religion-40578_1280I recently read an article that stated the Bible is more violent than the Quran. The engineer who developed the analysis program said:

The project was inspired by the ongoing public debate around whether or not terrorism connected with Islamic fundamentalism reflects something inherently and distinctly violent about Islam compared to other major religions. ~ Tom Anderson

So in two minutes his program looked at eight emotions – Joy, Anticipation, Anger, Disgust, Sadness, Surprise, Fear/Anxiety and Trust – and concluded that the Bible scored higher for anger and lower for trust than the Quran.

The New Testament references killing and destruction 2.8% of the time while the Quran references killing and destruction 2.1%. I’ll be honest, the article doesn’t talk about the ins and outs of the program, but it’s a computer program and not a human. It’s geared towards finding quantitative data rather than qualitative data. what I mean is this:

The New Testament has some inherently violent elements. After all, it talks about the intentional self-sacrifice of Christ, who was plotted against, crucified/murdered, dead, and buried. Yes, those are some violent parts of the New Testament. But the overwhelming theme BEHIND the keyword violence is love – God’s love and self-sacrifice. I would rather have this 2.8% kind of violence than a 2.1% of Quranic violence that talks about doing harm to infidels (again, I’m not familiar with the ins and outs of the program nor do I know what material in the Quran was targeted).

My point is simply that, though the New Testament does contain Jesus 05keyword elements of violence, it is not done in a way that directs others towards violence. In fact, an honest reading of the New Testament directs people AWAY from violence and towards peace. Contrary to ultra-conservative leanings, Jesus was NOT a gun-toting war-monger.

On the flip-side, however, we need to be honest and realize that, just as violent themes in our sacred text do not necessarily lead to violent Christians, violent themes in the Quran do not necessarily lead to violent Muslims.

In the end, a simple computer search of emotional language in a sacred text is a pretty shoddy way of evaluating that text – ANY sacred text. It eliminates any nuance. It looks at the text through a single interpretive lens – the lens of the software engineer.

And that’s just shoddy hermeneutics.