|This gentleman has a god problem|
I try to be objective about how I view the world. I'm an American, but I refuse to fall victim to the knee-jerk assumption of American goodness and generosity so typically present under the rubric of "American Exceptionalism". I try to be cognizant of events in which America is the bad guy, using her military and economic power to unduly support some nations and regimes while punishing others. I understand Palestinian resistance in the face of a brutal Israeli occupation, and while I hate to see Americans harmed, when we choose to attack, invade or occupy other nations, it is more than just their right, it is their obligation as citizens to resist that attack or occupation. And no matter how carefully I think about it, it's very hard for me to perceive a moral difference between blowing up a house full of people with a suicide belt, a truck bomb or a drone-launched Hellfire missile. If one is terrorism, then they all must be.
But in order to gain my understanding, or even my sympathy, these acts of violent resistance have to be premised on some kind of rational basis - if they are just more slaughter for the sake of human brutality or tribal hatred, they are as evil as any other act of mindless violence, and are to be roundly condemned on the same basis. Which brings us to the attacks on American people and installations, driven, at least so some degree, by a perceived insult of the "Prophet" of their mythology. Honestly - killing real people in 2012 because someone somewhere on the planet might have insulted your fucking PROPHET? The idiocy is mind boggling.
Religious mythology is a toxic tool of intimidation and control, a source of uncompromising power rooted in a course of indoctrination that begins before birth and always includes threats of the most horrific punishments for straying from the flock. Indeed, no religious mythology can stand up to even the most cursory scrutiny, so anything that might lead to simple questions about these fantastic claims must be precluded. Viewed in this light, complete intolerance for mockery is understandable as an important strategic method for preventing uncomfortable independent thinking. Even to the extent that it makes the given supreme being look petty and weak for its thin skin and lack of self-confidence, it is still preferable as a construct because it focuses on the evil 'others' rather than the flaws in the creation tale itself.
I hate the right-wing war monger's construct that there is some kind of war to be waged between the West and the Muslim world, but this IS a war. It is a war between the primitive world view of 14th century agrarian society and modern scientific empiricism. I refuse to be intimidated into silence by acts of violence and brutality targeting nothing so much as enlightenment and reason. The fear of the religious leaders is these expressions of contempt for a mythological worldview presented as the factual central organizing principle of the universe might lead a new generation to question the unsupported and unsupportable assumptions in the doctrine, and from there embrace a more modern, rational way of seeing the world around them.
If anything, my disgust and outright contempt for 'people of faith' has only increased over the last week. What does it say about us when it is easier to get a group of people to riot and burn and murder complete strangers than it is to get them to think rationally about the basic premise in a collection of centuries old just-so stories that demand they believe impossible things or suffer terrible punishment? So do the events of the past week mean that Sam Harris is right, and Islam is worse, or at least more dangerous, than Christianity? Actually, no, I don't think so. I think it means that right now, there is a lot of hate and violence in the Muslim world, and that leads their religious leaders - along, it should be added, with many of their political leaders - to see violence as a solution to many of the problems they face in that region. It means that in many places in the world there isn't an effective firewall between public policy and religion, and that often allows religious leaders to make, or at least drive, policy decisions. It hasn't always been this way, and I am definitely seeing indications that there are factions in Christiandom who are beginning to flex their muscles and espouse hatred and violence.
But we are faced with a choice. We can back down to the primitive violence of the forces of mythology and dogma, or we can recognize that this is just another attempt by organized religion to silence the voices of reason and maintain their grip on power even now, when it no longer can be justified on any basis. For my part I will continue to mock all religions equally, the silly Prophet of Islam right alongside the Holy Ghost (whatever the hell that actually is) of Christianity. I have a different kind of light to show me the path - the kind that is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum, the kind you can measure and explain, the kind that comes from photons with a wave-particle duality that is so much more interesting than some thousand-year-old legend.