I don't really know if this is the right place to post this comment/question, because it's not really news, but it's related to something Joe brought up in episode 37, so fuck it. If it's the wrong spot, point me in the right direction.
I wanted to respond to Joe's point about wife-beating rapist Muslims. First, let me preface this by acknowledging none of that behavior is ever okay. But where I get confused is how much of this is religious-based and how much of it is culturally-based selectively backed up by religion.
In other words, if we went back in time well before Islam or Christianity or Judaism made its way from the Eastern Mediterranean over to Northern India, would we find tribal customs that declared there could be no rape in a marriage? And in those places, was scripture conveniently crafted and accepted to accommodate such customs? If that's the case, do such rape accommodations exist to the same extent in places that have adopted Islam but aren't otherwise ethnically linked, like Indonesia?
There must be some cultural carry-over as the religion spreads, but if a religion's traditions are more rooted in tribal customs with a scent of sacrament to make it seem official, then you'd expect the same to happen in other regions. So Indonesian Islam and Pakistani Islam would share certain similarities, but the way they choose to practice their religion would be more rooted in tribal customs than in scripture, and that scripture would then selectively read/interpreted in order to accommodate for those prior-existing customs.
That's always been one of my big questions -- how much religion accommodates for prior tribal custom by putting a holy stamp on them, which helps to guarantee such customs will then serve as a vector for the religious meme. But why? Maybe because as tribes transitioned from hunter-gatherers to agricultural city-states, that meant populations become static, and that meant rules had to be established to maintain civilization within a particular ethno-cultural identity (like Hammurabi's code). Religion seems to be a handy short-circuit to help establish and maintain such rules.
So it may be more accurate to argue that religion is an accomplice in some prior-existing abhorrent behavior -- it aids and abets, rather than creates the conditions for such behavior. The religion is then accepted by a power structure because it becomes short-hand for establishing and maintaining an ethno-cultural identity -- sort of like mutually-beneficial parasites.
Perhaps one way to test this would be to identify religious inconsistencies and then look at which cultures adhere to which inconsistency, and then see if their particular choice reflects deeper tribal behavior and customs. So for instance, were adulterers stoned to death in Iran before Islam, and if so, why? Likewise, are adulterers stoned to death to the same degree in Malaysia, and were they before Islam arrived?