The Cult of One Billion - Is It Already Too Late?

“Those who love God are not always the friends of their fellow men.”

Robert Ingersoll

“When I think of all the harm [the Bible] has done, I despair of ever writing anything to equal it.”

Oscar Wilde

“I find it necessary to wash my hands after I have come into contact with religious people.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

Voltaire was right for his time, but would be wrong today if he said “Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd and bloody religion that has ever infected the world.”  That title has passed to Islam.  Like Sam Harris, I believe that it constitutes a unique and direct threat, because of the rigidity of its ideology, which insists upon world domination. Harris recounts a mind-numbing array of Quran passages exhorting violence against unbelievers. 

Poor guy - he had to slog through the whole thing, as I did with the Torah (440 pp.).  But atheists have to know what’s in those primitive, often unintgelligible (allowing for all sorts of spin) texts.  Knowing more about their holy texts than believers do — that’s where we want to be.

A couple of years ago, Muslim sensitivity, always hair-trigger, was aroused, and a fatwa issued against another cartoonist.  All she did was draw pictures of things she SAID were Mohammed, and it was enough for a death threat.  So what if I draw an emoticon — ():=> — and say it’s Mohammed? 

Are infidels now guilty of semiotic crimes of intent?  I was amazed whem South Park, which never hesitates to show any sexual act or bodily function, SAID that the person in the bear suit was Mohammed.  And still got into trouble.

Whole new level

We are at a whole new level, semiotically and pragmatically speaking: the offense is not merely making an image of a human being and saying that it’s Mohammed…but saying ANY image — like this one: ():=> — is Mohammed.  

Muslim sensitivity is rigid and nasty, requiring all to respect Muslim beliefs, tolerant of no other.  Thus (per Harper’s) Hamid Karzai and his cabinet, visiting DC, got down on their prayer rugs, asses up, while the American Prez and high officials had to watch. 

Yech!  It’s like watching a dogfight.  Disgusting.  But the Christians who had to watch had their own form of humiliation to their invisible deity, so they had to be tolerant of other people’s fantasies.  What if we had a resolutely secular President who forbade religious services on Government property?   He/she would have told Karzai in advance: pray privately if you have to, not in front of everyone.  But no, in the name of tolerance and diversity, they put their asses up and bray, sorry, pray.

Textbook definition of a cult

A leader of the Tea Party movement proclaims that Allah is a monkey god and Islam a cult.   Damn!  He got it half-right.  “Monkey” just sounds like a meaningless throwaway insult — but “cult” makes perfect sense. 

Islam is a cult because it requires the same kind of mindless obedience and resistance to doubt or contrary thinking that we often find in government, the military, corporations, and organizations of all kinds, not to mention other religious institutuons. 

Characteristics of a cult

I did not intend to obscure the meaning of the word cult or even to insult Islam — only to use it to highlight what many organizations, especially religions, have in common: unquestioning belief in an unproven story and a tradition…and mindless obedience to authority – in this case, clerics and their fantasies and rituals.  As in corporate or military cults, authority and tradition are rigidly respected.   You are in or out (unlike wishy-washy Jews).  Members are brainwashed and heavily guarded against competing ideas.

Dangerous cult

I’ve also repeated and supported the assertion of Leo, the Atheist at Large: that Islam is also a dangerous cult.  There are two pieces of hard, obvious evidence that no thinking person can deny:

First, the ongoing violence in perhaps seven or eight places around the world, all with one element in common — Muslims versus someone else.  The second piece of hard evidence is their holy text itself which, unfortunately, they regard as true and infallible.  Much of the Quran is highly intolerant and calls for violence against unbelievers.

There can be no denying that violence is the default modus operandi of Islam.  What other religion’s fundamentalists would use modern weapons to blow up ancient statues of Buddha?  Of BUDDHA!!??  What other would behead someone on the Internet?  Or create a culture of death in which young people are rewarded for committing suicide?  As Harris points out, Tibet has been cruelly treated by China, but you don’t see Tibetan terrorists blowing themselves up and killing hundreds of Chinese civilian non-combatants.  Just Muslims. 

One can find violent, ethnic-cleansing passages in the Torah, but Jews have assimilated to the wider, Western world much more thoroughly (they participated in the Enlightenment), so it’s much easier for modern Jews to ignore them.  Some even acknowledge them as part of Judaism’s primitive past.

Regrettably, most Muslims seem rooted in the past, unable to free themselves of the mental slavery of rigid, fundamentalist adherence to the Quran.

Vicious cycle

This mental enslavement is very unfortunate for them, because it creates an endless cycle of resentment and blame of others.  The sad result of their failure to make it in the modern world is that they turn even more fervently to the Quran.  

Thus Muslims are locked in a perpetual frenzy of violence and blame projection. Entire societies are enslaved by primitive doctrines, and huge numbers of women are deprived of basic civil rights and opportunities.  Harper’s reports a tragic number of incidents of violence against girls’ schools in Afghanistan.

Muslims are now a billion strong, with a very high birth rate.  They program their children relentlessly.  Few ever get a secular education.  Few outside the US are exposed to anything but virulent anti-Semitism, anti-Westernism, and anti-Christianity in the Middle Eastern media.  I promise you, they see the world from a very different point of view than Americans.

Stoking the flames

What is most disturbing about this cult – and if I had to pick among many things, this would be “first among equals” — is the way its leaders relentlessly mobilize the hatred of their followers and constantly direct the believers’ rage towards outsiders, whereas it is obvious to all outsiders, even those as uneducated in foreign affairs as myself, that the Muslim world has only itself to blame for its misery. 

Look at Israel.  Israel has created a reasonably prosperous society on equally inhospitable land, with no oil whatsoever, by following Western principles of free markets, civil law, and so forth.  (Well, reasonably free, at least compared to its wretched Arab neighbors.)  

It’s not that the Muslims cannot do it.  Once they were the most advanced societies on earth.  But because they decided, back in the late Middle Ages, to prohibit any questioning of the received wisdom, they are locked down by religious fundamentalism and will remain backwards for a long time to come. 

But back to the clerics.  They know, as Hitler and every other successful manipulator of people has known, that you must keep the believers in a constant state of irrational frenzy, and you do this by demonizing — if not outright creating  — external enemies (as Bush did with Saddam).

Heart-breaking enslavement

Fundamentalist Islam — it breaks my heart that a billion human beings are enslaved to this garbage.  Yet I have no wish to stop Muslims from indulging their fantasies, except as it affects my right to live in the world. 

This is why I speak out.

The threat

Islam is a truly aggressive religion, dominated by fundamentalist elements whose aspirations to world domination are much scarier than those of communism and the USSR.  That is why secular, liberal Muslims must also speak out, in America and abroad.  More on this below.

It could be that time is running short.  Perhaps Leo’s right about 200-300 suicide bombers being trained and sent to America.  But even if he is wrong, it would only take two or three. 

A couple more 9/11’s, and you will see a radical transformation in American society. We have dodged numerous potentially disastrous terrorist plots - just barely.  Americans, unlike people in many other parts of the world, take their physical safety for granted (at least at the hands of foreign emenies - crime and drug war violence are another story).  To damage it is to strike at the very core of American life.  There must be no more 9/11’s, if we can possibly prevent them.

No “front”

There’s no geography to this war, no “front” in this war.  That is SO last-century!   So is domino thinking. America withdrew from Vietnam, but the communists didn’t take over the US.  Yet the government still uses this outdated threat and logic to frighten Americans into obedience.

Here in the West, I would like to see any Muslim advocacy of the replacement of a democratically-elected government by Islamic law, any activity towards that goal…be prosecuted as treason.  Muslims can have Muslim countries – even that’s too much — but not a Muslim world.

The wedge factor

The war on terror must also be fought by Muslims — in particular, secular Muslims, liberal Muslims, people of learning and influence in the Muslim world.  And they are the wedge factor.  Unless they are frightened into silence.

It is they who must approach the people in power and start to create nonviolent change within Islamic societies.  It is they who can explain to Muslim leaders that which is clear in the eyes of all outsiders: their societies are badly stuck, destructively enslaved to harmful, fantastic religious doctrines.

They must do this, not just for the good – the very spiritual freedom and humanity! – of Muslims themselves…but because Islam clearly threatens the rest of us. And they are among the few who could help prevent continued – and even more widespread — religious suffering and death. 

We need a thousand, TEN THOUSAND courageous secular Muslims.  Now – before it’s too late.

Already too late?

It may already be too late.  The fundamentalists have enough crazies in enough countries to do us real harm.  Their holy book tells them to exterminate infidels.  That won’t change.

A commentator on my Atheist Nexus blog writes “Frankly, I don’t see an end to the Islamic insanity until they’re dealt with in a Roman manner. It’s unfortunate but what other scenario is there? These Islamic societies are INSANE.”  

Another 9/11 (it may even be in the works) — this is my greatest fear for the future of humanity, greater even than asteroid hit or eco-disaster, because it is more likely: two death cultures facing off and fighting to the death, making their Armageddon a self-fulfilling prophecy.  After the next 9/11, America will hit back, even though the enemy has no country.  Ah, but it does.  Where this enemy lives…is in the mind.  Until we have the courage to call this barbarism by its right name, as long as we defer to Muslims’ crazy sensitivities, we will be seen as weak, and they will get on with their jihad.

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Comment by annet on June 25, 2012 at 9:39am

 I just don't see how we can complain so much out of one side of our mouths and yet support it through oil use. 

Comment by Tammy S on June 25, 2012 at 7:29am

Already too late? Sadly after watching how elated women in Egypt were this morning over their new President and being that he's Muslim Brotherhood, I think all is lost for them...  It's heartbreaking really, the cradle of civilization, the origins of math and science, what was once such a brilliant society, decimated by the horror of organized religion... None of us are safe until all religion is regarded by the masses as myth. Until then the powers that be will control the will of the people through fear and we can never hope to understand one another.

Comment by James Yount on June 25, 2012 at 1:54am

Comment by James Yount on June 25, 2012 at 1:54am

I for one agree with what you've said Alan. I've met too many American Muslims with violent rhetoric to discount the threat. Islam is barbaric and doesn't even respect its own people. They are by far the most closed off and violent of the current religions.  The west heaps up its own share of body bags, but it's usually in an attempt to secure freedoms or protect it's allies. I'll never understand the atheist mindset to criticize Christianity with such vehemence, then defend Islamic behavior under the 'well it's a different culture' excuse. I guess it's a different ideology to assume that morals are only contingent on cultural acceptance. I have a friend, who is an atheist, and actually argued that the Germans during WWII were not guilty of any universal evil and that they had the right to do whatever the hell they wanted with their own minorities as long as the majority agreed it was acceptable. I won't think that way and while I still think that a huge Roman style military action and occupation is the only thing that will cow the Islamists, I would much prefer your idea of speaking out strongly against Islam first. Not just in the US, but all of western society. We need to stop being so tolerant of the intolerant.  Or has it already begun?

Btw, thanks for referencing me. I feel honored. :)

Comment by annet on June 25, 2012 at 1:10am

We support the worst of these regimes every time we fill up at the tank, the US all but created the taliban, the blame does not all lie externally. I agree with many of your points but with all due respect this is an alarmist and divisive tone. There are many people around the world that can truthfully say the same frightful things about the west, religion notwithstanding. Let's move on with solutions for improving ourselves and for peace with everyone else. 

Comment by Frankie Dapper on June 24, 2012 at 11:15pm

Alan, in general I concur. Not entirely.

I think it is a waste of time to read religious texts. Judge of religion by its impact.
What does it do? What does it do when it has the power. Granted, Islaam is greater danger than Christianity. This is so because Christianity has past its zenith. Christianity when it has the power and Islaam are indeed cults and dictatorships.

It is up to anti-theists to expose the child abuse of indoctrination which perpetuates the cults and dictatorships. Psychology ought to delve deeply into understanding the human brain and its imprisonment starting with childhood indoctrination.

Also anti-theists need to go all Sam Harris on the apotheosis of faith. It is a common ingredient in producing cult members. Faith is in essence an abdication of reason; it gives carte blanche to the dictatorship. Problem is that it is imposed before the age of reason can counter its awful force field.

Further anti-theists need to expose the great lie equating religion and morality. Even atheists fall into this trap. How many times have I seen the question on this site whether an atheist can lead a moral life. It is an absurd question. If you ask whether a theist can I have to know which cult she hales from. We attack the theistic claim of morality by examing the history of religion and its impact on civilization today.

Comment by Loren Miller on June 24, 2012 at 10:34pm

We don't just need secular muslims; we need secular people period, but more than that.  We need people who are willing NOT to be PC about the issue of islam or any other religion.  We need them to be willing to go to the mat and say that the emperor has no clothes, that the shared trait of all major religions in the world is that they are irrational, that they are cults of personality and of power, that their goals are less world peace than it is world control. 

And more than anything else, we need these people to be HEAVYWEIGHTS.  We need them to be captains of industry and political powerhouses.  We need them to be people that other people may actually bother to LISTEN TO and give more than passing consideration of their opinions.  We need people who can face down disapproval from Pat Robertson or fatwas from ayatollahs.  Lots of people are talking, but no one listens because they don't think that what they're hearing is worth listening to.

Get that going on and maybe something can change.  Until then, protests regarding religion sound entirely too much like kittens in a basket, meowing pitifully ... and the sad thing is, the kittens would likely get more attention.  They're cuter, after all.



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