this is the problem with religion

I’ve been meaning to write on this (Danish Muslims Take Anti-Prophet Cartoons to EU) for some time, and now seems like the right moment to do so.

I think this issue illustrates the problem with Islam, i.e., religion. We in the West live in societies that are governed by the rule of law.

When man is born, he is endowed with natural freedom – he is in a certain type of equilibrium with his environment allowing him to have liberty of action. But this natural freedom is accidental; there is nothing to secure it. Because of this reality or necessity, men come together and through concessions – the relinquishing and retaining of rights – produce a political organization, i.e., a state. To this organization is delegated the role of guardian and protector of the freedoms or rights men are allowed to keep; the state is able to achieve this through a monopoly on coercion, which is enshrined by the law. When another political organization competes with the state for this monopoly, chaos or civil war follows.

Thus, natural freedom is supplanted by political freedom, for the surrender and exchange of liberties of this social agreement is predicated on the law.

This necessity of men to form political organizations in order to retain some of their natural freedoms is corroborated by Plato qua Socrates:

The origin of a city lies, I think, in the fact that we are not, any of us, self-sufficient; we have all sorts of needs…. Different individuals, then, form associations with one person to meet one need, and with another person to meet a different need. With this variety of wants they may collect a number of partners and allies into one place of habitation, and to this joint habitation we give the name ‘city’, don’t we?”

In effect, what I am describing is the social contract but not having read Rousseau I am unable to posit his theory, instead I have opted to use Plato. Though, I suspect Aristotle’s belief that “he who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god,” puts it more succinctly. After all, the polis is a political entity and man is a political animal.

But, having said this and returning to the idea of concession or rather, exchange, freedom of speech is one of these political rights that man is guaranteed by the state.

How many human lives were lost to secure this precious right? And this struggle continues in various ways, e.g., is the dissemination of child pornography freedom of speech, etc.

Freedom of speech is what allows us to criticize and discuss what happens within our societies; it enables us to vocalize our opinions on government policy. We needn’t be scared that the slightest criticism of the government will land us in jail … yet. If so, I would have been dragged away years ago for voicing my anti-Zionism (which, unfortunately, is purposefully confounded with anti-Semitism in the West). It is one of those things that separate our socities from totalitarianism.

Now, I support anyone in his right to practice whatever superstition he desires. If it makes you happy to believe that God has a special covenant with you, which makes you ‘chosen’, hurrah! If you want to believe that Christ is your Lord and Savior, great! If you wish to believe that Mohammed is God’s prophet, fantastic! Yes, we are all allowed to be absurd, but the line is crossed when you wish to tell others how to be asurd.

You can close your hand into a fist and jab in all imaginable directions. Yes, this is your right, but if your hand hits someone’s face, then you have crossed that threshold; it is no longer about your freedom.

So, where do these Muslims think they are living? Obviously not in some Middle Eastern country, otherwise the government would have instantly mobilized anti-riot police and tear gased them all! They are in a Western nation, were the law is king. Why should we, i.e., non-Muslims, be forced to revere Mohammed? We don’t believe in him. To quote Mrs. Swann: “He’s a nothing!” If they are vexed by the fact that some comic pokes fun of him, be this deliberately mal-intentioned which is, however, of no concern in this post, although it does signal a greater problem (see below), then they can simply do what anyone does when he is annoyed by something, i.e., ignore it.

Now, I must say this: there is a lot of racism in Europe. Muslims are seen as the new eternal foreigners; the Jews being the eternal foreigners par excellence. And an eternal foreigner must be understood as someone (or a group) that does not assimilate into the rest of society. I am not denying the bias against Muslims which arises from ignorance, which is made poignant by the fact that the West does not consider Islam to be part of the West, however, I will not discuss this here.

Religion has no place in the public sphere. If you wish to practice whatever religion, you can as long as it does not infringe on the law, i.e., socially agreed norms and regulations.

I wonder, what would happen if Christians in the Middle East took to the streets protesting any ‘offence’ against Christianity; surely they would be attacked. Fortunately, I live in the West were the rule of law still holds ….

Finally, religion must be regarded as parasitism that attaches itself to an innate human teleological disposition, which leads man to believe that there must be a higher being, a master architect that has designed the cosmos and given it purpose. Religion, therefore exploits this. We need only look at history to realize the veracity of this.

But for whatever reason, the Three Wicked Sisters of the West, i.e., Judaism, Christianity and Islam, are intolerant religions. For all their talk of God’s mercifulness, they are zealously intolerant superstitions. Thus, a democracy must observe the paradox of tolerance. It must tolerate that which is also tolerant, but it must not tolerate that which is not. By necessity, democracy must tolerate religion, in the private sphere. But when religion attempts to extend its influences outside of this, i.e., into the public sphere, then a democracy must act to stop this. Religion cries foul whenever it is ‘discriminated against’. What of democracy! it cries. Yes, that’s all fine and dandy, but we cannot allow religion to use democratic means to subvert democracy. For, once religion gains access to the state and by this to its monopoly on coersion, she reveals her true face: intolerance and hatred for anything that she does not saction.