Tag Archives: koran

God’s middleman

29 Dec

This is a really basic concept, but it was something that I wrestled with for a while when deconverting from Christianity. The night I became an atheist I laid in bed for several hours pondering hell and eternal damnation. The thought of letting go from the ledge and dismissing the intense warnings and threats of hellfire terrified me. Two realizations comforted me and led me to take the plunge. The first was that I must be able to trust my own reasoning skills. Without them I’m not my own person. The second realization was as follows:

Everything we know about religion and gods, we are told by other people.

 

Think about it. Who told you about god(s)? Your parents? Your friends? Where did they hear about it? Their pastor/priest/rabbi/imam/shaman? Who told them? Another person. But what about the books? People did. People claiming to talk for god(s). That’s all it ever was; one person claiming to know the mind of a supreme all knowing, all powerful super being that created the entire cosmos. All the books, the art, the music, the buildings, the dogma and doctrine, all of it comes from someone who heard about god(s) from someone else, who in turn heard from another someone.

Ultimately, if it were possible to follow the chain of he said/she said’s all the way back, you would come across a single person or group who started the rumors game.

What about this person? What credibility do they have? These are very serious claims they are making. They purport to know the mind of this supernatural being. Entire societies, gender roles, ways of living, eating, procreating, and dying are structured around the claims made by individuals like these. I say that makes it extremely important to determine if they’re telling the truth. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, so what is their evidence?

“Just trust me…”

Seriously, that’s it. Sometimes they’ll throw in a little incentive like “or you’ll burn in eternal hell-fire!” Sure there are stories of miracles, but these miracles are never documented outside of the story books claiming them, nor are they anything beyond what would impress the local population of that time and location. Water to wine? Multiplying fish and bread? Walking on water? (I’m using christian mythology because that’s what I’m familiar with. There are plenty of other examples from other religions) Those are miracles? Why not something like curing amputated limbs, or transporting people to Alpha Centauri, or dividing by zero? And while you’re at it, just so their can be no confusion or doubt, make sure it’s well documented by a large variety of independent sources.  Unfortunately the people who were around when these belief systems were invented didn’t ask for such evidence. They were quick to believe and slow to doubt.

One of the hardest things to wrap your mind around is how just so many people could be so wrong, and yet so sure they’re right. This was another thing I struggled with. “Look around you! Look how Christianity is everywhere! Look how many people believe! It can’t possibly be based on a lie! It’s unthinkable that it could all be wrong! Surely its ubiquity must attest to some level of truth?”

People who are surrounded by Islam think the same thing. So do the people who are surrounded by Buddhism, Toaism, Judaism, animism, voodoo, etc. The people who were surrounded by the worship of Thor felt the same way. As did those who grew up in ancient Egypt with Ra. Your location, your cultural preferences, they are not the world. For ever million believers who think like you, there are just as many equally fervent believers of another faith. They make the same justifications and rationalizations that you do, but they change the name of the god(s).

The problem is that the system reinforces it’self.  One person starts a rumor, then more people spread it, and then more until it spreads exponentially.  Eventually everybody in a location knows the rumor and it becomes common knowledge, common truth. Children are then raised in a society saturated in the rumor and it’s taken as a given, a natural existence.  The more people who believe in the rumor, the more the individual believer feels secure in their belief.

No matter how many people believe something, no matter how many books are written, buildings built, and songs sung, it all goes back to that one individual, god’s middleman.

“Just trust me…”

Islam is a religion, not a race.

15 Oct

One of the most dangerous notions threatening free speech today is the notion that Islam is not just a religion, but a race. I call bullshit. I call it big time. Just last month six people in the UK were arrested for burning a Koran. Why? “Inciting racial hatred.” Just the other day in France, another person was also arrested for destroying a Koran. Why? “Inciting racial hatred.”

Let’s not fool ourselves. The Muslims that called the police on these men were insulted; their poor little feelings were hurt. Normally, in Islamic countries, they could march down to the offending person’s house as an angry mob, drag him into the street, and stone him to death for blasphemy. Unfortunately western countries are not as forward thinking as Islamic countries, and blasphemy is not a crime because of a little something called free speech.

So what is a poor Muslim to do? Their feelings were hurt! Justice must be done! I know! After that whole WWII thing, Europe’s been super sensitive about race! Jews are a race and religion, so let’s claim to be a race like them!

Presto, there you have it. The Muslims have figured out how to exploit race laws in order to enforce their draconian views on free speech and blasphemy. The sad thing is that this wouldn’t work if the people and politicians of Europe had the balls to call bullshit. Unfortunately they’re too afraid of being attacked by angry mobs burning things, since that’s apparently what happens when a cartoonist, an author, or some bloke with a camera says anything remotely disrespectful of their religion of peace.

You know what a Muslim looks like? Here are a few pictures of Muslims:

Islam is in the dark ages.

31 May

Before you read this any further, ask yourself: Will I change my views if the evidence suggests otherwise? If no, then you might as well leave.

I am going to present some facts about Islam, then give you my conclusion at the end.

Islam. The very name means “submission”. Unlike in Judaism or Christianity, the relationship between god and worshiper is master/slave. You submit to Allah’s will.

Women are inferior to men in Islam:

2:223 Your women are a tilth for you (to cultivate) so go to your tilth as ye willQur’an (4:11) – (Inheritance) “The male shall have the equal of the portion of two females” (see also verse 4:176).

Qur’an (2:282) – (Court testimony) “And call to witness, from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not found then a man and two women.”

Bukhari (6:301)“[Muhammad] said, ‘Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?’  They replied in the affirmative.  He said, ‘This is the deficiency in her intelligence.’

Bukhari (6:301) – continued – “[Muhammad said] ‘Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?’ The women replied in the affirmative. He said, ‘This is the deficiency in her religion.’” Allah has made women deficient in the practice of their religion as well, by giving them menstrual cycles.

Tabari Vol 9, Number 1754“Treat women well, for they are [like] domestic animals with you and do not possess anything for themselves.” From Muhammad’s ‘Farewell Sermon’.

(More verses here)

Women do not need to be present at their marriage for their fathers or brothers to marry them away.

Women often do not get to choose who and when they will be married.

They must submit to their husband’s sexual desires whenever he wills. (See 2: 223)

In Saudi Arabia, where Islam is applied to the letter, women are not allowed to leave the house without a male relative escorting them. They are not allowed to drive cars. They are not allowed to be anywhere unless they are being supervised by a man.

An-Nisa verse 34: “Men are the maintainers of women because God has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as God has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely God is High, Great”

Two words: Honor Killings

This is such an important issue in Islam today. The United Nations Population Fund estimates that around 5,000 women are brutally murdered each year by male relatives in an attempt to wash away some shame, usually the shame of the woman being raped. I cannot overstress the importance of this issue. I could write several blog posts on it, but the Middle East Forum did an interesting study here, with statistics and explanations. Some would argue that this has nothing to do with Islam, the evidence says otherwise.

Attacks on Free speech

Islam has a long history of threats, violence, and murder perpetrated against anyone who dare criticize it.  Salman Rushdie, Theo van Gogh, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, just to name a few resent people. Why is it only Islam seems to threaten and kill people over free speech? Why did the Vatican not issue a death warrant on Dan Brown? Why were there not riots in the streets by angry Catholics over The DaVinci Code? Why do Muslims en masse feel they need to riot, destroy buildings, burn books, and kill people over words or cartoons?

Fact: Pakistan shut down Facebook, youtube, and other internet sites over “Draw Muhammad Day”, an exercise in free speech created as a response to death threats for drawing a cartoon.

Fact: 9/11 was carried out expressly for religions reasons. Not for political reasons, not for economic reasons, religious reasons. It was a one way ticket to heaven.

Fact: Islamic countries score very poorly, as a whole, on the Human Development Index.

Fact: Muhammad was a pedophile.

In Islam, Muhammad is infallible. He sets up exact proscriptions on how to live, how to treat women, and what is permissible and what is forbidden. By doing this Islam has sealed itself in the world view of the 7th century Arabian desert.

My conclusion: All this considered, I see Islam as backwards and disgusting. It subjugates women, and violates human rights. Without undergoing its own enlightenment, as the West did, Islam truly is stuck in the dark ages. Unfortunately, people with this medieval mentality now have access to 21st century technology and weapons, developed by the West, with which they  use to wage holy war.

Am I saying Western culture is far superior? Yes and no. My culture has plenty of problems. It is far from perfect and there are many different ways to do things, which is fine. However, Islam has far more serious problems concerning basic human rights.

“Oh but GP, who are you to say that their culture is inferior?” The idea of basic human rights was developed in the West as a product of our combined experiences. We had gone through an enlightenment, where we freed our society from the absolutist shackles of religion, and began to experiment with how to create a better, more just world. The United States Constitution and Bill of Rights were one of the first great answers to that question. Even by the 18th century people in the West began to see that some practices were more conducive to human flourishing than others.  The violation of these practices and the horrendous slaughter of the 20th century only further compounded the importance of these rights. Thus the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was  developed. Human rights, if respected and adhered to, improve the lives of everyone, regardless of nationality, race, or religion.

To argue against human rights is to condemn generations of people in Islamic countries to lives of suffering, poverty, disease, and war. Don’t misunderstand me. The goal is not to eliminate Islam, merely to accelerate it’s enlightenment. Christianity and Judaism were not eliminated by the European enlightenment, and nor will Islam be. What matters is that they be lifted up out of the dark ages in order to free their men and women, and end the violence.

How do we do this? Violence is not the answer. We will not speed up an enlightenment through bombs or guns. This will only harden their ignorance and hatred towards us. We must speed it up through education. Where does education pay the most returns? Women. Educated women will be better able to stand up for their rights. Educated women will educate their children, who will then educate their children in return. It’s exponential. It will take some time, but it is the only way. If we do nothing, we can only expect to see more suicide bombers, more honor killings, more misery.

Your religion doesn’t apply to me

20 May

In retrospect over the first annual “Draw Muhammad Day” it occurred to me that one of the fundamental problems with some people is that they expect their religion applies to other people. “I’m a muslim, therefore you cannot draw Muhammad.” “I’m a christian, therefore you cannot buy certain things before I get out of church.”

It’s ridiculous. Your religion applies to you and only you. It, and its laws, do not apply to anyone who does not subscribe to your set of beliefs. “Oh, GP, what about murder? My religion says “thou shall not kill* ”  is it alright then for you to go around killing people?

No, because I ascribe to a country which has laws prohibiting murder. (Not that I need a law to keep me from doing it)  A lot of countries have the same types of laws. However, just like in religions, one country’s laws do not apply in another country. It would be ridiculous for someone from Iran to come over to the US and try to enforce the ban on dancing. This is not their country, they have no right to try and enforce their laws here. The same is true of religious people trying to enforce their religious laws on other people. Everyone should see it for how ridiculous it is.

*except when I feel I’m doing god’s work

Do you speak for god?

16 Feb

While conducting research on my senior thesis in history, I came across this speech given by Emperor Wilhelm to his troops in 1914:

“Remember that you are the chosen people! The spirit of the Lord has descended upon me, because I am Emperor of the Germans! I am the instrument of the Most High. I am His sword, His representative….May all the enemies of the German people perish! God demands their destruction, God, who through my mouth, commands you to execute His will!”

Why is it god always speaks through man, and never directly?

One of the milestones on my road to deconversion was when I realized that everything I had been told about religion, god, Jesus, etc, was told to me by another human being.

I thought to myself:  “Now wait a second….human beings are fallible. They make mistakes. They lie. They have agendas, sometimes hidden ones. They care about power. They are not perfect. So why would an all perfect god always use such biased, self interested agents as humans to spread his word? Those people claim to speak for god, and we have only their word. We just have to trust them. These people often lie and take advantage of that blind trust… What if they are not speaking for god? What if they are just claiming to speak for god? Or what if they think they are speaking for god but it is just all in their head? We have no way of knowing…. But why would someone pretend to be talking for god? Simple. Power, money, prestige….”

Look at these two big examples. Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell. Both of them made millions of dollars claiming to speak for god. Both of them set up “schools” where they make even more money telling people they speak for god. Televangelists have been doing this for ages.

But ok, those are big examples. What about your average pastor/priest/imam/rabbi? Well, I would argue that most of them are just spouting the old stuff that someone else once claimed was god’s word. They read from the bible/koran/torah and say “this is god’s word!” They don’t have too much to gain (if their operation is still small) accept the prestige (among believers) of knowing the god’s will. The people who wrote what they’re saying, however, had a lot to gain.

These “holy texts” ordered entire cultures! The people who wrote them, claiming themselves (men) as the holy instruments of god crafted these texts to secure their power. “Women should be subservient” is an excellent example. If you read or watch “Misquoting Jesus” you can see how early Christian scribes altered the bible to secure contemporary power bases throughout the middle ages.

You can have a lot of power over someone who believes that you and you alone know the path to salvation. Just look around at modern and ancient cults! People commit suicide for their cult leaders! The only thing that is different between a cult and organized religion is size. The smaller it is, the more intense control you can exercise over your followers. (It’s easier to brainwash 30 people who you see every day than it is to brainwash 30 million that you speak to once a week, though there are those among the 30 million that will be fanatically devoted to you or the cause)

Imagine for a second there was a mad man on the corner claiming to know the will of the stop sign. Say he was shouting at people that they must live their lives according to a book written by those divinely inspired by the stop sign. Imagine he asked for contributions or a tithe to help fun the work of the holy stop sign. Imagine if he had millions of followers who likewise believed the will of the stop sign was known through a book. Imagine if he made lots of money and lived lavish lifestyles off of the contribution on stop sign believers.Now imagine if those millions of stop sign believers tried to change the laws in your country to favor those who accept the stop sign. They want to affect how you live your life and what freedoms you have based off of what somebody claims is the will of the stop sign, and you have only their word. There is no way to see if they are actually right. You just have to take it on faith.

I bed you’d be pretty pissed off. I bet you’d try and point out that the guy on the corner is mad, and he does not really speak for the stop sign. I bet you’d try to get proof that he spoke for the stop sign, or that the stop sign even had a will in the first place! I bet you’d fight to stop them from telling you how to live your life, what freedoms you had, all because of what they think a stop sign is telling them. Sounds pretty insane right?

That is how Atheists feel about you. (You being if you are in fact a believer in a higher power who also believes that the will of said power can be known, and that it is your duty to tell others how to live and enact laws if need be)

Your religion is wrong

3 Feb

Everyone hates hearing “your religion is wrong”. Religion is extremely important to people, and being told your entire world view is incorrect can really sour your day. I think the difficult part for Atheists is that when people hear “Atheist” they automatically think “here is someone who denies everything I love and hold true.” Well, yes, technically, Atheists do not believe in all the religious stuff you do, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to attack you for it at every instance. (Yes, there are Atheists who might seem very loud and combative about it, but that’s because we live in a society that demonizes and persecutes them. They’re lashing out because of this)

To believe one things inherently means you disbelieve another. If you say you’re a Christian, then you are also saying Muslims, Jews, Atheists, Pagans, Buddhists, etc, are all wrong. If you’re a Muslim, you believe all the others are wrong. I think the reason people don’t freak out when someone tells them they are another religion, like Jewish or Muslim, is that at least you have god in common. You might disagree on the particulars, but at least you have some common religious ground. Atheists don’t have that benefit. They are the anti-thesis to all things religious.

Yeah Atheists will disagree with you on just about everything religious, but the common ground you can find with them is in caring for your neighbor. Many Atheists, just like many believers, are normal, kind people, and there is a lot we can do together if we just get past the bickering.

Sometimes I wish I had a religion

27 May

Sometimes I wish I had a religion, just to be able to claim all the crap modern religions do. For example, there is a scene in Angels and Demons where one of the Vatican police officers warns Robert Langdon to watch his tongue inside the holy Vatican city. Sometimes I wish I had a religion so I could do that. Imagine, being able to tell religious people that they must hold their tongues and be respectful inside a science museum! Damn that would feel good.

But unfortunately science doesn’t work like that. Science by nature wants you to question! Religions ask you to hold your tongue.

I wish that I could have special holidays that I could take off class/work, with party napkins and special cards, along with sales and “Happy _________” signs.

It would be nice to just  demand blanket respect for my views, and my restrictions on criticizing me put into law. I’d be nice to claim a monopoly on morality and influence the government to enact policies we deem acceptable. It’d be nice to have my faith on the currency and in the pledge too.

It’d be nice to have a list of holy sites and symbols, along with old and sometimes secretive orders. All this would be awesome. Especially the respect and influencing law part.

Heaven is Hell

26 May

As a little kid, did you ever take a plane ride and look out the window onto the clouds, hoping to see angels or perhaps a dead love one? I did, and I’m pretty sure millions of other kids have too.

Growing up, I never really thought of heaven much. I knew that I wanted to go there, but beyond that I didn’t give it much thought. Then I started thinking about all the people I knew who wouldn’t go to heaven, how it would make me really sad if someone I loved was burning forever in hell. How could I be happy in heaven knowing someone I loved was suffering? How could anybody?

I used to think that perhaps if I made a deal with god to trade spaces with someone in hell, he’d see the goodness in that act and we’d both be free to live in heaven. That or maybe if I just asked Jesus to forgive that person even if they didn’t ask for it…..

But what I really found fascinating was the idea of eternity. I was brought up to believe that if you were good and believed in Jesus you would spend eternity in heaven with god, where you would always be happy and feel no pain. Can you imagine eternity? Could you imagine being stuck in one place forever? I’d go crazy! I couldn’t do it, it would eventually become hell for me. The only way I’d be happy would to not exist, to not be conscious of time.

If I had to be conscious of time, I guess I could be happy if I had complete freedom of movement within time and space. I could be there for every event in human (and alien) history. I could go see the moment of creation, spend summers in distant galaxies, explore. Unfortunately, I don’t think my pastor thought this was part of the all-inclusive package.

The heaven that the people at places like “Liberty” “University” speak of would drive me up the wall. An all white gated community, where I am forced to be god’s cheerleader for all eternity. I’d be much more happy not existing.

The emotions of god

25 May

God is often described as having very human emotions, greed, wrath, love, envy, etc. Does it ever strike you as weird considering how many theists claim that their god is perfect and unchanging?

Furthermore, if god is all-knowing, how can he/she/it get angry when something does not happen the way he/she/it wishes? Being angry implies that you were surprised that something acted somehow differently from what you wanted. How can a perfect all-knowing god be surprised by something?

Would he not have foreseen that X was going to happen the way it did? And had it upset him enough could he not have changed it?

Whenever theists rant on about how sinners make god angry, it just makes me roll my eyes. Do they not stop and think about how petty they are making their god sound by attributing very human emotions to him/her/it?

To win we must take blows

5 May

This might be one of my more controversial posts. The last post I made was on the subject of discrimination against Atheists in the United States.  Atheists are in a sort of limbo right now. (Pun not intended) The discrimination is there, it just is at a level that is still acceptable to the majority of the population.

This is the horrible part: In order for the discrimination of Atheists to gain public attention, and to be deemed unacceptable, we need to suffer a series of hate crimes, just like blacks and homosexuals. These hate crimes need to be clear and well publicised.

Trust me, I’m disgusted by the thought of my felllow Atheists being attacked in this way, but nobody is going to take discrimination against us seriously until the religious start persecuting us more forcefully in this country.

Just some food for thought. (Even though the idea makes me sick)

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