Sunday, October 10, 2010

God Needs a Quality Control Department

Outspoken skeptics are often criticized for mocking the beliefs of the religious, belittling that which is held sacred, blaspheming their supernatural being (or beings). What the religious never seem to realize is that their own apologists treat their beliefs, their sacred items and activities, and their god (or gods) with far more contempt than any irreligious person ever could. Consider all the religious people who, speaking publicly on behalf of their god, lie, dissemble, ignore the facts, present appallingly faulty and inconsistent reasoning in support of their arguments, and when shown to be flatly and utterly incorrect, abandon reason altogether and claim that the irreligious will never understand because we lack spiritual discernment, or because we have not felt the power of god in our hearts, or the most childish non-argument I've ever heard, because we just want to go on sinning.

Here I'll review a debate between a Jesusianismist and a Muhammadanismist concerning which of the two religions' mutually incompatible doctrines of salvation is true. On the side of Jesus is Doctor William Lane Craig, a prominent Jesusianismist apologist, who in spite of having multiple graduate degrees and at least two Ph. D.'s, is a fellow of both the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture and the International Society for Complexity, Information and Design. If that is not a clear sign that getting degrees in theology is a waste of time, I don't know what is. On the side of Muhammad is Shabir Ally, president of the Islamic Information & Dawah Centre International in Toronto, who also has a few useless religion-oriented degrees.

Throughout the debate, both speakers make various assertions of fact without providing any sort of support at all, apparently assuming that the entire audience simply agrees with them. As I will show, some of these statements are just too preposterous to be accepted without some sort of defense. Also, both speakers make numerous egregious mistakes of reasoning that go absolutely unchallenged by anyone. These unsupported assertions and flawed arguments cannot stand, and any claims based on them must be rejected pending better support.

Dr. Craig's Opening Statements

God must be the greatest conceivable being.

Where does this notion come from? Is it based on knowledge, observation, experiment? No. It’s an assertion, based on nothing. Some may say that it’s based on centuries of theological investigation. Exactly; just as I said, it’s based on nothing. How can theology be considered viable when its students do more diverging than converging? This is how we know that science is right: when everyone performs the experiment the same way, they all get the same answer. But consider two hypothetical religious people: first, a Jesusianismist who seeks god with all his heart, fasting, praying, humbling himself, sincerely and confidently believing that he has a rich, personal relationship with the Supreme Being of the universe, and concludes that Jesusianismistism is the way of salvation; second, a Mohammedanismist who seeks god with all his heart, fasting, praying, humbling himself, sincerely and confidently believing that he has a rich, personal relationship with the Supreme Being of the universe, and concludes that Muhammadanismistism is the way of salvation. The fact that there are millions of such Jesusianismists, and millions of such Muhammadanismists proves one of two things: either all religion is utter bullshit, demonstrated by the fact that sincere students of it do not generally converge on the most important concepts, or Yahweh is real and it intends to throw at least one of these sets of millions of people, who seek it with all their hearts, fasting, praying, humbling themselves, sincerely and confidently believing that they have a rich, personal relationship with it, into everlasting torment. My best guess is that Yahweh intends to throw all of us into hell, given that it has (deliberately, because Yahweh doesn’t make mistakes) made its message of salvation impossible to decipher, even for those who work desperately to understand it.

Because god is the greatest, then it must be all-loving, because it's obviously morally better to be loving rather than unloving.

I'll grant you, with no argument whatsoever, that its is morally better to be loving than to be unloving. I'll even grant your assertion that your claim obvious, with only a bit of a raised eyebrow. Not because I find it non-obvious, but because this is just sloppy debating. Support your claims. You spend an awful lot of time unnecessarily quoting the bible; you could have used that time explaining the philosophical and ethical foundation of your claim. Still, to avoid getting bogged down, I'll grant you this claim. What I can't grant is that it is equally obvious that it is morally better for hell to exist than for it not to exist. Or morally better for mostly decent people who reject this disgusting god to burn for eternity than for them not to burn for eternity. Or morally better to drown, immolate, starve, and put to the sword countless innocent babies, toddlers, pre-teens, teenagers, young men, young women, mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, than not to do so. If we can rely on what's obviously morally better, then Dr Craig has handily proved either that his god doesn't exist, or that it is incalculably evil.

What would you think of a parent who said to his kids, “If you live up to my standards and do as I say, then I will love you”? You who have such parents know the emotional scars you bear as a result.

Dr. Craig is repeating the mistake he made in my last point: making a statement that when applied consistently, rules out any possibility of his god being good. What would you think of a parent who said to his kids, "If you don't buy my fire insurance, I'll torture you brutally while keeping you alive for continued torture for as long as possible"? We'd think that such a parent was evil incarnate, I would expect, or at the very least, psychotic, not fit to be a parent, and in need of treatment.

If god were to allow some sin to go unpunished, it could not be considered just and holy. Every sin must receive its just due, or god’s justice is compromised.

According to the Evangelists Matthew and Mark, Jesus himself said, "With God all things are possible." All things. Except, apparently, "blinking" at sin. Was Jesus merely speaking metaphorically here? If he was, then what other things are not possible, even with god? Dr. Craig seriously undermines the credibility of the bible as a life-instruction manual, if we can't even take Jesus' factual assertions as such. As though the bible needed any help in undermining its own credibility.

The Islamic doctrine of salvation makes salvation virtually unobtainable.

Dr Craig is implying that the impossibility of receiving salvation means that that particular doctrine of salvation must be invalid. Applying this principle consistently, I find that the Jesusianismist doctrine of salvation makes salvation by just being a decent person actually unobtainable. Therefore, by Dr. Craig's own argument, the Jesusianismist doctrine of salvation cannot be valid.

Shabir's Opening Statements

God's mercy will be given only to those who try to be good.

Good according to what standard? The Islamic standard, where it's ok to beat your wife, own slaves, amputate limbs as a punishment for crimes, kill people for abandoning the faith, lie for the purpose of advancing the faith, cut off the clitorises of little girls? Or maybe you mean those who treat their wives and children well, who are honest and open, who fight for the rights of the oppressed, who make YT videos spotlighting the extremely low quality of Jesusianismist and Muhammadanismist apologetics? No thanks, I'd rather not spend eternity with that god; it's contemptible.

“God does not love” doesn’t mean “God does not love.” It means that god is saying something harsh to sinners to get them to repent.

So the Qur'an can be interpreted metaphorically too? Does that perhaps mean that I can be saved by intoning, "There is no god but no god, and Muhammad was epileptic"?

Even human parents sometimes say, shape up or you’re not my son.

This is only slightly more horrible than Dr. Craig's statement about bad parenting. What makes it more horrible is that Shabir seems sincerely to believe that this is perfectly acceptable behavior.

All you have to do for salvation is “believe in god” (Q41:30)

Funny, out of seven translations on the QAC website, only one suggests that all we must do is "remain steadfast to their belief" in order to be eligible for this blessing. One of them cops out entirely and just leaves the Arabic word, "istaqamu". According to the other five translations, we must "remain on a right course," "afterward [be] upright," "stand straight and steadfast," "continue in the right way," "go straight." Shabir, are you suggesting that the Muhammad Sarwar translation of the Qur'an holds a special place among translations? Or are you suggesting that it's ok to use all the translations and for each verse just choose the translation we like best?

Dr. Craig's First Rebuttal

Any doctrine of salvation must be compatible with the essential attributes of god. If incompatible, then it can’t be true because that god can’t exist, because they’re logically incompatible.

Logically incompatible? You mean like the various logical contradictions enumerated by Victor Stenger in his book, "God: The Failed Hypothesis"? Consider:
  1. A Supreme Being by definition cannot be virtuous, as explained by Douglas Walton in his essay on cardinal virtues and divine attributes.
  2. No being can be a fitting object of worship, as explained by James Rachels in his essay, "God And Moral Autonomy".
  3. The problem of evil, as discussed by Martin and Monnier in The Impossibility of God.
  4. Three points explained by Theodore Drange in his essay on incompatible properties: a perfect creator cannot exist, a transcendent being cannot be omnipresent, and a personal being cannot be non-physical.
  5. The paradox of omnipotence, as explained by J. L. Cowen in his essay, "The Paradox of Omnipotence Revisited".
Any doctrine of salvation must be obtainable for a wide number of people; otherwise it’s not really a doctrine of salvation, but a doctrine of condemnation.

I can't figure out for the life of me where Dr. Craig comes up with this one, especially considering that the vast, vast majority of all humans who ever existed will indeed be condemned. This fact is made obvious not only by the fact that Yahweh's followers have split into literally thousands of sects with flatly contradictory doctrines (Dr. Craig's religion vs Shabir's religion, as an obvious example), but also by the words of Jesus himself in various places, such as Matthew 22:14, "...many are invited, but few are chosen." The so-called "good news" of the entire New Testament is indeed, by Dr. Craig's measure, a doctrine of condemnation, not salvation.

Christianity says that it is impossible to make oneself deserving of infinite love.

Ok, so how is it that anyone can make oneself deserving of infinite torture? In fact, according to most Jesusianismists, it seems that we haven't made ourselves deserving, but rather Adam's one transgression in the garden made every one of us deserving of infinite torture. How can that be? Or is Dr. Craig suggesting that we don't actually deserve infinite torture, but it comes to us through Adam just as salvation comes through Christ? So we'll be tortured forever although we don't deserve it. Nice god you have there, Dr. Craig.

Shabir, in his opening statements, had tried a common Muhammadanismist tactic, saying in effect, "Our god is no worse than yours!" Referring to Dr. Craig's point that the Qur'an drills it into our heads that god does not love sinners, Shabir points out Psalm 5:5, which he quotes as saying that god hates evildoers. Dr. Craig's response is that the referenced passage is in the poetic books, and everybody knows you can’t base doctrine on poetic expressions.

This is probably the most egregious error in Dr. Craig's entire presentation--no, let's admit it: the man has multiple degrees in theology and therefore knows better; he is simply lying. Consider the statement that Craig is labeling "doctrine": "god hates evildoers". Now consider these doctrinal points from the New Testament book known as Hebrews:
  1. Jesus is far superior to angels (though why we should care is anyone's guess), 1:1-14
  2. Everything is subject to Jesus, 2:8
  3. Jesus calls his followers "brothers", 2:11
  4. Unbelievers will never enter god's rest, 3:7-19
  5. There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of god, 4:9
  6. Jesus is designated by god to be the high priest for the saved, 5:10
  7. Because of god's oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant, 7:22
  8. God has set aside the old covenant and replaced it with the new one, 10:9-10
"Everybody knows," you say? Obviously, the author of Hebrews didn't know it. Every one of these points of doctrine, some of them clearly foundational to the entire structure of Jesusianismist doctrine, is based on verses from the Psalms, and Dr. Craig knows it. Shame on you for lying, Dr. Craig.

In Dr. Craig's opinion, the fact that god's love must be earned is "morally reprehensible."

Wow, so we get to interpret the bible based on our own morality? Human morality is qualified to pass judgment on religious texts? Well, I have quite a few moral objections to the bible, too many to mention here. Check out all my bible series on my YouTube channel if you're interested. An easy summary of all my videos would go like this: Yahweh itself is morally reprehensible.

Shabir, in his opening statements, had mentioned that the original followers of Jesus were Jews, and their doctrines were far closer to Islam than is Jesusianismistism as it's known today, because early Gentile Jesusianismists, having adopted the heretical Pauline views of Jesus, overpowered and silenced the Jewish sects. Dr. Craig responds by bringing up the book of Hebrews (for which we've already seen Dr. Craig has zero respect, in spite of it being the infallible word of his god), pointing out that it was written not by Paul, but by an unknown, but Jewish, author.

I can't imagine what point he is trying to make here. Paul was a Jewish author too. Is he trying to say that the facts that this author was Jewish and was not Paul suggest that the author was more likely a member of one of the non-Pauline sects? I can't figure out why Dr. Craig, the expert debater, would even bring this up, except, as an expert debater, to draw attention away from the fact that his entire argument is bullshit, that he doesn't even believe in any god, but makes all these public appearances for the money.

Shabir's First Rebuttal

Shabir, with no comment whatsoever, completely abandons his earlier claim that all of the Qur'anic verses saying that god hates sinners were figurative. He switches over to the idea that god is loving in general, and is therefore all-loving, in spite of the fact that it does not love sinners.

Wait a second, what kind of debate is this? You present points that you're willing to concede with no comment at all? Doesn't that suggest that you knew in the first place that the point was worthless, and you were just hoping that Dr. Craig (or at least your audience) would let it slide? This is a terrible way to debate, and it really dishonors the god that you claim to be glorifying.

Shabir tries to explain that god's love is manifested in the way it treats each object of its love. It loves everyone, but it loves the righteous in a "more special way." He points out that even Jesusianismists believe that god will condemn many to hell, that this terrible punishment shows that god cannot possibly love the condemned as much as it loves the saved.

This is perhaps the only good point made by either speaker in the entire debate. This is something that has bothered me about Jesusianismistism for a long time: god "loves" everyone, but treats some unspeakably badly. How can that be called love? There is a serious cognitive dissonance associated with this god. At least Muhammadanismistism is honest: god hates certain people and will punish those whom it hates.

Shabir points out that if Dr. Craig is allowed to say that the Psalms are poetic and therefore open to unbridled interpretation, then Muhammadanismists are surely allowed free reign with the Qur'an, given that the entire thing is written as abstruse Arabic poetry.

Shabir is freely admitting here that all of his points are worthless. He disowns all of them and pulls out this appalling suggestion that the Qur'an can be interpreted however one likes, given that it's all one big poem.

Dr. Craig's Second Rebuttal and Closing Comments

Dr. Craig takes aim at Shabir's earlier statement that "God is loving and merciful." He tears into it by asking a very legitimate question: "What does this mean?" He answers that the meaning is that god's grace is selective and conditional.

Ok, I can agree with Dr. Craig here. But I want to apply this technique to the claim that God loves us all. What does this mean, given that a very tiny percentage of us will escape eternal torment? This is a strange kind of love, at at least the same level of strangeness Dr. Craig is imputing to the love of Shabir's god.

Dr. Craig challenges Shabir to find any verse in the Qur'an that supports Shabir's earlier claim that salvation is easy.

I challenge Dr. Craig to find any verse in the bible that says, "Jesus is god."

Dr. Craig closes with an account of his conversion experience, attempting to use the fact that it was very moving for him as an indication of the validity of his interpretation of it.

It makes no sense at all to attempt to connect the profundity of an experience with the validity of one's interpretation of the experience. Sure, it was profound; that's great. But how can that possibly prove that you're right when you say that it was god causing you to have that experience? It can't. All you can say is that you had a profound experience.

So let me tell you about a profound experience I had once. I met this woman years ago. I fell madly in love with her. When she told me that she loved me, I started to love myself for the first time in my life. I started to feel like I was more than just some contemptible piece of shit in the gutter. My life took on meaning, purpose, direction, because of her love. That experience lasted for about 18 months, longer than the ecstasy I've ever seen in any Jesusianismist, until she left me for reasons I still don't understand (that is, she is quite mysterious, just like your god). Shall I say that she is god? Shall I claim that the depth of that experience is proof of the validity of any baseless claim I choose to make?

God, if you're out there, I strongly recommend that you institute a quality assurance department, because these bozos are really making you look bad.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Allah The Unit And Muhammad The Tool III: Deity Dementia Is Not Pretty

Continuing my exploration of the Qur'an, the life of Muhammad, and the invention of Muhammadanismistism.

On the Oxford Islamic Studies Online website, there is a Numerical and Chronological List of the Chapters of the Qur'an, which shows the probable chronological order of the Quranic Surahs according to two different authorities: the Cairo Edition of the Qur'an, first printed in 1924, and the German scholar Theodor Nöldeke, whose history of the Qur'an earned the 1859 prize of the French Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, that is, the Academy of Stuff That's Written Pretty Well. Using this chart, I conclude that it makes the most sense to consider Sura 74, "Al-mudathir," or in English, "The Cloaked One," to be the second communique from Allah to Muhammad.

Al's presence always makes Mo nervous, so early on Mo adopts the practice of hiding under a blanket or a cloak, or the like. Al has X-ray vision, of course, borrowed from Superman for the day. Seeing Mo, it calls out, "You there, under the blankets! Get your ass up and start preaching! Because I'm so great and wonderful, I'm going to give you something great and wonderful to preach to your fellows, who are starving for spiritual guidance. Ready? Tell them this:" There's an awkward silence; Al realizes that it has forgotten to bring the talking points that the Archrodent Gerbil wrote down the day before. Al, against Gerbil's earlier advice, decides to extemporize. "Spend a lot of your time telling me how great I am. Wash your clothes, cos you stink like a camel's butt. Run away from all sin and defilement..."

At this point, Mo interrupts, "Excuse me, O Great One, what kind of sin and defilement do you have in mind? Should we stop having sex with little girls, who, now that I think of it, seem really to hate it, or should we stop having same-sex fun with consenting and willing adults?"

"Quiet, you!" says the Almighty. "No interruptions allowed. Keep writing this down." Mo starts to object that he wasn't writing anything in the first place, but then he remembers the treatment he got the last time he tried to point out his illiteracy, and decides to keep his peace. Fortunately, Al's X-ray vision is intermittent, so it does not seem to have noticed that Mo isn't writing anything. Al continues, "Stop this contemptible practice of feigning generosity out of a desire to gain materially for yourself. It really pisses me off when you slimy little bastards do that. In fact, almost nothing pisses me off more..."

Mo takes another chance: "But Lord, do you not detest far more the institution of slavery? Shall I not first preach abolition?"

"Don't make me come over there! No more interruptions! You made me lose my train of thought." Allah begins mumbling to itself, "What was I about to say, something about slavery? Damn, now I'll never get it back. Might as well say something that sounds meaningful; what was it I read on that Hallmark card yesterday? Oh yeah, be patient, because being patient is good and it makes me happy. Wow, that sounded way more lame than I expected when I said it out loud. I'd better try to save face, or this human will think I'm an idiot. How about this, I have nineteen angels at my command! Remember that, cos there's gonna be a test later! Hmm, did I forget my medication today?"

Embarrassed, hoping to draw attention away from these ridiculous mutterings, Allah bitches for a while about how people are ungrateful, asking for Mercedes Benzes and such, even after it made their lives easy by providing almost enough food some of the time. It meditates grotesquely for quite some time on the pleasure of torturing people who haven't kissed its ass thoroughly enough. Like  But fear not, there are a couple of bright spots before the end:
  • Ayahs 31 and 56: A reminder that Allah is none other than the Yahweh of the Old Testament: it's not up to us whether we're good or bad. We can't be good unless Allah-weh lets us be good. Note that it enabled Mo to be good by having angels remove his heart and wash it free of sin. Lucky guy. I say we sinners will get the last laugh; putting up with Allah-weh for eternity seems to me more hellish than the actual hell.
  • Ayahs 41 - 44: All those atheismists in the world who ran around thinking that it was good to give to charity, boy were you ever fooled. If you didn't pray to Allah, if you denied the day of judgment, then forget it. Your charity was a waste of time.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Allah The Unit And Muhammad The Tool II: A-abrogation, B-boa, C-chronology

Continuing my exploration of the Qur'an, the life of Muhammad, and the invention of Muhammadanismistism.

Given the heightened visibility of Muhammadanismistism lately, you probably know more about it than you ever have, and don't need me to remind you of the basics. But the point I will make here is important; it has significant application to everything I'll discuss in this series, so bear with me for just a minute.

The Qur'an, as most people, believers and infidels alike, know it, is presented in a rather strange order. Although it purports to be the very words of the Supreme Being as revealed to Muhammad over a period of a couple of decades, most versions appear not in chronological order, but sorted, roughly, from longest to shortest. One might think that if these were the eternal, unchanging words of a transcendent being that wishes peace and salvation for us all, the order might be irrelevant. Your mother might say to you, "Wash your hands before you eat," and later, "Wear a coat when it's cold outside." You could reverse the order and still be assured that Mom cares for you deeply. Not so with the Qur'an, which, by its own admission, flatly contradicts itself in places. What are we to make of these contradictions? Are we to conclude that this message cannot possibly be from the Supreme Being of the universe? No. Surah 2, Ayah 106 says,
Such of [My] revelations as [I] abrogate or cause to be forgotten, [I] bring one better or the like thereof.
In other words, if the Qur'an contradicts itself, we are to ignore the earlier revelation and heed the later one. This concept alone is enough to make me see that Muhammadanismistism is a complete crock of shit--I'm not keen on a creature that claims to be omniscient changing its mind. At the very least, it could have said something like, "Do it this way for now, due to these mitigating circumstances, but here also is a more general rule." Just like Jesusianismistism, Muhammadanismistism disqualifies itself fundamentally from the very beginning. But I'll continue this series, because there are a billion people out there who somehow have no problem with an omniscient being changing the rules periodically. And billions of people can't be wrong, can they? I mean, those billions of people who believed that the entire universe rotates around the earth, they were right, right?

Another point to be made here is that there is some disagreement over the exact order in which Allah supposedly revealed these timeless truths to Muhammad. It's not clear to me yet whether this causes doctrinal problems, but I'll certainly be keeping an eye out for that sort of thing. As I said in my previous post, the very first revelation to Muhammad now resides in Surah 96, Ayahs 1 - 5. I've still not had any luck in determining exactly when Muhammad received the last 14 Ayahs. I'm hoping to get the attention of some Muhammadanismist with this series, one who'll tell me what a dumbass I am for not knowing these things, one who'll call me on any bullshit I happen to proclaim. I'm tempted to make a couple of deliberately false claims, just to see if any Muhammadanismists are out there watching and paying attention, but I'm sure that even without making such an effort I'll goof here and there, giving ample opportunity for any alert detractors to accuse me of lying, or at least being stupid.

There are some who say that Surah 68, "The Pen," was the next revelation after the initial visit from Python the Archreptile. There are others who say that it was not "The Pen," but rather Surah 74, "The Cloaked One." Some say that immediately after the anaconda attack on Mount Hira, Muhammad ran home in a panic and covered himself with a cloak or a blanket and received "The Cloaked One." Others say that there was an interval of six months between the constrictor party and the revelation of "The Cloaked One." We must hope that there aren't any doctrinal issues tangled up in all this disagreement.

In closing, some thoughts concerning the treatment of women under Muhammadanismistism. I note that Khadijah, Mo's first wife, was a highly respected business owner, prosperous and independent. It was not uncommon for men to come to her, asking for work. They recognized her right to hire and fire. Also, Khadijah proposed to Mo, not the other way around, and Mo accepted her proposal. Author Emerick says that before Mo, women were property, generally mistreated. Author Glubb says that pre-Mo women were free and unveiled, that young widows could live alone and receive suitors at will, that there were powerful women in the community, including prophets, as well as poets who pitted their skills against the men in poetry competitions that were held during the annual fairs in the vicinity of Mecca. In spite of this disagreement, there seems to be consensus on Khadijah's standing in the community. I would love it if someone could show me that there are many modern-day Khadijahs in the Mohammedanismist world. In fact, here's a silly game for you: I'm getting some ideas for a new tune; the first person who can convince me that it's not uncommon for Muhammadanismist women to be independent business owners who are allowed to propose marriage, I'll let you name the tune. Whatever name you want. Alternatively, if you can't find a way to convince me of that, inflate my narcissism by telling me how my recent wicked witch joke made you laugh until you cried.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Allah The Unit And Muhammad The Tool I: Sometimes A Forelock Isn't Just A Forelock

Mount Hira, not far from the outskirts of Mecca, the year 610 CE, a Tuesday evening in late August. A middle-aged citizen of Mecca named Muhammad is on a spiritual retreat in a cave in the side of the mountain, meditating and worshiping a god known in his culture as Allah. Much of the Arabian peninsula tends to be obnoxiously hot during the summer; the cave is a furnace, so Muhammad's devotions are punctuated by occasional naps. He has been having auditory and visual hallucinations for some years: disembodied voices wishing peace upon him and referring to him as "Messenger of God," and dreams that he later deems to have been somehow prophetic.

Muhammad has drifted off to sleep for the hundredth time today, but this time he awakens with a start, sensing someone else in the cave. The Archangel Gerbil stands before him, holding a scroll. It bellows at him the word, "Read!" It seems that Gerbil wants Muhammad to read the scroll aloud. Muhammad, wondering how a servant of the Supreme Being can be so out of the loop as to be unaware of Muhammad's lifelong illiteracy, counters, "I don't know how to read!" The angel knows exactly how to solve this problem: it grabs Muhammad and squeezes him, unbearably, until he can't even breathe. Finally, it lets him go, somehow believing that assault is an effective means of imparting its desire, and demands again, "Read!" Poor Muhammad, not realizing the depths of Allah's blend of cruelty and willful stupidity, tries again, "I don't know how to read!" But this time he attempts some crude sign language, in case this weirdo is deaf or simply doesn't speak Arabic. Gerbil was hoping to have another chance to make him suffer. It repeats its boa constrictor act, causing Muhammad to think that his lungs will burst. The sadistic, dumbass angel, hoping to hurt Muhammad again, repeats itself: "Read!" Muhammad has had enough of this; realizing that pointing out the obvious is getting him nowhere, he changes tack, and in desperation asks Gerbil, "What should I read?" The angel, disappointed that it now must stop injuring poor Muhammad, delivers its amazing introductory revelation, the prologus to the ultimate message from the Supreme Being to its final Prophet.
Invoke the name of your Lord
for having created,
created man from clay.

Invoke! For thy Lord is the most generous
for having taught by the pen,
taught man what he didn't know.
Huh? This is how the Supreme Being introduces itself? Spouting bullshit about humans being created from clay? And, rather mockingly, it seems, stating that it teaches by the pen, when obviously Muhammad has never learned anything by the pen in his entire life, and, as any omniscient being would have known quite well, that Muhammad never will learn anything by the pen for the remainder of his life? We're off to a dubious start here.

Why wasn't the message something like this: "Muhammad, I'm Gerbil. Allah sent me. It has chosen you to be its final spokesperson to humans. Hold still for a second." Gerbil touches Muhammad's forehead with its index finger and intones, "Be Good!" Suddenly Muhammad knows how to read and write. Then Gerbil hands a scroll and a pen to Muhammad and sits on a nearby rock, saying, "Ok, Mo, here's the deal. It's time for some serious reform down here. First thing we need to do is get people to stop killing their infant daughters. You are not going to run around punishing people or publicly humiliating them. Instead, you will appeal to their sense of compassion and the value of all human life. Uhh, you should be writing this down, doofus."

No, the Supreme Being, infinitely wise, chooses a language that could not possibly be less suited for communicating a clear message, chooses an illiterate messenger who has to memorize the message, chooses one of the most backward societies on the planet as the keepers of the glorious revelation. Jesusianismists like to quote their New Testament, "God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise." I have to imagine that Muhammadanismists have a similar attitude. This is not a good god. Either it's evil, or it's an idiot, or both. Why would it put so much emphasis on these so-called humble circumstances, rather than on imparting a comprehensible, impossible-to-misinterpret, and—most of all—useful message?

In the written Qur'an, there is a bit more to this Sura, but for the life of me I can't figure out when Mo received it. Definitely not at the same time as the aforementioned drivel. The remainder of the Sura gives Allah a chance to whine about how humans don't acknowledge their reliance on it. How insecure can a deity be? It even challenges independent man to a contest, which turns out to be not so much a contest as an opportunity for Allah to give a few good pulls to man's...uhh...forelock (since Allah doesn't have one of its own). It challenges man to call upon his human associates for help, then says that its response will be to call on the guards of hell, whoever they are, to kick man's ass. Seems like an omnipotent being wouldn't have to call on anyone for such services.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Islarme, Religion of Tears XII: Of Clitorises And Cowards

Continuing my exploration of Islarme, currently using the book 101 Questions & Answers On Islarme as my guide.

Are there any characteristically Mohammedanismist views on contemporary social problems, such as poverty, injustice, human rights?

Sura 107 says, "Do you see the person in denial of the judgment (to come)? That is the person who drives away the orphan and does not contribute to feeding the poor." I guess I dodged a bullet; for a while there I had a pretty high opinion of all those YouTubers who participated in and contributed to the MSF benefit a few days ago. I'm so glad that Allah is there to warn me about lowlifes like these.

Sura 90 encourages believers to aim high, "freeing a slave, feeding in time of hunger an orphan...or some poor suffering soul...[encouraging] each other to compassion." The late Muslim liberation theorist Sayyid Qutb (apologies for butchering his name) "argued forcefully on religious grounds for the need to provide educational and economic opportunity for all people." Smokin' Mo himself, during his final pilgrimage to Mecca, said, "The Arab has no superiority over the non-Arab and the non-Arab has no superiority over the Arab." In 1981 a Mohammedanismist council promoted a "Universal Islarmic Declaration of Human Rights", which asserted that Mohammedanismistism urges equality, justice, fair trial, freedom of thought and speech, education, protection against torture, on and on, a laundry list of progressive ideals.

If you guys were anything like this, I'd be making videos encouraging people to convert to your faith. I claim that people like Mr. Qutb are good people who are imposing their goodness on the religion, rather than the other way around. I challenge all followers of Yahweh/Jesus/Allah to defy your god and be decent instead.

What do Mohammedanismists think about surrogate motherhood?

"Islarmic law disallows any version of surrogate parenting and considers all contracts for such agreements invalid." Further, even using modern techniques where a fertilized ovum is inserted into the surrogate mother's womb (in other words, there's no sex involved), the child is considered illegitimate. I can't believe that people are offended when they hear a word like "fuck" but will not even blink when a child is referred to as "illegitimate". What a barbaric concept. Allah can go fuck itself.

But wait, there's more: surrogacy is regarded as "selling a human being, a serious offense." So helping a childless couple to procreate is a serious offense, but slavery is just fine. Sorry to be a broken record, and even more sorry to those of you too young to know what "broken record" means, but this is an upside-down, ass-backward pseudo-morality, and it's disgusting. Allahpocrites.

Wow, it just keeps coming; I'm glad this chapter is almost done. I bet you're glad too. The author states that "Many Mohammedanismists think of their religion as the last bastion of genuine egalitarianism under a religious and ethical code [establishing] men and women on a remarkably equal footing." I can't think of an expletive or adjective to do justice to this one. You guys, when a woman has the right to multiple husbands, you can talk about egalitarianism. Until then, just shut up.

What about burqas? What about education for women?

Renard explains that there are many predominantly Mohammedanismist countries where women are not required to veil themselves. He adds that as time goes on, it is becoming clearer to observers both inside and outside the faith that a world of educated women is a good thing. I want to make it very plain here: these signs of progress are in spite of Mohammedanismistism, not because of it. It is secular values demanding these changes, not Allah.

Renard mentions later that the primary intent of traditional teaching about modest clothing is "respect for the human dignity of each person", that Mohammedanismistism offers support for "humane and dignified treatment of women." Yeah, I get it: women are beaten and/or disfigured in order to preserve their dignity. Makes perfect sense to me.

What about female genital mutilation?

"Mohammedanismist religious law recognizes a spectrum of five categories used to characterize human acts": required, recommended, neutral, disapproved, forbidden. FGM is strictly, vehemently forbidden, punishable by five million lashes followed by stoning to death, right? No. "Islarmic law sources list the practice as recommended".  They stone you to death for adultery, but totally accept people cutting off clitorises. Fucking savages.

What about divorce?

"A husband can divorce his wife by means of a triple repudiation," meaning that the man says to his wife three times, "I divorce thee." It's not as bad as you might think. Ordinarily he can't do it quickly. It takes three whole months because he has to wait three menstrual periods to make sure that she's not pregnant. And just to show how progressive some Mohammedanismist countries are, Syria discourages this practice by requiring husbands to support the ex-wife for at least a whole year after divorce.

Guys, when women can divorce their husbands on the same terms, let me know.

What about interfaith marriage?

Oh, we're totally modern on that one: a man is allowed to marry an infidel woman. But not the reverse, of course. We're not anarchists.

Is it fair when people say that Mohammedanismistism promotes the oppression of women?

No, oppression of women isn't a distinctly Mohammedanismist issue. In other words, we're no worse than anyone else. "The Qur'an's teachings about women were enormously progressive in their original historical context." In other words, Allah is better than medieval barbarians. Doesn't that move you to deep reverence?

Why is everyone fighting over Jerusalem?

Because religion is about people, not about any kind of supreme being. If Allah were transcendent, one might expect that it could transcend enmity.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Islarme, Religion of Tears XI: Sorry, Allah, Size Does Matter

Continuing my exploration of Islarme, currently using the book 101 Questions & Answers On Islarme as my guide. Note that I'm not going through every question in the book; that would be a pain in the ass. I'm covering only those that interest me. If that's not ok with you, then cry out to Allah, so it will send someone to cut off my head.

What do Mohammedanismists mean by the term "Allah"?

Basically, this is the Arabic word that an English speaker would use for "God" with a capital "G". It's not the actual name of the Supreme Being, but it refers only to the Supreme Being and not to any other deities. The author goes on to discuss the many names of Allah/God, a list that I'm sure is frequently heard in North Korea. Solidifying my suspicion, we find that "All but one of the Qur'an's 114 suras begin with the phrase, 'In the name of Allah, the Compassionate and Merciful...'" Yes, I'm certain that Kim Jong-il is addressed in similar tones. If Allah were so great, it wouldn't need this embarrassing steady supply of ego stroking.

Renard says that "Not one of the 99 names of Allah...will sound a dissonant note in the ear of Jesusianismist or Judismist. I'm sure. People who either haven't read their scripture, or have read it and decided that they'd better kiss the ass of the Supreme Bully of the universe, will have no problem with these disgusting lies. Someone who knows how to read and also has a spine, however, will have to take these names with a planet-sized grain of salt.

Are there means other than the Qur'an by which Allah reveals itself?

Sura 45, Ayats 3 - 5 say, "Behold, in the heavens and the earth are signs for those who believe." Smokin' Mo's contemporaries the world over knew absolutely nothing about the heavens and the earth. They looked around themselves and saw almost nothing, explaining what little they did see with hopelessly simplistic, preposterously fallacious notions, and deemed it all so wonderful that it must imply a Supreme Being of some kind. If I were to have a god, it would be infinitely larger, more fascinating, more beautiful than the ridiculous, flimsy, little cipher that inspires so many who have absolutely no standards to rapturous worship. If I needed a god, I would look for one with some balls.

What do Mohammedanismists believe about death and the afterlife?

Smokin' Mo taught that those who refused his holy message had committed spiritual suicide. I say that spiritual suicide, assuming that the term has some meaning at all, would be far more honorable than handing my conscience over to the despicable liar/murderer/chauvinist Allah.

The author also mentions that dying in battle is not the only way to guarantee that a believer will go to Paradise. One of the Hadiths says that in order to avoid punishment in the afterlife, all one must do is die on a Friday. I guess that's how Jesus got away with misleading all those guys with his ludicrous parables. Allah, the god of technicalities.

What's the deal with the Qur'an being legitimate only when it's handwritten in Arabic?

Remember how the signs in the heavens and the earth were supposed to be a message of some kind to those who believe? This baloney about medium and language is the sign that trumps all others. Since when was truth affected by the method of transmission? This is where science trounces all religion: pick on Darwin's personal character all you want. Claim that he had an agenda. Claim that he was a pompous asshole. Hell, claim that he was a pedophile. Then translate his book into every language that ever existed. The truth of natural selection is in no way affected. You don't end up with thousands of schisms in evolutionary theory. Why? Because it's true. Maybe we argue a bit over the finer points, but we don't find half the scientific community still claiming that Lamarck was right and Darwin was utterly wrong.

Something else occurs to me about this silly little conceit over handwritten Arabic. It ties in to my observations that this god is awfully small and ignorant: as soon as you read the Qur'an (or anything else, for that matter), you've translated the words into neuronal impulses -- not only no longer written words, but also translated to a pattern of electrochemical signals entirely specific to your brain. So translating the Qur'an into another language, or transferring it to a CD-ROM, can be no more corrupting to the message than simply reading it. If Allah really were all that, it would have known these things about the brain and would not have imposed this laughable restriction on it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Islarme, Religion of Tears X: Allah Fails Primary-School Astronomy

Continuing my explorations of Islarme, using the book 101 Questions & Answers on Islarme, by John Renard, as a guidebook.

Why did Mohammedanismistism spread so quickly? Was it a political rather than a "missionary" movement?

The reasons for the quick spread of this plague: lust for money, lust for power, lust for glory. In Renard's words, "It was not primarily missionary zeal that motivated the troops, but the promise of adventure and booty." Surely the cynical leaders promised heavenly reward in order to motivate the ignorant, just as Jesusianismist televangelists do today. "But on the whole, desire for conversion was secondary at best."

Did the early Mohammedanismists dons allow freedom of religion?

They gave some latitude to other followers of their blood-god, as well as to other faiths that relied on some form of holy writ. Idolaters, however, had "the choice of fleeing, converting, or fearing for their lives." So much for Sura 109, Ayat 6 which says, "You follow your religion and I follow mine." Allahpocrites from the beginning.

After such a spectacular beginning, why did the first major dynasty last less than a century?

Because there was no omnipotent, loving Supreme Being involved. As with any religion, there is simply no way for people to converge on the truth of any doctrine, because it's all bullshit. This is one of the beauties of science: if I formulate a theory, you can test it--anyone else can test it. If it works the same for everyone, we provisionally assume that it's true. If it works differently for even one person, the whole idea is called into question. With religion, everyone is running around trying to convince each other of the truth of his own opinion. There's no way to provide solid support for any doctrine or concept, so when your brothers disagree with you, you have to tell them that they're obviously blinded by sin. Can't you guys see that religion is just garbage?

What are the "Five Pillars" of Mohammedanismistism?
  1. "There is no deity but Allah". Seriously? This god is so insecure that one of the foundational pillars of faith in it is the profession that there are no other deities? I would think that an omnipotent god would be omni-secure in its place, not worried about what a bunch of humans think.
  2. Five prayers each day, facing Mecca. Others have made the point that Allah is not any kind of Supreme Being, but a pathetic desert twerp that believed, along with its benighted followers, that the earth is flat. If you're east of Mecca, and you face west, you're not facing Mecca. You're facing a point off in outer space somewhere. In order to face Mecca, you'd have to orient yourself downward somewhat. I'll come back to this parochiality in a minute.
  3. Almsgiving. I am so glad that I don't need a space fairy to tell me to give to the needy.
  4. Fasting. It does have its benefits. Again, I'm glad I don't need a desert demon to tell me.
  5. Pilgrimage. This gives me an idea. As I've said in other posts, we desperately need to tame and sanitize religion in the world. If someone would just show the Saudi government how much money could be made, they'd open Mecca and Medina to tourism. That would raise some hackles for a while, but before too long it would be as commonplace as, although far more lucrative than, Jews visiting the Auschwitz Museum. Build a Starbucks next to the Kaaba and world peace will finally be a possibility.
    There is a question here about the shahada, the Mohammedanismist profession of belief, which I didn't care about much, but the answer included an interesting aside: in Sura 6, Ayats 76 - 78 we find the story of Abraham searching, Goldilocks-style, for a god that's just right. He tries a star, then the moon, then the sun, but is disappointed that all of these "set". Clearly, Abraham, Smokin' Mo, and Allah believed that these objects rise and set. If Allah had wanted to impress someone, it should have told Abraham that rising and setting were illusions, although illusions with at least a tenuous connection to reality, as opposed to the illusion that the universe was designed by a conscious being.