Channel 4 Revelations: “How Do You Know God Exists?”

// August 16th, 2009 // Blog

Programme synopsis:

“Leading figures in the five principal faiths in Britain discuss their beliefs and answer questions about their basic faith and their own spiritual journeys.

The key figures interviewed are Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, Muslim theologian Tariq Ramadan, Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Swami Pramtattvadas.

As well as addressing the 'big questions', including their concepts of God, heaven and hell, they speak frankly about their struggles and frequent moments of doubt, about the divisions within their ranks and crimes that have been committed in the name of religion.”

I only caught the second half of the show, but was just in time to see Tariq Ramadan do a really bad job of explaining the infamous 'wife-beating' verse in the Qur'an. It's not entirely his fault… editing is a dodgy business, and he only had one sentence to work with, really. But that's why I get quite annoyed with these types of shows. You aren't given the time to do justice to any topic.

But his brief explanation irked me, because it came across as: “Yes, the Qur'an says beat your wife, but wife beating goes against Islamic tradition”. Erm… does that mean the Qur'an isn't the basis of Islamic tradition? His answer was confusing, and odd, and I am sure he himself would not be happy at how it sounded.

Anyway, I don't want to dwell on that topic – but, for any non-Muslims reading: the Qur'an is, in fact, the basis of Islamic tradition, and no, it doesn't tell men to beat their wives black and blue. I want to find a good article to explain in more detail, but I am too afraid to Google for an answer – seriously, Islamophobic search results scare me. I'll have to ask around for one, instead.

What I do want to briefly talk about is the idea of religion being the root of all evil.

It's not that I want to argue for or against the motion; rather, I think the motion itself is rather moot. People are always going to believe in something, whether their belief is good or bad. People are going to base their actions on that belief – one definition of religion – whatever is said. Even people who claim that they don't believe, because disbelief is faith: “I don't believe in God” is equivalent to “I believe there is no God”.

So, religion – organized, decentralized, old, new, traditional, progressive – will always exist. It is part of the human condition.

The Qur'an has an explanation for this. In surah 51, verse 56, God says:

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
I have only created Jinns and men, that they may worship Me.

Therefore, faith, worship, religion: it's all in our DNA. The choices of what we believe in, whom we worship, and the actions thereafter, are more influenced by our environment, it seems – and ultimately, all guidance is from Allāh.

It's not that the debate is completely useless, but I suspect that many individuals use it simply to undermine those in favour of religion. That is quite hypocritical, when you realize that no human being is free of faith, and its influence.

Therefore, the argument should be rephrased, from: “Is religion the root of all evil?” to “Can religion be used for evil intent?” – the latter is definitely a more fruitful discussion, which could actually lead to people reforming their harmful, misguided behaviour, and avoids the impossible end-goal of abandoning faith altogether.

One Response to “Channel 4 Revelations: “How Do You Know God Exists?””

  1. UmmZ says:

    People who actually ask that question is not looking to do any favours to any religion,they just want a point to argue.

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