If Israel shouldn’t exist….

……neither should Pakistan. BOTH states were founded after World War II by followers of a specific religion who wanted to establish a society in which that religion would dominate it. Pakistan excluded Hindus and remains a hotbed of Muslim extremism to this day (which is why it was stupid for President Bush Jr. to accept Pakistan as an ally in his “War on Terrorism”, when in fact Osama Bin Ladin was hiding out in Pakistan for years until President Obama finally had him killed). And Israel continues to violate the rights of Palestinians by building and keeping Jewish settlements on the West Bank, thus stealing land the United Nations said was not theirs in 1947. Yet the United States also continues to support Israel, no matter what. Why is Jewish extremism more acceptable than Muslim extremism? Either accept both and the states made from them or condemn both and the states made from them. Not only one or the other, unless you are a religious bigot.

This understanding came to me after reading this:

http://skepchick.org/2013/03/whitefeminism/

While other countries are “Muslim” or “Islamic” because they just so happen to have a large Muslim population, Pakistan was founded by Muslims as a Muslim country in rather deliberate fashion.

I replied as follows:

Likewise, Israel was founded by Jews as a Jewish country in rather deliberate fashion. If one is illegitimate, so is the other. Can you discuss this too?

The blog author replied:

That isn’t at all part of my focus or within my scope as a blogger. There are plenty of critics of Israel and Zionism who can speak to such matters better than I can.

I then said:

I understand. My actual point is that I know of no anti-Zionists that also attack Pakistan for its existence as a Muslim state founded to separate its people from mostly Hindu India. Proving that they are more biased towards Islam and against Jews than any just person should be.

As an non-theist, I’m one of those “a plague on both your houses” people that gets it from both sides.

The Earth’s core irony of anti-Muslim bigotry in Europe

Take a look at this video:

There are several issues here that the video does not address.

First, Islamic immigrants who come to a Western nation tend to be more moderate in their views even upon arrival, and their children and grandchildren may become even more liberal in turn. The only reason why some Muslims may become radicalized later is because they are treated as second-class citizens in a country they were born in because they are Muslim.

Second, immigrants are allowed into a European country because its native population is falling or not growing fast enough already, and such a situation results in workers becoming more valued for their labor, thus labor movements become stronger and workers’ wages will increase, making it harder for business owners to get extremely rich. To counter this, corporations that dominate an industry will seek to increase the workers’ population through encouraging immigration. But doing this means introducing new people with different cultures. And this is a problem? Only for bigots.

Third, European nations seemed to have no problem invading and taking over Islamic parts of the world in the past. In particular, France not only conquered areas like Algeria and Tunisia, it legally made Algeria a part of France, not just a colony, and the Algerians had to fight long and hard to throw off French rule.

Note that immigration of Latinos to the United States is also mentioned in the video. Bigotry against Hispanic culture also fuels immigration restrictions in the USA. Also, the USA conquered and still holds land once controlled by Mexico.

You cannot take in millions of people to lower workers’ value, then turn around and scream about those workers being different from you. That sort of crock needs to be put down.

If you expel the Muslims from Europe, then the workers remaining will demand greater wages because there are fewer of them. Are you prepared to pay them more?

If you keep the Muslims in Europe, then treat them as equals, and accept that your demographics will change.

Also, people raised in Muslim families do not necessarily stay Muslim forever. There are plenty of former Muslims:

http://www.apostatesofislam.com/

http://formermuslimsunited.org/

Need I also mention that the idea that a culture will die out because its population growth drops and reverses itself is bull$#it? You can have a culture evolving and prospering no matter what the size of the families that make it up. You just pass on that culture to the fewer children you have, period.

Contradictions of orthodox Islam

For the sake of argument, I define “orthodox” in Islam as including the beliefs common to both the Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, though the Sunnis themselves say only they are orthodox (much like orthodox Christians may be defined as including much more than the denominations called “Orthodox”, including Catholics and most Protestants).

There are several issues in Islam I find contradictory and thus I would never become a Muslim, even if I were to ever believe in a god again.

  1. Islam is said to be a world religion, appropriate for all peoples of the world to follow. This is absurd because Islam also makes Mecca the city that all Muslims must pray to five times a day and to make a pilgrimage to at least once in their lives. Islam also makes Arabic the default language for the Quran and for Muslim prayers and calls to prayer. Even Roman Catholicism no longer makes Latin the default language for Mass around the world. A truly worldly religion would have NO default language, no one city as the center of prayer and pilgrimage, and would see holiness in all places. We Unitarian Universalists might regard Boston as a place of historical significance to us, but we don’t pray to it!
  2. Islam is said to be the final religion, the Quran is Allah’s final revelation and Muhammad the last of the Prophets.   This contradicts the idea of Allah as an all-knowing, all-powerful, and thus totally sovereign deity. If Allah wills another revelation by a new Prophet, as Baha’is have claimed, it is not for anyone to deny this. The argument that past revelations have been corrupted is pointless, since Islam is still divided into various sects. A truly pure and uncorrupted revelation from Allah would never have allowed this.
  3. Islam condemns idolatry. Really? Then Muslims should stop regarding the Quran as the Word of Allah. Even official histories of Islam admit that it wasn’t put together until some years after Muhammad’s death. Why didn’t Muhammad himself do this? Also, walking seven times around the Kaaba in Mecca during pilgrimage looks too much like idolatry to me! It’s just a building! Also, see point 1 above.
  4. Islam teaches that men can have no more than four wives at a time. Then why did Muhammad have nine or ten wives at the time of his death? Muslims should make up their minds; you cannot hold Muhammad as a supreme example of Muslims to follow and then ignore that he himself broke a basic rule of marriage!

Theocracies by nature are evil

Religions as tools for social cohesion are indeed valid reasons for having them, since people are by nature social beings. However, using any religion that has demonstratively false dogmas as that tool is by nature unethical because you are encouraging people to lie to others about reality. It is even worse when you have a government take that religion and use force to make everyone follow it. All this does is make many people into hypocrites who act a certain way in public while privately doubting or denying the religion. This results in greater corruption. It is no coincidence that the ones who often come across as the most moral and are also deeply religious also turn out to be the most hypocritical. I think the reason for this is because their moral values are simply not based on anything real and things that are not based on reality are themselves not real. If you need to believe in the Bible, the Quran, or some other scripture to believe in God, to be moral or function in a social order, then you are actually a dangerous person because you will resort to all sorts of dishonest arguments, claims and assertions to keep your faith. Likewise, getting a government to enforce your religion on everyone merely makes the government dishonest. We shouldn’t tolerate this any more than we should tolerate mob bosses taking over a government.

Thus, Islamic states like those of Saudi Arabia and Iran are contemptible and should be condemned and opposed at every turn, and the concept of Sharia (Islamic law) should be completely thrown out in all societies. They are simply phony by nature!

Religion, imperialism, and oil

Christianity is the most popular religion in the world, with about 2 billion followers all over the world. Islam is the second most popular religion, with over a billion followers. Part of the reason Christianity is larger is because it is older, since it is about 2000 years old, as compared with Islam being only 1400 years old.

Another reason Christianity is more popular is because of its association with imperialism. First, it took over the Roman Empire. After the Roman Empire fell in 476 AD, the religion continued as the dominant ideology of the Byzantine Empire, which was a direct offshoot of the Roman one. Later, the Arabs built a vast empire using Islam as their unifying force, challenging the Byzantines. Finally, the Turks, another Islamic power, destroyed the Byzantine Empire.

Then the European powers spread their empires all over the world, taking Christianity with them. Islam remained relatively weak until two things happened to make it more powerful: European imperialism fell apart and oil was discovered in most parts of the Middle East. Suddenly,  the Arabs became  extremely rich due to their oil revenues, and with that wealth came the ability to spread Islam around the world. But in Europe, Christianity declined as the people became increasingly secular. The tragic events of World War II probably did more to destroy Europeans’ faith than anything else. Today, the USA is the most powerful Christian dominated nation in the world, but it is still secular in its government. And even here, religious influence is slowly declining.

I suspect that within another generation, Islam will surpass Christianity as the most popular world religion, but its power cannot last long, because oil is a nonrenewable resource. And when that oil runs out, the economies of the Middle Eastern  states that depend on oil will break down, and so will Islam.

What can freethinkers, atheists,  and secular humanists do to overcome this situation? They must do everything possible to end the dependence on oil, and indeed all other fossil fuels, and establish societies based on renewable and sustainable sources of energy such as wind, water, the sun and geothermal sources. Once at least some parts of the world are free from needing resources that are doomed to run out, we will have even less need for religions like Christianity and Islam.

Revert Muslims?

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Image via Wikipedia

After a brief discussion with a Muslim friend in Facebook about religious tolerance, I noticed she often used the word “revert” in reference to herself and certain other Muslims. I’d never heard of that term before, so I googled the phrase “Muslim reverts”. I then found this:

http://www.revertmuslims.com/glossary.html

Revert            A person who returns to a religion they previously had; Muslim custom is to apply this term to converts to Islam as well, on the grounds that Islam is the religion that every person was born into, but their parents made them another religion. (Emphasis mine)

Gee, I wonder where that delusion came from. As I stated earlier, I don’t accept that babies are born atheists either.

Some atheists have gone further and asserted that atheism merely means “lacking belief in a god”, but that is illogical since what would follow from that is all newborn babies would therefore be atheist (they are born with NO beliefs at all) and this actually makes the term atheist useless for statistical purposes as well. It is ideologically useful (you can thus argue that atheism is a child’s natural state and thus religious indoctrination violates the child’s “true” nature), but has no empirical foundation.

An empirical case against the idea that a person can be born a Muslim is that babies do not practice any of the five pillars of Islam from birth; they must be taught those rituals by their parents and others.

Why can’t babies just be considered blank slates? Then one could argue that the default religious position of any child would be the religion his parents agree to raise  him in. I was raised a Southern Baptist, so that was my default position. I later deconverted from Christianity, joined a Unitarian Universalist church, converted to the Baha’i Faith, and finally reverted to Unitarian Universalism.

But no matter what else I do in my life, my past memberships in both the Southern Baptist Convention and the Baha’i Faith will always be a part of my existence. As I told my Muslim friend:  “I will pick fights with Christian extremists, atheist extremists, and even Muslim extremists. That’s because I figured out long ago that religion cannot be about objective truth, but about what fits your soul and identity. Whether there is one God, a billion gods, or no God, we all must live by what we know and can accept. To demand otherwise is to violate the very nature of what it means to be human.”

And to the end of my life, I know that my soul and my identity always will be linked to:

  • Agnosticism (my view of God)
  • Unitarian Universalism (my religious allegiance)
  • and Honorable Skepticism (my ethical philosophy)

NOT ISLAM OR ANY DOGMATIC GOD-CENTERED RELIGION!

Egyptians should be wary of the Muslim Brotherhood

Look at this article:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110131/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_egypt_protest

Egyptian reform leader calls for Mubarak to resign

CAIRO – Egypt’s most prominent democracy advocate took up a bullhorn Sunday and called for President Hosni Mubarak to resign, speaking to thousands of protesters who defied a curfew for a third night. Fighter jets streaked low overhead and police returned to the capital’s streets — high-profile displays of authority over a situation spiraling out of control.

Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei’s appearance in Tahrir, or Liberation, Square underscored the jockeying for leadership of the mass protest movement that erupted seemingly out of nowhere in the past week to shake the Arab world’s most populous nation.

<snip>

Asked if Washington supports Mubarak as Egypt’s leader, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton avoided a direct answer, telling Fox News: “We have been very clear that we want to see a transition to democracy, and we want to see the kind of steps taken that will bring that about.”

<snip>

The outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, which wants to establish an Islamist state in Egypt, has made some statements that it was willing to let ElBaradei act as point man for the movement. But it also appeared to be moving for a more prominent role after lying low when the protests first erupted.

On Sunday evening, the presence of overtly pious Muslims in the square was conspicuous, suggesting a significant Brotherhood representation. Hundreds performed the sunset prayers. Veiled women prayed separately.

A senior Brotherhood leader, Essam el-Erian, told The Associated Press he was heading to Tahrir Square to meet with other opposition leaders. El-Erian told an Egyptian TV station that the Brotherhood is ready to contact the army for a dialogue, calling the military “the protector of the nation.”

Clinton suggested there were U.S. concerns over the possibility of the Brotherhood seizing direction of the movement. She warned against a takeover resembling the one in Iran, with a “small group that doesn’t represent the full diversity of Egyptian society” seizing control and imposing its ideological beliefs.

Indeed, if the Muslim Brotherhood does seize control of Egypt, it could easily become just as destructive to Egypt as the Taliban was to Afghanistan before it was overthrown in 2001.

The protesters should be supporting freedom, justice and peace. Any ideology that is based  on religious bigotry is the antithesis of these ideals. The people of Iran replaced one tyrant, the Shah, with another, the Ayatollah Khomeini, in 1979, and now Iran’s government is a fraud, supported by rigged and phony elections.

We must also remember that Mubarak’s predecessor, Anwar El Sadat, was assassinated by army members opposed to peace with Israel. Most likely they were similar to the Muslim Brotherhood members in their political views.

I don’t care if one chooses to follow Islam as a personal religion, but I urge Muslims to stop trying to make it the basis of a government!