It turns out that 80% of the French citizens who joined ISIS come from non-religious families. These converts to Islam and jihadism describe it in terms of religious liberation, a putting away of meaningless materialism to find personal meaning and transcendent purpose. Can it be that human beings have an innate need for transcendence, and that suppressing and denying the religious impulse causes it to break out in extreme, violent, and twisted forms?
Ross Douthat discusses the phenomenon in the New York Times. [Read more…]