Belinda wrote:...If Islam were to metamorphose, as has Christianity, into a religion that aims to benefit everyone and everything then it would be a good religion. Christianity was at one time authoritarian and tribal and still is among some Christian believers.
I'm not sure what you mean by "tribal".
Here's my guess. Before Christianity, virtually all religions were ethnocentric. For instance, the Greek cities often warred among one another over perceived insults to the God of their city--even thou in some cases the Gods originated from the same source. For example, both Gods might be "sun gods" based on nearly identical personas, but that wasn't enough to unify the cities and prevent them from warring.
The Jews were ethnocentric as well, and since Christianity arose from a Jewish tradition, the very earliest Christians tended to be ethnocentists as well. I'm not a biblical scholar (or historian) but as I recall, evidence suggests that this changed when Saul (a gentile) converted to Chrisianity and took the name Paul. He was extremely influential in developing the direction of early Chistianity so that it began to actively court the gentile--instead of being restricted to the Jews. Largely because of Paul's efforts Christianity became the first religion in history to accept the outsider as a full fledged member, equal in every respect.
This was a radical advancement for religion, and was largely responsible for the rapid and wide spread of Christianity. Early Christians were persecuted mercilessly, but because of their unshakable faith, a few key figures in leadership roles were converted and the rest is history. In many countries, the Christian church soon became even more powerful than the king. But this power came directly from the faith and fervor of the people themselves. Any king who went against the church risked being deposed by his own people, as the people would rise up in revolt.
Another religious innovation that help make Christianity so successful was that it introduced the concept of Hell and damnation. Other religions had preached about an afterlife, and many contained a somewhat unpleasant underworld for those who didn't live a good life. But Christianity raised that afterlife to an existence of eternal torment--and that was a strong motivating force among believers.
Islam is also a non-tribal religion (in this sense)--since they allow anyone to convert to Islam and then enjoy all the advantages of being a full-fledged Muslim. Unlike Christianity, however, they believed in gaining converts at the point of a sword--and those who refused to convert were either killed, enslaved or heavily taxed. Anyone who became a Muslim, (or was born Muslim) was under a penalty of death if they became apostates--and failed to follow Islam. The addition of a heaven where suicide bombers are rewarded with forty virgins to torture and rape to their heart's content is an added incentive. And, for those men who manage to amass great wealth, real life is not that different--for harems, sexual slavery, mutilation of female genitalia, child brides and other atrocities are not all that uncommon in some Muslim cultures, even today.
Islam is also highly political in nature. Muhammad was not just the spiritual leader of his people, he was the political leader of his people--and that attitude has become dogma. So (in a sense) Islam is not so much a religion as it is a theocracy--a political system based on rule by religion--the Islam religion.
Strictly as a self-perpetuating religious meme
... (a religious idea that spreads by itself) Islam takes most of what was advantageous (i.e. self-promoting) about Christianity and combines it with the advantages of the aggressive, war-like attitudes of pre-Christian religions... making Islam a very aggressive and persistent meme indeed.
Thus, Islam is not likely to go away any time soon. Nor do I think it is likely to evolve and become a more enlightened religion. Think about it. Because Islam teaches that Muhammad is the perfect man--who should be immulated, it is necessarily designed to reinforce its most primitive tenants--for all eternity. This unenlightened state is ensured by those fanatics who are perfectly willing to kill any Muslim who dares try to raise Islam out of it's own barbarity.
This is, in fact, what makes Islam so extremely dangerous. For if America and the rest of the world falls to Islamic Jihad, the stagnant nature of Islam will be extremely difficult to overcome--and it could well be a thousand years of darkness before humanity finally becomes enlightened enough again to throws off the bonds of its Muslim masters.
Don't get me wrong... there are a few outspoken Muslims who are trying to bring about the enlightenment of which you speak--and I have a tremendous respect for these great men. But my personal opinion is that these efforts are a doomed from the start. Even if it were somehow successful, (which is itself exceedingly unlikely) it is unlikely to be a permanent transformation because the seeds of violence are (as I've said) part of the religion's DNA. Anyone who can read the Koran can interpret the words in the way that will return the religion to it's violent and destructive roots. In fact, that's exactly what happened when the Ayatollah Komaini came to power a few decades back. At that time, Muslims were relatively docile and caused relatively little trouble for the rest of us. But this new leader came in and preached a return to the fundamentals of Jihad--and a few decades later here we are.
But just because Islam is an effective MEME doesn't mean that it is a positive force in the world. If you disregard their oil (which the west discovered and developed for them) what have the Arab countries exported to the world other than suicide bombers and terrorism?
But let's put aside evil people like bin Laden and Saddam Hussein; lets forget the atrocities of honor killings, and husbands who treat their wives like property, etc.
Lets look simply at what the Islamic culture has produced that we in the West hold as having some value.
Consider some of these facts
--The scientific research and technological development produced by all the Arab countries combined is less than 1% of the world's total.
--Approximately 330 books are translated into Arabic each year. By contrast, Greece translates 1,500 books into Greek and Spain translates about 100,000 into Spanish.
--In 1998 only 3 technology patents were granted in the entire Arab world. By contrast, the Republic of Korea (who?) received 779 technology patents that year.
--Between 1980 and 2000, the numbers were 370 Arab patents to 16,000 patents in South Korea alone.
--Desite their massive oil wealth, the gross domestic product of ALL 22 Arab countries COMBINED (including their oil income) was less than half that of Italy--even though Italy is 1/6th the size.
These sorts of statistics are not just coincidence--they are deeply seated in cultural values. And, like those raised in poverty, it is very difficult to break the social conditioning that leads to this generational stagnation.
Belinda wrote:... I think that increased democracy and freedom among the subservient Muslims will almost automatically reform Islam and haul it into the modern world of science and universal ethics.
I'm sorry, but I don't think this is realistic.
First, democracy is a form of evil (from the Islamic perspective). So few Muslims are likely to embrace it. In those countries where Muslims are overthrowing their vile dictatorial leaders, there will perhaps be democratic elections--but I'd bet that most (if not all) of them will elect terrorist organizations like the Muslim brotherhood, Hamas, etc. to come in and be their new leaders... exchanging one evil for another (arguably) greater one.
The fundamentalist think that it is evil to give the people the right to choose whether they want to be Muslim. The penalty for not being Muslim ENOUGH is death. Not being Muslim at all is not an acceptable option--unless those people are slaves or pay oppressive (jizya) tax on infidels.
Another thing that most people fail to realize is that people (generally) are motivated more by the promise of prestige than they are by wealth. Women who are starving over in Africa will pass up a meal in favor of a tube of lipstick. Why? The food is much more critical to their immediate survival, but the lipstick gives them something the food can't. Prestige!
It isn't poverty that motivates Muslims to engage in acts of terrorism--it's the fact that they sense that they are THIRD WORLD NATIONS... and so they are at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to the pecking order of the world's nations. In other words, they have no prestige.
Another misunderstanding is that you gain the support of Muslims by giving them foreign aid. But again, this myth discounts the importance that (all creatures--including humans) place on prestige. Being so poor that you can't take care of yourself is disgraceful to most people--particularly proud people. In some cultures, giving gifts to inferior tribes was seen as a means of humiliating them. This is particularly true of cultures that practice fundamentalist Muslim values, since this universal human characteristic is exaggerated by the fact that their religion demands that they MUST dominate the world--using any means necessary to do so. When we give aid to these Muslim countries, (some do feel gratitude) but many others are offended; and even more motivated to retaliate against us.
Islamic scholars often declare that Islam is a religion of peace. And in a twisted sense, this is true. Supposedly, when there is a one-world caliphate, and everyone is dominated by Sharia law, the world will be at peace. (Yeah, fat chance). But until then, devout (fundamentalists) MUST wage war against the infidel at all times and in every way possible. If another Muslim preaches truly enlightened moderation--they are a valid target for termination, just like the rest of us infidels.
When all of this is taken into consideration, I see virtually no possibility for a spontaneous enlightenment of the Muslim people. This, of course, does not mean that it is a completely lost cause.
Much of the power of Islam comes directly from it's oil wealth. If that collapses, so will their power base. Of course, the Muslim terrorists are clever enough to realize this is a weakness as well. They've been building financial structures to support their cause for decades, using the laws of democratic countries (and their PC attitudes) against those same democratic countries. For example, there are dozens of Muslim "charities" (like CAIR) that claim to do good works and promote unity between the races; and they collect millions of dollars
... but CAIR (for instance) was founded by men with ties to terrorism, and they've been caught funneling the "charity money" to terrorist groups. They also actively promote things that will further jihadist goals. For instance, when the flying imams fiasco went down, CAIR defended the imams. They've also instituted sharia financing, where a portion of the credit transations goes (like a tithe) to Muslim organizations--who then funnel that money to terrorist groups.
Still, when the oil runs out, so will much of the Islamic threat. Thus, one of the best defenses against Islamic jihad is energy independence.
But reall, to render Islamic terrorists virtually impotent, all we have to do is reject the PC stupidity that has given them power. If we keep radicals out of the country, and enact very strict laws that prevent them from spreading their radical jihadist view, then the radical elements will begin to whither. When the radical minority who are extremists are no longer given safe haven in American mosques (where they have a platform to preach hate) then they will no longer be able to indoctrinate new zelots for their cause, and they will not be able to threaten the safety of the true moderates. When children feel that they will be protected from the parents or siblings who might try to kill them for being too American, then true assimilation will begin. After all, most Muslims come to America to get away from the oppressive Muslim regimes in their old countries. And when the rules make it harder for the trouble makers to make trouble--fewer will make the attempt.
As successive generations become Americanized, many will choose to become Christian, or atheists, and most of the rest will become enlightened Muslims. Those few who continue to harbor jihadist thoughts will be virtually impotent and unable to do much serious damage--as long as we do not become complacent and return to our foolishly PC, multicultural ways.