Today’s Passover murder, scaled for population, exceeds London’s dead on 7/7 and was carried out by a Palestinian believer in Islam. What makes human beings commit these atrocities?
So far as I can establish, suicide killings of civilians are unique to Islam – even the Kamikaze pilots restricted themselves to attacking our ships.
Stephen Pinker’s The Blank Slate: The Modern denial of Human Nature (page 166, paperback, my ellipsis) gives a clue to what’s wrong with Islam:
Customs that were common throughout history and prehistory – slavery, punishment by mutilation, execution by torture, genocide for convenience, endless blood feuds, the summary killing of strangers, rape as the spoils of war, infanticide as a form of birth control, and the legal ownership of women – have vanished from large parts of the world.
How come these practices are still common within Islam?
The philosopher Peter Singer has shown how continuous moral progress can emerge from a fixed moral sense.
Suppose we are endowed with a conscience that treats other persons as targets of sympathy and inhibits us from harming or exploiting them. Suppose too that we have a mechanism for assessing whether a living thing gets to be classifies as a person (then) moral improvement occurs(as) people have steadily expanded the mental dotted line that embraces the entities considered as worthy of moral consideration.
The circle has been expanded from the family and village to the clan, the tribe, the nation, the race and…to all humanity.
A nice theory, but isn’t trusting people risky? It is, but cooperation trumps that risk:
(People) find themselves in non-zero-sum games, in which particular strategies adopted by two players can leave them both better off (as opposed to a zero-sum game, where one player’s profit is another player’s loss).
An exact analogy is found in the play…in which a blind man carries a lame man on his shoulders, allowing them both to get around…
Long ago these endowments put our species on a moral escalator. Our mental circle of respectworthy persons expanded in tandem with our physical circle of allies and trading partners. As technology accumulates and people in more parts of the world become interdependent, the hatred between them tends to decrease, for the simple reason that you can’t kill someone and trade with them.
This seems to explain Islam’s failure – it draws the moral circle tightly around related Islamic males, and all outside it are not considered people.
So Islamic males think it honorable to mutilate, rape, beat and murder women (who are outside the circle). It’s honorable to conduct blood feuds with Muslims outside the family circle. It’s honorable to kill apostates (who step outside the circle), and to enslave and murder infidels (who aren’t in the circle).
This small circle brings with it a state of perpetual warfare, and a high male death rate (possibly explaining polygamy in some Islamic cultures. It has also prevented all Islamic societies from building modern societies and technologies.
In the normal course of events, the high male death rate and economic ineffectiveness would cause this religion to die out and its believers to move to a more productive one.
This hasn’t happened because of the coincidence of oil and Western medicine. With our medicine, their subjugated women have even more kids, and so Islamic populations grow. Oil money allows them to buy the weapons their societies can’t make, and move to our open societies, where some true believers can murder with ease.
So, contra the EU, our problem is not Fundamentalist Islam, and not Perverted Islam.
UPDATE: 22:37 This is a repost that attempts to fix some nasty formatting errors.