Originally Posted by tame_deuces
I'm not following, are you claiming that religious terrorists are nihilists?
I have to break down how the game works in order to answer this. Imagine that at every moment of your life you are consciously and willfully reaffirming to yourself that your life is building toward an unknown ultimate meaning, which is 'good' since we all naturally want to move away from pain and in the direction of it's opposite. Here is how that will play out if you commit to it:
You will orientate yourself toward a purpose that you have decided gives the best chance to realize your current interpretation of the ultimate meaning; and attaining that goal will turn out to fall short. Shifting your focus to a new pursuit will lead you to the same result. As you continue this cycle, the tension gradually builds and you begin to realize that you lack the ability to recognize how to move toward the ultimate meaning.
At this point, the tension is at all time high, your will has been strengthened through repeated conscious choice, but you are unable to act without compromising your realization that you lack the ability to know how to act correctly. Desire, will, resistance, and tension all boil over into chaos and disorientation. You go from being completely engrossed in the game (external world) to becoming more and more detached. When you reach a certain level of detachment from the external, your internal world becomes more conscious. Less focus is placed on the game and more and more focus goes to the player. You become conscious of the harmful and destructive impulses within you and can free yourself from them.
This process plays out predictably as a consequence of continuously, consciously, and willfully believing that life has an ultimate meaning. As long as you don't make progress in this game, you are susceptible to destructive activity that is lurking beneath the surface depending on the amount of adversity you face in the game.
So when I say the reason why religious terrorists exist is because of a lack of meaning, that is what I mean. Of course, most people are susceptible to evil in the same way but are usually protected by the conditions of the society they live in; but when those conditions worsen things can go bad quickly as we've seen through the atrocities of history.
To circle back to the question posed in the OP. The question of whether religion is a better alternative to nihilism is not the best way to approach the problem since all the major religions have a place for its members to go when they fall into a lack of sustained ultimate meaning. If there were a religion that were as strict in the standard that I've described, then that religion would not have enough followers to exist; or rather that religion would only exist as long as there was a credible leader to maintain it. Then it would morph into something less demanding or die off. Something to consider..