Tuesday, January 13, 2015

As a Non-Religious Person...

As a non-religious person living in the U.S. who nonetheless respects religious traditions, I can publicly declare my belief that while all religions may express some aspect of the truth, no single religion contains the absolute truth, without fear of retribution from anyone. If this principle were to be adopted universally, it would allow all of us to get along, no one would have to abandon their religion or convert.

Based on books I've read by Muslim dissidents such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Irshad Manji regarding the modern practice of Islam, a Muslim cannot publicly declare the previously mentioned principle in Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Iran, without exposing him or herself to the very real possibility of death, at the hands of other Muslims. To express such a principle would be to admit that Islam is not perfect and that the Koran is not infallible. 

It only takes reading a few pages of the Koran or the Bible to realize that neither of these sacred scriptures promote tolerance. While there may be peaceful and tolerant Muslims, Jews, and Christians, this has more to do with the influence of science and humanism than the religions themselves. In fact, religious people who are tolerant and accepting of others are likely to be those who have accepted the above principle, as well as recognized that the sacred scriptures which their religion is based on are not infallible.

Muslims in the west who bask in the freedom afforded to them by secular societies don't risk death by accepting and declaring such a principle, but this may be a difficult and uncomfortable step for them to take, particularly Muslim religious authorities.

If Pope John Paul II could declare that belief in the theory of evolution is not incompatible with belief in God, it demonstrates that religion can accommodate science, and subsequently values such as tolerance and acceptance of others which are fundamental to a 21st century world.

It should be obvious that Muslims are not the only ones who engage in religious chauvinism, otherwise Fox News anchors wouldn't pursue ridiculously hostile lines of questioning when interviewing authors such as Reza Aslan. 

Having said all this, I regard all of the wars and military actions which the U.S. has engaged in since 9/11, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Libya to Syria, as unjust, counterproductive, and a waste of resources.

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