Jerry Coyne On ISIS Apologists: "What Is 'True' Religion?"

As ISIS slaughters its way though Syria and Iraq, it became inevitable that we’d hear from the apologists who claim that ISIS is not in fact “true Islam,” and that its depredations are due to something other than religious motivation. Those motivations, say the apologists, are political (usually Western colonialism that engendered resentment), cultural (societal tradition), or anything other than religion.

The apologists have yet another form of denial. Yes, they say, jihadis may be motivated by Islam, but it’s not “true” Islam. True Islam is peaceful, and its adherents would never slaughter apostates, behead journalists, or forcibly convert non-Muslims. Their religion is simply a perversion of “true’ religion.

Well, if ISIS is not Islamic, then the Inquisition was not Catholic. The fact is that there are no defensible criteria for whether a faith is “true,” since all faiths are man-made and accrete doctrine-—said to come from God, but itself man-made—-that becomes integral to those faiths. Whatever “true faith” means, it doesn’t mean “the right religion: the one whose God exists and whose doctrines are correct.” If that were so, we wouldn’t see Westerners trying to tell us what “true Islam” is....Everyone who is religious picks and chooses their morals from scripture. And so, too, do religious apologists pick and choose the “true” religions using identical criteria: what appeals to them as “good” ways to behave. The Qur’an, like the Bible, is full of vile moral statements supposedly emanating from God. We cherry-pick them depending on our disposition, our politics, and our upbringing....By all means let us say that ISIS is a strain of Islam that is barbaric and dysfunctional, but let us not hear any nonsense that it’s a “false religion”. ISIS, like all religions, is based on faith; and faith, which is belief in the absence of convincing evidence, isn’t true or false, but simply irrational....In the end, there is no “true” religion in the factual sense, for there is no good evidence supporting their truth claims. LINK.