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My reason in writing is to examine the propensity toward violence and intolerance in each of the three world views — monotheism, polytheism and non-theistic philosophies — and to speculate on the future of religious belief.

I begin with the thesis that monotheism, more so than the other worldviews, plants the seeds of violence and intolerance toward those outside the fold.

I reject the thesis that the communist nations — because they embraced atheism and mistreated and killed so many of their own citizens — did so because of atheism. They did so because they treated communism as the one and only way. If one considers it to be communism as a world view, not atheism, this way of arguing is logical.

“ … In its exclusive devotion to the worship of one God, monotheism has inspired much ferocity and fanaticism … Polytheism in contrast is open-ended and easy-going. Many roads lead to the mountaintop. A person may choose any path. Violence among polytheists is not unknown, but it pales in comparison.” (“God against the Gods: Monotheism versus Polytheism,” by M. Lal Goel)

My second thesis is that Islam has been given a pass in the Western media and that this is neither healthy nor productive. Why are we shielding Islam from the criticisms rightly earned by some of its followers? Why is the Quran not subjected to historical criticism and critical methods?

Why does a nation founded on the principles of freedom of speech and expression self-censor the cartoons of Mohammad? A free democratic people should not “shake in fear” of offending people with cultures mired in the past who often treat women as chattel and are intolerant of all who beg to differ. We overlook the very practices we abhor in our own populace because it has been deemed politically incorrect to criticize Islam.

To argue that it is poverty and a lack of economic opportunity that is responsible for terrorism is to bury one’s head in the sand. Modern terrorists have more often been led by middle-class, even wealthy, highly educated people, some with engineering and medical degrees. Terrorism historically has shown no abhorrence for wealth and privilege.

The Christian Crusades were not led by poor, unemployed, under-educated people. They had the blessings of those of wealth and privilege and were led by the same. The reality is that religious writings and beliefs can, and often do, lead to violence and mayhem against those outside the fold.

My third thesis is that religious beliefs and/or other world views are evolutionary in nature and change as we learn more about the world in which we live and the nature and aspects of being human and living in social settings. This thesis accepts the idea that values and laws are relative to the historical period being examined, and that change is normal and desirable.

The contemporary world witnesses knowledge amassed and used in ways unthinkable a generation ago. The technological revolution has made the world smaller and allowed cultures to blend and mix daily, for better and for worse.

We live in an increasingly secular world. This is as one would expect, as our knowledge of the natural world expands in the ever-increasing information explosion. Less and less is left without credible theories to describe what we once found inexplicable.

The current ascendant interest in secular meditation and mindfulness practices in the western world is testament to this continuing philosophical swing.

The numbers of religiously unattached — the “nones” — especially among young people in the United States, are rapidly rising. About 16 percent of Americans are unaffiliated with any faith, and among those ages 18 to 29, this increases to 25 percent. Polls have shown between 41 and 47 percent of Americans as “unchurched” in recent decades.

Religious beliefs, like all other world views and philosophies, tend to evolve over time. Nations are more dependent on each other, and our tolerance and understanding of other cultures rising. The religions of the future will be more akin to the ways of the East, while becoming increasingly secular in nature. God will cease to be an exclusive concept and will simply be a metaphor for living together on this small planet.

This is not unlike the thoughts of those who perceive nature or the god of nature as worthy of our embrace today. As has been often stated, I will quote writer Leo Tolstoy, “The Kingdom of God is within us.” It is here in this world, not elsewhere; now, not later.

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Mike Dishnow is member of the La Crosse Area Freethought Society.

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(15) comments

Szymczak

All the pseudo-intellectuals commenting on this really slay me.

descheneaux

Certainly there are times when discretion is the better part of valor. Offending religious folks needlessly and blatantly has its shortcomings. There are two sides to most coins. A sword cuts both ways.

However, to suggest that it is blatantly irresponsible and childish......" is a bit of a stretch. That is like telling the woman wearing tight clothes that she is at fault when she is raped. This is tantamount to blaming the victim for the crime. Yes, it is not only acceptable, but wise, to point out the shortcomings of Islam, Christianity, Atheism, Communism or any other "ism" that impacts our daily lives or that of others. They would in all likelihood be still burning heretics and witches at the stake if humanity had not blatantly offended those committing these crimes.

Buggs Raplin

I propose that we end all organized religions and worship the sun as God. I suppose the atheists would object, but that is their right.

Machiavelli

That's George Carlin's take also:

George Carlin --- Religion is Bull$hit

www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r-e2NDSTuE

Bill O'Rights

Monteee--Can you give us guidelines for what is acceptable criticism and what is over the line? Can we harshly criticize Islam for teaching that disobedient wives should be beaten by their husbands, perhaps by expressing that in a cartoon drawing? How would you deal with those who sincerely believe that the Bible justifies racial discrimination and slavery?

Monteee

Bill O'Rights, this is just my opinion. If we are to criticize Muslims (or anyone else) for brutalizing women, slavery, and racism, then we should stick to those specific acts. Criticize the actual people who are committing those heinous acts. Criticize and shame the actual people who are teaching those ideas. Citizens shuld vote them out of office.

Lampooning a sacred figure like Muhammad (or Jesus, Moses, Buddha) in a cartoon does nothing but escalate the hostilities. It's a childish, smart-aleck way of addressing the problem. It helps no one, it solves nothing, and it does not address the actual events and actions in the here and now.

Six Indian men gang-raped and murdered a woman in 2012, and then said it was her fault for being out at night. Shall we mock the Hindu gods in a cartoon for what those animals did? Or should we hold them accountable and work towards eliminating misogyny in India? What would be the better solution?

Mentat

I have to agree with Monteee. We don't achieve our long term goal by directly attacking Muhammad or Allah or Jesus or any other beloved religious figure. We just create resentment and anger. That having been said, it's hard to imagine a group of Buddhists lopping off heads in response to a unflattering cartoon.

Monteee

I agree that Buddhists are not a threat. It's pretty much the nutjob extremist Muslims who are the problem. Whether we like it or not, Islam teaches that there shall be no graven image of Allah or Muhammad. Many Muslims find it offensive, and the extremist Muslims will do something about it. We're stuck with this group of wackos for the time being. Publishing a cartoon of Muhammad is just fanning the flames. We can use our rights of free speech and press for more constructive things. That's all I'm saying.

Machiavelli

Christians, way back when, were subjected to the scathing writings of Voltaire, to the eye-opening cosmology of Giordano Bruno, to the penetrating mathematics of Galileo,...

....did them and the world a ton of good. Bet the same medicine works for Islam too.

Sheryl Crow - "A Change Would Do You Good" b/w music video

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ikjmz_SlGhg

"Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd and bloody religion that has ever infected the world."
-- Voltaire

Clarification

I well-crafted comment. Some of the (few) posters that bother to remain here should also read and try to understand this: "It is blatantly irresponsible and even childish to POST anything we want - no matter how offensive - and then wash our hands of any responsibility afterwards."

Machiavelli

Have you and Monteee below become intimidated by ISIS, the Charlie Hebdo attack, ad infinitum?

...land of the free and the home of the BRAVE....

"Islam's Latest Contributions to Peace"

""Mohammed is God's apostle. Those who follow him are harsh
to the unbelievers but merciful to one another" Quran 48:29"

thereligionofpeace.com

"2015.03.15 (Mosul, Iraq) - Nine people are shot in the back of the head for 'betraying Allah'.

2015.03.14 (Nangarhar, Afghanistan) - Three children are pulled into pieces by fundamentalist bombers.

2015.03.13 (Mandera, Kenya) - Islamists ambush a car and shoot three occupants to death.

2015.03.13 (Raqqa, Syria) - Eight prisoners are forced to their knees and then beheaded with meat cleavers by the Islamic State.

2015.03.11 (Hurriya, Iraq) - A suicide car bomber eliminates nine people along a city street.

2015.03.10 (Tirin Kot, Afghanistan) - Two children are disassembled along with two others by Taliban bombers."

tower

And your point? Does it hurt more to be killed by an Islamic terrorists than by a Christian one? Try sending me quotes about Nigerian Christians slaughtering Muslims or the IRA bombings. As you have rightly pointed out there isn't much difference when you compare all religions.

Machiavelli

Submission to intimidation merely leads to more attacks, although, with the Muslims, they've obviously resolved themselves to violence no matter what we do. It is dishonorable and cowardly for Americans to submit to censorship from abroad. That's not just about religious attempts to dominate us; that includes countries like supposedly-atheistic North Korea, which successfully muzzled Sony's operations just a few months ago.

Sure, it's easy to say 'be brave' here in La Crosse, thousands of miles away from ISIS. But ISIS, like Nazi Germany, is not ten feet tall.... even the toughest of bullies can be fought if the will is there.

"I got a bad feeling about this, okay?" - 'Red,' cowering for permission to opt out of the coming evening's combat....

"We all gotta die sometime, Red." -- 'Sgt. Barnes,' "Platoon"

Monteee

"Why does a nation founded on the principles of freedom of speech and expression self-censor the cartoons of Mohammad?"


Because with freedom comes responsibility. We can't have one without the other. There is no such thing as absolute freedom.

The only reason for anyone drawing a cartoon that mocks Muhammad is to provoke or insult Muslims. It's no different than submerging a crucified Jesus in urine and putting it on public display. You're trying to get a strong reaction from people.

In today's world, unfortunately, the strong reactions have become very violent and deadly. Even the American artist Andres Serrano received many death threats for his artistic photograph of a crucified Jesus submerged in urine (1987).

It is blatantly irresponsible and even childish to print anything we want - no matter how offensive - and then wash our hands of any responsibility afterwards.

Machiavelli

Monteee: "The only reason for anyone drawing a cartoon that mocks Muhammad is to provoke or insult Muslims. It's no different than submerging a crucified Jesus in urine and putting it on public display. You're trying to get a strong reaction from people."

Yes, the religious retardos will get offended. No reason to go around chopping off people's heads. Muhammad, for example, spewed utter nonsense during his lifetime.. he even 'married' a six-year-old child. Jesus probably didn't even exist, was just a composite figure concocted from more ancient religions. Religion that silly deserves mockery.

Christians and Moslems put out plenty of offensive stuff; check out Muslim cartoons that pillory the Jews. Should we lay off Islam just because they intimidate us, just because they chop off heads?

Religion is a mental disease, a grand delusion.. if mockery serves to fight the good fight against the evil that is religion, mock away! BTW, your urine-Jesus guy is a modern-day Rembrandt.

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