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In matters of justice the statement ‘There but for the grace of God I go’ should never have to apply, we should demand the same result from any legal ruling to uphold the same standard. Our laws are designed to be fair, just and most importantly to apply to everyone on equal terms, this is important because the statue of justice outside of the Old Bailey Central Criminal Courts in London wears a blindfold to represent something. Not only is justice inescapable it also means that it should never depend upon who is seeking justice and who has committed the crime, it should be blind to these things and only consider the facts of the case. Sharia Law in the UK is already being used through the Arbitration Act 1996, involving both civil and criminal matters. To a certain extent rather than both UK law and Sharia Law working together, the normal form of justice is being removed all together. No one should have a problem with any community seeking justice still everyone should have a problem when they use laws to make unfair judgements legal which are only justifiable to those who follow certain religious beliefs. Most importantly it’s not about taking power away from just courts, Sharia courts have every right to apply British law as long as it remains just, fair and the right thing to do.

Read the rest of the post here: http://www.rationalunderstanding.co.uk/religion/help-stop-sharia-law-in-the-uk/

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Dawkins
I arrived at this debate whilst it was still going on, the new atheist movement had already started going through the motions before I picked up my copy of the God delusion and the debate about lack of evidence of God has been going for hundreds of years. My life prior to the God Delusion, the book that is not my belief in God, had never really involved anything to do with religion to much extent or so I thought. However, after reading just half of the book I started to notice the things what were going on with a new kind of light such as suicide bombers, the conflict in the middle east, the conflict in Northern Ireland, the horrible & nasty things Muslims were doing to other Muslims in Iraq, these things really started to worry me even though they felt distant. This anxiety and worry did not stop there as I carried on reading; in fact I read almost everything I could get my hands on including news paper articles and watching recorded lectures on the subject. To my horror the threat of religion to me started to become so much clearer not just to me either, to all of us the role and place of religion is so intertwined with social norms, our laws and methods of daily living that if religion has anything other than the divine to do with it then we should all be very apprehensive.

So that left me the question; is there anything other than the divine about religion? So I came up with this, Christianity and Islam are very different, they have different laws and boundaries, so if I assume that one of these is right and one is wrong, how do I tell which is the correct religion. Both of these religions pretty much state that nonbelievers should be killed, this is taken from God’s word of either the Bible or the Koran, although conversion is also an option. If one is that of the divine and other a pack of lies, how would God direct me to make the right and noble choice? I feel a general level of distaste towards both of them really and this brings me to the most fundamental point I have ever considered – why do people never seem to really benefit from praying to the correct God and suffer from worshiping the one that happens to be wrong? I am of course, not a God, though I think that I would just at some point say that is enough I am going to give my true followers some weapon, ‘cause I don’t really want to get my hands dirty, which will help them kill off all the nonbelievers, that will be an end to all the fighting and everyone will know where they stand. The response to that by catholics at least is that God needs us to suffer and return that information in order to add towards the knowledge of God, still unless God has some serious special needs that information has already been served and what else can we take from that other than God wants us all to suffer in the most horrible manner possible.

I personally cannot tell the difference between a religion of the divine and the others that are just a pack of lies and no one has ever offered to take me on the journey of demonstrating the divine. There is no evidence of divine, other than some emotional reaction to the world and if all the things I mentioned at the start such as conflicts and attacks did not come from the divine then we need to attack the systems that allow these things to happen. This is the first justification to attack religion. The next justification is taken from Steven Pinker’s study on violent crime, I have used Pinker’s work before, this time it is about the things that we feel compassion towards and how we started to care for others. He used it in terms of why violent crime has been reduced, part of this is due to the circle of expanding empathy, first we only care about our family and others are seen as non-human. It expands over time to include clans, nations, races, both sexes, animals and so on. Each time the circle expands it includes greater numbers of people to whom we then consider the realm of their potential pain and suffering (Peter Singer). In essence we consider the possibility that we could be outside the circle and as a result probably suffer in this event and this changes how we approach & deal with others that are not like us. I carry this on to include people that happen to be born into religious families or societies; I can understand and empathise with them about the possible suffering they might have to endure. If religion causes harm then it is right to attack religion for this.

It is both very easy for me to state religion causes harm and also very difficult, the difficulty comes because often people will disagree with the statement choosing rather the idea that they only benefit. Part of the problem is that once people have purchased into a religion they don’t want to feel that their personal effort, time and suffering is simply the result of their own wrongness and large parts of their life has been wasted. Much like when Marxists argue that the capitalist revolution won’t happen as most people have already brought into the capitalists game, such as owning a house or having money, so they are unwilling to lose that even though they would ultimately benefit in the long run. I will not insult your intelligence here at least half, for a safe bet that is, of all religious activity can be seen as causing harm. The fact that stem cell research might be disallowed in America as the result of a religious debate would harm millions of people in the future who suffer from presently incurable diseases, it is perfectly acceptable to have the stem cell debate based on science and morality not that of religious morality since the law in America forbids this. If governments make decisions based upon their religious convictions this is wrong, it should be decided on by rational thinking and acceptable standards that society as a whole confirm with in an honest presentation of the information. The suffering that religious people could cause to others is great. In Pakistan a blind girl was sentenced to be stoned to death for being a victim of rape, in the end after much suffering and public humiliation she was acquitted, this suffering was the result of women being considered second class and thus outside the circle of compassion in Islam. Religion causes suffering, the humanists try to stop it and this is why attacks upon religion are justified. I care about others suffering and I want to see an end to it.

There are of course religious people that are kind and also humanists this leads me to the next justification, which is the power that is handed over to officers of religion, be it priests or whatever. I have already written about how a Muslim cleric, in my post about Karen Armstrong’s case for compassion gone wrong, that claimed that the polio vaccine was a plot against Islam and this resulted in 2005 in another outbreak and the deaths of children. Why did this happen and for that matter why did the rape of children occur within the Catholic Church by priests? Why are the only people in the UK that are allowed to make public hate speeches about Jewish people and gay people Muslim clerics? Why is the choice of contraception taken away from women who would have under the concept of equal rights be would allowed to choose for themselves? It is at some point that people have handed over their freedom and allowed the officers of religion to have it. You could counter my argument that these officers reflect God’s word; it is however, a false statement to make since God’s word is never all that clear in the first place. It is God’s word to stone children if they talk back to their parents, this as far as I know does not happen in Christian societies which leads me to believe that either the officers made the choice this is unacceptable in which case morality of nonbelievers is greater than that of God or they have made the decision that other matters are more important and that if they try to convince parents of this they are likely to lose them for their other causes. If this is the case why do we allow these officers to tell us what to do in any situation? If you see it like I see it, these officers are not from God but from their own greed for power or money or both. This is why it is justifiable to attack religion.

I fear that this is the point where most will start to strongly disagree with me, let me explain the last point but perhaps in a somewhat clearer way. I have often come across the situation where people claim that God will save them. What I think is happening here is either the event they are going through is either at no point controlled by them, which makes it somewhat understandable or the situation appears to be too difficult for people to deal with. Relying on God to save me, how disempowering is this notion? To accept that God is the only force in the world that could change the events in your life leaves people powerless. I have written about this in one of my earlier posts, the empowerment of people is one of the most important things anyone can do whether this means women taking their power back from men or everyone taking back power from God. As soon as people do this the world becomes a better place and a place were more good things happen than bad things. I remember a Fr. Benedict Groeschel telling this story, it is not word for word but the general direction is the same. There was going to be a great flood and this old couple said to each other, ‘don’t worry God will save us’, so they stayed in their home. The police asked them to go with them to get them out of danger; still the couple ignored the police because they thought God was going to save them. The flood waters started to rise; the fire people came along in their boat and tried to get the couple in the boat and away from danger. Still they refused to leave because they thought that God was going to save them. The flood waters got higher and the couple had to climb onto the roof, then a rescue helicopter came along and the crew tried to get the couple off the roof, still they refused because they thought that God would save them. The flood waters got higher and the couple died! When the couple got to heaven they asked God why he let them die and God replied, ‘you fools, I sent the police to take you to a safe place but you refused. Then I sent the fire service to get you out of the flood waters, still you refused. Last of all I sent the rescue helicopter in my last attempt to save your lives but again you refused. What fools you are!” I could not help thinking the moral of the story was wrong; God took credit for the people’s actions. It was not God rather the police officers, the fire service and the crew of the rescue helicopter who all took part because they were compassionate people that wanted to make the world a better place. How dare God take that away from people? I will vote on the side of empowerment and this is the justification for my attack on religion. It’s proven that people can make the world a better place.

 

To start off with I did talk about the idea of truth, as in there is no evidence to suggest that there is a correct religion, this issue could be explored for pages, I won’t though. A lot of religious speakers point to a lack of intellectual honesty on behalf of those that speak against there being a God, this situation is the wrong way around. An example of this is when Rabbi Shmuley Boteach said in a debate with Christopher Hitchens that circumcision is good since many HIV infected countries are considering it in order to prevent the disease spreading. The argument was ha ha you see circumcision of babies is a good thing; this lacks intellectual honesty, since the reason behind religious circumcision is not the prevention of being infected with HIV it is for other reasons. If circumcision is argued for other reasons then it must be for those arguments which are dealt with when talking about this issue, to side line into other arguments is wrong. It is like me trying to make a bomb to destroy an entire country and in the process creating a free source of energy, no one can deny the benefit of my discovery of free energy but to claim that it was always my intention to do so is not from intellectual honesty, it is a lie, I was trying to create a massive bomb that would kill millions in one go. This is the type of dishonesty that goes around and is presented by religious speakers, dinosaurs on the Noah’s ark is an example of post hoc quick thinking that religious people try to teach as fact. Let me say when I was young and I learnt about Noah I certainly never made any paintings with dinosaurs on his ark. For this reason it is justifiable for me to attack religion.

These are my base reasons for why I attack religion and I have found that most in the atheist movement have similar concepts or combinations of these reasons. Dawkins is very much based on the idea of truth whereas Hitchens is very much based on the idea of religion doing harm. The motive for the attacks on religion is not based on the notion that we should simply attack religion, there are reasons and at the heart of those reasons is a deep caring for others.

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* This is not the original video but it has the same gist

I have already done the Christians so it is only fair that I comment about this Muslim man as well. Mr Zakir Naik makes me very angry in so many ways; I don’t recognise his Dr as he does not deserve it. He might be a doctor but someone only deserves that honour when they are not so faulty in their understanding of the world. This man is not in the real world and once again the agenda that he is trying to present is more than clear. I will once again put the general statements in blue with my reaction afterwards. Watch the video before you read the comments, even if it’s only for the first couple of minutes or you will not understand my reaction to it.

Rape should first be dealt with by men averting their gaze, and then covering women up and finally Capital punishment. America should adopt Islamic law to stop rape. – Let me say that this is messed up in all respects, to start off with a logic problem; Naik argues that America suffers from more rape victims than countries with Islamic law like Pakistan. The population of Pakistan is 164 million; the population of America is 301 million so of course there are going to be twice as much of everything because there are almost twice as many people. Pakistan is a country where women can be sentenced to gang rape for a brother’s crime (cited in Hitchens – god is not great and here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/4322021.stm). Rape Victims are the ones who are punished for being rape against their will, they did nothing wrong (cited here: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0DE6D81E39F934A25756C0A9649C8B63). They don’t listen to rape victims because it is against Islamic law (cited here: http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/archives/006808.php) Why would women report being raped when they could suffer not only under the protection of the state but also punished for it by their society? They would not and this means that the level of reported rape in Pakistan is not a true reflection of rape that occurs.

Women should not be forced to cover up; if men are the ones that rape women then it is men who need to be forced to do things not women. Since we have already discussed why women covering up, as is required in Pakistan, does not stop rape it should never be used as a method of prevention. If you want to make the case for women covering up then don’t base it on these grounds. As for capital punishment he is wrong, America also performs this act against its people. The problem with it, is that it is clear that capital punishment does not work, so if the reason for capital punishment is to get your own back on people that have wronged you then it should be accepted, if you think that it stops crime then there is a body of evidence that goes against this. I don’t want to over cite the evidence, still it is the case from a large body of research. I think that it is wrong but that is my personal opinion. So would I rather live in America where rape is a crime and the state/society punishes the person committing the crime? Or would I prefer to live in Pakistan where the issue of rape is hidden, not discussed and ultimately not dealt with? The answer is America.

Islam is the best way of life; Islamic law achieves good things – See above! I am not saying that Muslim people cannot do good things but at its core, Islamic law does not protect good people. Zakir Naik is not doing a good thing here on the grounds that the more time & energy there is in moving away from the truths of an issue the less time & energy we spend dealing with the issues that we as societies need to address. I will simply say here that if the statement “Islamic law achieves good things” is true, then we only need to find one event where it does not achieve good things for the statement to be proven false. I have given the evidence that proves this statement false. I can accept that Islamic law can achieve good things sometimes, but that is a completely different statement and has a completely different meaning to what Naik illustrates for us.

Atheists have become atheist because they believe in science and technology – Umm… No! After Naik’s statements about atheists he goes on to talk about how science is represented in Koran, that is a different debate although I will acknowledge those fact as being true, I don’t have evidence to say it is wrong at this time. I don’t agree with his idea of science and the use of his metaphor of creation. Still speaking as an atheist, even though I don’t speak for the group, I never became an atheist because of science and technology. I rejected religion because I believe it is not true, it does little to explain things in the world. I rejected religion because it does harm, so many things have been done in the name of religion to which religion never has to answer for. I reject religion not because it has been replaced with science and technology but personal experience and reason. To be an atheist is not to accept science, atheism does not equal science. To be an atheist does not mean you believe in evolution. Atheism is non-belief and it should never be confused with belief of anything non-religious. Atheism is the rejection of theology, Evolution is a scientific theory.

These are the reasons why Zakir Naik is wrong and why he does not understand the world.

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