May 2008

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Comments

Jim

Scott said: "...everyone would already be the same religion, or at least all the smart people would."

It isn't unanimous (nothing ever is) but at least most of the smart people have already claimed a side:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relationship_between_religion_and_science#The_attitudes_of_scientists_towards_religion

Moving to the realm of my own personal experience, of the "smart people" I know who do still hold any religious belief it is invariably of a very liberal, open-minded sort that any dogmatic christian/muslim/what-have-you would say was not "true" religion at all.

For my own part I called myself an agnostic for a long time not because I had any doubt that the dogmatics might be the slightest bit right, but rather because I wasn't comfortable saying there was NO god at all. (Which is what I thought it meant if you said you were an atheist.) Then one day I had an epiphany; just because you aren't 100% sure that you know the true answer to a question doesn't mean you can't be 100% sure that someone else's claimed answer is wrong.

Now my motto is "no tolerance for the intolerant".

Neil Sampson

Anyone fancy a foxtrot?

Oops wrong type of dance!

James B

Not exactly your best work.
I assume you were just fishing for absurd reactions from fundamentalist Christians or atheists on the idea of conversion, but the more recent comments seem to have gotten to the real point; "lousy premises make for a lousy conclusion".
I argue that almost every important premise in your argument is wrong.
Suicide bombers are motivated by the promise of a happy after life and the desire to fulfill a perceived spiritual duty more than to make life better for anyone on earth.

Changing religions can and does drastically change the happiness of individuals.

Living out a religion you truly believe in gives happiness. Mouthing belief to avoid violence does not. The 'transition period' of which you speak takes hundreds of years, based on the relevant historical evidence of people in Spain and the Balkans who were encouraged to convert by their Islamic conquerers.

Perhaps most importantly, as others have pointed out, Muslims have been on the receiving end of most of the worst Islamic violence and terrorism; our most recent example being how many more muslims than christians have been killed by the insurgency in Iraq.

If you are so convinced of the logic of your argument though, why not reverse it? Perhaps Scott Adams could be the great prophet of Christianity in Iran, North Korea and China, to ensure that the nasty Americans won't commence bombing or invading them any time soon.

Raf

So What you are saying is: If you can't beat them, Join them.
If the whole world is Muslim everything is solved. I don't think so. We are all human and for that fact there will always be humans that think that their way of being a Muslim is the only right way and others that don't follow that vision should be thought a lesson.
You can replace the word Muslim here by any item in our society.
As long as there will be humans, there will be war over power, money and leadership. Religions are something that has been created to be the "Glue" to counter those needs but it's just human nature to feel important and to rule over everything else, human or not human.

Edwin

if we were all peace-loving and minded our own business.

Forget about becoming muslim! Those two conditions would have prevented several of the major wars since WW2. (korea, Vietnam, Iraq 1&2).

Alan

No brainer - look at Afghanistan under the Taliban or Iran with the Revolutionary Guard: if we were all moderate Muslims, we would still be attacked for not living under strict Sharia law.

Even in a pipe dream, it doesn't stand a snowball's chance in Hell.

random

re 'If humans had that capacity, everyone would already be the same religion, or at least all the smart people would.'

Aren't all the smart people atheist? (Well at least most of them) Its mostly the sheep that haven't or wont think it through properly who still believe in religion. I am certainly much happier since I realised the (in my opinion) evil cruel restrictive narrow minded religion of christianity was false .

gazza

You jump straight from the "we can be happy with any religion" premise to the "so it is rational to be a Muslim" conclusion. But you fail to show that the pursuit of happiness at any cost is rational - and frankly, I don't believe that it is.

Orgasms generally make people happy. That doesn't mean that becoming a serial rapist is rational.

Sreeram

Beautiful.. i mean absolutely beautiful. You really know how to stir up the hornet's nest.

Though I realise that your entire story is a hypothesis, there is one glaring flaw that you just cant ignore. Osama and other radical Islamists are attacking the US not because most Americans are christians, but because of the foreign policy( the lack of it) that is practised by the US. The whole of US converting to Islam is going to make No difference if the US continues to follow the same policy.

On a related note, if you want to remove the threat of terror, you might want to look at removing enemies within your country, some even in the White House, before you go after the radical islamists. Watch this..

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1419223076105354911&q=loose+change&total=3605&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0

Hans

Being a Muslim doesnt automatically mean you'd be following Sharia law..India & Indonesia have the two largest populations of Muslims in the world..and they both dont follow the Sharia law.

Rata

This is silly. Let's draw on a couple of examples from the past: 1. Jews converting en masse to Christianity in Spain during the Inquisitorial period, and 2. Fates of non-Arabs who converted to Islam during its period of expansion. Although I know that anecdote is not data, the best we have to go on here is examples of conversion and persecution from the past.

Jews were either forced to convert or converted in order to escape persecution by the Christian majority in Spain in the 14th-15th century (strangely enough after 4 centuries of prospering and tolerance under Muslim rule, 8th-12th century). Although some converted willingly by this point (to escape increasing Christian persecution) this didn't really help them. Within 100 years Christians also began to persecute these so-called "false Christians," saying they were secretly still practicing Judaism. They eventually expelled them from Spain despite their mass conversion attempt. Plus there was, you know, the Inquisition.

Islam used to be thought of (and to some Muslims it still is thought of) as a primarily Arabic religion, for Arabs. As such, while it was expanding after Muhammad's time, non-Arabs who converted were treated as second-class citizens, subject to more taxes and the like.

While I suppose I'd agree that changing your religion won't really have much effect on your happiness, (does this argue for predetermination over free will, if the chemicals in your body have more influence over your happiness than "conscious" choices like religion?) I don't think that a mass conversion to Islam would actually have the effects you predict. I don't think anyone would be fooled - recent converters would perhaps be relegated to a second-class citizen. Even if you truly believed in the basic tenants of Islam, this probably will not matter to other people if they still want to persecute (or terrorize) you. People are good at finding reasons for doing that.

obiDonWan

As in nearly everything else you analyze on this blog, but especially anything to do with religion, your analysis falls apart and is useless. Although it is amusing, it is useless as a guide to real thinking.

Steve

It is irrational to discuss religion rationally.

Phoenix

I would like to point out that most Christians did not choose to be Christian, they were conditioned from a young age to be Christian. I broke from that mold and am now happy, and might i add much happier than when i was a Christian, as a Pagan.

Elux Troxl

Nice thought, but intra-religious hate and violence is as strong as inter-religious. Christians hate and kill other Christians, Muslims hate and kill other Muslims, et cetera ad nauseum.

The problem is not the brand of religion - it's simply organized religion. I hope when Jesus comes back, the first thing he does is close every church, mosque, and temple. It will be the first significant step towards world peace in the history of mankind.

Mike

I think you are ignoring the unfortunate fact that "moderate Muslims" are the main targets of terror bombing. Go look it up - many more moderate Muslims are killed by Osama and his bunch than Christians.

You could argue that if we weren't all Christian then he wouldn't have a cause, and would go around killing other Muslims just to make them hate us... but that would be ignoring the fact that even having a moderate Muslim culture encroaching on "his" holy land would likely be plenty cause for him to kill people.

The moderate Muslims of the world, and their clerics, have been criticizing Osama from the beginning. Even many of the conservative ones have, as he has been issuing fatwahs that he is not qualified to make! And every time they do, they're hit by a bomb attack.

I know you're mostly trying to be funny, and it was a funny post, but it's also ignorant of the suffering Osama has inflicted on all of the moderate Muslims out there would be naturally be at least somewhat on our side.

the_Wonderer

The smartest people I know are have all converted to Christianity. It is the best default position to hold. Anyone who honestly investigates the Christian claims converts, and becomes a defender of their new found faith... C.S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, Ravi Zacharias etc.

brian

'I don't have any problems with folks switching religions. Whatever floats your boat. However, you said that all religions make you happier - I have to disagree.

If you strap a vest full of TNT and ball bearings to your chest, walk into the middle of a crowded marketplace and blow up women and children....me (and most of the civilized world) are going to think that you might not be the happiest person in the world, and the religion that compelled you to do something so revolting might not be the best choice out there.

Just my thoughts.'

as opposed to having them shot by private security contractors (mercenaries)

DINO Ferrari

I will take the bomb. Life without a drink is not living anyway.

P.S. If we all convert we are still not safe. Muslims kill more Muslims then non beleivers anyway. So I will take my chance with the bomb.

brian

ok then lets try it you go first

Tony

By the way, equaling Terrorism with Islam and forgetting about US state sponsored terrorism pretty much makes you a fucking bigot, an asshole, an racist and an islamophobic idiot. And don't fucking tell me "this is just a thought experiment", you fucking asshole. What are you, stupid? Why do you repeat this Terror=Islam nonsense? If would have lived in the 1930s in Germany, would you have said Terror=Jews? Or would you fight against this US-view of the world?

Tony

But I have a hard time believing the United States would be a target for terror if we were all peace-loving US-citizens and minded our own business.

Kevin Kunreuther

While "converting" to Islam to appease "the enemy" is ridiculous - look what appeasing Hitler did - I am less afraid of Osama bin Laden then the actions of my own government. The response to a terrorist nuke attack wouldn't be sane or reasoned it would be rash, not thought out and consequently horrifying.

Okay, all's fair in monkey dances and blogs, but it's still a facetious argument in light of the consequences.
We should be doing all we can destroy all nukes now, even American nukes worldwide. Why?
Watch these two films (high speed internet preferred) if you have a couple of hours. Feel free to be moved and horrified.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3247573482818086914&q=The+War+Game&total=21026&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0
The War Game 48 minutes

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2023790698427111488&q=Threads&total=14305&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0
Threads 1 hour 48 min

A nuclear explosion, battle or war is the worst type of catastrophe and can be only equaled by the firebombing of cities like Dresden, Coventry, Kobe, Chongqing during Second World War or the destruction caused by severe hurricanes, 7.0 or greater eathquakes, tsunamis or volcanic eruptions to human population centers.

The worst thing one can do with a nuclear bomb is set it off. The second worst thing one can do with a nuclear bomb is retaliate. What if NYC and Wash, DC were not attacked with fuel laden commercial jets, but decimated by crude one kiloton nuclear weapons. With the current brain trust in this country, I can only shudder thinking what could have happened next to this world. And with Dubya talkin' 'bout WWWIII in Iran, do you think Russia is going to sit idly by if we threaten to destroy Isfahan or Tehran on its doorstep - you think the Turks won't become "neutral" and take over the tactical NATO nukes near its northeast border near the Caucasus - secret leftovers from the Reagan years - and apply pressure to Autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan? You think India and Pakistan will stop thinking twice about a "limited" nuclear exchange? You think the People's Republic of China won't take advantage and invade Taiwan and other countries near its borders to increase its current policy of getting all Chinese under one roof? We live on the precipice of disaster, it is amazing base and normal stupid instincts haven't kicked in and the population is back below one billion and is living in pre-Industrial Revolution conditions.

Scott, you could probably be cautiously optimistic and explain that good sense will kick in - nobody would be that stupid, even if a terrorist did set off a nuke anywhere (my guess would be Africa, in a pro-west country with high population of Muslims, probably Libya, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Kenya or Tanzania). It's unthinkable, you'd claim. It's very thinkable. An excuse would be made linking Iran to the disaster - in weeks, maybe days, the USA, against the consultations of its European allies and the Russians, would launch tactical nuclear missiles at "strategic" points of interest in Iran. Pandora's Box would be open.

I wouldn't even be surprised it was later revealed that such a nuke was actually detonated by a "rogue" agent from Langley, trying to fan the flames and bring about the inevitable, so Iran could be finally "punished". Insanity rules that ends justify the means.

New Zealand is looking more and more hospitable everyday.

John Koetsier

Lousy premises make for a lousy conclusion, Scott.

Your premise is that if Americans were Muslim, Osama (and other Muslims) would not attack them.

So how do you explain the Musilim on Muslim chaos that is Iraq?

The reality is that brutal, murderous, bloodthirsty people will not hesitate to kill any they disagree with ... and that the more fanatic they are the more minor differences become just and sufficient reasons for becoming babykillers.

Real Live Girl

Anyone who truly believes isn't going to switch religions just to avoid nuclear annihilation. I am confident almost all of us will be well taken care of after death, whether you believe in God or not. Since the definition of God is "God is Love," he isn't going to reject anyone simply for not believing in Him or your choice of religion.

But if you choose harm others (for whatever reason), and aren't the least bit sorry about it, your last bit of real estate will could be in a much hotter climate with very unpleasant conditions with a never ending lease. But that's a choice and not an arbitrary punishment so everyone has a say where they spend eternity.

So if you only pay lip service to your faith, and are afraid to die, I can see where getting on the Muslim bandwagon sounds appealing. But not to this girl.

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