Religion is toxic. Here’s a case in London in which both the acute and the chronic poison are in clear view: a Moslem scientist has been threatened with murder over his views on evolution. He tried to explain how Islam and evolution are compatible.
Masjid Tawhid is a prominent mosque which also runs one of the country’s largest sharia courts, the Islamic Sharia Council. In January, Dr Hasan delivered a lecture there detailing why he felt the theory of evolution and Islam were compatible — a position that is not unusual among many Islamic scholars with scientific backgrounds. But the lecture was interrupted by men he described as “fanatics” who distributed leaflets claiming that “Darwin is blasphemy”.
“One man came up to me during the lecture and said ‘You are an apostate and should be killed’,” Dr Hasan told The Independent. “I want to go back — I’ve been going to the mosque for 25 years. It is my favourite mosque in London, and I have been active in the community for a long time. I hope my positive contribution will outweigh their feelings towards me.”
There’s one evil: zealots who think their superstitions justify threatening death to anyone who disagrees with them. That’s the obvious one.
But there’s another, subtler poison at work here. Hasan has apologized for speaking the truth about the science; he canceled a lecture out of fear for his life (quite reasonable), but then goes on to beg for readmission to a mosque filled with blind, hateful fanatics who want to murder scientists like him.
Hasan is also deeply deluded, in a nicer way, but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s blind to the conflicts between his science and his religion, and to the even more immediate conflicts between himself and his local culture. That ignorance is likely to get him killed, or perhaps more probably as his behavior is currently demonstrating, likely to get him to abandon reason and science altogether.