Imagine that you have a 100 people in your neighborhood. A scoundrel among them begins to spread dangerous rumors about you being an immoral person. As a result of such an ignominious propaganda:
– 50 neighbors continue to treat you the same as always, ignoring the rumors.
– 40 neighbors stop talking to you, or even if they remain in touch, do so cautiously
– 8 neighbors actively protest against your presence in the neighborhood
– 2 neighbors take extreme actions and try to harm you or your property
When the neighbors find out about the acts of the two extremists, almost all of them come forth to condemn the violence. The extremists are punished and the matter is put to rest.
But the problem is far from over! They fail to realize that the extremists were not the cause of the disaster, but merely the effects of a deeper cause: the rumor-starter, who out of personal enmity with you or your family, had begun to spread such dangerous lies.
Alas, that scoundrel will never be caught or even blamed. He’ll continue to spread that propaganda about you and your family, and in doing so, will carry on rousing extremists among the neighbors to act against you. At some point, the neighbors would have to man up and take responsibility for being a petri-dish in which that propagandist thrives.
Moderates complain that they’re being unduly harassed by the tsunami of vitriol being spewed by the Atheists and other non-religious people. They believe that they mustn’t be blamed for the crimes of others, because they don’t believe in such violence themselves. What moderates need to understand is that they’re not being blamed for violence – they’re being criticized for upholding and revering a system that is allowing such extremists to spawn.
The bible, for example, calls Atheists “fools” and “corrupt” (Psalm 14:1). Quran too preaches that non-believers are so vile that they deserve to be roasted in hell for all eternity. In a fair world, these religions would be facing class-action lawsuits for “harming the reputation of non-members and promoting bigotry against them”. But this is a religious world. And any ideology with the magic word of “sacred” stamped across it can wiggle its way out from under the microscope of rational thinking.
The moderates have assumed the bizarre stance of sanctioning the barbaric religious laws themselves, but criticizing those who follow these laws. Most of the moderate Muslims agree that lashing people to death is an unconscionable act, but none would dare question surah Al-Nur itself which very explicitly commands Muslims to lash adulterers to death.
To combat this ethical dilemma without invoking the wrath of their “compassionate” God, Muslims have sealed these verses shut within a labyrinth of unfathomable religious and historical complexities. For example, those engaging in premarital sex can only be punished if conditions 1..2..3..4..5..6…can be fulfilled. These conditions are such that they almost never get fulfilled and Muslims are relieved of the need to carry out such morally-unacceptable acts.
How moderates approximate their belief in lashings and crucifixions with their belief that God is a merciful being, is beyond my comprehension. This is, perhaps, because they fail to recognize the fact that before their holy books and their prophets and their priests and their scholars, God gave them a conscience. Conscience is this magical thing that helps us make the right decisions.
Condemning brutal religious laws doesn’t make you an Atheist by default. It is perfectly possible to believe in God without being religious. God, for many, is the fulfillment of a spiritual quest and the answer to our very existence (if you don’t find the answers of physicists compelling enough). Religion is a franchise that sells God to the masses by packaging Him in a series of doctrines meant to serve the corporation’s own interests.
So stop defending what you know is daft. Call a spade, a spade. You don’t need a bitchy Atheist to tell you that lashing, stoning, crucifixion and plain institutionalized bigotry is wrong. You don’t need religious knowledge to tell you that these things are wrong. All you need is a conscience and the courage to listen to what it has to tell you.