Douglas Wilson: on the non-violence of the Jain culture

Douglas Wilson posts another in a series of answers to Sam Harris’ book “Letter to a Christian Nation.” First one here.


You refer to the “obscene celebrations of violence that we find throughout the Old and New Testaments” (p. 11). You set this over against the “utter non-violence” of the Jains, which you praise. This is frankly mystifying. You say the morality of the Jains surpasses the morality of the Christians, and you cite a Jain tenet. “Do not injure, abuse, oppress, enslave, insult, torment, torture, or kill any creature or living being” (p. 23). I really cannot figure this out. You are an atheist, an evolutionist. And yet you praise the morality of utter non-violence, which would have gotten the evolutionary struggle absolutely nowhere. Devout Jains will go barefoot all the time to avoid stepping on bugs, and will carry a broom to sweep the path in front of them all the time, for the same reason. Devout Jains will wear a mask to avoid breathing in, and thereby killing, any insect. You say this represents a superior morality to that of the Christians who believe in the Bible. So you are saying — as an atheist — that if America’s evangelical Christians all forsook the use of antibiotics because of the genocidal devastation it was causing to the microbes within, you would commend us for the moral advance? Do you promise? Because it seems to me that it would be a golden opportunity for you to dismiss us all as uneducated nutjobs.