Don’t Ask Why, But What Can I Do?

When I sat down to think about this question, it struck me immediately that war is hardly worse than many … Continued

When I sat down to think about this question, it struck me immediately that war is hardly worse than many of the other horrible things humankind suffers through. The tsunami, Katrina, the Pakistani earthquake; the genocides in Rwanda and Darfur; the slow starvation of millions of children and women, the ravages of preventable disease; all of these were/are at least as horrific as the carnage in any war zone.

The real question, it seems, ought to be how can we keep faith in face of natural disasters and human brutality towards other humans? How do we explain a God that allows such suffering to happen?

And the answer to that is that I cannot explain God, and that faith rests not upon the natural world, or the goodness of humankind, but upon the whisperings of our heart, the yearnings of our soul.

I can offer up the arguments about this world being a test to see how we will deal with each other, and whether we turn a blind eye to the sufferings of our fellow humans. But, while I do believe that, it is also quite clear to me that this test could easily be accomplished with suffering on a far lesser scale.

I can mouth platitudes about free will, and how God allows humans to do as they please, which
I also believe, but that doesn’t really explain why God made us so capable of doing evil. Obviously, God could have fashioned us with limited will to harm others, limited greed, limited self-interest.

I can argue that the glories of the hereafter, or it’s agonies, will make up for any suffering or harm caused in the here and now, but that does little to alleviate the here and now suffering that I see before my eyes. And it’s clear to me that justice even in the here and now is often a set of competing claims which means that justice for one results in injustice for another; how much more so justice in an eternal setting.

To be honest, I don’t feel much need to explain God or the natural order. The world is as the world is. Human beings are the way they are. The thing that I call God is the way He/She/It is.

The important question is not, “Why?” but, “What can I do to make things better?” And to that there are a multitude of answers from charity to protests in the street, from volunteerism to advocacy work, and on and on and on.

These works represent, to me, a huge leap of faith — faith that a better world is possible, despite centuries and millenniums of evidence that humankind is inveterately violent, hateful, selfish, and self-centered; faith that the humane, compassionate, altruistic side of humankind will indeed finally win out.

What God wants for the world, I can’t really say. On the one hand I believe that God is Merciful, Loving and Compassionate, and see ample evidence of that in daily life, the natural world, the incredible order of the universe. On the other I see ample evidence that God simply lets things run their course, no matter how horrific that course may be, or, even, that God has set the universe up in such a way, that by its very structure and nature suffering must occur. Be all that as it may, I cannot change the structure of the universe, the nature of life on Earth, but I can act upon the world as it is, I can try and implement my will, my desires, for life here, and hopefully make the world just a tiny bit better.

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  • Anthony

    I think the question is how could free will exist in a physical universe where God steps in to prevent the natural outcomes of events. Even those events driven by human action.

  • Hubbard Morris

    A “huge leap of faith” seems to be part of the personal requirement to align one’s will with that of God. The other part, in my observation, is courage.Approaching evil, even while the individual cannot take on every battle, requires courage and clear proactive thinking that supports the spirit when in pain and when isolated or unpopular. If God is given to testing humans, then courage may be one of those tests.

  • anon

    “I can argue that the glories of the hereafter, or it’s agonies, will make up for any suffering or harm caused in the here and now…”may be better rewritten as:I can argue that BECAUSE OF the PERCEIVED glories of the hereafter, or it’s agonies, cause suffering or harm in the here and now.

  • Viejita del oeste

    Sectarian differences are irrelevant with this kind of a question. We can all do as this post suggests, and try to use our free will to make the world less hate-filled and less violent — whether or not we believe in an Abrahamic hereafter.BTW please correct the misused apostrophe (repeated by anon) “the glories of the hereafter, or it’s agonies, will make up for any suffering” unless Ms. Taylor meant “the glories of the hereafter, or it is agonies, will make up for any suffering…”

  • life on the net

    “BTW please correct the misused apostrophe”..prepare yourself for disappointment..

  • life on the net

    Would Pam the Imam care to comment?Once a Muslim, Always a Muslim in Malaysia: The country’s highest court rules that a Kuala Lumpur woman can’t convert to Christianity.

  • FRIEND

    Pam:My current mantra is:I can’t save the world, I can only save myself, but let’s try to save the world anyway…I guess it is a bit narcissistic but it’s a coping mechanism I use when looking at the worlds problems.Thank you for your insights.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    1.2 billion Muslims in the world. Why? Because they were born Muslims and don’t know any better. Lose their faith because of war? Of course not, war is part of their “koranic” faith. “Death to unbelievers” being their battle cry!!!!!!

  • Lopsang Rinpoche

    PamelaIs your god soliciting love for all, not just those who believe in him, or is he soliciting hatred? Without love there can be no true understanding and peace.

  • hl

    The enemies of peace are the radical Christians who would rather see the world in wars and turmoil so their messiah might hasten his return; they are counting on being spirited away in the clouds and the rest of us stay here on earth and suffer. They may claim that they preach a message of love but what they hide and wish for is destruction, suffering and annihilation of the non-Christains.Sixteen words may be all that stand right now between the apparatus of government and the Founding Fathers’ worst nightmare. And those words are starting to give.”Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .”When George Bush, in the wake of 9/11, puffed himself into Richard the Lionheart and declared he would lead the country in a “crusade” against terrorism – you know, crusade, as in slaughter of Muslim infidels – turns out . . . oh, how awkward (if you’re on White House spin duty) . . . he may have been speaking literally.What’s certain, in any case, is that a lot of people in high and low places within the Bush administration – and in particular, the military – heard him literally, and regard the war on terror as a religious war: “The enemy has got a face. He’s called Satan. He lives in Fallujah. And we’re going to destroy him,” a lieutenant colonel, according to a BBC reporter, said to his troops on the eve of the destruction of that undefended city in post-election 2004.”I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol,” Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Jerry Boykin notoriously boasted a few years back, speaking of a Muslim warlord in Somalia. And by the way, George Bush is “in the White House because God put him there.”And, of course, just the other day, Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich, who conducted the first official investigation into Pat Tillman’s death, opined that Tillman’s family is only pestering the Army for the, ahem, truth about how he died because their loved one, a non-believer with no heavenly reward to reap, is now “worm dirt.” Until I read the newly published “With God on Their Side” (St. Martin’s Press), Michael Weinstein’s disturbing account of anti-Semitism at the U.S. Air Force Academy, I shrugged off each of these remarks, and so much more, as isolated, almost comically intolerant noises out of True Believer Land. Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do . . .Now my blood runs cold. Weinstein, a 1977 graduate of the Academy and former assistant general counsel in the Reagan administration, and a lifelong Republican, has devoted the last several years of his life to battling what he has come to regard as a fundamentalist takeover of the Academy, turning it, in effect, into a taxpayer-supported Evangelical institution. He charges that the separation of church and state is rapidly vanishing at the school, which routinely promotes sectarian religious events, tolerates the proselytizing of uniquely vulnerable new recruits and, basically, conflates evangelical interests and the national interest.If you think this is just a fight over some abstract principle, with ramifications only for atheist, Jewish, Buddhist and other cadets who may be “offended” by fundamentalist God talk, I urge you to check out Weinstein’s book or website (militaryreligiousfreedom.org). He documents a chilling phenomenon: The whole U.S. military, up and down the chain of command, is coming to be dominated by members of a small, characteristically intolerant sliver of Christianity who truly regard themselves as Christian soldiers, on a God-appointed mission to harvest souls and battle evil. Weinstein, whose family tradition of national service is pretty impressive, does not do battle lightly with those who now run his alma mater. One of his sons is a recent graduate of the Air Force Academy and the other is still a cadet there. The fact that both of them endured anti-Semitic harassment initially spurred him to take action. But this goes deeper than disrespect for other faiths. The attitude he has encountered in his attempt to hold the institution, and the rest of the military, accountable smacks of a coup: “The Christian Taliban is running the Department of Defense,” he told me. “It inundates everything.” Can you imagine a contingent of religious zealots, with their contempt for secular values (and such manifestations of secular order as the U.S. Constitution) – and with their zest for holy war – in control of the most potent fighting force and weaponry in human history? Is this possible?Well, said Weinstein, consider the 523rd Fighter Squadron, based at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., which calls itself The Crusaders, and whose emblem consists of a sword, four crosses and a medieval knight’s helmet. Check ’em out at globalsecurity.org, which reports that the payload on the F-16s they fly consists of “a wide variety of conventional, precision guided and nuclear weapons.”And listen once again to Commander-in-Chief Bush, speaking in 2003 to Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: “God told me to strike at al-Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East.”If this is a religious war – a “clash of civilizations,” waged by competing agents of God’s will – victory may be indistinguishable from Armageddon. God help the human race.

  • Tim

    What are the rules for posting up here. My posting was deleted. Does this happen often and does anyone know why?

  • CS

    Frank,HL pointing out the rhetoric of some self-rightious Christians in the Bush admin. who seem to think that war is just dandy hardly constitutes “hate”.You make yourself look small, petty and foolish to deride someone you disagree with in that way.Christians both in the macro and micro are hardly above criticism and certianly have not always worn the white hat in warfare. I write that as a Christian who has seen war.

  • Viejita del oeste

    Frank, did you read hl’s posting? He is not advocating hatred toward anyone, including Christians. Does your keyboard have a demon or something? You seem to bust out the same unrelated comments to every opinion. Reread what hl wrote with an open mind, and tell me you don’t see yourself in his description. I try not to engage you when you are in this mode, but I’m feeling impatient today.

  • Tim

    Viejita del oeste, thanks for your input. It’s my first time posting and I said some kind of strong things but you are right there is an abundance of abusive speech on this site and some real digs going on. I will post something as close as possible to my post that was deleted in awhile. Don’t want to put it here since my message to you might be deleted. I am a Christian who is totally against any advancement of Islam and that was the crux of my post to Ms. Pamela. I also included some bitting comments that were kind of personal. I will try to be more Christian in the future so that the Muslim running this particular conversion does not censure me. Thanks, Tim

  • Truth About Islam

    Islamabad (AsiaNews) – Convert to Islam within 10 days and shut down all the country’s churches: the ultimatum was delivered in a threatening letter that Muslim fundamentalists sent to Christian communities in Charsadda and Mardan, in northern Pakistan. If their orders are not obeyed, “all Christians will be executed”.

  • Tim

    My second try.Pamela, you say your want you will to be done. Probably your agenda is to advance Islam. Any advancement of Islam makes the world a worse place to live. May you will not be done. Pamela, in your mind, you think that you are making things better but in reality every time you advance Islam under the cover of being a moderate, you make things worse. Every time you advance Islam you are causing us all digress to a place in the middle ages where people dress like you. Respectfully yours, Tim.

  • ahmed from bahrain

    Anonymous you report the incident in Mecca that Saudi government denies entry of non-mulsim into Mecca.Why then your government have continuously sided with Saudi government? Why do you sell them massive firepower? Who do you expect they use this firepower against?How about your support for Husni Mubarak who has been democratically elected over 25 years? with all opposition in prison. They are your government’s friends.You also pay billions of dollars to Israel where they continuosly carry out ethnic cleansing, destruction of towns and villages they have no right to be in and have turned 3 million Palestinians into exile. The rest live in utter poverty with no recourse to justice in any world court. Thus must fight for their rights the only way they know, despite being abandoned by most Western powers.Try googling for their history and spend a couple of years reading! Perhaps then you can visit them and see how they live. Thanks to your tax dollars that keep such barbaric systems in place.You are never one for finding the log in your own eyes but vehmently look for specks in other people’s eyes and you profess allegiance to Christ. You will never come close to even understanding Him unless you change your heart and embrace ALL.

  • Bob

    Nonsense. Not worth commenting on.Bob

  • Truth About Islam

    Islamabad (AsiaNews) – Convert to Islam within 10 days and shut down all the country’s churches: the ultimatum was delivered in a threatening letter that Muslim fundamentalists sent to Christian communities in Charsadda and Mardan, in northern Pakistan. If their orders are not obeyed, “all Christians will be executed”.

  • yo-yo

    Pam,you write “The real question, it seems, ought to be how can we keep faith in face of natural disasters and human brutality towards other humans? How do we explain a God that allows such suffering to happen?”

  • to pamela

    “Putting on a berka does not make one a Muslim. You deny Islam with the words your are writing.” Pamela, there is truth in what he says. Readers here may feel that posts are harsh and against you. But.. this is absolutely nothing compared to the hatred your coreligionists dish out to you at other sites. Most of their comments would not be printable here. The milder complaints seem to be that you don’t know their culture or their faith, you wear their clothing wrong, and you show everyone your tush when you lead prayers.Best wishes, dear. You’ll be needing them.

  • Anonymous

    Pamela, You are not a Muslim so why do you set yourself up as one. Putting on a berka does not make one a Muslim. You deny Islam with the words your are writing. The following demonstrates what true Islam is about:Saudi officials have arrested a man in Mecca for being a Christian, saying that the city, which Muslims consider to be holy, is off-limits to non-Muslims.

  • Jacob Jozevs et al

    Att: T I M, et al;Be considerate, else interesting! Ya Mons Ya !

  • Viejita del oeste

    All the examples you’ve given show abuses caused by Islam being so closely linked to politics in countries where Muslims are in the majority. It’s the same kind of feeling I get when people here and elsewhere talk about the US as a “Christian Nation.” What does that mean?

  • yo-yo

    If I had been born in Iran,I may have been a Muslim today.

  • Joseph Matthias

    The West have ‘abandoned’ the Palestinians by giving them more aid than anyone else – including their Muslim brothers. The West have ‘abandoned’ the Palestinians by trying on numerous occasions to broker peace while the Palestinians ran amok with their intifada.There is no Palestinian rights to the West Bank and Gaza – after you lot tried to destroy Israel in three past wars in which you vowed to drive us into the sea. As ye sow so shall ye reap. What do you think you were going to do if you had been successful in defeating the IDF? You would have kept the entire land of Israel for yourselves. But since you lost – you have to pay the consequences. Conquest goes both ways.Arab Muslim citizens of Israel enjoy full and equal rights of citizenship with the Jews. The fact is the Palestinians are totally unable to govern themselves and take every opportunity to attack Israel from their enclaves. Even this week rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza. How do you think we should respond? Do you think we should just let you fire rockets at us without retaliation? Don’t fire on us and live on your side of the wall. We shall have peace if you do that.But you won’t.

  • Viejita del oeste

    Yo-Yo

  • Anonymous

    Roy, Stop trying to say that Christians a are killing Muslims it is a lie. The Qur’an endorses the murder of Christians and Jews. You have been brainwashed by all the politically correct media.

  • Viejita del oeste

    By the way, Frank, good point about the difference between what is true and what anyone believes is true.

  • Roy

    Muslims kill Christians and Jews because they hate infidels. The Koran tells them so.Christians kill Muslims because Muslims hate and kill Christians and Jews. Jews kill Muslims for the same reason. The difference with Christians is that Jesus DOESN’T tell them so. They disobey their Lord who they named themselves after.As long as these three controlling religions rule the world, there will be war. It’s their nature and the way it is.The God of Abraham must be proud of his children.

  • Ted Baines

    PamelaThe reason your Arabic god Allah does not pay attention to the suffering in this world is that after talking to Muhammad in a cave he has not spoken to anyone else.

  • Don

    Exodus 20:13

  • tufail

    Pamila gives her position of theodicy. The best explantion for goodness of God in presence of Evil on our universe is given by T.O.Shanavas in his excellent book, “CREATION AND/OR EVOLUTION AN ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE.” According to Shanavas the correct understanding of Inshah Allah (God So Willing).” Shanavas argues that messenger momments of time flows from God carrying proposals from God and when human and all creatures tanscribe these proposals into material medium the proposals become the monuments of divine creation. In such a understanding of Inshah Allah, the chance events, existance of evil, God’s goodness are fully explained. Shanavas does not see any conflict between theory of evolution and the Koran also.

  • The Plans of True Muslims

    NEW YORK — As first reported by NewsChannel4’s Jonathan Dienst, three people were arrested and one other was being sought Saturday in connection to a plot to blow up jet-fuel lines at John F. Kennedy International Airport, officials said.Four people have been charged. Three suspects are in custody: Russell Defreitas, Kareem Ibrihim and Abdul Kadir. Another suspect, Abdul Nur is still at large.Defreitas is to be arrainged Saturday in Brooklyn on terror conspiracy charges.Sources said Defreitas, a former cargo worker at JFK allegedly began to plot attacking the US last July or August. Defeitas sought help in carrying out a plan and went to an FBI informant, who gathered information about the plot.U.S. Attorney Roslynn R. Mauskopf called it “one of the most chilling plots imaginable.””The devastation that would be caused had this plot succeeded is just unthinkable,” she said at a news conference.Defreitas is a U.S. citizen with roots in Guyana.Kadir, a former member of Parliament in Guyana, was arrested in Trinidad for attempting to secure money for “terrorist operations,” according to a Guyanese police commander who spoke on condition of anonymity.Kadir, a Muslim, left his position in Parliament last year. Muslims make up about 9 percent of the former Dutch and British colony’s 770,000 population, mostly from the Sunni sect.Sources said counter-terrorism officials have been following the plot for a little less than one year.Sources said the plot involved a plan to blow up a BuckEye jet-fuel pipeline at JFK setting off a potential massive explosion. BuckEye provides fuel to all three NYC-area airports.Sources said the plot involved putting explosives inside the fuel pipeline but realized that “it was not technically feasible.”Officials said the plot may also have included plans to hit the JFK terminal buildings and aircraft, in addition to the fuel lines.Sources said the planning stages of the plot involved surveillance of JFK airport as well as scouting out US properties in Guyana for possible attacks.

  • True Muslim

    It does not matter what country the true Muslims are from they want to murder anyone who does not believe in Islam. Why is that? Could it be that they are following the words of the Qur’an? Could it be that they are following the example of the prophet Muhammad?”Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful” (Qur’an 9:5).Volume 4, Book 52, Number 176:

  • I

    I should have be a bystander instead what have you done. The true religion of all is not Christian, Islam or any. It is in your heart & soul saying you should renounce the evil trying to seed. Instead cherish what have God plant in you. If you know what God have plan for us. You don’t have to say what religion drives you to say. You just have to say what in you heart & soul. note: I am not atheist.

  • Jihadist

    Imam Pamela TaylorAssalam mualaikumI don’t read the essays by Muslim panelists in On Faith for a while as they already are reflective of Muslim thoughts and spiritualism.As always, an excellent essay that can only come from the heart, mind and pen of a bona fide member of the ulema, not laymen and pretenders of Islamic scholarship and beliefs. AsimI agree with you in your post here. In fact all your posts here. They still don’t get it that Imam Pamela Taylor is progressive in the sense that she is a forward looking Muslim who don’t harp on history and historical baggage in moving the Muslim community forward and divesting it of all practices and beliefs that don’t reflect the core Islamic principles. Just as progressive non-Muslim clerics in Christianity look beyond the histories of their churches and seek to move forward their fellow adherents spiritually.

  • Apoliticallycorrect

    Asim,Instead of calling other people’s posts “empty nonsense” prove what they are saying wrong. Making statements like yours is common practice for those who cannot defend the indefensible. I find it laughable that you charge the posters with not having an “intelligent discussion on such an issue” when you have not added anything to the discussion to show that all these reports of Islamic violence are not part of Islam. I have seen news reports, Qur’anic references, and Haddiths that demonstrate and encourage hatred and violence against Christians Jews, and anyone else who does not believe in Islam. Is it not true that the Qur’an teaches that Islam will take over the world?

  • Apoliticallycorrect

    I agree Frank!

  • Truth About Islam

    “Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection” (Qur’an 9:29).

  • Rob Adams

    You don’t over come hate, with hate. You do not overcome violence with violence.You overcome hate with love, you overcome violence with peace and compassion.Demonstrate what you want the world to become. If you don’t want it to be violent or hateful, then do not demonstate these. It is the only way out of the trap

  • Adam Vaughan

    So exactly how is the Aryan Brotherhood a part of Christianity? AB is a non-Christian Nazi-type criminal organisation. What part of the message of Jesus Christ inspired the Aryan Brotherhood?Which Biblical verse(s) are applicable to the AB and inspire what they do?Puhleeze people, let us compare apples with apples.

  • Rob Adams

    Adam.It is very easy to find research on how the KKK employed religion, Christianity, as a way to promote their ideas.For instance quoting from the Anti defamation league web siteThey often state they are a Christian organization.Obviously the true meaning and essence of Christianity does not support the KKK’s ideology. It is a prime example of hijacking a religion and using it to promote another agenda. Viejita’s point is we don’t lump all the Christians in with the KKK so why would we lump all Muslims in with terrorist organizations. I think it is apples with apple.

  • Krusso

    Rob Adams,There is no moral equivalence between Islam and Christianity. You have been programmed by our politically correct media, educational institutions, and the republican and democratic parties. Political Correctness will be our death nail unless we awaken from our slumber. We have been programmed to believe all religions are the same well they are not. Jesus said to turn the other cheek. He did that all the way to the cross. He said “love your enemies.” Muhammad claimed to speak for God and said “slay the infidels.” He slew people who refused to believe in the Muslim god. The Muslims in this country are not going to tell you the truth about Islam. They want to see our destruction. True there may be some so-called moderates but they are not following the Qur’an or Muhammad’s example of “slaying the infidels” (see Qur’an 9:5). I do not expect you to understand this because you are looking at the world through the now consensus politically correct worldview. We are like the proverbial frog in a pot of water. The heat is being turned up gradually and most do not realize that they are going to be boiled to death. Listen to the words of Muhammad:“Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection” (Qur’an 9:29).Volume 4, Book 52, Number 177:

  • Krusso

    Adam,I noticed that not one person including Adam or Viejita has answered your questions. It seems when good questions are ask there are no answers. Jesus was a Jew so no true Christian is anti-Semitic or else they would be rejecting the one they say they believe in. The Christian worldview is the worldview that rose up and defeated British and American slavery. See the movie Amazing Grace and you will see that truth. The naturalistic evolutionary was the foundation for slavery and Hitler’s Germany.Listen to Darwin:“At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the Negro or Australian and the gorilla” (Charles Darwin).

  • Rob Adams

    Krusso.As for moral equivalence between Christianity and Islam, really that is in the eye of the beholder. How any man interprets his religion will ultimately dictate his actions. Are some religions ‘better’ in promoting peace? That would depend on people’s point of view. Is it Christianity, Buddhism (nice people the Buddhist 🙂 ), perhaps the Hindus or Wiccans. There are atheists and agnostics with moral fiber. They may disagree with how it got there, but it is there.I will not disagree some of the verses in the Koran certainly contradict the peaceful portions. The discussion has been had several times on this site about violent passages in all religious text so there is no need to rehash that here.Since when is it politically correct to promote peace. One of my favorite quotes is from Gandhi. ‘There is no way to peace, peace is the way’. I believe that. I really don’t see Christ taking up arms and leading us into battle. No one answered my question of does Christ want us to kill people?According to the Christian belief you can not be destroyed as your repentance and belief in Christ will save you when death comes to you. According to Christian belief the winners are determined in the afterlife, not this one. So then why is there the need to fight?

  • Krusso

    Rob,Are you saying that you cannot know the intended meaning of any author’s words?I am not saying that atheists do not have morals. My question is how does an atheist account for morals? On what basis can an atheist tell the Hitlers of the world they are wrong?I want peace too but not at any cost. Political correctness is blinding us to the truth about Islam. I believe in telling the truth so people may see the error of their ways (according to the Bible) and be saved. If I have cancer I want the doctor to tell me so I can get the cure. I may not like the truth but I need to know the truth in order to be ready for the doctor’s prescription.Jesus told me to love my enemies not kill them. That said God also wants Christians to take up the cause of the weak and oppressed. I will leave the judgment of a person’s soul to Jesus when He returns. God will cast all those who rejected Him into hell because they hated the knowledge of the truth and loved their own way instead of God’s way.I have eternal life now. It began the day I trusted Jesus Christ and what He did for me. I have walked with Him for 20 years now and He has never let me down.

  • Rob Adams

    Krusso.I guess an atheist doesn’t rightly care where they get morals from they are just happy that they do… and so are we! How do they tell the Hitlers of the world they are wrong? They can only demonstrate their morals. And really that is all any of us can do.I have observed that being a demonstration of your beliefs is the best way to communicate them. Simply stating my way is better does not usually get it done as everyone has their book (or belief) on the truth. When people see love, compassion, sacrifice, the essence of religious teaching rather than the dogma they are more apt to believe in the power of that relgion. Simply be. If you want a loving world, be loving.When people ask, how can you be like this given the state of the world (or your surroundings) you say my faith in Jesus Christ ( or Buddha, Muhammad or whoever ) .I think that was what Jesus did. He didn’t just say do what I say, he was the example; caring, forgiving, compassionate, peaceful and took up the cause of the weak and oppressed. You asked about people not knowing the meaning of an author’s words. I believe people can indeed miss the meaning of an authors words especially in religion. Problems like old text, different languages, translations, interpretations. We think we know the culture and sayings of the time but we don’t really know. Look at how many flavors of Christianity there are? Add to that people who are illiterate or semi illiterate. They need to rely on others to teach them. Mr. Miagi from the movie the karate kid “There are no bad students Danielson, only bad teacher.” That works for religion too. If Osama Bin Laden teaches Islam and Pamela Taylor teaches Islam we get different results.Krusso you said Jesus has never let you down. I think if we took the peaceful route Jesus would not disappoint.

  • Rob Adams

    Krusso.I agree Jesus and Buddha were quite different. I believe they both bring a different set of gifts to the table. As for following Jesus, to me he is a large part of the puzzle and has not shown us the complete answer, at least not in the tradition interpretations of his life. Perhaps that is a lengthy conversation for another time.That is where we will differ on Christianity. I do appreciate the prayers.Peace

  • Rob Adams

    Frank.I understand your frustration and hatred. Is hatred a fair word? That is the perception I get, please correct me if that is wrong.Religion is an effective tool regardless of whether it is used or abused. When abusing it to teach hatred or killing it can be very effective because if your God says kill someone, who is there to override the decision?Personally I am spiritual and not religious but religion can also be used for extreme good. I wonder where Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa would have been without their religious influences. Where would our world be now without their contributions?In American the KKK leaned (do they still lean?) on misinterpretations of the Bible to promote hate. Today as a country we are much more educated on the issues and fortunately their influence is greatly diminished. There is a similar problem in parts of the world with Islam. Poverty, lack of freedom imposed by the ruling classes or governments in certain regions allow for the hijacking of Islam. Does Islam have more ‘violent passages’ in it than other scripture. Maybe, I don’t know. I just know that there is violent passages in almost any religious text and there have been numerous threads on this site about this. In the end it comes down to interpretation. Should ‘violent passages; be taken out of religious text? Sounds like an interesting idea, but I don’t see religions doing that. And those who want it in to abuse it , will leave it in saying that it was the ‘original’ text.If it was truly a religious war Islam vs the west we would have much bigger problems since there are millions of Muslims in America. Fortunately they are no more violent than the rest of our society. Therefore I don’t think we can say Islam/Muslims in general are the problem. It is those influenced by the hijack version of Islam that are the issue. By attacking them we are putting out fire with gasoline. Where will it end? Since we are mostly a Christian nation let’s assume Jesus is on our side. Does He want us to kill people? Would that be His answer?If we believe we need to fight then we do not understand your spirituality or our religion. Thus we are willing to abandon our religion(s) for something not of this world; food, oil, shelter, dominance, money or freedom. Religious teachings (and spiritual belief for us ‘new agers’) say that it is the next life (or spiritual development) that matters, not this one. So why fight?Religious teachings, in essence, say do not kill. So why fight? Even if I am to concede that Islam teaches ‘them’ to kill ‘us’, which I don’t believe, our religious beliefs teach us love, compassion, peace, forgiveness. So why fight?

  • Krusso

    Rob,What is the ultimate measure of morality? Who is the ultimate measure of morality? Thanks for your kind discourse.

  • Rob Adams

    Adam.I think you are missing my point. Anyone can make a claim, but their actions, in this case the KKK, I would agree are heretical. I don’t know exactly what versus they use but I am sure they could quote that homosexuality is a sin which is one interpretation out of the Bible. To think that homosexuality is a sin is one thing, but to teach hate towards homosexuals or perpetrate violence against them or kill them would certainly not be in accordance with the teachings of the Bible. To me that would be an example of taking something from the Bible and using to support an agenda not in accordance with the essence of Christianity.If you take the interpretation that it is a sin you are still told to show them the ‘error’ of their ways but love them and be compassionate towards them and pray for them.One item, two approaches. One in accordance and one not in accordance with Christianity.Just because the KKK misuses the teachings does not in and of itself mean the teachings are wrong. The same goes for Islam or any other religion. Are we on the same page now?

  • Rob Adams

    Krusso.I will get to you tomorrow. Have good night.

  • Viejita del oeste

    Do we as Christians have to answer for the actions and philosophy of the Aryan Brotherhood?

  • Rob Adams

    Viejita,You are correct. Christians did not have to answer for the Aryan’s and the peaceful Islamics shouldn’t have to answer for the extremists.But since they do not have a hierarchy perhaps it would be beneficial for a stronger voice from the peaceful ones? Perhaps that is also a fault of the media. The peaceful Islamists are not soely responsible for peace, we all are. Pamela is one of the peaceful ones and she has a forum here and uses it well. If we support her here then I guess that is a start in our corner of the world.

  • Adam Vaughan

    Rob,I think you have willfully misrepresented the KKK and AB as Christian organizations – thus proving you don’t know anything about Christian theology. Your stance is highly objectionable to true Christians. On the other hand, no Muslim can claim that the Islamic terrorists are heretical because they are doing what their prophet both did and taught.As for your homosexuality argument – that is spurious in the extreme, not to mention a red herring.

  • Adam Vaughan

    Rob Adams wrote:I think we are finally coming together on this. You imply that the Christians should not bear the guilt on this and you are correct!Similarly the peaceful Muslims should not bear the guilt of the violent ones. We should not judge them on their religion, we should judge them on their actions as human beings.–Incorrect. The KKK and AB have nothing whatsoever to do with Christianity, despite their claims.The Islamic terrorists have everything to do with Muslims because they follow the same core teachings:9:29 kill the unbelievers, unless they are Jews or Christians who agree to pay the Jizyah in humiliation and subjugation.All Muslims believe in the validity of this verse. Without exception.

  • Rob Adams

    Adam.I am sorry if I have offended you or any other Christian. That certainly was not my intent. I have not misrepresented the KKK and AB as Christian organizations. They have misrepresented themselves as Christian organizations. I have merely reported that fact to illustrate a point.That point is any religion can be abused by man. That doesn’t mean that the religion is bad only that man has used it badly. Perhaps I am explaining myself poorly. Anyone else want to chime in?You say that my problem is Islamic organizations following the core teachings of Muhammad. The whole thread started with ‘the Muslims are the problem because of their religion and that they are out to destroy us.’ While there are certainly passages in the Koran on killing infidels I think many Muslims would argue that the core teachings of Islam are to kill the infidels. It’s the old NRA saying but applied to religion.Religion doesn’t kill people, people kill people.

  • Adam Vaughan

    If the KKK and the AB have misrepresented themselves as Christian organisations, as you have admitted, then why should Christians bear their guilt?

  • Viejita del oeste

    Some of you protest that non-Christians do not have the understanding to see what our faith really stands for and that it is unfair to brand us by the actions of those who merely claim to be Christians.

  • Rob Adams

    Ok Krusso.Now I am going to get funky on you 🙂 From my spirituality. I use to think there was a need for justice. You can kill someone if they are trying to harm others, the death penalty was ok. As I explored my spirituality I came to the realization that we are all one; figuratively and literally. I came to believe that we are made of the same ‘stuff’ as God and that we are not separate from God except in our illusion of corporal life.I came to understand that God was not only personal but was also change, life, love, freedom, creative. And If I am the same as God then to experience God I would need to be more like God in thought, word and deed.I came to understand that what we do here on Earth doesn’t really matter as it is but a blip in time of our eternal soul. The biggest illusion in life is the illusion of need. I need things, love, food, shelter, recognition, the list goes on.You can not have something unless you can give it away. In this way you always have what ever you want. If you give away compassion then you obviously had enough to begin with. If you give away love you had enough to start with. If I have only $10 to my name and give away $5 then I have enough money. It is all relative; it is a state of mind.When you remove the need then you want for nothing and instead of needing love, compassion etc you simply give that away since that is all that is left, there is nothing else. In this way we can have everything we ‘need’. If this is all that there is left at the core there is no need for morality since there is nothing else. At that point you just be. I believe this is what Jesus understood. Morality is required when things stand in our way. It is simply observing what works and what does not work. In the physical illusion of corporal life we need to get things (material), experience things(sexual pleasure, power, control, admiration). Morality is simply away of removing the barriers of physical realm. Do not kill, it moves you further away from what you really are. Do not lie, steal, cheat, lust after etc. Those are not required when you nothing but what is left at the core.God is the core so ultimately this comes from God.

  • to pamela

    Pamela has posted:Words for the Week – parablesAnd I have asked:Pamela:If “Allah doth know all things” and is merciful and compassionate -is he pleased with the people who hate, rape, kidnap, torture, mutilate, enslave, and murder in his name? If he is “Light of the heavens and the earth” why is so much darkness done by those who follow him? Will they be held responsible and judged for their acts?Jusr wanted to give Pam a chance to answer..

  • Rob Adams

    Adam.I think we are finally coming together on this. You imply that the Christians should not bear the guilt on this and you are correct!Similarly the peaceful Muslims should not bear the guilt of the violent ones. We should not judge them on their religion, we should judge them on their actions as human beings.Frank.I think my reply also partially answers your question. Judge people as individuals and how they have chosen to apply their religious beliefs be it peaceful or violent. As for rejecting the written word of their God, you would have to ask a Muslim about that.If your interpretation is correct then it appears that many have because not all have taken up the fight to kill the infidels. Actually I would say the majority have rejected that part then.Muslims help me out here. Please chime in. Regardless doing harm to another because another wants to harm you doesn’t make sense to me. Please see my post to Krusso above on Morality

  • Anonymous

    would someone tell me the difference between a progressive islamic and a non progressive one?

  • Arif

    I am convinced hadees which is written 300 years after prophets death cannot be given any importance. Abuhuraira a jewish convert[was he a real convert?]father of hundreds of thousands of hadees his real name was abdulrahman.Abuhuraira was nick name[grandfather of cats]given by prophet himself.Khaleefa umer thrasshed him for stealing 20000 dinars[volume4 page335 of famous hadees book ‘thawakath’].All 4 khaleefas strictly prohibitted writing hadees.Why none of prophets friday khutubas have not recorded which would have been more authentic.I would like to remind people who understand the truth it is going to be a long fight with conservatives.So pe patient and persistent.There is light in the end of the tunnel

  • Rob Adams

    I admit I am no Islamic scholar, but I think I have the correct perception that not all Muslims are the same, nor do they practice or believe exactly the same.I am hoping for Muslims to verify or deny this. When I look at one of Pamela’s articles I think it speaks well of the diversity among Muslims. Anyone should put more stock in what she says over what I say in terms of Islamic practice. I was greatly saddened after I read many of the replies. The amount of hate and condemnation I saw almost brought tears to my eyes. Mostly because it came from people who are ‘on the same side’ as me. I thought we were better than this. Is the human race really this lost?I’m tired. I am definitely not in my higher place of consciousness right now. I need a long meditation to connect back to the source that is love, compassion, freedom and forgiveness.Peace

  • FRANK COLLINS

    the way christians look at the bible if not the way islam must look at the koran. everyword of the koran must be believed as the ispired word of god and must be complied with.

  • Qasim Omar

    ArifDid Muhammad invent 9:29 in the Quran? Yes.Therefore, why would anyone be surprised that he advocated the practise of 9:29?In my experience, hadith-deniers are only those Muslims who are embarrassed at the behavior and teaching of their prophet and wish to whitewash his character by only relying on the ‘slightly’ less offensive Quran. After all, by denying the hadiths they want to claim that the critics have quoted the Quran ‘out of context’. That’s a favorite but nonsensical fallacy.How do these ‘hadith-deniers’ know the critic has quoted out of context without reference to the hadiths and sira? They wouldn’t know, since the context is given not in the Quran but in the hadiths and sira, but they insist they do.

  • Qasim Omar

    Rob,Most Muslims just turn a blind eye to those hateful and violent verses, until they decide to riot and rampage over a Pope’s comments or Danish cartoons.Scratch a ‘moderate’ Muslim and you will find a fundamentalist. One of the favourite tactics of Muslims and Islam-lovers is defining away the hatred and violence by somehow splitting Muslims into ‘fundamentalists’ and ‘moderates’. This neat dichotomy is not reality. Individual Muslims may adhere to the teachings of Islam to varying degrees – it is all shades of grey, not black and white.However, you will find that for some reason moderate Muslims may suddenly become fanatics. Take, for example the 9/11 perpetrator Muhammad Ata. He was not always a crazed homicidal lunatic. He was the product of a middle class, quite wealthy upbringing in Egypt and he had a masters degree in Urban Planning. For most of his life he could be termed a ‘moderate’ Muslim. Then something happened and he ‘found religion’ and turned from a moderate to a fundamentalist. How can you or anyone tell the difference between Muhammad Ata the moderate Muslim and Muhammmad Ata the fundamentalist Muslim? You can’t. They look just the same. They read the same Quran. They go to the same mosque. They listen to the same Imams. Then one day … Booom.

  • Rob Adams

    Adam.I guess then we will need to disagree.You said “9:29 kill the unbelievers, unless they are Jews or Christians who agree to pay the Jizyah in humiliation and subjugation.All Muslims believe in the validity of this verse. Without exception”I would love some muslims to comment on that.Peace

  • Qasim Omar

    9:29 is in the Quran so Muslims must believe in its validity. It is the last verse to be revealed so it has the force of abrogation if it contradicts previous ‘peaceful’ verses.Muhammad told his followers to apply 9:29 to all disbelievers to either convert them, kill them, or if they are Jews or Christians to force them to pay the Jizyah with submission. This is in an ‘authentic’ hadith.I know most Muslims do not go out and apply 9:29 to their non-Muslim neighbors but neither can they theologically denounce some Muslim like OBL who would.Rob, may I suggest you actually read the Quran and the history of Muhammad before you comment on Islamic matters?

  • Rob Adams

    Qasim.I appreciate your response. I have not read the Koran other than skim versus and read other people’s dissertations. Personally I don’t think it has much to offer me but I am interested in learning more just from an understanding perspective. This site has provided some background for me without having to read it. Perhaps one day I will get to it. Thanks for getting me more up to speed.You said that most Muslims do not go out and apply 9:29. That is what I have observed and that is exactly my point. From a theological perspective they can not denounce OBL, I get that. Yet some do denounce him and some do not apply 9:29. That’s why I judge people on their actions, not their religion. So perhaps we need to clarify that a true follower of Islam (fundamentalist) does want us dead. But then let’s be specific and say fundamentalist or extremist. I don’t get the feeling that a progressive like Pamela Taylor is a threat just because she follows Islam. So perhaps my analogy of the KKK is a bit off. A fundamentalist is not ‘abusing’ their religion if they follow 9:29. Though I think it still stands to show that it is how one uses religion, any religion that matters. Even for the fundamentalist Muslim, violence is not the answer if you want peace. This struggle will be fought in the minds and hearts of people. Violence is putting out fire with gasoline. You will not change their minds that way. As Frank put it the question then becomes do we run out of bullets before the run out of bodies?If we go that route then for safety’s sake we should lock them all up or better yet kill them before they kill us. That doesn’t sound very Christian, enlightened or reasonable to me. If we go that route then aren’t we abandoning our religious/spiritual beliefs? Or do we only stand for something when it is convenient?My stance does not change based on someone else’s actions.

  • Megan

    Rob, Unfortunately, I do not have have time to expound on my personal beliefs regarding 9:29 on the Qur’an (and the general topic of that verse). I apologize for this– you asked for personal opinions, and so it is lame for me to quote scholars. However, I have been cleaning all day and so I am exhausted. I just didn’t want to leave your question unanswered in the midst of all of this anti-Islam talk.The person I am quoting is Muhammad Asad, a man whose translation of the Qur’an is often regarded one of the best yet. I will post his translation of 9:29 and the comments he wrote about it. I hope this helps you understand.-Megan[9:29]* v.29 : Lit., “such of those who were vouchsafed revelation [aforetime] as do not believe…,” etc. In accordance with the fundamental principle – observed throughout my interpretation of the Qur’ān – that all of its statements and ordinances are mutually complementary and cannot, therefore, be correctly understood unless they are considered as parts of one integral whole, this verse, too must be read in the context of the clear-cut Qur’anic rule that war is permitted only in self-defence (see 2:190-194, and the corresponding notes). In other words, the above injunction to fight is relevant only in the event of aggression committed against the Muslim community or state, or in the presence of an unmistakable threat to its security: a view which has been shared by that great Islamic thinker, Muhammad ‘Abduh. Commenting on this verse, he declared: “Fighting has been made obligatory in Islam only for the sake of defending the truth and its followers…. All the campaigns of the Prophet were defensive in character; and so were the wars undertaken by the Companions in the earliest period [of Islam]” (Manār X, 332).* This, to my mind, is the key-phrase of the above ordinance. The term “apostle” is obviously used here in its generic sense and applies to all the prophets on whose teachings the beliefs of the Jews and the Christians are supposed to be based – in particular, to Moses and (in the case of the Christians) to Jesus as well (Manār X, 333 and 337). Since, earlier in this sentence, the people alluded to are accused of so grave a sin as willfully refusing to believe in God and the Last Day (i.e., in life after death and man’s individual responsibility for his doings on earth), it is inconceivable that they should subsequently be blamed for comparatively minor offences against their religious law: consequently, the stress on their “not forbidding that which God and His apostle have forbidden” must refer to something which is as grave, or almost as grave, as disbelief in God. In the context of an ordinance enjoining war against them, this “something” can mean only one thing – namely, unprovoked aggression: for it is this that has been forbidden by God through all the apostles who were entrusted with conveying His message to man. Thus, the above verse must be understood as a call to the believers to fight against such – and only such – of the nominal followers of earlier revelation as deny their own professed beliefs by committing aggression against the followers of the Qur’ān (cf. Manār X, 338).* See in this connection the statement (in 5:13-14) that the Jews and the Christians “have forgotten much of what they had been told to bear in mind.”* Sc., “and having become incorporated in the Islamic state.” The term jizyah, rendered by me as “exemption tax,” occurs in the Qur’ān only once, but its meaning and purpose have been fully explained in many authentic Traditions. It is intimately bound up with the concept of the Islamic state as an ideological organization: and this is a point which must always be borne in mind if the real purport of this tax is to be understood. In the Islamic state, every able-bodied Muslim is obliged to take up arms in jihād (i.e., in a just war in God’s cause) whenever the freedom of his faith or the political safety of his community is imperiled: in other words, every able-bodied Muslim is liable to compulsory military service. Since this is, primarily, a religious obligation, non-Muslim citizens, who do not subscribe to the ideology of Islam, cannot in fairness be expected to assume a similar burden. On the other hand, they must be accorded full protection of all their civic rights and of their religious freedom: and it is in order to compensate the Muslim community for this unequal distribution of civic burdens that a special tax is levied on non-Muslim citizens (ahl adh-dhimmah, lit., “covenanted” [or “protected”] people,” i.e., non-Muslims whose safety is statutorily assured by the Muslim community). Thus, jizyah is no more and no less than an exemption tax in lieu of military service and in compensation for the “covenant of protection” (dhimmah) accorded to such citizens by the Islamic state. (The term itself is derived from the verb jazā “he rendered [something] as a satisfaction,” or “as a compensation [in lieu of something else]” – cf. Lane II, 422.) No fixed rate has been set either by the Qur’ān or by the Prophet for this tax; but from all available Traditions it is evident that it is to be considerably lower than the tax called zakāh (“the purifying dues”) to which Muslims are liable and which – because it is a specifically Islamic religious duty – is naturally not to be levied on non-Muslims. Only such of the non-Muslim citizens who, if they were Muslims, would be expected to serve in the armed forces of the state are liable to the payment of jizyah, provided that they can easily afford it. Accordingly, all non-Muslim citizens whose personal status or condition would automatically free them from the obligation to render military service are statutorily – that is, on the basis of clear-cut ordinances promulgated by the Prophet – exempted from the payment of jizyah: (a) all women, (b) males who have not yet reached full maturity, (c) old men, (d) all sick or crippled men, (e) priests and monks. All non-Muslim citizens who volunteer for military service are obviously exempted from the payment of jizyah. My rendering of the expression ‘an yad (lit., “out of hand”) as “with a willing hand,” that is, without reluctance, is based on one of several explanations offered by Zamakhsharī in his commentary on the above verse. Rashīd Ridā’, taking the word yad in its metaphorical significance of “power” or “ability,” relates the phrase ‘an yad to the financial ability of the person liable to the payment of jizyah (see Manār X, 342): an interpretation which is undoubtedly justified in view of the accepted definition of this tax.

  • Khalid

    Dhimmitude is not a blessing. It was never a blessing. The Jizyah was not a blessing. It was a pure ‘protection’ racket.It is as much about ‘protection’ as the Mafia ‘protected’ its victims of its protection rackets.Muslim history is replete with the horrible persecution of religious minorities. The lives of the dhimmis were frequently atrocious and they had to suffer the most horrendous persecutions. It was not like what Muhammad Asad’s whitewash.There was a reason why the dhimmis were ‘exempt’ from military service – this was not out of good intentions but to subjugate them. No dhimmi was ALLOWED to bear arms. It wasn’t an option. Don’t make it out as if it was a favor. Nobody likes to live under persecution.The al-Hidaya, a 12th century book of Islamic law, defines Jizyah as ‘retribution’ for not believing in Islam.There is nothing nice about ‘retribution’ with ‘humiliation’.Muhammad commanded his followers to go to neighboring countries to fight them until they converted to Islam or pay the Jizyah with humiliation.What right have Muslims to force others to convert or pay the Jizyah with humiliation? This is naked aggression and oppression.