person inclined to question or doubt all accepted opinions.
–Oxford English Dictionary
I will never fail to be bewildered by how atheists, agnostics, and the irreligious constantly portray themselves as noble skeptics, bravely going against the time of mass opinion for denying religious ideals that have been denied, mocked, ridiculed, scorned , derided, and lampooned for almost a century. These same people will predictably stick to the mass secular opinion that they have been indoctrinated with since birth, presenting these beliefs as ‘revolutionary’ and ‘breaking the mold’. I ask, what mold? What foundations are they shaking, what revolution are they causing? The increase of young people leaving their almost entirely secularized organized religion in favor of a more defined atheism? Seeing this merely makes me wonder whether these people are really even changing their beliefs, or rather, finding a better label to describe them. It’s getting to the point where one can sit down a Christian and an atheist, and find that beyond one of them possessing a loose belief in a deity, there is practically no difference between any of their beliefs or outlooks on life. That Christian may technically acknowledge the existence of this loose concept of a deity– maybe even go to church twice a year to pay his brief respects to it– but they will never even consider the full implications of that belief, and its associated outlook on life. Instead, they will just go right on partying, drinking, and having casual sex, just like the rest of their atheist buddies.
America is considered to be the most religious of Western nations, largely thanks to a strip of evangelical-heavy southern states and counties known as the ‘Bible Belt’. But these people aren’t more devout theists– they’re just more enthusiastic ones, still as Biblically (not to mention Quranically) illiterate as the rest of the population. Do not be fooled here, we are a profoundly irreligious nation, and we have been for some time. ‘Cultural Christianity/Islam/Judaism’ means just that– culture. There is no theology involved.
So in a time when faith-based beliefs are treated as comic fodder, this generation’s pie-in-the-face, it may seem odd that the solution I present is to turn to skepticism, our supposed enemy. But it truly isn’t, because despite what the so-called skeptics say, if we really were to begin ‘questioning everything’, the first doctrines to go would be secularism, liberalism, scientism, feminism, sex-positivism, nationalism, pacifism, and humanism, as well as the vapid notions that underlie them. I know this because it happened to me.
When I first read the Quran as a secular Muslim, I was upset. Upset that it wasn’t just a manifesto for secular liberalism, that it had a philosophy of its own, something so powerful that a feeble mind like mine could not grasp it. I could not understand why it called for amputation as a punishment for thieves (5:38) or didn’t treat all people’s beliefs as equal and all worthy in the sight of God (3:85). I never underwent ‘enlightenment’, nothing ever came to me in a flash of inspiration. But I saw it eventually. I understood. And I saw the weaknesses of my previous understanding, the one followed by just about everyone else I knew. The internal flaws, fallacies, contradictions, hypocrisies, and gaps in reasoning that were present.
So yes, let’s become skeptics. Let’s question everything. And let’s begin with the most inane, puerile, and ridiculous of modern beliefs– those that make up Western Civilization.
“And it was not [possible] for this Quran to be produced by other than Allah , but [it is] a confirmation of what was before it and a detailed explanation of the [former] Scripture, about which there is no doubt, from the Lord of the worlds.” (Quran 10:37)
“You will surely be tested in your possessions and in yourselves. And you will surely hear from those who were given the Scripture before you and from those who associate others with Allah much abuse. But if you are patient and fear Allah – indeed, that is of the matters [worthy] of determination.” (Quran 3:186)