A bad omen

Oct 30, 2011 Comments Off by

As I said in a previous post, I’ve been writing while in Spain. Our room had one English channel, BBC News. I turned it on at 5 PM BST on Monday and saw three main stories: the announcement of the liberation of Libya, a Turkish earthquake and Tunisian elections. Libya and Tunisia are both examples of nations that in recent months have seen uprisings of people yearning for democracy. Sadly, the speech that announced the liberation of Libya was as theological in its content as anything a Republican theocrat would concoct, which suggests Libya’s “liberation” may not go too well. Indeed, the call for citizens to trust in God raises the prospect the people there may vote away a number of their freedoms. If theists doing this in Libya seems improbable, bear in mind it happens even in the West; Christianity in California criminalised gay marriage in the vote on Proposition 8. Another nation whose revolution was prominently in the limelight at the height of the international uprisings was Egypt, where luckily there was no sign of a religiously biased form of democracy being sought, or of Islamic forces fighting for Sharia law. The Egyptians, in a way, show they take the same view as me on what should happen in Libya. What will be sought in Tunisia remains to be seen.

If we should trust in God, why did He send that earthquake to the Turks? Turkey, incidentally, is a land of contradictions. It has in recent years tried hard to be granted membership to the EU (it has so far not succeeded). Whether it’s geographically European or Asian is a major point of contention regarding whether it should be given membership. British Eurosceptics like to quip Turkey should have their spot, as if the current size of the EU is optimal. Perhaps, if Greece will be forced out as fear/hatemongers have suggested, Turkey could have “their” place. Anyway, the contradictions in Turkey can be clearly seen when we consider other factors that may be keeping it out of the EU. It ought to be secularist. Allegedly it is. I’d like anyone who recognises the lack of secularism in US politics in practice to try to tell me with a straight face Turkey is doing any better in the effort, or is any more sincere in it. Turkey is also expected – rightly or wrongly – to not be too hostile to Israel. It pretends to have an amicable view on Israel when it suits, but some of its statements have instead revealed this devoutly Muslim nation is towing the religious equivalent of the party line.

Western defenders of secularism usually principally find examples of Judaeo–Christian into politics to complain about, but Libya and Turkey provide Islamic causes for similar concern; no Abrahamic religion can be trusted on this score. This is why Tunisia’s future is precarious. Meanwhile, it gives me no pride on this issue as a Briton to note my nation is still a constitutional theocracy, just as it is a constitutional monarchy. Sadly, its CoE claws still have practical influence in a way the monarchy does not. British Eurosceptics who think Turkey would be a better EU member than the UK have a point in one respect: Turkey at least doesn’t have an official state religion, and the EU ought to be a politically secular international community. In many ways the United Kingdom shows little interest in fulfilling its obligations as an EU member. Turkey, however, is giving cause for concern before it even gets in. Perhaps this is why it has not been given entry; its application seems to be driven by economics self–interest (nothing new there when it comes to the EU) but without bearing certain responsibilities in mind.

Christianity, Islam, News, Religions and other Belief Systems, World

About the author

For most of my time as an undergraduate there was an atheist society in my university, which was founded late in my first year there. I was a committee member from then until my degree ended, by which time the society was atheist, secularist and humanist (you needn't be all three!). This gives me many experiences to relate. I have long critiqued pro-religious arguments, including in hundreds of posts - many of them thorough rebuttals to articles - on richarddawkins.net under my name. My degree was in physics, and I know a lot of the science - physics and otherwise - relevant to the debate on religion.
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