Monday, 16 April 2012

Muslims stole my bacon sandwich

It's a pretty provocative headline for, well, any headline writer. To people like the EDL's Tommy Robinson (aka Stephen Lennon) it would probably be used in the next pamphlet or banner that the group decide to release.

In fact, I think it would be a good exercise for a satirist to set up a blog and make up stories to see how many get taken as "gospel" by the EDL's cronies such is their lack of general intelligence. However, at times, the EDL's leader provides hours of entertainment and none more so than when he tweeted:

As a result, the #creepingsharia hashtag went viral and the inevitable happened; Tommy became the unwitting victim of what has been one of the funnier stunts in Twitter history.

I have to admit, I have some sympathy with those who argue that Islam is a violent and ugly religion. I temper this by saying that, at their worst, all religions can be guilty of the same. This does not make the people who follow that religion violent or extremist but, I do take Sam Harris' line:

"How do we recognize religious moderates in the first place?"

The trouble with Islam is that it tends to be embedded culturally and psychologically and thus is defended in such a way that one risks being accused of some heinous crime should they dare criticise the lunatic ravings of a 6th century warlord. The question that people should be concerned with is whether Islam, should it truly want political power, can justify it's beliefs which are "divinely" scripted? If it can, with evidence of Allah, it would indeed change the face of the planet... make no mistake about that.

If any religion was able to offer evidence of it's truthfulness faith would no longer be required. If Allah was to be proven with scientific, empirical evidence this would indeed change everything we know. Western culture would be finished. 

What was once faith, would be fact.

However, Islam has had centuries to offer this evidence and it's not likely to be offered any time soon (same goes for any other religion of course). So those arguing for the political adoption of Sha'ria (and those people are not hard to find) are doing so without a scientific or reasonable basis; this in turn makes it somewhat difficult to overturn centuries of British law and customs. Our parliamentary democracy is not going to be discarded for Quranic diktats unless there is some reasonable proof for everyone to be subjected to what was written.

But the same applies for any religious institution doesn't it? Yet millions follow these religions without, seemingly, any scientific or rational basis for doing so. Well part of the reason is that religions tend to be familial or cultural. And these tend to be powerful factors which require longer explanations. But people are often incredulous at how a person is sucked into what, on the face of it, appears to be complete and utter nonsense. 

But religions are followed by millions right?

Well, there is power in numbers for sure but that's a poor reason to suggest that those beliefs are based in fact. That so many people can fall for the delusional (or often sophisticated) ramblings of another is nothing new. Satya Sai Baba is a guy who convinced (or duped?) millions of people into believing that he was performing miracles. Yes, in an age of unparalleled  of scientific progress Sai Baba convinced people that performing a coin trick was somehow evidence of "divine power"

Looking like the lost Jackson brother, one would think he would have had time to have performed a miracle on his haircut. 

But then I guess a haircut like that is good for hiding coins or other nondescript items to fool people with. 

The guy was a fraud like any other mystic or preacher than has gone before. That he was able to convince millions in the 21st century says nothing more than a fool and their money are easily parted or that, in a more general tone, people are gullible and tend to conform.

The Asch Experiment offers an amusing way in which people tend to follow others without thinking for themselves - AKA the "herd mentality).

However, whenever people said that Satya Sai Baba was a GOD, just remember that there are others who claim that their own figures of worship should be revered based on similar eye witness accounts and what we would call Chinese Whispers. No religion, to my mind, is exempt from this charge.

So while the #creepingsharia trend offers a welcome insight into how Twitter is best at self-regulation, as opposed to being the place from where legal proceedings tend to emerge (see here and here), there is a message which is being lost where Islam is becoming a genuine concern for people in Britain. 

The question is whether this concern is justified or if people, or groups like the EDL, are following the groupthink mentality of those who continue to worship Satya Sai Baba? Perhaps it is a case of both. Perhaps it is not. I welcome comments on this question.

But my bacon sandwich WAS stolen. 

By a 7 year old. 

And he's not a Muslim.

And I control his pocket money. 

Now that is power.


Anonymous said...

"Well part of the reason is that religions tend to be familial or cultural."

Huh? I'm struggling with this as you provide no evidence or even account of the agentic device at play here. What do you mean cultural or familial? Are you suggestingthat belief in positivisim somehow exists outside of culture? There are lots of accounts regarding the reproduction of practice and yet you offer no evidence.

vjohn82 said...

I'll leave you struggling with it.

Anonymous said...

So, arguing against beliefs that lack evidence while making a number of your own non-evidenced claims is not problematic? I love the irony of it. In essence, aren't you just baking your own Faith Fruitcake?

vjohn82 said...

So would you prefer that I provide my opinions with a plethora of data or am I allowed to make a general point about how people are normally born into a familial religion as opposed to finding it themselves?

Or that some religions operate more as a cultural lifestyle than one which is using the best scientific evidence to advance its society?

I cannot fathom what part of my opnion you disapprove of?