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Friday, September 22, 2006


I do not argue with the accuracy of the Pope's saying that Islam is a warlike religion. Islam was spread, from the period when Mohammed, in Medina, started making war on Mecca to the time, a couple of generations later, when Islam ruled from Spain to Pakistan. This was achieved almost entirely by military conquest so making war is at the heart of Islam. On the other hand the Pope's religion has a not much less history of war & a considerably worse one of atrocity. Islam has generally exerted only limited pressure on to convert as long as they paid their taxes & were obedient whereas Christians have massacred whole populations to save their souls.

Pots, kettles & black come to mind.

I suspect his holiness knew exactly what he was saying - the use of a quote from an ancient source is a literary trick very useful for diverting criticism. However in all the outrage about his statements here it is worth noting that there was comparatively little when his predecessor said Buddhism was
"atheistic", "negative"
and indifferent to the world.", "The enlightenment
experienced by the Buddha comes down to the conviction that the world is bad", "To save oneself means, above all, to free oneself from evil by becoming
indifferent to the world.", "doctrine of
salvation in Buddhism and Christianity are opposed", "fundamentally contrary to the development of both man
himself and the world"
I may be biased in that I accept Buddhism is atheistic, or at least doesn't require the belief inn a God, and don't consider that a bad thing, but it is undeniable that in material terms Buddhism is not remotely a militaristic, aggressive or threatening religion.

It is disappointing that the media leap so much more readily to denounce attacks on a religion so obviously willing to defend itself than one which is truly peaceful.

My position is similar to that of H Beam Piper who said that monotheism was intrinsically aggressive. Once you say that there is only one God then the followers of all others are automatically wrong & oppressing them becomes "God's will", then those who worship God but disagree as to forms, or whether he wishes prayed to in Latin or Arabic must be wrong & thus engaged in blasphemy and so on. This unwillingness to compromise may have been why the Judaic religions have done so well (Judaism, Christianity & Islam all being viewed as variants of the same religion) but they have been involved in almost all the world's truly religious wars & pogroms.

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