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Saturday, 18 October 2014

Why Would You Be a Muslim?
A Long and Rambling Post on Politics & Religion

It’s a good question. An allied question is: why would you regard Islam as the single stupidest (and most vicious – and most pernicious) ideology in the world?

Socialism is a contender but we have others. There are many in the west who are proud to call themselves socialists. They are a threat. Easterners who have experienced Socialism don’t call themselves socialists. David Icke is simply stupid. He is not a big threat. He is a threat because he makes some people stupider. Well, only really stupid people listen to DI without laughing (and inwardly groaning).

Fascism is as stupid as Socialism – it is a flavour of Socialism. It failed spectacularly, as did Socialism in Eastern Europe (and China and Cuba and Cambodia). History has taught us something. Progressives don’t like History.

Back to Islam. It came (almost) from nothing; Mohammed invented it. He did so to acquire power and influence. It worked. It is easier than it should be to acquire power and influence. We have multiple 20th century examples.

Mohammed had no religious insight. Any religious content in his scheme of things was borrowed from Judaism and Christianity. Islam is Shari’ah. Shari’ah is not religion.

I have just bought Wake Up by Sam Harris. He has some insights. Although he rejects religion, he respects some religious traditions. He wants spirituality without religion but he respects Buddhism and Hinduism. He has no truck with Islam (or with Christianity). I am a Christian and I respect Buddhism and Hinduism with some reservations. In my view, Islam is not a religion. There are spiritual Muslims – how could there not be? Islam is, however, essentially a political programme.

You know that I like Sam Harris. He is sound on moral absolutes. However, he is hung up on the supernatural – can’t bring himself to accept even the possibility. So, he and I have diametrically opposing world views. I am hung up on Materialism (or Naturalism) – can’t bring myself to accept that the universe created itself or that the appearance of design in Cosmology, Physics and Biology is illusory. Naturalists believe that only Science can teach us anything about the world. This seems to me to be patently untrue. Science has nothing to say about our metaphysical assumptions. It cannot tell us that there is a real world outside our minds. It is silent on Aesthetics. It cannot adjudicate on Right and Wrong. Harris has written a book claiming that it can (The Moral Landscape). I venture to suggest that the whole argument of the book fails logically. He is for ‘Human Flourishing’; so am I. But where are the peer-reviewed papers which derive ‘human flourishing is good; we ought to promote it’ from scientific observations?

Philosophy teaches (inescapably) that you can’t get ‘ought’ from ‘is’. You might as well patent that perpetual motion machine. Incidentally, although Science teaches that there can be no such thing (I mean most physicists teach), Cold Fusion may someday make fools of them. In other words, Cold Fusion is a better bet than The Moral Landscape.

Back to my original question: Why Would You Be a Muslim? For the same reason that you might embrace Socialism: Society is not good – it needs to be remade. We humans can remake it (and ourselves). Just follow Mohammed’s prescriptions. Good luck! They are as likely to be beneficent as Marx’s.

Don’t be a Muslim. Islam’s claims are fraudulent. It claims to be the perfect plan (endorsed by God) for the perfect society. Mohammed was not a mystic. He was a warrior. He promised his followers hegemony in this world and pleasures in the afterlife which might have been invented by a fourteen year old boy. Mohammed was a lesser thinker even than Marx. Marx was wrong (about everything) but he did have some concept of cause and effect.

Preceding Mohammed by centuries was Plato, a very great thinker. The Republic was an early overarching plan for Society. I wouldn’t want to live in it any more than I would want to live in the Islamic State or in North Korea.

Burke was right. Society can never be re-made perfect. But it can be improved incrementally. Were Islam and Marxism worthwhile experiments? Had Mohammed or Marx treated their ideas as experiments, they might have concluded, “Nah, didn’t work out.” God told Mohammed that he was right. ‘Science’ told Marx he was right. No need to experiment!

Common Law, our blessed English heritage, is an example of incremental improvement. Statute Law has a tendency to screw things up. Law B is supposed to solve Problem A but it creates Problem C. In no time you have a stack of statutes a mile high, each creating new problems. What I would like to see is a bonfire of the statutes. Poor Muslims, stuck with Shari’ah, cannot even hope for improvements. The example of Mohammed informs Shari’ah. Fourteen centuries later Muslims in Iraq and Syria are justifying slavery and concubinage with reference to Shari’ah [see previous post]. Muslims cannot give credit to Christendom for abolishing slavery. They (some of them) practise it today, unashamedly.

The US Constitution, the blessed product of Anglo-Saxon political thought, is admirably brief but perhaps is missing some amendments: eg, ‘Congress shall make no law which takes the property of one citizen to benefit another citizen’; or ‘Congress shall spend no more in one fiscal year than it can legitimately raise in taxes’. Oh, James Madison, you trusted your successors too much! Benjamin Franklin famously said that the Founding Fathers had created a Republic and then added, ominously, ‘if you can keep it’. The Founders made no mention of Democracy. Some would have been appalled by the idea. Electorates are less moral than even the Founders supposed. Voters choose governments which, they think, will act to benefit their own group at the expense of others. Governments (and oppositions) try to please a majority in order to gain or retain power.

Muslims despise Democracy. I am no great fan myself of the way it works. But it beats Theocracy by a mile. Anjem Choudary (I must stop citing this man – he will get big-headed) says that Shari’ah is God’s Law and that we abide by Man’s Law. Imams, like Choudary of course, get to rule on how God’s Law is to be applied. I would not accept his rule on arse-wiping.

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