3 Dec 2011
Excellent review, Rebecca. Although I haven't yet read the book, the review brings to mind the 2007 Intelligence Squared debate in London which featured Mr. Warraq as one of the speakers. The proposition was "We should not be reluctant to assert the superiority of Western Values" with Mr. Warraq, Douglas Murray, and David Aaronovich speaking for the motion, and Tariq Ramadan, William Dalrymple, and Charles Glass speaking against it.
This is Mr. Warraq's opening statement, after which, in my opinion, te debate was over:
14 Dec 2011
Is Mrs. Buynum actually saying that equality before the law was not the fruit of the Enlightenment but of the traditional faith-based society against which the Enlightenment rebelled? That "pursuit of happiness" is unique to, or inherent in, Christianity?
The first assertion especially strikes me as perverse, as a complete reversal of the truth. It was the 18th century rationalists like Diderot, d'Holbach, and Helvetius who advocated in behalf of legal equality and the abolition of medieval feudal divisions, who promoted religious toleration, and who were bitterly opposed by the Catholic Church.
Even though the United States is often called a "Christian nation" by right-wing polemicists, the American revolution and subsequent developments toward more equality would not be conceivable without the politcal philosophy of 18th-century Europe. I'm sure Ibn Warraq would agree.