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Thread: "It Has Nothing to do with Religion"

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    I'd agree that Islam is 'on the rise' and that the Muslim population is increasing at a faster rate than Christians, and will be a larger slice of the global pie in the future (link to actual projections)
    http://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/r...ons-2010-2050/

    So perhaps as Islam is expanding it's influence, unfortunately there is the strife between religions that we have seen throughout history.

    I haven't looked, but I'd expect to see the same trend when Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, or any of the major religions were expanding their influence - violence as they expand their influence.
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    But those rates of violence are not going to be comparable. Only between the Abrahamic religions, really, and if we're comparing them to one another, there's still a disparity between them. They simply are not equal despite all going through roughly the same process of adapting with modernity and despite all having same same father (Abraham).
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    I'd argue that economics are a stronger driver than any particular language or customs of a particular religion. Christian strongholds include North America, Europe, and South America, some of the wealthiest portions of the world. Muslim strongholds are in the Middle East, North Africa, and southeast Asia, some of the poorest people in the world. Havenots are more likely to be violent than the haves - so Islam is the predominate religion in regions that are susceptible to violence (lots of poor people, wealth concentrated in a tiny percentage of the population). The southern half of Africa is also a Christian stronghold, and has a higher incidence of violence than North America and Europe. In the African case, I would argue that the economics are a stronger driver leading to violence than the cultural differences in how Christianity is practiced.
    http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/reso...religions-map/
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil in Absentia View Post
    I don't deny they are propagandists, and I don't even disagree that they've co-opted Islam to fuel/justify their cause. I disagree that Islam, the religion, has nothing to do with their cause, and I take their manifesto seriously because I have little reason, given the wealth of evidence of their crimes and behaviors, to believe otherwise. Even if you could prove they are actually closeted atheists who are just using the religion as a tool because they know it'll help them recruit, that doesn't change the fact that the bodies they are amassing, who are also killing on behalf of the cause, are devout, and are doing so because they believe in this very specific interpretation of Islam. That makes the group, certainly to its victims, a religiously inspired or justified one. Even if the process of acquiring those Jihadists was all an act of subterfuge. Because beliefs influence actions.
    I was away for the weekend, sorry it took so long to respond.

    The Quran is a tool the way our Constitution is a tool. Those in power use it to rally the troops. There is not much difference between a young ISIS member saying they will kill for Allah and a young US soldier saying they'll kill to protect "God and Country". One could make a serious argument that over the last couple hundred years at least, "the spread of democracy" has killed as much if not more than the spread of theocracy over a similar span. Whether a knife to the throat or a drone strike, the targets are no less deceased. Unlike our Middle Eastern neighbors, we've honed the process of life taking like no other civilization ever has. They're not even the Junior Varsity team when it comes to killing, they're like a team full of toddlers taking on the New England Patriots.

    Look, most in the US believe the Constitution is a star spangled awesome document, impervious to criticism, and the only failings it has is that man's interpretation of it goes against the "Founding Fathers" original purposes. And they have no problem with the greatest Military force ever known defending those Constitutional ideals by force. That's because like the Quran, the Constitution has been used as the ideal, the foundation for the perfect society, if only it is defended from those who would seek to install some other wrong headed form of government in it's place.

    There's a middle ground between those two polarities — that the dog (Islam) is predisposed to flea infestation (ISIS). Which I'd argue is the case here. In the same way Christianity, also co-opted throughout history, suffered the same disease, and still does, albeit to lesser degrees than ISIS by modern comparison (there's a reason for this I'll get to momentarily). Because the holy texts make it way too easy to justify horrific behavior because they prescribe it.
    Wouldn't another similar dog (Christianity) have the same predisposition? What is the difference between the world's Muslims and the worlds Christians? It's geopolitics. No one is invading Christian Nations with vastly superior armies and stealing their resources. And if they were, then those Christian Nations would no doubt fight back with what ever means were at their disposal. And yes, they would use their religious books to support their efforts. Because, like Muslims in the Middle East, it's all they have to attempt to level the playing field.




    The dog in this case doesn't need to be put down, necessarily (though I'd argue without it we're almost assured to be flea-free because there's no longer a host to infect and feed off of), but it does need to take better care of the fact is so predisposed to flea infestation in the first place and it needs to take more rigorous precautions to that pre-existing condition. This is where the moderates come in. Just as what has occurred for Christianity. It needs to be forced into modernity from within. Not from without. Moderates within the religion need to be championed and propped up. Secular governments need to be established in Islamic nations to wall off religion from government. Democratic and liberal ideals need to be championed, established, and supported, starting with the empowerment of women in Islamic nations where the rule of the land is dictated by the Mullah's who act on devout belief in Sharia and Hadith prescriptions. And all of this can happen provided the moderates are given a wealth of support from countries like the U.S. and Europe as a whole. Especially those with military presences in any of these Islamic nations.
    If you got rid of religion tomorrow, violence, even extreme violence, would not cease. You would have the same level of greed fueled corruption which in turn fuels oppression, causing the oppressed to eventually rise up. What would change would only be the means of mobilization (Bible verses Quran).


    It's not about stamping out the religion. Much as I'd like to see all of them wiped off the planet tomorrow, that isn't the solution. It's about empowering moderates. Those who do not take the religion seriously. These are the people who can forcefully evolve the belief system into something far more compatable with modernity.
    "Those who do not take the religion seriously" is the type of thing said by organized Atheists which make them so piss poor at this sort of thing. Moderates in religion do take their faith seriously, they just view the words of their theological texts within the context they were written in. They don't feel that every practice that was common thousands of years ago needs to be common today. Yet the underpinnings of the religion, the morality, they feel are needed as much now as ever. I do agree that in regards to religion, a more modern approach is best. However, since we so strongly disagree about the primary cause of ISIS, it's really inconsequential to this debate.

    As to leaving them alone. In a sense, I agree, but I also agree that it's easier said than done when these groups are actively trying to acquire nuclear weapons. That elevates the threat level to one no country on the planet can ignore, especially on the grounds of assuming their motives aren't genuine. Too many have died, horrifically, to have that kind of cavalier attitude.
    So the only way to end the situation in the Middle East is to utilize the same strategy that created and fuels the situation in the Middle East? That's a piss poor strategy. We need to fight a much more covert war in the region. Full withdraw of standard troops followed by targeted assassinations until a leader emerges that we can live with again. Probably someone like Saddam Hussein.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanJesus View Post
    I was away for the weekend, sorry it took so long to respond.

    The Quran is a tool the way our Constitution is a tool. Those in power use it to rally the troops. There is not much difference between a young ISIS member saying they will kill for Allah and a young US soldier saying they'll kill to protect "God and Country". One could make a serious argument that over the last couple hundred years at least, "the spread of democracy" has killed as much if not more than the spread of theocracy over a similar span. Whether a knife to the throat or a drone strike, the targets are no less deceased. Unlike our Middle Eastern neighbors, we've honed the process of life taking like no other civilization ever has. They're not even the Junior Varsity team when it comes to killing, they're like a team full of toddlers taking on the New England Patriots.

    Look, most in the US believe the Constitution is a star spangled awesome document, impervious to criticism, and the only failings it has is that man's interpretation of it goes against the "Founding Fathers" original purposes. And they have no problem with the greatest Military force ever known defending those Constitutional ideals by force. That's because like the Quran, the Constitution has been used as the ideal, the foundation for the perfect society, if only it is defended from those who would seek to install some other wrong headed form of government in it's place.
    I get what you are saying, but comparing these two documents is a non-starter for me. One seeks to empower individuals with personal freedoms and prescribes the Nation it presides over with principles that encourage choice in the pursuit of happiness. The other advocates and prescribes slavery, child marriage, sexual slavery, genocide, calls for the execution of homosexuals, systematically represses women, and calls for anyone who no longer believes in its divinity to also be killed.

    These are not moral equals.

    Wouldn't another similar dog (Christianity) have the same predisposition? What is the difference between the world's Muslims and the worlds Christians? It's geopolitics. No one is invading Christian Nations with vastly superior armies and stealing their resources. And if they were, then those Christian Nations would no doubt fight back with what ever means were at their disposal. And yes, they would use their religious books to support their efforts. Because, like Muslims in the Middle East, it's all they have to attempt to level the playing field.
    The difference is Christianity has found a greater evolution with regard to coexisting with modernity. By and large, it no longer executes those who leave it or who insult it. It might not appreciate either, but the reactions of the religion to these criticisms and rejections are largely now within the acceptable bounds of rational society. Because it evolved to coexist.

    The opposite is true of Islam, on the whole. Which is why it’s in desperate need of reform.

    If you got rid of religion tomorrow, violence, even extreme violence, would not cease. You would have the same level of greed fueled corruption which in turn fuels oppression, causing the oppressed to eventually rise up. What would change would only be the means of mobilization (Bible verses Quran).
    It doesn’t need to cease for the removal of religion to be a good thing. It just needs to reduce the numbers of violence and death caused by it. This is the same argument gun rights activists make when they talk about how banning guns or increasing gun control wouldn’t stop all gun deaths. Of course they won’t. You can’t legislate anything to zero. But you can legislate it to near zero, or as close to zero as possible. And the closer you get, the better, and healthier your society would be for it.

    If you remove religion from the equation, unless you believe people would find another unquestionable supernatural platform to replace it with, conflicts would be rooted in reality, not the supernatural (which can’t be confirmed to even exist because it can't be tested), and as a result are far more likely to see realistic resolve.

    Think of it this way — if there are two people in a bar and one punches the other because the first said something disparaging about the others’ significant other, you can actually figure out how to fix this situation without more violence. An apology would go a long way, as would talking it out. You can use science, reason, and logic to proactively operate in the future to reduce incidents like these from reaching this point. Because all of this thinking operates in the natural world.

    If that same situation is in place, but you add fundamental, devout religion into the mix, you can never cure it. Because the beliefs themselves rely on putting faith in something that can’t even be shown to exist in reality. You aren’t just combating a personal slight. You’re combating something we can’t even demonstrate to exist, that for bad reasons is revered and given protective status in society. Now, it's not just one guy insulting the others' wife. Its exponentially worsened because hardened beliefs might tell the guy throwing a punch to do so with a knife clenched in it, because a magical being says he should.

    You’re behind the eight ball. Always. Because the game is rigged to operate that way.

    “Those who do not take the religion seriously" is the type of thing said by organized Atheists which make them so piss poor at this sort of thing. Moderates in religion do take their faith seriously, they just view the words of their theological texts within the context they were written in. They don't feel that every practice that was common thousands of years ago needs to be common today. Yet the underpinnings of the religion, the morality, they feel are needed as much now as ever. I do agree that in regards to religion, a more modern approach is best. However, since we so strongly disagree about the primary cause of ISIS, it's really inconsequential to this debate.
    When I say “do not take the religion seriously” I’m speaking colloquially. What I mean is that they have a moderate view that’s malleable to the changing requirements of modernity. They’re willing to do away with aspects of their religion they disagree with morally while still valuing other aspects of it that can function within socially acceptable parameters. That malleability is critical to this cause because it’s what allows for reform to happen in the first place. By definition, people who operate this way have a much tougher time being shaped and hardened as fundamentalists (Jihadists and Islamists) because they already disagree with those aspects of the religion from a moral perspective.

    So the only way to end the situation in the Middle East is to utilize the same strategy that created and fuels the situation in the Middle East? That's a piss poor strategy. We need to fight a much more covert war in the region. Full withdraw of standard troops followed by targeted assassinations until a leader emerges that we can live with again. Probably someone like Saddam Hussein.
    Like I said, when these groups are actively trying to acquire nuclear weapons, that makes this issue too dangerous to leave to chance. There isn’t a free country on the planet who can afford to think that doing nothing is an acceptable action. Especially those within rock throwing distance to the most aggressive Islamist nations who are trying to acquire these kinds of weapons. Because unlike the U.S., they're not acquiring them to pull up a chair to the mutually assured destruction cold war table. They're trying to acquire them to use them to assure Armageddon.

    I’m not saying the U.S. has gotten it right. I’m saying they’ve gotten it more right than wrong (at least lately, as you also agreed regarding drone usage). There are still problems. But they can be worked out as long as the end goal is something we can all agree one, which is to prevent radical Islam from spreading. But we probably can’t agree on that.
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    Rather than quote, which is getting unwieldy, I'll just respond.

    I'm sure you're aware that the rights in the Constitution/bill of rights were only provided to white, land owning men. It even had to proscribe how to count Black slaves in the census which was used for calculating representatives (the oldie, but goody, 3/5th's Compromise). And rest assured, this compromise was not about giving Blacks even that fraction of the rights of Whites, it was a way to help their White owners have more representation in Congress than non-slave owners.

    Both of these documents have evolved over the years, the Constitution through legal means and the Quran through new interpretation and modernization. Also of note is that the Constitution was written in 1787 while the Quran 1,000 years or so earlier. Of course they reflect the morals of their time. Yet their function at the time they were written and today are the same. They are governing documents which have, through propaganda, been elevated to supernatural status.

    The difference in evolution between Christians and Muslims that you're referencing is ever so slight. To say that they've diverged significantly only examines what, the past 40 years or so? So what is the real difference over that last 40 years? Some sort of Christian enlightenment that has yet to occur in the Muslim world? Or, more likely, is it geo-political? Are American Muslims significantly different in their practice than American Christians? Hardly. Because their geo-political reality is similar.

    As to violence, my point was not, as you misconstrued, that if you can't end all violence, ending some of it is worthless. So your gun argument doesn't apply. My point is that as long as the geo-political realities of our world continue (the haves taking from the have-nots) then the violence will continue. The name it is carried out under will change. That's why I brought up the Constitution in the first place. With good enough writing and the proper dose of propaganda you can make people, especially those people being oppressed, either real or imagined, follow you. A great modern lesson of that is Scientology.

    Towards your next point, I'm not sure how much good talking would do in the situation in the Middle East if you removed religion entirely. You have wealthy families in control of a vast and extremely valuable natural resource. This resource is of little use locally, but of great use globally. The global powers do a mix of paying for and stealing that resource. How are you going to explain away to a poor Iraqi that in addition to his daily rations being cut in half from the Oil for Food program, you just had to kill his wife and children in a drone strike because the cost of bombing his country is cheaper than even the current cost of gathering, preparing and delivering his now reduced ration? You're sorry, but it's cheaper for Western companies to continue to rely on fossil fuels than to convert to more efficient means of energy production. So, in essence, an American family's ability to take their children on a vacation to Disney Land was more important than the lives of his loved ones. Now tell me again how Islam is at the root of Islamic Terrorism.

    Maybe, rather than "us" worrying about reforming "them", "we" should worry about reforming "us" so "they" don't want to kill "us" for killing "them".

    And yes, we can throw up the "what about the nukes" argument. But this really fails on multiple fronts. Where did these nuclear weapons come from? Who has used these nuclear weapons in the past?

    When you clear out all the smoke and mirrors about religion, what's left is the stark reality that you say you want to deal in. That reality is that we've decided that our lives and comfort is more important than their lives and comfort. And we've justified this in a hundred different ways. But justifications won't change the realities. And the reality is that Western intervention in an oil rich region to benefit Western interests at the cost of Middle Eastern lives and liberties is what has created this situation. I mean, they're shooting us with our own weapons that we introduced to the region as we armed the locals to do our killing for us. And your biggest worry is that they'll obtain our best weapons and use them against us. Who's fault is that? Muhammad?

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    Just as Christians and others feel threatened when ISIS speaks, Muslims feel threatened when the yeehawdists speak. Its not hard to see the similarities between the two.

    http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/0...ms-gay-rights/

    The test will apply to all immigrants, yet its obvious target is Muslims, who, as we know, get a bit bomby in the presence of gays, a bit rapey in the presence of women who wear skirts shorter than their ankles and generally a bit hostile and violent around anyone who doesn’t have their bum in the air five times a day.

    The media won’t portray this policy as progressive, of course — they’ll portray it as stupid, bigoted, and reactionary.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanJesus View Post
    Rather than quote, which is getting unwieldy, I'll just respond.

    I'm sure you're aware that the rights in the Constitution/bill of rights were only provided to white, land owning men. It even had to proscribe how to count Black slaves in the census which was used for calculating representatives (the oldie, but goody, 3/5th's Compromise). And rest assured, this compromise was not about giving Blacks even that fraction of the rights of Whites, it was a way to help their White owners have more representation in Congress than non-slave owners.

    Both of these documents have evolved over the years, the Constitution through legal means and the Quran through new interpretation and modernization. Also of note is that the Constitution was written in 1787 while the Quran 1,000 years or so earlier. Of course they reflect the morals of their time. Yet their function at the time they were written and today are the same. They are governing documents which have, through propaganda, been elevated to supernatural status.

    The difference in evolution between Christians and Muslims that you're referencing is ever so slight. To say that they've diverged significantly only examines what, the past 40 years or so? So what is the real difference over that last 40 years? Some sort of Christian enlightenment that has yet to occur in the Muslim world? Or, more likely, is it geo-political? Are American Muslims significantly different in their practice than American Christians? Hardly. Because their geo-political reality is similar.

    As to violence, my point was not, as you misconstrued, that if you can't end all violence, ending some of it is worthless. So your gun argument doesn't apply. My point is that as long as the geo-political realities of our world continue (the haves taking from the have-nots) then the violence will continue. The name it is carried out under will change. That's why I brought up the Constitution in the first place. With good enough writing and the proper dose of propaganda you can make people, especially those people being oppressed, either real or imagined, follow you. A great modern lesson of that is Scientology.

    Towards your next point, I'm not sure how much good talking would do in the situation in the Middle East if you removed religion entirely. You have wealthy families in control of a vast and extremely valuable natural resource. This resource is of little use locally, but of great use globally. The global powers do a mix of paying for and stealing that resource. How are you going to explain away to a poor Iraqi that in addition to his daily rations being cut in half from the Oil for Food program, you just had to kill his wife and children in a drone strike because the cost of bombing his country is cheaper than even the current cost of gathering, preparing and delivering his now reduced ration? You're sorry, but it's cheaper for Western companies to continue to rely on fossil fuels than to convert to more efficient means of energy production. So, in essence, an American family's ability to take their children on a vacation to Disney Land was more important than the lives of his loved ones. Now tell me again how Islam is at the root of Islamic Terrorism.

    Maybe, rather than "us" worrying about reforming "them", "we" should worry about reforming "us" so "they" don't want to kill "us" for killing "them".

    And yes, we can throw up the "what about the nukes" argument. But this really fails on multiple fronts. Where did these nuclear weapons come from? Who has used these nuclear weapons in the past?

    When you clear out all the smoke and mirrors about religion, what's left is the stark reality that you say you want to deal in. That reality is that we've decided that our lives and comfort is more important than their lives and comfort. And we've justified this in a hundred different ways. But justifications won't change the realities. And the reality is that Western intervention in an oil rich region to benefit Western interests at the cost of Middle Eastern lives and liberties is what has created this situation. I mean, they're shooting us with our own weapons that we introduced to the region as we armed the locals to do our killing for us. And your biggest worry is that they'll obtain our best weapons and use them against us. Who's fault is that? Muhammad?
    I’m aware, yes, but the difference between them is that the Constitution is much more malleable to and designed for equality. Even though it's historical account didn't account for it off the hop. The Constitution is and can be actively amended to correct mistakes like the three-fifths measure. It can and is actively amended to award those under it's care more freedoms. Not less. The Qur’an is largely the opposite. It’s considered the perfect word of God. That fact is actually what separates it from Christianity and the Bible, which is considered to be the inspired word of God — a semantic point to most, but not to me. Because it explains why Islam has been largely so resistant to reform to begin with. Well beyond the socioeconomic factors. It’s considered to be perfect by most Muslims. Especially the most devout. The two documents, despite their histories, just aren’t equals. Even if they both had somewhat inauspicious beginnings.

    I’ve already agreed that the geopolitical realities are not helping. They’re hurting. Especially what the U.S. in particular has done in the region in the last twenty years. I just don’t agree that that’s the primary reason groups like ISIS exist. It might be a prime fuel they continue to use as part of the big picture, but they went out of their way to remind us of the fact that this is ultimately religious inspiration and commandment driving this bus in this release. They went to an extended, well-written length to be as clear as can be that the primary reason for their existence is Islam. All other reasons, including geopolitics, are separate and secondary. But that also requires taking them at their word, which you don't seem willing to do. I'm not sure how we bridge that gap.

    Ironically, Sam Harris actually touched on this exact topic in a podcast he released today. If you’re interested, I think it’s worth your time considered it’s less than 40 minutes long, but I transcribed a portion of it I think really illustrates my point well:

    "Why do Jihadists do what they do? Well, they are telling us ad nauseum. They're telling us even when we don't ask. A magazine like Dabiq advertises their concerns and aspirations with utter clarity. You might want to say it's just propaganda, and it is propaganda, but it only works as propaganda because many Muslims share these aspirations and concerns. They believe the same doctrines. To call it propaganda doesn't mean it's dishonest. For these ideas to successfully recruit people means that they find these ideas compelling. So whether Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi believes every word in this magazine isn't the point. The point is that this material is a highly successful means of recruiting foreign-born Jihadists. The point is that many people find these ideas persuasive, and that's not an accident.”
    https://soundcloud.com/samharrisorg/...ts-really-want

    The bolded part is extra important, because even if I were to grant you that all of this is smoke and mirrors and that when it boils down to the bones, those bones are built on geopolitics, the theory would fall apart when you account for the impact ISIS and groups like them are having in Western countries all over the world where they routinely recruit well-educated, middle class fighters and sympathizers to their cause because of the religion. People who have not suffered the endless bombings and bullets that those in the Middle East have. Finland. The UK especially. France. The United States. Secular nations who do not have majority Muslim populations.

    http://www.helsinkitimes.fi/finland/...ined-isis.html

    It’s why the OP to this thread is what it is. Religion is not blameless. They’re not to be blamed entirely either. But Islam itself shoulders some percentage of the burden here.
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  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil in Absentia View Post
    I’m aware, yes, but the difference between them is that the Constitution is much more malleable to and designed for equality. Even though it's historical account didn't account for it off the hop. The Constitution is and can be actively amended to correct mistakes like the three-fifths measure. It can and is actively amended to award those under it's care more freedoms. Not less. The Qur’an is largely the opposite. It’s considered the perfect word of God. That fact is actually what separates it from Christianity and the Bible, which is considered to be the inspired word of God — a semantic point to most, but not to me. Because it explains why Islam has been largely so resistant to reform to begin with. Well beyond the socioeconomic factors. It’s considered to be perfect by most Muslims. Especially the most devout. The two documents, despite their histories, just aren’t equals. Even if they both had somewhat inauspicious beginnings.

    I’ve already agreed that the geopolitical realities are not helping. They’re hurting. Especially what the U.S. in particular has done in the region in the last twenty years. I just don’t agree that that’s the primary reason groups like ISIS exist. It might be a prime fuel they continue to use as part of the big picture, but they went out of their way to remind us of the fact that this is ultimately religious inspiration and commandment driving this bus in this release. They went to an extended, well-written length to be as clear as can be that the primary reason for their existence is Islam. All other reasons, including geopolitics, are separate and secondary. But that also requires taking them at their word, which you don't seem willing to do. I'm not sure how we bridge that gap.

    Ironically, Sam Harris actually touched on this exact topic in a podcast he released today. If you’re interested, I think it’s worth your time considered it’s less than 40 minutes long, but I transcribed a portion of it I think really illustrates my point well:



    https://soundcloud.com/samharrisorg/...ts-really-want

    The bolded part is extra important, because even if I were to grant you that all of this is smoke and mirrors and that when it boils down to the bones, those bones are built on geopolitics, the theory would fall apart when you account for the impact ISIS and groups like them are having in Western countries all over the world where they routinely recruit well-educated, middle class fighters and sympathizers to their cause because of the religion. People who have not suffered the endless bombings and bullets that those in the Middle East have. Finland. The UK especially. France. The United States. Secular nations who do not have majority Muslim populations.

    http://www.helsinkitimes.fi/finland/...ined-isis.html

    It’s why the OP to this thread is what it is. Religion is not blameless. They’re not to be blamed entirely either. But Islam itself shoulders some percentage of the burden here.
    I just look at it like this. If we could magically remove something from this equation, what would make the most impact? And to me, clearly, that's foreign intervention in the region. I believe, without that intervention, there would be no ISIS. On the flip side, if you remove religion entirely, I think ISIS as a group opposed to Western ideology and influence and willing to do what acts of violence they are capable of against the West, still exists in roughly the same form. Would their propaganda effort be as effective if they had to take the longer road of "fight for liberty" verses "fight for Allah"? Maybe not. But that's because Religion is a much more immediately effective tool because those in the region already possess it. It takes time to build a coalition around a new idea. I don't discredit the impact Religion has, but that impact is not cause, for me.

    I think if you look at the US Constitution, you'll find plenty who believe it's the perfect document with which to form government. And that presents the same kind of dangers. We find that a large section of American people, for instance, experience a cognitive dissidence where everything the US does internationally is justified because of "truth, justice and the American Way". Similar acts committed by foreign actors are, "disgusting and immoral". Yes, in theory, the Constitution can be changed. But it can only be changed by those in power. Religion has a similar feature. Those in power in a religion shape it's followers' understanding of that religion in much the same way.

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