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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Maybe We're Wrong About Subjectivism Being Right

Adoption of Islamic Sharia law in Britain is 'unavoidable', says Archbishop of Canterbury


Dr Rowan Williams believes the introduction of Sharia law to Britain will help maintain social cohesion. The Archbishop of Canterbury has today said that the adoption of Islamic Sharia law in the UK is "unavoidable" and that it would help maintain social cohesion.

Rowan Williams told BBC Radio 4's World At One that the UK has to "face up to the fact" that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.

He says that Muslims could choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court. He added Muslims should not have to choose between "the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty".

...Mohammed Shafiq, director of the Ramadhan Foundation, welcomed the comments.

"These comments further underline the attempts by both our great faiths to build respect and tolerance.

"Sharia law for civil matters is something which has been introduced in some Western countries with much success; I believe that Muslims would take huge comfort from the Government allowing civil matters being resolved according to their faith.

This article should be frightening to anyone who values their life and liberty. The view expressed by the Archbishop is a fusion of the two worst philosophies dominating contemporary culture: multiculturalism and religion.

Multiculturalism tells us there are no absolutes and that a "culture" can not be judged as good or evil. Accordingly, an individual is held to be determined by his culture and whatever a group chooses to do in a particular geographic locale is entirely appropriate. On this view, one could not say that science is necessarily better than witchcraft or that freedom is better than slavery. This philosophy more fundamentally represents a total rejection of the concept of objectivity and to that extent is the poster child for modern philosophy. Recall American post-modern philosopher Richard Rorty's quote:

"There is no truth, there is no such subject as philosophy, there are no objective standards by which to evaluate or criticize social and political practices. No matter what is done to the citizens of a country, therefore, they can have no objective grounds on which to protest."... "that we have not once seen the Truth, and so will not, intuitively, recognize it if we do see it. " ..."that when the secret police come, when the torturers violate the innocent, there is nothing to be said to them of the form 'There is something within you which you are betraying. Though you embody the practices of a totalitarian society which will endure forever, there is something beyond those practices which condemns you.'" (Richard Rorty's "Pragmatism and Philosophy" After Philosophy, ed. By Kenneth Baynes, James Bohman, and Thomas McCarthy (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1987), p.60.)

Multiculturalism follows logically from such a view. If Rorty can not even condemn the torture of the innocent how could he judge Western respect for individual rights, self-governance, technology and capitalism to be superior to a primitive theocracy which subjugates the individual to the dictates of "sacred" scriptures written by mystics in the Middle Ages?

Traditionally, the false alternative offered to the subjectivism of the left has been the absolutist dogma of the various religionists. But here we have the Archbishop of Cantebury upholding the multiculturalist view that there are no absolutes as a way to justify selective enforcement of Sharia law which itself is based on the idea that Islam represents absolute truth! We are at a point where rampant subjectivism tolerates even absolutism.

While this may seem like a contradiction it is not. Both of these philosophies fundamentally reject reason albeit in superficially different forms. One claims man can not know anything and the other claims man can only know what God has told us. Both reject the idea that man can comprehend nature rationally, i.e., through observation and reasoning. When reason is abandoned there can be only one outcome: violence. The subjectivists typified by Rorty are a zero. They stand for nothing and offer nothing. Therefore, in the absence of a rational philosophy taking root in the culture there is only religion to fill the void. When two sides abandon reality as the arbiter of truth and accept "faith" as their means of acquiring knowledge, the only way to settle disputes is through brute force. Logically, the alternatives of subjectivism and religion must result in violence as individual rights, which are based on an objective recognition of man's nature, are replaced with whichever religion has the most guns (or arrows, molten lead, and siege towers as was the case during the Crusades). All of history is a testament to this fact, and this is exactly what will happen in Great Britain.

Objectively, individual rights are necessitated by man's nature. If we are to be free to think, produce, trade, pursue happiness and generally live a life proper to man we must be free from physical coercion. Governments are instituted to provide this function and this function alone. This is not a subjective opinion such as whether you one likes peanuts or the color purple. This is a law of nature that applies to all men living everywhere whether you are in New York, Nebraska, London or Tehran. Laws based on mystic revelation are inherently irrational as they are based on arbitrary decrees which vary greatly from one religious sect to the other. What if one religion says you must bark like a dog three times a day and another says you must kill any female who has red hair? Must we show "respect and tolerance" to these ideas simply because someone asserted them? Should anyone alleging adherence to such principles be held to a different legal standard? What happens if one of their members kills a member of the other legal system? If a Muslim asserts as a murder defense that God told him to kill an infidel should he be immediately acquitted?

Of course, the Archbishop and Muslims will claim that they want Sharia only applied in limited circumstances:
"Nobody in their right mind would want to see in this country the kind of inhumanity that has sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states: the extreme punishments, the attitudes to women."

And just where would the Archbishop draw the line? Which parts of Sharia law are to be upheld and which parts are to be judged inhumane or "extreme" and by whom? The Muslims may not regard laws calling for the execution of women for showing skin as being "extreme". They may regard such laws as just and consistent with their religious precepts. Just as a mixture of a lot of food with a little poison results in poison, so too will just a bit of Sharia law lead to religious theocracy. The fact that this is being proposed and taken seriously by an intellectual leader in a major Western country is a profound statement of how close we are to losing civilization as we know it.

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