Saturday, February 7, 2015

Theists and atheists should unite against the common enemy of ISIS/Daesh

I actually have some problems with the article "Evil Acts for a Good Cause? Why it is Dangerous to be Assured of One's Salvation", but I tried to suppress them and jump to the conclusion that Daesh is so bad that it's in a category all its own. The problems include that even if you strip away the brutal means that Daesh employs, the ends are still highly undesirable. A caliphate is a religious dictatorship, and it is not a good cause. Also, no matter how much you support the Palestinians or oppose the US drone strikes, it in no way justifies going to war in Syria or Iraq just because some of the people hurt by drones or Israeli missiles are of the same religion as you and the residents of Iraq and Syria. Raising the issue of the drones and the Palestinians is an echo of  the vengeful thinking that leads to jihadi adventurism. But the comment I posted is meant to say, let's worry about that debate later. Stopping Daesh is a bigger priority.  

Here's the comment I ended up posting:

If you read “The End of Faith” by Sam Harris, he seems to draw the conclusion that a version of “salvational cause amorality” is the natural destination of some orthodox religious views, and that a nuclear holocaust at the hands of Islamist extremists is a depressingly likely scenario. If paradise awaits after death, why not bring it on?

Although I normally lap up anti-religious tracts like his, I couldn’t quite buy into Harris’ pessimistic theory. I prefer to think that genocidal tendencies will be overwhelmed by the more productive survival strategy of co-operation. Although I may disagree fundamentally with theists about the source of these positive tendencies in humanity, in the case of ISIS/Daesh, I think it is very important to set aside other differences and draw on our shared humanity and work together to end these atrocities.

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