Inquisitive Minds Podcast Critical Thinking on History, Religion, Politics and Culture

It has been quite an exciting journey into Hector Avalos' important book, Fighting Words. The Origins of Religious Violence. In this last episode dedicated to this topic, we briefly review Avalos' last few chapters where he provides a synthesis and some solutions to the issue of religion and violence. We end this series with a quote found at the end of the book on the scholar's responsibility toward the topic at hand: "Most academic scholars are not so frank in acknowledging that their scholarship is an apologetic enterprise. Given the violence in the scriptures we have examined, I would suggest that the opposite should be our mission. Our job as biblical scholars is to undermine the value of any scripture that endorses violence. [...] We become complicit in violence when we attempt to maintain the value of a book whose main truth claims can never be verified. [...] Our final mission, as scholars of these scriptures, must be to help humanity close the book on a long chapter of human misery."

00:0000:00
In this week's episode, we continue our exploration of Hector Avalos', Fighting Words, and discuss the issue of violence in Islam and the Qur'an. As with Judaism and Christianity, Islam also creates scarce resources which could also somtimes result in acts of violence. Some defenders of the Islamic faith insist that today's violent actions perpetrated by groups such as ISIS are not representative of "true" Islam. Can one really know which types of interpretations of Islam are more authentic than others, since every Islamic sect believes that it faithfully adheres to the teachings of the Qur'an. Avalos argues that even scholars of religion have sometimes fallen into the trap of essentialism, thinking that Islam can be defined by a specific set of attributes, and that all other radical forms do not truly reflect the faith.
 
00:0000:00
Most people think that Christianity is non-violent. But such a perception is flawed, since the foundational event of the Christian religion - the sacrifice of the Son of God - is of extreme violence and has engendered some of the most horrific acts of violence in the history of humankind; actions which led directly to the Holocaust. In his book, Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence, Hector Avalos discusses how Christianity also creates scarce resources. Even if there seems to be less violence stemming from the Christian religion at this time - this can be questioned since it depends on how one understands violence - Christians still cling to the hope of the New Testament authors, when God will establish his kingdom and bring judgment upon unbelievers. The New Testament clearly speaks of a "deferred violence" awaiting those who do not surrender to God and believe in Jesus Christ as their way to salvation.

00:0000:00
This week on the Inquisitive Minds Podcast, we discuss two other scarce resources created by religion and mentioned in Hector Avalos' book Fighting Words: (1) Group Privileging and (2) Salvation. The Hebrew Bible promotes the idea that Israel was specifically chosen by God and they were not to mix with other nations. Salvation was also reserved for people who belonged to the group and adhered to its laws and rituals. As with inscripturation and sacred space, group privileging and salvation create violence since religious groups believe they are the chosen ones who have the knowledge to the path of salvation. We will also see how some scholars will try to minimize violence in the Hebrew Bible by referring to what they call the "Greater Good" theory. As of today, we are pleased to welcome Calogero Miceli as co-host on the podcast; his insight and comments will be greatly appreciated.

00:0000:00
As we journey through Dr. Avalos' book, Fighting Words, we explore the many theories that scholars use to explain the causes of Religious Violence. The relationship between religion and violent actions is quite complex. An interdisciplinary approach which takes into account evolutionary, biological, psychological, sociological, and anthropological explanation is necessary to get a better sense of why religion can sometimes be at the root of violence. All these various multidisciplinary insights can be found in Avalos' scarce resource theory. Religions potentially incite to violence when they create scarce resources, and scarcities generated by religion require only belief in them in order for such scarcities to exist. If one doubts the premises on which religions are founded, then scarce resources are simply illusory. There are four scarce resources identified by Dr. Avalos: (1) Inscripturation, (2) Sacred Space, (3) Group Privileging, and (4) Salvation.

00:0000:00