This essay is in direct response to a conversation on Twitter related to Islam and people. Sometimes when you’re in a conversation with an individual who knows a particular topic well, it is nearly impossible to get them to see that you are discussing something entirely different.
The person I was talking to was explaining to me how Islam, especially the Sunni, is a religion of war. My point was that people are people, and Muslims are no exception.
Homo Sapien is a species in the Great Ape family. Our closest cousins are Bonobos and Chimps. Homo Sapiens in our current form has existed for at least 200,000 years, well before the cognitive revolution that led to significant improvements in our ways of life.
The appearance of new ways of thinking and communicating, between 70,000 and 30,000 years ago, constitutes the Cognitive Revolution. What caused it? We’re not sure. The most commonly believed theory argues that accidental genetic mutations changed the inner wiring of the brains of Sapiens, enabling them to think in unprecedented ways and to communicate using an altogether new type of language. We might call it the Tree of Knowledge mutation.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind — Yuval Noah Harari
Over time, complex systems of morality were created, often but not always tied to religions. Each of these religions passed through time as oral history. Written language is less than 10,000 years ago, making these moral systems vulnerable to change over time. Even today the texts which do exist are open to interpretation due to other significant changes in society over time.
I find that Philosophy does an amazing job of both demonstrating the Wisdom of the ages over time. While moral systems change over time, the biology of humans and the way their minds function are relatively stable. You can view history or the philosophy of an individual as knowledge about how people may act within the given context of their time.
I view Humans as animals who are able to overcome their instincts via Logic and Reason with effort. More often they follow what they are taught, and what they personally have seen validated.
I am not a scholar of Islam. I do however understand the dynamic between Islam and Christianity over the years, as their followers have battled for territory over time. And how that history on either side is used to justify additional hostilities and intervention.
However you justify actions against Muslims, you are helping to continue a history of violence going back over a thousand years. The violence cannot end until the side with the upper hand (us) stops it.