Saturday, November 29, 2014

Dubious religious defenses

I listened to this C-SPAN BookTV podcast (mp3):
Karen Armstrong talks about her book, [Fields of Blood], in which she examines the intertwined relationship of faith and violence by walking through the history of every major religion, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism and Daoism.
She defends Islam:
Islam has been for centuries, until the modern period, a far more tolerant religion than Christianity. ...

The word "jihad" (and its derivatives) only occurs 41 times in the Koran, and in only 10 of those instances does it refer unambiguously to warfare. [39:40] ...

Muslim law speaks about defensive warfare, not aggressive warfare ... the empire had reached its limits, but they had to defend their frontier; so it is very much a defensive warfare, not aggressive warfare. [41:50]
She mocks Moslem terrorists as people who ordered "Islam for Dummies" and "The Koran for Dummies" from Amazon. [51:40]

So how has Islam been more tolerant? It gained its empire by conquering and subjugating. The Koran is a book about warfare against infidels. But somehow it is more tolerant because once it gained subjects, it was largely concerned with maintaining its gains?

Christianity does not teach war against infidels and has a long history of tolerance of other faiths. I guess it did resist Moslem invasions, but does not have a history of forced conversions and subjugated infidels, like Islam.

Another Islam apologist, Reza Aslan, has made millions of dollars trashing Christianity while lying about his supposedly scholarly credentials. A lot of people bought his book thinking that he was unfairly maligned, but he deserves worse criticism.

An anonymous Jewism comment:
American Jews generally poll in favor of less immigration.

The main documentation in support of the “Jewish open borders” stereotype comes from Kevin MacDonald. ...

So not only are Jews among the least authoritarian of religious groups, according to Altemeyer highly religious Jews are among the least authoritarian of the highly religious.
His support is this immigration poll (and of course he calls anyone who disagrees with him "antisemitic"). But in fact that poll shows Jews as more pro-immigration than any other sampled religious group. Jews overwhelmingly support limiting Israel immigration to Jews, but opening up American immigration to more and more Third World people.

His source on authoritarianism is this pdf rant that claims that Jews score low on right-wing authoritarianism (RWA). That is no surprise, as they mostly belong to the Jewish left. Jews are mostly left-wing authoritarians, not right-wingers.

A couple of years ago I would have guessed that Catholics were more authoritarian than Jews, because Catholics have a Pope and Jews do not. Catholic priests are authorized to perform the sacraments, but otherwise Jewish rabbis are much more authoritarian. Jews often go to rabbis and even a Jewish court to make decisions that a Catholic priest would not make. And Jews tend towards authoritarian views, whether religious or not.

Update: Sam Harris responds to Aslan over whether some people must be destroyed for their beliefs.

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