“More than a century ago, in “The Brothers Karamazov” and other works, Dostoyevsky warned against the dangers of godless moral nihilism, arguing in essence that if God doesn’t exist, then everything is permitted. . .This argument couldn’t have been more wrong: The lesson of today’s terrorism is that if God exists, then everything, including blowing up thousands of innocent bystanders, is permitted – at least to those who claim to act directly on behalf of God, since, clearly, a direct link to God justifies the violation of any merely human constraints and considerations.”
To me this question of one of grounds: While an atheist may be permitted to do anything, perhaps, he or she has no stable ground, arguably, outside of him or herself (leaving aside the atheist who makes Progress, or the Enlightenment in to some sort of exclusionary narrative. . . and that can and does happen) which would magnify his or her beliefs into (communal or nationalistic) actions that might be violent. Most theists do have a narrative and it is stable and it is exclusionary to that degree (God is a ground in the J-C tradition who is, and was, and is to come, yes?). I’ve come to the point where I judge a belief system by its ability to foreground its own incompleteness, its own instability, if only because an unstable ground leads to sort of structural humility. There are resources in Christianity and Islam that could be activated, or re-emphasized that could lead back to such a structural humility.