oh noez teh muslims r in r base critsizin teh athiesm

I always have misgivings about giving attention to blog stalkers, but this is just too amusing to pass up.

As you’ve read before, I’ve become a fan of Kafir Girl, a new ex-Muslim atheist blogger who is guiding us heathen Westerners through the Quran, chapter by chapter. A couple of weeks ago, a Muslim student in Pakistan, named Sona, started posting on his own blog about the mean, stupid Kafir Girl and her ridiculous accusations about the Quran.

(The first post I saw about her said: “I have noticed many, blogs by ex Muslim women. What is up with these chicks?” My observation was: “It’s like a bad Jari al-Seinfeld routine.”)

After what seemed to me like a very, very slight amount of good natured ridicule, suddenly Sona threw a big temper tantrum, wrote a post saying that he wished humanity would be wiped out by a comet, and deleted his blog forever.

Well, “forever” in a fairly subjective sense, since he was back a short time later with a new blog, same address, this time called “Kafir Girl Sucks.” I got a chance to read it yesterday. There were about ten posts, nearly all of which were whining about Kafir Girl.

In the meantime, on Wednesday we at the Non-Prophets received the following sneering, mustache-twirling letter from one Zain ibn Bakari, who wrote:

I am a Muslim. I listened to some of you podcasts – I think they should be offed as alternative to unconscious inducing medication to operating theaters around the world. You openly admit you’ve not read the Koran and allow this riddiclious women named Kafirgirl spoon-feed you. The term “idiot savant” comes to mind when thinking of her. Admittedly, that term applies only halfway to her, which is why I allege that whenever there’s an argument about her devotion to principles and to freedom, all one has to do is point out that there is much more of this to come. That should settle the argument pretty quickly.

Turns out that Zain is Sona’s little brother, and now he’s listening to our podcast. Yay, expanding international audience!

Matt replied:

Thanks for writing.

Do you have any evidence to support your position — or is it just opinion and faith?

Apparently there have been a few more emails from that exchange which I haven’t seen yet. However, Zain’s first reply is up on Sona’s blog now:

As for your dopey retort of: “do you have evidence” the evidence is in the public domain. Try seeing the 3rd link on google after typing “kafirgirl” am sure with your “lofty” intellect you will eventually find it. Don’t confuse us Muslims for the ridiculous little carnival freaks the Christians we openly admit our god is malevolent. Perfection has to be both good and evil.

So I did. I looked up “kafirgirl” on Google, and received the following information at the third link:

“Sorry, the page you were looking for in the blog Sona: Kafir Girl Sucks. does not exist.”

Wow! Now that’s what I call “evidence”! Surely Allah does exist, for in his infinite wisdom he has struck down the foolish blog “Sona: Kafir Girl Sucks” and… well… replaced it with another blog.

Atheism for the Illogic
We reduce atheism to absurdism. With simple LOGIC!

I must advise you that if you would like to see the posts on this blog, you should look fast, because Sona’s record now mandates that he delete his blog and start fresh at the rate of once per week. The introductory post claims that he took down all the old posts about Kafir Girl because:

To leave kafirgirl alone as we feel she is beneath us and we also feel sorry for her, unlike atheists, we don’t go after weak targets, we believe its against our principles and morality to attack someone who is not equally intelligent as us or more so. It is our opinion, intellectually kafirgirl is a weak target for us. Therefore, we have rather decided to directly challenge atheism.

This is your typical “Wah, we got humiliated by a GIRL, now we’re going somewhere for new sport against somebody who has barely even noticed that we exist yet” post.

My main misgivings about this post regard explicitly acknowledging that they do exist. As we’ve seen lately, in cases such as Patrick and Yomin, paying attention to somebody who is about to become obsessive about you can backfire. Nevertheless… as often as we are criticized for focusing on Christianity rather than Islam, this could be enjoyable for a while.

I confess that I have not read the Quran. But as PZ Myers pointed out when he came up with The Courtier’s Reply, it’s fairly ridiculous to assert that you cannot refute obvious nonsense unless you have written all the abstruse scholarship that tries to make excuses for the nonsense.

And by the way, a few tips on blogging for the clueless. First: You don’t HAVE TO delete your blog every time somebody criticizes it. Not that I don’t appreciate having the power to destroy your blogs with a word, but I’d prefer to see people stand up for what they wrote and not back off from it. If you are saying something silly that you don’t want people to read, here’s some better advice: don’t post it in the first place. Think harder about it and decide what kind of words you will be proud of for the rest of your life.

Second: You don’t HAVE TO replace your old blog to start a new blog. You can have multiple blogs. It’s okay. They don’t run out of space at Google. Next time, instead of deleting and reregistering “sonasblog.blogspot.com”, try keeping it around, and go ahead and register “kafirgirlsucks.blogspot.com” and “illogicatheism.blogspot.com” instead. It’s okay. Nobody will stop you. You can even post links from the old blog to the new blog, and you’ll still get the same amount of traffic. It’s just annoying for me when I want to link to something that was said, and then it’s going to be gone next week.

Third: IT’S OKAY to have a blog that is about more than one topic. Really. If you want a blog that’s all about building up Islam, and only occasionally (or frequently) focuses on your manufactured enemies, knock yourself out. Frankly, if you have a blog that’s all about somebody else’s blog, it strikes me as a little pathetic… but I’m not going to tell you your business.

Please stop CCing us your Patrick emails

It’s not likely most of the people who are, a week after the fact, only just now seeing last week’s show involving Patrick Greene will read this first. But in any event, as we mentioned on the show today, emails from our viewers criticizing Patrick are still pouring in, and they’re still being sent to the AE TV show email address as well as to him. We’d just like to say, while we’re amazed at the overwhelming reaction, we’re pretty much past the whole Patrick debacle now. So if you still want to write him, fine. Just don’t copy it to us, okay? Matt and I are a little weary now, and probably the rest of the team are as well, to the point where if we see any email with “bumper sticker” or “lawsuit” in the subject line, we simply delete it. The message has been loud and clear, Patrick apparently has already decided all of you are fools and cowards anyway, so it’s time to move on.

This Sunday’s ACA lecture – Belief

The ACA hosts a monthly lecture series at the Austin History Center. I’ll be delivering the August lecture, this Sunday and I thought it might be worthwhile to post a brief synopsis.

It’s a topic that I’ve been fleshing-out for quite a while and despite the fact that we’re less than 48 hours from lecture time, it’s not completely finished (I’ve still got to finish some slides and run through it once more to make sure it’s complete and of the appropriate length). The major themes, though, are complete…and despite the fact that ‘epistemology’ might be a more accurate title, I’m sticking with ‘belief’.

Why? I once had someone write in to the TV show to try to convince me that it was pointless to discuss beliefs and that only knowledge mattered. I couldn’t disagree more. Belief is something that I think is much easier to come to terms with than the various (and potentially useless) definitions of ‘knowledge’. Belief is simply the acceptance of a proposition as true. Beliefs inform our actions – they matter. What we believe, and why, may be the single most important issues we face.

On a previous show, I pointed out that the old adage “knowledge is power” is actually wrong – in my opinion the real power is in understanding, not knowledge. I’m pretty sure that’s what the saying implies, but I’ve been continually striving to be more precise in language. We tend to communicate in shorthand, trusting that our meaning is understood, because shorthand is usually good enough. However, when it matters, our reliance on these linguistic shortcuts isn’t just a hindrance, it’s potentially crippling.

So, we’ll be starting with a few definitions; ‘belief’, ‘knowledge’ and ‘real’…and then moving on to some Venn diagrams demonstrating truth values vs. belief values, what it all means, which positions or ‘sets’ are actually useful and which don’t provide nearly the clarity that they imply in the vernacular.

And, unlike my last two lectures that sort of just faded out, this one may actually have a real ending – though I won’t promise that.

If you’re in the Austin area, you’re welcome to attend (see the ACA website for more information). The lecture may eventually be posted, in some format, on our lecture page.

The absurdity of G-d

This is just a quick something-to-think-about that began as a bit of a pet peeve.

If you’ve been interacting with religious folk on the interwebs, you’ve probably run across comments from Jews that include “G-d” in place of “God”. A bit of investigating will reveal that this is a way of showing respect and avoiding the ‘sin’ of erasing or defacing the name of God.

When I first heard of this, I largely disregarded it as one of the various pretentious activities of the religious. Eventually, I gave it a bit more thought and the absurdity really started to sink in. Consider the following…

The Jewish deity has a name and it’s a sin to erase or deface this name. There are a number of names for this god (YHVH, El Shaddai, Elohim), some of which are supposedly unutterable, others are reportedly unknown (what happens if you accidentally deface one of the unknown names?) – but all are sacred.

So, observant Jews avoid typing or writing “God”, for fear that it ‘might count’ as a name of their god. The generic “god” is a word in the English language, made up of characters that evolved from other languages. The symbols that make up this word (remember, it’s the written name, not the spoken name – that one must be cautious about), are unlikely to be the correct symbols for any of the names of their god, as these characters didn’t exist at the time.

If modern English characters could be constructed to actually be the written name of a god, it seems that those characters might just as likely be “banana”, “porn” or “ghoti” – yet observant Jews don’t worry about morphing these words to avoid incidental defacement of the name of their god.

But, if we assume, for a moment, that “God” is a valid written representation of the name of the Jewish god, isn’t “G-d” a defacement of that name? Granted, we’re in the realm of word-magic, so it doesn’t have to make sense, but it certainly seems ironic to me.

Further, we’re really just talking about characters here that are used as labels for a concept. The label “god” is a non-specific reference to a type of being, “God” tends to refer to a specific being.

The value of a label is in its ability to communicate information.

By modifying the “God” label to “G-d”, the Jews have added information. The “God” label could apply to a variety of specific deities qualifying for proper-noun-status. The “G-d” label, because of Jewish usage, now has the added information that renders it a label that specifically applies to the Jewish god.

It has, by their alteration, become a more specific label that is far more likely to qualify as the “name” of their god than the less specific versions that started this mess.

Ironic, huh?