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Islamic creationism


JesusFightClub

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I apologise in advance, it's the Grauniad. The article itself is less interesting than the comments:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfre ... sama-hasan

I'd be intrigued to hear what people think. Should this continuing defence of Saudi Arabia be allowed? It's notable that the cleric doesn't seem to have been charged (where according to the article, he has committed at least one crime). What does this say about religion and its defenders? Is this a problem peculiar to Islam, or is it just that expressions of hatred come a bit stronger from that quarter?

And I promise not to call you a racist unless you actually say racist things, at which time all bets are off ;)

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I have read Christian fundie blogs where they have called for the death of anyone who they view as not being a Christian and that would include people who believed in evolution, so I don't think that this is just a Islamic problem, I think it is an extremist problem.

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I apologise in advance, it's the Grauniad. The article itself is less interesting than the comments:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfre ... sama-hasan

I'd be intrigued to hear what people think. Should this continuing defence of Saudi Arabia be allowed? It's notable that the cleric doesn't seem to have been charged (where according to the article, he has committed at least one crime). What does this say about religion and its defenders? Is this a problem peculiar to Islam, or is it just that expressions of hatred come a bit stronger from that quarter?

And I promise not to call you a racist unless you actually say racist things, at which time all bets are off ;)

Well, there are a number of issues raised.

1. Death threats:

First and foremost, death threats are obviously something that's completely unacceptable. It's sad that we even need to make this point, but we do.

Whoever made the comments should face criminal charges, and the visiting cleric should be banned from ever visiting again.

Going beyond that a bit, there's a need to address the question of death threats and religion in general.

As many will point out, many of the parts of the Quran that are used to support violent declarations do sound like similar passages in the Old Testament. The basic texts of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are not particularly tolerant of heresy, sorcery, homosexual sex, etc.

A religion, though, is more than its foundation text. Religions don't exist in a vacuum. They have a history, they have followers, and they have ways in which the basic texts are interpreted today.

In Judaism, the ability to pass the death sentence was lost with the destruction of the Second Temple and cessation of the Great Sanhedrin (ie. almost 2,000 years ago). The Church was involved in the Inquisition to root out heresy, but subsequently the church ceased to be a force that would or could authorize the death penalty for spiritual matters. [someone who knows more church history than me can chime in] In a nutshell, even though there are things in the basic religious texts that call for the death penalty for stuff like heresy, in practice the nature of the religions changed, and this idea emerged that religious authority and secular authority should be somewhat separate, and that religious freedom was a good thing.

Islam is a newer religion, although it borrows heavily from Jewish and Christian texts. For the most part, it didn't go through the Reformation or Enlightenment or other movements that impacted Europe, and it developed differently. In some places, Islam was fairly cosmopolitan and relatively tolerant. In some places, it co-existed with older beliefs. The Ottoman empire was fairly diverse in its heyday. So, some places developed more easy-going forms of Islam, some places actually adopted official policies of secularism (like Turkey) or adopted non-religious political movements like socialism or nationalism, and some places (like Saudi Arabia) developed more rigid forms of the religion. Then, you had a backlash against more secular regimes combine with massive oil revenues pouring into Saudi Arabia, and a more hardline version of Islam which took the death penalty literally started to spread.

2. Saudi Arabia

The problem is that the ruling elites - some of whom are quite Westernized - basically turned to the Wahabbi clerics to support the House of Saud's rule. Oil has given the Saudis power and money, which supports a system where women are often at home and most of the hard work is done by foreign labor. Yes, change is needed in Saudi Arabia, and short-term diplomatic interests of other countries are often served at the expense of pushing for real reform.

3. Creationism and heresy

Fundies of all stripes tend to see any deviation from creationism as heresy.

I know some folks who have creationist beliefs while also being scientists. Unfortunately, I also know of schools that are so anxious to avoid anything that could spark doubt in creationism that they omit tons of basic science. Skipping a talk on Darwin is just one day of the curriculum, but skipping dinosaurs, geology, astronomy and even basic genetics is a real problem. I once got into a surreal debate on a religious board with some women who were seriously trying to argue that moving to Canada could cause an American family to start having blue-eyed instead of brown-eyed children. My "this is basic high school science" comment was not appreciated, and I learned that no, they hadn't been taught basic genetics. To me, that lack of knowledge is downright dangerous (esp. since genetic screening is a major issue for Ashkenazi Jews).

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I think that extremists of many religions have called for murdering their ideological opponents, and it's always appalling.

2xx1xyJD makes the good point that at this historical moment, there may be a higher likelihood that fatwas from Islamic clerics might be carried out than, say, the suggestions of various US Christian fundies that gay people be executed (or imprisoned in concentration camps), but that this is a result of a complex political situation centuries in the making, not an inherent quality of Islam.

Islamic creationism comes in many stripes. [link=http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/06/05/turkish-creationists-are-creepy/]Here's[/link] a more benign but also odd Islamic creationist.

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