Christopher Hitchens on Nidal Malik Hasan

The Army Major that went suicide-bomber and shot up Fort Hood recently has had a lot of coverage lately, especially regarding his being a Muslim and his obviously unbalanced mental state. It wasn’t merely his being a Muslim that caused him to flip into holy warrior mode — it was his communication with radical Anwar al-Awlaki, and his enthusiasm for al-Qaida’s tactics in this holy war.

That, combined with the correct casting of Bush’s wars as, essentially, holy wars. Even despite their original purpose, being wars for oil (or at least, that’s how they were presented, that they would “pay for themselves” with the oil America would then control), they have devolved into “Good Christian America vs Bad Islamic [whoever]”. And this is a problem — a major one — insofar as it is a pissing contest between the Holy Roman Empire and the Heathens Across the Sea, to see whose imaginary friend is better. Never mind that their imaginary friends are supposedly the same Abrahamic god Yahweh and that “God” and “Allah” are merely different languages’ titles for the same deity.

Christopher Hitchens breaks down all the facts in the Hasan case and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Hasan’s diseased mind proved fertile grounds for the radical flavor of Islam that infected and flourished and ultimately flowered in Hasan’s murder-suicide. I only lament that in the course of this article, Hitchens does not realize that his robust support for Bush’s wars is actually encouragement of the continuation of holy wars of religion vs religion.

So, ultimately, yes, Major Hasan was a radical Muslim. While “Allahu Akbar” is not by necessity a warcry, any more than “Jesus help me” is a war cry, in the case of radical Islam it apparently is used as such. Radical Islam, because it is so focused on suicide-bombings and suicide-murder sprees, needs to be ended. It’s fairly obvious that the radicals have to use these tactics, because they do not have access to the same level of resources as the “Christian” Americans do — they do not have a standing army, they do not have well-trained soldiers, they do not have bases but instead caves and hideouts. They are fighting a guerilla war because it’s all they can do.

But at the same time as radical Islam needs to be ended for these reasons, so to does every belief in an imaginary higher power that leads directly to violence against our fellow humans. Without Islam and Christianity, this war wouldn’t be happening. Other religions might step in to fill the gap, and other wars waged, but if you were to eliminate religion altogether, then maybe wars would be fought not over whose imaginary friend is better, but rather who has access to the Earth’s resources — surely another horrible reason to go to war, but one that at least has a little more sense behind it, since resources are real things, and your imaginary personal deity is assuredly not.

Zdenny has two modes: fail, and fail harder

Our favorite troll is back. And here I am feeding him yet again. He has posted on this thread, however it’s not only wholly incorrect, my reply is too bloody long to make a proper comment, so I deleted the original comment and publish it here in its entirety.

Darwinian evolution is a worldview that says that nature began itself and then designed itself. Theistic evolution is a worldview that says nature was created and then designed by mind.

Evolution itself does not disprove Christianity as Genesis 1 explains the the world was created through a process. It doesn’t say that God created everything in one day; rather, six days emphasizing this process. Ironically, the process is almost identical to current scientific theory.

More below the fold…
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‘Religion’ of Evolution

A common assertion you’ll see in debates of creation vs evolution, is that those that put more stock in scientific discovery than in the foundational texts of the various religions (especially the Bible, as creationism is primarily a fundamentalist Christian belief — though Islam is catching up) are as dogmatic and religious about their own personal religion, being Darwinism, which is in the complainants’ minds a synthesis of the scientific knowledge of the day as revealed by the Prophet Darwin. This is an obvious and execrable mischaracterization of those that take the side of evolution in these debates. Religions like Christianity have traditionally only had to deal with other religions eroding their flock — but science is a completely different animal. It is the attempt by intelligent human beings to discover the truth behind this universe’s principals of chemistry, physics, and ultimately the biology that results from the two former fields given enough time.

FFreeThinker, one of the better science Youtubers, has put together a short open-letter video asking that the theists that use this tactic, think better of it. I honestly doubt that anyone as prone to such thinking as creationists would abandon a tactic that is not only dishonest but also gets under the evolution-boosters’ skin, but it’s worth a try. If they can cry out for civility time and again, we can maybe ask them to stop lying about us in turn.

Blasphemy Day International!

Today, in case you weren’t aware, is Blasphemy Day. In the spirit of the campaign organized by the Center for Inquiry, and in solidarity with those folks that live in countries where rampant ideas have more rights than people (e.g.: Ireland, where a person can be put in jail for saying something insulting about an idea like “God”), I have the following to say, below the fold so those of you with tender sensibilities can opt out now.


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Religion as a mental parasite

Look at this picture for a moment — click to enlarge. Kinda stomach-churning, huh? Looks a lot like an alien chest-burster in fact. It’s a rare isopod discovered off the Jersey coast that eats, then replaces, the tongue of a fish. Interestingly, outside the eating of the tongue, the fish doesn’t suffer terribly much in the way of ill effects from this disgusting, horrific, and horribly effective parasitic behaviour. Also interestingly, neither do people whose reason has been eaten and replaced by religious faith.

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Earning respect

There’s a study that shows that societies that are mostly religious do worse in a number of key indicators of social “well-being”. For instance:

The paper, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal, reports: “Many Americans agree that their churchgoing nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly sceptical world.

“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

“The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.”
The study concluded that the US was the world’s only prosperous democracy where murder rates were still high, and that the least devout nations were the least dysfunctional. Mr Paul said that rates of gonorrhoea in adolescents in the US were up to 300 times higher than in less devout democratic countries. The US also suffered from “ uniquely high” adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates, and adolescent abortion rates, the study suggested.

Why then, despite the craziness you find in the Christian Bible (incest, stuff about penises and poop, etc.), and in all sorts of other religions (e.g. Mormons believing they’ll become gods themselves, Islamic violence against cartoonists, Scientology as a whole), do people consider you to be somehow less of a person for daring to not believe in anything in particular? As though one has to pick a deity to follow, no matter which one, before they’re considered fully-functional members of society?
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More Sunday Atheist Readings

Linking posts are like cruise control for good-blogging-habits. Why write your own blog when you can point to others? Though an atheist-centric linking post on Sunday morning seems strangely fitting, does it not? I guess, that depends on what your particular religion’s holy day happens to be. I mean, the Abrahamic religions can’t even decide on Saturday or Sunday between them, and they all have the same root.

PZ has a letter from a student describing “balance” in his biology classroom — having never been taught at all about evolution despite promises to eventually balance out his learnings, but having had a long, illustration-rich lecture in creationism, he graduated without the merest inkling what evolution was. That’s a good way to win converts for the other side, theists. FYI.

The month of Ramadan is upon us, having started yesterday, and Mike Haubrich had a disturbing episode at work wherein, despite being himself admonished to keep his atheist books at home, someone went out and got a DQ cake for a Muslim celebrating Ramadan. This imbalance in avoiding religion at the workplace resulted in our compatriot foregoing DQ cake, and I know exactly what kind of sacrifice that is.

Here’s a nice cheat sheet in case you want to compare and contrast Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Scientology. Don’t get caught taking this into your Comparative Religion classes though, you might get zero on the test for cheating, which is a sin in academia as dire as plagiarism.

The Teapot Atheist has an unhealthy habit: collecting theist propaganda. Go check it out. He even has as his crown jewel, the Atlas of Creation by Harun Yahya (Adnan Oktar).

In case you wonder why people consider evangelical Christianity to be both scary and irritating simultaneously, here’s an excellent example. Julie over at Rational Behavior posted someone’s Left Behind letter, for just in case they get bodily Raptured up to heaven. For those two of you that don’t know, the Rapture doctrine is the invention of John Nelson Darby circa 1830 CE, wherein several Bible passages are reinterpreted to mean that on Judgement Day (which will happen whenever God gets around to it), the holy rollers down here on Earth will get beamed up physically to Heaven, leaving food uneaten, babies un-tended-to, and airplanes unpiloted and doomed to crash. How inspiring! And the letter at Julie’s is just plain off the wall wacky, with Zdenny-level conspiracy theories and technobabble (what the fuck is this BlueBeam craziness?).

Since consigning Zdenny to the moderation bucket, it’s been incredibly peaceful around here. It’s a shame it took borderline censorship to achieve that peace. But it’s okay, for those of you still looking for people to put him in his place, he’s hanging out over at Relatively Unrelated, getting eviscerated by the indefatiguable Dan J, repeatedly and with precious little remorse. It is truly a thing of beauty, watching Dan at work.

Here’s a few more quick links in case the above hasn’t yet whetted your appetite:

Mormonism for Dummies — I’d never wear underpants like those. Ever. Not even after being posthumously baptised into Mormonism.
Proof the 10 Commandments are not the basis of US law — only three out of ten are constitutional and enforceable
A Christian analysis of Atheism — make no mistake, this is not nearly as fair as the last such sermon I put up on my last linking post.
A Feint and a Ruse: a story of betrayal and naïveté on the part of a science booster who honestly thought his theist friends would come to his defense.
10 Myths and 10 Truths about Atheism, by Sam Harris, from 2006. Worth bookmarking and spamming to your misinformed friends / commenters.
Look out evildoers, here comes Bibleman! Lamest superhero on the block.

My headache

I’ve sat on this for a while, as I’ve had quite a bit on my plate lately, and I don’t want to go out of my way to give Zdenny a bigger stage than he already has. Yet, I link to him because he quote-mined me here to make a larger point about science as dogma and Christ as science (no, seriously). He’s definitely right about one thing — this line of argumentation gives me a headache, one for which only a good long rant can serve as ibuprofen. Especially since they’re the ones who consistently conflate atheism with scientific naturalism.

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Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder

The founder of Blackwater is directly implicated in the murder of a few stool pigeons that were singing to the feds about the Iraq security debacle.

The two men claim that the company’s owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee also alleges that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and that Prince’s companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.”

I can’t help but be reminded of a song I have long enjoyed:

I wonder if this’ll have any implication on the Bush administration that employed them so heavily. And I wonder what it’ll take to dismantle this private militia-for-hire once and for all.

“Conversion is like cultural AIDS”

I’m going to post a video, and hope certain elements that have frequented this blog as of late will see their reflection in it. That is, if they watch it at all.

I don’t think the guy who said this (at about 24:45) had any idea as to the provenance of what he said, when he said it. The statement applies to all religions, not just Christianity. It applies to Hinduism, it applies to Judaism (Hasidic or otherwise), and it applies to Islam, all in equal measure. Sadly, it doesn’t apply to any kind of faith in the scientific method, as the scientific method produces nuanced, evidence-based results, and can change on the fly if the evidence makes it, as opposed to religion which digs in its heels every time something provable contradicts it.

Video and more ranting below the fold.
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