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Friday, September 30, 2005

Religious evolution in the making?

I stumbled across a series of interesting debate on science and religion conducted by a few contemporary intellectuals and amazingly, some of them are actually Muslims!

For their efforts, I say Bravo.

They started off talking about the need to reform religion, particularly Islam and as of today, their talk has advanced to the extend that God is practically science itself!

Both Darwin and Einstein better take note of the latest development so as to stay relevent to evolving world and I am sure God is very proud of them!

Here it goes: In the beginning ...

Mid-East religious dogma inapplicable to Asean

By Dr Syed Alwi Ahmad

I refer to the letter titled Islamic discourse - respect knowledge specialisation. The writer has obviously misunderstood the thrust of my previous writings. The issue before us here is the societal pressure to conform as reflected in contemporary socio-political discourse.

Can we - or should we - allow the freedom of apostasy to Muslims ? I say ‘yes’ because I reject any claim that society has a moral duty to impose its unproven religious beliefs on individuals.

Secondly, the writer herself is practicing double standards when it comes to knowledge specialisation. Will Muslim Malaysians respect the knowledge specialisation of biologists when they say that humans were evolved and not specially created?

Are you prepared to respect the consensus of scientists the world over? I think not. Besides, it is far from clear that knowledge specialisation in Islam from the Middle Eastern countries is in any way applicable to contemporary Asean.

Will Malaysia respect the consensus of Asean when it comes to matters pertaining to the interpretation of Islam? Once again, I have my doubts. To me, acknowledging the controversial nature of the Hudud is far from sufficient.

One must also have a mature and well-developed attitude towards dogma which will not damage the fabric of the multi-religious society not just in Malaysia but also throughout Asean.

On this point, I wish to add that many Malaysians have now reached the conclusion that the time has come for a new social contract. Hiding behind the social contract of 1957 will not do anymore. A new contract is needed.

One which will compensate for the tyranny of the majority. I am not only prepared to say that Islam needs a re-interpretation, but I am also prepared to review the 1957 social contract. Both are needed in view of recent events.

I have no doubts whatsoever that Islam needs a re-interpretation. One which reflects our values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. We cannot return to the days of the Abbasid Caliphate.

And in reply to the letter Let Islam explain the world, not the reverse, I would like to say that the Quran is not a science textbook. All the so-called ‘miracles of science’ in the Quran revolve around suitable interpretations of vague verses - after the scientific discoveries were made.

How many scientific facts were predicted based on Quranic verses? None. They became scientific miracles of Islam only via an elastic massage of suitable vague, equivocal verses and then only after the fact. Not outright predictions.

In the business of science, material evidence is much sought after. We do not accept certain theories precisely because of a lack of evidence. In the case of Darwin's evolutionary theory, the evidence is plenty.

There are many undergraduate and graduate texts - as well as popular writings - that deal with the evidence for evolution. While there has been controversy ie, the Piltdown Man, the accepted rigorous evidence for evolution far exceeds that for special creation.

The theory of evolution is based on tons of rigorous biological facts. Unfortunately, there has been some religious writers who make all sorts of attacks on evolutionary theory because it debunks the creation hypothesis.

Again, there are many books on evolution that specifically address the accusations thrown at evolutionary science by writers such as Harun Yahya and others. Their ideas have been proven wrong by science. I say it again - the ideas of people like Harun Yahya have been proven wrong and you can read about it in many books.
Now where does that leave Islam? To me all religions are good provided we take them with a pinch of salt. When one accepts the positive, universal values of organised religion, that is fine.

Trouble begins when you accept religious dogma as the unquestionable absolute truth. Worse still, when you try to impose your personal faith in that dogma on others. That’s double trouble!

As for Hudud and apostasy, well, in Asean we do not subscribe to such values. We do not stone animals to death for any reason, much less people for the ‘crime’ of adultery. Isn't divorce more humane?

But we are a democracy. One is free to entice voters with the rewards of paradise in exchange for the Hudud. But of course, now we know what the electorate wants. Too bad for PAS.

The point is that society evolves. We are not a Middle Eastern, 10th century society. We are a multi-religious, cosmopolitan 21st century Asean society. We are industrialised. We are not agricultural anymore. Our social mores and values have changed.

When that happens, it is only fair to ask for a re-interpretation of the various aspects of Islam. We subscribe to notions of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Consequently our interpretation of Islam must reflect these. I rest my case. Truth is clear from falsehood.

I am impressed with what Dr. Ahmad has mentioned.

Guess camels are an excellent novelty but as a mode of transportation in the 21st century?

More to come ... God equal to E=MC2?


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WARNING: Blind obsession with prophecy can be perilous or even fatal, reader discretion is advised! Submitted to God as His worldly Activist on a non-exclusive basis since June 15, 2005 1:00 am ET. “La Bona” is a professional name inspired by God; it means "The Righteous", “The Virtuous” or simply “The Good” in Esperanto (a neutral international language). DivineTalk® is an Open Commentary Forum dedicated to God for His Children to engage in dialogue, discourse and debate on laws, standards and values on morality, lifestyle, ethics, business and just about anything else related to their life. God enlightened to have His Words improvised and updated with the prevailing circumstances so that the divine guidance, dogma and policy will evolve with time and stay relevant to His Children in the very era they live in as the way forward. La Bona is a Truth Seeker, Myth Buster, Freedom Fighter, Cyber Activist, Liberal Animal, Good Samaritan, Messiah Wannabe and in order to serve His Children of diverse backgrounds, La Bona is motivated and aim to eventually multitask as Divine Representative, Contemporary Prophet, Celestial Executive, Deity Clairvoyant, Holy Spiritualist ...

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