Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Deeply Religious People Profoundly Ignorant About Religion?

I have often wondered that if the Taliban, al Qaeda militants and their sympathizers really understood the teachings of Islam, would they commit or endorse some of the most horrific acts of murder and mayhem against innocent civilians, and then justify such acts based on religion? I have also had similar questions in my mind about the hateful words and actions of some of the followers of other faiths as well. It seems to me that answers to my questions are beginning to emerge from a recent Pew survey that concludes that deeply religious people are also deeply ignorant about religion. What is even more surprising about this poll is that atheists are more knowledgeable about religions than the self-professed deeply religious people.

A Pew poll conducted in 2002 showed that the United States stands out as the most religious among the wealthy western nations for the religiosity of its people.

Religion is much more important to Americans than to people living in other wealthy nations. Six-in-ten (59%) people in the U.S. say religion plays a very important role in their lives. This is roughly twice the percentage of self-avowed religious people in Canada (30%), and an even higher proportion when compared with Japan and Western Europe. Americans' views are closer to people in developing nations, such as India and Pakistan, than to the citizens of developed nations. The poll showed that 92% of respondents in India and 91% in Pakistan say religion is important to them.



A new poll conducted by Pew now reveals that Americans are by all measures a deeply religious people, but they are also deeply ignorant about religion.

Researchers from the independent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life phoned more than 3,400 Americans and asked them 32 questions about the Bible, Christianity and other world religions, famous religious figures and the constitutional principles governing religion in public life.

On average, people who took the survey answered half the questions incorrectly, and many flubbed even questions about their own faith.



Those who scored the highest were atheists and agnostics, as well as two religious minorities: Jews and Mormons. The results were the same even after the researchers controlled for factors like age and racial differences.

“Even after all these other factors, including education, are taken into account, atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons still outperform all the other religious groups in our survey,” said Greg Smith, a senior researcher at Pew.

Among the topics covered in the survey were: Where was Jesus born? What is Ramadan? Whose writings inspired the Protestant Reformation? Which Biblical figure led the exodus from Egypt? What religion is the Dalai Lama? Joseph Smith? Mother Teresa? In most cases, the format was multiple choice.

Gallup Poll of Americans: Bible Literal? Or Fables? 


The researchers said that the questionnaire was designed to represent a breadth of knowledge about religion, but was not intended to be regarded as a list of the most essential facts about the subject. Most of the questions were easy, but a few were difficult enough to discern which respondents were highly knowledgeable.

Innovation Vs Religiosity Source: Economist


On questions about the Bible and Christianity, the groups that answered the most right were Mormons and white evangelical Protestants.

On questions about world religions, like Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism, the groups that did the best were atheists, agnostics and Jews.

One finding that may grab the attention of policy makers is that most Americans wrongly believe that anything having to do with religion is prohibited in public schools.

An overwhelming 89 percent of respondents, asked whether public school teachers are permitted to lead a class in prayer, correctly answered no.

But fewer than one of four knew that a public school teacher is permitted “to read from the Bible as an example of literature.” And only about one third knew that a public school teacher is permitted to offer a class comparing the world’s religions.

The survey’s authors concluded that there was “widespread confusion” about “the line between teaching and preaching.”

Mr. Smith said the survey appeared to be the first comprehensive effort at assessing the basic religious knowledge of Americans, so it is impossible to tell whether they are more or less informed than in the past.

The phone interviews were conducted in English and Spanish in May and June. There were not enough Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu respondents to say how those groups ranked.

Clergy members who are concerned that their congregants know little about the essentials of their own faith will no doubt be appalled by some of these findings:

* Fifty-three percent of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the man who started the Protestant Reformation.

* Forty-five percent of Catholics did not know that their church teaches that the consecrated bread and wine in holy communion are not merely symbols, but actually become the body and blood of Christ.

* Forty-three percent of Jews did not know that Maimonides, one of the foremost rabbinical authorities and philosophers, was Jewish.

The question about Maimonides was the one that the fewest people answered correctly. But 51 percent knew that Joseph Smith was Mormon, and 82 percent knew that Mother Teresa was Roman Catholic.

I am not aware of a similar survey ever done in Pakistan to gauge Pakistanis' knowledge of Islam in particular, and other religions in general. I think such a survey would be a worthwhile exercise.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Valuing Life in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Explaining Low IQs in Africa and South Asia

Daily Carnage Amidst Intelligence Failures in Pakistan

Gallup Poll Says Muslims Doing Well in the West

The Muslim West Facts Project

South Asians Income Levels in America

America's Fastest Growing Faiths: Islam and Buddhism

India's Washington Lobby Emulates AIPAC

Gallup Poll of Muslim Americans

American Muslims Thriving, but Not Content

World Happiness Index Ranking

48 comments:

Mohammad said...

I have contended for many years now that religion (especially Islam as I know more about it than any other) actually promotes ignorance. One of the reasons I believe is that most of the religions promotes respect (read obedience) of so called religious scholars and century old scriptures which snubs curiosity and search for other views and ways. As an example, a vast majority of Muslims believe (at least outwardly) that the Quran is a "Complete" book, hence no need to read anything else.

Anonymous said...

Mohammad (a.k.a. DC) don’t make a fool of yourself. “Islam promotes ignorance”, 1400+ years of Islamic history negates your comment. It would help if read a few history books (other than Hindutva/islomophobic crap).

Safwan said...

Riaz
You asked, "I am not aware of a similar survey ever done in Pakistan to gauge Pakistanis' knowledge of Islam in particular, and other religions in general. I think such a survey would be a worthwhile exercise. "

Most likely, there isnt a formal survey result set available on Pakistanis. It is, however, not too difficult to estimate what they feel and where they stand - these are reactive times and most viewpoints start with, "but they do xyz too."

As a side note - given the many requests i got recently to donate towards a mosque in Saratoga i can safely surmise that ignorance and wealth are a potent combination (your essay validates it too). Why blame only the savage Taliban? I was stunned by two of the donation rationales i got, "have you seen the number of churches in Saratoga?" and "our children need to be exposed to the good Islam." I wonder if these folks consider themselves ignorant ... beware the Pew researchers, the wrath of the wealthy Saratogans is simmering and will spew venom if told a new mosque is not the most pressing need of our people and youth. Common sense, tolerance and informed living might do them a lot more good. Or, based on this study, a donation to make Muslims agnostics might be better?

By the way, the local temples now now have an affinity card with a Visa bug and pictures of religious sites. The wise and wealthy (ignorant too) are filling applications to get the pious card ... perhaps the same can be done for the ummah too. A wise and wealthy person may need to figure a way to convince issuing banks and Visa to not charge interest!!

Oh, by the way, I dont need a donation to provide a service to move beyond the religiosity narrative.

Anyway.

There is a comprehensive survey available on Islam. Enjoy.

Here is the link
Who Speaks For Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think by John Eposito and Dallia Mogahed
http://www.amazon.com/Who-Speaks-Islam-Billion-Muslims/dp/1595620176/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1285779097&sr=1-1

Anonymous said...

Any country which has given undue importance to religion has fallen on hard times economically and culturally.

Even in the US which superficially is an exception most of the innovation usually happens in places like California and New england.

I am yet to hear of a great scientific or philosophical beakthrough in the bible belt.


ALL religions if interpreted and practised literally in the 21st century will create idiotic situations because the scriptures in the literal sense address concerns of primitive pre industrial and largely illiterate societies when most major religions were founded.

Somehow islamic countries don't seem to get them.Even in India the vast majority of Hindus even the virulently anti Muslim varities view Hinduism as an ethnic identifier.Nobody not even the BJP,RSS or VHP want Indian laws to be based on the Mahabharata or Ramayanas and other epics.

But somehow many educated muslims actually believe that Koran is god's law and Hadiths are the biographies of his final messenger therefore every law has to be an interpretation of the Koran and the Hadiths since man has no right to legislate laws he can only interpret them!!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anonymous.

1: “Any country which has given undue importance to religion has fallen on hard times economically and culturally.”

Can you prove it? 1000+ years of Islamic history proves you wrong. Cultural ups and downs are part of history, they have nothing to do with religion. “What goes up must come down” is the law of history, just like the law of physics.

2: Nobody not even the BJP,RSS or VHP want Indian laws to be based on the Mahabharata or Ramayanas and other epics

Mahabharata and Ramayanas do not give special instruction about society, culture and economy. Quran does, so comparison is irrelevant. Second, ever heard of Hindu inheritance law?

3: But somehow many educated muslims actually believe that Koran is god's law and Hadiths are the biographies of his final messenger therefore every law has to be an interpretation of the Koran and the Hadiths since man has no right to legislate laws he can only interpret them!!

First, believing that Quran is the word of God is the essential tenant of faith for Muslims. One wouldn’t be a Muslim if s/he didn’t believe that Quran is the word of God. So basically you are accusing Muslims that they are “not” hypo crates, since they believe what they are supposed to believe. Second, Quran provides fundamental guidelines for law, which believers have a right to interpret according to their circumstances. Why is it Ok for Muslims to follow Roman law imposed on us by colonial rulers but not follow the law majority of them believe in?


4: I am yet to hear of a great scientific or philosophical beakthrough in the bible belt.

Ever heard of a thing called airplane? It is a flying machine, takes people from one place to another. Was invented by two brothers in North Carolina (a state in the bible-belt).

G. Ali

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anonymous.

1: “Any country which has given undue importance to religion has fallen on hard times economically and culturally.”

Can you prove it? 1000+ years of Islamic history proves you wrong. Cultural ups and downs are part of history, they have nothing to do with religion. “What goes up must come down” is the law of history, just like the law of physics.

2: Nobody not even the BJP,RSS or VHP want Indian laws to be based on the Mahabharata or Ramayanas and other epics

Mahabharata and Ramayanas do not give special instruction about society, culture and economy. Quran does, so comparison is irrelevant. Second, ever heard of Hindu inheritance law?

3: But somehow many educated muslims actually believe that Koran is god's law and Hadiths are the biographies of his final messenger therefore every law has to be an interpretation of the Koran and the Hadiths since man has no right to legislate laws he can only interpret them!!

First, believing that Quran is the word of God is the essential tenant of faith for Muslims. One wouldn’t be a Muslim if s/he didn’t believe that Quran is the word of God. So basically you are accusing Muslims that they are “not” hypo crates, since they believe what they are supposed to believe. Second, Quran provides fundamental guidelines for law, which believers have a right to interpret according to their circumstances. Why is it Ok for Muslims to follow Roman law imposed on us by colonial rulers but not follow the law majority of them believe in?


4: I am yet to hear of a great scientific or philosophical beakthrough in the bible belt.

Ever heard of a thing called airplane? It is a flying machine, takes people from one place to another. Was invented by two brothers in North Carolina (a state in the bible-belt).

G. Ali

DCruncher4 said...

Hey Anonymous,

I did not post as Mohd (the first post). I sign off as DC and when I can't login to my aol account, I post anonymously but mention myself.

"One wouldn’t be a Muslim if s/he didn’t believe that Quran is the word of God. "

Correct and that's why the western world is increasingly wary of muslims because they know that no muslim can ever be a friend of christian/jew. No muslim can ever believe that christians and jews will go to jannat because the glorious quran is explicit in its hatred of non muslims. You want me to quote the verses.

Some God he is who seem to hate everyone who chose not to believe someone calling himself as messenger of God aka Prophet Mohd.

Anonymous said...

1: No muslim can ever believe that christians and jews will go to jannat because the glorious quran is explicit in its hatred of non muslims

Who told you that? This is from Quran:
“Those who believe (in the Qur'an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. “ 02:062 (Yusuf Ali translation)

2: Some God he is who seem to hate everyone who chose not to believe someone calling himself as messenger of God aka Prophet Mohd.
Christians believe that I will go to hell because I don’t accept Jesus as my savior, do I care? So why are you so insecure?

G. Ali

DCruncher4 said...

This is what quran says about unbelievers, christians and jews.

"2:90 Evil is that for which they sell their souls: that they should disbelieve in that which Allah hath revealed, grudging that Allah should reveal of His bounty unto whom He will of His slaves. They have incurred anger upon anger. For disbelievers is a shameful doom. "
"

"2:39 But they who disbelieve, and deny Our revelations, such are rightful Peoples of the Fire. They will abide therein."



Qur'an (5:51) - "O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people."

Qur'an (5:80) - "You will see many of them befriending those who disbelieve; certainly evil is that which their souls have sent before for them, that Allah became displeased with them and in chastisement shall they abide." Those Muslims who befriend unbelievers will abide in hell.

Qur'an (3:28) - "Let not the believers Take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah: except by way of precaution, that ye may Guard yourselves from them..." This last part means that the Muslim is allowed to feign friendship if it is of benefit. Renowned scholar Ibn Kathir states that "believers are allowed to show friendship outwardly, but never inwardly."

"do I care? So why are you so insecure?"

Am I? I am contemptuous of our religion.

Anonymous said...

Yes let’s cherry pick. Nothing new here, congratulations you have learned how to cut and paste.

“I am contemptuous of our religion.” Do your fellow Hindus know about it?

G. Ali

Anonymous said...

'Can you prove it? 1000+ years of Islamic history proves you wrong. Cultural ups and downs are part of history, they have nothing to do with religion. “What goes up must come down” is the law of history, just like the law of physics. '

The Islamic world at its zenith was way way less religious than the west.When the west had inquisition and witch burnings you had a liberal society infact the divorce rate was 34% in Baghdad in the 11th century.You had books like arabian nights and perfumed garden but no Fatwas being issued against them or wide eyed mullahs out to kill the heretics.

Bottom line:The islamic world was much more advanced than the rest between the 8th and the 13th century BECAUSE it was operationally the most liberal place to live in relative to the rest of the world.

'First, believing that Quran is the word of God is the essential tenant of faith for Muslims. One wouldn’t be a Muslim if s/he didn’t believe that Quran is the word of God. So basically you are accusing Muslims that they are “not” hypo crates, since they believe what they are supposed to believe. Second, Quran provides fundamental guidelines for law, which believers have a right to interpret according to their circumstances. Why is it Ok for Muslims to follow Roman law imposed on us by colonial rulers but not follow the law majority of them believe in? '

Yup that's the exact attitude I'm talking about!

'Ever heard of a thing called airplane? It is a flying machine, takes people from one place to another. Was invented by two brothers in North Carolina (a state in the bible-belt)'

Good point but occasional exceptions aside is it your argument that the bible belt is a well spring of innovation and creativity to rival the US west coast and new England?

The Aeroplane may have been created in North Carolina but there is a reason Boeing,Northrop Grumman and the like aren't based anywhere near there.

Bottom line i.e economic progress and creativity is inversely proportional to the importance to religion that a country/region attaches still holds.

Anonymous said...

1: Bottom line: The islamic world was much more advanced than the rest between the 8th and the 13th century BECAUSE it was operationally the most liberal place to live in relative to the rest of the world.

Agreed, yet it was based on Sharia law.

2: Yup that's the exact attitude I'm talking about!
Basically you have no answer.


3: The Aeroplane may have been created in North Carolina but there is a reason Boeing,Northrop Grumman and the like aren't based anywhere near there.

Ever heard of place called Huntsville Alabama? Familiar with the role it played in NASA’s space program?


G. Ali

Anonymous said...

Religion ... opium ... what was that again?

Anonymous said...

Ever heard of place called Huntsville Alabama? Familiar with the role it played in NASA’s space program?

It was an assembly operation there most of the high end work happened elsewhere and besides the brains behind the operation weren't the product of Alabama/bible belt society.

So my point of libralism and lack of religosity=conditions for progress stands.
For every one such example I can give you 20 so lets not be obstinate.California and Massachusets are wayyy more advanced than ANY bible belt state.

'Basically you have no answer.'

Basically you've stopped looking for any :)

Anonymous said...

Mr. Haq, isn't religion that which those who claim to be adherents, practice? I mean, can we or ought we accept that we must leave religion blameless and instead put all blame on adherents for the failing of religion - - Did communism really have no relationship with what cummunists did ?? Can we say with credibility that communism is not bad , but communists are?

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "isn't religion that which those who claim to be adherents, practice? I mean, can we or ought we accept that we must leave religion blameless and instead put all blame on adherents..."

I am not talking about separating religion from all of its adherents...but I am arguing that we must not allow a small minority of extremist Muslims to define and represent the mainstream Islam and all of its followers.

In other words, I see the hard-core Taliban and al Qaeda as an aberration within Islam that the rest of us must reject to reclaim our faith from them.

Anonymous said...

See, that begs the question, who and what are Muslims? And this is where the Wahabi Takfiri are very powerful - in other words, they have developed an entire ideology, that answers questions such as WHO are Muslims (and therefore who is/are not) They even have answers to What are Muslims (Do's and Don'ts) They even have an answer to what is the most captivating aspect of politics among Muslims (who are a terribly diverse peoples), namely the politics of IDENTITY -- In addition, they have a political/judical/governance answer as well - a system, if you will.

What is it that the rest of us have? our objections?

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "See, that begs the question, who and what are Muslims? And this is where the Wahabi Takfiri are very powerful - in other words, they have developed an entire ideology,.."

I believe in a much more inclusive approach to faith that excludes only the very fringes who are engaging in extreme violence as a means of intimidating their fellow Muslims and the rest of the world.

Such inclusiveness is necessary as a means to serve the best interests of the largest numbers among Muslims who as you rightly said are very diverse in terms schools of thought (Fiqh), ethnicity, race, culture, etc. There can be and there needs to be unity in diversity for the peaceful and progressive followers of Islam to live and let live in a a highly diverse world of many faiths, races, cultures, etc.

Anonymous said...

Riaz Sb,

I belong to that school of thought that says “don’t call a kafir a kafir, since what is in his heart only God knows”. Attending college in US in 1980s I took a class of history of the western civilization. It included a chapter on Islam / Muslims. There was this one comment that has been stuck in my mind. It is I believe about 12th century, stated (I am narrating by memory here): “During this time, there emerged two schools of thoughts within Islam. First were the Ulema, who believed that the word of Quran is important and should be followed. The others were Sufia, who believed that the spirit of Quran is important and should be followed. The amazing thing is that although these two had diagonally opposing views but they had a mutual respect for each other and each other’s views.”
That is something we are lacking in the Muslim societies today. Specially the narrow minded believe that what I think is correct and everyone else is wrong is incomprehensible.
There is definitely a need to re-interpret the scriptures according to the modern times. I think Tariq Ramadan has already started some work in that direction.

Zamir

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "There is definitely a need to re-interpret the scriptures according to the modern times."

Zamir Sahab,
Yes, and there is a mechanism provided within Islam called "Ijtihad" to do such interpretation according to the context. Such re-interpretation has to be done without abandoning the basic principles of Shariah, including Iman and justice.

Zen, Munich, Germany said...

@Anon
"I am yet to hear of a great scientific or philosophical beakthrough in the bible belt."

Ever heard of a philosophy called Bushism? Its not just about being dyslexic and funny. It is a philosophy that had lead USA to the part of Biblical theocracy.

Anonymous said...

^^
While you are at it it would be good if muslims particularly from regions outside the middle east would come to terms with their pre islamic past.

Pakistanis for instance are brought up to hate Hindus in their school textbooks and thus deny all history prior to the 7th century on current Pakistani territory.

Taxila university is in Pakistani territory as is the erstwhile kingdom of porus and there are countless descriptions in middle eastern sources of the area now Pakistan being filled with idol worshippers in chronicles of adventurers from the middle east.

That plus the fact that physically it is very difficult to distinguish between a Indian Hindu Sindhi/Punjabi from his muslim counterpart in Pakistan means that the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis have ancestors who were Hindus/Buddhists who converted(how is disputed) to Islam.

Indonesians by contrast have no problems with their Hindu past which is why in the world largest muslim country you have names like 'megawati sukarnoputri',their national airline is called 'Garuda' and Ramayana and Mahabharata have national epic status.

This was the crux of an article in the dawn newspaper criticizing the 'we are all descendants of turks,persians and arabs' myth that many Pakistanis seem to be very attached to.

Your views on this would be appreciated.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of how the BBC is reporting the Ayodhya verdict by Allahabad High Court today:

In a majority verdict, judges gave control of the main disputed section, where a mosque was torn down in 1992, to Hindus.

Other parts of the site will be controlled by Muslims and a Hindu sect.


Allahabad High Court is trying to create a false appearance of Solomon's wisdom by ordering what is being advertised as "split-the-baby" verdict.

In reality, though, the court has wrongly sided with the violent Hindutva outfits in practice by giving the main site where Babri masjid stood to Hindus.

Let's hope and pray that this latest verdict does not lead to more innocent blood being shed because of an unwise and unjust court ruling favoring the Hindu provocateurs and perpetrators of the crime of demolishing Babri mosque in 1992 and subsequent massacres of Muslim minority.

DCruncher4 said...

"Yes let’s cherry pick. Nothing new here, congratulations you have learned how to cut and paste. "

Ali Sahib, the truth is you have no answer to this "cherry picking".

And this is only a sample.
Quran is full of such hatred. A Pakistani murtad like me summed it up fine "it looks like to have been written by an angry college student, in which nothing is described in detail, except punishment". LOL.
Talibanis and self appointed mullahs are only following that hatred. You can't blame them without blaming the book they read.

Riaz: Once again my thanks for allowing me to express my views. Sincere thanks.

Khaleel said...

In addition to ignorance there is the "pseudo knowledge" wherein even university professors assume that what they hear from disgruntled ex-followers is often gospel truth, especially in regards to Islam.

Riaz Haq said...

Khaleel: "In addition to ignorance there is the "pseudo knowledge" wherein even university professors assume that what they hear from disgruntled ex-followers is often gospel truth, especially in regards to Islam."

I absolutely agree with your statement. There is a lot of misinformation, even deliberate disinformation about Islam, floating around in the academia, the mass media and the cyberspace. It only makes matters worse for all of us.

Anonymous said...

Riaz if you don’t want to publish the previous comments then please publish these.
DC:
“A Pakistani murtad like me…”
But here you said:
“And BTW I am an Indian too.”
http://www.dbmonster.com/Uwe/Forum.aspx/informix/7954/index-creation

G. Ali

sunil said...

hi all,

here you all discuss the cases regarding Islam but same is the case in Hinduism. There has been lot of misinterpretation of the holy text. I don't have any problem with Islam as I think Islam is not what the handful of Islamic insane extremist are portraying (like al-qaeda & taliban). I have many muslim friends & they are really nice & loyal people & through them I inquire about Islam. Similarly some handful Hindu extremist are portraying bad picture of Hinduism. We should understand before being a good Hindu or a Muslim we have qualify as a good human being first.

$unil (Truly Indian)

anoop said...

The history of Islam in India is interesting. Islam practiced in India was one of the most non-violent strains of Islam. One of the biggest reasons for this was that it got inspired by the local customs and ideas of tolerance embedded in the Indian culture. Sufism had infact more in common with Hinduism than other strains of Islam.

Now, that Pakistan was born on the basis for Islam the narrative suddenly changed. Many in Pakistan reject anything India-influenced like practices of visiting Sufi shrines. Many cities have banned Basant, for god sakes, citing danger of sustaining an injury. But, they forget many many die during stampede during Hajj every year. Are they going to ban Hajj?

The Islam practiced in India today has under gone change but an en-lighted Muslim realizes that Pakistani interpretation of anything related to Religion is flawed. It is still under heavy influence of tolerant Hindu culture. For example of tolerance, there is no Indian Muslim in Al Qaeda. Having th3 3rd largest Muslim population isn't this odd?

Have a look at the tolerance displayed in my home state Karnataka.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Hindus-help-rebuild-mosque-in-Karnataka-village/articleshow/6639377.cms

Islam must be indebted to India for cleansing it of Arab influence which Pakistanis love to adopt. Hence, Pakistan is in for a rough ride.

Pakistan may geographically belong to the Sub-Continent but they have more in common with Arab states than India. They get getting close to being Arabs everyday. Many must be thrilled.

Hoping you will publish my comment. Thanks.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is an excerpt from a piece by Girish Shahane, Mumbai-based freelance journalist. He writes the blog Shoot First, Mumble Later:

...These sorts of errors bothered me far less than the constant highlighting of atrocities, often fictional ones, by Muslim rulers. The entry on Konark read, "The massive Sun Temple was constructed in mid-13th century, probably by Orissan king Narashimhadev I to celebrate his military victory over the Muslims. In use for maybe only three centuries, the first blow occurred in the late 16th century when marauding Mughals removed the copper over the cupola. This vandalism may have dislodged the loadstone leading to the partial collapse of the 40m-high sikhara." As a child, I'd heard the tale of a giant magnet holding the Sun Temple's girders in place. By the time I was in my late teens, I knew Indian temples were made of stone and used little metal. The idea of a lodestone atop the Sun Temple keeping the structure together, while making compasses on passing ships go haywire, was manifestly absurd. Not too absurd for Lonely Planet, though, which lays blame for this imaginary vandalism at the door of Mughals, whose only connection with Konark in the late 16th century was a laudatory passage about the structure composed by Abul Fazl in the Ain-i-Akbari.

Temples, even grand ones can collapse from natural causes, as evidenced by the recent fall of the 500 year old gopuram of the Srikalahasti temple.

In India, however, any damage to old Hindu religious structures is reflexively attributed to 'the Muslims'. That phrase itself is objectionable, in my view. Lonely Planet never clubs the British and Portuguese together as 'the Christians', so why place rulers from varied ethnic backgrounds and historical eras into a hold all category such as 'the Muslims'?

The Sun Temple isn't the only instance of Lonely Planet inventing acts of Muslim vandalism. The entry for Himachal's Brajeshwari Temple states, "Famous for its wealth, the temple was looted by a string of invaders, from Mahmud of Ghazni to Jehangir". Mahmud did, indeed, loot the Brajeshwari temple. But Jehangir was neither an invader, having been born and bred in India, nor a plunderer of holy sites. He loved that region of the country, and did much to improve it.

Mughals keep unjustly getting the wrong end of the stick throughout the book. The background to Amritsar and its Golden Temple reads, "The original site for the city was granted by the Mughal emperor Akbar, but another Mughal, Ahmad Shah Durani, sacked Amritsar in 1761 and destroyed the temple." Durrani was, of course, not a Mughal at all. But hey, these guys are all Muslims, right? Mughal, Turk, Afghan, big difference. That attitude is probably why Allaudin Khilji is wrongly labelled a Pathan: "Chittor's first defeat occurred in 1303 when Ala-ud-din Khilji, the Pathan king of Delhi, besieged the fort, apparently to capture the beautiful Padmini, wife of the rana's (king's) uncle, Bhim Singh." Actually, misidentifying a Turko-Afghan as a Pathan is a minor error. The big howler in the sentence is LP's propagation of the myth of Rani Padmini. Back in the early 14th century, Khilji was on a campaign in Rajputana, capturing one fort after another, and Chittor was on his list. He didn't need a special reason to besiege it. The great poet and mystic Amir Khusro, who chronicled Khilji's campaign, made no mention of any Padmini. The story was dreamt up much later to contrast the treachery and lasciviousness of the Muslim ruler against the bravery and chivalry of his Hindu Rajput antagonists. I feel like saying to the Rajputs, "Guys, Khilji won, you lost, get over it."

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excepts from Sherbano Taseer (Salman Taseer's daughter) interview with Pakistani Islamic scholar Javaid Ahmed Ghamidi as published in Newsweek Pakistan:

Are Islam and democracy compatible?

Yes, of course. Islam favors democratic societies. In the West, they have created democracies, which may have their shortcomings, but where people listen to one another, tolerate each other's opinions, and engage in dialogue. The majority opinion is made into law, and these laws can be criticized, debated freely, and amended based on people's beliefs.

There is furor in Pakistan over the blasphemy laws. What does the Quran say about punishing those who are proven to have committed blasphemy?

There is no punishment prescribed for blasphemy in the Quran or in the sayings of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). Some clerics cite the case of Ibn Akhtar, but they misinterpret that incident and make it about blasphemy. Man can make laws, and these should not be misused to unfairly target or victimize anyone. Islam specifically says that taking the life of an individual is tantamount to taking the life of all humanity. It is a crime. It is wrong. Allah says true Muslims are those in whose hands others are safe.
---
Do you feel Pakistan can contain the extremist threat?

Let's start by not losing hope. We can contain it if we unite. There needs to be a new movement, by educated people, who can put pressure on the government so that, for one, education returns to being the responsibility of the state. Otherwise, this cancer of extremism will continue to spread. Pakistan has over 12,000 madrassahs with more than 2 million students. The countless clerics at these schools have immense sway, they have formed communities around themselves and they have weapons. And when power comes into the hands of such people—when we give them that power—you get what we have happening right now. There is nothing in the Quran or the Prophet's (peace be upon him) sayings to justify what the extremists are doing. We need to enter the playing field and correct this, and turn their arguments on their head. I have challenged them on every occasion for the past five years or so, and told them what they are saying is incorrect. They can only stay silent in return. Even in the matter of blasphemy they could not refute me, but I feel I am alone in this.
--------
So how do we change things?

People need to understand Islam themselves, there is no other way. We need to understand the religion and launch a movement to reform society. In the West, there was a reformation movement which needs to be replicated in the East. There is strength in our arguments. You can reason with these people if you reason strongly and with facts. Islam was initially spread by a handful of people. This is how you will get success and nobody will be able to refute it. The media has a lot of power and must use this power positively, spreading the message from house to house. But the reality is that we are not ready to take up this cause. The secularists and the elite are not ready to take this up, they are not ready to talk and engage especially about beliefs.

What role do you see religious scholars playing to improve our society?

They, like doctors and engineers, are experts in their field. Their role is not to pick up guns, but to argue with facts and to present their arguments logically and calmly. Their role is not to threaten or to preach in a hostile or forceful manner in the streets, but to inform and show people the right Islam. The unfortunate reality here is that those who claim to be adherents of Allah's word are actually quite unfamiliar with the faith.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting Op Ed by Leonard Pitts published in the Miami Herald:

OK, put your books away. We’re having a pop quiz.

Below are four quotes. Each is from one of two sources: the Bible or the Koran, although, just to make things interesting, there’s also a chance all four are from one book. Two were edited for length and one of those was also edited to remove a religion-specific reference. Your job: identify the holy book of origin. Ready? Go:

1) “. . . Wherever you encounter [non-believers], kill them, seize them, besiege them, wait for them at every lookout post . . .”

2) “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

3) “If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and worship other gods’ . . . do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. You must certainly put him to death.”

4) “Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”

All right, pens down. How did you do?

If you identified the first quote as being from the Koran (9:5) and the other three as originating in the Bible (Matthew 10:34, Deuteronomy 13:6-9, Numbers 31:17-18), I congratulate you on that degree in theology. If I have guessed correctly, most people will not have found it easy to place the quotes in their proper books. If I have guessed correctly, most people will have found a certain thematic similarity in them.

Yes, there is a point here: I wish people would stop cherry-picking warlike quotes from the Koran to “prove” the evil of Islam. You see this stuff all over the web. Just a few days ago, some anonymous person, angry with me for defending “Fascist/Nazi Islam” the writer says is trying to kill us all, sent me an e-mail quoting Koranic exhortations to violence to prove that Islam is a “religion of hate and murder.”

As rhetorical devices go, it is a cheap parlor trick, a con job to fool the foolish and gull the gullible and for anyone who has spent quality time with the Bible, its shortcomings should be obvious.

If not, see the pop quiz again. The Koran is hardly unique in its admonitions to take up the sword.

It is not my intention here to parse any of those troubling quotes. Let us leave it to religious scholars to contextualize them, to explain how they square with the contention that Islam and Christianity are religions of peace. For our purposes, it is sufficient to note that, while both Christian and Muslim scholars will offer that context and explanation, only Christians can be assured of being taken at their word when they do.

Christians get the benefit of the doubt. Muslims get Glenn Beck asking a Muslim Congressman to “prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.”

Because Christianity is regarded as a known — and a norm. Muslims, meantime, have been drafted since Sept. 11, 2001, to fulfill the nation’s obsessive, historic, paranoiac and ongoing need to rally against an enemy within. We lost the Commies, but along came the Islamo-fascists. The names change. The endless capacity for irrational panic remains the same.

As in people who send out e-mails insisting upon the rightness of holding over a billion people — that bears repeating: over a billion people — responsible for the actions of, what . . .? A few hundred? A few thousand?

Some of us use lies, exaggerations and rhetorical gobbledygook to instill in the rest of us that irrational panic they breathe like air. Yes, it is only sensible to fear the threat we face from terrorism. But panicked, irrational people are capable of anything.

Might be wise if we chose to fear that, too.

Riaz Haq said...

India politicians in Karnataka seek God's mediation, according to the BBC:

Two arch political rivals in the Indian state of Karnataka have decided to resolve their political differences before a Hindu god.

The state chief minister and his opposition rival - a former chief minister - agree that a divine showdown will resolve their dispute.

On 27 June they are due to present their arguments in a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Manjunatha.

He is the deity who arbitrates on land and property disputes.

The BBC's Habib Beary in the state capital Bangalore says that Manjunatha will seldom have been called on to adjudicate between two such high-profile litigants.

Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa has been accused by opposition leader HD Kumaraswamy of corruption.

Mr Kumaraswamy has threatened to expose land scams allegedly committed by Mr Yeddyurappa, in addition to accusing the chief minister of trying to "buy" his silence on the matter through intermediaries.

In reply, Mr Yeddyurappa has rubbished the allegations as "humbug", and has challenged his rival to stand before Lord Manjunatha and repeat his charge. Mr Kumaraswamy has accepted the challenge.

The former chief minister is so convinced as to the strength of his case that he has declared his willingness not only to testify before God but also before an inquiry.

"I am even prepared to undergo the truth serum test," Mr Kumaraswamy said.
Childish

In an open letter to his opposition rival, the chief minister said: "I believe in God. I hope you are also a believer in God. Therefore I am throwing you a challenge... If you have the courage to stick to your allegations in front of the Almighty, I will appreciate your courage."

However the chief minister's party colleagues are unhappy over the oath challenge.

Karnataka Health Minister Sreeramalu said that God should not have to arbitrate in the state's political disputes.

"Such actions would only affect the religious sentiments of people," he said.

A senior Congress leader, Motamma has also described the oath challenge as childish.

"The chief minister has lowered the image of the high office he holds," she said.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13843178

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some interesting excerpts from Anatol Lieven's "Pakistan-A Hard Country" on the role of religion and a description of Edhi Foundation as the essence of Pakistan's real civil society:

"Charities with a religious character tend to more favored and more trusted. It is also true of Pakistan's most famous charitable institution by far, Edhi Foundation, which is nonreligious; however, Abdus Sattar Edhi is himself a deeply religious man, known by the public at large as Maulana (a Muslim distinguished by his piety and learning)even though he is not a Muslim scholar and in fact greatly dislikes being called this.

There is no sight in Pakistan more moving than to visit some dusty, impoverished small town in arid wasteland, apparently abandoned by God and all sensible men and certainly abandoned by the Pakistani state and its own elected representatives- to see the flag of the Edhi Foundation flying over a concrete shack with a telephone, and the only ambulance in town standing in front. Here, if anywhere in Pakistan, lies the truth of human religion and human morality".

Another excerpt from Lieven's book:

"Levels of trust in Pakistani state institutions are extremely low, and for good reason. Partly in consequence, Pakistan has one of the lowest levels of tax collection outside Africa. On the other hand, charitable donations, at almost 5% of GDP, is one of the highest rates in the world".

Lieven quotes the following commandment (2:172) from the Quran:

"Righteousness is not that ye turn your faces towards the east or the west, but righteousness is, one who believes in God, and the last day, and the angels, and the Book, and the prophets, and who gives wealth for His love to kindred, and orphans, and the poor, and the son of the road, beggars, and those in captivity; and who is steadfast in prayers, and gives alms."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report of a study linking prejudice with low IQ:

There's no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb, according to a new study that is bound to stir public controversy.

The research finds that children with low intelligence are more likely to hold prejudiced attitudes as adults. These findings point to a vicious cycle, according to lead researcher Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, the study found. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice, Hodson wrote in an email to LiveScience.

"Prejudice is extremely complex and multifaceted, making it critical that any factors contributing to bias are uncovered and understood," he said.
-------------
Hodson and Busseri's explanation of their findings is reasonable, Nosek said, but it is correlational. That means the researchers didn't conclusively prove that the low intelligence caused the later prejudice. To do that, you'd have to somehow randomly assign otherwise identical people to be smart or dumb, liberal or conservative. Those sorts of studies obviously aren't possible.

The researchers controlled for factors such as education and socioeconomic status, making their case stronger, Nosek said. But there are other possible explanations that fit the data. For example, Nosek said, a study of left-wing liberals with stereotypically naïve views like "every kid is a genius in his or her own way," might find that people who hold these attitudes are also less bright. In other words, it might not be a particular ideology that is linked to stupidity, but extremist views in general.

"My speculation is that it's not as simple as their model presents it," Nosek said. "I think that lower cognitive capacity can lead to multiple simple ways to represent the world, and one of those can be embodied in a right-wing ideology where 'People I don't know are threats' and 'The world is a dangerous place'. ... Another simple way would be to just assume everybody is wonderful."

Prejudice is of particular interest because understanding the roots of racism and bias could help eliminate them, Hodson said. For example, he said, many anti-prejudice programs encourage participants to see things from another group's point of view. That mental exercise may be too taxing for people of low IQ.

"There may be cognitive limits in the ability to take the perspective of others, particularly foreigners," Hodson said. "Much of the present research literature suggests that our prejudices are primarily emotional in origin rather than cognitive. These two pieces of information suggest that it might be particularly fruitful for researchers to consider strategies to change feelings toward outgroups," rather than thoughts.


http://news.yahoo.com/low-iq-conservative-beliefs-linked-prejudice-180403506.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some verses from a Holy Book:

1. “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

2. “If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and worship other gods’ . . . do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. You must certainly put him to death.”

3. “Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”

Q. Are these from the Quran or the Bible?

A. From the Bible. Matthew 10:34, Deuteronomy 13:6-9, Numbers 31:17-18

Riaz Haq said...

90% of Indians are idiots, says Justice Katju according to India Times:

NEW DELHI: Ninety percent of Indians are “idiots” who can easily be misled by mischievous elements in the name of religion, Press Council of India (PCI) chairperson Justice Markandey Katju claimed today.

“I say ninety percent of Indians are idiots. You people don’t have brains in your heads….It is so easy to take you for a ride,” he said at a seminar here.

He said that a communal riot could be incited in Delhi for as meagre an amount as Rs 2000. He said that all somebody has to do is make a mischievous gesture of disrespect to a place of worship and people start fighting each other.

“You mad people will start fighting amongst yourself not realising that some agent provocateur is behind this,”he said.

Katju said that before 1857 there was no communalism in the country but the situation was different now. “Today 80 percent Hindus are communal and 80 percent Muslims are communal. This is the harsh truth, bitter truth that I am telling you. How is it that in 150 years you have gone backwards instead of moving forward because the English kept injecting poison,” Katju said.

“The policy that emanated from London after the mutiny in 1857 that there is only one way to control this country that is to make Hindus and Muslims fight each other,” he said.

He said that then there was a propaganda that Hindi was the language of Hindus and Urdu of Muslims. “Our ancestors also studied Urdu, but it is so easy to fool you. You are idiots so how difficult is it to make an idiot of you,” Katju said.

Katju said that he was saying these harsh things to make Indians, whom he loved to understand the whole game and not remain fools.


http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-12-08/news/35689114_1_justice-markandey-katju-hindus-communal-riot

Moid said...

Yup, actually the opposite is true: Atheists and agnostics know more about religions, then religous ppl. In Pak, for example, most muslims read Quran in a lang that they dont understand

And off course, as we know, not many ppl in pak are actually able to read quran or any other text for that matter

Moid said...

Only 3 in 10 Americans believe Bible is literally the word of God, according to Gallup poll.

Three in 10 Americans interpret the Bible literally, saying it is the actual word of God. That is similar to what Gallup has measured over the last two decades, but down from the 1970s and 1980s. A 49% plurality of Americans say the Bible is the inspired word of God but that it should not be taken literally, consistently the most common view in Gallup's nearly 40-year history of this question. Another 17% consider the Bible an ancient book of stories recorded by man.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/148427/say-bible-literally.aspx

Owais said...

From the Bible. Matthew 10:34, Deuteronomy 13:6-9, Numbers 31:17-18

Interesting - but where is the meat? Where are Xtian versions of OBL, Mullah Omar and Hakim Ullah Mehsuds' ?

Riaz Haq said...

Owais: "Interesting - but where is the meat? Where are Xtian versions of OBL, Mullah Omar and Hakim Ullah Mehsuds' ?"

There have been many Christian versions of OBL who have massacred Jews and Muslims and fellow Christians...Torquemada, Hitler, Crusaders etc

Riaz Haq said...

Is Islam more violent than other religions?

Looking over the last century, the bloodiest in human history, it’s an equally strange argument to make from a Western, Christian-majority nation. As University of Michigan Islam scholar Juan Cole (Informed Comment, 4/23/13) points out, of the more than 100 million war deaths in the 20th century, something less than 2 percent came at the hands of Muslim-majority nations. Most of those dead came in wars where non-Muslim nations played a significant role—such as the Iran/Iraq War, where the United States aided the aggressor Iraq, and the Afghan Civil War, where the Soviet Union was a major military force.
Cole also explains that “murder rates in most of the Muslim world are very low compared to the United States,” which is especially violent for a wealthy nation.

http://fair.org/extra-online-articles/a-media-microscope-on-islam-linked-violence/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of WSJ review of "Islam Without Extremes" by Turkish author Mustafa Akyol:

Mr. Akyol, a pious Muslim and a classical liberal, begins his case by proposing a serious rereading of the Quran. "The idea of freedom—in the theological, political, or economic sense—was not unknown in classical Islamdom, as some have claimed," Mr. Akyol writes. He notes that the Quran, compiled in the seventh century, broke with the traditions of its time and place—by mandating protections for property, appealing to the judgment of reason and promoting the idea of a rule of law (as opposed to rule by the whim of despots). Taking inspiration from the separation of church and state in the American constitution, Mr. Akyol suggests that a liberal democracy can be built on Muslim soil as long as neither Islamists nor secular strongmen are allowed to mix religion with politics.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424053111903554904576458563543798724

Riaz Haq said...

It’s no small thing that the Grand Mufti of Egypt Shaykh Ali Gomaa has acknowledged the permissibility of women leading men in prayer in the Western context after the persistence of female North American Muslim activists and scholars on the issue.

http://time.com/65094/look-out-for-the-new-muslim-renaissance/

Riaz Haq said...

ASLAN: Islam doesn't promote violence or peace. Islam is just a religion, and like every religion in the world, it depends on what you bring to it. If you're a violent person, your Islam, your Judaism, your Christianity, your Hinduism is going to be violent. There are Buddhist -- marauding Buddhist monks in Myanmar slaughtering

women and children. Does Buddhism promote violence? Of course not. People are violent or peaceful. And that depends on their politics, their social world, the way that they see their communities, the way they see themselves.

CAMEROTA: So, Reza, you don't think that there's anything more -- there's -- the justice system in Muslim countries you don't think is somehow more primitive or subjugates women more than in other countries?

ASLAN: Did you hear what you just said? You said in Muslim countries.

I just told you that, Indonesia, women are absolutely 100 percent equal to men. In Turkey, they have had more female representatives, more female heads of state in Turkey than we have in the United States.

LEMON: Yes, but in Pakistan...
-------

(CROSSTALK)

ASLAN: Stop saying things like "Muslim countries."


ASLAN: Stoning and mutilation and those barbaric practices should be condemned and criticized by everyone. The actions of individuals and societies and countries like Iran, like Pakistan, like Saudi Arabia must be condemned, because they don't belong in the 21st century.

But to say Muslim countries, as though Pakistan and Turkey are the same, as though Indonesia and Saudi Arabia are the same, as though somehow what is happening in the most extreme forms of these repressive countries, these autocratic countries, is representative of what's happening in every other Muslim country, is, frankly -- and I use this word seriously -- stupid. So let's stop doing that.

LEMON: OK, Reza. Let's -- I want you to listen to Benjamin Netanyahu again. This is actually the one I wanted you to hear. ASLAN: Yes, the ISIS.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NETANYAHU: But our hopes and the world's hopes for peace are in danger, because everywhere we look, militant Islam is on the march. It's not militants. It's not Islam. It's militant Islam. And, typically, its first victims are other Muslims, but it spares no one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He's making a clear distinction there. He says it's not militants, it's not Islam; it's militant Islam. Do you understand his distinction there? Is he correct?

ASLAN: Well, he's correct in talking about militant Islam being a problem.

He is absolutely incorrect in talking about ISIS equaling Hamas. That's just ridiculous. No one takes him seriously when he says things like that. And, frankly, it's precisely why, under his leadership, Israel has become so incredibly isolated from the rest of the global community.

Those kinds of statements are illogical, they're irrational, they're so obviously propagandistic. In fact, he went so far as to then bring up the Nazis, which has become kind of a verbal tick for him whenever he brings up either Hamas or ISIS.

Again, these kinds of oversimplifications I think only cause more danger. There is a very real problem. ISIS is a problem. Al Qaeda is a problem. These militant Islamic groups like Hamas, like Hezbollah, like the Taliban have to be dealt with. But it doesn't actually help us to deal with them when, instead of talking about rational conflicts, rational criticisms of a particular religion, we instead so easily slip into bigotry by simply painting everyone with a single brush, as we have been doing in this conversation, mind you.


http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2014/09/30/reza_aslan_mahers_facile_generalizations_of_islam_the_definition_of_bigotry.html

Riaz Haq said...

Pew Research reports that Islamic symbols are found on the flags of 21 countries (out of 64 with religious symbols on their fags) in sub-Saharan Africa, the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East and North Africa. In Bahrain, the national flag features five white triangles, symbolizing the Five Pillars of Islam. Algeria, Turkey, Brunei and Uzbekistan are some of the many countries that include an Islamic star and crescent on their national flag.
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/11/25/64-countries-have-religious-symbols-on-their-national-flags/

Riaz Haq said...

No inspiration from above. #Innovation inversely proportional to religiosity. #religion #science #Pakistan

http://econ.st/1FejsPb


MORE religious countries tend to be less innovative, according to a paper published last month by America’s National Bureau of Economic Research. In “Forbidden Fruits: The Political Economy of Science, Religion, and Growth”, Roland Benabou of Princeton and Davide Ticche and Andrea Vindigni of the IMT Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca find a strong negative correlation between innovation, as measured by patents, and religiosity, measured by the share of a population that self-identifies as religious. “I am interested in how people form beliefs that are relevant to economics,” says Mr Benabou. “That thought takes you to belief with a capital B, and that’s religion.”

The authors do not claim to prove that religion causes an innovation deficit. However, they hypothesise that theocratic models of government, in which political leaders are strongly influenced by religious institutions, may provide a channel for anti-scientific views to influence public policy. As examples, they cite the banning of printing in the Ottoman Empire, and the controversial decision by the former American president George W. Bush to limit the federal government’s funding of stem-cell research. Even after taking into account these restrictions, the existence of the United States is still problematic for the theory: a fifth of the world’s GDP comes from a country that is both religious and innovative. And if religion does in fact depress innovation, that does not necessarily mean it is bad for economic growth. After all, faith could quite plausibly offer benefits, such as social cohesion, that outweigh its costs.

Riaz Haq said...

Religion fading with younger Americans: Just 12% say they're religious among age 18-34 vs 63% in 70+ age group, according to recent Pew Survey

http://www.people-press.org/2015/09/03/most-millennials-resist-the-millennial-label/

Americans who say their generation is religious
Age 18-34 12%
35-50 21%
51-69 42%
70-87 63%