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Extreme belief

June 29, 2016

In a Facebook discussion responding to yesterday’s terrorist bombings in Istanbul, some Muslims were condemning terrorism, referencing fatwas against it, and explaining their rather pacifist view of Islamic doctrine. I stated my relief that only a minute fraction of religious believers bomb airports or murder doctors who provide abortions. But that it was a bit disconcerting to see a discussion based on the premise that what keeps so many believers from wreaking violence is the particular theology to which they adhere. People change their beliefs, including doctrinal notions. Which means it is important to keep one’s own beliefs in perspective. Extreme beliefs are frightening, not merely because they typically are nonsense, but because of the fervor with which they are held, their adherents making such belief more important than their relationships, than the other aspects of their life, than their life itself, or than regard for other people. I don’t want neighbors who would pick up arms against me, if only they are persuaded to interpret some scriptural verses in a different light. I want neighbors who, if their god sends an angel commanding then “go kill,” would respond, “fuck that, I’ll find another god.” Don’t tell me your sect has more reasonable doctrine. Tell me that your sect values reasonableness above doctrine.

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