Saturday, September 13, 2008

Rubens vs Tzortzis at East London University

Islam or Secular Liberalism
13 Sep 2008

Tom Rubens starts out by waffling on a bit about the nature of faith and science and their respective approaches to knowledge. Not exactly a barn-burner of an opening here, but he makes a few cogent points. He goes on to address the problem of moral certainty in the abscence of divine commands, and I dozed off for a bit (If you are brand new to freethought, you might nevertheless find this part interesting).

Hamza Tzortzis leads off by attempting to distinguish between religion (as generally understood) and the One True Faith of Islam. Where haev I seen this move before? He then goes on to make a fascinating case against much of what Europeans and especially Britons have stood for, such as free markets, capitalism, individualism, personal liberty, and such. He blames the capitalism of weathly nations for the poverty of the poor nations, and the liberalism of free nations for their endemic crime and addication rates. He goes on to describe a few of the indisputably negative outcomes of recent Western military engagements in the Arab world. Finally, he makes a positive (but entirely theoretical) case for implementing sharia law as a solution to our marco-economic problems. Humorously, he has to go all the way back to the 15th century to find an example of a Jewish rabbi bragging about the toleration of minority religions by their Mulsim neighbors. Oddly, he doesn't seem to see the irony in this, but he ups the irony a bit more when praising the properly restrained excercise of jihad.

I have to point out that Mr. Tzortzis fails to provide any modern examples of Islamic economics, law, justice, and jihad, so as to demonstrate empirically their superiority by comparing Mulsim nations to other nations which have adopted secular and liberal values, nations like Japan, Denmark, or Canada. Nevertheless, he closes by saying that we should avoid abstract ideas in favor of ideas which have a pratical effect. No, seriously. At this point, my irony meter blew several fuzes, and now I'm wondering whether this sort of debate is covered under the warranty.

Whether you are seeking a clash of ideas, or simply a few profound and original ideas, you can safely skip this debate.

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