The Halo Halo! Column from the April 2016 issue of the Socialist Standard
The difference between philosophy and religion, as someone once pointed out, is that philosophy is questions which may never be answered, and religion is answers which may never be questioned. And the answers we get from some religionists are staggering.
Ken Ham, for example, an ex-science teacher (thank goodness for the ‘ex’) and now the president of Answers in Genesis, a fundamentalist Christian outfit, teaches that the Book of Genesis should be taken as historical fact, that the universe is no more than about 6,000 years old, and that dinosaurs once co-existed with genetically modern humans. His smart-arse answer to anyone who disagrees with his views on evolution and the origin of life is ‘were you there?’(He, presumably, was there when God was creating the universe, Eve was in the Garden of Eden sharing an apple with the serpent and Adam was riding around, Fred Flintstone style, on his dinosaur).
He recently ruffled a few feathers on the Richard Dawkins Foundation website (where they don’t suffer religious fools gladly) with a Facebook post describing the teaching of science to children as a form of child abuse. Teaching children that they are sinners, and liable to an eternity of pain and hellfire unless they live their lives in accordance with Mr Ham’s fantasies is, apparently, not abusive.
It is not only Christians whose lives need to be governed by ancient books of nightmares of course. The Newsweek website recently reported that a powerful Pakistani religious body that advises the government on the compatibility of laws with Islam (yes, you read that correctly – they have a council of mullahs to make sure their laws meet Allah’s requirements) declared a new law that criminalises violence against women to be ‘un-Islamic’.
The new act passed by the Province of Punjab, where in 2013 more than 5,800 cases of violence against women were reported, gives legal protection to women from domestic, psychological and sexual violence and calls for the creation of an abuse reporting hot-line.
In the past this religious council has ruled that DNA cannot be used as primary evidence in rape cases, supported a law which required women alleging rape to get four male witnesses to testify in court, and blocked a bill to impose harsher penalties for marrying off 8 or 9 year-old girls, so Allah’s hardly going to like this one is he?
‘This whole law is wrong’ argued one confused old cleric, spouting passages from the Koran to back up his point. And another complained, bitterly ‘This law makes a man insecure’. It’s political correctness gone mad, obviously, a total lack of common sense. But no doubt they’ll be able to live with it. They’ve still got that passage in the Koran that allows a man to beat his wife when necessary.