Religion: terrorism and violent extremism

It’s getting all too frequent hearing about terror attacks and it being fuelled by religious motivation. I was just reading an article about 110 Christian farmers being slaughtered, mostly by slit throats or decapitation in Nigeria by the notorious Islamic terror group Boko Harem. What motivates people of faith to murder and maim innocent people and even declare that god is great after you’ve severed someone’s head off. Just recently there have been several attacks in France where the victims were beheaded, and on the 9th of November 50 people were beheaded by ISIS in Mozambique, and another 50 were executed in April as the gunmen chanted “Allahu Akbar”. The terrorist group are using extreme poverty as justification for their violence as they attempt to put Mozambique under Islamic rule.

“Religion is the most powerful entity on earth. A phenomenon that has conscripted millions to give or sacrifice their lives without so much as a minuscule query about their chosen beliefs or particular ideology. And today thousands of years on despite the huge advent, discovery and the advance of science forensic or otherwise, millions are still prepared and equipped to fall or kill in the name of their God, their Holy Scriptures, their messengers, their prophets and their faith” – Cal Sarwar

The Oxford dictionary defines terrorism as ‘the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims’, but why terrorism? Why not create a political party and do it the correct way. The Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) have no desire to enter the political field peacefully as they have one ambition, and that’s to turn the world into a caliphate. A caliph is a claimed successor of Muhammad and has a natural right to lead, and they do this through strict Sharia Law. Islamic State claimed the establishment of a caliphate under the leadership of Iraqi born terrorist, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, until he killed himself by suicide vest during the U.S led Operation Kayla Mueller, who’s aim was to capture him.

I guess it’s unfair to just focus on Islam, despite their violence being extremely prevalent throughout the last 40 years, so let’s focus on different sects of Christianity and the bloodshed that they’re responsible for. In the Reformation period that was during the sixteenth century, many people broke away from the Catholic Church due to the direction they were going, and the brutality that occurred during the inquisition. The people that broke away were called Protestants which literally means protestors against Catholicism. They were targeted in vicious terrorist attacks by Catholics as they’d turned their backs on the church.

As technology has developed it’s made terrorism much more dangerous, with people like Osama Bin Laden brainwashing young men to destroy none Muslims, or Aleph (formerly Aum Shinrikyo) who believe that it’s their mission to destroy non-believers in god and have carried out multiple terrorist attacks including a nerve gas being released in the Tokyo subway. Terrorism has become a very serious national security issue to many western countries as sometimes it’s just a lone person like Libyan-born Salman Ramadan Abedi who walked into the Manchester Arena wearing a suicide vest and killed 23 people and injured over 800. Does anyone know that motivation to kill children at Ariana Grande-Butera pop concert? What could that possibly achieve in the political field other than terrorism being a cowardly and barbaric act.

Is religion an emotional response to reality?

Humans have evolved into a social species, and no one really wants to be alone, or lonely, unless they’re not wired up right. We all know that life can be a struggle and we are often affected by situations that are out of our control, but is turning to religion an emotional response to this as they need comfort and support when there’s nothing else, or is it down to fear of being mortal and knowing one day we’ll die and the need to believe that this life isn’t the end? Piety, which is the status of being reverent towards religion is described by the Oxford dictionary as ‘a belief which is accepted with unthinking conventional reverence’.

‘To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. 
Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.‘ – Thomas Merton

It’s almost a dependable emotion through fear that they’d don’t want to be alone, and through faith in the individual’s personal god, they can seek solace knowing that they’re being watched over and guided. Many theists that I’ve engaged with make the claim that through submission to god they lead an objective life with god as their guide, and often maintain that atheism and agnosticism are emotional responses as our desire to sin outweighs our desire to love god, and to some extent even hate god. I’ve seen a lot of tweets recently claiming that atheists are living in denial, and we know god exists, but rebel because we want to lead a hedonistic lifestyle that’s filled with sleaze and debauchery, and it’s the emotion of hatred, that’s influenced by Satan that leads us to claim that we refuse to believe in god/s.

I’m an emotional person. I feel empathy and compassion. I’ve felt love and I’ve felt loss and sometimes it’s hard and a crutch of support would have been useful in times when I’ve felt alone, but despite my emotions, I’ve always managed to remain rational and the ability to apply logic and reason. At not one time in my life have I ever been down and felt the need to talk to any god. How do you know which one you’re even talking to? How could you possibly know they were even listening?

Religion is usually indoctrinated into children and depending on the location, or the culture, a person will often grow up studiously learning about their religion, and what’s expected of them. Some faiths teach the children from a young age that it’s a sin to question their faith and that god just is, you must love him undoubtedly, a obey his every command. It’s a classic case of Stockholm Syndrome where a captive falls in love with their captor as over time they’ve become to know no better. Regardless of what many theists claim, a lot of cultures and religious communities have guidelines and expectance and one cannot just simply dismiss their faith or they’ll become an outcast or worse. So essentially religion is bondage, and it’s a prison for the mind.

Despite this, many theists creepily get joy from the fact that they are a servant to their master, and pledge unconditional love to their god. They love through dependancy as they can’t abhor the thought that this life is the only life, and that they don’t want to die alone. They love through fear, as their actions, if they violated any scripture, could end up with them being judged by god and punished for disobedience. They love through ignorance as they’d rather dismiss the reality we live in, and ignore the progress that science is making and just accept that god is the creator, we are his creation, god is just, and if babies die it’ll all be part of god’s master plan. They’re in love with an idea. A concept if you will. A concept of spiritual make-believe that gives them superiority over the faithless as they believe that once they leave this life their spirit with reside beside god for all of eternity. They’re in love with objective morality as they believe that without god you have no guide to lead you through life to be virtuous. I’m sure that you’ll agree there’s a lot of alleged love involved with religion, amongst other emotions, especially fear. Fear of eternal damnation and being a slave to god’s nemesis, Satan.

Philanthrôpía

The notable Greek philosopher, Plato heavily discussed philanthrôpía, which is a humanitarian effort to promote the welfare of others, and whilst overlapping with charity, charity is about donating finances to help a cause, philanthropy is about seeking the find a solution to the problem by examining the root causes. Greek poet, philosopher and playwright, Aeschylus coined the term 5th century BCE and it literally meant ‘love for humanity’. It’s about benevolence towards the whole of humanity without prejudice, which focuses on universal good will.

Aeschylus

philanthropy

A person, group, business, company, enterprise or organization that are focused on using their income, money, resources and time to contribute to the cocreating of optimum health, human rights, right to life, civil rights, ethical, fair, just and moral shared prosperity for all, stability, unity government, solidarity, cohesion, animal rights, right to housing, right to free education, right to be a parent, right to free preschool education, right to a standard of living, creation of living wage, right to internet access, economic stability, financial stability, equal rights, equal opportunities, employment rights, childrens rights, sustainable development, sustainable development goals, united partnership, multi-party working, community empowerment systems, equal distribution of income, wealth, fairness and justness across society, the country, europe and the world and contribute to the cocreation of global and national peace agreements, peace treaties, the universes truth and a fair, just and transparent system of checks and balances.” – Source

There are many notable philanthropists, who have donated time, effort and financial support to causes that aim to benefit society. Some of the ones most well known in the public eyes are Bill Gates, George Soros, John D. Rockafeller, Howard Hughes, Alfred Nobel, and Elon Musk, and between them they’ve set up countless foundations to help various causes and pumped billions of dollars into various projects to help the needy. Without question, Warren Buffet has pledged more of his fortune in donations than anyone in history and he claims that by the time he reaches death, he will have given away his multi-billion dollar fortune to several key charities and foundations, including $37 billion pledge to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation which they will receive upon his passing. His aim is to attempt to help solve educational problems, and world health and hunger problems.

Is philanthropy an ethical and moral stance, or can it be about political agenda, or a display of power? Obviously creating organisations to help people in need is in principal a good thing, but imagine a philanthropist donating a massive chunk of their fortune and then announcing that they will run in the next presidential election in the U.S.A. Many people would vote for them as they believe that they are all about the people, but what if the donations are about political gain and notoriety? If you’re worth $80 billion and you donate 10% of that, then you’ll surely help disadvantaged people, but you’ll not miss that money as you’ve still got $72 billion, yet people with see your actions as admirable. Spreading the wealth in the world we live in is more crucial than ever as the elite become richer and more powerful, whilst the majority of humanity suffer to get by on a daily basis, and we are in a crisis of inequality.

“In my view, philanthropy goes against the grain; therefore it generates a lot of hypocrisy and many paradoxes. Here are some examples: Philanthropy is supposed to be devoted to the benefit of others, but philanthropists are primarily concerned with their own benefit; philanthropy is supposed to help people, yet it often makes people dependent and turns them into objects of charity; applicants tell foundations what they want to hear, then proceed to do what the applicant wants to do.” – George Soros