Today in the UK the French periodical Charlie Hebdo is selling like the proverbial “hot cakes” thus in the opinion of such as Mr Anjem Choudary landing themselves in something rather hotter than hot water when they arrive in the next world.
The opinion of another Muslim, journalist Mr Mehdi Hasan, the political director of the Huffington Post UK, is likely to be far more proportionate and balanced. Mr Hasan was one of the panellists on last night’s “Question Time” and gave a very sensible opinion on the subject of giving offence to Muslims by publishing images of Muhammed. He compared it to farting in a lift.
Interestingly, Pope Francis also added his two penny worth (since two Argentine centavos are only worth 0.15 pence) when travelling to the Philippines recently. Commenting on the subject of giving grave offence, he suggested that were someone to speak in grossly insulting terms about his mother he would punch them, declaring this would be a “natural response.”
Since the Paris outrage much has been said on all sides about the topic of free speech and giving offence. Today’s article does not intend to add significantly to this but takes on a philosophical examination of the religion in relation to “the sin” of giving offence, “sin” generally and the consequences (for the “sinner”) thereof.
The British Gazette will beg your indulgence Dear Reader and pick up the Pope’s comment and run with it. It is interesting because we are sure that Luke 6:28 will come immediately to the mind of many readers (Bless them that curse you [and by extension, one's mother – Ed] , and pray for them which despitefully use you) – no mention there of punching the offender!
This then brings us onto the topic of the interpretation of the scriptures generally and also the logic of the arguments that those extremists would use to justify their actions. The mass murderers of the Charlie Hebdo staff claimed to be “….avenging the Prophet….” Well this obviously raised the issue of proportion. Was the murder of twelve people a proportionate response to the offence these individuals feel was given to them and their co-religionists?
Most normal rational people would give an emphatic NO to that question.
Most normal reasonable people take the attitude that the punishment should fit the crime.
In other words, a proportionate response. Let us take Mr Hasan’s analogy further: suppose a man went to a store to purchase a carving knife and was taking his purchase to his car parked in a multi storey car park. He was alone in the lift when he got in on the ground floor but another man entered the lift at the first floor (our shopper’s car being on the 4th). This other man then farts. It is a large and very smelly fart in a small unventilated lift. Our shopper reacts by stabbing the farter to death. You Dear Reader are a jury member at the shopper’s trial for murder. The shopper’s barrister seeks to argue that the fart was sufficient provocation for a verdict of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. In the absence of psychological evidence to this, we doubt you would agree.
The question of proportion lies at the heart of many peoples view of religion.
To many people religions seem to be medieval and disproportionate. To many people religions seem illogical.
Take the perspective of the medieval Christian:
There is a God. He created the world and everything on it. He handed down the Ten Commandments to Moses. The Prophet Elijah spoke of Christ’s coming. Christ came. Christ was crucified and died upon the cross. He rose again on the third day & C. He now sits (as part of the Holy Trinity) in judgement on “the quick and the dead.” Those who believe and repent [of their sins] go to heaven. Those who don’t get cast into the lake of Hellfire – for eternity!
Now there is a problem with the logic here. You see according to this theology, God created well everything. God is omnipotent. All knowing all seeing. Now logic would would suggest that such an entity would have a logic far exceeding that of the cleverest of the cleverest of his creations. But if you accept the words of the Bible this is clearly not the case.
Allow us to perform a selective experiment on heterosexual men – most of us males.
Below you see a picture of the delightful Miss Holly Peers.OK then, imagine if you will “having knowledge” of this lady (in the Biblical sense of that word). According to the medieval theologians these thoughts – unless you unfeignedly confess and repent are enough for you to be cast into the lake of Hellfire – for eternity! Note, we are only thinking about having consensual intercourse with this lady.
Now it is a clear as the nose on the late General de Gaulle’s face that there is a glaring inconstancy here! How can it be explained. Well the explanation is rather obvious: The words of the omnipotent, all knowing, all seeing entity have been edited – spun – by various authorities.
To control people of course. Remember, these are the people who went out to the Middle East and slaughtered huge numbers of innocent people in the name of their religion. They were every bit as ruthless and intolerant and genocidal as the ISIS terrorists are today – who are sadly wreaking their havoc in the same general area.
To the extremist – whether they are living in the 7th century, the 14th century or the 21st century – there are NO shades of grey. Only Black and White. Sin (however slight) and you end up being burned in a furnace – for eternity. Repent of this sin (however gross) and you are guaranteed heavenly bliss – for eternity.
So you know see before you the answer as to why these two murderers shot twelve people dead.