A small but enthusiastic group enjoyed this presentation, which involved a very healthy interaction with the speaker.
Raj Munir is a native of Bangladesh and the author of the recently published book, Islam, God, and the New Enlightenment (ISBN-13: 9781453890124). He is clearly a supporter of secular humanism. Since he was born into a Muslim family but lost his faith in Islam, he cannot safely return to Bangladesh.
Raj talked about the need to look at religion in general, and Islam in particular, from a scientific perspective. He spent some time explaining the scientific method. After some explanation, he concluded that the tenets of Islam (and other revealed religions) were not a result of using the scientific method. Neither were they dictated by a deity. They were invented by human beings for their own purposes.
Islam today is as pervasive in the culture of most present day Muslim countries as Christianity was in Europe before the Enlightenment. In addition, it has never had anything comparable to a reformation. The result is a society not genuinely open to freedom of inquiry, or of scientific or social progress. Innovation today comes from America, Europe or East Asia, not from Islamic countries. The solution to this problem is for the general acceptance throughout the world of what Raj calls the new enlightenment. It would include acceptance of a scientific worldview, the decline of dogmatic religious belief and the general acceptance so some form of secular humanism.
Report prepared by Wayne Luney, Program Chair