The New Atheists, like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, the late Christopher Hitchens and many others, purported to offer a sane, secular attempt to roll back religiosity for the betterment of society. Instead, their efforts have begat the mother of all calamities.
How did this come to pass?
Scientific atheism, as promoted by the New Atheists, lacks any unifying central structure or code. Essentially it is based on a negative — not believing in God. So it can’t have a defining structure. Richard Dawkins, one of the most prominent New Atheists, tried to answer this with his ‘brights’ — which was an embarrassment. (Since at least 2014, Dawkins has self-identified as a ‘secular Christian’ anyway.)
After the Enlightenment and especially the French Revolution, European secularism based itself around Reason as the core methodology that would replace, in the minds of those who were atheist, religious belief. This reflected a rejection of hierarchical religious authority, which had begun in the Reformation. The works of philosophers like Descartes, Voltaire, Rousseau, Kant and Paine promoted the idea of the free-thinking individual whose intellectual scalpel was Reason.
World War Three has been much talked about in the seven decades since World War Two ended. At that time, almost all of Europe and large parts of Asia were in ruins, scourged by years of brutal, mechanised, industrial war.
Since the beginning of that peace, war has raged incessantly throughout the world. It has never stopped. The killing, the butchery, the rapes, the genocides, the ethnic cleansings. Mass rapes, murders, enslavements. Whole cities destroyed, nations impoverished or obliterated.
Has World War Three begun?
As I write, war is raging in the Middle East, in Africa, in Asia. Why? If the end of World War Two heralded in an ‘era of peace’, then why is there so much war? And how fragile is that peace?
I was asked today if I was a ‘liberal’. Now in all honesty, until quite recently, I would just have said ‘yes’ and moved on. Simple, easy, checks the right boxes. But the world is not as it was; liberalism has become infected with some appallingly bad ideas that we have to stand up to and defeat. So when I analysed ‘what I am’ I came up with this: a socially aware, libertarian, scientific, secularist.
So, for this week’s Friday Politics, what does being a socially aware, libertarian, scientific, secularist, mean and why is it not the same as being a ‘liberal’?
The Hadith constitute the third pillar of Islam. They are ‘commentaries on the life of the Prophet.’ They are second in authority only to the Qur’an itself. The other pillars are the Qur’an and the Sirah . Together with the Sharia these form the ideological basis for the ‘religion of peace’.
Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the literal word of Allah. The Angel Gabriel transmitted it, exactly as spoken, to Mohammed. He memorised it because he couldn’t write. You make your own judgements as to how accurate his recall was likely to have been. (The Qur’an was not actually written down until some 80 years after Mohammed’s death, which is also worth considering.)
We wake to a morning of black tragedy in Europe as it has, again, been scourged by a Muslim terror attack. This great continent with its myriad and vibrant culture, that has given so much to the world, is on the long march to its final Calvary. And all I can say, my heart breaking, is ‘I told you so.’
Yesterday, the 14th of July, a Muslim terrorist hired a truck and drove it at speed through the crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice. Weaving from side to side to kill as many as he could, the driver, a Franco-Tunisian, brought death and horror to a 2-kilometre long section of the Promenade des Anglais, on the seafront. At least 84 people were murdered and another 18 may not survive their injuries. The killer’s name was Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel. The attack is typical of those carried out by Daesh, aka ISIS or ISIL.
Bastille Day is as great a family celebration in France as Christmas is, perhaps even more. Children, among the dead and maimed, were out having fun with their parents. Whole families were run over. Wives were murdered in front of their husbands as they shared a brief moment of happiness.
I am part of something greater, in a very real and immediate sense. It’s not so much a question of believing but of accepting the evidence in front of me. I am part of the Earth. The Earth is not just a core of molten iron covered in a crust of rock and water, with an outer gaseous atmosphere, though it is these things. It is a living system, an entity. And I am—we are all—part of that entity.
Consider what you are: you are composed of billions of individual living things called cells.
Islam is locked in a war with secular democracy and moderate Muslims themselves.
In one week in, June 2016, a Canadian, Robert Hall, had his head hacked from his body in a brutal public murder. Two days later, over 100 people were gunned down in a nightclub in Orlando, Florida; forty-nine died. Two days after that a married couple, both police officers, were stabbed to death in their home outside Paris and their infant child held hostage until the killer was shot by police. All in one week.
The carnage has not slackened. In the five years since this was first written, the slaughter has continued, most recently in the murder of Sir David Amess, a British Parliamentarian, who was stabbed to death by, yes you guessed it, a fanatical Muslim.
There was nothing whatsoever to connect these victims, on the face of it. Nothing. A middle-aged professional, young people in a nightclub, serving police officers, politicians. They died in equally unrelated locations — the Philippines, the USA, France, Britain.
But they are connected all the same: they were all murdered in the name of Islam, the ‘religion of peace’.
The Qur’an is the base text of Islam, which is today followed by approximately 1.2 billion people.
Most people know about the activities of so-called Islamic extremists, operating in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and, most prominently and gaining the most attention, in the Levant conflict zone, principally Syria and Iraq. But how extreme are they? Do they have justification for their behaviour from the Qur’an, as they repeatedly claim to?
The Muslim legal code called Sharia specifies everything that is ‘mandated’ and ‘forbidden’.
In Arabic they are ‘halal’ and ‘haram’. Sharia — contained in a manual called Sharia Law. (The Reliance of the Traveller)actually extends to over 1200 pages of text which specify every imaginable action or aspect of life. Everything from how to brush your teeth or how to put on your clothes, to how to beat your wife or kill your enemies. It is, literally, not just unnecessary for Muslims to think for themselves, it is haram (forbidden).
Muslims are obliged to follow Sharia all the time. There are punishments for transgressions ranging from fines to floggings to forced amputations to death. To reject Sharia wholly is de facto to become apostate, which demands a punishment of death.