Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Achilles Heel of Islam


Spengler is a pseudonym of a columnist for Asia Times. In the links above he hits on a pet theory of mine that I have not seen very much public discussion of. Islam in many ways is much weaker than she appears, something that has obvious consequences for the future of jihad in the next decades.

Spengler emphasizes the weak textual foundation of the Koran as sacred scripture. I think the larger point goes way beyond that. That is, that Muslim apologetics, the ability to pronouce the reasons for belief in religious teachings and persuade others of them, are embarrassingly weak to the point of being something of a joke. In fact, that's almost the point of the matter. The teachings of Islams aren't things to be believed as much as submitted to, because Allah is greater than us.

In my view, this is the religious expression of the tribal nature of society in the Middle East and other places where Islam reigns, and captures the crucial anthropoligical insight there: survival is a collective accomplishment. There is no individual so strong or smart so that he can guarantee his own security. So, he must depend on various group loyalties (to family, to clan, to tribe) to protect him. And because he is dependent on them at the level of his very existence, he submits to the group's will. Fortunately for us, we have developed strong traditions of the Rule of Law, property rights, and impartial police. Otherwise we'd be in the same boat.

But there is more to religion than that. It also functions on a historical and teleological levels. And it is very likely that viewed in these ways, Islam is simply not true, and not perceived to be true by people who consider the question closely. This is a huge vulnerability whose impact we haven't seen yet, but likely will.

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