TOS Blog: Daily Commentary from an Objectivist Perspective

Don’t Tolerate Islam, Condemn It

In this episode of Reason at Large, Craig Biddle answers a question from Amy: “You’ve said that people should be intolerant of Islam. How do you square this with the right to freedom of religion?”

In answering, Biddle discusses the difference between respecting rights and being tolerant, the fallacy of package-dealing, the nature of Islam, and the fundamental reason so few Westerners are able to categorically condemn a religion that calls for their death.

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Posted in: Ethics, Reason at Large, Religion

Comments are welcome so long as they are civil.
  • Anonymous

    Remarkably clarifying! Thank you.

    I hadn’t been a victim of the package-deal, but this certainly helps conceptually. The same argument–while recognizing significant differences of evil–applies to all religion and other forms of irrationalism. One should not tolerate the Good News Club or U.S. Rep. Paul Broun who attacks important science and sees the Bible as his guide to action in Washington–as we see in this short YouTube video.

    The faith argument seems to break down.
    The two other groups I’m most familiar with that also morally condemn Islam are the New Atheism movement and the fanatic religious right. Both are attacked for their intolerance. But your argument from the commonality of a faith epistemology seems to break down when applied to the religious right; they are fanatic believers in faith yet condemn Islam. I think the hardcore pious have faith that only their beliefs are true. The moderate pious may have a better grasp of the meaning and potential consequences (violations of rights) of faith, but refusal to judge is not a valid solution to turning loose the thugs against Muslims.

    A philosophic batte, reason v. faith.
    You mention the need to launch a philosophic battle for reason and against faith. I take it that the “we” involved are Objectivists and I note the view that this battle has not yet been launched (For example, I know of no essay on the Objectivist refutation of religion that we could link to from web comments). The New Atheism has launched such a battle and they seem to be making some headway even though they are philosophically bankrupt. Andrew Bernstein is well aware of the philosophical fundamentals that need to be brought into the fight, but the New Atheists are completely clueless about them. The New Atheism can neither define and defend reason nor define and defend a rational secular ethics. If anything, most of them are anti-philosophy and usually, in debates, get hammered by the expert attacks on reason coming from the pious.

    Some (few) guesses about what to do.
    I think the presentation of a life-based metaethics is needed, and, to begin with, the concept of epistemology needs to be introduced. I suspect that just framing reason v. faith as an epistemological matter would allow people to step back to view things from a more fundamental level. (I think I’ve even done this once on a news thread–”Here’s a concept you need….” But, I can’t say how such a battle really should be conducted; what causes people to quit religion is highly individual (I think research would show common themes, but I’ve make no study) and may not happen with just one lightbulb insight–one seemingly small thread pulled. (I have not yet seen any pious moved by an argument.) In any case, I think we have a better chance if the discussion is moved to a secular base. It will do us no good if we get some religious right form of laissez faire, but end up in some vicious gulags for atheists–or worse. Or maybe we’ll go down the road toward the tribalism promoted by the League of the South.

    i remember that, several years ago, L.P. thought it was time for a book directly attacking religion, but I’ve not heard of anyone picking up the challenge.

  • Anonymous

    Its much simpler than that. Rights are protected, behavior is not.

  • John Gold


    You say at the end that the reason the West won’t condemn Islam is that because too many people accept the root of Islam, faith.

    However, those in the West who most condemn Islam and oppose the massive immigration of Moslems tend to be conservative Christians, such as Robert Spencer.

    And observe that those who most support Islamic immigration are those on the secular Left. They know that continued immigration will destroy what is left of White, Western, Christian civilization. They are the ones who say there is no connection between immigration, Islam, and Islamic terrorism.

    Thanks to immigration, Europe is becoming Eurabia.

  • David Blankenau

    “But your argument from the commonality of a faith epistemology seems to
    break down when applied to the religious right; they are fanatic
    believers in faith yet condemn Islam.”

    That’s not quite accurate. They condemn the “radical” Islamists, but claim that Islam itself is a “religion of peace” that has been “hijacked” by extremists. They CAN’T condemn Islam as such, for in order to do so they must repudiate their OWN beliefs, as well as the concept of Faith itself. We both know they would never be able to do that. As a result, they are mired in their own contradictions with no apparent way out except denial and appeasement.

  • Anonymous


    Your argument is very plausible, and, I expect, true. I keep up-to-date a bit about what’s happening on the religious right, but I’ve missed much of their condemnation of Islam (I never listen to conservative radio). As I recall, Bush was a big promoter of the “hijacked by extremists” view. I’ll keep your analysis in mind going forward and watch more closely for explicit examples.

  • Anonymous

    Here ’s a very interesting podcast by Leonard Peikoff from 2009 in answer to a question: Is religion more dangerous in America than socialism or collectivism?

  • John Gold


    That’s not quite accurate. They condemn the “radical” Islamists, but
    claim that Islam itself is a “religion of peace” that has been
    “hijacked” by extremists.


    But as I said, most members of the “religious right” are against Islam per se and Islamic immigration. If you think George W. Bush was some sort of conservative you have to have your head examined. He was a member of the United Methodist Church, which is a liberal protestant denomination.

    When have you ever heard a secularist such as Mr. Biddle say that Israel, Europe or the US must end Islamic immigration? It’s only Christian conservatives such as Spencer who make that argument.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with nearly everything you say: I judge and condemn Islam as evil and destructive, but in exactly the same way – and for exactly the same reasons – that I condemn Judaism and Christianity. Singling out Islam for a “philosophical war” is irrational and myopic.

    It isn’t merely that all Abrahamic religions believe faith is a legitimate means to knowledge, but that they all share the same beliefs that you cite in condemning Islam (see below): killing “infidels”, murdering homosexuals, wifely submission, and child marriage. Far too many Objectivists take these examples to warrant the collective and literal destruction of all Muslims.

    I’ll grant that most modern Christians and Jews are hypocrites: they don’t usually follow the teachings of their own holy books. However, the implication is that all Muslims, everywhere, practice the scriptural dictates you cite. That claim is collectivist nonsense and contrary to all the evidence.

    Are there Muslim fanatics who use violence against innocents? Sure, just as there were Christian fanatics [Irish Republican Army and the Holy Roman Empire] who used violence against Muslim innocents. Worthy of condemnation? Of course.

    Even in the United States, fundamentalist Christians are more than delighted to use the violence of the state against all kinds of “sinners” (not just gays).

    I never hear prominent Objectivists calling for a “war” (of any sort) against Christians or Jews. They frequently portray it as a moral obligation to murder anyone of Islamic faith, not merely those individual Muslims who have violated natural rights. Any war against Muslims is always justified, no matter how many innocents are killed.

    This is not the Objectivism that I know.

    Bill Westmiller


    Christian/Jewish Biblical Commands

    Kill Infidels: Deuteronomy 13:8-10
    “… you shall not consent to him [who says ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’] … nor shall you spare him or conceal him; but you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. And you shall stone him with stones until he dies, because he sought to entice you away from the Lord your God.”

    Condones Cannibalism: Deuteronomy 28:53
    “Because of the suffering … you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the Lord your God has given you. Even the most gentle and sensitive man among you will have no compassion on his own brother or the wife he loves or his surviving children and he will not give to one of them any of the flesh of his children that he is eating.”

    Stone Homosexuals: Leviticus 20:13
    “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”

    Stone those who work on the Sabbath: Numbers 15:32-36
    “… they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. And the Lord said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses.”

    Kill Children, Rape Women: Isaiah 13:15
    “Everyone who is captured will be thrust through; all who are caught will fall by the sword. Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their … wives will be ravished.”

    Condones Slavery: Exodus 21:20-21
    “If a man beats his male or female slave … he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.”

    Wife Total Submission: Colossians 3:18
    “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.”

    Child Marriage: 1 Corinthians 7:36
    “But if any man thinketh that he behaveth himself unseemly toward his virgin daughter, if she be past the flower of her age [12 years], and if need so requireth, let him do what he will; he sinneth not; let them marry.”

    Incest and Rape: II Kings 13:14
    “Amnon the son of David loved the sister of Absalom the son of David .. took hold of her, and said: Come lie with me, my sister. She answered him: Do not so, my brother, do not force me: for no such thing must be done in Israel. Do not thou this folly. But he would not hearken to her prayers, but being stronger overpowered her and lay with her.”

    Genesis 20:2-8
    “Abraham said of Sara his wife: She is my sister. So Abimelech the king of Gerara sent, and took her … And God said to him: … restore the man his wife, for he is a prophet…”

  • Michael Philip

    You need to learn the difference between ideas and people. The islamic faith is irrational and evil. How individual Muslims choose to practise it in their personal lives is irrelevant and does not change the nature of the faith and bringing up other religions when the subject is Islam is to excuse its rotten ideas.

  • Anonymous

    Two Things.

    I don’t think 1800 era Americans would have allowed a mosque on every colony and faith, presumably, was stronger then. Reason was stronger too, it prevailed across all disciplines.

    The progressives, and today’s liberals, with their smearing of reason through the eugenics programs and everything that followed in the 20th century have removed reason from the social sciences. And without reason problems proliferate in all directions. It makes you wonder how far the leftist will go, yeah not really.

    This is why you have a nano technologist going to a gender study seminar on her way home from the lab.

    Reason seems so solid, so unbreachable, but yet the grasp of reason is so fragile, so needing of protection, so needing to be defended.

    That’s all I’ve got.

    Well, you could google ‘normalcy bias’, this is an example:

    (I think reason was already under attack during this time)

    When Lincoln said that a nation of freemen could be destroyed only by suicide, and when Tocqueville predicted the slow death of American liberty through soft despotism, they were warning against what is now sometimes called the “normalcy bias” — the mind’s preference for denying significant but incremental changes in favor of the psychological comfort of believing that everything is essentially as it has been.

    Korea: A Case Study In Normalcy Bias by Daren Jonescu

  • Anonymous

    I agree that Islam is irrational and evil, just like Christianity and Judaism … or any other supernatural philosophy.

    I’ve provided biblical citations making it perfectly clear that the “nature of the [Islamic] faith” is not distinct from any other. Biddle makes the same point with regard to all religions having the same false premise.

    What concerns me is the proposition that Islam is alone and distinctly irrational and evil. Commands in the Koran echo, almost exactly, those in the Bible.

    Beyond that, there is a persistent claim that all Islamics must accept every evil or irrational assertion in the Koran, whereas Christians and Jews obviously can and do reject the same assertions in their own bibles.

  • Michael Philip

    i think that Islam is in a very different time than either those two religions. How individual muslims choose to adapt their faith will vary one from one person to the next

  • Anonymous

    Mesopotamia was the “cradle of civilization” for millennia and Muslims were the most enlightened societies through most of the Middle Ages. I’m no historian, but I suspect that the factions (Sunni and Shiite) that tried to claim the lineage and political authority of Mohammed were probably what dragged them down into persistent tribal warfare … where they’ve been for centuries. It wasn’t necessarily the Islamist faith that destroyed them; it was politics.

    Of course, I agree that Muslims, like Christians or Jews, do “chose to adapt” and reject barbaric components of their religion. However, many Objectivist advocates believe that there is no such thing as a moderate or skeptical Muslim: all of them are universally evil. I can cite articles on this site demanding the *initiation of war* (without provocation) against Arab countries, simply because they are dominantly Muslim. If that isn’t collectivist thinking, I’m not sure what is.

  • Michael Philip

    when it comes to religion, the term “moderate” is not a good word to use. Either they are consistent about their religious ideas or they are inconsistent, compromising on some and cherry picking what they like and what they don’t like

  • Anonymous

    “To Moderate” is to discard the most extreme and unreasonable ideas.
    Religion can’t demand rational consistency, since it is inherently anti-rational.

  • Michael Philip

    moderation is just pragmatism.

  • Anonymous

    Apparently you didn’t read the biblical citations quoted in my post, calling for the slaughter of all infidels. That’s the inspired Word of God for both Christians and Jews.

    The claim that Islam calls for the death of all non-believers is a myth: