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Islam vs. Evolution

topic posted Fri, June 24, 2011 - 1:15 AM by  Erik
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June 19, 2011
Does Islam Stand Against Science?

By Steve Paulson

We may think the charged relationship between science and religion is mainly a problem for Christian fundamentalists, but modern science is also under fire in the Muslim world. Islamic creationist movements are gaining momentum, and growing numbers of Muslims now look to the Quran itself for revelations about science.

Science in Muslim societies already lags far behind the scientific achievements of the West, but what adds a fair amount of contemporary angst is that Islamic civilization was once the unrivaled center of science and philosophy. What's more, Islam's "golden age" flourished while Europe was mired in the Dark Ages.

This history raises a troubling question: What caused the decline of science in the Muslim world?

Now, a small but emerging group of scholars is taking a new look at the relationship between Islam and science. Many have personal roots in Muslim or Arab cultures. While some are observant Muslims and others are nonbelievers, they share a commitment to speak out—in books, blogs, and public lectures—in defense of science. If they have a common message, it's the conviction that there's no inherent conflict between Islam and science.

Last month, nearly a dozen scholars gathered at a symposium on Islam and science at the University of Cambridge, sponsored by the Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Programme in Science & Religion. They discussed a wide range of topics: the science-religion dialogue in the Muslim world, the golden age of Islam, comparisons between Islamic and Christian theology, and current threats to science. The Muslim scholars there also spoke of a personal responsibility to foster a culture of science.

One was Rana Dajani, a molecular biologist at Hashemite University, in Jordan. She received her undergraduate and master's degrees in Jordan, then took time off to raise four children before going to the University of Iowa on a Fulbright grant to earn her Ph.D. Now back in Jordan, she is an outspoken advocate of evolution and modern science. She has also set up a network for mentoring women, and she recently started a read-aloud program for young children at mosques around Jordan.

As if that weren't enough, Dajani helped organize a committee to study the ethics of stem-cell research, bringing together Jordanian scientists, physicians, and Islamic scholars. (The traditional Muslim belief is that the spirit does not enter the body until 40 days after conception, which means many human embryonic stem cells can be harvested for research.)

"Being a Muslim, living in a Muslim world, Islam plays a big role in our everyday lives," she says. "We need to understand the relationship between Islam and science in order to live in harmony without any contradictions."

For these scholars, the relationship between science and Islam is not a dry, academic subject. Many of the hottest topics in science—from the origins of the universe and the evolution of humans to the mind/brain problem—challenge traditional Muslims beliefs about the world.

"Remember, these are human issues," says Nidhal Guessoum, an Algerian-born astrophysicist at the American University of Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates, who was also at the Cambridge symposium. "It's not an experiment in the lab. I'm talking about my students, my family members, the media discourse that I hear every day on TV, the sermons I hear in the mosque every Friday."

With his blend of charisma and keen sense of how to navigate the tricky terrain between modern science and Muslim faith, Guessoum is emerging as one of the key figures in public debates about Islam and science. He has a new book, Islam's Quantum Question: Reconciling Muslim Tradition and Modern Science (I.B. Tauris), and this month his university will host an international conference called "Belief in Dialogue: Science, Culture and Modernity."

This new breed of scholar also shares a sense of urgency, which is partly a matter of demographics. Sixty percent of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims are under the age of 30, and there's a major push to educate the next generation. It's certainly a welcome development, but the stakes have never been higher. Religion looms over all of Muslim life, so there could be devastating consequences for the future of science if certain fields of study come to be seen as antireligious.

"If evolution gets associated with atheism, you could alienate an entire generation of Muslims," says Salman Hameed, a native of Pakistan who directs the new Center for the Study of Science in Muslim Societies, at Hampshire College. Another key player in the Islam-science dialogue (who was not at the Cambridge symposium), Hameed runs the science-and-religion blog Irtiqa. He believes that the popular narrative about science and religion is now being formulated in the Muslim world, and that the verdict could be rendered within the next 15 to 20 years.

Darwinism has already proved controversial. A prominent British imam in East London received death threats this year after delivering a lecture at his mosque about evolution. His offense? Saying there's no conflict between Darwinian theory and Islam. In the uproar that followed, Usama Hasan, a senior lecturer in business-information systems at Middlesex University and a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, retracted his comments but also criticized Islamic extremists; he later resigned from Middlesex.

The furor over Hasan's comments reflects not just an argument over science but also the tensions within Muslim immigrant communities in the West. And for scholars who study this subject, it's a lesson in how attacks on science may not really be about science at all, but about the larger conflict between modernity and a conservative brand of Islam.

*****

Islam has a long and tangled history with science, but there's one point that nearly everyone acknowledges: Science in the Muslim world is now in a sorry state. "It's dismal," says Taner Edis, a Turkish-American physicist at Truman State University, in Missouri. "Right now, if all Muslim scientists working in basic science vanished from the face of the earth, the rest of the scientific community would barely notice."

Guessoum agrees: "It's abysmal by all kinds of measures: how many books and publications are written or translated in the Muslim world; how many patents come from Muslim inventors; how Muslim students are performing in the international arena."

Data collected by the World Bank and Unesco confirm this bleak assessment. A study of 20 member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference found that these countries spent 0.34 percent of their gross domestic product on scientific research from 1996 to 2003, which was just one-seventh of the global average.

Those Muslim countries have fewer than 10 scientists, engineers, and technicians for every 1,000 people, compared with the world average of 40, and 140 for the developed world. And they contribute only about 1 percent of the world's published scientific papers. Another study of OIC nations found that scientists in 17 Arabic-speaking countries produced a total of 13,444 scientific publications in 2005, which was 2,000 fewer than what just Harvard University produced.

Just where religion figures into this scientific black hole is a complicated question, though anti-science pronouncements by Islamic clerics certainly haven't helped. But even conservative Muslims recognize the problem. "If you're a Muslim and you're worried about the military weakness of Muslim countries compared to Western imperialistic powers, you're going to see that today's warfare depends a lot on high-tech developments," says Edis, of Truman State. Muslims envious of the juggernaut of Western capitalism also know that technology and science fuel the modern economy.

Some of the debates about Islam and science resemble American arguments over science and religion, but there are also specific differences. For one thing, the New Atheist critique of religion is virtually absent in the Muslim world.

And unlike Catholicism, which takes its cues from the Vatican, there is no central church in Islam and thus no "official" position on scientific controversies such as evolution or cloning. With no central authority to challenge, there has been no Islamic equivalent of the Protestant Reformation, which helped undercut the Vatican's authority over all kinds of intellectual inquiry, including science.

Of course, it's risky to make sweeping generalizations about the Muslim world. Turkey, after all, is far more secular than Saudi Arabia, and Qatar is pouring money into new science institutions, while Somalia is just trying to survive a civil war.

But Islamic societies have their distinct challenges. There's no clear separation between church and state in most Muslim countries, so scientists lack the autonomy that they enjoy in the West. Muslim scientists must frequently contend with the scientific pronouncements of religious leaders, and in university classrooms, biology and physics professors often find themselves responding to questions about specific Quranic verses that refer to the natural world.

Despite this minefield, few Muslims regard science itself as dangerous. "There's almost a consensus across the board that science is a good thing," says Ahmad Dallal, a historian who left Georgetown University two years ago to return to his native Lebanon, where he is now provost of the American University of Beirut.

If anything, many Muslims may be too eager to find convergences between religion and science. In the last few years, thousands of Islamic Web sites have popped up claiming that the Quran proves scientific discoveries like the Big Bang, black holes, and quantum mechanics. This new movement is "the entrance gate to the Quran" for many young, educated Muslims, says Bruno Guiderdoni, an astrophysicist and director of the Observatory of Lyon, in France, who converted to Islam nearly 25 years ago. "They are fascinated by science," he says.

Guiderdoni and Dallal also criticize an intellectual movement that calls for a specifically "Islamic science." This phrase was coined by the influential philosopher Seyyed Hossein Nasr, a native of Iran who teaches Islamic studies at George Washington University. His effort to unify science and religion harks back to the philosophers of Islam's golden age, but Nasr also dismisses modern evolutionary theory as both bad science and flawed metaphysics.

The banner for "Islamic science" has also been taken up by the London-based social critic Ziauddin Sardar, though without Nasr's overtly religious emphasis. Western science, Sardar has written, "is inherently destructive, and it does not, and cannot, fulfill the needs of Muslim societies."

While his critique has gained traction among some Muslim intellectuals, it's widely dismissed by the scholars who embrace modern science. "There is nothing inherently Islamic" about Sardar's model of Islamic science, which is based on what Sardar terms basic Islamic values, Dallal writes in his book Islam, Science, and the Challenge of History (Yale University Press, 2010). "The 10 values of Sardar's model are completely arbitrary; they derive from his own personal and unhinged understanding of Islam." For Dallal, the basic problem with both Sardar and Nasr is that they use metaphysics to trample over science and history.

*****

Many Muslims are especially bothered by evolution. By and large, Islamic culture is creationist, judging by a 2008 survey about evolution in six Muslim countries: Egypt, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Turkey. On average, only about 15 percent of the respondents in five of those countries considered evolution to be "true" or "probably true." In the sixth country, Kazakhstan, roughly one-third of the respondents accepted evolution, but an equal number also said they had "never thought about it."

In some Muslim countries, evolution simply doesn't appear in science textbooks. "Evolution isn't on the top list of priorities," Dajani, of Hashemite University, says. "When people are thinking about what they're going to eat tomorrow, evolution is a luxury."

This rejection of evolution has a lot in common with American creationism, but there are also key differences. Young Earth Creationism, which claims that the earth is 10,000 years old (or younger), is virtually absent in the Islamic world. Muslims generally accept the earth's being 4.5 billion years old.

The Quran does not have a detailed origins story like the six days of creation found in Genesis, so there's no need to fit the entire history of the earth into a few thousand years. Noah's flood is considered the major geological event in world history by American creationists; in contrast, most Muslims regard that flood as a local event. Many Muslims don't even have a problem with the evolution of plants and animals. Human evolution, however, is an entirely different story. According to the Quran, God created Adam out of clay, so the idea that humans descended from apes is simply beyond the pale for the vast majority of Muslims.

The strongest creationist movement has emerged in Turkey, even though evolution has been taught in high schools for decades—a legacy of Atatürk's campaign to secularize Turkey's public culture. Harun Yahya (the pen name of Adnan Oktar) has built a sophisticated media empire that distributes creationist books, articles, videos and Web sites around the Muslim world.

Edis, the Truman State physicist who grew up in Turkey, has tracked Harun Yahya's group for years, and he's both alarmed and impressed by its reach. "When I walk into an Islamic bookstore in London, it's very easy to find Harun Yahya material because it's right in front of you. I get e-mail from people in Pakistan, Indonesia, and all over the Islamic world pointing out that Harun Yahya material has been used in their classrooms," Edis says. "In fact, it's much more international, much more successful, and has a command of a much larger financial base than any American creationist organization."

Where Yahya's Science Research Foundation gets its money is a mystery, and Oktar himself is a shadowy figure who has faced a string of legal problems, including charges of extortion. His diatribes against modern science can make you wonder how he has managed to gain so much influence. When I interviewed Oktar, in Istanbul in 2008, he claimed that the "Masons manage the world through a scientific dictatorship" and called Darwinism "a Satanic plot" that nurtures terrorism around the world, "like the development of mosquitoes in mud or in ponds."

Harun Yahya seems to tap into the fears and uncertainties of various Muslim communities. But what do educated Muslims think about evolution? That's the question Hampshire College's Hameed is asking in an ambitious three-year study supported by the National Science Foundation. Now halfway through the survey, Hameed is interviewing physicians and medical students in five Muslim countries and three Muslim diasporas in the West.

He has found that attitudes about evolution vary greatly from country to country. For instance, most Pakistani doctors accepted evolution, even human evolution. "But in Malaysia, we were really surprised to find a major rejection of not only human evolution but evolution in general," he says.

Hameed expected to find more acceptance of modern science because Malaysia has a sophisticated high-tech industry. He and his colleagues now speculate that Muslims are trying to carve out a cultural niche that's distinct from the more educated Indians and Chinese in Malaysia. "We think the rejection of evolution has become part of their Muslim identity," he says.

Hameed was also surprised by another finding. One-third of the respondents in Pakistan and Turkey said, "I accept evolution scientifically but reject it religiously." Apparently, even educated Muslims still struggle to reconcile their faith with their knowledge of science.

For all the hand-wringing over evolution, it's not a taboo subject for academic study. The historicity of the Quran itself is "a far more explosive topic than evolution," says Hameed. It takes a courageous—or perhaps foolish—Muslim scholar to examine the specific historical circumstances in which the Quran was written, or to criticize the Prophet Muhammad.

"For Muslims, this is the word of God," Guessoum says. "The Quran is the revelation. It was written down as revealed to Muhammad. This is dogma, so it's harder to claim that everything is open for interpretation."

*****

Not surprisingly, the Quran frequently spills over into the professional lives of Muslim scientists. Professors who teach in the Middle East may find themselves dealing with questions that almost never come up in a science class at a major American university. Dajani, the molecular biologist in Jordan, is often asked about specific Quranic verses when she teaches a course on evolution, and she points to other verses which she interprets as supporting natural selection. She also emphasizes that the Quran is a guide for how to live, not a book of science, so certain passages—like the story of Adam and Eve—must be read metaphorically. "Religion plays a big role in our lives," says Dajani, who wears a hijab. "So talking about scripture in the classroom is very normal. We're not a secular state. We talk about religion all the time."

She says the biggest challenge for Arab professors is to get their students to think critically. "I challenge my students to rethink their opinions, to challenge their preconceived opinions, to be in their uncomfortable zone. To me, that's the objective of education."

Some Muslim scientists also devote a significant amount of their scholarly work to questions that concern only the Islamic world. "Science, and astronomy in particular, intervenes on a daily basis in the lives of Muslims," says Guessoum. Determining how and when to pray, what day Ramadan starts, and the beginning of Haj (the pilgrimage to Mecca) are all based on astronomical observations or mathematical calculations.

For instance, Muslims are expected to face Mecca during their five daily prayers, and all mosques are supposed to be oriented toward Mecca. Figuring out the qiblah, the direction of Mecca, was one reason medieval Muslim astronomers did such groundbreaking work, as it forced them to develop spherical trigonometry and complex mathematics.

Today the direction of Mecca isn't a big problem for Muslims, unless you're an astronaut spinning around in a spaceship. But working out the precise time for each prayer and for fasting times is more complicated. Take the first prayer, which is supposed to begin when the night turns to dawn, when fasting also starts. Astronomers say this happens when the center of the sun is some 18 degrees below the horizon. This wasn't hard to determine when the Muslim population was concentrated in the Middle East, but where does that leave the growing numbers of Muslims now living in Sweden or Canada, where the sun may never set during the summer?

As Guessoum points out, only half-joking, some Muslims are panicking about when to pray and fast. Now, he and other astronomers are proposing a science-based method of calculating prayer times. When Guessoum was asked at the Cambridge symposium if all this wasn't slightly ridiculous—wouldn't his time be better spent on basic research?—he responded by saying 99 percent of the Muslims you ask would say it's more important to study prayer times than dark matter.

Muslim faith has probably always been bound up with science. In fact, many Muslims point to Islam's golden age—which lasted roughly 500 years—as proof that there's no conflict between Islam and science. What started as a movement to translate the scientific and philosophical texts of ancient Greece and India led to a remarkable flowering of science, philosophy, and theology. The golden age emerged in Baghdad in the 8th century, spread to Cairo, Damascus, and other Middle Eastern cities, and later flourished in Andalusian Spain.

"If you talk to Muslims today, very often they will bring up history," says Guessoum. "We are fascinated and to some degree obsessed about the history of science. One reason is that most Muslims feel that Islamic civilization was not given its due." This collective chip on the shoulder may be a response to what Dallal calls the Orientalist views of previous generations of scholars. In this older narrative, according to Dallal, the scientific advances of the golden age were credited to outside influences rather than Muslim culture itself.

Then rigid Islamic thinkers took hold, culminating with the 11th-century theologian al-Ghazali, whose orthodox views sent science tumbling into a downward spiral from which it has never recovered. "But historians of science realize this theory makes no sense," says Dallal. "It might sound logical, but the actual historical record shows there's no decline of science. The actual golden age of the sciences in the Muslim world is somewhere in the 13th and 14th centuries."

*****

By now a new generation of scholars has concluded that the Muslim world did more than simply save and transmit Greek knowledge to the Europeans who later launched the Scientific Revolution. "Whole fields needed to be invented from scratch, such as algebra and the science of optics," says Guessoum. "Medicine and astronomy were also greatly pushed forward."

Edis, author of An Illusion of Harmony: Science and Religion in Islam (Prometheus Books, 2007), agrees that Muslim thinkers did more than just preserve Greek science, but he calls their work "proto-scientific."

"It's a mistake to think of this as analogous to modern science," he says. "What Muslims were doing back then was still a medieval, prescientific intellectual enterprise. They never quite made the breakthrough, the Scientific Revolution, that took place in Europe." Edis believes the Muslim world's continuing obsession with its fabled past gets in the way of developing a living scientific culture.

Why, then, did the Scientific Revolution break out in Europe and not the Islamic world? Or, to put it another way, what caused the decline of science in the Muslim world? For the scholars who study Islam and science, it's the one question that often elicits a sigh, then a long pause and a weary look, as if to say, Do I really need to answer that?

There's no simple answer, though there are myriad explanations: the absence of universities in the Muslim world, the slow adoption of the printing press, the relative poverty of Muslims compared with Europeans, increasing deference to religious leaders, and more recently, the legacy of colonialism and the squelching of democracy.

Today's scholars don't blame Islam itself for the decline of science, but point instead to the culture of authority that pervades all aspects of the Muslim world, including science and religion. They suggest that the real story may be less about Islamic decline than about the rise of a newly prosperous and capitalist Europe. As Guessoum says, "Money always plays a role in science."

Now, the deeper question may be whether science can ever flourish in Muslim countries without complete independence from religion. Edis, who is an atheist, considers this the defining quality of Europe's Scientific Revolution, what allowed science to develop without constraints. Other scholars agree that scientific autonomy is needed, even though an entirely naturalistic understanding of the world cuts deeply against the grain of Muslim culture.

Some scientists who are practicing Muslims have adopted intellectual positions similar to those of prominent Christian scientists in the United States, such as Francis S. Collins and Kenneth R. Miller. They say science has its own rigorous methodology, but they still find intellectual space to believe in revelation and perhaps even miracles.

The French astrophysicist Guiderdoni, who studies galaxy formation, talks about finding meaning and beauty in the world of stars and planets, which he considers a manifestation of God's will. Guessoum jokes about being one of the few Muslims who does not believe in miracles, and he invokes his own hero, the 12th-century philosopher Ibn Rushd (who became known in the West as Averroës): "He developed a model of harmony between philosophy and religion, which I have adopted for my own views on science and Islam."

It's quite possible that the Muslim world will still carve out a scientific domain that is completely separate from religion. "The category of science is a product of modernity," says Hameed. And Muslim religious authorities, who for so long were the most educated people in their communities and thus the scientific authorities as well, are now playing catch-up with a new generation of technocrats and doctors. "That is the tension today as Muslims are getting educated," says Hameed. "They are trying to understand where they fit in. What does it mean to be a Muslim?"

Steve Paulson is executive producer of Wisconsin Public Radio's nationally syndicated program To the Best of Our Knowledge. He is author of Atoms and Eden: Conversations on Religion and Science, published last year by Oxford University Press.

chronicle.com/article/Doe...ainst/127924
posted by:
Erik
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  • Re: Islam vs. Evolution

    Fri, June 24, 2011 - 6:31 PM
    I'm not sure I should care about the Muslim relationship to reality any more than I care about Christian relationship to reality.

    One group believes in Great Fairy in the Sky A, the other in Great Fairy in the Sky B. Already these are groups of people who have a tenuous grasp on fact. Not a surprise that both groups have a shaky relationship to science.

    Looking for the relationship of science to Islam is futile, since there seems to be little agreement among various splinter sects and local practitioners on what Islam actually is; in some places Islam is used as justification for brutal tribal practices never mentioned in the Koran, in other places the secular world and Islam coexist quite amicably.
    • Re: Islam vs. Evolution

      Sat, June 25, 2011 - 1:03 AM
      "...in other places the secular world and Islam coexist quite amicably."

      Where?
      • Re: Islam vs. Evolution

        Sat, June 25, 2011 - 1:02 PM
        The United States. :)
        • Re: Islam vs. Evolution

          Sat, June 25, 2011 - 11:40 PM
          I'll have to take your word for it. I haven't been there in years.

          www.independentsentinel.com/2011...ills/
          • Re: Islam vs. Evolution

            Sun, June 26, 2011 - 9:37 AM
            If that article is accurate, the Muslim radicals will fit in nicely with the Christian militias. Maybe they'll just murder each other.
            • Re: Islam vs. Evolution

              Sun, June 26, 2011 - 2:11 PM
              Isn't that what the C.I.A. Bush and Bin Laden unleashed in New York and Iraq and Afghanistan?


              "Maybe they'll just murder each other."
              • Re: Islam vs. Evolution

                Sun, June 26, 2011 - 4:45 PM
                While there have been a few foiled terror plots involving American Muslims, what you don't see here are mass anti-government Muslim immigrant movements like the ones in Europe. I'd say that there are a few factors here that work in our favor.

                One is that at least half the population here has no real worries or issues with immigrants. And our anti-immigrant hysteria tends to be directed at Latinos (America usually discriminates only against Arabs who want to fly), and this hysteria -- because it isn't reality-based -- is mostly economic, not cultural or spiritual.

                Secondly, capitalism is a great leveler. I'm not talking about the half-assed form of capitalism that exists in Europe, which is tempered with strong social safety nets; I'm talking about American super-capitalism, with all of its laissez-faire, amoral Randian trappings. Because America first and foremost sells illusion -- the American Dream of total avarice and narcissism -- it sucks immigrants into its black hole of greed even more easily than most Americans, who by design, have become more lazy as a whole. Also, our brand of racism tends to be specific and person-to-person rather than institutionalized (which is not the case in many European countries, where because of racially homogenous native populations, racism is very much passively ingrained; I've seen it in action in Germany, Holland, and France). So in America, anybody -- with as much luck as hard work -- theoretically has the opportunity to become wealthy and successful.

                Of course it's a lie, but it's a lie so convincing that almost everybody here believes it, including Muslim immigrants. And why would you want to blow up your potential cash cow? Suicide bombing mostly occurs in places of economic inequality or need. Or in situations of civil war, like Sri Lanka (the Tamil Tigers were the inventors of the suicide vest), where the Hindu ethnic minority experienced long, overt discrimination.

                Also, I question the validity of the study that is cited in that article. My reason is that the Arab Spring revolts have shown young, educated, secular groups rising up in order to upend the old order. Not only are these groups not particularly pro-Islam, but they are also often very much against a religious form of government. The jihadist philosophy has shown itself to be morally bankrupt -- for example, in its use of children as bombers -- and from what I've seen, these students are internationalist in flavor, having been exposed, for example, to the Internet's marketplace of ideas, and want something new that has not been espoused by any other group.

                It's a brave new world, and not one of the West's, nor of Islam's making.
                • Re: Islam vs. Evolution

                  Sun, June 26, 2011 - 9:17 PM
                  <While there have been a few foiled terror plots involving American Muslims, what you don't see here are mass anti-government Muslim immigrant movements like the ones in Europe. I'd say that there are a few factors here that work in our favor. >

                  Spoken like a true Californian, Allen.

                  <One is that at least half the population here has no real worries or issues with immigrants. And our anti-immigrant hysteria tends to be directed at Latinos (America usually discriminates only against Arabs who want to fly), and this hysteria -- because it isn't reality-based -- is mostly economic, not cultural or spiritual. >

                  You need to get out more. Half the population of California has no worries about immigrants, but have you visited Eastern Pennsylvania, where Skinheads and the KKK are more populous than the Southern States? I should know, I used to own a book store in Allentown PA. The Skinheads drove off my customers. This damn country is too big to make such blanket statements.
              • Re: Islam vs. Evolution

                Sun, June 26, 2011 - 9:12 PM
                <Isn't that what the C.I.A. Bush and Bin Laden unleashed in New York and Iraq and Afghanistan? >

                First of all, Mick. The C.I.A and Bush were not smart enough to plan and execute Sept. 11th. Bin Laden was just the money man. I think he was a Bush level moron, myself.

                billdunlap.wordpress.com/2011/...-emc2/

                billdunlap.wordpress.com/2011/...nored/

                The wars in the Middle would have happened Sept 11th or not, because Saudi Arabia wanted those wars. Saddam was a major Saudi Opponent in OPEC, and the Taliban was going at it with the Saudi Wahhabi. Of course, they hate Libya because it is a Republic and not a Kingdom. Saudi Arabia wants a share of that oil in Afghanistan too. Who better to share it with than the US, whom they have firmly by the balls and are squeezing.
                • Re: Islam vs. Evolution

                  Mon, June 27, 2011 - 4:38 AM
                  Bill, I've often thought the 9/11 attacks was the equivalent of burning down of the reichstag - for both America and Australia. but anyways, I just meant the wars unleashed by those events have basically been a war between christians and muslims - Bush being a fundamentalist Christian and Bin Laden being a fundamentalist Muslim. Naturally, It was also about resources, Gore Vidal wrote some good essays about that too.
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.

                    Re: Islam vs. Evolution

                    Mon, June 27, 2011 - 10:10 AM
                    No, Mick. Wars are never between religions. The Knights Templar did not crusade through the holy land for God and Jeebus, even though that is what they were told. They slaughtered their way through the Middle East because the Medicis and the Borgias wanted to establish trade routs and property for their younger sons. Spain did not amass the Armada against Queen Elizabeth because they wanted to preserve the honor of the Catholic Faith. The Spanish crown had blood ties and investments with the Medicis, and Protestant England was selling armor and weapons to the Turks,which put the Medici Trade Empire into a disadvantage. Even the holocaust, the logical culmination of 2000 years of Gentile oppression, was fueled by economics. With the rise of Zionism, Jews were pulling their investments and their talent out of gentile banks and putting them into international Jewish banks. Hence the "International Jewish Conspiracy".

                    I cannot speak for Australia, I don't know that much about your country, but we in America are totally dependent on oil. In 1973 OPEC stopped the oil. I lived in Saint Augustine FLA back in those days. I don't think the city ever quite recovered from the economic damage caused by the embargo. Overnight, gas stations closed never to open again. Hotels and tourist attractions closed. Some hotels remained locked for years. The shrimp fishing industry, one of the staples of the Saint Augustine economy closed down. My neighbor had to sell his boat and go to work for a big commercial fishery. And this damage happened all across the United States.

                    America and our government is owned by OPEC. I understand you Australians and the Europeans have joined with Israel to end their domination by OPEC. The American greedmeisters are hanging on to oil and oil dependency because that is what their fortunes are tied up in. The less oil there is in the world the bigger their dividends, and the poor idiots don't have a clue what they are going to do when oil, the biggest economic bubble of them all, pops.

                    The wars in the Middle East is not good guys vs. bad guys. It's not Christians vs. Muslims. It's a fucking mafia war. There are no good guys in this conflict. (That includes Israel) We have Saudi Arabia, America's godfather, using American resources and American troops to rid themselves of their fellow dons. (Saddam and Gaddafi are two that come to mind. Iran is also a Saudi rival.) The rest of the NATO nations also have a major stake in oil production. That means they have to keep the Saudis happy. Wahhabi Muslims do not approve of republics. So the US and Europe work to delegitimize the only Western Democracy in the Middle East to keep the Saudis happy. Believe me, the only reason Israel is getting arms shipments is that the Saudis want Israel to appear as a danger to their OPEC rivals and allies alike. The reason that tin-pot dictator Chavez has become an antisemite is that his OPEC membership protects him from the US Navy Seals in South America.

                    All wars generate propaganda, and religion has been an excuse for mutual mayhem for hundreds and hundreds of years. There are always bigots and nuts like Gore Vidal who will treat the propaganda like it has some sort of validity. No, Mick, the Middle Eastern follies are entirely about war and propping up dying power structures. Religion is only the excuse.
                    • Re: Islam vs. Evolution

                      Mon, June 27, 2011 - 3:25 PM
                      Bill, I agree with a lot of what you say there but I have to disagree that Gore Vidal is a "nut' - much of his "Dreaming War" book is in tune with much of what you're saying.

                      an interesting statement you might enjoy is whatisaids.com/racket/gan...talism.html
                      • Re: Islam vs. Evolution

                        Mon, June 27, 2011 - 4:41 PM
                        Thank you for the interesting statement, Mick. It's an oldie but a goodie. My only comment is to mention that the Federalists set up the racket in 1790, and the American public hasn't caught on in over 222 years. Sad, isn't it?

                        Regarding,Vidal, I am going to have to quote one of my favorite philosophers, Joey Ramone. "I'll just have to break the news, he don't have no mind to lose." Vidal is an old man and I think he is losing it.

                        Face it, most of us here are survivors of religion. I can tell you guys a few horror stories of my own. The long and short of it is that religion is a symptom and not the disease. If we want to see the end of religion in our life times, we are going to have to aim for the causes. War, economic oppression, imperialism, and plain old fashioned greed are the real causes. Remember, Pat Robertson would have remained an unknown hairy eared backwoods snake handler if General Electric didn't fund him. Money actually exists.
                        • Re: Islam vs. Evolution

                          Tue, June 28, 2011 - 12:07 PM
                          "The long and short of it is that religion is a symptom and not the disease. If we want to see the end of religion in our life times". Yes it is and I think you're aiming way too high - not that there's anything wrong with that. "Religion" seems to be hard-wired into our collective DNA, so I'd much rather deny it it's political/economic power rather than try to see it gone altogether. and er, what do they say? "money is the root of all evil"? . . . .
                          • Re: Islam vs. Evolution

                            Tue, June 28, 2011 - 1:25 PM
                            Mick, in the nature vs. Nurture debate, I am firmly on the side of nature. Call this anecdotal evidence if you wish, but I have seen too many people rise above their genetics. Nature may deal you the cards you have to play, but it is up to the individual to choose how he is going to play them.

                            Religion is not a genetic problem. Religion is an institution that has long outlived its usefulness. To bring your genetic analogy to the logical conclusion, it is not a disease as much as it is a neurosis. Remove its economic/political power and it is no longer an institution. It has no power to harm. It has become what it is, a delusion.
                            • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                              Fri, July 1, 2011 - 11:39 AM
                              HRW

                              Tunisia: Police Inaction Allowed Assault on Film Screening
                              Action Needed to Curb Attacks on Artists Deemed "Un-Islamic"
                              June 30, 2011

                              Tunisian police should have moved quickly to protect the audience and organizers of the film. The government - including the police - have a duty to protect the right of Tunisians to create and view art, whatever its point of view and however offensive it may be to others.
                              Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch

                              (Tunis) - Police were slow to respond to violent protesters who broke into a Tunis cinema showing a controversial documentary on June 26, 2011, and who attacked theatergoers, Human Rights Watch said today. The dismissive response by the police to requests for assistance was a failure to protect the right to free expression, Human Rights Watch said.

                              Several dozen protesters forced their way into the screening of a film on atheism in Tunisia, Secularism, If God Wills. The film was part of a cultural evening at the AfricARt Cinema, sponsored by the Arab Institute for Human Rights and organized by Closing Ranks (Lam Echaml), a collective of Tunisian associations and creative artists. The evening's program, called "Hands Off Our Artists," was presented in support of Tunisians who have been assaulted, threatened, and denounced by persons who consider their artistic creations offensive to Islam.

                              "Tunisian police should have moved quickly to protect the audience and organizers of the film," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "The government - including the police - have a duty to protect the right of Tunisians to create and view art, whatever its point of view and however offensive it may be to others."

                              The police nearby were aware of the threat to the film screening but took no action to deter violence and responded to the attack without urgency, Human Rights Watch said. Police who visited the scene before the protest suggested to the organizers that they cancel the film, the organizers said, rather than move to protect the cinema from potential violence. Artists who tried to summon the police when the attack began said they were met with dismissive comments about their purported opposition to the former government and the security forces.

                              Online commentators, including on Facebook, have vilified the documentary under its former title, Neither Allah Nor Master (Ni Allah ni Maître) and its director, Nadia al-Fani, a Franco-Tunisian, largely because al-Fani has openly declared her atheism in interviews on Tunisian television and made it the subject of her film. Al-Fani has received numerous online death threats.

                              Organizers of the event told Human Rights Watch that they had provided local authorities advance notice of the event, as required by law. One of the organizers, Mounir Baâziz, the president of the Association of Tunisian Filmmakers (Association des Cinéastes Tunisiens), said that a colleague had phoned the police earlier in the afternoon when the organizers noticed some men outside the cinema who aroused their suspicions. At about 4 p.m., two plainclothes policemen arrived. When the organizers told them the subject of the film, the policemen advised them not to show it, Baâziz told Human Rights Watch.

                              A short time later, a crowd of men and women formed in front of the cinema chanting "Allah is Great," and "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger." Some carried black flags bearing the latter phrase. The protest, which lasted about 30 minutes, can be seen in a video clip posted online.

                              Although the theater is less than 100 meters from the nearest police station and the interior ministry headquarters and the street is typically heavily policed, police did not arrive to protect theatergoers until after the protesters had smashed the doors and assaulted patrons inside.

                              Mohamed Bahri Ben Yahmed, a filmmaker who belongs to Lam Echaml, told Human Rights Watch:

                              At about 5:15 p.m., the persons who were shouting outside the cinema all of a sudden surged toward the entrance, smashing the glass doors and display cases. A minority of them forced their way inside, hitting some of the artists present who tried to block their passage, including Mounir Baâziz. One of them sprayed Habib Belhadi [director of the AfricArt cinema] and Sadok Ben Mhenni [one of those present for the screening] with some kind of teargas spray. I was terrified and ran inside the theater, while the attackers climbed the stairs.

                              Belhadi added, "There were probably 60 or 80 of them outside. When I tried to prevent some of them from entering, they sprayed me with teargas, and another hit me with an iron bar." Belhadi sustained moderate injuries from being struck in the face and sprayed in the eyes with the teargas. Belhadi's account was given to a Tunisian radio station.

                              Ben Yahmed told Human Rights Watch, "One of the theater's employees ran inside the theater and shouted, ‘Get out, get out, they are attacking us! Leave through the emergency exit!' There was turmoil inside the room. We were terrified. Some of the people ran away, but many others stayed."

                              At around 5:30 p.m., Sondos Zarrouk, general secretary of the Tunisian Association for the Promotion of Film Criticism (Association Tunisienne pour la Promotion de la Critique Cinématographique), went to the local police station known as "al-mintqa." Zarrouk told Human Rights Watch that she shouted to the policemen present, "They are attacking us! They are attacking us! There are Islamists attacking the AfricArt!"

                              Zarrouk said that the policeman on duty replied, "I don't care! It's between you and them."

                              The actress Najwa Miled, who was attending the event at the AfricArt, went to the police station to join Zarrouk in seeking help. Zarrouk recalled, "The policeman responded to us, ‘Ben Ali was protecting you, and you kicked him out.' Then he told us, ‘We don't go anywhere without getting orders beforehand, because whenever we move, you film us beating people.'"

                              The two women pleaded with the police until a group of about 10 police officers accompanied them back to the theater.

                              Baâziz, who remained at the theater, said that six to eight protesters, some armed with iron bars and others with razor blades, went to the projection room. He said that they shouted, "Infidels! You are not Tunisians!" and, "You show this film and there will be a massacre!"

                              At around 5:50 p.m., a high-ranking officer arrived, followed five minutes later by about eight police officers. They arrested several protesters, who offered no resistance, witnesses said. By 6 p.m. anti-riot police with clubs stood outside guarding the cinema.

                              The cinema was then able to show the film.

                              On June 28 demonstrators gathered in front of the Tunis Courthouse demanding the release of all those arrested at the AfricArt and denouncing the film once again. Human Rights Watch was unable to obtain the names or legal status of those arrested.

                              It is not known whether the assailants belonged to a particular party or movement. The flags they waved are associated with the Liberation party (Tahrir), a political formation to which the interim government has refused legal recognition. The party's general secretary, Abdelmajid Habibi, told Human Rights Watch that the party was not involved in the June 26 cinema assault.

                              On June 27 the culture ministry issued a statement "regretting" the attack on the cinema and defending "freedom of thought and of creation" as "one of the demands of the Revolution."

                              In a previous act of violence possibly linked to expression deemed "un-Islamic," on April 18, in Tunis, an unknown assailant struck film director Nouri Bouzid on the head with a metal bar. Bouzid was attacked shortly after he gave an interview on a Tunisian radio station in which he called for a secular constitution for Tunisia and explained that his forthcoming film defended civil liberties and criticized religious fundamentalism. His 2006 feature film, The Making Of, tells the story of an Islamist group that transforms a young Tunisian break-dancer into a potential suicide bomber. Bouzid was not seriously injured, and the police have not arrested a suspect.

                              The Tunisian government has an obligation under international human rights law to deter and punish actions by private individuals that undermine the rights of others. The United Nations Human Rights Committee, which monitors state compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, states in a general comment that governments must protect individuals "not just against violations of Covenant rights by its agents, but also against acts committed by private persons or entities that would impair the enjoyment of Covenant rights" insofar as they are applicable. A state may commit a human rights violation by "permitting or failing to take appropriate measures or to exercise due diligence to prevent, punish, investigate, or redress the harm caused by such acts by private persons or entities."

                              "Tunisians did not evict President Ben Ali only to have their newfound freedom of expression denied by intolerant fellow-citizens," Whitson said. "The authorities need to stop those who would censor others with threats and violence, and prosecute those responsible."
                              • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                Sat, July 2, 2011 - 2:13 AM
                                Great Jumping, suffering, Jesus H. Tap Dancing, Bald Headed Christ in a pickup truck! Day-amed if that-all don't sound like the good ol' boys who used to be my neighbors. God damn if they don't sound just like the rednecks in North Florida during the 70s. I remember back in 1973, a bunch of the holy rollers in the Apostolic Church of Jesus got their skivvies in a knot over some art exhibit. They asked their bad selves what Jesus would do if he was them, and they did what any god fearing Christian would do. They got themselves some baseball bats and pounded the living shit out of the paintings and the folk who were looking at them. The Sheriff and deputies were right there, swinging bats of their own.

                                Sorry if I seem unimpressed, but you have to understand, I am. I am eye witness to the batshit insanity of the Southern Christians in their natural habitat. If I was to write a memoir about it, I would have to call it, "Rednecks in the Fog." There's not much happening in Tunisia that I haven't seen in Florida. As a matter of fact, one of my classmates was victim to a redneck honor killing.
                                • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                  Sat, July 2, 2011 - 2:30 AM
                                  Oddly enough, Tunisia has extremely high levels of literacy and education compared to other Arab states. I was hoping it would ameliorate the tendency toward religious fundamentalism, as does the constitution and rule of secular law in the States.

                                  I think that, with respect to degree, the Islamic world is somewhat worse. Take the KKK for instance. Since its inception in 1865, they have been responsible for fewer than 2000 murders, most early on. Islamic fundamentalists are currently killing more people (ironically, mostly fellow Muslims) every day, than the Klan has in the past 50 years.

                                  Citing abhorrent examples in one society doesn't justify ignoring even worse in others. Tu quoque.
                                  • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                    Sat, July 2, 2011 - 8:27 PM
                                    The KKK responsible for less than 2000 killings? I'm surprised they didn't hear me facepalming in Darfur. Less than 2000 killings? You have to be kidding me. Pull the other leg, Erik. That one plays Jingle Bells.
                                • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                  Sat, July 2, 2011 - 1:15 PM
                                  Bill, what's a "redneck honor killing?"
                                  • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                    Sat, July 2, 2011 - 2:09 PM
                                    The poor girl hot knocked up. The father wash Latino. So daddy murdered her, and got a suspended sentence.
                                    • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                      Sun, July 3, 2011 - 12:02 AM
                                      "The KKK responsible for less than 2000 killings? I'm surprised they didn't hear me facepalming in Darfur. Less than 2000 killings? You have to be kidding me. Pull the other leg, Erik. That one plays Jingle Bells."

                                      Belief is not truth. First you dismiss a post as unimpressive, equivocating it with another, certainly less extreme situation. That is called tu quoque. Then, you make a claim about my statement about the KKK, supplying no contrary evidence.

                                      The Tuskegee Institute is, I believe, a relatively credible organization:

                                      wiki.answers.com/Q/How_man..._Klux_Klan

                                      Of course, this guy may have gotten his figures wrong and, of course, lynching of blacks, as well as other ethnic groups (including whites), has a long tradition in the U.S. There were plenty initiated by simple mob action, with no formal KKK involvement. I believe the total, since the 1880s, still comes in under 5000, with nearly a third of that number being white people. That is just off the top of my head though. Feel free to go do the research. Southern Poverty Law Center is a pretty good source too.
                                      • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                        Sun, July 3, 2011 - 12:29 AM
                                        Erik, my foster father was an attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center. My brother is a volunteer librarian for Hate Watch. I spent years giving civil rights presentations in public schools. You are cherry picking your evidence. The fact is there is no way we can pin an exact number of human beings killed in the name of white racist Jesus. That's just the beginning of it.

                                        I mean, can you point out one country whose police force are not a bunch of assholes? For that matter, when did the United States become a secular nation? Last I heard, the federal government was giving away billions of dollars to the churches. Fundamentalist churches dominate the prison systems as well as drug rehabilitation. The parks services are giving out creationist bullshit as part of their official publications. The US is as god-poxed as Saudi Arabia. Secular society my dog's butt.

                                        Just because an American Fundie doesn't yell, "Alahu Akbar" before blowing up a daycare, doesn't mean that Christianity is any less bloodthirsty and violent than Islam. All it means is American gun control laws keep the killing down to tolerable levels. Given the opportunity, the Christian militias and White Power lunatics would be firing missiles into the Castro, like Hamas attacking Israel.
                                        • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                          Sun, July 3, 2011 - 12:42 AM
                                          Have you ever been to Saudi Arabia?
                                          • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                            Sun, July 3, 2011 - 10:52 AM
                                            No. Have you been to Green Cove Springs Fla? How about Allentown PA?
                                            • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                              Sun, July 3, 2011 - 11:47 AM
                                              No, but I prefer the Keys to rest of the Florida I've visited. And Philly to Allentown, for certain.

                                              I've been all over the world. There are better places, on average, than the States. Which is why I haven't bothered to go home in six years. But, there are many, many, worse places. I've been to several Muslim majority nations. And all, by any standard, are worse. Just go visit a few, and you will recognize that this is a fact. Some are exponentially so. I didn't think much of China either. But, that was nearly 20 years ago now. Burma also sucks big time. Lao, even though it is one of the only Communist countries left really isn't too bad. Poor as hell, but warm and beautiful, and the people smile. Australia is pretty cool. Japan. South Korea. Most of Europe, with a few exceptions. With the exception of Israel, the Middle East sucks. I've been told that Lebanon isn't too bad in places, but I haven't had the opportunity to visit yet. Maybe next year.

                                              I also used to live in Southern California. Ever been to Long Beach? Compton? Hawaiian Gardens or Harbor City? South Central? And, they are all Beverly Hills compared to Karachi.

                                              But, again, this thread isn't about Florida, or these other places. Tu quoque diversions not withstanding.

                                              So, back on topic:

                                              www.bowness.demon.co.uk/islam.htm

                                              • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                Sun, July 3, 2011 - 12:12 PM
                                                Just as I thought. Get back to me after you rented a house in Green Cover Springs for a few months. Better still, open a business in Allentown and see how much help. the company area after the skinheads break all your windows.
                                                • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                  Sun, July 3, 2011 - 11:34 PM
                                                  Tu quoque.
                                                  • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                    Sun, July 3, 2011 - 11:55 PM
                                                    That should have been "See how much help the cops are after the skinheads break smash your windows". Allentown is not the only area in the United States where the police share values with the hoodlums. Kind of like Tunisia.

                                                    Erik, you are having some major problems with cause and effect. You're making like religion causes stupidity when things are the reverse. It is stupidity that causes religion. Erase Islam from all the minds in the Middle East, and you are not going to make anybody one wit smarter. They will simply find another rationalization for their ignorance.
                                                    • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                      Mon, July 4, 2011 - 1:23 AM
                                                      Religions are merely ideologically driven human institutions. Whether religious, economic, political, or whatever, some are better than others. Religions make claims of truth not supported by evidence. As do skinheads. Both need to be marginalized. Secular, constitutionally protected, democratic republics, wherein irrational extremism is ameliorated through the application of the rule of law, are the solution. As ideological institutions, both Islamists and neo-Nazis stand in diametric opposition to this concept.

                                                      In the spirit of going after serial killers before jaywalkers, I choose to more closely focus on the bigger immediate threat. Islam. Some, on the other hand, attempt to deflect criticism of Islam, by focusing on lesser evils. Maybe you should start a thread on that subject? I would be happy to post there, and promise not to try and derail the thread from its subject (just put it in the subject line) with tu quoque arguments.

                                                      • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                        Mon, July 4, 2011 - 10:43 AM
                                                        I see only two differences between skinheads and Muslims. I never met a skinhead who was a decorated FBI counter-terrorism agent. The other difference is that it is skinheads performing violent acts on brown skinned minorities, while there are some Muslims performing violence against white Europeans. I guess in your world, it is less acceptable for brown skinned people to attack Europeans. In my world it is equally unacceptable for either group to harm the other.

                                                        Greater evil, my ass.
                                                      • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                        Mon, July 4, 2011 - 1:15 PM
                                                        Actually, I think they have a tendency to create their own evidence/science/received wisdom i.e. phrenology.

                                                        "Religions make claims of truth not supported by evidence. As do skinheads."
                                                        • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                          Mon, July 4, 2011 - 11:05 PM
                                                          "Actually, I think they have a tendency to create their own evidence/science/received wisdom i.e. phrenology."

                                                          As do certain members of this tribe.

                                                          "I guess in your world, it is less acceptable for brown skinned people to attack Europeans."

                                                          Straw man.

                                                          "Greater evil, my ass."

                                                          Belief is not truth. In the past 50 years, around eleven million Muslims have been killed in violent conflict. Over ninety percent of them by other Muslims. Plenty of them brown. How many killed by skinheads over the same period? That some see no need to express outrage at this exponentially greater evil surprises me not. "The soft bigotry of low expectations."




                                                          • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                            Tue, July 5, 2011 - 12:15 AM
                                                            Erik, your bigotry against Muslims is as legendary as Elo's bigotry against Jews. This is all it is, pure bigotry. When it comes to strawmen, you are the king. You will distort facts, spread urban legends, and quote out of context to prove that Muslims are the antichrist. For the love of Dawkins, get a grip on yourself, man. We have bigger fish to fry.

                                                            When it comes down to it, what goes on in the Middle East is not our problem. I may love Israel as my second country, but Israel's problems are Israel's problems and not for the US to screw around with. The same can be said with Europe. However, I do predict that European sympathies will return to Israel in the very near future. Now that Germany is closing their nukes, Europe is going to need Israeli know how to modernize their energy grid. That should shut Elo up, but what 's going to knock you off your hobby horse?

                                                            I am sure that if the Libertarians have their way, the lack of law and order will allow the Christians to send SCUD missiles into the Castro. The KKK will be lynching African Americans, and Arizonans will be waterboarding Mexicans. Please, please, please, stop pissing on my leg and calling it rain. That's what you are doing when you talk about a secular society in the United States. The reason we have organized atheists is we are trying to establish one where none ever existed before. As long as gays are not granted equality with straights due to superstition, we are just as bad as the Taliban. The only reason we don't see it is we are so damned used to it.

                                                            I don't see Islam as any more objectionable than Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, or any of the other million superstitions humans inflict on their children. Be it the ritual male genital mutilation of the Jews, to facing Mecca while washing your hands, it is all equally stupid. There is none that are better than any other.

                                                            However, this nation is full of Christians who would never thing about harming a homosexual, and Jews who hang out with Arabs. There are Buddhists who try to be socially conscious and Hindus who will not run away from an untouchable. In the past 50 years Christians have killed Christians in a world war. Chinese have killed Americans and vice-versa in Korea, and speaking of Korea, let us not forget the Japanese atrocities there. Catholics have marched through Madrid chanting "death to intelligence" while maiming actors, artists, and playwrights. Fredrico Garcia Lorca, the father of both surrealism and modern theater was murdered by the Spanish fascists. There were the Stalinist Purges and the Khmer Rouge. There were the Contras and the San Danistas. There are hundreds of rationalizations for murdering our fellow human being. Either they are communists during a fascist purge, or fascists during a communist purge. Hell, after the Cuban revolution, that murdering lunatic Che' executed rival communists. After the Bengali war of independence, Indian or Pakistani sympathizers were executed. Atheist Chinese are murdering Buddhists in Burma and Tibet.

                                                            In the face of that, your Muslim obsession doesn't mean shit to a tree. Religion doesn't kill people. People kill people. Religion is only one of hundreds of excuses. Cut us all a break and give it a rest. Can't you bitch about Quakers or Rastas for a while?
                                                            • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                              Tue, July 5, 2011 - 3:17 AM
                                                              Mickey, is name calling i.e. calling someone a bigot, against the tribe rules?

                                                              Just wondering.

                                                              That said, Bill, you are the one misrepresenting my position. Another straw man. I have no more problem with Muslims than I do with followers of any religion. It is the ideology of Islam that I have problems with, as so many strict adherents of it exhibit misogynistic, homophobic, intolerant, religiously bigoted, racist, and homicidal tendencies. Just as strict adherents to the Nazi ideology exhibit many of the same.

                                                              "When it comes down to it, what goes on in the Middle East is not our problem."

                                                              I'm not an isolationist. I'm a globalist. As such, we must disagree.

                                                              "The same can be said with Europe."

                                                              Where I happen to live at the moment. And, the country I'm living in is currently constructing two new nuclear plants, and has discovered enough natural gas under foot to last them upwards of 300 years.

                                                              "That should shut Elo up, but what 's going to knock you off your hobby horse?"

                                                              Another ad hom?

                                                              "As long as gays are not granted equality with straights due to superstition, we are just as bad as the Taliban."

                                                              Really? In my lifetime gays and other minorities have made some progress. I hadn't heard that the government of the U.S. was dropping stone walls on them lately.

                                                              "I don't see Islam as any more objectionable than Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, or any of the other million superstitions humans inflict on their children."

                                                              But neo-Nazis are? Perhaps you should take that trip to Arabia. All religions are bad. Some ARE worse than others. Ever hear of Jaine and Baha'i philosophies? Gandhi based his personal philosophy upon Jainism. They have exactly the same amount of evidence supporting their assertions of truth as those who follow Islam. Zero. But, because their ideologies are pacifistic, they ten to murder fewer people. Sikhism is pretty bad too, some might say worse. articles.sfgate.com/2009-05-...t-leaders Luckily, there aren't 1.5 billion of them trying to shove their ideology down my throat.

                                                              "Can't you bitch about Quakers or Rastas for a while?"

                                                              Why should I? They tend to be less violent. Well the Quakers at least. The murder rate in Jamaica is pretty high, and Rastafarian dogma is pretty homophobic. However, feel free to start a thread on them as well. I'll be happy to post something about how neo-Nazi skin heads deserve more attention, because they are worse.













                                                            • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                              Tue, July 5, 2011 - 3:21 AM
                                                              "Religion doesn't kill people. People kill people."

                                                              But banning guns stops people from shooting each other, an inarguable fact, since you're using the NRA's dunderheaded line of logic here. People may still be stupid without religion, but it is arguable that they are less dangerously stupid without it because their actions are not coerced by fear and guilt.

                                                              Who was it who railed against blanket statements above. Oh, wait -- it was you, Bill.
                                                              • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                                Tue, July 5, 2011 - 5:40 AM
                                                                "They tend to be less violent. Well the Quakers at least" - um, nixon was a Quaker . . .

                                                                "But banning guns stops people from shooting each other, an inarguable fact" Since England banned handguns altogether 2 things happened - 1. London became the knife murder capital of the world and 2. Handguns used in violent crime actually went on the rise.
                                                                • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                                  Tue, July 5, 2011 - 7:44 AM
                                                                  Let's all take a deep breath here, shall we? Otherwise the terrorists will win.
                                                                  • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                                    Tue, July 5, 2011 - 2:45 PM
                                                                    "um, nixon was a Quaker . . . "


                                                                    As [George Bernard] Shaw... said: "What a man believes may be ascertained, not form his creed, but form the assumptionson which he habitually acts." So I endorse much of Quakerism, but have no formal participation. Richard Nixon, whom I regard as our nation's first criminal president, professed to be a Quaker; obviously he was something else.

                                                                    - From: Piers Anthony (who was himself a Quaker), Bio of an Ogre, Berkley Publishing Group: New York, NY (1988), page 63
                                                                  • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                                    Tue, July 5, 2011 - 10:07 PM
                                                                    Don't worry, Mickey, I am done here. I just got back from the doctor's and low and behold, the test results show that I had a small stroke three weeks ago. I cannot afford to get upset, and nothing upsets me more than bigotry. As somebody who lived through it in the deep south, my sympathies right now are with every Muslim trying to live his life and plant his own garden.

                                                                    The United States is one of the most viscously murderous imperialists states in history. We have left bodies, blood, widows, and orphans everywhere from The Native American West to the Jungles of Vietnam. For any American to accuse any other culture of murder, genocide, or violence is a hypocrisy beyond my ability to understand. What I am seeing here is bigotry, and it's so ugly I feel like I need a shower just reading it. Human beings don't need religion to kill. Greed for land, greed for gold, and fear of the different is all we need to pick up a gun and use it. In the historic reality, religion is simply an excuse used after the fact, assuming the revolutionaries aren't atheists themselves/
                                                                • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                                  Wed, July 6, 2011 - 1:52 AM
                                                                  Murders per 100,000 from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence

                                                                  Firearm Homicide Rate Per 100,000

                                                                  US: 2.97
                                                                  UK (England & Wales): 0.12
                                                                  Canada: 0.54

                                                                  Non-firearm homicide rate per 100,000 pop.

                                                                  US: 4.58
                                                                  UK: 1.33
                                                                  CAN: 1.04

                                                                  Guess which of these three countries allows unfettered access to handguns?

                                                                  We win! USA! USA!

                                                                  Even without guns, we'd still win. We jus' likes killin' folks here.
                                                                  • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                                    Wed, July 6, 2011 - 4:10 AM
                                                                    Allen, don't you think there might be another reason than a love of killing? I don't find attitudes of Europeans much different than those of Americans. However, European law enforcement is much more empowered to intrude. In the UK, for instance, you can't go anywhere without being observed by CCTV. I remember when Pete Stark once said that "...it isn't the punishment that deters crime, but the certainty thereof."

                                                                    In the U.S. your privacy is protected, and the legislature's answer to crime is longer terms. In Europe, the punishment is generally less extreme, but you get caught. Perhaps America has something to learn from Europe on this one?
                                                                    • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                                      Wed, July 6, 2011 - 2:25 PM
                                                                      There are many differences between Europe and the U.S. not least of which the economic model, as Bill touched on previously guns, religion etc. is the symptom not the disease. Much of this conversation is proof of how we all tend to fly wide of the mark, human history, whether from a deist or atheist p.o.v,. is a history of blood, exploitation and oppression - it continues to this day and into the foreseeable future - any ideas how we're gonna radically change those humans with a seemingly natural propensity for violence? and I don't mean some front bar brawler - I mean the bushes and bin ladens of this world.
                                                                      Prohibition, of anything, has never worked, some regulation does, in terms of safety etc., but not to the point where it impinges on a person's freedom.
                                                                      Bill, personally I'm quite fond of Che but I have to admit I don't know enough about him to fully appreciate what you are saying - any links?
                                                                      • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                                        Thu, July 7, 2011 - 12:01 AM
                                                                        Actually, your chance of being killed by another human being is much lower than it has ever been. And it continues to fall. We just hear about it instantly now.

                                                                        Che:

                                                                        cubaarchive.org/home/image...30.2009.pdf
                                                                        • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                                          Thu, July 7, 2011 - 3:18 AM
                                                                          erik, i don't put much weight on material compiled by the miami mafia.
                                                                          • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                                            Thu, July 7, 2011 - 3:46 AM
                                                                            Well poisoning?

                                                                            www.cubaarchive.org/downloads/CA22.pdf

                                                                            And:

                                                                            10/9/2010 | Humberto Fontova | Columnist's Archive

                                                                            Forty three years ago this week, Ernesto "Che" Guevara got a major dose of his own medicine. Without trial he was declared a murderer, stood against a wall and shot. Historically speaking, justice has rarely been better served. If the saying "What goes around comes around" ever fit, it's here.

                                                                            "When you saw the beaming look on Che's face as the victims were tied to the stake and blasted apart by the firing squad," said a former Cuban political prisoner Roberto Martin-Perez, to your humble servant here, "you saw there was something seriously, seriously wrong with Che Guevara." As commander of the La Cabana execution yard, Che often shattered the skull of the condemned man (or boy) by firing the coup de grace himself. When other duties tore him away from his beloved execution yard, he consoled himself by viewing the slaughter. Che's second-story office in Havana’s La Cabana prison had a section of wall torn out so he could watch his darling firing-squads at work.

                                                                            Even as a youth, Ernesto Guevara's writings revealed a serious mental illness. "My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood. Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any vencido that falls in my hands!” This passage is from Ernesto Guevara's famous Motorcycle Diaries, though Robert Redford somehow overlooked it while directing his heart-warming movie.

                                                                            The Spanish word vencido, by the way, translates into "defeated" or "surrendered."And indeed, "the "acrid odor of gunpowder and blood" very, very rarely reached Guevara's nostrils from anything properly describable as combat. It mostly came from the close-range murders of defenseless men (and boys.) Carlos Machado was 15 years old in 1963 when the bullets from the firing squad shattered his body. His twin brother and father collapsed beside Carlos from the same volley. All had resisted Castro and Che's theft of their humble family farm, all refused blindfolds and all died sneering at their Communist murderers, as did thousands of their valiant countrymen. "Viva Cuba Libre! Viva Cristo Rey! Abajo Comunismo!" "The defiant yells would make the walls of La Cabana prison tremble," wrote eyewitness to the slaughter, Armando Valladares.

                                                                            The one genuine accomplishment in Che Guevara's life was the mass-murder of defenseless men and boys. Under his own gun dozens died. Under his orders thousands crumpled. At everything else Che Guevara failed abysmally, even comically.

                                                                            Humberto Fontova is the author of four books including Exposing the Real Che Guevara and the Useful Idiots Who idolize Him and Fidel; Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant. Visit www.hfontova.com
                                                                            • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                                              Thu, July 7, 2011 - 4:20 PM
                                                                              well I do know he was held prisoner and tortured first. and I'm not sure if he was "stood against a wall and shot" - he may have been bound and on the ground at the time he was murdered and of course, then they put his body on public view and then cut off his hands and pickled them in a jar before dumping his body in a "shared' "grave".

                                                                              "Without trial he was declared a murderer, stood against a wall and shot"
                                                                      • This post was deleted by Mickey
                                                                  • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                                    Wed, July 6, 2011 - 9:15 AM
                                                                    <Even without guns, we'd still win. We jus' likes killin' folks here.>

                                                                    We love killing so damned much that we export it.

                                                                    3,000 tons of ammunition was shipped to Israel in 2009.

                                                                    One fifth of US Arms sales go to Saudi Arabia

                                                                    Obama just approved an 40 million dollar arms sale to Egypt.

                                                                    We are the death merchants.
                                                                    • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                                      Wed, July 6, 2011 - 7:27 PM
                                                                      >We are the death merchants.

                                                                      Exactly -- the political is the personal. Our government sets the tone, and the populace follows.

                                                                      Speaking of killing, you and Erik aren't in a death-struggle -- this is a conversation. Let's keep it conversational.
                                                                      • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                                        Thu, July 7, 2011 - 12:57 PM
                                                                        <Speaking of killing, you and Erik aren't in a death-struggle -- this is a conversation. Let's keep it conversational. >

                                                                        Actually he reminds me of the time I got into a bullhorn battle with Nicholas Schreck of the Aryan Nation. Still you have a point. I am under too much stress right now and I am simply going away.
                                                              • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                                Tue, July 5, 2011 - 9:51 PM
                                                                Allen, if there was gun control in the Middle East there would be a hell of a lot less killing going on.

                                                                What is this? Is everybody so indoctrinated with wartime propaganda that you are losing your sense of perspective? The US overarms Israel, Iran overarms Palestine and everybody bitches about all the killing being done. I can put it another way. Religion doesn't kill people, arms shipments kill people. Dictators like Gaddafi or that maniac in Iran over arm the Palestinians in order to present Israel as the "enemy" in much the way the US presented Russia. In that respect, religion doesn't kill people, politics kills people.

                                                                Mark Twain said that man is the only creature who kills his brother if he doesn't have his theology on straight. This is true as it goes. You can also say that man is the only creature who kills his brother if his politics are on straight. Look at that murdering son of a pig Che'. That crazy bastard killed everybody. Socialists, communists, and capitalists were all the same to him. That murdering maniac is a fucking socialist/anarchist icon. It makes me sick. Then there is that crazy assed bastard Chomsky and his support of the Chinese genocide in Tibet. We can also say that man is the animal who kills his brother for being weaker.

                                                                You guys are giving credence to the deist claims that atheists have no regard for life or the rights of others. That is very sad.
                                                                • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                                  Wed, July 6, 2011 - 12:56 AM
                                                                  Myopia. Quite common among those who haven't been to the places upon which they pontificate. Again, I highly recommend a visit to a Muslim majority country or two. Compare and contrast.
                                                                  • This post was deleted by Mickey
                                                                    • This post was deleted by Mickey
                                                                      • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                                        Wed, July 6, 2011 - 9:18 AM
                                                                        <"I feel sorry for you, Erik. It must be aweful to be such a small and frightened person in such a big and wonderful world>

                                                                        What's wrong, Buttercup? You can be condescending to others, but somebody calls you on your bullshit and you go crying to the moderator?

                                                                        I'm at Coffee for the People in the Haight right now. I was just talking about you with a friend of mine, an Iman from Bahrain.
                                                                        • Re: Islam vs. Atheism

                                                                          Wed, July 6, 2011 - 9:44 AM
                                                                          More of same. Mickey?

                                                                          "I'm at Coffee for the People in the Haight right now. I was just talking about you with a friend of mine, an Iman from Bahrain."

                                                                          Tell him to take a look at my paintings. Maybe I'll get another fatwa on my head. LOL

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