I have just published a new book of philosophy.
GOD, FAITH AND TERROR is now available on Amazon.
The first chapter is a free read below.
GOD FAITH AND TERROR
BY ROBERT LEADER
In God, God, Faith and Reason Robert Leader argued from a new working of the free will argument and a study of all the related fields of philosophy that in all probability God does exist. That book continued to argue that if God does exist then all faith must lead to God.
In God, Faith and Terror these themes are continued in a study of the all-too-often hostile relationship between Christianity and Islam. It covers the crusades, the trade wars in the Mediterranean, the creation of Israel, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the rise of al-Queda and ISIS and the modern blight of international terrorism. It is a story of a conflict between faiths and civilizations.
At its heart is the question, can all this hatred, the murders and atrocities committed in the name of religion, really be what God wants?
LIST OF CHAPTERS
Chapter one: The dawn of the Age of terror.
Chapter Two: God, faith and Reason.
Chapter Three: The Perennial philosophy.
Chapter Four: John Hick’s Interpretation of Religion.
Chapter Five: Karen Armstrong and the Unknown God.
Chapter Six: The Holy Koran.
Chapter Seven: The Turn of the Tide.
Chapter Eight: The Crusades.
Chapter Nine: The Battle for the Mediterranean.
Chapter Ten: Israel.
Chapter Eleven: The First Terrorists, the PLO.
Chapter Twelve: Iraq.
Chapter Thirteen: Al-Qaeda.
Chapter Fourteen: ISIS.
Chapter 15: Science and Atheism.
Chapter Sixteen: Fundamentalism to Terror.
Chapter Seventeen: Mecca and Medina Muslims.
Chapter Eighteen: The Modernisation of Islam.
Chapter Nineteen: Religious Pluralism in Christian and Islamic Philosophy.
Chapter Twenty: The Golden Rule.
THE DAWN OF THE AGE OF TERROR
CARNAGE IN NICE
BRUSSELS IN LOCKDOWN AS THE HUNT FOR ISIS TERRORISTS GOES ON
MASSACRE IN PARIS TRIGGERS HUNT FOR ISIS KILLERS AMONG SYRIAN MIGRANTS.
RUSSIAN JET BLOWN OUT OF THE SKY, KILLING 224
LONE GUNMAN SLAUGHTERS 38 ON TUNISIAN BEACH
HOSTAGES BEHEADED BY JIHADIS
NAIROBI SUPERMARKET HIT BY TERRORIST ATTACK
TERRORIST ATTACK ON MUMBAI HOTEL KILLS 164
SUICIDE BOMBERS KILL 52 IN TUBE AND BUS STRIKES IN LONDON
ISLAMIC TERRORISTS ATTACK FOUR COMMUTER TRAINS IN MADRID
202 DEAD AS CAR BOMBS CAUSE CARNAGE IN BALI
HI-JACKED AIRLINERS TOPPLE THE TWIN TOWERS IN NEW YORK
The list goes on. It is not complete and is not yet ended. And it is all in the Name of God. The black-masked murderers with bloody hands do their killing shrieking and invoking the name of Allah.
The slaughter of English holidaymakers on the beach in Tunisia, beheadings in the streets of the UK and Europe, suicide bombers in mosques and mass murder throughout the Middle East, have all marked the rise and horror of Isis. Inevitably there are calls to send in the SAS, to pin-point targets for air strikes, to send in military boots on the ground to support the reeling forces of moderate Islam, to meet the new war of terror head on and fight back with everything we have got. All this may well be necessary but it misses one crucial point. This war will not be won on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq, or in more effective counter-terror measures. It will be won or lost on the theological front, in the hearts and minds of those young Islamic men and women who are subject to intense radicalization, and by defeating the hate-preaching imams of ignorance.
Somehow we must play the madmen in the mosques at their own game. For too long the voices of philosophy and theology have been pushed aside by the relentless march of enlightenment and science leading to atheism and its reaction of religious fundamentalism, and finally god-inspired terrorism.
Except that the fundamentalists have got it wrong. God does not want bloody murder and the fanatical elimination of all who do not share one particular way of faith and worship. Every major faith and virtually all religious belief systems preach peace and love and compassion for all. They all see the ultimate godhead, from whatever their perspective, as ultimately benign.
Of course the perspectives differ, and the shape of every mainstream and tributary of faith and understanding will have its roots in its own history and culture. From time immemorial there have been philosophers and theologians of every creed, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu, who have realized that in the final analysis God is unknowable. It has to be so to leave that essential gap for faith and free will.
So every culture and every society has developed its own definition and understanding of God. But these are only differences of definition and understanding. All over the world, at every time and place people have been aware that there is something above themselves, a spiritual dimension of which somehow they are an earthly part, and that sustaining and central to all of this there is something which for want of a better word we have called God. The names may change through time and place, the images, the perspectives, the understandings may all shift and dissolve and reshape through time, but through it all there is always the sense that something is ever-lasting, holding it all together, and loving.
If you want similes, think of a mountain. A mountain can have many routes to the top, approaching from any direction. Depending on how and from where you climb it the summit of the mountain can take on many different shapes and perspectives. Even as you ascend the outline of the summit can shift and reform. But it is always the same summit of the same mountain.
Or think of Uluru, the great red rock that is sacred to the aborigines of central Australia. Millions of people visit Uluru every year to witness the magnificent spectacle of its changing colours with every sunrise and sunset. The patterns of light and shadow, pink and red and orange and purple, shift and change every few seconds with the rising or setting of the sun. But the rock remains. However you perceive it, whatever colour of rock you see, the rock is the same.
Many philosophers and theologians now accept that God is somehow like this. The mystery is deeper, the substance or essence or life-force of that mystery is more obscure, but the mystery is there, even if we cannot see beyond our own shifting patterns of perceptions and understandings. For most of us one perception, one understanding and one path of faith is enough, whether it be Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism or Buddhism, it is all we need.
The terrible mistake comes when one fundamental religious group begins to believe that only one single path, one perspective, one understanding, its own understanding, is the one and only true path. The fanatics take over and preach the conversion or annihilation of the rest of the world.
The extreme elements of Islam are now pouring down this bloody path, crying out for more blood and murder and defiling the very name of Allah who they claim as their cause. However, we should not be too appalled and shocked by their fanaticism. Europe saw a Thirty Year War between Catholics and Protestants. The bitter Irish “troubles” were a result of religious schism. Christian bigotry and ignorance was the father of the Spanish Inquisition and saw the total destruction of the native cultures of Central and South America and the South Pacific. Burning and beheading was quite common in the Middle Ages and the headsman’s axe was the right of English kings who could condemn any man for treason.
The list of examples could go on and on, taken from any religion, but Christianity has now moved on from those dark and bloody days. It can be hoped that in time Islam too can learn and grow and move forward. But they need help. Not just with air strikes and military boots on the ground, but in the theological conflict between fundamental bigotry and universal care and compassion for all.
The perennial philosophy which sees all faiths as pathways to God is a possible answer. Love Thy Neighbour, in one form of wording or another, is a basic tenet of every major faith. We are all seeking God and no one religion owns Him or His exclusive patronage.
In this modern world of overlapping streams of faith it seems that we must accept the wider understanding of Perennial Philosophy. And we must always remember that Isis is not Islam. One Isis maniac perpetrated the Tunisian slaughter, but there were Tunisian hotel staff and shopkeepers who did all they could to shepherd potential victims to safety, and they too were Muslims. Islam is one of the great world religions, as true in essence as any other, and we cannot let it be hi-jacked by the relative minority who would turn their own Allah of Love, Mercy and Compassion into a Demon of ignorance, cruelty and Hate.
If God created this diverse world of faiths, races and cultures, then no single group has the right to re-shape his creation, or to advocate such a course with such appalling conceit in His Name. This truly is sacrilege.
This is the message that should be gate-crashed on to every Jihad terrorist website. It should be printed in Arabic and circulated in every possible Arabic newspaper. Allah is Great, but those who worship Him in other ways, or by another name, are also His Children.
God filled this world with a vast variety of flowers, of all shapes, sizes and colours. He made roses, lilies, marigolds, carnations, chrysanthemums, daffodils and tulips. Having made all this colourful diversity of blossoms it seems highly unlikely that He would want any single one of them singled out for sole survival and all the others destroyed.
God filled the rivers, the seas and the oceans with all manner of fish and aquatic creatures, from the great blue whales to the tinniest plankton. On any coral reef you will find a vast diversity of fish sizes and colours, and it seems highly unlikely that God would want all of this amazing display of life reduced to any single species.
On land He has created an equally stunning array of animals from long-necked giraffes and mighty elephants all the way down to meerkats and mice. He has filled the plains of Africa with zebra and buffalo, deer and antelope, and predatory lions and leopards. So it seems highly unlikely that he would want all of his animals to perish except for any one single kind.
He has made a multitude of bird life to fill the treetops and the skies, from soaring eagles to tiny sparrows. Again it seems crazy to think that He would actually want all this feathered, warbling diversity reduced to just one voice and one species.
He has created man in a variety of ethnic groups, Caucasian, Negroid, Hindu, Eskimo, Asian and Arab. Each group and each culture adds to the fascinating tapestry of humanity as a whole. Why would He do this if He wanted only one group to survive?
And finally He has allowed a wide diversity of religions to flourish. Each of the great mainstream faiths is a pathway to God. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism all have different definitions and understandings of God. They approach from different directions and from different bodies of experience, but they are all striving to reach the same goal. They could not exist if God had not willed their existence and shown them their own way. Again it seems totally unrealistic and insane to believe that He would actually want all other faiths and their followers eliminated except one.
The diversity of this Earth is a wonderful sight to behold, and if it was created by God as most people of religious faith believe, then diversity is God’s Will.
It cannot be the Will of God that all faith is reduced to one religion, or that men, women and children of other faiths should be indiscriminately maimed and murdered in God’s name.
The acts listed at the beginning of this chapter are atrocities designed to further political ambitions and the pursuit of political power. There is no way that they can be attributed to the Will of a Compassionate and Merciful God, the God in which all religions, despite their differences in definition and understanding, do firmly believe.
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