It is believed that religion is the ultimate model of morality, and whoever follows a religion is considered as a moral person within that specific religion.
Religion texts are ancient, and they reflect the values of the times when they were written”. Humans live and thrive on a corrective feedback system. We improve ourselves everyday. Thirty years ago, we used to smoke every where, now we can’t smoke even outside a restaurant in Melbourne. This is corrective feedback system. Now, do you think the values and morality of the past three milleniums have stayed exactly like how they used to be? The answer is an obvious no! You may argue that the Bible or Quran is God’s words and it is never-ending and it’s always true. In this case, I would offer you my counter-arguments with examples of both texts. As follows, the examples given are instances of social issues or behaviours which were believed to be moral or ethical, but in the modern world we consider them irrational and preposterous.
1- Slavery: Bible has numerous references to slavery. Not condemning it but basically giving instructions and guidlines as how to own slaves. For more info you can read Leviticus 25:44-46 where the guidlines of ownership are explained and Exodus 21:20-21 where how to behave with slaves is explained. Quran has the same situation. If you look at Quran 8:69, 24:32, 2:178, 16:75 and 30:50, you can see that Quran doesn’t condemn slavery, but appraise it. According to Quran, muslims are more than welcome to take war booty (women as sex slaves and men as slaves). Also, muslims can have sex with their slaves. They can also have unlimited supply of sex if they temprorarily marry them. Temporary marriages (Nikah mut’ah) are a dark side of Islam which I will discuss in another post. Also, there are numerous hadiths about slavery. Here I quote one of them: Sahih Bukhari (80:753) – “The Prophet said, ‘The freed slave belongs to the people who have freed him.'”
2- Homosexuality: According to the Bible, homosexuality is punishable by death (Leviticus 20:13). Quran 7:80-84 explains how God rained stone on ‘the people of Lut’ who were the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, because of their sexual practices. As they died by rain of brimstones, islamic clerics have interpreted that as a punishment for homosexuality. Thus, the punishment is stoning!
3- Adultery: According to the Bible, adultery must be punished by death (Leviticus 20:10). In Islam too, according to Sahih al-Bukhari, v.9,book 83, Hadith 17 the blood of a Muslim can be shed if a married person commits illegal sexual intercourse. In Quran, there’s no reference to capital punishment for adultrey, however, there are lots of hadiths that affirm such punishment.
4-Deconversion: In Islam, deconversion from Islam is punishable by death. According to Sahih al-Bukhari, v.9,book 83, Hadith 17, the blood of a Muslim can be shed if one leaves Islam.
5- Wife-beating: It is clearly stated in Quran that a Muslim man must beat his wife if she is disobidient. Quran 4:34 advises that if a wife is arrogant and disobedient you must first advise her, then forsake her in bed and then strike her.
Out-of-context argument: Many believers would argue that the mentioned texts above have been misinterpreted out of context. As a linguist, who has worked decoding and understanding layers of language in morphology, semantics and pragmatics, I have to say that the texts whether in context or out of context have the same meaning. They are stand alone sentences, following the grammar rules of their written language. The texts above are not phrases or clauses, they are complete sentences. Also, by pragmatics of language, they are prefectly meaningful. So the agument of out-of-context is a total fallacy.
Morality can perfectly exist outside of religion. As it does in animals. Moral standards are social constructs that change overtime. Morality by religion is argument ad populum. Since, many people believe in it and practise it, does not make it true! People believed that the Earth was flat. Did it make it flat? No!
Recently women in Iran have started to publicly protest against mandatory hijab by the help of My Stealthy Freedom, a social media campaign which encourages women to stand up against the oppressive Islamic regime. Meanwhile, in the western countries, hijab has been fetishized as a symbol of power and autonomity of women. With all due respect to individuals who have freely chosen their paths, hijab is and has always been a means of oppressing women. In this series of posts, I will discuss veiling from its evolutionary roots to its modern fetishization. Happy reading!
God seems to want all women. He is omnipotent and does not require earthly ways of reproduction, but he cloisters women away. He monitors their sex lives and takes revenge against their sexual independece. In Abrahamic religions, women’s sexuality is under male jurisdiction and God requires women to submit to men.
To understand the oxymoronic behaviours of God regarding sexual repression, let’s explain it from the evolutionary point of view. Understanding our reproductive psychology clarifies everything.
Evolution is chaotic, and gruesome. The illusion of order and intelligence design has made us see all the beauties. However, evolution has required animals to take on strategies for survival, some of which we consider as immoral in today’s world. Submission of female to male is one instance.
Survival of a male gene depends on its access to a female. Protection, jealousy and the constant effort of blocking the rivals are the main reasons of sexual repression. Whether in an ape or a modern human. Veiling is one of theses strategies. As I have discussed before in “Why God is so angry?”, religions were made by alpha males to control, rule or survive. Thus, asking their women to veil to make sure that they are exclusive to them is a survival strategy! It’s worth mentioning that another example of a grotesque fuck-up of evolution is rape which I will explain later in another
“Powerful men often demand exclusivity, along with powerful non-human primates. Among these males, sexual exclusivity is of prime concern. Similarly, God’s demand for unrivaled allegiance is often framed in terms of sexual jealousy.” Hector A. Garcia, Alpha God.
Long hair, breasts and bottoms are regarded as highlights of female beauty and sign of health and fertility, thus they are instantly more attractive to men who are constantly trying to reproduce. So, an alpha male assumes that covering these parts will decrease the risk of losing his reproductive advantages. Explaining it from an evolutionary point of view makes the issue look distant and ancient. However, it happens in our modern world! I remember that some years ago, a friend of mine married a man, nice guy, but strongly muslim. My friend would never wear hijab. She always greeted us by a hug and a kiss too. After the marriage, her husband forced her to wear hijab, and stop touching However, the fetish has gove over the limits. In Saudi Arabia, in 2002, a fire broke out at a girl school in Mecca. The moral police didn’t let fire fighters to rescue schoolgirls, at the same time prevented the children to run out, because they were not covered by the traditional black veil! In Nigeria, people killed over Miss World pageant. In Iran, women are fined, sentenced to prison or lashed for not wearing hijab properly. They always wear it, but the moral police decide if it is worn appropriately or not! These are some of the top-down examples which we have access to. There are hundreds of bottom-up examples happening inside families, often include domestic violence, which we do not hear or read about!
Alpha God by Hector A. Garcia
Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
Cartoon by Mana Neyestani, retrieved from http://www.radiofarda.com