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ISIS is Islam
By:Michael A. Sherlock, Dawkins Foundation
Date: Friday, 6 October 2017, 6:44 pm

Richard Dawkins Foundation

ISIS Is Islam

By Michael Sherlock

I guess I should begin by explaining why I have written this piece. Following the Chapel Hill shooting, I was named as an inspirational accomplice to this horrendous crime. The plagiarizing “journalist” in question, named me, along with other “New Atheist” authors as having inspired Hick’s horrible crime, and to support his fallacious and libellous assertion, he cited a tweet of mine which read, ‘ISIS is Islam.’ [1] Before this incident, this atheist “journalist” and I had enjoyed some civil disagreements over how to approach the issue of religious criticism, particularly with regards to Islam, but given that he was my former publisher, I paid him the respect of not raising the issue of his proclivity to plagiarize the works of other authors. [2] As I have two young children who will one day grow up to read that irresponsible and libellous statement, that I was partially to blame for the massacre of those innocent Muslims in America, I took his irresponsible and heartless accusation to heart. As well as releasing a statement to CNN [3], I wanted to clarify what I meant when I said, ISIS is Islam.

Firstly, what I didn’t intend to convey with my statement was that all Muslims are terrorists. Most Muslims aren’t violent terrorists for the same reason that most Jews don’t stone disobedient sons, or murder people for collecting sticks on the Sabbath, despite the unequivocal doctrines of their religions that make such barbarism a religious requirement.

So, what did I mean?

If one examines the central doctrines of Islam, one will easily find justification for many of the horrendous crimes committed by ISIS; from beheading infidels, amputating the hands of thieves, raping female captives, looting in the name of Allah, destroying non-Muslim literature and works of art, and so on. Needless to say, if you can locate such crimes in the core doctrines, texts and practices of Islam, which I will show that you can, then you can’t say that ISIS are un-Islamic, because such scrupulous adherence to scripture represents the perfection of Islam.

Following ISIS’ beheading of Herve Gourdel in Algeria, thousands of French Muslims protested against this cruel and cowardly act. Anti-ISIS hashtags began to trend on twitter (#NotInMyName) and the French Council of the Muslim Faith released the following statement:

“This gathering is the strong and vibrant expression of our desire for national unity and of our unwavering will to live together” [4]

As sincere as these protests and this peaceful statement were, they contradict some of the core doctrines of Islam.

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151 COMMENTS

Roedy #1
Apr 1, 2015 at 1:38 pm

If you said “Obama is American” that is parallel to saying “ISIS is Islamic” . All you are claiming is the followers of ISIS are a subset of the followers of Islam.

But when you say “ISIS is Islam” you are saying “ISIS is the same thing as Islam. They are just different names for the same thing.” That is not true. It was a silly and inflammatory thing to say. You may have intended to say something different, but that is what you said. You have to live with the reaction. You can claim you meant something different, but many people will just see you as backpeddling. That’s the breaks.

You could say “They are both motivated by a common core of values”. That would be inflammatory, but at least defensible.
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eejit #2
Apr 1, 2015 at 2:27 pm

when you say “ISIS is Islam” you are saying “ISIS is the same thing as Islam.

I agree.
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Neodarwinian #3
Apr 1, 2015 at 6:29 pm

” If one examines the central doctrines of Islam, one will easily find justification for many of the horrendous crimes committed by ISIS; from beheading infidels, amputating the hands of thieves, raping female captives, looting in the name of Allah, destroying non-Muslim literature and works of art, and so on.”

That’s not true?

So, ISIS is pure Islam!! The WBC is pure old testament also.

All religions are insane, so religions, and their attendant sects, are a little more insane than others.
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MadEnglishman #4
Apr 1, 2015 at 6:32 pm

I disagree.

It does not mean “ISIS is the same thing as Islam”, any more than saying “Ramadan is Islam” means “Ramadan is the same thing as Islam”. “ISIS is Islam” doesn’t mean that, because it’s grammatically incorrect as it stands, so it doesn’t mean anything. We might infer that the author meant “ISIS is Islamic”, but we don’t know that for sure (until we hear more from the author).

“ISIS is Islamic” is what I took the tweet to mean on reading it for the first time, analogous to saying “The Creationist movement is Christian”.
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prmcdon #5
Apr 2, 2015 at 2:50 am

“ISIS is islam” is probably meant as a direct attack on those who say that “ISIS has nothing to do with islam”.

While the first phrase is not 100% correct, the second is 100% incorrect.
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Lorenzo #6
Apr 2, 2015 at 4:52 am

But when you say “ISIS is Islam” you are saying “ISIS is the same thing as Islam. They are just different names for the same thing.” That is not true.

ISIS is what happens when you take Islam to the very letter. The “funny” turn is: ISIS-like phenomena are what you get whe you take every religion to the very letter. This is especially true for the three abrahamic religions but that’s just because they are closely related.
Not too long ago, christian Europe was a very large ISIS-looking thing, just without youtube and twitter there to share the grilling of Giordano Bruno.

What is wrong is t say that “religions ar not like that”. That is false: religions are like that. What’s true is: most peope who identify as religious are way more decent than their own faith.

A little note on the rest of your comment: while twitter is a place explicitly built to encourage misundrstandings, every one of us is responsible of what we say, not of what others understand. What others understand is their own problem, even if those others are millions. The wrong way to read somethng doesn’t become true if many people make the same mistake.
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Stafford Gordon #7
Apr 2, 2015 at 5:18 am

The desert charmer nicknamed “Jihady John”, who, apparently hails from that den of iniquety London, and is purported to be decapitating people with a hunting knife, uses Qur’anic terms such as “strike the neck”, so I think he’s carrying out the deeds as advocated by his god in the recitation contained within the hadith.

By the way, when the jugular vein is cut blood spurts out with force; especially if the heart’s beating hard, as I imagine it would be when you’re just about to be murdered, but I’m lead to believe that the videos show a clean corpse with the head placed tidily on the chest.

Oh yes, he is a true Muslim; and don’t you let him hear you say otherwise, or you’ll get it in the neck too!

Pun intended.
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Philip #8
Apr 2, 2015 at 5:50 am

Any thinking person will realise that the islamists represent the true face of Islam. All other Muslims are either deceiving themselves or deceiving us. The message of Mohammed, clearly interpreted by Osama bin-Laden, is submit to Islam or die. There is no moderate Islam.
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SaganTheCat #9
Apr 2, 2015 at 8:45 am

it’s slightly off topic but this is as good a time as any to bring up the ever-narrowing windy path of political correctness.

To avoid offence I suggest we take a leaf out of the BBCs book and all use the the term “so called” to make it clear we don’t agree with whatever the people who are deemed to be wrong about something agree with at any given time.

e.g. I always say “the so called islamic state” or “so called ISIS” otherwise I might be accused of being one of those “so called islamaphobes”. I was discussing this with a “so called muslim” at our local takeaway asking how they prepared the chicken in their “so called halal” fare. After a discussion over the comparative merits of animal rights and freedom of religion I had to ask him to tone down his “so called offence”.

“so called”: the BBC’s way of avoiding upsetting minorities by pissing off everyone equally
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Steve #10
Apr 2, 2015 at 10:24 am

Saying “Isis is Islam” is as sensible as saying “Hiroshima is America”

I am always bemused that the wilful killing of civilians by sections of a faith is taken as condemnation of a whole faith, whilst the wilful killing of civilians by democracies is not seen as a condemnation of democracy.
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M27Holts #11
Apr 2, 2015 at 11:22 am

Isn’t this all just becoming more alarming every single day. Just open real ale beer sheds and bacon butty stalls around every mosque in Great Britain – Those Muslims who don’t like it – can have a one way free ride to a caliphate of their choosing…..
The rest are free to enjoy a nice pint of English real ale and the hunger satisfying accompaniment of bacon butty with brown/red sauce – just take your pick….
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Steve #12
Apr 2, 2015 at 11:51 am

Yeah,

English food and drunkeness are rightfully applauded throughout the world! and being English I should know. The centre of a English town at night is like one of the outer levels of hell.

And if you don’t like the calm and tranquility of a Mosque maybe you should get yourself back to Germany, where us Angles and Saxons originate, and howl at the moon whilst invoking Woden.
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M27Holts #13
Apr 2, 2015 at 1:28 pm

One doesn’t have to get drunk to appreciate beer, old chap…..And bacon sarnies are a delicacy probably originating from central Europe…Your point being?
And maybe the mosque is a tranquil place…but once their heads are filled with all that nonsense they storm out of them and kill, people for stating the truth…..
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obzen #14
Apr 2, 2015 at 1:29 pm

whilst the wilful killing of civilians by democracies is not seen as a condemnation of democracy

Maybe because Democracy doesn’t espouse the whole ‘kill civilians’ ideology.
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Steve #15
Apr 2, 2015 at 1:51 pm

Bacon sandwiches originated in the Uk, as did the sandwich itself and are still a particulaly English "dish"

Your attitude is not a mirror of the attitude of religious fundamentalists, it is exactly the same as that of fundamentalists.

[Edited by moderator to bring within Terms of Use.]
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Steve #16
Apr 2, 2015 at 4:42 pm

The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Homeland Security Project recently estimated that there were approximately 100,000 jihadists around the world out of a population of about 1.6 billion Muslims. That is approximately 0.00062% , this is hardly them all streaming out of the Mosque with scimitars in hand,. The reason most of them turned Jihardist is socio-political, parts of the Quran being used primarily as a justification for their violence, which within Islam has to be justified.

Why not look at the facts and then try and form a rational opinion?

And I am not an apologist for religion, just stating the facts
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Vicki #17
Apr 2, 2015 at 4:51 pm

If they change their behaviour, there would be no hostility against
anyone except the unjust.

I took that passage to mean the hostility would be against Muslims who broke Islamic law.

That said, I just don’t understand the point of these Islamic fundamentalists. The Koran explicitly preaches predestination, regardless of any of the nutjob’s actions. The only ones who are fast-tracked to paradise are the martyrs, so what’s the point?
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Steve #18
Apr 2, 2015 at 5:44 pm

Neither does Islam, exactly like democracy it says there has to be a “justification”. Democracy has been quite willing to “espouse” the killing of civilians as have various other forms of government. To think that, under certain circumstances it is ok to kill civilians is not the prerogative of religion.

The number of civilians “justifiably” killed by democracies in the last century vastly outnumbers those killed by jihadists.. That is not being an apologist for either side, just stating the facts.
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Reckless Monkey #19
Apr 2, 2015 at 8:49 pm

Hi Steve,

Democracy has been quite willing to “espouse” the killing of civilians as have various other forms of government.

Where is it mandated by simply having a representative government that you must kill civilians? Yes there are many democracies that have been willing to do so, in many cases without even letting the citizens know that they are doing so (which goes against the definition of democracy). Democracy itself just describes a system of voting which by its nature is flexible, can result in good or poor governments and societies. It is preferable because it allows societies to change their manner of operation, you might at one point be a society willing to Nuke Japan and a few decades latter consider it a war crime. None of these changes in policy interfere with or are reliant on the concept of democracy. Following a brittle set of beliefs like Islam however only allows such changes if you choose to ignore what is in your holy books. That is the crucial distinction here.

These dogma’s (Islam, Judaism and Christianity) if believed fully lead to barbarism, and the only way out of the barbarism is to not follow it literally. The same cannot be said for democracy as a system of government.
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Reckless Monkey #20
Apr 2, 2015 at 9:01 pm

What pray tell is the socio-political reason for shooting a child in the head for trying to get an education?

What is the socio-political reason for throwing acid in the faces of unveiled women?

What is the socio-political reasons for shooting cartoonists when soldiers are available (not that I’m advocating shooting of soldiers)?

Please give a rational soical-political reason why Western imperialism = keeping 50% of your population as second class citizens. I am more than happy to be corrected on this issue. I fully accept for example that there may be many socio-political reasons for some actions and some violence resistance to foreign troops in certain wars for example, but a great many of their actions and barbarism can be directly connected to the Quran. I cannot see a way out of seeing this is the case, but as I said happy to be proved wrong.
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Steve #21
Apr 3, 2015 at 6:27 am

**Hi,

Where is it mandated by simply having a representative government that you must kill civilians?

Where is it mandated in Islam that you must kill civilians? Answer, nowhere at all. To detail circumstances in which it is permissable to kill civilians is not to say you must kill civilians, it is merely setting out very openly the rules for the conduct of War. Democracies also have rules of conduct and engagement for war.

And just like democracy Islam is open to interpretation both in present time and in reviewing historic events, it is not a monolithic block, the interpretation varies in different cultures and socio-political contexts. It is the socio-political context which primarily drives the versions and types of Islam, not the other way round.

I am not defending religion but pointing out that making unjustified and non-factual generalisations and then proceeding to draw false apocalyptic conclusions is just not sensible.

It is correct that God does not exist but to dismiss the lifes and beliefs and cultures of billions as “mistaken thinking” or “irrational” is simplistic, as is the “quasi-religious” belief that if everyone had a secular liberal education everyone would then think like a secular liberal.

BTW, i am an atheist, not that that should make a difference.
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Steve #22
Apr 3, 2015 at 7:55 am

I am not saying such acts are “reasonable” in any way in the sense of being justifiable, nor am i denying the Qur’an contains statements justifying such acts.

i am just saying that they occur in a socio-political context and can only be fully explained and understood in that context.

Which of the follwing is the most rational?

100,000 Jihardists are commiting despicable etc acts therefore Islam is a religion of hate etc
1.6 billion Muslims do not commit despicable etc acts therefore Islam is not a religion of hate etc
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Reckless Monkey #23
Apr 3, 2015 at 8:02 am

Hi Steve

Where is it mandated in Islam that you must kill civilians? Answer,
nowhere at all. To detail circumstances in which it is permissable to
kill civilians is not to say you must kill civilians, it is merely
setting out very openly the rules for the conduct of War.

here is one from the article above

‘0 you who believe, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies, for they are allies of one another. Who from among you takes them as allies will indeed be one of them’. .. Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them.” [5]

I think that is pretty clear, at least open to interpretation.

Democracies also have rules of conduct and engagement for war.

I agree and in some cases they are poorly thought out and executed but they can be changed without damaging the concept of democracy. I am not concerned about most Muslims because I know most take it as seriously as most Catholics do the pope. So my concern is inversely proportional to how strictly they follow the clear doctrine of their holy book.

it is not a monolithic block, the interpretation varies in different
cultures and socio-political contexts. It is the socio-political
context which primarily drives the versions and types of Islam, not
the other way round.

I never said it was a monolithic block, I agree that interpretations vary (in-spite to clear mandate in the Quran itself that it is the perfect word of God). However if it is socio-political context that drives the versions of Islam and not the other way around please explain to me why Western Imperialism is responsible for:

Shooting a girl in the head for trying to gain an eduction?

Throwing acid in the faces on unveiled women?

Stoning to death apostates?

I think these examples have nothing to do with western imperialism and everything to do with how much you believe in your holy books. Again I’m open to seeing this the other way but after years of watching this debate I’ve never heard a good argument about this. I agree that most Muslims aren’t like this, but I’m not worried about them, I’m worried about the tiny minority that might wish to kill me if I dared to draw a cartoon or criticise their faith.

I am not defending religion but pointing out that making unjustified and non-factual generalisations and then proceeding to draw false apocalyptic conclusions is just not sensible.

I haven’t to my knowledge drawn false apocalyptic conclusions. Can you please explain to me what I have said that leads you to think this?

Steve I have read and enjoyed your posts in the past so I knew you were an atheist, I’m probably coming across too aggressively but I care a lot about this issue (as you clearly do too) and I mean it when I say I am open to changing my mind. It is possible there is a bias at play here (I don’t think so, but I have to acknowledge that there might be) but that means putting up my best arguments and seeing if they get shot down in flames, so please shoot me down I’d be grateful.

Regards
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Adrian #24
Apr 3, 2015 at 8:12 am

To clarify, “ISIS is Islam” is more analogous to “The Creationist movement is Christianity” or, the statement “The Westboro Baptist Church is Christianity”.

The linguistic analogy is a noun, not an adjective.
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Luke #25
Apr 3, 2015 at 8:14 am

ISIS is based on Islamic doctrine. End of story. It isn’t deceptive or wrong to associate ISIS with Islam, it would be false to say ISIS is Scientology, then there would be an argument. But this pretense that ISIS is somehow divorced from ISLAM is ridiculous in the extreme.
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phil rimmer #26
Apr 3, 2015 at 8:38 am

Sadly, Steve, whilst you may argue over the sequencing of the causal mechanics of the issue, the statistics are entirely against any useful significance to your position. Violent Death Rates correlate clearly with religiosity with one or two notable exceptions.

Of all the available data I shall point to this set.

Democratic processes guarantee nothing except the possibility to build a consensus of evidence and reason against an institution based on dogma. Reason thus enabled will lead eventually to least harms, because the moral books are balanced only in the face of observable evidence and not when “Kingdom come”.

(Looking at VDR, it rockets with religiosity until religion achieves maximal theocracy, when its vision is fulfilled. Saudi Arabia has the money and the vicious intent to bully and bribe its populace into good behaviour. Small numbers of maximally brutal and callous punishments, finally gain an effect akin to Scandiwegian democratic secularism.)
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john.wb #27
Apr 3, 2015 at 8:47 am

Hi Steve

I’m not sure how they arrived at the estimate and I wonder about it’s accuracy. I imagine that asking people “are you a jihadi?” is unlikely to elicit an honest response.

Be that as it may, poll after poll finds that a sizable minority, in some areas a majority, of the world’s Muslims support terrorism along with many other barbarities such as stoning adulterers to death. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that this religion has a serious problem.
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Scott #28
Apr 3, 2015 at 8:56 am

100,000 Jihardists are commiting despicable etc acts therefore Islam is a religion of hate etc
1.6 billion Muslims do not commit despicable etc acts therefore Islam is not a religion of hate etc

There were only a few thousand Nazis and about a hundred million peaceful germans.
The fact is peaceful, moderate or jihardies they belong to the same club and if the leadership are the more violent the peaceful and moderate are irrelevant. We must see this as a war on western civilisation or any other civilisation that are not members of that club. It is on many fronts on the battlefield and in the streets and businesses. It is a cultural war, economic war and spiritual war and the sooner we combat this and any other religion that thinks violence and suppression of human rights the better. Education and reason are the weapon of choice but boots on the ground should never be off the table…
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phil rimmer #29
Apr 3, 2015 at 9:01 am

ISIS are indeed super keen to “do things by the book” (sic)

Saying “ISIS is Islam” though is still spectacularly wrong-headed. Just as much as it is wrong for political leaders like Obama to insist that ISIS is NOT Islam and that only some peaceful version of it is.

There is no brand ownership out there, (though, in court ISIS might have a pretty strong case). Islam is already many things and for each part-owner it will serve them ill to lay claim to its totality.

It is entirely in the interests of reason and harm mitigation to promote the idea that Islam is these many things (especially amongst Muslims), with many more to come, and that there is no (scriptural or spooky!) authority to say it is not. No reformation and counter-reformation, but schism and further schism.
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Dario #30
Apr 3, 2015 at 9:08 am

What about this analogy:
“Square is rectangle.”

Every square is a rectangle, bot only some of rectangles are squares.

ISIS = square

Islam = rectangle
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Steve #31
Apr 3, 2015 at 9:55 am

Hi reckless Monkey,

“””political context that drives the versions of Islam and not the other way around please explain to me why Western Imperialism is responsible for:

Shooting a girl in the head for trying to gain an eduction. Etc””””

I am not saying western imperialism is responsible in any way for such actions or anything remotely like it , nor am I denying that statements in the Quran can be used to justify such actions. To say things should be examined not from a one dimensional religious aspect but instead examined by looking at the complex socio- economic-cultural-political- religious factors involved is not to say it is the fault of the West.

I whole heartedly agree that Islamic fascism is a major threat and needs to be dealt with but that is not my point. As you yourself know the vast majority of Muslims are not like that all all so to condemn Islam as a whole ( which is maybe not that apocalyptic(sic)) for the actions of a few is overly simplistic. The equating of Jihadism with Islam is alienating many young Muslims leading them to think their religion and culture are under direct threat and attack, and even driving them into the arms of radicalism. (I live in London and my grandson has many Muslim friends, and they are all feeling more and more alienated by this blanket condemnation of Islam. Extremist posts talking of a “war” between the west and Islam being a perfect example. ) .

Basically I am arguing against the simplistic Orwellian like mantra of “atheism good, Islam bad” that I perceive in many of the posts in these types of thread. Instead I am saying that, although there is a strong religious component, these issues need to be understood in a broad socio- political context. To say they should be understood in a broader context is not in any way to say they can be excused or justified by western imperialism or actions etc..

I personally think that God is one of the dumbest concepts humans have ever conceived but that does not mean that I should blanket condemn the billions of religious folk and their cultures, rationality, ideas etc.

My other, connected point, was that the secular liberal dream that if everyone had a secular liberal education everyone would think like a secular liberal and religion would evaporate etc is a major misconception.

P.s. A possible correlation between VDR and religious states does not imply casuality. Again the whole complex context needs to be analysed, not just to assert “religion bad”
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Lady #32
Apr 3, 2015 at 10:38 am

Now, I wouldn’t go lumping -all- religions together.

Jainism is an ancient religion from India that teaches that the way to liberation and bliss is to live a life of harmlessness and renunciation. The aim of Jain life is to achieve liberation of the soul.

These people have even starved themselves to death in the name of peace for goodness sake. So no, not all religions are violent. Perhaps a good majority, but not all of them. Buddhism for example isn’t explicitly violent, but does contain passages in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra which states that life is suffering, and that there is no end to that suffering, which could be interpreted by unsavoury types to mean that it is acceptable to make another person suffer.

Also, the Christian bible, while it does contain violent texts (largely the old testament) doesn’t actually condone violence. See, if Christians actually followed the words of Christ, they’d be ignoring all the old testament rules and joining hands all peace and love in the world like a bunch of old timey hippies, giving their wealth to the poor, living frugally, and helping out their fellow people. But as we can see, many of them are doing quite the opposite in a lot of instances, making laws against the impoverished, making laws that impoverish people, running businesses in the same way, and condemning people for things that Jesus said “all is forgiven” about. So these vile Christians are in fact, ignoring Christ.
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Lady #33
Apr 3, 2015 at 10:46 am

Yes, maybe, but old testament, but quite unchristian. If a person follows the violence in the old testament, then they’re ignoring all of the peace of the new Testament, and everything Christ taught Jesus talks a good game about helping the impoverished, not discriminating against disabled or diseased people, and not just forgiving people, but acknowledging that all of the violence of the old testament was entirely unnecessary, and that a path of peace was the direction to go.

Islam on the other hand, has old testament violence, and new testament reinforcement of that violence. Of course, they’ve also got universal healthcare, assuming you’re a member.
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phil rimmer #34
Apr 3, 2015 at 10:52 am

A possible correlation between VDR and religious states does not imply casuality. Again the whole complex context needs to be analysed, not just to assert “religion bad”

There will be a causality between VDR and religiosity of a state, but it matters not whether religion is a cause or a symptom, the association is reliably there and the more so the more so, and to wish one less is to wish the other less.

By the same token you cannot have this opinion as fact.

It is the socio-political context which primarily drives the versions and types of Islam, not the other way round.

And at the literalist extremes of ISIS this makes no sense at all.

Personally I promote here the virtues of the mildy religious. Turn it down from eleven to three or two and we can all get on with more important things and let the natural process of education bring us together. Indeed, education, particularly of women and their political empowerment, is my prefered first choice for amelioration.

(Incidentally VDR is more strongly correlated with Christianity than Islam.)
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Steve #35
Apr 3, 2015 at 12:43 pm

Phil,

I cannot see how your stats show anything at all as there are no stats showing VDR in atheist states, and there is absolutely no attempt to scientifically analyse the stats by calculating p values etc.All the stats show is VDR in various counties categorised by dominant religion, which is neither showing correleation or causation. The stats vary far more geographically than anything else, from which I do not conclude geography causes violence. All that the stats show is that counties have different VDRs and also different majority religions. So what? In fact the major VDR is in states like Brazil and Russia which are not noted for being theocracies,, and that observation proves nothing at all either. The fact that 80% of people who have heart attacks are religious does not mean that religious people are more prone to heart attacks.

In fact I can give you another meaningless stat, 80% of VDR is probably committed by religious people, which is simply because 80% of people are religious. No correlation or casualty whatsoever.

To get meaningful stats you would have to , say, examine the strength of the religious conviction of convicted murderers and compare that to the religious convictions of the general population. Even then that would not prove causality.
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Vicki #36
Apr 3, 2015 at 1:31 pm

I actually think the Islamic fundamentalists should be understood in a narrower context. I don’t think they give a rat’s ass about their position in this place or this time. The only admittance of socio-political consideration, IMO, would be their use of modern weaponry and technology.

That said, I partially agree that we are casting a pretty big net when talking about Moslems. Just as there are nutjob Christian fundamentalists (think Jim Phelps), there are nutjob Islam fundamentalists. Unfortunately, the more recent versions of the Koran (since about 900 CE) supports the more violent aspects of the religion. And even more unfortunately, those same nutjob Islam fundamentalists are in positions of power. That is worrisome.
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Melvin #37
Apr 3, 2015 at 1:48 pm

Basically I am arguing against the simplistic Orwellian like mantra of “atheism good, Islam bad” that I perceive in many of the posts in these types of thread. Instead I am saying that, although there is a strong religious component, these issues need to be understood in a broad socio- political context.

Without agreeing with everything Steve says, I commend the approach he has taken. Religion is a dependent variable. The effect it has on War and Peace, or more precisely from the myopic vision of atheist ideologues, the effect it has on violent conflict depends much more on independent variables outside religion per se or ostensibly “popular slogans” quoted from snippets of scripture. Most Muslims aren’t violent -in fact most are as decent and moral as any other mix of individuals- so it is not logical or empirical -certainly not comprehensive to reduce the major “cause” for the current eruptions of civil war and sectarian terrorism in the Middle East and elsewhere to Islam. The young men captured riding in the convoy in the photo above have many diverse “identities” and motives for their “revolution” wrapped up in ostensible confessions of faith but actually masking the political socio-economic forces which are integral to their cause. Many feel justifiably infuriated by disenfranchisement brought about by the American-imposed Shiite regime in Baghdad; some have pathological ambitions to enrich themselves, families and ethnic groups with power and plunder; others are idealists who dream of a purified Caliphate which expels foreign infidels (American and British) from Arab lands and serves the welfare of all “true” Muslims cleansed of subversive heretics.

Let me make the point dramatically. You are invisible and find yourself observing from a crowd in a dusty Arab village mired in stinking sordid poverty. The town was occupied that morning by ISIS. A bearded man holds aloft a severed head among a heap of headless infidels and heretics. A crowd shouts “Allahu Akbar.” Suddenly the scene morphs around you like a dream sequence in a film. The chant shifts at first almost imperceptibly but soon becomes clear: Liberté, égalité, fraternité . You are in Paris. The year is 1794. And the man holding the head is an atheist.

Read some history before you assign simple-minded monolithic causes to revolutions!

(Note: This comment is not a reply to any other particular comment on the thread, most of which present helpful, incisive and valuable insights from perceptive informed points of view. The desideratum is phrased for rhetorical not condescending affect.)
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phil rimmer #38
Apr 3, 2015 at 3:32 pm

Strawmen all, Steve. I haven’t argued a one way causal link though I could.

If you look through the lists of countries you can find data enough on VDR and national religiosity and plenty of atheist states. Northern European countries are all well under two. You can figure this stuff out easily enough. Though that was not why I sent you the link. I sent it to try and demonstrate that I was not making a point with this specifically about Islam, and that Christianity seemed the worst offender of the four.

This was 30 seconds away if you had wanted to look the actual data up I tend to only put one link in a post as it gets hung up by the system. Pull out the atheist states, Northern Europe, Japan, China…
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phil rimmer #39
Apr 3, 2015 at 3:46 pm

Talk about simplistic…

Religion is a dependent variable.

as is politics….etc.

None of this stuff necessarily goes just one way. Scriptural literalism is often not a dependent variable of politics, but often the result of a search for dependable and collegiate purpose and meaning.
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Steve #40
Apr 3, 2015 at 4:22 pm

Hi Reckless Monkey,

You quoted:

‘0 you who believe, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies, for they are allies of one another. Who from among you takes them as allies will indeed be one of them’. .. Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them.” [5]

Well the first bit is from the Quran, the second about killing Jews seems to be from a book called the “politically incorrect guide to Islam”. I checked because I was pretty sure the bit about killing Jews was not in the quran otherwise we would have heard about it a bit more!

Actual real quotes from the Quran are

5.51 : O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as Auliya’ (friends, protectors, helpers, etc.), they are but Auliya’ to one another. And if any amongst you takes them as Auliya’, then surely he is one of them. Verily, Allah guides not those people who are the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong­doers and unjust).

; (60:8)”Allāh does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allāh loves those who act justly.”

(60:9) ” Allāh only forbids you from those who fight you because of religion and expel you from your homes and aid in your expulsion – [forbids] that you make allies of them. And whoever makes allies of them, then it is those who are the wrongdoers.”

Again not being an apologist for Islam but merely trying to clarify the facts .
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Steve #41
Apr 3, 2015 at 5:04 pm

Phil,

????
No strawman as there is nothing to refute.

Still shows or proves absolutely nothing about any correlation between religion and violence. Where is the statistical analysis of the data, the p value showing the probability of any correlation?

Your definition of “religiosity”, or religious and atheist states is vague and totally unscientific.How can you classify Europe as atheist, ever been to France or Spain? Even looking casually at the map it is obvious there is less violence in old rich established stable nation states, a bit more in rich theocracies like Saudi and the Gulf and most in poor and unstable states such as sub saharan Africa and in central and South America..

Any real scientific analysis would show a significant statistical correlation between GDP and violence, a possible one between colonised and uncolonised states, a possible one between states whose land mass was originally part of Godwana against those whose land mass was in Laurasia, and no obvious one between religion and violence.

Sorry, but I cannot see that you have shown any point at all.
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Reckless Monkey #42
Apr 3, 2015 at 7:33 pm

Hi Steve,

We are probably very close in our positions I’m thinking from this last post. I’d agree that most Muslims are not likely to be a threat to me or my country. I agree that many young Muslims are feeling threatened by the anti-Islamic teachings and are currently feeling singled out and in not a few cases this is driving them into the hand of fundamentalists who are recruiting them into ISIS and other actions overseas. In Australia we have had a lot of young men and some women move overseas and join ISIS (a one way ticket I’m afraid). Likewise in my country to my shame we have both sides of government happily exploiting Xenophobic fear of Muslims in particular arriving on boats (although if they can buy a plane ticket and overstay their welcome no problem).

I likewise don’t think that “Atheism good, Islam bad” I would say Atheism when arrived at logically is rational and Islam irrational. And this is where I think there may still be some space between us. I think the only way out of this situation is for all involved to move towards honesty and frankness about this situation, I support multiculturalism in my country but we have become polarised on the issues, the extreme left refuse to acknowledge any problem with groups joining our culture, so issues like FGM where they happen are largely ignored for fear of offence, now this is not a massive problem but it is a massive crime for those it happens to, and to not have a program of education and open acknowledgement about the reality of this situation (to name just one) is to my mind anti-democratic and fuels the bigots who will take hold of these issues and use it as a hammer to paint all Muslims with the same brush. I believe we need to acknowledge the issues but to do so in a manner that essentially says, we will not tolerate this behaviour, your beliefs and traditions in this country do not give you the right to break our laws and if you are caught you will be fully prosecuted. Instead what I see happening in many such incidences being swept under the carpet in the name of political correctness, in the meantime of course the extreme right in my country latch onto every one of these actions as definitive proof that all Muslims are evil and use it to justify the imprisonment of refugees and our politicians just the feeling to support such nonsense for a few votes.

Currently in my country there has been an inquiry into the child abuse scandals of various institutions the Catholic Church, now the Salvation Army, and we are listening in horror to stories of abuse that many that many knew about and decided to act on. I have the distinct feeling that in 20 years time we will be doing this again for those we imprisoned behind razor wire, those children and women in fundamentalist Muslim households who we refused to protect out of cultural sensitivity. We need to hold out a welcoming hand but at the same time we need to be frank about the aspects of many of the beliefs most Muslims hold that are masochistic, homophobic and irrational. If we as a culture are going to co-exist it will IMO not happen if we don’t feel free to share our disagreements and then find some way of working and living together in-spite of them.

My other, connected point, was that the secular liberal dream that if everyone had a secular liberal education everyone would think like a secular liberal and religion would evaporate etc is a major misconception.

If you are saying it that precisely, I’d agree, some people for example are just not very bright and many lessons given in a secular liberal education will fail to be learned. But the converse is definitely worse. Currently there has been a big shift in my country away from state funded education and people are moving their children to private school (mostly religious schools) some of these are quite fundamentalist in nature. I would suggest never being exposed to people from other groups, other ideas, having even mandated subjects like science taught by people who don’t believe in half it’s findings or the importance of its methodology is infinitely worse than what we had. Secular education is not a cure all but what is the alternative?

P.s. A possible correlation between VDR and religious states does not imply casuality. Again the whole complex context needs to be analysed, not just to assert “religion bad”

I hope my posts might have convinced you that I’m not so narrow minded as to just think religion bad (or I made a big mistake marrying my then religious wife). I do think it can imply causality, certainly when you combine it with the nature of violent acts such as shooting girls for hoping to get educated it goes a little beyond mere conjecture and starts to firm up a connection between specific religious teachings and actions of pious members of that religion, when a majority of Muslims think for religious reasons that apostates deserve death it is not surprising to find than in many Muslim countries that this is the state mandated punishment. I agree it is much more complicated than that and I agree it doesn’t prove causality (Phill’s link does concede that out it can be a chicken and egg thing) but it certainly disproves the opposite which is often claimed – without religion all social structures would collapse, it proves that is not so.

Regards.
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Paul #43
Apr 3, 2015 at 8:06 pm

“A radical Muslim wants to behead you. A moderate Muslim wants a radical Muslim to behead you.”
– unknown
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phil rimmer #44
Apr 3, 2015 at 8:21 pm

poor and unstable states such as sub saharan Africa and in central and South America..

Very religious

France

More atheist than the UK (27% to our 37% belief in God)

Europe

I said Northern Europe

I am presuming that you have not clicked through to Epiphenom’s piece nor its follow on piece “Of Secularism and Correlations.”.

With a high level of confidence atheist countries are more peaceful.

You may want to address my point about why the Gulf states appear to buck the trend, if you wish use them as a counter example.

I am always bemused that the wilful killing of civilians by sections of a faith is taken as condemnation of a whole faith,

I’d go further… it is taken as condemnation of religious faith as a whole.

With a high level of confidence atheist countries are more peaceful. The religious don’t see this in their more violent environments. They don’t see this symptom (or, possibly, cause) of a malaise. Solutions to their violence problem will be wrongly signalled via it(or confounded by it).

whilst the wilful killing of civilians by democracies is not seen as a condemnation of democracy.

If killing in the name of democracy, this is as bad. Ideologies imposed are immoral. In Afghanistan, say, it was invited by the likes of a (then) recently assassinated popular, pro-democratic Ahmad Shah Massoud who had long been requesting help. If the driving ideology was one of achieving a regional influence or access to oil than that should be the ideological source of our righteous ire not democracy.
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Melvin #45
Apr 3, 2015 at 9:07 pm

Scriptural literalism is often not a dependent variable of politics, but often the result of a search for dependable and collegiate purpose and meaning.

Ironically we’re probably saying much the same thing coming at the issue from two separate but complimentary viewpoints. My angle would say: “scriptural literalism is a dependent variable of politics, molded to justify partisan purposes specific to a time and place under color of Divine authority. The classic standby cites the opposing views of slavery from the Bible used by northern abolitionists and southern slaveholders to justify or condemn the institution.

Perhaps “scriptural literalism” itself is too ambiguous to be useful. All we observe are different interpretations of passages, selected and edited to rationalize self-interest. In any event, we are considering the proposition “ISIS is Islam.” Certainly, for the time being the contention is relevant. The proposition “The Crusade is Christianity” would hold relevance for Muslims living in Jerusalem around 1097. The proposition “The Inquisition is Christianity” would hold relevance for Jews and other “heretics” around 1480. (Many victims of the Inquisition were in fact distrusted Jewish converts.)

I’ve expressed along with many others on pertinent threads, the necessity for a reformation process going forward in Islam in spite of its theocratic foundations; what I like to call generally the “defanging” of religion. I look forward to the day when people start pushing religion to the margin of their lives in favor of an identity informed by science and reason and motivated in all its creative variety by secular humanism.
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MadEnglishman #46
Apr 3, 2015 at 10:45 pm

I said that my original misreading (“ISIS is Islamic”) was analogous to “The Creationist movement is Christian”, preserving the “NOUN (PHRASE) is ADJECTIVE” construction.

The “NOUN (PHRASE) is PROPER NOUN” construction seemed grammatically suspect to me.

On reflection, it is not. Example of usage: “With all the aforementioned features, ISIS shows all the signs of being a religion. Indeed it is. ISIS is Islam.” In which case ISIS is equated with Islam.

The tweet may indeed be interpreted literally as equating ISIS with Islam, though without other context (e.g. the particular views of this author stated on other occasions) it is just as likely to be a typo for “ISIS is Islamic”.

Grammar aside, my view?

ISIS is good old-fashioned Islam from the later years of Mo, and his immediate successors. Any “peace, bro” message was quietly forgotten once they were no longer an oppressed minority but very successful at warfare and doing some oppressing of their own.
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Reckless Monkey #47
Apr 3, 2015 at 11:53 pm

Actual real quotes from the Quran are

5.51 : O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as Auliya’ (friends, protectors, helpers, etc.), they are but Auliya’ to one another. And if any amongst you takes them as Auliya’, then surely he is one of them. Verily, Allah guides not those people who are the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong­doers and unjust).

No the quote from the article above I sited was not 5.51 but 4:89 here are several translations you can take your pick.

Sahih International: They wish you would disbelieve as they disbelieved so you would be alike. So do not take from among them allies until they emigrate for the cause of Allah. But if they turn away, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them and take not from among them any ally or helper.

Pickthall: They long that ye should disbelieve even as they disbelieve, that ye may be upon a level (with them). So choose not friends from them till they forsake their homes in the way of Allah; if they turn back (to enmity) then take them and kill them wherever ye find them, and choose no friend nor helper from among them,

Yusuf Ali: They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks;-

Shakir: They desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be (all) alike; therefore take not from among them friends until they fly (their homes) in Allah’s way; but if they turn back, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper.

Muhammad Sarwar: They wish you to become unbelievers as they themselves are. Do not establish friendship with them until they have abandoned their homes for the cause of God. If they betray you, seize them and slay them wherever you find them. Do not establish friendship with them or seek their help

Mohsin Khan: They wish that you reject Faith, as they have rejected (Faith), and thus that you all become equal (like one another). So take not Auliya’ (protectors or friends) from them, till they emigrate in the Way of Allah (to Muhammad SAW). But if they turn back (from Islam), take (hold) of them and kill them wherever you find them, and take neither Auliya’ (protectors or friends) nor helpers from them.

Arberry: They wish that you should disbelieve as they disbelieve, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them, until they emigrate in the way of God; then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them wherever you find them; take not to yourselves any one of them as friend or helper

all seem pretty conclusive to me. But I’m not an Arabic speaker so I’m probably not going to be able to chose. That ISIS and other fundamentalists do take these interpretations seriously is all I am pointing out. That other passages contradict is not surprising to me at all the Quran reads like the rant through much of it I found it hard to get through. Much of the threat seems to be linked to those around him at the time who couldn’t take him seriously. I can only hope that Muslims continue to cherry pick as Christians do (the bible being every bit as contradictory).

regards
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Farogh #48
Apr 4, 2015 at 12:58 am

When I started to read this article i expected to find some new reasons, facts and logical arguments in favor of the critics of Islam, but I was disappointed. The author has simply stated the most obsolete and outdated arguments used by almost every Islamophobe and religious Extremist on earth!

I would like to say that the author has no knowledge of Usool at-Tafsir (Principles of interpretation of Quran), Asbab al-nuzul (occasions, circumstances and historical context of revelation) or Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence). I doubt that he has read any auherntic biography of the Holy Prophet. The author has done a very good ‘copy-paste’ job while quoting the Quran and Hadiths. Scholars have have written volumes of Commenteries and exegesis on Quran but it seems for the author they don’t matter.

The religion of ISIS is not Islam. The actions of ISIS people directly contradict the fundamental teachings of Islam. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) on numerous occasions advocated for peace and security for all humans, Muslim or non-Muslim.

The Prophet (Peace be upon him) once said: “If any Muslim killed a Muahid (i.e. non-Muslim living in Muslim land with agreement) then he (Muslim) shall not even smell the fragrance of Paradise, although the fragrance of Paradise would have been perceived from the distance of travelling for 40 years.” [Sahih Bukhari, Volume No. 3, Hadith # 2995]

The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: “Beware! Whosoever oppresses a Muahid (i.e. Non-Muslim living in Muslim land with agreement) or snatches (any of) his rights or causes him pain which he cannot bear, or takes anything from him without his permission, Then I WILL FIGHT AGAINST SUCH A (MUSLIM) ON THE DAY OF JUDGEMENT” [Sunnan Abu Dawud, Volume No. 3, Page No. 170, Hadith No. 3052]

In 628 C.E. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) granted a Charter of Privileges to the monks of St. Catherine Monastery in Mt. Sinai. An English translation of that document is:

This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.

Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them.

No compulsion is to be on them.

Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries.

No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses.

Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.

No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight.

The Muslims are to fight for them.

If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray.

Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants.

No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world)

And if these arguments are not enough for you then let me also state what the first Caliph of Muslims, Abu Bakr (RA), is reported to have advised Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan who was the commander of one of the battalions:

“I advise you ten things| Do not kill women or children or an aged, infirm person. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an inhabited place. Do not slaughter sheep or camels except for food. Do not burn bees and do not scatter them. Do not steal from the booty, and do not be cowardly.” (Malik’s Muwatta, Book 021, Hadith Number 010)
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Steve #49
Apr 4, 2015 at 4:57 am

Hi Reckless Monkey,

I am sure we are in general agreement. I think I have been more concerned in this thread to try and point out irrationalities and absurdist generalisations presented or implied in some posts rather than presenting my own position. Not sure even if I even have a “position”, I certainly have no “answers”.

One thing I can be definite about, as someone who spent a lot of his life being presented with complex statistical reports, is that the VDR link goes no way in even beginning to show any correlation, never mind casuality between VDR and religion. I find it particularly annoying that such unanalysed and dubious data is presented as statistical “evidence”, it is not.

However, as I have pointed out, one definite VDR correlation leaps out just by looking at the maps , and that is that land masses which belonged to Gondwana are far more violent than those that belonged to Laurasia. Lies, lies and damn statistics.
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Steve #50
Apr 4, 2015 at 5:08 am

Sorry Phil but Epiphenon’s link site presents , as it is, absolutely no valid statistical evidence about any possible connection between VDR and religion. No conclusions can be drawn from this site. It is not a misuse of statistics as it is not even applying valid statistical methods.
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phil rimmer #51
Apr 4, 2015 at 5:17 am

scriptural literalism is a dependent variable of politics….

I think I didn’t make this clear enough, sorry. I do agree that religion’s phenotype, its expression, is often driven by its social and political environment etc.. The phenotype of a specific religion in a specific environment of social and political phenotypes applies pressure back to those two, in turn, reforming them in like fashion and at many levels (e.g. moral, legal, regarading self-identity…). The effects are bidirectional producing phenotypic change all around and are either accommodating or expulsion-inducing or protection-forming.

Scriptural literalism is different though. It is for those high anxiety people who crave the stability it appears to offer. Society, to the anxious, is not the slowly improving thing that people like me see(!), but is rapidly going to Hell in a basket. By going back to the DNA, to the pre-evolved and even pre-expressed DNA, they hope for stability, simplicity, dependable mutuality. Besides, being tightly bound as babies, Temple Grandin and cow wranglers know is personally calming. I think this can be psychologically true too. Ideological swaddling quiets the brain. The whole point of it, ultimately, is to escape the slings and arrows of outrageous social and political fortune.

But the DNA is on the page. It is useless without expression. The only way to express it is in an environment which most nearly matches the one in which it evolved. Sharia and purity of community are essential. The social and political are almost entirely the dependent attributes here, else the stability sought evaporates.

Anxiety may be aggravated by social and political aspects, but it is at root, simply one of personal attribute, biased most notably by childhood experience. Its time constants for change are very long…
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phil rimmer #52
Apr 4, 2015 at 5:28 am

Fair enough, Steve. I certainly must concede that this is suggestive only and not scientific. Thanks for your patience.
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Alan4discussion #53
Apr 4, 2015 at 5:39 am

Farogh Apr 4, 2015 at 12:58 am

The religion of ISIS is not Islam. The actions of ISIS people directly contradict the fundamental teachings of Islam. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) on numerous occasions advocated for peace and security for all humans, Muslim or non-Muslim

As like ISIS, there are many self-professed Muslims and Muslim organisations, which do not follow this guidance, perhaps you could offer a view on which Muslim groupings of followers follow this in large numbers, and which groups do not.
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Steve #54
Apr 4, 2015 at 7:21 am

Phil,

Leaving aside the validity and meaning of the data, the link owner could quite easily make his data slightly more statistically meaningful by simply loading his data sets into a speadsheet and calculating the ratio of violence rates against religious perecentages to see if the ratios show any significant consistencies or pattern..
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Steve #55
Apr 4, 2015 at 7:32 am

Alan,

Figures from Bipartisan Policy Center’s Homeland Security Project show that approximately 0.00062% of Muslims are jihardists like ISIS. The number agreeing with their aims, but disavowing their methods as unIslamic, will of course be higher.
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Roger #56
Apr 4, 2015 at 7:32 am

My confusion with this whole thing is why an atheist is even discussing the level of a religion, do not atheists consider all religions evil? Of course I could be wrong since they do not believe there is either good or evil including 9/11.

Sad that atheists only have death to look forward to while I have a much better promise.
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Alan4discussion #57
Apr 4, 2015 at 7:45 am

Steve Apr 4, 2015 at 7:32 am

Figures from Bipartisan Policy Center’s Homeland Security Project show that approximately 0.00062% of Muslims are jihardists like ISIS. The number agreeing with their aims, but disavowing their methods as unIslamic, will of course be higher.

And yet they are over-running substantial areas of some countries and appear to be supplied with modern weapons!
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Alan4discussion #58
Apr 4, 2015 at 7:55 am

Roger Apr 4, 2015 at 7:32 am

My confusion with this whole thing is why an atheist is even discussing the level of a religion,

The confusion does indeed seem to be yours.

do not atheists consider all religions evil?

The damage caused by religions varies according to religious groups and their activities. Atheists judge religions in terms of the actions of their followers

Of course I could be wrong since they do not believe there is either good or evil including 9/11.

Atheists judge the merits of actions in terms of effects on people, not by fixation on ancient dogmas.

Sad that atheists only have death to look forward to while I have a much better promise.

Some scamsters send me messages that they will send me a fortune if I send them lots of my money to an address in Africa first.
Fortunately, I know the difference between promises and reality, so won’t be investing time or effort in chasing after promised future returns which are not going to be delivered.
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Vicki #59
Apr 4, 2015 at 10:21 am

…since they do not believe there is either good or evil…

Believe there is good and evil? I, as an anti-theist agnostic, do indeed believe there is good and evil in our world. There is evidence of it all around me. And how do I know the difference? My parents taught me at an early age. I must say, I’ve always assumed that was part of good parenting. As I got older, I was able to understand the value of good and the harm of evil in a broader social context. My question to you, Roger, is do you think a deity is necessary for understanding that?
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Steve #60
Apr 4, 2015 at 10:25 am

Roger,

Why do you assume you are heading up rather than down?You must continue to be a good boy and consider all your actions and thoughts with fear and trembling or else it is eternity watching Fox news with Beelzebub for you!
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Vicki #61
Apr 4, 2015 at 10:47 am

Seems to me, this type of reasoning would be more helpful if it was directed toward the Islamic fundamentalists. Wouldn’t you agree?
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Steve #62
Apr 4, 2015 at 2:30 pm

And the Conquistadors conquered even more with even fewer men! And Napoleon lost 300,000 men without even being seriously attacked!
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Melvin #63
Apr 4, 2015 at 2:56 pm

I think I didn’t make this clear enough, sorry. I do agree that religion’s phenotype, its expression, is often driven by its social and political environment etc.

Thanks, Phil. This is the direction of my main theme. Off topic but touching my funny bone, I juxtaposed your “I didn’t make this clear enough” that sets up expectations in the reader that you are going to speak plainly followed with the jarring “The phenotype of a specific religion in a specific environment of social and political phenotypes applies pressure back to those two, in turn, reforming them in like fashion and at many levels (e.g. moral, legal, regarading self-identity…). The effects are bidirectional producing phenotypic change all around and are either accommodating or expulsion-inducing or protection-forming.” In no way demeaning the insightful “content” I found your stated intention for “clarity” undermined hilariously by the “style” of this passage. There is truth in what you say about fundamentalist authoritarian psychology which bonds some populations to scriptural literalism.

As for ISIS, I doubt if many of them are deeply religious. Most are politically motivated first in reaction to the American occupation which installed a Shiite regime in Baghdad, displacing Sunni hegemony there and throughout the country/region and second in a revolutionary ambition to carve out a Sunni Islamic state under Sunni Sharia law, Because they have been raised in poor, illiterate and oppressive Arab states (or, in the case of western recruits, experienced marginalized status in Europe or the U.S.), the pan-Arab national identity is tied up with atavistic expressions of Islam (Al Qaeda, Taliban, Wahhabi) socialized into their militancy from birth or inculcated later through propaganda stressing “humiliation” at the corrupt hands of heretic dictators at home and at the rapacious hands of infidel imperialists from the West.

Resorting again to a dramatic exemplar taken from English history: [ From Britannia] “When Richard 11 invaded Scotland in 1385, every man was ordered to wear ‘a signe ( red cross emblazoned on a white tunic) of the arms of St George’ [exclusive English national identity], both before and behind, whilst death was threatened against any of the enemy’s soldiers ‘who do bear the same crosse or token of Saint George, even if they be prisoners’.

Certainly the soldiers were observant Christians, and imbued with a conviction of Divinely ordained mission, but probably not deeply religious with a pervasive sense of piety that crowded out predominately secular self-interest. The poor old Scots probably just wanted their place in the sun in a Scottish Homeland while the English wanted territory and power, its prerogatives and perks. Like ISIS their underlying purpose was political – rationalized through the prevailing religious ideology of the time. But religion aside, there’s nothing better than getting a bigger paycheck at the expense of the “other.”
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phil rimmer #64
Apr 4, 2015 at 3:41 pm

Like ISIS their underlying purpose was political

So, not clear enough then…

At least you got a giggle out of it.

Pity you didn’t read Graeme Wood’s piece in the Atlantic, (third time of posting) or you wouldn’t have made this error-

As for ISIS, I doubt if many of them are deeply religious.

and if its not you’ll have some evidence for this assertion?

We have to understand how these people are quite unlike Al Quaeda say. They are globally attractive in quite a novel and effective way.
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GERHARDT #65
Apr 4, 2015 at 4:20 pm

Give Michael Sherlock a break! Aside from nit-picking on “ISIS is ISLAM” versus “ISIS IS ISLAMIC” his point is well taken. ISIS IS ISLAMIC ! DUH.

Anyone but a certified idiot understands. long essay is NOT needed.

CHEERS.
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Steve #66
Apr 4, 2015 at 4:41 pm

If you say ISIS is Islamic do you mean that it is legitimate? i.e that it is a correct and valid interpretation of Islam?

The whole ideological thrust of the fight against ISIS within the muslim world and indeed non-muslim , is to show that it is not Islamic, and is a perversion of Islam.

The assertion that ISIS is Islamic is either just an expression of one’s cultural ignorance of the real issues involved, or else a unintentioned declaration of support for ISIS.

ISIS does indeed assert it is Islamic, if you believe they are right then you have bought into their propaganda. Well done! Wake up and think instead of just rechurning irrational prejudices !
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Alan4discussion #67
Apr 4, 2015 at 4:59 pm

Steve Apr 4, 2015 at 4:41 pm

If you say ISIS is Islamic do you mean that it is legitimate? i.e that it is a correct and valid interpretation of Islam?

All religious cults and sects claim their “interpretations” (including direct contradictions of texts and other sects) are the TRrrrooo interpretation of their holy books.

“Legitimacy of a religion” is purely a subjective and biased judgement.

ISIS does indeed assert it is Islamic, if you believe they are right then you have bought into their propaganda.

Not to be confused with other people’s propaganda!!

Well done! Wake up and think instead of just rechurning irrational prejudices !

Well!! think of all those other religious and political propagandist irrational prejudices, which can be churned out as alternatives, in this fog of lies, hidden agendas, and misinformation!!!

Not having a functional crystal ball, I remain sceptical – although it is clear that they, and many others involved, are murderous!
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Steve #68
Apr 4, 2015 at 5:48 pm

Like Farogh I was under the delusion that on this site I would find rational and reasoned argument discussing ISIS and Islam in the context of what is happening in the World., with the grammar of what is being discussed being located in the real actual world issues instead of being situated in a “atheism good, religion bad” senseless, unending , unlistening pseudo-philosophical polemic.

I was sadly mistaken and will make sure to put the chain on the door before I go to bed to stop the 2 billion irrational, crazy, muslims coming in and murdering me.

The sheer arrogance and conceit of fundamentalist atheists in dismissing billions of people as “crazies” beggars belief.
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Alan4discussion #69
Apr 4, 2015 at 6:47 pm

Steve Apr 4, 2015 at 5:48 pm

Like Farogh I was under the delusion that on this site I would find rational and reasoned argument discussing ISIS and Islam in the context of what is happening in the World.

The sheer arrogance and conceit of fundamentalist atheists in dismissing billions of people as “crazies” beggars belief.

Oh dear!
Not another occasion when I have to remind people that “rational and reasoned argument” is an evidence based process of deduction, and not a badge of pseudo-authority to be stuck on to shallow speculative personal opinions.

To the assertive ignorant and biased, all informed opinion is “arrogant”.
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Alan4discussion #70
Apr 4, 2015 at 6:50 pm

Steve Apr 4, 2015 at 2:30 pm

And the Conquistadors conquered even more with even fewer

True:- but they did have horses, guns, and European diseases, as allies.
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David R Allen #71
Apr 4, 2015 at 7:19 pm

The sheer arrogance and conceit of fundamentalist atheists in dismissing billions of people as “crazies” beggars belief.

Steve. There is always a spectrum. With issues like this, there is always a spectrum of belief. This is not black and white as you allude to in your post. The spectrum from homicidal crazy religious fundamentalist (American christians to ISIS) to just crazy enough to use their democratic vote against prevailing evidence and reason. One might kill you, but the other might impose someone else’s god on you, with sanctions if you disobey. Happening in America as we speak. See other recent threads in this forum. It is a matter of degree as to the craziness.

A rational evidence based person, which includes people who don’t believe in gods, is a person who’s view is carried by the prevailing evidence of the day, and changes and changes as the evidence changes. In contrast, your use of the term “fundamentalist indicates a person who’s view cannot change, regardless of the evidence. Ergo, the use of the term “Fundamentalist Atheist” is a contradiction of terms.

The mission of the rational of this world, should you choose to accept it, is to negate the influence of the irrational over time.
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Steve #72
Apr 4, 2015 at 7:32 pm

Deduction is a particular instance of logic being the inference of a particular instance from general rules or laws, and is itself just one form of reasoning, being a form of rational reasoning it cannot itself be the basis of rational reasoning, nor of course is it the only form of rational reasoning.

Rational and reasoned argument is what it says on the tin, and in the context of a discussion on a journalistic piece about Islam , one would have hoped that it would have included rational and reasoned discussion of the compexities of the actual issues , rather than a continual bleating that all religious people and their actions must be irrational and crazy and they are all potentially murderers blah blah blah. Or in other words 80% of the worlds population are irrational madmen, good to see you hold such an high opinion of your fellow men and only the selected fundamentalist atheist few have seen the light of rationality.

Anyway, thanks for your post as it completely proves my point
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Steve #73
Apr 4, 2015 at 8:07 pm

David,

Weary of mindless theoretical theist bashing instead of any practical discussion of the real issues I might have got carried away a little.

However fundamentalist means adherence to a certain view or doctrine excluding any validity to any other point of view, so “fundamentalist atheist” is not an oxymoron.

The conceit that atheism or science ( fundamentalist atheism or scientism) are the only valid ways of intepreting the world and making sensible propositions about the world, is just that, a conceit.

The fact that people choose to interpret the world , either fully or at times, through a religious lens does not (although it can) make them unreasoning, irrational humans, nor does it neccessarily make their propositions about the world senseless.

To so dismiss 80% of the world is itself irrational. The way forward is constructive dialogue, acknowledging that different conceptual interpretations of the world have there own criteria of validity, and are not mutually exclusive. The vast majority of people, religious or not, want the same simple things out of life…. Food, shelter, health and safety for their family and have no great desire to force their particular opinions on the world. The very real fact that a few do, both atheists and theists, should not lead to a blanket condemnation of the rest, or lead to demands that they have to interpret the world as you do.
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Steve #74
Apr 4, 2015 at 8:28 pm

To me atheism is not a belief system, it is merely a non-affirming negative.
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Adrian #75
Apr 4, 2015 at 8:49 pm

Starved themselves to death in the name of peace for goodness sake. Where do I sign up? Doesn’t sound like a cult at all!?
It may be hard to follow the words of christ as there is no compelling evidence that he existed.
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john #76
Apr 4, 2015 at 10:31 pm

BUT – I thought god was supposed to be all powerful and all knowing. If the old testament preaches brutality and the new testament teaches peace, I guess god made a big mistake and got it all wrong the first time around and isn’t as all knowing as religion says. What’s to say (s)he didn’t get it wrong the second time around as well?
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Melvin #77
Apr 4, 2015 at 10:36 pm

Saying “ISIS is Islam” though is still spectacularly wrong-headed. Just as much as it is wrong for political leaders like Obama to insist that ISIS is NOT Islam and that only some peaceful version of it is.
There is no brand ownership out there, (though, in court ISIS might have a pretty strong case). Islam is already many things and for each part-owner it will serve them ill to lay claim to its totality.
It is entirely in the interests of reason and harm mitigation to promote the idea that Islam is these many things (especially amongst Muslims), with many more to come, and that there is no (scriptural or spooky!) authority to say it is not. No reformation and counter-reformation, but schism and further schism.

Thank you for the persuasively argued article by Graeme Wood. Your own comment quoted here pretty much covers what I am trying to say on topic. Wood and others are too focused on the “essential” theological doctrines of Islam disconnected from geopolitical realities and history. ISIS cannot be understood in terms of fanatical struggle and cruelty in ideological isolation from the political, economic and cultural ambitions of the region’s people. We do not have enough time or space to open that can of worms now. The masses can be radicalized by many forms of extremism and fanaticism, religious or secular, pursuant to a cause which promises to deliver them from the misery of a crisis. I stand by my original point that most rank and file jihadists in ISIS have been radicalized by a toxic, murderous, suicidal version of Islam for purposes of the current campaign without prior preoccupation with the religion itself. The average person in this general sense is “not” religious. They observe the religion and feel the tradition nourishes solidarity with their reference group without caring much about theology or piety in their daily lives.
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David R Allen #78
Apr 4, 2015 at 11:34 pm

However fundamentalist means adherence to a certain view or doctrine excluding any validity to any other point of view…

This is where the hair splits. I can’t be a fundamentalist anything (insert label here) because I don’t “Exclude any Validity”. I admit all validity (evidence), then form a view, on the probity of that evidence. And I change that view as the evidence changes. A fundamentalist can’t and won’t do this. I can understand that a person who has little tolerance for irrational people, which you include the term “Fundamentalist Atheist” can be quite annoying.

“Why can’t these fundamentalist atheist accept their might be some value in the other person’s point of view.”

I can understand. Speaking only for myself, my tolerance of irrational argument is getting thinner. Maybe it’s because I am getting greyer and I might be channeling that TV show, Grumpy Old Men.

Some people of my ilk have had enough. They want to scream from the minarets and church spires, “enough already.” At times, when you get a person like Ted Cruz running for the presidency of the USA, and, he has credible support, I want to scream, “Enough ALREADY”. A person like Cruz should be a joke. Their world view is just as crazy as ISIS. They may not shoot guns in support of their position, but that is just luck of location. These same American’s if they swapped with ISIS would be carrying the guns, because they think the same was as ISIS. Their psychological processes in using god to justify their position are identical.

“Only my god is the one true god, and only I have the correct interpretation of what god is thinking. I can read his mind. Only I know what’s right, and I will kill anyone who disagrees.’

So the crazies of ISIS, have cousins in America, it’s just that they haven’t had a trigger, to use the trigger, even though in America, they are privately armed with much more sophisticated weapons than ISIS. They are to be greatly feared.

Dawkins makes this very same argument in the God Delusion. To believe in a god (or anything) in the absence of evidence, or even worse, contrary to evidence is a delusion. A psychological delusion. A derogatory term for a person experiencing a delusion is a ‘Crazy”.

To so dismiss 80% of the world is itself irrational.

That statement would be correct, if that 80% could be shown to hold views supported by evidence or even a well reasoned argument. They fail on both counts. They have no supported argument. They have in the past been toxic to humanity, and some of them continue to be toxic. And they will in the future continue to be toxic, unless the rug can be slowly but surely slipped out from underneath them. I think it is time that the influence of irrational thinking is sidelined for the good of humanity. (Global warming deniers etc not just religious)

Religion should be practiced by consenting adults in private.
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David R Allen #79
Apr 5, 2015 at 12:05 am

I don’t like them, but I could accept the use of expressions like “Strident Atheist”. Or “Militant Atheist”. Even “Intolerant Atheist”, but I can’t connect the dots for “Fundamentalist Atheist”. A bridge too far.

A non belief in gods is just a consequence of rational evidenced based thinking. I don’t like the label atheist, because it has grown to be a derogatory term in common usage.
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Reckless Monkey #80
Apr 5, 2015 at 1:53 am

I would like to say that the author has no knowledge of Usool at-Tafsir (Principles of interpretation of Quran), Asbab al-nuzul (occasions, circumstances and historical context of revelation) or Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence). I doubt that he has read any auherntic biography of the Holy Prophet. The author has done a very good ‘copy-paste’ job while quoting the Quran and Hadiths. Scholars have have written volumes of Commenteries and exegesis on Quran but it seems for the author they don’t matter.

See if you can answer these questions in order:

Is as it claimed by Mohamed in the Quran that it (the Quran) is the unalterable, perfect word of Allah or not?
If you agree that the Quran is the perfect word of Allah then why is it necessary to have apologists to write reams to justify the patent violence endorsed by the book, or put it into historical context?
Is he not capable of writing a book that transcends culture and time?
Why if is he is capable did he not write a book that needs apologists to attempt to turn passages that appear to me and obviously to ISIS, Al Qaeda and other extremist Muslim groups to promote violence towards the infidels (me and mine).
Why did he instead choose the write a book that is so unclear?

Remember it is not for me to justify this – I don’t believe any of it. But it’s pretty clear that people who claim to hold your faith to their heart and I have to believe them because many are willing to blow themselves up or commit atrocities against women and children for their beliefs. So are you suggesting only a Quaranic scholar can understand this perfect book by jumping though hoops and attempting to justify crimes what because at the time it was moral to invade others lands and kill people? Seems that this would be a bit of an insult towards your deity who does go to some bother to explain that is the perfect, final word of Allah.

Be interested to read a response.
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Reckless Monkey #81
Apr 5, 2015 at 2:08 am

My confusion with this whole thing is why an atheist is even discussing the level of a religion, do not atheists consider all religions evil?

No, it’s a sliding scale from ignorance through wilful ignorance through stupidity to evil. IMO as only one atheist, the others here may disagree with me.

Of course I could be wrong since they do not believe there is either good or evil including 9/11.

My definition of evil is any deliberate act which is counter-productive for the well being of society as a whole. So I call 9/11 evil. I call Catholic Priests fiddling with kids evil, I call protestant fundamentalists trying to interfere with science teaching evil. In short I call a lot of things evil and all for good secular reasons and human empathy. What I don’t do is justify evil in the name of an imaginary friend, as do many of the religious.

Sad that atheists only have death to look forward to while I have a
much better promise.

If one of the hundreds of thousands of deities on offer is true then your odds are something like 1/100 000, if you include the many thousands of sects of each of these religions that have now or have once existed then your odds shoot up to something like 1/ billions against you having chosen the right team so to speak. What is more you have actively rejected all the other gods, I simply remain unaffiliated until convincing evidence is provided. Back when I was becoming an atheist I prayed to God/s to give me that evidence, as far as I’m concerned the door is always open, to any deity. I can hardly be blamed if all the evidence he/she/it has put before me works in the opposite direction and good Christians such as yourself can only offer veiled threats of hell fire and no logical reason why I should believe your version of the religion of an ancient bunch of illiterate, misogynistic, warmongering goat herders. You cannot say the same I therefore submit to you that my odds under any deity worth worshiping will be slightly higher than yours, I’ve not closed my heart or mind, you’ve closed yours.
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David R Allen #82
Apr 5, 2015 at 4:10 am

See if you can answer these questions in order:

Reckless’ challenge could equally apply to the Talmud, Old and New Testaments. Any christians out there willing to take up Reckless’ challenge?

The Koran, bible and all religious books are obviously the work of men (In the masculine because they sure hate women) The god worshiped by the faithful of all religions is far too perfect to have made so many obvious mistakes, contradictions, errors and downright crimes against all reasonable and moral principles, if you listen to the preachers extolling his virtues. This is the god Farogh is trying to defend.

You have a choice. If religious scriptures are the best your god can do, then he’s not much of a god. Or, the Ockham’s Razor favourite, the books are the obvious work of man. Once the books are gone. Argue your case for god. Cite your evidence. It’s not in the books. Dreams? Visions? Prescientific miracles? They don’t happen today with scientific explanation. A feeling in your groin? What have you got? And yet most of humanity believes this stuff and acts upon it, up to and including genocide. For shame Homo Sapiens.
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phil rimmer #83
Apr 5, 2015 at 5:09 am

I stand by my original point that most rank and file jihadists in ISIS have been radicalized by a toxic, murderous, suicidal version of Islam for purposes of the current campaign without prior preoccupation with the religion itself. The average person in this general sense is “not” religious.

I find that bewildering unless you count the contents of the Quran partially religion and partly political manifesto.

ISIS has a unique character and a universal attractiveness in the way that say, Al Quaeda doesn’t. This needs an account. Certainly its slick use of social media is part of this but what of its message attracting the imaginations of school girls? How does this work? I suspect that its end to end, look-it-up-for-yourself, account of its mission to create the caliphate needed for the appocalypse is a great part of its attraction for confused youth. I think the rigorous religious education of new recruits entirely reflects this as a primary mo jo for the organisation.

At the very top are they not the cynical political exploiters? Perhaps. They often are, but this focus on the text will need the salesmen to “eat their own cat food” as never before.
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Steve #84
Apr 5, 2015 at 5:40 am

David,

To cleave apart the Wittgensteinian hair, just because a person’s underlying belief system is irrational does not preclude them from making valid propositions based on evidence, nor does it preclude them making internally valid ( logically valid) propositions, nor does it even preclude them from making factually valid ( evidentially valid) propositions based on an irrational belief or argument.
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Alan4discussion #85
Apr 5, 2015 at 5:46 am

Steve Apr 4, 2015 at 8:07 pm

However fundamentalist means adherence to a certain view or doctrine excluding any validity to any other point of view, so “fundamentalist atheist” is not an oxymoron.

I think you would need some evidence for that claim!!

The conceit that atheism or science ( fundamentalist atheism or scientism) are the only valid ways of intepreting the world and making sensible propositions about the world, is just that, a conceit.

.. and you would have even greater difficulty in trying to support “confidence in evidence based scientific knowledge” as “conceit” or that there are “other methods” than reasoned science, apart from erroneous irrationality, of “making (sensible) propositions about the world”.
Claiming such methods are “sensible”, is merely begging the question! Introspective, emotive or irrational decision making processes, have been repeatedly shown to be no better than random in outcomes.

There are detailed written explanations of people deciding on actions using “other methods” than reasoned science.
They are called “Accident Investigation Reports”!

However, should you have an explanation of “other methods” of thinking, which actually work in the real world, I am sure those here would like to hear them.

The fact that people choose to interpret the world , either fully or at times, through a religious lens does not (although it can) make them unreasoning, irrational humans,

They may use reason (but it is circular for much of the time), but without and objective evidenced starting point, it is just self-consistent fantasy!

nor does it neccessarily make their propositions about the world senseless.

They can happen to be correct by random chance, but faith-thinking has consistently been shown to be a flawed method which cannot deliver reliable predictions of anticipated outcomes.
Using such methods in the real world is senseless and has a long history of generating wars and disputes.

To so dismiss 80% of the world is itself irrational.

This is a strawman assertion. arguments and flawed thought processes are dismissed on the their merits or lack of them.

As I said earlier, rationality is a deductive process, not a badge of false authority to be stuck on to assertions. If you wish to make assertions of irrationality, please identify the fallacies relating to specific issues.

The way forward is constructive dialogue, acknowledging that different conceptual interpretations of the world have there own criteria of validity, and are not mutually exclusive.

The only “way forward” to a rational world is identifying flawed methods of interpretation, and flawed criteria. Irrational thinking and criteria contradicting objectivity, are invalid and inconsistent with science. Fudge, waffle and irrational apologetics, are no substitutes for learning about objective studies matching scientific models to reality.

The vast majority of people, religious or not, want the same simple things out of life…. Food, shelter, health and safety for their family

and many don’t seem to have a problem with science providing these for them, despite their denials of the effectiveness of scientific methodology.

and have no great desire to force their particular opinions on the world.

Unfortunately, religions are tribalist, so while left to themselves many would not force their views on their neighbours, they are quite happy to support, vote for and often fund, those who seek to impose the dogmas of their own tribe.
That is the nature of the humble sheeple! They are meek and mild, unless their leaders tell who to attack. Then they become “soldiers of Christ/ Allah/ etc. and mindlessly actively support repression of, and discrimination against, others and their rights.
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Alan4discussion #86
Apr 5, 2015 at 5:55 am

Steve Apr 5, 2015 at 5:40 am

To cleave apart the Wittgensteinian hair, just because a person’s underlying belief system is irrational does not preclude them from making valid propositions based on evidence,

The nature of irrational belief systems is that “faith” over-rides logic, and that irrational flawed thinking processes are superior to logic and science. It is the indoctrination in this irrationality which disables their ability to use evidence and think logically.
Many religions also preach perverted semantics with added biased baggage, which substitute “alternative” special theistic meanings to words, in place of dictionary definitions.
(eg. “Theistic Evolution” – just referred to as “evolution” or “scientism” with two opposite meanings)
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Steve #87
Apr 5, 2015 at 6:04 am

Melvin,

Speaking to muslim friends a “selling point” of ISIS to young people is that it presents itself as “defending” ISLAM from geopolitical attack by the west , with the re-establishment of a caliphate the culmination of that.

Wholesale and irrational condemnation of the whole of Islam (ISIS is Islam etc, logically speaking the mereological fallacy) because of the actions of a few , as also evidenced in some posts in this “evidence based” site, is driving young people into the arms of ISIS, it is fuel to the fire.
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Alan4discussion #88
Apr 5, 2015 at 6:16 am

David R Allen Apr 4, 2015 at 7:19 pm

The sheer arrogance and conceit of fundamentalist atheists in dismissing billions of people as “crazies” beggars belief.

Steve. There is always a spectrum. With issues like this, there is always a spectrum of belief. This is not black and white as you allude to in your post. The spectrum from homicidal crazy religious fundamentalist (American christians to ISIS) to just crazy enough to use their democratic vote against prevailing evidence and reason.

A rational evidence based person, which includes people who don’t believe in gods, is a person who’s view is carried by the prevailing evidence of the day, and changes and changes as the evidence changes. In contrast, your use of the term “fundamentalist indicates a person who’s view cannot change, regardless of the evidence. Ergo, the use of the term “Fundamentalist Atheist” is a contradiction of terms.

It is common in superficial arguments, to try to equate “fundamentalist” views, with the views of those who have made an in-depth study of the evidence, come confidently to rational conclusions, and dismissed silly baseless irrational claims.
This is frequently associated with the use of the derogatory meaning of “scientism” by irrational wish-thinkers, as a pretext to dismiss evidenced viewpoints.
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Reckless Monkey #89
Apr 5, 2015 at 6:55 am

Hi Steve,

You might be interested in our ABC Radio Nationals Podcast Background briefing which covered the attraction of ISIS, it speaks to a lot of your points. here

I’ve probably said enough on this tread but here goes, where did they get the idea for a re-establishment of the caliphate? I don’t see protestants, Catholics and Mormons signing up to ISIS. Their specific beliefs drag them into different irrational actions. What most of these young people have in common is an upbringing in which they have been taught about the caliphate and taught to admire the example of their prophet who spend an awfully large amount of time taking land off other people.

Check out the podcast you’d genuinely like it.

Regards
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Steve #90
Apr 5, 2015 at 10:57 am

Alan4discussion,.

You continually deny any validity whatsoever to religious viewpoints, that is fundamentalist atheism.

You reasoning continually commits the mereological fallacy. This is not evidence based reasoning but factual “quote mining” .

I did not say confidence in science is a conceit, I said the belief that science is the only valid way to make sensible propositions about the world is a conceit, in all meanings of the term. I agree that rule based scientific methodologies are by far the best way to describe and explain the “puzzles” of how the world works. However humans are not simple reasoning rational logic machines , they are flesh and blood….

“We feel that even if all possible scientific questions be answered, the problems of life have still not been touched at all.”
― Ludwig Wittgenstein

The problems of the both humans themselves and the World are far too complex to be explained or resolved by recourse to a dogmatic, simple minded dichotomy of rational versus irrational.

“”””””or that there are “other methods” than reasoned science, apart from erroneous irrationality, of “making (sensible) propositions about the world”.
However, should you have an explanation of “other methods” of thinking, which actually work in the real world, I am sure those here would like to hear them.””””””””

Perception, naive common sense, philosophy, metaphysics, religion , language, introspection,Art, literature, emotion etc etc are all ” other methods” of both acquiring valid knowledge and ” making sensible propositions about the World.” In fact as science is empirical its whole foundation is based on the fact that perception ,on its own, can give us valid knowledge enabling us to make sensible propositions etc. If you deny that perception on its own can give us valid knowledge to make sensible propositions then you deny science, and must find yourself walking into a lot of brick walls.

On the metaphysics/ religion side I would ,for consistency, quote mine Wittgenstein again, ” the problem with Metaphysics is not that its propositions are right or wrong, it is simply that most are nonsense”. This is not to say that ALL their propositions are not sensible.

“””””……..That is the nature of the humble sheeple! “””””””

Again the arrogance and Nietzschian contempt for humanity is breathtaking.

None of this is to say that the political struggle against the forced imposition of religious dogma etc into the secular world is not vital, essential and ongoing.
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Steve #91
Apr 5, 2015 at 11:15 am

Reckless Monkey,

What they also have in common is that they all received good western secular educations. thanks for the podcast link, will listen when the football finishes!
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Steve #92
Apr 5, 2015 at 11:45 am

Alan4discussion,

Nobody owns semantics. Dictionaries do not define words, they are not a holy book (sic), they record the common and conventionally accepted usage of words.

It is perfectly acceptable to assign a different meaning to a word within a specific language-field. Scientists, as well as metaphysicians, do it all the time.

Errors and confusions arise when people attempt to use a meaning from one language-field in another e.g attempting to apply God as a casual agent, which is semantically correct within the Theological language-field, as a argument in a scientific discourse where it is not.

The problem is not semantical, it is grammatical. Grammar being the rules governing the application of semantics.

Pedantically yours

Steve
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Alan4discussion #93
Apr 5, 2015 at 1:07 pm

Steve Apr 5, 2015 at 10:57 am

Deduction is a particular instance of logic being the inference of a particular instance from general rules or laws, and is itself just one form of reasoning, being a form of rational reasoning it cannot itself be the basis of rational reasoning, nor of course is it the only form of rational reasoning.

Perhaps you could explain (apart from irrational nonsense and whimsical fallacious speculation), what are these “other” alleged forms of “rational reasoning” exist apart from deduction from evidence using logic!!

The suggestion sounds very oxymoronic!!
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Alan4discussion #94
Apr 5, 2015 at 1:08 pm

Steve Apr 5, 2015 at 10:57 am

Deduction is a particular instance of logic being the inference of a particular instance from general rules or laws, and is itself just one form of reasoning, being a form of rational reasoning it cannot itself be the basis of rational reasoning, nor of course is it the only form of rational reasoning.

Perhaps you could explain (apart from irrational nonsense and whimsical fallacious speculation), what are these “other” alleged forms of “rational reasoning” which exist apart from deduction from evidence using logic!!

The suggestion sounds very oxymoronic!!
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Alan4discussion #95
Apr 5, 2015 at 1:27 pm

Steve Apr 5, 2015 at 11:45 am

Nobody owns semantics. Dictionaries do not define words, they are not a holy book (sic), they record the common and conventionally accepted usage of words.

It is simply deception to use terms outside of their normal dictionary definitions, without stating a specified definition for the purpose of a particular document.

It is perfectly acceptable to assign a different meaning to a word within a specific language-field. Scientists, as well as metaphysicians, do it all the time.

Scientist do not deliberately invent obfuscating redefinitions, as a means to muddy the understanding of terminology the way theists do – as in the example I gave of “theistic evolution”. – A term deliberately confused with a scientific theory, for which there is no proper definition, but which allows believers to falsely claim to “believe” in evolution while actually disputing the scientific theory they pretend to support. .

When theists indoctrinate their sheeples with illogical crap like this about science, there are bound to be conflicts with scientists:-
159. Faith and science: “… methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.” (Vatican II GS 36:1)

“Faith in dogma” does not trump evidence based reasoning, in the real world.
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Alan4discussion #96
Apr 5, 2015 at 2:14 pm

Steve Apr 5, 2015 at 10:57 am

Alan4discussion,.

You continually deny any validity whatsoever to religious viewpoints, that is fundamentalist atheism.

This is nonsense! I will accept religious claims as valid if and when those making the claims produce evidence to support them.

Perception, naive common sense, philosophy, metaphysics, religion , language, introspection,Art, literature, emotion etc etc are all ” other methods” of both acquiring valid knowledge

They can only produce introspective knowledge of personal emotional responses to the stimuli provided.

and ” making sensible propositions about the World.”

Nope! None of these give reliable models of physical reality, although they may provide entertaining fantasies.

In fact as science is empirical its whole foundation is based on the fact that perception ,on its own, can give us valid knowledge enabling us to make sensible propositions etc.

Science while advocating objective observations, does however recognise that individuals can be biased, self deceiving or flawed, so requires independent checking (replication of observations and experiments) to confirm or refute findings. It also uses instrumentation to enhance perceptions and improve their accuracy.

If you deny that perception on its own can give us valid knowledge to make sensible propositions then you deny science, and must find yourself walking into a lot of brick walls.

??????? Observations need to be objective and independently confirmed. Science certainly does not make the assumptions of “faith”!

On the metaphysics/ religion side I would ,for consistency, quote mine Wittgenstein again, ” the problem with Metaphysics is not that its propositions are right or wrong, it is simply that most are nonsense”.

That is generally true.

This is not to say that ALL their propositions are not sensible.

it is always possible they could, on occasions get correct answers by random chance, but this does nothing to recommend their methodology.
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Melvin #97
Apr 5, 2015 at 2:22 pm

Phil: Every extreme movement needs leaders and followers. The leaders exploit a crisis which has plunged a population into poverty, misery and fear. (Sincerity of intentions is another topic). The organized leadership constructs a message tailored to the desperate needs of the constituency.

In the case of ISIS, the leaders constitute a fanatical elite who interpret the Qur’an as Allah’s mandate for their project of conquest, mass murder, and religious totalitarianism. The interpretation dispersed by charismatic men to people with a portal for the message, serves to radicalize and recruit them to the cause of a self-aggrandizing Caliphate.

Of course ISIS is Islamic because it would have no appeal outside of a society not steeped in Islam. Therefore “religion” is to blame for the war and the atrocities? If you are held captive to tunnel vision, you find yourself muttering ““religion is to blame for all wars and atrocities.” But what are we to make of Muslims who denounce this jihadist version of islam and proclaim it is not “true” Islam? My speculation would be that the masses who fill the ranks of ISIS or support them from the sidelines, with the exception of psychopathic killers, have been energized by political, economic and ethic-sectarian nationalistic ambitions.

I realize the distinctions are subtle and hard to grasp so I will return again to recent “troubles” in the British Isles to make the point. When Catholic ghettos exploded in Northern Ireland in the late 70s; when Catholics and protestants took turns murdering each other during the subsequent civil conflict etc., no one jumped very hard on differences in religious doctrine as the principal cause because the causes were secular: civil rights, equality of opportunity, discrimination, second-class citizenship or to quote the BBC: “This was a territorial conflict, not a religious one. At its heart lay two mutually exclusive visions of national identity and national belonging.”

But what of Graeme Wood’s proof that “its [the ISIS] mission to create the Caliphate needed for the apocalypse is a great part of its attraction for confused youth.” I think Wood’s fascination with Hitler ‘s Nazi death cult and “apocalyptic” elements of his ideology, prompted Wood to overreach. Theological belief in apocalypse is also part of Christianity. Ronald Reagan’s professed belief in the end times caused some anxiety that he might be inclined to push the button and expedite humankind’s trip to the promised land. Marxism/Communism also professes an apocalyptic vision of the end times when the state withers away after the apocalyptic bourgeois-proletariat class war. “Apocalypse,” a nihilistic mixture of homicide and suicide, plays an ambiguous role in fanatical causes whether originating from secular Nazism or Communism or from religious Christianity or Islam. Scratch the surface, and you will find a very earthly vision of Utopia. All these ideologies ultimately promise, after much struggle with the forces of darkness; after much suffering, combat, ruthlessness and death, a prosperous, morally purified, and flourishing society will triumph – whether it is the thousand-year Reich, the rule of the proletariat, God’s kingdom on earth, or the universal Caliphate. ISIS tells Muslims, especially Muslim youth, “shed the humiliation and bondage the infidel and heretic have imposed on you. Stand up and headbutt the miscreant who would spit on you. Fight and die for a purified Islamic state under Sharia law where your surviving brothers and sisters will thrive. The more direct message: “you’ll have access to empowerment, education, good jobs, and a secure and comfortable life. Your Muslim identity (Sunni) in a theocracy sanctioned by Allah will be the envy of a subjugated world.”
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Mr DArcy #98
Apr 5, 2015 at 2:32 pm

Steve :

“We feel that even if all possible scientific questions be answered, the problems of life have still not been touched at all.”
― Ludwig Wittgenstein

Ah Wittgenstein ! He of the fly in the bottle. Now would that bottle be Chateau Lafite, or Chateau Latour, or perhaps Chateau Margaux ? I’m quite sure the great philosopher wouldn’t rely on mere science to decide the difference, whilst consuming one or two bottles during his time at Cambridge. I’m quite sure he built up an expertise that would embarrass Robert Parker !

That said modern science can and does tell the difference between the great wines, and a whole lot of other things. I think Wittgenstein was being a wee bit Keats-ish in his failure to understand how powerful science actually is. But then philosophers love mysteries, the more the better. A fertile ground for them to build universes out of words without regard to the facts, – in most cases.

“Philosophers have interpreted the world in many different ways, the point however is to change it !”

I won’t mention who wrote that, lest the hounds of hell are set upon me, but I agree with that statement.
Like
Steve #99
Apr 5, 2015 at 3:07 pm

Alan4discussion,

The term “theistic evolution” is a common and accepted usage, being a designation for a family of ideas that states their is no conflict between religion and evolutionary theory as God, so to speak, set the wheels in motion.

There is nothing at all obfuscational about this in itself, the clue being the adjective “theistic” which clearly and unambiguously shows the term belongs to religious discourse or the religious language-field.

Obfuscation only arises when people, like yourself in your post, or like religious people trying to introduce the term into scientific discourse, get themselves in a grammatical muddle and erroneously try and apply what is a valid semantic term in one language-field into another language- field where it is not semantically applicable.

The fact that God does not exist has no bearing on the correct grammatical usage or the semantics of religious terms.

BTW, I and everybody else in this thread are fully aware of the difference between faith based reasoning and scientific reasoning , there is no point reiterating it in every post. The distinction, and the superiority of the scientific method, is fully acknowledged and understood, and is not in dispute.
Like
Steve #100
Apr 5, 2015 at 3:14 pm

(Poem #615) The Philosopher’s Drinking Song
Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
who was very rarely stable.
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
who could think you under the table.
David Hume could out consume
Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel,
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
who was just as sloshed as Schlegel.

There’s nothing Nietzsche couldn’t teach ya
’bout the raisin’ of the wrist.
Socrates himself was permanently pissed.

John Stuart Mill, of his own free will,
after half a pint of shandy was particularly ill.
Plato, they say, could stick it away,
‘alf a crate of whiskey every day!
Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle,
and Hobbes was fond of his Dram.
And Rene Descartes was a drunken fart:
“I drink, therefore I am.”

Yes, Socrates himself is particularly missed;
A lovely little thinker, but a bugger when he’s pissed.
— Monty Python
Like
Mr DArcy #101
Apr 5, 2015 at 3:48 pm

Nice one ! I once read this on a pub toilet wall:

“To do is to be” Descartes.

“To be is to do” Nietzsche.

“Scooby dooby do” Sinatra.

A cut above your average pub graffiti, in my opinion !
Like
Steve #102
Apr 5, 2015 at 3:58 pm

Alan4discussion,

I have not being at any point disputing the validity or objectivity of scientific methodologies, nor have I ( hopefully) made any statement to that effect.

My point being that there are other valid ways of knowledge, and they can be used to make sensible propositions about the world. Knowledge of the world is not just about building reliable physical models of the world.

To have the perception that a fire is hot and make the sensible proposition that, ” That fire is hot” requires neither scientific knowledge or confirmation. If every time you wish to take a step you refused to believe your eyes, and demanded scientific confirmation that the ground in front of your feet was still there, you would not get very far..

To have the knowledge of feeling the emotion of sadness and assert the sensible proposition “I feel sad” does not need confirmation by means of neuroscientific measurements of brain activity. Subjective knowledge is still valid knowledge.

Science itself rests on the bedrock of perceptual certainty ( not accuracy in the sense of being 100% certain all of the time ( perception can be in error) , but certainty that perception and observation can be 100% correct in regard to its object).

The point that this perception might need to be “verified” is only a common sense and scientific convention to decrease the possibility of being in error ( look twice before crossing) in particular instances,, and does not logically alter the fact that science rests on the bedrock of the certainty of perception i.e the infinite regress involved in that the “verification” itself needs “verification”………. logically It always comes back to the certainty of our perception. Observations can indeed be “objectively and independently confirmed” but that objective and independent confirmation also rests on the bedrock of perception.

Using machines etc for confirmation etc also rests on the same bedrock, they have to be calibrated etc and read with reference to the certainty of perception.

If you deny perception is a valid and certain form of knowledge capable of leading us to make sensible propositions etc you deny the validity of science and common sense, in fact you deny making any sense of anything.

I will not bore you with how the other forms of knowledge can be valid and independent of the scientific method.
Like
Alan4discussion #103
Apr 5, 2015 at 4:09 pm

Steve Apr 5, 2015 at 3:07 pm

The term “theistic evolution” is a common and accepted usage, being a designation for a family of ideas that states their is no conflict between religion and evolutionary theory as God, so to speak, set the wheels in motion.

Which is of course, is either pig-ignorance of science, or a lie!

There is nothing at all obfuscational about this in itself, the clue being the adjective “theistic” which clearly and unambiguously shows the term belongs to religious discourse or the religious language-field.

Hence the regular obfuscation in discussions which pretend it is science!

BTW, I and everybody else in this thread are fully aware of the difference between faith based reasoning and scientific reasoning , there is no point reiterating it in every post. The distinction, and the superiority of the scientific method, is fully acknowledged and understood, and is not in dispute.

Really?? That was far from clear in your earlier comments about “alternative” ways of “reasoning”!

https://www.richarddawkins.net/2015/04/isis-is-islam/#li-comment-174469
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Mr DArcy #104
Apr 5, 2015 at 4:25 pm

Steve:

To have the perception that a fire is hot and make the sensible proposition that, ” That fire is hot” requires neither scientific knowledge or confirmation. If every time you wish to take a step you refused to believe your eyes, and demanded scientific confirmation that the ground in front of your feet was still there, you would not get very far..

There again, the only way we gain any knowledge about the universe is through our senses. We assume that the universe outside us exists. We assume that we can learn something about it. And we assume that such learning can lead to predictions about how ‘our’ perceptions of the universe will behave in the future. Yes our senses could well be, and are faulty at times, in perceiving ‘reality’, which is why the scientific method never relies on one person’s perceptions.

I think science has done a pretty good job in dealing with this ‘why is a fire hot’ type stuff. As for the other ways of receiving information about the world, apart from our senses, perhaps Steve could enlighten us. There could well be a Nobel Prize awaiting !
Like
Alan4discussion #105
Apr 5, 2015 at 4:33 pm

Steve Apr 5, 2015 at 3:58 pm

I will not bore you with how the other forms of knowledge can be valid and independent of the scientific method.

Far from boring me, you would fascinate me – if you could actually find any credible ones!

To have the perception that a fire is hot and make the sensible proposition that, ” That fire is hot” requires neither scientific knowledge or confirmation.

Of course it uses scientific observation and repeated experience.

If every time you wish to take a step you refused to believe your eyes, and demanded scientific confirmation that the ground in front of your feet was still there, you would not get very far..

You seem to have some strange perceptions of what constitutes science. Building on earlier observations and objective experience is precisely what scientists and rational individuals do. Far from denying science, this is its basic application as is usually learned by children from an early age.

To have the knowledge of feeling the emotion of sadness and assert the sensible proposition “I feel sad” does not need confirmation by means of neuroscientific measurements of brain activity. Subjective knowledge is still valid knowledge.

It is only “valid” as sensations to the introspecting individual. It has no “validity” to anyone else unless it is evaluated and communicated.
However if we wish to understand the physical mechanisms behind these feelings, we need the subjects of neuropsychology.

Observations can indeed be “objectively and independently confirmed” but that objective and independent confirmation also rests on the bedrock of perception.
Using machines etc for confirmation etc also rests on the same bedrock, they have to be calibrated etc and read with reference to the certainty of perception.

Of course it does, but because human perceptions can be flawed or biased, multiple independent testing and calibration improves reliability of mechanically enhanced systems along with the level of probability of the measurements and results.

That is why we are able to land and operate rovers on Mars and robot probes in the outer Solar System

It is also why personal introspections come nowhere near the levels of accuracy and probability of established scientific knowledge.
Like
Alan4discussion #106
Apr 5, 2015 at 4:35 pm

Steve Apr 5, 2015 at 10:57 am

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Sheeple

Perhaps you have not seen a fundamentalist preaching “good shepherd” spoon-feeding dogma to his flock!
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Steve #107
Apr 5, 2015 at 5:29 pm

???

All the types of knowledge or information , including science, depend on the certainty of our senses, that is my point! (Unless one wished to argue that information imparted through language is not through our senses, which I do not!)

The knowledge in question was not “why is a fire hot”, which of course science answers, but the valid knowledge that “this fire is hot”, which is a sensible proposition about the world based on the certainty of perception, independent of scientific knowledge.

We do not “assume” the universe outside us exists etc , it is a certainty. To assert that ” the Universe outside us does not exist” is a nonsense, as it would mean all our knowledge was false and we .could not assert or know anything at all ,so we cannot “assume” the Universe exists, as it is already a certainty . Our knowledge is based on the certainties of the senses, (not assumptions as they themselves would need a assumption to guarantee them… The buck must stop at a certainty, otherwise it is a free for all, and hence welcome God as just another equally possible assumption! )

The scientific method quite righly verifies observations to decrease the possibility of error, but those verifications themselves depend on the certainty of perception as a valid form of knowledge ( otherwise again infinite regress of verifications) independent of (although verifiable by) scientific methodologies and authentication..

And one Nobel prize is enough!
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Steve #108
Apr 5, 2015 at 6:08 pm

Alan4discussion,

A few other “Alternative” forms of reasoning or logical argument include inductive reasoning, abductive reasoning,the 256 forms of categorical syllogisms, Modus Ponens, Modus Tollens, hypothetical syllogisms, disjunctive syllogisms, constructive dilemma, argument by analogy, propositional calculus, associative laws, commutative laws, De Morgan’s laws……..etc.

Whether some of these are categories in their own right or sub categories I leave to you and the dancing angels!
Like
Steve #109
Apr 5, 2015 at 7:19 pm

For the umpty ninth timeTo say there are alternative knowledges is not to deny science and all its power and benefits .

Hah, it just clicked, got it now. Science is anything valid, rationality, learning , reasoning, direct perception,observation, feeling hot, remembering your times table, kicking a ball accurately, walking without falling over, science good, nuanced thought bad, science good, everything else bad……..And you talk about about semantic jiggery pokery !. LOL.
Like
Steve #110
Apr 5, 2015 at 7:22 pm

Hah, as in a sheeple of fundamentalist atheists!
Like
David R Allen #111
Apr 5, 2015 at 7:46 pm

To so dismiss 80% of the world is itself irrational. The way forward is constructive dialogue, acknowledging that different conceptual interpretations of the world have there own criteria of validity, and are not mutually exclusive.

@Steve

How would you deal with the issue. I’ve read all your posts and your argument seems to be that rational evidence based decision making is not the way. You seem to be saying, if I read you correctly, that alternative methods of decision making are equally as valid, or, they apply when dealing with the religious.

So I am curious. How do you negate the evil in religion. How do you keep even the mildly religious from enacting laws based on their personal religion and imposing those laws on everyone else. The USA is a prime example. How do you reason with an un-reasoning person. How do you get them to accept that while your happy for them to pursue whatever beliefs they have, they can’t be permitted to impose their personal god’s views on anyone else.

I’ve always been of the view that if an argument can’t stand the scrutiny of evidence, then while you may not convince a religious person, you can certainly negate the odious consequences by promoting your argument to the moderates of the world.

The problem is, we can’t keep going on with religion doing what it’s always done. ISIS. American Fundamentalists. Two sides of Janus. How would you argue your case to them to stop their influence.
Like
Reckless Monkey #112
Apr 5, 2015 at 7:52 pm

Yes in some cases, but in many Muslim communities their children are sent to Muslim schools and thus do not receive a good secular education. Instead they receive daily indoctrination into one set of beliefs, they often receive a distorted science education. This is unacceptable.

I grew up a Mormon and it was notable that the church tried to get you involved in as few things to do with secular society and involved as much with church activities as possible, there was a mormon cubs and scouts group at our local church, there were basket ball and other sports teams, there were socials etc. Secular schooling can only go so far but I would argue that it is a necessary but not sufficient (on it’s own) measure. We as a society need to be more welcoming and more accepting, but not so welcoming and excepting that we tolerate ridiculous ideas. To me part of being grown up is to be challenged. So I know it seems a bit schizophrenic but from my point of view you’re welcome (genuinely) but you are going to have to leave behind the worst traits of your religious/cultural baggage, that means not forcing your women into bags, not sending your little girls on holidays to your homeland to have their genitals mutilated or you will be spending a very long time in one of our prisons. And IMO if you want to educate your children in religious schools you will get no tax breaks, you must employ qualified staff and you may not discriminate in employment practices based upon your religion. They are genuinely welcome but only if you are prepared to moderate your beliefs sufficiently to co-exist with the rest of us.

I think you will like the podcast I found it useful.
Like
David R Allen #113
Apr 5, 2015 at 8:14 pm

I would endorse Reckless’ link to ABC Radio National Background Briefing program. It is a highly awarded investigative journalism program, and because the journalists work for no mogul, they do journalism of great integrity. I commend the link. I was informed by the same program.
Like
Reckless Monkey #114
Apr 5, 2015 at 8:19 pm

Hi Steve,

The knowledge in question was not “why is a fire hot”, which of course
science answers, but the valid knowledge that “this fire is hot”,
which is a sensible proposition about the world based on the certainty
of perception, independent of scientific knowledge.

we all learn fire is hot through either nerve impulses telling us to associate the look of fire with pain (this to me seems to be an experiment). Or having our parents slap our hands as toddlers every time we approach fire, thus ensuring the same instinct and thus learning from the science experiment of others. Sure as more primitive primates this wasn’t called science but I cannot see the difference. You cannot however reasonably hope find find out something like fire is hot through prayer, or by painting a fire and so on.

I love art, I used to do it for a living when I was younger, but the more I have learned about science the more I think all forms of thought are connected. When try to draw realistically it is greater knowledge of the way my brain works, the types of visual illusions my brain puts forward that get in the way of me drawing what I wish to. I teach art and when I do one of the things you notice if you are doing portraits for example is that almost everyone draws a big circle face with eyes at the top of the head and mouth at the bottom. In reality the eyes are half way down. Now there is something going on here why does everyone do this. Well it was reading about perception from a neuroscience point of view that led me to the answer there is a certain amount of energy we go to discriminating between emotional responses of people around us, thus we focus more on eyes to mouth (the social triangle) thus we ignore the top half of the head. When we draw therefore we draw what we notice not what we see. So learning to draw accurately is a matter of disciplining yourself to draw what you see not what you think you see. This is just one example but I could go on for hours talking about perspective, colour theory the way our eyes and nervous systems work, eye hand coordination visual illusions. About the science and maths behind, surrealist, impressionists, renaissance art movements. The more I do art the more it seems indistinguishable from the scientific method. Any art that is any good that is (in any movement). I am fully aware that many artists don’t see it that way but I watch them work and I see extreme discipline, experimentation, and building up a knowledge of the world around them. And even when they break the rules so to speak it is often done in direct contrast to the real world around them or aspects of it.

anyway food for thought

Regards
Like
Steve #115
Apr 6, 2015 at 5:41 am

David,

I hope I have not said anything whatsover resembling the idea that rational decision making is not the way, neither have I said anything to deny the wonders or benefits of science. If you think I have please quote and I will clarify , or acknowledge I have misspoke.

My only point was to dispute the conceit that science is the only way to gain knowledge of the World, and the only way to make sensible propositions about the World. This is a very specific point, and has nothing to do with the Political struggle to stop the incursion of the Religious into the secular, which of course as an atheist I fully support..

Please note my concurrence with Wittgenstein that most of the propositions of religion /Metaphysics are neither right or wrong but nonsense.

I think people in this thread are so used to being engaged in the great atheist -theist war they take my somewhat pedantic philosophical points are being part of this War, which they are not. To say there are other forms of valid knowledge is not to disparage science.
Like
Alan4discussion #116
Apr 6, 2015 at 6:33 am

Steve Apr 6, 2015 at 5:41 am

I hope I have not said anything whatsover resembling the idea that rational decision making is not the way, neither have I said anything to deny the wonders or benefits of science. If you think I have please quote and I will clarify , or acknowledge I have misspoke.

Strange that you then immediately contradict yourself.

My only point was to dispute the conceit that science is the only way to gain knowledge of the World, and the only way to make sensible propositions about the World.

Scientific investigation, is the only way to provide reliable evidence on which to make sensible rational decisions about the world.

“Other methods”:- intuitive introspection, “divine revelation”, shaman’s psychedelic trips, negative proof fallacies as god-of-gaps fillers, etc. have been proved to be useless.

Science does not have “conceit”, except in in the eyes of the ignorant and the bigoted religious. It has confidence where this is justified by evidence supporting high probability views.

This is a very specific point, and has nothing to do with the Political struggle to stop the incursion of the Religious into the secular, which of course as an atheist I fully support..

“Scientific conceit” is a regularly recycled strawman, which is constantly reinvented by theists defending the indefensible supernatural against scientific refutation.

I think people in this thread are so used to being engaged in the great atheist -theist war

If you stick around here long enough to debate some of the fundamentalists who make up a large proportion of the world population, you will gain a depth of understanding.

The “great science v theist war” is the result of theists attacking science in defence of their woo-magic.
Many accounts of ancient philosophy simply go over these arguments. Most of them need up-dating in the light of new evidence which was not available earlier. Atheism is usually just a bi-product of scientific understanding.

Science and atheist scientists do not seek this war. They merely try to correct the damage being done to minds and societies by the mindless applications of theist dogmas.

Accommodationist fudge, is just posing under the fallacy of the middle ground. http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Appeal_to_moderation

There is no valid middle-ground between science and woo-magic.

To say there are other forms of valid knowledge is not to disparage science.

(Got evidence?????? repetitive assertion is not evidence – what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence)

Nor is there any middle-ground or validity, between evidence based logical reasoning and misfiring intuitive brain fumblings.
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Alan4discussion #117
Apr 6, 2015 at 7:13 am

Steve Apr 5, 2015 at 10:57 am

Alan4discussion,.

You continually deny any validity whatsoever to religious viewpoints, that is fundamentalist atheism.

When you produce evidence for the validity of specified religious viewpoints, I will take that claim seriously – until then, it can simply be dismissed.

Your reasoning continually commits the mereological fallacy. This is not evidence based reasoning but factual “quote mining” .

The “mereological fallacy” is regularly misquoted and quote mined by supernaturalist dualists as the “mind-body problem” when trying to get round the absence of evidence for the existence of “souls”.
Your assertion is merely parroting these fallacious theist claims of pseudo-philosophy.

Nowhere in my posts do I assert that the human brain operates independently of the rest of the human body, so your claim is false or is copying someone’s misreading of the subject.

BTW; “Quote” mining” is a method of misquoting and misrepresenting authoritative persons or documents.

Quote mining (also contextomy) is the fallacious tactic of taking quotes out of context in order to make them seemingly agree with the quote miner’s viewpoint or to make the comments of an opponent seem more extreme or hold positions they don’t in order to make their positions easier to refute or demonize.[1] It’s a way of lying. – http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Quote_mining

Here are some examples of quote-mining:

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/List_of_quote_mines#Darwin.2C_Charles

“We feel that even if all possible scientific questions be answered, the problems of life have still not been touched at all.”
― Ludwig Wittgenstein

Perhaps you should have sought evidenced information from biologists, rather than the vague feelings and wild speculations of philosophers.
Like
Steve #118
Apr 6, 2015 at 7:36 am

Alan4discussion,

Ok, Got the message, “science good, everything else bad”

As you do not believe that perception gives us direct accurate knowledge of the World you better look out for those brick walls!
Like
Alan4discussion #119
Apr 6, 2015 at 7:49 am

Steve Apr 5, 2015 at 6:08 pm

Alan4discussion,

A few other “Alternative” forms of reasoning or logical argument include inductive reasoning, abductive reasoning,the 256 forms of categorical syllogisms, Modus Ponens, Modus Tollens, hypothetical syllogisms, disjunctive syllogisms, constructive dilemma, argument by analogy, propositional calculus, associative laws, commutative laws, De Morgan’s laws……..etc.

You seem to have muddled together a lot of logical thought processes many of which are NOT alternatives to logical reasoning, but which are forms of it!

I did not dispute that these are forms of thinking (it is a bit of a stretch to call some of them like argument from analogy, “reasoning”)

I disputed that those which are not part of logical reasoning, have any connection to physical reality, or that they produce anything relevant to the real world.
The mathematical aspects of some, would of course be included in science, but without a physical evidence base, would merely be “castles in the air”!

Whether some of these are categories in their own right or sub categories I leave to you and the dancing angels!

You seem very confused about what thought processes are outside of scientific logical reasoning, despite me giving examples.
Sub-sections of logic are NOT alternatives to scientific reasoning they are part of it.
It is also farcical to suggest that aspects of mathematics “are alternatives to rational scientific thinking”!
Like
Steve #120
Apr 6, 2015 at 8:00 am

The mereological fallacy is a technical logical term denoting the logical error of taking a part as equivalent to the whole , e.g taking ISIS as the equivalent of Islam. I have no idea why you then bring up dualism and nonsensically conclude my claim is theistic. To say that I have said your think the mind operates seperately from the body is an hallucination on your part.You talk nonsense.

Wittgenstein’s reference to ” problems of life” refers not to scientific or biological explanations of the phenomen of life, but to the day to day or existential problems of life e.g how to pay the mortgage, how to stop the kids going of the rails etc etc .Science does not pay my mortgage!

BTW, i know what quote mining is. If you look you will see I put it in inverted commas and modified it with the adjective factual, indicating I was using it metaphorically to denote the selective picking of facts, Language itself is of course a method of obtaining knowlegde which is in itself is not a branch of Science. Linguistics, the study of language, is a branch of science.
Like
Alan4discussion #121
Apr 6, 2015 at 8:04 am

Steve Apr 6, 2015 at 7:36 am

Alan4discussion,

Ok, Got the message, “science good, everything else bad”

Oh dear! Objectivity is good. Muddled and delusional thinking is damaging! Apologetics for it are unhelpful to people in the real world.

As you do not believe that perception gives us direct accurate knowledge of the World you better look out for those brick walls!

You really need to dump those “faith-interpretation-projection blinkers”! People are very prone to self deception, bias and error.

I have consistently said that that objective observations, and the multiply checked perceptions of scientists (correcting errors and misperceptions) , – further enhanced and calibrated by instrumentation, give us the best information available.

It is you who is asserting there are “other methods” of reliably understanding the workings of physical world.
Like
Steve #122
Apr 6, 2015 at 8:38 am

At the moment I am on one of the remoter Orkney Islands, at the foot of a rather large and bleak rocky hill and the internet reception is not good enough to view videos, although the locals tell me it is dependent on which way the gale is blowing.

Will view when I return to civilisation so no comments at the moment although I am pretty sure I will find it useful and agree with the content. As I said I have talked in depth with my grandson’s young Muslim friends about these issues, and a former pupilat their school, known to them, has gone out to Syria. It is a real and immediate issue in their young lives. I can say that the tone of some of the arguments around this issue, exemplified by some of the posts in this thread, do nothing to help resolve these serious problems and in fact worsen the problem.
Like
Steve #123
Apr 6, 2015 at 9:36 am

Alan4discussion,

You stated that deduction was the only form of logical reasoning, I simply pointed out that it is not. I stated nothing more.

Your extrapolations are just you imaginings , I never said or implied anything that you state. . I just provided a list of other logical forms of reson to point out that you were in error to assert that deduction was the only form. I said or implied nothing more than that simple fact.
Like
Steve #124
Apr 6, 2015 at 10:07 am

Hi Reckless Monkey,

I was not denying in any way the benefits of science .

Just trying to make the very simple point, or so I thought, that direct perception is a direct and valid means of obtaining knowledge which does not need to be mediated through science.

Yes, science can explain how the perception works, and Yes science can verify that the perception is correct in regard to its object, and Yes science can factually, emotionally etc enhance our understanding of the perception, and Yes the perception can be used as part of a scientific data set enabling us to do science so in this sense perception can be part of science, and Yes ordinary people can use the perception to employ scientific methods in a informal way to infer and deduce things etc

However all these do not negate the fact that direct perception is not, in and of itself, science. Just like for a chimp direct perception is not science so for us direct perception is not science.

Science is an activity, a tool, a methodology, a series of rules, the best way to explain the puzzles of the world, a logical way of reasoning, a way to enhance our appeciation of the world, an objective way to explain the world and so on and so forth, BUT it is not a direct perception.

All I am saying is that, Science is not the same as ,or equivalent to, direct perception.

To me a fairly self evident statement, without any apocalyptic consequences, so I am a bit puzzled why everyone seems to think I am attacking science by stating it.
.
Like
Alan4discussion #125
Apr 6, 2015 at 11:02 am

Steve Apr 6, 2015 at 7:36 am

Alan4discussion,

Ok, Got the message,

Not quite!

“science good,

. . . . and its methodologies provide the engineering, agriculture, weather reports, technologies, transport, and medical understandings which run the modern world.

everything else bad”

Where the thinking is “everything else” to the exclusion of reasoned science, the outcomes are explained in the famine relief efforts, the accident reports, or the post mortems.
Like
Alan4discussion #126
Apr 6, 2015 at 11:17 am

Steve Apr 6, 2015 at 10:07 am

I was not denying in any way the benefits of science .

Just trying to make the very simple point, or so I thought, that direct perception is a direct and valid means of obtaining knowledge which does not need to be mediated through science.

Direct perception is the first stage of scientific objective observations. It is not a separate method.

All I am saying is that, Science is not the same as ,or equivalent to, direct perception.

Scientific observation is very nearly exactly the same as direct perception. The prime difference is that science has the anti-bias filters and the error correction mechanisms switched on!

To me a fairly self evident statement, without any apocalyptic consequences, so I am a bit puzzled why everyone seems to think I am attacking science by stating it.

You are making a false equivalence (along with poorly informed disparaging comments about “scientific conceit”), that thought processes with the rationality and fail-safe mechanisms switched off, are credible “valid” alternatives to rational scientific thought.

They are not! – Hence the terms “God-delusions” and “quackery”!
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Alan4discussion #127
Apr 6, 2015 at 11:26 am

Steve Apr 5, 2015 at 7:19 pm

For the umpty ninth timeTo say there are alternative knowledges is not to deny science and all its power and benefits .

Hah, it just clicked, got it now.

Congratulations!

Science is anything valid, rationality, learning , reasoning, direct perception,observation, feeling hot, remembering your times table, kicking a ball accurately, walking without falling over,

Yep! There are scientific explanations and specialist scientific subject areas covering all of those activities!

science good, nuanced thought bad, science good, everything else bad……..And you talk about about semantic jiggery pokery !. LOL.

Oh dear, Just when it looked as if you had finally understood the scope of science.
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Alan4discussion #128
Apr 6, 2015 at 11:43 am

Steve Apr 6, 2015 at 8:00 am

The mereological fallacy is a technical logical term denoting the logical error of taking a part as equivalent to the whole , e.g taking ISIS as the equivalent of Islam. I have no idea why you then bring up dualism and nonsensically conclude my claim is theistic. To say that I have said your think the mind operates seperately from the body is an hallucination on your part. You talk nonsense.

Perhaps to avoid your continued misunderstanding, you should have read the links I provided!!!

BTW: Neither “religion”, nor Islam, is a single body. Both are numerous separate sects described by a collective term.

Steve Apr 5, 2015 at 11:45 am

Nobody owns semantics. Dictionaries do not define words,

You seem to indulging in Humpty-Dumptyism again.
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Humpty_Dumptyism
Humpty Dumpty replies “When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
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Alan4discussion #129
Apr 6, 2015 at 12:03 pm

Reckless Monkey Apr 5, 2015 at 7:52 pm

Yes in some cases, but in many Muslim communities their children are sent to Muslim schools and thus do not receive a good secular education. Instead they receive daily indoctrination into one set of beliefs, they often receive a distorted science education. This is unacceptable.

Having fed their kids on this toxic stuff, and handed children’s education to religinuts, while themselves looking at it through rose-tinted spectacles, these parents express surprise and horror, when their offspring go overseas as jihadists to implement the indoctrinated dogmas which have been drummed into them in faith-schools or mosques! It seems it is only those delusion-free “fundamentalist atheists” who can see such problems brewing!
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Steve #130
Apr 6, 2015 at 12:21 pm

Alan4discussion,

You are not in a discussion with me. You are arguing with an imaginary theiistic science denying opponent. Good luck and hope you win!
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Steve #131
Apr 6, 2015 at 12:52 pm

To repeat again, you are not engaged in a discussion with me, but engaged in a argument with a imaginary science denying theist who only exists inside your own head. Good luck with that one!
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Moderator #132
Apr 6, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Moderator message

We can see this one could run and run. Since it’s only likely to run in circles and isn’t in any case directly relevant to the subject of this thread, may we ask you both to leave it here, please.

Thank you.

The mods
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Alan4discussion #133
Apr 7, 2015 at 6:05 am

The ISIS version of “Trrrrooo” Islam, seems well motivated by their delusions, to kill fellow Muslims from other sects!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-32199244
Mass graves of Iraqi soldiers killed by IS found in Tikrit
The suspected mass graves of up to 1,700 captured Iraqi soldiers killed by the Islamic State group (IS) have been found in the city of Tikrit.

Iraqi forensic teams have begun to excavate 12 graves following the city’s recent liberation from IS.

The June 2014 incident is notorious after IS posted videos and pictures of the killings of the mostly Shia soldiers on social media.

.Survivors say the militants questioned the victims to identity those who were Shia before killing them.
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Reckless Monkey #134
Apr 7, 2015 at 7:59 am

But what are we to make of Muslims who denounce this jihadist version of islam and proclaim it is not “true” Islam? My speculation would be that the masses who fill the ranks of ISIS or support them from the sidelines, with the exception of psychopathic killers, have been energized by political, economic and ethic-sectarian nationalistic ambitions.

Melvin,

You are exaggerating our position while at the same time apparently bending over backwards to pretend that the specific beliefs of these religions should be off the table. This may not be so but it is how it appears. I am completely prepared to believe that ISIS is full of people who hate Western Imperialism (they wish to replace it with their own). I am even prepared to admit that many of them in some cases have some legitimate criticisms and we can make common cause on those issues such as wars over oil. I also believe that some of their geopolitical ideas are conspiracy theories for example that the Jews blew up the twin towers etc. There is a mix of true and false ideas mixed into the cauldron of the current situation. Yes there is politics mixed in there as well. I’d point out for example that the leadership never seem to commit suicide themselves, their job it seems is not so much to die for their beliefs but to convince someone else to die for theirs. I firmly believe it’s plausible that the likes of Osama Bin Laden no more believed in the tenets of his faith than did Hubard believed in those of Scientology.

However, it strikes me that this unwillingness to criticise Islam is hurting us. We need to work (constructively) to help moderate fundamentalism within Islam and this cannot happen until more Muslims are moderate and the fundamentalists are not prepared to blow themselves up. To my way of thinking this requires open welcome arms with the Muslims in our communities, but zero tolerance for suppressing freedom of speech.

What is it about those of us who seek to criticise Islam that bothers you? Why should I be worried about criticising Islam, even if my criticisms are mistaken? If most Muslims are peaceful, then criticism can be taken and either accepted or rejected the same way we are disagreeing with each other here. After all I am only criticising those who take their scripture too literally, they are the only threat. If moderate Islam is demanding that I not blame them, and shut my mouth and not criticise them then by my definition it is not in fact moderate Islam. If you are suggesting that legitimate criticism of Islam is dangerous what does that say about Islam? If comments like mine about Islam such as (they should not cut of the genitals of their daughters, force their women into bags, teach creationist crap to their students) is going to drive them into the arms of ISIS then we are already stuffed. I have no personal qualms with any Muslim who gives their daughters the freedom to express themselves, who give their children the benefits of a secular education, who doesn’t demand exceptions in the law. If their daughters genuinely wish to be circumcised then they can have it done in adulthood, if they wish to wear bags likewise.

How do you suggest we address bad ideas if we don’t talk about them? If the left is too afraid to criticise religious beliefs or others then we are lost.
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Melvin #135
Apr 7, 2015 at 2:42 pm

You are exaggerating our position while at the same time apparently bending over backwards to pretend that the specific beliefs of these religions should be off the table.

Reckless Monkey: I share your criticisms of Islam. The main reason I’m bending over backwards is to stay on topic. Phil Rimmer read an article in the Atlantic by Graeme Wood who warmed to his subject with comparisons to (guess who?) Hitler and Nazism. I am skeptical of Wood’s thesis that all ISIS cares about is murder and suicide as a theological means for establishing a transient Caliphate, followed by imminent immolation, prerequisite for shuffling off to Paradise. We westerners puzzle over the “senselessness” of suicide bombings without paying attention to political motives -power struggles between Shia and Sunni for territory, political power and economic rewards. Why be appalled that scripture is cited by both sides in a civil war to justify atrocities arising from political conflict? Over a third of the population in central Europe perished in the Thirty Years War (1618 to 1648) between protestants and Catholics. Both the Union and Confederacy claimed God was on their side during the American civil war. The British rationalized imperial domination and the Americans rationalized bi-coastal expansion , Manifest Destiny, under the rubric of Divine Providence. Religious fanaticism fostering oppression, cruelty and violence merit specific analysis, condemnation, and resistance. But it is naive to believe that a bunch of people read a “Holy Book” and instead of taking a break to make a sandwich rush off to some village to kill, burn and plunder because God’s word on the page so commanded. It’s the other way around. A bunch of people want the goodies in the “other” village and use the “Holy Word” to justify and absolve themselves of their crimes.

The June 2014 incident is notorious after ISIS posted videos and pictures of the killings of the mostly Shia soldiers on social media…Survivors say the militants questioned the victims to identity those who were Shia before killing them.

The teenage Jesse James rode with a pro-confederate gang that stopped a union train, carrying wounded unarmed federal soldiers. They made the wounded men stumble off the train and executed them. It’s called civil war whether it takes the form of combat, terrorism, execution, ethnic cleansing, or, implicit in your example, sectarian genocidal violence.
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Reckless Monkey #136
Apr 8, 2015 at 7:12 am

Thanks for the reply Melvin,

We westerners puzzle over the “senselessness” of suicide bombings without paying attention to political motives -power struggles between Shia and Sunni for territory, political power and economic rewards.

You had me until here. There are no economic rewards for you once you have blown yourself up. Hence the importance of scripture. I’d agree that the leaders of ISIS have likely no intent to blow themselves up rather to convince other to blow themselves up for them. But to be vulnerable to being the weapon the leaders of ISIS use the devotees must first be primed with an ideology that offers something better than life. The holy word is being used to convince young men and women to end their lives and the lives of innocent bystanders to blow themselves up I’d like to hear an argument that would convince me to do that to myself without believing in an afterlife.

But it is naive to believe that a bunch of people read a “Holy Book” and instead of taking a break to make a sandwich rush off to some village to kill, burn and plunder because God’s word on the page so commanded. It’s the other way around. A bunch of people want the goodies in the “other” village and use the “Holy Word” to justify and absolve themselves of their crimes.

This is a mis-characterisation of what I believe. There was an incident with some ISIS fighters who whipped a man for smoking a cigarette, his brother witnessing this then shot at the ISIS troops whipping his brother. They ran off but returned with more troops and cut the heads off 700 villagers. Now this would have taken a fair bit of time you cannot commit such acts unless you have removed all human empathy for these people. You have separated yourself from them. To dehumanise in this way you must convince someone that these are not people. When the British (my recent ancestors) were killing aboriginals, poisoning them, driving them off their traditional hunting grounds shooting them as vermin they were able to do so because they did not consider them human – do you think religion had nothing to do with this impression. They were in the words of many at the time Godless Savages. As for wanting the others goodies as I said before you get no goodies if you are shattered into a million pieces. Suicide bombing requires religious indoctrination, theft is not sufficient motivation.

The June 2014 incident is notorious after ISIS posted videos and pictures of the killings of the mostly Shia soldiers on social media…Survivors say the militants questioned the victims to identity those who were Shia before killing them.

I don’t understand the point you are making here. Catholics killing Protestants, Shia killing Sunni, the fact that they are different sects of religions I think speaks to my side of the argument not yours. But happy to be corrected.

I am arguing against any dogmatic beliefs driving one towards violence. I am saying the specific beliefs matter. The nature of who and how someone is killed very much relies on what the beliefs are.
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Luis Henrique #137
Apr 8, 2015 at 12:28 pm

You had me until here. There are no economic rewards for you once you have blown yourself up. Hence the importance of scripture.

Hence the importance of ideology.

It hasn’t to be “scripture” and it doesn’t even have to be religious (unless you use “religious” in a quite broad and metaphoric way).

It indeed can even be an ideology heavily centered on economic rewards, as the example below shows.

What you do if city council disrupts your business? You kill yourself, of course.
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Tay #138
Apr 8, 2015 at 2:07 pm

It is not about taking Islam to the letter. it is about honestly obeying the creed. The ISIS folks like the Al-Qaida folks are honest religious people. It is those muslims who don’t come out in support of ISIS who are the problem for ISIS as the quite ones represent agnosticism. If the Muslims have decency they will outnumber ISIS in their response against the actions of ISIS. But that would be civil and that is not Islam. It is about getting to the other life. Muslims don’t respond because their ultimate tribunal will open after every thing is dead the earth has cooled because the Sun has shut down. Islam does not teach peace it never has. Look at the first thing their last prophet did in order to bring Islam to saudi arabia, he went into kabba and broke every god statue he could find …destruction in the name of one god. This is not an example of peace. This is not a moment to blame poverty and corrupt governments of Islamic countries. The muslim men need to engage in sports and the women need to emancipate. They must see their brain and focus less on their femme fatale bodies.
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Melvin #139
Apr 8, 2015 at 3:13 pm

Islam is the fountainhead for a new fascism in the Arab Middle East. Informed by a cult of death and totalitarianism, fundamentalist Islam poses another challenge for civilization in the struggle against barbarism. If not as atrocious as the 50 million corpses left by Hitler’s war on European soil, certainly the Islamic wars for territory, sectarian domination, and national identity marked by widespread terrorism pose more complicated challenges for telling the good guys from the bad guys.

Historically Muslims do not separate state from religion. The state is an Islamic theocracy by definition. The Caliph should show (or claim) he is a direct descendent of the prophet. There is no civil law only the Divinely ordained Sharia law which oppresses women, subjugates masses in poverty, punishes apostasy and heresy while supporting a kleptocracy in luxury. (It is the Will of Allah!). Since the glory days of Islam from the 7th to 12th centuries, most Arab states have declined into poverty, illiteracy and dysfunction among the community of developing nations.

From the secure, warm and fuzzy western European perspective prospering in secular democratic welfare states since the 1950s, the atavistic practices of Muslim civil conflict and war must seem the manifestation of delusional religious fanaticism. (The insanity of WWI and the fanatical bloodletting brought on by Hitler and Stalin in WWII were certainly “crazy” but basically secular in nature and, because of the enlightened reconstruction of Europe after 1946, can therefore be relegated to the “unpleasantness” of a fading past). Current Jihadists may not have been born mad, but drinking the cool aid of the Quaran turns them into monsters frothing blood at the mouth after committing crimes on Allah’s written orders.

This view is simplistic and lazy. If we let verses from the Quran quoted by jihadists, limit our understanding of the material causes for the multiple sometimes intermingled conflicts in the region we tend to restrict our efforts to redoubling missions to killing “horrible” people from gunships and drones thereby confirming the not unreasonable Muslim conviction that western infidels are acting from ambitions to occupy Arab lands. Let’s work with the vast majority of ordinary Muslims in the region who renounce the violence, encouraging humanist reform of Islam to settle territorial disputes, distribute power equitably and cooperatively among sectarian factions, and establish governments that serve the people rather than offshore bank accounts. Easier said than done? Sure. But further reading and research –education– can’t hurt.
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Reckless Monkey #140
Apr 8, 2015 at 6:27 pm

I agree,

and religious ideology is every bit as powerful a motivator to direct that action as anything else. My point if you read the context around that statement was that this is not just about theft. If ISIS is just trying to steal the land of others then it is pretty hard to motivate is soldiers to blow themselves up without some ideological madness first being sewn into their brains. The person blowing themselves up must have either nothing to loose or everything to gain. In the case of the latter only a firm belief in paradise will convince you there.
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Reckless Monkey #141
Apr 8, 2015 at 6:39 pm

This view is simplistic and lazy. If we let verses from the Quran quoted by jihadists, limit our understanding of the material causes for the multiple sometimes intermingled conflicts in the region we tend to restrict our efforts to redoubling missions to killing “horrible” people from gunships and drones thereby confirming the not unreasonable Muslim conviction that western infidels are acting from ambitions to occupy Arab lands. Let’s work with the vast majority of ordinary Muslims in the region who renounce the violence, encouraging humanist reform of Islam to settle territorial disputes, distribute power equitably and cooperatively among sectarian factions, and establish governments that serve the people rather than offshore bank accounts. Easier said than done? Sure. But further reading and research -education- can’t hurt.

I agree with almost everything you said here. Our only point of difference is your point about limiting understanding about causes to jihadist rhetoric. If that is what you think I am doing then this is a strawman. I don’t limit it to that, but I find the left is often bending over backward to deny it has any part, if you do not then we are in complete agreement.
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Melvin #142
Apr 8, 2015 at 9:55 pm

Well expressed. Fair enough. Regards.
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phil rimmer #143
Apr 10, 2015 at 3:41 am

I find the left is often bending over backward to deny it has any part,

This gets it for me too.

@Melvin. My language has always been and one of partials. “great contribution to” is the most absolute statement I can currently find in this thread.

ISIS is interesting because of its very particular cleaving to scripture and that in doing so it seems to make itself more attractive (than Al Qaeda, say) , quite possibly because it can roll up all kinds of youthful disaffections and dissatisfactions unlike political grieveances.

Northern Ireland was a mostly political/colonial catastrophe with religious markers and doesn’t have any real, informative parallels I feel.
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Steve #144
Apr 10, 2015 at 4:48 am

What ordinary British Muslims and non-muslims think..

http://interactive.news.sky.com/2015/PDFs/Sky-Muslim-Poll.pdf
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Rudolfo #145
May 27, 2015 at 1:13 am

Other muslims might not go along with the kind of literal interpretation of the islamic texts as isis does in their “duty” to spread islam, neither do I think they will (be able to) persecute them under any islamic law for doing so.

isis is just a violent manifestation among the many symptoms of the disease called islam. the root cause which are the so called “holy texts” and the notion that these texts are immutable, applicable anywhere, any time.

if this root cause isn’t dealt with, either from within or from without islam, chances are another inflammation is bound to happen, if the more benign symptoms (“moderate muslims”) haven’t already choked the rest of humanity before.

isis is 100% halal
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Alexander #146
Aug 22, 2015 at 2:49 am

ISIS is Islam that not all who say they are muslim profess to this level is a testament to human ability to limit their madness to a small roar. But ISIS is true Islam you just have issues in consolidating the propaganda fed to you and what is right in front of your eyes.
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Alexander #147
Aug 22, 2015 at 2:49 am

The new testament preaches some peace but a lot is still as vile as the old.
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Alexander #148
Aug 22, 2015 at 2:53 am

deceiving themselves or deceiving us
From my own experience its both. Some are deceiving themselves but a lot are just lying because deep down the indoctrination has taken hold and they like it. Trust nothing these people say if they could they would bleed modern societies to death.
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Alexander #149
Aug 22, 2015 at 2:56 am

Not a bad idea but does the UK still have the testicles to do it. Lately it seems the Brits have already given up and will be subjugated in time. Lets hope I am reading what is going on there wrong.
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Alexander #150
Aug 22, 2015 at 3:12 am

The religion is what it is maybe one day it will delude it self enough to pose no danger to the rest of the world but for now insanity of one type or another seems to be the norm.
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Robert Corfield #151
Jun 13, 2016 at 11:19 am

+Roedy, +eejit

“when you say “ISIS is Islam” you are saying “ISIS is the same thing as Islam.”

Keats said “Truth is Beauty”. Does this mean we must interpret Keats as saying truth and beauty are different names for the same thing?
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Messages In This Thread

ISIS is Islam
Michael A. Sherlock, Dawkins Foundation -- Friday, 6 October 2017, 6:44 pm
Seeing is NOT believing
Sant Sadhguru, Haryana -- Friday, 6 October 2017, 6:50 pm
Re: ISIS is Islam
Mubaschir -- Friday, 6 October 2017, 7:40 pm
Re: ISIS is NOT Islam
Shamim Siddiqi, Sweden -- Friday, 6 October 2017, 11:28 pm
west or us? who to blame?
jawaid ahmed,uk -- Saturday, 7 October 2017, 8:03 am