We can’t. There is no means to differentiate… if the True Believer honestly thinks scriptural authority is justified as moral.
Sure, media can (and often does) point out the connection between an individual claiming to act on behalf of some religious motivation and the act itself… like the claimed motivation for the assassination of two police officers in New York, the claimed motivation for the shooting at a synagogue in Paris, the claimed motivation for attacking police officers at a station in Joue-les-Tours, the claimed motivation for stabbing police officers in Melbourne, the claimed motivation for a hatchet attack against the officers of a NYPD sub station, the claimed motivation for running cars into crowds in France over the past few weeks, the claimed motivation for the Sydney cafe hostage taking, the claimed motivation for the killing of soldiers in Ottawa and St-Jean-sur-Richilieu, and so on… but how often do we hear senior police and government officials address that direct connection?
What I keep hearing from almost all of these these public officials commenting on these deadly acts is some ‘lone wolf’ excuse, some deranged person, some a mentally unbalanced individual… often presented as if th indiviudal in question were the inevitable product from a failure of some social service, a failure of mental health, a failure of whatever intervention the public should have provided in a timely manner… but almost never do these same officials connect these horrific acts with the motivation stated by the perpetrators… namely, Islam.
Now consider the definition of ‘delusion’ offered by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV:
Delusion. A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everyone else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary. The belief is not one ordinarily accepted by other members of the person’s culture or subculture (e.g., it is not an article of religious faith). When a false belief involves a value judgment, it is regarded as a delusion only when the judgment is so extreme as to defy credibility.
With this special exemption, now consider the difficulty establishing a means to differentiate actions that, by themselves and in isolation from any religion, would indicate judgement so extreme as to defy credibility (the claims used by these public officials to absolve religion’s direct role in promoting what otherwise would be ‘delusional’) but, when tied to religious belief suddenly and magically become rational by fiat.
Thought of another way, imagine the outcry from faitheists if humanist and secular societies distributed a global membership book that stated as if true:
“Muslims are the vilest of animals…”
“Show mercy to one another, but be ruthless to Muslims”
“How perverse are Muslims!”
“Strike off the heads of Muslims, as well as their fingertips”
“Fight those Muslims who are near to you”
“Muslim mischief makers should be murdered or crucified”
Is it just me, or does that sound suspiciously like it would be viewed as bigotry in action, a kind of hate speech directed at Muslims as a group and not only towards those few ‘extremists’, those ‘few bad apples’, those few who have been ‘radicalized’, those ‘lone wolves’ we keep hearing about, and those ‘mentally unbalanced individuals’ who carry out these appalling acts?
Let’s turn it around, shall we, and see what bigotry against non believers as a group the Koran actually does say:
Eat like beasts 47:12
Are apes 7:166, 5:60, 2:65
Are swines 5:60
Are asses 74:50
The vilest of animals in Allah’s sight 8:55
Losers 2:27, 2:121, 3:85
Have a disease in their hearts 2:10, 5:52, 24:50
Are hard-hearted 39:22, 57:16
Impure of hearts 5:41
Are deaf 2:171, 6:25
Are blind 2:171, 6:25
Are dumb 2:171, 6:35, 11:29
Are niggardly 4:37, 70:21
Works shall be rendered ineffective 2:217, 47:1, 47:8
Are impure 8:37
Are scum 13:17
Are inordinate 5:68, 78:22
Are transgressors 2:26, 9:8, 46:20
Are unjust 29:49
Make mischief 16:88
Are the worst of men 98:6
Are in a state of confusion 50:5
Are the lowest of the low 95:5
Focus only on outward appearance 19:73-74
Are guilty 30:12, 77:46
Sinful liar 45:7
Follow falsehood 47:3
Deeds are like the mirage in a desert 24:39
Allah does not love them 3:32, 22:38
Allah forsakes them 32:14, 45:34
Allah brought down destruction upon them 47:10
Allah has cursed them 2:88, 48:6
Allah despises them 17:18
Allah abases them 22:18
Hear that deafening silence? That’s the sound of Islamic outrage expressed by Muslims towards this bigotry.
Of course, this list of grievances against the non believer isn’t delusional belief in action if it’s religious because, well, it’s all rather mainstream and so it’s cannot be delusional if acted upon because… well, because it’s religious (and therefore exempt from being defined as delusional according to our psychiatric and psychological medical practitioners)!
And before Christians think their hateful bigotry is any less revolting against non believers, recall:
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14
The fool hath said in his heart, [There is] no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, [there is] none that doeth good. Psalms 14:1
Let’s not forget the myriad droppings of wisdom about the deplorable state of the non believer usually expressed throughout the bible in terms of opposites between believer/non believer: those in the light/those in the darkness, those with eternal life/those with eternal death, those who have peace with God/those who are at war with Him, those who believe the truth/those who believe the lies, those on the narrow path to salvation/those on the broad road to destruction, and many, many more. Let’s look to the gems we find in Proverbs about befirending non believers:
“The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray” (12:26). We should stay away from foolish people (13:20, 14:7), from people who lose their temper easily (22:24), and from the rebellious (24:21). All these things represent those who have not been saved. “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). First Corinthians 15:33 tells us that bad company corrupts good character. Unbelievers are slaves to sin (John 8:34), and Christians are slaves to God (1 Corinthians 7:22).
Can you non believers feel the love? Not so much, eh?
What we non believers – especially us New Atheists – can feel (and with a very great deal of smug satisfaction for not being listened to by otherwise intelligent people) is that we’ve been trying to point out this problem for a very long time, that because there is no means to differentiate delusion from faith-based claims, we alone seem to be unsurprised at the confusion in politically correct circles and communities of religiously tolerant people who find themselves unable to describe the difference between what these individuals have done and the motivation they share with the general religious populations who agree that these motivations are indeed religiously justified and righteous. They are so because they are scriptural, the very words of of God after all! And right there is the disconnect faitheists of all stripes (believers and non believers and fence-sitting agnostics) must suffer when they try so desperately to convince themselves that there is no fundamental and irrevocable incompatibility between respecting religion and respecting reality’s arbitration of its motivations in action.