Thursday, 2 April 2009

Post-event thoughts - Ethics without God ? Canada

I have just arrived back today from Canada - the jet lag has taken the best out of me. Home, sweet home. . Canada was a fantastic experience. It was great to spend time with such warm brothers. I thoroughly enjoyed the company and all the discussions we had. It’s been a long time since I experienced such amazing warmth and hospitality. The Muslim students seem to be on top of things and very eager to learn and to be proactive, Macha’Allah.

So, what be of the event. The event seemed to attract a mixed bunched, Muslim and non Muslim. This particular topic is a sensitive one, I was pretty much expecting the non Muslim i.e. atheists to think I was about to condemn them for being a bunch of immoral infidels and that hell had a room with their name on it. This was pretty much confirmed from the body language, i.e. crossed arms and telling expressions on the faces of such members of the audience. I didn’t even get the glimpse of a smile from those who presumed I’d come all the way from the UK to attack their characters.

However they were in for a surprise. I did not take the usual root of attacking life without God by labelling them with degrading terms, which I agree would be simplistic and incorrect. But this different approach, of claiming that we can observe atheists and agnostics exhibiting patterns of moral behaviour without God, caused quite the stir. It was clear they were not expecting this line of argumentation which led to a state of confusion on their part, some leaving still scratching there heads. This was palpable in the Q and A session. The questions and comments that were posed were essentially claims to justify that Atheists are good people. However, this was not my objection and I had to reiterate this many times.
Discussions after the event were equally interesting. One young woman obviously grappling internally with the ideas presented that evening, being herself a relativist, when pushed, had to admit that logically, torturing a child for fun was not objectively wrong but relative, according to her frame of reference.

If there was one thing I can mention as a classic case of irony, it was when, in the middle of the event, I made a joke that someone found offensive, to the point that she felt the need to interrupt me. I immediately apologised for any offence caused (usually my jokes tend to be cheesy rather than offensive), but what struck me was the irony of this atheist lady crying offence, when there is no objective grounding for that very offence. In addition, if morals are reduced to subjectivism , then how could she impose what she found offensive on me or anyone else!

From the response I received, I think I managed to fulfil my aim, regardless of whether people agreed - objective “get people thinking” was achieved....

Watch here

1 comment:

Mohammad El-Kadri said...

I wish I would have been able to make it to this, the argument is quite interesting indeed.