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Austin Cline

Mailbag: Christianity vs. Islam

By November 18, 2012

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From: "Heather"
Subject: You Are Misleading Poeple
Basic and simple: Christians are taught to go out into the world and spread the Gospel. If a home, a person, a community isn't interested, they are commanded to 'shake the dust off their sandals' and move on.

What Heather writes is technically true, but it has little to no relationship with the reality of Christianity in the world around us. When people claim that things are actually "simple," I find that they have often merely "simplified" a complex reality -- and this is certainly no exception.

When was the last time you saw any Christians "shake the dust off their sandals" and move on after failing to convert people? When was the last time you saw Christian evangelists leave a community completely because they simply haven't had any luck spreading their brand of the gospel?


Muslims are commanded to subvert other cultures, laws, people - infidels. You have a choice living in a Muslim community: surrender (convert to Islam), pay higher taxes and forfeit and then live according to Muslim law (good luck with that as a freedom loving person), or die. That's it.

Once again, what Heather writes here is technically true but reality today is also far more complex because this isn't always the case with Muslim communities today. There are certainly Muslim communities which merit criticism or even condemnation -- but the same is true of some Christian communities.


Love your neighbor vs. force your will upon your neighbor. Light or dark. Life or death. Truth or lies.

It is that simple.

Actually, that's just a simplification of a complex reality. The truth is that neither Christians nor Muslims always do what Heather claims. These are little more than caricatures that create a false dilemma fallacy. Even if these depictions were accurate, it is wrong to insist that one has to choose between them -- one can, instead, reject both as ridiculous.

Notice that Heather never actually explains where or how I am "misleading" people. I guess that simply would have been too much to expect -- but it's pretty common from people with such overly-simplistic perspectives on reality. Notice also how people like this never simplify things in a manner that makes them or their ideology look worse than the alternatives -- reality isn't just simplified, but simplified in a highly convenient manner. Coincidence?


More selections from the Agnosticism / Atheism Mailbag...

November 16, 2006 at 9:29 am
(1) blutfink says:

Austin, if you get mails like this, do you answer them (presumably using the same arguments as in the Mailbag section)?

November 16, 2006 at 10:32 am
(2) Austin Cline says:

What you see here is more or less based on the answers I email back. They are obviously edited to be in the third person, but I also often add links, expand a bit on things, combine arguments and ideas to make things readable in this format, etc.

September 10, 2010 at 11:48 pm
(3) MikeM says:

…Meanwhile, Muslims the world over are in a state of seething outrage, with demonstrations in Indonesia and Afghanistan, and in other parts of the Islamic world. Chants of “death to America” and “death to Christians” feature prominently in these demonstrations, as well as the burning of the American flag.

November 18, 2012 at 7:18 am
(4) Gilbert De Bruycker says:

The view of Islam as the existential foe of Europe and its civilization — its ‘outre-mer’ offspring included — is based on Islam’s own teaching and 13 centuries of blood-soaked practice. It is based on Europe’s long and appalling experience of Islam in action.

November 20, 2012 at 5:13 am
(5) truthteller says:

Most of you always look at what Muslims do but you all fail to understand that they do what they do in retaliation. Western civilizations all talk about freedom and equality, yet it is their lands and societies that have caused so much tragedies, for example; the Civil Rights Movement (discrimination against blacks), the driving out of the Indian/Aborigines that had settled in their countries FIRST, the Hiroshima and the Nagasaki atomic bombs and the list goes on. Don’t talk/write about the so-called sins of Muslims as you bigoted people are much more to blame than them. And as for the protests that erupted over the disgusting anti-Islam film, they have more than a right to do so and should be applauded because truly retaliating to disgusting caricatures and portrayals of their religion is not a crime. It is defense.

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