Friday, September 14, 2012

Dichotomy vs. Dialectic

Anyone who's read the news recently knows of the mad rioting going on in Arab nations in regard to a disingenuously made film that has been presented under myriad titles including 'The Innocence of Muslims'. I feel that this is a good time to explain to those on the outside one of the primary tenets of Islam, one of the reasons that reactions like this can be seen as justified. This is also a chance to address religion as a whole.


One of the most important things to know about Islam is how it differs from the other Abrahamic religions. While Christianity and Judaism are mostly mum or contradictory on the concept of human free will versus divine control, Islam has no such uncertainty, which is in my opinion one of its greatest weaknesses: Islam states that human beings have no self-control, morality or motivation of their own. In essence, our actions and even our thoughts are not our own; we are nothing more than meat puppets to be manipulated by either God or Satan.

Now, I don't claim to be a scholar on the Quran, but from what I have read it seems that the truly faithful are supposed to be able to tell whether someone's actions are motivated by God or Satan. This conceit of good against evil creates a false dichotomy, a ruthless black-and-white in a world of gray. In essence, anytime someone does something you don't like you could argue that their actions are being dictated by Satan. Obviously, most Muslims outside the Middle East are far more relaxed in regards to this concept, but in the theocratic dictatorships of the Mideast this concept is alive and well. It's one of the reasons dictators can so easily rise to power: Muslims are supposedly led to success by God and ruin by Satan, so those with power are obviously more faithful than those they oppress, right?

The Arab Spring was a turning point, but not strong enough on its own. Muslims may have sought the right to self-determine but they have not abandoned their religion or the dichotomy it espouses. Their ire against those possessed by Satan, who have supposedly given themselves over to evil enough to speak out against Mohammed, is still so easily roused that one asshole on YouTube can produce international murderous riots. In the eyes of such extremists, the fact that the creator hasn't yet been publicly murdered is a sign that the entirety of America agrees with that view and so everyone must be purged.

The principle of Islam that humans have no power nor free will is one of the reasons why I am loath to date any Muslim women: it's not because I believe that every Muslim is a crazy extremist, but because I don't think I could tolerate on an intimate basis someone whose views about mankind are so diametrically opposed to my own.

Speaking of diametric opposition, this is a perfect segue:

Dialectics: Religion & Humanity

The core of Hegelian philosophy is of the dialectics: the idea that two opposing concepts (or organizations, or individuals) must meet one another to be mutually destroyed and form a fundamental truth from the shattered essences of two incomplete conceits. This is what I believe must happen with religion and its rejection.

While religious fervor worldwide is climbing to a crescendo not seen since the Crusades, for the first time in the recorded history of mankind there is a significant number of human beings who fundamentally reject religion and mythology, preferring to focus instead on the here and now.

I believe that the fundamental principles of most religions - inclusion, striving to better oneself, defending your innocent fellows - should be preserved while the structure, power grabbing, and other corrupt practices of organized religion should be obliterated. Likewise, I believe that humanity does not require some mythology or clandestine order to instruct us on what is moral and right, but that the vehement and resentful rejection of other human beings' belief systems should be excised from our society.

I believe that, if we can succeed in removing the corrupt and fanatical religious devotion and erase the enraged anti-religion tenets espoused by the jaded, we can survive the coming turmoil. With luck, when the dust settles from the cataclysmic impact between religion and human interest, we will find a beneficial outcome from the dialectics.

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