Category: Islam



It seems to me there are a number of problems with the concept of omniscience.

The most glaring problem is that God has an enemy (how anthropomorphic is that?): the Devil. If God possessed omniscience, this would render any opponent impotent, wouldn’t it?

If God knows everything, he would know every possible way to avoid any attack by the Devil. He would also know every counterattack against and vulnerability of the Devil. Moreover, he would also know every plan the Devil would or could conceive of. Just thinking about how to destroy God would be a fruitless and incriminating task. This doesn’t seem like a fair fight.

So, either God is not omniscient or the Devil doesn’t exist. Or of course, it’s all nonsense.

Advertisements

I always thought that the idea of evidence was pretty simple. I also thought that belief in God was not based on evidence, but on faith, since there is no evidence for God. However, in recent conversations with believers, it seems that they have a different view on what constitutes evidence. Without stating specifically what “evidence” is, so as to not stifle any possible comments by believers, I’m curious what evidence believers have for their belief in God.

And, by the way, I’m getting a little tired of people quoting wikipedia or a dictionary when I discuss a topic like this. Yes, I am tech-savvy enough to log on to dictionary.com or wikipedia.org and surf the web (as the youngsters say). I don’t care about dictionary definitions here, I’m interested in what believers naturally believe is evidence for God.


Why can’t people say I’m metasmart or metafast or even, metahungry? Because attaching the prefix “meta” to any of these adjectives would render them unintelligible and ridiculous. This is quite obvious.

Yet, most of us have heard theists talk about metaphysics and heard them use the term to be something opposed to physical reality, as if this makes some kind of sense (Note that the term metaphysics actually carries many meanings — this is the meaning that I am concerned with here) . Although this, as far as I am aware, is not a proper use of the term metaphysics, it has become one of those buzzwords that many people just generally accept without thinking deeply about it.

So, let’s try to break down the word, shall we? The prefix “meta” is usually defined as being “beyond” or “above” or some such preposition. Fine, this makes sense. Physical, in the sense that this is being used in the aforementioned use of “metaphysical”, refers to everything within the known universe — that is, everything that can be examined. Fine, separately, these two words seem to make sense.

However, it doesn’t seem to make sense to put these together. Why? Consider this:

All of our collective knowledge comes from the universe in which we live. Nothing can come from outside our physical reality because that “outside thing” would immediately become inside if we learned about it. It is nonsensical to think of anything beyond our physical world because our physical world is everything we know and everything we can know. Thus, as soon as we utter the word “metaphysical” we have made it physical: the word metaphysical exists within the physical universe since we are discussing it within our universe. Anything that is truly metaphysical (assuming that that’s even possible) would be beyond our ability to consider, let alone talk about!

In this way, the prefix “meta” can be only applied to things that we know the limits of, and know what is on the outside. For example, metaphysics is also used to describe abstract concepts (in this sense, things that we cannot physically touch), such as existence, truth, ethics and so on. This is fine. We have clearly delineated between touchable and untouchable things. Everyone can distinguish the physical and the metaphysical in this instance.

However, when a theist tells you something like “God is metaphysical” or some other nonsense like that, ensure that they explain two things: what does “metaphysical” mean exactly and how could they possibly know that God is metaphysical if they reside within the physical realm. In all likelihood, they will be unable to respond to either question intelligibly — but this is not the purpose, of course. The purpose? Metaconfusion.

Post Script: Another blogger, debilis, has suggested to me that since there are things that are not physical that exist in this universe (such as ideas) then this is evidence that there is something beyond the physical (notice that this still doesn’t indicate that any form of God exists). Yet, careful examination of what I’ve said in this post will reveal a conflation of two concepts of “metaphysical”: one which I think is nonsense, one which makes sense. Yes, there are things that can be sensed and things that cannot be sensed (ie, ideas). This is the acceptable concept of metaphysics. Then there is the this universe verses that which is beyond this universe (Universe meaning everything we know and can know about. In that way, a multiverse would be included in this notion of a universe). This is the unacceptable version.

Here is where I will assert something that may be controversial: ideas are physical things, in the sense that they physically exist within this universe. How? All information is real. All information is not magically floating through the ether. Therefore, it must exist somewhere — and it does. It exists in the neural connections that host the idea in our brains or in the 1s and 0s that host the idea on a hard drive. Although it is hard to imagine information being transformed into raw data of 1s and 0s, we know this to be true. I would contend that the same is true within our brains. It may not be easy, but I think that there is definitely physical locations where the data of any idea is stored in our brains. Ergo, ideas are physical.


Islamic Republic of the Maldives Sentences Child Rape Victim to 100 Lashes

A girl is repeatedly raped by her father in law and other men. So what does the Islamic nation of the Maldives do? They sentence the girl to 100 lashes because she had sex outside of marriage.

HERE’S WHAT WE MUST DO: NEVER TRAVEL TO THE MALDIVES, AND DISCOURAGE EVERYONE YOU KNOW FROM TRAVELING THERE. THEIR CASH COW IS TOURISM. HIT THE GOVERNMENT WHERE IT HURTS!


ImagePreviously, I wrote a blog entry about an unfair “out” that believers have when they explain how something happened: “God did it.”

However, that is not the only trick up the believer’s sleeve. There is also the situation in which something does happen, but which an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God would not want to happen. Polio, floods, wars, drug wars, genocides, rapes, slavery, psychopathy, psychopathic killers, torture, child molestation, other religions existing, atheism, errors or contradictions in the Bible/Koran/Torah/etc., animal cruelty: the list goes on.

Why would God allow these things to exist? They do not help the case for religion in the slightest. However, a quick rejoinder solves all this: “God works in mysterious ways.”

Ah, yes! The “get out of jail free card” of religion. It works for anything that conflicts with one’s particular religious beliefs.

This is, however, not as great a solution as one might think. Why? Consider this.

After 9/11, many people might have said, “How could Osama Bin Laden have planned such a terrible act?”

Well, the answer would be simple, wouldn’t it? “Osama Bin Laden works in mysterious ways!”

“Oh, no! No, no, no! This cannot be applied to anything other than God, that’s not fair!” one might say.

Well, that’s partially correct, at least. It isn’t fair because it isn’t a fair argument.

It is an unfalsifiable statement. Although unfalsifiable sounds great (as in, “Wow! It can’t be falsified! It must be true!); unfalsifiability is not a measure of a statement’s strength, it’s actually a demonstration of it’s weakness, for precisely the same reason why it can be used to legitimize Bin Laden, or any other terrible act, for that matter. It can be applied to anything and still work. If something is true, it needs to have a method for testing it’s truth — an unfalsifiable statement cannot be tested and is therefore not a fair statement, logically.

If religious people can use “God works in mysterious ways,” then everyone can use “x works in mysterious ways” to prove anything. This is obviously not an effective way at getting to the truth in any matter, so the only other option is for nobody to use this manner of arguing. God does not work in mysterious ways: unfalsifiable statements work in mysterious ways.


I wrote a blog post about this a while back here.

I didn’t know Hitchens debated Tariq Ramadan on this subject before I wrote this post. The real irony is that one poster, musingsaudi, who I debated back and forth with on this subject, suggested I read Tariq Ramadan in order to understand this subject better.

What a perfect surprise to see Hitchens spank the same guy on the same subject!

I’m not going to analyze the video for you, but it starts with a great intro by Hitchens, after which Tariq Ramadan immediately denies the claim that Islam is a religion of peace! I’m not kidding. He hedges and says it depends on the reader and it therefore can be a religion of peace or violence! This is in his INTRO! I don’t think I need to dig any deeper into this guy’s analysis of Islam after seeing this video.

Khaled Mashal is an Idiot


Image

I just saw a video of Khaled Mashal, the chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau, in which he said something remarkably stupid. Either he’s a chronic gambler and has lost all sense of what he and his country has to lose, or he’s a moron. He said that the Israeli military ground troop buildup on the Israeli-Gaza border is a bluff! So, whenever you call a bluff, if you know anything about poker or common-sense, you have to consider what you have to gain and what you have to lose. What are Palestinians gaining by Khaled Mashal making this statement? Pride? That’s all I can see. What do the Palestinians have to lose? EVERYTHING. This is the worst gamble I’ve ever witnessed. Hopefully for Palestinians it is a bluff, but, I wouldn’t bet on it myself.

WebRep
Overall rating
This site has no rating
(not enough votes)

Image

How many people would claim that they love killing people? How many of those people do you actually think, if they knew the gruesomeness and cruelty of killing someone, would actually continue to claim that they love killing people?

Anders Breivik, the perpetrator of the terrorist attack in Norway, in which he single-handedly walked around an island full of unarmed civilians and shot them one by one, doesn’t even answer yes to the above questions. Breivik has been very straightforward about the brutality of his crime with the utmost details. He has incriminated himself over and over, without remorse. Yet, he did admit one thing: he said that as he was killing people, he had a strong desire to stop the whole time. He said that he only overcame this gut feeling by convincing himself that it was a necessary evil to help society as a whole.

So, aside from sadistic psychopaths (I’d argue that although non-sadistic psychopaths wouldn’t feel empathy for people they killed, they would be able to reason enough to decide that its not a good thing to kill random people and therefore have no desire to do so), people have a built in morality against killing random people.

We do not need the silly ten commandments to know that killing people is not good. This is instinctive. What were people doing before the ten commandments? Killing each other randomly? Society could not function if this were the case since society is built on trust.

Claims are made that modern societies are built on Judeo-Christian values; however, many less violent countries, such as East Asian countries, were not founded on Judeo-Christian values.

Also, I would argue that it is not even our society that makes us moral. The society just keeps the trust among us for those few who, for whatever reason (bad upbringing, bad DNA or a combination of these two), commit crimes. But, there are always exceptions. Most people will act morally in any political system.

People try to use NAZI Germany’s holocaust as an example of how our morality can be molded according to the regime in power. This is absolutely false.

If you actually know about the details of how the holocaust was carried out, you’d know that the most difficult aspect of pushing through the holocaust was human reluctance to kill. At first, soldiers were just ordered to shoot Jews. This didn’t last long. Although people naturally will go along with authority, this only goes so far. Watching numerous people die by your own hands is something that few people can endure. Eventually, some German soldiers refused to obey their superiors orders, and this led to a cascade effect of other German soldiers refusing. The result? The gas chambers. If you claim that gas chambers are more cost effective than shooting people, you are not thinking about what is involved in the gas chambers. First, the technology didn’t exist. They had to do some serious R and D to figure out how to pull off mass death via gas chambers. Second, they needed to transport people to gas chambers. Third, they needed to build gas chambers and death camps. Fourth, they needed to man these death camps. Fifth, they had to burn the bodies. Sixth, they had to do this in a way to not alert the local population (who, by their own morals, if they found out, would have become horrified). This is only six reasons, but there are many more. The fact is, the NAZI government learned very quickly that their soldiers were moral and they needed to circumvent this morality very quickly and efficiently to prevent mass mutiny.

Even in wartime, there are outbreaks of peace that happen. The Christmas Truce of World War I is probably the most well known example. Even though both sides of the War were taught to hate one another by political and military authorities, suddenly, mass outbreaks of peace occurred between British and German soldiers. It seems it’s actually not that easy to ensure a war continues without pressure from forces above (forces that themselves have not participated in the ugliness of war).

It is for these reasons that it really bothers me when someone claims that humans need religion to be moral. This is the greatest insult to the humanity that exists within all of us.


It is sometimes asserted that you must have faith to believe in science because we don’t have an answer for everything. Well, to an extent this is true. However, it is the best we have. Further, it is by far the best we have.

How do I know this? It’s based on the idea that trustworthiness of an argument comes from how deeply you can question the presuppositions before coming to an “I don’t know” answer. The trustworthiness of science in this regard is always many levels greater than religion. Let’s compare the two. Now, every assertion can have multiple questions, such as “Why is that,” or “How do you know that,” and so on. For the purpose of simplicity, I will only take one route to the foundational presuppositions of each assertion.

Science

Assertion: “Water can be used as a fuel for a power source known as hydrogen power.”

Question: “How do you know this?”

Presupposition: “Because water contains two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen and pure hydrogen can be used as a power source”

Q: “How do you know water has two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen?”

P: “Because the atomic theory has helped us come to this conclusion through many different forms of experimentation.”

Q: “How do you know experimentation will prove something?”

P: “Because this is what the scientific method states.”

Q: “How do you know the scientific method is effective?”

P: “Because it allows us to see repeatable results in experiments.”

Q: “How do you know that repeatable results is a good thing?”

P: “Because it allows us to see order in the universe so that we can understand it.”

Q: “How do you know that seeing order indicates anything?”

P: “Because discovering order allows us to make predictions. If something always happens, we can assume it will happen again and again so long as the variables are the same.”

Q: “How do you know that all experiments thus far have just by chance all worked out the way you expected?”

A: “We don’t know that.”

* I am not a scientist. There may actually be silly mistakes here, and I may have missed possible steps. My main point is to show that there are at least six levels of understanding that science has achieved in this particular case.

Religion

Assertion: “Jesus turned water into wine.”

Question: “How do you know that?”

Presupposition: “Because the Bible says so.”

Question: “How do you know that the Bible is correct?”

Presupposition: “Because God made it.

Question: “How do you know God made it?”

Answer: “We have faith that He made it.”

In this case, there are only two levels of presuppositions. The only evidence provided is the Bible. In the science example, the amount of evidence that has been provided for the six steps I mentioned  is an enormously large amount. It entails all the evidence we have achieved since the beginnings of the scientific method along this particular question’s path.

Further, the depth of research required as one moves up this ladder of knowledge increases dramatically. It requires much more evidence to show that water is two parts hydrogen and one part water than it does to explain why repeatable results are useful.

Biblical study can never go beyond the God question, unfortunately because God is supposedly infinite. He is beyond inquiry. Therefore, the conversation always stops there. This is not an intellectual way to view the world.

The fact is, science is always pushing the boundaries of these levels, in both directions; while religion is stultified.

Of course, the more times you ask, “How do you know that?” kind of questions, as any parent of a 2-year old will know, to more abstract the answer becomes, to the point where it doesn’t really make sense to be asking the question anymore. This happens in the science example above.

I remember a great Louis C.K. skit on this, seen here, where his daughter keeps asking “Why?” and it humorously demonstrates the ridiculousness of this situation. It starts around the 7 minute mark.


Image

There seems to be a confusion among evolution skeptics that is overlooked by most people who accept evolution. Skeptics of evolution tend to think that evolution is a world-view that believers in evolution hold on to with all our might, unwilling to see the world otherwise. In other words, they view evolution as a religion.

This makes sense to evolution skeptics because they know that they cannot change certain beliefs that they have of their religion. They cannot stop believing in the basic tenets of their religion, or their life would be in shambles (or at least, that’s what they believe).

However, I hope I can speak for most people who believe in evolution when I say, if scientists suddenly found a serious problem that ran counter to evolutionary theory, and after a peer review, they declared that evolution was actually not the answer for how we arrived here, believers in evolution would be excited!  This concept is mind-blowing for evolution skeptics because it would seem to them like evolution believers’ lives would have been ruined because our concept of how the world works would have been ruined. Not at all. In fact, in order for evolutionary theory to be overturned, there would have to be an even more amazing, all-encompassing theory to replace it. So, would this be disappointing? No! This would be absolutely fascinating! There would be so many new interesting questions raised by this drastic discovery. There is nothing about evolutionary theory itself that we evolution believers cling to: we just accept the facts. We are not promised life after this life or punishment of our enemies. We simply accept what the scientific method demonstrates.

Of course, it is extremely improbable that the entire theory of evolution will be overturned considering the vast amounts of evidence in its favor and the absence of scientific evidence running counter to it at this moment. However, the vast amount of evidence for evolution does not make me happier. The fact is, people who believe in evolution tend to believe it because they care about science, not evolution specifically. They may have an interest in studying the mechanics or evidence of evolution, but caring for something is a little different.

We do care about the scientific method because humans have tried many methods for understanding the world in the past. Animal sacrifice, human sacrifice, palmistry, rain dances and so on, have all failed to produce repeatable results as the scientific method has. As a result of the repeatability of the scientific method, it has produced virtually all the inventions we see around us in modern society. I care to protect that concept because I care about preserving and advancing the benefits of modern society.

The theory of evolution has been arrived at via the scientific method. Therefore, I care about evolution only because I care about science. Whether or not evolution is true is not something I am emotional about; however, denying the accuracy of scientific analysis is an affront to our modern society and, as a defender of modern society, I feel a duty to defend the truthfulness of scientific analysis.

standup2p

Observations - From the sharp end

Questionable Motives

What is the right question?

The Havers of a Questioning Mind

All men are born with a nose and ten fingers, but no one was born with a knowledge of God. -Voltaire

nerd on the bridge

A Literary Paradox

Lights on the Moon

what's real & what's not

DOUG PHILIPS

Meat sack with thoughts.

The Southern Rationalist

Voices of Rationality and Skepticism from the Southern US

Endless Erring

Stumbling along a Druid path

God Shmod

The one true God of Atheism.

Pretentious Ape

a humanist blog

Confessions of a Disquisitive Writer

Blogging my thoughts to the world

The More I Learn the More I Wonder

Rambles and brambles in the garden of my mind

Little Duckies

Parenting, polyticks, and the everyday busyness of an American-born mom in Israel.

Illusions and Delusions

Education is the key

BEN STUPPLES

JOURNALISM | UK POLITICS | BUSINESS

Web-ling's World

The World as I See It

Heightened Senses

Hello. I'm Imraan. This is the only thing I own outright; I write from time to time, in the hopes that free-association might save a trip to a sanatorium.