Alpha or Omega?
Posted by aogTuesday, 04 April 2006 at 16:02 TrackBack Ping URL

This article by Theodore Dalrymple has been making the rounds of the blogosphere lately, even though it was written back in 2004. What I find interesting is that Dalrymple comes to one of the same major conclusions that I have, that Islam’s primary problem is the lack of corrective mechanisms to keep the fanatics in check.

It also brings to mind another subject I was planning to write about, which is whether Islam can withstand not achieving world domination. In a theme related to the previous point, is what I consider a serious design flaw in Islam: it makes a promise of Heaven on Earth. One might say the same about Christianity, but Christianity holds no hope of achieving that through human means, only via divine intervention (i.e., the Second Coming). Islam, in contrast, promises material success purely through human acts, i.e. the foundation of a truly Islamic society. Sounds a bit familiar to students of history, doesn’t it?

As with Communism, the problem for Islam (as has been pointed out elsewhere) is that the West and the USA in particular achieve in their apostate ways what true Islam promises, while the Ummah remains mired in poverty, disease, oppression and failure. The very existence of the Great Satan is a rebuke if not a repudiation to Islam and therefore intolerable to the fanatics1. As Dalrymple notes, if the Ummah were content to live its own way by itself, as say the Amish do, then there would be little conflict. Islam, however, does not seem able to do that and I believe it is because of this issue. An belief that system that provides rewards in the afterlife or non-material rewards today can isolate itself and let the rest of the world go on its way. A belief system that promises the pinnacle of material success if followed properly cannot, just as Communism couldn’t. Dalrymple claims that we are seeing the beginning of the end of Islam, as this contradiction becomes ever more apparent and I tend to agree with that.

It may be that Islam can reform enough to adopt the social mechanisms of success (liberal democracy and capitalism) but I think that such a reform would be far more drastic (and therefore less likely) than it was for Christianity2.

1 Presumably it would be intolerable to the moderates as well, but non-fanatics of any religion rarely waste their time pondering such questions.

2 One is left noting that the third Abrahamic faith, Judaism, seems to have been structured appropriately for the End of History from its beginnings. A little side benefit for being the Chosen People?

Comments — Formatting by Textile
cjm Tuesday, 04 April 2006 at 18:02

one difference between christianity and islam is that the former has a philosophy while the latter is a hodge podge of very explicit rules, even to the point of specifying how to shave and the order to put your clothes on.

i don’t have to tell you, as a systems supremo, the different behavioral characteristics in those two approaches. simply put, for those not familiar with dynamic systems, islam can not adapt while christianity can (and did). if islam was going to reform on its own it would have by now. and contrary to the pipe dreams of some, it will not accept external reformation.

now that even the most remote regions of the world have internet and satellite services available, it will be impossible for the keepers of the faith to keep the faithful in the dark. and that is islam’s death sentence.

i have always thought that we in the west make things a lot harder on our selves by not trumpeting continuously the manifest failures of competing systems of thought. we should have built a ford plant, and an rca plant, in vietnam, and flooded the region with cheap goods. same for the battle with islam, we should be pouring comparisons into these countries of the middle east. write VR simulations of how life could be, without the anchor of a toxic belief system around everyone’s neck.

Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 05 April 2006 at 09:15

Yes, I should have tied this back in to my “meta” theme (such as here). Christianity’s truths are more like physical law while much of Islam is like technology. One endures, the other becomes obsolete.

Jeff Guinn Sunday, 09 April 2006 at 21:13


One might say the same about Christianity, but Christianity holds no hope of achieving that through human means, only via divine intervention (i.e., the Second Coming).

That is more distinction than difference. Christianity is pretty explicit about what it takes in the here and now to gain life everlasting.

That is something of a quibble, though.

Christ was “merely” a prophet. Mohammed was simultaneously prophet, general, and ruler. Hence Islam’s all encompassing rigidity.

One might also add that the Quran is scarcely less evil a book than Mein Kampf.

Annoying Old Guy Sunday, 09 April 2006 at 22:37

I must disagree, as is the central point of my post.

While Christianity is indeed “pretty explicit”, the point is that the reward is not in this world for Christians. The fundamental effeciacy of Christianity cannot, therefore, be judged based on how it works out in this world. Christianity, therefore, can tolerate being the dominant religion in backwards and materially unsuccessful societies. That is not possible for a belief system that promises Heaven on Earth.

Jeff Guinn Monday, 10 April 2006 at 06:08

Point taken.

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