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March 21st, 2011
01:16 PM ET

UK cleric leaves mosque over evolution

By Andrew Carey, CNN

London (CNN) - Usama Hasan has led Friday prayers at Leyton mosque in East London for 20 years.

Back in the early 1990s, his sympathies lay with what became known as the global jihad and he was an active supporter of extremist causes.

Over time, however, he warmed to Britain and started questioning the idea that the West was always acting against Muslim interests.

Now, his message is different. In recent years he has used his position as an imam to tackle issues like terrorism head-on.

But it’s his views on Darwinian evolution that have landed him in trouble with some fellow Muslims. It’s been two months now since he says criticism over his support for the theory of evolution provoked him to stop leading Friday prayers at his congregation.

Besides being a religious scholar, Hasan is a scientist who has studied theoretical physics at Cambridge and who is a senior lecturer in engineering at Middlesex University.

Two and a half years ago he wrote an online article decrying what he called the "appalling state of science in the Muslim consciousness."

He described the belief that Adam was made from clay, as the Quran suggests, and then made a living human after God breathed life into him, as a "children's madrassa-level understanding" of the origins of man.

The remarks prompted some in the community to turn against him.

“People weren't reasoning with me,” he says, “rather, they would say, ‘you're no longer a Muslim, you're an apostate, you're an infidel.’”

According to Hasan, his opponents started seeking fatwas, or religious rulings, from clerics overseas to denounce his support for evolution and, he says, to declare a death sentence.

Hasan says that clerics in Pakistan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia issued such decrees.

Leaflets started appearing at the mosque calling for Hasan’s removal and making thinly veiled suggestions that his "apostasy" might ultimately sanction his execution.

A public meeting aimed at calming the situation only increased tensions. Recently, Hasan says he started fearing for his life.

“Given the fact we have many young Muslims in this country who have taken law into their own hands, with terrorist plots, with a plot to murder an MP last year, I do feel that somebody young and impressionable may feel it their religious duty to kill me,” he told CNN.

Last November, London student Roshanara Choudry was found guilty of trying to kill Stephen Timms, a member of parliament, by stabbing him with a knife. It emerged during her trial that she had been influenced by extremist Muslim clerics online, including the U.S.-born preacher Anwar al-Awlaki.

Police confirmed to CNN they are investigating alleged threats against Hasan.

But recent weeks have seen campaigns launched by fellow Muslims to support Hasan.

Tehmina Kazi of the group British Muslims for Secular Democracy started a Facebook group that garnered eight hundred members in its first 24 hours.

And a senior group of Muslim clerics and activists signed a letter to the Guardian newspaper decrying Hasan’s treatment.

One of the signatories, Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra, told CNN he was very worried at how the practice of "takfir" - declaring individual Muslims to be apostates - had taken hold in some elements of the British Muslim community.

“There have been volumes and volumes written to regulate this kind of behavior,” Mogra said. “It's not for any Muslim to go about and declare (an apostate) ... judgment is for God.”

Earlier this month, Hasan issued a statement on his website dialing back some of his statements on evolution.

"I regret and retract some of my statements in the past about the theory of evolution, especially the inflammatory ones … I do not believe that Adam, peace be upon him, had parents," he wrote.

"Some of the things I said in public went too far, and without meaning to, had been quite inflammatory,” he told CNN.

“What I would like to point out now is that religious scholars, in the main, are opposed to evolution, they believe it is blasphemy, it is against the Quran," he said. "Whereas scientists say that evolution is a scientific fact, or a scientific theory with overwhelming evidence."

"There exists this gulf, this impasse," Hasan continued. "And at some point people may have to address that issue, but only when the community and the religious scholars are ready.”

Mogra, who does not share Hasan’s previous position on evolution but supports his right to discuss it, is worried about the debate.

“This is a critical issue for us - if we fall at this hurdle then who's next tomorrow?" Mogra said. "If we are going to allow ourselves to be intimidated like this and publicly retract and say things we don't actually believe in, then that would be a great disaster for Muslim scholarship and for the freedom that we enjoy in this country.”

Hasan says that he hopes the current tensions dissipate and that he can return to what he calls his favorite mosque in London to join in prayers.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Britain • Culture & Science • Culture wars • Europe • Islam • Muslim

soundoff (288 Responses)
  1. Marc

    Islam, such a peacefull religion. What BS

    March 22, 2011 at 5:36 am |
    • B(iraq) Hussein Osama

      islam is indeed the religion of inner peace.

      there can be no outer peace with western civilization mass manufacturing (and proliferating across the globe) weapons of mass destruction.

      March 22, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  2. doctore0

    lookie over here, it's ChrIstlam aka creationism aka delusional apes

    March 22, 2011 at 5:34 am |
  3. chuckmartel

    Why does the US have to import muslims? Our own bible bangers are bad enough with stupid creationism but at least they don't blow up people every day like the muzzies. The last thing this country needs is a bunch of rag headed religous fundamentalists who have to whip out rugs and pray 5 times a day. The bible bangers are tame in their religous zealotry when compared with these backward dark age primitives. Since when are the enlightened PC so ga ga over people who pray 5 times a day, kill or try to kill cartoonist or filmakers they don't like, and have no concept of seperation of church and state? Is it the rugs, the beards, you don't likecartoonists, ..?

    March 22, 2011 at 4:55 am |
    • B(iraq) Hussein Osama

      >. Why does the US have to import muslims?

      Why does the US have to export weapon systems and war?

      March 22, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  4. Juliett

    Wow, what a surprise, this man expresses a personal opinion and because it is different then some radical and twisted religion his life is threatened. Is that their answer to EVERYTHING these people don't like?

    March 22, 2011 at 4:12 am |
  5. Hussain

    Chuck E Cheese – Some of the most bigoted people on the face of this earth are religious fanatics and I don't just mean extreme fanatics that blow themselves and worse, other people to bit's in the name of a god created in the mind of a 7th century lunatic.
    More wars have been started and more people killed in the name of religion than from any other cause.
    The current bunch of 'Gods' are just the latest in a long series of 'Gods' that have existed worldwide for tens of thousands of years from time immemorial.The question is where are these Gods now?
    Being a total non believer in Gods doesn't mean that one is an irrational or a violent person, people like that don't have any religious biggotry to begin with or to fall back on for a start.

    March 22, 2011 at 4:11 am |
  6. Nick

    Peter is indeed misguided. Here are specific responses. I urge everyone – whenever discussing religion, science, or any other hot-button topic – to be rational, courteous, and always seeking to learn.

    PETER'S CLAIM: "-A man has a right to have more than one wife. In addition, they have a right to keep several concubines and even have children from slaves."
    TRUTH: The Bible is emphatically clear that a marriage is between one man and one woman (they shall leave their parents and cleave to each other as one flesh). It is true that some characters described in the Bible did practice polygamy, but don't confuse a description with an endorsement.

    PETER'S CLAIM: "-Slavery is justified"
    TRUTH: FALSE. If slavery were a good thing, the Bible would not make such an enormous deal out of God leading the Israelites away from Egyptian slavery by parting the Red Sea and leading them to freedom. There are verses in the NT in which slaves are encouraged to live rightly by their masters. The idea here is not to condone slavery but to treat all, even enemies, rightly.

    PETER'S CLAIM: "-Insects have four legs"
    TRUTH: Can't say I know anything about this one.

    PETER'S CLAIM: "-The Earth is flat, has four corners, and the Sun is a relatively small glowing object that revolves around the Earth."
    TRUTH: Blatantly false. Nowhere in the Bible is the Earth described as flat. This is a myth perpetuated by scoffers who copy and paste each other's posts without doing any fact-checking. The Bible does reference the "four corners" of the Earth, much like we use the same phrase today. Same goes for the Sun – false.

    PETER'S CLAIM: "-Disobedient children should be put to death"
    TRUTH: True. The Torah (Jewish scripture/Christian OT) recites a period in time thousands of years ago when disobedient children were to be stoned. I am unaware of just how disobedient they would have had to be to earn this punishment.

    PETER'S CLAIM: "-You should not touch pork"
    TRUTH: False. It is a Levitical law to not consume pork. While Jews observe this rule ("kosher" meat), Christians are not required to do so. Read the Book of Galatians, for instance.

    PETER'S CLAIM: "-If you look lustfully onto a woman who's not your wife, you have to poke your eye out (this one from Jesus!)"
    TRUTH: Completely false. Jesus says that a man should be so pure of heart that he should not even look at another woman lustfully besides his wife. He then says it is better to cut off a body part that causes you to sin than for your whole body to enter hell for that sin. He's drawing a distinction between earthly suffering and hellish suffering – the latter is far worse. That is his point.

    PETER'S CLAIM: "-Rich people cannot go to heaven (also from Jesus!)"
    TRUTH: False again. Jesus says that it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. BUT KEEP READING – in the next chapter in Luke, Jesus meets a man named Zacchaeus, WHO IS RICH, who gives half of his money to the poor, and whom Jesus describes as saved. The distinction is not in wealth per se but in how a wealthy man uses his wealth. A rich man who hoards and is concerned only with money will not care for the things of God.

    PETER'S CLAIM: "-You should turn the other cheek (something Christian conservatives NEVER do)"
    TRUTH: Unless Peter knows every Christian conservative out there, I don't think he can make this statement with any credibility.

    PETER'S CLAIM: "-You should observe the sabbath strictly! (This is one of the COMMANDMENTS)"
    TRUTH: Jesus broke the Sabbath. The Jewish priests threw a fit. He explained to them that man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for man. It is a tool; a day of rest. This is why Christians sometimes do and sometimes do not observe the Sabbath.

    I hope this fact-checking sheds a little light on the unfortunately misleading statements that were made. Godspeed to all.

    March 22, 2011 at 3:14 am |
    • Kathryn

      Jesus described the earth as having "ends" – this would imply it is flat. As in, "Lo, I will be with you to the ends of the earth." Also, polygamy and the keeping of concubines are endorsed in the Bible. God GAVE David his WIVES in the plural (2 Samuel 12:8). And God didn't just tolerate David; He considered him to be a man after His own heart.

      It's funny how you have rationalizations for all the statements in the Bible that you don't like, but if I pointed out that all the scholarly evidence indicates that the Ethiopian eunuch mentioned in Acts was gay, 1 Samuel gives possible hints that David and Jonathan may have been gay, and Paul's dislike of ho m o s e x uality was probably culturally induced, I bet you'd have a field day telling me I was a heretic for not taking the Bible seriously. Not to mention that you'd probably claim that I was spreading Satan's poison, or attacking family values, or something like that. Sounds like Peter may have had a point after all.

      June 14, 2011 at 1:00 am |
  7. Chuck E Cheese

    Isn't the basis for something to be science be that it is observable and testable? When did anyone observe or test the formation of the earth or the formation of life? How about the solar system, the moon, sun, planets? Both are faith based beliefs. A religious person looks at the ocean and sees the hand of God and tries to get others to see the hand of God, a strictly scientific person looks at the ocean and sees science and tries to get others to see science. What is the difference? It cannot be proved that evolution is not a process created by God, likewise it cannot be proved to our limited human physical senses that God exists.

    March 22, 2011 at 3:13 am |
    • (B)iraq Hussein Osama

      i am sorry but you are gravely mistaken. you see, atheists and other Godless idiots have time travel machines, by which they travel back in time and report to us that we were monkeys and they literally saw us become humans from apes. maybe you religionists make assumptions, but atheists do not. they are speaking from DIRECT OBSERVATION.

      March 22, 2011 at 4:26 am |
    • Q

      This is a common misunderstanding. Science can take observable, validated mechanisms and test these against remnant physical evidence to confirm or reject hypotheses. If a suspect's DNA is left at a crime scene, we can reasonably conclude they were there. One need not directly observe the crime. You also appear to be conflating "faith" in observable, repeatable and natural mechanisms with a "faith" in unobservable, supernatural claims.

      March 22, 2011 at 5:14 am |
    • Po

      Where are the words written by Mohammed himself? Where are the words written by Moses? Where are the words written by Jesus?
      The words were not written by these men, so why listen to them?
      They speak of untrue things, of how you should do bad things to other people. Is this holy to you? Then you are insane.

      March 22, 2011 at 6:32 am |
    • LetsThink123

      @(B)iraq Hussein Osama
      The level of stupidity in your posts are astonishingly high! I guess it comes with the blind belief in your god.
      Science being observable and testable means that you do not have to observe that event happen in the present. Like the dna example quoted above, u can use the remnant dna to link a suspect to a crime. You do not have to be there when the crime occurs to know for sure that the suspect was at the crime scene.
      In the same way, we look at fossil evidence and use carbon dating to accurately date them. Other dating methods like potassium-argon dating and argon-argon dating, combined with geological dating of the rock layers ALL give us the same date back in time! Co-incidence right that all dating methods give the same date, or maybe they are actually CORRECT? Carbon dating also agrees with when the sun was formed. Coupled with all the evidence for evolution that is found (which your koran is lacking based on no evidence), evolution wins. Your book says that god created adam from clay and then breathed life into him, and evolution has the true answer as to how we came to be. Why do you think that human and ape dna is 96% similar. coincidence? Why do u think that there is only a 2 chromosone difference between humans and apes, coincidence? no! God breathing life into adam and creating him from clay is WRONG! u have to admit that in order to be able to think rationally.

      April 5, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  8. axiom

    What is absurd is that you actually believe people, animals, plants, etc. came from a single celled organism that split in two and turned into us complex humans with thoughts and emotions. And what gave life to this singled celled organism in the first place?

    March 22, 2011 at 3:01 am |
    • axiomatic

      Sorry to break it to you, axiom, but you, me, and every living creature that you can see with your naked eye started as a single cell that split in two. Absurd, isn't it? And where did that single cell come from? Uh oh.....

      May you someday find the grace to accept the beauty of what is, undistorted by pre-judgments of what you think should be.

      March 22, 2011 at 4:13 am |
  9. Brian

    WHy are all these muslims in Britain again?

    March 22, 2011 at 3:01 am |
    • (B)iraq Hussein Osama

      because you colonized them and invaded their lands, and rap ed and pillaged their economies and their women. and now they have run away from the corpses you left behind and come to settle where the wealth from their lands had gone.

      March 22, 2011 at 4:23 am |
  10. axiom

    God created man. Then let him evolve on his own. God created science. Then let him discover it. Simple.

    March 22, 2011 at 2:35 am |
    • LEB

      And then men of science finally realized that there is no God.

      March 22, 2011 at 2:45 am |
    • (B)iraq Hussein Osama

      then men of science became blinded by their own self-delusions and refused to see God staring them in their face!

      March 22, 2011 at 4:22 am |
    • Po

      "staring them in the face"? Could you elaborate? I could use the laugh.

      March 22, 2011 at 6:25 am |
  11. Chuck E Cheese

    below is from the pbs website – i'm not sure a lot of you evolutionists are even sure what you are supposed to believe

    Does evolution prove there is no God?

    No. Many people, from evolutionary biologists to important religious figures like Pope John Paul II, contend that the time-tested theory of evolution does not refute the presence of God. They acknowledge that evolution is the description of a process that governs the development of life on Earth. Like other scientific theories, including Copernican theory, atomic theory, and the germ theory of disease, evolution deals only with objects, events, and processes in the material world. Science has nothing to say one way or the other about the existence of God or about people's spiritual beliefs.

    March 22, 2011 at 2:11 am |
    • LEB

      And yet creationists never, EVER want to consider that if there is an "intelligent designer," that it may be something other than the God they happen to believe in. None of them ponder even for a moment if the designers of the universe might be several individuals, or thousands of individuals, or millions of individuals... nor do creationists ever try to prove their god exists. They expect others to take it on faith without proof, and never attempt to define or discover the nature of the universe's creator(s). If someone who believed that the earth was in fact designed suggested that it was made by a race of highly advanced individuals, the creationists would think that person was crazy, and not take their suggestion seriously for even a millisecond... yet they assume that THEIR viewpoint is valid, despite in reality being just as absurd.

      March 22, 2011 at 2:50 am |
  12. MrMailman

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1AXbpYndGc&w=640&h=360]

    March 22, 2011 at 2:01 am |
  13. All Religion Is Evil

    It's inherent.

    March 22, 2011 at 1:59 am |
    • Hussain

      "All religions are evil". Never a truer word said. This episode alone just proves that point, we need not look any further.

      March 22, 2011 at 2:34 am |
    • Distract much?

      So all religions are to blame for Islam? Nice try.

      March 22, 2011 at 5:20 am |
  14. thes33k3r

    How many times does it have to be said: Science and religion are incompatible.

    March 22, 2011 at 1:59 am |
    • Kathryn

      Science and religion are only incompatible from the viewpoint of fundamentalists who refuse to apply reason and rationality to their beliefs. And when I use the term "fundamentalists," I am referring to atheist fundamentalists as well as religious fundamentalists of various faiths. Those who are intelligent and open-minded enough to put logic and evidence ahead of blind adherence to doctrine may or may not be religious, but whatever their beliefs are, they will certainly not be fundamentalist. It always amazes me that so many scientists are so unscientific in examining the flaws behind their own assumptions when it comes to concepts such as the materialist worldview. If they were as objective and logical as they claim to be, more scientists would be apt to recognize the fact that the validity of evolutionary theory and the Big Bang do not provide evidence for or against the existence of God.

      March 22, 2011 at 3:17 am |
    • Andrew

      Kathryn, no scientific evidence in the world has been provided for or against the existence of unicorns.

      "Fundamentalist atheists", be it Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris, would all concede that in some way it is potentially possible for a god to exist, but that in no way mandates any kind of belief in a deity. Why would the possibility of a god existing make us any less skeptical than the possibility of a loch ness monster? Do we believe in these things? No, because we require positive evidence for these things, saying 'there's no evidence against' is silly.

      It doesn't matter how "fundamentalist atheist" you get, at some level they all concede this basic epistemological fact. They'll concede just about anything is conceivably possible, but as far as the current understanding of the universe goes, there is no reason to believe in a deity. How is that in any way dishonest?

      March 22, 2011 at 3:36 am |
    • Po

      There is no such thing as an "atheist fundamentalist". Nor do scientists leap about and say they have proof against your god.

      Maybe you need to think logically and use your reasoning skills to proofread your post before you hit that little button.

      March 22, 2011 at 3:37 am |
    • Kathryn

      "Fundamentalist atheists" are those who claim that there is absolutely no evidence in support of the paranormal while refusing to examine the evidence that does exist. For instance, there is notable evidence supporting the existence of ESP, and there is a gradually growing body of evidence in support of the inexplicable nature of Near Death Experiences. A fundamentalist atheist will not only claim that such evidence does not exist; they will also refuse to conduct an open-minded, unbiased investigation of the evidence when they have been made aware of the existing research.

      You say that atheist fundamentalists do not exist, yet I have made the personal acquaintance of several. When confronted with serious academic research providing evidence in support of the topics mentioned above, published in highly reputable, peer-reviewed journals, these fundamentalist atheists will refuse to even read the article, assuming that there must have been flaws in the research without even bothering to find out what those flaws were. As the fundamentalist atheists I know are either academics or grad students in the research sciences, I know that they are aware of the general value of objective research.

      Why do they consider any publications that do not support their worldview unworthy of even being read? Because they already know that their materialist worldview is correct, and despite all their claims at rational objectivity, they have absolutely no intention of letting any amount of evidence change their worldview. The only other people I know who are as ready as fundamentalist athiests are to ignore any evidence that does not fit with their viewpoint are Creationists. It's remarkable how much these two groups have in common.

      March 22, 2011 at 4:03 am |
    • Kathryn

      To Po: Yes, actually, I have had professors who were research scientists leap up and say they had proof against the existence of God. Their "proof" was completely illogical and irrational (claims that evolution disproves the existence of God, for example).

      March 22, 2011 at 4:08 am |
    • Q

      @Kathryn – Perhaps you could provide some references to the double-blinded studies demonstrating statistically significant evidence in favor of ESP? That "Near Death Experiences" have commonalities is more likely the result of common biological processes and they do not const-itute evidence for the claims of having talked with dead relatives, etc. This is pseudo-science and rejecting it doesn't make one a "fundamentalist" any more than rejecting homeopathy or astrology. If the mechanism is magic, it is not science...

      March 22, 2011 at 5:07 am |
    • Po

      Kathryn – In the case of people not wanting to read something that you recommended, perhaps you did not put the proof forward in a way that would give them proper motivation to read it? Or perhaps the journals you referred to are not considered reliable?
      There is much to recommend a non-confrontational approach when seeking review.
      Bible-colored glasses do not always help with real-world problems.
      We can prove that the "Book of Genesis" is totally nonsensical and contradictory. We do this with physics, cosmology, biology, chemistry, archeology, geology, and a host of other scientific fields, and we use logic, reason, scientific method, and common sense to arrive at our verifiable and testable proofs that your "Book of Genesis" is utter gibberish.

      If you worship the Bible, then you might feel like this disproves your "god" as well.
      We have tons of scientific proof that your Bible is full of...well let's be honest and call them LIES, okay?

      As for your ESP studies, as long as our studies of the brain remain incomplete there remains many possibilities. Many of these can be ruled out after testing, studies, etc. So far I have not heard of anything that makes a strong case FOR any ESP.
      You may as well talk about UFOs at this point.

      Science makes no claims as to your gods, but no one has ever come up with proof that any gods exist using science or scientific methods.
      A warm fuzzy feeling is felt by Buddhists without needing a god, so your warm fuzzy feeling is not a conclusive proof.
      Okay?

      March 22, 2011 at 6:14 am |
    • Kathryn

      @Q:

      The hypothesis that NDE's are always the result of biological processes is questionable at best. Here is a study with some good information on the topic:

      (Note that the above was published in The Lancet, a highly respected medical publication.) And here is some more information from the author of the Lancet study, who is a cardiologist, specifically regarding the topic of whether NDE's are induced by biological processes in the brain:

      http://www.nderf.org/vonlommel_skeptic_response.htm

      March 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  15. Atheist

    I dare you to find a better example of when the 21st century meets the 12th Century.

    It is like cavemen sitting around using laptops discussing how evil plastic and electricity are.

    March 22, 2011 at 1:55 am |
  16. Nick Naranja

    @Peter E. There is a point to be made there, as the conservatives have meetings to discuss how violent Muslims are, perhaps they should look inside their own book and see the violence contained therein. Although I am sure that some religious conservatives would love to go back to having multiple wives, slaves, and killing all manner of beast as a blood sacrifice. They are a small minority.

    March 22, 2011 at 1:54 am |
  17. ijreilly

    Shocker. Muslim extremists threatening to kill someone over what they think.

    March 22, 2011 at 1:42 am |
    • margot707

      Not much different than some Christian Fundamentalists out there.

      March 22, 2011 at 2:11 am |
  18. Richard Cooper

    Is this the 21st or 1st century? Our closeness to barbarism is truly amazing.

    March 22, 2011 at 1:23 am |
  19. Mike

    I've often puzzled over why the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in order of appearance) seem to have so much trouble with science. It seems to be a matter of degree, with Judaism having the fewest issues and Islam the most, in keeping with the relative maturity and self-confidence of each. Islam, as the newest, is most threatened and adopts the most severe response, that of killing those who disagree rather than the more common Christian approach of excommunicating dissenters.

    March 22, 2011 at 1:10 am |
    • Q

      Perhaps it's an evolution to benignness?

      March 22, 2011 at 1:14 am |
    • mmi16

      Muslim understanding of the science of the Earth stopped with it's founding in the 7th Century. Judeao-Christian understanding of sciene of the Earth was halted for Centuries until the end of the Dark Ages.

      March 22, 2011 at 1:53 am |
    • MM

      Catholics excommunicates. Protestants do not. You need to understand that there are dozens of Christian denominations that don't fall under the Catholic church and practice very different beliefs from the Catholic church. There are some Christian denominations that accept science and evolution to some degree more than others. This is the freedom that Muslims don't seem to have within their different sects.

      March 22, 2011 at 1:53 am |
    • Jason

      Actually, it hasn't always been this way. In the 8th -13th century century, the center of scholarly learning and tolerance was centered in Baghdad. Christianity and the Western World were the barbarians then. Things change- and if enough Christian fundamentalists get their way, it might happen here, too. The U.S. certainly have no shortage of fanatics. If given the opportunity, Christian fanatics here would certainly do the same.

      March 22, 2011 at 1:57 am |
    • Xgirl360

      @Mike

      If you go back to 1400AD, you'll find dissenters were not excommunicated. They were burned at the Stake. William Tyndale tried to translate the Bible into the vernacular and was burned at the stake in 1536. This year is Hijri date 1432 AH. Its 5771 according to the Jewish date. The older the religion gets, the more mellow it becomes.

      March 22, 2011 at 2:02 am |
    • brian

      MM-

      Catholics accept the Theory of Evolution. They also accept the Big Bang. In terms of the undeniable scientific theory, the Catholics are probably the most forward out of the major Christian religions. Now if only they'd hop on board with stem cells, condoms, and their more awkward social policies they wouldn't look as silly.

      March 22, 2011 at 2:02 am |
    • EG

      Well Islamic culture used to be far and away the most scientifically advanced society at one point. Much of modern medicine and astronomy we owe to early Islamic scholars, and they invented algebra. Then the fundamentalists took over and it was never the same since...

      March 22, 2011 at 2:05 am |
    • Jordan

      Thank you Brian you beat me to the punch. MM and people like him are obviously misguided. While the Church is riddled with an anti-scientific past, it has recently been on the front end of the juncture of science and religion. Many Protestants blindly follow the exact text (at least as exact as dozens of generations and translations can make it) of the Bible. Atheists, in their infinite wisdom of combining self-righteousness and bigotry, also have their blind beliefs as well. One thing you did not mention is the Catholic Church's conference on the possibility and meaning of encountering alien life. Its interesting how certain stereotypes will not die.

      March 22, 2011 at 2:26 am |
    • LEB

      It's actually pretty simple to understand. The fundamentals of the Abrahamic religious are from an era in human history where very little was understood about the world. And I don't mean the metaphorical world referring to humanity, but the actual physical planet. People back then had no idea of how large the universe is (or even how large our solar system is), or of the size of our planet, or how it formed, or how much was ocean and how much was land, or how phenomenon such as tides, earthquakes, and hurricanes are caused, or how disease spreads, and so on and so on. Religion gave "answers" where actual knowledge was limited... or non-existent.

      Then as modern-day science began to diverge from religion and start showing how inaccurate the religious understand of the world truly is, science became the enemy of religion. Why? Because when people have facts, they have less need for faith, and thus are much harder to control. The greatest threat to any religion is a populace of educated, independent minds. The greatest asset to any religion is a populace that is ignorant and afraid.

      March 22, 2011 at 2:44 am |
    • Distract much?

      Oh sweet, is this one of those articles where we excuse Islamic terrorism with christianity from the 1400s? Yay I'm an intellectual? A little lacking on common sense. Hey so we all know about the salem witch trials and what not. Really, you're not "schooling us" on it. Let's talk about the present, shall we? Or by your logic we should continue to live like it's 1400s because bad stuff happened in the 1400s. Makes a ton of sense!

      March 22, 2011 at 5:20 am |
  20. Peter E

    According to the Bible, the inerrant book, inspired by the Lord God:
    -A man has a right to have more than one wife. In addition, they have a right to keep several concubines and even have children from slaves.
    -Slavery is justified
    -Insects have four legs
    -The Earth is flat, has four corners, and the Sun is a relatively small glowing object that revolves around the Earth
    -Disobedient children should be put to death
    -You should not touch pork
    -If you look lustfully onto a woman who's not your wife, you have to poke your eye out (this one from Jesus!)
    -Rich people cannot go to heaven (also from Jesus!)
    -You should turn the other cheek (something Christian conservatives NEVER do)
    -You should observe the sabbath strictly! (This is one of the COMMANDMENTS)

    Yay for fundamentalist religion!

    March 22, 2011 at 1:04 am |
    • Yammer

      I'm glad I don't misunderstand as much as you do. Wonder how much your salary is...

      March 22, 2011 at 1:35 am |
    • Richard C

      Peter, I believe that you are attempting to use "reason" in your attempt to show the flaws in fundamentalism. I believe it was the philosopher William James who suggested that: "Human reason is the process by which we attempt to find
      cause to continue to believe as we started." In other words, it's probably going to be a little difficult to convince someone who has believed his whole life that rocks are little gods with magical powers to suddenly dismiss that belief as false. Probably it's ok for them to keep that belief, as long as they don't decide to throw the rocks at us non-believers. That's a horse of a different color.

      March 22, 2011 at 1:36 am |
    • MM

      You are extremely misguided. All your nonsense is misinterpreted and shows your lack of reading comprehension.

      March 22, 2011 at 1:57 am |
    • margot707

      MM & Yammer – What's incorrect about Peter's statements? They are paraphrased to be sure, but are certainly all in the bible.

      March 22, 2011 at 2:09 am |
    • David

      Interesting how the "believers" here just call Peter "misinformed" rather than actually addressing any of his specific points about what the bible says.

      March 22, 2011 at 2:19 am |
    • Wzrd1

      Let's say it FAR better in the Bohr method:
      Don't tell God what to do with his dice!
      So, either accept the nuclear dice that works OR NOT accept what HAPPENED.
      Either we evolved and he didn't clue us in on the special aspects of it OR disregard what IS.
      YOUR choice.
      But, *I* will not tell the creator HOW creation MUST be. I didn't plan and build the place.
      Did YOU?

      March 22, 2011 at 2:20 am |
    • Magic

      "Evangelical Rule of Thumb: If a bible verse furthers the cause, it is to be taken literally. If a bible verse is detrimental to the cause, it is either: taken out of context; is allegorical; refers to another verse somewhere else; is a translation or copyist's error; means something other than what it actually says; Is a mystery of god or not discernible by humans; or is just plain magic." –David Johnson

      March 22, 2011 at 2:26 am |
    • Wzrd1

      And thanks to you and your ilk, Satan has been proven right.
      Humanity IS far less than anything better.
      So, perhaps the abortion Satan wished was wright.
      We ARE vast mistake.
      YOUR have done your level best op PROVE him right and our faith wrong.

      March 22, 2011 at 2:39 am |
    • Nick

      Peter is indeed misguided. Here are specific responses. I urge everyone – whenever discussing religion, science, or any other hot-button topic – to be rational, courteous, and always seeking to learn.

      PETER'S CLAIM: "-A man has a right to have more than one wife. In addition, they have a right to keep several concubines and even have children from slaves."
      TRUTH: The Bible is emphatically clear that a marriage is between one man and one woman (they shall leave their parents and cleave to each other as one flesh). It is true that some characters described in the Bible did practice polygamy, but don't confuse a description with an endorsement.

      PETER'S CLAIM: "-Slavery is justified"
      TRUTH: FALSE. If slavery were a good thing, the Bible would not make such an enormous deal out of God leading the Israelites away from Egyptian slavery by parting the Red Sea and leading them to freedom. There are verses in the NT in which slaves are encouraged to live rightly by their masters. The idea here is not to condone slavery but to treat all, even enemies, rightly.

      PETER'S CLAIM: "-Insects have four legs"
      TRUTH: Can't say I know anything about this one.

      PETER'S CLAIM: "-The Earth is flat, has four corners, and the Sun is a relatively small glowing object that revolves around the Earth."
      TRUTH: Blatantly false. Nowhere in the Bible is the Earth described as flat. This is a myth perpetuated by scoffers who copy and paste each other's posts without doing any fact-checking. The Bible does reference the "four corners" of the Earth, much like we use the same phrase today. Same goes for the Sun - false.

      PETER'S CLAIM: "-Disobedient children should be put to death"
      TRUTH: True. The Torah (Jewish scripture/Christian OT) recites a period in time thousands of years ago when disobedient children were to be stoned. I am unaware of just how disobedient they would have had to be to earn this punishment.

      PETER'S CLAIM: "-You should not touch pork"
      TRUTH: False. It is a Levitical law to not consume pork. While Jews observe this rule ("kosher" meat), Christians are not required to do so. Read the Book of Galatians, for instance.

      PETER'S CLAIM: "-If you look lustfully onto a woman who's not your wife, you have to poke your eye out (this one from Jesus!)"
      TRUTH: Completely false. Jesus says that a man should be so pure of heart that he should not even look at another woman lustfully besides his wife. He then says it is better to cut off a body part that causes you to sin than for your whole body to enter hell for that sin. He's drawing a distinction between earthly suffering and hellish suffering - the latter is far worse. That is his point.

      PETER'S CLAIM: "-Rich people cannot go to heaven (also from Jesus!)"
      TRUTH: False again. Jesus says that it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. BUT KEEP READING - in the next chapter in Luke, Jesus meets a man named Zacchaeus, WHO IS RICH, who gives half of his money to the poor, and whom Jesus describes as saved. The distinction is not in wealth per se but in how a wealthy man uses his wealth. A rich man who hoards and is concerned only with money will not care for the things of God.

      PETER'S CLAIM: "-You should turn the other cheek (something Christian conservatives NEVER do)"
      TRUTH: Unless Peter knows every Christian conservative out there, I don't think he can make this statement with any credibility.

      PETER'S CLAIM: "-You should observe the sabbath strictly! (This is one of the COMMANDMENTS)"
      TRUTH: Jesus broke the Sabbath. The Jewish priests threw a fit. He explained to them that man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for man. It is a tool; a day of rest. This is why Christians sometimes do and sometimes do not observe the Sabbath.

      I hope this fact-checking sheds a little light on the unfortunately misleading statements that were made. Godspeed to all.

      March 22, 2011 at 3:13 am |
    • Bob

      Nick: You should actually read the Bible yourself. You're repeating what you heard or saw someone else say the Bible says. For instance, nowhere in the Bible does it say God parted the Red Sea. You're reading a poor translation (full of omissions and politically-motivated changes). Hint: the Bible's original language isn't English. Moses exodus took him nowhere near the Red Sea (and if it did, God was was lousy giving directions).

      March 22, 2011 at 3:31 am |
    • Samuel

      Nick says that some practised polygamy but it was not endorsed.

      Can you explain why Abraham (the Father of believers), Isaac, Jacob (the Father of the 12 tribes of Israel), Moses, David (The apple of God's eye), Solomon (the wisest king), to name a few select people all leaders of the believers as you know, and highly favoured of God, started practising polygamy AFTER their encountered with God. God actually said to them he would bless them with many things, among them, with many wives. The practice was counted as righteousness. Jesus came through a polygamous posterity. Jesus never condemned polygamy; he only condemned divorce (unless it was for adultery, and polygmay was not considered to be adultery). Adam and Eve being "one flesh" means "one in purpose" and you can be one in purpose with more than one person. That is what is meant when Jesus and the Father are said to be "one". They are one in purpose, but not one being, otherwise why would Jesus pray to God and ask him if the crucifixion could be avoided ("but not my will, but yours be done)?

      Funny how some Christians like picking one verse and decide it represents the Bible. The Bible actually fully endorses polygamy when you read it with an open heart, stripped of all the false traditions of men.

      March 22, 2011 at 3:47 am |
    • Distract much?

      You are trying to quiet down the disgust at the "fatwa" thing, by diverting attention to christianity. Nice try!

      March 22, 2011 at 5:12 am |
    • Tom

      If the president or PM in my country that I recently immigrated to, went on the TV and said something like "multiculturalism has failed" you can bet I would convert to whatever it was that allowed me to stay there.. ha ha ha

      March 22, 2011 at 5:14 am |
    • jimtanker

      You forgot that you cant EVER boil a goat in it's mother's milk. That is one of THE ten commandments also.

      March 22, 2011 at 5:26 am |
    • Dutch Shultz

      The question begs if there is a god can he create a rock so heavy that he himself cannot lift it? The inherent problem with all gods is that in their surmised unlimited power, are powerless to themselves therefore not all powerful. It can be said that spirituality, the sense of ones soul, is born of the uniquely human trait of exuberent self awarness, that indeed would be the soul and what separates us from the rest of the living creatures.

      March 22, 2011 at 5:35 am |
    • Po

      @Dutch
      You are assuming we are the only creatures capable of this awareness thing on this planet, and the universe, too.

      March 22, 2011 at 6:42 am |
    • Nick

      @Bob & Samuel:

      Bob – that's actually under debate. If you know as much about the topic as you appear to, surely you know that the precisely area of crossing is unclear. Moreover, of my lengthy response, you conclude that I'm scripturally ignorant by pointing out my use of the term "Red Sea"? The point I was making is still valid.

      Samuel – The mere fact that a person favored of God practiced polygamy doesn't mean God condoned the polygamy. As far as blessing with multiple wives, if you can give me a citation, I will stand corrected. I'm not opposed to learning something new.

      Godspeed to both of you.

      March 22, 2011 at 11:01 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.