Back when I was a Sunni, I got into a contentious debate with an agnostic friend of mine. We were discussing comments that Ayaan Hirsi Ali made in an interview around the time her book “Nomad” was published. Ali has encouraged Christians to actively seek to convert Muslims, operating under the idea that Christianity would somehow be a “better” option for them and a potent weapon in the fight against radical Islam. At the time I was incredibly suspicious of Ali for saying such a thing. Why would an atheist, a defender of rational thought and the Enlightenment, push such an agenda? It didn’t make sense to me. In light of her affiliation with the neoconservative think tank American Enterprise Institute and her always positive views on the West, I began to wonder if she had simply sold out and abandoned secular humanism altogether. Now I no longer have such suspicions regarding Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s idea that Christianity could be an alternative for Muslims. I feel that Ms. Ali truly believes this is a great idea. Yet I still vociferously disagree with her on conversion as a solution. When it comes to the state of modern Christianity, there is a popular misconception that the faith has been de-fanged and no longer poses a threat to mankind. Sure, the Roman Catholic church and its’ offspring conquered, murdered and enslaved in the name of Christ for hundreds of years. Sure, Christianity brutally suppressed science and free thought, mercilessly crushing opposition. But that was so long ago, way back in the 19th century! Christianity has changed for the better. Now it’s all love, peace and happiness. It’s like a Hallmark card and just makes people feel warm and fuzzy inside. It’s not a religion; it’s a relationship.
The problem is that this just isn’t the case. While Christians generally don’t run around hijacking airliners and blowing themselves up, Christianity-even its more ‘moderate’ forms-has the potential to be deadly and malevolent. I say this because truly believing in its tenets promotes irrationality. We are talking about a faith that:
- approves of genocide, slavery and ethnic cleansing, so long as it is done in the name of Yahweh;
- tells of talking snakes and donkeys;
- asserts that a virgin birth is possible and a zombie can and will grant immortality to those who “believe”.
To believe such things requires a willing suspension of one’s reason. The Muslims that Ali wants to convert already have plenty of practice in doing so. They were raised in or converted to a religion that:
- claims it is founded upon the angel Jibril’s visits with Muhammad in a cave
- claims Muhammad rode the buraq from Mecca to Jerusalem in one night
- teaches each human being has two angels recording all of their deeds in this life
As an atheist, I do not promote Theism in any form. I cannot encourage any Muslim to abandon their deen for Christianity. Muslims who are already dissatisfied with their religion and questioning it should be encouraged to continue thinking and learning. And for those who feel the “need” to belong to some Abrahamic faith or hold onto some kind of theism, they would do well to ask themselves why they feel that way. Whether you worship Jesus or Allah, whether you call it Islam or Christianity, there is a common thread. Both faiths, to me, are based in delusion. And a delusion by any other name impedes mankind’s progress all the same.