Friday, May 6, 2016

Islamophilia and falsification


Not too long ago I discussed the relationship between liberalism and Islam.  More recently I discussed the logic of falsification.  Let’s now combine the themes.  Former federal terrorism prosecutor Andrew McCarthy recently wrote:

Last year, Americans were horrified by the beheadings of three Western journalists by ISIS. American and European politicians could not get to microphones fast enough to insist that these decapitations had nothing to do with Islam.  Yet within the same time frame, the government of Saudi Arabia beheaded eight people for various violations of sharia -- the law that governs Saudi Arabia.

Three weeks before Christmas, a jihadist couple -- an American citizen, the son of Pakistani immigrants, and his Pakistani wife who had been welcomed into our country on a fiancée visa --carried out a jihadist attack in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 people.  Our government, as with the case in Fort Hood -- where a jihadist who had infiltrated the Army killed 13 innocents, mostly fellow soldiers -- resisted calling the atrocity a “terrorist attack.”  Why?  Our investigators are good at what they do, and our top officials may be ideological, but they are not stupid.  Why is it that they can’t say two plus two equals four when Islam is involved?

McCarthy’s own answer to his question is that due to a “triumph of willful blindness and political correctness over common sense,” our leaders are “unwilling to deal with the reality of Islam [and] have constructed an Islam of their very own.”  It is, McCarthy thinks, this fantasy Islam that they describe and defend, while ignoring actual, empirical, historical Islam.  Regarding terrorist Omar Abdel Rahman, the “Blind Sheikh” whom McCarthy prosecuted following the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, McCarthy writes:

When [Abdel Rahman] said the [Muslim] scriptures command that Muslims strike terror into the hearts of Islam’s enemies… [that] Allah enjoined all Muslims to wage jihad until Islamic law was established throughout the world… [and that] Islam directed Muslims not to take Jews and Christians as their friends, the scriptures backed him up…

[T]he Blind Sheikh’s summons to jihad was rooted in a coherent interpretation of Islamic doctrine.  He was not perverting Islam…

Furthermore, says McCarthy:

Sharia rejects freedom of speech as much as freedom of religion.  It rejects the idea of equal rights between men and women as much as between Muslim and non-Muslim.  It brooks no separation between spiritual life and civil society.  It is a comprehensive framework for human life, dictating matters of government, economy, and combat, along with personal behavior such as contact between the sexes and personal hygiene.  Sharia aims to rule both believers and non-believers, and it affirmatively sanctions jihad in order to do so.

So, McCarthy thinks that in real-world Islam -- as opposed to the imaginary Islam he says politically correct government leaders have constructed -- there is a link between Islamic doctrine on the one hand and, on the other hand, both violence and a rejection of the freedoms taken for granted in modern Western societies.  Is McCarthy right? 

First let’s understand what he isn’t saying.  For one thing, McCarthy writes: 

Habitually, I distinguish between Islam and Muslims.  It is objectively important to do so, but I also have a personal reason: when I began working on national security cases, the Muslims I first encountered were not terrorists.  To the contrary, they were pro-American patriots who helped us infiltrate terror cells, disrupt mass-murder plots, and gather the evidence needed to convict jihadists.  We have an obligation to our national security to understand our enemies; but we also have an obligation to our principles not to convict by association -- not to confound our Islamist enemies with our Muslim allies and fellow citizens.

So, McCarthy is not saying that Muslims in general are terrorists or sympathetic with terrorism.  On the contrary, he acknowledges that many Muslims are firmly opposed to terrorism.  It is not “the people” that are the problem, in McCarthy’s view, but rather “the doctrine.”  But he qualifies this claim too.  He acknowledges that the description of sharia he gives “is not the only construction of Islam,” that “there are multiple ways of construing Islam,” and in particular that “there are ways of interpreting Islam that could make it something other than a call to war.” 

McCarthy’s claim is rather that more violent and illiberal interpretations of Islam, such as the one put forward by Abdel Rahman, are no less plausibly authentic, and indeed have very strong scriptural and legal arguments in their favor -- so much so, in McCarthy’s view, that the more pacific and liberal interpreters “seem to be dancing on the head of a pin.”  Hence, McCarthy concludes, there simply is no basis in fact for the claim that jihadists are “perverting” Islam, or even for the claim that theirs is “not a mainstream interpretation.”  The most one can say is that alternative interpretations are also possible. 

One could, consistently with McCarthy’s basic thesis, go well beyond the qualifications he explicitly makes, and acknowledge that there are many positive aspects to Islam.  For example, we surely ought to admire the genius of Islamic thinkers like Al-Kindi, Al-Farabi, Avicenna, Al-Ghazali, and Averroes, and to learn what we can from their works.  There can be no doubt that Islam has produced one of the richest and most durable civilizations of world history.  It is difficult for a devout person of any religion not to be moved by the Muslim call to prayer and the communal piety of the Muslim faithful.  We Catholics can only envy how resistant even non-observant Muslims are to apostasy and heterodoxy (or what counts as heterodoxy by Muslim lights, anyway).  We can and ought to affirm that between Christianity and Islam there is a common ground of Abrahamic and philosophical monotheism (as I have argued here and here). 

But all of that is consistent with McCarthy’s basic claim that there is nevertheless a link between traditional Islamic doctrine on the one hand, and violence and illiberal politics on the other.  Again, is he right?

Many reject such a claim, on the grounds that adherents of other religions, and adherents of no religion at all (as in the case of some atheistic versions of communism), have also sometimes endorsed violence and illiberal politics.  Hence (so the argument goes) there are no grounds for the claim that there is any special connection in the case of Islam.  However, these considerations are hardly sufficient to falsify McCarthy’s position.  For one thing, even if there is a connection between doctrine on the one hand and violence and illiberal politics on the other in the case of other worldviews (as there is with Leninism, for example) it doesn’t follow that there isn’t any special connection in the case of Islam.  Neither McCarthy nor anyone else claims that only Islam, of all worldviews, is especially prone to generate violence, restrictions on freedom, etc.

For another thing, it is superficial merely to note that some Christians (for example) have as a matter of fact resorted to violence, favored restrictions on the freedoms of non-believers, etc.  As I noted in my earlier post on liberalism and Islam, there has from the beginning of Christianity been a clear distinction (even if not always a separation) between the institutions of Church and state, and between the supernatural, heavenly end of human beings and their this-worldly, political ends.  Since the kingdom of God “is not of this world,” there is a clear theoretical basis on which Christian teaching might be implemented without resorting to political or military means.  By contrast, from the beginnings of Islam there has been no distinction between the religious sphere of life on the one hand, and the political and military spheres on the other.  Muhammad was prophet, statesman, and general all rolled into one, and the history of Islam has always reflected this conflation of roles.  Hence there is in Islam an absence of a clear theoretical basis by which the implementation of religious teaching might be separated from any resort to political and military means. 

Hence it is not enough to point to various specific examples of Christians, or Jews, or Buddhists, or whomever, who have committed violent acts, persecuted non-believers, or what have you.  One also has to examine the nature of these various doctrinal systems, so as to see if there is plausibly any essential connection between theory and practice.  And of course, one also needs to consider the frequency of acts of violence, persecution, etc. committed by adherents of one religion compared to those of other religions.  Hence, suppose one could find specific examples of adherents of Jainism who committed acts of violence.  It would be ludicrous to conclude from this that Jainism is as prone to violence as any other religion.  For one thing, one would be hard pressed to find very many (if any) examples of Jain terrorism; and for another thing the centrality of the principle of non-violence to Jainism makes it extremely difficult for any Jain who is so inclined to find in his religion a theoretical rationale for such violence. 

Probably most people would admit that, given its history and the nature of its doctrines, Jainism is plausibly much less likely than other religions are to foster violence, and that this would remain true even if one could find examples here and there of Jains who resorted to violence.  But it would be intellectually dishonest to deny that, by the same token, there might also be a religion that is more likely than other religions are to foster violence, and that this would remain true even if there are many adherents of that religion who reject violence.   That is what McCarthy is claiming to be the case with Islam.

Some parallel examples can elucidate further the nature of McCarthy’s claim.  Consider the thesis that eating foods that are high in sugar or carbohydrates (candy, potato chips, etc.) increases one’s chances of getting cavities.  It would be silly to object to this claim on the grounds that there are many people who eat such foods but who do not get cavities (because they brush their teeth regularly, say); or on the grounds that there are people who get cavities as a result of eating other sorts of food; or on the grounds that there are positive aspects to eating foods high in sugar or carbohydrates (such as the energy boost they provide, or the pleasure they afford).  These points are all true, but they are perfectly compatible with the claim that there is a special causal link between eating such foods and getting cavities.  And we know there is such a link because (a) we find that there is in fact a high correlation (even if not an exceptionless one) between eating such foods and getting cavities, and (b) we can identify specific chemical mechanisms by which such foods can lead to tooth decay. 

Or consider the relationship between smoking and cancer, an example I cited in my recent post on falsification.  It would be ridiculous to deny that there is any special link here, on the grounds that there are many people who smoke but do not get cancer; or on the grounds that many people who don’t smoke also get cancer; or on the grounds that smoking has positive aspects (such as the pleasure and relaxation it affords).  All of this is also true, but it is also all perfectly compatible with the claim that there is a special causal link between smoking and getting cancer.  And we know there is such a link because (a) we find that there is in fact a high correlation (even if not an exceptionless one) between smoking and getting cancer, and (b) we can identify specific physiological mechanisms by which smoking can lead to cancer.  Nor, as I noted in the post on falsification, does a causal link have to be very strong in order to be real.  As I noted there, there is a causal link between syphilis and paresis, even if few people who contract syphilis go on to exhibit paresis. 

Or consider the claim that Protestants tend to know the Bible better than Catholics do.  I’m staunchly Catholic, but I think the claim is probably true, based both on experience and on the fact that it’s just the sort of thing you’d expect to be true given differences between Protestant and Catholic theology.  Like Protestants, Catholics regard the Bible as divinely inspired.  But Catholics also think that there are sources of binding doctrinal authority outside of scripture -- the Fathers of the Church, the decrees of Church councils, the Ordinary and Extraordinary Magisteria of the popes, and so forth.  There’s simply a lot more material that a Catholic feels bound to pay attention to, whereas a Protestant is more likely to think that scripture is all he needs to know.  Naturally, then, Protestants are in general bound to know scripture better than Catholics do, because they are more likely to focus all their attention on it, and it constitutes a much smaller body of literature than what Catholics would say needs to be taken account of.   (By the same token, the Marcionites, who accepted as canonical none of the Old Testament and only parts of the New Testament, may well have known those particular parts better than Protestants do, because they had even less material to focus their attention on.)

Or consider the claim that Quakers and Mennonites are less likely than Catholics to commit terrorist acts.  Again, though I’m Catholic, I think this is bound to be true as well, in light of the fact that Quaker and Mennonite theology is pacifist and Catholic theology is not.  It is just naturally going to be harder for a Quaker or Mennonite to come up with a rationalization for committing some terrorist act given the theological constraints he is committed to.

Now, it would be ridiculous to dismiss these last two claims on the grounds that they must reflect mere “anti-Catholic bigotry.”  Any Catholic who did so could plausibly be accused of oversensitivity and of a failure of objectivity.  Similarly, it would be ridiculous to dismiss the other sample claims considered on the grounds that they must reflect mere “sugarphobic,” “tobaccophobic,” or “syphilisphobic” bigotry.  Anyone who made such bizarre accusations could plausibly be suspected of having some excessive attachment to sugary foods, to tobacco, or to acts of the sort liable to lead to syphilis, an attachment that keeps him from being objective about these things. 

By the same token, it would be ridiculous to dismiss McCarthy’s claim merely on the grounds that it must reflect nothing more than “Islamophobic” “bigotry.”  Indeed, McCarthy could fling an accusation of “Islamophilic bigotry” back at anyone who would make such a claim.  As I pointed out in the post on liberalism and Islam, there are several factors that predispose political liberals too quickly to dismiss the very suggestion that there might be a connection between Islamic doctrine on the one hand and violence and illiberal politics on the other.  For example, the very workability of liberalism as a political project presupposes that what John Rawls called “comprehensive doctrines,” or at least comprehensive doctrines with a large number of adherents, are compatible with basic liberal premises (and thus “reasonable,” as Rawlsian liberals conceive of “reasonableness”). If it turned out there is a “comprehensive doctrine” with a large number of adherents which is simply not compatible with basic liberal premises, that would be a very serious problem for the entire liberal project.  Hence liberals are bound to be reluctant to conclude that there is any such “comprehensive doctrine,” or to look for evidence that might support such a conclusion. 

Then there is the fact that egalitarianism is one of the dogmas of modern liberalism, just as the divinity of Christ is a dogma of Christianity or the divine origin of the Quran is a dogma of Islam.  Many liberals find it almost impossible to understand how even a mildly negative characterization of some religion, culture, or group could be anything but an expression of unreasoning hatred.  Hence epithets like “bigot” play, within liberalism, the same role that words like “heretic” often do within religion.  They are a means of silencing dissenters and sending a warning to anyone even considering dissent from egalitarianism.  The irony is that plugging one’s ears and screaming “Bigot!” at someone who is trying to present a reasoned argument is, of course, itself a kind of bigotry -- perhaps the worst kind, insofar as someone self-righteously in love with the idea that he is the paradigmatic anti-bigot is the least likely of all bigots to see his prejudices for what they are.

Again, see the earlier post on liberalism and Islam for discussion of other aspects of modern liberalism which can predispose many liberals against looking at Islam objectively.  The point for the moment is this.  On the one hand, McCarthy can note that any critic inclined to dismiss his position as mere bigotry should seriously consider that there are reasons why the critic may be himself less objective on the subject at hand than he likes to think he is.  And on the other hand, McCarthy can point to what one finds in Islamic scripture and law, in the history of terrorism during the last few decades, and indeed in the entire history of Islam as evidence in favor of his position.

Of course, that does not by itself demonstrate that McCarthy is right.  But any critic of McCarthy plausibly faces a “falsificationist challenge” of a sort that parallels the falsificationist challenge Antony Flew once raised against theists (a challenge I discussed in the earlier post on the logic of falsification).  Paraphrasing Flew, the challenge might be stated as follows:

What would have to occur or to have occurred to constitute for you a disproof of your claim that there is no special connection between Islam and terrorism, or between Islam and illiberal politics?

In other words, if evidence of the sort McCarthy cites does not establish his claim, what evidence will the critic admit would establish it?  Unless the critic can offer a serious response to this question, he cannot plausibly claim that it is he rather than McCarthy who is free of prejudice.

465 comments:

1 – 200 of 465   Newer›   Newest»
David T. said...

It's always seemed to me that getting into arguments over what is or isn't the true character of Islam is a distraction. It doesn't really matter what I or anyone else thinks about Islam. The point is that there are a good number of people who call themselves Muslim who also think Islam justifies terrorism, and they will be out there whatever happy thoughts we in the West have about the true nature of Islam.

Our answer to claims that the San Bernadino or Fort Hood killers don't represent true Islam should be to agree. So what? It only matters that many thousands, perhaps millions, of people out there calling themselves Muslim DO think it represents true Islam. If anyone needs an education about the true nature of Islam, it's not me, but them. The fact that the jihadis Islam might not be true Islam matters not a whit, it only matters that they think it does, and there are plenty of them out there.

entirelyuseless said...

The causal link under discussion obviously exists. But going out of your way to point out that link seems to me a lot like someone going out of their way to point out statistical differences in IQ between various groups of humans. Of course those differences are going to exist. But the question is why they are being pointed out.

The problem in the statistical difference in IQ case is that if people are frequently discussing those differences, that can contribute to racism, not in a PC sense, but in a real, nasty sense. And likewise, simply saying, "Islam intrinsically contains seeds of violence," may be true, but there is a good chance it will promote the idea that Islam should be eradicated. And there is no good way that can ever be done, and there are plenty of bad ways that people can aim at that goal.

In other words, the question is what we should be encouraging Muslims to do. Should we say, "Abandon your religion, because it promotes violence?" or "Understand your religion in a non-violent way?"

If we tell them to abandon their religion because it promotes violence, the promoting violence part may be absolutely true. But it will be ever truer on account of us, because they surely will not abandon their religion, and that kind of attack on them will make them more likely than ever to engage in violence, for entirely understandable human motives.

So the only practical alternative is to tell them to understand their religion in a non-violent way. And that is true even if that may not be the historically most reasonable reading of their religion.

Anonymous said...

David T, it is quite a different thing to consider Westerners your persecutors, and not care if they are killed, even to be happy, and to actively believe in killing Westerners. You conflate the two. A dislike of Westerners is not limited to Muslims, though the fact that in the post-Cold War era they are engaging in most anti-Western terrorism does suggest something different is going on within the Islamic world.

Eduardo said...

So Doc... Why not pacifism? You got me interested at the Quakers an Mennonites part.

Another thing, I personally believe... Isn't liberalism the biggest problem we have today? It seems that everything that is going down under and not to Australia, is directly related to Liberal doctrines based on their own ideal of Man.

Anyways, I believe that the number of terrorists per number of Muslins would definately be the prove that they need. Not that the reply doesn't suck... But it would indicate that Muslins can't be especially connected to terrorism because the grotesque majority are not terrorists and reject it entirely. I don't even think they believe that Muslins live by a doctrine, it is more like a lifestyle in their heads since only Christians are Evil and do everything wrong and have doctrines!

Tony said...

but there is a good chance it will promote the idea that Islam should be eradicated.

And it should be eradicated, as should ALL false religious, by people embracing the true religion. At the end of time, all people will understand what is the true religion. There is no mandate that this MUST NOT occur before then.

In other words, the question is what we should be encouraging Muslims to do.

We should encourage them to abandon evil in ALL its forms, and turn to good.

Should we say, "Abandon your religion, because it promotes violence?" or "Understand your religion in a non-violent way?"

We should indeed preach to them a better religion then Islam: the true religion. We should also encourage them to understand their religion in the proper light of reality, for all false religions will come off badly in that examination. And we should encourage those who have not (yet) the courage to convert, nor even to examine their religion objectively, to embrace those parts of Islam that are objectively less disordered more fully, and embrace less fully (or even reject) those parts of Islam that are objectively more disordered. Failing even that much, we should encourage recalcitrant Muslims to feel odd and defensive about claiming that the more disordered aspects of Islam are "the true sense of Islam", to make them feel that it is their belief in the docket.

We are not limited to only the options of "Abandon your religion, because it promotes violence?" or "Understand your religion in a non-violent way?" There are many additional pathways, and putting it starkly between just those two is the wrong account of what we may be about. Look at the reasons people have who actually do abandon Islam and become Christian. There are, most likely, a number of different reasons this happens, not just one. Some do it for more rational causes, some for more emotional causes, some for more spiritual, etc. It's not all "this" or "that".

So the only practical alternative is to tell them to understand their religion in a non-violent way. And that is true even if that may not be the historically most reasonable reading of their religion.

Why is it that "the only practical alternative" is, by far, not the only practical alternative when you look at the actual instances of people turning away from violent Islam to another belief? If what you mean is "the only practical alternative, within a modest period of time, likely to have a notable impact on a large percentage of Muslims", then SAY that. It still would be only a guess, because (a) it is far from clear that even THAT would have the impact sought, (b) it is even less clear that having that impact would deter the remaining highly violent minority in the least, and (c) it remains possible that, taking God's grace into account, the more practical means is to convert them to the true religion anyway.

Step2 said...

My main criticism is to distinguish between types of terrorism. The main type is in opposition to a military occupation, which justifiable or not, goes back forever and has little to do with religion per se. The more recent brand of terrorism is based on an explicitly apocalyptic desire to bring about the end times.

Steven Dillon said...

Both Islam and Judaism had violent and aggressive tendencies in their early years, and both maintain as Holy Scripture texts filled with violent and aggressive commands, peppered with remarks about their deity's love and patience. If it really were the doctrine of Islam that fueled Islamic violence, we should expect the same to be true of Jewish doctrine. But, outside of Israel, what vestiges are there of this tendency? So why does Islam seem to exhibit more violent and aggressive tendencies than Judaism? I'm inclined to think that Islamic violence is most prominent in war-torn and poor regions, suggesting that the violent interpretation of Islam has its roots in a poor quality of life.

Bilbo said...

Dr. Feser asks, "What would have to occur or to have occurred to constitute for you a disproof of your claim that there is no special connection between Islam and terrorism, or between Islam and illiberal politics?"

It depends upon what is meant by "special."

Bilbo said...

Pew Survey of Muslims around the world.

Don Jindra said...

Islamic countries will never compete with the West until they reject their religion (as it's mostly practiced today). Nevertheless, I don't know what to make of the assertion that "there has from the beginning of Christianity been a clear distinction (even if not always a separation) between the institutions of Church and state, and between the supernatural, heavenly end of human beings and their this-worldly, political ends."

On the destruction of Breziers in 1209, Arnold Amaury, head of the Cistercian order of monks, who Pope Innocent III had made leader of the Albigensian Crusade, proudly wrote, "Today, your Holiness, at least twenty thousand of its citizens were put to the sword regardless of age and sex. The workings of divine vengeance have been wondrous." Should an exterminated Cathar take comfort in the supposedly "clear theoretical basis on which Christian teaching might be implemented without resorting to political or military means?" Why has this theory been so unclear to so many Christians?

Christian theologians didn't suddenly find the "proper" interpretations of scripture in the 18th century. The church didn't give up power. Power was wrestled from it. It had nothing to do with theory. Religion doesn't spring from textual analysis. It follows the desires of people. Ancient text is routinely tortured into interpretations that fit today's desires. Andrew C. McCarthy pulls his punch when he talks about defenders of a moderate "fantasy" Islam. All defenders of any religious sect are defending a fantasy. It's a fantasy to think the relatively pacified version of Christianity we've had for 200 years is a permanently "true" form. Biblical text can easily be interpreted to make separation of church and state a mere platitude, if not heresy. There are plenty of Christians today who say God wants a Christian state ruled by biblical law. Who is to say Rushdoony's theology is a perversion of the text?

Private religion is often good and admirable. But political religion of any sort leads to economic, technological and cultural stagnation. When Islam is political, it's obviously barbaric. Maybe the world would be better off without it. But if that's true, it's true of more than Islam.

Daniel Hegedus said...

I would suggest an other way of looking at why political leaders avoid speaking about the connection between Islamic doctrine and violence and illiberal politics.

The way somebody in authority speaks is not the way somebody in a philosophy seminar speaks. His words, in virtue of his office, carry the power to shape people’s perceptions and actions in a way that a conversation between two private persons who simply aim to hit at the truth, does not.

Whatever the political leader’s private opinion about the correctness of McCarthy’s thesis, he will never, one would hope, make public statements that affirm this view (he should not deny it though). The reason is not necessarily the “triumph of wilful blindness” or the fear of contradicting one of liberalism’s essential dogmas.

It is because such a statement, however accurate and well-intended (i.e. to hit on the truth), will undoubtedly stir up great controversy and resentment, which is the last thing a responsible leader would want to do when dealing with the risk of further acts of terrorism. An imperfect analogy: a military commander knows that the enemy is overwhelmingly strong, but he does not remind his soldiers of this fact just before the inevitable battle. He does not deny the fact, but rather reminds soldiers of their past vigorous fighting and success.

Another reason why even a leader who in private agrees with Feser’s conclusions would never state his views in public, is that Feser’s view is not simple, and his conclusions are prone to misunderstanding by those who don’t follow his argument closely.

But a leader can’t make a philosophical argument in public. He has to speak simply, and must take special care not to be understood in a way that he does not want to be understood. Just imagine the media headlines if anyone holding high office presented McCarthy’s/Feser’s analysis and conclusions. “President says Islam is violent and illiberal.” It’s not what the philosophical analysis says, but that’s the sort of thing it would be reduced to by the media.

Pope Benedict in his Regensburg speech made the same mistake. He presented a serious scholarly position and forgot that he cannot take his hat off as head of the Church. However correct his analysis might have been, it is a different question whether as a person in public authority he should have stated the position.

Eduardo said...

Well it is actually a bit of textual analysis and desire Jindra... A bit of both man, that create religion. And politics... And all ideologies XD.

Second is not entirely true, that a thorough political religion stagnates a nation, many countries had a pretty good run with religion part of its structure, none of them as good as the west in modern age, but there is a catch that causes science to be as good as it is... Was... Can we measure scienctific goodness objectively O_O?
Anyways, you need LARGE amounts of resources to do a pretty damn good science, and West capital increased where religion was still very much part of the political structure. You stagnate more because of economy. Ideology that influences economy is what stagnates creation and research, at least that is what it looks like from how the whole thing evolved

Just what the heck happened to you! You were an arse.... Getting banned was good huh!

Anonymous said...

Muhammad became a radical in Medina. He was not a radical before.

Robert Byers said...

What people don't want is for these obscure tiny incidents to be the SAMPLING of what Islam/Muslim is in theory or practice.
If these few incidents had never happened and all was quiet on the Muslim front there would be no conversation.
There has been more evil in black africa or Europe of the last century then in Muslim nations.
yet no one does or should sample Africa/europe by these more, but minority incidents and events.
Indeed immigration of muslims should be stopped for a while. I say all immigration but surely stop the muslims. its a gift to a foreigner to be allowed in ones nation/home/bank account.
There is never been a gain from immigrants but only at best a stable case.
Indeed the left wing sacrifices a few deaths/a few more for the greater value of immigration and ethnic identityism and a belief America does not belong only to americans.
Just stop Muslim immigration!!

Anyways Islam is harmless on any curve of activity analysis.
In fact the western world could just ignore the Islam world. Howeverr because of Israel they do not.
We reap what we sow by interfering in those obscure areas. Not reap death/harm but reap trouble.
better smarter people could fix these things.

Qasim said...

Excellent article, Dr. Feser. As a believing, practicing Muslim, I have a few comments.

1. I am glad to see how you focused on liberals in this article, as this whole argument is really between Christians and progressives. I certainly have no problem noticing that Islam is more strongly associated with certain types of violence than other religions, and that this association has a theological basis. Noticing this truth isn't that big a problem for Islam (Muslims can either claim that these violent interpretations are perversions of the religion or that there is no shame in responding violently to the violence of others). However, this truth does attack the foundations of progressivism, multiculturalism, Cultural Marxism etc. I personally hate these "defenses" of Islam by progressives, it is like they just use us as cannon fodder in their cultural war against the White/Male/Christian/Heterosexual power structure they are trying to bring down. Even the Muslims who make these arguments are usually SJWs first and foremost, for whom religion is largely a tribal identity. Another funny thing is that I have read extensively on Islam, in English and Classical Arabic, and don't ever remember coming across the phrase "Islam is a religion of peace", it just isn't something that Muslims say!

2. Having said all that, I do think that Christians often engage in an intellectually dishonest form of violence laundering. What I mean by this is that Christians erect a wall between Church and State, and then deny involvement in the killing of the State, even though the majority of the members of that State are Christians. It doesn't seem that fair that if ISIS kills 10,000 people, that is on every Muslim's head but if a majority Christian country unjustly invades a country on false pretenses, then hey, that is Cheney and Rumsfeld's fault alone. Shouldn't the overall body count be what is most important?

3. I also think it is unfair that Muslims as a whole have to answer for the consequences of Wahhabism (the version of Islam most responsible for the Jihadism we see today), but Westerners almost never do. It is true Wahhabism is an indigenously Islamic movement and that is has strong antecedents in traditional Sunni Islam. But it is also true that it was limited to the Eastern portion of the Arabian peninsula and had little support amongst Muslims as a whole. That is until they started getting massive financial and military support from the British and then the US. One good thing about barbarians is that their barbarity works to limit their power, particularly in the modern world. It wasn't the Wahhabis who discovered how to drill for and refine oil, and ship it all over the world. They aren't the ones who indigenously created trillions of dollars of wealth, or state of the art printing presses, which allowed them to fund orphanages, madrasas etc. and flood the book markets all over the Muslim world with amazing looking propaganda. They certainly didn't build their military equipment by themselves. If left to themselves, all they would have are swords! But despite knowing exactly what they were about, this is the version of Islam America got into bed with. That the Wahhabi ascendance throughout the Muslim world was greatly facilitated by staunch Western support also has to be given its proper due.

ShadowWhoWalks said...

Andrew Mccarthy is a pundit for far right conspiracies, claiming that President Obama was 'raised as a Muslim', that the aide of Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin is infiltrating the U.S. government on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood. Along with being a supporter of the ineffectual and unethical torture practised by the Bush administration, arguing that waterboarding is not torture and was never illegal under U.S. law.
I don't consider "Islmaophobia" criticism of Islam; intellectual discourse is always welcome given time. I see it as insisting on asserting that the creatures called Muslims are a threat to non-Muslims, and prone to do evil to non-Muslims because 'Islam' apparently 'commands' Muslims to do evil to non-Muslims.

Yet within the same time frame, the government of Saudi Arabia beheaded eight people for various violations of sharia -- the law that governs Saudi Arabia.

This shows lack of political insight regarding the region. SA is a nationalistic hereditary jurist monarchy; it simply uses different terminologies to maintain some Islamic perception; it calls token community-level Islamic-inspired laws "Laws/Legislation", as for the utilitarian man-made laws "Systems/Instructions/Edicts", the later are used to implement Capitalism, divisive nationalism, and to serve pro-Western agendas. Naturally, the political aspects of Islam are not taught, and scholars are under regulation and occasionally get apprehended.

Our government, as with the case in Fort Hood -- where a jihadist who had infiltrated the Army killed 13 innocents, mostly fellow soldiers -- resisted calling the atrocity a “terrorist attack.”

Setting aside the implication of an 'infiltration' conspiracy theory, it was widely called a terrorist act by the media, however Nidal Hasan was never formally charged with terrorism. The objection that attacks on military bases should be considered terrorism rests on the proposition that soldiers not actively engaging in combat when attacked are not legitimate targets. For instance, you cannot legally hunt down soldiers when they are asleep in their homes, buying groceries, or spending time with their families. In which they only become legitimate target when engaging them on the battlefield. I, like most people, find this morally sound, and the view has solid foundation in law. What is extremely difficult however is understanding how anyone can support the military actions of the U.S. and their allies under the "War on Terror" while advancing this view with a straight face.
The issue here is not about justification; I assume very few would find treason, breaking oaths, and such violence unjustifiable. To question whether the term "terrorism" applies obviously is inequivalent to say it is justifiable. The question is whether the term "terrorism" applies to such acts, and whether the term has any consistent meaning. To say that what makes it terrorism is the attack being carried out by individuals/non-state actors, rather than a state, is to say that violence conducted by the state is inherently justified and legitimate, while violence engaged in by its declared enemies - made from non-state actors - never is. Which would create a self-justifying double standard in which the allegiance of the commando force sent to kill a general in his home determines whether it is 'terrorism' or not.

ShadowWhoWalks said...

[T]he Blind Sheikh’s summons to jihad was rooted in a coherent interpretation of Islamic doctrine. He was not perverting Islam…

This analogy describes the situation: Those terrorists believe in 'justice', and have their own coherent interpretation of it, and that is relevant to the concept of 'justice'as a whole and everyone's else's concept of 'justice'.
If you are to say post-colonial/enlightenment ignorance, infighting, sectarianism, wars, superstition, and destructive cultural practices attributed by its proponents as 'Islamic', then sure. However, that is not the Islam we speak of.
Similar sections of McCarthy's argument can be summarized as "a defence of literalism". This is based on an unconscious cultural bias where the Lutheran or Protestant approach is assumed; this brings the myth that most, if not all, religious texts are interrupted that way with no reference to context or how it was originally interpreted. However, Islam along with most sacred-text religion are tradition-based religions similar to Catholicism; the point behind them is to preserve the core and original vision and interpretation of the founders. Logically and empirically the later approach would be more connected to a religion's founders, while the former text-only approach negates coherency of much of the world's literature and is taken at the expense of the founder's vision or practice, eventually creating a new and different tradition.
That being said, the Islamic tradition is exemplified by the four traditional Sunni schools of thought, which is composed by the academic scholarship (known as Ulama), and it is the position taken by the vast majority of Muslims. So whether it is an anti-Muslim, non-Muslim, or a Muslim, their claims regarding an ambiguous text should be compatible to the Islamic tradition rather than be a bunch of context-stripped literary gymnastics to get an interpretation suiting one's agenda.

Hence, suppose one could find specific examples of adherents of Jainism who committed acts of violence. It would be ludicrous to conclude from this that Jainism is as prone to violence as any other religion. For one thing, one would be hard pressed to find very many (if any) examples of Jain terrorism; and for another thing the centrality of the principle of non-violence to Jainism makes it extremely difficult for any Jain who is so inclined to find in his religion a theoretical rationale for such violence.

Modernists believe that 'in changing times', certain laws, structures, and systems do not need to be followed so 'strictly' anymore. During the Cold War, much of the Muslim modernists somehow claimed to be both Muslims and Communists. Lets say there modernists who believe in an Islamic government and politics while introducing 'modern' methodologies to realize these Islamic goals; like adopting 'modern' methods of warfare which they claim will help Muslims to achieve their goals in the modern word, namely deliberately targeting civilians in order to try to deter Western military occupation and operation, and diminish puppet ruler ships. I fail to see how it is extremely difficult to 'modernize' the Jainism concept of self-defence.

ShadowWhoWalks said...

In other words, if evidence of the sort McCarthy cites does not establish his claim, what evidence will the critic admit would establish it? Unless the critic can offer a serious response to this question, he cannot plausibly claim that it is he rather than McCarthy who is free of prejudice.

The assumption of the new terrorism thesis is made, in which it is hypothesized that with the 21st century, ideology has begun to directly cause terrorism, independently of political and social contexts. For the claim to be supported, either the thesis is to be supported first, or control with political and social context is to be established when conducting studies. Finally, the assertion that radicalization alone is consistently causes terrorism.
I believe a more coherent understanding of terrorism is a process constructed based on relations; not only involving the beliefs and actions of the oppositional groups but also of the states they are in conflict with. Whether the jump to using violence is not reduced to the question of ideological content. There is an undeniable spike in terrorist attacks after the Iraq and Afghanistan invasion; no mass change in religious ideology has been made within the population, but a transformation in political context (ex. death of hundreds of thousands of civilians) where for a small number of radicals, violence against fellow citizens appeared legitimate.
How is that different from anarchist dynamite and assassination plots across Europe after the suppression of the Paris Commune in 1871, in which some estimations suggest 10000-20000 were killed? The Provisional Irish Republican Army after the violent suppression of the nationalist civil rights movement in North Ireland? Hamas conducting attacks and cease fire depending on the political environment? Ideology provides a vocabulary, and a unifying identity in which grievance can be shared, but the catalyst is provided by politics.

I reject that Islam should be judged by the standard of Secular Liberalism, and find McCarthy's description of Sharia as an authoritarian violent religion absurd. But to quote the father of Liberalism:

For if men enter into seditious conspiracies, it is not religion inspires them to it in their meetings, but their sufferings and oppressions that make them willing to ease themselves. Just and moderate governments are everywhere quiet, everywhere safe; but oppression raises ferments and makes men struggle to cast off an uneasy and tyrannical yoke. I know that seditions are very frequently raised upon pretence of religion, but it is as true that for religion subjects are frequently ill treated, and live miserably. Believe me, the stirs that are made proceed not from any peculiar temper of this or that church or religious society, but from the common disposition of all mankind, who when they groan under any heavy burthen endeavour naturally to shake off the yoke that galls their necks. Suppose this business of religion were let alone, and that there were some other distinction made between men and men upon account of their different complexions, shapes, and features, so that those who have black hair (for example) or grey eyes should not enjoy the same privileges as other citizens; that they should not be permitted either to buy or sell, or live by their callings; that parents should not have the government and education of their own children; that they should either be excluded from the benefit of the laws, or meet with partial judges; can it be doubted but these persons, thus distinguished from others by the colour of their hair and eyes, and united together by one common persecution, would be as dangerous to the magistrate as any others that had associated themselves merely upon the account of religion? Some enter into company for trade and profit, others for want of business have their clubs for claret. Neighbourhood joins some, and religion others. But there is only one thing which gathers people into seditious commotions, and that is oppression.

Eduardo said...

Qasim

We all knew you hated the progressives... You sound human XD.

Now Qasim, I believe the point here is rather, the doctrine. Jindra's point actually points this way, if we think about it. Now I think you could just give people some history on terrorism's roots... Jihad's roots, and how it evolved. I think anything will do really, as long is it has brain food!

Anyways I gues it would be clarifying to everybody here.

U_U now none of you are to blame for this, but long ago, 10 years, I read a bunch of military stuff, and there among those documents there were a definition of terrorism. It was a counter-terrorism document, and yes... Terrorism's definition is not by any mean a muslin related thing. Terrorism is meant to be a deliberate attack on civilians or government structures in order to spread fear and a message. For instance shopping the head off of a western military personal would not count as terrorism. People going nuts and killing other people without a clear sign of what that was all about is not really terrorism too! For instance, let's get the Paris incident of November... If the guys there just wanted to kill people because they believed Islam demanded them to do so, and it was just a weird killing spree, that wouldn't be terrorism as well. I know your brain is going pretzel...

Anyways... ... ... ... Anyways...

Francesco said...

It is strange that we don't have more violent Christian and Jewish extremists. We have Jewish extremists, but their goal is more settlement of the West Bank and Gaza, and some imposition of their extremist interpretation of Jewish law (like sex segregation on public transportation). But I've never heard of a Jewish extremist who wants to impose the full Mosaic law on Israeli society, which would be about as bad as any sharia state (stoning of adulterers and blasphemers, concubinage for women captured in war, etc.). Why is sharia so popular but no Jewish extremists want to bring back the full Mosaic law?

Similarly, Feser talks about the link between Islam and illiberal politics. The modern interpretations of Christianity all make Christianity out to be compatible with democracy. But that wasn't the case for a long, long time. We had the divine right of kings, Gallicanism, the investiture controversy.
We could have a world where British Protestants seek to re-create Cromwell's commonwealth.
We could have a world where Christian extremists try to unite Christendom under a single emperor as violently as Islamic extremists try to bring back the Caliphate. We could have a world where Christian monarchists insisted that kings ruled by divine right and used terrorism to bring back monarchies. We could have Catholic extremists trying to bring back the temporal power of the popes beyond the token of Vatican City. None of that would be inconsistent with Christian history. Yes, the teachings of Jesus wouldn't allow that, but the dominant interpretation of Christian teachings for the majority of Christian history did allow that.
For centuries, Christian leaders executed people convicted of witchcraft, blasphemy, heresy, sodomy. We could have a world where Christian extremists insisted it was their Christian duty to keep doing that. We don't. Why?

Gottfried said...

A quick Google search suggests that Don's quotation from Arnold Amaury comes from a book called The Chrysalis of Oc, by some chap called Peter V. Wright. Here is a description of the said book:

At the turn of the thirteenth century, a tolerant, wealthy, and cultured society blossomed in what is now southwestern France. Occitania was the domain of the Counts of Toulouse. Its people valued poetry, music, and literature over warfare. Their language Occitan, was the lingua franca of the courts of Europe. Their troubadours traveled widely and were popular sources of news and entertainment. Tragically, their success struck fear in the minds of the pope and kings, so a brutal crusade was launched to destroy a people that sought only peace. Seven hundred years later, as the battles raged on the Normandy beaches, a sleepy little town in the Limousin woke up to what they expected to be like any other. But this day they were to have unwelcome visitors, the Waffen SS. The Chrysalis of Oc is a sweeping historical tale that links thirteenth and twentieth century France and the bloody crusades that changed the course of the world forever.

So if Don's account of history seems somewhat skewed, we might charitably put the blame on his love of bad historical fiction.

Here is a quotation from Arnaud Amaury (presumably the same guy), via Wikipedia:

While discussions were still going on with the barons about the release of those in the city who were deemed to be Catholics, the servants and other persons of low rank and unarmed attacked the city without waiting for orders from their leaders. To our amazement, crying "to arms, to arms!", within the space of two or three hours they crossed the ditches and the walls and Béziers was taken. Our men spared no one, irrespective of rank, sex or age, and put to the sword almost 20,000 people. After this great slaughter the whole city was despoiled and burnt...

On whether Wikipedia is a more reliable source than Peter V. Wright, I make no comment. I simply note that in the above quotation, without any further context, the range of mental states we might plausibly attribute to Amaury is much broader. Pride is certainly one. Another would be quiet horror.

Gottfried said...

Steven Dillon,

I'm no scholar of Judaism or Islam, but one important difference, it seems to me, is that the "violent and aggressive commands" in the Old Testament are not normative. They are tied to a specific time and place and directed at a specified target. Whereas the Koran seems to command perpetual war against infidels, or can at least be reasonably interpreted to do so.

Chad Handley said...

With all due respect, this seems like a hopeless argument.

There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. Let's be ridiculously, extravagantly generous to your argument and say that 100,000 of them have committed acts of violence in the name of their religion. That's about 0.0065%.

If far less than one tenth of one tenth of one percent of lifelong smokers got cancer, would we say there's a causal link between smoking and cancer?

For reference, a much higher percentage of Christians in America are in prison. Does that mean there's a causal link between being an American Christian and being a criminal? A higher percentage of American Catholics are alcoholics. Does that mean there's a causal link between being an American Catholic and being an alcoholic?

The reason these arguments seem bigoted to me is that they ignore other causal factors that are obviously more relevant. Contrary to popular belief, most of the World's Muslims live in Southeast Asia, not the Middle East. Why is there so much more religious violence in the Middle East than in Southeast Asia, if religion is the most relevant causal factor? What else happened in the Middle East that might account for this higher incidence of violence?

Chad Handley said...

And I think there's a very simple explanation as to why most politicians are reluctant to tie Islam to terrorism: we need the help of leaders in the Middle East to fight the actual terrorists, and publicly linking terrorism and Islam makes it more difficult to secure their cooperation. No need to invent tortured psychological explanations for the behavior of our political opponents when pragmatic considerations will do.

Rank and file liberals probably deny the causal link because there's a much more relevant causal factor available as an alternate explanation, a causal factor that seems to never make it into your posts about the link between Islam and violence: colonialism.

Edward Feser said...

The reason these arguments seem bigoted to me..."

And with that you lost all credibility. You don't say "mistaken," which is the most your points would warrant. "Bigoted." Stop jerkin' that knee, Chad.

As I explicitly emphasized in the post, a correlation needn't be strong in order for it to be causal. (Cf. the paresis example.) You simply ignore that.

As I also emphasized in the post, where a specific mechanism by which the effect might be produced can be identified, the causal claim is much more plausible. (Cf. the biological facts by which smoking causes cancer, which would remain even if cancer followed smoking only rarely. So yes, if only a few people ever got cancer after smoking, we might still have good reason to posit a link.) And the post refers to such mechanisms: the relevant Quranic passages, which are not relativized to time and place the way allegedly parallel Old Testament passages are; the lack of any principled distinction between religious and secular realms in Islam; etc. You ignore all that too.

And re: the appeal to colonialism, the (obvious) problem with that explanation is that (a) it does not account for the history of Islamic military expansionism from Muhammad up through the battle of Vienna, and (b) it does not account for all the former Western colonies which do not generate terrorist attacks with anything like the same frequency, or indeed at all.

I also emphasized -- indeed, it was the main point of the post -- that an intellectually honest person who disagrees with the claim in question should answer the falsificationist challenge posed at the end. You simply ignroe that too.

So yeah, there's plausibly some "bigotry" here. But it isn't coming from my side.

moduspownens said...

I'm finding these dissenting comments frustrating, given the fact a lot of them are not addressing or just plain ignoring McCarthy's thesis and or Professor Feser's claims in expansion and defense of it.

I can't imagine how Professor Feser feels...

moduspownens said...

Well, it seems to be our gracious host has already taken notice and beaten me to the punch.

Edward Feser said...

A couple of readers have raised the point that political leaders need to build alliances, avoid offending large groups of citizens, etc., and that they can't be expected to speak with the precision of a philosopher. That's all true and it's certainly important to keep in mind.

However, there are three problems with just leaving it at that. The first is that being politic, accentuating the positive, etc. is one thing. But making sweeping claims that are simply false, unwarranted, or naive is quite another.

The second is that these falsehoods and unwarranted claims have policy implications, so that it's not just a matter of saying things that are more politic than true. It's also a matter of making bad policy decisions. Both sides are guilty of this, not just liberals. E.g. the neo-conservative idea that the U.S. could plausibly engage in nation-building in places like Iraq was based on wishful thinking rather than actual knowledge of Islamic societies. (As some readers will recall, yes, I supported intervention in Iraq back in the day, but on punitive grounds, not on nation-building grounds.)

The third problem is that there is also a serious political downside to too much happy talk, viz. that it offends and infuriates at least as many citizens as it mollifies, and can lead to overreaction by those who are outraged by what they see as dangerous self-deception and excessive political correctness. (Liberals who are outraged by some of the extreme things Trump says have only themselves to blame.)

Don Jindra said...

Qasim,

"It wasn't the Wahhabis who discovered how to drill for and refine oil, and ship it all over the world."

My wife taught ESL during the early 1980s at the University of North Texas. Aramco sent a lot of students there. She also had many students from other Muslim countries including Iran and Iraq, who were at war at the time. My wife was in her 20s. Most of the Arabic-speaking students were men. Interesting tension, all around. We were also apartment managers and rented to some of her students. We got to know some of these people fairly well. Some were a pleasure to be around. I remember being invited to dinner at an Egyptian couple's home. I remember well one topic of conversation which kind of surprised me. The couple were adamant about us not drawing conclusions about Muslims or Arabs based on Saudis. They said Egyptians generally thought of Saudis as barbarians. Having dealt with both groups in my apartment manager position, and having heard the stories my wife told me regarding Saudi male students versus Egyptians and Persians, I had already reached a similar conclusion. So that wasn't the surprise. The surprise was that the Egyptians were so open about sharing the same conclusion, and did so in a way that didn't feel like petty nationalistic pride.

Don Jindra said...

ShadowWhoWalks,

"Ideology provides a vocabulary, and a unifying identity in which grievance can be shared, but the catalyst is provided by politics."

Sure, but that vocabulary leads to tactics designed to protect the ideology at the expense of achieving real results. Legitimate alternatives are suppressed. That's the problem.


"I reject that Islam should be judged by the standard of Secular Liberalism..."

Does it mean you reject the fact that by secular liberal standards the Islamic world is a cultural, economic and military flop? I think not. I think the Islamic world is all too aware of the fact that secular liberal standards are way too high for it. There's a lot of embarrassment about failing to achieve the high standard you claim shouldn't be used as the standard. IMO, that is the root of Islamic terrorism -- an awareness of being the little guy.

Don Jindra said...

Gottfried,

I first ran across that quote in a book I'm now reading called, "The Closing of the Western Mind," by Charles Freedman. He footnotes it from "The Perfect Heresy: The Revolutionary Life and Spectacular Death of the Cathars," by Stephen O'Shea. But the quotation comes from multiple sources, many a bit different. I don't like to use quotes without having access to original texts. That doesn't appear to be easy here. It could be spurious. Quotes in the NY Times are sometimes spurious. But there's little doubt about the fact that the Cathars were virtually exterminated by a militant Catholic Church. There's little doubt that this happened with religious justification. This was not an isolated example. I could have picked from dozens if not hundreds of other examples.

Btw, your quote ends with "After this great slaughter the whole city was despoiled and burnt..." In another Wikipedia article the words are: "After this great slaughter the whole city was despoiled and burnt, as divine vengeance miraculously..." In both cases I want to know what comes after the ellipses. But the fuller version seems to justify the essence of the quotation from "The Closing of the Western Mind."

Anonymous said...

I'm fed up with being told that "it's not the religion, but some individuals" that's the problem.
Surely it's significant that the Koran has over 100 "verses of violence"? And it's not as though they give much leeway for interpretation.

https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/quran/violence.aspx

laubadetriste said...

@Don Jindra: "My wife taught ESL during the early 1980s at the University of North Texas. Aramco sent a lot of students there. She also had many students from other Muslim countries including Iran and Iraq, who were at war at the time. [...] I remember well one topic of conversation which kind of surprised me. The couple were adamant about us not drawing conclusions about Muslims or Arabs based on Saudis. They said Egyptians generally thought of Saudis as barbarians. Having dealt with both groups in my apartment manager position, and having heard the stories my wife told me regarding Saudi male students versus Egyptians and Persians, I had already reached a similar conclusion. So that wasn't the surprise. The surprise was that the Egyptians were so open about sharing the same conclusion, and did so in a way that didn't feel like petty nationalistic pride."

Funny coincidence. My mother taught ESL in the 80s and 90s to Saudis and others (but not in Texas). And I knew a number of folks seemingly like the ones you mention, when I lived in Egypt. I heard the same reports. From Lebanese, too.

@Chad Handley: "With all due respect, this seems like a hopeless argument."

From little things big things grow.

@Eduardo: "We all knew you hated the progressives... You sound human XD."

Must be a typo. No doubt you meant "progressivism", for of course that it is (figuratively) *inhuman* to hate people for their politics is a truth so widely acknowledged as at least commonly to be paid lip service to.

laubadetriste said...

@Bilbo: "It depends upon what is meant by 'special.'"

I suspect by "special", Dr. Feser meant specific to Islam, in contradistinction to the other religions (and setting aside for the moment the question of whether "religion" is a real genus).

laubadetriste said...

@Qasim: "Shouldn't the overall body count be what is most important?"

Overall body count would seem to be a measure requiring enormous care to use, as it would seem to vary greatly with historically recent technological capability (gunpowder, poison gas, airplanes), and by political regime, and even with the weather.

There is also the matter of the reporting of overall body counts. For example, the An Lushan Rebellion, with a reported death toll of 36 million people more than twelve centuries ago, is by one measure the greatest loss of life by violence ever; however, that figure may be wildly inflated, which would have the odd consequence of making what is by your lights "most important" turn in fact upon the interpretation of ancient Chinese census methods.

laubadetriste said...

@Qasim: "I also think it is unfair that Muslims as a whole have to answer for the consequences of Wahhabism (the version of Islam most responsible for the Jihadism we see today), but Westerners almost never do."

Seems fair to say. Of course, no one on this post (or previous posts) has laid anything at the feet of Muslims as a whole.

"That the Wahhabi ascendance throughout the Muslim world was greatly facilitated by staunch Western support also has to be given its proper due."

Seems also fair. But what due is *proper* is up for grabs.

Jeffrey S. said...

Ed,

Finally a post about Islam I can love ;-)

I just wanted to respond to a couple of your commenters:

@Qasim: "What I mean by this is that Christians erect a wall between Church and State, and then deny involvement in the killing of the State, even though the majority of the members of that State are Christians."

That's because we are talking about justifications for violence. When we invaded Iraq, for example, we had our reasons but none of them had to do with religion. On the other hand, the violence Ed and Andrew McCarthy are talking about is specifically religiously motivated. It is terrorism committed on behalf of jihad, justified by Islamic doctrine and texts.

You also claim that most jihadis are motivated by Wahhabism -- is that true of bin Laden? It is certainly not true of the mullahs in Iran. What about ISIS? I grant some Wahhabi influence (more properly the Salafist movement) on terrorism in the late 20th and 21st Century -- but we are only complicit in supporting such savagery because we bought oil from the folks who then used our money to support radical imams and mosques. I suppose we could have paid more attention to what our "allies" were doing with all our money, but we needed that oil -- what was the alternative -- invade Saudi Arabia and take over their oilfields? I don't think so.

@ShadowWhoWalks -- lots of nonsense, not much sense. This may have been your most coherent sentence: "There is an undeniable spike in terrorist attacks after the Iraq and Afghanistan invasion; no mass change in religious ideology has been made within the population, but a transformation in political context (ex. death of hundreds of thousands of civilians) where for a small number of radicals, violence against fellow citizens appeared legitimate."

Terrorist attacks against our troops, yes -- but you are ignoring all of bin Laden's efforts before the attacks (i.e. the two World Trade Tower attacks) and you ignore Iran. Of course, looking at the longer historical record, you also ignore the broader violent aggressive war that Islam has waged against Christian and pagan states from the beginning of its history. Jihad has been a part of Islam from the seventh century forward.

Anonymous said...

Why was my post deleted? I posted a link to the verses of violence in the Koran and now it's gone. Not impressed.

Omer said...

I am a proud believing and practicing Muslim. I am also a proud patriot of the US. I see absolutely no conflict between this.

And this not just because I am a Muslim but precisely because of the beautiful ethics that are laid out in the Qur'an.

I appreciate the small portion of the post above that said positive things on Islam. But to really know the positive Islam, one has to read the Qur'an and one has to interact on a very close and long term basis with their Muslim colleagues, neighbors, healthcare providers, etc.

"But all of that is consistent with McCarthy’s basic claim that there is nevertheless a link between traditional Islamic doctrine on the one hand, and violence and illiberal politics on the other. Again, is he right?"

No, he is not right. He is wrong.

Regarding Islamic doctrine, all one has to do is simply spend a little less time with reading armchair theologians on Islam and simply with an open mind and open heart, read the Qur'an.

It is not that long...a little shorter than the New Testament.

There are a few good commentary such as by Muhammad Asad (Leopold Weiss).

Regarding Prophet Muhammad, an interesting fact that no one denies is that when the Quraish pagans and their pagan allies broke the 10 year truce with the Muslims, and Muhammad marched onto Makkah, the stronghold of the Quraishite pagans, what did he do to the pagans who killed and tortured so many Muslims, for 3 years made a law against any relations with the Prophet's clan with drove them to starvation and led to the death of his wife Khadija, drove all Muslims out of Makkah, tried to assassinate the Prophet, then tried (with their pagan allies across Arabia) on multiple occasions to annihilate the Muslims in the city-state of Madina, etc.

The Prophet forgave them. He did not allow them to keep the idols in the Kaaba shrine that Abraham had built. He went in and destroyed all the idols.

But he forgave them in mass...including Hind, (the wife of Abu Sufyan and mother of future caliph Mu'awiyah) who had the Prophet's uncle Hamza killed and then she ate the liver of Hamza.

I know of no other leader in the entire history of mankind who forgave his enemies like Prophet Muhammad.

It is one thing to forgive in the station of weakness but quite another to forgive in the station of strength.

I can understand the misunderstanding of people like McCarthy and especially many conservatives on the meme that Islam has a causal link with violence.

Many Muslims also make misunderstandings when they try to understand world events and geopolitics.

Eduardo said...

Laubadatriste

Well... I just wanted to make fun progressives u___U there is no fun in making fun of progressivism. But sincerely I am starting to think that most problems are related to left-wing ideals. So yeah I am one those useless internet tough guys lol. Oookay, truth be told I am not exactly too found of certain behaviors people have including my own, so that is why I make fun of progressives, but still... What I truly hate is a abstract ideal of what a progressive should be, the Social Identity of a progressive.

I don't think it is inhuman to hate someone by their politics... It is just stupid and not leveled headed to do so... But not everyone is as calm and collected as you folks... So I guess I fail there big time.

laubadetriste said...

@ShadowWhoWalks: "Andrew Mccarthy is a pundit for far right conspiracies," etc.

Of course this does not at all address the truth or falsehood of what he said.

"This shows lack of political insight regarding the region. SA is a nationalistic hereditary jurist monarchy; it simply uses different terminologies to maintain some Islamic perception; it calls token community-level Islamic-inspired laws "Laws/Legislation", as for the utilitarian man-made laws "Systems/Instructions/Edicts", the later are used to implement Capitalism, divisive nationalism, and to serve pro-Western agendas. Naturally, the political aspects of Islam are not taught, and scholars are under regulation and occasionally get apprehended."

This is confused. What is "Islamic perception"? How would "using different terminologies" have any effect on anything? In what sense are "Islamic-inspired laws" "utilitarian"? Would not *any* law made in SA be "man-made"? Supposing for the sake of argument that "Systems/Instructions/Edicts" are used "to implement Capitalism, divisive nationalism, and to serve pro-Western agendas", why would that be presumed to alter any connection between Islam and beheadings? (I presume you did not mean to imply that beheadings are the result of, e.g., having "pro-Western agendas"--beheadings being rather rare at, say, the World Bank or the Open Society Foundation.) That the political aspects of Islam are not taught in SA is so obviously false that you must mean something eccentric by that sentence. And that "scholars are under regulation and occasionally get apprehended" is so broad as to be meaningless, for scholars are also "under regulation" and sometimes "apprehended" in every country with both law and also scholars who sometimes break it--which is to say, in every country.

"That being said, the Islamic tradition is exemplified by the four traditional Sunni schools of thought, which is composed by the academic scholarship (known as Ulama), and it is the position taken by the vast majority of Muslims. So whether it is an anti-Muslim, non-Muslim, or a Muslim, their claims regarding an ambiguous text should be compatible to the Islamic tradition rather than be a bunch of context-stripped literary gymnastics to get an interpretation suiting one's agenda."

You may need to re-read Dr. Feser's post several times. Perhaps focus on the parts about sugar and tobacco. For of course, that "Islamic tradition is exemplified" by anything at all, and that anything at all might be "the position taken by the vast majority of Muslims", are both irrelevant to the question of whether there is a "special connection between Islam and terrorism, or between Islam and illiberal politics".

laubadetriste said...

"I fail to see how it is extremely difficult to 'modernize' the Jainism concept of self-defence."

And yet somehow it has proved "difficult to 'modernize'", despite your failing to see how. ("[D]ifficult to 'modernize'"--an awkwardly tendentious phrase, that.) But really, *whether* it is difficult is as such irrelevant. What would be relevant would be how "difficult to 'modernize'" Jainism is *as compared to the other religions*. For say that, as with your squinting estimation, it would be not "difficult to 'modernize' the Jainism concept of self-defence"; but suppose also that it was *much easier* to "modernize" Islam (as, in your telling, was apparently the case); then in fact Dr. Feser's falsificationist challenge would apply, exactly as issued.

"The assumption of the new terrorism thesis is made, in which it is hypothesized that with the 21st century, ideology has begun to directly cause terrorism, independently of political and social contexts... Finally, the assertion that radicalization alone is consistently causes terrorism."

Of course, Dr. Feser said no such things. (Go ahead. Do a search if you need to. Then re-read the post, maybe with a milkshake and a cigar in hand.)

"...no mass change in religious ideology has been made within the population..."

Noted: you provide no support for that claim.

"Ideology provides a vocabulary, and a unifying identity in which grievance can be shared, but the catalyst is provided by politics."

A shared vocabulary and a unifying identity would seem to be special connections. I presume, therefore, that you agree with Dr. Feser about there being a special connection between Islam and terrorism, or between Islam and illiberal politics, but for whatever reason do not wish to be caught saying so.

laubadetriste said...

@Omer:

Hi, Omer. I'm still reading that Qur'an I mentioned before. Nothing interesting to say about that now.

"I know of no other leader in the entire history of mankind who forgave his enemies like Prophet Muhammad."

That may be true. However, it still does not address Dr. Feser's falsificationist challenge.

(The man is gonna have to start paying people cash money to respond to what he said...)

moduspownens said...

@Jeffery S

In regard to your response to ShadowWhoWalks, there's another type of example of Islamic violence and terror not yet mentioned on this thread -- Muslim-on-Muslim violence. Are these acts remotely attributable by Western colonialism and wanton collateral damage and oppressive occupations under the US forays into Iraq and Afghanistan? Not likely.

The Taliban slaughters local school children and throws acid in girls' faces because of religious dogma. Homosexuals are thrown off of cranes, as their deaths are mandated by sharia.

Indeed, Sunnis and Shias (and if this is a gross simplification, anyone correct me) have been killing each other for centuries largely based on the question of who was supposed to succeed Muhammad. And as Professor Feser noted, the religious, political and civil are amalgamated. There is no robust separation of mosque and state in the Islamic world, thus this bloody conflict is both a matter of spiritual and political importance given it ultimately originated in the dispute over the theocratic mantle of caliph.

I could go on and on...

Mark said...

The Book of Hadith: Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad from the Mishkat al Masabih–Charles Le Gai Eaton

The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary–Seyyed Hossein Nasr

Kashf al-Asrar: The Unveiling of the Mysteries (Great Commentaries of the Holy Qur’an)– William C. Chittick

Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legact–Jonathan A.C. Brown

Islam, Fundamentalism & the Betrayal of Tradition, Revised–edited by Joseph E. B. Lumbard


Do Muslims and Christians Believe in the same God?–http://faith.yale.edu/sites/default/files/shah-kazemi_final_paper_0.pdf

What Does Islam Mean in Today’s World?: Religion, Politics, Spirituality–William Stoddart
http://sacredweb.com/online_articles/sw28_stoddart_review.pdf

laubadetriste said...

@Eduardo: "But sincerely I am starting to think that most problems are related to left-wing ideals."

That would be a tall order to establish.

You might like an excellent book by the wonderful Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn called *Leftism: From de Sade and Marx to Hitler and Marcuse*, available for free online here.

"I don't think it is inhuman to hate someone by their politics... It is just stupid and not leveled headed to do so... But not everyone is as calm and collected as you folks... So I guess I fail there big time."

I have seldom been accused of being calm and collected. :) Some have used other words.

Setting aside for a moment the moral aspect of that distinction--which in parallel you can see being made on this very post in the person of Islam vs. Muslims, and which on past posts has been made in the person of atheism vs. atheists, and Protestantism vs. Protestants--I say, setting that aside, you might want to be careful just on tactical grounds. You might not see it much, this blog leaning right, but there are in fact very capable and intelligent leftists on it, and also folks of mixed sympathies (like Daniel Bell, who was "a socialist in economics, a liberal in politics, and a conservative in culture"), and you might walk into a buzzsaw.

But also, some of us have mellowed, and there's no reason you couldn't do so as well, if you chose to.

Gottfried said...

Don Jindra,

Fair enough on the quote. If you ever find out how that sentence ends, do let us know.

I'm tempted to offer further criticism of your choices in reading material, but that would be going way off-topic, so I'll let it pass. ;)

moduspownens said...

@Omer

"I know of no other leader in the entire history of mankind who forgave his enemies like Prophet Muhammad.

It is one thing to forgive in the station of weakness but quite another to forgive in the station of strength."

I got one: Jesus Christ. Obviously, you don't believe that Jesus was God incarnate, but the passion of him and death on the cross as described in the Gospels, especially Matthew and Luke, is very moving and magnanimous -- being for the total remission of humanity's sins. As God and therefore necessarily in a position of ultimate strength to those who unjustly crucified him, all things considered, that's a pretty mind-boggling act of self-deprecation and grace.

Even removing the theological context, Jesus praying, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" on the cross -- thereby suffering through one of the most torturous forms of capital punishment ever conceived -- after being betrayed, abandoned by his closest friends, convicted unjustly, flogged, beaten, mocked, humiliatingly and onerously carried his instrument of execution for all of Jerusalem to see is still a bamboozlingly incredulous notion to ponder.

moduspownens said...

* ...incredibly bamboozling notion to ponder

Bilbo said...

Dr. Feser, you wrote: "(Liberals who are outraged by some of the extreme things Trump says have only themselves to blame.)"

I consider myself to be a liberal. But I think there is validity in much of what you argue here. As a rule I don't listen to much of what Trump has to say, since whatever he says, he is liable to say the exact opposite the next day. So I'm curious, what are some of the things that Trump has said that I might be outraged about, regarding Islam?

Eduardo said...

Lauba de Triste

Added to favorites...

Well I have just walked that norrow path towards total brain shut down; You know like the usual trolls here XD. But well I have faith I may still be savable. But on my defense I can say that dealing with absolutes is perfect for comedy! And for the Sith. And the communists who like to analyse things in binaries. It is easier to just deem a whole group crap instead of analyse person by person, it feeds your aggressive side like nothing else................ Well that sounds pretty Evil.

And yes you people for an internet combox are EXTREMELY CIVIL. You can go on Any other combox and odds are it is filled with angry people and internet tough guys.

Edward Feser said...

Anonymous,

Relax. Your post was not deleted. It ended up in the spam filter because of the link. I've just liberated it.

Omer said...

Hi Laubadetriste

"Hi, Omer. I'm still reading that Qur'an I mentioned before."

That sounds great.

"I know of no other leader in the entire history of mankind who forgave his enemies like Prophet Muhammad."

That may be true. However, it still does not address Dr. Feser's falsificationist challenge."

For causality, one has to remove confounding factors.

If I notice that violence increases because of eating ice cream, then I may be making a correct correlation, but it is not causal.

Ice cream is linked to the summer heat and the summer heat is linked to violence (for various reasons).

When you have a variable X that is truly causal to the effect of variable Y, if there is any variable Z that is related to both X and Y, then one can mistakenly think that variable Z is causally related to variable X.

For McCarthy to make claim that the doctrines of one religion are more likely to cause violence, then one cannot just say that people who hold this particular religion's doctrines are more likely to do violence because there are more violent deaths attributed to them.

One has to show he controlled for other factors in the analysis.

First of all, studies show that violence is not more in Muslim societies compared to Christian societies....studies show that violence is substantially less....one needs to do a little more homework.

More to the point of needed homework... even if there is more violence, then one needs to show how it is not do to other factors such as military and other policies being imposed on society Z (for example, is society Z occupied by a foreign power or by underlings of a foreign power or in economic deprivation by another nation(s)), population age pyramid of population Z (young adults are more likely to do violence than an 80 year olds), poverty level, level of enfranchisement and democratization, level of rule of law, recent history of relationship with society Z by the other relevant nation(s) or society(s), illiteracy level, and a host of many other variables.

It is irresponsible to make a claim against society Z without doing this homework.

It is premature to ask for falsification before making the preliminary ground work to establish a claim.

Now, even apart from doing this analytical work in the social sciences to answer this social question, one can just look at the doctrines of religion Z and compare it with other doctrines.

But then, one has to compare the doctrines within every major sect of religion Z before making some claim against religion Z in broad strokes.

As it was argued above by one of the contributors, a particular sect of Muslims are associated with violence recently.

Chad Handley said...

You don't say "mistaken," which is the most your points would warrant.

No, I meant bigoted, and I meant it in reference not just to your argument, but to all arguments that try to explain the behavior of the "other" in ways other than the ways we would explain the same behavior of ourselves.

You wouldn't explain the behavior of Americans during the Revolutionary War by reference to Old Testament scriptures, and not because those Scriptures were "relativized." You wouldn't do it because it would be an insultingly simplistic account of the behavior of millions of varied human beings in specific historical circumstances. When you apply types of explanations to other large groups of people that you would find insultingly wrongheaded if applied to yourself, you are being bigoted.

As I explicitly emphasized in the post, a correlation needn't be strong in order for it to be causal. (Cf. the paresis example.) You simply ignore that.

So, what's the lower threshold percentage for a correlation to crossover to being causal? If people who didn't smoke exhibited as high or higher a risk of cancer than smoking, why would any supposed causal link between smoking and cancer be relevant? Even if you could identify a mechanism, if that mechanism produced cancer at no higher a rate than cancer was produced by pure chance, what difference would that discovery make? Would it even be worth talking about?

As I also emphasized in the post, where a specific mechanism by which the effect might be produced can be identified, the causal claim is much more plausible. (Cf. the biological facts by which smoking causes cancer, which would remain even if cancer followed smoking only rarely. So yes, if only a few people ever got cancer after smoking, we might still have good reason to posit a link.) And the post refers to such mechanisms: the relevant Quranic passages, which are not relativized to time and place the way allegedly parallel Old Testament passages are; the lack of any principled distinction between religious and secular realms in Islam; etc. You ignore all that too.

I ignored a lot of things because I'm not a philosopher and I wasn't attempting a systematic response to every point on your post, I only pointed out that the plain statistical facts on the ground seem to make your case hopeless. As I said before, even if you can identify mechanism, if that mechanism produces the effect at a rate indistinguishable from pure chance, there's no point in calling it a mechanism.

And I think pointing at a scripture as a mechanism for human behavior is just naive in the extreme. Human beings don't just blindly follow scriptures. That should be obvious just from your experience in your own religion. It takes factors on the ground to make them turn to the scriptures, to seek out certain scriptures instead of others to justify the actions they want to take. In addition to your "mechanism" not operating at a rate distinguishable from chance, it's explanatorily vacuous. You can't just point at a scripture and call that an adequate explanation for the behavior of billions of human beings across hundreds of countries and cultures.

Continued...

Chad Handley said...

And re: the appeal to colonialism, the (obvious) problem with that explanation is that (a) it does not account for the history of Islamic military expansionism from Muhammad up through the battle of Vienna, and (b) it does not account for all the former Western colonies which do not generate terrorist attacks with anything like the same frequency, or indeed at all.

As far as a), I grant happily that Islam started out as a very violent and expansionist religion, whereas Christianity only became violent and expansionist later on. That Islam was violent and expansionist at the beginning doesn't mean it is inevitably or inherently violent and extremist. Early Christians lived in communes; that doesn't mean Christianity is a religion that inherently leads to its adherents living in communes.

As for b), I just think history is not on your side. All colonial occupations breed violence for as long as they endure, and our neocolonialist occupation of most of the Muslim world is still ongoing. We still regularly invade and bomb Muslim territories, we install and support dictatorships in the region, etc. Wherever that has happened historcally, in Norther Ireland, in colonial America, there has been a prolonged period of violent response.

Your theory doesn't explain why religiously motivated violence occurs at such a lower rate where most of the world's Muslims live than in the Middle East. If it is just Scripture that motivates the violence, why don't we see the violence occurring where most of the people who read those Scriptures live? Why didn't we see it during the days of the relatively stable Ottoman Empire or during most of the caliphates, when the borders of Islam's empire were as stable as the borders of any other Empire. Islam has never been any more expansionist than any other Empire with similar power, they were certainly less expansionist than Colonial era Christian Europe.

I also emphasized -- indeed, it was the main point of the post -- that an intellectually honest person who disagrees with the claim in question should answer the falsificationist challenge posed at the end. You simply ignroe that too.

I don't think an intellectually honest person need bother with the falsificationalist challenge as long as the argument for your position is so weak. "Scriptures make people violent" as an explanation for the rate and kind of violence committed by Muslims in the Middle East doesn't rise to the point of needing falsification.

Chad Handley said...

The first is that being politic, accentuating the positive, etc. is one thing. But making sweeping claims that are simply false, unwarranted, or naive is quite another.

I'm perfectly fine with political leaders outright lying in some circumstances, and doing so for long periods of time, depending on the lie and the motivation for it, if it would keep America safer. But it's not even clear that politicians are lying when they say Islam is a religion of peace, or that certain terrorists act have no essential link to Islam. It's a complicated matter that, frankly, no one in this conversaton has the expertise to adjudicate.

The second is that these falsehoods and unwarranted claims have policy implications, so that it's not just a matter of saying things that are more politic than true.

It's by far the wiser policy decision to avoid cementing in the minds of the Muslim world some inevitable and inherent link between Islam and jihadism. This is such a no-brainer I don't know how people can dispute it. Forget the fact that linking Islam to terrorism offends our desperately needed Muslim allies in the Middle East. Let's say the vast majority of Muslims in the Middle East start to believe this is true, that a true understanding and dedication to their religion requires that they take violent action against the West. Where are we then?

What in the world is the upside to our politicians and pundits going out of their way to link Islam and terrorism? Not a rhetorical question. I've spelled out the downside pretty clearly: we'll lose Muslim allies in the Middle East and inspire more terrorism. Please, tell me the upside?

The third problem is that there is also a serious political downside to too much happy talk, viz. that it offends and infuriates at least as many citizens as it mollifies, and can lead to overreaction by those who are outraged by what they see as dangerous self-deception and excessive political correctness. (Liberals who are outraged by some of the extreme things Trump says have only themselves to blame.)

If the choice is between losing Muslim allies and inspiring more terrorism on the one side, and inspiring Donald Trump to say dumb things on the other... how is that even a choice?

Omer said...


For example, if one defines terrorism as attacking innocent people to make for political motives, then virtually all the violence committed by those who call themselves as Muslims have been committed by those who subscribe to Salafism.

There are zero Salafis in Shia Muslims since Salafis are against Shias but Salafis are also a minority within Muslims.

Very importantly, almost every Salafi scholar is against terrorism and have called on their governments to defeat the terrorists militarily.

Thus, it can be misleading to say that Islamic doctrine is causally linked to violence. Even among the Salafis, one has to exclude other social variables discussed in the previous comment from acting as confounders.

Let us take an example.

For example, ISIS are hyper Salafis....even the terrorist group Al Qaeda says they are extreme.

I realize that ISIS is just one group of terrorists within the Muslim world but they are the most active group right now.

But let us look under what scenario, ISIS was created.

It was created by our invasion of Iraq although not one of us were killed by any Iraqis.

There have been hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have been killed directly or indirectly by the invasion.

Since Iraq's population of 30 million is one tenth of our population of over 300 million, that would be equivalent to millions of us being killed.

Imagine the unthinkable and horrifying scenario that if millions of Americans were killed (and if in the decade before that millions of more Americans were killed by economic sanctions as was the case against the Iraqis), then how would that disintegrate our society?

May God protect each and every American from harm but we need to think clearly if we want clear answers.

After all that, would it not be absurd for someone to say...Hmmm, I wonder why there are so many terrorists in American society?

And interestingly, beside the so called "caliph" who previously became radicalized during the four years he was held in Camp Bucca, almost all the leaders of ISIS are actually former Iraqi Baathists military leaders.

Google "the hidden hand behind Islamic State militants"

This is research done by the establishment Washington Post newspaper, not by some conspiracy theorist group.

It is very interesting since Iraqi Baathists were vehemently against religious groups ...against Muslim groups within both Sunnis and Shias....many of these "leaders" of ISIS who are seniors probably killed many extremist Muslims in the 1980s and 1990s.

In fact, one of the key founders of Baathism (which is a party advocating secular pan Arabism) was the Christian Arab activist, Michel Aflaq.

Banshee said...

If you want to know what Arnaud Amaury/Amalric said, you can just look up Patrologia Latina volume 216, column 139, and read it yourselves. Crikey, does anybody actually believe Wikipedia or a scholarly book totally blindly, in a world where primary sources are at your fingertips?

And if you are really paranoid/diligent, there's a fairly good chance that the original of the letter is being digitized somewhere.

Anyway, the people who suddenly cried "To arms, to arms!" are described as "ribaldi," which doesn't seem to be one of the nicer Latin terms for "servants."

Francesco said...

To elaborate on my earlier point, I think McCarthy is wrong to conflate sharia and jihad under the heading "violence in Islam." Sharia is violent, but no more violent than the Mosaic law. A society that tried to literally follow the Mosaic law would be at least as horrific as Saudi Arabia. The Mosaic law requires the execution of witches, adulterers, blasphemers, and Sabbath violators. It requires the destruction of idols, and if the Jews tried to literally follow the Mosaic law, they might destroy ancient treasures as readily as the Taliban and ISIS. The Mosaic law ostracizes menstruating women and proscribes hygiene, just like McCarthy complains about sharia doing. If Islam is inherently violent and illiberal because of the violence of sharia, then Judaism is certainly inherently violent and illiberal. (Christianity might easily be painted with the same brush. Yes, Jesus teaches turning the other cheek and St. Paul says Christians don't have to follow the Mosaic law, but Christendom regularly used the Mosaic law as a justification for violence for centuries, such as the execution of witches.)

Now, perhaps one can argue that Islam is inherently more violent, not because of sharia but because it mandates conquest. This, I think, is a much stronger point, but I think one would need to know more about Islam than I do to evaluate it.

laubadetriste said...

@Omer: "More to the point of needed homework... even if there is more violence, then one needs to show how it is not do to other factors such as military and other policies being imposed on society Z (for example, is society Z occupied by a foreign power or by underlings of a foreign power or in economic deprivation by another nation(s)), population age pyramid of population Z (young adults are more likely to do violence than an 80 year olds), poverty level, level of enfranchisement and democratization, level of rule of law, recent history of relationship with society Z by the other relevant nation(s) or society(s), illiteracy level, and a host of many other variables. / It is irresponsible to make a claim against society Z without doing this homework. / It is premature to ask for falsification before making the preliminary ground work to establish a claim."

But of course, Dr. Feser was *not* asking for falsification. He was asking, by reasoning parallel to the reasoning *already deployed against Christianity for at least fifty years*, what *would* count as falsification? And that is very different, because if in fact you replied to a request for falsification, you would be falsifying something--in this case, the claim that Islam is a religion of peace, or some such. But the request, not for falsification, but for what *would* constitute falsification, is not a request about the religion at all. It is not a request about history, or about society, or about politics. It is a request about *you*--about your evidentiary standards, or your psychological state, or whatever it may be that keeps you from acceding to a certain line of argument. As Dr. Feser ended his post:

"In other words, if evidence of the sort McCarthy cites does not establish his claim, what evidence will the critic admit would establish it? Unless the critic can offer a serious response to this question, he cannot plausibly claim that it is he rather than McCarthy who is free of prejudice."

Let me repeat part of that for a third time: "...what evidence will the critic admit...?" For *you*, the critic (of the sort of evidence McCarthy cites), what *would* count?

For example, since you mentioned them, *would* you accept lack of military and other policies being imposed on society Z, lack of population age pyramid of population Z, lack of poverty, enfranchisement and democratization, rule of law, and literacy, as being sufficient to "remove confounding factors" and thereby establish a special connection between Islam and terrorism, or between Islam and illiberal politics? If not, what further conditions *would* you require? And if your list is either not forthcoming, or implausible, would it not be the case that you "cannot plausibly claim that it is [you] rather than McCarthy who is free of prejudice"?

(Note that, since this is an argument by parallel reasoning, how you reply to it will affect also how you can reply to the original argument made against Christianity--which can without trouble be altered to apply to Islam. "'Take what you like,' said God, 'take it, and pay for it.'"--old proverb, quoted by Antony Flew.)

laubadetriste said...

Hey, Dr. Feser--I got a funny poem stuck in the filter on that other post. Please set it free.

Brandon said...

I lean Islamophile myself (and think it is overly generous to most liberals to call them Islamophiles, since their 'defenses' are, as Qasim notes above, often extremely insulting in import), but some of the arguments in the defense here seem quite dubious.

It particularly seems dubious to claim that the Western world needs to engage in any kind of appeasement tactic to have allies in the Islamic world; this is contrary to the whole course of Islamic history. Muslim nations have a long history of allying with foreign non-Muslim powers against domestic and local enemies. Saudi Arabia's alliance with the U.S. is constrained by, but not in any way based on, the ideology of its people; the heart of it is cool, practical, geopolitical calculation. Lebanese Muslims (to take just one example) don't care that ISIS is Muslim; they would quite happily see ISIS pulverized into the ground, and would accept an alliance with practically anyone who could guarantee it. Results speak louder than criticisms; it's criticisms without results that are completely useless. (Which is why Russia's image is improving and the US's is deteriorating in several parts of the region dealing with ISIS.) A foreign policy based heavily on pretty words is a sign of foreign policy weakness, and will surely be seen as such by most intelligent Muslims in that part of the world.

The equation of 'Mosaic law' and Shari'a also seems very ill-considered, since it appears to equivocate on 'Mosaic law'. The closest Jewish equivalent of Shari'a is Halakha. Halakha is precisely the "liberal" Jewish interpretation of Torah that people are supposing (somehow) different from Mosaic law. (It's odd to call it 'liberal' given that its entire approach is deliberately hyperconservative.) It's likewise false to pretend that we know in any detail how Mosaic law was originally interpreted; trying to appeal to it is an attempt to appeal to ignorance in order to make up a convenient story. If we went on the way ancient Middle Eastern law codes seem usually to have worked, for instance, we cannot assume that harsh penalties were necessarily intended to be strictly implemented. (All of this is even setting aside the very obvious point that McCarthy's argument is itself very explicitly about current mainstream interpretations.)

It's also worth noting that (as far as I can see) only Qasim has actually introduced Christianity in a way relevant to the argument (because he responds to the actual, specific argument made by Ed in the post). For everyone else, the question I have is: And? Let's suppose for the sake of argument that Christianity and Judaism are a hundred thousand times as violent as Islam. Now, that out of the way, what does the argument at all tell us about Islam as a possible causal factor in violence?

As others have noted, there is a repeated dropping of the question -- related to the falsification question -- of what kind of causal link is involved. Here, for instance, is a scenario: Suppose Muslims, as such, have no particular tendency to violence, but some of the most common living traditions of it, in certain cases that often arise, not only do not tend to restrain it but, as presented by influential living interpreters, tend to justify and even encourage extreme forms of it. Here is a scenario that fits entirely with everything McCarthy says and makes Islam a contributing causal factor in extreme violence in exactly the way he says. None of the responses above, as far as I can see, address this possibility at all.

jesusLover said...

The irony is the Whore of Babylon that you belong to invented Islam via deep agents in order to destroy the Bride of Christ. True Christianity was spreading in the Middle east at the time of Mohammed much to the chagrin of the pagan shaman in Rome. The papacy influenced the former nun Khadija to get her lover to create a new religion to destroy true Christianity.

moduspownens said...

@Chad

"No, I meant bigoted, and I meant it in reference not just to your argument, but to all arguments that try to explain the behavior of the "other" in ways other than the ways we would explain the same behavior of ourselves.

You wouldn't explain the behavior of Americans during the Revolutionary War by reference to Old Testament scriptures, and not because those Scriptures were "relativized." You wouldn't do it because it would be an insultingly simplistic account of the behavior of millions of varied human beings in specific historical circumstances. When you apply types of explanations to other large groups of people that you would find insultingly wrongheaded if applied to yourself, you are being bigoted."

Chad, I find these two paragraphs highly ironic. Arguments must come from people, after all. So to explain the reason or motivation behind why people make arguments linking Islamic doctrine with Islamic terrorism as bigotry is not to apply the same sort of double standard you vehemently condemn here? Are conservatives like Professor Feser who make this "bigoted" argument not the "'other'" to you, and to chalk up this behavior as motivated by bigotry not an example of "try[ing] to explain the[ir] behavior in ways other than the ways we would explain the same behavior of ourselves"? In your words, "apply[ing] types of explanations to other large groups of people that you would find insultingly wrongheaded if applied to yourself...[is] being bigoted." In another two words -- hypocritical projection. So if anyone is being "insultingly simplistic," Chad, unfortunately, it's you.

moduspownens said...

Cont...

Anyway, we don't refer to Old Testament scriptures to explain why the Americans revolted against the British because they simply don't apply. The American Revolution was political not spiritual, with its ideological motivations coming from Locke, Hobbes and other secular philosophers. Sure, the Americans were culturally Christian, and you can find Christian influences in their writing, i.e. "...all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights...". Granted, there undoubtedly were financial incentives too, but there is little evidence that I know of suggesting the Founding Fathers and the colonists at large were justifying their struggle for independence with explicit reference to the Exodus narrative.

Contrast this with say the Fort Hood shooting, where Nidal Hassan shouted, "Allahu Akbar!" while opening fire. Or in Hamas' charter it reads:

"Moreover, if the links have been distant from each other and if obstacles, placed by those who are the lackeys of Zionism in the way of the fighters obstructed the continuation of the struggle, the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realisation of Allah's promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said:

'The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews." (related by al-Bukhari and Moslem)'"

Tell me, Chad: How is it not reasonable to assume there is a religious connection between Islamic doctrine and Islamic violence, given examples likes these? How is it bigoted to infer Muslim extremism has something to do with doctrine when Muslim extremists specifically reference their extremism is inspired by Islamic doctrine? Are you actually suggesting it is irrational to take them at their word? That, the rational position and best explanation for Hamas launching rockets at Tel Aviv is overwhelmingly dealing with the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Gaza, the West Bank, etc., i.e. political, to the point any religious reason is negligible? That, you know better what incites Hamas to do what it does better than they do? Would you do the same contortions in regard to say Hitler's scapegoating of the Jews was actually mostly coming from the punitive restrictions enacted on Germany by Britain and France in the Treaty of Versailles instead of genocidal antisemitism?

I fervently suggest, Chad, that you actually read Professor Feser's post in its entirety. He did not claim historical circumstances and international politics play no part in Islamic terrorism. He did not overgeneralize and claim all Muslim are terrorists or even most Muslims are violent. He argued that the common leftist talking points don't at all falsify the proposition that there is significant causal relationship between Islamic belief and Islamic violence.

Edward Feser said...

Chad starts out his latest:

No, I meant bigoted, and I meant it in reference not just to your argument, but to all arguments that try to explain the behavior of the "other" in ways other than the ways we would explain the same behavior of ourselves. You wouldn't explain the behavior of Americans during the Revolutionary War by reference to Old Testament scriptures, and not because those Scriptures were "relativized."... [blah blah]

Well, no, I wouldn't do so, but the reason -- obviously -- is because they didn't even purport to justify their actions by reference to OT passages. If they had purported to justify them that way, then naturally I would consider their religious beliefs fair game for explanatory purposes. Nor -- as the various examples I've given indicate (Catholics vis-a-vis Quakers and Mennonites, Jains vis-a-vis everyone else, etc.) do my perceptions of the "other" have anything at all to do with what I've said. Catholics and certain other Christians are indeed, I'm quite certain (and as I've already said explicitly), more likely under certain circumstances to resort to violence than some other religious believers would be, though less likely to do so than yet others would be. Just like religious believers of different sorts differ on all kinds of other dimensions. Contrary to what you seem to think (though "thinking" is not exactly the right word for what you're up to) various kinds of religious beliefs -- just like various kinds of political beliefs, philosophical beliefs, cultural assumptions, etc. -- are bound to influence behavior in many different ways. Religious beliefs are not unlike these other sorts of beliefs in being somehow magically immune from having an influence on the rest of our behavior.

Or maybe you think it's "bigoted" even to consider the question whether some political beliefs might make someone more inclined to violence, whether some religious beliefs might make one more inclined to avoid certain sexual acts, whether one's cultural background might make one more or less inclined to drink alcohol, etc. If you do think even considering such questions is "bigoted" then you're more consistent than I imagine you are, though also even more cut off from common sense and reality than I suppose you are.

Anyway, as is indicated by your use of buzzwords like "bigoted" and "the other," along with your rehearsal of canned arguments that I've already answered in the original post (which, as moduspownens notes, you probably didn't even bother to read in the first place) you seem to be essentially a cliche-generator rather than someone arguing in good faith, or worth reading and responded to any further.

Bye.

laubadetriste said...

@Banshee: "If you want to know what Arnaud Amaury/Amalric said, you can just look up Patrologia Latina volume 216, column 139, and read it yourselves. Crikey, does anybody actually believe Wikipedia or a scholarly book totally blindly, in a world where primary sources are at your fingertips?"

Heh. :)

I'm not even sure if that's a joke, but if not, it should be.

I actually used to have the Patrologia Latina just a short walk away, when I was in college... Man, what a heaven that was...

laubadetriste said...

@Eduardo: "Lauba de Triste..."

Close. It's actually L'Aubade Triste. Sloppy French, not sloppy Spanish. Good guess, though.

"But well I have faith I may still be savable."

I really do think that we collectively have an almost inexhaustible faith in each other.

"And yes you people for an internet combox are EXTREMELY CIVIL. You can go on Any other combox and odds are it is filled with angry people and internet tough guys."

I keep saying that. Also, I keep saying that we are incorrigible scurvy and piratical rogues, hoisting the black flag and ready to slit throats.

The two are not wholly incompatible.

Happy Mother's Day, everyone!

Edward Feser said...

Here's a further example to illustrate the contemptible stupidity of responses like Chad's.

I'm about as strongly anti-abortion as someone can be, but I'm also strongly opposed to vigilantes who shoot up abortion clinics and the like. But would I agree with the proposition that people who are strongly anti-abortion are more likely than other people are to shoot up abortion clinics? Of course I would agree. That's just common sense. It would be ridiculous to deny that their opposition to abortion has something important to do with the acts of such vigilantes. That is true even though the vast majority of people who are strongly opposed to abortion are of course not going to shoot up abortion clinics, and would of course strongly condemn anyone who would carry out such acts of vigilantism.

Now, obviously, "bigotry" against abortion opponents has nothing to do with my making this point, nor does my seeing abortion opponents as "the other" have anything to do with it. It's nothing more than a commonsense observation of the effects certain beliefs are bound to have on behavior when conjoined with other beliefs under certain circumstances.

I could give a thousand other examples. Are Catholics more likely than other Christians are to endorse bad political ideas when those ideas happen at a certain time in history to be favored by most bishops? Of course. Are Republicans more likely to support ill-advised wars than Democrats are? Very probably, yes. Are philosophers and other academics more likely to be impractical and too theory-driven when attention to concrete historical and practical circumstances is what is called for? Absolutely. And I say all that as a staunch Catholic, Republican, philosopher, and academic.

All beliefs are bound to have an influence on human behavior, and even true beliefs, when conjoined with false ones, or with human weakness, are bound to be associated with certain regrettable behaviors. But the specific kinds of behaviors in question are going to differ depending on the beliefs, because the contents of the beliefs differ. It's not "bigotry" to note this. It's just blindingly obvious common sense, and it's only politics and ideology that lead people like Chad to pretend otherwise. (And as the example of Qasim's comment above shows, a devout Muslim could easily accept McCarthy's basic point consistently with accepting Islam.)

People like Chad can't see all this even if they bother to read what their opponents actually have written (as opposed to just skimming or jumping straight to the combox). They're too busy thinking: "When do I get to yell 'bigot'? When do I get to yell 'bigot'?!" Which, of course, is exactly what I pointed out at the end of the original post -- as Chad would have known if he'd bother actually to read it, instead of inadvertently confirming it by his example.

Simon Kissane said...

Feser argues that Islamic doctrine has a greater propensity to produce violence than Christian doctrine, because Christians draw a clearer doctrinal distinction between the religious sphere and the political-military sphere. Yet in the Middle Ages that distinction became rather muddled – the Catholic Church enlisted the State to violently repress all competing religious views – until the Reformation, when the Reformers largely argued, not for religious toleration, but for the State to compel Protestant views instead of Catholic ones. In the Byzantine Empire, political meddling in the affairs of the Church was omnipresent; the same reality existed in many Protestant state churches. For over a thousand years, Popes were the political and military leaders of a large chunk of Italy, and many Popes inserted themselves into European wars and political disputes on one side or the other. He’s right that Islam began as an explicitly military-political movement, whereas Christianity had very different beginnings – but it seems that for much of its history Christianity moved in the same political-military direction as Islam, before finally retreating from that sphere over the last two or three centuries. If Christianity has recently moved away from its former religious-political-military entanglements, surely Islam has the potential within itself to execute a similar move over decades and centuries to come? If both religions contain the same potentials for both the intersection of politics and religion, and also for their disengagement from each other, is it really true that one has a greater inherent propensity to violence than the other? I think the obvious differences between the state of contemporary Christianity and the state of contemporary Islam are more the product of historical accident than the inherent nature of either.

laubadetriste said...

@Simon Kissane: "If Christianity has recently moved away from its former religious-political-military entanglements, surely Islam has the potential within itself to execute a similar move over decades and centuries to come?"

Well, if Islam has the same potential within itself, then yes; and if not, then no; and you had best weigh the possibility, if your point is gonna stick. Merely deploying it rhetorically won't do.

"If both religions contain the same potentials for both the intersection of politics and religion, and also for their disengagement from each other, is it really true that one has a greater inherent propensity to violence than the other?"

But of course, you have not established, but merely suggested, that both religions "contain the same potentials," etc. In fact you did not even try to establish that both religions "contain the same potentials," etc.

"I think the obvious differences between the state of contemporary Christianity and the state of contemporary Islam are more the product of historical accident than the inherent nature of either."

That may be true. But to establish so, you would have to consider the "inherent nature" of each--which you did not pretend to do.

Anonymous said...

Some reflections on the applied politics of dreadfully sane Christians both "conservative" and liberal.
One stark truth-telling image:
www.dartmouth.edu/~spanmod/mural/panel13.html
The conquest/crusade of course continues - remember how the village idiot from Texas initially justified his illegal invasion of Iraq as a "crusade".

www.logosjournal.com/hammer_kellner
Note the unspeakably vile sado-masochistic splatter movie being review in this essay. A movie which, at the time was hugely popular with "conservative" Christians, both "Catholic" and Protestant. I put inverted commas around "Catholic" because contrary to the usual propaganda it is not in any sense a, and especially THE universal "religion".

A thorough deconstruction of every right wing American's favorite President, and his destructive legacy
www.psychohistory.com/books/reagans-america

A selection of essays on the relationship between violence (especially religious violence) and toxic childhood practices.

www.primal-page.com/psyhis.htm

Brandon said...

Simon said,

Feser argues that Islamic doctrine has a greater propensity to produce violence than Christian doctrine, because Christians draw a clearer doctrinal distinction between the religious sphere and the political-military sphere.

Actually, this wasn't the argument; the specific point discussed in that passage of the post was explicitly, "it is not enough to point to various specific examples of Christians, or Jews, or Buddhists, or whomever, who have committed violent acts, persecuted non-believers, or what have you," and it was put forward explicitly as an example of why one would have to look at more than specific examples but at doctrinal systems. It was not put forward as an argument that Islamic doctrine has a greater propensity overall, a question that would require, by the very argument of which it was only one part, more than just looking at doctrine.

Eduardo said...

Laubadetriste

Touché n_n! You people always impress me lol.

Well you people are as evil as Peter Pan's cartoon pirates XD.

Oh yeah happy mother's day everyone!!! Kind of late really...

Omer said...


"All beliefs are bound to have an influence on human behavior, and even true beliefs, when conjoined with false ones, or with human weakness, are bound to be associated with certain regrettable behaviors."

Ed makes a very good point.

I have read many of Ed's posts over the last few years, and I sense that he tries more than many others to be principled.

I don't see bigotry the few times I disagree with him such as in this post.



Chad Handley said...

Well, no, I wouldn't do so, but the reason -- obviously -- is because they didn't even purport to justify their actions by reference to OT passages.

Um, yes they most certainly did. Have you ever read Thomas Paine's Common Sense? He draws heavily from the fact that God, in the Old Testament, did not initially want Israel to have a king to dispute the doctrine of divine monarchy. Colonists picked up on this argument and used it widely against Loyalists.

Have a gander at the Library of Congress's page on the religious arguments for the Revolutionary War, many of which most certainly do rely on Old Testament references for support:

https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel03.html

You can't even get the history of your own country right, and we're supposed to trust you when it comes to the history of a foreign cultures?

Now, you absolutely would not say that what MOTIVATED the Revolutionary War,and what is an ADEQUATE EXPLANATION for its occurring is that there were some passages in the Old Testament about God not wanting Israel to have a king. You wouldn't accept that as a sufficient or enlightening explanation of the behavior of Christians, because you respect the complexity of Christian culture. But for Muslims, such a flimsy explanation will do. That's why it strikes me as bigoted. For the record, I don't think you're bigoted, I just think you've made a bigoted argument because, well, you obviously have.

I'm quite certain (and as I've already said explicitly), more likely under certain circumstances to resort to violence than some other religious believers would be, though less likely to do so than yet others would be.

And I'm quite certain that, statistically, there's very little evidence that Muslims are more likely to resort to violence than Christians are.

According to this article (sorry, I forgot how to link):

http://www.globalresearch.ca/non-muslims-carried-out-more-than-90-of-all-terrorist-attacks-in-america/5333619

90 percent of terrorist actions in the US and 98 percent of terrorist actions in the UK are committed by NON-MUSLIMS.

So, what exactly is your EVIDENCE that Muslims are more likely to resort to violence than Christians?

Your argument depends on cherrypicking historical eras where Muslims arguably have had reasons and motivations other than religion for resorting to violence and making those religiously normative, and ignoring periods in history when Christians were much more violent, and claiming those periods were not religiously normative.

Otherwise, how could you come to the conclusion that the people who justified the Transatlantic Slave Trade and Colonialism on Christian grounds, were not more prone to violence than the Muslims who were living in relative peace in an empire with stable borders at the same time?

Yeah, maybe Jainists are more peaceful than Christians, but a thorough historical analysis would give you no basis for believing that Christians are more peaceful than Muslims. From an objective historical perspective, it's just a laughable idea on its face unless you're just willfully blind to what Christians throughout history have actually done. No religion has conquered more lands through violence or subjagated more people in the name of their religion than Christians have, as the native people of South and North America and Africa can attest. Islam has yet to conquer TWO ENTIRE CONTINENTS in the name of their religion.

Finally (for now) I think it would be fair if you took a break from calling my argument stupid and speaking about me in the third person to respond to the points I make regarding the explanatory vacuity of your theory with respect to Southeast Asia, and the long, stable, peaceful, nonexpansionist eras in Muslim history. My explanation of colonialism is a better explanation of when and why Muslims become violent than your explanation of "The Scriptures Made Me Do It."

More when I feel like it...

Chad Handley said...

Or maybe you think it's "bigoted" even to consider the question whether some political beliefs might make someone more inclined to violence

I think a Christian has to be a serious historical ignoramus or a shameless hypocrite to argue that Muslims have a greater tendency to violence than Christians do.

I think it does take a bigot to argue that while Christians have varied and complicated reasons for why they were violent and expansionist during some periods and places, and peaceful and stable during others, Muslims have no such extra-scriptural reasons. They're violent in some times and places because their Scriptures tell them to be, and non-violent at other times and places because, well, let's just ignore the times and places when they're not violent because that would be inconvenient to my argument.

Anyway, as is indicated by your use of buzzwords like "bigoted" and "the other," along with your rehearsal of canned arguments that I've already answered in the original post (which, as moduspownens notes, you probably didn't even bother to read in the first place)

I did read it, though perhaps I missed something. Could you point me to where in your original post you answer the Southeast Asia objection, the relatively stable caliphate objection, and the objection that there's no historical evidence that Muslims are more violent than Christians? Or, alternatively, you could stop pretending to have addressed them already and respond to them here, since, if left unanswered, they're absolutely fatal to your case.

you seem to be essentially a cliche-generator rather than someone arguing in good faith, or worth reading and responded to any further.

Sometimes I wonder why a philosopher as brilliant as yourself isn't better known or teaching at a more prestigious school, and then I see the childish, petulant way you respond to criticism and I stop wondering.

DNW said...

"Could you point me to where in your original post you answer the Southeast Asia objection, the relatively stable caliphate objection ..."



Had you earlier attributed violence in Muslim lands to colonialism?

Chad Handley said...

Here's a further example to illustrate the contemptible stupidity of responses like Chad's.

I'm about as strongly anti-abortion as someone can be, but I'm also strongly opposed to vigilantes who shoot up abortion clinics and the like. But would I agree with the proposition that people who are strongly anti-abortion are more likely than other people are to shoot up abortion clinics? Of course I would agree. That's just common sense. It would be ridiculous to deny that their opposition to abortion has something important to do with the acts of such vigilantes. That is true even though the vast majority of people who are strongly opposed to abortion are of course not going to shoot up abortion clinics, and would of course strongly condemn anyone who would carry out such acts of vigilantism.


Here's a response to illustrate the reprehensible imbecility of responses like Ed's.

Ed is not making a case as narrow as "who is more likely to blow up abortion clinics." Of course I'd agree that pro-life Christians are more likely to blow up abortion clinics, just as I'd agree that Islamists are more likely than Christians to use suicide vests.

But Ed's "case", if we can charitably call it that, is that MUSLIMS ARE MORE LIKELY TO RESORT TO VIOLENCE FULL STOP. He is supporting McCarthy's thesis that: "there is... a link between traditional Islamic doctrine on the one hand, and violence... on the other."

If Ed would like to restrict his claim to suicide bombings, or even to terrorism, then his analogy would apply. As it stands, his argument is analagous to a Muslim claiming that ALL CHRISTIANS ARE MORE PRONE TO VIOLENCE because of the abortion clinic bomber, or because of the history of violent Christian conquest, expansion and colonialism in the Colonial era. And such an argument would obviously be, say it with me, bigoted.

I could give a thousand other examples. Are Catholics more likely than other Christians are to endorse bad political ideas when those ideas happen at a certain time in history to be favored by most bishops? Of course. Are Republicans more likely to support ill-advised wars than Democrats are? Very probably, yes. Are philosophers and other academics more likely to be impractical and too theory-driven when attention to concrete historical and practical circumstances is what is called for? Absolutely. And I say all that as a staunch Catholic, Republican, philosopher, and academic.

Again, all narrower, more supportable, more sophisticated claims than the claim of your article, which is roughly: "Muslims be killin' because their Scriptures tell them to."

People like Chad can't see all this even if they bother to read what their opponents actually have written (as opposed to just skimming or jumping straight to the combox). They're too busy thinking: "When do I get to yell 'bigot'? When do I get to yell 'bigot'?!" Which, of course, is exactly what I pointed out at the end of the original post -- as Chad would have known if he'd bother actually to read it, instead of inadvertently confirming it by his example.

What people like Ed can't see is that, firstly, talking about others in the third person while they're present makes you look like an asshat. Secondly, that his claim is too broad to be supportable. Thirdly, that his claim has fatal, unanswered objections (To wit: Southeast Asia, where most Muslims live, is relatively peaceful, Muslim Empires historically are less violent and expanionist than Christian Empires, etc.).

His claim amounts to saying that we should be more wary of our Muslim neighbors because they are inherently more prone to violence than Non-Muslims, yet he has the nerve to take offense when someone calls that argument bigoted.

DNW said...



"If Ed would like to restrict his claim to suicide bombings, or even to terrorism, then his analogy would apply."


Well, then. Some of the brush is cleared. Chad agrees that Muslims are more likely to engage in suicide bombing terrorism, and perhaps terrorism in general, than are non-Muslims.

Now that seems to be categorical enough of a proposition to potentially draw some conclusions regarding one's own best interests.

Assuming of course that you are not a suicidal disciple of Mohammad.

Anonymous said...

I don't see how Southeast Asia is a great example, though it is often used, or the Ottoman empire. But I am Greek, and have Christian friends in Indonesia, so I have biases there.

Omer said...

"Well, then. Some of the brush is cleared. Chad agrees that Muslims are more likely to engage in suicide bombing terrorism, and perhaps terrorism in general, than are non-Muslims."

Chad is not saying this in a universal sense across all of time....yes, clearly those who are engaged in suicide bombings today are more likely to be Muslims (but then, one has to remove all the confounding variables to allege that it is due to Islamic doctrine and not due to the various rigorously studied confounding variables on the outcome of violence).

But, go back to the late 1980s and early 1990s, the group committing most suicides were probably Tamil Tigers who were waging war against the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka. The Tamil Tigers are of Hindu religion. Go back several centuries, then it would likely be Christians committing suicide bombings if that terrible technology was present in the 1500s, etc when there was vast violence in Europe.

The one considered to by many (regardless of their religion) to be the world expert on causes for suicide bombing (a very tiny portion of violence) is Professor Robert Pape of the University of Chicago.

He is the professor of political science at U of C and founder of the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism.

He has written critically acclaimed books with titles of Bombing to Win, Cutting to Win, Cutting the Fuse.

He has written based on painstaking comprehensive analytic research studying all suicide bombings that suicide bombing is not causally related to Islam.

Anyone who wants to resist their biases and exert the effort to know about causal reasons for suicide can listen to his lectures or youtube, read his books, read his articles, etc.

DNW said...



" 'Well, then. Some of the brush is cleared. Chad agrees that Muslims are more likely to engage in suicide bombing terrorism, and perhaps terrorism in general, than are non-Muslims. '

Chad is not saying this in a universal sense across all of time..."



I only know what Chad has written there. And Chad has granted that "If Ed would like to restrict his claim to suicide bombings, or even to terrorism, then his analogy would apply."


So Chad has granted that much.

Now, whether believing church going Christians who have been taught that suicide and the murder of innocents leads to eternal damnation, rather than to paradise, would have blown themselves up in order to terrorize non-Christians sometime in the past, I will leave you to speculate on. But we don't have to speculate in the case of Muslims. Believing, mosque attending, Muslims do just that: blow themselves up in order to terrorize non-Muslims

The God of the Christians does not countenance or reward suicide.

Apparently "Allah" does; or at least many of his disciples are convinced of it.


DNW said...



"He has written critically acclaimed books with titles of Bombing to Win, Cutting to Win, Cutting the Fuse.

He has written based on painstaking comprehensive analytic research studying all suicide bombings that suicide bombing is not causally related to Islam.

Anyone who wants to resist their biases and exert the effort to know about causal reasons for suicide can listen to his lectures or youtube, read his books, read his articles, etc.

May 9, 2016 at 8:03 AM"


I would not make the claim that only Muslims blow themselves up in order to terrorize innocent others.

I make the claim that the prima facie evidence is that Islam - insofar as it can be considered a coherent doctrine - does not seem to make this form of murder-suicide a damnable offense.

A. R. Diaz said...

@Chad Handley,

Though some of your points seem to me way off, others do not and should be responded to in good faith (it is a pity that both you and Feser have thrown out the window all manners proper to a civilized, rational, discussion; but then again, that's just me). If I may, allow me just to point out one conceptual problem with one of your main objections––for that's all it is, a conceptual problem. I don't think it's fatal, but it is problematic.

When it comes to the historical and present day violence committed by Muslims in the name of their religion, you accuse Dr. Feser of conveniently opting for a purely or primarily religious, i.e. Scriptural, explanation of such events and then drawing, conveniently as well, a causal connection between such violence and the sacred texts of Islam, i.e. the doctrine, while not taking into account, or simply purposely ignoring, the non-scriptural factors that explain such patterns of violence. In order to show that there is no causal connection between Islam's sacred and binding texts on the one hand and certain kinds of violence on the other, you appeal to places like Southeast Asia, Muslim Empires in history, and so forth, that is, where Muslims, though a majority, have not engaged in such systematic patterns of violence but rather have been relatively peaceful.

The conceptual problem with your objection, Chad, is that it takes for granted what it attacks: when it comes to Southeast Asia, or anywhere else where Muslims have lived peacefully, you conveniently think this IS attributable to the Muslim "Scriptures" (as you call them) rather to non-scriptural factors that might explain the peaceful situation. But this seems to be another case of the same partial and biased (even "bigoted" according to your definition of "bigot" as not applying the same explanatory tools to one phenomena as you would reasonably apply to another) kind of explanation that you accuse Dr. Feser of (rightly, perhaps). Simply pointing to the peaceful situation in Southeast Asia (assuming, for the sake of the argument, that it is as peaceful as you say), or to the peaceful moments of Muslim Empires, or anywhere else where Muslims have been peaceful and non-violent, will not due to establish a lack of a causal connection between Islam's Scriptures on the one hand and violence (as well as the pursuit of illiberal politics) on the other, since the fact that Muslims are, or have been, peaceful in those places and moments in time could likewise be explained by non-scriptural factors.

So, the objection––at least in the way in which you've formulated it––is conceptually problematic. Your objection would be much forceful if the reason why there is, or has been, peace in the places you refer to were, or was, due to scriptural factors. But you would need to show that this is so, not just assume it. Furthermore, even if there are places in which peace can be attributed to, say, Islamic scriptures, that still does not rule out that systematic violence in other places or moments could be equally attributed to those same scriptures. Perhaps the Quran is inconsistent. Or perhaps not.

At any rate, the main problem I want to bring to your attention is that a mere appeal to the peaceful behavior of some Muslim countries, for example, will not due to counter the claim that there is a causal connection between Islam and violence unless the best causal explanation for such peaceful behavior is scriptural rather than non-scriptural; otherwise, you would be committing the same "bigoted" (I'd prefer partial and biased) move you accuse Feser of.

DNW said...

"Thirdly, that his claim has fatal, unanswered objections (To wit: Southeast Asia, where most Muslims live, is relatively peaceful ..."

Relative to what?

And your implied claim was that colonialism led to the violence we see presently; not, fidelity to the Koran.

In that case, Indonesia should in fact be full of non-Koran related violence as it was a victim of Dutch colonialism. But as it is, you instead insinuate that there is relatively little violence in such countries.

Is there spectacular sectarian violence there?

So let's say you Google "violence in Indonesia"; this is one of the links you are likely to see ...


http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/23/religious-violence-flares-in-indonesia-as-mob-torches-aceh-church

"Indonesia is struggling to live up to its national motto “unity in diversity” after a mob attack on a church left one dead and the authorities responded by demolishing more churches.

The attack took place in the conservative province of Aceh, the only region in Indonesia that has sharia law and where religious tension has been brewing for months.

A mob wielding sharp weapons torched the small Protestant church in the district of Aceh Singkil last week, saying it lacked an official permit. One Muslim vigilante was shot dead in the attack, while thousands of Christians fled to a neighbouring province."



" [T]he only region with Sharia law ..." No ..." official permit"

"Sharia law" ... doesn't that have something to do with the Koranic religion?

Vincent Torley said...

Hi Chad,

You asked for evidence that Muslims have a greater propensity to violence than Christians, over the course of history. You might like to have a look at this article by Mike Konrad. It's pretty damning:

http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2014/05/the_greatest_murder_machine_in_history.html

Th article states that 110 million blacks were killed by Islam, as well as 80 million Indians.

You mentioned South-East Asia. Mike Konrad writes:

"How many know the horrors of the conquest of Malaysia? The Buddhists of Thailand and Malaysia were slaughtered en masse."

Konrad concludes:

"Though the numbers are not clear, what is obvious is that Islam is the greatest murder machine in history bar none, possibly exceeding 250 million dead. Possibly one-third to one-half or more of all those killed by war or slavery in history can be traced to Islam; and this is just a cursory examination."

Re the question of whether violence in the bible is equivalent to violence in the Quran, you might like to have a look at this article:

https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/articles/bible-quran-violence.aspx

To find about more about Muhammad's propensity for violence, please see here:

https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/muhammad/index.aspx

Cheers.

Chad Handley said...

The conceptual problem with your objection, Chad, is that it takes for granted what it attacks: when it comes to Southeast Asia, or anywhere else where Muslims have lived peacefully, you conveniently think this IS attributable to the Muslim "Scriptures" (as you call them) rather to non-scriptural factors that might explain the peaceful situation

Show me where I attributed these peaceful areas and eras to Muslim scriptures.

Or, you know, don't even bother trying because I never did that. Not once.

Chad Handley said...

In that case, Indonesia should in fact be full of non-Koran related violence as it was a victim of Dutch colonialism

I never said that colonialism leaves a permanent legacy of violence, only that where colonialism is ACTIVELY PRESENT, violent uprisings tend to occur. The Middle East is, for all intents and purposes, CURRENTLY colonized, in some places explicitly. People in the Middle East live in places where the policies and practices of their country are more determined by foreign powers than by their own leaders. Whenever and wherever that has been the case throughout history, violence has resulted.

Chad Handley said...

Vincent Torley,

I am admittedly unaware of the extent of the killing of Indians by Islam. I'll have to look into that more before I respond.

However, in terms of the Arab slave trade, that was largely not a matter of conquest or shedding blood in the name of religion, but rather Muslim on Muslim violence and exploitation for extra-religious reasons. If that goes into the Muslim death toll, then all the wars of Christian Europe, up to and including the World Wars, go into the Christian death toll, and the numbers again become comparable.

As for your other claims, I've never commented on the difference between the Koran and the Bible on violence, nor have I denied that Muhammad himself was a warrior. I'm merely disputing the claim that Muslim have historically been more violent than Christians, or that they are generally more violent than Non-Muslims.

Jeffrey S. said...

"Your argument depends on cherrypicking historical eras where Muslims arguably have had reasons and motivations other than religion for resorting to violence and making those religiously normative, and ignoring periods in history when Christians were much more violent, and claiming those periods were not religiously normative.

Otherwise, how could you come to the conclusion that the people who justified the Transatlantic Slave Trade and Colonialism on Christian grounds, were not more prone to violence than the Muslims who were living in relative peace in an empire with stable borders at the same time?"

I was going to respond to this historical ignorance but I see that Vincent beat me to it (as well as others!) I would only add that while some Christians came up with justifications for slavery, others condemned the terrible practice. Meanwhile, Islam was busy enslaving Europeans and Americans:

https://nithgrim.wordpress.com/2016/04/29/american-slavery/

Why? They could justify the practice using the Koran.

A. R. Diaz said...

@Chad Handley

"Show me where I attributed these peaceful areas and eras to Muslim scriptures.

Or, you know, don't even bother trying because I never did that. Not once."

Oh, ok. Then your appeal to Southeast Asia et al, as an objection, now seems to me to have even less force. I misread you, perhaps. I thought you were appealing to such peaceful cases as a counter-example to Feser's claim that there is a casual link between Muslim scriptures and violence––but, of course, unless those peaceful cases are due to Muslim scriptures, it is hard to see how your mere appeal to such cases can even being to constitute an objection to the causal claim made by Feser. Perhaps I missed something.

At any rate, my apologies.

Chad Handley said...

Also, I've never said that the Islamic Empire was never violent, or never expansionist, or that there have never been any acts of terrorism in Southeast Asia. I'm arguing that if Ed's right, and the MECHANISM for violence is only or primarily scriptures in the Koran, then we should expect Muslims everywhere to exhibit some constant level of heightened violence. That there have been long eras and vast areas where Muslims have not engaged in such acts is evidence against his thesis. Whereas the thesis that Muslims, like everybody else, ocassionally have engaged in widespread violence for any number of reasons due more to pressing contemporary circumstances than to any Scriptural passages seems to better fit the facts of when and where Muslim violence has occurred.

So, even if Ed is right about the fact of Muslims having a greater tendency for violence (and I'm far from convinced he is) he'd still be wrong about the mechanism. And I'd still say that attributing wars and conquests and slaughters across the globe and across thousands of years of history to a few passages in the Koran is bigoted, because Ed would never explain, for example, the transatlantic slave trade on the basis of the fact that some scriptures in the Bible seem to support slavery.

And I'm done for a couple of hours, or maybe forever.

Chad Handley said...

Why? They could justify the practice using the Koran.

I'm sorry, are you claiming that slavery could not be justified by using the Bible? Or that this wasn't done? You know, A LOT, by Christian slave traders? (Heck, I've been told by people here that slavery isn't really ruled out by Aquinas, or by natural law, or, for very, very long periods of time, by the Catholic Church.)

Are you claiming that there was no dispute within Islam as to whether or not slavery was morally permissible?

If there was no such dispute, why has the practice all but died out?

Okay, I'm really leaving now.

Chad Handley said...

No, I'm not:

Oh, ok. Then your appeal to Southeast Asia et al, as an objection, now seems to me to have even less force. I misread you, perhaps. I thought you were appealing to such peaceful cases as a counter-example to Feser's claim that there is a casual link between Muslim scriptures and violence––but, of course, unless those peaceful cases are due to Muslim scriptures, it is hard to see how your mere appeal to such cases can even being to constitute an objection to the causal claim made by Feser.

Would I have to show that smoking cures cancer in order to dispute the claim that it causes cancer? Then why would I have to show that Muslim scriptures cause peace in order to dispute the claim that it causes violence?

Perhaps I missed something.

Ya think?

DNW said...

"I never said that colonialism leaves a permanent legacy of violence, only that where colonialism is ACTIVELY PRESENT, violent uprisings tend to occur. "

Is that what you said. That, only "where colonialism is ACTIVELY PRESENT, violent uprisings tend to occur" ?

You said,

"Rank and file liberals probably deny the causal link because there's a much more relevant causal factor available as an alternate explanation, a causal factor that seems to never make it into your posts about the link between Islam and violence: colonialism. "

and you also said,

" All colonial occupations breed violence for as long as they endure, and our neocolonialist occupation of most of the Muslim world is still ongoing. We still regularly invade and bomb Muslim territories, we install and support dictatorships in the region, etc. "

Note especially this categorical: " ... our neocolonialist occupation of most of the Muslim world is still ongoing."


Thus, according to you most part of the Muslim world is occupied, and hence, per your logic is in a state of violent uprising; except for the most part of it which according to you, is not

" ... most of the World's Muslims live in Southeast Asia, not the Middle East. " ... " ... Your theory doesn't explain why religiously motivated violence occurs at such a lower rate where most of the world's Muslims live ..."

So, sectarian violence in Muslim countries is the result of colonialism. Not past colonialism, but active colonialism. And where active colonialism exists, as in most of the Muslim world there will be violence; except in most of the Muslim world, where there is no such violence - and hence no colonialism.

So most of the Muslim world is neocolonially occupied, and where there is neocolonialist occupation there will be violence. Thus most of the Muslim world is violent.

On the other hand most of the Muslim world is also non-violent despite having once but no longer being colonially occupied. Like in Indonesia. Except those parts of it under Sharia law, or Koranic law.

See? Easy peasy. Just remember that most of the Muslim world is a victim of neocolonialist - if ethnically and ideologically invisible - occupation, and therefore is only violent because of that. On the other hand, most of the Muslim world is not in the middle east and not violent, unless it is.







The Middle East is, for all intents and purposes, CURRENTLY colonized, in some places explicitly. People in the Middle East live in places where the policies and practices of their country are more determined by foreign powers than by their own leaders. Whenever and wherever that has been the case throughout history, violence has resulted.

May 9, 2016 at 9:29 AM

Edward Feser said...

Chad,

First, spare us the hurt feelings, accusations of petulance, pathetic ad hominem references to where I teach, etc. You're the one who decided to make things personal and inflammatory by yelling "bigotry" right out of the gate. Had you not done so, our exchange would have been perfectly polite. You are only getting what you asked for.

Second, I have never made this ridiculous straw man claim you now want to attack, viz. to the effect that all Muslims are more prone to violence than all Christians. Indeed, I made it clear that that is not what I think. It is impossible for a fair-minded person to read what I wrote and interpret it the way you do.

Third, sure, Paine and others cited OT passages, but that is not germane to the point I was making. The point I was making (obviously) is that the American Revolution was not fundamentally conceived and carried out as an implementation of any religious doctrine. Citing OT passages in the course of defending the revolution was like Saddam Hussein appealing to Islam in carrying out his various wars -- a little theological gloss on what was essentially a secular enterprise. (And Saddam would be a good example of a Muslim whose belligerence was not fundamentally attributable to Islam.) Things are very different with the actions of jihadists, or with Muhammad's own actions. Of course there are other motivations alongside the religious ones, but in these cases the theology provided the fundamental motivation.

Now, if you want to say "Well, I still think you're wrong and here's why..." I've got no problem at all with that. Other people here in the combox have done just that and you'll notice that I have not attacked them.

Your problem is that you are absolutely hell-bent on being able to stick labels like "bigotry," "hypocrisy," etc. on those who disagree with you. It's an irrational tic that you apparently just can't resist even though it's completely gratuitous and unwarranted and guaranteed merely to piss off people who might otherwise engage with you in a more civil way. And it also leads you to caricature their arguments, rehearse stock talking points without seeing that they've already been addressed, and in general come across like a complete schmuck. Then when people treat you like a schmuck you get upset about it.

Muslim readers like Omer and Qasim, though they disagree with the post, aren't acting the way you are. Other liberal readers like Don Jindra, though they disagree with the post, also aren't acting the way you are. And notice that they aren't being treated uncivilly either. Do the math. You are behaving exactly like those who accused me of being politically correct, naive about Islam, etc. back when I was defending the claim that Christians and Muslims worship the same God -- i.e. emotionally and with a political ax to grind, rather than coolly and rationally. You're like peas on opposite sides of the same pod.

Chad Handley said...

First, spare us the hurt feelings, accusations of petulance, pathetic ad hominem references to where I teach, etc. You're the one who decided to make things personal and inflammatory by yelling "bigotry" right out of the gate. Had you not done so, our exchange would have been perfectly polite. You are only getting what you asked for.

Firstly, calling an ARGUMENT bigoted isn't an invitation to be insulted and ridiculed. It's no more inherently pejorative to call an argument bigoted than it is to call it uninformed, underdeveloped, or unsupported. You'd agree that some arguments ARE (perhaps unintentionally). Despite your self-image, you are (apparently) not above making such an argument, so there's no reason for you to respond to claims that you have with vitriol rather than introspection.

Secondly, in the initial posts and in he subsequent posts, I've given REASONS for why I think your case is bigoted. You ignored those reasons and just attributed the accusations to my emotional state or my political allegiances.

In short, YOU drove our exchange into the gutter, not me. Now, I don't mind it being in the gutter, if that's how you want it. I'm perfectly comfortable in the gutter; I've got a summer home and many friends there. But I wasn't there when our exchange started - you took it there.

Second, I have never made this ridiculous straw man claim you now want to attack, viz. to the effect that all Muslims are more prone to violence than all Christians. Indeed, I made it clear that that is not what I think. It is impossible for a fair-minded person to read what I wrote and interpret it the way you do.

Then what exactly is your claim? If your claim is merely that some Muslims are more prone to violence than some Christians, who in their right mind would disagree, or find it worth stating or defending? Your argument at least seems to be that there is some essential link between Islam and violence, such that wherever Islam is there will be an increased threat of violence. How could that claim be true, and yet the claim "Muslims are generally more prone to violence than non-Muslims" not be true? They go hand in hand, and both hands belong to bigots.

Third, sure, Paine and others cited OT passages, but that is not germane to the point I was making.

It kind of is when the point you were making is that they didn't.

Things are very different with the actions of jihadists, or with Muhammad's own actions. Of course there are other motivations alongside the religious ones, but in these cases the theology provided the fundamental motivation.

And you're claiming to know that this is generally the case with respect to all incidents of Islamic violence? You're claiming to have the historical expertise to know that whenever or wherever Muslim violence occurred, the reasons are more likely to be religiously motivated than motivated by other existential concerns?

OF COURSE everyone would agree that jihadists and Muhammed himself were mostly motivated to do violence for religious reasons. But you're not restricting your claim to jihadists or to Muhammad, you're applying your theory to ALL MUSLIMS. (You can't say that Islam leads to violence without also claiming that Muslims are, all things being equal, more prone to violence than non-Muslims. The latter follows from the former.) You're saying they have a higher tendency to violence because they're Muslims. It's the unrestricted nature of your claim that makes it objectionable, more than likely false, and yes, bigoted.

Continued...

Chad Handley said...

Your problem is that you are absolutely hell-bent on being able to stick labels like "bigotry," "hypocrisy," etc. on those who disagree with you.

No, I'm not. I am willing to label arguments bigoted when they are bigoted, and when I can give principled reasons for the accusation. (Those reasons still haven't been responded to or addressed, by the way.)

This is YOUR irrational reaction to a word, not mine. You speak as though all claims of bigotry are always false or suspect, and I just don't agree. I myself, with the best of intentions, have made bigoted arguments before. It happens to the best of us, even the illustrious Edward Feser. You're the one irrationally lumping me in with other people who make such claims with no justification or explanation. Start with the man in the mirror, Ed.

Muslim readers like Omer and Qasim, though they disagree with the post, aren't acting the way you are. Other liberal readers like Don Jindra, though they disagree with the post, also aren't acting the way you are.

You haven't spoken them the way you've spoken to me. And again, we can keep it uncivil if you want, it's your forum. Just please stop pretending that I was the one who made it that way.

Do the math.

The math says that you think you are unique among all human beings in that you are incapable of making a bigoted argument, so that all claims otherwise, even if offered in good faith with supporting reasons, can be dismissed out of hand. And that all people who make such claims are appropriate targets for ridicule.

The math says that you're being a jerk because of your own hangups, and your own Pavlovian responses to words like "bigotry" and "the other" (an earlier post of yours basically stated that any argument that uses these terms can FOR THAT REASON ALONE be ignored - which is absurd).

In short, you're the problem, not me. And again, be a problem, it's your right, and more than that, it's who you've consistently demonstrated yourself to be. But at least own it.

DNW said...




Say Chad,

What is bigotry, according to your definition?

And is it, from your perspective something that morally wrong? If so, who or what is wronged, and, how do you know?

Or, is it a more akin to a logical error, of some kind.

A. R. Diaz said...

@Chad Handley,

"Would I have to show that smoking cures cancer in order to dispute the claim that it causes cancer? Then why would I have to show that Muslim scriptures cause peace in order to dispute the claim that it causes violence?"

Because you yourself appealed to non-violent Muslim zones (say, Southeast Asia) as a counter-example to Feser claim that there is a causal link between Islam and violence. But it is hard to see how that could constitute a counter-example to Feser's causal claim unless you think the Southeast Asia, for example, refutes or threatens THAT CAUSAL CLAIM because Southeast Asia is a case in which the peace or non-violence is casually linked to Muslim scriptural factors, that is, a case in which scriptural factors effectively cause peace. Otherwise, if Islam is irrelevant to the peace of the places you appeal to, your objection falls flat. Then why appeal to them at all?

It is clear to me that you have not understood what I am saying. (Btw, as I said in my original comment, even showing that in Southeast Asia peace is due to Muslim Scriptures does not rule out the fact that violence in other Muslim places might likewise be due to Muslim Scriptures. As I said, perhaps there is no coherent interpretation of Islam. But whatever).

P.S. As Feser made clear in his original post, the claim "Smoking causes cancer" is not, of course, equivalent to "Wherever there is a smoker, there is cancer". Likewise, his claim that "Islam is causally linked to violence" is not equivalent to "Wherever there are Muslims, there is violence." He made that much clear. So if you took the Southeast Asia case as a counter-example to THAT equivalence claim, then you have badly misunderstood and misrepresented Feser's claim.

I have made my point clear. Re-read (charitably and objectively, please) my original comment. It was clear then. I'm out.

Chad Handley said...

if Islam is irrelevant to the peace of the places you appeal to, your objection falls flat

If Islam is irrelevant to the level of peace or violence, then MY case falls flat? Not the case of the guy who says that Islam causes violence?

Guy A says smoking increases cancer risk.

Guy B says it doesn't.

Evidence emerges showing that smokers do not get cancer at any higher rate than nonsmokers.

Whose claim has been refuted? Guy A or Guy B?

Again, isn't showing that smoking is IRRELEVANT to cancer risk sufficient to show that smoking does not increase the risk of cancer?

the claim "Smoking causes cancer" is not, of course, equivalent to "Wherever there is a smoker, there is cancer". Likewise, his claim that "Islam is causally linked to violence" is not equivalent to "Wherever there are Muslims, there is violence." He made that much clear. So if you took the Southeast Asia case as a counter-example to THAT equivalence claim, then you have badly misunderstood and misrepresented Feser's claim.

You didn't read or pay attention to my initial post, in which I said that the correlation must clear some evidential hurdle for the causal claim to be meaningful. Ed's argument does not require that all or most Muslims are violent, or that Muslim violence must be everywhere. But it must at least show that the risk of Muslim violence is, all things being equal, higher than the risk of Non-Muslim violence. Otherwise the presence of Islam is irrelevant to the level of violence and HIS CLAIM, NOT MINE will have been refuted. And I argued that the math very likely does not support this claim, or at least, that he hasn't demonstrated that it does.

In short you have to show THAT Islam has a greater tendency to lead to violence before you start explaining WHY it does, and I'd argue that Ed has failed on both counts.

Chad Handley said...

And for the record, if Ed is saying that the CAUSAL MECHANISM of Muslim violence is scriptures in the Koran, then HE IS saying that wherever there is Islam, there will be an increased risk of violence, because that FOLLOWS FROM THE CLAIM.

Even if he insists it doesn't follow from the claim, it does follow from the claim.

You can't say that lifelong smoking increases risk of lung cancer, and deny that in places where everyone is a lifelong smoker, there won't be more incidents of lung cancer (all things being equal). You can't make one claim and not the other, because the latter follows from the former.

The reason I think Ed's claim is bigoted is that clearly bigoted claims (such as that Muslims are, all things being equal, more prone to violence) seem to LOGICALLY FOLLOW from it, despite his protestations to the contrary.

Gottfried said...

Chad,

You haven't spoken to them the way you've spoken to me.

And why do you think that is?

Chad Handley said...

Gottfried, I've just written a couple of paragraphs explaining why I think that is. Advance the conversation, or pick up a blanking broom.

Gottfried said...

Here's a hint, then. Bigotry is a quality of persons, not arguments. Perhaps you really didn't know the meaning of that word, or its connotations (though I find that hard to believe), but in any case you have no right criticize Ed for his reaction.

Edward Feser said...

Chad,

This is past tiresome, but let me call bullshit one last time. Descriptions like “bigot,” “bigotry,” “bigoted,” etc. entail, in their ordinary usage, that the target of the description exhibits irrational hatred, a refusal to hear out opposing points of view, intellectual dishonesty, etc. And these are characteristics of persons, not of arguments, sentences, etc. Hence it is sophistry to pretend that a phrase like “bigoted arguments” reflects only on the arguments and not on the person giving them. And of course you also use expressions like “shameless hypocrisy,” and it would be asinine to pretend that such descriptions reflect only on the arguments and do not entail that the person making the arguments is a shameless hypocrite.

Nor is this a point being made by Ed Feser, the guy whose illustrious self-image prevents him from seeing Chad’s devastating objections. It’s a point being made by Ed Feser, the ordinary guy who knows what ordinary English words mean.

So, kindly cut the crap already. You can use words in their novel Chad-senses all you want when writing in your diary, singing in the shower, talking to yourself in your car, etc. But please keep in mind that, here in the combox, people are bound to understand them the way most people do.

Edward Feser said...

ah, I see Gottfried's already made the point.

Chad Handley said...

Descriptions like “bigot,” “bigotry,” “bigoted,” etc. entail, in their ordinary usage, that the target of the description exhibits irrational hatred, a refusal to hear out opposing points of view, intellectual dishonesty, etc.

Which might cut mustard except for two things:

Thing One: I called your ARGUMENT, not yourself, bigoted. (And contrary to Gottfrieds absurdity, arguments can be bigoted. The argument that blacks are more prone violence because of their history in the jungle is a bigoted argument. The person presenting it may or may not be bigoted, depending on why he's advancing it.)

Thing Two: I CLEARLY explained what I meant by the accusation when I made it: that you were accepting for others overly simplistic and under nuanced arguments that you would not accept for yourself.

And not for nothing, but you HAVE refused to hear out my points of view. None of your posts about my claims of bigotry addressed the many REASONS I gave for calling your argument bigoted. And that IS intellectually dishonest. And I kind of think you do have an irrational hatred, but not of Muslims, of liberals. And I think that because of the many times I've witnessed you treat them like you're now treating me.

Now, I don't know how clear I can be about this: I don't give a flying poop how you talk to me. Go for broke, be the asshole you clearly have always wanted to be. But don't blame me for the fact that you go looking for reasons to be insulting to liberals, and you've never refused a perceived opportunity to do so, as long as you could claim some flimsy justification. Evidence shows that THAT IS WHO YOU ARE. I don't have a problem with you being who you are, I have a problem with you blaming me for who you are.

And for the record I said that I have made bigoted arguments, and that it was possible to make bigoted arguments unintentionally. (A classic case being the Monyihan Report, which has become a textbook case of bigotry, even though its author was a lifelong liberal who was explicitly trying not to be bigoted. Sometimes, our own prejudices overtake us unawares, despite our best intentions. Yes, it can even happen to you, Ed.) I frankly deny that the term has all the connotations you think it does, otherwise I would not have attributed several bigoted arguments to myself.

At any rate let me state, tediously, unnecessarily, A-FREAKING-GAIN, that I do not think you are a bigot. I just think your argument is bigoted.

And of course you also use expressions like “shameless hypocrisy,” and it would be asinine to pretend that such descriptions reflect only on the arguments and do not entail that the person making the arguments is a shameless hypocrite.

I made that claim because you were being a shameless hypocrite, and only after you started with the pejorative comments. Again, I am by no means denying that I jumped down into the mud with you, I'm just saying that you jumped down there first.

I'm not here saying "poor me, poor me." You want to have an insulting rather than polite exchange? I'm game. But just admit that YOU WANT THAT. Especially with liberals. You go looking for it.

You certainly haven't responded to ANY of the SEVERAL substantive arguments I've made against your claim, because you have irrationally fixated on the word "bigotry" without paying attention to the way the claim was used or how it was supported. Those things don't seem to matter to you in the presence of some pretense of justification for talking shit to a liberal.

HAA said...

Hi Ed,

As a Muslim who owns three of your books: "Scholastic Metaphysics" (two copies), "Aquinas", and "Philosophy of Mind", I will answer this briefly:

What would have to occur or to have occurred to constitute for you a disproof of your claim that there is no special connection between Islam and terrorism, or between Islam and illiberal politics?

To show that a holistic and thoroughly supported Qur'anic exegesis not only incites to "terrorism" in an analogous manner to the present usage of the term, but also sanctifies it, and that any specific or overarching behavior of Muhammad as the receiver of this alleged Divine Revelation and first implementer of its dictates as recorded in any authentic Islamic secondary sources corresponds with this interpretation.

I obviously don't believe this to be the case at all. Islam has never claimed to be a "pacifist" way of life. It seems to be more "worldly" than Christianity, in the sense that Islam is deals "religiously" with all aspects of life: spiritual, economic, social, political, etc., in that its weltanschauung focuses more on sanctification - as opposed to - the separation of the spheres of the mundane and the Heavenly. Necessarily then, it will deal with the topic of war and the conditions that generate and are generated by it. Islam is primarily a peaceful way of life, but it is also a "do not oppress, and do not be oppressed" one as well. So, it allows a people to justifiably defend themselves and others from oppression via physical violence if necessary. But as the Qur'an says "if they incline to peace, you incline to peace." If you delve into a legitimate reading of the history of the prophet, you will realize that any battles that were engaged in were only for protecting the nascent community and the freedom to practice the faith. IMO, the dictates of Islam can never be used to justify any aggression for political aspirations, historical accounts of post-prophetic followers notwithstanding. However, since the Qur'an legitimizes warfare with a religious "coloring" or "tint", I do agree that it makes Islam easier to "hijack", de-contextualize, misinterpret, misconstrue, misuse, etc., for other than legitimate purposes.

Thanks.

Chad Handley said...

Alternatively, if we want to climb out of the gutter and dispense with the shit-talking, you can address any of the objections I gave for your claim that do not involve bigotry, such as that:

1. You haven't made the case that Muslims in general engage in violence more often than non-Muslims, so it's not clear we need a causal explanation of a phenomenon you have given us no reason to believe exists, or that anyone needs to answer a falsificationalist challenge regarding a phenomenon you've given us no reason to believe exists.

2. You have't made the case that where there have been outbreaks of Muslim violence, that violence is best causally explained by reference to certain Muslim Scriptures as opposed to other factors.

3. You haven't explained why, if the causal mechanism is certain Muslim scriptures there are large areas and long periods where those scriptures do not lead to religious violence.

Vand83 said...

"I'm not here saying "poor me, poor me." You want to have an insulting rather than polite exchange? I'm game. But just admit that YOU WANT THAT. Especially with liberals. You go looking for it."

You want that. Which is why you chose to use language like "bigoted" to begin with. That way, the conversation would devolve to the point it has. You could boo hoo about how Ed is mean to you poor, little, liberals. Next time, if you really do want to have a conversation, just avoid the rhetoric you know will be a distraction. Even if you think it's petty. Better yet, just go away. I've been reading this blog for years, and this always happens when you comment. I know, I know, that's everyone else's fault. Yawn...

Brandon said...

Ed's argument does not require that all or most Muslims are violent, or that Muslim violence must be everywhere. But it must at least show that the risk of Muslim violence is, all things being equal, higher than the risk of Non-Muslim violence.

This is not true at all. Ed is making a very indirect argument. He is pointing to McCarthy's argument, arguing that some objections people immediately raise to McCarthy's argument run into problems and that the evidence to which McCarthy appeals is reasonable evidence to which one might appeal on the question of whether Islam is a causal mechanism in certain cases of extreme violence, and asking, "if evidence of the sort McCarthy cites does not establish his claim, what [kind of] evidence will the critic admit would establish it?" As I noted above, McCarthy's argument at no point requires the kind of claim that you are stating; it is specifically about extreme violence, it explicitly notes that many Muslims are not violent, but argues that certain kinds of extreme violence are specifically Muslim versions of extreme violence, being actively encouraged by respected Muslim authorities. It is entirely possible for a scenario to exist that fits the demands of McCarthy's argument without concluding that risk of Muslim violence is ceteris paribus greater than risk of non-Muslim violence.

In the course of his comments to you, Ed has repeatedly pointed out that the question is about whether Islam can be a genuine causal mechanism in certain kinds of violence; that is explicitly mentioned in his first comment to you. He reiterated his point on May 8, 2016 at 10:56 PM; then again at May 8, 2016 at 11:44 PM.

And yet we still see you (May 9, 2016 at 12:03 PM ) floundering around for some position to yell at. If you actually read McCarthy's article, which is specifically and explicitly what Ed is talking about, you would realize that McCarthy specifically and explicitly talks not about the Qur'an as a mechanism but about widespread and in some places highly respected interpretations of the Qur'an. It is blindingly obvious that if the causal mechanism is a COMMON LEGAL INTERPRETATION (I put it in capital letters because apparently we're doing that now) of the Qur'an put forward by ISLAMIC AUTHORITIES RESPECTED IN SOME MAJOR MUSLIM POPULATIONS that it DOES NOT FOLLOW that wherever there is Islam there is increased risk of violence; not every Muslim population is led by the same authorities or accepts the same interpretation. Since legal interpretations of Qur'an and hadith, according to experts representing authoritative schools of interpretation, are very important for Muslim life almost everywhere, this is a question about Islam itself as a causal mechanism. It does not require in any way that these interpretations be the only interpretations or even reasonable interpretations, only that they are actual and respected interpretations. All this is in McCarthy. If you haven't read the McCarthy article that Ed is talking about, you don't know what the topic of discussion is. If you have read it, you need to read it again, because you get it wrong.

Chad Handley said...

I didn't bring up the word bigoted. Ed did in the essay. I explained why I, and others like myself, might think the argument is bigoted. Not for the reasons he gave, not out of emotion or an attempt to ignore or dismiss the case without giving it serious thought, but because it's an explanation we would consider inadequate if applied to ourselves.

Can you think of ONE CHRISTIAN WAR, ONE CHRISTIAN VIOLENT UPRISING, that you would consider sufficiently causally explained by referring to a few Scriptures in the Bible?

Then how can we accept that as an explanation for any specific Muslim incident of violence, or any series of incidents?

It's unavoidably disrespectful to the complexity of the Muslim people and the Muslim world to accept such a ridculously simplistic explanation of such vastly disparate behavior over such huge swaths of time and place.

Vand83 said...

"I explained why I, and others like myself, might think the argument is bigoted. Not for the reasons he gave, not out of emotion or an attempt to ignore or dismiss the case without giving it serious thought, but because it's an explanation we would consider inadequate if applied to ourselves."

All well and good. Being that Ed has an axe to grind with poor, persecuted liberals, you would think that you might have used rhetoric that would be less distracting to the president of the He-man liberal hating club. Yet, here we are. Comments effectively derailed. Dialogue seemingly impossible. Well played Chad.

Brandon said...

And contrary to Gottfrieds absurdity, arguments can be bigoted. The argument that blacks are more prone violence because of their history in the jungle is a bigoted argument. The person presenting it may or may not be bigoted, depending on why he's advancing it.

Not in any form of the English I am familiar with; it always means arguments that can be pointed to as a sign that someone is a bigot, just like bigoted rhetoric is rhetoric which, if you put it forward, you are being bigoted. Why in the world would anyone call an argument 'bigoted' otherwise? It's like going around and repeatedly claiming that someone's reasoning is racist and then, when they get angry, taking offense because you didn't say they were being racist, only that their reasoning is racist reasoning. Who could honestly be blindsided by someone's taking offense at that, as you've claimed to be?

Brandon said...

I didn't bring up the word bigoted. Ed did in the essay.

If you were using it because he used it, why didn't you use it in the sense he used it. He doesn't talk about bigoted arguments. He actually doesn't use the word 'bigoted' at all. He uses 'bigot' (i.e., a person who is bigoted) and 'bigotry' (i.e., the state of being a bigot). So if you meant something different, why did you switch the meanings?

Edward Feser said...

I called your ARGUMENT, not yourself, bigoted.

This is like saying “I called your ACTION, not yourself, murderous” or “I called your ACTION, not yourself, adulterous.” To describe an action as murderous or adulterous entails that the person who performed it is a murderer or an adulterer. Similarly, to describe an argument as bigoted implies that the person giving it is a bigot. Kick up all the dust you want, it’s just a matter of basic English usage.

Go for broke, be the asshole you clearly have always wanted to be… [rant spirals out of control]

Ugh. I’m done with you. Get lost.

Chad Handley said...

In the course of his comments to you, Ed has repeatedly pointed out that the question is about whether Islam can be a genuine causal mechanism in certain kinds of violence; that is explicitly mentioned in his first comment to you.

I just re-read that post and the May 8 11:44 post (I don't see any May 8 11:45 post) and there is no mention of some certain kind of violence. And I just reread the entire post and I don't see any mention of any certain kind of violence.

Can you just quote the passages that mention this specific type of violence?

And yet we still see you (May 9, 2016 at 12:03 PM ) floundering around for some position to yell at. If you actually read McCarthy's article, which is specifically and explicitly what Ed is talking about, you would realize that McCarthy specifically and explicitly talks not about the Qur'an as a mechanism but about widespread and in some places highly respected interpretations of the Qur'an. It is blindingly obvious that if the causal mechanism is a COMMON LEGAL INTERPRETATION (I put it in capital letters because apparently we're doing that now) of the Qur'an put forward by ISLAMIC AUTHORITIES RESPECTED IN SOME MAJOR MUSLIM POPULATIONS that it DOES NOT FOLLOW that wherever there is Islam there is increased risk of violence; not every Muslim population is led by the same authorities or accepts the same interpretation.

I didn't read McCarthy's article, I read Ed's summation of the article. His summation was thus:

"McCarthy’s basic claim (is) that there is nevertheless a link between traditional Islamic doctrine on the one hand, and violence and illiberal politics on the other."

No mention of certain types of violence, no mention of common legal interpretations or of certain Islamic authorities.

I fully admit that McCarthy's more nuanced claim might have more merit, but Ed's summation of it gave no mention of that nuance and so it lacks that merit. And Ed went on to defend that unnuanced claim, not McCarthy's.

But with McCarthy's qualifications, it seems like we're not really talking about Islam per se anymore but about some identifiable subsect of Islam, to wit, Jihadism or Islamism. So it seems in ascribing these violent tendencies to Jihadism or Islamism, liberals aren't sticking their heads in the sand, they're just being more precise to avoid unnecessary insult or confusion. It just seems wrongheaded, if the interpretations aren't universal, and if there are large areas and long eras where they're not supported, to attribute the causal mechanism to Islam per se rather than one form of Islam.

All this is in McCarthy. If you haven't read the McCarthy article that Ed is talking about, you don't know what the topic of discussion is. If you have read it, you need to read it again, because you get it wrong.

I didn't read it; I will now. But I stand by my point that it was poorly summarized by Ed and that lead to the confusion. I generally assume, abusive loudmouth though he is, that he nonetheless generally is very careful to give detailed and accurate summations of the positions that he supports or refutes, and he didn't do that here.



Chad Handley said...

This is like saying “I called your ACTION, not yourself, murderous” or “I called your ACTION, not yourself, adulterous.”

You mention cases where one offense is sufficient for the title. Yes, if a person has committed a murderous action one time then that person is a murderer, but if a person has committed a single bigoted action, that does not make them a bigot, otherwise it would be fair to call us all bigots.

Otherwise, to say you're not a bigot, you'd have to say that you've never committed a single bigoted action. Is that what you're claiming of yourself?

Similarly, to describe an argument as bigoted implies that the person giving it is a bigot. Kick up all the dust you want, it’s just a matter of basic English usage.

No, it isn't. It's just not. You're just wrong.

The hurdle that has to be cleared to call a person a murderer or an adulterer is pretty obvious and explicit, and it's pretty obvious and explicit that a single confirmed case will justify the appellation.

There's just nothing like that kind of clarity with respect to what it would take to justifiably call someone a bigot. Again, to claim otherwise is to claim that a single bigoted action justifies calling someone a bigot, in which case you most certainly are a bigot, as is everyone else.


Ugh. I’m done with you.


Excellent. I was done with me when the conversation started. It was you who exhibited more interest in me than in responding to my arguments or backing up your own.

If you'd kindly get around to that, please...

laubadetriste said...

@HAA: "As a Muslim who owns three of your books: 'Scholastic Metaphysics' (two copies), 'Aquinas', and 'Philosophy of Mind', I will answer this briefly: [...] To show that a holistic and thoroughly supported Qur'anic exegesis not only incites to 'terrorism' in an analogous manner to the present usage of the term, but also sanctifies it, and that any specific or overarching behavior of Muhammad as the receiver of this alleged Divine Revelation and first implementer of its dictates as recorded in any authentic Islamic secondary sources corresponds with this interpretation."

Thank you for answering the falsificationist challenge (as I will call it, for lack of a better name). ↑That is a start.

Chad Handley said...

Brandon, I just read McCarthy's article, and he doesn't mention any special, specific, subset of violence. He doesn't make any of the nuanced points you make, so I guess I can't fault Ed for failing to adequately summarize points that weren't made. I'll retract that charge, and stick to faulting him for his many faults.

The article also doesn't say anything about certain kinds of extreme violence being explicitly Muslim kinds of extreme violence. The most he says is that Islamist interpretations of the Koran are mainstream interpretations. He doesn't say that these passages interpreted by these scholars constitute a causal mechanism which can best explain the frequency and type of Muslim violence. Ed takes his argument in places he never goes. McCarthy only says that the jihadist interpretation is widely accepted and not obviously wrong. He nowhere says that there is an inherent link between Islam and violence. Ed supplied the causal notion and the causal mechanism, and he did so poorly.

You have admirably fixed up Feser and McCarthy's argument and your case is much more convincing, but it's not exactly cricket to chastise me for not understanding an argument that was never made until you made it. (I still think it would be wrong to characterize your position as pointing out a problem with Islam per se for the reasons explained in my previous post.

Vand83 said...

"You have admirably fixed up Feser and McCarthy's argument and your case is much more convincing, but it's not exactly cricket to chastise me for not understanding an argument that was never made until you made it."

Yes, it makes a lot of sense to assume the argument made by the man you described as brilliant was bigoted, rather than read the material referenced, as apparently Brandon did. Yes, this is all feser's fault. He should've made things easy for you. Tsk tsk tsk Dr. Feser. Shame shame.

Chad Handley said...

Vand, lots of brilliant people are assholes. Some of my favorite brilliant people are notorious for being assholes. I think Mel Gibson is one of the greatest living filmmakers and I don't care how many times he calls his wife the c-word or uses the n-word I want him to keep making movies. When Ricky Gervais talks about religion I want to jab pencils into my ears until my eardrums burst, but he's one of the funniest people on the planet and I see all his movies.

Similarly, Ed undeniably writes with brilliance and I own and recommend several of his books, but he behaves worse on his forum than any public Christian intellectual I've ever encountered. Compare how he responds to people of good faith who ask questions in good faith to how William Lane Craig or Victor Reppert or Alvin Plantinga respond to the worst trolls on their site. They either respond with kindness and patience or they don't respond at all. I've been lucky enough to correspond a little with Alvin Plantinga and if he wasn't famous for being a philosopher he'd be famous for being the nicest, funniest, most pleasant guys you'd ever meet.

By contrast, Ed likes it when he gets to be an asshole. He's still brilliant, I'm still going to finish Scholastic Metaphysics, I'm still going to recommend it to friends. But Ed still likes it when he gets to be an asshole. Your heroes are people too.

Vand83 said...

People of good faith? You mean people that assume he's a bigot? Not some random troll hoping the worst, but the guy who recommends his work to others, lauds his brilliance, tries to convince everyone what a huge fan he is, then assumes his argument is bigoted and you somehow see yourself as the respectable one here? Is this a joke? Did feser call Muslims rag headed camel jockies or something? You brought up Gibson and gervais. I won't be critiquing gervais on his comedy, nor Gibson on his directing. You come here and assume the worst of the man you think is brilliant on the subject you associate with his brilliance? Go away.

Edward Feser said...

Shorter Chad: "All I did was call you a bigot and a hypocrite, and you accuse me of making personal attacks?! What an asshole you are!"

Anonymous said...

I think Chad makes some fair points in his comments. However, I don't think an argument can be bigoted per se - only a person can. I've only lurked here for a little while relatively speaking, and read some of Ed's blog for philosophical enlightenment - and he has succeeded in increasing my knowledge with his fantastic ability to elucidate and articulate in writing - but Ed doesn't strike me as someone who is bigoted, hypocritical, or an asshole. Obviously, I've never dealt with him on a personal basis, or directly observed any behavior of his that could be described as unfair or unjust treatment of Muslims that he's interacted with, but despite this, I don't think it's a fair characterization to describe him as such. I think he seems to be more prone to make inaccurate or muddied generalizations when it comes to Islam and/or the Muslim world due to simply a lack of thorough knowledge on the subject, or maybe even personal religious bias that everyone has, and I think it would be more beneficial for him to interact with well known Western scholars of Islam like Hamza Yusuf or Timothy Winter to further enhance his understanding instead of (possibly just) relying on Western media and/or other sources that may not be as sincere and forthright in what they present.

Peace.

Anonymous said...

Chad seems to be hung up on the issue of a "causal mechanism" connecting Islam to jihadist practices, and the idea of an "inherent" link between Islam and violence.

It seems true to say, for example, that something like gay conversion camps are caused by, or inherently linked to a certain brand of Christianity. Moreover, the denominations that promote these sorts of camps are generally considered Christian, that is, not heretics of some sort, or a cult, as Mormons are considered to be. It would be fair to criticize Christians generally on account of the fact that gay conversion camps are not actively denounced by Christendom generally, but only by a few denominations, and even then by only a few outspoken members, and that Christianity generally provides a theoretical framework in which such practices are not only permissible but might be promoted. This is also consistent with gay conversion camps not being very common or popular amongst Christians as a sociological fact.

It could be objected that it's not Christianity as such that causes these camps, but Christianity in combination with some other historical circumstances, but that would be the most charitable way to construe the original argument. It's not as if it is being argued that there is a nature or essence called Christianity, or a nature called Islam that is ahistorical, and acts on some circumstances to produce some result. Rather, people are prepared to act in this way or that according to what they believe, and religion shapes those beliefs, and in some cases puts very high stakes on acting in accord with the belief.

Chad Handley said...

"All I did was call you a bigot and a hypocrite, and you accuse me of making personal attacks?! What an asshole you are!"

I called you an asshole because you are, or at least can be, and I knew that well before the conversation started.

I never called you a bigot. I stated several times that I didn't think you were a bigot. I've responded to the claims that arguments can't be bigoted, which is just asinine to me. (I've never heard the claim that an argument can't be bigoted or racist or prejudiced outside of this forum today. It's amazing how people line up behind the claims of their heroes without a thought. Sycophants gonna sycophant.) The arguments of slave owners weren't bigoted? Mein Kampf isn't bigoted? I've even provided an example (the Monyihan report) where an author famously produced a bigoted argument despite the fact that everyone agrees the author was the furthest thing from a bigot.

You complain about other people making personal attacks and not responding to actual arguments, but you've done yourself proud on those two scores today. I've given what I think pretty darn good reasons for why I think your arguments are bigoted, why I think arguments can be bigoted without the arguer being a bigot, and why I think your comparison of an accusation of bigot to an accusation of murderer doesn't work. I get back from you snark and general assholery. Not because of anything I've said, but because you're an asshole.

But if I'm the first person to ever say that to you, then it's probably just me, right?

If.

Anonymous said...

I think that when a group of people with a certain philosophy/theology are living in poverty and dire straits it is much more likely that they should interpret the doctrines they have been given in such a way that justifies drastic and unpleasant action. People who perceive a threat will also likely react with more venom than needed. My fathers family were Heugenots who got out of La Rochelle just before the slaughter. My mothers family were highlanders and Catholics who had their customs ripped from them after Culloden. I dare say neither of these inspire much thought (amongst non academics) nowadays. Canadian foreign affairs expert Gwynn Dyer suggests the current focus on the Middle East, and Western/ Muslim problems is blown out of all proportion given that most of the region is very poor, and given way too much focus by the Western media...who are in the business of making money.

Chad Handley said...

People of good faith? You mean people that assume he's a bigot?

I did not "assume" he was a bigot. I said his argument was bigoted and I explained why I thought so.

Does it not strike you as absolutely fantastic that in grilling me, nobody on this forum, not you, Brandon, modus ponens, Gottfried, the various anonymouses, or Ed has responded to the SPECIFIC REASONS I GAVE FOR WHY I THINK THE ARGUMENT IS BIGOTED.

That's a little weird, isn't it? If you're all committed to reason and answering objections with scrutiny, etc. That one word put you all in a tizzy and you refused to even engage with it on the merits.

IOW, you act just like the liberals you constantly decry.

You come here and assume the worst of the man you think is brilliant on the subject you associate with his brilliance?

The whole point is that I didn't "assume" anything. I read his argument and found it unpersuasive and a little bigoted. His argument contained his explanation for why he thinks liberals would label the argument bigoted. I gave an alternate explanation for why I thought it was bigoted. Then Ed and all his sycophants flipped the fuck out, and started attacking me while leaving the SPECIFIC REASONS I GAVE FOR WHY THE ARGUMENT WAS BIGOTED untouched until this very moment.

Maybe my arguments are bad and wrong, but I gave them. I didn't assume.

Vand83 said...

"I did not "assume" he was a bigot. I said his argument was bigoted and I explained why I thought so."

Sure you did. You could've read the referenced material rather than adopt the opinion that the argument was bigoted, only to thank Brandon for doing the reading you should've done to begin with. Now here you are trying to explain yourself in a pussy-like way. By the way, when I call your explanation pussy-like, I mean you're a pussy. How's that for ad hominem? Now seriously, go away.

Chad Handley said...

Thanks, Vand. Always a helpful time saver to be able to identify people who can safely be ignored.

I'm not going away but feel free to just ignore my comments, and I'll return the favor.

Edward Feser said...

Chad,

For goodness's sake, enough of this already. It's bad enough that from the start you packaged your bad arguments in ad hominems ("bigoted," "hypocrisy," etc.). Now even the bad arguments seem to have disappeared and indulging in personal abuse is about all you seem to be interested in.

Several people have already explained to you now why it won't do to pretend that calling an argument "bigoted" or "hypocritical" does not imply that the speaker is bigoted and a hypocrite. In response you simply label those who point this out "sycophants" -- yet again resorting to personal attacks in the very act of denying that you are making personal attacks.

In my own case you've added to the epithets “bigoted” and “hypocritical” remarks about my being a “historical ignoramus or a shameless hypocrite,” negative remarks about where I teach, negative comparisons of my character to those of Craig and Plantinga, etc. etc. -- all the while denying, in high dudgeon, that you are interested in personal attacks. On top of that I think you’ve called me an “asshole” about thirty times now -- indeed, you seem to be positively fixated on the word at this point -- and again, each time in the very same breath in which you feign outrage that people are accusing you of making personal attacks.

None of this would have happened had you not started things out by flinging the “bigotry” charge. And the unpleasantness could have stopped immediately if you had simply dialed that rhetoric back. Instead you doubled down on it, then doubled down again and again.

You are seriously unhinged and show a preternatural lack of self-awareness. A classic troll. Go away and stop crapping up the combox.

Vand83 said...

You're very welcome. I'm going to continue to ignore the substance of your comments and attack a straw man. You see, the ignorant that happen upon this blog will think I'm intelligent because I will dismantle the straw man I've laid out for them. If you ignore, I'll say, "why aren't you addressing my arguments Chad?!?!" If you happen to respond, I'll ignore the points of correction, and direct everyone back to my straw man. You know the drill though.

Chad Handley said...

Let's the review my actual comment that sent Ed into an ad hominem fury, because I feel like it's expanding in your imaginations. Here's my "bigot" comment from my first post:

"The reason these arguments seem bigoted to me is that they ignore other causal factors that are obviously more relevant. Contrary to popular belief, most of the World's Muslims live in Southeast Asia, not the Middle East. Why is there so much more religious violence in the Middle East than in Southeast Asia, if religion is the most relevant causal factor? What else happened in the Middle East that might account for this higher incidence of violence?"

Pretty incendiary stuff, huh? Obviously, anybody who says anything that insulting deserves what they get, amirite?

Chad Handley said...

Ed, you're free to ignore my posts, or to stop responding to me, or to use some blogger ability to just ban me from your blog.

But as long as you keep making unfair and unwarranted accusations against me, I'm going to respond.

Again, look at my actual post in which I called your argument bigoted. Does it really justify the reaction you gave it?

I'm the only one in the wrong here? Really? The turn this conversation has taken is entirely my fault and you and Vand and others are blameless?

Anonymous said...

Chad, firstly, it is fair to say that you have a history at this blog, no? Is it the sort that would dispose Feser positively toward you, at all?

secondly,

Chad, you say,

"Then Ed and all his sycophants flipped the fuck out, and started attacking me while leaving the SPECIFIC REASONS I GAVE FOR WHY THE ARGUMENT WAS BIGOTED untouched until this very moment."


It's true, you did give a reason for why the argument was bigoted, or, came from some place of bigotry, thusly

"The reason these arguments seem bigoted to me is that they ignore other causal factors that are obviously more relevant. "

Feser responded to this reason specifically, like so:

"where a specific mechanism by which the effect might be produced can be identified, the causal claim is much more plausible... And the post refers to such mechanisms: the relevant Quranic passages... the lack of any principled distinction between religious and secular realms in Islam; etc."

and DNW responded with several posts, one which included a specific example of violence in Indonesia perpetrated by Muslims, who gave religious reasons for it. This casts doubt on the proposition that Islam in Southeast Asia is a counterexample to the original argument, and gives a specific example of violence that the perpetrators carried out in the name of Islamic law (also showing an example of a case in which there is "a lack of principled distinction between religious and secular realms").

Brandon responded to this in the course of responding to your related claim about risk of muslim violence,

"Since legal interpretations of Qur'an and hadith, according to experts representing authoritative schools of interpretation, are very important for Muslim life almost everywhere, this is a question about Islam itself as a causal mechanism. It does not require in any way that these interpretations be the only interpretations or even reasonable interpretations, only that they are actual and respected interpretations."

I think there were more responses to the reason you gave, but this suffices to show the there were, in fact, responses to the reason you gave and not simply flipping out, as you say.

Vand83 said...

Actually, yeah. You're just too much of a dick to realize it. You could've said the argument was ignorant, which would make since because you believe the individual making it was ignorant of causal factors. You chose bigoted though. Why? Because that's what you do Chad. You've always done it. From the first time I saw you comment here. You take the most direct road to conflict then pretend you don't realize what all the fuss is about. Then you go in to martyr mode. Then I call you a pussy. Because, when it comes down to it, you're a pussy.

Chad Handley said...

"The reason these arguments seem bigoted to me is that they ignore other causal factors that are obviously more relevant. "

That's not my case for why I think the argument is bigoted. When Ed asked me to retract my claim and I refused (which is my right if I think I have good reasons that haven't been refuted), I said this:

No, I meant bigoted, and I meant it in reference not just to your argument, but to all arguments that try to explain the behavior of the "other" in ways other than the ways we would explain the same behavior of ourselves.

You wouldn't explain the behavior of Americans during the Revolutionary War by reference to Old Testament scriptures, and not because those Scriptures were "relativized." You wouldn't do it because it would be an insultingly simplistic account of the behavior of millions of varied human beings in specific historical circumstances. When you apply types of explanations to other large groups of people that you would find insultingly wrongheaded if applied to yourself, you are being bigoted.


The bolded portion is the core of my case for why I thought the argument was bigoted, and that hasn't been addressed.

Several people have addressed the reasons I gave for why the argument was wrong but on the subject of it being bigoted, all that has said is that arguments can't be bigoted (!) and thus calling an argument bigoted is necessarily calling the arguer a bigot.

I disagreed and gave some pretty good reasons with examples of why I disagreed, and then everybody who disagreed with me ignored those reasons and examples and repeated the (frankly stunning) claim that arguments can't be bigoted, only people can.





Chad Handley said...

And really, I'd just like some help with this "only people can be bigoted" claim. No one responded to my specific questions about it, and I need some help on this one, because it seems like a howler.

You're really saying that Hitler is bigoted, but Mein Kampf isn't?

How would that even work??

laubadetriste said...

@Chad Handley: "Does it not strike you as absolutely fantastic that in grilling me, nobody on this forum, not you, Brandon, modus ponens, Gottfried, the various anonymouses, or Ed has responded to the SPECIFIC REASONS I GAVE FOR WHY I THINK THE ARGUMENT IS BIGOTED."

But DNW and Anonymous May 9, 2016 at 7:44 AM (for example) both responded to one of your specific reasons, that about Southeast Asia; and Vincent Torley and Jeffrey S. responded to your criticism about historical violence generally; and A. R. Diaz and Brandon offered reasons why they thought some of your specific reasons should not apply.

(Note: I am not saying one way or another whether they were right. I'm just saying they responded.)

I suspect a number of people are staying out of this. Too much fuss.

And then some people--like me--are looking stuff up before they say more. I am quite intrigued by some of the things you said. I confess I have never read *Common Sense*, for example. (I guess I got my history the wrong way around: I *did* read *The Age of Reason*.) And I lived in Southeast Asia, too--I had family in Aceh about which DNW quoted that bombing article. The point being, that at least on several of these subjects, I am inclined to do a bit more reading. I know that isn't a satisfying thing to say, in the heat of an argument. But I at least am not giving you the silent treatment, either. :)

A side request, though: Can we please not use profanity? It indicates a lack of imagination, and that is not a fault of yours.

Vand83 said...

"Several people have addressed the reasons I gave for why the argument was wrong but on the subject of it being bigoted, all that has said is that arguments can't be bigoted (!) and thus calling an argument bigoted is necessarily calling the arguer a bigot."

Ohhhhhh, I see. It's not important whether or not the argument is wrong. It's all about how it sits with your standards for political correctness. You know, if you just want to go ahead and type out "I'm a huge pussy", it'd be less embarrassing for you. I know I'd appreciate it.

Chad Handley said...

But DNW and Anonymous May 9, 2016 at 7:44 AM (for example) both responded to one of your specific reasons, that about Southeast Asia; and Vincent Torley and Jeffrey S. responded to your criticism about historical violence generally; and A. R. Diaz and Brandon offered reasons why they thought some of your specific reasons should not apply.

Again, I gave some reasons for why I thought the argument was wrong, and some reasons for why I thought the argument was bigoted. Many people have admirably responded to the reasons I gave for why I thought the argument was wrong, but nobody has responded to the reasons I gave for why it was bigoted.

Now, maybe in offering "Scriptures" as a causal mechanism Feser is offering sort of a "defense" of the claim that Islam can cause violence rather than a "Theodicy" (available in fine stores now!) of the claim. Maybe he's just using Scriptures as an example showing it's possible that Islam can cause violence. If that's what he's saying I've misread him and I'd withdraw the claim of bigotry. But if he's saying that this is the actual reason, then yeah, sorry, I think it's a bigoted argument.

laubadetriste said...

@Vand83: "Actually, yeah. You're just too much of a dick to realize it. You could've said the argument was ignorant, which would make since because you believe the individual making it was ignorant of causal factors. You chose bigoted though. Why? Because that's what you do Chad. You've always done it. From the first time I saw you comment here. You take the most direct road to conflict then pretend you don't realize what all the fuss is about. Then you go in to martyr mode. Then I call you a pussy. Because, when it comes down to it, you're a pussy."

(Ahem) Chad is not a pussy.

There, and now that that's out of the way...

Omer said...


@laubadestriste,

"For example, since you mentioned them, *would* you accept lack of military and other policies being imposed on society Z, lack of population age pyramid of population Z, lack of poverty, enfranchisement and democratization, rule of law, and literacy, as being sufficient to "remove confounding factors" and thereby establish a special connection between Islam and terrorism, or between Islam and illiberal politics? If not, what further conditions *would* you require? And if your list is either not forthcoming, or implausible, would it not be the case that you "cannot plausibly claim that it is [you] rather than McCarthy who is free of prejudice"?"

Yes, I would accept that if the above factors and other factors determined to be causal are controlled form being confounding.

Of course, such an experiment is impossible and one cannot do a stratified analysis or logistic analysis either.

However, one can make thought experiments by thinking of what would happen if similar conditions occurred in Christian societies.

Hence, the example of what would happen if the same that occurred upon Iraqi people over the last couple of decades had occurred upon us.

laubadetriste said...

@Omer: "Yes, I would accept that if the above factors and other factors determined to be causal are controlled form being confounding. / Of course, such an experiment is impossible and one cannot do a stratified analysis or logistic analysis either. / However, one can make thought experiments by thinking of what would happen if similar conditions occurred in Christian societies. / Hence, the example of what would happen if the same that occurred upon Iraqi people over the last couple of decades had occurred upon us."

I admire a bullet well-bit.

And yes, I have seen *Red Dawn*--both versions. :)

That makes two who have answered the falsificationist challenge. (Needs a better name.)

Eric said...

I have some vague recollection of more than 200 people being killed in Bali by jihadis. And there is an Islamic insurgency in Southern Thailand. And local Philippino muslims recently decapitated a man from Canada. According to Pew, 15% of Indonesians think suicide bombing is sometimes/or always justified. Numerically, that represents 32.56 million people. Could be the colonial hangover, of course.

moduspownens said...

Chad,

Your "argument" (May 8, 2016 at 7:53 PM) attempting to establish categorically the bigotry behind efforts to link Islam with violence or terrorism was less an act of reasoning than a polemical outburst laced with self-righteous condescension and innuendo:

"No, I meant bigoted, and I meant it in reference not just to your argument, but to all arguments that try to explain the behavior of the "other" in ways other than the ways we would explain the same behavior of ourselves.

You wouldn't explain the behavior of Americans during the Revolutionary War by reference to Old Testament scriptures, and not because those Scriptures were "relativized." You wouldn't do it because it would be an insultingly simplistic account of the behavior of millions of varied human beings in specific historical circumstances. When you apply types of explanations to other large groups of people that you would find insultingly wrongheaded if applied to yourself, you are being bigoted"

Your entire endeavor here hinges upon a sweeping assertion based in psychological speculation about how we framed or approached the question of Islam and violence. I can see no plausible reason as to how you would know that we wouldn't, or at least try, to enact the same standard, if applicable, to other groups including Christians. Apart from being a blatant ad hominem, even ignoring that, your accusation of bias is clearly unjustified. And what is gratuitously asserted can be gratuitously denied.

Furthermore, given the normative outrage expressed in your "argument" -- phrases like "insultingly simplistic," "insultingly wrongheaded," "bigoted" -- it was a proscription of moral failing instead of a description of an error in reasoning. As this condemnation was unprovoked and thoroughly unjustified, it was an exercise in moral blustery.

Hence, despite what you insist, we were neither under any logical nor moral obligation to respond to what was a needless diatribe.

Anonymous said...

Dear Chad,

from, a returning anon,

You say, "That's not my case for why I think the argument is bigoted. When Ed asked me to retract my claim and I refused (which is my right if I think I have good reasons that haven't been refuted), I said this:

... When you apply types of explanations to other large groups of people that you would find insultingly wrongheaded if applied to yourself, you are being bigoted.

The bolded portion is the core of my case for why I thought the argument was bigoted, and that hasn't been addressed."

But, surely you could have skimmed the comments once again to confirm this was true, as it is not. Feser did reply to this case, saying, for example,

"maybe you think it's "bigoted" even to consider the question whether some political beliefs might make someone more inclined to violence, whether some religious beliefs might make one more inclined to avoid certain sexual acts, whether one's cultural background might make one more or less inclined to drink alcohol, etc. If you do think even considering such questions is "bigoted" then you're more consistent than I imagine you are, though also even more cut off from common sense and reality than I suppose you are."

and in a subsequent comment replying to the same point (two comments he used to reply to this point you say was not addressed).

"Now, obviously, "bigotry" against abortion opponents has nothing to do with my making this point, nor does my seeing abortion opponents as "the other" have anything to do with it. It's nothing more than a commonsense observation of the effects certain beliefs are bound to have on behavior when conjoined with other beliefs under certain circumstances."

I understand you're worked up, and could have forgotten about this, and in the interest of charity I will assume this explains why you claim your point went unaddressed when it was, in fact, addressed. Whether or not you think Feser's reply is adequate to refute the charge of bigotry is another issue apart from whether or not he addressed your reasons, and your claim was that your reasons were not addressed. You named the reason specifically, bolding it for emphasis, and indicating that you had bolded it for that reason, and said that it had not been addressed. It was addressed.

laubadetriste said...

@Chad Handley: "Again, I gave some reasons for why I thought the argument was wrong, and some reasons for why I thought the argument was bigoted. Many people have admirably responded to the reasons I gave for why I thought the argument was wrong, but nobody has responded to the reasons I gave for why it was bigoted."

Ah. No, I didn't reply to that part of what you said, did I?

Let me adopt provisionally the bolded sentence that Anonymous May 9, 2016 at 9:32 PM alighted on. (Seems like a good place to start--and do please tell me where I miss anything important.) And I presume that the bigoted person vs. bigoted argument question is secondary to the question of whether anything or anyone at all was bigoted.

"When you apply types of explanations to other large groups of people that you would find insultingly wrongheaded if applied to yourself, you are being bigoted."

Now, as this stands I suspect you might agree with me that it is not exactly what you meant, for it is either over-broad or an enthymeme (with apologies to Brandon if I use that term loosely). For example: you and I both--if I may judge by your profile picture--are members of the large group of people called men. There is of course another large group, women, to whom perfectly good explanations might be applied, which I would find wrongheaded if applied to myself, and so without any taint of bigotry. (This being the over-broad alternative, where "insultingly" merely amplifies "wrongheaded".) If we were discussing, say, how life expectancy was affected by childbirth long ago, then you would not likely suspect me of bigotry, if I explained that women gave birth, but not men.

But suppose "insultingly" wrongheaded is a way of being wrongheaded. (This being the enthymematic alternative.) Some other kind of wrongheadedness might be not culpable, but insulting wrongheadedness would be culpable. Now, what would make culpable insult more than mere pleonasm?

I think you gesture towards an answer, when you say in the sentence before the bolded one that, "You wouldn't do [x] because it would be an insultingly simplistic account of the behavior of millions of varied human beings in specific historical circumstances." That is, what would make the insult would be being simplistic.

Yet that doesn't seem right. For one seems to be able to think of examples in which one could provide a "simplistic account of the behavior of millions of varied human beings in specific historical circumstances," without being bigoted. In fact I seem to remember a number of book reports I did in my childhood in which I said such things as that the British and the French did such-and-such because of mercantilism, yadda yadda etc. Yet I think you would not suspect me of having been bigoted, but only callow, or maybe slow.

Let me stop there for a moment, before this comment grows too long. Have I been fair so far?

Paul said...

McCarthy claims that jihadist interpretations of Islam can be well-supported from traditional scriptural and legal sources. Fine.

But why fudge things and generalize to say that “there is nevertheless a link between traditional Islamic doctrine on the one hand, and violence and illiberal politics on the other”? This is vague, hard to show rigorously, easy to misunderstand, and there’s nothing to be gained by proving it.

Gottfried said...

And really, I'd just like some help with this "only people can be bigoted" claim. No one responded to my specific questions about it, and I need some help on this one, because it seems like a howler.

You're really saying that Hitler is bigoted, but Mein Kampf isn't?


Dr. Feser has already tried to explain this to you, but I'll try to make it clearer. Reluctantly.

No, Mein Kampf is not bigoted, because Mein Kampf is a book. Bigotry is a mental tendency or attitude. A book does not have a mind, and so cannot be bigoted.

Now, you might say that a book is "bigoted", as a figure of speech. Whether or not this is good English could be debated. But in any case, the only thing that this can sensibly mean, so far as I can see, is that the book is an expression of bigotry. And an expression of bigotry can only be an expression of someone's bigotry. In the case of Mein Kampf, Hitler's.

The same goes for arguments. An argument can be valid or invalid, sound or unsound, good or bad, but it cannot be, for example, uninformed, because being uninformed is a characteristic of persons, not arguments. You would not say of an argument that it should have read more carefully before it was published. So if you were to say that an argument was uninformed, you would really be saying that the person making it was uninformed, at least on the issue at hand.

Brandon said...

Does it not strike you as absolutely fantastic that in grilling me, nobody on this forum, not you, Brandon, modus ponens, Gottfried, the various anonymouses, or Ed has responded to the SPECIFIC REASONS I GAVE FOR WHY I THINK THE ARGUMENT IS BIGOTED.

This is blatantly false, and in someone else I would take it as outright lying. It has been repeatedly -- and I mean repeatedly -- pointed out to you that your characterizations of the original argument were not correct. You do grasp the elementary point that your reasons for taking 'the argument' to be bigoted are entirely irrelevant unless they apply to the real argument and not one simply made up in your head? What you have not done is shown that any of your comments have actually been relevant to the actual argument at hand.

Don Jindra said...

As I've mentioned above, I'm skeptical that the current wave of Islamic terrorism can be blamed on a flaw in Islam exclusive of other religions or ideologies. But someone needs to invent a word for those whose first reaction to opposing opinion is to whip out the charge of bigotry. There's just too much of it going on anymore to be without a good word for the phenomenon.

BB said...


No, I meant bigoted, and I meant it in reference not just to your argument, but to all arguments that try to explain the behavior of the "other" in ways other than the ways we would explain the same behavior of ourselves.


I think one of the problems with this thread is that there are conflicting definitions of "bigotry". I would certainly not classify Chad's definition above as bigotry, rather the reverse. For example, I am very much opposed to (modern) liberalism; I operate from very different principles. Even when I do the same thing as a liberal, I do it for very different reasons. For example, I oppose adultery because I see it as being against the natural purposes of marriage, and thus an evil. A utilitarian might oppose adultery because they see it as not promoting the general happiness, but instead in the long term causing misery for the people involved. If I say that that utilitarian opposes adultery, and then ascribe a natural law view to him because that leads to the same position even though he quite possibly (whether he does or not is irrelevant to the point) denies that marriage (or anything else for that matter) has a natural purpose, then I am being bigoted: projecting my own feelings onto the other person, and not analysing his motives on grounds that he himself would accept.

Let's take another example; suppose that I am a Tamil Tiger (I'm not, of course), and encouraged a suicide bombing because I desired independence for my ethnic community, or because I was opposed to Sri Lankan discrimination against the Tamils. Then suppose a Jihadi commits a suicide bombing in the same town. Each of these have different motivations, which have to be treated on their own terms. The Tamil might say that his bombing is justified, but the Jihadi's is not, and that is not necessarily bigoted because the cases are different and have to be treated as such. It is not bigoted to say that the Jihadist bombed for perceived religious reasons and the Tamil for non-religious tribal reasons if that is true. Rather, to try to judge someone's actions by our own standards and not take into account their own stated reasons and underlying worldview is wholly mistaken.

To my mind to be bigoted is to make an argument not from reason but from prejudice, by judging people by premises which don't apply. Sometimes that means projecting our own motivations onto others (although to do so is not always bigotry).

BB said...


His claim amounts to saying that we should be more wary of our Muslim neighbors because they are inherently more prone to violence than Non-Muslims, yet he has the nerve to take offense when someone calls that argument bigoted.

But this isn't the claim at all. The original post is not about non-Muslims. It states that some Muslims who commit violence tend to appeal to passages in the Koran and Hadith that they claim command those actions, and those passages are actually there and that interpretation is not a blatant misreading of the immediate context. Now, maybe some Christians or Buddhists commit violence and point to their own scriptures to justify it. Maybe even such people are more prone to violence than Muslims. But if so, that is completely irrelevant to the question of whether there are passages in the Koran and Hadith which can incite people to violence. That is a question which can only be tested by examining the Koran and Hadith and the various historical schools of interpretation.

Equally to claim that there are contexts both during history and in geographical regions today where Islam has been (relatively) peaceful is again irrelevant to the point. My understanding of the Koran and the example of Mohammed's life is that there are certain circumstances when he advocated peace, and certain circumstances when it advocates violence. For example, before Mohammed, the Arabs were split into many small tribes, with many tribal wars. Mohammed created a unified identity for the Arabs; he forbad Muslim on Muslim violence, and thus in principle within a perfect Islamic society there should be no violence. Of course, you then get the Sunnis and Shites etc. calling each other apostates from Islam, and things don't work out that way. With regards to non-Muslims, my understanding is the Mohammed's life went through three stages after his first hallucination of an angel. Firstly, in Mecca, he was himself persecuted and mocked, and here he called for religious tolerance and peaceful relationships. After being exiled from Mecca, he went to Medina, and engaged in a defensive/retaliatory conflict against the Meccans (and also the Jews of Medina). The third stage was offensive Jihad, for example against the Jews of Khabah, the other Arabic tribes, and the Byzantines, where the idea was to convert them through conquest (with numerous atrocities). His successors continued this attack as they conquered Persia, a fair slice of Byzantine and North Africa and parts of India and Europe. Thus even within the Koran and example of Mohammed's biography there are passages which advocate peace and passages that advocate self-defence/retaliation, and passages which advocate aggression. There are different valid schools of Islamic interpretation which take different parts of Mohammed's life as normative (and that is before we put in the different cultural contexts of the Middle East and East Asia; interpretations of Islam aren't the only influences that differentiate those cultures). The claim is not that all valid interpretations of Islam promote violence, but that some valid interpretations of Islam promote violence (and some don't), and finding counter examples of communities of Muslims who are less violent doesn't refute this claim. And, of course, not every Muslim is fully knowledgeable about even their own school of Islam, and many are not fully committed to it beyond a superficial level (just as there are many non-committal or ignorant Catholics or from any other religion).

DNW said...

Bigotry. Powerful word ... I guess.

Implies a great deal morally, I take it.

But since this is a philosopher's blog, and all here are committed to reason wherever that leads, and to rationality, and to the rejection of emotion driven responses - you know all that "feelings whoa whoa whoa feelings" kind of shit - let's take a carefully explicated look at "bigotry", or at least give some partisan an opportunity to provide one. And thus, we hope learn just what it is that bigotry morally implies, and what the logical grounds are that make it the very obvious crime against hoomanity that it undoubtedly is.

So, ah, like, what is it exactly, that is wrong from a technical and moral point of view, with bigotry?

Someone who enjoys using the word should be able to quickly explain it by relying on indubitable first principles with a couple of additional premises thrown in for good measure.

Then of course, there is another looming question too: Whether in a tolerant and enlightened modern society it is the essential humanity of Muslim persons versus their internalization of Koranic teachings (assuming Muslim theorists would generally allow such an evaluative distinction) that is mandated as deserving respect, or whether it is the text of the Koran which our civilization's highest aspirations command we affirm the value of as well.

These discussion quickly become complex and heated, don't they.

I hope that by asking these easy questions, I can do my part to reduce the heat, and calm frayed nerves with a little soothing balm ...

or was it napalm ...

Anonymous said...

Let's say you live in predominantly Muslim country and you are Christian. What is the probability of violence towards you? And vice versa?

Brandon said...

So, ah, like, what is it exactly, that is wrong from a technical and moral point of view, with bigotry?

This does end up being something of a question in the context, particularly if one considers Chad's later description of what it is to be bigoted:

When you apply types of explanations to other large groups of people that you would find insultingly wrongheaded if applied to yourself, you are being bigoted.

But it's easy to think of scenarios here. Democrats tend to vote according to party membership; Republicans tend to vote according to party membership; these are explanations of patterns of voting that apply to large groups of people. I would find it insultingly wrongheaded if someone were to try to explain my voting patterns by party membership, since (1) I'm not a member of a political party and (2) I have a very low view of political parties in general and of voting based on party membership in particular and (3) I make no secret of these things. But if I say that the Democrats of a state will tend to vote Democrat because of their party membership, and this gets called a 'bigoted argument' because it's a type of explanation I am apply to a large group of people that I would regard as insulting and wrongheaded if applied to myself, it's not clear what has been done except to make the word 'bigoted' nearly useless. It doesn't change the fact that the explanation is exactly right of Democrats and Republicans; they would be wrongheaded to apply it to me and I would find it insulting, but it's obvious enough that this doesn't show that it's either morally or rationally worrisome to argue that party membership is a causal factor in voting patterns for some people.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous
Let's say you live in predominantly Muslim country and you are Christian. What is the probability of violence towards you? And vice versa?
Having lived in a Muslim country (Pakistan) as a Christian I can most certainly vouch for the fact that I felt very uneasy living there especially because of the blasphemy law. Instead of going to trial you are quickly judged in the court of public opinion and there have been multiple cases where people have been killed by a mob. Many poor Christians have a much much higher chance of getting into trouble just because of their faith. The biggest threat that came was when the moderate Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer was murdered by his own guard because he commented on the blasphemy law. The guard was hang for killing the Governor but people there considered him a hero see here. That is not all just a few months after the Governor was shot the minority minister Shahbaz Bhatti (a Christian
) was killed too trying to appose the blasphemy law.

DNW said...

" as a Christian [in Pakistan] I can most certainly vouch for the fact that I felt very uneasy living there especially because of the blasphemy law. ... you are quickly judged in the court of public opinion and there have been multiple cases where people have been killed by a mob. Many poor Christians have a much much higher chance of getting into trouble just because of their faith. The biggest threat that came was when the moderate Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer was murdered by his own guard because he commented on the blasphemy law. The guard was hang for killing the Governor but people there considered him a hero see here. That is not all just a few months after the Governor was shot the minority minister Shahbaz Bhatti (a Christian) was killed too trying to appose the blasphemy law.
May 10, 2016 at 9:22 AM "


I am having trouble picturing just how in Pakistan this was the result of neocolonialist hegemony, but I have been assured that somehow it is.

Thank goodness, for "relative" peacefulness, eh?

Perhaps if there were no Christians allowed in Pakistan, no Pakistani would feel compelled to seek them out and kill them? This would then presumably go some way in demonstrating the truth of the proposition that Islam is a religion of peace.

Rather in the way, it seems, the Caledonian Calgacus described ...

DNW said...

Don Jindra said...

As I've mentioned above, I'm skeptical that the current wave of Islamic terrorism can be blamed on a flaw in Islam exclusive of other religions or ideologies. But someone needs to invent a word for those whose first reaction to opposing opinion is to whip out the charge of bigotry. There's just too much of it going on anymore to be without a good word for the phenomenon.

May 10, 2016 at 7:38 AM"



Well Don, if on one hand the founder of one of the ways, says that his kingdom is not of this world, and blessed are the meek and the peacemakers, and suggests that the way to deal with mockers and the hostile is to shake the dust of their towns from your shoes; and, if on the other hand the founder of another way says regarding enemies that you should crucify them and murder them and take their women as slaves, and that the entire earth belongs to you and your tribe of believers, then, it seems to me that there is a good case to be made there is a significant difference in the basic program right there from the start.



A bedouin came and said, "O Allah's Apostle! Judge between us according to Allah's Laws." His opponent got up and said, "He is right. Judge between us according to Allah's Laws."

The bedouin said, "My son was a laborer working for this man, and he committed illegal sexual intercourse with his wife. The people told me that my son should be stoned to death; so, in lieu of that, I paid a ransom of one hundred sheep and a slave girl to save my son. Then I asked the learned scholars who said, "Your son has to be lashed one-hundred lashes and has to be exiled for one year."

The Prophet said, "No doubt I will judge between you according to Allah's Laws. The slave-girl and the sheep are to go back to you, and your son will get a hundred lashes and one year exile." He then addressed somebody, "O Unais! go to the wife of this (man) and stone her to death" So, Unais went and stoned her to death.


"The Jew brought to the Prophet a man and a woman from amongst them who have committed (adultery) illegal sexual intercourse. He ordered both of them to be stoned (to death), near the place of offering the funeral prayers beside the mosque."





"The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” ... Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

DNW said...

Brandon said...

So, ah, like, what is it exactly, that is wrong from a technical and moral point of view, with bigotry?

This does end up being something of a question in the context, particularly if one considers Chad's later description of what it is to be bigoted ..."



Yes, as you note, it is much easier to stand on a pedestal shouting "bigotry" in hopes of leveraging a rhetorical advantage from it, than it is to explain in categorical terms how a particular kind of stance or attitude violates an inherent and categorical right of another person, or frustrates their ( and the categorically reciprocal ...) expectation of having you preform some objective "duty" toward them.

This is because the moment Chad, or any other, attempts to stake a secular claim based on a universal term and its attributes, they commit themselves to defending not only the objective reality of a categorical or a universal term, but lay themselves open to admitting all of its logically demonstrable entailments as well; and, in a way which might very well have just the opposite end-effect to the one they hope to produce by crying "victim!".


It is a very obvious problem confronted by overt nominalists, as we have all seen again and again.

However as Feser has pointed out, it is also a problem of ostensibly God-endorsing persons of the theologically voulntarist school; which seems inevitably to degenerate into fideism.

They wind up trapped between the frightening (for them) reciprocal implications of asserting real categories, or universals, on the one hand; and a kind of theological Rortianism on the other.

As we can see, when push comes to shove, they generally prefer to throw their lot in with Rorty, than with Aristotle.

thefederalist said...

Chad, "When you apply types of explanations to other large groups of people that you would find insultingly wrongheaded if applied to yourself, you are being bigoted.

The bolded portion is the core of my case for why I thought the argument was bigoted, and that hasn't been addressed."

In the bolded portion you specifically say "you" are being bigoted. Is "you" the argument, or the person making the argument?

thefederalist said...

I guess if I were to opine that the political and cultural elites in this country are largely irreligious, and hence neither believe in nor comprehend religious motivation, that would be insultingly wrongheaded? I would certainly find it insultingly wrongheaded if applied to myself.

Anonymous said...

@Chad Handley:

As for b), I just think history is not on your side. All colonial occupations breed violence for as long as they endure, and our neocolonialist occupation of most of the Muslim world is still ongoing.

What exactly is "colonialism" and "neocolonialism"? The problem here is that in contemporary usage colonialism merely implies any extra-national political activity the speaker doesn't like, particularly by a group he doesn't like. To make matters even more confusing, some borders, states, peoples, and nations count while others do not. Is colonialism ironically Chad Handley's word for political influence by those he sees as the "other"? Some questions illustrate: would the French occupation of Brittany be colonialism? How about when an English speaking Canadian moves into Quebec and sets up a successful business, or worse, votes? What makes Matabeles and Mshona Zimbabweans? Perhaps even worse, what makes Americans Americans?

"Neocolonialism" does even worse. What exactly is a neocolonialist occupation? Is it just that our country participates in commerce with the most of the Muslim World? That some of "us" are physically there while buying and selling and that we favor those who give us good deals? Denizens from states all over the world routinely do this, America is no exception.

Does it mean interference in the internal social relations of other countries? This would happen indirectly even if no American ever purposely acted intentionally to do so, the material and social inventions that come from America have changed every society in the world. States are not hermetically sealed physical entities, peoples(whatever that means) are going to influence each other whether a redcoat in a pith helmet is waving the Union Jack around or not.

Could neocolonialism be the fact that American economic power is greater than our trade partners and therefore we have undue influence? Every instance of trade is unequal, yet we do not call every act of commerce neocolonial occupation. If American activity is no different in kind from other states, why is it that Chad Handley gives it the special distinction of being neocolonial?

As to the claim that "all colonial occupations breed violence" when they are actively occurring. It makes little sense outside of a cherry-picked set of "colonizations." Every state on Earth consists of more than one ethnicity and was built by the same processes seen in "colonialism," including political violence. We do see violence in every society, but explicit violence against "colonizers" is rare. Why then do we not use colonialism to explain ordinary criminal violence? As in "bank robberies are caused by the colonialism of society." If we did then we would have no real criteria for what distinguishes colonialism from other forms of political influence.

This indicates that labeling political control colonization and economic influence neocolonization is arbitrary except for the feelings a speaker has for the "colonizer." How do we apply self-determination in any way that is not arbitrary? Was there a point in time when the borders of states approximated an ideal organization of people where their identities perfectly matched their politics? I think how one answers that question gives us good insight into their self-identification. And I think that those answers will reveal that accusations of neocolonialism merely reflect a fixation on tribal identification.

Omer said...

@DNW

Stoning for adulterers is not prescribed in the Qur'an. Actually, the Qur'an says in Surah 24 that the punishment is 100 lashes.

Stoning for adulterers is prescribed in the Bible.

Stoning for adulterers in prescribed in the hadith.

Because stoning for adulterers is prescribed in the hadith, the vast majority of Muslim scholars say stoning is the punishment in an Islamic State. However, they all stipulate that it can only occur if there are 4 adult witnesses who see the sexual act or there is self confession.

However, now there are some scholars (usually those who are not traditionally trained) who are challenging this because stoning apparently contradicts the Qur'an. Muslim scholars who believe stoning is part of the sacred law have explanations why they think it does not contradict the Qur'an but their views are more and more being challenged as being weak explanations.

For example, Louay Fatoohi, a Christian Iraqi scholar who converted to Islam, says in his book on Abrogation that the abrogation is something that is not Quranic but a theory developed later and says that he believes that the hadith that talks of stoning appears to be fabricated.

My point is that stoning is for certain part of the current Bible but in contrast, stoning is not in the Qur'an (although it is in the hadith, stoning according to some scholars contradicts the Qur'an and thus they reject that hadith). Particular hadith can be rejected if they contradict the Qur'an.

If you believe Jesus is God, then you are defacto saying that Jesus sent the revelation for stoning to death to be the punishment.

Leviticus also calls for daughters who are disobedient to their fathers to be stoned to death. Again, if you believe Jesus is God, you are defacto saying that Jesus revealed that punishment also.

DNW said...

"However, now there are some scholars (usually those who are not traditionally trained) who are challenging this because stoning apparently contradicts the Qur'an. Muslim scholars who believe stoning is part of the sacred law have explanations why they think it does not contradict the Qur'an but their views are more and more being challenged as being weak explanations."


So then, these Hadiths are not the sayings of Mohammad?

Taken individually, either they are or they are not.

Either these particular ones are fabricated, or Mohammad commanded stoning.

If they are fabricated, then the Hadiths as a whole cannot be trusted implicitly. If these are not fabricated, and you believe in the Koran, then you are de facto (as you say) saying that Mohammad contradicted the Koran ...

In that case, if they are not fabricated and they do contradict what the Koran teaches, then you have a problem when it comes to assuming that Mohammad is a trustworthy guide and example as to what the Koran enjoins. Either that, or Mohammad is is himself disobedient and enjoining what is according to the Koran, falsehood, or not proper.


"For example, Louay Fatoohi, a Christian Iraqi scholar who converted to Islam, says in his book on Abrogation that the abrogation is something that is not Quranic but a theory developed later and says that he believes that the hadith that talks of stoning appears to be fabricated."


Well, apart from an attempt to temporize, I don't know why you would put that up unless you were intending to convey the impression that the Hadiths cannot necessarily be trusted across the board to convey the truth about what Islam commands.

In which case you are de facto, as you say, saying that they cannot.

Vincent Torley said...

Hi Chad Handley,

Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. I think I understand what you mean about bigoted arguments, although I would not have phrased it that way. What you mean is that one should not make an argument against another religion if one is unwilling to accept the force of that same argument against one's own religion. Consistency is a virtue. And I agree.

I think that in order for any religion to merit serious consideration as being true, it must have made the world a better place. As Jesus Himself said, "By their fruits ye shall know them."

I've calculated that Christianity saved about 200 million lives during the 1,000 years following its adoption, mainly through the abolition of female infanticide, which was rampant in the Roman Empire. See here and scroll down to section 3.1.6: http://www.angelfire.com/linux/vjtorley/whybelieve3.html .

By contrast, even the worst enemies of Christianity accuse it of having caused 57 million deaths. I would personally argue that 20 million would be a more accurate figure, when we take diminished responsibility into account. You can read more about these figures here: http://www.angelfire.com/linux/vjtorley/whybelieve7.html#church-atrocities . You shoulad also read this humorous but insightful online essay: "Which Has Killed More People? Christianity or Gun Control?" by atrocitologist Matthew White at http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/gunsorxp.htm .

200 million - 20 million = a net benefit of 180 million, so the benefits of Christianity are clear. If the figures were the other way round, then I'd have no choice but to reject it in favor of bare theism (theism without any revelation).

With Islam, the number of deaths caused is somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 million. What's more, the degree of responsibility is much higher, as Muhammad himself engaged in the evil practices his followers did. He and his armies personally slaughtered about 800 Jews who refused to assist him. He also made sex slaves of the women who survived. He was also a pedophile: he consummated his marriage to his last wife, Aisha, when she was only nine years old. And he owned slaves.

Jesus, by contrast, never killed anyone, and never had sexual relations with anyone. He also never owned any slaves.

Need I say more?

DNW said...

"Leviticus also calls for daughters who are disobedient to their fathers to be stoned to death."

I just searched Leviticus, for "disobedient" and "stoned", and was unable to come up with the terms you mention.

I did find that the daughters of priests who became or "played the" whores, (perhaps "sacred whores" of the pagans?) were to be burned.

Here is a link. Perhaps you can do better. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Bible/Leviticus.html


" Again, if you believe Jesus is God, you are defacto saying that Jesus revealed that punishment also.

May 10, 2016 at 2:45 PM"


You might want to outline just how that works.

In the first place, I did not even find the text you claimed was there: " ... daughters who are disobedient to their fathers [are] to be stoned to death."

Were you paraphrasing?

In the second place let's take a look at Mosaic authorship.

"Mosaic authorship" : "The first unequivocal statement of Mosaic authorship is contained in the Talmud (c. 200–500 CE), where the rabbis discuss exactly how the Torah was transmitted to Moses."

200 CE is of course 200 AD according to Christians.

Now here is something Jesus is himself recorded in scripture as having said about a specific instance of Mosaic law; though this does not refer to the ritual law of the Levites specifically.


" The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so."


You might also refer to his comments on the proper understanding of the Sabbath, on the washing of hands, and a on a number of other features of Jewish instruction.

Anonymous said...

DNW,

regarding the stoning of daughters, I think Omer has this verse in mind

"Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head." Lev. 20:9

Jeremy Taylor said...

Chad,

Your characterisation of Dr. Feser's responses seems very strange to me. He has always seemed to response with grace and patience to me. Victor Reppert is a saint, considering what he has put with and how he has handled it. I don't think it is fair to compare everyone to Victor.

I actually don't completely agree with Dr. Feser's argument. I think the links between Islam and violence or terrorism are complex. Terrorism and Islamism grew out of particular brands of Islam, brands that are at odds with a lot of historical Islamic tradition and culture.

But your argument, if I have it right, strikes me as odd. You seem to be suggesting that because human beings are all different and act from a myriad of motives, personal and social, we can't consider that an ideology or religion really has some responsibility for violence? That is, we cannot say that the directives or value of a religion or ideology can be held partly responsible for the violence of its adherents. This seems a claims that needs a lot of support before it is to be accepted. On the face of it, it seems that a religion or ideology that preaches violence can play a significant role in motivating its adherents to violence.

You are perfectly correct that historical religious violence has been perpetrated by people whose motives weren't just religion. When the Latins sacked Constantinople a lot of the reason was greed. But even Catholics should admit that an important reason was religious differences between Greeks and Latins.

Jeremy Taylor said...

- that is to say, before you become a terrorist or Islamist, you almost always become a Wahhabi, or rather ones of its off-shoots (there is Shi'a extremism, but that is a somewhat different phenomena). This suggests to me that it is Wahhabism and not Islam itself that is the problem. Of course, some, including many Wahhabis themselves, would claim that Wahhabism is true, original Islam. But I think this is historically dubious.

DNW said...

Anonymous said...

DNW,

regarding the stoning of daughters, I think Omer has this verse in mind

"Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head." Lev. 20:9

May 10, 2016 at 4:22 PM"



Well, I am done for today, but I will simply remark that I took Omer at his word that he meant what he said, and that he was quoting or closely paraphrasing was a text from Leviticus saying fathers are to stone their daughters for disobedience.

Please recall the exact words Omer used: "Leviticus also calls for daughters who are disobedient to their fathers to be stoned to death."

That said, it is very kind of you to try and be helpful to Omer, and I fully appreciate what you are doing here as well.

Naturally though, when I looked, I looked for the word "disobedient" and "daughter" and "stoning" in order to search out the text he was purportedly quoting. I even went to the Jewish virtual library figuring they would have it if anyone would.

Is it possible that the text Omer referred to does not actually specify stoning, nor refer to simple disobedience?

Rather perplexing, what?

Perhaps by doing a little more text dragging in Leviticus using the key words Omer has provided, you can find the passage just as he referred to it.

Please let me know when you do.

Jeremy Taylor said...

he consummated his marriage to his last wife, Aisha, when she was only nine years old.

This is debateable. The sources differ on her age, sometimes even within themselves, ranging from around 9 to her late teens, although it is true that her youth is emphasised in the most central Sunni sources. But this seems pointed. These accounts, such as Al-Bukhari's, show a clear interest in proving her virginity to show she was Muhammed's only virgin wife, and therefore of special importance. Whether or not they are therefore to be trusted is open to question. Aisha is revered in Sunni Islam.

laubadetriste said...

@Vincent Torley: "200 million - 20 million = a net benefit of 180 million, so the benefits of Christianity are clear. If the figures were the other way round, then I'd have no choice but to reject it in favor of bare theism (theism without any revelation)."

Well. Is that true--that you would have no choice? Is that the right way to look at it? Let me stipulate the truth of your figures--although above I expressed some skepticism about such things--and ask, why so?

A net loss of the same number would surely be cause for questioning (I say understatedly). But "My kingdom is not of this world," etc. Or to steal from Lewis, which is often fun: "It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you may talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and corruption such as you now meet if at all only in a nightmare. [...] You have never met a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations, these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or ever lasting splendors."

That is (although this goes against the point which Lewis was making in context, so never mind that point for the moment), would it not be the case that if you rejected Christianity because on balance it cost earthly lives, you would in a real sense be rejecting it for reasons of vanishing importance compared to the victory it claims for itself?

Take the worst sort of Victorian rationalist caricature of the Middle Ages, and suppose it true--with disease-ridden, superstitious peasants living lives nasty, brutish, and short, and the Church stealing from the peasants, burning witches, etc. (Extend the caricature as you please.) And suppose, contra Whig history, that we never had the Renaissance, Science, Progress, etc., such that, these centuries later, we were still in the same state. We might then be up to that many lives lost. And yet suppose that the faith those peasants clung to also was true.

Or suppose those many lives were lost over matters of fact. For example, to steal from Lewis again: "...surely the reason we do not execute witches is that we do not believe there are such things. If we did--if we really thought that there were people going about who had sold themselves to the devil and received supernatural powers from him in return and were using these powers to kill their neighbours or drive them mad or bring bad weather--surely we would all agree that if anyone deserved the death penalty, then these filthy quislings did? There is no difference of moral principle here: the difference is simply about matter of fact. It may be a great advance in knowledge not to believe in witches: there is no moral advance in not executing them when you do not think they are there. You would not call a man humane for ceasing to set mousetraps if he did so because he believed there were no mice in the house."--*Mere Christianity*

Then it might be difficult to be a Christian. But would that difficulty be not greater in kind, but only in degree, from the ways in which it has always been difficult to be a Christian--"a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles," through wars and persecutions and martyrdom already, etc.?

laubadetriste said...

I dunno. Maybe I ate too much Machen for breakfast. Or maybe I'm just overreacting to Joel Osteen's presence on the best-seller lists. But I get real suspicious when anyone seems to gesture in the direction of saying "Christianity makes things awesome!" (And I know that's not at all what you said, Vincent; I'm caricaturing the tendency so that it's clearer why I'm suspicious--why being because the tendency seems to me un-Christian.)

Anonymous said...

@Omer

"If you believe Jesus is God, then you are defacto saying that Jesus sent the revelation for stoning to death to be the punishment."

He didn't. We read the Old Testament through the new. Not all laws were Divine in origin, and not all books of the bible should be read as history etc. Also the process of revelation was gradual so Jews original thought that everything should be explained through 'direct divine causality'. So not all the laws came from God.

ShadowWhoWalks said...

@Don Jindra

Sure, but that vocabulary leads to tactics designed to protect the ideology [...]

No, that vocabulary is a recruitment tool, and used to inspire fervor, all to accomplish secular objectives.
Suicide attack is an ancient tactic that became more effective with bombs; in October 1983, 241 Marines were killed from one suicide attacker. Since it has a significantly higher kill ratio, it is used (the secular Tamil Tigers innovating the tactic).

Does it mean you reject the fact that by secular liberal standards [...].

If we accept that there is no basis for values except individual or majority opinion, in which whatever is convenient wins (meaning that your rights are not guaranteed), then it is therefore possible for all values to change from one era to another, and from one society to another based on those two principles, it would mean that there is no connection between values and what will benefit or harm people in their material and spiritual lives, which in turn means that all values are equally valid and it doesn't matter which values or culture a given society accepts or rejects. Ergo, your claims about superiority is logically invalid as morality is independent of ephemeral inclination.

Your claim about economics reminds me propagating the myth that Christianity caused the Dark Ages. Technological and economic advancement happen due to the beginning of curiosity, thought and inquiry, inspired by the possibilities of material progress from encounters with the Islamic civilization, the Renaissance (which the Enlightenment was an unintended by-product of) started and was sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church, when most of Europe wasn't Secular Liberal during the industrial revolution and no Modern secular liberal government arose until the 1780s. Of course, the mass injustice and abuse of Capitalism is apparent and isn't something to be proud of.

As the neo-cons have demonstrated, the main military strength atm beside WMD is being granted airspace and supply lines by local rulers. In which the apparent strength would appear overinflated, but the military gap is still real. But then again, Secular Liberalism included tactics such as "strategic bombing" of civilian infrastructure, starving civilian populations to death, and contributed to raising the standard of 'acceptable' civilian casualties or 'collateral damage' to 80% or more of all casualties.

The most common slogan for Liberalism is "freedom" and its derivative. However, absolute freedom implies omnipotence. The Secular Liberal West defines itself in opposition to what it does not want to be. It wasn't created in a vacuum, but in opposition to monarchy supported by non-materalistic religious state. If they are any sort of values, they can't be seen in absolutist terms.
Freedom from what? Freedom of speech/thought as opposed to who? 'We are liberal from you', that is what Liberalism defines itself as. The reason the US and Europe can say they are free is because they keep comparing themselves to other societies. As opposed to Individualism (what I like to call the Tawhid of the West), we believe that there is one true free individual which is God, and Muslims are the new flavor of enemy, thus what is said is: "We are free, compared to you Muslims", and what it does is create an extreme image of the 'enemy', and creates cycles of prosecution, condescending colonization, and need to force their values into other cultures. Due to the identity crisis implied by Liberalism, ironically aided with psychological projection, there will be compulsion to define Muslims, as being overly violent, suppressive of women, suppressive of speech, suppressive of thought, etc.

ShadowWhoWalks said...



@Jeffrey S.

Terrorist attacks against our troops, yes -- but you are ignoring all of bin Laden's efforts before the attacks (i.e. the two World Trade Tower attacks) and you ignore Iran. Of course, looking at the longer historical record, you also ignore the broader violent aggressive war that Islam has waged against Christian and pagan states from the beginning of its history. Jihad has been a part of Islam from the seventh century forward.

Lots of ranting - as opposed to, you know, arguments - but I am glad that you brought up poster-boy Osama bin Ladin which supports my position even further. To bring an example of interview by ObL. You are obviously mistaken about thinking what can pass as warcrimes only happened after the War on Terror.

I say to you, Allah knows that it had never occurred to us to strike the towers. But after it became unbearable and we witnessed the oppression and tyranny of the American/Israeli coalition against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, it came to my mind.

The events that affected my soul in a direct way started in 1982 when America permitted the Israelis to invade Lebanon and the American Sixth Fleet helped them in that. This bombardment began and many were killed and injured and others were terrorised and displaced.

I couldn't forget those moving scenes, blood and severed limbs, women and children sprawled everywhere. Houses destroyed along with their occupants and high rises demolished over their residents, rockets raining down on our home without mercy.

The situation was like a crocodile meeting a helpless child, powerless except for his screams. Does the crocodile understand a conversation that doesn't include a weapon? And the whole world saw and heard but it didn't respond.

In those difficult moments many hard-to-describe ideas bubbled in my soul, but in the end they produced an intense feeling of rejection of tyranny, and gave birth to a strong resolve to punish the oppressors.

And as I looked at those demolished towers in Lebanon, it entered my mind that we should punish the oppressor in kind and that we should destroy towers in America in order that they taste some of what we tasted and so that they be deterred from killing our women and children.

And that day, it was confirmed to me that oppression and the intentional killing of innocent women and children is a deliberate American policy. Destruction is freedom and democracy, while resistance is terrorism and intolerance.


Wouldn't be exaggeration to say that you can find dozens of similar statements from terrorism figurehead.

Whether or not you agree with the concept of a just war or not is irrelevant to the topic, and comparing its aggressiveness to wars for materialism is an insult... to human intellect.

Don Jindra said...

DNW,

"Well Don, if on one hand the founder of one of the ways...suggests that the way to deal with mockers and the hostile is to shake the dust of their towns from your shoes; and, if on the other hand the founder of another way says regarding enemies that you should crucify them and murder them....there is a significant difference in the basic program right there from the start."

Shaking the dust off the feet was intended as a warning. That's clear from other references (Luke 10:11, Acts 13:51). Recall from Genesis that the ground was cursed and serpents "shall eat dust all the days of your life." Jesus was cursing those who reject the message. It wasn't some magnanimous gesture. That's made very clear in Matthew 10:15.

Here's John Calvin on Matthew 10:14 & Luke 9:5:

"To shake off the dust from the feet was probably a custom then prevalent in Judea, as a sign of execration; and was intended to declare that the inhabitants of the place were so polluted, that the very ground on which they trod was infected."

"This form of execration confirms still more what I lately mentioned, that no crime is more offensive to God than contempt of his word..."

"When men deny the authority of Him who made and formed them, when they refuse to listen to his voice, nay, reject disdainfully his gentle invitations, and withhold the confidence which is due to his gracious promises, such impiety is the utmost accumulation, as it were, of all crimes."

"Again, if God punishes so severely the despisers of the word, what shall become of furious enemies who, by blasphemies and a venomous tongue, oppose the gospel, or cruelly persecute it by fire and sword?"

Calvin probably knew the Bible as well as anyone. Yet he had Servetus executed for nothing more than a theological dispute. How was this different than ISIS?

Let's remember what happened to the idolaters at the foot of Mt. Sinai. Moses didn't shake the dust off his feet.

Jesus' reference to Sodom implies the blasphemies of a few endanger the group itself. It manifest itself today in ramblers like Pat Robertson, who in 1998 warned gay-friendly Orlando, "a condition like this will bring about the destruction of your nation; if it will bring about terrorist bombs; if it'll bring about earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor, it isn't necessarily something we ought to open our arms to. And I would warn Orlando that you're right in the way of some serious hurricanes and I don't think I'd be waving those flags in God's face if I were you."

This is a communal religion, not a personal one. Guilt is not simply private, it's a geographic condition. You are expected to be a keeper of your brother, including a jail keeper. Practically all of the OT is ammunition for politicizing and imposing of a tribal religion. I'd argue that theme spills into the NT. Historically believers have accepted that message. This is the true test.

I won't defend Islam. But you shouldn't whitewash the Bible. It's interpreted in a multitude of ways. The correct way of doing so is elusive.

Kal said...

On the one hand, you have eminently reasonable Muslims like Omer. On the other hand, you have around twelve Muslim-majority countries in which homosexual activity, exposing the head, leaving Islam, "insulting" Muhammad, etc., warrants death or public lashing, in which non-Muslims are documented as second class citizens who enjoy fewer rights, in which a woman's word in court is worth half that of a man's word, in which, if she's raped, she needs at least 4 male eye witnesses in order for her charge to stand up in court, and in which the individuals who make all these laws invariably reference back to Islamic texts to substantiate their validity, and continually find support in enough legal scholars and theologians at prominent schools of Islamic jurisprudence and theology.



Even if it turns out to be the case that "true Islam" is a peaceful, intellectually satisfying way of life, there seems to be something inherent to Islam - an unacceptable degree of textual pliability - that makes it far too easily co-optable by far too many forces of evil on far too large of a scale.

Don Jindra said...

ShadowWhoWalks,

"that vocabulary is a recruitment tool, and used to inspire fervor, all to accomplish secular objectives."

That too. But for a while at least, everything is in service of the ideology. That's clear when reading Marxist literature. Ideology is in service to itself. Religious ideology is no different, imo.

(I say "for a while at least" because at some point some people do realize the ideology is counterproductive and the house of cards comes crumbling down.)

"If we accept that there is no basis for values except individual or majority opinion...

I don't accept that. I think the paragraph is nonsense.

"As the neo-cons have demonstrated"

The only thing the neocons have demonstrated is a knack for self-promotion.

"Secular Liberalism included tactics such as 'strategic bombing' of civilian infrastructure, starving civilian populations to death, and contributed to raising the standard of 'acceptable' civilian casualties or 'collateral damage' to 80% or more of all casualties."

Such tactics are as old as civilization. They have nothing to do with "Secular Liberalism."

"Secular Liberal West defines itself in opposition to what it does not want to be."

So if I say I want to be free, you'll say I mean I don't want to be a slave. It's a silly game for bored kids in a back seat on the way to Grandma's.

"We are free, compared to you Muslims"

The thought never crossed my mind.

"creates cycles of prosecution, condescending colonization, and need to force their values into other cultures."

In this case the "colonization" consists in the fact that the "oppressed" people prefer Hollywood movies and other "degenerate" Western consumer products.

Chad Handley said...

No, Mein Kampf is not bigoted, because Mein Kampf is a book. Bigotry is a mental tendency or attitude. A book does not have a mind, and so cannot be bigoted.

When I google "bigoted book," I get about 2000 responses. When I google "bigoted argument," I get about 1500 responses, when I google "bigoted argument," I get more than 5000 responses. Adding up all searches that use the term bigoted as an adjective describing something other than a person, I get up to around 20,000 hits.

These hits include headline articles from sites like CNN, Salon, Jezebel, Huffington Post, and other major publications.

Whatever you think of the political affiliations of these publications, surely you would agree they're all pretty good native English speakers.

Furthermore, encyclopedia.com gives the following secondary definition of bigoted:

"expressing or characterized by prejudice and intolerance: a thoughtless and bigoted article."

The cambridge online dictionary gives the following secondary definition of bigotry:

"bigoted opinions or behavior"

I could go on.

If there ever was a consensus among English speakers that the term "bigoted" can only apply to persons, and not their arguments, opinions, articles, books, magazines, etc., that consensus is breaking down, particularly in left of center media.

As I probably consume more left of center media than most of the people here, is it in your mind possible that I absorbed that usage and used it here in that way?

Is it possible that there's an honest difference of opinion here about how that word can be used, and that I did not mean it to accuse Ed of being a bigot?

Consider, I called Ed an asshole, and I meant it, and I do not retract it. I called him a hypocrite, and I meant it, and I do not retract it. I called him a poor public witness for his faith, and I meant it, and I do not retract it.

If I made, and meant, and do not retract all of those statements, why would I back down from flat out calling Ed a bigot, if I thought he was one?

Whatever my many other faults, does anyone here think that I would try to sneak in an insult or a charge, instead of just making it outright? Do I strike anyone here as subtle in the way I go about insulting the people I mean to insult?

Now, it might be fair to say that my statement may have incautiously suggested that Ed was a bigot. But it is absolutely not fair to repeatedly state, as Ed has done, that I meant to call him a bigot. It is especially unfair in light of the fact that I repeatedly attempted to correct this misunderstanding.

I jumped up and down, waved my arms, and stood on my head to insist that I was not, would not, and did not call Ed a bigot, and that I do not think he is one. I said it multiple times. Ed repeatedly refused to accept my clarifications, because Ed is an asshole, a hypocrite, and a poor public witness for his faith.

But he's not a bigot.

DNW said...



Yeah so, is bigotry, objectively wrong, and if so how and why?

DNW said...



Gee Chad. You make it sound like it's a bad thing ...

Chad Handley said...

Look, you're all parsing the daylights out of statements that don't really deserve that much attention.

There's only one relevant question here: did I mean to call Ed a bigot?

The answer to that question, in light of my repeated clarifications and statements to the contrary, is that I obviously did not.

If none of you will accept me repeatedly saying that I did not mean to imply that Ed is a bigot, and I do not think he is one, what is the point of continuing to talk about it?

Brandon said...

Whatever my many other faults, does anyone here think that I would try to sneak in an insult or a charge, instead of just making it outright? Do I strike anyone here as subtle in the way I go about insulting the people I mean to insult?

(1) No one regards it as remotely subtle to insult someone by saying that their arguments are bigoted.

(2) If you didn't intend it as an insult, you could easily have replaced the word at any time with another word or description, rather than insisting on using it repeatedly in the face of the clear and obvious fact that other people were taking it as insulting. No one here is buying the "Oh, look at me, I'm entirely a victim" act.

Moreover, it's obviously false. Here's what you said to Ed in one of your early explanations of the fact that you really, really meant to use the word and wanted to insist on it:

You wouldn't explain the behavior of Americans during the Revolutionary War by reference to Old Testament scriptures, and not because those Scriptures were "relativized." You wouldn't do it because it would be an insultingly simplistic account of the behavior of millions of varied human beings in specific historical circumstances. When you apply types of explanations to other large groups of people that you would find insultingly wrongheaded if applied to yourself, you are being bigoted.

Note that the first clause in that last sentence is exactly what you were saying Ed was doing. It's only later that you started claiming that you didn't think he was a bigot, only his argument was. Now, perhaps you have some subtle distinction between 'being bigoted' and 'being a bigot'. But it's not an obvious distinction.

Then later you said:

Your argument at least seems to be that there is some essential link between Islam and violence, such that wherever Islam is there will be an increased threat of violence. How could that claim be true, and yet the claim "Muslims are generally more prone to violence than non-Muslims" not be true? They go hand in hand, and both hands belong to bigots.

Now, again, maybe you have some subtle meaning attached to the last sentence that does not imply that people who make Ed's argument are bigots, but it's not obvious what it is.

In short -- any pretense that you are an innocent in the escalation is complete and utter nonsense. You actively insisted on using the term despite knowing how Ed (and pretty much everyone else) was taking it. You have several times said things that make it extremely difficult not to see you as inconsistent, and you have preferred to devote yourself to insulting Ed even more than to find a way to explain yourself clearly. Misunderstandings happen. But you actively made this one worse. The evidence is all through the thread.

DNW said...

For Chad

Chad Handley said...

Brandon, I only claim that my initial use of the word bigot was innocent.

I fully admitted that when Ed decided to take the gloves off and be insulting, I was more an willing to be insulting right back. I said as much in other portions of the very posts you are quote-mining from.

You're misrepresenting the flow of the argument. It started off by my unintentionally insulting Ed, and then Ed was a bit prickly in his attempt to ask for a clarification. I was prickly back in offering that clarification, and then both Ed and I went a little off the reservation. Then, while continuing to be fully off the reservation on other matters, I was pretty constant in stating that I did not think that Ed was a bigot, and Ed was pretty constant in rejecting that particular clarification.

Yeah, admittedly, that "both hands belong to bigots" line went too far, and could fairly be interpreted as implying that Ed was a bigot. So, I apologize for that, and repeat for the thousandth time that I don't actually think he is one. I think a fair reading of everything I've said here would lead one to conclude that, while things got a bit testy in the middle of the debate on both sides, I've been consistent in saying that Ed's not a bigot.

I'm not claiming to be innocent in terms of how badly the argument went subsequent to my first response.

I am only claiming that my first usage of the term was innocent, and that, despite the fact I'am apparently the only one willing to admit my fault in how the argument degenerated, I am not the only one at fault.

Ed acted badly, Vand acted ridiculously, and you've yet to respond to my post in which I clarified how I think you misrepresented McCarthy's argument and Ed's summation of it to try to get Ed off the hook. Everybody participated in things taking a bad turn.

DNW said...

" But you shouldn't whitewash the Bible. It's interpreted in a multitude of ways. The correct way of doing so is elusive.

May 11, 2016 at 7:37 AM"



Don, I am not sure what your retort is intended to to establish, unless it is that you consider that execrating someone is the equivalent of crucifying them.

The hideous crime I suppose of refusing to affirm and validate and being judgmental.

Similarly, I have no idea why you are quoting the writings of Calvin to me since if I were a Catholic, I would consider him a heretic; and if an unbeliever, a serious mental case. Though in either case I might well acknowledge him to be both, and yet worse again.

In addition we see your reference to Sodom and your insinuation it implies something about a collective experience of this-worldly retribution, but the text I read refers to judgement day. Now the idea of an ultimate Doomsday at the end of the world may offend you quite as much as the idea of a Providential intervention in the meantime to smite the mockers, or of a "prophet" slaying everyone in a particular geography, but it is clearly not the same thing.

Perhaps you have forgotten both the parable of the wheat and tares, as well as the remarks on the tower of Siloam; which taken together produce a very different image than the one you are attempting to portray.


As for me, personally, when I see what sodomites have cost the United States in billions of wasted public medical dollars, it is not hard for me to conclude that it makes sense to draw boundaries unless you wish to be drawn into the abattoir and feel the effects of the cesspit yourself, at least economically speaking, as well.

Gottfried said...

Is it possible that there's an honest difference of opinion here about how that word can be used, and that I did not mean it to accuse Ed of being a bigot?

In my first reply to you I explicitly admitted the possibility that you did not intend to accuse Ed of being a bigot.

In my second reply to you, I explicitly admitted the possibility that "bigoted" could be used to describe a book or an argument, but I tried to show that there is no way to describe an argument as bigoted without implying that its author is bigoted. Your subjective intent is irrelevant.

When you find a definition of bigotry that in no way depends on the existence of a bigot, then I'll be impressed.

I'm done with this silliness. Good luck convincing yourself that you're a victim here. Just don't expect to convince anyone else.

Chad Handley said...

I tried to show that there is no way to describe an argument as bigoted without implying that its author is bigoted.

And you're just dead wrong. At most, that a person makes a bigoted argument only implies he was, in writing the argument, behaving (perhaps unintentionally) in a bigoted way.

Obviously, a person can behave in a bigoted way without being a bigot.

Otherwise, we're all bigots, and no one has the right to object to being described as one.

Edward Feser said...

Chad,

So, here’s where we are. After three days, two of which you spent digging your heels in ever more deeply, you finally admit that your initial remarks -- which are what initiated this entire unpleasant exchange in the first place -- could indeed have been taken as implying that I was a bigot, though you also say that that is not in fact what you meant or what you actually think.

Somehow, though -- despite the fact that, again, your remarks are what started the whole thing, despite the fact that you could have immediately stopped the unpleasantness in its tracks by just admitting three days ago that your words were poorly chosen, despite the fact that you instead dug in your heels and doubled down repeatedly on the abusive ad hominems (repeatedly calling me an “asshole,” “hypocrite,” denigrating my character, etc. etc.) -- despite all of that, somehow others are no less at fault than you are.

This is what, in the spy trade, is called a “limited hangout,” and in politics a “non-apology apology.” Given the kind of media you tell us you consume, we can guess where you might have picked up the technique.

Then we’ve got this charming passage from the man who complains (more is sorrow than in anger, I’m sure) of how nasty and personal the exchange has become:

I called Ed an asshole, and I meant it, and I do not retract it. I called him a hypocrite, and I meant it, and I do not retract it. I called him a poor public witness for his faith, and I meant it, and I do not retract it.

And what have I done to merit these accusations? The reason, apparently, is that I deal in a harsh and insulting way with with… people who are themselves harsh and insulting (Jerry Coyne, Laurence Krauss, Richard Dawkins, Chad Handley -- people like that). And it is indeed the case that I deal with such people harshly and insultingly. As longtime readers know, however, those are the only sorts of people with whom I deal in such a harsh manner, and I have many times defended such a polemical approach (which has been taken under certain circumstances by various saints and by Christ himself) on moral, philosophical, and theological grounds. (Interested readers can do a search for “polemics” on the blog here for relevant posts.) By contrast, I do not deal in such a harsh or insulting way with critics who are themselves polite. And as I have already noted above, while there are many readers in this thread who disagree with me, only Chad has been dealt with insultingly, because only Chad has himself been insulting. Somehow, Chad “get the facts” Handley fails to mention all of these considerations in assembling his dispassionate, unbigoted, unhypocritical case for my moral degeneracy.

Anyway, since you have been insulting in the extreme in response to perceived injustices to yourself, Chad, it follows that by your own criteria, you are an asshole, and a hypocrite, and a poor public witness for your faith. I’m glad we can find something to agree on.

(continued)

Edward Feser said...

(continued)

In any event, as it happens, had you simply insulted me in these other ways and left out the crap about bigotry, then -- since I’ve got a million other things to do anyway -- I may have refrained from commenting at all, just as I have not said a lot in reply to other readers’ comments here, many of which are much worthier and more interesting than any of yours. Personal pique is not what is at issue here, and though like anyone else I do not like being called names, I’ve left a lot of stuff like that go unremarked upon in the combox before.

The reason I replied in this case was because you just had to go and fling around this stupid “bigotry” language, the first refuge of every third-rate SJW who has access to a computer, despite the fact that I explicitly addressed the problematic character of this sort of charge in the original post, and despite the fact that you have yourself now loudly and repeatedly insisted that you do not think that I am a bigot. And here’s the thing: The “bigotry” charge, as it has come to be deployed in political discussion today, is absolute intellectual poison, sheer mind-rot. It shuts down rational debate by turning attention away from evidence and argument and depersonalizing opponents, treating them as at best sick and deluded people in need of treatment and at worst as monsters or demons in need of defeat, instead of as partners in rational discussion. You know, just the sort of thing you would claim to oppose. And it is especially appalling that there are philosophers and other intellectuals who routinely engage in this tactic of just labeling opponents “bigots” -- thereby putting them beyond the pale of discussion -- rather than addressing their arguments.

So, when I see what looks like a resort to that sleazy tactic, my instinct is to hit back hard and take no prisoners. Word of advice, then: If in future you want to make it less likely that I’ll come after you, simply call me an “asshole” and be done with it.

Vincent Torley said...

Hi Jeremy Taylor,

The historical sources point overwhelmingly to Aisha consummating her marriage to Muhammad when she was just nine years old. (Ibn Hasham says she was ten.) Here are the relevant hadith:

Sahih al-Bukhari, 5:58:234, 5:58:236, 7:62:64, 7:62:65, 7:62:88, Sahih Muslim, 8:3309, 8:3310, 8:3311, 41:4915, Sunan Abu Dawood, 41:4917.

See also the following modern accounts of Muhammad's life which accept the same figure:

al-Tabari (1987). The Foundation of The Community (in Arabic), p. 7. Translated by William Montgomery Watt and M. V. McDonald. State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-88706-344-2.

al-Tabari (1990). The Last Years of the Prophet (in Arabic), p. 131. Translated by Ismail Poonawala. State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-88706-691-7.

Al-Nasa'i (1997). Al-Sunan al-Sughra (in Arabic), p. 108. Translated by Muhammad Iqbal Siddiqi. Kazi Publications. ISBN 978-0933511446.

Armstrong, Karen (1992). Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet, p. 157. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-250014-7.

In any case, there is no doubt that Muhammad and his army slaughtered 800 innocent Jews, and that he took one of the Jewish widows as a sex slave:

http://answering-islam.org/Authors/Arlandson/qurayza_jews.htm

Vincent Torley said...

laubadetriste,

Thank you for your response. I can only say: if the holiness of the Church constitutes evidence for its being from God, then by the same token, diabolical behavior on the part of its members would constitute contrary evidence - especially when such behavior is religiously motivated.

Faced with evidence of both personal sanctity and religiously motivated diabolical wickedness on the part of adherents of a particular religion, the only rational thing to do is to weigh up the good and the bad, and see which predominates.

I have argued that in the case of Christianity, the good outweighs the evil by a factor of 10:1 (which is actually a fairly conservative estimate, by the way, as I left out lives saved by the prohibition of abortion), in terms of lives saved vs. lives destroyed. But if the ratio were the other way round, surely that would constitute good evidence that Christianity was not from God.

Ask yourself this: just how evil would the Church have to be, before you would reject claims for its Divine origin? Are you saying that no amount of evil could sway you? In that case, what are we to make of Jesus' saying, "By their fruits ye shall know them"?

Vincent Torley said...

Omer, Don Jindra and DNW,

Regarding the accusation that the Bible authorizes rape, you might like to have a look at what I wrote on the subject here:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/guardian-reporter-nick-cohen-asks-are-isis-and-the-judeo-christian-tradition-morally-equivalent/

Cheers.

Chad Handley said...

Fair enough, Ed. Here's my last word on the matter.

I simply disagree that my initial use of the word "bigoted" deserved the kind of reaction you gave it. Here, again, is the portion of my original response in which I used the word, "bigoted."

The reason these arguments seem bigoted to me is that they ignore other causal factors that are obviously more relevant.

Now I maintain that there is, at least, a recent tradition of calling arguments and not people bigoted, and that, whatever you feel about the utility or propriety of this recent tradition, you don't have the right to decide for me my intent on using the word.

Here are some choice remarks in your first response to me, before I realized that there was a misunderstanding, before you had any right to judge in my comments any ill intent:

And with that you lost all credibility... Stop jerkin' that knee, Chad...
So yeah, there's plausibly some "bigotry" here. But it isn't coming from my side.


So, in the first post after you (mistakenly) interpreted me as (perhaps accidentally) calling you a bigot, you, by your own definition of the proper use of the term, deliberately called me one.

Now, I thought that response was overly personal, but I still tried to be diplomatic in my response, because I still thought that the charge that argument was bigoted had merit, I had reasons for saying so and I gave them. Maybe those reasons were bad, but it wasn't clear to me at the time that they were, and I gave them. You describe this as "doubling down" on insults, but I simply see it as backing up my claim. If you had just refuted my reasons without yourself doubling down on the insults, the argument would not have degraded past that point. Instead, your response to my response was this:

Anyway, as is indicated by your use of buzzwords like "bigoted" and "the other,"... you seem to be essentially a cliche-generator rather than someone arguing in good faith, or worth reading and responded to any further.

Bye.


And that is when I got testy back.

Your interpretation of events depends on two theses:

1) That anytime a position is called bigoted, the person holding that position is being called a bigot.

2) That claims of bigotry are inherently emotive and therefore nonrational, and thus cannot be rationally defended, and thus any reasons proffered to justify the charge can be dismissed out of hand as being offered in bad faith.

I simply deny 1) and 2). You seem to think that no native English speaker can, in good faith, deny 1) and 2), but google supplies a couple of thousand usage cases by established publications to the contrary.

In light of the fact that I repeatedly clarified my position on your supposed bigotry even in the most heated parts of this conversation, I maintain that an honest, unbiased reader would agree that you participated at least as much as myself in the bad turn the debate took.

You have an emotional response to the word "bigot" that I just don't have. It's just not that much of a "fightin' word" to me. I honestly think the bad turn this conversation took just comes down to that fact.



«Oldest ‹Older   1 – 200 of 465   Newer› Newest»