Well I think that actually people do declare the superiority of their own system each and every day in a myriad of ways (I love myriad, never used it before hearing it myriads of times in Taiwan).
Islam is all encompassing (day to day life from eating to work to lending money). Western religions may have been once (technically Judaism still is), but in a way “science” and “reason” have replaced “religion” as articles of faith in the West.
Is one or the other superior? Depends on who you ask, but I have a feeling that we have been and will be called upon to do so with ever greater frequency to defend what we “believe” in. The problem is these kinds of issues raise great ethical confusion.
As I recall many women’s organizations in North America were “against” the war in Afghanistan despite the fact that they had for years railed against the Taliban for their oppression of women, trampling of human rights, etc. Yet, many were conflicted as to whether to actually fight a war over such a thing (I am deliberately leaving the other arguments out of this debate to focus on the internal struggle over questions of specific morality). Others believed that a war could foster improved relations etc.
I think we have seen a lot less of this (feminist involvement) in the war in Iraq but I think that part of the difficulties of the debate over this particular “engagement” is that underlying the real issues of whether to go in or not (Weapons of mass destruction, etc) have been moral issues of improving the lives, freedoms, rights of a thoroughly oppressed nation. Again, however, many would like to have seen things change without resorting to violence (which opens a whole different debate) and finally there were others who merely wanted to drag these “damned troglodyte heathens into the 21st century.”
Another point that was raised in a private discussion was the need to be “good.” The person in question was arguing that so many people flit from issue to issue today with very facile understandings of what is going on to be able to display their “goodness” and temporarily feel “morally superior.” The need to do so (he gave particular examples of chronic peace protesters, petition signers, dolphin free tuna, cruelty to animals, anti-fur, ozone layer now global warming activists as opposed to more traditional Christian fundamentalists), stems from the fact that these people have no religious meaning in their life, no sense of the divine or spiritual and since in his opinion this is almost a fundamental drive in people akin to eating, sleeping and sex, they have had to create this in movements such as those detailed above. He questioned therefore whether people can say that they are not religious or atheist while being so “active” in such “activities,” which while not traditional religions in name provide the same cathartic release as bible banging, hymn singing, I have sinned and now am saved sermons. Any thoughts?