The throat-slitting murder of an 84-year-old Catholic priest today in France by two ISIS “soldiers” is just the latest in a horrific series of barbaric acts. We need to win the physical war against ISIS and other radical jihadist groups, but we also need to win the philosophical war for all of humankind. My next book explores a world in which religions compete for adherents peacefully and coexist with and challenge the secular world. Several principles underline how I’m thinking about the issue. I welcome your thoughts and reaction:
1. Because each of us has been provided with a unique mind, it seems self-evident that any God would want to have a personal relationship with each of us, not one filtered through the motivations of others.
2. The scriptures and teachings of every religion have fallen sway to the imperfections of man, meaning that no single writing and no single teacher should hold unconditional command over its subjects. (I recognize this one will draw objection from many, but urge you to read the rest to put the thought in context.)
3. Each of us has personal responsibility to consider whether the teachings of any faith, including faiths such as atheism that there is no greater power, coalesce with the reason inside our minds and to specifically search for and consider evidence that our beliefs may be wrong.
4. If there is a God, he certainly didn’t choose me as his purveyor of violence. If you believe there is no God, you still don’t get to force your beliefs on others. [Read more…]