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Posted by on Oct 3, 2012 in Uncategorized | 12 comments

Islamophobia vs. Christianophobia

Man created god in his own image, and this is important to remember when we ponder why god is cruel and unfair. God is a reflection of us. While many mysteries of the universe can’t yet be explained, god can be explained by simply looking into our hearts. Man created religion. Its holy texts catalog man’s foibles and virtues, his conceits, prejudices, and innermost desires. These texts are sexual, violent, and largely outdated. But when we fear religion, what we really fear is ourselves, and we perpetuate that fear by giving others reason to fear us. I’m tired of the hate. I want to see all hateful and deceitful religions gone, not just Islam. But that won’t happen in the near future because most human brains aren’t wired the same way as mine, and I have to accept that. I can’t hate others for it. But I can hate and oppose bigotry, violence, misogyny, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and cruelty because these things are undeniably damaging to society. And because with my whole heart I find them to be despicable and wrong. At the same time, I can also oppose intolerance for other religions. Because unless I do so, I become just like them.

This doesn’t mean that I have to be ashamed of my beliefs or cower in the corner.  I do not and will not.  This doesn’t mean that I should stop my attempts to improve science education and education in general, because I believe that education is the antidote to religious delusions.  But when the antidote doesn’t work, I have to accept that as well, and realize that for the large part our legal principles are more sound than our religious ones, and that they must either be improved or they must suffice. We can be moral without god. We know this because we often have been, even though no god exists or cares.

I am not afraid of Islam any more than I am of other violent religions, and I am not afraid of Muslims because of their religion.  Many of them project onto their god a loving and tolerant image, much as many Christians do onto theirs (and this is a view of god that the Bible simply does not support no matter how much you argue for a metaphoric interpretation).  To quote Richard Dawkins, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

And I don’t want to be that bully.
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Note for clarification (added after the first few comments):  I think the real issue isn’t what religion people are practicing, but the conditions they’re living in. Terrible living conditions make any religion a more dangerous and effective tool for abuse by the powerful.

  • No Such Thing As Blasphemy

    But I have never seen (personally or on TV) the sort of violence committed in the name of Islam perpetrated by followers of any other faith.

    • Wolfrik

      Really? Does the name Anders Breivik ring any bells?

      • No Such Thing As Blasphemy

        Oh please. Yes it does. How about Shamel Basayev? How about ayatollah Khomeini? Or Ayman al-Zawahiri? The overall scales of violence are not comparable, no matter how many individual names we list.

        • bluharmony

          I think the real issue isn’t what religion people are practicing, but the conditions they’re living in. Terrible living conditions make a religion (whatever religion it may be) a much more dangerous and effective tool for abuse by the powerful.

          I should have probably included this statement as a footnote.

  • No Such Thing As Blasphemy

    I’m afraid religious doctrine, Islamic doctrine specifically, seems to be conducive to violence in a way that is independent of living conditions. I wrote a full post on that recently.
    http://www.skepticink.com/nocrossnocrescent/2012/09/18/islamic-violence-why-poverty-is-not-the-main-factor/

    • bluharmony

      Good point; I don’t think it’s just the poverty, but childhood indoctrination and upbringing in a violent, militant culture. But if you merely compare religious texts, especially the Old Testament, it’s hard to say that one religion is “worse” than the other.

      There’s a documented correlation between less religious/more peaceful/more prosperous nations, after all. I can’t speak to the quality of the studies, though.

      • No Such Thing As Blasphemy

        The old testament is a horrible book. No question. But books are only part of the problem. First, scriptural literalism among christians and jews is a rather extreme position, but among Muslims it is the orthodoxy. Second, even the old testament doesn’t command holy wars against infidels. That distinction goes to the Koran. Third, a lot of the harsh rules in Islamic Sharia come from the Hadith (words and deeds of the prophet and saints

      • No Such Thing As Blasphemy

        Also, the studies documenting the relationship between lower levels of violence and religiosity are pretty robust, but what they generally show is that decreased violence and other social ills lead to less religiosity. With Islam it seems to be the other way: violence as an effect of religion, not its cause.

  • Chill Chick

    I don’t think there’s anything inherently violent about Islam, or inherently peaceful about Christianity or Buddhism. In fact, no religion is “inherently X” for any X – that’s the fallacy of essentialism. During the dark ages, Islam was much more tolerant, progressive, and supportive of scholarship than Christianity was. I think what’s happening today is that you have large populations who feel powerless, whether in the middle east or in European immigrant communities – they feel marginalized. Then they get a taste of power when they threaten violence or carry it out, and the result is concessions from the powers that be. They perceive violence as being the only power they have, and they milk the situation. I’m not defending the violence, but it’s important to understand why it happens.

    • bluharmony

      I think that’s exactly it.

  • Andy Mayo

    With apologies to Clausewitz, religion is a continuation of politics by another means. Started out at the clan/tribe level and grew up to support nationalism, and nations’ wars. The level of violence leveled at out-groups varies over time and circumstances, but its potentiality is always there. Religion is popular among all human beings because it provides certainty, and for us, living under a false certainty is better than facing the true uncertainty (randomness) of life. Some of us, though, are a bit more skeptical about which false certainties we choose to accept.

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