My debate yesterday on Islam vs Atheism, debated four topics of Women’s Rights & Leadership, Gay Marriage, Animal Rights and Ritual Slaughter (Halal/Kosher) and whether children from religious families should be ‘forced’ to attend religious assemblies in UK Faith Schools.
Alhamdulillah it was a very successful debate with a good turnout and engaged audience of mixed Atheists and Muslims (and a few Christians). Apparently, a few days before the debate, the Christian side pulled out leaving it just between me and the Atheist side, led by Andrew Copson, the CEO of the British Humanist Association (BHA) and and Vice-President of International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) — the world union of Humanist organizations.
I defended the Islamic positions and explained some misconceptions, Muslims should be confident, and use wisdom to defend the mercy and wisdom (hikma) of Islam and Islamic laws.
As always, I took the opportunity to throw back the questions, and challenge some Western dogmas (beliefs which no one questions, or knows how to philosophically justify without God or revelation).
For example, I challenged Mr Copson to justify ‘Equality’ seeing that humans are not identical, nor equal in ability, appearance or anything else. Nature or ‘evolution’ doesn’t care about equality or fairness, so where do we get this idea from? I argued that unless we are all equal in the eyes of God, there is no other basis to claim we are equal – especially a materialistic one.
Mr Copson responded saying that we are equal because we are all ‘similarly human’. To which I pointed that that was an arbitrary attribute to pick, I could equally say that humans and chairs were equal since we are all ‘similarly made of matter’ (a more common attribute). His response was that humans should be considered equal on similar attributes ‘relevant’ to a case at hand. He meant, for example, when considering applicants for a job that requires the intellect, humans possess the same attribute of a ‘human intellect’, which is relevant to the job, and should be considered equally.
However, this actually exposes the fallacy, because humans don’t possess intellects to the same degree, we’re not equal in intellect, some humans are smarter, others not so smart – some are geniuses, others are not. The whole point of the job application processes is to DISCRIMINATE who has the better intellect for the job (if the job requires intellect primarily).
I argued that the Atheists’ belief in ‘equality’ was actually a borrowed relic from their Christian past – a relic they could no longer justify. Mr Copson claimed that revelation is not required to believe in equality as the ancient Greeks believed in a form of Equality called ‘isonomia’ which didn’t come from a ‘revealed’ source. Despite some arguments from a student in the audience who studied Greek history, and argued that Greek political thinking was buttressed by their religious mythology, irregardless, I corrected Mr Copson’s argument by pointing to the fact that the Greeks didn’t consider women and slaves to be equal to ‘free men’. As Aristotle put it ‘identical things should be treated equally’. This is merely a self-evident statement, that two identical things should be treated the same, because they are exactly the same. However, I threw back the argument to Andrew, asking how does he reconcile non-identical things to deserve equal treatment, like men and women, who are not identical? According to the Greeks, they deserved different and lesser rights than men, because they were different. IT TAKES revelation to say ‘these things which look different, are actually all equal in the eyes of God’. Without God saying these things are equal, we’d have no reason to say different looking things are the same from a materialistic basis.
Mr Copson argued that in the debate that the differing roles Islam gives the genders is not merited by an argument that they are different – he said that differing biology does not give a religion the right to give different rights. or duties
I countered to Mr Copson, to put his claim to the test – he claims equality, so do men and women have the same reproductive rights? Andrew agreed that generally they should be equal. So I continued by asking whether both the man and the woman have the same right to a developing foetus in the womb (since they both created it)?” He said yes. Then I asked if the woman wants to terminate the foetus, but the man wants it to live – can the women terminate it anyway? – to which Andrew replied that it was impossible for the state to tie a woman down to prevent women from terminating their own foetus over 9 months. To which I replied that there was no need to tie a woman down, my question is, should the state enact legal punishments for women who terminate the foetus containing his genetic material, without the consent of the man?, shouldn’t the man have an equal say in the fate of the foetus he helped create from himself?” – to this Mr Copson responded as most Liberals would – the woman is the one who carries the child, it should be her choice.
So I said, “exactly”, even you concede that biological difference necessitates unequal rights and treatment” (despite it permitting a horrific action in Western law). The Atheist side went silent…the debate went on to the next point…
Video will be out soon Inshallah.
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