Does Churchills warning hold any weight in the Modern world?

This is another ‘prophecy’ he has foretold. This time about Islamic fundamentalism.

On some levels, I am becoming very worried, I don’t want to be part of the generation who ‘were the last Western Generation to be free from the tyranny of religion’ Am also worried about the lack of the sense of urgency to change things before they change us.

What can we do?

Does the Middle East have to become the next parking lot for us to survive?

As he notes, it’s not an Islam thing. Christianity thought it could be science, reason, and truth too. Over the course of centuries, it got its clock cleaned until it ran up the white flag (at least the mainstream church). You can see the same effect in the developed countires of Asia, which maintain a balance between religious practice and sceince. Give Islamdom a few centuries and it’s likely the same thing will happen in their social fabric.

In fact, in Muslim communities that are not dominated by theocracy like those in the US, religious fanaticism is on par with what you get from religious wackos of all varieties.

I’ll wager 5 to 1 that there will be somebody along by Monday afternoon to abuse Churchill’s reputation.

The first time that happened on the SDMB, my jaw dropped with disbelief.
Then I remembered the old saying " If God lived on Earth, some people would throw rocks through His windows". :rolleyes:

Churchill is not God.

He made many mistakes and errors of judgment, and many of his projects and causes ended in failure. Until late in his life, it seemed as if he would be written off as someone who never lived up to his early promise, and who eventually became an irrelevancy.

Of course, when it really mattered his judgment was sound, and his qualities were exactly what his country and the world required. It doesn’t follow, however, that his every utterance on every subject is imbued with some kind of infallibility. Given his taste (and undoubted talent) for rhetoric, and his highly political mind, he frequently made statements which he knew to be overblown, unbalanced or perhaps even untrue in order to persuade people to a particular stance on a specific issue. We can’t really evaluate his statement about Islam unless we know the context in which it was made, and what he was trying to persuade people to do, or to accept, at the time.

Churchillss’ observations about Islam may or may not be correct, but they’re certainly not correct merely because they are his observations.

Does that count as abusing his reputation, Bosda?

Yes, it’s my theory that Islam, having started up about 600 years later than Christianity, is about where Christianity was 600 years ago. Give the middle easterners some time, about 600 years or so, and they should eventually stop torturing and murdering people on an institutional level, and simply revert to it on an isolated individual level as Christianity is now.

Of course, Christian countries had to develop nuclear weapons on their own - they did not have any further advanced societies to take them from in the 1400s, so it’s possible that Islam, having the emotional quotient of a movement 600 years behind Christianity, but access to nuclear weapons, may simply blow up the world first.

Good times, good times.

If God lived on Earth, I should hope that most people would throw rocks through His windows!

That’s terrific! :cool:

Does Churchill’s warning hold any weight? Well, Churchill sure did. :stuck_out_tongue:
Lots of people spout off junk like this. The fact that Winston Churcill was one of them doesn’t make it any more credible in my opinion.

Well, I’m not going to bash Churchill, but he did hold a very Anglo-centric world view, which was not uncommon in Britain back then. He was a product of his times, so I tend to take his comments on other cultures with a grain of salt (although some of his comments I find fairly cringe-worthy). Does anyone know the context of the quote?

I suppose that’s one option. Another would be to reexamine our policies in the middle east and see if they are helping or hurting the situation.

There do exist countries with significant Muslim populations that either have become or are on their way to becoming secular democracies. India and Malaysia come to mind, but I think Indonesia and Mali could get there fairly quickly with some luck and some serious effort. Blanket categorizations of either Islam or the Middle East, I think is precisely the problem with our current foreign policy. Some of this conflict is political, some of it is religious, and there are different actors who have different goals.

Why do you think Western civilisation is under any sort of threat? What do you fear - a mass invasion by Muslims? Forced conversion? If so, that’s absolutely ridiculous and out of the realms of possibility. I don’t think that’s what Churchill’s quote is getting at either

What’s the debate here? Whether religion tends to hold back science and reason? Whether Islam in particular does so? At the moment, all I see is waffle and alarmist rhetoric about being the “last Western generation”. Pull it together!

I fear that a state, or a large terrorist group with sufficient resources, run by people who believe that religious struggle to the death is glorious and that a martyr’s death and the afterlife given by it are better than continuing to live here on earth, will gain access to nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction and kill huge amounts of people, if not functionally enough all life on the planet, through some misguided scheme to find Allah.

You know, the same sort of nation states who purportedly roped children together with little “keys to paradise” to ensure their entry into the afterlife with 72 virigns and endless fig supplies or whatever, and sent them into minefields and suicide missions. The same sort of terrorist groups who send teenage girls into crowded civilian areas and detonate them.

This leads to an interesting question - in the last 50 years or so, maybe even last 100, after Christianity grew up and became half-way presentable, have there been any other religions that have inspired deadly events on the level of 9/11, the Madrid train bombings, etc.? My immediate thought is the Hindu slaughter of Muslims, but then the Muslims are in the equation again, so that is not a completely clean event. Anything else? I’m looking for things like Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. blowing up a concert hall in Qum, or driving a truck bomb into Riyadh or some sort. Anything on the “hundreds of deaths” scale of that nature?

You mean like Northern Irish groups blowing up stuff in N. Ireland and England?

I think you are seriously out of whack here. Even if Iran is now a nuclear power, the people running it (religious nuts that they are) don’t have a death wish. Funny thing about power. Once you have it, you don’t want to die, you want to use it. They lack the capability to attack America and probably Europe as well. If they passed one to terrorists who’d use it, Tehran would be gone in ten minutes. Their terrorist ties are not exactly a secret. The notion that Western civilization is threatened by terrorists is, at the moment, nuts.

But your first example is still slaughter inspired by religious nationalism that isn’t Islamism. The faith of the victims is irrelevant. As for other religious nationalism, how about Protestants vs Catholics in Northern Ireland? The Aum cult in Japan and their poison-gas attacks? The occasional Jewish crazy like Baruch Goldstein, the man who massacred Palestinians (in a Hebron mosque?)

Note my choice of words - “religious nationalism”. I believe that this is the real threat - not religion itself. The Hindus in your example, the Religious Right in the USA, Islamism in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia - the root cause there is religious nationalism, not religion proper.

That is, their beliefs would be just fine if they stuck to prayer, charity and so forth as their holy writings advise (as most Hindus, Christians, Jews and Muslims do). The real disaster is when they translate religious commandments as injunctions to terrible temporal actions, especially in the realm of government. Those of many religions are guilty of this.

I suppose that one could argue that Islam was always designed to be a source of temporal power, and that therefore it is more predisposed to religious nationalism, ie Islamism.

Ryan_Liam, I live in the Southern United States. My rights have been much more threatened (and sometimes violated) for years by Christian fundamentalists who think that they should have a say in which religious days I was able to take from work, what books I have access to, what movies I can see and what words I can say.

It is my personal opinion that my country is in more danger from oppressive Christians than Muslims. For example, how many living human beings might have been saved from horrible suffering if federal funding for stem cell research had been supported over the last four years?

And I write that as a Christian.

So now the religious right is the same as Islamic Jihad, al-Qeada, et al? Well, now we know where you’re coming from.

Not entirely, but, since all sorts of bogus Churchill quotes are bandied about in aid of political ends, some effort to clear up its source may be of use.
Its current popularity seems to derive from being quoted in a recent article by the Daily Telegraph’s reliably, umm, controversial Mark Steyn, who cites it as being from The River War (1899). The Churchill Centre has the quote being discovered by a Gregory Smith back in late 2001 (together with a more precise reference) and are evidently convinced it’s real.
Oddly enough, the quote doesn’t seem to appear in the Project Gutenberg version of The River War, which uses the 1902 edition.

The River War is Churchill’s account of the Sudan campaign. If the quote is real, it strikes me as exactly the sort of Victorian rhetoric to be expected in such a work. (Though others have argued that the book is not a typical product of its time.)

Your view of their rationality is much more sanguine than mine. I hope that you are right.

Maybe. I’ve never been able to get a good grasp on how much that is really inspired by religion, and how much of it is inspired by attempting to get the English out of Ireland.

In other words, if the English were predominently Catholic, would the bombings still have taken place. I imagine they would have.

No, I’m not sure it is a good example because: 1) it appears is more nationalist than religious - I have not heard of Hindu’s blowing up mosques in Pakistan in the name of Hinduism, but rather Indian nationalism; and 2) the scale still seems to be off. Nonetheless, it is a potential example, which is why I brought it up.

Now the occassional Jewish crazy would be a decent example, but I notice that you describe it yourself as the occassional isolated Jewish crazy. Again, no large, or even small, group of people killing hundreds or thousands of civilians in the name of God, Yaweh, Krishna, or whatever. No videotapes of 5 or 6 people droning Allahu Akbar while cutting someone’s head off.

Well…People killed in the 9/11, in Madrid, Bali, etc…were mostly christians. They couldn’t manage not to be in the equation, so it’s not like these victims were completely clean. They must have been somewhat guilty.