What the Koran Says Vs. What an Individual Muslim Is Likely To Do:

Commenter Cato, on the oaths thread, insists that Carthage must be destroyed, and also writes:

What if your religious book upon which an oath is taken requires the oath taker to lie, at least in certain cases?

Certain pundits maintain that the Koran REQUIRES Muslims to lie to non-Muslims about their intentions, particularly the intention of imposing sharia law.

I can't speak to the relevant text of the Koran, or to what certain pundits mantain. But say that the Koran does indeed say so in the text.

The fact is that many ancient religious writings seem to on their face mandate various things that we'd find quite troubling, and that most modern adherents of the religion would find quite troubling. Consider Leviticus, which says that the following (among others) "shall be surely put to death": "[E]very one that curseth his father or his mother"; adulterers; male homosexuals; and "he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD." Should we disqualify Jews, as well as Christians who purport to still see the Old Testament as largely authoritative, from high government office, on the grounds that they seem committed to massive violations of the First and Eighth Amendments?

Of course not, because we in fact know that even quite devout Jews and Christians don't really read these provisions as in fact mandating the putting to death of people who do the prohibited things. They may have textual reasons for their beliefs or extratextual. But in any case, our experience tells us that looking in isolation at particular passages in a person's holy books -- or considering the practices of extremists who ostensibly belong to the same faith as the person -- gives us little information about the person's actual lived beliefs, and what the person is actually likely to do. It seems to me quite likely that precisely the same is true about Muslims.

If you have reason to think that a particular person is especially likely to lie, that's of course reason to doubt his word, or to vote against him. But looking at some passage in the Koran doesn't tell us much about this.