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 bobh on June 26, 2012 at 10:03am

it seems that in the Western world, left/liberal political  types have made an alliance with Islam. many liberals denounce one as being a bigot for criticizing the religion of Islam.

Comment by Tammy S on June 26, 2012 at 7:28am

Yeah I remember the first time I saw Flint, I was expecting what I saw in all those old video clips about auto industry progress, with the pretty, little neighborhoods, well groomed lawns and happy, shiny people... then I saw the skeletons of the once great GM, grass growing up through the parking lots, rusted metal hanging from the buildings, the surrounding neighborhoods dilapidated. I nearly cried. It was hard, I had always wanted to see it.

Then I went to Detroit... on the ride in I wondered when the war had happened that we were so uninformed about in the rest of the country... My husband is from Michigan, his entire family had worked for GM in some capacity at one time or another, it 'was' a good living, maybe too good and set up that false sense of security and then AC Delco and GM pretty much decimated the state when they pulled up shop and took much of their manufacturing to other countries.

There is one bright spot on the NC transportation front, they did get several million in grants to start on our high-speed rail to connect us to Atlanta Ga and Washington D.C., it's a third of what they need however and I'm thinking we'll know by the end of the week if the state legislature approves the rest in the budget, I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Of course this is the state who is trying to make climate science illegal in the calculation of our sea level rise on our coast.... they want to limit predictions to 'historical' sea level increases.... hacks, we need to cut holes in their pockets...

Comment by Alan Perlman on June 25, 2012 at 5:52pm

Just came from IL, which has great commuter trains.  Re perennially jammed "freeways:" the unrecognized culprit is the face-time culture, which requires a lot of unnecessary travel to and from the office. 

I can't see intercontinental train travel.  Country's too big, and airlines have got it locked up.

Don't get me started on cars - I worked for GM for 8 yrs.  The auto transformed humanity as no other technology till computers.  Created a stable blue-collar middle class, now almost gone.

Comment by Tammy S on June 25, 2012 at 2:09pm

I just watched Gashole again recently, it goes hand in hand with Who Killed the Electric Car. It's sad what we've allowed the few (oil and auto) to do to the many.... E Pluribis what? I don't know about you, but I feel no kinship with rapists and pillagers, which is how I see the oil and auto industries.

It's as if they said, 'We've got the car, why do we need to develop anything else?' while rubbing their hands together sporting a wide grins and top hats.... but with great fanfare, flash and cash and you can sell people any amount of death dealing hogwash as the most wonderful invention on the planet with just a few carefully crafted oft repeated soundbites!

The Shell president this morning (my mind where has his name gone???) said Europe has great mass transit so automobiles are consider discretionary purchases this was on CBS this morning btw!!!! I was looking to be angry with ANYTHING he said and found myself nodding more in agreement with an old oil man (what the hell is happening?) Here at home I would love to see mass transit so I could cheaply and quickly commute and frankly with our highways and interstates here in NC being so outdated and in dire need of expansion, mass transit would LITERALLY kill two birds with one stone and save a butt load of money! We literally need to take the few out back, along with the Justices who voted for Citizens United and have a good old fashioned chat with them....

Comment by Alan Perlman on June 25, 2012 at 12:56pm

Reply to Tammy's second post: For centuries, countries have warred over resources.  As far as the US and oil...for a long time it was considered so plentiful that nobody thought what would happen if it ran low or there were political problems with the oil producers (the Aramco collusion goes back to the 1920s, long before there was an Israel).  At one time steam- and elecctric-powered cars were viable contenders (and America had dozens, maybe hundreds of car companies).  But by the time Henry Ford figured out how to mass-produce gasoline powered cars, it was all over.  Also, the car companies, esp. GM, conspired to limit urban mass transit.   

Comment by annet on June 25, 2012 at 12:56pm
I'd be interested to see what folks think of this:

In Iran, They Want Fun, Fun, Fun
Comment by Frankie Dapper on June 25, 2012 at 12:54pm

I agree that American foreign policy has been a little awful for the past fifty five years. That, however, does not address the fundamental issue. How do we get civilization on track? Born free and everywhere in chains. A prison of the mind hijacked by an endless cycle of stupidity. Islam now the leader in baleful intent and explosive potential. The chains of christianity are more fragile, weakened by secular influences.

I say we need to be agressive in promoting atheism and exposing all of the negatives attached to religion in general.

Comment by Alan Perlman on June 25, 2012 at 12:45pm

Thanks to readers for all the thoughtful comments.  I'll respond to all in this one entry.

To annet: Oil and Islam are a dangerous and toxic mix.  The people who have much of the oil we need (not all: a lot of it is from non-Muslim countries) are infected with a violent religion that aims to end our existence. 

I have no idea how this will play out.  Not well, is my guess.  America is an oil whore, no question.  I don't want to get into the whole energy problem, but it's clear that alternate sources are decades away and not without cost (do you want to turn the whole Great Plains into a huge wind farm? - see latest Harper's), and - am I the only one who sees this? - we continue to burn large quantities of it for recreation (NASCAR, boats, private aircraft, jetskis, etc., etc.). 

As for your second reply, I want to be an alarmist, and the Muslims have already established the "divisive" part.


To Glen: Non-theists have a long list of to-do items, and you've laid out several steps we must collectively take (strength in numbers: how about if 10,000 atheists rallied in Times Square and DARED God to smite them?).  Foremost among them are the indoctrination issue and the false morality connection (which is probably the reason why atheists are so low on the list of groups that people want their children to marry).

The purpose of reading the holy texts is not to find truth, knowledge, or anything useful...but to have the intellectual ammo to confront believers with the outrageous crap that the ministers and rabbis gloss over.  I have never found my Torah knowledge to be anything but an advantage in my arguments with other Jews.  They really don't know what's in it and come across as pathetically ignorant sheep who have been taking the rabbi's word for it all these years.

To Tammy:  This is the problem with "regime change" in the Arab world.  Islam is all-pervasive, and no secular politician (if there is such a thing) will ever win high office.  It's always going to be a Muslim, either a Sunni or a Shi'ite, and there will inevitably be sectarian strife (Christian denominations stopped killing each other centuries ago; for Muslims, the conflict is apparently eternal) and the imposition of Sharia law - that's what the M/B stands for.  Only atheists have the courage to stand up and say, "It's the RELIGION, stupid!"

To James:  We have to try rhetoric first, always preferable to violence.  On the other hand, as your quote from Hirsi Ali eloquently demonstarates, Muslims understand only violence.  Their rhetoric is insane: suicide bombing to "defend" Islam??  Against what? 

You also raise complex good/evil questions, which I don't want to get into here.  My post on evil implies that there's a value system that transcends individual societies - that MUST transcend them, because they so often act wrongly.


To Loren: I am SO with you on this.  We have to stop pussyfootin' around.  Heavyweights must speak out, or our PC will be the death of us. 

To VikingDon:  Thanks so much!

Comment by Tammy S on June 25, 2012 at 12:31pm

I saw this morning a former president for Shell speaking on how if we could just abide higher gas prices here, there would relatively quickly be no need for imported oil. He's the same guy that predicted the $5 per gal gas prices that we saw in CA which are stunningly, still over $4 per hour in Alaska.... go figure... but you'll get no argument from me on not doing blood business with these countries, blood for oil, blood for diamonds, blood for minerals etc..  it's shameful what we do to them as well as ourselves in the name of progress, commerce, excess, oh hell call it what it is... greed, when we could have been self-sufficient years ago had we not allowed the oil companies to get in bed with the auto industry and had we the foresight to realize what a boon to our economy mass transportation could be had we implemented it country wide and shared borders with our neighbors like Europe, unfortunately we have to grow up first. One hopes we'll do that before we destroy the rest of the world.

Comment by James Yount on June 25, 2012 at 11:34am

Annet, you do have a point. Not only oil, but the vast amount of money that we give countries that hate us. We should completely pull all our finances out of these countries and use our own oil, via Alaska, all the while rushing the implementation of alternative fuel vehicles at home. Let's see how quickly these countries start implementing change once we cut off the money supply.



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