A bit of a fuss is being made in the papers and on social media today about an “experiment” undertaken by some Dutch viral-video generators in which they aim to demonstrate:
What happens when you read people the Bible but tell them it’s the Koran?
Of course, the experiment (or more accurately, ‘prank’) was a smug attempt to show how bigoted Westerners are, etc, etc. But it made a huge methodological mistake which actually demonstrates the opposite of what the ‘pranksters’ thought it shows.
They work from the assumption that what is written in The Bible is indicative of Judeo-Christian “belief”. It isn’t. It hasn’t been for centuries. Other than for a tiny minority of fundamentalists who are marginalised and mocked in popular mainstream culture, the overwhelming majority of Christians and Jews retain the surface-level of faith pertaining to humanistic beliefs of neighbourliness and general civil behaviour overlaid with benign cultural practices and feel-good ‘personal faith’ to such an extent that so many are not even acquainted with the ‘biblical’ era craziness about stoning demons and smiting unbelievers. In the West, both Christianity and Judaism left this stuff behind in the distant past. Yes, religion has been used to justify unfair discrimination in the past, but for over a hundred years Judeo-Christianity has been on a liberalising trajectory to the point where it is, as I said earlier, basically Humanism with some cultural practices and superstitions.
Even in Africa – where Christianity at its most Fundamental is practised – there is nothing to match the routine madness of Islam in Iran or Saudi Arabia. Even there, there are no Christian theocratic governments where blasphemers and adultery are executed by the state, or where any of the beliefs presented to the interviewees in the video ‘experiment’ are put into practice. Conversely, there is no shortage of examples where Koranic literalism is put into bloody practice at a State level – and that is not even counting the nascent “Islamic State” which looms in the background of these social conversations.
It would be easier “not to generalise” if there were an Islamic movement or organisation that stood up and said that the Koran is not to be taken literally and that large parts of it are anachronistic and not relevant to the modern world. If there is a genuine mainstream Islamic group who say this, then please give them some publicity. Because that is the unambiguous position of mainstream Christianity, so much so that the nasty stuff is unrecognisable to random Christians in the street.
As one respondent said, “I went to a Christian school, but I really had no idea this was in there.”
Isn’t that the point?