Arguments that seem to have no end.  When will human kind expand beyond the capacity to harvest sustainable resupply?  Climate change.  Where the next nuclear weapon be employed.  The best form of governance.  Is religion responsible for the largest loss of human life?

Intractable contention suitable for after dinner discussion over cigars and a good glass of port.  Perhaps a sipping bourbon.  Don’t ruin a smooth scotch with such debates.  A fine scotch, properly poured into a glass suitable for savoring its fragrance and flavor, should never be spoiled over a debate concerning political matters.  Same is true of single-malt whiskeys.

In this case, I only wasted a cheap glass of poorly blended red wine.  The erstwhile vintner will not be named, less they take umbrage and hire an attorney to “clear” their “good name” and besmirch my palate.  Have I mentioned my distain for the American legal profession, consider it a finished conversation.

Back to where I began.  Unrequited arguments.

Among my favorites, have more men and women died in the name of theology or ideology.

There is a difference between the two…consult with your favorite lawyer…they are masters of semantics.

Best we keep the question simple:  Has more of civilization been killed in the name of god (pick your favorite) or a bid for political dominance?

Now we have a dinner table exchange that might be worthy of spoiling the scotch.


As a graduate student we used to indulge in such intellectual masturbation.  Trust me, we couldn’t afford scotch, so many a glass of boxed red wine festered over our self-professed wisdom.

Until we finally summoned the courage to pull out various texts scattered about a dank apartment—this was graduate school—and begin looking up facts.  So, just to put things at rest before I get to the subject at hand, even if you count Hitler’s holocaust as a religious endeavor—a dubious approach, but I will accept the premise—ideology is a more effective assassin than theology.

Thanks to Stalin and Mao.  Oh, and Harry S. Truman.  Stalin, according to Steven Rosefielde, an acclaimed scholar, did away with about 10 million of his citizens.  Mao killed off 45 million in four years of the Great Leap Forward. And Harry, well, in just two days, 6 and 9 August 1945, he polished off approximately 130,000 Japanese.  Makes the Thirty Years War look civilized…took the Europeans 30 years to sacrifice an estimated 11 million souls.  (Hitler, by the way, is thought to have been responsible for an estimated 11 million noncombatants.)

See, ideology wins on this one.

With the unfortunate exception of what is transpiring in the Middle East.

It would be easy to blame Saddam Hussein, he who found prosecution of the Shia and Kurds an easy game.  Some claim a fatality count of between 100,000 and 300,000.

Then we come to ISIS.  The new Caliphate.  Inspiration of multiple atrocities, the latest taking place in Egypt—over three hundred slaughtered for failing to practice an “appropriate” interpretation of the Prophet’s words. Rough numbers, about 9,000 Muslim faithful lost each year to ISIS-related atrocity.  Makes 9-11 and the attacks on Paris seem trivial.

For this we can blame Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian jihadist who brought al-Qaeda in Iraq to prominence and then promptly spent more energy murdering fellow Muslims than he expended on killing American apostates.   Zarqawi, the bastard who launched an attack on the “Golden Dome” al-Askari mosque in Samarra.  A man who ignored al-Qaeda leadership demands he focus on destroying Western crusaders, not his fellow Muslims.  Zarqawi, spiritual inspiration for the Islamic State.

And now lives on as a spiritual inspiration for the Muslim faithful to go forth and butcher their brothers.  Despite the Quran’s explicit warning not to do so: “And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell to abide therein, and the Wrath and the Curse of Allah are upon him, and a great punishment is prepared for him.” (4: 93)

What constitutes a “believer”?  Here we are on a slippery slope.  A debate akin to a good Catholic lighting into a practicing Southern Baptist.

Here’s the best I can offer from the Quran as a justification for murder of a fellow Muslim: “Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth among the people of the Scripture, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”(9:29) In other words, there is no justification for killing other observant members of the Islamic faith in the name of Allah.

It is time we took this battle from a contest between disciples of the Bible and adherents of the Quran to a dispassionate conversation about evils the Prophet’s loudest proponents are inflicting upon their fellow believers.   This is not a battle to be won via conquest or crusade.  It is a matter of convincing a majority of the Muslim world that it is not just to be dying for Allah at the hand of a purported jihadi warrior.

An argument with a logical conclusion.  Life imitates Osiris.

Eric C. Anderson

26 November 2017