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Je Suis Charlie

This morning (actually yesterday because I was a bit slow posting this) brought the news that terrorists had murdered 12 people in an attack on French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Of course before I had even heard the details I assumed it would be some bunch of Muslim nutters, and I was right. Clearly the claim that Islam is a religion of peace is untrue, but I do have to say that it isn’t necessarily a religion of violence either.

So what is it? Well, it’s a religion of nothing, like all religions, because all religions are bullshit and can be interpreted in any way you like. If you are an angry, violent radical then a religion can multiply your murderous tendencies and give you an excuse to commit atrocities in the name of your god or prophet. And if you are an insipid, unthinking weakling then a religion can tell you what to believe, hopefully in a relatively peaceful way.

I heard a podcast today where an expert on religion challenged believers to give him any position that they thought cannot be supported by the Bible and within 24 hours he would find something in the Bible to justify that position. He didn’t mention any specific examples unfortunately because that would be interesting, but thinking about it I believe he is probably right.

One example is how the American South (the most religious part of the country) used the Bible to support slavery but many opponents of it also used the Bible to support their anti-slavery cause. How can this be? Because the Bible (along with other holy books) means nothing and everything. It is simply a collection of myths written by (mostly) anonymous authors with no greater authority or meaning.

So what have the terrorists achieved? Well the exact opposite of what they wanted to I think, because there are plans to publish a million copies of the satirical newspaper for its next run (far more than usual), and I’m guessing there might be some more material which people who take their religion far too seriously might not like.

Also, I have seen some of the cartoons they objected too and had a little laugh about them (they are more dry and disturbing observations than actually funny) which I would never have seen otherwise. So I, and millions of others, have seen the anti-Muslim material which we would have ignored otherwise.

And most of the world is united against the terrorists – with a few interesting exceptions which I might blog about in future. Muslim moderates say they condemn this sort of terrorist act but by their support of a primitive belief system they in some ways encourage them.

One thing’s for sure: this sort of atrocity shows what happens when religion gets out of control (Christianity was just as bad – maybe worse – when it had political control in the past). This should be an example of how dangerous irrational beliefs of all types can become and how we need to continue to suppress them whenever we can.

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