X-Message-Number: 19908
Date: Sun, 25 Aug 2002 23:24:58 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Beliefs and Terrorism

Jeff Dee, #19890:

>I've described the specific irrational religious belief which directly
>facilitates terrorism: the belief that proper behavior is dictated by a
>divine lawgiver who can and does change the rules from time to time. Add
>that to a MOTIVE to commit atrocities, and all it takes is a "prophet"
>delivering the god's new instructions to set large numbers of believers
>down that path.

Thanks, Jeff, for clarifying this as much as you have. And you recognize 
that not all religions fit this paradigm, that is, have beliefs in a divine 
lawgiver with the attributes you describe, and also, that terrorism 
sometimes sprouts from non-religious, secular movements, for other, quite 
different reasons. But Christianity and Islam are religions that do have 
these bad beliefs (and also Judaism, and maybe quite a few others); the 
beliefs are, in fact, rooted in their scriptures and thus seem impossible 
to ever expunge. We have to condemn them on that basis, and hope their 
adherents will see things differently. If this happens, so that they no 
longer believe in a divine lawgiver who changes the rules and whose will 
must be obeyed, they will, by reasonable criteria, cease to be Christians, 
Muslims, or whatever, and I agree that this is a desirable outcome. (I say 
this, of course, from my own, atheistic perspective.) Needless to say, it 
will probably not happen soon, and the best we can now hope for, in many 
cases, is greater enlightenment within the boundaries of each particular 

Terrorism contains an element of the irrational--truly rational movements 
will not have it, and should be able to get along peaceably with one 
another, even when they disagree. A movement that uses terrorism (as 
distinct from the use of force for legitimate purposes where needed, such 
as self-defense) is not fully rational even if its ideology is purely secular.

Onward to immortalization, down with whatever inhibits it!

Mike Perry

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=19908