15 January 2008

Muslim Philosophy Revisited

So I listened to this episode of This American Life today:


and it made me feel as if I needed to *immediately* redact my previous post about Muslims. I don't deny anything I said in that post -- the truth is, that things have transpired over the past several years that make me suspicious of all Muslims.  And the Muslim community has not done a particularly good job of rebutting their crazy zealots -- more later.

But I know in my heart that, just like Christians and Jews and Buddhists, there are good and bad in all groups.  I *know* there are good Muslims, and I'm so sorry that this is now a country where you can't openly be anything but Christian in a school without risking persecution or worse.

This issue troubles me more than you can imagine, and the reason I wrote my previous post about my father's intractibility on this topic was that I was trying to point out that the current situation in our country is bad, so bad that my normally reasonable father has been rendered unreasonable.

And so bad that even I -- long an independent thinker, which can be demonstrated by my refusal in the third grade to say the word "God" in the pledge of allegiance (in 1970!) -- now find myself yielding to the power of "groupthink" and wondering about the intentions of my previously unsuspicious Muslim colleagues at work.  And it is something I wish I could do something about (something other than making sure my son has no unreasonable prejudice against Muslims, which I am doing).  I wish I knew more Muslims, as friends that is.  But I don't.

But in reflecting on my previous post, I now think I was too flippant -- in effect not only not helpful, but perhaps adding to the misunderstandings between Muslims and non-Muslims.*

I want my country to return to being a secular nation.  It *is* a secular nation, and it always has been.  Yes, the underlying principles of our country are certainly Judeo-Christian in nature, but that doesn't mean we should have to defend our religious beliefs -- or lack thereof -- in our secular schools.

The idea that school should not be a place for religious indoctrination is so basic and fundamental to the success of this country that I cannot believe I am still having to argue about it.

I believe that Good and Evil exist, but I do not believe in God and the Devil.  I believe that Good exists in the hearts of men, and that this is where Evil lurks as well.  And no matter what religion you believe in, as long as it doesn't infringe on MY right to believe what I want, or inflict pain, mental anguish, or bodily injury on others, I believe YOU have the right to believe in it.

But I do not believe you have the right to teach your religion to my child in school, unless I have purposefully chosen to send my child to a private religious school.  I also don't believe that I (or any other atheist) have the right to teach my "religion" to your child in public school, but... and here's the rub for a certain small group of Christian zealots -- I do have the right to teach your child about the scientific theory of evolution, at least until a measurably and demonstrably sounder scientific theory is proposed.

And no, the fact that the antennae of amoebae or hummingbird eyes or whatever (or *quickly consulting Wikipedia* the bacterial flagellum of E. Coli) are "irreducibly complex" does not change this.

*Luckily no one reads this blog!  :)

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