Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Distinction Within Religious Criticism

Intelligent, discerning human beings are able to distinguish between the criticism of religion in general as opposed to the criticism of the behavior of the particular religions adherents. It is further obvious to anyone willing to do some reading that all three Abrahamic religions contain a disturbing amount of incitements to violence and conflict. A large portion of the Pentateuch is essentially a long index of death sentences while the Gospels generally reaffirm, uphold or approach the commandments ambiguously and throughout the Qur’an are found similar edicts.
For an individual to claim that one religion is “better” than another based upon the adherents’ behavior is to fundamentally miss the point.
For an adherent of a religion with such genocidal commandments to behave in accordance with modernity, the adherent is embracing information, logic and ethical principles outside of the specific religious worldviews fundamental commandments – commandments which have not been erased from the religions canon - and ignoring certain passages found within the text upon which the religion is based, thus ignoring specific aspects of the particular religion. Furthermore such an adherent is very clearly ignoring explicit commandments which incite violence and aggressive conflict, while doing absolutely nothing in the way of extricating such incitements from the religions scripture. This is dangerous, for as Sam Harris adeptly illustrates, such moderation as exemplified in the ignoring of nefarious aspects of a religious text – which explicit commandments seem to object to – is simply that, a neglect of the incitements. This offers no bulwark against the persisting violence and savage aspects of the religion in general. It allows the possibility for any number of adherents to later embrace such barbarism.
So long as the religions proclaim that their books are holy, sacred, or worthy of our consideration whatsoever, while not outright expunging the nefarious aspects, they are necessarily allowing, at least implicitly, the incitements to violence and conflict to remain a part of the religion. Only when such incitements are completely abolished, until they are entirely extricated from the religious scriptures, are the religions then free of being charged of association with such views and incitements.
It is an elementary truism that what is ignored today yet allowed to persist may tomorrow be once again embraced. To argue that Islam as a religion is any more intolerant or violent than either Christianity or Judaism is to fail to understand the nature of religious criticism and to fail to make the most rudimentary of distinctions. There is no dispute that currently Islam as it is being practiced by its adherents is more violent and nefarious than either Christianity or Judaism, by way of statistics. However, the religions all share an almost entirely equal amount of culpability so far as the contents of their religious texts are concerned; while such commandments remain in the religious texts, so to do they remain a part of the overall religion in general, irregardless of whether or not they are currently being acted upon.
Islam is, statistically, currently motivating the most violent and aggressive adherents; however, there was a period in history when Islamic adherents were the more peaceful and tolerant. Christianity and Judaism both share past histories of the violent and aggressive nature inherent in their scriptures being acted out through their adherents as commanded by the corresponding religious texts. So long as such commandments remain a part of the scriptures, and thus a part of the religions, so to remains the possibility that the adherents of these religions may once again adopt an affirmative view of the violent and aggressive commandments.
It is an objective fact that the three religions which have been mentioned all share an equal amount of culpability for the incitements to violence and conflict which exist in the religious texts upon which the religions are founded; and unless or until such savage and genocidal filth is eradicated from the texts this will remain a truism. No one religion is superior to the others in this fundamental sense.