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My ideas are constantly changing as I learn. Sometimes they even change midway through writing a post.

Saturday, July 9

Militant Muslims and Evasion

Alice proposed a few ideas about the goals of Islam. This reminded me of my experience several years ago with arguing with a militant Muslim.

The discussion took place in an atheist chat room. This guy came in and started trying to persuade us about his religion. Sometimes this gets a bit tiresome and I tend to just ignore such people, but I haven't argued with many non-Christians, so I was curious. He was sure he could demonstrate his religion to be logical and rational - the most reasonable choice.

It's been too long to remember the particular arguments he used, but I do remember that it didn't take long to get through his arguments and bring up problems with them. He couldn't support anything and couldn't explain why a person should believe his doctrine over anything else. I remember thinking that I'd had much more difficult-to-counter arguments from Christians. There were several arguments he didn't even attempt which would have been a bit harder to criticize well (but still entirely possible).

Finally, he got frustrated and just started spewing about how Americans would all die . I said something to the effect of, "Oh, I see, so you can't win with reason, but you'd be happy to see innocent people killed off for these unfounded beliefs of yours?" [definitely paraphrased, it's been way too long to remember exact words). He replied along the lines of, "Americans will be given an opportunity to accept Allah, those who refuse will die." He never acknowledged that he'd actually made no case for his beliefs - that they were groundless. My guess is that it was frightening, and he avoided thinking about it as much as possible. It's not easy to give up a lifetime of beliefs - especially if new beliefs result in one realizing one has done or supported some very bad things.

Ugh. I hoped he was just a weird fringe lunatic. I think now I should have taken him more seriously. (At the time, I didn't think he'd be traceable and even if he were found that anything could be done because he didn't directly make a threat).

I have thought that Muslim leaders would have more developed ideas about their religion. I'm starting to think, now, though that militant believers are particularly self-deluded.

Ayn Rand had a term for that. She called it evasion.

Evasion can have serious consequences. A person may start out avoiding thinking about a particular thing in a limited sense, but this can spill over into other areas. Some things may "remind" the person of the thoughts to be avoided and so those thoughts get avoided too. Other, wrong thoughts are developed to work around this avoidance. It can seriously lead one away from an understanding of reality.

I suspect that's the case for the militants. Some of the comments on Alice's post suggest similar ideas. I think the focus on their own religion and war has possibly kept them underestimating the power of freedom - the incredible ability to grow knowledge.

I'm almost afraid to believe such a thing. I'm afraid this explanation could be convenient and encouraging to believe and keep me from seeing some other more accurate explanation. It would mean that such people (militant) are at a serious disadvantage when it comes to dealing with reality.

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