Liberal Muslims

I often complain about the scarcity and relative lack of influence of liberal Muslim groups. Nevertheless, they exist, and secularists and infidels should hope that they get stronger. They are natural allies. For example, the mission statement of the Muslim Canadian Congress expresses liberal-minded convictions that any secularist can celebrate.

I point out such organizations especially because lately I have often run into the sentiment that liberal religion is merely a weak-kneed cover for more fundamentalist faiths. Well, not really. Life is complicated, so sometimes liberal religion does excuse the nastier variety of faith-based attitudes. But by and large, liberal religious people are politically closer to nonbelievers.

Note that I do not say that liberal supernatural belief is intellectually respectable. Gentle gods are as fictional as the celestial tyrants of fundamentalists. Humane reintepretations of scriptures do not lessen the absurdity of the notion of revealed truths. But in the end, liberals are content to leave our disagreements over the gods as intellectual disagreements. They don’t want everyone to live under religious laws, they don’t want to silence me because criticism insults religion, and they prefer confessional matters not to directly affect public life. They do not want to live under the thumb of priests and mullahs any more than I do. For a political alliance, that is more than enough.

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About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University


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