[ExI] Religions and violence

Tomasz Rola rtomek at ceti.pl
Fri Jul 30 17:43:26 UTC 2010

On Thu, 29 Jul 2010, John Clark wrote:

> On Jul 28, 2010, at 11:22 PM, Tomasz Rola wrote:
> > As has been already stated, Islamic culture saved a lot of ancient (in a 
> > sense of ancient Greece and Rome) wisdom for us.
> And as I've already stated many times, whenever an Islamic apologist 
> tries to illustrate the glories of that civilization they ALWAYS pick 
> examples from the eleventh or twelfth century, they really have no 
> choice, they certainly couldn't find anything modern to brag about. And 
> by modern I mean the last few centuries.

John, I think you are awesomly unfair. You do care about being fair, don't 
you? Yet you seem to judge a culture by its last 100 years? Maybe 50? This 
is simply unfair. Unless 100 years is all that culture has. But even in 
this case... well, see below.

But first things first.

I am not telling that we should pat Muslims on their heads because some 
500 or 700 years ago they were much better than today. So we should excuse 
them and what not. All I am telling is that there is much potential in 
Islam to improve and become acceptable in modern times. And they should do 
so not for us merely, but for themselves too.

Also, contrary to what you seem to display, I don't believe that Islam is 
a monolith and that all there is is only bad. If that was true, then we 
are going to be screwed or very busy for the next tens of years (and after 
that, the fallout of such war is going to be much, much worse than Islam 
itself). So I see the only realistic hope in finding someone to talk to on 
the "other side". If we decide there is noone that could be talked to, the 
only other option left is confrontation, sooner or later. And whatever you 
think of it, I don't like the idea - however I can accept selfdefence, in 
which case I would gladly go as far as I saw was needed to make it 
effective (and if I am right to assume that I am a beast in chains, you 
don't want to unchain me, please don't, because after I bite off their 
limbs I would come to bite yours, too).

It is important to try and find some way out of conflict. Such a 
conflict, with modern means, is going to be a big screwup for the whole 
world. It is wise to try to avoid it (but not at all costs - those who 
refuse to pay fast, will pay in the future and much more, anyway - 
surprisingly similar to paying debts or seeing one's dentist).

In the meantime, I try to understand the other side. No matter if they are 
going to be friends or foes, I think it is wise thing to do, as each time 
I read something I also learn something valuable about Islam. Something, 
that you seem to reject. However, it is not my problem really.

Also, I find it interesting that in one sentence you condemn some actions 
taken by one Muslim group on the other, and in the next sentence you 
condemn the whole Islam as such. So, logic tells me, you are despising 
both wrongdoers and their victims, am I right? Far below, I post a link to 
article about treatment of Nobel laureates by some Muslim groups (yip, 
thanks for ispiration). If I wanted to adopt your point of view, which 
side should I choose - or maybe all of them are equally bad? Muslim 
noblist is still a Muslim, you know. Why should I support his case?

So all in all, while you have some good points, I think you also tend to
contradict yourself.

> > In their finest years [...]
> I don't care because this is not their finest year and is not even 
> close; that was 900 years ago, perhaps more.

Okay. So what time period do you actually care about? Let's assume it is 
from 1901 (the first Nobel Price awarded) upto today. Is it ok for you?

Now, let's assume we don't care what was there before this date. Sure 
there was something, maybe big emptiness there was, maybe something else. 
We don't care. Click.

For the sake of reason, we can assume that before Y1 (year one), we had
some tribes living in sands. When Y1 began, colonial powers popped out on 
the map in most places where there are Islamic countries today, and 
Ottoman Empire (on it's last legs) and Russia occupied the rest. There was 
also Iran, Afghanistan, Arabia, Libya and Morocco. The territories were 
either under foreign administration (and I don't think they cared much 
about educating their serfs) or poor and under influence of their colonial 
neighbours (Iran/Persia and Afghanistan - maybe they were somewhat 

So, this is how we start the history. Now, I don't want to write for the 
whole weekend. There is a lot of info covering the subject. To simplify, 
somewhere around Y50 (up to Y65) all of those countries gained political
independence. You wouldn't expect them to invest heavily in science and 
technology during their turbulent first 20 years or so, would you? Before 
investing in universities, they had to prepare primary education, create 
infrastructure, and so on. Sometimes they had successes, sometimes they 
failed. Sometimes they could extend and build upon what had been left by 
their former "masters".

I would say, they were mostly successful - compared to countries like 
Congo, at least their children have better prospects than working in a 
mine. Maybe they could do better, but I am not sure. My understanding of 
those times is there was a lot of stir that must have contributed both to 
creative ferment and to detriment.

So, we come to Y85. We are in the middle of another war (Iraq-Iran). 
Between Y50 and Y89, there was quite a lot of conflicts in the area 
(surprisingly, after the fall of communism, they seem to quiet down a 
lot). Some countries, like Liban, have been actually brought down to their 
knees (or maybe even lower than that). There wasn't anything like big 
climate for building modern secular state (with possible exception of 
Turkey, perhaps). For me it seems, one could for example become US ally, 
which not necessarily meant ruling party would be after real development. 
Or one could go against the West, mostly against US or Israel (more or 
less), in which case development is going to be even more difficult and 
there is political need to ally with Islamic element (which doesn't see 
development in western terms as something very valuable and brings in 
even more anti-israel resentment).

What is interesting, is that guys were able to come into building atomic 
technology so fast (Y81 - Israel bombs Osiraq, Y107 - Israel bombs Deir 
ez-Zor, Y98 Pakistan tests its own bomb). Sure, they have bought most of 
hardware from western countries, including USA (I wonder if they bought 
anything from Soviet Union and/or Russia, but probably not, since we 
don't hear any big halo about it in the news).

Anyway, as I said, whatever there was achieved in Islamic region (and if 
you say nothing was achieved, I would like you to elaborate on this), so 
whatever was achieved, it was against the odds really and in a very short 
time - as we have Y110 now, which is about 50 years for going from 
semi-tribal lifestyle to their own nuclear reactors. Just my opinion.

Which makes me to state again: John, you are awesomly unfair.

> > Do you differentiate Islam of Saharan Beduins from Islam of Iranian 
> > women professors?
> She's from Somalia not Iran but if you mean a professor like Ayaan Hirsi 
> Ali who must remain in hiding for the rest of her life for daring to 
> publicly say that Islam mistreats women then yes, I do differentiate her 
> from the mainstream followers, that is to say the vast majority. It's 
> interesting that these Islamic morons think giving a woman a death 
> sentence for speaking her mind will prove she is not telling the truth 
> when she says that crackpot religion mistreats women.

The case of ma'am Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been already covered by someone who 
obviously knows more about her than I. I am sorry to hear she is in 
danger. Her biogram in wikipedia reveals that she is very interesting 

Yet again, it is the same "crackpot religion" in Somalia and in Iran. 
However, the situation of women in both countries is totally different.
Even more so before Islamic revolution in Iran, but since that time women 
seem to get more and more of their "foot in the doors". My feel is, you 
can't simply say both countries are the same. Or point you finger at, say, 
Somalia, and then make a big circle on a map and say "all crap". And in 
Somalia case, the crap - I believe - is more because of disintegration of 
the state and not necessarilly because of Islam. Actually, Islam came to 
places where there were various beliefs and practices. This should be 
taken under account.

At the same time, I understand that Islam - when it is let to rule the 
country - makes life harsh for a lot of people. While on the one side Iran 
seems to be slowly reforming (going back and forth on occasion), there are 
also stories of supression of other religious groups, like Zoroastrans. On 
the other hand, it was their own Iranian people who made their Islamic
Revolution. And from what I have read, there were women too, demanding 
come back to tradition.

[Also it should be asked, to which extent those reforms are "real" rather 
than inspired by Iran current political situation (which prompts for 
securing services of thinking people instead of suppressing them).]

So for me, it's all a bit more complicated. My info says, Islam not only 
mistreats women - it treats them, too. This is why I object your 
generalizing views.

> >> smartness and wealth and Nobel Prizes is a pretty God damn good metric for judging 
> >> one group BETTER than another, especially when it includes much more 
> >> personal freedom, and I don't even need weasel quotation marks. 
> > 
> > One other metrics comes to my mind. Origin of words.
> What the hell?! A modern civilization is admirable if many centuries ago 
> it was the source of some words we use today? That is nuts.

I don't think it's nuts. It tells about some culture's contributions, that 
last longer than it's buildings, people or books. It also tells a lot 
about our roots. At least about my roots, since I understand you don't 
care about yours (even if we actually share them).

If you are entitled to choose your metrics, then I am as well qualified to 
choose mine.

BTW, I don't admire modern Greece so much. My metrics are not much about 
admiration. More like about understanding.

> > Are there any words coming from Hebrew?
> Who cares!

I do. I tried to find some, but on this page:


I was only able to spot things like "meshuga" and "beelzebub". And 
"cabal"... If I learned about existence of Hebrew words in science and 
technology, it would have told me something more about Jewish 
contributions to the world's (or at least western) culture. Right now, 
lack of them only tells me Jews are relative newcomers to the field. I 
agree they are able to do good job (I myself greet engineers from Israeli 
Intel division for improving Pentium architecture, so it definitely sucks 
less). But when it comes to pioneering, this is still not here, it seems.

> >> But it is a crime to force others to live as if it were the twelfth 
> >> century.
> > Are you sure anybody _is_ forced?
> Of course I'm sure people are forced. Closing down opposition newspapers 
> is force, being publicly whipped for flying a kite or even for humming 
> is force, throwing acid in the face of young girls on their way to 
> school because the true believers don't think women should be educated 
> is force, flying civilian airliners into civilian skyscrapers is not 
> only force it's barbarism.

Okaaay. But since you are overgeneralising, it is hard for me to 
distinguish which countries are actually bad and which are not. Please say 
more. There is about twenty of them. Or thirty. Maybe even forty. Depends 
how we count.

> This knee jerk defense of Islam from certain people on the left reminds 
> me of the defense of Stalin the left mounted in the 1930's. Even years 
> later when it became clear to all that Stalin's evil approached that of 
> Hitler some on the left were still angry at those early critics for 
> being prematurely anti-Stalinist. Madness.

I am not sure if you mean me with this diatribe, so just for your info: I 
neither bow nor knee unless there is important reason to. I am neither for 
left nor for right, only for myself.

The real madness is, people are unable to understand the world and each 
other. Instead they just go on, placating it all with labels of their own 

In case of Stalin and Hitler, IMHO it's not quite like you write. The 
information (or lack of it) about their misdeeds was a subject of play, in 
which there were many parties involved. You can't just blame few 
journalists for it (even thou some of them had monetary interest in their 
work). And usually, there is also "folk" that follows their preachers. And 
preachers don't like to loose their followers. No surprise.

> > I wonder why anybody would want to change from self-hate to Islam-hate.
> Is that true? Do you really wonder why some people think that might be a 
> rather good idea?

Yes, actually I do wonder. For me, self-hate should be resolved, perhaps 
with the aid of a specialist. Changing hate object is like changing drug. 
It doesn't help at all, one just drowns deeper in the shit. Oh, of course 
it may give impression of new life.

> >> who would be so anti-intellectual as to call the Nobel prize the 
> >> Megadeath prize? Well I can think of one group and it starts with the 
> >> letter "I". > > 
> > Care to give me example of members of "I" group expressing this point 
> > of view?
> No, that is an exercise for the reader. Think real hard.

Oh, hopefully not this time. I need my "hard" for something else. But:

"megadeath prize" - 0 hits
+islam +nobel  - about 1.5 million hits

I've found this to be interesting:


There are names of the victims, but no names of the offenders. Sounds 
like, maybe, offenders were bandits with not much real political support? 

But, ok. Thanks for inspiring me. That was interesting (as I said far
above, I want to understand this "another world" better).

So, the only objection I have against Islam right now, is what I perceive 
as overraction in cases which don't really demand it. This, BTW, makes me 
interested in how much selfassured Muslims really are. Because 
overreaction is a sign of weakness or lack of confidence. I am very far 
from stating generalisations about their beliefs. And when I feel I come 
close to it, well, I have to watch myself.

Tomasz Rola

** A C programmer asked whether computer had Buddha's nature.      **
** As the answer, master did "rm -rif" on the programmer's home    **
** directory. And then the C programmer became enlightened...      **
**                                                                 **
** Tomasz Rola          mailto:tomasz_rola at bigfoot.com             **

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