The Issue of God – A Lecture at Berkeley

The other day, I attended a lecture at UC Berkeley titled Can We Talk About God? Devotion and Extremism in the Modern Age. The event was sponsored by Zaytuna, KPFA, and Cody’s Books.

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t about to go.

The event was on a Tuesday in Berkeley and while I already told my mom that I would just head there after work, I spent a great deal of time debating myself as to whether or not I should even go. Eventually, I decided to go because every time I miss a Zaytuna event, I hear about how awesome it was.

So I went.

And it was awesome.

The talk featured British philosopher Roger Scruton and Muslim scholar Imam Zaid Shakir. The two of them first spoke separately and then joined in a discussion with moderator Sandy Tolan, author and professor at UC Berkeley.

Scruton, a conservative himself, discussed how secularist law should should be the dominant form of law over religious law in a country. He ended his talk by asking if Muslims could deal with secularist society, such as that of the U.S.

After pointing out that God has always been present in many aspects of the U.S., mentioning how Presidents swear their oath on Bibles and so forth, Shakir talked of the issues that God presented in this society. Out of the three issues he presented, the last one dealt exclusively with Islam, the issue of how we can talk about Islam in the public realm.

It was a really good lecture and my summary here doesn’t do it justice at all (I almost started typing up my notes to put here, and well, this would then become a lot longer post). They talked about so much more than the above mentioned. I have some more thoughts on stuff that came out of this lecture that I may post about later.

It was interesting that these two people held a captive audience and nearly filled the auditorium on a Tuesday in Berkeley (Please note italics above). Not all of these people were students. A lot of us had to expend effort to get there and it was well worth it.

Y’know what was also awesome about the night? The nonfat white mocha from Caffe Strada, which is one block away from the International House. It was most excellent. Thank you Yelp.

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