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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » Countering anti-Muslim xenophobia: pre-9/11/11 Edition (Page 2)

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Author Topic: Countering anti-Muslim xenophobia: pre-9/11/11 Edition
Pete at Home
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quote:
Even if we stipulate for the sake of argument that Islamic scripture has some unique flaw that makes it worse than the scripture of other religions, if that hypothetical flaw can not be shown to lead to worse outcomes, then the criticism is primarily aesthetic.
OK. What if you compare the murder rates of Christians who read the New Testament to that of Christians who don't read the New Testament. Contrast to the distinction between Muslims who read the Koran, and Muslims who don't read the Koran.

The most prolific Christian murderers of our time fall into one of three categories:

The most prolific are nonreligious "cultural Christians" such as Brevik and the leaders of the IRA. Not big bible readers. Ricky recently cited me some names of "Christian" PLO terrorists. Guess what? They'd renounced Christianity.

The second most prolific group are illiterate Christians, like most of the brainwashed morons that committed the murders in Rwanda. I submit that those that can't read, can't read the bible.

The third-most prolific are the charismatics, like Jim Jones and some of the pseudomormon cults. All reading and interpretation and critical thought is done through the prophet figure.

In contrast, Islam's most prolific killers today seem heavily versed in Koranic interpretation. Recruiting is done in Muslim Madrassas.

That isn't proof, but it's reason for concern.

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Greg Davidson
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I'll take counter-points.

I quite recognize that Hitler was distinctly anti-Christian in many ways, and so this is not so much an example of him expressing his honest views as it is an example of how you can't always attribute causality based on the words people are quoted as saying. Same with the warlord quoted above who asserts he is a Pentecostal Pastor. I am not trying to say Christianity or Judaism are as evil as Islam - my point is exactly in the other direction. I am trying to say that evil seems quite capable of wrapping itself in whatever religion is proximate. It seems to me neither accurate nor fair to perform a search solely of problematic passages in Islamic scripture and then make claims about the religion on the basis of those passages. If the case against Islam were accurate, there should be substantial evidence that it has a differential effect on human behavior. If the conclusions that I have reached from my examination of data are correct, and Islam does not promote more evil behavior than other religions, then what is the concern with Islam per se?

I am also not an expert in this field, but I believe that even the phrase "under sharia law" is somewhat debatable. I have heard that sharia is more a large compilation of potential rules, some of which are contradictory, and there is not the same centralized authority in Islam to issue rulings that are binding on all practitioners as there is, for example, in Catholicism. In Jewish scripture, there are specific rulings (I think it is in Talmud, it may even be in Tanach) that the handicapped (blind, deaf, mute and lame) are to be treated as second class citizens, without the right to give testimony in legal matters (gay activists use the non-observance of that guidance in most Jewish circles as an example where modern understandings supplant literal interpretation of scripture). Until you establish how often "a married woman holding more than $50 in cash has to prove that she's not a prostitute" in Islamic populations and how often the blind, deaf, mute or lame are treated as second-class citizens in Jewish populations, all you have is problematic scripture that may or may not have an effect in the real world.

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Greg Davidson
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quote:
OK. What if you compare the murder rates of Christians who read the New Testament to that of Christians who don't read the New Testament. Contrast to the distinction between Muslims who read the Koran, and Muslims who don't read the Koran.
If we do pursue this argument, we are discarding nearly a thousand years when both Christianity and Islam existed side-by-side and a very small fraction of the population read either the New Testament or the Koran.

But it is a legitimate alternate argument. What if it is not the scripture itself, but rather the act of reading scripture that has the differential effect (this thinking is consistent with the original schism between Catholicism and Protestantism). Now it's hard to tell if General Nkunda actually read Christian scripture (you would think there would have to be a little bit of that on the way to becoming a Pentecostal Pastor, even if it was his own twisted variety of it). On the other hand, the English committing atrocities against the Irish were Protestants and so were likely to have a reasonable familiarity with Christian scripture.

quote:
In contrast, Islam's most prolific killers today seem heavily versed in Koranic interpretation.
The key word is "seem" - you could have that understanding because you are correct, or it could also be because of small data samples or because of the distorting effects of a news media that prefers certain story-lines, or because there is a conscious effort by certain groups to promote the perception that Islam is an evil religion.

When you look at the background of the 9/11 hijackers, their origins are somewhat complex

quote:
The pilot of the first plane to hit the World Trade Center, Atta, came from "an ambitious, not overtly religious middle-class household in Egypt"
quote:
As for Ziad Jarrah, the pilot of the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, he was "the handsome middle child and only son of an industrious, middle-class family in Beirut," a "secular Muslim" family that "was easygoing -- the men drank whiskey and the women wore short skirts about town and bikinis at the beach."
quote:
All but one were from Saudi Arabia, most "were from families headed by tradesmen and civil servants, well-off, but not wealthy," mostly "unexceptionable men," none of whom "stood out for their religious or political activism."
Jonathan Yardley book review

They did hang out in Mosques with extremist clerics, and so may have come to quote chapter and verse of one strand of the Koran, but their background strikes me as similar to the secular terrorists of the 1970's - a tiny fraction of the children of the middle class who choose to pursue violent extremes.

And then there is the other comparison - what if the Islamic terrorists are well versed in the Koran, but so are the 1.5 billion non-terrorists who are Islamic? To attribute causality to exposure to the Koran requires that the terrorists have a disproportionately higher exposure to the Koran than those who are not terrorists (and I don't really know what the data is on that question).

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Greg Davidson:
quote:
OK. What if you compare the murder rates of Christians who read the New Testament to that of Christians who don't read the New Testament. Contrast to the distinction between Muslims who read the Koran, and Muslims who don't read the Koran.
If we do pursue this argument, we are discarding nearly a thousand years when both Christianity and Islam existed side-by-side and a very small fraction of the population read either the New Testament or the Koran.
Well no.

If you don't like my proposal, perhaps you can propose a feasible test to measure the comparative effects of the NT and Koran. I respectfully submit that no such test is valid unless it measures the effect in actual text readers. The effect of the text through intermediary interpreters is negligible, and more a function of the art and agenda of the intermediary.

[ September 20, 2011, 02:56 AM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Pete at Home
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"but so are the 1.5 billion non-terrorists who are Islamic?"

That figure is as useless as it is questionable, until you distill down to those that actually read the Koran for themselves.

If the act of reading the Koran for oneself makes a Muslim more likely to commit violence, while the act of reading the NT makes someone less likely to commit violence, then your whole argument becomes an exercise in wishful thinking, does it not?

Greg, I discarded my naivete not on 9/11, and certainly not by watching fox focking news, but rather by engaging in discussion on Muslim, particularly Pakistani blogs after 9.11. I suggest that you do like me and actually have conversations with the people that you're trying to un-demonize... see if they cooperate with your efforts to separate them from Bin Laden.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
In contrast, Islam's most prolific killers today seem heavily versed in Koranic interpretation.

The key word is "seem" - you could have that understanding because you are correct, or it could also be because of small data samples or because of the distorting effects of a news media that prefers certain story-lines, or because there is a conscious effort by certain groups to promote the perception that Islam is an evil religion.

I'd love to believe that, Greg, but if it's true, then most of the groups that persuaded me of that were themselves Muslim. Not evil individuals, mind you; they actually sympathized with me having lost a job as a consequence of the WTC bombing, but they did sympathize with the Taliban and even with Al Qaeda. There was one guy named Kahn, which as you probably known, means that he's a descendant of Muslim converts from COHANIM Jews ... who talked about how his mom was pressuring him and his brothers to go join the Taliban... me, at the time I was trying to join the US armed forces in order to get medical care for my wife who was pregnant ... we mused how we could very well end up killing each other in eastern Afghanistan. Nice guy, but I can't help seeing him as manipulated by an evil world view. I was going to say "evil religion" but that's not accurate ... the aspects of Islam that scare me aren't actually the religious parts, but rather the geopolitical aspects.. He probably saw me the same. But I assure you that my view did not come from Fox News.

[ September 20, 2011, 03:18 AM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Wayward Son
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I think Spencer Ackerman pretty well nailed the problem with those who say that the Koran is obviously an evil book:

quote:
"Read the Koran!" has become such a ubiquitous and self-righteous exhortation of the Sharia-Panic circle that it's easy to overlook exactly what it means. At its heart, it presumes that a religious text sacred to almost two billion people around the world for 1500 years is...easy to understand.

Put aside for a moment the additional presumption that the Koran is a blueprint for war, something like Mein Kampf. That's noxious enough. But just consider that for centuries, theologians, scholars and believers have grappled with the meaning of the Koran -- constructing reconciliatory arguments about its contradictory passages, incorporating counterevidence, arguing with others who give slightly more weight to this-or-that textual nuance. Whole schools of thought develop -- often heatedly -- about the correct understanding of Islam.

And none of that matters. Because after 9/11, a group of Americans with minimal prior exposure to Islam figured it all out, for all time. They discovered the plot that lurks within the heart of the Koran. They can even quote you passages, like real scholars. The quest for meaning and understanding has reached an endpoint...

But I learned enough at East Midwood Jewish Center to know that only a fool believes s/he has an ageless religious text figured out. After my studies there ended, I learned enough about the world to understand that the wo/man who makes that presumption exhibits a basic disrespect for the intelligence of billions of people who struggle with those texts for their entire lives.

Those who tell you, in an accusatory tone, to "read the Koran," will never have read the Koran. They will perhaps have scanned words that the Koran contains. But they will never have read it. What a shame that they don't understand the difference.


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Pete at Home
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Wayward, to convey fear of Sharia, I would say "read the news," not "read the Koran." Read what Sharia courts are doing.

I accept your statement that the Koran is hard to understand. So consider the Sharia rule that any male Muslim may officiate a Sharia court.

"But just consider that for centuries, theologians, scholars and believers have grappled with the meaning of the Koran -- constructing reconciliatory arguments about its contradictory passages, incorporating counterevidence, arguing with others who give slightly more weight to this-or-that textual nuance. Whole schools of thought develop -- often heatedly -- about the correct understanding of Islam."

In that light, it seems unreasonable to say that someone who thinks that the Koran is like Mein Kampf, is necessarily a "bigot." They may be wrong, but their wrongness is not clearly manifest.

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Greg Davidson
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quote:
I discarded my naivete not on 9/11, and certainly not by watching fox focking news, but rather by engaging in discussion on Muslim, particularly Pakistani blogs after 9.11. I suggest that you do like me and actually have conversations with the people that you're trying to un-demonize... see if they cooperate with your efforts to separate them from Bin Laden.
I can't argue with your perceptions of conversations that you had with others, because there is nothing for me to evaluate other than my assessment of your judgement (which is reasonably high, but not enough to persuade me on a matter of such importance).

I agree that there are some violent Islamic extremists out there, and maybe they were the people that you spoke with. Perhaps it was religion that drove them to their actions, or perhaps it was proximity to military action that radicalized some, as might have been the case in Southeast Asia about 40 years ago. Alternatively, perhaps they were talking as if they were ready to commit acts of violence, but they were not actually committing such acts. If so, would you make the argument that the extremity of the language used by people proclaiming loyalty and inspiration to Islam has moral consequences that reflect on Islam itself?

The people I am trying to "un-demonize" happen to run my favorite Halal Pakistani restaurant in Hawthorne, there are a few where I work now and others I knew when I worked at NASA. I am also trying to un-demonize hundreds of millions in Indonesia, Bangladesh, etc.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Greg Davidson:
quote:
I discarded my naivete not on 9/11, and certainly not by watching fox focking news, but rather by engaging in discussion on Muslim, particularly Pakistani blogs after 9.11. I suggest that you do like me and actually have conversations with the people that you're trying to un-demonize... see if they cooperate with your efforts to separate them from Bin Laden.
I can't argue with your perceptions of conversations that you had with others, because there is nothing for me to evaluate other than my assessment of your judgement (which is reasonably high, but not enough to persuade me on a matter of such importance).
Setting aside my judgment, consider the fact that the forum went down because Peshawar server went up in flames with the whole news station when someone got offended with some "blasphemy" that got said on the forum. Talk about a flame war.

You missed my point -- I'm not saying take my word for it -- I'm saying go talk to those people. They are just a few hyperlinks away. Spend some time on a Pakistani board, some place where Muslims talk in English.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Greg Davidson:
I agree that there are some violent Islamic extremists out there, and maybe they were the people that you spoke with. Perhaps it was religion that drove them to their actions, or perhaps it was proximity to military action that radicalized some, as might have been the case in Southeast Asia about 40 years ago. Alternatively, perhaps they were talking as if they were ready to commit acts of violence, but they were not actually committing such acts. If so, would you make the argument that the extremity of the language used by people proclaiming loyalty and inspiration to Islam has moral consequences that reflect on Islam itself?

Wasn't extreme language; it was the content of what they said. And no, they did not seem ready to commit violent acts; the most evil people there were clearly couch potatos living safely in the USA and in Canada, not putting themselves at risk, but encouraging others to go kill themselves for Allah. Khan, the nicest guy there, didn't want to fight or die, but made it clear that he was being guilt tripped into it, and felt that it was his moral and familial responsibility.

Greg, do we need to go through the Sharia legal system? It's objectively evil. Grotesque rules of evidence, an effective caste system between Muslims and non-Muslims. If you accuse a Muslim man of anything, regardless of what physical evidence you can produce, unless there are at least four male Muslim eyewitnesses willing and able to testify, then you get punished for criminal slander .... evil.

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Greg Davidson
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Pete, thank you for your arguments - I appreciate the push-back, and hope that you will take my push-back as well in the spirit it is intended. I really do want to hear how you answer the questions I am raising to you:

quote:
And no, they did not seem ready to commit violent acts; the most evil people there were clearly couch potatos living safely in the USA and in Canada, not putting themselves at risk, but encouraging others to go kill themselves for Allah
That is bad behavior, but the threshold that you are discussing is getting lower. As I understand it, this was a group of people engaging in hate-speak and inciting others to commit evil acts. From what you have told me, however, it is unclear if they actually motivated people to kill others. With respect to moral responsibility, how would you compare their behavior with that of anti-Islamists such as Robert Spencer or Pamela Geller who were cited frequently by Anders Breivik, who actually did commit multiple murders? What standard you would apply both to those Pakistanis and to Spencer and Geller, and by that standard was there something so bad that the Pakistanis said/wrote, that it had greater moral significance than writings cited by someone who actually did commit mass murder?
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Greg Davidson
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As for Sharia, maybe I do need to go do some more research.
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seekingprometheus
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Ricky:
quote:
This is different from Exodus through Numbers...how? Hell, when anyone challenged ole Mo for political control, the ground opened up and swallowed them.
Pete summed it up well, the major difference is that one is inciting adherents to violence, and in the other, the violence is a mythical act of God.

The real problem though, is the fact that the narrative of Islam is fundamentally about Muhammad demanding submission to his commands.

Pretentiously pious politicians (which is what all clergymen really are) may twist a doctrine to whatever suits their whim, but while the source material in Judaism may give a holy reason for adherents to think that they are better than others, or even that they have the right to slaughter others for squatting on the land God reserved for Jews, and the source material in Christianity may give a holy reason for thinking that if one's whole heart and will (and moral reasoning) must be given to Jesus (and, by default, his official disciples), still it's really only Islam's source material which gives manifest cause for adherents to demand universal submission to the faith with violence.

The problem is that Islam originated in the dark ages, and its source material is framed squarely in the backward values of the time and place.

The narrative isn't about a moralist responding to the stale ethics of the (already obsolete 2000 years ago) laws of his people's God.

It's not even the secretarial gene pool of the ancient world inscribing their own violent fantasies about their own specialness after a hard day of keeping the Pharaoh's books.

It's a dude who was living in a messed-up world where a powerful empire was enforcing cultural conformity on everyone by claiming the authority to speak for the one true God. A military leader and politician who decided: "This sh*t works! I'm gonna try this too!"

The narrative of Islam is the apotheosis of a bad dark age meme.

Don't get me wrong. Any man, or group, successfully claiming authority to speak for God is a man or group that has arrogated too much power over the collective dumbness of the human world. Bad sh*t is gonna happen.

But the central message of Islam is a universal command to submit. This message isn't buried in a narrative to be translated hermeneutically, it's the manifest raison d'etre.

Fortunately, people rarely practice the implicit meaning of their religious source material literally (thank God), so this doesn't mean that praxis can't conform to something else.

But the problem is how ineluctably central to narrative "enforcing submission with the sword" is. The source doctrine of the Christian narrative is centrally opposed to violence and intolerance, and look at how much violence and intolerance has been committed by religious men in spite of it. The Islamic source narrative isn't against enforcing submission with the sword, it's about it...

[ September 21, 2011, 04:36 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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Pete at Home
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Greg, you are right that my argument that the Sharia juridical code is an evil comparable to, say, trial-by-ordeal, does not necessarily mean that it inspires individuals to go out and be terrorists. Nor in fact, would it justify the statement that "Islam is evil."

Indeed, in its original context, I'd argue that Islam was a net good. Like I said, Mohammed actually produced the second-most thorough set of limits on war -- both in terms of initial aggression and on acts that can be carried out in war. (The first, which predated it by a millennium, was no longer generally available or authoritative).

[ September 21, 2011, 08:20 AM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Greg Davidson
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quote:
The source doctrine of the Christian narrative is centrally opposed to violence and intolerance, and look at how much violence and intolerance has been committed by religious men in spite of it. The Islamic source narrative isn't against enforcing submission with the sword, it's about it...
If there is no measurable difference between how Christian "source doctrine" and Muslim "source doctrine" affects human behavior (stipulating your understanding of the source doctrine of each), then on what grounds is a comparison of source doctrine relevant? (and please, I am actually interested in your thoughts - why do you think it matters if it does not differentially influence human behavior?)
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Viking_Longship
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There are a number of issues we have to deal with.

Closest to home there are those who are seeking to cultivate and exploit a fear of Islam in our society both out of genuine fear of their own or cynical attempts to exploit that fear for their own purposes.

They have two arguments, first that Muslims are violent by nature and this likely to commit acts of terrorism. Second that the west is in a real and present danger of being placed under Sha'ria.

The first charge ignores (or angrily rejects) the possibility that acts of terrorism in the USA are retaliatory in nature. This is despite the fact that many terrorists and would-be terrorists point out a political motivation for their actions in addition to a religious one. This is a real concern and I think as long as we remain in the Middle East it will be a perennial one.

The second point, on the other hand, is simply ridiculous. Muslims are about .6% of the US population. 99.4% of Americans are not going to roll over and permit .6% (actually a percentage of that percentage) to dominate them. Amongst western nations France has the highest percentage of Muslims and that's still only about 6%, little enough that France can target aspects of Fundamentalist Islam it considers unFrench legislatively.

There is not military on Earth that has a decent shot of conquering the USA, certainly nothing in close to that in the Islamic world. A nuclear strike, God forbid) is not going to cow us into taking on the faith of the people who sent the bomb. Sha'ria in the USA just isn't going to happen.

Now having said all of that Islam is in the midst of an internal struggle between Wahabis, seculars and traditional Islam. Wahabism is not traditional Islam anymore than Scottish Presbyterianism was traditional Christianity. As such one can not use the history of Islam as much of a guide as to what Wahabists will do.

Sola scriptura is not done in Islam anymore than its done in Christianity. So simply reading the Koran won't tell you what Muslims believe (reading the Bible wouldn't do that for Christianity either.) Talking to Muslims is helpful, but one should remember that Islam even amongst Sunnis is very different in different countries and has within it different schools of thought.

[ September 21, 2011, 11:19 AM: Message edited by: Viking_Longship ]

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ken_in_sc
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One thing needs to be clearly stated, although it has been indirectly referred to above. When Christians and Jews commit violent atrocities, they are not following the teachings of their religion. When Muslims do the same, they ARE following Mohammed's teaching.
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Viking_Longship
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Ken when Christians commit atrocities they're violating Jesus's teachings. The Bible overall has plenty of justifications for killing. Genesis, Exodus, Joshua and Judges are full of total war. The Torah prescribes the death penalty for violating the Sabbath and repeatedly disobeying parents.
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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
"When Christians and Jews commit violent atrocities, they are not following the teachings of their religion."
That's bull****, ken. Have you ever *actually* read what the Bible says?

"Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death"

"If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."

"Take the blasphemer outside the camp. All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him."

"If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl's virginity can be found, 21she shall be brought to the door of her father's house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death."

So stop speaking bloody nonsense, ken. Here are the atrocities that The Lord Your God commands: Death penalty for blasphemy. Death penalty for loss of virginity before marriage. Death penalty for homosexuality. Death penalty for not observing the Sabbath.

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vegimo
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Aris failed to mention adultary, bestiality, and witchcraft, along with a few others.

Although they basically said the same thing, I did like the tone of VL's post a bit more than Aris'.

Another point to consider is that the Christian generally believes in a New Covenant.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Aris Katsaris:
quote:
"When Christians and Jews commit violent atrocities, they are not following the teachings of their religion."
That's bull****, ken. Have you ever *actually* read what the Bible says?

"Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death"

To make your comment relevant to Ken's statement, please link to news articles within the last 50 years where Jews or Christians actually put someone to death for sabbath desecration.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Viking_Longship:
The Torah prescribes the death penalty for violating the Sabbath and repeatedly disobeying parents.

Yes, but if you look at the culture of classical cultures, where the Patriarch already had the right to murder any household member at will, what the Torah is actually prescribing is due process. Like much of Sharia, such laws were actually an improvement on what came before, and only becomes evil when one takes it as a guideline on how to conduct ones affairs in this day and age.
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Grant
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I seem to recall that Christ broke Torah law on several occasions. I also don't think that Christians are obligated to be circumsized. This would seem to imply that some laws that are part of the Torah are not applicable to Christianity.

Of course the point that Pete makes is that I havn't heard of the Jews putting anyone to death for beastiality or witchcraft or adultury or homosexuality for some time [Smile]

I suppose, Aris, that you can make the argument that these Jews are not true followers of Judaism, since they have abandoned the laws stipulated in their divinely inspired scripture.

[ September 21, 2011, 05:05 PM: Message edited by: Grant ]

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Pete at Home
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But the term "Judaism" itself wasn't even coined until they'd discontinued some of the traditions which seem clearly written as guidelines for a semi-militarized traveling camp in the desert circa 1000 BC. Leviticus was martial law, and Judaism is a religion which evolved centuries later.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Greg Davidson:
Pete, thank you for your arguments - I appreciate the push-back, and hope that you will take my push-back as well in the spirit it is intended. I really do want to hear how you answer the questions I am raising to you:

quote:
And no, they did not seem ready to commit violent acts; the most evil people there were clearly couch potatos living safely in the USA and in Canada, not putting themselves at risk, but encouraging others to go kill themselves for Allah
That is bad behavior, but the threshold that you are discussing is getting lower.
No; I actually just changed the subject in response to your question about my experience.
quote:
As I understand it, this was a group of people engaging in hate-speak and inciting others to commit evil acts. From what you have told me, however, it is unclear if they actually motivated people to kill others.
Oh, even if they did, I wouldn't attribute that to Islam. The true haters were the least religious persons on the forum. Their whole goal wasn't to focus on the duty to kill, but rather to paint Americans as unworthy of their sympathy. To make it easier to dance on our graves. But it was clear that the non-haters like Khan did feel a responsibility to join the jihad. He didn't buy into the hater talk; he tried to persuade me that the victims of the 9/11 attacks were being received into heaven, and that I needed to understand that the islamoterrorists really were doing God's work and that the world would be a better place. He really wanted to believe that, and he wanted me to believe that if he ever summoned the courage to die as a living bomb, that his heart would be filled with love for his victims.
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Viking_Longship
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Ken was saying that Islam is violent because of the teachings of the religion whereas Christianity and Judaism are violent in spite of the religion. My point is that while Jesus and the Prophetic tradition favor non-violence there are violent teachings in the Torah.

Pete I do agree that we need to look at the way things are currently practiced, but that wasn't Ken's point.

Grant that was settled in Acts chapter 15

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Pete at Home
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Another issue is that Islam co-mingles religion with politics and economics, whereas Christianity as described in its scriptures is no more than religion.

"Judaism" otoh draws inspiration from scriptures that co-mingle nearly as much as the Koran, but Jewish history drew "Judaism" as a reasonably pure religion, from Jewish identity and the traditions of Torah. Hence there are many more Jews than believers in Judaism.

In other words, it may be innacurate to say that the problem lies with the "religion" of Islam since some of the problems lie with non-religious aspects of Islam.

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Greg Davidson
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quote:
When Christians and Jews commit violent atrocities, they are not following the teachings of their religion. When Muslims do the same, they ARE following Mohammed's teaching.
This quote helps clarify things, as the "teachings" of Christianity for much of its history have been more than just reading scripture (and even attempts at a "literal" reading can wind up in many different directions based on differences in translation as well as Sect).
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seekingprometheus
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Greg:
quote:
If there is no measurable difference between how Christian "source doctrine" and Muslim "source doctrine" affects human behavior (stipulating your understanding of the source doctrine of each), then on what grounds is a comparison of source doctrine relevant?
I didn't suggest that core source doctrines don't impact behavior, I just said that it is difficult to distinguish what behaviors are caused by such doctrines as opposed other variables.

But a teaching that religiously justifies violence is probably gonna do some harm.

The real problem is politicians (read: prophets, scripture-scribes, and clergymen) claiming the right to give God's orders for everyone.

But this problem is central to the structure of the Islamic narrative in a way it's not for the Judaism or Christianity.

Really.

The other two narratives are diffused, multivariegated mythologies where the source is hidden in the shadows of time and multiple voices. But by the 6th century AD the politics of the world were dominated by a Byzantine political practice of forcing cultural conformity upon the entire known world by claiming the right to speak for the one true God. Islam is a response to this meme. This meme is central to Islam. This practice IS the narrative of Islam.

The truth is that the original original source of all this Abrahamic arrogance--Judaism--is actually pretty irrelevant. It's like the mother-in-law that doesn't want to go to the retirement home. It's a backwritten story that only got preserved because it became the founding myth of the theocratic memes that the Roman empire latched onto. Which is why Muhammad bizarrely and ironically places the history of his people within a narrative that derogates them--not because it reflects the actual history of his kind, but because the world power and arbiter of history--Rome--had solidified this narrative as the "true" history of the world.

What's really funny is that Pauline Christianity isn't actually based on the Abrahamic God--except in the sense that the Hebrews were cross-pollinating their ideas about God with those of the Egyptians, then the Achaemenids, and the lineage that follows through to Babylonian Zoroastrianism. The heavenly Father figure of Christianity originated as the same Sky-Father that the Hebrews used as the source material for Jehovah/El, but Christians are clearly worshiping a type of Ahura Mazda, and his "good vs evil" metaphysical war--and it didn't just seep into Judaism after the Akkadians took over the relevant world. That construct is really as old as Abram's Yahweh, and there are traces of it in Jerusalem during Abram's time. Christians just came to emphasize the dualistic elements of good and evil that were more developed in the contemporary civilized world than the primitive, and increasingly irrelevant story of the provincial Yahweh deity that got stuck as the backstory for the world.

But Muhammad didn't check his sources about the backstory any more than the Christians did. And Muhammad wasn't about reforming the obsolete morality of the backwater deity either, he just seized the accepted story of the mono-authority God, and claimed he spoke for this God, and that anyone who disobeyed God's (his own) will should be forced to submit with violence--which the Christian empire was already doing, even though it was highly hypocritical considering their narrative. Because there is political power in claiming to speak for the one true God.

The problem with Islam is that it took a terrible but effective practice that a monogod ideology permits, and made it the basis of a theological system. The practice is so effective, that Christians searched high and low through their narrative to find justification for it. But in Islam, the narrative is actually BASED on it.

Central narrative--Muhammad has one central message: "Submit to God. My words are His will (and cannot be contradicted."

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Greg Davidson
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quote:
But a teaching that religiously justifies violence is probably gonna do some harm.
Again, this is a testable hypothesis - but the evidence is murky, at best. Despite the nature of Islamic scripture, there are many periods in history where Christians (theoretically operating with a scripture missing some of those elements of Islam) are more violent and less tolerant than their contemporary Muslims.

If we push away the estimating uncertainty for a moment and stipulate that Islamic scripture and Christian scripture had exactly the same propensity to incite violent and intolerant behavior, would anyone still see a basis for regarding Islam as being worse overall than Christianity?

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
Again, this is a testable hypothesis
Maybe, but how do you isolate the variable?

There's not really a test that is going to trace the complex variables that go into sociological-level actions...

The problem really is simply the source doctrine. Islam is a social system that demands submission to the voice of a holy man, and the narrative shows that holy man enforcing submission with violence.

Exactly how much influence this is going to have on behavior is an interesting question, but it doesn't change the fact that the central narrative of Islam is what it is--and it happens to be bad juju.

The Christian and Judaic narratives have elements of this culture-enslaving idea interwoven into their far more complex narratives, and that's bad too, of course. But it's only central and inextricable in Islam--where the holy story is of a man demanding submission at the point of a sword.

You can't get away from that any more than someone who has submitted to the meme can.

Islam is the evil element hiding in the narrative of Judeochristianity, distilled and purified, and packaged as the central substance of a religion.

Christians and Jews who make this argument are hypocritical, because what is central in Islam is a reflection of the bad juju that is sprinkled into their own stories--and Islam itself is nothing more than a response to the era in which those elements were being expressed--primarily by Christianity. But Islam takes the bad of Christianity and Judaism and makes it the center of the story.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Greg Davidson:
quote:
But a teaching that religiously justifies violence is probably gonna do some harm.
Again, this is a testable hypothesis - but the evidence is murky, at best. Despite the nature of Islamic scripture, there are many periods in history where Christians (theoretically operating with a scripture missing some of those elements of Islam) are more violent and less tolerant than their contemporary Muslims.

If we push away the estimating uncertainty for a moment and stipulate that Islamic scripture and Christian scripture had exactly the same propensity to incite violent and intolerant behavior, would anyone still see a basis for regarding Islam as being worse overall than Christianity?

No, but if we stipulated that the texts widely accepted as the teachings of Jesus Christ had the same effect as the texts widely accepted as the teachings or Mohammed, then and only then would you have equivalency.

But who in their right mind would stip to something so unlikely?

[ September 22, 2011, 12:05 AM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Viking_Longship
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I know its out of charachter for this community but perhaps we could acknowledge that about Islam we're having an argument about something none of us here have an in depth level of book learning about and at most some of us have a little personal experience with?

[ September 22, 2011, 01:01 AM: Message edited by: Viking_Longship ]

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seekingprometheus
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Greg:

So it's clear, the reason I keep bringing up the fact that the bad juju is peripheral in Christianity but central in Islam is because of the issue of the possibility of reformation.

Christianity could reform because the core narrative didn't align with the "force others to submit to mono-god-authority" meme--this meme is latent and peripheral at most within the source narrative.

But how does Islam possibly reform when the problem is the central message of the source narrative itself? The actual source message has to be subverted before reformation is possible, which is the inversion of what happened in Christianity, where the core source message was subverted by the bad juju meme, and reformation required only a renewal in emphasis on the core message.

The dark ages happened when a bad idea that was latent in the complex narrative of monotheism: "everyone must be forced to submit to the one true God" came bubbling to the surface of the cultural broth. It took more than a thousand years to boil the bad idea out of Christianity, even though it was a tiny peripheral element barely even existing within the recipe.

It's the main ingredient in Islam.

Submit. The command responds to a conflict. The central idea in Islam is founded within a the context of conflict.

Because Islam was founded in a the time in which it was founded, and responds to the fight that Muhammad and his people were in.

[ September 22, 2011, 01:27 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
I know its out of charachter for this community but perhaps we could acknowledge that about Islam we're having an argument about something none of us here have an in depth level of book learning about and at most some of us have a little personal experience with?
No one is claiming to treat the comprehensive complexity of the entire cultural phenomenon thoroughly here.

Stick to the simple stuff that everybody knows, and I don't see the problem...

No offense, VL, but all three of these religions are based on incredibly primitive myths that people should know better than to believe in literally nowadays.

Expertise really just tends to work to obfuscate the simple truth--which is something that people from all three religions should acknowledge at this point in history. These are old ideas, and they don't work any more.

Modern politics should not be subject to ancient fairy tales.

[ September 22, 2011, 01:46 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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Viking_Longship
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quote:
Originally posted by seekingprometheus:
quote:
I know its out of charachter for this community but perhaps we could acknowledge that about Islam we're having an argument about something none of us here have an in depth level of book learning about and at most some of us have a little personal experience with?
No one is claiming to treat the comprehensive complexity of the entire cultural phenomenon thoroughly here.

Stick to the simple stuff that everybody knows, and I don't see the problem...

No offense, VL, but all three of these religions are based on incredibly primitive myths that people should know better than to believe in literally nowadays.

Expertise really just tends to work to obfuscate the simple truth--which is something that people from all three religions should acknowledge at this point in history. These are old ideas, and they don't work any more.

Modern politics should not be subject to ancient fairy tales.

Whether you like it or not people DO believe in it and we're having a poorly informed debate about the nature of those beliefs and their implications. Some expertise is badly need, and since it isn't here it would be a good idea if we cut down on the grandiose statements.

The world doesn't care what YOU personally think it SHOULD believe...no offense.

No offense but I don't discuss these things from the point of view that my religion is inherently correct and other people are fools for not getting on board with my religious beliefs. I would appreciate it if you'd return that courtesy.

[ September 22, 2011, 02:00 AM: Message edited by: Viking_Longship ]

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seekingprometheus
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See this is where Greg is spot-on right:

One doesn't get to judge someone else' "obviously untrue holy myth which has caused and is causing political problems" if one has one's own "obviously untrue holy myth which has caused and is causing political problems."

Since you kids can't play nicely with your toys, the only solution really is going to end up being taking the toys away from everybody.

It really is time people stop teaching their kids all of this primitive stuff as if it could be true.

Personally, I think humans need God as much today as ever. But the old myths are broken. It's time for the central human stories to evolve.

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
The world doesn't care what YOU personally think it SHOULD believe
Sure it does.

Just not very much.

I'm a single small voice, and I don't claim to speak for God.
quote:
No offense but I don't discuss these things from the point of view that my religion is inherently correct and other people are fools for not getting on board with my religious beliefs.
But your religion isn't correct, VL. It's better explained in terms of the reasons why you would believe untrue things, than the preposterous possibility that it could actually true.

And the problem is that not enough voices are willing to stand up and say: "Hey, that's nonsense--and it's gonna lead to problems," because so many people are concerned about protecting their own nonsensical ideas.
quote:
I would appreciate it if you'd return that courtesy.
I'd appreciate the courtesy of being told when I'm obviously wrong. Especially if my wrongness is related to big problems in the world...

[Smile]

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Viking_Longship
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No muslim has ever been rude to me about religion other than Mostafa and I know hundreds of them. They've always been respectful and usually interested in what I had to say. Atheists I can't say the same for.

(Eliminating religion didn't make the communist world less violent or even less conservative. )

The world isn't going to stop believing just because you think they should. Why are you arguing like it will?

Whether religion drives conflicts at all might be a good topic for another thread, but it's not the thread.

Islamaphobia isn't much more valid when it comes from an atheist or agnostic than when it comes from a Christian or a Jew.

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