Is Sam Harris being Unfairly Attacked or is he a Dishonest Hypocrite?

I am very familiar with Sam Harris. Richard Dawkins is the only one of the Four Horsemen I have read more of. I have bashed Dawkins and Bill Maher for their views on religion but have only briefly mentioned Harris, so here is a blog for him. He came to my attention again when he was on Real Time with Bill Maher, where Ben Affleck gives the both of them a pretty good beating. Ben Affleck is spot on in his analysis. Here is a link to the video. I will address specific parts later in this bit…

Ben Affleck is not the first person to criticize Sam Harris, in fact, it happens quite frequently. Harris has actually responded to his critics on his website, and actually covers two of the points I wish to touch on. Here is a link to his responses to critics…

http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/response-to-controversy2

If you read that, you will see one of his biggest grips is about people calling him a racist and a bigot. He states “Such defamation is made all the easier if one writes and speaks on extremely controversial topics…”

Sam Harris is either completely missing the point of the criticism (or intentionally avoiding it,) which is the same point Ben brought up in the video. He is not being criticized for talking about controversial issues. He is not being criticized for calling out the Jihadists and Islamists, he is being criticized because he LUMPS ALL MUSLIMS TOGETHER. He says he is not, and that there are decent Muslims, but this is completely dishonest. Both Sam and Bill proclaim they have numbers, and Sam Harris was nice enough to provide us with some. In the video, Harris says that Jihadists and Islamists make up roughly 20 percent of the Muslim world. So according to Sam Harris, 20 percent is “most?” He is defining and condemning an entire religion based on 20% of them? He also uses the term “conservative Muslim” but fails to give a number.

Let’s use Sam’s logic. According Gallop polls, over 40 percent of Americans believe in creationism. 40 percent is double the 20 percent Sam Harris uses to describe the “Muslim World,” so by his reasoning Sam Harris is just a stupid American that believes in creationism.

Honestly though, Ben and the others make the best argument for those types of numbers. They are the classical racist arguments. They are literally the same as saying “this percentage of black people commit crimes therefore…” They use minority numbers to condemn an entire group of people, to justify their prejudice. Harris backtracks on this claim and states this…

“Okay, I’ll give you what you want. There are hundreds of millions of Muslims who are nominal Muslims, who don’t take the faith seriously, who don’t want to kill apostates, who are horrified by ISIS, and we need to defend these people and prop them up and let them reform their faith.”

The fact that Harris says he is not talking about ALL Muslims (even though it is clearly obvious that he is,) is clearly false. He has never said anything positive about Muslims and now he is saying we need to defend them? He has done this type of thing before… in his book Letter to a Christian Nation, he puts a lumping disclaimer at the beginning of the book. It reads as follows…

“Consequently, the ‘Christian’ I address throughout is a Christian in a narrow sense of the term. Such a person believes, at minimum, that the Bible is the inspired word of God and that only those who accept the divinity of Jesus Christ will experience salvation after death.”

“In Letter to a Christian Nation, I have set out to demolish the intellectual and moral pretensions of Christianity in its most committed forms. Consequently, liberal and moderate Christians will not always recognize themselves in the ‘Christians’ I address…”

“I engage Christianity at its most divisive injurious, and retrograde. In this, liberals, moderates and nonbelievers can recognize a common cause.”

To me, this seems fair enough. This book is about the more conservative Christians, the literalists, and not all Christians. It is similar to my lumping disclaimer about atheists. I read his entire book based on this statement and man did it piss me off when I got to the end.

There is a chapter at the end named The Problem with Moderate Religion. In this bit he craps on the very people he is claiming to not be talking about…Here are some selected quotes…
“Religious moderates also tend to imagine that there is some bright line of separation between extremist and moderate religion. But there isn’t. Scripture itself remains a perpetual engine of extremism…”

“Another problem with religious moderation is that it represents precisely the sort of thinking that will prevent a rational and nondenominational spirituality from every emerging in our world.”

“By living as if some measure of sectarian superstition were essential for human happiness, religious moderates prevent such a conversation from ever taking shape.”

At the very least he is guilty of being a horrible writer, lacking the capability to use the correct language to present his views and opinions. However, I find it more plausible that he is dishonest and a hypocrite. How can one say they are only talking about extremists and then say that liberals, moderates, and nonbelievers can recognize a common cause, and then follow that up by saying there is not really a difference between extremists and moderates?
I will emphasize it again…the reason he is being criticized is because he is being dishonest and inconsistent. To Sam Harris, one is either religious or not, there is no middle ground. You are either an atheist or religious extremist. Sam Harris does not like or respect people of religion. That is the definition of bigotry and that is not an unfair attack, it is a conclusion based on his writing about people with religious beliefs.

I have not taken his writing out of context, merely point out contradictions, but one of his biggest complaints of critics is that people take what he says out of context. He points to a bit which Chris Hedges criticizes him about preemptive nuclear war. I have also pointed this out in other blogs because it is one of the most troubling things he has ever written. Here is the bit, copied from the link I posted at the beginning…

“It should be of particular concern to us that the beliefs of Muslims pose a special problem for nuclear deterrence. There is little possibility of our having a cold war with an Islamist regime armed with long-range nuclear weapons. A cold war requires that the parties be mutually deterred by the threat of death. Notions of martyrdom and jihad run roughshod over the logic that allowed the United States and the Soviet Union to pass half a century perched, more or less stably, on the brink of Armageddon. What will we do if an Islamist regime, which grows dewy-eyed at the mere mention of paradise, ever acquires long-range nuclear weaponry? If history is any guide, we will not be sure about where the offending warheads are or what their state of readiness is, and so we will be unable to rely on targeted, conventional weapons to destroy them. In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own. Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime—as it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day—but it may be the only course of action available to us, given what Islamists believe. How would such an unconscionable act of self-defense be perceived by the rest of the Muslim world? It would likely be seen as the first incursion of a genocidal crusade. The horrible irony here is that seeing could make it so: this very perception could plunge us into a state of hot war with any Muslim state that had the capacity to pose a nuclear threat of its own. All of this is perfectly insane, of course: I have just described a plausible scenario in which much of the world’s population could be annihilated on account of religious ideas that belong on the same shelf with Batman, the philosopher’s stone, and unicorns. That it would be a horrible absurdity for so many of us to die for the sake of myth does not mean, however, that it could not happen. Indeed, given the immunity to all reasonable intrusions that faith enjoys in our discourse, a catastrophe of this sort seems increasingly likely. We must come to terms with the possibility that men who are every bit as zealous to die as the nineteen hijackers may one day get their hands on long-range nuclear weaponry. The Muslim world in particular must anticipate this possibility and find some way to prevent it. Given the steady proliferation of technology, it is safe to say that time is not on our side.”
This is the first bit of his response…

“Clearly, I was describing a case in which a hostile regime that is avowedly suicidal acquires long-range nuclear weaponry (i.e. they can hit distant targets like Paris, London, New York, Los Angeles, etc.). Of course, not every Muslim regime would fit this description.”

Once again, he is trying to throw in the “not all Muslims” but once again he fails to use language that would support that statement. In addition to that, he makes it seem as if he is talking about ANY hostile regime, not just a Muslim one. This is Sam Harris taking Sam Harris out of context. If the book, chapter, or even section was about US foreign policy, he might have an argument, but this bit has nothing to do with that. If one looks at his book, they will see this is in the chapter titled “The Problem with Islam,” in a section titled “Jihad and the Power of the Atom.” In this section there are two paragraphs before the bit I quoted above. This is not being taken out of context, it is purely about the problem with Islam and he justifies preemptive nuclear strikes.

Harris attempts to disguise his beliefs by saying something like this would be “horrible” and “insane,” but he said it, and he makes an excuse for it…

“I have just described a plausible scenario in which much of the world’s population could be annihilated on account of religious ideas that belong on the same shelf with Batman, the philosopher’s stone, and unicorns. That it would be a horrible absurdity for so many of us to die for the sake of myth does not mean, however, that it could not happen. Indeed, given the immunity to all reasonable intrusions that faith enjoys in our discourse, a catastrophe of this sort seems increasingly likely.”

So basically he is saying “you made us do it because you believe in a myth and are unreasonable?” Harris is admitting it may be acceptable to kill tens of millions of innocent people! This is sick. Once again, I call this Hitler type stuff. This is not being taken out of context, it is not about US foreign policy, this is about the problems with Islam. There is absolutely no reason for this bit in his book unless he believes this is a legitimate option to dealing with Muslims.

Is Sam Harris being unfairly criticized? He is only being unfairly criticized if he admits he is a horrible writer that adds meaningless stuff to his books and that he is incapable of getting his real message across. I doubt this is the case though. I would not be allowed to speak in the same room with him because of his credentials compared to mine, ask him, he will tell you. The only logical conclusion is he is being fairly criticized, not for discussion the difficult topics, but by lumping all religious people together. He constantly, and clearly, says contradicting statements, whether that is in his speaking or writing. Maybe he is legitimately confused about how he feels about religious people, but then tell us that. Based on his words I think it is more apparent that he knows exactly what he believes and is upset when people call him out on it, as is any racist or bigot when you call them out on it. Anyone feel free to correct me if you think I AM wrong…

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America’s Ignorance and Stupidity When it Comes to Muslim Countries

Once again we have Bill Maher saying stupid stuff about religion. Though I am a fan and find him correct most of the time, he keeps sticking his foot in his mouth about religion. I do not understand why he refuses to listen to the experts on this topic. This time though, it was not just Bill Maher, but our liberal media. Both sides, liberal and conservative, seem to be equally ignorant or stupid about the topic of religion, Islam, and the Middle East. I have spoken about this issue before but I wanted to do a blog dedicated to the topic because it really needs it. Religion, especially Islam, is very misunderstood in this country and for whatever reason, no one cares to listen to the experts.

The thing that made me feel the need to type this up was Reza Aslan’s interview on CNN. Before I show the video, I want to give his credentials…

Aslan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in religions from Santa Clara University, a Master of Theological Studies degree from Harvard Divinity School, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop, where he was named the Truman Capote Fellow in Fiction. Aslan also received a Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology, focusing in the history of religion, from the University of California, Santa Barbara.[7][8][9] His dissertation was titled “Global Jihadism as a Transnational Social Movement: A Theoretical Framework.”-Wikipedia

If anyone is confused about Religious Studies I would suggest either Googling it or reading my blog about it before you continue because it is more than reading the Bible or “studying God.”

Here is the interview.

http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/bestoftv/2014/09/30/cnn-tonight-reza-aslan-bill-maher.cnn&video_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Ft.co%2FNgRGButZCG

I expect that kind of crap from Bill Maher when it comes to religion but CNN shows the larger problem. “Muslim countries,” “Muslim countries,” Muslim countries,” he really hits the nail on the head with everything he said. To keep saying “Muslim countries” as if they are all the same is stupid. It is more than ignorant because he is there educating them on the topic and they ignore him. That is stupid. He is pointing out the fact that not all Muslim countries are the same and Americans appear to be completely clueless to this. Before I get into Muslim countries, let me do the exact same thing with America…
Do you believe these pictures accurately represent America?

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Would you be offended if I said those pictures accurately represented most, or the average, American(s)? If you do not believe that is fair, why is it fair to do that to the Muslim world? Do you simply not realize the way we portray Muslims is not representative? The way we portray Muslims is the minority of Muslims, this is the point Reza was trying to make.

Contrary to popular belief, Religion is not the biggest driving factor in people’s actions, culture and society is. In Religious Studies we look at religion from all the different angles including sociological and anthropological (cultural) and it is painfully obvious that these issues are due to culture or society and not religion. The Sunni-Shia rift is a CULTURAL argument. We know culture and society are the driving factors because they both SHAPE religion. Religion can shape culture and society but culture and society are the bigger force. We know this because different cultures and societies with the same religion are very different. Also, if religion was the driving force, why are there so many denominations? The reason is people do not agree. Whether that disagreement is societal or personal, it is more powerful than religion because religion was changed because of that.

This is exactly what Reza was talking about. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is an AFRICAN problem. Here are a few maps of FGM and Religion. Click on the pics to enlarge them

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It is certainly a problem in a very specific part of the world, mostly Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. It does certainly appear to be in areas that are Muslim, but Christian majority countries in Africa also have an issue with it. One map echoes what Reza was saying about Ethiopia. Ethiopia has around 75% of women experiencing FGM and they are a Christian majority…

According to the 2007 National Census, Christians make up 62.8% of the country’s population (43.5% Ethiopian Orthodox, 19.3% other denominations), Muslims 33.9%, practitioners of traditional faiths 2.6%, and other religions 0.6%

If this were strictly a Muslim issue we would expect to see around 1/3rd, not 3/4th. This shows it is clearly a cultural thing, not a religious thing. You may want to point out that the Arabian Peninsula is not Africa. Actually it is, in a cultural sense. If we trace culture backwards we will see that Arabs are a Semitic speaking peoples, and the Semitic language originated in Africa. Here is a map…

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You will notice that only a few pockets of people in Iran are Semitic peoples. That is because the Iranian peoples are Indo-European peoples. This is the nature of the Sunni-Shia rift, the culture, not religion.

indo recortado

Besides FGM, how do we typically portray Muslims? Radical terrorists that treat women worse than dogs? As Reza says, that is certainly representative of certain countries, such as Saudi Arabia. No one is debating that the way SA treats their women is primitive and barbaric or that their beheading of people is alright. The problem is this is not representative of all Muslim countries. Would a Muslim country that saw women as inferior elect one as their head of state? As Reza mentions, seven women have been elected head of state in majority Muslim nations, another one was appointed…

Tansu Çiller, elected prime minister of Turkey, 1993-1996
Benazir Bhutto, elected prime minister of Pakistan 1988-1990, 1993-1996
Mame Madior Boye, appointed prime minister of Senegal, 2001-2002.
Megawati Sukarnoputri, elected president of Indonesia, 2001-2004
Khaleda Zia, elected prime minister of Bangladesh, 1991-1996 and 2001-2006
Sheikh Hasina, elected prime minister of Bangladesh 2009-
Roza Otunbayeva, president of Kyrgyzstan, 2010- 2011
Atifete Jahjaga, elected president of Kosovo 2011-

And actually throughout the history of Islam women have been leaders or held positions of power…

http://www.guide2womenleaders.com/Muslim_Leaders.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_female_political_leaders

Like Reza asks, how many female leaders have we had here in the US?

Many Muslim nations are very secular. Take Turkey for example.

Turkey has been a secular state since it was founded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in 1923. He introduced the secularization of the state in the Turkish Constitution of 1924, alongside Atatürk’s Reforms. These were in accordance with the Kemalist Ideology, with a strict appliance of laicite in the constitution. Atatürk saw headscarves as backward-looking[original research?] and an obstacle to his campaign to secularize and modernize the new Turkish Republic. The issue of the headscarf debate has been very intense and controversial since it was banned.[1] Turkey is a secular country and over 95% of its people are Muslims.[2] It has resulted in a clash between those favouring the secular principles of the state, such as the Turkish Army,[3] and those who are more conservative with their religious beliefs.-Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headscarf_controversy_in_Turkey

The United States needs to grow some secular balls and ban the headscarves! Seriously, I am not for that, but look at a Muslim country our secularizing the United States, impressive for a primitive and oppressive, conservative religious people. *Sarcasm*

I can point out leaders and point out facts. I can tell you about my experience with Muslims in the Religious Studies department at the University of Minnesota. I can tell you about my classes in Middle Eastern studies and Islam, but I have a more effective method. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I will save on the typing and post some pictures.

While in the Air Force I spent time in two Muslim countries. The first was Kyrgyzstan…

Islam is the dominant religion of Kyrgyzstan: 80% of the population is Muslim while 17% follow Russian Orthodoxy and 3% other religions.[70] A 2009 Pew Research Center report indicates a higher percentage of Muslims, with 86.3% of Kyrgyzstan’s population adhering to Islam.[71] The majority of Muslims are non-denominational Muslims at 64% while roughly 23% are Sunni, adhering to the Hanafi school of thought.[72] There are a few Ahmadiyya Muslims, though unrecognised by the country.-Wikipedia

The second was the United Arab Emirates…

Islam is the largest and the official state religion of the UAE. The government follows a policy of tolerance toward other religions and rarely interferes in the activities of non-Muslims.[77] By the same token, non-Muslims are expected to avoid interfering in Islamic religious matters or the Islamic upbringing of Muslims.

The government imposes restrictions on spreading other religions through any form of media as it is considered a form of proselytizing. There are approximately 31 churches throughout the country, one Hindu temple in the region of Bur Dubai,[172] one Sikh Gurudwara in Jebel Ali and also a Buddhist temple in Al Garhoud.

Based on the Ministry of Economy census in 2005, 76% of the total population was Muslim, 9% Christian, and 15% other (mainly Hindu).[77] Census figures do not take into account the many “temporary” visitors and workers while also counting Baha’is and Druze as Muslim.[77] Among Emirati citizens, 85% are Sunni Muslim, while Shi’a Muslims are 15%, mostly concentrated in the emirates of Sharjah and Dubai.[77] Omani immigrants are mostly Ibadi, while Sufi influences exist too.[173]

People of all faiths or no faith are given equal protection under the country’s constitution and laws.-Wikipedia

While we were deployed, we had a shared folder of pictures taken while on our trips. That is where most of these pictures were taken from. The only purpose of these pictures is to show how the women dress and their freedom. Click on the pictures to enlarge them

Here are a few pictures from Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan has a mixed population of Russians and Kyrgyz. They have a heavy Russian influence and 64% of their Muslims are non-denominational Muslims. It is safe to assume that in these pictures the white people are Russian Orthodox (the Kyrgyz look more Asian) and not Muslim but the point is how WOMEN are treated in a Muslim country.

Here is a picture from a typical market place. The women here are dressed the same way you would find them dressed in Europe or America. They are also out there by themselves, no men needed.

Here is a picture from what I believe is a class trip. If it were not for the background you might assume this was a group of American kids.

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The next three pictures are of the two lovely women that worked with us in linen exchange at Manas Air Base. They are there by themselves, no men. You will notice me in a picture with one of them and I am certainly not related to her.

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On to the UAE. This was a fun trip. The people were so diverse. You have very conservative Muslims with the women covered from head to toe all the way to what we typically see here in America. The pictures that truly show how oppressed women are is best illustrated at a water park. Here are pictures taken from the shared file of a trip to the water park. Keep a close eye on what people are wearing and who they are with.

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I want you to focus specifically on these two pictures. Notice that in the back ground there is a woman with a hijab with her face shown an in another it appears her face may be completely covered.

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The range of diversity rivals and probably surpasses the United States. They have very conservative to very secular or liberal. I know recently on the news they showed a picture of a female UAE pilot, which Fox News thought was appropriate to make fun of, calling it “boobs on the ground” and saying she would have problems parking the plane. So apparently in America the idea of a female pilot is something to joke about but in the UAE women have the right to be one and their armed forces see them as just as capable as a man to do the job. It really makes me wonder which country has the problem with women being equal, Muslim UAE, or Christian America. Here is the picture of that woman and also a picture of other female pilots in the UAE Air Force. Notice that half of the women have their head covered and the other half, do not.

Mariam HassanEtihad - women pilots-thumb-450x299-47232

Is this what you thought a Muslim country looked like? This is exactly what Reza Aslan was saying. Not all Muslims countries are the same and vary greatly with how conservative or secular they are. Some Muslims countries surpass the United States when it comes to the equality of women. Some are more secular than the United States. I would argue that some run their countries better. Take UAE for example. They have billions, possibly trillions, from their oil. Instead of letting it sit in banks accounts, like we do here in the United States, they have been putting it back into the country to build infrastructure and some of the most beautiful buildings in the world. They have turned it into a tourist destination. They have a ski resort inside of a mall. Like Reza says, to say “Muslim countries” to suggest that all Muslim countries are like Saudi Arabia, Somalia, or Afghanistan is STUPID.

I leave you with some pictures of the UAE and what they have done with their oil money. I ask that you think about what billionaires have built for America recently…
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Bill Maher Is Wrong About Religion

Most people would not question Bill Maher’s stance on religion, but I am not one of those people. I think Bill (I call him Bill because I think of him as a friend, though I have never met him) is a brilliant guy and I agree with him 99 percent of the time. He typically does his research and gets his facts, but when it comes to religion, he is very biased. He is like Richard Dawkins in the way he ignores experts and makes unscientific claims. He is a hypocrite on the matter of religion. I own his movie Religulous, and enjoy it, for the most part, but he is untruthful about one thing…He keeps saying “I don’t know!” For someone that doesn’t know, one way or another, he makes very bold claims about believers.

This blog was inspired by his debate on Real Time with Brian Levin. Here is a bit about Brian Levin…

http://criminaljustice.csusb.edu/facultystaff/levin.htm

Brian Levin

Criminologist and civil rights attorney Brian Levin is a professor of criminal justice and Director of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino where he specializes in analysis of hate crime, terrorism and legal issues. 

Previously, Professor Levin served as Associate Director-Legal Affairs of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Klanwatch/Militia Task Force in Montgomery, Alabama; Legal Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnic and Racial Violence in Newport Beach, Ca. and as a corporate litigator for the law firm of Irell & Manella. He was also a New York City Police Officer in the Harlem and Washington Heights sections of Manhattan during the crack wars of the 1980s.

Prof. Levin began his academic career as an associate professor at Stockton College in New Jersey in 1996. Mr. Levin is a graduate of Stanford Law School, where he was awarded the Block Civil Liberties Award for his work on hate crime. He is a member of the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States and the state of California. 

He is the author or co-author and editor of books, scholarly articles, training manuals and studies on extremism and hate crime. He was also the author of briefs in the Supreme Court case of Wisconsin v. Mitchell in 1992-3, where he analyzed criminological data establishing hate crime’s severity. His book, the Limits of Dissent is about the Constitution and domestic terrorism. His research has been cited by The California Court of Appeals and in numerous scholarly journals and major law reviews.

Prof. Levin has testified before both houses of Congress, the US Commission on Civil Rights and various state legislatures on hate and terrorism. He has presented instruction and/or advised the Federal Bureau of Investigation, US Department of Justice, Treasury Dept., U.S. Customs, American Bar Association, American Prosecutor’s Research Institute, National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council, National Bar Association, National College of District Attorneys, National District Attorneys Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, International Association of Chiefs of Police and numerous police departments, colleges, universities and human rights organizations.

Mr. Levin is a court certified expert on extremism in the United States and England. He has appeared on every network and cable television evening news broadcast and various network magazine shows on the subjects of extremism, civil rights and criminal law. He has also appeared in every major American newspaper, newsmagazine and wire service as well as four other continents.

In 2003, Professor Levin was selected to research terrorism for both a Hispanic Serving Institution fellowship from the United States Department of Agriculture and as a Visiting Scholar with the FBI Academy’s Behavioral Science Unit in Quantico, Virginia. Professor Levin was named Outstanding Faculty member by the College of Extended Learning and wa co-recipient of the University’s Diversity Award in 2005. In 2005 Professor Levin was invited by the Metropolitan Police to make a presentation on hate crime in London and by the National Academies to make a presentation on terrorism at an international conference in Helsinki. 

The thing that really got me was when Bill said his facts are simply wrong. Being a Religious Studies scholar, I tend to side with Mr. Levin. I also find it ironic that Bill full-heartedly accepts scholars on climate change, but not on religion. Why do you assume you know more Bill?

Following, I will respond to the key points of their discussion…

Bill claims that not all religion is a like. Nothing is ever perfectly analogous, but for the most part, I find religion very similar. Islam is no different than Christianity. What Bill forgets is that culture and society play a role. The topic of religion is complex and not black and white, as Bill assumes. Culture and society are often the driving forces and cannot be separated from religion. This is especially true with Islam. Their culture and religion is blended together and cannot be separated. Bill totally ignores the cultural aspect and simply focuses on the religion, which ignores the bigger picture.

Bill admits there are good Muslims but suggests that Mr. Levin is wrong about his facts. No, Levin is perfectly correct…Muslim extremists are a fringe group. There are 1.4 Billion Muslims in the world and the vast majority are good people just trying to live a good life. Muslims will admit that 10% are the fundamentalist Muslims that follow the Qu’ran to a T. They are the terrorists and want to see non-believers killed. Whether they act on this is another story. What we are ignoring is the simple math…These Muslims are only 10%, a minority…but 10% of 1.4 Billion people is 140 million, a very significant group. The point is that there are a lot of these fundamentalists Muslims, that are the extremists that Bill speaks of, but they are a minority and do not represent Islam as a whole. The vast majority of Muslims, like Christians, are good people.

Bill claims that this religion (Islam) behaves differently. He admits that at other points in history, Christianity was the problem, but now, Islam is the problem. No, religion is religion. What is different is the other major driving factor…culture.

As is mentioned, religion or ideology can be used as an excuse but is not a bad thing in itself. (To the fact that religion and ideology itself is not a bad thing, Bill responded with “really? Interesting…”) The real issues dates back to the Crusades, but more strongly relates to Imperialism. The West took advantage of the Muslim world, deprived them of resources and wealth, and placed boarders that were meant to cause conflict. This is the root of their dislike for the West. It is a political and economic issue that is disguised as religion. Religion is the excuse, not the cause. Politics and economics are the cause of the clash…though in Muslim countries; law, culture, and religion cannot be totally separated. They are not like the United States.

When Mr. Levin is discussing reasons that people do crazy things, he does mention religion and ideology, in which Bill responds “so you admit religion is in there?” That statement proves that Bill thinks religion is a bad thing.  

What Bill does not realize is that Religion provides a lot of good things. Religion contains things such as Karma, the Golden Rule, the teachings of Buddha, the teachings of Jesus, the teachings of Gandhi, Submission, Peace, and Charity. Churches are the largest community contributor.  No one donated more money to hurricane Katrina than Churches did. Religion also gives people the strength to live and to live a good life. It gives them hope and something to look forward to. Even if you disagree, you are wrong to say it does not make a difference.

Even groups here in the US, that many people would consider crazy, provide great lifestyles. Obviously there are crazies like the FLDS, but most Mormons live a very happy and healthy life that has no negative side effects. We also have Jehovah’s Witnesses’ come to the door on a regular basis. They are friendly, non-pushy, and provide us with a lot of reading material. Their intentions are good, not malicious.

The fact is, Bill, Religion does provide more good than harm. You attacked the comparison of Martin Luther King Jr. to terrorists, but the fact of the matter is that they both use(d) religion seriously and make a difference because of it. Religion can be used for good or bad. You, like Richard Dawkins, see it as a disease. I tend to see it as an evolutionary cause. I think it did, and still does, hold a purpose in human existence, and will never disappear.

Bill, for some reason, ignores the scholarship done on religion and ignores the scientific benefits. I love you Bill…but you are wrong on religion. You are not an Islamaphobe, you are a religionaphobe…hopefully you will grow some more and overcome this…

I feel I will expand on this topic in the future…