalts Violence and Hate" !:

AFP:

French anti-terrorism authorities Friday opened an inquiry into death threats against a philosophy teacher who has been forced into hiding over a newspaper column attacking Islam, legal officials said.

Robert Redeker, 52, is receiving round-the-clock police protection and changing addresses every two days, after publishing an article describing the Koran as a "book of extraordinary violence" and Islam as "a religion which... exalts violence and hate".

He told i-TV television he had received several e-mail threats targeting himself and his wife and three children, and that his photograph and address were available on several Islamist Internet sites.

"There is a very clear map of how to get to my home, with the words: 'This pig must have his head cut off'," he said.

UPDATE: By the way, I don't think that Islam, as such, is necessarily more prone to violence and intolerance than other religions; my own European Jewish ancestors overall likely suffered far more under Christian regimes than my wife's Iraqi Jewish ancestors suffered under Muslim regimes. But the radical, fascistic Islamist movement is to Islam as the radical fascistic "Christian Identity" movement is to Christianity--a perversion of the religion in the name of a supremacist, violent ideology. [Of course, modern Christianity is much more cuddly than modern Islam, but that's a result of secular ideologies, such as separation of church and state, taking hold, thus privatizing religion, not because politicized Christianity is inherently cuddly. For example, it was only one hundred or so years ago that the Tsars stopped kidnapping ten year-old Jewish boys and sending them to the army for twenty years in order to Christianize them, 150 or so years ago that the Pope enthusiastically endorsed taking an Italian Jewish child away from his parents because his Catholic nanny had secretly converted him, and only a couple hundred years earlier that the Thirty Years War fought in the name of sectarian Christianity slaughtered a good percentage of the European population.]

FURTHER UPDATE: My understanding is that modern Islamism, at least its Sunni variation, descends from Muslim Brotherhood ideology, and that the Brotherhood was itself modeled on European fascist movements, thus "fascistic" is an appropriate moniker.

There was a time in world history when Islamic societies were relatively advanced and tolerant, and Christian societies relatively backward, violent, and intolerant. Religions with long written and oral traditions can be used and misused in any number of ways by those who seek to use them for political ends. One commenter mentioned the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose movement in Israel was indeed an analogue to Christian Identity. I suppose it's wrong to say that fascistic Islamism is a "perversion" of Islam, because there is no such thing as "official" Islam. Rather, it's one way of interpreting Islam for those who seek to use it to political ends, but, as a practical matter, it's no more an inherent element of Islam than the Inquisition was an inherent element of Christianity. And I get impatient with those who quote the Koran. You can quote the Torah and discover that Judaism is a genocidal religion (at least with regard to the inhabitants of the Land of Israel) that also demands, among other things, executing anyone who violates the Sabbath. And indeed you can find a lunatic fringe that still believes in such things, but the mainstream of the religion has evolved well beyond this. Oral tradition (which itself eventually gets written) has thousands of way to accommodate ancient religious dictate to modern liberal society, if one is inclined to do it. One is left to hope that fascistic versions of Islamic interpretation will lose out largely through internal rejection, and not, as may seem more likely today, through military confrontation with the West.

Lively:
By the way, I don't think that Islam, as such, is necessarily more prone to violence and intolerance than other religions; my own European Jewish ancestors overall likely suffered far more under Christian regimes than my wife's Iraqi Jewish ancestors suffered under Muslim regimes.

Just curious. What was the name of the "Christian regime" your ancestors suffered under?
9.30.2006 11:37pm
Spartacus (www):
"Christian Identity" may well be a perversion of Christianity, but the analogy to Islamic Extremism today seems weak, as does the conclusion that "Islam, as such, is [not] necessarily more prone to violence and intolerance than other religions" (although this may turn on what you mean by "as such"). Historical atrocities notwithstanding, there is hardly the spectre today of violent Christian extremists threatening extrajudicial executions of people who offend their religion, or at least, if there are, no one takes them very seriously. There also aren't recent examples of Christian analogies to governments like the Taliban or revolutionary Iran. If Islam "as such" isn't more prone to violence and intolerance, it certainly seems that it is, at least in the present time.
9.30.2006 11:58pm
skydaddy:
Lively, that would probably be the Holy Roman Empire and its immediate Medieval European descendants. For a couple of hundred years, the kings of France, Germany, etc. were crowned by the Pope. England, too, if memory serves, up until Henry Tudor got tired of Roman meddling in his quest for a male heir.

Medieval European Jews were frequent targets of local pogroms, routinely vilified as "Christ-killers," and slandered with the infamous "blood libel." Google "Little Sir Hugh" for just one example.
10.1.2006 12:25am
Gabriel Malor (mail):
Oh damn, you said "fascistic." I hope we don't have to sit through more lectures about Islam and fascism.
10.1.2006 12:36am
Nick Good - South Africa (mail):
David wrote:

But the radical, fascistic Islamist movement is to Islam as the radical fascistic "Christian Identity" movement is to Christianity--a perversion of the religion in the name of a supremacist, violent ideology

Sadly, I think you're wrong. the "radical, fascistic" aspect of Islam very much has Islamic Jurisprudence on its side; it IS mainstream. Muslims hold the Koran to be the word of Allah dictated verbatim by the angel Gabriel to Mohamed. There is no a-la-Carte approach to the Koran like most Christians pick and choose from the Bible. It follows as night follows day, that it is thus very difficult to find a genuinely moderate, practicing Muslim. Some have the veneer of it, but underneath the social competence there is the arrogance, the misogyny, the homophobia, the barbaric world view that comes with Koranic Literalism. Genuinely moderate Muslims tend to be indifferent Muslims, lapsed Muslims, or apostates, and of course apostates tend not to advertise the fact, for rather sound reasons.

Islam is a political project every bit as much as it is a religion. It is a totalitarian, intolerant and barbaric political project and we should treat it exactly like any other totalitarian, intolerant and barbaric political world view. We should not cut it slack because it comes labelled as a 'religion'.
10.1.2006 12:45am
AntonK:
David, your update will not shield you. They're still going to try to cut your head off for posting this item.
10.1.2006 12:47am
Bill Quick (mail) (www):
UPDATE: By the way, I don't think that Islam, as such, is necessarily more prone to violence and intolerance than other religions;
So what? It is certainly antithetical to liberty, especially religious liberty. Or do you know of a modern Islamic nation that permits the free exercise of religion? I'm including present-day Afghanistan and Iraq, by the way.
10.1.2006 12:48am
Mr. Snitch! (mail) (www):
Some people are just intolerant of others and I can't stand people like that.
10.1.2006 12:52am
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
What is the Christian Identity movement and what makes them so bad?
10.1.2006 12:53am
Everything is a Drum (mail):
I had never heard of the Christian Identity movement till I read this post. After reading Wikipedia on the subject, I fail to see how Christian Identity as an ideology compares to that of radical Islam. Certainly there have been bombings, murders and other superficial similarities, but (unless I'm missing something) the CI types have only been around for 40 years or so. Additionally, CI activities have been openly condemmed by orthodox Christians wherever they have appeared. Your analogy would be more appropriate if the president of the Southern Baptist Convention or some other Christian luminary criticized CI theology and then felt the need to go into hiding to protect himself from roving gangs of Aryan Nation killers. The fact of the matter is there are either too many Jihadis for moderate muslims to risk publicly standing against, or not enough substance in moderate Islam to bring about such a stance. Doesn't this speak to the very heart and character of Islam?
10.1.2006 1:02am
John (mail):
The question isn't the violence. The question is who is cheering loudly on the sidelines. And who is cheering silently. That's the question.
10.1.2006 1:14am
French Trader (www):
When the "Christian Identity" movement has 1.4 billion followers, I'll worry about it, too. Right now it's a red herring in the debate about the dangers of radical Islam.
10.1.2006 1:28am
Random Numbers (Brian Epps) (mail) (www):
Drum: The main comparison is the fact that both CI and Islam as practiced by much of the Islamic world are both supremacist in nature. The minority that we call "moderate Muslims" are thos who can look at the Koran and see that most of the supremacist commands were given to Muslims at a different time and don't neccesarily apply today (much like Talmudic instructions on hygene are made obsolete by modern plumbing and tampons).
The Christian Enlightenment took centuries, and even today there are hold-outs. Over the decades coming out of the darkness, many people were supressed, attacked, imprisoned, and burned at the stake.
Unfortunately, the supremacists in Islam still hold sway over most of their faith, and the Islamic Enlightenment is just beginning. I expect the road to reality to be at least as bloody, probably more, given that their Prophet was a warlord, not a carpenter.
10.1.2006 1:30am
Harry Eagar (mail):
Nick sez:
'Islam is a political project every bit as much as it is a religion'

This is exactly right. Forget modern times a moment and ask what has happened to more or less humane Muslim regimes in the past. The answer is that they face purifying movements that, unlike those in some other religions, take the form of exceptionally violent political movements. Look up Almohads.

My interpretation is that Islam, being uncompromisingly wedded to the utter supremacy of a sacred text, has no internal resources to resist these purifying movements. Christianity was similar in the days before secular rationalism successfuly attacked the divinity of the Bible, except that nowhere in the New Testament is violent purification and war endorsed.

The Koran assumes that divinely ordained future history promises that the whole world will be Muslim, a notion that 21st century Muslims all accept, only some think it is further off than others. Christianity explicitly assumes that there will always be some (in Calvinism, almost all) people who hear Jesus' words and reject them. In the testament, these are to be punished in the afterlife, although there were plenty of Christians who decided to anticipate Judgment down here. Islam provides that those who reject the word of the Koran are to be punished right now, by slavery or death, with minor adjustments for some sects.

Christianity used to be as violent as Islam. It was tamed. There's no evidence I know of that taming movements operate in any Muslim society.
10.1.2006 1:45am
AST (mail):
The difference is that the Muslim countries in the Middle East and Southern Asia have remained in a Medieval mentality while the West has been through the Enlightment and beyond. We're now in the age Post-Enlightenment, where societies have things so easy, they think that harsh language is torture.

Islam has no authority structure, so it becomes whatever its preachers want it to be. Since the Saudis have been spending millions on spreading Salafism (Wahhabism) since they became wealthy, the Bedouin ethic has become prominent. They have tried socialism and fascism and become victims of the worst among them. We are all only a generation away from reverting to that level ourselves. All we need is a world wide economic depression.
10.1.2006 2:29am
Gormless Norman (www):
"the radical, fascistic Islamist movement" is "a perversion of the religion in the name of a supremacist, violent ideology"

I get confused between originalism, textualism, and strict constructionism. But I assume at any rate that you are not one of those who believe "no unreasonable searches or seizures" actually means "there is a right to have an abortion." If so, how would you interpret "kill the infidels whereever you find them," other than, well, as an exhortation to kill the infidels whereever you find them? What is it, a metaphor for "try to get to the gym regularly"?

Am I being too literal-minded? Ok, then how do you choose to define the "true" Islam? Perhaps you want to look to the original intent of the guy that wrote the book. But wait, Mohammed killed people who refused to submit to Islam. So, it's not the text, it's not the actions and words of the founder, maybe it's the behavior of adherents throughout history? Because, you know, Islam spread because of its inherent beauty. As the Muslim army came over the mountains, the villagers always ran to greet them, strewing rose petals in their path, grateful to be exposed to the light that is Islam. Aaaahhh. Right.

I'm sorry, I just don't see how violent jihadists like Bin Laden are "perverting" this religion. To the contrary, they're acting in perfect accord with the dictates of the text, the behavior and intent of the founder, and all historic precedent. But wait, I don't expect you to answer this, because...you can't say that! People have to say it's a peaceful religion if they're talking about it publicly, like a little disclaimer, even though everyone knows this is false. Otherwise, one runs the risk getting stabbed like Theo Van Gogh. I think we all understand this is the case.

NB (to whom it may concern): the foregoing is purely for the sake of argumentation, because people like to argue. In fact, I have the highest respect for your peaceful religion, so please don't kill me.
10.1.2006 2:32am
GregHH (mail):
What can I say, Gormless. Well said.
10.1.2006 3:00am
Jacob (mail):
Nick Good:

There is no a-la-Carte approach to the Koran like most Christians pick and choose from the Bible. It follows as night follows day, that it is thus very difficult to find a genuinely moderate, practicing Muslim. Some have the veneer of it, but underneath the social competence there is the arrogance, the misogyny, the homophobia, the barbaric world view that comes with Koranic Literalism. Genuinely moderate Muslims tend to be indifferent Muslims, lapsed Muslims, or apostates, and of course apostates tend not to advertise the fact, for rather sound reasons.

The analogy's limited (like all analogies), but I would think that most Christian evangelicals also describe their fellow, pick-and-choose Christians as "lapsed." In fact, I've heard them repeatedly described as "not real Christians at all." And it's not like these "moderate" Christians are going around calling themselves "apostates," either. It's not the stable of high horses that makes Islamic extremism scary, but the greater violence it propounds today.
10.1.2006 3:36am
LTEC (mail) (www):
Only Moslems should be debating the issue of what is "true" Islam and what is "false" Islam, and whatever view turns out to be the consensus is, by definition, correct. The rest of us should listen to that consensus view and completely ignore the history and the theological arguments and the absurd "holy" books that relate to it.

I think the consensus view of Moslems towards Islam is very, horribly, clear.
10.1.2006 4:00am
MnZ (mail):
OK...when will people stop making these inane comparisons between small Radical Christian groups and Radical Islam? While I agree that both are dangerous, we should be asking ourselves, "Which of these movements is more dangerous?"

It is clear that Radical Islam has many more supporters and sympathizers. Furthermore, Radical Islam has demonstrated a greater tendency toward violence to defend their beliefs. However, perhaps the starkest contrast is how Radical Islam and Radical Christianity deal with the facts. Radical Christianity is OK with manipulating, ignoring, and/or re-interpreting the facts to conform with their beliefs. However, Radical Islam quite apparently thinks that the facts needn't conform with their beliefs at all.

The current situation (along with the response to Pope Benedict's speech) highlights this. If you said that Christianity was a violent religion, would a radical Christian would respond with threats of violence? Almost certainly no. Why? At least partially because they feel a need to have the facts conform to their beliefs. Yet, Radical Islam had no such concerns. Thus, they can respond to charges of violence with threats of violence.

This type of thinking is alien to the Western mind, so it may seem absurdly laughable. However, it also raises several implications that are extremely troubling.
10.1.2006 4:20am
Cornellian (mail):
Some have the veneer of it, but underneath the social competence there is the arrogance, the misogyny, the homophobia, the barbaric world view that comes with Koranic Literalism.

I've often wondered how people with that arrogance, that certainty, that willingness to kill anyone offering a differing view manage to reconcile those sentiments with the obvious, manifest, abject economic and technological failure of the Islamic world compared to the West. Do they just avoid thinking about it? Do they have some kind of double think way of dealing with it? Do they have some weird conspiracy theory in which the economic and technological backwardness of the Islamic countries is all somehow the fault of the West?
10.1.2006 4:37am
James968 (mail):
Don't forget Spain, Italy, Russia. I know Argentina and many South American countries also have an antisemitic bias.

Usually the 'identity' movements have coincided with a power struggle. (i.e. blame another group to distract from what our group (the government) is doing (or failing to do (i.e. develop the economy, improve Qual of life, etc))
10.1.2006 4:53am
Day War:
"But the radical, fascistic Islamist movement is to Islam as the radical fascistic "Christian Identity" movement is to Christianity--a perversion of the religion in the name of a supremacist, violent ideology."

Well Mr. Bernstein, have you read the Koran? How about the Hadith? How about Muhammad's earliest biography, Sirat Rasul Allah? Or Tabari's history? Because if you haven't, how can you express the view that the Jihadis are a "perversion" of the religion? The religion is the perversion.

And don't be so sure about how much each other's ancestors suffered: the story of the suffering of Jews under Islam is buried below layers and layers of convenient lies.
10.1.2006 5:58am
blspro:
The 'peacefulness' of a religion is usually proportional to their inconsistent acceptance and practice of mysticism. The less consistent they are (ie the more reason they mix in with their faith) the more peaceful they will tend to be. Conversely, the more consistent they are (ie the more they adhere strictly to principles of faith as opposed to reason), the less peaceful they will necessarily tend to be.

This can be seen in the influence of Augustine (consistent) and then Aquinas (mixed) upon the Church. And it can be seen in the influence of Aristotle on Islam (mixed) for the short period of time he was held in favor by them.

Now, where Christianity has maintained its mixed philsophic premises of reason and mysticism, Islam is much more consistent in its adherence to mysticism instead of reason. This makes Islam today the religion which is much less 'peaceful' - ie much more violent. However, the acceptance of mysticism - of faith instead of reason - makes both ultimately very dangerous to living one's life as a human being. Islam is just being more overt about it at the moment.
10.1.2006 6:00am
Brett_McS:
blspro: Perhaps also consider monotheism versus polytheism. Monotheistic religions tend to be the intolerant/violent ones. It makes sense: A polytheist has no problem if you worship a different god to him, after all he looks to several himself. A monotheist however will say you are worshipping a false god, and may be motivated to do something about your error.

Christianity, though monotheistic (and prone to violence at times) is also based on a book, the New Testament, which was very significantly influenced by Ancient Greek rationality. It also recognizes the centrality of the Golden Rule. All, except one, of the other major world religions do also. Guess which one is the exception?
10.1.2006 7:10am
big dirigible (mail) (www):
What a strange post. Even if some useful equivalence can be drawn between ancient history and, say, last week (in the guise of "historical perspective"), it seems to fall flat. Christianity of any sort can't generally be characterized by periodic erruptions of sects whose sole raison d'etre is violence and death - or can it? (Obviously I'm ignoring the iconography of that poor guy nailed to a cross - Christians don't normally use him as an object lesson and run around nailing random passers-by to crosses.) Perhaps someone could point me to the Christian equivalent of that peculiar Muslim cult of a few centuries back - that one which gave the English language the word "assassin".
10.1.2006 7:22am
1946er:
Intelligent comments above. As an 60 year old "conservative" Unitarian-Universalist I was raised to believe all religions are inherently good, or at least had many wonderful aspects, atheists and agnostics were fine, etc. And generally that's the case. BUT I am truly sorry to say that the more I learn about Islam and study it the more appalled I am. We have a real problem here and I think more and more of us realize it.
10.1.2006 8:01am
FedkatheConvict (mail):

But the radical, fascistic Islamist movement is to Islam as the radical fascistic "Christian Identity" movement is to Christianity--a perversion of the religion in the name of a supremacist, violent ideology.


One could easily substitute Rabbi Meir Kahane and his present-day followers for the "Christian Identity" in your analogy.

No?
10.1.2006 8:05am
noahpraetorius (mail):
Unadulterated crap. A weaselly attempt to inject moral equivalence into the debate in order adorn it with a patina of PC. Worse than useless.
10.1.2006 8:33am
Nick Good - South Africa (mail):
David wrote:

UPDATE: By the way, I don't think that Islam, as such, is necessarily more prone to violence and intolerance than other religions

[Said with one eyebrow cranked well North] In the contemporary World I think "necessarily" that it is, and that Dave is 180° off on this one. The evidence for this is rather compelling; crushing even.
10.1.2006 8:35am
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
I recalled, after 9/11, what S.T.Coleridge wrote in an op-ed in 1800

A new religion had fanaticised whole nations. Men bred up in the habits of a wild and roaming freedom, had been brought together by its influence, and taught to unite the energies of a savage life with all the harmony and calculable coincidencies of a machine. But this religion was deadly to morals, to science, to civil freedom: no society could be progressive under its influence. It was favorable to superstition, cunning, and sensual indulgence; but it bore no fruit, it yielded no marriageable arms to the vine, it sheltered no healing plant. The soil was grassless where it grew; the fox made it its nest at the root, and the owl screamed in its branches. - Such was the religion of Mahomet.

What evidence he was using isn't clear, but it seems to fit today.

(_The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge_ v.3, =_Essays on His Times_, v.1 p.240)
10.1.2006 8:44am
PersonFromPorlock:
How can a religion whose very name is "Submission" regard freedom, except as an occasion of sin?
10.1.2006 8:48am
TJIC (www):
secular ideologies, such as separation of church and state

I'd argue that that's not a secular ideology, but a Catholic ideology, arising from controversies over states attempting to appoint Bishops, weigh in on doctrine, etc.
10.1.2006 8:52am
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
Incidentally, Bush saying as often as possible, ``Islam is a religion of peace,'' had two purposes ; foremost, back in the ``You're either with us or against us'' days, it was a message to Islam : ``Move this way.'' Second, it was a message to everybody else, ``Give them room to move this way.''

It was never an actual delusion.
10.1.2006 8:59am
FedkatheConvict (mail):

[Of course, modern Christianity is much more cuddly than modern Islam, but that's a result of secular ideologies, such as separation of church and state, taking hold, thus privatizing religion, not because politicized Christianity is inherently cuddly. For example, it was only one hundred or so years ago that the Tsars stopped kidnapping ten year-old Jewish boys and sending them to the army for twenty years in order to Christianize them, 150 or so years ago that the Pope enthusiastically endorsed taking an Italian Jewish child away from his parents because his Catholic nanny had secretly converted him, and only a couple hundred years earlier that the Thirty Years War fought in the name of sectarian Christianity slaughtered a good percentage of the European population.]



Ahhh ... another update, or is it a futher clarification?

So Professor Bernstein, which of the three cited examples are relatives of yours?

I must say that as a black man born in Guyana, and now residing in the U.S., I ought to be ticked off at SOMEBODY but I prefer not to make generalizations about Christianity.

I'm descended from slaves taken to work on the sugar estates of British Guiana (a practice endorsed and justified by Christians), and I can barely trace my ancestry back to my paternal great-grandmother.
10.1.2006 9:26am
johnt (mail):
Only 350 years ago did the Thirty Year War end, ONLY!
Why that's Only yesterday, I can still hear the clash of halberds and the sound of muskets.
A person could get a hernia trying to make comparisons like this, Christianity V Islam. Does David wear a truss?
10.1.2006 9:48am
Dick King:

I've often wondered how people with that arrogance, that certainty, that willingness to kill anyone offering a differing view manage to reconcile those sentiments with the obvious, manifest, abject economic and technological failure of the Islamic world compared to the West. Do they just avoid thinking about it? Do they have some kind of double think way of dealing with it? Do they have some weird conspiracy theory in which the economic and technological backwardness of the Islamic countries is all somehow the fault of the West?


bingo!

and our left feeds it.

-dk
10.1.2006 10:57am
whit:
The equivalencies in the original post are absurd, but oh so predictable.

Let's recap. When "artists" in the USA create "art" by dunking a crucifix in urine, or depicting the Virgin Mary smeared in dung (both happened)... what happens...

Christians (and many non-Christians) protest. And some politicians (Guiliani) say that art that defiles somebody's religion should not be publically funded. Note: note banned. He said NOT *publically funded*. For this, he is called a fascist, and worse. In a country where over 200 million people identify as a Christian, there are no murders in retaliation, no rioting, etc.

Contrast with the mohammed cartoons, where a major US newspaper like the NYT that was SO in favor of free speech and art, in the case of "piss christ" will not even publish a picture of mohammed with a bomb-turban. And they are too cowardly to admit that it is cowardice that prevents them from publishing it. Not "sensitivity".

Realize that in a nation of over 200 million Christians, there is almost zero chance that somebody who criticizes christianity or even defiles it with a cross dunked in urine, will be harmed.

Contrast with Theo Von Gogh. Or Salman Rushdie.

I double dog dare you... with a cherry on top... to create an "art exhibit" with a koran dunked in urine. Seriously. Do it. See what happens. In the USA, where muslims are a small minority, you would almost certainly be killed.

In a majority muslim country, you would not even get the bottom third wet, before you were killed.

Any defense of islamic fascism (and yes, that is what it is) by trying to draw a comparison to the CI movement is so laughable.

Recently, i read an interview with an (honest) liberal journalist who admitted that he attacked christianity with impunity, cause he knows he CAN. But he would never consider doing the same with islam.

Oh, let's bring up the inquisition. Spare me. Let's talk about the world NOW. Not ancient history.

Then there is the classic argument that it is not Islam per se that is violent, just some people's interpretation blah blah blah. Look, a religion IS nothing without it's followers. It's an idea in a vacuum. Islam is defined by how its followers act.
10.1.2006 11:01am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Separation of church and state a Catholic idea? I'd like to see documentation of that!

350 years ago is not very long ago in the scheme of things, considering that Christianity is 2000 years old. Certainly, a hundred years ago isn't. But given nuclear weapons and all, the timeframe for reconciling Islam and Enlightenment values is admittedly rather short. But the idea that Islam, or at least Islamic societies, can be reconciled with such values is no more radical than suggesting in the 1930s that in 30 or so years, the Catholic Church would issue Vatican II.
10.1.2006 11:13am
byomtov (mail):
So Professor Bernstein, which of the three cited examples are relatives of yours?

I would guess that it is fairly likely that Bernstein had relatives in Czarist Russia, one of many Christian regimes that systematically persecuted Jews.

As for comparisons between the status of Jew under Islam and under Christianity, I believe the historian Bernard Lewis has said that Islam never treated Jews as well as Christianity did at its best, or as badly as Christianity at its worst.
10.1.2006 11:14am
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
A year ago Buckley wrote, still getting off a good line occasionally,

The moment has not come, but it is around the corner, when non-Muslims will reasonably demand to have evidence that the Muslim faith can operate within boundaries in which Christians and Jews (and many non-believers) live and work without unconstitutional distraction.

http://realclearpolitics.com/Commentary/com-10_22_05_WB.html

In the US, the moment has pretty much come. I don't know about Europe.
10.1.2006 11:22am
anonymous (mail):
"but the mainstream of the religion has evolved well beyond this"

Well, after totally stepping in it, at least you did say the above, although with all the politically correct update-wiggling, I doubt you meant to make the emphasis I read in the above.

Every religion on this earth HAS evolved with the single glaring exception of ISLAM. Islam, which has never been a non-violent religion, has over history become worse and worse and worse.

There are benign cancers about which you do little but monitor them, and there are virulent malevolent cancers that you don't hesitate to cut out.

Guess which one is Islam?
10.1.2006 12:07pm
Mark Field (mail):

I'd argue that that's not a secular ideology, but a Catholic ideology, arising from controversies over states attempting to appoint Bishops, weigh in on doctrine, etc.


The Church position on investiture was not that church and state should be separate, but that the Church should control its own hierarchy within the combined system.

You might argue that separation of church and state was a radical Protestant doctrine, but even that is questionable. It really was an Enlightenment doctrine.
10.1.2006 12:20pm
Ivan Lenin (mail) (www):
Buckley is right, we are yet to see if maintstream Islam is willing to reconcile with the West.

I keep hearing allegedly moderate Moslems complaining about islamophobia, but I hear no Muslim voices saying: "We have to stop these murderous madmen." (Madmen being the jihadis, not the neocon cabal) And I don't see why they would: because the madmen make the religion look bad? They don't, since we go out of our way to say that we respect Islam.

I really wonder what percentage of Muslims worldwide enjoys the fact that we are intimidated by jihad. And if they are themselves intimidated, if they don't stand up for themselves, why should they stand up for us and try to reconcile?
10.1.2006 12:20pm
Tom952 (mail):
Religion deserves tolerance only as a personal philosophy. No one can prove they have direct communication with the creator of the universe. Those who assert they do should be forcefully challenged and discredited as charlatans and modern day witch doctors.

Teaching fundamentalist nonsense, claiming to speak for God, and collecting money in the process is fraud. Inciting violence and hatred in the name of religion should be a capital crime vigorously prosecuted.

For example, Christianity as a personal philosophy can be a positive force in society. Teaching the golden rule, forgiveness and redemption, and organizing Christian charities are all worthy activities. Assembling the neighbors in church and teaching them "the Jews killed our sweet Jesus" is not.
10.1.2006 12:25pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
The Palestinians were quite active in WW2. Their leader of the time Haj Amin raised a couple of SS divisions made up of Bosnian Muslims.
10.1.2006 12:26pm
frankcross (mail):
So, David's soft on Islam?
I really think people give too much credit to the independent force of religion. People obviously pour their belief systems into their religions and use them as justification. Look at all the variant beliefs of Christianity, or Judaism.

Much of Christianity flipflopped on slavery, etc., Islam may do the same on violence. We have a situation in today's world where Muslims are especially violent, but that doesn't mean it is because of Islam. Maybe the Islamic religion is more vulnerable to violence than others, I don't know enough to claim or dispute that. But it's by no means inevitable.
10.1.2006 12:36pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
FedkatheConvict,

Your ancestors got rounded up by other Africans. Often of the Muslim persuasion.

Their enslavement was an expression of Tribalism.

BTW it is my opinion that tribalism is encoded in Islam.
10.1.2006 12:46pm
michael (mail) (www):
The Western historical example is what I would comment about. Commonly, it seems we have my own European Jewish ancestors overall likely suffered far more under Christian regimes than my wife's Iraqi Jewish ancestors suffered under Muslim regimes. That settles the main enquiry really doesn't it? OTOH, it leaves those of us not Jewish rather like the husband observing about his wife, "Whenever we get in an argument, she gets historical." You are a representative of a messianic religion but where were my opportunites for Yom Kippur tickets or Torah class? Instead we get Trotsky and Soros telling or forcing the yahoos to follow their plan.
10.1.2006 1:31pm
Bozoer Rebbe (mail) (www):
<blockquote>
One could easily substitute Rabbi Meir Kahane and his present-day followers for the "Christian Identity" in your analogy.

No?
</blockquote>

No.

It's ironic that you bring up Rabbi Kahane, since he was the first victim of the Bin Laden organization in the United States.

Please cite evidence of analogies to the Christian Identity movement or retract the statement.

I knew Rabbi Kahane personally and he was passionately anti-racist and said so explicitly and publicly. The fact that his views were not portrayed accurately by the MSM should not surprise any of us. I was witness to an interview of him by a reporter from the Detroit Free Press. He was an articulate and charming man in person and the reporter was indeed charmed, laughing and smiling all during the interview. The published article, however, was the usual smear stuff and bore little relationship to the interview. He'd speak for over an hour in his public addresses, mostly about religious faith and problems within the Jewish community, and mostly in a calm tone of voice. The journalists' flashbulbs only went off, though, when he'd shake his fist. The editors needed a snarling photo to fit their framing of the story.

He was not an advocate of genocide. He wanted disloyal Arabs expelled from Israel and wanted Israeli citizenship to be restricted to Jews. This was stated within the context of the expulsion of virtually all Sephardic Jews from Muslim and Arab lands in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He described "transfer" not as a matter of ethnic cleansing, since his plan allowed the presence of Arab resident aliens who were not disloyal, but rather as the completion of a population transfer akin to what happened in India/Pakistan or the volksdeutch after WWII. Since numerous countries, including in Europe, have preferential citizenship and immigration policies tied to ethnicity, the idea of restricting Israeli citizenship to Jews should hardly be controversial, except for the fact that it would benefit Jews, something much of the world has difficulty with.

Rabbi Kahane was not the characature the media made him to be. He was also the funniest Jew since Lenny Bruce.
10.1.2006 1:41pm
jonlester (www):
If only radical Islam were only as vile and as rare as Christian Identity. It isn't, of course; we know they teach hatred of Jews and infidels in textbooks in some places, even.
10.1.2006 1:45pm
Bozoer Rebbe (mail) (www):

You are a representative of a messianic religion but where were my opportunites for Yom Kippur tickets or Torah class?


Judaism accepts sincere converts and there are numerous public classes and lectures on Torah subjects. Also, one can easily find synagogues for Yom Kippur services that do not require tickets. Heck, I think I've paid for tickets once in the past 25 years. On Yom Kippur, I will often spend parts of the day in different synagogues, and I've never been asked to produce a ticket.

If you attend Jewish events, nobody is going to check to see if you are circumcised. Since Judaism accepts converts, and since converts have to learn about the faith before their conversion, the presence of non-Jews at synagogue services, even orthodox services, is rather commonplace.

Instead we get Trotsky and Soros telling or forcing the yahoos to follow their plan.


Methinks I'm catching a whiff of what the Talmud calls, euphemistically, a great lover of Israel.

You used the word "representative" and then cite Trotsky and Soros, who are hardly representative of the Jewish religion. Trotsky and his fellow Jewish communists terribly persecuted traditional Jews. The Evsektsiya, the so-called Jewish Section of the CP was used to wipe out traditional Jewish life in the USSR.

To my knowledge, Soros has virtually nothing to do with Judaism. He has never been active in the community, doesn't practice any aspect of the religion, and has never used any of his "philanthropy" to assist other Jews.

But, hey, like Aesop said, any excuse will serve a tyrant. Any Jew will suffice if a Jew hater wants to bash Jews. Blame us for being communists. Blame us for being capitalists. Just so long as you can blame us.
10.1.2006 2:02pm
K Bennight (mail):

Only Moslems should be debating the issue of what is "true" Islam and what is "false" Islam, and whatever view turns out to be the consensus is, by definition, correct.


Yes. At best, there seems to be a theological split in Islam. Some say "Jihad" is merely akin to a 12-step self-improvement program. Some say it's a call to slit infidels' throats. For any non-Muslim to take a position on this split is fatuous. Christians have their own theological splits, as do Jews, and I doubt either is interested in what adherents of other religions have to say about the splits.

I give President Bush a pass on asserting throat slitting is a perversion of Islam, because that is a political and diplomatic statement rather than a theological one. But the rest of us should not be deceived. We need to watch the debate within Islam, such as it is, standing ready in all events to deal with the throat slitters.
10.1.2006 2:02pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
A Messianic, but not a proselytizing or universalistic religion. As far as Judaism is concerned, you're cool with being a Christian or whatever, no problem as far as god is concerned, just so long as you obey very basic moral rules. You're welcome to Yom Kippur if you'd like to convert, but you get all the benefits without the burdens by being a Christian.
10.1.2006 2:03pm
Ric Locke (mail):
Steve H at Hog on Ice summarized it neatly:

The only good Moslem is a bad Moslem.


Regards,
Ric
10.1.2006 2:05pm
Nick Good - South Africa (mail):
FURTHER UPDATE: My understanding is that modern Islamism, at least its Sunni variation, descends from Muslim Brotherhood ideology, and that the Brotherhood was itself modeled on European fascist movements, thus "fascistic" is an appropriate moniker.
David, I think you need to read more, the Muslim Brotherhood's originates in Egypt in the late 1920s. It was founded by Hassan al-Banna. Basically the line was to return Islam to its Koranic Literalist roots from which it was tending to drift, this happens repeatedly throughout Islamic history. The Schism in Islam that produced the Sunni and Shia sects occurred way before this, not long after the time of Mohammed; pre-dating the Muslim Brotherhood by well over a millennia.

I suppose it's wrong to say that fascistic Islamism is a "perversion" of Islam, because there is no such thing as "official" Islam.
Yes, indeed but both main Sunni and Shia schools hold to a literal interpretation of the Koran, and wo betide anyone who suggests any other more symbolic, figurative or benign interpretation. The vast bulk of Muslims belong to these two schools. To point out the contemporary barbarity in Islam is not to excuse the historic barbarity of Christianity, Judaism or any other religion, nor that there are a few Christian and Jewish religious nutters; but let’s face it, there is not a huge Jewish or Christian terrorism problem. Jews and Christians no longer routinely hold arrogant aspirations to Global hegemony. Islam most certainly does, not some fringe grouping; it’s absolutely Mainstream!

And I get impatient with those who quote the Koran.
You really shouldn’t David, OBL and all Islamic terrorists draw thier inspiration DIRECTLY from the literal interpretation of the Koran, this is rather the point! To get impatient with those that make it, is to rather be in some sort of denial. This literal interpretation is very much part of the core of Islam, Sunni and Shia. This is why it is such a pernicious meme.

You can quote the Torah and discover that Judaism is a genocide religion
This is to compare flatulence with a Sarin attack…..come on, look at the evidence, there are 15 million Jews in the Global Diaspora, some 1.2 BILLION Muslims. A ratio of 80:1 in favour of Muslims. Yet Islam is perhaps a thousand years junior to Judaism. Islam has a bloody past right back to the time of Mohammed, it has always been a parasitic 'civilisation', it is usually spread by the sword. Hell in the subcontinent alone, Islam has accounted for 50-80 million dead. What do you think Hindu Kush means?.....It means ‘Hindu slaughter’.

It's the last couple of hundred years that have been the aberration where Islam has been on the 'back foot' - though let's not forget the Armenians and the Ottoman empire. Islam is retiring to type parasitically - on the back of Saudi oil money, Western medicine, Western communications and travel technology, Western immigration practices and Western liberalism and willingness to tolerate intolerance.

If Mainstream Islam it is not faced down forthrightly, it will prevail. We should not tolerate Islamic intolerance.
10.1.2006 2:12pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Nick Good,

The Moslem Brotherhood allied with the Nazis in WW2. You can look it up. The Baathist acknowledge their debt to Nazi fascism.

The ME has adopted the worst western ideologies (socialism, fascism) and has yet to recover. Those ideologies are resonant within Islam. Socialism corresponds to the emphasis on charity. Fascism to the caliphate.

There is a reason the ME is backwards. Gen. Patton said it was due to Islam. He may have been on to something.
10.1.2006 2:32pm
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
A Messianic, but not a proselytizing or universalistic religion. As far as Judaism is concerned, you're cool with being a Christian or whatever, no problem as far as god is concerned, just so long as you obey very basic moral rules. You're welcome to Yom Kippur if you'd like to convert, but you get all the benefits without the burdens by being a Christian.

Levinas reads Messianism pretty generally

We have just seen that the Messiah is the just man who suffers, who has taken on the suffering of others. Who finally takes on the suffering of others, if not the being who says `Me' [Moi]?

The fact of not evading the burden imposed by the suffering of others defines ipseity itself. All persons are the Messiah.

_Difficult Freedom_ ``Messianic Texts'' p.89

A book claiming that religion is the poeticization of ethics.
10.1.2006 2:51pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Nick, by the late 1920s, the Fascists had been in power in Italy for a while, and fascist ideas were growing in popularity worldwide. So there's no contradiction between saying the MB starting in the late 1920s and saying it was influenced by fascist ideas.
10.1.2006 2:53pm
blspro:
Brett

I disagree with your supposition. The reason a religion tends to be more peaceful is not because it accepts more than one god - ie more than one source of revelation. The reason a religion tends to be more peaceful is its acceptance and/or practice of reason along with revelation. It is the consistent acceptance of revelation which is the problem, not the number of sources for such revelation.

The consistent acceptance of revelation - of a mystical, otherworldly, non-rational means of knowledge - leaves one with no means of validating that so-called knowledge or resolving disputes in relation to it (ie between contradicting claims to knowledge). One either has the revelation and 'knows' - or one does not and is left 'ignorant'. As Aquinas so accurately noted: "To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible." And in a world where explanation is neither necessary nor possible - ie a world where reason is declared useless and/or subordinate to the mystical - then one is left only with force as one's means of interaction. If one cannot settle dispute by explanation (by reason), then one has no other recourse to settle such dispute except by force (including threat thereof). That is why faith and force are identified as corollaries - though of course the wider principle is that the non-rational and force are corollaries, which is why subjectivism and force are corollaries just as much as mysticism and force are corollaries.
10.1.2006 2:57pm
Bozoer Rebbe (mail) (www):

It's the last couple of hundred years that have been the aberration where Islam has been on the 'back foot' - though let's not forget the Armenians and the Ottoman empire.


Some wag once said that the greatest PR success of the 20th century was convincing the world that Hitler was Austrian and Beethoven German.

Along those lines, framing the killing of over a million Christians by Muslims as a conflict between Turks and Armenians obscures the bloody hands of Islam.
10.1.2006 3:28pm
whit:
"Much of Christianity flipflopped on slavery, etc" - more silly equivalency. First of all, AGAIN - this is the PAST. Furthermore, slavery was common among practically ALL religions (and atheists for that matter) at the time. It was not unique to Christianity. SO, this is a silly argument. Mass violence, among the major world religions is UNIQUE to islam. Again with the silly equivalences.
10.1.2006 3:43pm
Nick Good - South Africa (mail):
Along those lines, framing the killing of over a million Christians by Muslims as a conflict between Turks and Armenians obscures the bloody hands of Islam.
Indeed, no arguments there. The Armenian genocide was just more Islamic Jihad, the same that we see now and the same that has blighted World history over the last millennia and half. The same mindset that we see today that gives us the 'head hackers', the Taliban, the ‘insurgency’ in Iraq, 9/11, 7/7 and oh so much more.

My interest is simply to convey the facts ….to disseminate them wide to ‘the Kuffar’, because the main stream media is wilfully impeding this....not I think through any great conspiracy, simply that they areso keen to be culturally sensitive that they conceal and misinform the general public ....across the World.
10.1.2006 3:45pm
Bozoer Rebbe (mail) (www):
You can quote the Torah and discover that Judaism is a genocide religion


The only case that can be arguably called a commandment to commit genocide was the case of Amalek, a nation that waged aggessive war against the Israelites in the Sinai desert and later after Canaan was settled. Commenting on the failure of King Saul to kill Agag, the Amalekite king, the Talmud teaches a hard truth: those who are compassionate to the cruel will invariably end up being cruel to the compassionate.

Regarding the six Canaanite nations (there were 7 but the Girgashites were exempt), the commandment is to expell them from the land, not kill them all. Ethnic cleansing by today's standards, perhaps, but not genocide.

In either case, they are not applicable in this day and age. All the commandments relating to other biblical nations (such as prohibiting male Edomites from converting to Judaism and the aforementioned commanded wars) are void today. For at least 2000 years, Judaism has said that the nations have been mixed and one can't identify who is an Amalekite or not. While the term is sometimes used homiletically to apply to contemporary Jew haters, it's not any longer a legal requirement of Jewish law.

As a related aside, I should also point out that just about all of the seemingly atavistic punishments in the Torah, an eye for an eye, trial by ordeal for a suspected adulteress, executing a rebellious son, etc. were mitigated by Jewish jurisprudence at a very early time. It was virtually impossible to convict and execute a murderer. The Talmud says that a court that executed even one person in 70 years was considered to be court with blood on its hands. The ritual for adulteresses may never have been practiced - the commentaries say that the horror of the ritual was intended to prevent husbands from making the accusation and there is no record of the ritual occurring from the start of the rabbinic period about 2200 years ago. An eye for an eye has always been interpreted as setting the standards for monetary compensation.

While rabbinic Judaism mitigated the more violent atavistic commandments in the Torah, it seems to me that Islam has, in many cases, ritualized violent middle eastern tribal culture, from which Judaism also descended.
10.1.2006 3:50pm
Nick Good - South Africa (mail):
Nick, by the late 1920s, the Fascists had been in power in Italy for a while, and fascist ideas were growing in popularity worldwide. So there's no contradiction between saying the MB starting in the late 1920s and saying it was influenced by fascist ideas.
Just so. My issue David, is candidly that I see you are so keen to be fair that you are soft soaping the vile, barbaric ideology and political agenda of Islam, not some fringe; the mainstream interpretation. Islamofascist is exactly right, but I see Islam and Isalmofascist as entirely synonymous.

I understand that there is a hope to create a gap for Muslim moderates to gain traction and sway the Ummah. This is an admirable objective. Those that chose this path I wish well.

I’m sceptical, me concern is that there is huge, nay massive ignorance in the West on the vile, totalitarian political ideology that we find in mains steam Islam. I feel a 'duty of care' to do my little bit to dig folks in the ribs on this one.

Some will label me an 'Islamophobe', some will be prompted to study more.

My motive is entirely political. I wish to preserve Western democracy, pluralism, egalitarianism, freedom of thought and expression, our ability to have exactly this sort of interaction; our post enlightenment values if you will.

I see Islam....main stream Islam, not some fringe, as a big threat to this.

I think you are soft soaping it. I think you are wrong, very wrong.
10.1.2006 4:00pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Brett says monotheism breeds intolerance, and Professor Bernstein adjusts this in regards to Judaism by saying, 'A Messianic, but not a proselytizing or universalistic religion.'

But the problem is not intolerance but violence. Monotheism is not necessarily violent. But a universalizing, salvationist monotheism is necessarily violent.

There are two: Christianity and Islam. Christianity has been tamed by secularism and jealousy among the sects, although we need look no further than the last place where Christianity still holds the civil power (Tonga) to see that its native nastiness still hides within.

Islam has not been tamed. I agree with Professor Bernstein that it does not have the 300 or 400 years that Christianity took to get tamed. Even if it had that long, it shows no sign of even having started.

++++

Cornellian asks how Muslims reconcile their spiritual beliefs with their physicial misery. I asked a self-described liberal Muslim about this, and he said that Islam had lost much more from western penetration than it stood to gain by reaching western levels of diet, hygiene, health etc.

I think most westerners look at the outward misery of being a Muslim and fail to recognize the all-encompassing spiritual warmth it evidently creates for its members. I don't understand this at all, but I can observe it.

This is where Bush goes off the rails. You do not seduce Muslims into the community of civilized nations by offering them cars and democracy, because they have something better than cars and democracy that they would have to give up to get them.
10.1.2006 4:05pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I'm knowledgeable enough about contemporary Islamic societies to say what exactly is and is not mainstream. But the point is that we can blame "the religion," or the people who willfully interpret it. I go with the latter.
10.1.2006 4:12pm
Nick Good - South Africa (mail):
I think most westerners look at the outward misery of being a Muslim and fail to recognize the all-encompassing spiritual warmth it evidently creates for its members.

Indeed, but to argue that something gives 'spiritual warmth' is not to argue that it's true. I'm sure heroin gives a certain glow too.

I've heard many Christians similarly argue that their 'faith' gives them comfort and a 'warm glow'. Again, this is not an argument that cuts to truth. I get a similar endorphin buzz after a cycle ride, a run or a brisk swim. I am perfectly well aware it is all due to brain chemistry - endorphins etcetera. I'm not going to kill anyone over it, nor am I inclined to make supernatural claims on the strength of 'altered states'. If I did, it would be but a short step to me being a dangerous bugger, and of course this is what we see with religious fundamentalists, and Islam seems to have a march on all the other religious superstitions in this regard, even though I suspect of all the religions are amateurs compared to Buddhists in achieving altered states. But then Buddhism is almost entirely benign…but I digress.
10.1.2006 4:28pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
I still blame Tribalism.
10.1.2006 4:29pm
frankcross (mail):
whit, if you think about it, today will at some point be THE PAST.

My point was David's, that the problem is not intrinsic to the religion but to the circumstances of its followers. I can't say I know this for a certainty but I certainly hope so. The idea of converting Islam to more peace is far preferable (and I presume easier) than extinguishing Islam.
10.1.2006 4:32pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
If you fill the endorphin receptors by inducing your body to produce them you are a good person.

Should you avail yourself of other ways of filling them (such as smoking or injecting or ingesting certain substances) you are a bad person subject to criminal sanctions.

Endorphin deficiences caused by certain conditions (chronic pain, PTSD, etc.) are no excuse.
10.1.2006 4:33pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
frankcross,

Tribalism is embedded in Islam.
10.1.2006 4:35pm
Nick Good - South Africa (mail):
that the problem is not intrinsic to the religion but to the circumstances of its followers
I think this is tosh. This theory is falsified to my mind because I see that Muslims are more 'fundamentally inclined' in the UK than in the Middle East.

To illustrate point, look at the leaders of 9/11 - Mohamed Attah, and the leader of 7/7 Mohammed Sidiq Khan...both middle class, well educated.
10.1.2006 4:43pm
Steven Brockerman (mail) (www):
How violent is Islam?

"If there arises among you a prophet, or dreamer of dreams . . . saying, "let us go after other gods, which you have not known, and let us serve them"; you shall not hearken to the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for [Allah] tests you ... And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he has spoken to turn [you] away from [Allah] ...

"If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son, or
your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend,
which [is] as your own soul, entices you secretly, saying, "Let us go and serve other gods, which you have not known . . . you shall not consent to him, nor hearken to him; neither shall your eye pity him, neither shall you spare, neither shall you conceal him, but you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And you shall stone him with stones, that he die; because he has sought to thrust you away from [Allah]."

From the Koran? No. From the King James Bible, Deuteronomy 13.

But what about the New testament? Glad you asked.

"But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me." (Luke 19:27)

"And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes." (Luke 12:47)"

Back to the Old:

"And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. And the LORD said unto Moses, 'Take all the heads of the people and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel.'" (Numbers 25:3-4)

"And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead." (Exodus 12:29-30)

"Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the
counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD. Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves." (Numbers 31:16-18)

All religions *must* be steeped in violence, rejecting reason in favor of faith, as they _all_ do. The difference? Judeo-Christianity went through an Enlightenment, in which reason tempered those religions' irrationality. In their pre-Enlightenment phase, they were just as murderous.

The Arabs &Islam have had no Enlightenment (or Renaissance, for that matter). This "war" is between reason and faith. But don't look to Western commentators to say that--particularly if they're conservatives.

Cite

http://www.nobeliefs.com/DarkBible/DarkBibleContents.htm
10.1.2006 4:44pm
whit:
"whit, if you think about it, today will at some point be THE PAST. "

yes. and that is relevant how? my point is that apologists for islamofascist thugs CONSTANTLY do the "yea but" and point out that christianity oh so many years ago had a lot of violent followers.

that's groovy. the whole point is that christianity HAD a reformation. also, christianity was not founded by a guy who told his followers to spread the religion by the sword.

yea, christians once held slaves. so did romans, atheists, vikings, africans (of all sorts), greeks, etc. etc. etc. the difference is that NOW it is STILL muslims (in some places) that still practice slavery. that is a big distinction.

"My point was David's, that the problem is not intrinsic to the religion but to the circumstances of its followers. I can't say I know this for a certainty but I certainly hope so. The idea of converting Islam to more peace is far preferable (and I presume easier) than extinguishing Islam."

I never said that the problem was intrinsic to the relgion, nor do i think that is even meaningless. Violence itself is absolutely not intrinsic to religion, as the most rapacious, murderous regimes in history were 20th century atheistic communists (some would argue atheism is a religion, too... but i digress).

the problem is not islam qua islam. it is islam as practiced. i don't want to extinguish islam. i think we should extinguish every single person who attacks us. and just by some wild coincidence - they are muslims.
10.1.2006 4:56pm
Nick Good - South Africa (mail):
All religions *must* be steeped in violence,

Actually not - have you not studied Buddhism? But then Buddhism is not theistic, there are no Buddhist deities or gods and none are required.

The Bible is full of vile stuff, stuff that is morally completely reprehensible by any reasonable modern morality. Candidly it really isn’t a book fit for kids - both in the Old AND the New Testaments. One example, here God speaking...

The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open.

source

One of my observations is that I know the Bible and what's in it far better than most evangelical Christians or Baptists (supposed Biblical literalists) and I'm an atheist.

Now I can debunk Christianity and point to the barbarity in the Bible with the best of them, I'll give Dawkins a fair old run (but he does write such splendidly lucid prose). That said, this is hardly the point, bringing up Christianity or Judaism is a complete red-herring in relation to Islam, there is not a significant Jewish or Christian Global terrorism problem. There is with Islam.

Most Christians really don't hold to Biblical literalism. It's different in Islam; they…most of them… treat the Koran like medieval Christians treated the Bible.
10.1.2006 5:15pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Hey, Nick, I'm on your side. I did not say that the spiritual warmth within Islam is 'true' but that it exists. It not only exists, it is the most important factor in Islam's inability to adjust to modern standards of decent conduct.

Professor Bernstein is wrong. It is the religion. The difference is not between extremists and 'ordinary Muslims' but between activist and apocalyptic Muslims and inactive ones.

The inactive ones all support the premise of the activist ones, which is that Allah has promised the outcome of history, and that all will be Muslims.

Christians used to believe they had been promised history's outcome, but few today take that seriously. At least in this world. Most are content to put off judgment to Judgment Day.
10.1.2006 8:34pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
The claim that Christianity was somehow "tamed" or made nonviolent by secularism is specious. Religious tolerance in Christianity is primarily a result of the rise of Protestantism, its fragmentation, and the political necessity of tolerance in the foundation of the United States.

Secularism had nothing to do with it. Quite the opposite. We have a number of examples of societies based on secularism, with such colorful names as The Reign of Terror, The Killing Fields, The Cultural Revolution, and Stalinism. Tolerance is not a characteristic of secularism, or of societies based on it.
10.1.2006 10:16pm
blspro:
WO - no one claimed that the secular cannot invoke the initiation of force as the means of human interaction. In fact I explicitly stated that appeals to subjectivism are ultimately just as force-based as appeals to mysticism. Any appeal to the arbitrary ultimately requires force when disputes arise. The subjective secular and the mystical are merely different sides of the same dispicable coin. But secularism is not synonymous with subjectivism. And DB and others here have been very clear they are speaking, not of 'secularism' in general, but certain secular principles - which I would identify as principles based on reason as opposed to revelation - as opposed to faith (or to personal or collective whim, ie the subjective).

Thus, secularism does have something to do with it. Secularism is the move away from revelation as man's means of knowledge. But secularism is not enough because it does not identify a specific means of knowledge as a replacement for divine inspiration. It doesn't indicate what is a valid means of knowledge. It simply distinguishes mystical methods of knowledge from all other methods. But that does not make all those other methods monolithic or homogeneous. Secularism encompasses diametrically opposed philosophies, including diametrically opposed epistemologies. To treat such varying approaches to knowledge as if they were all the same is to commit a major fallacy. Essentially, you create a package deal when you imply secularism necessarily makes force man's means of interaction, or when you state that tolerance is not a characteristic of secularism. Reason can be the means of human interaction in some secular systems. And tolerance can be a characteristic of some secular societies.

Therefore, if you are going to attack secularism itself (as opposed to specific secular principles), you need to first identify secularism correctly.
10.1.2006 11:14pm
Warren (mail) (www):
Some posters are commenting that Islam must grow, "as Christianity did". One of the many big differences between Islam and Christianity is that those who advocate violence in the name of Christianity have to really be careful about how they justify it from the text of the Bible, since the overwhelming thrust of the text is that Christians are to follow the example of Jesus, who was a serious peacemaking kind of fellow.

On the other hand, as others have pointed out, none of the peaceful style of Jesus can be found in the Koran. On the contrary, if you want to proclaim Islam as a religion of peace, you can't do it with the Koran. The Koran teaches that there are three ways to have peace with a non-Muslim. The first is to convert him. The second is to have him live under your rules as a slave, and the third is to kill him. This is basis Koran teaching.

For the Christian religion, peace is the rule and violence the exception, and we are not called to kill those who don't follow our ways. (See Matthew 10:14 - Whoever doesn't receive you, nor hear your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake off the dust from your feet.)

But for Islam, their book has no raw material in it to justify the moderation of their religion. It can't correctly be translated to support peace, so the religion can't 'grow up' and join civilization.
10.2.2006 1:49am
Warren (mail) (www):
Some posters are commenting that Islam must grow, "as Christianity did". One of the many big differences between Islam and Christianity is that those who advocate violence in the name of Christianity have to really be careful about how they justify it from the text of the Bible, since the overwhelming thrust of the text is that Christians are to follow the example of Jesus, who was a serious peacemaking kind of fellow.

On the other hand, as others have pointed out, none of the peaceful style of Jesus can be found in the Koran. On the contrary, if you want to proclaim Islam as a religion of peace, you can't do it with the Koran. The Koran teaches that there are three ways to have peace with a non-Muslim. The first is to convert him. The second is to have him live under your rules as a slave, and the third is to kill him. This is basis Koran teaching.

For the Christian religion, peace is the rule and violence the exception, and we are not called to kill those who don't follow our ways. (See Matthew 10:14 - Whoever doesn't receive you, nor hear your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake off the dust from your feet.)

But for Islam, their book has no raw material in it to justify the moderation of their religion. It can't correctly be translated to support peace, so the religion can't 'grow up' and join civilization.
10.2.2006 1:49am
Harry Eagar (mail):
William Oliver, don't know where you are, but I live in the U.S.A., the first nation with an explicitly secular government. See Article VI of the Constitution.

If toleration were a component of Christianity, why did it not begin showing itself until late in the 17th century? Just about in phase with the emergence of secular philosophies.
10.2.2006 2:30am
Acksiom (mail) (www):
"You can quote the Torah and discover that Judaism is a genocidal religion (at least with regard to the inhabitants of the Land of Israel) that also demands, among other things, executing anyone who violates the Sabbath. And indeed you can find a lunatic fringe that still believes in such things, but the mainstream of the religion has evolved well beyond this."

Well, apart from the whole sexually mutilatory human sacrifice of children's genitals thing, that is. They do still do that, despite all reason and progress.
10.2.2006 3:40am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Male circumcision is suggested for Africa to reduce the transmission of STDs. Specifically AIDS. I suppose the Drs. suggesting this are mutilators at heart with a special distaste for Africans.

It may not be mutilation at all. It may be a public health measure.
10.2.2006 4:20am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
William Oliver,

Religious tolerance was enshrined into the Constitution because the folks who wrote it were intimately familiar with the European religious wars of the 1600s.

The number of sects in America was also an influence although religious liberty was not common to all the states at the time.
10.2.2006 4:37am
libertarian soldier (mail):
Mark Field : "You might argue that separation of church and state was a radical Protestant doctrine, but even that is questionable. It really was an Enlightenment doctrine". Not in France, where it was an issue for the medieval kings and resolved before the Enlightenment (although perhaps not completely until 1905--and even today the state supports Protestant and Catholic seminaries in what was Alsace-Lorraine); nor in England, where it was (and remains) resolved in state ownership of and supremacy over church, or in many states that became Protestant, where the state designated a Church (Scandinavia, Prussia), or Spain, where the enlightenment gained little ground but still (eventually) separated the two.
As far as the basic point goes--having lived in countries that were mostly Muslim--KSA and Sahelian Africa--and partially Muslim--Nigeria where the population is about 50% Muslim--and having made friends there and never felt threatened because I was a Catholic, I vote for the "its the people, not the religion" side.
10.2.2006 5:16am
Nick Good - South Africa (mail):
Libertarian Solidier wrote: I vote for the "its the people, not the religion" side.
Well given that most modern terrorism and religious violence committed in the World today, is committed by Muslims in the name of Islam; for the cause of this violence to be something about "the people" and not "the religion" to work as a theory, you need to jump through a couple of hoops. You need to explain what about "The people" causes most terrorists to be Muslim, is it something genetic? You also need to explain how it is that many Muslim converts suddenly become violent Jihadis after their conversion, but for some reason this does not happen to most converts to Christianity, Buddhism and indeed those that reject all superstition and become atheists? You need to explain why Muslim terrorists acting in the name of Islam spring from different parts of the World, from multiple race groups?

Personally I think you can't, at least not with any degree of intellectual honesty. I think you are indulging yourself in woolly minded, feel-good mushy platitudes, plainly at odds with the reality on the ground.
10.2.2006 5:58am
Nick Good - South Africa (mail):
Religious tolerance was enshrined into the Constitution because the folks who wrote it were intimately familiar with the European religious wars of the 1600s

Yup, and many of the founding fathers were not Christian, some were positively anti Christian. These were mainly Deists in that pre Darwinian era before the Teleological argument (argument from design) had been pole-axed.
10.2.2006 6:18am
Acksiom (mail) (www):
M. Simon: unfortunately, unless one has a contact in the intactivist or restoration communities, all one is likely to read or hear about the subject is the same old biased, one-sided defense of the practice, not only from the monosource media but the blogosphere as well.

Fortunately, now you do have such a contact. Here, for example, is just one piece of news which apparently neither the alphabet broadcasters nor the TTLB ecosystem could be bothered to report:

Male Circumcision May Not Protect Against HIV Infection: Presented at AIDS 2006

Furthermore, the Auvert et. al. PLoS study which was, in comparison, so trumpeted to the skies recently? New Zealander Hugh Young does his usual bang-up job of skeptical criticism here:

The much-touted random controlled test in South Africa

Routine and ritual male prepucectomy clearly hasn't prevented the spread of STDs, HIV+/AIDS included, in the usa. That's made even clearer by how the rates of infection in the almost exclusively intact populations of western european industrialized nations are consistently lower.

No, they're not mutilators at heart with a special hate for africans. They're just victims of a cultural bugaboo who are desperately trying to manufacture justifications for a patently insane practice.

The practice itself, however, categorically and objectively is mutilation; Taylor, Lockwood, &Taylor's paper on their histological analysis of the male prepuce, published in the BJU over 10 years ago, definitively established that:

The prepuce: Specialized mucosa of the penis and its loss to circumcision

The bottom line here is that any attempt at justifying the routine and ritual prepucectomy of male minors within the context of western ethics is necessarily based upon the false assumption that the male prepuce is, uniquely, valueless.

As a rule, prepucectionists must make that false assumption in order to be able to argue their case at all, because the male prepuce possesses by default the same fundamental abstract worth of any and all other healthy, irreplaceable body parts, and therefore its amputation can likewise only be justified through a direct medical health necessity.

Thus, in order for prepucectionists to pretend to be able to correctly apply a lower standard of treatment to the male prepuce, they must necessarily make the false and baseless assertion that it is, uniquely among all other healthy and irreplaceable body parts, valueless.

However, since by default the male prepuce actually does possess the same basic value as any and all other healthy and irreplaceable body parts -- regardless of any erogenous or protective or other functional worth -- the prepucectionist position is fundamentally invalid.

And that's all there really is to it.
10.2.2006 11:06am
Anderson (mail) (www):
Since I am not slow to point out when I think DB is off the wall, I would be remiss to acknowledge this very sensible post.
10.2.2006 11:11am
gh:
It is pretty clear that the concept of separation of church and state was well-established by the time of
the Council of Constance (1414-1418), which predates the protestant reformation (1517). I suppose it goes back to Aquinas but I don't have that much time.
10.2.2006 11:24am
Mark Field (mail):

It is pretty clear that the concept of separation of church and state was well-established by the time of
the Council of Constance (1414-1418), which predates the protestant reformation (1517). I suppose it goes back to Aquinas but I don't have that much time.


This is just wrong. Absolutely NOBODY at that time viewed Church and State as separate. Both worked together, each maneuvered for supremacy within the joint endeavor.

Some easy examples of this: The Council of Constance predated the Spanish Inquisition; it predated Henry VIII's Act of Supremacy; it predated the mid-1500s compromise policy of cuius regio, eius religio (whose reign, his religion).
10.2.2006 1:25pm
markm (mail):
gh: Whatever the Council of Constance said about "separation of church and state", it could hardly have been anything like the American concept - since this council was followed by several centuries of burning heretics at the stake (English Protestants were less savage - they hung priests instead of torturing them to death), Protestants being driven out of France, Spanish attempts to conquer Protestant lands and forcibly convert the inhabitants to Catholicism, tax collections supporting churches in both Catholic and Protestant nations (they still do in several of them, including England and France), and Catholic and Protestant Germans fighting it out in the Thirty Years War. IIRC, the principle behind the treaty ending that war was that the inhabitants of a country should convert to whatever religion their king chose. (It didn't work, but pretty soon most kings figured out that they'd better pick a religion their subjects could live with...)
10.2.2006 1:32pm
Mark Field (mail):

Mark Field : "You might argue that separation of church and state was a radical Protestant doctrine, but even that is questionable. It really was an Enlightenment doctrine". Not in France, where it was an issue for the medieval kings and resolved before the Enlightenment (although perhaps not completely until 1905--and even today the state supports Protestant and Catholic seminaries in what was Alsace-Lorraine); nor in England, where it was (and remains) resolved in state ownership of and supremacy over church, or in many states that became Protestant, where the state designated a Church (Scandinavia, Prussia), or Spain, where the enlightenment gained little ground but still (eventually) separated the two.


I didn't mean that the Enlightenment resolved the issue. I only meant that the issue was not resolved before then. In many places it hasn't been resolved since then either.

Before the Enlightenment, it was generally agreed that state and church ran together. Each one wanted to be in ultimate charge. This internal power struggle got resolved in different ways. In England, for example, they adopted an Erastian solution (state supremacy over the church). In other countries the Church had more influence. But none of these solutions constituted actual separation of church and state; they were just deciding which of the two would have overall control.
10.2.2006 1:32pm
Mark Field (mail):

and Catholic and Protestant Germans fighting it out in the Thirty Years War. IIRC, the principle behind the treaty ending that war was that the inhabitants of a country should convert to whatever religion their king chose. (It didn't work, but pretty soon most kings figured out that they'd better pick a religion their subjects could live with...)


The Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years War (1648), was made on the basis of uti possidetis(you keep what you have now). The principle you mention is the one I cited above (cuius regio, eius religio). That was the compromise of the Peace of Augsburg (1555).
10.2.2006 1:36pm
james (mail):
For the first 200 of Christianity it was a pacifist religion. This was true until it was combined with the state in an effort to expand the Holy Roman Empire. This contrasts with Islam which started out using conversion by the sword.
10.2.2006 3:59pm
michael (mail) (www):
Bozeor Rebbe, heh thanks. I'll have to look into that next year. You don't know where Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman is, do you? He had a great Torah class that I used to slip in on. I'm glad to hear that Trotsky isn't some great Jewish hero.
The Thirty years War was a war promoted by Cardinal Richelieu of France through his ally Father Joseph a Capuchin monk who was the de facto foreign minister of France. It was fought against the interests of the Catholic King(s) of Spain and Austria and was prolonged by their manipulation essentially to bleed those kings so that the French king would gain enhanced power. This led to the modern state system rather than a system that was aristocratically fraternal and state aggression was limited by religious consideration. The suffering and death this caused was a scandal to ordinary Catholic clerics. On the death of Richelieu, the pope said, "If there is no god, he (Cardinal Richelieu) did quite well for hismelf. If there is, he is going to have a lot to answer for.'
10.2.2006 4:56pm
Mark Field (mail):

The Thirty years War was a war promoted by Cardinal Richelieu of France through his ally Father Joseph a Capuchin monk who was the de facto foreign minister of France.


The Thirty Years War began in 1618. Richelieu didn't become chief minister of Louis XIII until 1624. The TYW began in Bohemia (Czech Republic) and had nothing to do with France originally. France did eventually become involved because it resisted Habsburg claims to universal monarchy.


It was fought against the interests of the Catholic King(s) of Spain and Austria


You mean the Holy Roman Emperor and the King of Spain.


and was prolonged by their manipulation essentially to bleed those kings so that the French king would gain enhanced power.


It was prolonged for many reasons. What you say is true in the somewhat limited sense that it was consistent with the overall policy of preventing the Habsburgs from gaining too much power. He didn't prolong the war for the sake of prolonging it, he prolonged it to get better terms. Richelieu died in 1642, 6 years before the war ended.
10.2.2006 5:36pm
michael (mail) (www):
There was a struggle for power in the Court between the King's Neapolitan mother and the Cardinal. This was decided one day when she shrieked in anger on the entrance of the cardinal into the king's presence with her there. That was an affront to the dignity of the king. Sometimes people have power as yet unrecognized fully by their official position. The whole story is a central aspect of the wonderfuly told biography of Father Joseph written by Aldous Huxley, in the early forties musing on the point in history that led to the calamitous wars of state of the twentieth century. The book is Grey Eminence; English authors have notoriously slow starts to their books. This has the best but not immediately obvious opening crescendo I have ever read.
10.2.2006 8:22pm
ChristNeverExisted (mail):
Listening to Christians bash Islam is pathetic.

Anyone who worships a fictional dead man has no right to criticise anyone else.
10.2.2006 8:32pm
Taeyoung (mail):
Muslim Brotherhood ideology, and that the Brotherhood was itself modeled on European fascist movements, thus "fascistic" is an appropriate moniker.

Weren't the Muslim Brotherhood the ones who tried to engage in terrorist activity against the government in Syria? Bombings and the like. And then Hafez al-Assad got fed up with them and opted for a military solution (i.e. he sent in his army to hunt them down and kill them all.) Now, if I recall correctly, the Syrian branch Muslim Brotherhood have a small exile movement puttering around in London, and have even embraced the virtues of democracy, at least rhetorically.

Or so Wikipedia leads me to believe.

Anyhow, they may have started out as fascists, but they're certainly not intractably so.
10.2.2006 10:04pm
nn489:
I guess you substantially agree with the Islamic fascists on that one, CNE.

As to the original post-- in asking whether any given religion is inherently violent, we have to define what that religion IS. Specifically, where does religion end and culture generally begin? Obviously there's a lot of bleedover between the two-- but about 3/4 of the commenters up till now have assumed that Enlightenment culture is somehow separate from Christianity. Fair enough, but then that seems to throw the burden on those commenters to show that medieval culture was an integral part of Christianity. Similar problems arise with Islam, of course.
10.2.2006 10:31pm
Seerak (mail):
This:

Religions with long written and oral traditions can be used and misused in any number of ways by those who seek to use them for political ends.

refutes this:

But the radical, fascistic Islamist movement is to Islam as the radical fascistic "Christian Identity" movement is to Christianity--a perversion of the religion in the name of a supremacist, violent ideology.

Religion is *by its nature* a mutable doctrine which can be adapted to justify any pre-existing emotional prejudice one has, negative or positive. This fact is inherent to any doctrine that is based on faith, be it old ones like Christianity or Islam, new ones like Scientology, and even the non-religions that otherwise end up in practice following its organizational forms (Marxism, socialism, environmentalism).

The concept "perversion" is therefore inapplicable to such doctrines; there can be no objective basis for declaring that made-up BS "A" is true while made-up BS "B" is false.
10.2.2006 10:37pm
William Oliver (mail) (www):
Blaspro: Your definition of secular as merely involving reason is specious. By your definition, natural theology would be "secular," as would be any theology that placed a high value on reason. Your attempt to sidestep the results of unalloyed secularism in society by somehow claiming that it's not the right sort of secularism is akin to those communists who claim that the atrocities of communism don't count because it wasn't "real" communism. But OK, democracy is due to the faith of those good god-fearing deeply religious, um, secularists.

Harry Eager: A full answer to your question is beyond the scope of a comment. If you are really interested, the basis of capitalism and liberty in Christianity is well documented in an excellent book called "The Victory of Reason" by Rodney Stark. In spite of Blaspro's taxonomy, the development of rational faith in Protestantism was fundamental in the development of our view of society. It was the marriage of reason and faith, not the conflict between the two that made the difference. That marriage is what separated the American Revolution from the French. Removing religion from the equation is what gave us the Reign of Terror.

M. Simon: Yes, that's what I meant about the fragmentation of Protestantism. Religious liberty was not a necessity in individual colonies (with the exception of Rhode Island and to a lesser degree Pennsylvania), but was necessary for the formation of the Unites States.

Mr. Good: Your revisionist view of the Founding Fathers is without basis, and relies on cherry picking quotes and ideas. In fact, the vast majority of the Founding Fathers were men of faith, and viewed the principles of the founding of the United States as an expression of rational theology. I am not sure where people got the idea that the only Founder was Thomas Jefferson, and not the Thomas Jefferson who edited his own version of the "true" Bible.
10.2.2006 11:08pm
Mark Field (mail):

In fact, the vast majority of the Founding Fathers were men of faith


This might possibly be true, depending on how broadly one defined the group. It's not true of the more important Founders (Washington, Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin).


and viewed the principles of the founding of the United States as an expression of rational theology.


This is arrant nonsense. The Founders took their lessons on republicanism from ancient Rome and Country party ideology. They took their liberalism from Locke. Theology had nothing to do with it.
10.3.2006 12:31am
Harry Eagar (mail):
Sigh. William, the Catholics were just as wedded to rationalism and faith as the Protestants. Ever hear of Aquinas?

Rationally thinking about an antirational principle (a deity) doesn't get you anywhere worth going.

Anyhow, the USA is a secular government of a largely religious society. That idea never came from any religious person. It came from people who distrusted religion, especially Protestantism, like Jefferson; or who had seen their mothers tortured by irrational Protestants, like Franklin.
10.3.2006 12:51am
blspro:

Blaspro: Your definition of secular as merely involving reason is specious.

WO - Since you read my post, you are no doubt aware I explicitly stated quite the opposite of what you claim. I stated quite clearly that the secular is the rejection of mysticism as man's means of knowledge. I also stated quite clearly that there are numerous supposed methods of knowledge which are not mystical but are not rational either. I further stated quite clearly this means the concept 'secular' includes contradictory means of knowledge. And I explicitly pointed out that it is an error to treat contradictory methods of knowledge as if they were one in the same - as you were doing.

After reading all that, you chose to evade the fact that I said any of these things. Instead you constructed a straw man and pretended it was my argument so you wouldn't have to address the errors I pointed out in your ideas. Thus the only things specious here are your accusations concerning my argument.

Because your premise is a straw man, all the subsequent statements you make based upon it are also necessarily false. For instance, your claim:

By your definition, natural theology would be "secular," as would be any theology that placed a high value on reason.

is false. By definition theology involves mystical epistemology. As such, according to the premise I clearly identified, no theology could be identified as secular.

This also means your further accusation:

Your attempt to sidestep the results of unalloyed secularism in society by somehow claiming that it's not the right sort of secularism is akin to those communists who claim that the atrocities of communism don't count because it wasn't "real" communism.

is false as well. As I stated, secularism is the non-mystical. But saying something is not mystical doesn't identify what it IS. It only identifies what it is NOT. Since philosophers claim numerous means of knowledge beyond mysticism - of which reason is only one - the means of knowledge is thus not identified by the term. Pretending it is somehow identified only removes your argument from reality. That was the whole point I made to you previously - a point you have chosen to evade entirely.

Thus I will reiterate my point in quite simple terms. Secular is a concept meant to distinguish mystical means of knowledge from non-mystical means of knowledge - mystical epistemology from non-mystical epistemology. Non-mystical epistemology includes rational epistemologies and irrational epistemologies. To treat these contradictory epistemologies as one in the same is a gross violation of the fundamental law of logic. It is to treat A as if it were non-A. It is to accept and act upon a blatant contradiction.

In other words, it is irrational.

What this means, as I said before (and which you chose to ignore), is: if you are going to try to attack secularism itself (as opposed to specific secular principles), you need to first identify secularism correctly.

You have now failed at that - twice.
10.3.2006 3:17am
blspro:
PS - "rational theology" is a contradiction in terms.
10.3.2006 3:22am
Mark Field (mail):

Sigh. William, the Catholics were just as wedded to rationalism and faith as the Protestants.


Agreed.


the USA is a secular government of a largely religious society.


Exactly.
10.3.2006 12:53pm
Norman:
ChristNeverExisted said: "Listening to Christians bash Islam is pathetic.
Anyone who worships a fictional dead man has no right to criticise anyone else."

I don't understand you. Are you saying that Christ is fictional or that he's dead? He can't be both.
10.3.2006 2:24pm
blspro:
Norm - Darth Vader is both fictional and dead. ;)
10.3.2006 2:35pm
nn489:
He's fictionally dead. Is that the same thing? I doubt the original poster would approve the statement "Christ was alive in 30 AD," although according to his view of things that would be fictionally true.
10.3.2006 7:03pm
blspro:
nn - was that to norm or to me?
10.3.2006 8:14pm
Norman:
No, it's not like Darth Vader. Christ can't be fictional and dead at the same time. Part of the "fiction" of Christianity is that he rose from the dead and is alive today. So either he is a fictional person who is alive in fiction (because he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven), or he was a real person who is now dead.

Or there's the third option: that he was real and he is alive.
10.4.2006 12:07pm
blspro:
LOL!
10.4.2006 1:42pm