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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjInNxIwfRw

gsi2-chp1-9 It has come to my attention that Bill Maher has been making some pronouncements against Islam, and this has resulted fierce blow back from the likes of people such as Reza Aslan. Normally I don’t follow Maher too closely. I used to watch his show, Politically Incorrect, back in the 1990s, and though he had his moments of wit, humor, and insight, by and large his stock in trade was superficial buffoonery. So I generally do not pay attention to him. More recently he’s been espousing views which make him a fellow traveller with New Atheists. As a disagreeable person who enjoys some biting polemic I do appreciate the New Atheists for the role they play in the ecology of ideas. They do not hide behind the post-modern fixation on “tolerance” and “diversity.” But my ultimate judgement about them is that their foundational propositions about human nature are wrong. In other words, I stand with cognitive anthropologists such as Scott Atran as to the roots of religion. Though in the God Delusion Richard Dawkins exhibits some familiarity with this literature, in the end his rhetoric and central thesis seems to take it for granted that religion is a contingent cultural invention, and adherence is a feature of improper implementation of the principles of rationality. My own position, in line with cognitive anthropologists, is that supernatural ideas are relatively inevitable human intuitions given the architecture of our minds, which are far less dominated by the ability to reflexively reason than 18th century rationalists would have believed. The more elaborate specific institutional aspects of religion are also probably rather inevitable given the needs of mass society after the Neolithic Revolution. In other words telling people to stop being stupid probably won’t have the effect that the New Atheists think it should. People are just…well, stupid. I do have to admit that there seems a bit of irony in this, insofar as the New Atheists promulgate a world-view predicated on adherence to the empirical facts, but have the normal human bias to discount those data which conflict with their prior model.

But this is not just an issue with New Atheists. Many who disagree with the New Atheists on the cultural Left seem averse to grappling with the empirical facts when it comes to Islam, where because of the New Atheists’ lack of interest in social conformity they express truths as if they’re the child who sees the naked emperor. Richard Dawkins regularly makes bold and laughable assertions, outrunning his own knowledge base whenever he talks about things not biological. But sometimes those who rebut his claims also outrun the facts in their eagerness to “debunk” his unpalatable views. About a year ago I got into a Twitter conversation with financial journalist Heidi Moore, who basically decided that she had to correct my misguided views about Islam. Though I agreed that Dawkins’ contentions were rather excessively general and deterministic, I believed her own apologia for Islam was based on just as rickety a factual foundation. Somehow in the wake of 9/11 American liberals, and to a lesser extent the mainstream more generally, have transformed themselves into Hujjat al-Islam, or “Proof of Islam,” whenever confronted with “ignorance.” The curiosity here is that yes, their interlocutors are expressing ignorance. But in their rebuttals there is also a great deal of ignorance.

In the exchange above Bill Maher in contrast has clearly done his homework. The majority of the world’s Muslims hold quite illiberal views. Not all Muslims. And there are regions where Muslims hold views in line with Christian societies which have undergone secularization. But overall Pakistan is closer to the central tendency than Bosnia, least of all of because there are nearly 200 million Pakistanis today. You can read the Pew survey which Maher referenced yourself, it’s been out for years.* He’s clearly conversant with the details. The usual rejoinder from liberals out to the mainstream is “but Christians too….” Maher points out that this sort of equivalence is just not plausible. Rather, it’s a ploy. No ex-Christian atheist fears for their life, though they may experience social ostracism.

The flip side of this of course is that some Christian conservatives and New Atheists argue for a Platonic and fixed character for Islam. For the New Atheists this follows from their thin and spare model of religious belief, which derives from elementary axiomatic errors. For many Christian conservatives it is derived from their religious beliefs, which they assume to be true. Islam, being false, is always going to be false. But taking a step back from the perspective of someone who believes all religions are fictions, and accepts a model of more cognitive and cultural complexity, it seems striking exactly how pliable religion itself is. If you read The Northern Crusades (against the pagan Balts) you may be struck by the similarities to the behavior of the Islamic State. And you don’t need to go back nearly 1,000 years, the Thirty Years War is more than sufficient in terms of barbarity. Religions are not special creations of god, they evolved from the history and minds of men.

It is true that not all Muslims present views which make one recoil. The problem is that in places like Pakistan enough do that if you violate the blasphemy law you may be killed rather quickly by those who have a less broad perspective. Even in Turkey, which is on the more liberal side in regards to religion, the ascendant Islamists have conservative views which lead them to chide women laughing in public. Depending on your views of the term “bigot” it is or isn’t bigotry to assert that the majority of the world’s Muslims are deeply illiberal, so it is not entirely surprising that atavistic neo-medieval violence periodically explodes out of the nether regions of the faith. But, it is also critical to question whether Islam is constitutionally so. Being that it is made up, like all other religions, I am quite skeptical of that. So there is hope if one keeps the faith that what goes down must eventually come up.

Does, on the whole, Bill Maher express obnoxious and superficial opinions? Probably, from what I’ve seen and heard. But the evidence above suggests that he’s not constitutionally incapable of honest insight.

* By and large Iraqi Shia are actually rather conservative in the broader Muslim world. I wonder of the low support (relatively) for the death penalty for apostates is a function of the rise of sectarian violence in the mid-2000s, where they saw exactly where a proliferation of takfiris leads.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Political Correctness 
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  1. About Shia conservatism, my impression (based on extensive interaction with Pakistani Shias, but no direct experience of Iraqi ones, I admit) is that on the specific question of Takfir (the act of declaring someone a kafir.. And in most cases, putting their life in some jeopardy) even the more orthodox Shias ARE more liberal than orthodox Sunnis and this likely reflects their longstanding situation of being a minority threatened with Takfir more often than not. On the other hand, when it comes to blasphemy against the prophet or his family, Shias are more sensitive and liable to anger than orthodox Sunnis. And when it comes to women, they can be at least equally obsessed with notions of honor (I have heard from an Iraqi Sunni that Shia women in Iraq observed more purdah/hijab than the Sunni elite.. That was probably true and probably more to do with class, but they are certainly NOT a liberal community when it comes to the miniskirt debate.
    Btw, Iran just executed someone for blasphemy against the prophet Jonah.

    • Replies: @omarali50
    The Jonah Blasphemer case.. (the dead man was apparently an innovator and an insulter of the prophet Jonah) http://www.lawblogs.net/2014/09/30/iran-executes-man-for-innovations-on-religion-and-insulting-job
  2. be interested in people’s opinions about Reza. also: Battle Royale – Razib vs. Reza, Sat. 10pm on HBO. loser has to convert to the other’s religious beliefs.

  3. @omarali50
    About Shia conservatism, my impression (based on extensive interaction with Pakistani Shias, but no direct experience of Iraqi ones, I admit) is that on the specific question of Takfir (the act of declaring someone a kafir.. And in most cases, putting their life in some jeopardy) even the more orthodox Shias ARE more liberal than orthodox Sunnis and this likely reflects their longstanding situation of being a minority threatened with Takfir more often than not. On the other hand, when it comes to blasphemy against the prophet or his family, Shias are more sensitive and liable to anger than orthodox Sunnis. And when it comes to women, they can be at least equally obsessed with notions of honor (I have heard from an Iraqi Sunni that Shia women in Iraq observed more purdah/hijab than the Sunni elite.. That was probably true and probably more to do with class, but they are certainly NOT a liberal community when it comes to the miniskirt debate.
    Btw, Iran just executed someone for blasphemy against the prophet Jonah.

    The Jonah Blasphemer case.. (the dead man was apparently an innovator and an insulter of the prophet Jonah) http://www.lawblogs.net/2014/09/30/iran-executes-man-for-innovations-on-religion-and-insulting-job

  4. I take issue with your characterization of the Thirty Years War as a primarily religious conflict. While there was certainly a religious dimension to it, it was really a dynastic conflict between the Habsburgs and the Bourbons, both Catholics.

  5. I take issue with your characterization of the Thirty Years War as a primarily religious conflict.

    rule #1 of commenting on my blog: RESPOND TO WHAT I SAID, NOT WHAT YOU IMPUTE i’m aware of the complex reasons underpinning the thirty years war. that’s why i didn’t say it was primarily a religious conflict. rather, there was barbarity which was religiously inflected (some could take issue with the idea that the expansion of the islamic state in northwest iraq is about religion, as opposed to social and political marginalization of of sunni arabs).

    omar, shia arabs in iraq were socioeconomically lower status. they had higher TFRs and what not. i think that’s one reason that in the WVS you do see them being more traditional/conservative on social issues than sunni arabs.

    • Replies: @LorenzoCanuck
    My apologies, then.
  6. People are just…well, stupid.

    Gold.

  7. It’s not quite as bad when you figure that it’s only asking the “death for converts” question out of the percentage of the population that said sharia should be the law of the land (and for some of them it wasn’t even that – it was “only” sharia being applied to the muslim populations). Tunisia, for example, has 56% of the population wanting sharia law, but only 29% of those (about 16% of the population) favors death for converts.

    The Usual Suspects are much worse, of course, although not as bad as just the one chart would indicate. Pakistan has about 63% of its population that favors death for converts, about the same as Egypt. That gives them a lot of heft, although it’s worth noting that the largest muslim country (Indonesia) is much more moderate, and we don’t know what Indian muslims think on it.

  8. Maher is now coming to realize that the progressives his HBO show often courted are a fickle sort (Hitchens did well to dismiss them with a middle finger). Dan Savage received some of the same medicine when Prop 8 passed and he lashed out against the African American vote proportions. How quickly he had to rush and erase his blog posts and go on PR mode…

    Roland Martin was a particularly despicable practitioner of identity politics and religious apologism, only to be taken down by charges of homophobia (which his wife was happy to help confirm).

    Maher may be on the right side this time, but he helped grow the very same smug progressive culture that now is making it difficult for him to tackle the issues he deems important. The Glenn Greenwald’s of the world are the harvest he (and unfortunately we as well) now has to put up with.

  9. @Razib Khan
    I take issue with your characterization of the Thirty Years War as a primarily religious conflict.

    rule #1 of commenting on my blog: RESPOND TO WHAT I SAID, NOT WHAT YOU IMPUTE i'm aware of the complex reasons underpinning the thirty years war. that's why i didn't say it was primarily a religious conflict. rather, there was barbarity which was religiously inflected (some could take issue with the idea that the expansion of the islamic state in northwest iraq is about religion, as opposed to social and political marginalization of of sunni arabs).

    omar, shia arabs in iraq were socioeconomically lower status. they had higher TFRs and what not. i think that's one reason that in the WVS you do see them being more traditional/conservative on social issues than sunni arabs.

    My apologies, then.

  10. “supernatural ideas are relatively inevitable human intuitions given the architecture of our minds”

    Yes, man is predisposed to superstition and religion. This was useful when mankind lived in tribes but is quite dangerous when woven into modern civilization. If the goal is to make religion less dangerous, atheists should not denounce religion. Rather, they should encourage its more innocuous forms such as Buddhism or even astrology.

  11. This was useful when mankind lived in tribes but is quite dangerous when woven into modern civilization.

    it may not be directly adaptive, but a byproduct of heightened agency detection.

  12. It’s not quite as bad when you figure… (about 16% of the population) favors death for converts.

    to some extent i agree. but then this is exactly the sort of special pleading for civilizational retardation that maher is pinpointing. 16% favoring the death penalty for apostasy in another context would be horrible. certainly it would make you uncomfortable when 1 out of 6 ppl aver such views if you are an apostate.

  13. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I wonder how many think not supporting the death penalty for somone who leaves Islam could be interpreted as insult to Islam and punishable by death. Err on the side of caution, no? Heck, at social gatherings I assent to stuff all the time I don’t believe in to avoid any unpleasantness way below the level of execution.

  14. “Religions are not special creations of god, they evolved from the history and minds of men.”

    The two claims are not entirely mutually exclusive.

  15. That was an excellent video. A good example of how a better understanding of statistics could possibly prevent the constant talking past one another that is common in this debate – and many others. When Maher points out that ISIS does not exist in the Christian world he is essentially pointing out that the means of the two distributions are offset – assuming similar shape for simplicity, an argument that is not rebutted by “some extreme event is not representative of all X!”. Its almost as if Rose is conflating different percentiles from the same distribution with two completely different distributions. Either that, or he is arguing that the nth percentile is not equal to the median which, while true, is trivial and does not address the issue.

  16. Razib: “The flip side of this of course is that some Christian conservatives and New Atheists argue for a Platonic and fixed character for Islam.”

    Not just Christian conservatives. Also some Christian liberals. Obama has tried to argue that ISIL is not Islamic. He’s on better ground when he simply points out that ISIL isn’t representative of Islam. I understand the need of politicians to say, “we’re fighting extremism, not Islam.” Some interpretations of that claim are obvious, and some are absurd.

    You’re right, of course, that everyone — Muslims, Christians, and atheists — are mistaken when they try to read some essential character into Islam, rather than viewing today’s Islam as the result of the history leading up to today. Which is different for each Islamic community. And the same for Christianity.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Freddie De Boer is discussing this here....http://fredrikdeboer.com/2014/10/05/the-united-states-and-the-moderate-muslim/

    He asks, appropriately, WHY radical Islam is so prevalent right now.

    At least partly due to Western action.
  17. My main concern with Islam stems from something Razib mentioned in an earlier post this week, the extent to which “theology plays a relatively minor role in relation to law.” I fear Muslim-majority countries will perpetually have not simply illiberal forms of governance, but non-modern institutions as well. They will focus their energies on re-creating a society imagined over a thousand years ago. And that these governments will likely permit, if not actively support, violent movements within the country that direct their aims outward as opposed to their own shortcomings in re-creating the past.

    I’m not sure how pliable Islam is. I note that Judaism could equally be described as a legal system at one time, but change came with the destruction of Israel, and even now some of the trends in the modern state seem retrograde. And those finding Islam the most pliable are the jihadist, re-creating rules of behavior that permit killing of civilians and legal rulings from unconventional sources in light of the new circumstances they find themselves. A more traditional form of Islam that treats apostasy as a serious crime that requires evidence and allows an opportunity to repent might be preferable to be street crimes from fanatics.

  18. Religion is the product of rationalization without intelligence.

    Therefore, low mental ability is susceptible to religion.

  19. #18, common view. but i’m pretty sure that it doesn’t explain much. though perhaps you could elaborate, as i might have misunderstood.

  20. note that Judaism could equally be described as a legal system at one time, but change came with the destruction of Israel, and even now some of the trends in the modern state seem retrograde.

    judaism’s legalism in its modern form is almost certain a function of the period far after the destruction of the temple. yes, jews had the oral law, but rabbinical judaism really is coherent after the talmud in the 6th century and the slow but gradual socio-economic segregation of jews into urban niches. prior to the 6th century (and to some extent later, karaites), jews had a more diverse array of viewpoints on the importance of law and theology (e.g., hellenistic jews).

  21. #14, i didn’t claim they are logically. though yes, as a matter of fact i’m an atheist, but not a new atheist (so i take a more ‘nuanced’ view of religious phenomena).

  22. Razib, how good of a source do you think Gibbons is in History of the Decline and Fall.

    I ask because Re: jews in the first and second centuries he relayed several primary sources that suggested they were more similar to muslims, as in placing a higher priority on ritualism and ceremony, and very strongly reacting against outside influences, especially Hellenism.

  23. #22, i don’t pay too much attention to gibbon’s big picture analysis, though this is a field where he might be right. we have low confidence on big picture assertions. as for the jews, that is a defensible position even today. though i would say that the idea that jews were very ritualistic is a bit weird in the context of the times. much of pagan state religion was pretty much all ritual. i think there is a point where jews became more urban that their taboos and praxy got notable, but part of it was their separatism and specificity. taboos permeate pre-modern societies.

    as for hellenism, you only hear about the jews who opposed it, and still do (among the orthodox). the jews who were hellenists disappeared, most become pagans (so later christians) and pagans. i think it is defensible to say that modern reform judaism is a good model for the hellenists; they just had a lot of churn, and got swept in the under-toe of history.

  24. Razib: “The flip side of this of course is that some Christian conservatives and New Atheists argue for a Platonic and fixed character for Islam.”

    1400 years and still kicking suggests that looking at Islam through a recent political lens using opinion polls no less, though of passing interest, is not the way to go. There are fixed or “fixed-enough” ideas of Islam to make conversation, opinions and policies meaningful. One opinion is that Islam has a huge component of violence in its teachings (the Koran and the secondary books).

    It also has a huge component of violence due to how it is structured: a call for conquering the world (jihad) but no orthodoxy, no hierarchy, so jumbled verses, some abrogated (generally in favor of harsher injunctions) at the free interpretation of self-appointed Imams: a recipe for the kind of violent chaos one can count on… if not today, eventually.

  25. Islam is fundamentally different to the other “mainstream”religions with the possible exception of Judaism. Three reasons. The primary reason is that it is essentially a tribal religion ie insiders good outsiders enslave or kill. The abbassids created Islam (remember Ahmed was an illiterate camel trader turned warrior) in order to add people to the army to carry on the Arab conquest. Consequently at the heart if Islam is Jihad..cut the necks of the unbelievers. The Sunna and hadiths are full of war and sex (which makes it a good base for religion)So whenever people turn to the fundamentals of the religion, they discover perpetual jihad for perpetual peace. And lastly there is no true islam without sharia law which means there is no separation from the state and religion. so all the power of the state is subject to religious demands. Hence it means Razib that even in the least fundamentalist place in the islamic world one person in 20 would like to cut your throat.

    Of course many muslims are embarrassed by such actions as throat slitting and crucifiction of christians and pagans, but that is despite and not because of Islam

  26. Hence it means Razib that even in the least fundamentalist place in the islamic world one person in 20 would like to cut your throat.

    john, you’re free to have your peace and say what other people keep saying. but don’t address me directly as if you’re enlightening, i’ve forgotten more about islam than you’ve ever read. and that’s just a fact. your musing are pretty much irrelevant to me.

    (i’ve also forgotten more about christianity than you’ve read, so i can actually make cross-cultural comparisons. neat!)

  27. “Hence it means Razib that even in the least fundamentalist place in the islamic world one person in 20 would like to cut your throat.”

    If i am understanding well the results, in Albania, only one person in 104 (8% of 12%) wants to cut Razib’s throat; one in 44 in Boznia-Herzegovina (15% of 15%); one in 45 in Kosovo (11% of 20%); one in 49 in Turkey (17% of 12%); one in 250 in Kazakhistan (4% of 10%)

  28. Just as the German nation (the Holy Roman Empire) reacted to being repeatedly unable to defend itself against unholy alliances (of France and Sweden or the United Provinces and the Ottomans) by begining to unify, the Sunnis and the Shia are begining to form up into alliances that straddle national boundaries. Just as rivals tried to keep the Holy Roman Empire (the Germans) disunited and weak by exploiting Catholic and Protestant divisions, the West created the ME states to keep the Arab masses, especially the Shia, locked down and in seperate countries, and without control of the oil wealth . The incursions into Arab lands, which are intended to fragment states like Iraq and Iran (“Iraq is the tactical pivot, Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot, Egypt the prize”) are inexorably uniting the Arabs. What we are seeing in the Middle East is the birth pangs of Israel’s worst nightmare : an Arab mega state.

  29. @Sean

    Strange. For a country that is about to enter its worst nightmare, Israel doesn’t seem very concerned. Not in the news. Not in the stock market. Maybe it’s not their worst nightmare? Contra what deluded American Evangelicals believe, Israel is not in any real existential danger. They have a much lower opinion of the military capability of the people who are hostile to them.

    Conrad Hackett posted a poll on twitter recently, showing that Americans were most scared of 1) terrorist groups like ISIS 2) Iran gaining a nuclear weapon and 3) terrorist groups like Al-qaeda.

    Global warming was only number 5) on that list. Now, say what you will about climate change, we have to be deluded to even think that ISIS or even Iran is a threat to the US.

  30. Maher is an interesting phenom. If you only watched his movies you’d never know that Tom Cruise was so short, the guys manipulate camera angles and the like to hide the fact. One might think that one can arrange things on TV to make it seem like someone isn’t a complete idiot too. I don’t think that Maher thinking on this is very good, but that wouldn’t be surprising, wouldn’t it?

    The last spate of Western ‘what is the matter with islam’ understandingly occurred right after 911 and sometimes one heard Islam needed a reformation, or sometimes that it needed a pope, and then it would be like christianity is now in the west, or the part of the world that used to call itself, correctly, christendom, or at least a part of christendom. I agree with Z that specific religious doctrinal differences cannot be the problem with islam since very few muslims actually know anything about islamic doctrine. It’s Roman Catholic doctrine that only a minority of Roman Catholics are capable of understanding Roman Catholic doctrine, which looks like an easily empirically verifiable fact, and the best one can do is to see that the Roman Catholics in this group who actually do understand Roman Catholic doctrine are not a minority of said group. I do not think the RC Church does very well with that. How many USA! USA! chanting Americans can explain Lockean social contract liberalism?

    In addition, guys like Maher do not understand their own doctrine either. He thinks that the Enlightenment religious deal is ‘freedom of religion’ and it most certainly is not. Things did change with regards to religion during the Enlightment, but what people who yammer endlessly about being enlightened think isn’t it. What happened during the Enlightment was the success of European nationalism or a tribalism based on being the subject of a particular government in some parts of Europe, England first and then France. Prior to that, European tribalism was based on creed or religion, just like it is in the Middle East today. Prior to the reformation, Euro wars were pretty tame, if the King of England and the King of France were fighting very few of their respective subjects cared who won, since there was no such tribe as the English or the French, and you cannot have a really nasty war when most of the possible combatants are apathetic about the whole thing. People will kill and die for their tribe, they will not die for their govt. After the reformation, when christianity splintered, Europe could full well have nasty wars, since if there was a religious angle, tribalism kicked in, and the possible combatants actually might care who won, thus much bigger body counts.

    The Enlightenment was the endgame of a long project, especially of the English and the French states, to create a nation or tribe to go along with itself, thus a nation-state. A state whose subjects, because of tribal feeling, actually care that is succeeds in things it tries to do, like win wars, is a really powerful state, the nation=state not being the norm in human history.

    Now to the Enlightenment deal that Maher does not get. The creators of the nation parts of the nation states were quite aware that religion was a competitor with the nation for a man’s tribal loyalties, in fact the competitor. The deal offered was more like ‘”I, John Bull/Marianne am the lord thy God, you will have no other gods before me. You can have any gods you like after me, but if you place loyalty to them higher than loyalty to Me, I will see to it that your head gets chopped off.”

    The ‘problem with Islam’ stuff is really that Muslims primary tribal loyalty is to their fellow Muslims or the same sect, sunni, shia ,alawites…, and the ideas, which very few understand, that they have in common. At least some Muslims pay no fealty whatsoever to the states they live in, especially in the West. The UK does not seem to put any effort into getting UK Muslims to think of themselves as Britons who happen to go to a mosque rather than a pub, rather than Muslims who happen to live in and pay taxes to the UK, because the people running the place understand the Enlightenment deal about religion about as well as Bill Maher does.

  31. “yes, as a matter of fact i’m an atheist, but not a new atheist (so i take a more ‘nuanced’ view of religious phenomena).”

    With all due respect (literally – I wouldn’t be taking the time to comment otherwise), the statement wasn’t about you, it was about God.

    The most intellectually coherent Christian theology is all about the eternal God paradoxically breaking through to act in history (principally via the incarnation, and thus humanity). See Jack Miles for a take that is likely most palatable to someone who has forgotten more about Christianity than I’ve read.

    Alas, so have I.

  32. i’ve read jack miles.

  33. In Kazakhstan, Albania, Russia >80% of Muslims believe it is wrong to kill a convert, whereas in Egypt and Jordan >80% of Muslims believe it is right to kill a convert. If the problem is “being Muslim” (Maher seems content to lump all Muslims into one bucket,) what accounts for the difference between the two equally Muslim populations? It’s a small dataset, but the distribution is clustered at the low end, with a spike at 10-15% (AKA the crazies) believing in the death penalty. Doesn’t look like “being a Muslim” is very significant here.

  34. Boris–Kazakhstan, Albania, Russia are all formerly communist societies, which might explain a lot about why they’re less fervent than Egypt and Jordan. Additionally, the types of Islam practiced in Kazakhstan and Albania were often more eclectic than in, say, Saudi Arabia.

  35. @Russell
    Razib: "The flip side of this of course is that some Christian conservatives and New Atheists argue for a Platonic and fixed character for Islam."

    Not just Christian conservatives. Also some Christian liberals. Obama has tried to argue that ISIL is not Islamic. He's on better ground when he simply points out that ISIL isn't representative of Islam. I understand the need of politicians to say, "we're fighting extremism, not Islam." Some interpretations of that claim are obvious, and some are absurd.

    You're right, of course, that everyone -- Muslims, Christians, and atheists -- are mistaken when they try to read some essential character into Islam, rather than viewing today's Islam as the result of the history leading up to today. Which is different for each Islamic community. And the same for Christianity.

    Freddie De Boer is discussing this here….http://fredrikdeboer.com/2014/10/05/the-united-states-and-the-moderate-muslim/

    He asks, appropriately, WHY radical Islam is so prevalent right now.

    At least partly due to Western action.

  36. #36, shallow, though superficially persuasive. ‘islamic fundamentalism’ has deeper historical roots, in the late gunpowder state era….

  37. There is a mullah Nasrudin like joke I heard about the soviet union. There was a congress of atheists on the future of the soviet union . In a side meeting a Latvian atheist and Russian Atheist start chatting and the Latvian turns to the Russian and says. “comrade we will never agree about the future”. “Why not” replies the Russian ,” Comrade we are both atheists. ” “Yes Comrade , we are, but I am a Lutheran atheist and you are a Russian orthodox atheist”

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