Recently the pope informed us that the “world is at war”. The reason he gives in support of his declaration is because “it has lost peace.”
Hmnn… I’m tempted to ask, along with Bertolt Brecht in his play, Mother Courage: “What else can you expect with peace running wild all over the place?”
The pope was also quick to assure us that the conflict was not “a religious war” because “all religions preach peace — it’s the others who want war.”
I find that equally puzzling and can’t help but wonder what a religious war might look like. Yes, I am well aware that to attempt a respectful conversation about the connection between Islamic ideology and Muslim violence has been stifled by political correctness.
Nevertheless, well-known atheist philosopher/neuroscientist Sam Harris has engaged in a remarkable civil and informative dialogue in “Islam & The Future of Tolerance” with former revolutionary Islamist, Maajid Nawaz. Sam addresses the evidentiary question about a war fueled by religious ideology:
“[Liberals/moderates – i.e., those with a vested interest in shielding religion from scrutiny]…totally discount the role that religious beliefs play in inspiring a group like the Islamic State— to the point where it would be impossible for a jihadist to prove that he was doing anything for religious reasons. Apparently, it’s not enough for an educated person with economic opportunities to devote himself to the most extreme and austere version of Islam, to articulate his religious reasons for doing so ad nauseam, and even to go so far as to confess his certainty about martyrdom on video before blowing himself up in a crowd. Such demonstrations of religious fanaticism are somehow considered rhetorically insufficient to prove that he really believed what he said he believed. Of course, if he said he did these things because he was filled with despair and felt nothing but revulsion for humanity, or because he was determined to sacrifice himself to rid his nation of tyranny, such a psychological or political motive would be accepted at face value. This double standard is guaranteed to exonerate religion every time. The game is rigged.”
It deserves mentioning that a statement not falsifiable – like so many religious proclamations tend to be – is merely obfuscating, and as such is worthless as a productive hypothesis capable of generating understanding.
Some of you may be wagging your finger and reminding me of a long-ago post where I bragged that I had jettisoned all opinions, wondering if I am backsliding.
Let’s just say I still like to ask questions.