A Philosopher's Blog

Religion and Violence

Posted in Law, Philosophy, Politics, Relationships/Dating by Michael LaBossiere on July 30, 2011
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When it comes to Islam and terror, the fine folks at Fox have generally taken the view that Muslim terrorists are representative of Islam as a whole. However, when it turned out that Breivik (the person allegedly responsible for the terrible murders in Norway) claimed to be a Christian, the fine folks at Fox rushed to argue that he is not a Christian.

The main argument put forth by the fine folks at Fox is that a person who truly accepts Jesus would not engage in such horrible behavior. Naturally, Muslims who are not terrorists have argued that true Muslims would not engage in terrorist behavior. On the face of it, if the argument holds in the case of Christianity, then it should also hold in the case of Islam.

The obvious reply is to argue that while a true Christian would never do such things, such horrible acts are perfectly consistent with true Islam. The challenge is, obviously enough, to prove both of these things.

It will not do to point to the actions of those who profess the faiths. After all, people professing to be Christians have done terrible things as those who have claimed to be exemplars of Islam.

Turning to the holy books as evidence is a better approach, but not without its flaws. While the writings of Islam seem to allow and even endorse terrible things, the same is true of the Christian texts. As such, turning to the texts hardly seems to achieve the goal in question.

It can be argued that the violent content in the bible is either not an expression of the true essence of Christianity or that (to steal a bit from True Lies) true Christians only harm bad people (and thus are justified in doing so). In contrast, it must be argued that violent content in the Islamic writings is an expression of the true essence of Islam and that harming the good and the innocent is perfectly consistent with Islam. If this can be done, then the fine folks at Fox can consistently brand Muslims as terrorists while insisting that no Christian can be a terrorist.

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31 Responses

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  1. ajmacdonaldjr said, on July 30, 2011 at 5:19 am

    The difference is in the behavior of the founders of each religion. Jesus never killed anyone during his lifetime, but Moses and Muhammed did.

    • T. J. Babson said, on July 30, 2011 at 10:13 am

      Also, unlike Christianity, there is no tradition of non-violent resistance in Islam…

  2. T. J. Babson said, on July 30, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Apples and oranges again. The point is not whether he was a Christian, but rather if his crimes were justified by Christian teachings (and teachers). In the case of Islam, we have abundant evidence that terrorist acts are directly inspired by Islamic teachings and certain Imams. We also have many “martyrdom videos” from the terrorists themselves explaining their actions in terms of Islamic teaching. It is also common for terrorists to shout “Allahu Akbar” before committing their acts, suggesting at minimum that they are thinking of Islam as they start to kill.

    And then there is this from Breivik’s manifesto:

    “I took a year off when I was 25 and played WoW [World of Warcraft] PvE hardcore for a year. … ”

    So, instead of his Christianity, I think we should focus on his WoW proclivities…

  3. T. J. Babson said, on July 30, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Philosophy students getting pistol-whipped by Methodists…no, wait…

    After philosophy students and faculty members rallied to denounce heavy-handed efforts to separate male and female students, Islamists on campus struck back: In the dead of night, witnesses say, the radicals showed up at a men’s dormitory armed with wooden sticks and bicycle chains.

    They burst into dorm rooms, attacking philosophy students. One was pistol-whipped and hit on the head with a brick. Gunfire rang out, although no one was injured. Police were called, but nearly a month after the attack, no arrests have been made.

    Few on Punjab University’s leafy campus, including top administrators, dare to challenge the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, or the IJT, the student wing of one of Pakistan’s most powerful hard-line Islamist parties.

    At another Lahore campus, the principal disdainfully refers to the Islamists as “a parallel administration.”

    The organization’s clout illustrates the deep roots of Islamist extremism in Pakistani society, an influence that extends beyond radical religious schools and militant strongholds in the volatile tribal belt along the Afghan border.

    University administrators fear that the IJT’s influence on many campuses will lead to an increase in extremism among the middle class, from which the next generation of Pakistan’s leaders will rise.

    “These people have connections with jihadi groups, and they are taking hostage our campuses,” said Sajid Ali, chairman of Punjab University’s philosophy department. “This is a real danger for the future of our country.”

    Fellow students and teachers regard them as Islamist vigilantes. In addition to trying to separate the sexes, they order shopkeepers not to sell Coca-Cola or Pepsi because they are American brands. When they overhear a cluster of fellow students debating topics, from capitalism to religion, they demand that the discussion stop and threaten violence if it continues.


    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 1, 2011 at 7:21 pm

      That is Medieval behavior. Christianity went through a rough phase for a few centuries. Perhaps Islam needs to work out some issues, like Christians did.

  4. chamblee54 said, on July 30, 2011 at 11:54 am

    If you consider verbal abuse in the United States, Jesus Worshipers are far, far worse.

  5. magus71 said, on July 30, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    I was waiting for this post….

  6. magus71 said, on July 30, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Sorry, Mike. Christianity and Islam just don’t have the same amount of terrorists. I’m not just saying that because I’m a Christian. Hindus don’t have the same amount either. Being a Muslim dramatically increases one’s chances of being a terrorist. Period. And you know it.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 1, 2011 at 7:22 pm

      But is it the religion that is the key factor? After all, many Muslims are from countries that have been subject to mistreatment from the West and others. So perhaps it is not Islam that is the primary causal factor.

  7. WTP said, on July 30, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Mike, you are far more biased against Fox News and most things on the right side of the political spectrum, not to mention a few things in the middle, than Fox News is against Muslims. And with far less reason. As for chamlbee54, you really need to get out in the world.

    And what’s with the ceaseless sing-song sarcastic silliness of “find folks at Fox” rather than just say “Fox”? Are you trying to prove my point? Are you looking for a philosophical discussion or do you just hide behind the term “philosopher” to push your political viewpoint?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 1, 2011 at 7:24 pm

      I just like typing “the fine folks at Fox.” I’m not really biased against Fox in the sense of having an unwarranted prejudice against them. I think my critical view of Fox is as well grounded as my critical view of their lame reverse twin, MSNBC. A bias, after all, seems to imply an unwarranted view.

      • magus71 said, on August 2, 2011 at 1:31 am

        You mean, “the fine folks at MSNBC”, right?

      • WTP said, on August 2, 2011 at 9:02 am

        And I like typing “Fox News” and “MSNBC News” into your search box. You know what I found? 5 pages of posts on Fox, 2 pages on MSNBC. I’m sure they’re all equally balanced, however.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 2, 2011 at 4:04 pm

          I can only watch MSNBC for as half as long as I can watch Fox.

          • Wtp said, on August 2, 2011 at 8:27 pm

            Ain’t it the truth. The older you get the harder it is to look in the mirror.

        • magus71 said, on August 3, 2011 at 7:53 am


          I would say your bias is most evident, as with the media, by what you talk about the most, not really by the facts you present on each individual subject.

          • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 3, 2011 at 1:33 pm

            I think the content of what I write and say should be the main focus of determining whether I am biased or not. True, what I include and exclude could be used as well-but that is far less accurate. After all, I just write one blog for each day-hence I am excluding a vast amount of subjects. The more accurate test would be whether I act with an unfair bias rather than considering the various sides fairly.

            • magus71 said, on August 4, 2011 at 8:31 am

              I disagree. Even the biased media gets its facts right most of the time. But it lies by omission. And it repeatedly beats the drum on the stories it wants us to pay attention to. Lying or misrepresenting facts would be bad for business. For instance, if one black man in Hate Town USA is beat up because of his color, and one white man is also beat up, but the media runs 25 stories on the black guy and 2 on the white guy, I think that shows clear bias. And that’s exactly how it occurs.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 4, 2011 at 1:11 pm

              The media folks do often sin by omission. In many cases, this is based on the need to keep eyeballs on the screen. Most folks have little interest in complicated matters and hence the media folks tend to shortchange critical matters-which tend towards complication.

    • frk said, on August 3, 2011 at 9:45 am

      Here’s what happens when a reporter becomes part of cable news–MSNBC, FOX, CNN, whatever:

  8. frk said, on July 30, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    I’d be very interested to know how you ^know^ # ” Michael is far more biased against Fox News and most things on the right side of the political spectrum, not to mention a few things in the middle, than Fox News is against Muslims.”
    Have you done a comprehensive study of his writings? Attended his classes? Watched all the news that fits Fox News?
    Perhaps you’ve compiled an exhaustive list of all of his negative references to Fox News and a similar list of his positive statements about Muslims.
    Doing all that, how do you have time to post on here?

    One thing I’ve noticed from the times I’ve had the pleasure to peruse your posts is that you’ve berated the professor a number of times. I’m having a hard time determining whether your alliterative “sing-song sarcastic silliness” is just that or whether you take personal pleasure in ad hominem attacks such as your 3:28. What is your point– other than making an unsubstantiated attack on the professor?

    #You state with absolute certainty: “Mike, you ARE. . .” [caps added]

  9. magus71 said, on August 3, 2011 at 10:01 am


    This article posted on the Freakonomics website, states that a study done by a UCLA professor shows liberal bias contributes to a 8-10% vote bonus to liberals and that without that same bias, McCain would have beat Obama in 08.


    • frk said, on August 3, 2011 at 12:08 pm

      The Citizens United Supreme Court will protect the free speech represented by the “liberal bias” in the media. After all, that speech appears in the form of actual words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs. . .not in the form of corporate bucks.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 3, 2011 at 1:35 pm

      That seems like a very specific claim for something that appears to rather hard to test. Is there anything about the impact of Rush, Fox and others?

      • WTP said, on August 3, 2011 at 2:16 pm

        Fortunately, it’s just media-focused, so professors are still safe.

      • magus71 said, on August 4, 2011 at 8:24 am

        The article seems to indicate that if there were no media at all, people would vote more conservatively. Americans at least.

      • magus71 said, on August 4, 2011 at 8:35 am

        Is Fox bias? If so, how do you know? And if so, it seems easy to tell how the media as a whole is bias.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 4, 2011 at 1:12 pm

          Well, comparing what some of the folks at Fox say with reality seems to show a bias. Yes, the same test would apply to the rest of the media.

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