This is so relevant.
I am all for freedom of religion and belief – but that does not give adherents of these religions or beliefs the right to interfere with my life.
And, seriously, if I demand my right of freedom from such interference this does not deny the rights of those adherents to their belief. To claim that it does it just childish.
I think most people are pleased the authorities captured the suspects for the Boston Marathon bombing – and got one of them alive. There are a lot of issues raised by the Boston events over the last week, and I think this video about the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Centre is of at least tangential relevance.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and the Imam.
We won’t know for some time what the motives of these bombers were, what international links they had and if they received help. But, in other cases involving acts of terrorism in the West by young men from immigrant families, one scenario appears common:
- Genuine problems for immigrant communities offer a breeding ground for discontent.
- This can cause radicalisation of some young men in the community.
- In some Muslim communities there are militant and fundamentalist Imams in the mosques whose teachings help inflame discontent and feed the radicalisation of the youth.
- Many, if not a large majority of Muslim Mosques in western countries, have relied on financial support from Saudi Arabia – particularly for their establishment. This is certainly true for New Zealand.
- Sometime support is also provided by importing Imams and teachers from Saudi Arabia – often members of fundamentalist sects themselves.
- I suspect that more moderate members of the Mosque may tolerate fundamentalist Imams because they respect older conservative members of the community who see value in criticism of western values, etc.
So we can have a quite inflammatory situation. Genuine discontent, radicalisation of youth and militant religious leaders feeding the radicalisation. In some, yes just a few, cases this can lead to terrorist activity. With the ironic aspect that finance to feed this problem comes from the western obsession with oil which has made Saudi Arabia very rich. It has also made the country immune to criticism for the export of militant Islam.
I realise some commenters might accuse me of “Islamophobia” for the above. But isn’t that part of the problem – the denial of criticism? After all, I am not criticising all Muslims, even all disaffected Muslims. I am not criticising the religion (not in this post anyway – but the ability to do so is part of living in a democratic, pluralist society). I am only criticising a situation which has an effect in only a small number of cases – but a dramatic effect.
Yes, I am also aware we have other disaffected communities in our society. We have fundamentalist, radical, priests and ministers in other religions. That combination can also sometimes lead to terrorist activity, such as the bombing of clinics or murder of doctors. In the past non-religious groups have also promoted terrorism. Let’s not limit our concern just to Islamic terrorism.
But also, let’s not limit our ability to confront such problems by a naive form of multiculturalism which prevents any criticism and sweeps real problems under the carpet.
London Imam Usama Hasan
New Scientist has reported a campaign for Islamic teachers, or Imams, to sign an open letter declaring that there is no clash between their religious faith and evolution (see American Muslim clerics sign up for evolution).
The text of the letter is:
Literalists of various religious traditions who perceive the science of evolution to be in conflict with their personal religious beliefs are seeking to influence public school boards to authorize the teaching of creationism. We, the Imams of the mosques, see this as a breach in the separation of church and state. Those who believe in a literal interpretation of scriptural account of creation are free to teach their perspective in their homes, religious institutions and parochial schools. To teach it in the public schools would be indoctrinating a particular religious point of view in an environment that is supposed to be free of such indoctrination.
We, the undersigned Imams of the mosques, assert that the Qur’an is the primary source of spiritual inspiration and of values for us, though not for everyone, in our country. We believe that the timeless truths of the Qur’an may comfortably coexist with the discoveries of modern science. As Imams we urge public school boards to affirm their commitment to the teaching of the science of evolution. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.
Sign Up Now!
If you are an imam and would like to sign The Clergy Letter Project’s Imam Letter, please fill out the form by clicking here.
The Imam Letter, follows on from the similar Christian Clergy Letter which was launched in 2006 and now has 12,725 signatures. Three years ago the Jewish Rabbi Letter, which has 476 signatures, was launched.
This letter is topical and I hope it is successful. Back in March a London Imam, Dr Usama Hasan, who is also a physics lecturer at Middlesex University and a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, was threatened after presenting a lecture on “Islam and the theory of evolution” at his East London mosque, Masjid al-Tawhid. (see Acceptance of science – dangerous for some and Imam fears ‘nutters’ could kill him for preaching evolution).
Posted in belief, creationism, evolution, intelligent design, Islam, religion, science, Science and Society
Tagged East London Mosque, evolution, Islam, London, Mosque, Qur'an, religion, Royal Astronomical Society, SciBlogs
I like this from Jesus and Mo. Especially as I often get criticised for my “materialism” – which seems to be used interchangeably with “scientific naturalism.”
Posted in belief, Christianity, Islam, religion
Tagged Christianity, god, hypocrisy, Islam, Jesus, Jesus and Mo, materialism, Naturalism (philosophy), Religion and Spirituality, SciBlogs
Have a look at this short video for a humorous explanation of the origins of science. Then listen to this podcast of Professor AC Graylings version. (Download AC Grayling on “Atheism, Secularism, Humanism: Three Zones of Argument”). A little more serious – but fascinating.
YouTube – Mr. Deity And The Equation.
I mentioned Grayling’s talk in my post Are science and religion compatible? It was presented at the Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne a few weeks back.
While the convention will be out on DVD eventually it’s possible to catch up with some of the lectures as audio files on-line. The ones I have seen recently are those by Taslima Nasrin, Peter Singer on “Ethics Without Religion” and John Perkins (“The cost of Religious Delusion: Islam and Terrorism”). The All in the Mind podcast is also providing audio of a number of presentations. The first of two parts (2010-03-27 A matter of mind-sets? Religion and science – Part 1 of 2) includes talks by PZ Myers, Peter Singer and Richard Dawkins.
Thanks to the ABC religion blogs Questions of Faith: The 2010 Global Atheist Convention – Embranglement.
Posted in agnostic, agnosticism, atheism, belief, Christianity, creationism, Dawkins, evolution, faith, god, intelligent design, Islam, philosophy, religion, SciBlogs, Science, Science and Society
Tagged 2010 Global Atheist Convention, atheism, Islam, John Perkins, Peter Singer, PZ Myers, religion, Religion and Spirituality, Richard Dawkins, Taslima Nasrin
Today is the 5th anniversary of the death of Theo van Gogh. He was a Dutch film director who worked with Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the film Submission.
The short film investigates violence against women in some Muslim societies. The script was written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali who was involved in social work amongst abused Muslim women in Europe.
After the film’s screening van Gogh and Hirsi Ali received death threats. On November 2, 2004, Van Gogh was murdered by Mohammed Bouyeri. Bouyeri shot him eight times, cut his throat, nearly decapitating him, and stabbed him in the chest. A five-page note threatening Western governments, Jews and Ayaan Hirsi Ali was attached to Van Gogh’s chest with a knife.
Since that time Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been under constant guard, and moved to the USA for some time. Bouyeri is currently serving a life sentence.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote the book Infidel – I can highly recommend it. Brought up a Muslim she is now an atheist. Currently she is writing a fictional book where Mohamed is confronted by some well known Western enlightenment intellectuals. Should be good.
See also: Submission video
Posted in atheism, belief, human rights, Islam, religion, supernatural, superstition
Tagged assasination, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Film director, Infidel, Islam, Mohammed Bouyeri, Muslim, terrorism, Theo Van Gogh, United States
Or do I mean irreligion in the public square? Same thing really.
I refer to the open discussion of religious ideas in the “public square.” That means ideas can be put up for consideration and subjected to open support or criticism. The same as our ideas on politics and sport. I am using the dictionary, not literal, definition of “public square” as “relating to or concerning the people at large or all members of a community.”
Don’t we already do that? Yes, I agree. But some people are unhappy about it. There is an idea around that religion doesn’t get a fair go. That it should be able to promote its claims and ideas without being subjected to criticism. The United Nations has passed a resolution against the “defamation of religion”. Ireland has reintroduced a blasphemy law. You get the picture.
Posted in agnostic, agnosticism, atheism, belief, culture, diversity, faith, human rights, New Zealand, religion
Tagged Anglicanism, Daniel Dennett, Francis Collins, Ireland, Islam, Ken Miller, Lawrence Krauss, Michael Ruse, Michael Shermer, National Statement on Religious Diversity, New Zealand, religion, Religion and Spirituality, Religious belief, Richard Dawkins, United Nations