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Friday, June 17, 2016

Reza Aslan Eliminates the danger of Islamic Violence























Parents, stop worrying about whether your kids are going to join a cult or extremist ideology.  It doesn't matter.   It only matters that you raised them well.  

After all, Nazism is just an ideology, and like all ideologies, what you make of it depends entirely on what you bring to it.  Those who are naturally violent, like Adolf Hitler, bring genocide and attacks on Germany's neighbors.  But gentle, kind, and loving converts to Nazism, do as you know make a name for themselves by feeding the poor, curing the sick, and holding the hands of the terminally-ill poor, around the world.  

Voldemortism is also just a magical orientation, and like all such orientations, depends no more and no less than on what you bring to it.  If you are incurably gothic, you will probably get nothing out of it but death to muggles.  But many other followers of Voldemort become outstanding and kindly citizens, known for their public-spiritedness.  This is why "Death-Eaters" are known for their charity work on six continents, and are fast putting Kiwanas and Lions Club out of business.  

Security Risks?

Satanism, too, is just one of many choices off the shelf of modern religions, no better or worse than any other, which will in no way affect your kids, should they choose to hang their hats on that particular sharpened peg.  

Quarkerism, too, is just a denomination.  Like all denominations, what you make of it depends no more and no less than on what you bring to it.  If you're a violence person, then you will join the world-wide Quaker Jihad, and blow up people on a weekly basis on every continent except Antarctica.  (Since Quakerism just happened to spread by men on camels carrying swords, and there are no camels in Antarctica.)

Thank you, Professor Aslan, for explaining to your intellectual inferiors why they, too, can stop worrying, and learn to love the jihad.  We now realize, as Shakespeare put it, that "nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

And I think you're a poor logician with a shaky grasp on the relationship between ideas and actions.  But no doubt in your own mind, you're brilliant.  


15 comments:

steve said...

Better to keep your eye out for those radical, militant Amish!

David B Marshall said...

Thanks. I'll watch my back when I'm in central Ohio, and hide behind a tree like Frodo Baggins when I hear the sound of horses' hooves.

Arizona Atheist said...

I partially agree with you here. I would agree with Aslan that some people are just violent who then justify that violence by citing religious texts, but as you correctly argue that ignores those who are obviously inspired by their religion to carry out violence.

What I find remarkable is your use of the very same argument that atheists level against Christianity against a religion that isn't yours. But when someone uses the very same argument against your religion suddenly you use much the same argument Aslan does, arguing that it's not Christianity that is the cause for violence, it must come from another source, possibly their own violent tendencies. You don't explicitly refer to any cause but you still deflect blame for what is clearly religiously inspired violence and intolerance. (In your book The Truth Behind the New Atheism you write, “Men and women called by God to 'play' the chords of the Gospel to make, mend, catalyze, and move things to where they belong in society. Of course, believers often strike 'wrong' cords, or right cords out of key. From such discords arise inquisitions, witch hunts, and crass religious come-ons. But when Christians act on Gospel teachings in tune with the Holy Spirit to respond to the needs of the world, a higher-order 'music of life' emerges.”)

You are essentially making the argument that if only those violent Christians read the Bible in its proper context none of this violence would have happened. Therefore, these violent Christians must just be violent people because they couldn't possibly have gotten their ideas from the Bible.

By the way “jihad” was originally a peaceful, internal struggle against human desires and other “sins” but centuries later was reinterpreted to imply violence, distorting its original message and the religious texts related to it. You may want to read the book Striving in the Path of God.

David B Marshall said...

What I find remarkable is that anyone can't tell the difference between a religion founded by a man who abused women, tortured and enslaved enemies, and began numerous offensive war campaigns, and one founded by someone who told his followers to "love their enemies," and set an example that fit those words. The differences between Mohammed and Jesus are so stark, that the real question is how anyone manages to overlook them:

http://touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=15-09-032-f

I wouldn't presume to argue with Affsaruddin. But most Islamic scholars seem to disagree, Bernard Lewis notes, and the Koran itself seems to present a jihad-as-warfare view that seriously undermines the notion that that connection was only made centuries later.

Arizona Atheist said...

"What I find remarkable is that anyone can't tell the difference between a religion founded by a man who abused women, tortured and enslaved enemies, and began numerous offensive war campaigns, and one founded by someone who told his followers to 'love their enemies,' and set an example that fit those words."

It's certainly true that the Bible depicts Jesus preaching non-violence and peace, but it also depicts a violent and intolerant person. Examples include (I assume you know these verses w/o having to look them up): Matthew 10.34-37, Matthew 5.38-42; while this could certainly be read as a non-violent precept some scholars view it from a different angle. Jerome Rausch argues that “if we read it as a contradiction to primitive justice, we notice that it can be read as a contradiction to all justice. That is, turn the other cheek, never demand one's rights. However, if rights are never demanded, one could argue – and it has been argued – those rights cease to exist. Those who govern become aristocrats, and those who are governed become sheep.” (Avalos Bad Jesus, pgs. 94-95) and John 2.15, among others.

The exact same could be said of Muhammad. The Qur'an and Hadith both depict Muhammad as both violent and peaceful. Examples include: “Whoever changes his religion, kill him.” (Sunan an-Nasa'i: Book 37, Hadith 97) He also reportedly said, speaking of charity and patience: “Whatever wealth I have, I will not withhold from you. Whosoever would be chaste and modest; Allah will keep him chaste and modest and whosoever would seek self-sufficiency, Allah will make him self-sufficient; and whosoever would be patient, Allah will give him patience, and no one is granted a gift better and more comprehensive than patience.” (Abu Sa'id Al-Khudri: Book 1, Hadith 26) A common criticism of Muhammad and the Qur'an is that they condone the abuse of women, but there are conflicting narratives even on this subject. Muhammad has said, “He should give her the appropriate beating according to Allah’s Book, but not Hurl reproaches at her. He said a fourth time: If she does it again, he should give her the appropriate beating according to Allah’s Book, and then should sell her even if only for a rope of hair.” (Sunan Abi Dawud: Book 40, Hadith 121) In contrast, it is also reported in the Hadith that “The Messenger of Allah never beat any of his servants, or wives, and his hand never hit anything.” (Sunan Ibn Majah: Book 9, Hadith 2060) Muhammad is also to have said, “Be content, and you will be the most grateful of people to Allah. Love for people what you love for yourself, and you will be a (true) believer. Be a good neighbor to your neighbors, and you will be a (true) Muslim. And laugh little, for laughing a lot deadens the heart.” (Sunan Ibn Majah, Zuhd: Book 37, Hadith 4357) Finally, he said (contradicting the above message), “Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error.” (Sunan Abi Dawud: Book 15, Hadith 206)

Cont.

Arizona Atheist said...

The Qur'an presents the same contradictory message: “...defend themselves only after they are unjustly attacked.” (26:227); “But if the enemy incline toward peace, you also incline toward peace.” (8:112); “If it had been Allah's Plan, they would not have taken false gods: but We made you not one to watch over their doings, nor are you set over them to dispose of their affairs.” [emphasis mine] (6:107); “Allah does not forbid you, with regard to those who do not fight you for your Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loves those who are just.” (60:8)

On the other hand, there also these kinds of verses: “Fight those who do not believe in Allah...” (9:29) “Those who reject Our Signs, We shall soon cast into the Fire: as often as their skins are roasted through, We shall change them for fresh skins, that they may taste the penalty.” (4:56)

It is impossible to argue that either the Bible/Jesus or Qur'an/Muhammad preached just love and peace or simply hate and violence. The fact is both can be found in the words and deeds off both men, as well as the sacred texts of both religions.

“I wouldn't presume to argue with Affsaruddin. But most Islamic scholars seem to disagree, Bernard Lewis notes, and the Koran itself seems to present a jihad-as-warfare view that seriously undermines the notion that that connection was only made centuries later.”

Yes, the Qur'an, as just noted, contains many violent verses, but it also does present jihad as an internal struggle. One example off the top of my head is 22:78: “And strive in His cause as you ought to strive, (with sincerity and under discipline).” (The Qur'an: A Translation, Abdullah Yusuf Ali) I read of others, I believe in the book by Michael Bonner titled Jihad in Islamic History: Doctrines and Practice, but don't quote me on that.

David B Marshall said...

Avalos is capable of making any argument, however wretched, to attack Christianity, as I have shown in this forum in ample detail. When I do that, he generally attacks me personally rather than demonstrating my error in regard to his exegesis, which I take as a concession.

Jesus did not teach his followers to become sheep. Jesus was not a sheep himself. Any exegesis that comes to that conclusion, is nonsense. People didn't get crucified by the Romans, and turned over for death by the Jewish leaders, for saying "Baaaa!" and eating grass.

But he did teach love.

A sane exegesis of the New Testament sees the forest as well as the trees. I don't expect such an exegesis from Hector Avalos.

See, for example, my response to Avalos' "Jesus Commands Hate" on this site, and in How Jesus Passes the Outsider Test. It is, I believe, as thorough a debunking as one can find in this sort of scholarship.

Any reading of the NT that does not recognize that Jesus was at least among the world's great apostles of love, is nuts: even the Jesus Seminar can see that. That is the forest, and it is broad as Fangorn Forest. Similarly, any reading of Mohammed's life that does not honestly deal with the fact that he engaged in and therefore modeled assassination, murder, offensive warfare, enslavement, and grotesque abuse of women in the name of God for his own pleasure, is morally corrupt and exegetically dishonest, IMO. I suspect you see both facts, if you have read the two books: don't try to confuse them with relativistic games.

As for women and the Koran, I deal with every single major Quranic comment on women in my posts on that subject on this site. I think that is enough to establish Mohammed's cruelty, without bothering with the hadith.

Arizona Atheist said...

I will ignore the comments about Avalos since they were not only horribly inaccurate, but also a complete non-answer to a reasonable critique. It is certainly a different perspective but one that isn't unreasonable.

Yes Jesus taught love, but he also preached hate and the destruction of all who refuse to follow him once he returns as told in the book of Revelation. As I said, which was the original point I made, you highlight another religion's founder's abhorrent behavior while ignoring or deflecting the same or similar behavior from your own religion's founder.

Relativistic games? I've done no such thing. I'm merely pointing out what you fail or refuse to see: Jesus' often immoral behavior and Muhammad's moral behavior. The fact is, both were moral and immoral and times, and both preached moral and immoral things at times. If you want my view of which figure is more moral I'm not sure. I'd say it's a toss up. Of course, I have no doubt that will ruffle your feathers, but that just goes back to the original point I first made and continue to make.

For example, Muhammad preached (in contrast to other passages, as noted earlier) that religion should not be forced on anyone. In contrast Jesus tells everyone that he shall come back with an army and slay anyone who dares not follow him and he will rule with an iron fist (again in contrast to other passages). Revelation 19:15 for example.

I agree Muhammad is said to have done horrible things but you can't ignore the contrasting passages or the repulsive passages in Revelation and others when Jesus isn't on his best behavior.

David B Marshall said...

Avalos is relevant, because you are echoing his arguments, which I refuted here:

http://christthetao.blogspot.com/2012/01/jesus-command-hate-origins-of-religious.html

And you are engaging in equivocation. Revelations is not about the historical Jesus. It is an end-times vision of war between God and the devil, with humanity mostly lining up in the latter camp, and being judged supernaturally (not by human agents) for our sins. So for you to compare "Jesus" and "Mohammed" by bringing in St. John's vision of the End Times and talk about "Jesus' often immoral behavior" is a kind of shell game. You're comparing apples to oranges. But that's progress of a sort: at least, unlike Avalos, you're not trying to pretend that the historical Jesus really taught his disciples to hate their parents, or something.

You're in a bad way if you think it's a "toss-up" between the author of the Sermon on the Mount, who healed even his enemies, wielded no weapons, fed the hungry, kissed his betrayer, and said "Father, forgive them!" from the cross, and the raping, enslaving, war-mongering, torturing, wife-abducting, woman-abusing Mohammed. The inability to clearly and easily distinguish between these two gentlemen is a parody of intellectual self-immobilization. It's like saying, "In a vision, I perceive a black spot on the flank of that polar bear -- I really can't tell its color apart from a black bear."

Yes, Christianity preaches that God will bring about ultimate justice, including judgement against sin and oppression. Whether you call that hatred or hope, is another matter.

But the OP quotes Aslan on this-world violence against innocent women and children by marauding Buddhist monks, not by God or Buddha against sinners at the end of the world. That's really a different subject.

Arizona Atheist said...

I'm at a loss of what to say at this point. I've repeatedly made my case, which you have continuously mischaracterized. Not only that but you have also failed to respond to these many conflicting narratives within the Bible.

After reading the link provided there was not a single coherent response to Avalos' arguments in his books Fighting Words or Bad Jesus. Other than insulting him you did not deal with Avalos' citing (nor the examples provided by me) of the clearly violent passages, even those featuring Jesus. Nor did you deal with Avalos' detailed linguistic analysis of the verses in question in either book. Anyone who has read those books ought to easily see this.

If you ever care to respond with actual arguments regarding this issue I'm still waiting for a response from you to my detailed review of your book The Truth Behind the New Atheism (since I make exactly this point we're sort of discussing in a number of instances). If you happen to point your readers to your lack luster response to a very minuscule portion of my review titled “Response to Arizona Atheist: On Early Christians, Richard Carrier and Blind Faith” I've already responded a number of years ago.

Thanks.

David B Marshall said...

Ken: If you can read that article and claim "there was not a single coherent response to Avalos' arguments," then you are completely divorced from reality.

But I knew that.

It would be an irresponsible waste of time to refute arguments from someone who is unable to recognize a telling opposing argument even as an argument, let alone as telling. Thanks, Ken, but I have more pressing matters to attend to.

Arizona Atheist said...

I'm sorry, but the only one divorced from reality is you. I've demonstrated this more times than I can count (anyone reading this is encouraged to read the numerous responses I've written). Yes, that is harsh to say but it is true. But please don't let that close your mind to what I have to say.

Unfortunately, if you're still too much in denial to even comprehend such a simple truth as the one I've been trying to get across the last few weeks, let alone many of the other deeper issues you have discussed with your critics, it seems there are larger issues you need to grapple with.

If you are as devoted to truth as you claim you would set aside your ego, or whatever is driving this head-in-the-sand syndrome you have, and you would gladly accept critics' opinions, counter-arguments, and suggestions. I'm not asking that you drop your beliefs just because someone disagrees with you, only that from now on you actually research the topics at hand rather than lob insults, deflect, and evade criticisms. Hell, truth is, at one point you and I were not that much different. When I had first written the initial review of The Truth Behind the New Atheism I thought for sure I had written something good. Truth is, I look back on that first review and cringe. Not that it was as bad as you have repeatedly said, in that I got nothing right (because I did), but because I considered the possibility that I could be wrong and I re-read the book and studied much more deeply the issues discussed in your book. I realized that there was much room for improvement so I set about correcting the issues I found, not only with my review, but my lack of knowledge of all of these issues theists and atheists debate every day. That is what someone does when they are dedicated to seeking the truth (about anything). Never once have I witnessed such actions on your part. Why do you think that is? Please think about that. I know now that the reasons I got so angry at your insults was because I was not confidant in what I had written (along with my aversion to insults over my being incessantly teased as a child over my prosthetic leg) and it caused a lot of anger on my part. Perhaps, if you are honest with yourself, you might see that as a possible cause of your need to belittle and insult anyone who criticizes you in even the most minor of way. It's only a suggestion. You have to look inside yourself to know for sure. Then maybe you can better get along with critics and maybe even be open to acknowledging issues with your responses and your justifications for belief. Another added benefit could be that you will be treated with more respect than you currently are. You can't accept people to show respect when you refuse to give it first. Again, that is what people do when they seek truth, do they not? Please think about that.

I'm out. *mic drop*

Chavoux said...

Dear AA, You said "t's certainly true that the Bible depicts Jesus preaching non-violence and peace, but it also depicts a violent and intolerant person. Examples include (I assume you know these verses w/o having to look them up): Matthew 10.34-37, Matthew 5.38-42; while this could certainly be read as a non-violent precept some scholars view it from a different angle. Jerome Rausch argues that “if we read it as a contradiction to primitive justice, we notice that it can be read as a contradiction to all justice. That is, turn the other cheek, never demand one's rights. However, if rights are never demanded, one could argue – and it has been argued – those rights cease to exist. Those who govern become aristocrats, and those who are governed become sheep.” (Avalos Bad Jesus, pgs. 94-95) and John 2.15, among others.

Simply look at the verses you quote in the context of the life of Jesus and see if your characterization of Jesus as "a violent and intolerant person" holds up.
Matt.10:34-38 - "Don’t think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn’t come to send peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man at odds against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.A man’s foes will be those of his own household. (prophetic quote from Micah 7:6) He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me isn’t worthy of me. He who doesn’t take his cross and follow after me, isn’t worthy of me." Is this saying that we as Christians should act violently towards anybody (or that Jesus condones such violence or participated in it)? We know that Jesus' own brothers at first did not believe in Him and at one stage thought Him to be mad. And I personally know of Christians thrown out of their families because they became believers in Jesus Christ. And the context makes it clear that this is given in the context of persecution of disciples of Jesus (just before the quoted verses it talks about confessing Jesus before men). And it actually mentions that we should deny ourselves and take up our crosses (as people who are about to be executed) to follow Jesus. How is it possible to read it as referring to violence?

Chavoux said...

continue... Matt.5:38-42 - "You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, don’t resist him who is evil; but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. If anyone sues you to take away your coat, let him have your cloak also. Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and don’t turn away him who desires to borrow from you." Now, can you honestly say that these are the words of a "violent and intolerant person"? Seriously? To say that for us never to demand "our rights" means that somehow those rights cease to exist for others does not follow in any logic I can see. What is more, is that the very same teaching of Jesus (Matt.5-7) makes it clear that the Law (Torah) with all its requirements for justice still stands, but in our personal lives we are to go beyond it, not to destroy it! By not repaying evil with evil, we are not making evil good somehow... it is still evil. And in that sense only, you are correct to call Jesus intolerant: He is indeed intolerant of evil. The example of his cleansing the temple in John 2 is not (as often depicted) a temper tantrum. Instead, He sits and makes a whip of cords in order to drive out the livestock from the temple, something that indicates a very deliberate action (making a whip from cords takes time). ("He made a whip of cords, and threw all out of the temple, both the sheep and the oxen; and he poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew their tables.") And the interesting thing (recorded in the other gospels) is that afterwards the temple priests and pharisees do not confront Him about it involving any so-called "violence", but on the question of by which authority He did it. That is the life of Jesus, both in words and in action and the example he gave to Christians and taught us to teach to all nations (Matt.28:18-20). My question to you is then if you truly believe that Mohammed (like Jesus) never used a sword against anybody, never killed anybody and never asked his disciples to kill anybody?

Dave said...

I have three questions for you:
Whose wife did Jesus steal?
Which city did Jesus declare war on?
How many slaves did Jesus own?

The answers to the above are "nobody's," "none," and "zero," in case you weren't aware. Now try answering the same questions regarding Muhammad, and you'll see why Dr. Marshall thinks your claim that "it's a toss up" is a load of hooey. The fact of the matter is that Jesus, while claiming to have authority to judge, never abused that authority. Indeed, as far as we can tell, He barely even used it!

And if you take the book of Revelation seriously as a source on the character of Jesus, then you ought to think of Him first and foremost as the lamb that was slain, and whose title at the head of the armies of Heaven is not General, Commander, Caesar, or King, but simply Faithful and True. Even in the book of Revelation, He is nothing if not Faithful and True. That's the whole point of Judgement Day: that JUSTICE will be done. To put His actions in the Apocalypse on the same plane as Muhammad's wars of aggression is a category error of the most egregious kind.

However, if we come to the two figures simply as historians and ask who they really were, there is no contest. Jesus' attitude towards women, those of lower classes, and His enemies stands in stark contrast to that of Muhammad. You are comparing an itinerant rabbi to a warlord.