Irrationality Squared


Killing innocent people because someone totally unrelated to them burned a book that one worships is irrationality squared. It is exponentially irrational because it is an irrational reaction to an act – the burning a Quran – that is itself irrational. The moral of the story that started in my hometown of Gainesville Florida and ended in Afghanistan is clear: religious extremism is a dangerous sort of madness that feeds on instances of itself.

To a non-religious person, the holy book of any religion is still just a book. Its content might be virtuous or vicious, worthy of respect or derision, but it embodies no supernatural powers. But a religious book burner takes the book burning act just as seriously as the worshiper takes the book itself; he takes the book burning to have supernatural significance, at least when he’s following the dictates of his own insane God (an insane God being one that not only doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong, but that would also dogmatically – godmatically? – stick to His ignorant opinions even if He were informed of the truth). The bigoted burner and the murderous worshiper are two sides of the same crazy coin, even if only the worshiper is directly responsible for his extreme over-reaction. And when the religious burner knows that the worshiper will likely over-react in such an obscene way, and he burns the book anyway, he is an accessory before the fact. He is morally responsible – if not for the murders, at least for his own damnable callousness and indifference.

God save us from such men of God.