Can secularism be blamed for societal ills?

I was over at Insanna’s blog commenting on her posts, when I suddenly saw myself get swallowed into a debate with a Muslim.

I am an atheist, a secular humanist. I live a good life, like my atheist friends. I have found that secularism does not hinder the development of this.

Abdullah, a commenter on Insanna’s blog, believes that secularism is the cause of societies ills.

Two world wars, the end justfys the means philosophy? Mass starvation? Colonialism, Hitler?Stalin?Bush? Wars in Africa, Latin America? Enviromental damage? The blur between teh distinction between a man and woman?Crime? Disorder? Social meltdown? Drugs? Alchohol abuse? Single mums?


The above quote are the reasons he gave me for why a secularist society shouldn’t reign.

My response is simply this:

The problems with a religious, specifically Islamic society:

1. Intolerance to homosexuals - condoning homophobic behaviour.

2. Intolerance to apostates - condemning those who make the choice of leaving Islam. Yes you can quote the verse in the Quran that says there is no compulsion in religion, but there are also verses that completely contradict that.

3. Treatment of women - they are seen as one rank less than men. They cannot go out without a male Muslim relative accompanying them in Saudi Arabia (and that is run on ‘proper’ Shariah Law). They get blamed and stoned to death for committing adultery - even in a rape situation.

4. Young Muslim girls are married off as young as 9 years old - following the example set by the prophet Muhammad.

5. The war between Israel and Palestine? Sparked and maintained by religion.

6. The Taliban rule of Afghanistan - the fact that Afghanistan was a liberal nation before these religious fundamentalists took over. Look at how that affected their society?

7. Female genital mutilation - yes you can say that this is a completely cultural thing, but Islam is very closely tied to culture.

8. Mass starvation in African countries that are ‘Muslim’ - complete poverty.

9. Environmental damage in various religious nations occur - I remember the UAE and Pakistan to be environmentally unclean - with litter everywhere and pollution being caused by the vast amounts of carbon emission.

10. Crime and disorder? How about Iraq? Iran? Afghanistan? They aren’t exactly the most socially and politically matured countries.

11. Drugs? Many countries including Pakistan and Afghanistan have drug trades, and especially in Pakistan it’s not exactly difficult to get hold of alcohol. Same as the United Arab Emirates. I know because I’m quite well traveled.

12. Sexual abuse in Muslim nations? This ties in with the abuse of women, but there are many sex trades with young orphan boys and girls as young as 6 that go on not only in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but in Saudi Arabia. Just because you don’t hear about it on the news, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. One of my friends was brought up in the suburbs close to Afghanistan and he witnessed this first hand. He got molested at a young age (he was 9 years old). So yes, I know about this personally.

Single mums? Oh yes, devil’s work right there. Those heathen nations with their single mums. Give me a break.

He also went on to say that Darwin was religious. Refer to Dawkins’ documentary, that is completely false!

Abdullah also had the nerve to tell me that Qadianis are kufrs (non-believers) - erm right, so that justifies the persecution that they have had to endure? My uncle was killed by his colleagues in a horrific murder, and then disappeared. My family was in danger of being killed purely because we were brought up in the Qadiani sect. Qadianis in Pakistan have to witness non-Qadiani Muslims abuse their ‘version’ Quran, by defacating on it.

When there are problems in a Western society, it’s corruption - due to secularism. When there are problems in an Islamic society, it’s God’s will.

If this is the ideals of an Islamic society, I want out.

Secularism all the way.

NB: Bush is not a secularist. He is a Republican Christian. He is not secular in his religious OR political ideologies - whatsoever.

Views: 1176

Tags: islam, muslim, secularism, society

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Comment by Warren Jappe on January 8, 2014 at 5:41pm

It's a crappy world in general, some European countries and Iceland aren't too bad but I wonder if they are decent enough to live in, if we could get in. And if they will stay decent enough (for example to be able to avoid most religious nut jobs).

Comment by Odd Innuendo on February 15, 2009 at 7:24pm
Wow. Those. were some amazing posts. I learnt so much especially about Epicurus!
Comment by bipolar2 on February 15, 2009 at 1:18pm
The big-3 monotheisms are morally as vile as any known on this planet -- that much has been obvious. What way of life can supplant them forever — and be far healthier? Philosophy can offer many alternatives -- here's just one worth thinking about.

** “the pursuit of happiness” begins with indifference to God **

It was a time which resembled ours.

Millions across what is now Greece, Egypt and points east all the way to Iran and Afghanistan were tired of war . . . social unrest . . . unenlightened despotic rulers. . . But the ruling elites were ethnic Macedonians. (You know, Alexander the Great and later his generals.)

There was no islam; no xianity. Those religions hadn’t even been invented yet. (Turn that over in your mind. Not one xian; not one moslem.) There were jews, but they were of no consequence. Religion was left to the locals, who were mostly polytheists.

The time was about 300 BCE — all of mainland Greece had lost its freedom; in Athens democracy was dead. The old gods had failed. Thoughtful people began to turn inward with help from philosophical guides.

These Athenian philosophers sought “artaxia” — a state of mind, balanced and free from pain or suffering, physical or psychological.

Central to this quest was to create a harmonious life within a harmonious culture. A major player was the philosopher Epicurus. Maligned by theists in his own age (340-270 BCE) and still condemned by xians as an atheistic immoralist, Epicurus indeed taught that pleasure was the good, but within the context of a rational hedonism augmented by friendship.

Epicurean groups recruited widely and succeeded well enough for 800 years until stamped out by xian know-nothings — just like those on TV today. (Their islamic counterparts you know.)

Women were admitted on a basis equal with men. Because Epicureans came from among different social classes and levels of ability in philosophy, Epicurus’ basic doctrines appeared in short phrases easy to memorize.

Three of his original letters to his many friends survive. Good translations are in the Epicurus Reader (1994). His philosophy figures prominently in Atheist Manifesto by Michel Onfray (2006).
(Very powerful critiques of big-3 monotheism in AM, worth buying or borrowing.)

Here are two of the Epicureans’ most famous sayings. They’re still useful:

“The four part cure,” four conclusions from Epicurus’ atomic and hedonistic views written by Philodemus in the Herculaneum papyri c.100 BCE.

Don’t fear god,
Don’t worry about death,
What is good, is easy to get, and
What is terrible is easy to endure.

An epicurean argument on the “problem” of evil:

Is god willing to help but unable? Then he is not all powerful.
Is he able to help but unwilling? Then he is not good.
Is he able and willing? Then why is there evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him ‘god’?

Xians have spent 2,000 years trying to find a workaround — they’ve failed. Ditto for judaism and islam. Supreme power and supreme goodness, nonsensical in themselves, taken together establish that the so-called one ‘god’ of the big-3 near eastern monotheisms cannot logically exist. (Which shows that you can indeed prove that “God” does not exist — as long as your theist wants “him” omni-sized.)

Indifference to religion Epicurus would say is the first step to a healthy personal life and a good sign for a healthy cultural existence as well.

Epicureanism is a very worldly, genial, rational path to exactly what Thomas Jefferson meant by “happiness.”

bipolar2
Comment by Moonbeam on February 15, 2009 at 12:59pm
He's a fundie moron--I guess the deaths of your family members don't count as a "societal ill". He just wants everybody to be compelled to comply with his beliefs, and everything he is saying is just to support that. Tell him to compare the societies of the secular countries vs. the theocratic ones. Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, etc. vs. the Middle East and the African muslim countries. Which have less crime, higher standard of living, more stability, higher level of education, etc? The theocrats are primitives. They wouldn't even have any sort of leverage or acknowledgment as anything other than places with horrible human rights abuses if it wasn't for their oil.

Yes, unfortunately in the U.S. we have too much influence by theocrats too, but at least we don't get our head chopped off or stoned for saying so.
Comment by Sentient Biped on February 15, 2009 at 10:51am
The muslim arguments against secularism sound similar to arguments that christians use against secularism as well. Although no one would call Bush secular since he caved in to reactionary christians early on and did their bidding.

I think that the troubles of society exist because we are all human, not because religion exists or because secularism exists. That being said, religion is a source of trauma and violence, and is not a force for peace. The most secular countries in the world, in scandinavia, appear to be among the most harmonious and pleasant as well.

Some people have tried to tally the number of people killed in 'secular wars' and compare to the number killed in 'religious wars'. I don't know if that exercise is useful. No one knows if Hitler was atheist or christian, but he was voted into office by people in a religious country, and supported but the churches. His followers had the same unquestioning religious fervor that is seen in cults. How do we compare to the numbers killed in wars across the march of history, and how do we say who was religious and who was not? I suspect that Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot should probably be counted among the nonreligious, but what does that prove? Thousands of years of wars occurred before them, most of them with some sort of religious involvement or justification, and the christian bible teaches that when god is on your side, genocide is OK. The christian bible also supports slavery, and both christians and muslims bought and sold slaves for centuries. For centuries, the christian churches supported torture, war, and genocide. I suspect that Islam is the same way.

Over the march of history, no one can say that religion is a force for peace, as religionists claim. Unquestioning obedience to corrupt higher authority is a recipe for disaster, whether that higher authority is religious, secular, christian, muslim, aztec, animist, polytheist, or atheist. How many wars have been fought for skepticism? Probably none.

You are right about environmental destruction as well. Many evangelical christians in the US beleive that the 'end days' are here, so it doesnt matter if we cut down every last tree, pollute the atmosphere and oceans, cause global warming, and leave an impoverished environment for future generations. Those christians are such narcisists, shamefully self indulgant.

I think that your path from Islam takes more courage and independent thinking than the path from christianity, just because most christians live in fairly diverse places and there are not severe punishments for apostacy. We may complain about how our relatives or neighbors react to us, and we do have problems with intrusion of religion into government, but nothing like what you have experienced. I admire the people in muslim countries who look at their society and their religion and decide it is wrong, and think for themselves. I also worry about their well being. Congratulations on your independent mind and for taking the path that you think is right.

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