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Saturday, August 13, 2005

'Evil' and terror

Michael Bird in a post on his times in the army notes:

An an ex-intelligence operator I know enough about Al-Qaeda to know that they have to be stopped in any way possible. Their goals are (1) to expel all westerners and western influences from Muslim lands, (2) set up a caliphate in the middle-east (like the old Ottoman Empire); and (3) then to export their violence to the rest of the world until the entire human race is ensalved to their pernicious ideology.Disclaimer, not all Muslims hold this, there are moderates and I reckon most Muslims just want to live a happy and peaceful life. But the radicals are not the victims of US foreign policy or merely standing up to US imperialism, they just insidiously evil.

Before I say anything I must stress from the outset that this is interaction with Michael's view and certainly note a personal attack but I feel some response does need to be made. Indeed, the follwing are not aimed at Michael but more broadly at various arguments that are being made these days.

Quite probably (1), (2) and (3) are correct. But as I have said before the resort to 'evil' is just not very helpful in explaining events. I have not problem of course in describing people who will blow up innocent people on trains, buses and buildings as evil. But to say that 'evil' alone is the reason I cannot accept. If US imperialism, the Palestinian issue, the economic sanctions against Iraq, western influence in Saudi, western influence in various Muslim counties with extremely dubious records on human rights, and racism towards Muslims/'Muslim looking' in (say) the UK, for example, did not exist (perceived or not) then the support for terrorist causes would be too minimal to be of note. This only requires perceptions of Western abuse (real or not) and it is no coincidence that bin Laden has used the plight of various Muslims in places like Palestine and Iraq over the years to recruit people. If it was just some 'evil' then why use such rhetoric? It is irrelevant whether terrorists themselves were first hand victims: it just requires the social context.

Compare the situation in C1 Palestine. It would take a brave historian these days to try to get away with explaining the violence of the Sicarii or zealots or some other violent ancient 'terrorist' as simply 'evil' but most rather try to explain the various factors which would give rise to these groups because it seems so obvious due to the evidence avaiable. Could the 'evil alone is to blame methodology' really be applied to the rise these groups or indeed the KKK or far too many mass murders in human history? No, they should be explained carefully with reference to various historical factors. As is often said, to explain is not to accept or forgive. But explaining might help explain why these things happen.

One concern I always have is why the focus is always in Islam. Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Marxists, secularists or whatever have done terrible things and some still do. But why always focus on Islam? There are plenty of other examples that could have been chosen. Why Islam? NT and Xn scholars should never forget the disgraceful attitudes towards Judaism in previous times which have now been shown to be nothing more than bigoted rubbish.

So precisely what is this 'evil'? If we use it as some kind of causal reason for terrorism means it must be defined. Is it a real existing satan working with a force of evil within such terrorists? If so what is this? Some kind of mysterious unseen force? If so can this be put forward as a proper causal argument? If a general legitimate parallel could be found from the first century, would a causal argument based on 'evil' be used? For what it is worth, I doubt it would take off in history depts.

Again, I must stress that this should absolutely not be seen as a personal attack on Michael in anyway whatsoever but just as a reponse to his views and those of others and to provide an alternative argument. I suspect Michael will happily respond to this and I for one would welcome that!

17 Comments:

Blogger Michael F. Bird said...

James, thanks for your comments, esp. your clear and lucid remarks about not attacking me personally.
1. For the most part I agree with pretty much what you say.
2. Terrorism and the acts associated with it are not fostered in vacuum, and certain social, cultural, historical, economic and international forces precipitate it's emergence. I would not deny that Western, especially American, policy towards the Middle East is part of the reason for the spiral in terorism. I reject as unjust the US policy on Palestine and war in Iraq. But I take issue with those (usually on the left) who wish to see the arisal of terrorism as the simply the response to US policy. Bin Laden's main gripe is not economic or political, it is rather about purity and sacred space as he believes the US's use of bases in Saudi Arabia defiles the Muslim land. But I fully recognize the point you raise that one should not 'demonize' groups without recognizing the various forces responsible in shaping the emergence of that violence - perhaps my blog was a bit simplistic.
2. You are right in that Muslims come in for some bad press and are usually picked out as examples. I abhor hatred aimed at any group. I believe that all human beings, bearing the imago dei, have intrinsic value regardless of gender, religion or ethnicity. Pesrons of all religious/ethnicities perform moral atrocities. Nevertheless, many Muslims have performed despicable acts and not just against the US. I was speaking to a friend who works with Sudanese refugees and the terrors they suffered at the hands of the Muslim govt. in Khartoum is horrendous. I've spent much time de-briefing soldiers returning from East Timor and hearing of the atrocities committed by Indonesian soldiers against the civilian population. I don't claim the West is without sin, but the fact remains that some of the most barbaric acts I've had to deal with have been perpetrated by those who are Muslim. Let me qualify that by quoting an Arab TV magnate: 'It is true that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally true, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslim.' I don't wish to invoke animosity against Muslims, but the fact is many Muslims commit acts that are despicable and do not happen in Western countries!
4. In terms of defining evil, there is the danger of trying to be black or white when things tend to be exceedingly complex. However, I think if we do not retain the language of 'evil' then we, as human beings, risk becoming morally vacuuous. The greatest question any moral philosopher can ask is, 'what is evil?' A definition I heard from a Holocaust survivor was that it is 'a lack of empathy'.
5. Keep in mind I'm no right wing fascist who says 'nuke'em and ask questions later'. The question I posed (with no answer) is how are we to respond to terrorism - the fact is I just don't know. If you fight a monster, you must make sure that you don't become a monster in the process. But if you see the innocent being slaughtered before you (e.g. Dafur) that I cannot help but think that we have a moral duty to intercede.
Humbly yours

August 13, 2005

 
Blogger James Crossley said...

Thanks Michael for the non-polemical response: it is very easy for these things to drift into out and out slagging matches (not that I would expect that from us of course!).

I think we probably agree on quite a lot here. Like you, I have no problem keeping the language of evil at all but just not to use it as a means of explaining why these things happen.

I still think terrorism associated with bin Laden gets its strength from political and economic issues and I would include the air bases in Saudi under this too. Again I don't think bin Laden could recruit very many people at all if the US were perceived as kindly moralists. But they are not perceived this way. This doesn't matter if the US do what they do for common good or not: it's the perception that matters. I think left and right could (and sometimes do) agree on that point. The disagreement arises as to wther the intial action was right or wrong.

Quite agree with you on Muslim on Muslim violence: casulty numbers in western countries at the hands of Muslims doesn't come close to what has been done in Muslim countries. What has happened in Sudan is a disgrace and I would have no hesitation in describing that as evil. I'm not actually against intervention and I suspect there are plenty soldiers who would go in and defend such people for these reasons. But the sad thing is that rarely does this happen when there is such horrific slaughter happening under our noses.

But this isn't a Muslim problem as such. Perhaps where I would disagree is the idea of most terrorists being Muslim. I would also argue (and you may well agree on this) it has nothing to do with them being Muslim in itself. A lot also depends on how 'terrorist' is defined. It also depends on where the media focus is. There have been some pretty unpleasant things happening across Latin American over the past 50 years. And there is also the problem of who backs various groups. In East Timor there was of course the outcry as who sold the weapons etc.

As I say there is probably a lot more agreement than disagreement here. It's good to be able to discuss these things without resorting to name calling and all that.

Unless of course you intend to beat me up at BNTC.

August 13, 2005

 
Blogger Michael F. Bird said...

James, I appreciate the tone at which we can discuss and debate this topic.

I don't necessarily see 'evil' as an explanation of why terrorism happens - it's emergence is socially, culturally and religious complex - but I think such actions are of themselves evil.

Sadly, I'm not gonna make it to BNTC, too much on. I fly out with the family on Friday for London and then a few days later up to Inverness, then to Edinburgh for a conference. No, I sharen't attempt to beat the daylight out of you; unless of course you mention Australia's current Ashes performance, in which case I shall not be held responsible for my actions.

August 13, 2005

 
Blogger James Crossley said...

That's a pity: it would have been good to meet up. Well given that you're in the UK these days I'm sure we'll bump into each other sooner or later. Hope moving and travelling are as painless as possible.

August 13, 2005

 
Blogger J. B. Hood said...

It's a good thing I know nothing of rugby/"Aussie football"--I stand a good chance, it seems, of avoiding the wrath of Bird...

James, to what extent is it acceptable to deconstruct religious beliefs and motives in analysis of the current situation? We regularly have to do that here in the States with dispensationalism, for instance. It seems some must be done for Bin Laden's Wahabism as well, knowing the motives for hating the US/UK aren't merely political and economic (though those apply), they're also religious (particularly with our relationship Israel, though again there's lots of politics and economics there).

August 13, 2005

 
Blogger James Crossley said...

I needn't worry, I don't care much about cricket.

Jason, I think it is quite tricky to try and measure what extent religious beliefs account for all this. While I have no doubt that the primary casues of all these problems are social, political and economic, clearly people justify things from religious traditions. While some people will doubtlessly think they are doing the work of God I can't see there being too much support for such ideology if there were no serious down to earth problems. This is not to say that religion can be reduced to socio-economics as listening to lots of different believers shows. But in terms of people doing things like blowing themselves up this almost requires the perception of something wrong in the world. If these things were sorted out I suspect extremist views would get little support.

The US scene is particularly interesting and others will know more than me. As I'm sure you know more than most there is clearly some connection between affluence and certain Christian movements.They need some justification for their status and people don't renounce money that easily. Also, it is no surprise looking at the broad sweep of history that any ruling group would get religious support. So clearly there is some connection between socio-political context and religion too. This is only the surface. There are so many historical particularities which make it all very complex. I always wondered how the lack of a labour movement in the US (like the British Labour party) might affect things.

August 13, 2005

 
Blogger Ken said...

Just curious... if Islamic aggression is simply a response to US foreign policy, what motivated the writings of Sayyid Qutb and his immediate popularity? In response to what US foreign policy aim, did Wahabism develop? Is radical sharia law a response to Western meddling in the Near East?

For that matter, let's go back to Islam's inception and do a little run through, please describe for me the early missionary movements within Islam? Why were three of the four caliphs who succeeded Mohammad assassinated? What is the reason for the division between Sunni and Shiite? Why the existence of the Abbasid, Fatimid, Seljuk, Safavid, Moghul and Ottoman Empires? Why did the Ottoman Empire join WWI?

Let's do some counterfactual history... if the Americans had not stopped Saddam in GWI, he would have invaded Saudi Arabia and would now control the major sources of oil in the Middle East with what was already at the time the world's fourth largest army. If the Americans had not supported Saddam against Iran, the Iranian fundamentalists would control Iran and Iraq. Do you think they would have stopped there? If the British and French had not defeated the Ottoman Empire, that Empire would not only have controlled the entire Middle East but also Greece. Do you think they would have stopped there, especially once they discovered the commercial viability of oil? If the Crusaders had not arrested Islamic expansion into Europe, what would Europe look like today?

From the beginning Islam's history is wedded to the sword. Do you really think that if the Americans just up and left the Middle East today, Islamists wouldn't find another grievance? Remember, the Saudis chose and requested American assistance over Bin Laden's offer of help in the face of Iraqi aggression back in GWI; now some Saudis became bitter about it and fly planes into the WTC?!? Please. This bespeaks something far deeper than anti-Americanism and imperial foreign policy.

Islamic terrorism and aggression is the continuation of an evil doctrine of violent jihad that has its roots at the very inception of Islam; radical sharia law is the application of the harshest of penalties and a source of violent oppression of men, women, and children. Together jihad and radical sharia form a radical, violent core ideology at the heart of Islam that has never been properly addressed by Islamists. The so-called grievances of the Islamists who adhere to these doctrines are a mask for their violent extremism, which is rooted in deeply held religious beliefs that Allah wants them to subjugate the entire world. Until Islam truly addresses this core, violent theology and dramatically curbs its influence, Islamic terrorism and aggression will continue under any pretext that it can.

I recognize and applaud the fact that there are Muslims who have developed and adhere to a much more peaceful strain of their religion. But, let's be straight, James. These Muslims have been slow to respond to the radicalism in their religion and what they regard as abuses of its theology. Only this year did American imams band together to issue a fatwa against terrorism; except for an isolated few, Middle Eastern imams have never done this. Indeed, more imams have issued fatwas in support of the causes du jour of radicalism than against it. Consequently, Islamic terrorism and extremism has a wide and broad appeal among Muslims. Active support ranges from 10-15% in most Near Eastern and Far Eastern countries (passive support is probably much higher) and anti-Americanism is just its rallying cry du jour.

August 13, 2005

 
Blogger Ken said...

One concern I always have is why the focus is always in Islam. Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Marxists, secularists or whatever have done terrible things and some still do. But why always focus on Islam? There are plenty of other examples that could have been chosen. Why Islam? NT and Xn scholars should never forget the disgraceful attitudes towards Judaism in previous times which have now been shown to be nothing more than bigoted rubbish.

I've answered your question by putting in bold-face type the answer you've given. Christianity spent years in critical thought and indeed continues to do so. Many of our leaders have confessed our complicity and sin in the Holocaust of the Jews and the rampant anti-semitism that preceeded it. We have effectively declared the theology that buttressed such perversion, bigoted rubbish. Indeed, Christianity works diligently to repress the abuse of its religion. Consequently, Christian radicalism amounts to less than 1% of its global adherents.

I wonder James, when the Holocaust had taken place, would you have lamented the attention given to Christian anti-semitism and asked why oh why the media doesn't pay attention to Islamic anti-semitism? What's more, to this very day, you will continue to see news items related to past Christian crimes against Jews. Take, e.g., the recent row over the Pope.

There is an obvious reason, however, why Islam is the focus of media attention right now. Islamic extremism is the most active and most violent ideology presently operating in this world. This radicalism is the most pressing threat to peace and security throughout the world since the Cold War ended. When Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians start bombing subways and flying planes in office towers, I guarantee the media will shift its focus.

August 13, 2005

 
Blogger J. B. Hood said...

Ken,

FYI, hindus, buddhists, sikhs and Christians are all doing these things...just not in Manhattan and London and in clubs frequented by Jews and Australians. So they're not quite getting the pub.

August 13, 2005

 
Blogger J. B. Hood said...

Of course, Al Qaeda is a bit more sophisticated than the other forms of terrorism; it has deeper pockets and broader connections, so I think at least some of the attention is warranted.

August 13, 2005

 
Blogger James Crossley said...

"I wonder James, when the Holocaust had taken place, would you have lamented the attention given to Christian anti-semitism and asked why oh why the media doesn't pay attention to Islamic anti-semitism?"

Sorry Ken, how is that relevant to the present discussion???

August 14, 2005

 
Blogger James Crossley said...

Anyway, some very interesting arguments there Ken! Many of them have nothing to do with what I said and more to do with someone else you might disagree with for all I know or care so I’ll ignore those. Instead, let’s focus on your selections.

Why not use Thatcher? She was a good Christian who claimed to have read the Bible beginning to end whilst in office. She helped bankroll chemical manufacturing in Iraq, she wholeheartedly backed Saddam during the worst of his crimes. When a Times (London) reporter in the 1980s uncovered his crimes and published it her govt tried to suppress it. Why would they do such a thing? Thatcher even spoke quite openly (and shockingly) about how wonderful she found the violent non-Muslim Chilean dictator Pinochet, one of her old allies. Or take Christian US president like Reagan, or GW Bush? They have done violent actions, right? They have supported and backed mass murderers with Muslim subjects. There are Muslims who consider these people terrorists and explicitly link it to their Christianity (e.g. Crusaders). So why not take these examples? You may think what all these people did was correct but many Muslims don’t and it is not difficult for some to link it with Christianity. That makes infintely better sense than ahistorical claims of some inherent violent.

Is all that a fair representation of Christianity? A Muslim comedian the other night said that continued media coverage on Muslims as wild extremist clerics was like using the KKK as a repeated example of Christianity and I think there is something in that. Or why not Timothy McVeigh? He claimed to be Christian didn’t he? Or let make this milder, what about the US dispensationalists? There are plenty of crazed preachers in Christianity too you know and they aren’t difficult to find!

And why choose violence from Muslim history? Why not choose someone like Henry VIII of England. He made grand religious claims for himself as king but was hardly what you would call a pacifist. How absurd would it sound if I linked his openly Christian beliefs to his violent behaviour and said that his religion has some kind of inherent violence? Or why not the Reformation? That was a pretty major feature of Christian history and a big blood toll in the name of God there. Does that make Protestant or Catholic faiths somehow inherently violent? Or what about Calvin burning Michael Servetus for his views on the Trinity: very much linked to faith but are all Calvinists likely to do that? I would be surprised. But if we were to say these people and movements were to some extent children of their time then we would be getting somewhere. This is a very basic point.

Or a more recent example: Northern Ireland. Protestants and Catholics have had a recent bloody history there but it’s not like that in many parts of mainland England. Why do you think that is? Do you think it might just be a differing web of complex socio-economic influence? Not a radical proposal really. Why is that Jews and Muslims have such a tense relationship in Israel/Palestine but not say in academic depts or in many parts of the UK? How is it that I have been able to teach NT and early Judaism to a class of Muslims without even a trace of hostility towards Christianity and Judaism and they were all happy to make comparisons with their own faith? Are these Muslims somehow been able to rise above the supposed sword in their faith? How come they could and others could not? Wouldn’t it be plausible to suggest that certain social, political, psychological, economic etc. issues might just have something to do with this? I think it might you know. It really isn’t the hardest thing to grasp.

Why do you think bin Laden refers to the 500,000 plus children who died under US and UK backed UN sanctions or various examples US bombings? If the Muslim faith was inherently cruel why bother doing this at all? This answer is very simple and hardly controversial: he would get little support if he did not refer to sufferings of Muslims. If the perception of violence done to Muslims is there he will get support. That is a very, very basic and obvious point.

Or what about a recent poll in the UK which found that something like 3/4 (I forget the precise figure but it doesn't matter) of British Muslims (similar to the nation as a whole) thought that the London attacks were directly linked to the Iraq war? Why did they not think their religion was responsible? They should have some insight surely? Were they hiding something? There have also been a few Muslims who think that the whole thing was a set up to frame Muslims. Forget the accuracy of what they are saying, why are they saying this? Perhaps they cannot believe someone of their faith would do such a thing?

Then again why not choose positive examples from Islamic history? There’s no need for the bizarre counter factual implications of your arguments (you have a very strange view of history if what you are implying is what you think by the way). Let’s look at factual history itself. Take Christian rulers with Muslim subjects for instance? Why is it that scholars of medieval Christianity and Islam argue that Muslim rulers treated their Christian and Jewish subjects in the early Islamic empire with a far greater degree of tolerance than Christian rulers treated Jews in the medieval period? How have Christians managed to survive as practicing Christians in Egypt and the Lebanon all these years if Islam is as you suggest? If your argument was right (not a chance of that I’m afraid) does this not strike you as a little odd?

What about the Muslims who have condemned the recent attacks? Many prominent Muslims have utterly condemned these various attacks over the years and worked closely with Christians yet many get little or sometimes no media coverage, at least not in the UK, yet various journalists are happy to tell us that Muslim figures should be more vocal! See the Muslims associated with IslamOnline for instance. To say that media coverage is a bit twisted on this is a pretty basic and accepted point.

Or Christian attitudes to Judaism? Above I alluded to openly Nazi Christian NT scholars like Grundmann and Kittel (of TDNT fame!?) with all the associated and unbelievably inaccurate claims that Jesus was Aryian, that Jews of the ancient world hated themselves, and so on. Of course Luther had some pretty horrific things said when it came to dealing with Jews based on his faith. Now does this all invalidate Luther and Lutheranism? No. It is clear here that they were influenced by their social context. We can find plenty of heroes in the Lutheran tradition too. If I were to say that people like Luther were regrettably influenced by their social context I think you would agree (right?). If so, why is Christianity allowed that excuse but not Islam? You can give examples of Christian reflection on their past (the one about the Pope was more a media circus incidentally) but there are many, many, many Muslims who reflect on Muslim deeds just as much but it makes less sensationalist news. There are many Muslim leaders who have made joint statements with other faiths, including Judaism and Christianity, utterly condemning these attacks but not a great amount of coverage for those.

Or what about Apartheid, supported by various western Christian political leaders? Do we think certain Protestants are secretly or openly have militantly racist tradition? No, of course not. Religion was used to defend racism. I really could go on and on and on.

Here your argument is very, very illogical. Was it after nearly 2000 years that Christianity almost as a whole realised it was not wedded to the sword, perhaps after Apartheid? When and why? Please help out here because you make no sense whatsoever.

Or why not choose academic converts to Islam? There have been recent examples of western scholars of Islam becoming converts to Islam. In their studies of Islam they found something obviously appealing and presumably not inherently nasty. Or are they just deluded perhaps? Or are they more gifted at spotting this mysterious evil than other human beings and able to rise above the sword?

You say that there are examples of good Muslims etc. So as there are countless good Muslims and countless bad Muslims throughout history and as there are countless good Christians and countless bad Christians throughout history, right up to the present, how on earth can you come to the conclusion that Islam is the religion that has the problem? Logically, it really doesn’t even come close to holding together. I think this is a pretty basic point these days in the scholarly discipline of Religious Studies.

What all these examples show absolutely conclusively is that Christianity and Islam (and no doubt all other religions) are adapted and in many ways reflect differing social, political, and economic situations. Neither is inherently wicked. It really is that simple.

Look Ken, your view of Islam would be highly radical and extremely dubious (some would say worse than that) in the academic study of Islam in universities. So would you give a paper on this in front of a conference of scholars on this matter to persuade them? Seriously, what do you think they would make of it?

August 15, 2005

 
Blogger J. B. Hood said...

Good counter-arguments, James.

Martin Luther King, Jr. often addressed the "Christianity" of his opponents, challenging them (in essence) to deconstruct their own culturally-crippled Christianity and be MORE FAITHFUL to their Scriptures and their Lord. This deconstruction was not an argument for the removal of the religion in question, nor a refusal to consider religion as an element of the debate (say, resorting to natural theology or pragmatism), but a call to be TRUE to the religion and its founder, Jesus.

I think this is the answer (for Christians, at least; I wish more Muslims read this blog so we could hear that perspective as well): a sort of ethical ad fontes...provided one also maintains and sustains that argument, as MLK did, with the demeanor and praxis of his Lord.

August 15, 2005

 
Blogger James Crossley said...

I absolutely agree Jason. I think that argument could appled quite widely also.

August 16, 2005

 
Blogger Ken said...

As I'm late to returning to this post, I won't write too much. But, I did want to say that there are core differences between the acts of violence you ascribe to various "Christian" political leaders and the problem of matyrdom, radical sharia law, and jihad within contemporary Islam.

(1) I would not agree with your negative slant/take to some of the actions or events you list in your post and consequently would not see them at all parallel to the acts of terrorism committed by Bin Laden or other Islamic terrorists.

(2) The modern "Christian" leaders you name in your post were functioning in a capacity that was clearly not religious nor did they seek primary or even secondary justification for their actions in their religion. Osama Bin Laden and Islamic terrorism draw on religious doctrine that is itself propagated by many Islamic imams and indeed derives from Qutbism and Wahabism. Moderate Muslims have been slow to disavow the doctrinal foundation that these terrorists rely on.

(3) Could you identify for me one Muslim nation in the history of the religion that has advanced the causes of liberty or freedom for anybody other than Muslims? What Muslim nation has come to democracy on its own? What Muslim nation promotes women's suffrage and rights without pressure from the West? Rather than citing what you perceive are the ills of Christianity, please give me an equally long post about the contributions Islam has made to peace, prosperity, goodwill, basic rights and freedoms, and so on. For Christianity, I can give you quite an extensive list of MAJOR and SIGNIFICANT contributions to these causes and you know it.

In general, short of some enlightened thinking and activity during the "Islamic Golden Age," I see very little evidence that the Muslim world has made any concerted attempt to excise the strains of violence and doctrines of hate that are propagated through Islam. The vitriol of Islam remains a mainstream phenomenon in the Middle East, actively propagated by a sizeable minority and passively condoned by a majority.

Important Caveat: This all said, I want to stress that I'm not denying the existence of moderate Islam and individual Muslims who support peace or interpret their sacred texts in a manner consistent with peace, liberty, and freedom. Nor, indeed, would I deny that peace, freedom, and liberty can not co-exist with Islam. Quite the contrary, I believe it can. Unfortunately, the sound of the moderate voices is all-too-rare though in the history of Islam.

(4) As to the consensus of Islamic scholars you claim would disagree with me, I'm certain the "majority" is not so overwhelming as you make it seem. Second, throw in historians and I definitely don't think that's true. As for presenting a paper, obviously I would not do this, just as you wouldn't present an academic paper outside your field. I wouldn't even present on the NT let alone Islam.

Moreover, why should I? I have read and heard scholars who take a view not unlike the one I am advancing. They recognize and do not deny the realities. Sharia law is often oppressive and devalues women and children. Jihad is often construed in militant (not simply internal) ways within Islam. Islam has suffered from a disease of radicalism and violence for a lot of its history; and this strain of violence has not been subject to significant and concerted criticism by a majority. Islamic terrorism is, to some degree, in continuity with historic forms of Islam that have sought through military conquest the rule of Allah and the ultimate and final destruction of the infidel.

August 26, 2005

 
Blogger Ken said...

? Wouldn’t it be plausible to suggest that certain social, political, psychological, economic etc. issues might just have something to do with this? I think it might you know.

I have not ever denied that there are a complex of causes. Quite the contrary, I have insisted on it!! What I reject is your attempt to neutralize the role of the religion.

August 26, 2005

 
Blogger Ken said...

Finally, I do not deny that diseases have and continue to exist within Christianity. I believe, however, that Christianity has done an altogether more effective job of addressing these diseases and refuting them while Islam has not to date. Christianity has also had a much more positive role to play than Islam has thus demonstrated in causes of peace, liberty, and freedom. Moreover, while Islam has much to commend it, I do believe that a theology of struggle is inherent to that religion in a way that it is not in Christianity.

August 26, 2005

 

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