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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monotheistic Faiths Violent by Definition?

Thanks to Baruch Pelta for directing me to the debate video below on 'Islam is a Religion of Peace', where Ayaan Hirsi Ali says that by definition all monotheistic religions can not be peaceful.

And then it hit me:
  • All 3 monotheistic world religions claim to have the true faith and that God has chosen them as opposed to any other religion.
  • By definition, the majority of people / religions does not believe in what you are saying (the other faiths or non-believers).
  • So there must be some justification as to how your monotheistic religion will still win in the end in order to inspire your people to spread this religion.
  • There are two options on the table (correct me if I am wrong): either they must convince the 'non-believers' about the truth of religion a,b or c, or by forcing it onto them.
  • Since most people tend to follow the beliefs of their parents, regardless of their inherent truth (if one of them were hypothetically to be true, the majority of the people will still believe in the other options), this convincing business will never happen.
  • So a monotheistic must then either rely on subjugation of their opponents whenever they can get away with it actively or by believing in some apocalyptic event, which is violent by its very definition.
I'd be interested to hear about what you have to say in the comments. The debate is interesting although I think that those that claim Islam is a Religion of Peace really meant to say that they want it to turn into a religion of peace.

Would have been way more interesting if a muslim clergyman would have the guts to turn up for these debates:



ISLAM IS A RELIGION OF PEACE from Intelligence Squared US on Vimeo.

19 comments:

  1. If the muslim clergymen would have shown up I am sure the decision against the motion would have been even more of a landslide than it already was.

    You could consievably have a monotheistic religion that believed that once the "end of days" occurs all the non believers will magically transformed into believers.

    I wouldn't go as far as to say that all monotheistic religions are inherently violent, but they are inherently conflicting in which case I agree they can by definition not be inherently peaceful. A monotheistic faith cannot accept the legitimacy of any other worldview by definition and thus there will always be conflict unless everyone is part of that same worldview.

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  3. There are monotheistic denominations that are pacifist: Bahai, some Sufi, Jehovah's Witness, Quaker, Amish etc.
    In fact it appears that the only monotheistic religion lacking a committed pacifistic denomination is Judaism.

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  5. But Judaism isn't really a religion, it's simply "The Truth™." All those other religions are the false ridiculous ones with imaginary gods.

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  6. I think Judaism preaches moderation. Pacifism is also an extreme - how can you stand idly by your brother's blood?

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  7. Why distinguish Monotheistic faiths. Have you not taken note of the incredible level of violence within the Hindu world? Was there no violence in the Soviet Union (the atheist paradise). Does China (atheist) not violently oppress dissenters?

    This is bunk.

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  8. Pacifist doesn't mean peaceful.

    I am no expert on all of those denominations listed, but I am sure they all promote a level of conflict between themselves and those who don't believe as they do. Maybe not violent conflict (at least at present) but conflict none the less.

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  9. Atheism in of itself doesn't promote conflict between those that accept atheism and those that don't. If you are a monotheist you believe that your G-d is the only one and true diety/divine force. This will always put you at odds with those that don't accept your worldview since they oppose the one and only true force in nature to which you believe you must submit your will to.

    You are probably right about Hinduism.

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  10. Bahai believe in submission to whichever government rules them. They are completely pacifistic. Amish sequester themselves passively, however they are extremely kind to "outsiders" who are in need and never evangelize. Quakers open their meetings to people of any faith, allow them to speak freely and also never evangelize.

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  11. But Judaism isn't really a religion, it's simply "The Truth™." All those other religions are the false ridiculous ones with imaginary gods.

    Yeah, members of other religions don't really care about their religion anyway. See, they'll go to a Chanukah party, but it's assur for Jews to go to a Christmas party. So it's like they know we're right. NOT.

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  12. Christianity and Islam are proselytizing religions, Judaism is not. Your reasoning is wrong. Just because the majority does not agree with a particular religion it doesn't mean it's their responsibility to make the others see the light. Judaism may try to convince people but it does not justify forcing people to see the light. Judaism also believes that non-Jews can attain eternity by being moral etc. Christianity and Islam on the other hand believe, as part of their doctrine, that those that don't believe will go to hell. They therefore justify(or have done so in the past) forcing people to convert to their religion. But just because a religion is monotheistic it does not follow that violence will be justified.

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  13. JP: Judaism preaches moderation? Not talking about pacifism vs standing idly by your brother's blood. And more about how a monotheistic religion like we have lends itself to not being peaceful or, at least, subjugation. We also taught the Kanaanites to either die by the sword or become gerim toshavim (like dhimmis). I am telling this to a guy that thinks that homosexuals should be killed: http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/04/beheading-orthodox-jewish-punishment.html

    Anonymous: Please read the book of Yehoshua where you can see that proselytizing is not the important factor here. BTW: During the period of the Hasmoneans we did forcibly convert people:

    "Hyrcanus...subdued all the Idumeans; and permitted them to stay in that country, if they would circumcise their genitals, and make use of the laws of the Jews; and they were so desirous of living in the country of their forefathers, that they submitted to the use of circumcision, (25) and of the rest of the Jewish ways of living; at which time therefore this befell them, that they were hereafter no other than Jews." Quote from Josephus on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasmoneans

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  14. Any absolutist, exclusivist, authoritarian ideology is going to breed intolerant violence. Christianity and Islam have done so for centuries. The USSR, China and North Korea have done it, too. Israel has plenty of extremists who would love to be in charge and commit such violence for their own religious reasons. So far only strong democracies have shown any restraint and many of them have been needlessly violent, too (such as many would argue about U.S. violence in Iraq).

    As long as someone feels that they have the absolute truth with no tolerance for the co-existence of other ideas, then they may feel free to act on it with violence. Sometimes it's to impose the will of their god. Sometimes it's to impose their political system. Sometimes it's to "cleanse" themselves of "undesirables."

    It's common to the "big three" in varying degrees, but not just because they are monotheistic. The Baha'i are monotheistic, but because they don't have an authoritarian, exclusivist belief system, they have never tried to gain anything by violence.

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  15. Well said! The same would apply to Quakers and several other monotheistic sects.

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  16. "Christianity and Islam are proselytizing religions, Judaism is not."

    Really? What is Noachism?

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  17. A third option, as some have provided examples of, are sects that withdraw from the larger world, like the Amish, or the Shakers. Another option are those sects do not seek converts, but accept those who come to live their ways, like the Society of Friends, the Mennonites, the Baha'i and certain not-in-Israel Chasids.

    As for Judaism not being a proselytizing religion, it's not because the religion specifically prohibits it. Part of it has to do with the prohibitions put on Jews by Christian and Islamic rules in the nations where Jews were the minority (most of them). Another part is cultural; after the Diaspora, Jews became a distinctive culture that was often eager to live apart.

    Antibubba

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  18. Contrary to popular opinion, Islam among the 3 abrahamic faiths is the least deplorable on exclusivist claims.

    Muslims have produced more mystics than any other religion and almost all of them have been universalists.

    Muslims also were the ones who invented perrenialism!

    For the most part they accept other paths lead to the Divine. They just belief they have the siratul mustakeem (the best path)

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