3 Logical Arguments About Religious Extremism (for my Toddlers)

(My kids are extremists. About hot chocolate. Hence the pic.)

When I was in college (during the era of dial-up and Toad the Wet Sprocket), I took a lot of philosophy classes.

This was at the height of political correctness in Boulder, CO, where the students would rather give up beer and bongs than offend with words.

Most courses, regardless the title, would include discussions of universal truths; e.g. “What’s absolutely right or wrong?”

My professor for Ancient Philosophy argued that the only universal truth (or universal wrong) is: “Rape, purely and solely for the pleasure of the rapist is wrong.”

It’s not that we justified murder, burglary, or playing Miley Cyrus songs in public; but in philosophical logic, if one instance disproves an argument, then it’s no longer a universal truth.


Killing is wrong (universal truth)

A person runs at you with a knife

You kill them in self-defense

Therefore, killing is not always wrong (no longer a universal truth)

Since the horrendous attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, I’ve thought a lot about universal truths.

Charlie Hebdo frequently published cartoon renderings of Muhammad. This is a sin punishable by death to the Islamic extremists who attacked the satirical newspaper’s headquarters.

These extremists are irrational, misanthropic, and stupid (in part, because they don’t get satire…see below).

Them’s fighting words in religion discussions.

But while I’m accepting, religious extremism is where I draw the line.

They are wrong, wrong, wrong; be they Methodist, Muslim or Mormon.

I know you all agree with me.

But how do I justify my intolerance for religious extremism to my kids?
If my kids say “Why, Daddy? Why are they wrong?” I want to answer with some philosophical logic.

How about this?

All religious believers say God is loving (universal truth)

God wants people to have Faith

You can’t have Faith if you’re dead

Therefore, God does not want us to kill those without Faith

First line: all religious believers would say their God is a loving God. Even the Koran says God is loving. (Especially the Koran…depending on your interpretation. UGH…there’s that human flaw, again. But even Islamic zealots say God is loving…difference being they think God loves zealots more than others, especially those who stone their wives. But at base, it’s about love.)

So you can’t kill in the name of God just to spread Faith. It’s illogical. You can’t convert the dead.

As for extremism, here’s what I hope you’ll learn, my sons…(I don’t mean to sound like a god, here…my sons)

Have faith in whatever brings you peace, helps you spread love, and elevates you to your best self.

I hope you’ll strive to have a spiritual relationship with yourself, your family, your peers, and the environment.

Don’t take fables, morals, doctrines, or dogmas (written thousands of years ago by flawed humans) as universal truth. Question, examine and discuss.

That gives you Faith. And it will bring you comfort when you feel lonely or abandoned or uninspired or down-trodden.

People who try to take away your Faith, whatever it may be, are destroying love and beauty.

So they’re wrong.

The Islamic extremists in Paris were wrong. Religious extremists are universally wrong.

I’m sure philosophers can find holes galore in this argument. But I’m no longer in an academic setting. I’m no longer looking for loopholes. I’m looking for simple logic. For my kids.

And I know this stands.

Side note: Charlie Hebdo was a satirical newspaper. It’s as if they shot up The Onion. Seriously? How about another philosophical diagram?

Satire requires sense of humor (universal truth)

Sense of humor requires intelligence (universal truth)

The terrorists’ religious misinterpretations trumped their intelligence

The terrorists were stupid (universal truth)

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