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Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Necessity of Blasphemy - 3

“Those who cannot attack the thought, instead attack the thinker.” (Paul Valery 1871-1945)

A true questioning spirit is always introspective in nature, not accusatory. Verified doubt is scientific and it lays the foundation for merit-based trust. The advantage of a questioning spirit is that it is the opposite of an inquisition. Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against errors and dogma. Voice of reason asks for the justification of each a religious doctrine that is proclaimed as true without proof. This creates a conflict in the society as people wants to be in their comfort zones of tradition. It is falsehood alone which needs the support of religion. Truth can stand by itself.

The Judeo-Christian tradition began with the Hebrews but the goal was to extend the "faith" to the entire world over time. Judeo-Christian tradition has taken civilization back many years when scientific records and journals were destroyed in the name of being blasphemous. Christianity has a long history of persecution of non believers. And West has came through Dark ages through Renaissance, Reformation, Scientific Revolution and Age of Exploration. Despite major challenges to Roman Catholic dogma, however, enlightenment occurred in Europe.Today, Christian Theology - excluding those fundamentalist churches whose aim is to reassert doctrinal truths - has likewise softened many of its ontological claims, due to increased exposure to both scientific insights and the contrasting theological claims of other faiths.

Dissent is taken as disloyalty and infidelity in Islamic nation these days. And, such reformers are forced to exile and degenerated as declared a ‘blasphemer,’ ‘liberal apologist’ and an undercover [CIA, RAW, MOSSAD] agent. Like, Egyptian Farag Foda, who was killed by an Islamist group in 1992, or those of the Sudanese scholar Mahmud Mohammed Taha, who was hanged in 1985. Pakistan’s outstanding, moderate Islamic scholars, Javed Ahmed Ghamdi, has had to fly out of the country into a self-imposed exile. Ghamdi was facing a number of threats from certain puritan and violent Islamic groups. His sin? He stood out as a mainstream Sunni Muslim scholar who banked on reason and an interpretive take on the Quran, eschewing the myopic literalism of the puritan groups that espouse a violent, political view of Islam.

Today, progressive countries like Malaysia and Turkey are developing due to western education. And the Arab culture, the cradle of Islam is lacking any scientific development. A simple question of liberal mind : why are liberal Islamic (Malaysia and Turkey) or non Islamic nation moving forward while strictly Islamic nations are being left behind? And the answer lies in the concept: “the resignation of the mind.”

Koran should be openly, freely and publicly subjected to the kind of historical and philological scholarship. There are hundreds of [Koranic] psalms and hadiths urging Muslims to value war and to fight. It doesn't mean that all Muslims literally follow them. Instead of taking decision based on the logic, experience and prevailing circumstances, when we see through the eyes of a Koran only things go wrong.

When same book is quoted again in both ways to inflect war on non-believers (infidels) and proving Islam as religion of peace, something is wrong with the book only. The contradictory teachings are not discarded and taken with the matter of absolute faith had damaged the image of Muslims everywhere. The same religious text is interpreted in two different ways. Some interpret it to preach peace while others interpret it to preach hate and both the sections are convinced about their interpretations. When people are mere loyal to the words in the thousand old year book, there will be wrong done in the name of good also.  Those defending religions has got fair share of  rational education that led for this ability to question own’s logic, experience and prevailing circumstances.

When everyone wears their religion on their sleeves, making callous remarks such as comparing gods, and that "my god is better than your god", the kind of mockery and insults thrown around that is bound to warrant irrational responses, even if they are thrown about today by careless groups seeking to provoke. There is oft quoted verse “There is no compulsion in religion”. From the behaviour of most religious people, it seems that there is supposed to be compulsion on everyone to follow what the upholders of religion want them to follow.

Today, there is an urgent need for creating an environment in which people feel free to ask questions, and in which diverse reactions are tolerated, is essential to social debate and paves the road for the acceptance of diversity that is so desperately needed in all our societies. A firm ‘no’ to all forms of bigotry and discrimination – religious, ideological, regional and sectarian – is an imperative. Until theologists had to saw the questions raised by Blasphemer as a challenge, not as a threat, the problem of religious conflicts is not going to be solved.

 Hence, I will end my essay on the necessity of blasphemy with words of Rational Fool who concludes correctly about religions : It's disingenuous, therefore, to claim any religious origin for scientific advancement. Crediting Islam with Algebra, or for that matter, Christianity with the Copernican revolution, is like crediting the Czar with the Bolshevik revolution.


  1. I agree.

    The problem is that many people in India want to restrict free speech if it "hurts people's sentiments."

    I always feel that in a democracy, no one has a right to remain unoffended if it interferes with another's freedom of expression.

  2. Bhagwad, Sentiments can be 'hurt' even in normal way also. Those who shout to restrict freedom of speech have never worked under authoritian regime. Everybody can be offended with little comments, their will be neither reforms nor healthy debate. People don’t question what they believe, or cannot. We must.

  3. "It's disingenuous, therefore, to claim any religious origin for scientific advancement. Crediting Islam with Algebra, or for that matter, Christianity with the Copernican revolution, is like crediting the Czar with the Bolshevik revolution"

    Although I agree with most of what you say, I do, however, disagree with your last statement quoted above.

    I believe, it was exactly because of the culture of scholarship among the clergy, of both Islam and Christianity, that led to the scientific discoveries made by them during the heyday of Islam and Christianity.

    Those among them who studied the natural world didn't think they would ever find anything contradictory to their religious teachings.

    If there weren't such a high regard for learning among the clergy, we would not have had the scientific knowledge we modern liberal thinkers so like to boast about.

    So that makes your analogy with the Czar and Bolsheviks inaccurate. The Bolshevik revolution was in opposition to the Czarist rule, and not as a happy side effect, as in the case of religious scholarship.

  4. The last quote is indeed a little harsh on the theologist who were discovering God's own world. The problem happened when the universal facts lie in opposition of a set of religious beliefs. And since every piece of knowledge was associated with religion, early liberal scholars were part of church only. What I intend to say in the last quote that to bound inventors and discoveror with their religious faith is not genuine, these people used their brain and never get in shackles of biblical words in pursuit of truth. Yes, the analogy is wrong. I accept.



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