Gene Expression

Pope must convert to Islam!!!

…to show that he regrets his gaffe.

[From the Muslim Onion]

This whole fiasco is making Sam Harris’ point for sure. Too bad I have no expectation that this sort of irrationality can be banished as opposed to managed in the future….

Though seriously.

1) The Pope quoted Manuel II Palaiologos who basically implied that Islam was a derivative and uncouth religion. I think that context matters here, Manuel was a erudite man, and he surely drew upon the tradition started by John of Damascus, in Heresy of the Ishmaelites, to view Islam as simply the most prominent in a long line of un-Orthodox heresies.

2) Of course, the Pope should have known that Muslims would not react very well. It isn’t like they’ve gone through an Enlightenment, and unfortunately their religion hasn’t been gelded. Bad Pope! Now some Catholics are going to be killed by Muslims becuse the Pope implied Muslims are violent.

3) But of course, blaming the Pope loses the context of the bigger picture that over 1 billion people feel that any offense against their beliefs is open season to react in a bestial manner.

4) So, I think it is clear that non-Muslims must take up the burden, in the interests of pragmatism, of weaning the Muslim world off the illusion that their beliefs are sacrosanct. And yet, it probably isn’t going to be feasible or realistic for the religious to say that we shit upon your God. So atheists need to step up. Within bounds, since after all we don’t want to be Rushdied.

Addendum: If you haven’t, please read my post about the nature of religion (as I see it), and my speculations on why there is a perception1 that Islam is a violent religion.

1 – For the record I think Islam’s track record does tend to suggest more violence than that of Buddhism or Christianity.

Comments

  1. #1 somnilista, FCD
    September 17, 2006

    There’s a Muslim Onion?

  2. #2 somnilista, FCD
    September 17, 2006

    I see “Pope” is the latest key word highlighted on the ScienceBlogs top page. It might be time for a couple entries with quotes from Alexander Pope.

    In Faith and Hope the world will disagree, But all mankind’s concern is charity.

  3. #3 Thomas
    September 18, 2006

    Considering that it is Christian countries that have recently invaded and occupied Muslim countries like Afghanistan and Iraq and that it wasn’t too long ago that all of the Arab world was colonies of Christian countries I think that from the other side it may look as if Christianity is the more violent religion. It’s just that you don’t see their violence as much.

    In a situation where the West is continously pushing at the Muslim world, doing it’s best to control it economically and military, making fun of their religion really isn’t very funny. Humor should be the weaker person’s weapon against the stronger, not another weapons in the arsenal for the stronger to push down the weaker! A Muslim enlightenment will have to come from themselves, it can’t be pushed down their throat.

  4. #4 razib
    September 18, 2006

    Considering that it is Christian countries that have recently invaded and occupied Muslim countries like Afghanistan and Iraq and that it wasn’t too long ago that all of the Arab world was colonies of Christian countries I think that from the other side it may look as if Christianity is the more violent religion.

    no, countries where christianity is dominant are violent, but not necessarily the religion itself. saying that this is a christian issue is like saying that the IRA is catholic terrorism or that tamil tigers is hindu terrorism, this is false, both groups are marxist influenced and secular. rather, the majority of IRA or tamil tigers come out of catholic or hindu backgrounds (a substantial minority of tamils in sri lanka are actually catholic FYI), but religion is not the motivating factor in their violence, nationalism is.

    the USA is not a christian nation, it is a nation of christians. this distinction is fundamental and crucial, and secularists at home often make it. of course average muslims are not the sharpest tools in the shed so they can’t be expected to figure out these nuances, but, we shouldn’t forget the substance of the facts as they are. muslims themselves often accuse the west of being post-christian and pagan, so it seems rather a stretch to say, “oh, now these are violent christians!” you can’t have it every which way to satisfy your particular talking point.

    A Muslim enlightenment will have to come from themselves, it can’t be pushed down their throat.

    granted, you can’t tame the savage, but, you can contain savagery in your own nation. the reaction of muslims in muslim countries is secondary to the fact that groups ike CAIR are trying to make normative blaspehmy standards common in the muslim world.

  5. #5 bengali
    September 18, 2006

    Am I the only person who finds it highly ironic that the Pope is giving lectures with reference to Islam’s vile violence in a country that barely a generation ago committed one of the worst atrocities that largely stemmed from Christianity itself? I can just imagine the German academics stroking their chins in smug agreement – “How true, violence in the name of religion is unequivocally barbaric and those muslims are a violent bunch aren’t they? Thank heavens we are so much better than them.”

  6. #6 Thomas
    September 18, 2006

    Razib, do I really have to remind you that President Bush is a born again Christian who seems to believe he is taking his orders from God. People like general Boykin are even worse, claiming that USA isn’t really fighting Bin Laden in Afghanistan but Satan and that Bush wasn’t elected but directly appointed by God. Now, if you prefer to say that the violence performed by USA is secular in nature, feel free to do so, that doesn’t make it any better. Instead of blaming Christianity you then have to blame the enlightenment. Personally I think that the fact that both Bush and Blair are unusually religious for Western leaders have something to do with their eagerness to attack Iraq.

    Secular or Christian, Americans are still “savages” who “aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed” for electing Bush and letting him invade Iraq based on faked evidence. Admittedly Americans tend to delegate execution of violence to their ridiculously oversized military rather than going out on te streets themselves, but the idea is the same and America has caused a lot more deaths than those Islamic “savages”.

    I can’t make sense of your last sentence. CAIR is working in USA not the Muslim world, and given the way muslims today can be persecuted and incarcerated without trial but with torture by USA I’m not surprised if they are firmly against hate speech.

  7. #7 Corkscrew
    September 18, 2006

    In a situation where the West is continously pushing at the Muslim world, doing it’s best to control it economically and military, making fun of their religion really isn’t very funny. Humor should be the weaker person’s weapon against the stronger, not another weapons in the arsenal for the stronger to push down the weaker!

    Well, atheists are about as far away from being in control of the US as humanly possible, and most of the rest of the West has no particular tendency to oppress the Muslim world. Thus you could say that we’re in a good position to turn the humour on them – if they complain, we can just point out that most Americans would prefer a Muslim to marry their kid rather than an atheist.

  8. #8 somnilista, FCD
    September 18, 2006

    Off-topic: There is a recurring error on the http://www.scienceblogs.com top page which shovels me on to Google. Could you contact the doofi in charge and see if they can get this corrected? Thanks.

  9. #9 somnilista, FCD
    September 18, 2006

    And yet, it probably isn’t going to be feasible or realistic for the religious to say that we shit upon your God. So atheists need to step up.

    One little problem with that – Many religions, including much of Christianity and of Islam, hold atheists in lower regard than members of other religions.

  10. #10 John Emerson
    September 18, 2006

    Here is the Caucasian Albanian (~Armenian) judgement of Muhammed, ca. 90 AD:

    Muhammed was a “diabolical and ferocious archer who dwelt in the desert. One day Satan, assuming the shape of a wild deer, led him to meet a false Arian hermit by the name of Bahira….. Bahira began to teach him from the Old and New Testaments after the manner of Arius, who held that the Son of God was a created thing, and commanded him to tell the barbarous Tajiks [Arabs] what he had learned from him, his foul teacher…. The gullible and erring Tajik tribe summoned a great assembly, went into the arid, demon-haunted desert, and welcomed the diabolically inspired Muhammed into their midst.” Muhammed is also revealed to be an adulterous lecher.

  11. #11 Pithlord
    September 18, 2006

    over 1 billion people feel that any offense against their beliefs is open season to react bestiality

    OK, that’s one typo you have to fix.;)

  12. #12 Pearsall
    September 18, 2006

    Here is the Caucasian Albanian (~Armenian) judgement of Muhammed, ca. 90 AD

    Prescient!

  13. #13 razib
    September 18, 2006

    worst atrocities that largely stemmed from Christianity itself?

    this is false in my judgement (blaming the holocaust on christianity). it is as valid as giving christianity the credit for western science in the 17th and 18th century. christianity might have been a necessary condition for the holocaust in the form of anti-semitism, but it was not sufficient, i think that scientific racialism played a strong role, so you can lay the blame in part at darwinism’s door too. it is a complex, and i am not really satisified at attempts to reduce the nazi atrocities to one evil root. there were a host of necessary conditions.

  14. #14 razib
    September 18, 2006

    Personally I think that the fact that both Bush and Blair are unusually religious for Western leaders have something to do with their eagerness to attack Iraq.

    this is a poor regression line. after all, as most note the catholic church has been very opposed to the war in iraq.

    Secular or Christian, Americans are still “savages” who “aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed” for electing Bush and letting him invade Iraq based on faked evidence.

    yes, americans are pretty stupid. my point is that on average muslims in muslim countries are even stupider.

    I can’t make sense of your last sentence. CAIR is working in USA not the Muslim world, and given the way muslims today can be persecuted and incarcerated without trial but with torture by USA I’m not surprised if they are firmly against hate speech.

    don’t be a child. civil liberties are a serious concern, but you think aggressive opposition to “hate speech” is the way to solve the problem? those who come to kill you do not always speak loudly.

  15. #15 razib
    September 18, 2006

    p.s. this is a factual point (so i don’t expect it to have much impact), but in the 1930s the nazi parties strength was concentrated in protestant, not catholic areas (despite the bavarian origins of the party). the roman catholic centre party was one of the last bastions of political opposition.

  16. #16 Thomas
    September 18, 2006

    The Catholic church may have been against the war in Iraq, but neither Bush nor Blair are Catholics although both are Christians so that is beside the point. The time when the Christian church had monopoly on representing Christianity are long gone. The Catholic church has been supporting other wars, such as its role in the Rwandan genocide and support for several South American dictators and their violent methods.

    I still don’t get what you are trying to say about CAIR, razib.

  17. #17 razib
    September 18, 2006

    re: CAIR, read this.

    the rest of your assertions are all over the place. be more precise in what you are saying (blair is an anglo-catholic FYI, his wife is a roman catholic, his children are roman catholic).

  18. #18 somnilista, FCD
    September 18, 2006

    yes, americans are pretty stupid. my point is that on average muslims in muslim countries are even stupider.

    Sometimes it seems that there is a worldwide competition to see which countries have the stupidest populace.

  19. #19 John Emerson
    September 18, 2006

    900 AD

  20. #20 Count Ovulate
    September 19, 2006

    In my opinion, Christianity and the Islam are both rather agressive, but they each have their own manner of reacting on things, through cultural differences.
    As I see it, and for a reason unknown to me, a human live is less worth in the Muslim world than in the Christian world, so Muslims would sooner kill people for something they believe is right, but the Christian, Western world begins with some sort of a hate-campaign against their enemy, but later just start a big war (Crucades, Iraq), which in the end takes more lives than the smaller, more random Muslim attacks.
    In short, I believe Christianity and Islam attack eachother for their differences, but they’re just the same, yet refuse to accept it.
    Just my two cents…

  21. #21 John Farrell
    September 20, 2006

    p.s. this is a factual point (so i don’t expect it to have much impact), but in the 1930s the nazi parties strength was concentrated in protestant, not catholic areas (despite the bavarian origins of the party). the roman catholic centre party was one of the last bastions of political opposition.

    Exactly so. And thanks for not only knowing that–but for taking the trouble to point it out.

  22. #22 Prince Captivate
    September 20, 2006

    As Razib pointed out, the US is not a christian nation, but rather a nation of majority christian, minority jew, muslim, hindu, buddhist, deist, theist, unitarian, bahai, atheist . . . . . .

    People who paint the Iraq war as an instance of religious (christian) aggression against another religion (muslim) only display a lack of cogniscence. The crusades–now THAT! was a war of christian against muslim. But that was a long time ago I think.

  23. #23 solus rex
    September 21, 2006

    groups like CAIR are trying to make normative blaspehmy standards common in the muslim world.

    CAIR and its ilk (MSA etc.) are propaganda/litigation/intimidation branches of jihad. Their means may seem superficially different from those of, say, Theo van Gogh’s murderer, or the DC snipers, or the recent Seattle shooter — but the goal is the same.

  24. #24 NuSapiens
    September 22, 2006

    The guy in power has a moral perogative to Take the High Ground. “He did it first” isn’t an excuse on the playground, so it shouldn’t be for adults either.

    If the Pope believes he represents a religion of peace, he should in his deeds promote peace. Provocative statements do not promote peace, and are not made by peacemakers.

    An tactic for people in power is to provoke the underdog and then use the response of fools as a pretext for aggression. There really is some cunning wisdom behind that whole “turn the other cheek” idea – it dismantles the positive feedback loop of human reflexive violence. Anyway, the Pope is good at Biblical exegesis but that doesn’t make him a Christian.

  25. #25 solus rex
    September 24, 2006

    For a billion-strong religious identity, to portray themselves as an underdog have been one of the neatest/dirtiest tricks they managed to pull. With the active complicity of well-meaning imbeciles and ill-meaning scumbags in the West itself, of course.

  26. #26 razib
    September 25, 2006

    For a billion-strong religious identity, to portray themselves as an underdog have been one of the neatest/dirtiest tricks they managed to pull.

    analogizing 1 billion with a individual, and using the term ‘underdog,’ is problematic. but, if the west wished too, i have no doubt that it could exterminate 99% of muslims via a combination of conventional genocide and tactical nuclear weapons. the issue is not the wherewithal, but the will. i doubt muslim world could do this because of a lack of materiel and human capital.

  27. #27 solus rex
    September 26, 2006

    i doubt muslim world could do this because of a lack of materiel and human capital.

    But not the will, obviously.

  28. #28 James
    September 29, 2006

    Prince Capitvate: “The crusades–now THAT! was a war of christian against muslim.”

    Except of course when the Old man of the Mountain came to an “accommodation” with the Knights Hospitallier.

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