In a recent post, Treppenwitz shared his conviction that Islam “is a modern, made up religion that flies in the face of all historical evidence, not to mention is incapable of coexisting with other faiths.”
Not surprisingly, there were some ruffled feathers in the wake of Trep’s disclosure. The ruffled individual asked for clarification about what makes Islam “made-up” and Judaism “authentic.” No one else responded, so I wrote out my own thoughts on the matter in a comment:
My rule of thumb regarding religion is as follows: 1) beware any religion whose main revelatory experiences were by lone individuals; 2) beware any religion that views everyone else as the enemy, the Infidel, or says everyone else must convert or die/burn in hell; 3) beware any religion that encourages suffering, poverty, fatalism, or martyrdom; 4) beware any religion that has two standards of justice, one for believers and another for everyone else; and 5) beware any religion where belief is more important than behavior, scholarship, personal responsibility, and the sanctity of life. (Kind of narrows it down, don’t it?)
While I vigorously defend anyone’s right to follow the religion of their choice, I have personally never understood the appeal of Christianity or Islam. Without getting into hair-splitting detail, they have seemed to me to be punitive in nature, unforgiving of dissent, war-mongering, and theologically insubstantial. The image of Christians torturing Jews to get them to convert or burning one another for heresy, of Muslims slaughtering Jews for sport, and Christians and Muslims clashing over possession of Jerusalem, killed any interest I could have had in them long ago. I know there’s much more to each of them than these sordid chapters of their histories, but I’m just not that into it.
When I decided to give Judaism a serious crack, I couldn’t help but be impressed. Don’t have to be Jewish to have a portion in the world to come? Check. Value of human life same for non-Jews as for Jews? Check. Primary importance on behavior rather than faith? Check. Belief that poverty, disease, unhappiness and suffering are bad? Check. Belief that we are responsible for our own behavior, and have the power to change ourselves and the world for good? Check.
Guess I’m set.