We get Muslim email (part 2)

Here’s part 1 in case you missed it.

Muhammad’s second message to me:

Hey thanks for reply I forgot to mention one more proof of why god exists and it has to do with Prophet Muhammad. Please look at this and then I will go back and make a comment on all the comments you made previously

Before I start I need to mention one thing. Arabic is not like English. You can come up with a story in english and write it down simply. The language you see in a textbook you can use in normal conversations. In arabic you cant. Meaning there is a way to talk arabic in normal conversations and there is a way to read arabic. You cant write down what you normally talk in arabic because it wouldnt make sense. In other words for something in arabic to be written, it must be in the language of readable material. If you cannot read arabic, you will not be able to make up readable material. You may be able to talk arabic normal in conversation but you wont be able to make up stories that can be written down UNLESS you know how to read arabic. Now that I cleard this up we move to my argument.

The fact that Prophet Muhammad did not know how to read or write and was illiterate means he couldn’t have possibly come up with the Koran (which is in readable material) It was revealed to him by God and the prophet Muhammad memorized it and which he then recited to many people. Notice how I said it was recited to many people. There couldn’t have possibly been a change or edit because any deviation in writting it would be easily detected by the people who memorized it at the time. The quran was written in book form within a few years after the prophet’s death. Now back to the original argument, there was no way that the prophet himself could have come up with the quran when he was illiterate. You may say, well someone who knew how to read came up with the story and told Muhammad. Saying that wouldnt make sense in 2 ways. First the people back then did not believe in a god so why would a non believer help someone come up with a story to disprove his religion? Another thing, if there was someone capable of comming up with something so great like the Quran, what would he be doing hanging out with an uneducated illiterate Prophet Muhammad? He would be in much higher rankings.

My reply (again with some repeated text truncated):

Muhammad,


…Please look at this and then I will go back and make a comment on all the comments you made previously

Okay, but it feels to me suspiciously like you are trying to change the subject. If you thought that all this quasi-scientific talk about energy and universe shitting was supposed to be persuasive proof of God in the first place, then why would you break off a half-finished conversation in order to bring up a wholly unrelated point about a supposedly illiterate person in the seventh century? It’s a bit of a roundabout way to make a point, don’t you think? If your entire belief in God is based on the literacy status of one guy, why didn’t you just say so in the first place?

…You may be able to talk arabic normal in conversation but you wont be able to make up stories that can be written down UNLESS you know how to read arabic. Now that I cleard this up we move to my argument.

That makes very little sense to me (are you saying that you can’t make up a story and then dictate it?) but okay, we’ll move on.

[Argues that Muhammad, being illiterate, could not have written the Koran without a miracle.]

It all strikes me as an incredibly flimsy foundation on which to base believe in an infinitely powerful supernatural being living outside the universe. And I bet if you give it some thought, you can understand why.

Imagine yourself in my shoes for a minute. You are merely a poor benighted atheist, without any belief in God or supernatural magical powers whatsoever. I come to you and say “Look here, I know for a certainty that there is a magical being who lives in the sky and listens to every one of the seven billion people on this planet, every minute of every day. And the reason why I know this is that 1,500 years ago, an illiterate man wrote a book about him.”

Thinking outside your religion for a moment, which do you honestly find easier to believe?

1. This being you’ve described really exists, despite a complete absence of other corroborating evidence.
2. I am somehow mistaken, and the author of this book either wasn’t illiterate or somehow found SOMEBODY who was willing to listen to this story and write it down.

Before you answer, stop and ask yourself if your answer would be the same if the book was not the Koran but say, the book of Mormon, or a book about Scientology or something.

I think you know what my answer is.

Just curious, does anyone know what he talking about regarding the supposed impossibility of writing down spoken Arabic? Because Muhammad is really trying to hammer on this point in his latest message, and it doesn’t make any sense to me at all. I mean, you could presumably speak conversational Arabic to a translator who spoke English, and then you could write down an English version of what he said. Why wouldn’t you be able to write an Arabic version?

We get Muslim email (part 1)

Yes, it’s true. Christians often accuse us of picking on them and ignoring what they consider the more dangerous religions like Islam. (PZ Myers’ readers coined the term “Fatwa envy” to describe such complaints.)

The mundane truth, however, is that we don’t often talk about Islam simply because we rarely get feedback from Muslims.

With a few exceptions. Naturally, in the interest of being equal opportunity offenders (sorry — moral equivalence fallacy anyone?) I must showcase this letter… which, in fairness, makes about the same bad fallacies as any Christian apologist.

Subject: I want a feedback on these possible suggestions that creationism exists.

Hello my name is Muhammad *****-*****

I would like a feedback on these suggestions.

1. Energy exists as a result of different dimensions interacting with each other and among those dimensions is time itself. These dimensions interacting with each other = God. Without these dimensions interacting with each other, energy never would have existed. Now I know in your mind you are asking how do you know that these dimensions = God. Well its the fact that things must come out of things. The only way for something to happen if there is another thing acting on it to make it happen. The fact that energy always existed and never was created or destroyed is confusing because this so called energy that always existed could have just sat its ass up there without cause (being sarcastic) the fact that it didnt just sit its ass out there and that it eventually shat out the universe means there was a particular point in its existence some specific point in its existence that shat out the universe. The fact that it shat out the universe in point A and not in point B means there was some sort of intelligence involved. The only possibility is god therefore by deduction god exists. You cant give me another explanation to explain why point A is where it shat out the universe and not point B without including something intelligent. You cant say well it randomly occured at point A because the fact that it was random means means I would have to go back to my original statement that it could have just sat its ass out there and nothing happened but it didnt, something happened, meaning there has to be something that caused it to happen.

You can say the same and tell me well how did god exist in the first place who created god. No matter how many blocks you build you will still have blocks. No matter how many times you say supernatural created supernatural created supernatural created supernatural, THERE IS A SUPER NATURAL involved

2- My second statement has to do with cause. Its not really an explanation but its something you should look at. Why dont you go ahead and kill a random person on the street. What causes you to say no thats just wrong? I mean if you look at it youre just made up of a bunch of interacting atoms just as a carboard box is made of a bunch of interacting atoms. You can break the cardboard box without even thinking but cant do the same for a human being. What makes you think you can kill cows freely when cows are just as interactive of atoms as you are. Is it because they are below you in the food chain? You can canabalize humans cant you. What is your ultimate cause? Why are you doing what you are doing today?

Here’s my reply. For brevity, I will truncate some of the quoted passages that I already posted, which you will see marked with leading ellipses.

Hi Muhammad,

1. Energy exists as a result of different dimensions interacting with each other and among those dimensions is time itself.

Speaking as someone who has been through numerous physics classes, this appears to be pure gibberish which superficially sounds like science. Dimensions don’t “interact with each other.” They are units of measurement.

These dimensions interacting with each other = God.

What additional information do you get from calling it “God?” Even assuming that “dimensions interacting with each other” made sense as something other than a bunch of words strung together, why wouldn’t you just keep calling them dimensions? Do the units of measurement become conscious when you apply this label? I don’t get it.

…that it eventually shat out the universe means there was a particular point in its existence some specific point in its existence that shat out the universe.

You’re making a bunch of statements that are not supported by any observation. We don’t know whether it’s in some way more likely for energy to “sit on its ass” than “shit,” because we have nothing outside of this universe to compare it to. Science doesn’t currently have any definite position on whether there is some kind of metaverse, containing more energy which either sits or shits. We don’t have any statistical data. For all you know, free floating energy has no alternative but to shit universes. Or whatever you’re trying to say.

The fact that it shat out the universe in point A and not in point B means there was some sort of intelligence involved.

1. To what are you referring when you say “point B”?
2. Where the heck did intelligence enter the conversation? As far as we’ve observed, intelligence only comes as the end product of a universe which exists, generates life, evolves brains, and executes consciousness as a behavior of those brains. Until you demonstrate that there is some kind of stuff that behaves like a brain outside of the universe, you’re just making stuff up.

…I would have to go back to my original statement that it could have just sat its ass out there and nothing happened but it didnt, something happened, meaning there has to be something that caused it to happen.

Why?

There are two uninhabited patches of land. On one of them, it rains. On the other, it does not rain. Does this require somebody to “intelligently” choose to make it rain in one place and not another? Must everything be uniform, all the time, unless there is divine intervention picking between two places? If so, what is your justification for this claim?

…THERE IS A SUPER NATURAL involved

I think you skipped a step that explained what “A SUPER NATURAL” is and how you know it exists.

2- My second statement has to do with cause. Its not really an explanation but its something you should look at. Why dont you go ahead and kill a random person on the street.

Why would I want to do that exactly? Austin has an excellent police force which solves murder cases with a fairly high rate of success. It may not be a guarantee that I would be caught, but I think it’s pretty likely that I would wind up sent to jail or executed myself. And even if I did wind up getting away with it, many of my friends would probably have awkward questions for me, probably even fear me. As a result, I would certainly lose contact with many people whose love and friendship I value highly.

I don’t know what reality you think you’re living in, but here in this world, usually actions have consequences. When I look at all the consequences of killing random people on the street, I can’t see how the benefits even come close to outweighing the drawbacks.

…What is your ultimate cause? Why are you doing what you are doing today?

I enjoy living free, I enjoy
friendship, and I find it fulfilling to be able to support myself and get things that I want. None of those goals are furthered by killing strangers. So I’m going to have to ask you to explain what kind of stupidity would cause me to entertain such an action.

Let me turn around and ask you the same question. I would ask you what your ultimate cause is, but I’m presuming the answer will be something like “to serve my god.”

So instead I’d like to ask: what is your god’s purpose for existing? Why does the god do the things that it does? What drives it? Why does it do whatever you think it is doing?

There has been one followup exchange, which I will post later if there’s enough interest. Needless to say, though, “Muhammad” did not respond to anything in my reply, but instead went on to talk about how miraculous it was that his namesake was capable of writing a book.

Have we mentioned lately that Islamic culture is evil?

Well then, let’s take up the slack, shall we? From Saudi Arabia, that oasis of egalitarian, progressive civilization at its apex [/snark], comes word that a court has ruled that the 8-year-old child bride of a 47-year old man, married off to him by her father as a way of paying off the father’s debts to the man, will not be able to have the marriage annulled. But hey, at least the court is doing its best to let everyone know how fair they’re being about all this. After all, they’ve gotten the groom to agree not to consummate the marriage until the girl reaches puberty, which means, lucky thing, that she’s got until about age 11 or 12 before she gets raped. And once she hits puberty, she’ll be allowed to file for divorce with the court. I’m sure they’ll just as fair to her then as they’re being now!

There are human rights organizations, apparently, even within Saudi Arabia, who are vehemently opposed to these arranged child marriages. How these organizations manage to exist without being regularly raided and their members dragged into the street and shot (oh, I forgot, “beheaded” is more Saudi style) is a question for another time. All we need to remember now is how this is just another indicator of how sick a society can get when fundamentalist religion — especially one as barbaric and misogynist as Islam — runs the show, and how, even a full decade into the 21st century, there are still victims of pre-medieval injustices living and suffering around the world today.

It would be nice if the US were willing to take a principled stand on this sort of thing. But you see, a little bit of oil is enough to lubricate a conscience rusty with such built-up gunk as “integrity” and “principle”. And Saudi Arabia has much more than a little bit of oil to go around. Let’s see, they force pre-pubescent kids into marriage, their radicalized young men crash planes into our buildings…but they’ll always be our “allies”. As long as the pumps are going.

Human Race to Islam: Please F.O. and die

Much as I find right-wing jargon to be mindlessly jingoistic and childishly reactionary, they were onto something when they coined the term “Islamofascism.” Here are two reports of the oppressive, totalitarian practices of this depraved religion in action.

  1. Dog walking banned in Riyadh on the grounds it leads to flirting and, possibly, cooties. Here’s something boggling to contemplate about Islamist states. Most totalitarian regimes are run by angry, lonely little pricks who spend their working days in offices thinking up ways to keep people from being happy, ever. But bring Islam into the picture, and your list of “harmless fun activities magically morphed into arrestable offenses” suddenly includes having a pet and meeting girls. And I suppose I would find the concept of an actual division of law enforcement named The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice more laughable — let alone the idea that walking your dog could possibly be something anyone would be demented enough to consider a vice of any kind — if it weren’t for the very eerie likelihood that there are Dominionist Christians in this country who are smacking their foreheads and saying, “D’oh! Why didn’t we think of that?”
  2. White Europeans continue to prove themselves complete pussies when confronted with the spectre of pissed-off guys with beards. (And allow me to forestall enraged replies from white Europeans who aren’t afraid to stand up to Islamist incursions upon your rights, and are embarrassed by those in your cultures, official or unofficial, who let fear conquer them: by all means, feel welcome to sound off in the comments.)

    The thing that radical, Great-Satan-hating Islamofascists have learned all too effectively is that nothing scares citizens of (what said citizens like to think are) free Western democracies than the idea that a Muslim is primed to go batshit bombthrowing crazy at the drop of a hat. Confession time: when I was a younger and callow chap, I was in a psychologically abusive relationship with a woman whose tool of control was her temper. I never knew what I might say to cause her to go off like a fragmentation grenade, and so I said very little, even on days which seemed perfectly normal and on which no argument had yet ensued. Everything could be perfectly pleasant, then I could make some innocuous statement about nothing in particular, and within seconds I’d find myself being screamed at, at window rattling volumes. It was, shall we say, an unpleasant period of my life.

    Islamists like to use a similar tool of control to stifle freedom — free speech, criticism of their beliefs or their politics, artistic expression — in countries that, remarkably, aren’t Islamist theocracies and in which they’re even minorities in the population. Ever since 9/11, the new normal has been that anything could drive a Muslim into a homicidal rage at any moment, and you don’t have any clue what it is, so it’s better not to take chances. Okay, so that may be a stereotype that the vast majority of non-batshit-bombthrowing-crazy Muslims resent, but it’s certainly proven useful to the real agitators among them.

    The latest victim is a novel, The Jewel of the Medina, by debut writer Sherry Jones, which was slated for publication in the UK weeks from now, only to be pulled at the eleventh hour due to fears that the subject matter — the protagonist is one of Mohammed’s child brides — would lead to a Satanic Verses fatwa redux. Isn’t it convenient for Islamists that they no longer even have to fight the “War on Terror” any more? The West just hands it to them.

    Remarkably, the person who sounded the klaxon of fear regarding Jones’s book was not only a Westerner, but a college professor from UT-Austin, Denise Spellberg. Professor, you’re a disgrace to our town. Just like that, all that was needed was the teeniest, tiniest fear that the book might “incite acts of violence by a small radical segment,” and presto, bye bye freedom of expression and speech!

    Okay, so Jones’s novel does sound like lurid crap, in the few excerpts that have appeared online. But if it’s going to be denied publication, at least do so for the right reasons.

I’m with Pat Condell on this one. I see no reason to be respectful or tolerant towards a religion that condones “honor killings” and thinks walking your fuckmothering dog is some kind of threat to civilization itself. This kind of barbarism earns no respect, none, not even a smidgen. And I also stand with old Ben Franklin, whose famous line about how folks who are willing to surrender a little freedom in exchange for a little security don’t deserve either resonates today more than it ever has in history. So, in the spirit of fair play, and as a sop to all those whiny Christians who like to throw the “you only attack us because you’re too scared to go after Muslims” line at us, allow me proudly to strike this blow for freedom!

Now if you’ll pardon me, my dogs want their walkies.

Islam is evil, Part ∞

Note I didn’t say Muslims, I said Islam. Don’t lecture me about all the nice Muslims. I used to live in Dubai and met more of them than you ever will. But any religion whose extremism is capable of the following has no place in a modern, civilized world, full stop.

The suspect, who is unshaven and appears to be in his 20s or 30s, was arrested by Iraq security forces after they retook most of Basra in April.

CNN was shown what authorities say was his first confession. On it are the names of 15 girls whom he admitted kidnapping, raping and killing. The youngest girl on the list was just 9 years old….

Women bore the brunt of the [Shiite] militias’ extremist ideologies. The militants spray-painted threats on walls across Basra, warning women to wear headscarves and not to wear make-up. Women were sometimes executed for the vague charge of doing something “un-Islamic.”

In the wasteland on the outskirts of Basra, dotted with rundown homes, the stench of death mixes with the sewage. Local residents told the Iraqi Army that executions often take place in the area, particularly for women, sometimes killed for something as seemingly inocuous as wearing jeans.

News good and bad from the British Isles

Via Dawkins’ site, I caught this article from the London Times, and its headline is a thing of such beauty it practically made me weep for joy: Churchgoing on its knees as Christianity falls out of favour. The article’s lead practically has you grabbing the phone to hire a marching band and sending out eVites for a block party. If only this were America.

Church attendance in Britain is declining so fast that the number of regular churchgoers will be fewer than those attending mosques within a generation, research published today suggests.

The fall – from the four million people who attend church at least once a month today – means that the Church of England, Catholicism and other denominations will become financially unviable. A lack of funds from the collection plate to support the Christian infrastructure, including church upkeep and ministers’ pay and pensions, will force church closures as ageing congregations die.

But then, read on a bit, and the other shoe drops.

In contrast, the number of actively religious Muslims will have increased from about one million today to 1.96 million in 2035.

According to Religious Trends, a comprehensive statistical analysis of religious practice in Britain, published by Christian Research, even Hindus will come close to outnumbering churchgoers within a generation.

Okay, it’s great to see one pernicious religion biting the dust somewhere, but the idea is not that we just want to see its former prominence supplanted by yet another pernicious religion…one even more pernicious, since, while Christianity’s fanatics (say, Paul Hill) only occasionally resort to outright murder, Islam’s are all too gung-ho about it. When Muslims will parade with signs that say “Behead Those Who Insult Islam!” you know you’re dealing with something far too FUBAR to be dealt with through civilized dialogue. Reason may win the fight fairly easily against Christianity, but if Islam, with its barbaric sharia laws and general bent towards theocratic fascism, simply slipped in and took its place, we’d be even worse off than where we started.

Atheists and rationalists still have a long way to go, and a lot of work to do, before the civilized world gets the message that the best way to get through life and get along with your fellow man is actually to use that little lump of grey matter between your ears.