Saturday, 3 December 2011

Permitting Extremists

The problem with all the exclusive monotheist religions is that they have a ‘holy’ book which can’t be questioned or disputed. They have a book which they believe contains the holy words of their god as revealed through divinely inspired ‘prophets’.

So it must be true; all of it; without question or doubt.

There is no moderate position possible over this. All truth was revealed by an omniscient god in that book and those truths are eternal. It is not for mere mortals to dispute those truths.

To not believe the Bible, Qur'an, Talmud or The Guru Granth Sahib is to leave the 'faith'; to cease to be a Christian, Muslim, Jew or Sikh.

The best a moderate can do when confronted with something so grotesquely and obviously wrong as ordering genocide or child murder; of permitting rape; of relegating women to subservient chattel status; of encouraging racism and slavery and cultural supremacy, is to try to explain it away as situational, out of context, allegorical, justified ONLY in the special circumstances pertaining at that time (which, incidentally, merely begs the question of just why it was included in the book in the first place), etc, etc.

Moderates claim to be able to discern a message different to the one given in the holy book whilst never acknowledging that the message was wrong in the first place and could not have been the work of a loving, merciful, just and benevolent god.

By defending the inerrancy of the god which inspired the book and the inerrancy and perfection of its message; by explaining away any reason to doubt or question the basic tenets of the ‘faith’ believers derive from the book, moderates grant permission to extremists.

So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites? Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgement. Not the children, for they inherit eternal life. So who is wronged? Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the Israeli soldiers themselves. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to break into some house and kill a terrified woman and her children? The brutalizing effect on these Israeli soldiers is disturbing.

Extremists read exactly the same words and see this inerrant and perfect god inerrantly telling them to kill those who disagree with them; even to heroically kill themselves to do so, sure in the certain knowledge that they will be rewarded by the inerrant and loving god which told them to do such things.

Extremists read exactly the same words and see this inerrant and perfect god inerrantly telling them that it created the universe and life on it in just seven days, and that all humans have been contaminated by 'sin' and need to spend their lives abjectly apologizing and begging for forgiveness for something they had no control over and which, if it was done at all, was done many thousands of years ago.

And so they have permission to tell their unfortunate children, and anyone else's children, that they are unworthy sinners who need to grovel in abject subservience to this god who will inflict eternal torture and torment on them for even daring to think it might not be all true.

Extremists read exactly the same words and see this inerrant and perfect god inerrantly telling them that what they can see in the physical evidence all around them is wrong and so they have permission to insist their children not be taught science but be taught a primitive mythology instead; that their understanding of the universe should never be permitted to rise above that of Bronze Age marauders whose 'science' was such that they hadn't even invented the wheel and believe the earth was flat, had a dome over it with holes in as stars, and stood at the centre of a very small universe.

Extremists read exactly the same words and see a perfect god telling them to kill their sister or daughter if she 'dishonours' the family. They read these same words and see a perfect god telling them to behead unbelievers. They see a perfect good telling them all other peoples and religions and anyone who disagrees with them are wrong and are working for Satan in the name of evil, to be vigorously opposed by all means available, including persecution, dispossession, torture and genocide.

And they have permission granted them by the moderates to do these things in the name of a religion which the moderates have told them they can't question and for a god the moderates have told them is inerrant and perfect and indeed inspired the prophets to write the book they read. The same moderates who have defended, in the name of freedom of conscience, their right to hold their beliefs and to practice their 'faith' free from the sanctions a decent society normally applies to its anti-social miscreants.

Moderates grant permission to the extremists to use their 'faith' as an excuse for their antisocial behavior and an excuse for their demands to be given control over the lives of others.

The only real difference between a moderate and an extremist is the moderates assume their god couldn’t really have meant those despicable things and so must have meant something else, whilst, of course, still being inerrant and omniscient. Extremist have no such doubts.

Tolerating the intolerant and granting them the right to try to take away our freedoms is playing into their hands. You can be sure they would quickly deny us the same tolerance and freedoms they demand for themselves if they ever form a theocracy. The evidence of history is that no unrestrained theocracy has ever been tolerant of dissenters. All unrestrained theocracies have used their power not to improve the lot of the people but to restrain and control them and reverse centuries of social, cultural and economic progress back to some assumed dream time in the Bronze Age.

The support of theocrats for the idea of freedom of religion is inversely proportional to their strength in society. Once they gain power, support for other people's freedom of religion melts away like a thief in the night.

And moderates grant them permission.





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1 comment :

  1. The sad part is hate only has to prove it is religious and it gets a free pass. It is a great injustice, especially when people pick and choose which parts of the bible to believe.

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