Sunday, 12 September 2010

Hypocrisy, Thy Name Is Monotheism

Earlier today I posted this on twitter:
Every time I see Christians complaining about Islam as a violent religion, I hear the sounds of heretics being tortured and witches burning!
The rationale behind this was not to defend Islam or have a(nother) shot at Christianity, but to make a point about religious hypocrisy. It's easy in this modern day to forget about the horrors done in the name of Christianity in the context of a fight against the Enlightenment of the last 500 years, and that there should be anything other than a radicalising when an absolutist monotheism is being threatened culturally.

This is not to say that radicalising is justified or that it shouldn't be opposed, but to put it in a wider context. Those who write Islam off as an inherently violent religion neglect this, partaking in the demonising of an entire group. That religion is a motivator doesn't mean that motivation itself is wrapped up in dogma. Searching for violent phrases in The Koran or pointing to the frequency of suicide attacks involving Muslims isn't sufficient unless it is put in a wider context.

From the rise of Christianity to the present there has been a struggle over the dominion of others mind. Destruction and censorship of antithetical works, wars, inquisitions, schisms, reinterpretations, etc. From the absolute rule of the Catholic Church to now arguing over what domain religion occupies, this is a huge shift; and even now there are those who wish for theocracy and even an implementation of Levitician law.

I don't think this is exclusively a problem of monotheism, but I do find it ironic when adherents to one monotheism are quick to label another as entailing some negative connotation. Is Islam is inherently violent because of violent verses and the actions of its followers, then so is Christianity. Both historically and scripturally the evidence is clear. The difference in the two cases is that the modern form of Christianity we see is one that has been shaped through conflict and cultural change.

I feel a lot of this problem would go away with the recognition that people aren't just the embodiment of ideas, that there is such thing as the human condition, and that those who hold different beliefs still share much of what we consider "good". By trying to define a group by a dogma it dehumanises them, and while people can and do act on dogma and for the protection thereof it doesn't make that a fair characterisation. To do so is to hijack what it means to be human.


Richard T said...

"The difference in the two cases is that the modern form of Christianity we see is one that has been shaped through conflict and cultural change."

So are you saying that if we give Islam another 600 years they will be where Christianity is at now?

Kel said...

I hope it doesn't take that long, partly because a lot of factors that made the Enlightenment what it is were born in that period, and partly because the technology has remarkably improved since then.