The New Atheists, like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, the late Christopher Hitchens and many others, purported to offer a sane, secular attempt to roll back religiosity for the betterment of society. Instead, their efforts have begat the mother of all calamities.
How did this come to pass?
Scientific atheism, as promoted by the New Atheists, lacks any unifying central structure or code. Essentially it is based on a negative — not believing in God. So it can’t have a defining structure. Richard Dawkins, one of the most prominent New Atheists, tried to answer this with his ‘brights’ — which was an embarrassment. (Since at least 2014, Dawkins has self-identified as a ‘secular Christian’ anyway.)
After the Enlightenment and especially the French Revolution, European secularism based itself around Reason as the core methodology that would replace, in the minds of those who were atheist, religious belief. This reflected a rejection of hierarchical religious authority, which had begun in the Reformation. The works of philosophers like Descartes, Voltaire, Rousseau, Kant and Paine promoted the idea of the free-thinking individual whose intellectual scalpel was Reason.
The Hadith constitute the third pillar of Islam. They are ‘commentaries on the life of the Prophet.’ They are second in authority only to the Qur’an itself. The other pillars are the Qur’an and the Sirah . Together with the Sharia these form the ideological basis for the ‘religion of peace’.
Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the literal word of Allah. The Angel Gabriel transmitted it, exactly as spoken, to Mohammed. He memorised it because he couldn’t write. You make your own judgements as to how accurate his recall was likely to have been. (The Qur’an was not actually written down until some 80 years after Mohammed’s death, which is also worth considering.)
I am part of something greater, in a very real and immediate sense. It’s not so much a question of believing but of accepting the evidence in front of me. I am part of the Earth. The Earth is not just a core of molten iron covered in a crust of rock and water, with an outer gaseous atmosphere, though it is these things. It is a living system, an entity. And I am—we are all—part of that entity.
Consider what you are: you are composed of billions of individual living things called cells.
The Qur’an is the base text of Islam, which is today followed by approximately 1.2 billion people.
Most people know about the activities of so-called Islamic extremists, operating in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and, most prominently and gaining the most attention, in the Levant conflict zone, principally Syria and Iraq. But how extreme are they? Do they have justification for their behaviour from the Qur’an, as they repeatedly claim to?
The Muslim legal code called Sharia specifies everything that is ‘mandated’ and ‘forbidden’.
In Arabic they are ‘halal’ and ‘haram’. Sharia — contained in a manual called Sharia Law. (The Reliance of the Traveller)actually extends to over 1200 pages of text which specify every imaginable action or aspect of life. Everything from how to brush your teeth or how to put on your clothes, to how to beat your wife or kill your enemies. It is, literally, not just unnecessary for Muslims to think for themselves, it is haram (forbidden).
Muslims are obliged to follow Sharia all the time. There are punishments for transgressions ranging from fines to floggings to forced amputations to death. To reject Sharia wholly is de facto to become apostate, which demands a punishment of death.
The Goddess is a big deal in the Philippines and goddesses are out in strength there this week. The occasion is the closing rounds of the Universities Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) women’s volleyball tournament, held at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City. Teams with names like De La Salle Lady Spikers and Ateneo de Manila Lady Eagles, the Tigresses, the Lady Warriors and the Lady Bulldogs battle it out in front of huge, enthusiastic and thoroughly partisan crowds. And these girls aren’t kidding; this is serious stuff.
The audience is mainly young – but everywhere in the Phils is mainly young. That’s only to be expected in a country where the population has increased by a factor of ten in fifty years. And there are as many men here as women. Filipinos are as passionate about volleyball as Scots are about football.
This is hard sport, and women are seen as true warriors.
This is sometimes called the attempt to define god into existence, and was first proposed by Anselm of Canterbury (1033—1109). This original version was busted by Kant and Hume amongst others, but lo and behold, it resurfaced after several reworkings. While modern apologists are mightily proud of the shiny new gloss this has given the argument, it still devolves to the same thing:
A thing that can be imagined to exist, must exist, if it is imagined to have certain properties.
Clearly this is nonsense. However the dense fug of philosophical obscurantism is, as usual, used to hide the central argument, so let me expand what it says:
God is a being greater than which none can be conceived (unsubstantiated premise.)
It is now over twenty years since the fall of the Berlin Wall; for many young people, the Cold War, of which it was the most compelling symbol, is no more than a history lesson. In my desk here I have a small piece of concrete, with paint on, which was recovered from that wall and sold as a tourist trinket. It is perhaps the most telling one I have.
Our children do not, as those of my generation did, live in daily fear of being blown to pieces by atomic bombs or dying an agonising death from radiation sickness. They do not walk into their schools to find posters saying “Better Dead Than Red” on the walls, nor do they crowd around flickering television sets alongside their anguished parents, watching as Kennedy drew his line in the ocean, and curled his finger around the trigger of nuclear Armageddon. And for this we should all be very, very thankful indeed. No child should have to live with nightmares like those. Continue reading “The Realpolitik of Islamism”
We generally agree, as humans, that human life is sacrosanct. It is one of the greatest cultural condemnations we can deliver, that ‘human life has no value’. Yet abortion does precisely that: it places the value of human life at zero.
According to a report by Worldometer, a reference website, about 40-50 million abortions are performed worldwide each year, which works out to be about 125,000 abortions every single day. Abortion is the single biggest cause of human death. This figure comes from the WHO. Anyone who is not disgusted by that statistic should be ashamed.
In an oral culture — one that is not written down — mythology evolves as it is passed from storyteller to storyteller. The Jesus myth was created in exactly this way, pasted together from earlier sources. This process is called ‘syncretisation.’
There is no fixed record of an oral tradition, by definition. In an oral culture or tradition, myths grow and develop to reflect the lived experiences and cultures of the people telling them. It was only when writing was invented that these traditions could be codified and by that time, they had been evolving for thousands of years. This means that there are many versions of the same myth, as different peoples carried it forward.
So we cannot say that, because detail differences exist between two similar myths, they are different or have different origins.