Robert Wright, author of The Evolution of God has an insightful piece on the Koran in today’s online New York Times

He explores claims that the Koran authorizes violent jihad against non-believers.  It does, but then so too does the Old Testament or Jewish Torah advocate genocide upon arrival in Canaan.  The New Testament and Christianity hardly goes easy on non-believers, condemning them in any number of ways.  

The bottom line is that all three western religions and their supporting texts, provide plenty enough justification for adherents to do damn well anything they please so far as non-believers are concerned.  

There may or may not be a God.  It’s not been and never will be conclusively proved one way or another.  All these monotheistic religions claim that God is infinite in power, presence and knowledge, yet in the same breath, contravene his attributes to claim God’s special blessing for their endeavors.    It can’t be both ways.  Either God is infinite in power, presence and knowledge and thereby the efficient cause of everything in the universe, or he is finite, and simply a creation of man’s yearning mind. 

The finite God is the one that provides jihadist and genocidal justifications.  The infinite God necessarily takes no particular notice of man.

Wright’s piece is a good little explication of the Koran and how it is subject to a great many interpretations, including the parts of it calling for jihad.   But Wright doesn’t go far enough, and point out that this apparent struggle between Islam and Judeo-Christianity is hardly that, but is instead a struggle between cultures–the West’s demographically-declining liberal democracies versus Islam’s explosively-growing population of mostly conservative Muslims. 

The Jews were perhaps the first nation and culture to explain in writing their views that God had chosen them as His special people.  But all cultures have at one time or another believed themselves chosen by God, which is effectively what the militant Islamists believe about theirs.