Competing Religions and Peace


‘The idea that Islam is a “peaceful religion hijacked by extremists” is a fantasy, and it is now a particularly dangerous fantasy for Muslims to indulge. It is not at all clear how we should proceed in our dialogue with the Muslim world, but deluding ourselves with euphemisms is not the answer. It is now a truism in foreign policy circles that real reform in the Muslim world cannot be imposed from the outside. But it is important to recognize why this is so—it is so because most Muslims are utterly deranged by their religious faith. Muslims tend to view questions of public policy and global conflict in terms of their affiliation with Islam. And Muslims who don’t view the world in these terms risk being branded as apostates and killed by other Muslims.

But how can we ever hope to reason with the Muslim world if we are not reasonable ourselves? It accomplishes nothing to merely declare that “we all worship the same God.” We do not all worship the same God, and nothing attests to this fact more eloquently than our history of religious bloodshed. Within Islam, the Shi’a and the Sunni can’t even agree to worship the same God in the same way, and over this they have been killing one another for centuries.

It seems profoundly unlikely that we will heal the divisions in our world through inter-faith dialogue. Devout Muslims are as convinced as you are that their religion is perfect and that any deviation leads directly to hell. It is easy, of course, for the representatives of the major religions to occasionally meet and agree that there should be peace on earth, or that compassion is the common thread that unites all the world’s faiths. But there is no escaping the fact that a person’s religious beliefs uniquely determine what he thinks peace is good for, as well as what he means by a term like “compassion.” There are millions—maybe hundreds of millions—of Muslims who would be willing to die before they would allow your version of compassion to gain a foothold on the Arabian Peninsula. How can interfaith dialogue, even at the highest level, reconcile worldviews that are fundamentally incompatible and, in principle, immune to revision? The truth is, it really matters what billions of human beings believe and why they believe it.’

Harris. S. 2006. Letter To A Christian Nation p. 27-28

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4 thoughts on “Competing Religions and Peace

  1. Let’s say that Islam began around 600 AD. That makes it 600 years younger than Christianity. Historically, this tells me that Moslems are now going through a “faith crisis” which Christianity experienced sometimes during the end of the dark ages, through and Renaissance; the Protestant reformation and continues today. Any great movement finding itself confronted with inevitable change will reject it outright at the beginning. Islam is at the beginning of its greatest historical crisis and is fighting to keep the Status Quo – uselessly so as the future will attest. Looking back at Christianity, there is precedent for the current Islamic madness and that will pass in time. Islam isn’t going to conquer the world and except for enduring pockets of fundamentalists, it will soften and blend… or it will destroy itself by losing the support of the more common sense individuals within Islam which form the majority of the religion.

    Second point: behind every organized religion lives a monster. That monster, created by man and desperately defended by the priest class, is usually called God. In Judaism and Christianity, that monster is YHWH, and in Islam, a similar cloned or copy cat monster is Allah. These monsters, once they have succeeded in duping enough people to elevate and support them, then proceed to feed upon “the fat of the land” as much as their current power allows them to. Faith relationships between “the faithful” and their Monster God is symbiotic, perhaps I should add, psychological. It gives people an edge over others not of their faith, a legitimacy to use in waging war, oppressing, dispossessing, suppressing and enslaving. It allows believers to lord it over the “nones” by ascribing their own sins to non-believers; to mock them; to threaten them; to attack them in various overt and covert ways where the law of the land prevents open persecution and pogroms as was common in Russia under the Czars and as was done in Germany and France during the Nazi regimes.

    Now, any discussion of a problem must be predicated upon the fact that engaging said discussion it means intent to seek solutions to the discussed problem, otherwise, why discuss at all? In the case of organized religion, speaking from personal involvement and experience, there is one fail-safe solution: that is for each and every person on this world to seek and become a self-empowered INDIVIDUAL. A self-empowered person is immune to brainwashing and propaganda of any sort and has no need of any other authority to know how to live her/his life. Self empowerment, all authority resting within each individual, is the future of mankind. Without it, there is no future.

    One more thing: compassion is something one becomes by living it. It is not something one discusses because it can only be demonstrated. It cannot be explained. The “love” concept was destroyed by the countless attempts made, sometimes even well-meant, to describe it. Forget the “love passage” in the New Testament letter to the Corinthians: pure BS. Proof? It doesn’t work for the people who think so highly of it. Most of them demonstrate the opposite of what is describe therein.

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