Thursday, February 09, 2006

Meeting short take #4: Andrew Mathis tells it like it is

I didn't have time to write anything of my own last night; so let me direct you to Andrew Mathis' commentary on an editorial that got his dander up:
You state that "Islam is compatible with modern secular society." I would counter that, at least in its fundamentalist form, it is not. Nor is any religion, but I will explain that shortly. The problem with Islam in secular societies is that, like Judaism before it, Islam is not merely a religion; it imposes a social system on its followers. In its fundamentalist form, therefore, it is completely incompatible with secular society. Just because (using your examples) the Prince of Wales points out (correctly) that European civilization owes much to Islam for its advancement beyond the Dark Ages or because one Muslim Emperor in India (where, incidentally, he ruled as a minority religious leader over a majority of Hindus) is said to have "laid the foundations of a secular state" does not mean that Islam as a whole is fundamentally compatible with secular society. Arguably, decades before the reign of Akbar in India, Martin Luther, by defying the authority of the Roman Catholic Church in Europe, laid the foundation of secular society in Europe. You note that Christian Europe, during this time, was entering the Reformation, but you conflate this statement with the expulsion (fifty years earlier) of Jews and Muslims from Europe (really only from Spain and Portugal), when, in fact, the Reformation ushered in a period of religious tolerance in Europe not seen beforehand.
Indeed. The problem is not necessarily Islam per se, but rather fundamentalism in religion that allows no room for other views.

Read the rest.

1 example(s) of insolence returned:

At 2/09/2006 11:33 AM, Anonymous Sean said...

I mostly agree with what he says, although his grasp of early modern religious history seems a bit weak. The early Protestants were generally no less intolerant than the Catholics of the same era, once they gained enough power to be persecutors and not just persecuted. On the other hand, the collapse of the Catholic Church's monopoly on religion did slowly lead to the growth of tolerance and a secular society as thinkers began to wonder if tolerance, and a limited role for religion in public life, might be better than endless persecutions of everyone by everyone else.

You run an interesting blog, Orac. Keep up the good work.


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