[Want another view? Check out what an actual Muslim thinks about Islam. Radical.]
We have an offensive problem. It’s called supersessionism. Supersessionism is the antique idea that God$ is a piece of property that can be owned.
Offense 1: Seventeen innocent people were murdered in Paris because someone supposedly offended a prophet who died 14 centuries ago.
Offense 2: That man happens to be the Muhammad, who, most Muslims believe, should never be shown as a human, let alone be insulted or mocked. Many of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are offended that their Prophet can be offended without apology.
Offense 3: Most Muslims do not understand their religion offends Christians. The entire basis of Islam is that Jesus did not die on the cross and anyone who says he did is a liar. If you’re a Christian, this offends you.
Offense 4: Christians believe their religion fulfills Judaism. Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, so Jews should admit that and convert. If you’re a Jew, this offends you.
Offense 5: Jews believe their religion is the only one God$ gave to man. They don’t understand why other people don’t accept this and convert. If you’re a people, this offends you.
Technically, supersessionism means my religion fulfills, or supersedes, yours. Your religion, therefore, must be a lie and a fake. Islam supersedes Christianity. Christianity supersedes Judaism. Judaism supersedes Baalism or whatever.
Like Russian dolls, where a big one hides a littler one, each successive “Abrahamic religion” swallows up the one before. Given that the three claim to represent a total of almost four of the world’s seven billion people, this can pose problems for everybody getting along, whether they’re in the mix or not.
This brings us to Offense Number 6: Nobody owns God$. Whatever God$ is, She can’t be owned by any people, any nation, any ideology, any prophet, any man, any woman. Like modesty, when you brag that you’ve got it, it’s gone.
I’ve spent my life as a student of philosophy and religion. I have learned there is no way I can prove religion is wrong, any religion.
Maybe Muhammad really is the messenger of God$, who really is an Arab. Maybe Jesus was the Christ. Maybe Moses had the only rules we need to live by. Then again, maybe not.
But I am a man of great faith. I have faith that the world will rotate on its axis to reveal a new dawn every 24 hours. I can’t prove it to you. But like philosopher David Hume, I wager it is going to happen again tomorrow, and only chumps would bet elsewise.
That’s all faith is, is a bet on stuff. So long as you are free to bet on your stuff and I’m free to bet on my stuff, we’re okay. The problem comes when someone decides something is “offensive” and therefore off-limits. Freedom of speech is the same way.
I’m not a good artist so no one has to worry about me drawing pictures of their prophet or god. Instead I write. So can I say Mohammad is not the prophet? Or that Jesus isn’t the Son of God$?
Freedom means the freedom to say No. No, I don’t have to do this, but I could.
That’s why it’s so depressing to see and hear people running away from Charlie Hebdo, like the editor of my local newspaper did, with his “I’m not Charlie” headline. He misses the point.
Freedom is measured not by the one walk I do take, but in how many walks I could choose.
Here is the 7th Offense: Nobody should have to die for being offensive.