Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Book Review: Robert Spencer’s “Religion of Peace”

The Fjordman Report

The noted blogger Fjordman is filing this report via Gates of Vienna.
For a complete Fjordman blogography, see The Fjordman Files. There is also a multi-index listing here.



Robert Spencer: Religion of Peace?I informed Robert Spencer recently that I had read his latest book, Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t, and was preparing a review of it. He expressed some surprise over the fact that I liked it, pointing out a few earlier essays of mine indicating that I am somewhat critical of Christianity. I would describe my relationship with that religion as mildly critical, but for the most part positive. I am a non-religious person, but I appreciate the many good aspects of Christianity and think some of the criticism against it is unfair.

This book elegantly compares the attitudes of Muslims and Christians on a wide range of topics, from violence via anti-Semitism to the separation of religion and state. I had been writing about the history of science recently and took particular interest in the chapter on this subject. Spencer explores the important theological differences between Islam on one hand and Judaism and Christianity on the other hand regarding reason and natural law:

Muslims believe that Allah’s hand is unfettered — he can do anything. The Qur’an explicitly refutes the Judeo-Christian view of God as a God of reason when it says: ‘The Jews say: Allah’s hand is fettered. Their hands are fettered and they are accursed for saying so’ (5:64). In other words, it is heresy to say that God operates by certain natural laws that we can understand through reason. This argument was played out throughout Islamic history. Muslim theologians argued during the long controversy with the Mu’tazilite sect, which exalted human reason, that Allah was not bound to govern the universe according to consistent and observable laws. ‘He cannot be questioned concerning what He does’ (Qur’an 21:23). Accordingly, observations of the physical world had no value; there was no reason to expect that any pattern to its workings would be consistent, or even discernable. If Allah could not be counted on to be consistent, why waste time observing the order of things? It could change tomorrow.

Due to this notion of the absolute sovereignty of Allah, professor Stanley Jaki believes that “Relatively early in its history, therefore, science in the Islamic world was deprived of the philosophical foundation it needed in order to flourish.” Consequently, “the improvements brought by Muslim scientists to the Greek scientific corpus were never substantial.” Author Rodney Stark states that “Islamic scholars achieved significant progress only in terms of specific knowledge, such as certain aspects of astronomy and medicine, which did not require any general theoretical basis. And as time passed, even this sort of progress ceased.”

The twelfth-century Jewish philosopher Maimonides explained the fundamentally anti-rational Islamic cosmology in this way:

Human intellect does not perceive any reason why a body should be in a certain place instead of being in another. In the same manner they say that reason admits the possibility that an existing being should be larger or smaller than it really is, or that it should be different in form and position from what it really is; e.g., a man might have the height of a mountain, might have several heads, and fly in the air; or an elephant might be as small as an insect, or an insect as huge as an elephant. This method of admitting possibilities is applied to the whole Universe. Whenever they affirm that a thing belongs to this class of admitted possibilities, they say that it can have this form and that it is also possible that it be found differently, and that the one form is not more possible than the other; but they do not ask whether the reality confirms their assumption....[They say] fire causes heat, water causes cold, in accordance with a certain habit; but it is logically not impossible that a deviation from this habit should occur, namely, that fire should cause cold, move downward, and still be fire; that the water should cause heat, move upward, and still be water. On this foundation their whole [intellectual] fabric is constructed.

The great thirteenth-century Christian theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas was influenced by Maimonides in his quest to reconcile the Bible with Aristotle. Aquinas professed belief in a rational God which was very different from the Allah of Islam, and stated that “since the principles of certain sciences — of logic, geometry, and arithmetic, for instance — are derived exclusively from the formal principals of things, upon which their essence depends, it follows that God cannot make the contraries of these principles; He cannot make the genus not to be predictable of the species, nor lines drawn from a circle’s center to its circumference not to be equal, nor the three angles of a rectilinear triangle not to be equal to two right angles.”

Robert Spencer does not shy away from criticizing the Catholic Church when he deems this appropriate, but he also tries to balance out some of the myths that have become widely accepted in popular culture, for instance regarding the case against Galileo Galilei:

In fact, Jesuit astronomers were among Galileo’s earliest and most enthusiastic supporters. When Galileo first published supporting evidence for the Copernican heliocentric theory, Cardinal Maffeo Barberini sent him a letter of congratulations. When Galileo visited Rome in 1624, Cardinal Barberini had become Pope Urban VIII. The pope welcomed the scientist, gave him gifts, and assured him that the church would never declare heliocentrism heretical. In fact, the pope and other churchmen, according to historian Jerome Langford, ‘believed that Galileo might be right, but they had to wait for more proof.’

GalileoAccording to Spencer, “that was the ultimate source of Galileo’s conflict with the church: he was teaching as fact what still at that time had only the status of theory. When church officials asked Galileo in 1616 to teach heliocentrism as theory rather than as fact, he agreed; however, in 1632 he published a new work, Dialogue on the Great World Systems, in which he presented heliocentrism as fact again. That was why Galileo was put on trial for suspected heresy and placed under house arrest. Historian J. L. Heilbron notes that from the beginning the controversy was not understood the way it has been presented by many critics of the church since then. The condemnation of Galileo, says Heilbron, ‘had no general or theological significance. Gassendi, in 1642, observed that the decision of the cardinals [who condemned Galileo], though important for the faithful, did not amount to an article of faith; Ricciolo, in 1651, that heliocentrism was not a heresy; Mengeli, in 1675, that interpretations of scripture can only bind Catholics if agreed to at a general council; and Baldigiani, in 1678, that everyone knew all that.’”
- - - - - - - - -
Galilei’s encounter with the Inquisition in the seventeenth century is frequently cited as an example of the repression of science by Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular. However, if Christianity had always been hostile to science, the scientific revolution would never have taken place in Europe. According to the scholar Toby E. Huff and his excellent book The Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China and the West, second edition, the situation was much worse in China. T’ai-tsu, the first emperor of the Ming dynasty (r. 1368-98), considered the students at the imperial academy to be too unruly and appointed his nephew as head of the institution. Later he issued a set of pronouncements. As Huff says:

In the third of these proclamations (ca. 1386) there was a ‘list of ‘bad’ metropolitan degree holders,’ that is, chin-shih or ‘doctorates,’ along with the names of some students. ‘He prescribed the death penalty for sixty-eight metropolitan degree holders and two students; penal servitude for seventy degree holders and twelve students.’ The author of this account in the Cambridge History of China adds that these lists ‘must have discouraged men of learning.’ Appended to the edict was a further reprimand. The emperor ‘would put to death any man of talent who refused to serve the government when summoned. As he put it, ‘To the edges of the land, all are the king’s subjects....Literati in the realm who do not serve the ruler are estranged from teaching [of Confucius]. To execute them and confiscate the property of their families is not excessive.’ The trial and punishment of Galileo (confinement to his villa overlooking Florence) is nothing compared to this.

All things considered, the Christian West probably enjoyed more free speech than virtually any other major civilization during this period, which is arguably the single most important reason why its scientific progress surpassed that of both China and the Islamic world.

Spencer devotes some space to the sins of the Inquisition: “The medieval Inquisition that began in the thirteenth century was not the inspiration for the Inquisition of myth, the ecclesiastical reign of terror that allegedly murdered millions of innocent people for the crime of not accepting Christianity. That honor belongs to the Spanish Inquisition, which was established in 1478 by the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella with authorization from Pope Sixtus IV. But by 1482, Sixtus had received numerous threats of abuses, leading to his appointment of the infamous priest Tomas de Torquemada as grand inquisitor in 1483.”

The Inquisition wasn’t a proud chapter in Christian history, but it should be remembered that its number of victims has been wildly exaggerated, and pales in comparison to the evils of modern totalitarian movements:

Estimates of how many people Torquemada had put to death during his fifteen years as grand inquisitor range from 2,000 to 8,800. Torquemada was also a key supporter of the decree of Ferdinand and Isabella expelling the Jews from Spain in 1492. The Spanish Inquisition continued until the early nineteenth century, although it was greatly diminished in its latter years. Juan Antonio Llorente, an Inquisition official in the late eighteenth century and a historian of the Spanish Inquisition, estimated that in all slightly fewer than 32,000 people were executed. However, more recently several historians have found that number immensely exaggerated and suggest that the actual number is closer to 3,200. As this covers a period of several hundred years, even the high number hardly amounts to genocidal proportions or comes remotely close to the millions massacred by the rapacious inquisitors of myth. Ultimately, the precise number is unimportant because it is jarring that the church of Jesus Christ acceded to the execution of even one person. It is jarring because it manifests a spirit so completely at variance with what Christ taught and how he behaved.

However, killing those leaving the religion is not condoned in the Christian Gospels, but it is condoned in Islamic texts:

Abdul RahmanThe execution of heretics thus represents an aberration in the life of the church, at variance with the teachings of Christ and the early Christian thinkers. The contrast with Islamic apostasy law is sharp and unmistakable. While in the Islamic state as traditionally conceived, Jews and Christians have the right to practice their religion — with certain severe restrictions — the same relative generosity is not applied to Muslims who wish to leave Islam. Muhammad said, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him,’ and that remains normative for Islam. A modern manual of Islamic laws stipulates that ‘when a person who has reached puberty and is sane voluntarily apostasizes from Islam, he deserves to be killed.’ This principle isn’t easily susceptible to reform because it is founded on a statement of Muhammad that Muslims generally consider to be authentic. The spirit of Torquemada is still alive in the world today, but not among Christians. Rather, it can be found only among the Muslims who demanded that [ex-Muslim] Abdul Rahman be put on trial for his life in Afghanistan in 2006.

Robert Spencer dismisses the idea, so frequently cited by international media, that Christianity is “just as violent” as Islam. At the same time as Muslims are colonizing Western nations while complaining about Islamophobia, the few remaining non-Muslim communities in the Middle East are being systematically eradicated: “Christian communities throughout the Middle East that date back to the dawn of Christianity are decreasing so much that they are on the verge of disappearing from the area altogether. In Iraq half of the nation’s prewar 700,000 Christians have fled the country since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Overall the Middle Eastern Christian population has dropped from 20 percent in 1900 to less than 2 percent today.”

In Christianity, a central tenet is that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). In contrast, “While acknowledging that any human being is capable of evil, the Qur’an says that Muslims are ‘the best of peoples’ (3:110) while the unbelievers are the ‘vilest of creatures’ (98:6). In such a worldview it is easy to see evil in others but difficult to locate it in oneself.”

Whereas violent passages in the Bible do exist, for instance in the Book of Joshua on the conquest of Jericho, Spencer demonstrates that “throughout history, rather than celebrating such biblical passages, Jews and Christians have regarded them as a problem to be solved. While interpretations of these passages differ widely among Jews and Christians, from the beginning of rabbinic Judaism and Christianity one understanding has remained dominant among virtually all believers: these passages are not commands for all generations to follow, and if they have any applicability, it is only in a spiritualized, parabolic sense.”

These passages are not taken to mean an open-ended declaration of war against others: “In short, the consensus view among Jews and Christians for many centuries is that unless you happen to be a Hittite, Girgashite, Amorite, Canaanite, Perizzite, Hivite, or Jebusite, these biblical passages simply do not apply to you. The scriptures record God’s commands to the Israelites to make war against particular people only. However this may be understood, and however jarring it may be to modern sensibilities, it does not amount to any kind of marching orders for believers. That’s one principal reason why Jews and Christians haven’t formed terror groups around the world that quote the Bible to justify killing non-combatants.”

The Islamic institution of Jihad, on the other hand, is a command to wage war against the unbelievers until the end of time: “The Qur’an says that the followers of Muhammad are ‘ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another’ (48:29), and that the unbelievers are the ‘worst of created beings’ (98:6). One may exercise the Golden Rule in relation to a fellow Muslim, but according to the laws of Islam, the same courtesy is not to be extended to unbelievers. That is one principal reason why the primary source of slaves in the Islamic world has been non-Muslims, whether Jews, Christians, Hindus, or pagans. Most slaves were non-Muslims who had been captured during jihad warfare.”

Slavery has for almost 1400 years been intimately tied to Jihad on three continents:

Historian Speros Vryonis observes that ‘since the beginning of the Arab razzias [raids] into the land of Rum [the Byzantine Empire ], human booty had come to constitute a very important part of the spoils.’ The Turks, as they steadily conquered more and more of Anatolia, reduced many of the Greeks and other non-Muslims there to slave status: ‘They enslaved men, women, and children from all major urban centers and from the countryside where the populations were defenseless.’ Indian historian K. S. Lal states that wherever jihadists conquered a territory, ‘there developed a system of slavery peculiar to the clime, terrain, and populace of the place.’ When Muslim armies invaded India, ‘its people began to be enslaved in droves to be sold in foreign lands or employed in various capacities on menial and not-so-menial jobs within the country.’

Slaves frequently faced pressure to convert to Islam. Thomas Pellow, an Englishman who was enslaved in Morocco for twenty-three years after being captured as a cabin boy on a small English vessel in 1716, was tortured until he accepted Islam. For weeks he was beaten and starved, and finally gave in after his torturer resorted to “burning my flesh off my bones by fire, which the tyrant did, by frequent repetitions, after a most cruel manner.”

As Spencer says, “Slavery was taken for granted throughout Islamic history. Yet while the European and American slave trades get lavish attention from historians (as well as from mau-mauing reparations advocates and guilt-ridden politicians), the Islamic slave trade actually lasted longer and brought suffering to a larger number of people. It is exceedingly ironic that Islam has been presented to American blacks as the egalitarian alternative to the ‘white man’s slave religion’ of Christianity, as Islamic slavery operated on a larger scale than did the Western slave trade, and lasted longer.”

AbyssiniaFor the record, it should be mentioned that even Islamic sources testify that some of Muhammad’s early followers sought refuge in a Christian kingdom in Ethiopia. Christianity was well-established in sub-Saharan Africa while much of northern Europe was still pagan. It is thus nonsense to claim that Islam is a more authentic “African” religion than Christianity.

Slavery involving peoples of all races was widely practiced in the Greco-Roman world. The most famous slave rebellion during the Roman era was led by Spartacus, a gladiator-slave from the Thracian people who dominated Bulgaria and the Balkan region close to the Black Sea in early historic times. His rebellion was crushed in 71 B.C., and thousands of slaves were crucified alongside the road to Rome as a warning to others. The retreat of slavery in Europe followed the spread of Christianity. In my own Scandinavian region, the Norse culture did practice slavery, yet this was eventually abolished by the Catholic Church.

Unlike the West, there never was a Muslim abolitionist movement since slavery is permitted according to sharia. When the open practice of slavery was finally abolished in most of the Islamic world, this was only due to external Western pressure, ranging from the American war against the Barbary pirates to the naval power of the British Empire. Spencer again:

When the slave trade ended, it was ended not through Muslim efforts but through British military force. Even so, there is evidence that slavery continues beneath the surface in some Muslim countries — notably Saudi Arabia, which only abolished slavery in 1962; Yemen and Oman, both of which ended legal slavery in 1970; and Niger, which didn’t abolish slavery until 2004. In Niger, the ban is widely ignored, and as many as one million people remain in bondage. Slaves are bred, often raped, and generally treated like animals. There are even slavery cases involving Muslims in the United States. A Saudi named Homaidan al-Turki was sentenced in September 2006 to twenty-seven years to life in prison for keeping a woman as a slave in his Colorado home. For his part, al-Turki claimed that he was a victim of anti-Muslim bias.

So, do I have no objections at all to this book? Well, I have one or two. I take issue with the simple assertion that the West is a “Judeo-Christian civilization.” The first recognizably Western people were Greek pagans who had absolutely nothing to do with Christianity and only marginally to do with Judaism. The fact that Christianity has had a profound, and in my view largely positive, influence on our culture is undeniable. However, the civilization that eventually became the West also carries with it a powerful Greco-Roman legacy, supplemented by Germanic and Celtic impulses, etc. This is not nitpicking. The West is too complex to be reduced to just one or two components, and if we want to defend something we have to first define exactly what it is we want to maintain.

Although I don’t hate Christianity, I do think legitimate, rational criticism of it can be made on certain issues. I feel some sympathy for modern Christians. It must be a difficult time for them: They are simultaneously accused of being Fascists and backward fanatics who are worse than Muslims, but also of undermining our culture by being too soft. The first claim is absolutely ridiculous, and Spencer does a fine job of demonstrating why. The second claim isn’t quite as easy to rule out, unfortunately.

The writer John Derbyshire reviewed this book, too. He understands virtually nothing of Islam, and I disagree with him on much of what he wrote about Spencer’s text. Still, Derbyshire did make one valid point: Christian tradition has been a great enabler of globalization. If all men are brothers, would it not be un-Christian to refuse entry to tens of millions of immigrants? “Perhaps the humane forbearance of the Prince of Peace, and the moral universalism that His teachings imply, bear the seeds of self-destruction. Those seeds were slow to germinate in the long centuries when great mass migrations of people into well-settled lands could only be military affairs. However, the globalization movement of the past fifty years has allowed millions of souls to move and settle peaceably into the old Christian lands.”

It is possible to claim that some of the ideas behind the globalist, open-border ideology that now permeates the West are ultimately derived from Christian universalism. It does represent a real problem, not an invented one, when many Christian leaders undermine our national borders by opening their arms to mass immigration, and too many Christian leaders are at the forefront of appeasing Islam in the name of peace and the brotherhood of man.

However, although Christians contribute to our problems sometimes, and they do, by far the worst enablers of Jihad within the West are found among the rabidly secular crowd who believe Christians pose a greater threat to freedom than Muslims and do everything in their power to undermine our traditional culture. On this, I agree with Spencer:

The most formidable and determined enemies of Western civilization may not be the jihadists at all, but the leftists who have located all evil in the Christian West of ‘theocrat’ conspirators, the late Jerry Falwell, the white man’s burden, the legacy of Western slavery, xenophobia, and the rest. These are people who even at a time of peril from global jihad think the chief danger comes not from militant Islam, but from their churchgoing neighbors, and who deride the very faith that set the course of Western civilization and established our basic values.

All things considered, I believe this book to be an excellent read. Spencer’s primary task was no doubt to refute the absurd, yet frequently repeated claims that Christianity is just as violent as Islam and that Christianity has always been an obstacle to freedom. In this, he succeeds rather well. Robert Spencer has a scholarly understanding of the differences between Christian and Islamic theology, yet he does a better job than most in explaining to a mainstream audience in a clear and lucid manner exactly why Islam is a religion with a uniquely high potential for violence. This book is bound to be an eye-opener for the millions of people still parroting the line about Islam being a religion of peace, and the equally numerous crowd of people who have accepted the anti-Christian bigotry presented by Western academia. If you have friends who belong to either of these categories or who simply want to know the true nature of Islam, Religion of Peace? is the perfect Christmas present.

54 comments:

Paul Green said...

... too many Christian leaders are at the forefront of appeasing Islam in the name of peace and the brotherhood of man.

All too true, as the "Christian Response to A Common Word Between Us and You" so appallingly shows. Spencer himself put up a post on this ghastly document yesterday. The original letter from Muslim clerics, which warned Christian leaders that unless people of the two faiths "are not at peace ... the very survival of the world is perhaps at stake" and concluded with an obliquely worded da'wa pitch, may be seen here.

kepiblanc said...

Fjordman, another objection: Islam is not a religion. It's a mental malignancy.

EtNorskTroll said...

Hello Fjordman
(Hei paa deg!).

Fjordman:

Your review of Spencer's book is good...except for the 4 thousand pound white elephant in the room.

What are you going to do about Charles Johnson, huh? You and I BOTH know that the anti-jihad movement can ill aford to cast away support due to pride or an unwillingness to compromise. YOU, of all people, know how bad that it is getting in Norway. Will you sarifice our Culture and way of life due to some petty rift? Isn't there any way you can find it in your heart to maybe come to *some* kind of compromise? I'm not saying to give up your principals...but you do have Charles' email, no? What, specifically would it take to get you three (Pam included) back on, well, if not good terms, then at least talking terms again?

?

~Norsk Troll

The Poster Formerly Known as Gordon said...

Thank you, Fjordman, for an excellent review of an interesting book. I had some problems with Mr. Spencer's previous works, but this one seems to be a lot closer to the mark.

It has become glaringly obvious that Islam promotes scientific illiteracy. And I think that this fact is to the West's advantage.

I shudder to think what a country like China or Japan or India would have done with the vast oil wealth found underneath the Middle East, and yet the Islamic beneficiaries have set themselves up to return to sandy hellhole status once the oil finally dries up. We have much less to worry from Iran or Saudi Arabia than we think - such nations are as likely to blow themselves up with a weapon of mass destruction as successfully aim it at us. That Islamic terrorists have only successfully used human bombers in their attacks on us so far (perhaps Madrid is an exception to this rule) says a lot about the scientific lack of prowess engendered, it appears, by Islam.

Kepiblanc - throwing around pointless insults does no one any good. That kind of statement belongs on LGF, not here.

Zonka said...

@EtNorskTroll,

Why do you think it is up to Fjordman to make peace with Charles Johnson? Fjordman stated his mind on LGF and got vilified and booted so it would make a lot more sense to implore Charles Johnson to take the first step in making peace.... Like issuing an apology for Fjordman and others that he has indiscrimately hurt in the process.

Zonka said...

Apology “to” not “for” - in my last comment *oops*

EtNorskTroll said...

@Zonka,

Are you serious, Zonka? Will your dying thought, as the jihadi's are sawing your head off, be: "Well...at least I'm glad that Fjordman never tried to resolve the rift with that idiot Charles~!"

I seriously doubt that.

No. Foolish pride (Charles, Pam & Fjordman inluded) is something only our children have the luxury of indulging in.

This isn't about some popularity contest or something. These Jihadis mean business. If the bombings in New York, Madird, London, Beslan, Bali (to say NOTHING of Israel!) haven't convinced you of that, then nothing will.

Tell me something, Zonka: do you want to see this rift resolved and the Jihadi's crushed?

Well...do you?

Then what POSSIBLY makes you think that by splitting up, we will become stronger?

Please explain that to me. I'm anxious to hear what you have to say.

~Et Norsk Troll

EtNorskTroll said...

*crickets chirping*

Archonix said...

Lord in heaven, get over it already.

Zonka said...

@EtNorskTroll,

I believe the split was inevitable sooner or later, and at this point it doesn't matter anymore... Irregardless of the latest spats - CJ and LGF is not really important in the big picture, they are mostly preaching to the choir and are talkers... They aren't the ones who are organizing the various counter-jihad events, no they are at best reporting them afterwards and debating endlessly whether or not they agree or sympathize with the people actively organizing and participating in these events.

And in the European theater, LGF is mostly irrelevant anyway, as it is mostly unknown and ignorant about many European issues.

So no I rather look at reality as it is than put faith in a pipedream.

Conservative Swede said...

EtNorsktTroll,

Hej norska trollet!

So more concretely, what do you want Fjordman to do? Assuming that Fjordman would write an email to Charles, what should he say in it? Give us a brief draft of that email!

whiskey_199 said...

The Elephant in the room with respect to Christianity is monogamy.

Consider Europe, before the Romans. Nothing of any real interest in the arts, architecture, culture, etc. After the Romans until Christianity monogamized them the same. No accomplishments.

Afterwards, under Christianity, Europe pushed back Muslim invaders in Southern France and Italy, Sicily, and Iberia. While fending off Vikings at the same time. Building cathedrals that were architecturally innovative, staging Crusades into the remote Palestine, and taking what others had invented (paper money, printing press, gunpowder and firearms) and continually improving them.

Monogamy plus individual families = superior resource mobilization. Unlike Islam and China's "Big Man" society where a few men did most of the reproduction, ordinary western men could and did have families they could pass down improvements on. This led to higher levels of trust-cooperation, and innovation to pass on to one's sons.

Conservative Swede said...

Zonka,

no they are at best reporting them afterwards and debating endlessly whether or not they agree or sympathize with the people actively organizing and participating in these events.

I'm afraid Charles is not even good at that. Nothing about the Brussels 9/11 demo, nothing about the SIAD demo Oct 21. To me it seems that LGF only reports on real-world anti-jihad resistance, when Charles wants to attack it.

Zonka said...

@conservative swede,

LOL... Note that I didn't say he was good at it :) And actually you're right he is rather selective as well as prejudiced in his reporting... and then I haven't said a word about the comment section...

Kafir Canada said...

One of the theories of the genesis of Islam, is that it is political narrative created through the 7th and 8th centuries in order to justify military conquests, such as of Jerusalem, and subsequently to hold together the newly formed empire. This hypothesis is suggested by Crone and Cook in Hagarism from 1997.

Such a theory would seem to match the facts better than, well, that Islam is genuinely from Allah, which is the Islamic theory. And Robert Spencer's work seems to support a Hagarism-like theory, by showing how Islamic texts are used to justify conquest.

Have any other cogent theories been offered? In lieu, I'll stick with the Crone theory, then.

Dymphna said...

EtNorskTroll --

You do not understand the foundations of this estrangement, so you cannot comment on it with any insight.

Charles Johnson has smeared two of the three or four parties in Europe who refuse to permit themselves to be dhimmified further, and who are not neo-nazis as Chas has claimed.

An international conference was held in Brussels on Oct 18-19, with major experts on Islamization from Britain, Israel, the US, and Canada in attendance and giving speeches.

Since then, lgf has demonized and villified people who put their money, time, resources, skills and safety and he bases this smear campaign on an ignorance of Europe that he relies on others to fill in for him.

James Lewis in the American Thinker, considers Chas' take on the situation as mistaken and thinks he may be being used by Belgian psyops as a tool to beat out any credibility from Vlaams Belang.

Chas originally went after Sweden Democrats too, but he dropped that campaign because the bucket wouldn't hold water.

I suggest that in the future you contact Fjordman directly and privately rather than on a public forum.

And I hope you're able to recognize that sometimes betrayals are too deep and too foundational to be repaired.

In my opinion, this is one. lgf is losing altitude and credibility.

I doubt Fjordman will honor the tone and attitude of your comment with a response. He's a very measured man.

gun-totin-wacko said...

Am I the only one that saw EtNorskTroll's comment as satire? Either I'm missing something, or everyone else is.

Dymphna said...

whiskey_199 said:

Monogamy plus individual families = superior resource mobilization. Unlike Islam and China's "Big Man" society where a few men did most of the reproduction, ordinary western men could and did have families they could pass down improvements on. This led to higher levels of trust-cooperation, and innovation to pass on to one's sons.

Good point. The Catholic Church seriously shot itself in the foot when it made celibacy mandatory rather than optional. Such a decision was based on the fact that property was then inherited by the Church and not families.

This did allow the church to support large communities of people, but it had the unintened consequence of keeping out of the gene pool some of the smartest and most ambitious men of the time.

It's amazing it survived that. And if it does succumb eventually, it will be because it wasn't flexible enough to remove the *mandatory* celibacy. We can see now what that meant for the US clergy, which may not recover its credibility because of the criminally evil of some of its members.

If the Boston archdiocese is not bankrupt it may be soon. They've had to sell a lot of property, including the Cardinal's residence, to stay afloat.

Maybe that's a good thing? Too soon to tell.

Conservative Swede said...

Zonka,

LOL... Note that I didn't say he was good at it :) And actually you're right he is rather selective as well as prejudiced in his reporting... and then I haven't said a word about the comment section...

Well, he did mention the SIAD demo -- the one where they were almost killed by leftist stormtroopers -- in his comment section. But then only to describe them as the kind of violent right-wing extremists that regularly end up in violent fights with the left-wing extremists, just because they are that kind of scum. Fjordman pointed out to him that that 74-year old lady probably wasn't that sort of violent right-wing extremist, and this is what led to Charles' banning of Fjordman.

Dymphna said...

Kafir Canada said...

This hypothesis is suggested by Crone and Cook in Hagarism from 1997.

What is Hagarism? I mean if it can be encapsulated in a blog comment format.

Conservative Swede said...

gun-totin-wacko: Am I the only one that saw EtNorskTroll's comment as satire? Either I'm missing something, or everyone else is.


No, you're right. It is satire. He's working for us.

Baron Bodissey said...

Fjordman emailed me and asked me to post this for him:

I did not want this post to become another LGF thread. I'm sick and tired of the whole thing and want to move on.

If people want to discuss that topic, they can do so at LGF or at other threads at the GoV. It doesn't belong on this thread.

People should stick to discussing Spencer's book or related topics on this post.

Thank you.

Subvet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Subvet said...

Archonix and Baron, amen to letting it go. There's been too much time spent on this crap already.

Zonka said...

Dymphna wrote:
The Catholic Church seriously shot itself in the foot when it made celibacy mandatory rather than optional. Such a decision was based on the fact that property was then inherited by the Church and not families.

If I remember correctly from my history lessons, the most important reason for the celibacy, was to appease the royalty, so that the church wouldn't create a parallel powerstructure based on inheritance, just like the royals. In those days a bishop had about the same kind of power as a duke or a prince. And without the celibacy rule the royals might have felt compelled to tear down the church structure, instead we got the celibacy rule, and church recognition of the royalty as lawful rulers of the state and the church was recognized as the shepherd of souls. And this is I think more important, since it marks the separation of state in practice, even more than the quote from Jesus about rendering to Caesar what is Caesar's...

PS. Sorry Fjordman, just didn't want to let the "Den Norske Trolds" words stand alone...

Zonka said...

Read: “separation of state and church” -- I should preview my posts a bit better before posting... sorry :)

Ed Mahmoud said...

Well, except for the 'millions of opened eyes' part, an interesting review. But few people who don't already know or strongly suspect the truth will buy this book, and even giving a book as a gift doesn't guarantee it will be read. There are no so blind as those who refuse to see.

Robin said...

Well, except for the 'millions of opened eyes' part, an interesting review. But few people who don't already know or strongly suspect the truth will buy this book, and even giving a book as a gift doesn't guarantee it will be read. There are no so blind as those who refuse to see.

But it will help arm the people who know or suspect the truth with history and facts to make an argument for their point of view. People will be more confident and bold about refuting PC media and their friend's opinions.

Charles Bogle said...

gun-totin-wacko,

Re: EtNorskTroll. It's not satire, it's obsession.

River Cocytus said...

Eyes in the sky here ;)

Thanks for the review, Fjordman. I may purchase the book myself or as a gift for another (since I've become quite familiar through other means with the same material.)

There's a few bones to pick - I for one do not believe that God can not do things that break physical laws, but rather does not by his own will. Because there is a purpose behind all things God only breaks the rules (or bends them) for very specific and measured reasons. So even the 'unreasonableness' has a reason. Just an aside - so you know that it is possible to believe that 'God's hand is unfettered' and yet still believe that you may reason about the laws of the world.

Most of the Christians - in fact pretty much all - in the middle east and Islamic areas are Orthodox Christians. As a soon-to-be convert myself, I've noticed that this is basically never reported in the media. It makes me scratch my chin.

I know a young Orthodox man from Lebanon, but he is quite inculcated with some particular falsehoods about the Jews, America, etc. I wonder if many are like this? I suppose I will get the chance to find out.

Chas has blown it, I think. But it's unreasonable to assume that the blogosphere will feature particularly 'balanced' reporting.

It balances when you read multiple blogs. Hahaha.

Fjordman, I think one day you will reconsider Christianity, and most likely only because you will find that there is much more to it than meets the eye.

The Catholic church does get a huge bum rap. The Orthodox never had the problem of forced celibacy, but they were more or less too weak militarily to expel Islam from their lands. In fact, in some branches of Christianity the importance of allowing soldiers to be brave and deadly, while allowing clergy to be meek and mild is misunderstood.

Anyway, long discussion in there. Thanks you two (and Baron/Dymphna for hosting Fjordman's reports.)

truepeers said...

I certainly don't think Fjordman has to become a Jew or a Christian, but if he wants to be a defender of Western civilization he will not be so effective if he has to hem and haw about the Judeo-Christian legacy, a legacy which can be appreciated as much in anthropological as religious terms. As the Pope suggests in the famous Regensburg address, the Church can defend everything it believes as true in secular, anthropological terms, or natural law. I believe this is correct. But, as the Pope also notes, while secular reason can explain religion, what it cannot do is explain away the need for faith.

Much of what Fjordman criticizes in Christianity is quite arguably not orthodox Christianity. It is Gnostic heresy. He should read Eric Voegelin, New Science of Politics, to better appreciate the difference.

More generally, if Fjordman wants to champion Athens over Jerusalem, he needs to explain why the Athenian tradition originally ran out of steam and had to be rediscovered in large part in the Renaissance (for example, this question might take him into the question of Athen's inability to develop a free market, something that waited for modern Christianity...). To argue that just because Christianity is not as old as Greek culture, that we should therefore give the latter more credit than the former is to miss the point that Christianity represents one form of a maturing Judeo-Christian tradition that has never stopped being central to the West since the day of Moses, whenever that was, exactly.

But the intellectual problem lies in the fact that the Jewish legacy can be hard to see because what is so important and powerful in its contribution is at the same time something minimal. Jewish monotheism makes one, almost vanishingly small and often misunderstood (see Islam) claim about humanity and the world, a revelation that has had endless historical consequences (among the most notable being the nuclear family, as already mentioned) precisely because it is a profound way of understanding man's origin as a specifically human creature in partnership with God, an understanding that grounds our knowledge of man as a free being active in the making of his own history.

The Athenian tradition, on the other hand, obscures the question of human origins; it creates a royal purple haze, the response to which has been an endless proliferation of metaphysical formulae on all subjects, in contrast to the Jewish tendency to relate all knowledge back to a singular conception of God and man, in short to play the fox, not the hedgehog. One cannot and should never want to deny the many great contributions of the metaphysical tradition, but alone it is not so much the essence of Western thinking, or humble faith, as is the Jewish-Christian understanding of the relationship between God and man.

Secular metaphysics alone leads to the postmodern impasse much more than anything specifically Christian. Secular metaphysics may have led to many forms of knowledge but it provides little by way of sustaining a faith in our ongoing historical project, the West

It's not my place here and now to try to lay all this out. But I would encourage Fjordman to read further into the Judeo-Christian tradition. At least, this will provide him the ammunition to attack Gnostic Christians in superior Christian terms.

Homophobic Horse said...

I figured out how to do telekinesis, but I can't give away my secret.

Alexis said...

Dymphna:

I think the late medieval papacy did western Europe a major favor by discouraging cousin marriage and giving consensual marriages priority over arranged marriages.

It is difficult to convince someone of the blessings of liberty when he or she does not have the liberty to choose his or her spouse. Likewise, cousin marriages discourage a wider sense of community found in western and modern states, as opposed to the narrow tribalism found elsewhere (and especially in the Islamosphere).

When the Communists took over China, they allowed divorce -- and the annulment of arranged marriages. This was a westernizing revolution, for men and women could break the bonds of the arranged marriages they hated. The lines were long at government offices. As bad as Communism is, it has actually brought liberty to China through westernization. I would argue that, by opposing arranged marriages, Chinese Communists brought China into the fifteenth century.

Dymphna said...

Alexis said--

I think the late medieval papacy did western Europe a major favor by discouraging cousin marriage and giving consensual marriages priority over arranged marriages.

I agree. Would that they had had this influence on the European monarchy as time wore on. The inbreeding and hemophillia debilitated them -- and probably created WWI. It certainly helped set up that artificial animal, Belgium.

The Danish monarchy brings in commoners' blood. One of the reasons the Danes remain so vital -- it's a top-down vitality.

Didn't know that about the Chinese. I do wish they'd stop invading the rural areas and forcing barbaric abortions on millions of women. Some estimate the deaths at 65,000,000.

They must use for their military the millions of young men who are from one child families, since female infanticide is also widespread due to the draconian laws on family size...that leaves them with many single men who have no hope of ever marrying. Kind of reminds me of what the Muslims did with the Janissaries.

Not that their origins were the same, except in their brutality. But the outcome was a vast number of unattached males trained to fight.

Beyond the horror, it's downright creepy. We haven't seen the final innings on this Chinese experiment. However, given the history of their governmental "experiments" it does not bode well for China.

Profitsbeard said...

Fjordman's central take on Mr. Spencer's analysis of the divergent tracks of irrationalist Islam versus reasoning Christianity is mine as well.

If the deity of Islam is rendered as "eternally unpredictable", then their religion must become an enshrined form of self-defensive, mobius madness.

As it tries to make endless excuses for believing anything "reasonable" (rituals, rules of behavior, et al) about such an anti-reasonable "God".

Islam has hitched its wagon to a black hole.

Christianity, to a benevolent star.

-

One curious note on the part Fjordman mentions about Mr. Spencer's take on Galileo:

Dinesh D'Souza has a recent Sunday newpaper article one the same subject (how Galileo is not a good example of an "intolerant Catholic Church") which appears to be a flagrant bit of plagiarism of Robert's text, and pilfers his point almost word for word.

Perhaps a bit of (unconscious?) revenge against someone who has bested him in debate?

Kafir Canada said...

Dymphna:

I mistyped the date, the book is from 1977, not 1997.

The book is not in print and I bet it's pretty hard to get, but I would imagine any university library would have it. That's where I read it.

I mean, that can be encapsulated in a blog comment, that it's a book for 1977, Patricia Crone and Michael Cook, on the early development of Islam, and what I already said, that it hypothesizes that Islam was more or less conciously developed for the purpose of statecraft.

I can go into more depth about this of course, moving beyond just what the book is, but more into what it's about. You asked I'm reminded, though, what is Hagarism? This question also has another meaning: you may not have been referring to the book titled Hagarism, but to the concept the title is referring to. In this sense, Hagarism is what they call early Islam. A different name because there is no contemporary evidence early Islam was actually called Islam by those people involved with it, so Crone and Cook go with a descriptive name, Hagarism. Descriptive because, they say at least, Muhammad claimed descent for the Arabs from Abraham and his slave Hagar.

Hopefully that answers something of what you wanted.

There's this short article by Crone which is, obviously, much more recent, so it contains a lot of different assertions than Hagarism, but it also has lots of the same, and it's the same idea: looking at early Islam from contemporary, non-Arabic sources. It doesn't mention Hagarism by name, so maybe Crone doesn't think "Hagarism" is a good name anymore.

Good night now, though, for me anyway.

AngleofRepose said...

Why do I believe in God?

He brought me out of my nightmares

Something spoke to me once.. in a moment of utter despair..

I was crying, crying, crying.. "why am I alone!!"

And then, as if right next to me.. "but, you're not alone"..

True story. Now I continually thank my blessings.

I am non-denominational - can't stand organized religion.

God and I have our own understanding.

FWIW

truepeers said...

I misspoke. That should be Jerusalem hedgehog and Athenian fox. Halfbred confusion...

Simon de Montfort said...

Good thread. Part of the fundamental irrationality of Islam is the.....er, uh, female-phobic strain of homosexuality in that religion in general and in Arab culture in particular. There was a good article about this in a 1987 issue of The American Spectator, but I cannot recall the title or which issue during that year

A religion and culture which fears women is neither stable or healthy, and people strongly tend to hate what they fear.

Let us summarise:

distrusts science ==check

fears & loathes women ---check

is an artifice to justify conquest by Warrior-Poofs--check

By their Fruits Ye shall know Them....... ( couldn't resist that )

Alexis said...

Dymphna:

I agree with you that China's "one child" policy has been an absolute disaster. I regard China's policy of forced abortion as utterly reprehensible.

I think the root problem throughout Asia is misogyny. Still, the West is hardly in any position to lecture Asia on selective abortion. Abortion is portrayed as a "woman's right" in the West even as it has become the fashionable means to kill girls in Asia. Genitalia are noticable in the second trimester; any demand by feminists for readily available second and third trimester abortions in the West effectively sanctions female infanticide in the East.

Sure, humanity is facing armies of millions of poor young men with no prospects of marriage. Given the obvious effects of the policies feminists have pushed through, one can legitimately wonder if this was the intended effect.

KGS said...

Dymphna said: "I agree. Would that they had had this influence on the European monarchy as time wore on. The inbreeding and hemophillia debilitated them -- and probably created WWI. It certainly helped set up that artificial animal, Belgium."

Hi Dymphna, I agree with your thoughts on Royal inbreeding, but I must confess that I'm more inclined to believe that the French and Belgian takeover of the German Ruhr industrial area after WWI, lead to Hitler's rise through Natioanal Socialism and WWII.

Cheers, KGS

Paul Green said...

"Dinesh D'Souza has a recent Sunday newpaper article one the same subject (how Galileo is not a good example of an "intolerant Catholic Church") which appears to be a flagrant bit of plagiarism of Robert's text, and pilfers his point almost word for word."

Profitsbeard:

I hold no brief for Dinesh D'Souza, but a comparison of his article with Robert Spencer's passage on Galileo in "Religion of Peace?" indicates that your notion of possible plagiarism on his part is mistaken. The two texts cover the same material and make essentially the same point, but use different sources and wording.

Orlando said...

Seriously, I think we should follow the advice of Fjordman and keep the comments on the topic of the original article.

The lack of discipline in the comment section that many readers have brought with them from LGF should not be accepted.

EtNorskTroll said...

So be it.
At the very least, when the Jihadi's have won due to our unwillingness to unite against the onslaught and they are chopping off the heads of our children and loved ones....

...I will die with the satisfaction of knowing that I at least tried to resolve this issue and make us stronger.

~Norsk Troll

/it's so easy to hate others, isn't it? So hard to forgive....

Third Rail said...

Call in and check out our interview tonight at 8PM EST with Dr. Paul L. Williams, author of The Day of Islam at thirdrailradio.com

Archonix said...

All right, I'm going to answer you this once. Etnorsktroll, you are simply being dense. Yes, ad-hominem and al that, I don't give a rats a*se right now. You are being blind. Fjordman, Belien, all theopthers tried to reason with Charles and tried to resolve that in the manner you keep demanding they try now. They TRIED that right at the start. The continued to try that throughout the entire crisis. Charles diodn't want to know.

Now the only person who is trying to carry on this problem is you. WE are united against the threat. YOU are the outsider here, NOT us. Get off your high horse for a moment and you might actually be able to see that.

Ypp said...

Charles is a liberal, that's clear. He dislikes Islam because Islam is not liberal. Hence his topics: security, women rights, homosexual rights in Islamic world, e.t.c.

The principal question, which is still to be answered, is whose allies liberals actually are. Some of them, as Fjordman wrote, are worst enemies of the West. Some, like Charles, seem to be on our side, but...

I believe that while it is not obvious that liberals are by their nature and can only be the allies of Islam, it should be worthy trying to make an armistice with them. We can disagree, but not willing to kill each other.

PRCalDude said...

Good thread. Part of the fundamental irrationality of Islam is the.....er, uh, female-phobic strain of homosexuality in that religion in general and in Arab culture in particular. There was a good article about this in a 1987 issue of The American Spectator, but I cannot recall the title or which issue during that year

Please dig that up for us. I would be ingratiated.

mpresley said...

Alexis said...
As bad as Communism is, it has actually brought liberty to China through westernization.


You are talking mostly, I presume, about the "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics" resulting from Deng's attempt to reform Mao's disastrous Cultural Revolution. The Chinese have certain economic "freedoms", however politically they are still encumbered. The CCP does not allow dissent and is quite brutal in this respect.

I have a friend in China (I'm going there tomorrow for a while). I was naive at first. We can talk about anything except politics. I found that out when I asked her a political question. She answered by asking me how is the weather?

It is a big question as to whether Western style democracy can evolve within the quasi capitalist framework of China. Some argue that as the party becomes more vested in the economy of trade the political sphere will moderate. I am not so sure, but who can say?

RISE_UP said...

EtNorskTroll:
It won't take much to bring Charles Johnson around.Just apoligize and kiss his arse and tell him he was right all along and the master of all things internet. I read Fjordman's efforts on lgf and watched him get bashed by the harpies. But the truth is...the real reason Fjordman was banned was because it was becoming a little embarrishing that CJ could not debate him nor could any of the other parrots. To answer him were offers of cut and paste jobs with one liners at the end of it. Give it up. CJ does not matter in this grand scheme. Not one bit.

Chuck said...

Many very intelligent people are "non-religious" these days. But I don't understand why, when they consider their eventual death, they don't worry about the words of Jesus, or Biblical quotes attributed to God, or other "religious" writings that warn of one's judgment after death. How can one be held accountable for what he cannot know, but if "it is written"....

Geoffrey de Boullion said...

Dymphna: On Hagarism, Ibn Warraq covers some of same ground in "The Origins of the Koran: Classic Essays on Islam's Holy Book."

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/157392198X/ref=wl_it_dp?ie=UTF8&coliid=I3FYKTUIZX8X2H&colid=1S85YBLMS3DEC

Chuck said...

Your insights are very valuable. Looking back aways, I appreciated your quote from Harvey Mansfield's book: Manliness. I have been "absorbing" the book for a couple of years and think it is a masterpiece. We should all read it.

While it is wonderful to know there are men with a clear view of our huge present problems, it is never enough to acknowledge just think and talk about them. We must DO something. Not anything foolish and counter-productive. Blogs provide a communication medium, networking is also necessary.
We complain a lot about Feminism, but it may be necessary for men to provide the "New Feminism" or alternative to Feminism needed by women. It may be impossible for them to escape on their own.
Survival may depend on good men becoming as "manly" as the radical Muslims.

USpace said...

Great job, excellent review!

The more people that discuss the truths of Islam and Islamic Jihad, the more the Jihadis
will be put in their place. The rule of law must apply, the US isn't letting Muslim gangs run around raping schoolgirls.

If they ever try that stuff over here, I'm sure the cops will crack down hard.
This is what is happening less and less in Europe. And that is just like spoiling little kids rotten.
If the law continues not to clamp down and enforce law regarding violence it will just get worse and worse.

Wafa Sultan and Robert Spencer are heroes! Islam as practiced by the Islamofascists will never be peace because if
Earth ever became ruled by Sharia Law all the multitudes of Islamic factions that hate each other would keep fighting each other forever.

absurd thought -
God of the Universe thinks
all Christians are terrorists

killing more every day
justified by the Bible


absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
never criticize prophets

there is no hateful scripture
claim it can't be translated


absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
start a riot today

if your faith is so weak
a cartoon will threaten it


absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
don't call a spade a spade

Islamist terrorism
not related to Islam


absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
let extremists rule

they will drag your country
back to seventh century


absurd thought -
God of the Universe wants
all citizens beheaded

for most petty offences
let society collapse


absurd thought -
God of the Universe thinks
take all girls out of school

they can not be allowed
to achieve more than a man


Educate ourselves and others!

The Religion of Peace

Prophet of Doom

The Brussels Journal

Jihad Watch

Hard To Swallow


absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
allow religions to kill

believe its followers
when they claim to be peaceful


absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
you can ignore Jihadis

the religion of peace
just wants you to submit


absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
Western culture must die

when the world is enslaved
then the world will be at peace


absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
never criticize prophets

there is no hateful scripture
claim it can't be translated


absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
DON'T KILL religious Nazis

let them kill each other
after they have killed you


absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
behead homosexuals

while screaming GOD IS GREAT
and The Left will defend you


Robert Spencer Gets Peaceful Death Threats

Do American Liberals Want a Taliban Europe?
.