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Reader comment on item: Ban Islam?
in response to reader comment: Does all the worth of your religion consist in the negative?

Submitted by keith (United States), Sep 12, 2007 at 22:00

What you suggest would be quite plausible were it not for the fact that the religions themselves, taken in their traditional senses, do not countenance such talk. It is easy for one who believes as you seem to to suggest that we all simply chuck our own religions' claims to exclusivity.

In reality, if a believer is to take Moses', or Muhammed's, or Jesus' words seriously such a path can not be taken. For if I scrap Jesus' claims to exclusivity because they are inconvenient to others I then justify the scrapping of anything else He said on the same grounds, and that by anybody. Furthermore, the points on which exclusivity revolve are among the most essential of all in all the religions mentioned. They go straight to the heart of the nature of God, Man, revelation, our obligations, etc.; they are in fact part and parcel of systematic theologies that encompass entire, well integrated world views. As such, they are not open to doctrinal cherry picking, much as you would like that to be the case. This is true whether it is Jesus or Moses, etc.

You surmise correctly that I am a Christian, however that is not really germane in the present conversation. What is germane is that I write from the position of a believer, whereas you do not. I don't mean that as a criticism so much as a fact. It is clear from your ideas you do not hold to a particular doctrine of revelation, which is the basis of Judaism, Christainity, and Islam. All three of these religions claim at heart that God has revealed His will, and that it involves certain particulars which we are not, in context, given the liberty to dispute. You would have us do so.

My point is that you won't get many followers for your approach from among the faithful, traditional believers in those faiths. You may find many likeminded people who will agree with you, and perhaps those who agree with you will have power enough one day to attempt to compel the rest of us to abide by your law. But it will be done out of faith on your part only in the particular doctrine that man is the measure of all things. Mind you, I'm hesitant to suggest that you specifically hold to any idea of compelling others to believe as you do, but then again, you are the one that wants to pass a law that goes square against my sort of belief.

If exclusive claims can be thought of as negative then how is your approach to be regarded as anything other than negative by those of us who hold to a creed of revelation? That claim can be equally laid by either side. Who is the arbiter? To my mind, God as portrayed in the Bible. To your's, yourself, I presume. Again, I think you don't really understand any of the religions you would like to regulate if you think they can be harmonized as conveniently as you suggest. I detest radical Islam as I detest the twisted version of Christianity that would bomb abortion clinics or act judgmentally toward other people, but in this one respect it is clear that I hold more in common with islamists than I do with you, and for that I do not apologize. I believe Islamists are mistaken in the beliefs that drive their bloody acts but I have no illusions that requiring them to abide by some law of your devising would accomplish anything more than thin a few fearful people from their ranks.

For myself, I certainly would not obey your law. I would die first, but peacefully, and that is the difference between myself and a dangerous radical from any faith. Again I would point out how you too would like to impose your will on an unwilling population of those who do not believe as you do. Sound familiar? I could no more easily regard Islamist atrocities as inconvenient than I could regard such compulsion to be inconvenient. Both are evil, whether the victims believe as I do or not.

Perhaps more simply I should have written this: If a real God has truly and specifically revealed His will then we had better be on board. That is the point you are disregarding; whether you believe that or not for yourself has no bearing on the fact that many people do. All of us on the creedal side of the fence believe He has. You do not.



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