“But never religion!”: an astute analysis of terrorism

Oy, it didn’t take long before apologetics started appearing on the PuffHo site, and we don’t even know much about the Nice murderer. To go to the hastily produced, trite, and misguided opinion piece (if you must), click on the screenshot:

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 11.53.53 AM

Well, who could argue with that? Certainly we don’t want to confront terrorism with unreason and stupidity! It turns out, though, that Zniber’s approach is to “understand” terrorism, but leave out one irrelevant factor. To wit:

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 11.58.12 AM

I can’t stand it any more. The cognitive dissonance produced in people like Zniber by the notion that ideology and religion might motivate some bad actions, makes them issue really stupid statements. We don’t know what motivated the Nice murderer. Indeed, it appears as if Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel may not have been particularly religious. But Zniber is making a general statement here, and in so doing displays his biases—his Ostrich Leftism—in the most obvious way. “But never religion!” He goes on to blame it all on colonialism, as if Bouhlel were a brainless puppet manipulated by the West.

Zniber is an apologist mushbrain. And of course his message is snapped up and broadcast by all the other mushbrains who run PuffHo.



  1. frankschmidtmissouri
    Posted July 15, 2016 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    How about we confront terrorism with data and pragmatism?

    • Posted July 15, 2016 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      + 1

    • somer
      Posted July 15, 2016 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

      Ive already seen the “they deserved it” comments from regressive leftists

  2. Posted July 15, 2016 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    So…religions never promote moral seclusion? All religions are socially inclusive and promote representation (and participation) in the secular world at large? They all promote dialogue and listening (of something other than one-way “dialogues” of revealed dogma)? No religions promote rejection of others?There’s no religiously-inspired discrimination, fear, resentment, hatred, and ignorance? And no religions stand in the way of a well-balanced liberal education

    Seems to me that the greatest single factor behind all of Zniber’s causes is religion as actually practiced.

    But pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!


    • scottoest
      Posted July 16, 2016 at 3:53 am | Permalink

      Yeah, I don’t think it ever donned on the author that “religion” can often directly lead to many of those factors he listed, WHICH IS THE ENTIRE POINT of people like Prof CC.

      Also seems like classic begging the question, since he just asserts it a priori.

      I will agree with him that simply strengthening military engagement in places like Iraq or Syria, isn’t really going to do anything.

      However, he then comes down the home stretch by conflating firm criticism of religious ideas, with “feeding on anger”, and the usual.

      A clarion call for sober analysis and conversation in the wake of such tragedies is a noble and laudable goal, but then he just sabotages that by declaring that one massive factor is off-the-table. Why? Because he said so, that’s why.

  3. Petrushka
    Posted July 15, 2016 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    This tendency would come to a screeching halt if the perp were a fundamentalist Christian or a right-winger. Imagine if they found he were a Trump enthusiast.

    All cultures are equal, but some are more equal than others.

    • jay
      Posted July 15, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      When it turned out the Orlando shooter was a registered Democrat, and according to people who knew him, a Clinton supporter, the media was quiet (which is OK) — but can you imagine the holy ruckus if he were a Trump supporter??

  4. Posted July 15, 2016 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Intellectual contortionism at its very rose-tinted best.

  5. LudwigR. Koukal
    Posted July 15, 2016 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    The only thing I find in defense of his list of causes for terrorism is at the bottom of the list – ignorance – which to me is synonymous with religion. Should have been at the top of the list.

  6. Sastra
    Posted July 15, 2016 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Never religion! Never politics! Never ideology! Never culture!

    Ideas don’t kill — people kill. People who are only vulnerable to bad ideas because they’re hurting. The bad ideas aren’t really bad, either. They’re just misunderstood. And who hurts people and misunderstands ideas?

    Me. I do it. I did it. You did it. My fault. Your fault. Blame me. Blame ourselves. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.


    It gets so old.

    • reasonshark
      Posted July 15, 2016 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      Self-flagellation for the modern era?

    • kelskye
      Posted July 19, 2016 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      Any time there’s a gun tragedy, the gun apologists are quick to point out that guns are not the problem (and may have made things better if only there were responsible users). It the wake of any religious-inspired tragedy, it’s the same thing.

      It’s quite farcical that people’s first reaction when apparent religious motivations are at play is to protect the image of religion rather than try to understand the tragedy.

  7. Posted July 15, 2016 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    I went to Bouhlel’s facebook page this morning and screenshot all his posts. It just ain’t true that he wasn’t religious and I don’t know why this idea is spreading. They were nearly all ‘shares’ of ‘I heart Quran’ and ‘Quran and Hadis’s’ (sic) pictures of Quranic quotations. I have the evidence. Maybe he wasn’t pious but he sure as hell liked the Quran.

    • rickflick
      Posted July 15, 2016 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      I’d like to see that information spread more widely than this comment.

      • Posted July 15, 2016 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        You’d need an Arabic speaker to translate all the quotations, Rickflick.

        GodlessSpellchecker does this type of thing but he doesn’t speak Arabic, I assume.

        Maajid Nawaz can speak Arabic. I would imagine that he’d be on it already.

    • Christopher
      Posted July 15, 2016 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      Even if he wasn’t a 5-prayers-a-day, mosque-attending muslim, and many terrorists are not, islam could still be the deciding factor in why he attacks and the choice in target. I believe this has been seen/heard before, that so-and-so didn’t appear very religious, had a troubled background, often including very “un-muslim” activities (drinking, drugs, etc.), but then turned to religion and attempted to gain some sort of martyrdom, perhaps in order to “prove” to mohammed that they were good muslims after all and deserve their place in paradise. or in other words, it is the zeal of the recently (re)converted.

      • Posted July 15, 2016 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

        + 1

      • somer
        Posted July 15, 2016 at 8:51 pm | Permalink


      • somer
        Posted July 15, 2016 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

        Interesting how the media and the commentators apply a scrupulously high religious standard for anti west terrorists but someone who identifies as a practising Muslim but criticises the religion is scrutinised to the nth degree.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted July 15, 2016 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      This is preliminary, and it can change by the hour, but latest reports from those who knew him describe him as a horrible person. A mean person. But to them it makes no sense that he was radicalized.
      There are other motivations for committing mass murder besides religious zealotry. It is possible, at this hour, that his motivations were from something else.

      • aljones909
        Posted July 15, 2016 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

        Why is it always (almost always) islam. There must be plenty of people in society who feel aggrieved, disenfranchised, marginalised. They sometimes kill – usually someone known to them. Rarely would they horrifically kill as many strangers as possible.
        What, other than Islam, could inspire this (reported today):
        “According to this testimony, Wahhabist killers reportedly gouged out eyes, castrated victims, and shoved their testicles in their mouths. They may also have disemboweled some poor souls. Women were reportedly stabbed in the genitals – and the torture was, victims told police, filmed for Daesh or Islamic State propaganda. For that reason, medics did not release the bodies of torture victims to the families, investigators said.”

        • Posted July 18, 2016 at 10:48 am | Permalink

          Yes, exactly. Where are the Tibetan Buddhist suicide bombers? Tibet has been treated by China eat least as badly as the ME has been treated by the West.

          There are terrorists attacking the Chinese. And they come from Sinkiang — the far west, and they are Muslims. No connection to religion of course!

    • Posted July 15, 2016 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      Bravo for the good work!

    • somer
      Posted July 15, 2016 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      What a pathetic article in a mostly pathetic outlet. Regressive media has also infected almost all publicly funded radio and TV outlets in the anglo celtic West at least, such that Islamism always gets a soft ride and theres often an inherent assumption that the West is Worst. BBC articles moan about the demise of headhunting in far north eastern Indian tribes. People are relatively prosperous and successfully reproducing (polygamous) warriors whose huts are strewn with dozens of rivals heads are a thing of the past thanks to wicked modernisation. The regressive line utterly empowers Islamists or encourages Islamism because like it or not they are sensitive to the modernisation debate and it justifies their line that Islam should be supreme. This is why I think regressives (as opposed to centrist sensitivity about western doings but appreciation of modern gains) are a moral abomination – they actually endanger the ability of humanity to move beyond the past and threaten to drag it back.

      Whether the Regressives and the Religious like it or not Western Christianity has a lot of Graeco Roman philosophical and law/institutional influences (and to lesser extent Judaism), plus its inherent separation from state was one of the factors that enabled its eventual undermining/softening by humanism and science. Judaism meanwhile softened after the final fall of the temple and exile from Israel in ? 60AD. Actual likely outcomes in humane terms are fare less important than high principles to regressives – and a spell as boys with loving Pakistani bus drivers probably still wouldn’t cure them of their inanity. By the way thats not homophobic – whats not accepted in traditional societies is a stable, equal, public relationship between people of same sex because such a thing is seen to endanger marriage and heterosexual union and reproduction in traditional societies. Of course such norms are soooo much better than western ones.

      If the US is violent today, medieval Western society was twice as much homicide (no police for a start). In most places outside the west rampant corruption is everywhere and Torture is standard security forces treatment. This is not due to “capitalism” although poverty plays a role. But people were not better off in the past poverty and authoritarian hierarchy was the norm for practically everyone. Nor is reversion to hunter gatherer way of life that supports tiny numbers of humans realistic, and actually the lives of these people is usually no picnic either.

  8. P. Puk
    Posted July 15, 2016 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Please don’t forget that one of the cornerstones of Islam is Al Wala’ Wal Bara’ which instructs Muslims to hate.

    One doesn’t need to be a religious Muslim to adhere to this doctrine in the same way one doesn’t have to be a religious Christian to believe that Jesus died for our sins.

    The truth is that Muslims are taught to harbour hatred for all things that Allah hates. And he hates infidels and dogs and pigs and Jews and gays and a seemingly endless list of other things.

    And there are millions upon millions of Muslims living in France who have a burning hatred of everything and everybody they see around them. So it’s no surprise that some are inspired to commit murderous atrocities like what happened in Nice.

  9. Randall Schenck
    Posted July 15, 2016 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Well, he certainly amalgamated the hell out of that. These kind of people live in steal houses with no windows. There is no hope for them and they should be ignored. Huff should be laughed out of business for publishing such crap.

  10. Posted July 15, 2016 at 12:43 pm | Permalink


  11. Damien McLeod
    Posted July 15, 2016 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    I completely agree Dr Coyne.

  12. Tom
    Posted July 15, 2016 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Chamberlain, Daladier and Roosevelt hoped to pacify Nazi terror with reason and intelligence without success.
    I cannot really believe that “radical Islam” is any better than the Nazis.
    The danger is that in the same way that the majority of the Germans blindly embraced the Nazis the majority of todays Muslim seemed doomed to embrace the radicals.

  13. Martin Levin
    Posted July 15, 2016 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Ah, yes, colonialism. If not for centuries of Arab colonialism, Tunisia would not today be Muslim. The West is hardly history’s only imperialist.

    • somer
      Posted July 15, 2016 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

      Like the nauseating celebration of “Andalusian Spain” by regressive westerners. Despite the fact that the Almoravids did a lot of infighting, expeditions and slave taking, the Alouites persecuted people and the Spanish kept resisting both for 800 years. The Andalusian Jews as well as Christians there were second class citizens although the occasional learned Jew was useful in court. Or the discovery of actual Islamic warriors skeletons and arms France dated a few years after the death of the Prophet – the french pushed them out in 2 decades. Or the several seiges of Vienna by the Ottomans (the latest in the 18th C) Or the brutal history of Eastern european countries that the Ottomans colonised and which left them relatively impoverished. Or the fact that the western Mediterranean was riddled with slave raiding pirates funded by Morocco and Tunisia until the end of the 18th C. Or that the numbers of slaves taken by the Muslims is estimated same as Atlantic slave trade. Or the huge amount of Qurannic and Hadith texts devoted to war and even “booty”, and explicit endorsement of taking female captives as sex slaves. Or the large slabs of the law books like Hidaya guide to the Islamic Laws “Institutes” section of ten chapters dedicated to mandating perpetual war with non Muslim lands and explaining how to conduct this, and how to treat dhimmis. Or the role of Islamic (and indigenous) slave capturing in the Atlantic trade (actually Westerners almost never captured slaves – they bought and transported them to the vile end use). Or the refusal of Hamas and other major Islamist organisations to denounce slavery. Or the persistence of chattel slavery in small parts of the Islamic world to this day (Mauritania,Islamic state and to some degree in Saudi)

    • somer
      Posted July 15, 2016 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

      And of course that didn’t even mention Mughal India – where parts of modern Pakistan/Afghanistan were overflowing with slaves that were held excess to current requirements (this is where Indian slaves were sent if not immediately of use)
      Even emperor Akhbar, known for a period of interfaith tolerance, and who put a moratorium on slavery for a while, was still a great conqueror of Indians. He levelled the city of Chittorgarh and killed all its civilian inhabitants, men women and children (about 25,000). One hundred years later, Aurangzeb had hindus sliced to pieces in public every day and savagely tortured many opponents, including a sufi sage who had refused to answer his summons to appear in court according to reports by a Muslim scholar of the time. Generally temples were not destroyed as is sometimes claimed.

  14. Posted July 15, 2016 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Btw. a peculiar detail. The BBC is calling the vehicle a ‘truck’: it isn’t, that minimises the power of the vehicle. It’s a lorry. In British English a truck is a small lorry or a big van. Bouhlel used what looks to be a 44-ton lorry.

    What’s the American English for these huge pantechnicons? Because I have seen CNN using the word ‘truck’.

    • Posted July 15, 2016 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      “Truck” is common vernacular used for everything from tiny 1/4 ton pickups to behemoths such as this. “Tractor-trailer rig” would probably be the more official designation. “Eighteen-wheeler” is not uncommon, even for rigs with a different wheel count. “Long-haul” is also a typical modifier.

      If you’re driving on the freeway, you might say, “I’m changing lanes to pass that truck.”



    • darrelle
      Posted July 15, 2016 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      In US English the term truck would be adequate for the vehicle used in this atrocity. Tractor-trailer is the proper term for the big trucks common for hauling freight in the US. They typically have 5 axles. I think the same sort are used in the UK aren’t they? This truck looks to be intermediate size, typical for what is used to deliver sizable goods, furniture for example in city areas. In other words, about as large as can reasonable be used to get around city / residential streets.

      • darrelle
        Posted July 15, 2016 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

        Damn. What a mess of typos that is.

      • Posted July 15, 2016 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

        Yea, darrelle, I’ve looked again at the BBC video and it looks to be not quite the hugest type of lorry you can get on European roads. I ain’t no expert, but that’s still a chuffin’ big lorry: it’s not a truck.


        • darrelle
          Posted July 15, 2016 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

          Oh, I wasn’t attempting to tell you what proper UK English is, only that in US speak “truck” is typically used for this vehicle.

          I agree that when the same term can mean anything from a compact “pick-up” with a max capacity of 500 lbs to a mining truck capable of carrying a hundred sedans that “truck” isn’t very descriptive by itself.

          But I’ve always wondered where in the heck the word “lorry” comes from (i.e. etymology). Hmm. Googling “lorry etymology” the first hit says “Origin obscure.” No shit.

          • Posted July 15, 2016 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

            I didn’t take it that you were trying to teach me British-English, darrelle. Why not chuck in an Aussieism? No worries, mate.

        • Posted July 15, 2016 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

          It’s a truck in America. Truck covers everything from small pick-up truck to over-18 wheel monstrosity. But generally the word implies a large, heavy, vehicle.

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted July 15, 2016 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

            This is a lot of conversation on trucks. From someone once in the logistics world – the term used often for this size vehicle would be straight truck. A straight truck would be any large cargo truck, not an 18 wheeler or tractor trailer rig. The straight truck may be of single or duel axle.

            • darrelle
              Posted July 15, 2016 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

              Off topic, no obligation to respond, but have you heard of the Nikola One electric / gas turbine hybrid semi-truck? I’d be interested to hear an experts thoughts on the design, if it seems technically feasible and economically feasible.

              It looks fairly amazing on paper.

              • darrelle
                Posted July 15, 2016 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

                Damn. Either use this link, Nikola One, or hit your home key after clicking on that first link.

              • Randall Schenck
                Posted July 15, 2016 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

                Sorry, this is too new for me. It looks like brand new technology, not only the hybrid part but gas turbine engine? That one really is a surprise. Generally we think of gas turbine as a gas eating monster but not, based on the way this one works. LPG is also a different way to go fuel wise – not many gas stations in the U.S.

                The price looks pretty scary if you were to buy at $375,000. Lease is also much more at $5000 a month. The individual owner/operator would never do this but maybe some company would risk it. At current cost it would need to be someone who hauls very high revenue product. They claim lower cost per mile operation cost so maybe it’s possible. Also, some company who hauls very heavy loads over the mountains would find advantage with this thing. With 2000 HP there is nothing like it.

              • darrelle
                Posted July 15, 2016 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

                Thank you. I’ll be interested to see if this makes it to production and if so if the real performance numbers come close to the claimed ones. If so it will be pretty amazing.

            • Posted July 18, 2016 at 10:44 am | Permalink

              I will have no truck with this discussion.

              Someone had to say it!

    • Posted July 15, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      Truck is much better than car, which I heard more than one network reporter calling the vehicle this morning.

  15. Posted July 15, 2016 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Sorry to be the odd man out, but I think his list of causes is not bad. Of course, religion — Islam, in particular — should be up near the top of the list. But it alone is obviously not enough.

    One more thing is missing: insanity. I suspect the guy was a nut case who latched onto religion and thought this would redeem him.

    • reasonshark
      Posted July 15, 2016 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      Yes. A list of causes is inevitable because people are influenced by so many different factors, each factor also influencing the others in surprisingly complicated ways. And that’s just at one point in time: imagine all the feedback loops, vicious cycles, and other cause-and-effect patterns through time.

      I don’t think anyone here is denying that. What this is all about is the immensely irresponsible – and laughable – “but never religion” throw-in at the end of that list.

      That said, I don’t think “insanity” is an explanation of anything. It always strikes me as having more in common with an insult than with a descriptor; it’s used to express our feelings towards the perpetrator, but explains jack about that perpetrator.

      There are more helpful ways to describe it. Such “insane” acts could have been caused by one of various forms of mental illness, or by an extremely strong delusion about reality, or by the mind being emotionally driven (and extremely emotional at that), or – in some cases – by drug or substance abuse, and so on. That gets us closer to an answer than simply saying “they’re insane”.

      • Posted July 16, 2016 at 1:47 am | Permalink

        I agree with you about the word “insane”. I just could not think of a better one at the time and my wife was calling me to dinner.😉

    • Alpha Neil
      Posted July 15, 2016 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      The problem with the list is that it is so generic that it seems to apply to any social ill and isn’t specific enough to be useful in addressing the problem of terrorism. Furthermore, it assumes that outside forces (i.e. western countries) are the source of the problems in the list. However, as I read the list, I can just as easily place the blame on theocratic control of society. If everyone spends all their time reading one book and all of their thoughts must conform with the teachings in that book, they aren’t going to have a dynamic, innovative and progressive society that can reverse all of these issues. Leaving religion off the list makes the list useless.

    • darrelle
      Posted July 15, 2016 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think the OP was trying to say that any of the things that where on the list shouldn’t be. Rather Jerry was criticizing the purposeful exclusion of religion from the list when it is very obviously a major factor. I don’t see how your view is significantly different. There are always other factors involved in anything in real life, and I’d be really surprised if anyone here would claim different.

      I also don’t think insanity is obviously a significant factor. Unless the measure of insanity is merely committing acts like this. But I don’t think that is a useful measure of insanity.

    • Posted July 15, 2016 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      I am not dismissing all those other factors, which often interact. What I object to is the “never religion” claim.

      • Tim Harris
        Posted July 15, 2016 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

        The ‘never religion’ claim is ridiculous. There is an interesting interview with the French thinker Olivier Roy entitled The ‘Islamization of Radicalism: Olivier Roy on the misunderstood connection between terror and religion.’ It makes a number of sensible points. I think it’s on Slate.

  16. Scote
    Posted July 15, 2016 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Reminds me of Alternative Medicine. No, really.

    In Alternative Medicine, all treatments are purported to be always good and have zero side effects. Good stuff? Alternative medicine did it? Bad stuff? Not me.

    Also, religion in general. One person survives being crushed under a building during an earth quake? Praise God! All those other people who were killed? Not God!

    Zniber is doing the same thing. He thinks religion has powerful effects, but that magically the effects are only, and can only be, good, never bad. It is magical thinking at its worst.

    • Posted July 15, 2016 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      Many people see religion as just a moral system whose fundamental precepts are always synonymous with “good”. They ignore or severely discount any religious beliefs about the nature of reality. That’s why they often characterize those who harm others in the name of religion as not truly religious, or at the very least, practicing a highly distorted version of “true” religion. From there, it is easy to see why they never blame religion for anything bad.

      But if you understand religion as a set of beliefs about reality, and that these beliefs can often be inaccurate and loathsome by any reasonable standards, then it is not so hard to understand that bad behavior can often be motivated by religion.

      • Jeremy Tarone
        Posted July 15, 2016 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I’ve run into more than a few of these people, and some of them can get more than a little irate when we point out the error. Or they just plain refuse to see the error, which has been the most often seen reaction by me.
        I usually use examples of Christianity, the inquisition, witch burning and South American human sacrifices.

        Some of them simply maintain their fiction saying that is how they classify religions and that is that.

  17. Kevin
    Posted July 15, 2016 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    It’s like I am surrounded by people who want to live a fiction.

    J:”It was the nightingale, and not the lark.”

    P:”I say it is the moon.”

    K:”I know it is the moon.”

    P:”Nay, then you lie. It is the blessèd sun.”

  18. Vaal
    Posted July 15, 2016 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    The “never religion” view is of course ridiculous.

    At the same time a view like “It’s the religion, stupid!” isn’t totally helpful either.

    When I read of events like that in Nice it’s almost destabilizing to contemplate any group could be that depraved and callous.
    I want to understand why, how, people can do such things (to hopefully lead to ways of preventing it).

    The answer, something along the lines of “they get their motivation fron what they read in the Koran/Hadiths” while no doubt true as far as that goes, just isn’t a sufficient answer. The bible is full of horrible commandments that most Christians ignore. And most Muslims ignore/interpret
    their religion more peacefully. So what I really want to know is what motivates some people, this type of group in particular, to interpret Islam in the way they do.

    But when someone turns to analyzing extra-religious factors, psychological, cultural, social, economic etc, to get that wider picture, they are accused of straying from the obvious “It’s the religion, stupid” side.
    And those who want to make sure we keep the religious influence in site and raise the issue are accused of being facile and neglecting the other contributing factors.
    It’s a frustrating stand-off at the moment when it seems both should be combined, or at least appreciated, not seen as at odds.

    • Posted July 15, 2016 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      I think that Pinker, commenting on the Orlando massacre, nailed it: Islamists currently, like some Leftist terrorists in the past, are imagining themselves to be part of a victorious movement. The same was true for Christians ages ago, but no longer. Christian fundamentalists can abuse their weaker family members and attack abortion rights and spin ID, but not much more. Muslim fundamentalists think that with some efforts and sacrifices, in a reasonably short time, they will own the world. And, so far, facts are on their side.

  19. Posted July 15, 2016 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Someone has a belief in creationism, is very clear that it is an expression of their religious convictions, and proceeds to act in ways that are harmful (e.g. succeeds in preventing evolution being taught in their local schools).

    Do we fall over ourselves trying to explain the harmful behavior without reference to the religious belief? If not, why not?

    Someone bombs an abortion clinic, killing and maiming many workers there. The bomber is quite clear that this behavior is based on their firm Christian conviction that an abortion clinic is a slaughterhouse of the holy innocents, and that they are using violence as a way to protect the innocents and serve their lord Jesus Christ. They (quite correctly) point out that violence is not prohibited by Christianity, and can offer many examples from the Bible of righteous folk serving God through acts of violence.

    Again, do we twist ourselves in knots trying to decouple the behavior from the religious convictions? Actually, I can see in this example that many would try to explain it without reference to religion, but I fail to see the logic in that.

  20. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted July 15, 2016 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    As I would always say to such apologists:

    Since you claim that these terrorist actions are not motivated by religion, you must have in mind what would be a terrorist action that is motivated by religion.
    Tell me, please, what would a religiously motivated terrorist action look like?

  21. colnago80
    Posted July 15, 2016 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps a little OT but related to the issue of Islamism but apparently, there is a coup attempt underway in Turkey by factions of the Army opposed to the theocratic Erdogan government there. I’m sure that Islamic apologists like Glenn Greenwald will blame the US and Israel. Hopefully, Erdogan will suffer the same fate as his pal Morsi did in


    • Randall Schenck
      Posted July 15, 2016 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

      Just as a bit of later information from CNN about 9 pm central time U.S. Seems the coup attempt is failing, at least this is the word from some govt. official in Turkey.

      Regarding the attack in Nice, France, it looks like this guy had lots of mental problems. Maybe not be inspired by radical Islamist. Kind of hard to believe but not known at this time.

      • Posted July 16, 2016 at 4:39 am | Permalink

        Amaq, the news outlet of ISIS, has just claimed Bouhlell “a soldier of the Islamic State”. ISIS has claimed credit for lone wolves before and has called for lone wolf attacks, as well as creating cells in Southern France. Their announcement does not mean that Bouhlel had contact with them.

        • Posted July 16, 2016 at 4:43 am | Permalink

          ‘Creating cells’ bit is misleading: ISIS operatives have been known to have worked in Europe and come through Southern France. Security analysts believe there may be ISIS sleeper cells in Europe.

      • somer
        Posted July 17, 2016 at 12:33 am | Permalink

        No he was just antisocial and violent. Mental problems does not equal violent

  22. Christopher Bonds
    Posted July 15, 2016 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Wake up people! Religion encourages people NOT to think about the things they need to in order to make this a better world. It’s a diversion of mental energy into the void of ignorance and superstition.

  23. Mike
    Posted July 16, 2016 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Islam is the be all and end all of Islamic terrorism, end of !

  24. Posted July 18, 2016 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    I heard a BBC panel discussion (via NPR in the US) on the Nice attack. The Frenchman on the panel was vehement when the BBC moderator asked whether religion had anything to do with it.

    He said something like, “We don’t ask what religion is in conflict X, do we? Religion has nothing to do with it!”

    The moderator was gentle but persistent.

    He did reply with, more or less “Well, in our conflict in Northern Ireland, religion was a factor; and it was covered that way.”

    I wish he would have replied (per Sam Harris):

    “Well, these other conflicts you list, they weren’t shouting Allahu Akbar or Jesus is Great either. There’s a double standard at work here: When a violent act is done in the name of anything except religion, we take its motivation at face value. If it’s done in the name of religion (explicitly) they we “delve deeper” for the “nuance” of the “real” reason behind the act. That is simply cherry-picking and it’s wrong.”

  25. Posted August 13, 2016 at 3:00 am | Permalink

    The problem is entirely due to religion or ideology. When a fixed set of rules or a manifesto takes over the brain and replaces humanity and the personal conscience we become zombies; absolutely any barbaric act becomes possible by such an individual. This must not be confused with intelligence in fact some of these systems appeal to the intelligent : witness the intelligent members of Islamic state.
    Just like drug addiction it can happen to anyone under the right circumstances. Dictators have already become zombies to their own mind-set.
    The rules or laws of a group of humans must be decided by democratic means and must evolve over time to improve the benefit of all.
    No one wants to live under Sharia law or Old testament law even if they profess to be Christian or Muslim. These old systems have been swept away by modern thinking.

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