Is there a God?

 In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful

by Dr. Rafi Ahmed, Ph.D

Introduction

There is a raging yet lively debate [1,2,3,4,5,6] going on between atheists and theists over the existence of God – which is a sign of a healthy and invigorating intellectual spirit. Hadhrat Khalifatul-Masih II, may Allah be pleased with him, wrote, in his book, Hasti-Bari-Tala [7]:

“If people believe in God on hearsay or declare a belief in God to avoid a debate, then this will not guarantee their salvation. … Therefore, it is of utmost importance that considerable thought be given to the question of the existence of God.”

This speech therefore addresses the question: Is there a God?

A discussion about God’s existence should start with the acknowledgement that the burden of proof lies with the theists, that is, with those who believe in God. There are some questions that puzzle most reflective people: How did the laws of nature come to be? How did the universe come into existence? And how did life as a phenomenon originate from nonlife?

Let us consider the Kalam cosmological argument [8] for the existence of God, a method of argument developed by medieval Muslim logicians and popularized in the West by philosopher William Craig. Given that an observable universe exists, there are three possibilities: First, the universe always existed. Second, the universe created itself. Third, an all-powerful and all-knowing transcendent being, which we call God, created it. Let us examine them one by one.

Eternal Universe

Consider the possibility of an eternal universe, a universe that existed for ever. But the Second of Law of Thermodynamics and the theory of entropy preclude this possibility. If the universe really had existed for an infinitely long period of time, its entropy, the measure of its molecular disorder, would have reached its maximal value; that is, the universe would have suffered a ”heat death” [9,10]. The fact that the universe has not yet died in this fashion implies that it cannot have endured for all eternity.

Origin of the Universe

As long as the universe could be conveniently thought of without an end and without a beginning, it remained easy to see its existence as a self-explanatory brute fact and perhaps there was not much need to postulate something else that produced it.

But the big-bang theory radically changed the situation.

The big bang [5, 11] is a widely-accepted theory of the origin of the universe. According to this theory, more than fourteen billions years ago, the universe emerged from a highly compressed and extremely hot state and then it rapidly cooled down and expanded.

The big bang theory is considered a cornerstone of modern cosmology. The big bang theory provides a moment at the origin of the universe when creation could have occurred. At the origin, we encounter a point that physicists call a singularity, at which neither space nor time exists – and at that point the laws of physics break down.

If the universe had a beginning, it became entirely sensible, almost inevitable, to ask what produced this beginning. Therefore the idea of the origin of the universe with a singularity implying a role of God in its creation did not sit well with many atheistic scientists [14].

Bondi and Hoyle came up with a steady state theory, in an attempt to explain the expansion of the universe in a way that would not require the universe to have had a beginning. But this theory was readily discarded, as it did not correspond to the observational data. Stephen Hawking, professor of mathematics at Cambridge University, and James Hartle proposed a theory, where the universe has no boundary either in space or in time, that is, it has neither beginning  nor end. In his book A Brief History of Time [12], Hawking then asked if there was any place for a creator any more. There are several problems with Hawking‟s theory. Hawking’s solution uses imaginary time, which is invoked to stipulate imaginary universes. It remains an extremely speculative theory with little chance of experimental verification.

Fine Tuning of the Universe

The universe with all its laws appears to be delicately balanced and fine-tuned [9, 17] to produce human life. Physicists call this finding the anthropic principle. Many of the basic features of the universe are, in essence, determined by the values that are assigned to the fundamental constants and the initial conditions at the beginning of the universe. 3

Hawking [12] wrote that if the rate of expansion one second after the big bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand trillion, the universe would have recollapsed before it reached its present size. If the rate of expansion has been slightly higher, then the galaxies would have never formed. In the anthropic principle, the theist sees a purposeful design, the handiwork of God. The atheist looks upon it as a very lucky coincidence where humans exist in a universe with the right parameters to ponder over the mystery of their existence. But the odds of life appearing in the universe are so infinitesimal, so incredibly small that we need a rational explanation of how something this unlikely could take place.

Multiple Universes

Consequently, many atheists, in desperation, have fled to the second explanation: multiple universes [9, 15] – actually, infinity of universes. The uniqueness and fine tuning of our universe is dismissed by claiming that it is but one among countless universes. In one version of this phantasmagoric theory, universes are springing up, as if there was no tomorrow. But please don’t ask where and how. So what is the empirical evidence for oscillating and parallel and multiple universes? There is none. Steven Weinberg shared the Nobel Prize with Dr. Abdus Salam. Weinberg is one of the greatest physicists of our time and he is also a prominent atheist. Even he admits that the theories of multiple universes “are very speculative ideas … without any experimental support” [15]. In my view, the atheists have invented a complicated set of circumstances to circumvent a much more obvious solution. They seem to abolish one seemingly unobservable God by making up an infinite number of unobservable substitutes, which rightfully belong to the Hollywood genre of science fantasy movies.

Laws of Nature

All these models of multi-universes or Hawking‟s boundary-less universe originating out of a collapsing black hole require pre-existing laws of physics. And no one has an explanation [14] for how these grand laws of physics came into existence. Who devised the code? Who wrote the majestic multi-variable differential equations? And who provided the solutions to the equations? Indeed the question can be posed in a deeper way. How can inanimate fundamental particles obey instructions or abide by grand mathematical rules? How can the universe operate without a sustainer? 4

The atheist viewpoint cannot explain the profound lawfulness of nature itself. Paul Davies, a mathematical physicist, writes [9], “If the divine underpinning of the laws is removed, their existence becomes a deep mystery.”

Creation of the Creator

Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist and professor of public understanding of science at Oxford, in his recent book, The God Delusion [1], makes a concerted attack against theism and asks if the universe needed a creator, then what about God? Who created God?

Dawkins presents this question as if it was the mother of all arguments against the theistic position. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih II, in Hasti Bari Tala [7] refers to a hadith that predicts a time to come when atheistic people will use this question as an argument against the existence of God. Let us examine this question a little more deeply. We find that it points to the limitation of inductive reasoning.

The question simply does not apply to the Prime Cause, which is, by definition, uncreated. The atheists are reduced to denying the first proposition – that is, everything that has a beginning does not necessarily have a cause and thus the universe simply is. Now either an immeasurably intelligent mind, an all-powerful being, an agent that exists beyond time and space created the universe or the universe, with neither mind nor consciousness, with neither will nor intelligence, first devised the grand laws of nature and then created itself out of absolute nothingness. Take your pick: God or universe. Which is the better candidate to be the Prime Cause? Which is the more rational and intellectually satisfying alternative?

The Unity of Source

Another argument in favor of God‟s existence is the establishment of the unity of source – that is, the fact that the authors of the Holy Quran and the universe are the same. The Quran says:

Do not the disbelievers see that the skies and the earth were a closed-up mass, and then We clove them asunder? And we made every living thing from water. Will they not believe? [21:31]

This verse alludes to the origin of the universe as envisioned by the big bang theory. Creation of life from water is also a well-established scientific fact. What is quite striking about this verse is that it challenges the disbelievers or atheists and raises the fundamental questions of the origins of the universe and of life – which happen to be the two of the most hotly debated topics today [1,2,4,5,6]. 5

Hadhrat Khalifatul-Masih IV, may Allah be pleased with him, in his book, Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth [10], gives many examples of Quranic verses that refer to scientific facts that have only been recently discovered.

Darwinian Evolution

Let me briefly talk about the theory of Darwinian evolution, which is erroneously seen by many as evidence against the existence of God. Dawkins, in his book The Blind Watchmaker [3] noted that it was very difficult to be an atheist before Darwinian Theory of evolution came along. It should be emphasized that the Darwinian Theory [6,16,17] presupposes the existence of the molecular machinery of cell and the genetic material of RNA and DNA for it to work upon.

The theory of evolution cannot provide any explanation for the origin of life or for the genetic material. We recognize [10] the fact that fossils show emergence of life forms over a period of millions of years in a progressive manner from relatively simple to the increasingly complex. But linked to these observations is a hypothesis of common descent with modification and of the Darwinian process of random mutation and natural selection, which is seen as the only creative force behind life in all its myriad variety. That is where we tend to be skeptical, since definite evolutionary pathways of any organism are still missing [16]. The scientists who question Darwinism are still in a minority, but there is a growing scientific dissent.

Recently, one hundred eminent religious and non-religious scientists from diverse fields made a public declaration [19] that they “are skeptical of the claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life” and that “careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.” Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV expressed similar skepticism [10] about the Darwinian Theory in his book, Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth.

God of the Gaps

Allow me to comment upon a common misconception. The atheists say that theists often use “God of the gap” strategy [1,2,3] and invoke God to explain the remaining gaps in the scientific knowledge. If a gap in the current knowledge is found, it is assumed that a God, by default, must fill in. But gaps shrink as science advances and the God of the gaps is threatened with eventually having nowhere to live.

But is that really true? Let me give you one example. Ernst Haeckel was a renowned 19th century evolutionary biologist. He, like many of his contemporaries, believed that a cell was a “simple little lump of protoplasm” [16] and advocated the theory of spontaneous generation of life. In the last fifty years, the science of molecular biology has made 6

tremendous progress. Now we understand that the cell is a molecular machine far more complex in its structure and functionality than anything yet devised by the human mind [6]. A spontaneous generation of the cell is thus considered inconceivable. These advancements have not deposed God from anywhere. Quite the contrary, many of the greatest discoveries of the twentieth century have established God more firmly in the intellectual discourse [5,6].

Reason for the Rejection of God

Let me talk briefly about the reason behind atheism. Most atheists are intelligent, thoughtful and sincere people. This poses the nagging question as to why there is such disbelief and such persistent rejection on the part of those who should know better. In my view, their rejection of the existence of God has very little to do with scientific enterprise, although scientific enterprise remains essentially agnostic.

The things that make people reject God arise from the human condition: Free will under divine omniscience, creation of evil by a God of virtue, belief in eternal damnation, human suffering inflicted by a God of Mercy [1,2,15]. Perhaps the primary reason for rejecting God and religion is religion itself. The atheistic scientist is justified in despising religious dogmas and scriptures that imply a God whose grandeur does not match up to the grandeur of the universe he knows.

When superstitious folktales, seclusion and marginalization of women, arcane theology, inane ritualism, and dogmas of intolerance and irrationality are attributed to the author of this grand and lofty universe, atheism is a natural consequence. Examples of diabolic acts committed by Muslims and non-Muslims in the name of religion abound. But in a lighter vein, Steven Weinberg captured the problem succinctly; he writes, “Good people will do good things and bad people will do bad things, but for good people to do bad things – that takes religion.” [13]

Experiencing God

Perhaps the final and ultimate evidence for the existence of God comes from the personal experience of divine signs. The Promised Messiah, on whom be peace, says [20]:

“Search for God is a difficult matter. Observation of the heavens and the earth and reflection of the perfect orderliness of the universe only leads to the conclusion that the universe should have a creator, yet it is not a proof that such a Creator exists. There is a difference between ought to be and is. The first duty of a person, therefore, is to acquire certainty with regard to the existence of God … How can this certainty be acquired? It cannot be acquired through mere stories. It 7  cannot be acquired through mere arguments. The only way to acquiring certainty is to experience God by having conversation with Him or by witnessing His extraordinary signs.”

Conclusion

I would like to conclude this speech by reiterating a simple truth that is part of our deepest conviction. Advancement of science reveals the intricacy of the universe and the grandeur of the divine design and reinforces the fact that in the workings of the universe there is sign for those who reflect. The Holy Quran says:

”He is Allah, the Originator, the Creator, the Designer. His are the most beautiful names. All that is in the Heavens and the earth glorifies Him. And He is the Mighty, the Wise.” [59:25]

In the end, as is in the beginning, all true praise is for Allah alone.

References

1. Richard Dawkins, “The God Delusion”, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, 2006.

2. Victor Stenger, “God: The Failed Hypothesis”, Prometheus Books, 2007.

3. Richard Dawkins, “The Blind Watchmaker: Why the evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design”, W.W. Norton, New York, 1996.

4. Antony Flew, “There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind”, Harper Collins, 2007.

5. Owen Gingerich, “God’s Universe”, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 2006.

6. Francis Collins, “The Language of Gods”, Free Press, New York, 2006.

7. Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mehmud Ahmad, “Hasti-Bari-Tala” Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, Qadian, India, 1941.

8. William Lane Craig, “The Kalam Cosmological Argument”, Barnes and Noble, New York, 1979.

9. Paul Davies, “The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World”, Touchstone Books, New York, 1993.

10. Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, “Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth”, Islam International Publications, Ltd. U.K., 1998.

11. Steven Weinberg, “The First Three Minutes: A Modern View of the Origin of the Universe”, Basic Books, New York, 1993.

12. Stephen Hawking, “A Brief History of Time”, Bantam, New York, 1996.

13. Steven Weinberg, “Facing Up: Science and Its Cultural Adversaries”, Harvard University Press, 2001.

14. K. Ferguson, “The Fire in the Equations: Science Religion and the Search for God”, Templeton Foundation Press, Philadelphia, 1994.

15. Steven Weinberg, “Dreams of a Final Theory: the Scientist’s Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature”, Vintage, New York, 1993.

16. Michael Behe, “Darwin’s Black Box”, The Free Press, 1996.

17. Allan J. Tobin and Jennie Dusheck, “Asking About Life”, Thomson Brooks/Cole, 2004.

18. John D. Barrow, “The Constants”, Pantheon Books, New York, 2002.

19. http://www.reviewevolution.com/press/pressRelease_100Scientists.php

20. Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, “The Essence of Islam”, Vol. 1, Islam International Publications, Ltd. U.K., 2004.

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120 thoughts on “Is there a God?

  1. Dear Moderator,

    A very merry chase! Hither and thither, up and down, left and right, this way and that way… any way to avoid the truth!

    No I’m not trying to say Islam creates a ‘better’ society. This is again a manipulation of the discussion to try to lead it away from our direction.

    This thread has nothing to do with Islamic society. This thread is titled “Is there a God?”. I have put forth the Qur’an as an evidence of God, and I’ve stated that the teachings of the Qur’an could not reasonably be attributed to Muhammad (pboh)’s personal invention. In this context I’ve cited: racial equality, encouragement of emancipation of slaves, female right of inheritance, justice equally to one’s friends and enemies, prohibition of alcohol, give in charity, perfection of cosmology. The context is not Islamic society, the context is that Muhammad (pboh) did not have the scholastic or philosophical or political background required to concoct these wholly revolutionary ideas himself. In fact, there is no human being in history who has proposed such ideas in a pagan savage uncivilised tribal society. The Qur’an does not follow the pattern of human invention. It is Divine.

    Peace,
    Moosa

    PS What a second rate argument, to take a snap shot at muslim countries today and say this is a reflection of Islam. Why not take a snap shot at muslim countries a thousand years ago and say that was a reflection of Islam? There have been long periods in history when muslim countries were the most civilised and advanced in the world. So does this mean that Islam caused all that advancement, or do we only attribute negative things to Islam and ignore all positive things? But in any case, I will not allow this discussion to digress from the topic at hand: the Qur’an could not have been written by a human, therefore it is an evidence for the existence of God.

  2. Let’s boil this down to what you’re trying to say: Islam creates a ‘better’ society.

    So, if I carried out a study of any random Islamic society from the world, would it be in a better or worse state than a non-Islamic society?

    You’ve often discarded the state of the Muslim world by saying the things going wrong there are ‘unislamic’.

    And yet, the thing which binds all of these culturally, racially, linguistically, economically and politically diverse societies is Islam. And yet you never stop to think that it may be the one thing which unites them, Islam, which might be the problem?

    Talk about not seeing the wood for the trees…

    Tell me, Doctor, why are you living in such an immoral alcoholic western society if it offends you so deeply? Why not live in one of the superior Islamic societies?

    Oh, yes, that’s right, because they’re rife with prejudice, intolerance, persecution, violence and injustice…interesting, that.

  3. Dear Moderator,

    4. “But not with drugs (Islamic countries produce and export the greatest quantities of heroin; Muslims are also prolific users of drugs); or with inter-breeding (the prevelance of first cousing marriages in Muslim communities has led to increased risk of genetic diseases and defects); or with Vitamin-D absortion, as the burqa prevents sunlight from being absorbed by women who have already developed problems due to giving brith to many children (Muslims tend to have large families). I could go on and on. I could also point out the medical fact (which you as a Doctor know) that a moderate amount of alcohol is actually very good for you.”

    What a bizarre criticism. What hatred of Islam.

    (i) Afghanistan happens to produce lots of opium because it has perfect natural conditions for growing opium, it has no government stability to control opium farming (because the Soviet communists invaded and then the Western capitalists invaded), it has terrible poverty, and because westerners pay it lots of money to produce opium. Which of these problems is “islamic”?

    (ii) How is inter-breeding the fault of Islam? All countries permit marriage between first cousins. This isn’t an Islamic practise or something even encouraged by Islam. In fact, there is a hadith that Muhammad (pboh) encouraged people to get married with non-family members.This is a south-east asian problem, which affects hindus and sikhs for that region also. Please tell me where in the Qur’an it is written that we should inter-breed?

    (iii) Bangladeshi women who live in East London do get vitamin D deficiency because they wear burqa in a region where there is little sunlight. Where in the Qur’an does it say women should wear burqa, particularly to the point where they damage their own health?

    (iv) Giving birth to many children is not a problem which can be blamed on Islam. In fact, the problem for the UK is an ageing population with a deficit of young people who can work to sustain the economy. But in any case, Islam does not teach us to have many children. Again, this is likely a socio-economic issue, not a religious issue. There is a difference between “Bangladesh” and “Islam”.

    (v) As a doctor, I don’t need a person who has read only popular media stories to teach me about the medical properties of alcohol. Here’s a bit of education for you:
    (v-a) Moderate amounts of alcohol are not good for you. Moderate amounts of wine do offer cardioprotection, ie less likelihood of heart disease. Beers and spirits offer no health advantages, even in moderate amounts.
    (v-b) However, this is not because of the wine itself, this is because of the antioxidants in grapes: “Wines are manufactured from grapes, which also contain a large variety of antioxidants, including resveratrol, catechin, epicatechin, and proanthocyanidins. Resveratrol is mainly found in the grape skin, whereas proanthocyanidins are found only in the seeds. Recent studies have demonstrated that resveratrol and proanthocyanidin are the major compounds present in grapes and wines responsible for cardioprotection.” .
    (v-c) Bearing in mind that wine can lead to all sorts of destructive health and social problems, it would seem more sensible to drink grape juice if you really want to protect your heart.
    (v-d) The Qur’an actually says that wine does have benefits, but it says the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages, and therefore it forbids wine.

    Dear Moderator, the fact is that the prohibition of alcohol provides huge health and social benefits overall. A person who rejects even this… is obviously a person who hates Islam to such an extent that he cannot even accept an obvious goodness and tries to find ways to twist away from acknowledging anything good in even one of Islam’s teachings. I can accept that a fair-minded objective person may think Islam is wrong for several reasons, but I will not discuss further with a person who rejects even an evident objective goodness in Islam which doesn’t even require belief in God to appreciate. I am sad to say that such rejection is the sign of a bigoted mind. I have rarely encountered such bigotry.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  4. Dear Bill,

    It seems somebody is replying on your behalf. They seem to have missed the point.

    There were indeed many Arab poets in 7th century Arabia, but the point is: Muhammad (pboh) was not a known poet, he was not person with any history of literary development. Poets don’t stay silent until the age of 40, then suddenly produce a literary masterpiece. All writers evolve, they practise, they hone their skills, they produce minor works throughout their lives, they write some good fiction and some not so good fiction, and then perhaps they write something which is really beautiful. But Muhammad (pboh) did none of this. He never wrote a single line of poetry during his childhood or early adulthood. Then at the age of 40, he suddenly started shaking in paroxysms (which some opponents have suggested were epileptic seizures), and then started reciting the Qur’an.

    Regarding the literary criticism, it is enough for me that many arabs (including an atheist arab friend) have told me that the Qur’anic arabic is unmatched in eloquence. If it is just another Arabic poem, similar to lots of Arabic poetry being splurged out by Qur’aysh tribe in the 6th and 7th centuries, then I’d be grateful if somebody would post the Arabic original of one of these poems with a translation.Otherwise, this is simply unsubstantiated opinion.For sure, my wife has studied lots of jahiliyya Arabic poetry in school, and she says it’s nothing like the Qur’an.

    Regarding “ilyaseen” and “sineen”, my wife is a highly-educated native arabic-speaker (her father corrects arabic for newsreaders in one of the gulf states) and she assures me that in Arabic poetry this is a well-established practise which is permissible in the rules of Arabic poetry. Furthermore, the tafseer suggests that “ilyaseen” is the plural of “ilyas” and means “ilyas and his people”. This is all completely valid Arabic usage. The problem is when english-speakers try to interpret Arabic language according to english usage, a typical anglo-imperialist attitude. Here’s an english speaker trying to teach arabic to arabs!

    Regarding the criticism of “eight angels” and “two gardens”, who on earth is this commentator to say this has no theological significance? Both of these have deep theological significance. He needs to read a tafseer before he starts teaching us Islamic theology. He can find the theology of these numbers in our online Ahmadi tafseer.

    I repeat: Muhammad (pboh) was not the originator of the Qur’an. Besides the fact that he didn’t possess the literary genius to write something like this, the Qur’an is full of too many revolutionary ideas for one man who received no formal education and lived in a small town in the middle of the desert in 7th century arabia, far from the centres of world civilisation: free slaves, give in charity, do not drink alcohol, look after orphans, give women the right of inheritance, do not commit injustice against your enemies, the perfection of cosmology, racial equality. All of these teachings were revolutionary in 7th century arabia.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  5. You have got your facts wrong.

    1. There were not “scant few” left who had memorised it. The Qur’an was written down before all of them died, which they eventually would. A battle where many Huffaadh – people who have committed it to memory – lost their lives came as a wake-up call. Thus, measures were quickly taken before all the others passed away too.

    2. When you say “alternative versions”, to a casual onlooker that might seem like “outrageously different texts”. That is far from being the case. The differences that are there are of certain vowels, which do not bring about changes of meaning, and these had been suggested by the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself. In fact he is reported in the Sihaah to have declared that there are seven different ways to recite the Qur’an – but none of these changes the root words or the meanings of what had been revealed. Example: The word majreeha (the ship’s launching) is also read majraaha. Khaatam (a seal or signet ring) is also read Khaatim (again, a signet ring bearing a seal). These are sometimes written as such. And these variations were authorised by the Messenger of Allah himself. This is akin to either saying tuh-mah-toe or tuh-may-doe for TOMATO. It is also akin to writing tonight as TONITE. These are variant pronunciations and spellings, but the words are essentially the same. So be aware that every different reading and writing style has been authorised from day one, in order to facilitate the recitation of the Qur’an.

    3. The copies burnt by ‘Uthman were those not measuring up 100% with ANY of the seven different styles of writing/recitation. No one can condemn him for that. Only the authorised pronunciation variants of the authentic text have survived – faulty copies have been destroyed. The promise of preservation was for the authentic text, not for faulty copies of it.

    4. Errors of memorisation are of course made. This is why the whole community engages in reciting portions of the Qur’an five times a day in congregation wherever Muslims live, throughout the year – and the WHOLE Qur’an, ever since the beginning, has been recited in almost every mosque on earth during the month of Ramadan, by Huffaadh. Such measures have proven to be exquisitely effective in preserving against errors of memory – the reciter is immediately corrected by anyone in the congregation wherever his memory happens to fail him.

    5. There is nothing self-defeating in stating that books were revealed in the past that were later modified by men. It would be like someone proposing the example of a young Hindu in order to support an argument, saying: “He had a son who was a good Hindu who fully supported the Hindu cause,” only for someone else to then come along and say: “Well, that’s self-defeating, because he became a Christian when he turned 25.” The fact that he later became a Christian will NOT change the reality of what he was prior to that. Everything said of him prior to his conversion was true. When the scriptures were revealed, they were at their inception from God. Later on they were changed and filled with historical and scientific inaccuracies. That does not change the fact that in their original form they had emanated from God.

  6. It is disturbing to you because you expect every other person to think the way you do. You repeatedly claim that your points are being ignored but that is only because you are ignoring the many responses intended for you and others like you around this blog. I have read your posts from a neutral position and have learnt from them. You however have not been able to respond to the criticisms to your arguments, and instead repeat what you had said earlier, making the assumption that nobody had the intelligence to understand your initial point.
    You also repeatedly make the point that I and others only believe in a God because that is how we were raised. You know nothing of how any of us were raised. I don’t think you have stated what you think of those people who turn to God not having been raised in religion, but it wouldn’t take a genius to predict your response.

    It has been said many times and by many others here before: Science can not be used to prove, or disprove, the existence of God. The theists have made suggestions to you for an alternate way to find Him, via a spiritual path. You insist the only reasoning worth taking into consideration is based in science. If that was true, then that very same scientific reasoning should be strong enough to disprove the existence of this so-called ‘magic and baloney’. A magician claims that he can make a thing disappear, but you can prove to me that a magician just played a clever trick, and so I don’t believe that magicians can do actual magic. Some claim that the tooth fairy gives children coins in exchange for their milk teeth, you can prove to me that it was actually a human doing the exchange, and so I don’t believe in the tooth fairy. You CANNOT prove to me that God does not exist taking into consideration His claims of existing beyond science. How convenient you might say? I would too, except there are people from the past, and alive today, who claim to receive communication from this God. But is relying on other people’s testimony, which admittedly could be skewed and subject to personal yearnings, really something to base your entire way of life on? That may be enough for some, but not me personally. I believe the only way to have 100% conviction of belief in this God is to feel that He is a ‘Living God’ and has had a direct impact one’s life. Now Bill, you have been asked before to give this spiritual experiment a shot. If you want to disprove God, you will have to do it on a spiritual level.

  7. The whole purpose of codifying the text was because there were scant few left who had memorised it (most being killed in Islam’s numerous military adventures).

    If Uthman burned all of the alternative versions, then why are there still alternative versions today? Moreover, the fact that there ever existed any alternative versions for Uthman to burn shows that the Qur’an was never ‘divinely safeguarded’ or immune from variation.

    And what of the errors and variations in people’s memories? You haven’t accounted for those in the slightest. Are we to accept, on your mere assertion, that the text was memorised and repeated flawlessly by all who memorised it?

    Moroeover, the criticism of the Jewish and Christian texts (in particular the Torah and Gospel) is also, self-defeatingly, criticism of the Qur’an which declares them to be ‘revealed books’ and which repeats their stories, many of which have been historically and archaeologically falsified, ad nauseaum.

  8. “Bill all your alternate suggestions of more-plausible explanations have been and are being disassembled and shown to be false.”

    No they haven’t! Bizarre rants about me allegedly claiming that your prophet wrote the book whilst undergoing some sort of mental fit bely the fact that that isn’t at all what I have said.

    What I said, repeatedly, but what appears to be being ignored, repeatedly, is that in all probability, given what we know about the nature of mental illness, your prophet would have suffered from varying degrees of mental illness, but that the symptom intensity would, as is the case for nearly all mental illness, contrary to what Moosa keeps desperately trying to claim, fluctuate. At which point in that statement am I claiming he wrote anything whilst completely out of his mind?

    I had hoped that I wouldn’t need to explain the glaring error Moosa made by this statement as it seemed so obvious a misdirection that I assumed anybody with half a brain would spot it:

    “there is no case in the literature of any person composing a work of literature or linguistic and artistic merit during seizures. For instance, Doestovsky, Lewis Caroll and Edgar Allan Poe all had temporal lobe epilepsy, but they did not compose their writings during their seizures.” – What do you think might be the painfully obvious falsehood in this statement?

    If you can’t see it then I truly despair at the level of discourse we have to drop to solely for the benefit of those who are unable to maintain rational objectivity. I’ll give you a clue, read back through my posts and if you find the part where I said your prophet wrote anything whilst out of his mind I’ll give you my left testicle.

    Not only might he have had some degree of mental illness, but that, in all likelihood, due to the toxic stress of being raised in a historically violent and harsh environment, he probably would have had some form of personality disorder, as judged by modern standards and as is now known to occur as a result of high levels of the stress hormone cortisol during critical periods of brain development in early childhood, which results in actual alterations in gene expression.

    That Moosa keeps desperately trying to argue the semantics of mental illness or dismiss my suggestions that it is ENTIRELY FEASIBLE that one, or more, people who had a vested interest in the control of the minds of the masses had more than enough motive to ’embellish’ the stories within your book for their own ends, only serves as an example of his outright refusal to consider rational explanation for things that you all desperately want to ascribe to ‘magic’.

    As for your absurd claim, “You are effectively asking readers to reject the one hypothesis of God for every, ANY, other hypothesis in the world. That is not very scientific, intuitive or any of the other qualities you have tried to portray your line of thinking as” – What’s scientific about making things up without any evidence for them in the first place? What on earth do you think I have been trying to explain to you all this time? To introduce as an explanation a ‘magical all-powerful deity’ as opposed to a litany of real-world tangible and feasible explanations is such a truly massive and extraordinary leap, that, in the absence of ANY objective evidence to support the existence of said ‘magical all-powerful deity’, anything that could be possible as a real-world explanation will suffice.

    You simply just don’t want to accept that you have been trained so well to believe in your god that you are entirely unable to have a rational and objective debate about his non-existence.

    I have already clearly stated previously, “You see, the difference between rationalist perspective and theist dogma is that the rules of objective reasoning are an equal-opportunity device for proposing hypothesise and theory, in that they can be used by both sides to argue their case.”

    So why are you unable to apply the same objective reasoning? Because you simply can’t. Theist argument cannot withstand rational scrutiny so you end up scrabbling around for ways to excuse yourself from it and demand that your claims be exempt from it.

    Your religious beliefs are NO DIFFERENT from any other in history. They are based on myth and legend and require the believer to simply accept outlandish claims about magical beings. You have been brainwashed into believing the unbelievable and the real ‘magic’ about it all is that the lack of objective evidence only serves to fuel your fanaticism further. You are told that the magical being doesn’t need objective evidence, because it’s just such a special magical being that the lack of objective evidence must be interpreted as further proof of the ‘truly awesome power’ of said magical deity.

    That none of this seems to bother you is disturbing. Your minds truly appear to be the property of your religion’s dogma.

    Don’t take it personally though. As I said, the other religions are just as guilty of dressing their fables in the emperor’s new clothes as yours is.

  9. Those among the Christians who are blinded by their hatred and jealousy towards Islam, simply cannot understand the way the Qur’an was preserved from the very beginning. They compare the history of their own scriptures to that of the Qur’an, whereas this is a ridiculously false comparison.

    The simple fact of the matter is that the Qur’an was recorded into the memories of hundreds of people at the same time. These people learnt the Qur’an from its recitation by the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). They memorised the ENTIRE text during his own lifetime. There was absolutely NO variation between what one Hafidh would recite and what another would recite.

    When this text memorised by hundreds of people started to be written down using a vowel-less script, vowels were not needed because everyone knew how to pronounce the words – they were the same words that they knew by heart and that they were listening to being recited on a daily basis.

    However, when other tribes began to accept Islam, they came with their own dialects of Arabic along with the inevitable variations this implies. So, when these new people began to read the vowel-less texts, they read them in their own way, very much like the way speakers of different dialects of Mandarin read exactly the same script in slightly different ways. Due to this, copies of texts began to show variants in pronunciation.

    However, all the while, the revealed text continued to be recited as it always had been from the very beginning, unaffected by the variant pronunciations in vogue among the newcomers; and the revealed text, preserved in the memories of hundreds of people, was eventually committed to writing along with all its vowels and other diacritical marks, and that is the text we have today.

    Christians (and Jews) have never had this essential safeguard of having the text preserved from Day One in the memories of the believers. Thus, inevitable changes crept into their texts. Written copies of the Qur’an ALWAYS had the memorised text to be checked against. Anything containing copyists’ errors or vowels that did not match the memorised text was systematically burnt by the Caliph ‘Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him). Christians think that this was akin to their own burning of apocryphal books. It was NOT. It was a matter of getting rid of anything that did not match the memorised text 100%. By doing this, the Caliph ‘Uthman rendered a great service to Muslims and he thus played a very important role in the preservation of the Qur’an, a book that has existed unchanged until this day.

  10. An impressive piece of scholarship discussing the differences between variant versions of the Qur’an:

    http://answering-islam.org/Green/seven.htm

    Yes, I realise this is a Christian polemicist site, however the scholarship is very well referenced and diligent – this is an accurate picture of the differences between variant traditions and transcriptions of the Qur’an.

  11. I also suggest that you go to http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/sacredtexts/meccaquran.html and have a look at historical copies of the Qur’an. You will clearly see that the diacritical marks, vowel markings and intonations, which you are familiar with, were completely absent from earlier manuscripts – this can have a profound impact on meaning and interpretation, as you are surely aware. Additions have also been made to these older texts in later periods, which are pointed out in the commentary on this website.

    The notion that the Qur’an has been perfectly preserved, and that all copies from all times are the same, is as delusional as your belief in God. Even copies of the Qur’an today are not identical. It doesn’t take much effort to find two copies which have minor differences in script and in vowel signs.

  12. Bill all your alternate suggestions of more-plausible explanations have been and are being disassembled and shown to be false. By the looks of it, even if you run out of alternative suggestions, you will be happy to conclude that there must be another explanation that even you yourself cannot comprehend. You will accept anything else that appears to have even the slightest fragrance of intelligent thought, but you will not accept God because you equate Him to flying spaghetti monsters.

    You are effectively asking readers to reject the one hypothesis of God for every, ANY, other hypothesis in the world. That is not very scientific, intuitive or any of the other qualities you have tried to portray your line of thinking as.

  13. “1. Muhammad (pboh) didn’t know how to read or write, he was never formally educated in a school, but the Qur’an is widely acknowledged (even by non-muslim arabs) to be the greatest literary work in the arabic language, written in unmatched eloquent arabic poetry.”

    The style of the Qur’an is a blend of rhetorical rhymed prose and a lyrical structure particularly adaptable for oral recitation, which was a common and a favorite mode of composition in Arabia at Muhammad’s time. The rhymed prose which dominates the Quranic style adheres to no meter, and was utilized extensively by the soothsayers of pagan Arabia. The Qur’an is in the dialect and style of the tribe of Quraysh of the sixth and seventh centuries Arabia, and therefore, does not reflect an independent heavenly source (Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, p. 228).

    The rhyme is regularly maintained in the Qur’an. This often causes distortion and ambiguity in the Qur’anic text by the derangement of the order of words, by distorting nouns, and by changing verbal forms (e.g. using the imperfect instead of the perfect tense). In order to save the rhyme mount Sinai is called mount Sinin in Surah al-Tin 95: 2 instead of mount Sina’ as in Surah al-Mu’minun 23: 20. Similarly, Elijah is called Ilyasin in Surah al-Saffat 37: 130 instead of Ilyas as in Surah al-An’am 6: 85 and Surah al-Saffat 37: 123. In certain instances, the substance is modified to suit the requirements of the rhyme. In Surah al-Haqqah 69: 17, the unusual number of eight is used for the angels bearing the throne of God, because the Arabic word for “eight” fits the rhyme of the passage perfectly. This is despite the fact that the number “eight” has no theological significance. Surah al-Rahman 55: 46ff speaks of two heavenly gardens, each has two fountains and two kinds if fruits, etc. The number “two” is used simply because the Arabic dual termination “an” corresponds to the syllable that controls the rhyme of the whole Surah.

    “2. There is a verse which says “The Romans have been defeated in the land nearby, and they, after their defeat, will be victorious in a few years”. This was a prophecy which was fulfilled very unexpectedly. At the time of their revelation, the Persians were basically destroying the Roman Empire.”

    How do you know when the prophecy was made? What evidence do you have to corroborate this claim? When the Qur’an was codified, this event had long since happened. That is a fact.

    “3. The Qur’an tells muslims to free slaves. This was a revolutionary teaching at the time. No other religion says anything like this. Even western society didn’t begin to accept this for another thousand years.”

    The Qur’an also tells muslims to take slaves (prisoners of war) and doesn’t abolish slavery, hence why it has always been prevelant in the Islamic world. Today, whereas the Western world has abolished slavery, it still exists in the Islamic world because it is justified in the Qur’an.

    “4. The Qur’an finished all the health and social problems associated with alcohol. I’m not sure if you read the Metro Newspaper today: David Cameron is begging british people to stop drinking because it’s costing the UK £22 billion per year.”

    But not with drugs (Islamic countries produce and export the greatest quantities of heroin; Muslims are also prolific users of drugs); or with inter-breeding (the prevelance of first cousing marriages in Muslim communities has led to increased risk of genetic diseases and defects); or with Vitamin-D absortion, as the burqa prevents sunlight from being absorbed by women who have already developed problems due to giving brith to many children (Muslims tend to have large families). I could go on and on. I could also point out the medical fact (which you as a Doctor know) that a moderate amount of alcohol is actually very good for you.

    “5. The Qur’an is literally a philosophical goldmine. Libraries (and I’m not exaggerating) have been written explaining its meanings. Books have been written about the philosophy contained in one single verse of the Qur’an.”

    The absurdity of your statement says it all. How can a book ‘literally’ be a ‘philosophical goldmine’? You are using words in a way that makes no sense. Books have been written about single verses and lines of a LOT of texts, from poetry written by drunkards to speeches written by madmen. What’s your point?

  14. “Bill, consistency is very important in argument. You keep being inconsistent. Earlier you were saying that Muhammad (pboh) innocently got these revelations as the result of a neurological disorder, now you’re suggesting he tried to get authority from it. Which is it?”

    Moosa, it doesn’t matter which hypothesis is or is not correct, the fact is that the possibilities I am proposing are PLAUSIBLE and the MOST LIKELY explanation, whereas you insist, no demand, that the explanation MUST involve a magical, all-powerful invisible being, yet have no evidence that said magical all-powerful invisible being exists.

    I am not being inconsistent in any way, I am proposing multiple non-magical explanations for what you believe is magical. If you go to see a stage illusionist, do you genuinely believe he has magical abilities? No, you know that, even if you are unsure how he has performed a trick, there will be a non-magical process behind it. But if you cannot specify for sure exactly how he has performed a particular trick, but you have a number of pretty sound possibilities, would your friends accuse you of being inconsistent, that, unless you can prove the exact method, the possibility of the stage illusionist having used actual magic is plausible? No.

    What don’t you get? If I tell you that I believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster and that, when we die, we go a heaven of beer volcano’s and strippers, you will discard such claim as nonsense. Quite rightly so, I might add.

    But your magical all-powerful invisible being MUST be real, right? Because you believe that it is real. Because you have a book written by a man so wonderful that he tells you that a magical all-powerful god thinks he is wonderful too.

    Why is my claim for the existence of a magical all-powerful invisible being any less credible than yours? Just because you have a book that promotes itself as the word of god and millions of people trained to believe in it?

    Well the Christians had one of those before yours, so why is theirs wrong and yours right? Let me guess – because it just is, yes?

    Your points 1 – 5 above list only the same sort of claims that are made about the Christian book of their god’s word. There are even bigger libraries housing even more texts extolling the virtues of it’s messages too. Miracles, prophecies, turn the other cheek, eye for an eye, the usual contradictory, open-to-multiple-interpretation, ‘holy’ book sort of shtick.

    By the way, freeing slaves? A tactical way to quickly gather a large number of very grateful people who are going to be receptive to anything their liberators have to say. I’m not suggesting that is definitely the case, it might have been done purely for altruistic reasons, who knows, but the end result is still the same, instant converts to your cause.

  15. Bill, it’s not good practise to make an evaluation of something from a position of ignorance.

    I don’t mean that disrespectfully. I’m sincerely saying that I can’t discuss the Qur’an with a person who obviously hasn’t made even a cursory enquiry into its history or content.

    No serious scholar, not even from the orientalist non-muslim scholars who seek to discredit Islam, has suggested that lots of people other than Muhammad (pboh) wrote the Qur’an. Can you please give me your sources for this? Or is it your sheer conjecture? I believe in a non-physical God, for this reason I give no physical proof of His existence… but what’s your argument for making a physical allegation without a shred of physical evidence?

    Regarding what’s special about the Qur’an, here’s a few off the top of my head:

    1. Muhammad (pboh) didn’t know how to read or write, he was never formally educated in a school, but the Qur’an is widely acknowledged (even by non-muslim arabs) to be the greatest literary work in the arabic language, written in unmatched eloquent arabic poetry.
    2. There is a verse which says “The Romans have been defeated in the land nearby, and they, after their defeat, will be victorious in a few years”. This was a prophecy which was fulfilled very unexpectedly. At the time of their revelation, the Persians were basically destroying the Roman Empire.
    3. The Qur’an tells muslims to free slaves. This was a revolutionary teaching at the time. No other religion says anything like this. Even western society didn’t begin to accept this for another thousand years.
    4. The Qur’an finished all the health and social problems associated with alcohol. I’m not sure if you read the Metro Newspaper today: David Cameron is begging british people to stop drinking because it’s costing the UK £22 billion per year.
    5. The Qur’an is literally a philosophical goldmine. Libraries (and I’m not exaggerating) have been written explaining its meanings. Books have been written about the philosophy contained in one single verse of the Qur’an.

    There’s much more than this, but I won’t go to too much trouble for a man who obviously hasn’t bothered to make any serious study of Islam. You seem to be just taking your negative experiences with one religion and extrapolating them to Islam. Maybe you were taught a lot of religious “baloney”, but that doesn’t mean all of religion is baloney.

    Regarding Muhammad (pboh) writing the Qur’an to try to give himself authority, you have to make up your mind. Remember, Bill, consistency is very important in argument. You keep being inconsistent. Earlier you were saying that Muhammad (pboh) innocently got these revelations as the result of a neurological disorder, now you’re suggesting he tried to get authority from it. Which is it? In any case, you need to study the history of the Qur’an in greater detail. The first verses of the Qur’an didn’t even mention Muhammad (pboh) as the messenger of God or give him any authority. They said things like “free slaves” and “books will spread in the world” which didn’t do anything for his popularity, in fact they increased opposition to him. Furthermore, some of the Qur’an (when read superficially) seems t actually criticise Muhammad (pboh). Your hypotheses sound plausible until you actually look at the facts. I hope you understand that (scientifically speaking) hypotheses must fit the facts.

    I’m happy to discuss with you further after you do your homework.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  16. “With regard to point 8 above, Bill, I’m still waiting for your scientific explanation of the Qur’an.”

    Then you’ll be waiting a long time because, as I have already said, there isn’t anything remarkable about the Qur’an that requires scientific explanation. It’s a book. Written a long time ago. Probably by a number of different people who all had motivation to ensure that those who read it would be convinced of the holiness of your prophet character and the validity of the Islamic religion.

    Think about it, a book extolling the endless virtues of one man, supposedly written by the same man, who also says that he is god’s messenger.

    If I were to write a book today, praising myself and generally writing paragraph after paragraph of stories about how great I am and that god thinks so too, I’m fairly confident that I would be accused of being either delusional or a liar. However, in the times of your prophet, much like in the times of the Christian prophets, it was a fairly common occurrence for people, usually men, to declare that they were god’s messenger, or son. That a number of them managed to have enough charisma to convince the illiterate goat-herders of their divinity, is not exactly surprising. That a few of them, with devoted followers in tow, went on to convince others of their divinity, “looky here, I’ve got all these followers who believe in me so I must be god’s messenger”, is, again, hardly surprising.

    Poetry, legal code, social and spiritual guidance – Stuff that was made up as they went along. Not exactly proof of anything divine, except for the bits in the book that tell you that it is all divine.

    Scientific observations? – Hardly. As we’ve already covered in quite some depth, there’s barely anything even remotely scientific about what is written and, where you don’t have to crowbar the words into accepted modern scientific understanding, they don’t exactly say anything that wasn’t already known at that time.

    So, as I said, nothing remarkable to report about that book. Asides from the vast number of people who read it and don’t find it questionable that it promotes itself as being the word of god, purely on the basis that it says it is the word of god.

    Oh, and as for, “Lastly, I don’t think it’s useful to throw out personal accusations such as “you believe because you are trained to believe” – Why are you so reactionary? I didn’t mean you personally, I meant all you theists.

    That statement is fact by the way, even if you don’t like it. You believe because you have been trained to believe, nothing more, nothing less. I was a theist once, because, as a child, I was told a bunch of deluded nonsense about gods, demons, angels etc. It’s poetically referred to as ‘Painting lies on an empty canvas’ -Al Stefanelli

    I didn’t become Atheist because I was upset about being trained to believe in theism, or because I had a ‘bad’ religious experience. I am Atheist because it became clearly apparent that theism was a bunch of baloney.

  17. Dear Bill,

    I repeat:

    With regard to point 8 above, Bill, I’m still waiting for your scientific explanation of the Qur’an. I remember about ten years ago having a discussion with a chap who tried to argue that Muhammad (pboh) had temporal lobe epilepsy because Dostoevsky (the writer of “Crime and Punishment”) had TLE. I asked him if Dostoevsky wrote Crime and Punishment during his seizure activity… did he have seizures and then woke up with great literature on his lips?… that particular chap suddenly gave up his argument. How about you, Bill?

    Please inform me how science has demonstrated that neurological disorders can cause an unlettered bedouin arab to produce complex works of literature in eloquent classical Arabic? Which particular scientific experiment has produced these results?

    Peace,
    Moosa

  18. Dear Bill,

    I take it that you accept you cannot provide a single historical example like Muhammad (pboh). This is why you have run away from your former position that “B was rapidly and clearly debunked by Red Star” to suddenly saying this is all a waste of time. How amusing. And you talk of honesty. Honesty requires you to be consistent, Bill. You can’t pursue a line of argument while you think you’re winning, then suddenly say it’s “a waste of time” when you realise you’ve lost the argument. That’s what children do when they lose a game, it’s not the way of fair-minded adults.

    Bill, have you read the Qur’an? Or have you studied the biography of Muhammad (pboh) and the early muslims?

    I doubt you know much of these topics. Otherwise, you would not say very ignorant statements such as the historical existence of Muhammad (pboh) is uncertain. The problem is that you’re trying to apply your anti-Christian arguments against Islam. But Islam is more resilient. Islam is a far more historically valid religion than Christianity. Much is known of early Islam from non-islamic sources, for instance documentation from the Roman and Persian empires.

    Regarding your neurological argument, indeed neurological states can throw up visionary experiences, however this does not mean that all revelations are due to neurological dysfunction. Just because A can result in B, doesn’t mean that B always has to result from A. When you work as a physician, you learn that diseases fit a certain pattern. For instance, weight loss + coughing blood + persistent chest infection + smoking = lung cancer or TB. Physicians quickly develop an instinct (based no medical knowledge and experience) when symptoms and signs fit the pattern and when they don’t fit the pattern for a disease. I gave the list of hallucinatory conditions (with their patterns) for a reason: Muhammad (pboh) doesn’t fit the pattern for any known neurological disorder. This is for two reasons:

    (A) Neurological dysfunction can result in visual hallucinations, but they never result in a 1000 page book of polished Arabic poetry from an unlettered bedouin arab which forms a manual of legal code and scientific observations and social and spiritual guidance.
    (B) You cannot give a single example in history of a person like Muhammad (pboh) having neurological dysfunction. This is because he doesn’t fit the pattern of neurological dysfunction. This is because he didn’t have neurological dysfunction.

    Lastly, I don’t think it’s useful to throw out personal accusations such as “you believe because you are trained to believe”. We are discussing the validity of theism, not the validity of my personal belief or your personal disbelief. The first believers in Islam were certainly not “trained to believe”. They believed against the norms of their times, they faces great persecution and physical torture because of their beliefs, they often had to oppose their own parents and families and tribes and were thrown out as outcasts because of their belief. Your argument about “training” certainly doesn’t apply to them. In fact, they were far more revolutionary than yourself. You’re not an original thinker, you’re simply following a recent trend in modern western european atheism which itself followed the enlightenment philosophy which itself followed protestantism which itself was a reaction against the corruption of the Catholic Church. In any case, please don’t personalise this discussion. We’re talking of something more important than our own personal egos.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  19. Moosa, the tactic of throwing as many words at the screen as possible does not hide the fact that you are making a rather feeble argument for your case.

    You said: ” I trust that intelligent and truthful atheists will conclude: we still have no scientific proof of God, but… Muhammad (pboh) and the Qur’an pose difficult questions to our non-belief in God… questions that Bill and Red Star have failed miserably to answer.”

    Whilst you are busy, busy, busy spouting off a litany of historical figures and how they don’t match up to your prophet, you are still missing the point.

    Firstly, ‘Paranormal visions and visitations’, if actually experienced by someone, as opposed to being a complete fabrication, are MOST LIKELY the result of some form of psychological disorder. Whether you want to accept it or not, this is fact.

    Stop wasting everybody’s time by demanding that we answer to your list of historical figures and their personality disorders. The outcome of this particular aspect to the debate is that, no matter what you might want to believe, trying to claim ‘mental illness’ as being impossible an explanation for the ‘paranormal’ experiences claimed by your prophet character is patently false.

    Science already understands the neurological states that can induce these types of experiences, from alien visitation/abduction to ‘spiritual’ revelations. The people involved genuinely believe that they have experienced something, but there is never, ever, ever, any objective evidence to support such claims. It is all in the mind.

    Secondly, and here’s the most important part, why on earth do you think there is even a case to answer with regards to your supposedly holy texts? What is so special about them that you cannot possible conceive that they are nothing more than the writings of a person, or persons, who had every reason to want to convince others of the validity of their wild ‘paranormal’ claims and stories.

    Just like the Christian Jesus, your prophet is based on a cult-of-personality. That both of these historical figures even existed isn’t certain, but, even if they did, the claims made about them are unbelievably wild and spurious, with absolutely zero objective evidence to support them.

    Face facts Moosa, you have religious belief purely because you have been indoctrinated into having religious belief. There is no, nor has there EVER been, ANY valid evidence to support theist claims. That theists have lots of pretty buildings, impressive artwork and a large social network of like-minded individuals, does not detract from the plain truth, you believe because you are trained to believe.

  20. Dear Bill,

    My sincere apologies, I forgot one on your list of “debunkers”:

    Kim Jong il: Led a personality cult but no obvious psychiatric illness (as far as I know, I may be wrong, please give me a diagnosis if you have any information in this regard). But he succeeded his father, he never established himself from nothing like Muhammad (pboh). Moreover, the North Korean economy was a disaster during his time in power. His father Kim il-sung in fact established the personality cult first (Kim Jong il simply carried on the family tradition), but he again achieved nothing himself, he was the puppet of Joseph Stalin, who invaded North Korea on the pretext of helping the Korean resistance (Korea had been invaded by Japan) and installed Kim il-sung as a puppet. In fact, Kim Jong il himself played no important part even in the process of resistance to Japan, the true leaders of the resistance were all systematically “eliminated” by Stalin.

    Any more candidates?

    Peace,
    Moosa

  21. Dear Bill,

    I’ll say one more thing before I turn my attention to more productive work tonight. The reason I stopped interacting with Red Star was that he/she has a habit of throwing out some criticism with scanty evidence which nonetheless takes considerable effort to refute. It’s like me saying “you’re a paedophile”… very easy to make the accusation, but much more difficult to provide evidence to refute it. Then, instead of responding to my refutations, he/she often just ignored my response and kept on throwing out more careless criticisms.This happened 34 times, you can find it in another thread. It became a thankless and largely wasteful exercise.

    You also seem to be developing this habit by your completely nonsenical statements such as “B was rapidly and clearly debunked by Red Star”. Red Star apparently just took 2 minutes to throw out some names of famous people with mental health issues, without taking the trouble to actually use his mental faculties before giving those names. Unfortunately I’ve again had to waste over an hour to categorically refute each one of Red Star’s foolish examples.

    You’ve then accused me of “circular arguments”. I don’t do that. I go in a straight line.

    You’ve also accused me of “entirely inaccurate claims towards various categories of mental illness”. I don’t do that either. My claims are based on my medical training, my experience of working in psychiatry and volunteering in a mental health hospital even before starting my studies in medicine, and also on the eminent opinions of various professors of psychiatry who wrote the textbooks I’m citing. If you think you know more than them about mental illness, then it’s you who’s delusional, not Muhammad (pboh).

    You’ve accused me of dishonest arguments. I don’t do that either. In fact, I make a particular effort not to do that. But I’m not going to waste my time further in proving that to you. I’ve written my arguments. You’ve written your arguments. I trust that intelligent and truthful atheists will conclude: we still have no scientific proof of God, but… Muhammad (pboh) and the Qur’an pose difficult questions to our non-belief in God… questions that Bill and Red Star have failed miserably to answer.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  22. Dear Bill,

    Glad to see you’re making some regular contributions now. However, I’m disappointed to read you say, “B was rapidly and clearly debunked by Red Star”.

    I asked you to give me one single example of a person with mental illness who achieved 10% of what Muhammad (pboh) achieved, even in terms of worldly success.

    Red Star gave the following examples (which you think “rapidly and clearly debunked” my challenge): Caligula, Nero, Joan of Arc, Vlad Tepes (Vlad ‘The Impaler’), Elizabeth Bathory, George III, Rasputin, Vincent Van Gogh, Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, Muammar Gaddafi, Kim Jong Il, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears

    I’ll demonstrate in turn why each of these is a truly foolish example:

    B (i) Caligula: became Emperor of Rome by succession to the previous Emperor, ie he inherited the Imperial Title. He then had a relatively successful start to his reign. He made astute political decisions during this period, and he was a successful ruler initially. He then became gradually insane, which led to conflict with his own followers and particularly with the powerful Senate, and this resulted eventually in his assassination. He is a particularly bad example to give of insane success, since his success was during his period of sanity and his insanity led to chaos throughout the Roman Empire and his own eventualy assassination. Furthermore, his success cannot be compared to the success of Muhammad (pboh) since Muhammad (pboh) never won power by a process of inherited succession.

    B (ii) Nero: again became Emperor by a direct process of succession, since he was groomed to be Emperor by the previous Emperor Claudius. Again, his success is not comparable to the success of Muhammad (pboh), since Nero basically had the Imperial Title handed to him on a plate. In fact, Nero started with everything and ended with nothing, in direct contrast with Muhammad (pboh). He lost the throne at the end of his life and finally committed suicide. Please explain how this man “achieved 10% of what Muhammad (pboh) achieved, even in terms of worldly success”?

    B (iii) Vlad Tepes: wasn’t insane, he was just cruel, and in fact his cruelty was a political strategy for control by fear. He reported no delusions, no hallucinations, no depression. He was born to Vlad II Dracul, the ruler of Wallachia. He did not directly ascend to the rulership of Wallachia, but he did receive a lot of political support in gaining power from the governor-regent of Hungary. He certainly didn’t lead a revolution from the roots, he was put into power by kings. He then had some success in repelling an attack by the Turks, but was subsequently imprisoned for 12 years, regained power for 2 years, and finally was assassinated. His decapitated head was sent to Constantinople. Was this your example of success? (By the way, no historian has ever said he was mad, they only said he was bad).

    B (iv) Elizabeth Bathory: don’t even go there with this patently absurd example. She used to bathe in virgin blood, she certainly had a delusion that virgin blood would keep her young. But she inherited wealth and finished her life being walled up alive in a castle by her people… what kind of success is that?

    B (v) George III: inherited power, became mad but never functioned during madness as the ruler of England. In fact, from the time of his madness, he lived in seclusion in Windsor Castle, he made no political decisions, and his son ruled in his place as Prince-Regent. This is another foolish example from Red Star. You’re alleging that Muhammad (pboh) started with no power, and then he started having hallucinations, and from the moment of his hallucinations (which were the product of mental illness), he started having success. George III and Nero and Caligula never did this; they all started with power and then had mental illness and then lost power.

    B (vi) Rasputin: please inform me which mental illness he suffered from? Also, please inform me how he died? After you’ve read up on how he died, please inform me how he was 10% as successful as Muhammad (pboh)?

    B (vii) Vincent Van Gogh: was an artist who painted some beautiful paintings, never achieved any success in his lifetime, lived his life as a pauper, and then committed suicide. Excuse me, am I missing something?

    B (viii) Adolf Hitler: was bad, not mad. He also committed suicide (not as an act of mental illness, but to avoid being captured), lost the biggest war in history, and had his country overrun and split into two by Russians, Americans, French and British. Excuse me, am I missing something again?

    B (ix) Idi Amin: became increasingly erratic during his presidency of Uganda, and during that same period the economy started collapsing, he then invaded Tanzania who counterattacked, and he had to flee to Libya, then finally to Saudi Arabia. He died from kidney failure in a hospital in Jeddah, exiled from his own country and with no power or authority. Excuse me, I seem to be missing your argument again?

    B (x) Muammar Gaddafi. He was not mentally ill at the time of gaining power. As for his “success story”… surely your memory is not that short?

    B (xi)(xii) Michael Jackson and Britney Spears: sold a lot of records because their parents taught them to sing and dance from a young age and because they had a huge media empire backing them. They were commercial products. The more erratic they became, the less successful they became. Both of them were widely reviled and ridiculed towards the latter part of their music careers. I’m actually not sure if Red Star was giving their two examples as part of a process of ridicule. However, they’re not actually any more ridiculous than all the ridiculous examples you supported above.

    So let’s get this straight: you have given not one valid example. Well done!

    This isn’t surprising. What I’m saying is quite sane and logical, what you’re saying is quite unreasonable. I’m merely saying that a person with a major psychiatric illness (and hallucinations are absolutely major in psychiatry) cannot function intellectually, socially or politically to a high level. I’m not saying anything superstitious or “weird” here, and most reasonable people would accept what I’m saying. Only an unreasonable atheist who is desperate to prove something would oppose it. The funny thing is that you’re trying to pose as “scientific”. I certainly wouldn’t trust you with a bunsen burner.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  23. So basically, Red Star, you’re implying that if one goes through drug-induced hallucinations, one can confidently begin to predict the future? Well, what are we all waiting for then?

    Whatever hallucinogenic experiences old or new cultures go through will NOT enable them to see into the future with precision.

    The lengths you are ready to go to just to ridicule and belittle the real experiences going on in this community are truly amazing.

    You are repeatedly choosing to ignore the facts.

    Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be upon him) showed hundreds of times, to Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and atheists, that he was correctly predicting things which no man could know. He fearlessly called one and all repeatedly to come and stay with him for a few months, saying that he would make all arrangements for their lodging and catering, just so that they could be witness to what was happening to him.

    Here is a man correctly predicting things to come, time and again. And everytime, you people say: They’re just lucky guesses – or – he suffers from some mental disorder – or – he’s only going through things similar to what drug-induced hallucinations produce…

    How blind can one be? SEE THE FACTS. And have a look at those who were there witnessing them. The witnesses were often greater doubters than you are today. Yet, they were forced to admit that the man was true in what he was claiming. None of them believed him initially, but the facts eventually broke down their doubts, leaving them either in awe, perplexed or bewildered.

    He said that God, the Creator of the universe, was telling him of these things. He said it was impossible for him to know the secrets of the future. And there he was repeatedly delivering prediction after prediction, with total confidence and inviting people to put him to the test. Does that sound like what someone suffering from a mental disorder can do? Does that look like what a man on drugs can do?

    What do we know of the Oracle of Delphi? Who knows what prophecies were really made and how they were made? No doubt if it was a case of messengers of God to whom the future was being revealed, people of their time would have written the same things you people say today: that they were drug-users, and that they had hallucinations. If researchers of tomorrow base their study of the Ahmadiyya Community on what you atheists are writing about us, what conclusions will they draw and how much will they know us? The reporters of the Oracle were quite possibly atheists like you. We can’t go there and ask, can we? Thus, quoting examples from cultures belonging to a very distant past, the nature of the writers of which we know next to nothing, is a comparatively flimsy basis to choose for your assumptions.

    Here you have a fully-documented case in modern times of a man who had many enemies and adversaries, and about whom all that has been written and said of prophets past, was also written and said of him, namely that he was mad, he was hallucinating, etc. Yet even his enemies admitted to the facts. The facts are there for you to study. You can’t go back to the ancient world to study what was happening then, but you can study the Founder of our community, and you can study the members of the community itself. That would be a proper basis for any conclusions you would like to draw.

    Without carrying out proper investigation of our community and Founder, it would be ridiculous to dismiss the facts we are presenting with the simple statement that “oh this is just like what happened before.” You don’t know us and you haven’t studied us carefully enough yet. Simply dismissing everything blindly would amount to nothing but arrogance. So, approach what we say humbly, and without any prejudice, without having made your mind up in advance. Keep your mind open and don’t ignorantly assume that what we are saying is nothing more than what you think you know of the past.

  24. Moosa, again with the ‘horror’ about dishonesty. Much earlier in this discussion I mentioned about dishonest argument and gave an example of it, such as ‘circular’ argument that depends on the original claim to be the evidence of it’s own validity.

    I also clearly specified that I did not say you were dishonest, as in I do not consider you to be a dishonest person, but that your argument used a dishonest premiss that relied on assumed ‘facts’ instead of objective evidence.

    Now, for some reason, you feel the need to rail on at me, accusing me of actually being dishonest as well as alleging I am using dishonest argument, yet the example you put forward to ‘prove’ your allegation is, if not dishonest itself, completely wrong.

    Your ‘proof’ in point 1 of the first reply to my last post claims that I am dishonestly claiming to have rigidly (mis) interpreted your use of the ‘love and dreams’ analogy for my own, dishonest, ends. Try reading what I actually said, which was: “Do correct me if you believe I have misunderstood the purpose behind your repeated references to love and dreams.”

    How is that statement anything but a clear affirmation of what my interpretation of your claim meant to you and that, if I was incorrect, I was asking you to correct any misinterpretation I made.

    Not dishonest.

    Ironically, you then continue in that point 1 paragraph to contradict yourself in your outrage about my ‘dishonest’ interpretation, by repeating exactly what I had said, only using different words. Namely, that love and dreams rely on neurochemistry, as any sensory perception does, including the perception of your god. Yet you complain that I am trying to use a scientific approach to prove a philosophical point. This is completely absurd. On the one hand you bitterly decry the use of scientific reasoning to prove the non-existence of god, which, by the way, isn’t what the scientific method does as the onus of proof is on the one making the claim for the existence of something, yet you, instead, want to use entirely pointless philosophical argument?

    Love and Dreams exist solely because of neurochemistry. Without neurochemistry there is no love and there are no dreams, because they are completely utterly and totally subjective experiences. As is the same for your god. Love and dreams do not interact with the universe, you do. Love and dreams live in your brain, nowhere else, just like your god delusion. None of them have any interaction with the world around us in any way whatsoever, they are figments of our imagination that affect our behaviour, resulting in modifications to how we physically interact with the world.

    Which basically comes down to my repeated point that ALL THE EVIDENCE points to ‘mystical’ and ‘paranormal’ experiences as being nothing but tricks of the minds, errors in neurological processing.

    I don’t have to prove that to be the case either, there is enough scientific understanding to propose the hypothesis and develop a workable theory. Whether it is 100% correct is irrelevant, it is feasible, unlike your god. Again I refer you to occam’s razor, for you to introduce a magical deity requires at least some valid evidence that can serve as a basis for your hypothesis.

    Now, however, you want to throw out objective reasoning entirely and you demand that we stick to ‘philosophical’ analysis!

    I refer you to my previous point regarding the inability of your claimed beliefs to withstand rational scrutiny. Case in point.

    As for your point 2, a, b, c and d, well ‘a’ is just more of the same circular argument, in that you are making a claim for your prophet that relies on the subjective stories that are associated with him, not actual evidence. B,C and D are clearly desperate appeals by way of falsehoods, B was rapidly and clearly debunked by Red Star and C,D and your additional reply following Red Star’s are just pointless and entirely inaccurate claims towards various categories of mental illness.

    I already said, we don’t even need to specify which mental illness your prophet may have had, it’s likely that he experienced a number of different ones at different degrees of intensity throughout his life, AS MOST PEOPLE DO, but I already pointed out to you that mental illness is many shades of grey, not black and white. You don’t seem to want to take that on board. The reason we don’t need to specify which mental illness he may have had is because, in providing for the possibility of a rational non-paranormal explanation towards the claims associated with your prophet, we are offering a feasible hypothesis, one that does not require the, never proven to exist, magical deity of yours.

  25. The ancient Oracle of Delphi produced startlingly impressive prophecies after drug-induced hallucinations.

    Many cultures have practised, and still do, inducing hallucinations (or ‘visions’) using psychotropic drugs. They variously believe that these ‘visions’ or ‘dreams’ are actually communications from ancestors, random dead people or their deity.

    Someone prone to hallucinations or who seemed to hear ‘voices’ in his head telling him to do certain things, might well, in a more primitive society and age, be regarded as a ‘prophet’ in receipt of ‘revelation’.

  26. Bill, your George Bush analogy is not appropriate. If someone says they believe they have been told to go and do something horrendous, anyone has the right to doubt the rationality behind such a statement. Thinking one is being told to do something is totally subjective.

    It is NOT AT ALL like being informed of something that will occur in the future, because no man has precise and detailed knowledge of the future.

    If someone tells you that a person officially declared to be lost at sea along with all other passengers aboard a sunken ship, will be the only one to return home before nightfall, in your present mindset you will be one of the people inclined to scoff at such a “preposterous” prophecy.

    However, if you witness it coming true, you will no longer be laughing, will you?

    If such predictions are proven to be correct time after time after time, and many individuals, both believers and sceptics including your good self, are made aware of a highly unlikely prophecy prior to its fulfilment, only to later actually see it being fulfilled against all the odds, you will no longer be dismissing the phenomenon.

    This is how many erstwhile atheists became believers. Their dry logic was telling them God did not even exist, let alone speak to human beings, but then the facts repeatedly left them speechless. Finally, the more open-minded ones among them found that they were left with no option but to accept the validity of the claims made by the believers who were making these predictions.

    I highly recommend you PATIENTLY read how such experiences happened in the life of the Founder of our Community – Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be upon him) – use the link below. This will throw light on a topic which atheists are usually unaware of for the simple reason that they have never experienced it themselves.

    http://www.alislam.org/library/books/Tadhkirah.pdf

    Please be humble in your approach and open-minded. It does no one any good to be stubbornly entrenched in a view which closes itself off from several real human experiences. No one can assume they know everything that deserves to be known. The mind is enriched by educating oneself on experiences which lie outside one’s usual sphere of thoughts.

  27. Dear Bill,

    It’s me again! 🙂

    I made an error at the end of my last post. That was a list of causes of hallucinations, not causes of schizophrenia. Here’s a more complete list with some explanations from the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 2009; 11(1):

    1. Schizophrenia/Schizoaffective disorder. Schizoaffective disorder is characterised by depression or bipolar disease, abd disorganized speech and thinking with significant social and occupational dysfunction are typical.

    2. Delirium is an acute disturbance of consciousness and diminished ability to sustain attention, caused by metabolic disturbances (eg liver failure, renal failure causing uremia), infections, drug effects, alcohol withdrawal, brain lesions. None of these were present in Muhammad (pboh). For instance, brain lesions cause delirium which persists because brain lesions don’t come and go.

    3. Lewy body dementia

    4. Parkinson’s disease

    5. Posterior cortical atrophy (neurodegenerative disease, causing visual hallucinations and parkinsonian symptoms)

    6. Charles Bonnet syndrome affects only visually impaired people. This is really interesting, it’s thought to be a “cortical release phenomenon”, ie the visual cortex releases images because of lack of stimulation as normal visual pathways are absent.

    7. Anton’s syndrome is another rare syndrome which affects exclusively patients with cortical blindness

    8. Temporal lobe seizures can give complex visual hallucinations. This is probably the most convincing of an unconvincing bunch. However, there is no case in the literature of any person composing a work of literature or linguistic and artistic merit during seizures. For instance, Doestovsky, Lewis Caroll and Edgar Allan Poe all had temporal lobe epilepsy, but they did not compose their writings during their seizures.

    9. Migraines.

    10. Peduncular hallucinosis give exclusively visual hallucinations, with Lilliputian images being particularly common (images of everybody being very small). This is a very rare disease described only in case reports, which seems to arise from a brain lesion in the cerebellar peduncle.

    11. Hypnangogic hallucinations occur during sleep onset.

    12. Tumours that compress the optic pathway cause the other signs of brain tumour, also they do not last for 20 years without causing other symptoms (blindness, nausea, vomiting, headache).

    13. Inborn errors of metabolism, eg Niemann-Pick disease typically present in early childhood/adulthood and cause neurological problems.

    14. CJD is similar to BSE “mad cow’s disease”, but variant CJD can arise spontaneously without eating infected beef. It invariably causes rapidly fatal death.

    That’s the end of the list.

    With regard to point 8 above, Bill, I’m still waiting for your scientific explanation of the Qur’an. I remember about ten years ago having a discussion with a chap who tried to argue that Muhammad (pboh) had temporal lobe epilepsy because Dostoevsky (the writer of “Crime and Punishment”) had TLE. I asked him if Dostoevsky wrote Crime and Punishment during his seizure activity… did he have seizures and then woke up with great literature on his lips?… that particular chap suddenly gave up his argument. How about you, Bill?

    Peace,
    Moosa

  28. “Please give me one example, just one single example of a person with mental illness who achieved… say 10% of what Muhammad (pboh) achieved, even in terms of worldly success?”

    Ooh, that’s an easy one! Let me answer:

    Caligula, Nero, Joan of Arc, Vlad Tepes (Vlad ‘The Impaler’), Elizabeth Bathory, George III, Rasputin, Vincent Van Gogh, Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, Muammar Gaddafi, Kim Jong Il, Michael Jackson, Britney Spears…

    Would you like me to continue? I’m sure I could go on for quite a while, but I reckon you get the picture 😉

  29. Dear Bill,

    You write you’re not saying I’m dishonest but then you say twice in the same post that I’m being dishonest. This is ambiguous.

    I categorically do say you’re being dishonest. I’ve pointed that out in my post above. I note that you’re silent on that topic.

    I think again you’re being dishonest in your arguments in your most recent post to me. Let me demonstrate:

    1) Firstly, I didn’t propose that love and dreams give a “workable hypothesis” for God. I only gave love and dreams as a response to your argument that God does not exist because you cannot scientifically measure God. I gave love and dreams as imperfect examples of how something can exist without having scientific values such as mass and velocity. Now you say that love and dreams “are the result” of neurochemicals, and therefore they are imaginary. This is your interpretation, for which (again) you have no scientific proof. Again, you’re trying to apply science to what is a philosophical question. The fact that you require neurochemicals to perceive love and dreams is not in any way a proof that love and dreams do not exist, because you also require neurochemicals to perceive a block of stone or a piece of wood. The neurochemical argument does not prove existence or non-existence, it simply proves perception. Obviously you also need neurochemicals to perceive God, because without neurochemicals your brain would not function. Again, this has no consequences for existence or non-existence.

    2) You’re also being dishonest by arguing “most disabling of psychiatric disorders can still be ‘lived with’ and, as pointed out, many people with mental illness can demonstrate extraordinary drive and cunning. One need only look at those in power around the world, hardly representative examples of well-balanced minds. Besides which, mental illness is not black-and-white, but very many shades of grey. Most people exhibit certain personality disorder traits as a result of their upbringing, and most people experience some degree of mental illness at some point in their lives.”

    Here are the complete fallacies with your above arguments:
    (a) Muhammad (pboh) didn’t “live with” a mental illness. He completely transformed a society, he thrived, he did in 20 years what you will not achieve in several lifetimes.
    (b) You’re being completely dishonest when you say “many people” with mental illness possess extraordinary drive. Forget about “many people” because we all know that’s a complete nonsense. Please give me one example, just one single example of a person with mental illness who achieved… say 10% of what Muhammad (pboh) achieved, even in terms of worldly success?
    (c) Then you start saying “those in power” in the world don’t have “well-balanced minds”. We’re not talking about well-balanced minds, Bill. We’re talking about people with hallucinations and delusions, according to you. We’re talking about a person who had visual hallucinations of angels and heard voices. This isn’t about a not “well-balanced mind”, this is clear-cut schizophrenia which you’re alleging against Muhammad (pboh). Now please give me a list of people with schizophrenia who have begun their lives as desert nomads, and finished their lives as kings? Or maybe if you can (again) give me just one example? I mean, you’re a person who loves evidence, so you should love to give examples…
    (d) “Personality disorder traits”… again such flagrant dishonesty on your part, Bill. People with personality disorders don’t have hallucinations, Bill. You need to read up your psychiatry. I repeat: this is schizophrenia you’re alleging, not “some degree of mental illness”. There are other causes of schizophrenia, but they are not applicable here… Charles Bonnet syndrome, substance misuse, acute infection, parkinson’s disease, migraine, and epilepsy… none of these have ever in the entire medical history of humankind resulted in a work of literature or art.

    Would you like to continue talking about dishonesty, Bill?

    Or perhaps you’d like to ignore the question again?

    Peace,
    Moosa

  30. “It almost sounds like you’re unhappy it isn’t happening to you.”

    On the basis that I am more than happy that my sanity is, currently, pretty solid, no, I am not unhappy that I am not experiencing psychological delusions. It would appear that, as is the case for your ‘need’ for your delusions to be real, you are choosing to perceive in me an unhappiness that simply isn’t there. Much like . . . well . . . you don’t need a paranormal visitation to foretell how this sentence ends.

    Look, I don’t doubt for a second that you genuinely, completely and honestly BELIEVE that these ‘visitations’ have foretold the future. But, as I said previously, I also don’t doubt for a second that each and every claim to such would be unable to withstand rational objective scrutiny.

    Try this on for size:

    George W. Bush, as a fundamentalist Christian, genuinely believed that his god had spoken to him and instructed him to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. Now you know, as well as I do, that this claim is complete and utter crap, but his belief in this ‘visitation’ being real is unshakable.

    So why would his claims to have experienced ‘supernatural visitation’ be any less credible than yours?

    Your reply cannot use as ‘proof’ the claims you make as to so-called future predictions having occurred within your community, seeing as none of them can be objectively tested and all of them originate from individuals who have great motivation to ‘encourage’ belief in their wild claims from other, like-minded, theists.

  31. Bill, you simply can’t brush off everything as random neurochemical signals. If someone tells you in a dream that tomorrow a Chinese man is going to hand you a cheque for 2000 euros, which you were not at all expecting, and then sure enough, it happens; will you say that is just human imagination? Then you are informed in another dream that the boat your father is travelling on is about to sink in two days’ time, and he will be the only one not to drown. Then this happens as it was said. Was that human imagination too? Then you are told in a vision that a lady living on the other side of the world would be chosen for a Nobel prize, although she wasn’t expecting it at all. You contact her and tell her the news and she doesn’t believe you, and goes, “Yeah right!” Then a month later, she is extremely surprised to find out that she is indeed being awarded the prize.

    Then these kinds of experiences happen to you and to your relatives hundreds of times. Will all that be human imagination? How can humans IMAGINE being informed about REAL EVENTS that are about to happen in the future?

    If you choose to discredit such happenings, by all means do so. But those who are experiencing these regular occurences know that this information is NOT coming from their own minds.

    It almost sounds like you’re unhappy it isn’t happening to you. Well in a way, so you should be. You have been rather deprived up till now. Turn to God and start speaking to Him respectfully, then see what happens. If you refuse to put this to the test, then you only shut your eyes like creationists do on evolution. Hopefully you will not be as obstinate and unreasonable as they are.

  32. Oh Moosa, I am not saying you are dishonest, I contended that your argument is.

    1. Early on in your discussion you state ” the only way I can explain it to a non-religious person is to draw an analogy with Love. Love also cannot be weighed in a laboratory experiment, but Love does exist and influence us.”

    2. You then went on to repeatedly use the notion of love and dreams as if they are so wondrously strange that it proves how ‘beyond science’ they must be.

    3. You assert that, if something that is not a tangible ‘thing’, with no weight, mass or velocity, unable to be scientifically measured, yet is able to be experienced by most human beings, it would allow you to ‘demonstrate’ how your god exists.

    Do correct me if you believe I have misunderstood the purpose behind your repeated references to love and dreams.

    Your argument uses a dishonest approach by contending that something provides for a workable hypothesis for your god, namely love and dreams, when it absolutely doesn’t.

    You are attempting to portray love and dreams as providing some sort of basis by which your god could exist, yet love and dreams are nothing but the subjective result of various neurological states.

    A sociopath cannot feel love due to neurological brain dysfunction.
    I’ve taken MDMA in the past, the subjective emotional response one feels under it’s influence is wondrously empathic love multiplied exponentially.

    Both cases are opposite ends of the neurological spectrum for love, but both demonstrate that love is entirely the result of neurochemistry.

    Dreams are, again, neurochemical dependant.

    Human imagination is neurochemical dependant.

    Unless you wish to simply state that your god exists solely within human imagination, which is factually correct, your claim that the ‘existence/non-existence’ of love and dreams provides for ‘evidence’ of a possible hypothesis for the existence of your god, is entirely false as well as being demonstrative of dishonest argument because the examples you keep referring to have nothing to with ‘existing without being tangible’.

    As for your going off one about the strict definition of schizophrenia, temporal-lobe epilepsy, or any other description of mental illness, this is again dishonest as you know full well that Red Star’s point is to highlight that mental illness is FAR MORE LIKELY the reason behind supposed ‘visitations, prophetic dreams and hallucinations’, than the ‘supernatural’. So there is absolutely no point in arguing the toss about the minutia of which mental illness any one particular ‘visitation’ may or may not be a sign of.

    And claiming that people with mental illness cannot function is hopelessly wrong. All but the most disabling of psychiatric disorders can still be ‘lived with’ and, as pointed out, many people with mental illness can demonstrate extraordinary drive and cunning. One need only look at those in power around the world, hardly representative examples of well-balanced minds. Besides which, mental illness is not black-and-white, but very many shades of grey. Most people exhibit certain personality disorder traits as a result of their upbringing, and most people experience some degree of mental illness at some point in their lives.

  33. That’s not true. I have experience of people with mental illness. Many people with forms of schizophrenia are very highly motivated. They sometimes will pursue, even to their own ill health and deaths, a single goal which they believe that they are ‘destined’ to perform.

    Social withdrawal does describe what Muhammad was doing on Mount Hira though, doesn’t it?

    Also, just one comment from the other thread I forgot to add (since you’re refusing to continue our conversations now), Muhammad was not impoverished. Yes he was orphaned, but he was raised by a wealthy and powerful uncle. Abu Talib and the Quraysh were extremely powerful and influential, which was part of the reason Muhammad was tolerated in MEcca and allowed to carry on for so long.

    In conclusion, you have shown exactly what religion does to an otherwise intelligent individual. You have a set belief which you are completely unwilling to question, challenge or ascribe any fault, error, mistake or negativity to. For this reason, you contort reality, and the evidence which is before you, to fit your beliefs.

    A truly honest and rational individual would look at reality and the evidence before them and then draw conclusions (or indeed ask more questions).

    On the other hand, religion makes people dishonest and irrational and compels them to accept a statement of belief first before examining anything.

    I hope you have the courage to allow your intellect to flourish.

    I hope you too can break free from the shackles of religion.

    You have nothing to lose but your chains.

  34. Red Star,

    I think you need to see a psychiatrist. I mean, to ask him for more info about schizophrenia.

    Firstly, hallucinations alone are not schizophrenia (not that you’ve proved these were hallucinations).

    Secondly, “persecutory ideas” are not the same as “There’s some disbelievers throwing garbage on my head while I pray, I think that means they don’t like me”. Persecutory ideas by definition (if you read psychiatry) are irrational, eg “The man walking on the other side of the street hates me because the sun will set at 5pm today”. Muhammad (pboh) did not have “persecutory ideas”, he was actually persecuted and this persecution involved historically documented episodes of physical and verbal abuse.

    Thirdly, “social withdrawal” doesn’t really describe a person who leads a loving married life, and goes on to lead a religious and political movement, and has close personal relationships with many companions and friends who dearly love him, and acts as a counsellor and adviser to hundreds of people.

    I note you’ve ignored the fact that people with schizophrenia are functionally impaired and lack drive. You continue to ignore whatever doesn’t fit into your strange sense of reality.

    I mentioned epilepsy for the benefit of the people who are reading this thread who may benefit from it. In case you hadn’t realised, I’ve continued answering your criticisms for their benefit, not for any benefit I imagine may accrue to you.

    In any case, please read my post in the other thread Discussion between an Atheist and an Ahmadi Muslim. Regretfully, I have to inform you that this conversation is terminated.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  35. I didn’t say anything about epilepsy…why did you bring that up? Odd.

    As for schizophrenia…I think you should read very carefully what you have written:

    “hallucinations, persecutory ideas, social withdrawal…” etc

    Hmmm…I don’t know why that’s ringing alarm bells while I’m thinking of a certain 7th century religious personality…

  36. Red Star,

    Re: The hypothesis that Muhammad (pboh) had schizophrenia (or temporal lobe epilepsy)

    Your first hypothesis is as unreasonable as the other common hypothesis, that Muhammad (pboh) received revelations as part of an epileptic illness. These hypotheses are particularly good examples of the problems which result when laypeople with no medical knowledge start trying to issue medical diagnoses on the basis of their own atheist prejudices. I will save time by dealing with them both here:

    1. Schizophrenia is a mental illness. People with schizophrenia don’t simply have “revelationary experiences” and then go on to lead happy productive lives. Taken from my copy of the Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry p.159: “In schizophrenia, the patient suffers from psychotic symptoms and functional impairment… Schizophrenia is a particularly disabling illness because of its course which, although variable, is frequently chronic and relapsing. The care of patients with schizophrenia places a considerable burden on all carers, from the patient’s family through to the health and social services. Schizophrenia makes up a good deal of the work of the specialist mental health services”. TheOxford Textbook goes on to describe the acute syndrome (hallucinations, persecutory ideas, social withdrawal, impaired performance at work, delusions of reference, disordered mood, blunting of mood, incongruity of affect, impaired attention) and the chronic syndrome (underactivity, lack of drive, social withdrawal, emotional apathy, thought disorder). Muhammad (pboh) was clearly not suffering from schizophrenia.

    2. Regarding epilepsy, the most common allegation is that Muhammad (pboh) suffered temporal lobe seizures, the reason being that (1) Muhammad (pboh)’s body shook while he received revelation, (2) visual, olfactory, auditory and gustatory illusions are common during temporal lobe seizures. However, this is clearly another unreasonable hypothesis, because: (1) In the entire medical literature, there is no report of any person even writing a single chapter during seizures, let alone an entire book of innovative legal and social guidelines expressed in eloquent classical poetry, (2) patients with temporal lobe seizures typically have memory impairment and language deficit, (3) they have amnesia following the seizure, (4) they experience post-ictal confusion. Muhammad (pboh) was not suffering from temporal lobe epilepsy.

    Would you like to try another hypothesis?

    Peace,
    Moosa

  37. “I believe no human could compose it.”

    Why? You keep saying this, but never give any credible reason why.

    “Now who do you believe composed it? You love to criticise but why do you run away from making any positive statement of your own belief? What are you afraid of? If you believe you are on truth, then speak what is your truth. Who originated and composed the Qur’an?”

    I reckon Muhammad made up the whole thing. When I say ‘made up’, I don’t necessarily mean he thought he was lying. It’s quite possible (even probable) that the ‘voices in his head’ were some form of psychosis, possible schizophrenia, and that he genuinely thought they were of divine origin. But in the end, he was the ‘composer’.

    “The above links will demonstrate that the Qur’an is certainly not tabloid. If the reader cannot see any depth or philosophy in a text, then the reader may be at blame, rather than the text itself. I suggest in your case that the reader is tabloid, not the Qur’an.”

    I’ve read your ‘tafseer’. There is no substance in them whatsoever. They’re just semantics, and retrospective rationalisations from people who desperately want to convince themselves that this is the ‘word of God’.

    And sometimes there isn’t any depth or philosophy in a text. Sometimes people just make up the depth and philosophy were none were intended, to suit their own ends. I think that’s what’s actually going on here.

  38. “To paraphrase the end-result if you put all these verses together: God says “Elsewhere I’ve said that mountains are floating, but I’ve also made them stable like pegs so that the earth does not quake continuously even though the mountains are moving”.”

    So, you can actually make a much more sensible and coherent statement than your God. What does that tell you about your God and about your ‘special’ Qur’an?

  39. Dear Red Star,

    Here’s my previous response to your allegation that the Qur’an made an error in relation to mountains and earthquakes, which again you simply ignored:

    21. Red Star’s argument: “… Other cartoons have brought to light errors in the Qur’an (mountains are ‘pegs’ which ‘stop the earth from shaking’ etc)…”

    21. Moosa’s reponse: … Regarding the “mountains as pegs” which “stop the earth from shaking”, you’re making fun of something without even reading the wording of the Qur’an properly. The Qur’an in Chapter 78 Verse 8 simply says that the mountains are “pegs”, it doesn’t say that mountains stop the earth from moving. This is the one reference to the word “peg”, and in Arabic that word can have many other meanings also. Then there are three verses (Chapter 16 Verse 16, Chapter 21 Verse 32,Chapter 31 Verse 11) which say that God has placed firm mountains in the earth so that the earth does not quake. This does not say that mountains prevent earthquakes, it says that mountains which are “firm” act to prevent earthquakes (as opposed to non-firm completely mobile mountains) ie it says that God has made the mountains firm so that the earth does not quake, it doesn’t say that the mountains themselves stop earthquakes, it emphasises their firmness, it’s your incorrect reading that you emphasise “mountains” and ignore “firm”. You have to remember this in the context of the Qur’an acknowledging elsewhere that mountains are actually “floating” (Chapter 27 Verse 89). By the way, this assertion that the mountains are “floating” is itself a great proof that the Qur’an has a divine origin, since humans at that time had no idea of plate tectonics. The point being made is that it is God’s power which stabilises mountains (despite plate tectonics) so that earthquakes do not happen all the time as you would expect when mountains are floating around on a hot bed of viscous mantle. To paraphrase the end-result if you put all these verses together: God says “Elsewhere I’ve said that mountains are floating, but I’ve also made them stable like pegs so that the earth does not quake continuously even though the mountains are moving”.

    This was your argument 21 which I responded to. Since then I’ve answered 13 further arguments, most of which you have ignored.

    Red Star, don’t you feel embarrassed about bringing forward these arguments, ignoring my responses, and then bringing your same arguments again? You have made many criticisms but answered very little. After demanding so much and giving so little to this discussion, surely you feel a little embarrassed about demanding the same things again?

    I think this discussion has gone far enough, in fact now it appears you are going in circles and I have no desire to follow you around in circles. I find no integrity in your behaviour during this process.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  40. Dear Red Star,

    Here’s an example of your criticism of “apes”, my response, and your utter failure to refute my response. The original can be found in another thread:

    16. Red Star’s argument: “Now, if it INCITES hatred or violence (like saying Jews are pigs and monkeys, or you disbelievers are going to burn in hell, or kill all the dirty kuffar), then that’s a different matter. It’s DIFFERENT because it is a PHYSICAL THREAT of HARM to other human beings.
    This is why there is legislation against incitement to hatred and violence. This is why racism, sexism, homophobia etc are unacceptable and this unacceptability is enshrined in legistlation.
    A cartoon of Jesus and Mo sitting at a bar is no such thing.”

    Moosa’s response: You’re again getting very confused, or else you’re being illogical. Let’s try to unravel again.

    (i) We’ve already clearly accepted that offense is not the same as the threat of physical violence. That’s irrelevant to whether or not a civilised human being should be offensive. Theft is not the same as murder, but that doesn’t mean theft is okay (just because murder is much worse).

    (ii) You then get confused and state (wrongly) that racism, sexism, homophobia are unacceptable and illegal because there is “incitement to hatred and violence”. How is sexism related to inciting “hatred and violence”? Organisations are found guilty of sexism even if they don’t give a woman equal pay to a man, this has nothing to do with that organisation “inciting hatred and violence” against the woman. It’s embarrassing to read these sorts of illogical statements from you, Red Star.

    (iii) I also note your side-swipe at Islam by talking about jews as pigs and monkeys, or disbelievers burn in hell, or kill all the kuffar. Since you make a three-pronged attack, I’m going to have to go to the trouble of demonstrating your ignorance of the Qur’anic message with three explanations:

    (iiia) The phrase “monkeys and pigs” is applied by the Qur’an to people cursed by God, not only specifically the jews. It’s used figuratively. You can read the verse and explanation here: http://www.alislam.org/quran/tafseer/?page=252&region=EN&CR=E1,E2&CR=E1,E2
    The Qur’an does specifically refer to a small particular group of jews as “apes” in Qur’an 2:66, because those particular jews disobeyed God. Nowhere does the Qur’an speak of ALL jews as being apes or monkeys.

    (iiib) The most important thing to understand about hell is that in Islamic philosophy, hell is a spiritual purifying fire which burns a person’s sins away and purifies him (much like physical fire gets rid of bacteria). Therefore fundamentally, hell is actually an act of beneficence from God. But in any case, the fact that disbelievers will burn in hell is not in any way an incitement to physical violence. Hell is from God alone, no human being can put you in hell. It happens after death, and if God doesn’t exist (as you assert), then… it doesn’t happen at all. So why are you complaining about something which has no relevance for you?

    (iiic) Regarding “kill all the dirty kuffar”, this indeed would be a threat of physical violence, and therefore this is where I stop and I demand a single iota of evidence from you that the Qur’an says “kill all the dirty kuffar”.

    Now Red Star, you never provided a single iota of evidence for your suggestion that the Qur’an says “kill the dirty kuffar”. You went silent, as usual, and I decided to overlook your dishonesty (again), but now, since you obviously have a habit of rehashing and repeating old criticisms, then ignoring the response, then going quiet, then rehashing the same criticism again somewhere else… I have to insist you tell us your evidence for your allegation that the Qur’an says “kill the dirty kuffar”.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  41. Dear Red Star,

    I believe that all of the criticisms about apes, earthquakes and Mary being a God have been responded to on this website in other threads. You have not responded further to those responses, suggesting that your criticisms were satisfied. If you’re not satisfied by the responses, then please go back to the threads where you originally made those criticisms and explain rationally why you are not satisfied. It is particularly unfair when a person goes to the trouble of responding to your tirade of accusations, and then you just keep on running to new accusations without even the courtesy of acknowledging the response. I’ve gone to some trouble to respond to your accusations, which I think have gone to number 34 by now. I think it’s very ungrateful for you to now just act as if your accusations have not been addressed. Why should a person continue going to the trouble of responding to you, if you do not even acknowledge a response?

    When I said “who wrote it”, I meant (and I’m sure you know I meant) who composed it, not who physically put the pen to paper or who organised it or who codified it. I believe no human could compose it. Now who do you believe composed it? You love to criticise but why do you run away from making any positive statement of your own belief? What are you afraid of? If you believe you are on truth, then speak what is your truth. Who originated and composed the Qur’an?

    Regarding Al Kauthar, please read: http://www.alislam.org/quran/tafseer/?page=2896&region=E1

    Regarding Al-Lahab, please read: http://www.alislam.org/quran/tafseer/?page=2904&region=E1

    The above links will demonstrate that the Qur’an is certainly not tabloid. If the reader cannot see any depth or philosophy in a text, then the reader may be at blame, rather than the text itself. I suggest in your case that the reader is tabloid, not the Qur’an.

    I can easily respond to your question: what is so special about the Qur’an. I have already written copiously on this question. But I will not waste further time with you if all you do is criticise, and you fail to answer simple requests like what is your scientific explanation for the Qur’an and who do you think composed the Qur’an. A person who avoids answering questions, does not have the right to ask questions.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  42. “You haven’t pointed out a single error or contradiction or cruelty or hatred in the Qur’an,”

    Yes, I have.

    ” except that I have demonstrated that there was no error or contradiction or cruelty or hatred”

    Oh, I see. So all of those verses cursing people and calling people apes and monkeys have vanished overnight, have they? As have the errors such as mountains being placed in the earth to prevent earthquakes? Or perhaps the notion that Mary is a God to the Christians alongside Jesus and Allah? (The rebuttal of which was utterly laughable)

    “For instance, who do you think wrote it?”

    Who do YOU think wrote it? It certainly wasn’t a non-physical deity without a brain, eyes or hands, was it?

    Neither was it Muhammad. He just spoke it. A lot of different people actually wrote it down. And then it was organised, and then reorganised and codified under Uthman.

    “Regarding the reason for the Qur’an needing a scientific explanation, this is because a billion people think it is the revealed word of God.”

    A similar amount of people, including many of those who believe in the Qur’an, also believe that the Earth is about 6,000 years old. It isn’t.

    “I contend that the Qur’an itself and the process of writing the Qur’an are unlike anything else produced by any other human in history.”

    Based on what evidence?

    “But no other human being has produced anything like the Qur’an.”

    Really?

    What, precisely, is so special about the Qur’an?

    It’s a book. And not a very well written one at that. It is full of tedious repetition and scant on detail. It is vague about important things and specific about trivial things.

    Some of it is downright tabloid (the chapter Al-Kauthar, for example, is a spiteful retort due to Muhammad’s lack of male children; and Al-Lahab is just a tirade against a personal enemy of Muhammad).

  43. Dear Red Star,

    You haven’t pointed out a single error or contradiction or cruelty or hatred in the Qur’an, except that I have demonstrated that there was no error or contradiction or cruelty or hatred. You have then failed to respond to my explanation of the Qur’an, or else you have run to a new alleged error or contradiction.

    If I point out that the moon is made of cheese, and it is demonstrated that the moon is not made of cheese, then this does not mean that the moon is made of cheese. Particularly when the person who is alleging that the moon is made of cheese then can just falls silent or runs to a new allegation such as the moon is made of raspberry jam.

    Regarding the reason for the Qur’an needing a scientific explanation, this is because a billion people think it is the revealed word of God. You are alleging that it is a fabrication. Please bring forward your theory of how it was fabricated. For instance, who do you think wrote it? By what process did he or she write it? What was the literary background and education of the person who wrote it? What do you think his or her motivations were for writing it? All of these questions can be answered regarding the Lord of the Rings and any other book written by humans. Moreover, all books written by humans share certain characteristics, for instance Tolkien’s methodology for writing was similar to the methodology of many other writers. I contend that you cannot provide a reasonable answer to these questions with regard to the Qur’an. I contend that the Qur’an itself and the process of writing the Qur’an are unlike anything else produced by any other human in history. And this sets it apart from stories about unicorns. Any human being can write a story about unicorns. But no other human being has produced anything like the Qur’an.

    In any case, you are asserting that the Qur’an was written by a human. Please explain how this happened. Give me any hypothesis you like. If I give good reasons why your hypothesis is unreasonable, then you can move onto another hypothesis. We can continue indefinitely with this process if you wish. Of course, if you come up with even one reasonable hypothesis how the Qur’an could be written by a human, then your case is made and my case is lost. It should be easy for you.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  44. Enough.

    You believe in a God.

    There is no scientific evidence for this God.

    Your belief in this God therefore cannot be based on scientific evidence.

    In the same way, belief in an invisible unicorn or a thinking ghost (a corpse with ideas) would also be devoid of any scientific evidence.

    What, then, is the difference between your belief in God and the belief in an invisible unicorn or a corpse with ideas?

  45. “I don’t mean to harass you, but I’m still waiting for your scientific explanation of the Qur’an.”

    Why does the Qur’an need a scientific explanation?

    It’s just a book.

    Anyone can write a book with anything in it.

    J, R, R. Tolkien has written an immense series of books which contain no internal contradictions. Does that mean that they are ‘revealed by God’ and require a scientific explanation?

    And actually, the Qur’an does contain errors and contradictions, some of which have already been pointed out to you. It also contains a great deal of cruelty and hatred.

    So, the Qur’an is a book, and not a very good one at that. Why, precisely, does it require a scientific explanation?

  46. Red Star, you and Bill Yeager seem to have engaged in quite a lot of falsification in this thread.

    You tend to make statements with no evidence, and then when I ask for your evidence, you accuse me of making statements I haven’t made and then you proceed to demand that I give evidence for statements I haven’t made. Why do atheists repeatedly misrepresent what theists say?

    I don’t mean to harass you, but I’m still waiting for your scientific explanation of the Qur’an. You’re an ex-muslim so you must have given some thought to the question. Please share your thoughts with us.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  47. Sentimental rubbish.

    Evil is not on some ‘good continuum’. Why do theists repeatedly present utterly false analogies?

  48. Professor: Today I will prove you, that if God exists, then he is evil,. Did God create everything what exists?

    Class nods with the Head “yes”

    Professor: If God has created all, then he created the evil as well. Which means that God is evil.

    Student stands up…

    Student. Excuse me Professor! Does cold exist?

    Professor: What Kind of question is this? Of course it eixsts!! Have you never been cold?

    Student: In fact Sir, cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Professor, does darkness exist?

    Professor: Of course it does!

    Student: You are wrong Sir, darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness. Evil does not exist. It is just darkness and cold. God did not create evil. Evil is the result ofwhat happens when man does not have God’s love present in his Heart

  49. Dear Red Star,

    Please let us use one numbering system, since two numbering systems may cause confusion. In any case, I’ll reply in this instance by using nomenclature RS+number to refer to your numbering system.

    Yes I have something more to say on this matter.

    RS1a. Photons have momentum. All other physical existences have mass, as far as I know (I’m not a physicist, so I’m very happy to be corrected in this regard). There is no physical existence which cannot be measured or valued physically. You have no way to physically evaluate an idea. None of the basic sciences provide any methodology for measuring an idea. Neither can you measure Love in kilograms or metres squared or joules.

    RS2a. I did not assert the existence of dead people thinking. Stop misrepresenting me. I told you: I avoid making refutable statements. You asserted that dead people do not have ideas. Therefore the onus is on you to provide positive your assertion. I made no assertion. I merely said that you have no evidence for your assertion.

    RS2b. The invisible dancing unicorn argument doesn’t apply here, because I have not asserted that dead people have ideas. I have never asserted that something must exist unless you disprove it. Why are you attributing ridiculous assertions to me, when I have never made such assertions? Is this a continuation of the atheist tendency to argue by ridicule, rather than by logic?

    RS2c. Let me quote you: “The evidence for dead people not thinking is the fact that there is not a single shred of evidence for dead people thinking.” Now Red Star, how is this different from a person saying, “The evidence for dead people thinking is the fact that there is not a single shred of evidence for dead people not thinking”? If the first statement is logical, then surely you think the second statement is just as logical? But where would such logic lead?

    RS3a. No, I am not deliberately ignoring anything. I am a medical doctor, I have probably studied neurons in greater depth than you (unless you are a neuroscientist). I have worked in a specialist neurology department in a tertiary centre, I have treated patients with all sorts of neurological conditions including neurodegenerative disease. I insist that neurons do not and cannot explain inspirational ideas. They do not even come close to explaining inspirational ideas. But let us accept your unproven without-evidence hypothesis that neurons “are responsible for” ideas, the fact remains that the idea itself is not a neuron, nor is it an electrical impulse. At most, the electrical impulse can carry an idea from one part of the cortex to another, but the idea itself does not have a physical existence. Nor does a number. Nor does Love. This is metaphysics. A person who even studied college philosophy would tell you that ideas are metaphysical realities, not physical realities.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  50. Correction, nerve impulses to perform a muscular action (such as hitting a keyboard) can travel faster than 10m per second (but the timespan lies between 10-100m per second depending on what we are thinking and the time we are taking to process that information).

  51. 1. Energy does not have mass, but it can be scientifically measured. It physically exists. It can be observed, it can be quantified and it can interact.

    2. The evidence for dead people not thinking is the fact that there is not a single shred of evidence for dead people thinking. You seem to think that because there is no evidence against something, then it is perfectly ok to assert its existence. Ok, I assert the existence of an invisible unicorn which dances across the sky every night. Can you ‘disprove’ it? If you can’t, then it must exist! That’s your ‘logic’ (or lack thereof) and the logic of all of those who say ‘Is there a God’ is not a scientific question.

    3. You are deliberately ignoring facts which have been presented to you. It is true that neuroscience is in its relative infancy, but it is equally true that we understand that the neurons in our brains, and the connections that they make in different parts of our brains, are responsible for our thoughts and emotions. We can actually measure the velocity of a thought. I am thinking (hit that key on that keyboard). The nerve impulse travels from my brain at the order of about 10m per second; which is why, almost instantaneously, my fingertip hits the key which I thought of hitting.

    Have you got anything else to say on the matter?

  52. How can you say the truth does not have to lie anywhere? Of course it does. If you choose to believe that your existence is as a result of some molecules coming together randomly over millions of years and eventually ended up as intelligent man today, then that is what you take as the truth. If you believe there is no purpose to anything and we just make it up as we go along, then that is your truth. The only question is which one of our competing positions is really TRUE. “Is there a God”, it’s either a yes or no answer, and so the truth HAS to lie somewhere. If this God is real, then the downstream products of His existence will also be part of the truth.
    You effectively say the world keeps spinning whether you believe in this God or not. Yes but the world was still spinning once upon a time when people thought it was flat. The TRUTH always lies somewhere, and will carry on being the truth irrespective of whether you or I believe in it.

    Each side presents proofs to support their position. I cannot win any case, for example, by presenting you with teachings of a false prophet promoting hatred in the name of God as a way to live. There would be fundamental flaws in such a concept and the subconscious human psyche would reject it eventually. I think we both agree the TRUTH would not lie there.
    However what you are actually being presented with is a way of living, a way of thinking, that fits perfectly with the ‘skeletal scaffolding’ of the human mind. If all the pieces of the jigsaw didn’t quite fit in your mind, maybe you should reevaluate your pieces. You’re asking me to accept that an illiterate man from a much-less educated era managed to fabricate an entire book of teachings and fluke an entire lifetime worth of model behaviour – both of which do not contradict each other and STILL cannot be honestly dismissed as outdated and obsolete. Please do not take this point for granted. Your beloved tangible science should have long-ago wiped off this so-called backward way of thinking. But it hasn’t. In fact people keep flocking towards this way of life and thought. They obviously must be less intelligent than you right? You cannot seriously tell me that your conclusion is that Muhammad (peace be upon him) ‘randomly’ stumbled upon the right formula of human psyche that would manage to satisfy millions of impressionable minds over 1400 years. Personally I find that less likely than the ‘random’ nature of evolution.

    ““My hypothesis that He exists is proven true day in day out. If an event ever occurs that calls this into question I will never dismiss it for the sake of convenience and continue ‘believing’ blindly.”

    Can you give me an example which we can discuss productively?”

    I think it would be more productive if you gave an example of a question you asked yourself and never found a satisfactory answer to. I’m not sure how my questions with their answers will help here. Unless you wanted to see if I was asking difficult enough questions in the first place?
    So far there have been answers (acceptable to you or not) to the points you have brought up elsewhere on this site. If God was such a myth, I’m sure people would have come up with questions that science can explain but the concept of God can not.

  53. Red Star (and Bill Yeager),

    You’re both getting very confused regarding the nature of reality and in fact regarding the nature of science. You’re mixing up science and philosophy, and trying to pretend that you’re being purely scientific. I’ll explain this in point 2 below.

    But firstly, calm down. Red Star, writing in CAPS gives the impression that you’re shouting. It doesn’t convince me, it doesn’t give any additional credibility to what you’re saying. If anything, it detracts from the argument.

    Secondly, I’m quite surprised that Bill Yeager has the temerity to accuse me of triumphalism, because of the way I said something (I’m not sure what he means by that?). If he examines his own language objectively, then he will find far more evidence of dismissiveness and contempt for theists, than anything I’ve written here. In fact, funnily enough, it was seeing him post so dismissively to people on this thread, which drew me into this particular discussion. I normally avoid scientific debates on the existence of God, for reasons I give below, but I really did think Bill Yeager’s near palpable arrogance required a retort.

    Now here goes:

    1. In my opinion (I’m saying this because I don’t speak for the Ahmadi Jamaat), science cannot offer a single proof of God’s existence, neither can it offer a single proof that God doesn’t exist. For the purely objective observer, therefore, science is therefore irrelevant for answering the question, “Does God exist?”

    2. If we stop there, then I have no problem with you. However, you’re both going a step further when you try to argue against God’s existence by making statements like “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. This isn’t a purely scientific statement at all. There’s no inherent rule of physics or chemistry, for example, which says that extraordinary evidence is required for anything. The word “extraordinary” isn’t a scientific word. Your statement is philosophy of science, at best. You’ve now entered the realm of philosophy, and you have to follow the rules of philosophical investigation.

    3. Now Bill Yeager, you have alleged in your last post that I’m being dishonest. This is rich, coming from a person who has scandalously misrepresented my statement on the existence of Love, numbers and so on.

    4. I also have a problem with you Red Star, because you have followed in the footsteps of Bill Yeager’s dishonesty. Instead of acknowledging that Bill misrepresented me, you have perpetuated the misrepresentation by writing “Science isn’t just about measuring mass or velocity. What Bill Yeager is correctly stating is that it is possible to carry out scientific investigations into emotions”. That’s not the point, Red Star. The point is that I said Love is not physical but it exists, and Bill misrepresented me as saying Love cannot be explained by science. I am very careful with my words, I avoid making refutable statements, and I do not appreciate when people twist my words. Especially when those people go about accusing others of dishonesty and pretend to have academic integrity themselves.

    5. Furthermore, can you make scientific investigations into the existence of numbers? No you can’t. Nor can you make scientific investigations into the existence of Love. Putting electrodes into people’s brains and making them laugh or cry doesn’t have anything to do with the nature of the existence of Love. It doesn’t make Love into a physical substance that can be evaluated scientifically.

    6. Now I will proceed to demonstrate logical errors on your part, Red Star (Remember, logic is a component of philosophy, scientists don’t study logic): “So, in answer to your question, YES, all of the things you keep invoking DO have a physical existence (as I have already explained quite clearly). Ideas are not just the product of our mental functioning, they ARE our mental functioning. This is why when our mental functioning ceases (i.e. we are completely unconscious or dead), we cease to have ideas.”

    7. You say all the things I invoke do have a physical existence? Ideas have a physical existence? For instance, the idea of a motor car has a physical existence in itself? Okay. Then you have to tell me its mass or momentum. If you’re saying that an idea has a physical existence in itself, then quantify its mass.

    8. If you can’t quantify its mass or any single one of its physical properties, then admit that an idea does not exist as a physical entity, and admit that non-physical existence is possible.

    9. You then try to “prove” your theory that ideas have a physical existence, by providing the following completely non-validated non-empirical non-evidence-based assertion: “This is why when our mental functioning ceases (ie we are completely unconscious or dead), we cease to have ideas.”. How do you know we cease to have ideas when we are dead? How many dead people filled in your questionnaire for your empirical data collection? How can you possibly use this argument which is based on pure conjecture?
    10. Red Star, regarding your question “do I have any evidence of ideas, numbers etc existing outside of a physical and functional brain”… you’re again trying to make a philosophical question into a scientific question. If you don’t understand this, then please clarify for me and clarify also in your own mind: are you asking for me to show you physical evidence of the existence of a non-physical concept (eg the concept of a number) outside of a physical brain? This is not a philosophically valid request.

    I will deal with both your arguments more comprehensively over the coming days, you may have to wait for the weekend as my next few days at work are potentially busy. In the meantime, I’d recommend you read “On the question ‘do numbers exist?'” by Arthur W Collins in the Philosophical Quarterly Jan 1998. He’s an Emeritus Professor of Philosophy in New York, very eminent, he explains about the philosophical concept of existence.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  54. “I never said that love cannot be EXPLAINED by science, where did you see me say that? Please quote me? On the contrary, I said that love cannot be weighed, its mass and velocity cannot be evaluated.”

    Science isn’t just about measuring mass or velocity. What Bill Yeager is correctly stating is that it is possible to carry out scientific investigations into emotions; such as in the fields of neurology and psychology.

    “I repeat my initial question: I asked you if ideas have a physical existence?

    Please answer: yes or no?”

    You keep repeating this self-defeating mantra of ‘ideas’ and ‘numbers’ somehow ‘existing non-physically’.

    So, in answer to your question, YES, all of the things you keep invoking DO have a physical existence (as I have already explained quite clearly). Ideas are not just the product of our mental functioning, they ARE our mental functioning. This is why when our mental functioning ceases (i.e. we are completely unconscious or dead), we cease to have ideas.

    Now, can you answer MY question. Do you have ANY EVIDENCE for any of these things your are invoking (thoughts, dreams, emotions) existing OUTSIDE OF A PHYSICAL & FUNCTIONAL BRAIN?

  55. Dear everybody,

    RE: DAWKINS AND EXISTENCE

    I think I’m getting a little bored because nobody has posted a scientific explanation of the Qur’an yet, so I’m just filling in the time by offering a few ideas to those people who have come up against the “New Atheists” who follow the cult of Dawkins. The funny thing is that Dawkins is an expert on evolutionary biology, but somehow people think this gives him academic credibility as an expert on the existence of God.

    I should emphasise: Dawkins knows as much about the philosophy of religion as my milkman. Maybe he knows even less. So why anybody is putting him forth as an expert opinion… is rather puzzling.

    Here’s some evaluations of Dawkins by Professors of Philosophy at prestigious American and British universities:

    “Surely it is true that Dawkins would barbecue any theologian who decided to write a book on evolutionary biology without boning up on the subject, and rightly so. One does rather expect that an author will have some minimal knowledge about what he or she is writing about. But the point (my point, anyway) isn’t that Dawkins isn’t himself religious. The point is that there are lots of people who study religion, and they do so from many different points of view. Some of these people are my colleagues at Brown, and some of them are Dawkins’s colleagues in Oxford. Many of them are religious, but some of them are not. And for Dawkins to write on this topic with, so far as I can tell, essentially no real knowledge of this work is intellectually dishonest, at best.

    I don’t think a knowledge of Duns Scotus and Anselm is essential here. What is essential is some reasonable understanding of what religion is, and Dawkins has none. As a result, he attacks not quite a straw-man, as there are plenty of people who hold the kinds of religious beliefs he criticizes, but rather a very extreme form of religious belief. The target of Dawkins’s critique is the target of many such critiques: A pre-Enlightenment religion centered upon an interventionist deity who acts as the ultimate arbiter of human disputes and dispenses reward and punishment as He (always, He) sees fit. But that is not what religion is. It is simply one form of it, and to criticize religious belief by debunking that form of it is like criticizing science by debunking cold fusion. Not to understand this point is to fail to understand the profound shift in religion (as in many other things) that the Enlightenment brought about.”
    [Richard Heck, Professor of Philosophy, Brown University]

    “I don’t pretend to be an expert on those guys, but I have looked at them a little bit, and the impression I have is that, yes, they are philosophically rather naive. Indeed, that’s the very reason why I’ve never bothered to study them in depth: because, compared to the works of more erudite and sophisticated philosophers, I tend to find their work a little dissatisfying. Being charitable, I suspect that part of this is down to the fact that they’re deliberately writing for a popular audience, rather than an audience of trained philosophers, and consequently need to gloss over some of the more abstruse and nit-picking details. But such an explanation can only go so far. I think it’s reasonable to suppose that many of them are simply unaware that some of these arguments — both the theistic arguments that they’re criticising, and the atheistic or agnostic arguments that they’re supporting — can be developed in much stronger forms than the ones they consider. I don’t say decisive forms, necessarily, but philosophically more rigorous and compelling ones than their crude caricatures would suggest.

    Second, are they unreflective? No, I don’t think that’s fair. They’ve certainly thought very seriously about these issues, maybe less than professional philosophers who devote their entire working lives to them, but much more than most ordinary people.

    Third, are they dogmatically scientistic? That’s a hard one to decide, because I’m not quite sure what it even means. They certainly do seem to believe that the world operates in a law-governed, naturalistic way, a way that the scientific method might lead us towards an understanding of; and to feel that we have no good reason (be it a posteriori or a priori) for believing in anything supernatural over and above this. I suppose this attitude becomes dogmatic when one refuses to accept that anything even could constitute evidence against such a world-view. But I think the point that I’m sticking on is not whether there ever could be evidence against this. I am having trouble imagining what it could actually look like: but, who knows, maybe it is a possibility. Rather, my inclination is to feel that, if such evidence was to come to light, then the proper domain of scientific enquiry would simply expand to absorb it. Go back a few hundred years, and natural philosophy (i.e science) was regarded as continuous with natural theology. As Isaac Newton said in the General Scholium to his Principia, ‘to treat of God from phenomena is certainly a part of natural philosophy’. And what about the advocates for Intelligent Design that these New Atheists are so bothered by? Are they being dogmatically scientistic, by trying to draw theological matters into the domain of scientific investigation (in, for what it’s worth, almost exactly the same way that Newton did)?

    I don’t get the impression that the New Atheists are dogmatic about the particular scientific theories that they currently believe. It’s in the very nature of science that its central tenets have developed gradually over time, and will continue to develop further in the future, with old and cherished theories being overturned in favour of new and better supported ones. I think its fair to say that the New Atheists are not expecting that science is about to start moving back in a theistic direction. But they don’t pretend to know what direction it is going to move in: if they did, they’d already be taking it in that direction themselves. And, if the evidence was to end up leading the scientific community towards a notion of a supernatural deity, it could still qualify as science for all that. If it’s dogmatically scientistic to feel that we should believe things on the basis of evidence and argument, and be willing to follow that evidence dispassionately wherever it might happen to lead, then count me in.”
    [Jasper Reid, Lecturer in Philosophy, Kings College London]

    Peace,
    Moosa

  56. Dear Bill Yeager,

    You know, it’s interesting how much of your posts are comprised of telling us how bitterly disappointed you are in us, how absurd are our beliefs, how triumphalistic we are and how meaningless are our statements… and how little of your posts are arguments. I’d say it’s a 1:4 ratio, that’s quite a lot. Let’s stick to the arguments! 🙂

    Dear everybody:

    RE: FAIRIES

    My friends, you’ll find a common argument/ridicule (the New Atheist tends to argue by ridicule) against belief in God is that it is akin to belief in fairies. Here’s the response of a Professor of Philosophy to this New Atheist argument:

    “It seems to me that anyone who would wish to state that the reasons people have to believe in God are “on a par” with the reasons they have to believe in fairies owes a bit more than just an expression of opinion. I don’t know of any remotely good reason to believe in fairies, nor of any books (or even articles) written on the subject by intelligent people. You may think the many reasons people have given over the centuries—folks like Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, and Leibniz, just to mention the obvious authors in the western philosophical tradition—aren’t ultimately convincing. But to compare their arguments to the sort of reasons people have to believe in fairies is frankly just silly. But then, I’m probably just upset or aggravated.
    So let us be thoughtful for a moment. First, belief in God and belief in fairies could presumably be compared in various ways. But the intention is surely to compare the two beliefs on the basis of why people believe in God. Now, outright to compare the beliefs then would seem to presuppose that there is something quite general to be said about why people believe in God. But I don’t see any reason to think there is any such general thing to be said. Many people probably do believe in God for reasons that aren’t very good, and, more importantly, the God in whom they belief may seem like little more than a capricious sorcerer, to be feared but not respected, let alone loved.
    But however common such a form of religious faith may be, there are plenty of other people who believe in God for reasons that go to the core of their own experience of the world and of themselves. Such faith is rooted in one’s appreciation of the deepest truths about human existence, and it leads not to fear and a desperate desire to follow the rules but to a profound sense of unity in our fragility and brokenness and a yearning for a different way we might be together on this earth. This is the kind of faith that would sustain a Ghandi, a King, or a Mandela along the road to freedom, and I suppose it is up to each of us to ridicule it. But before you decide to go there, perhaps it would be worth learning a bit more about that kind of faith, so that one’s comments about it do not display the very same level of ignorance one intended to lament.
    Finally, let me add in passing that a large part of the problem here is that what belief in God involves is itself not terribly clear. It is certainly not simply to believe that God exists. I believe that cars exist, but I would hardly say that I believe in cars. It’s even arguable that what we call “belief in God” doesn’t even involve believing that God exists. Think of what it means to say that you believe in democracy, or in justice, or in music. And then go read Zoltan Gendler-Szabo’s fascinating paper, “Believing in Things”.
    [Professor Richard Heck, Brown University]

    Peace,
    Moosa

  57. Dear Bill and Red Star,

    RE: NUMBERS AND GOD

    Here’s a couple more explanations to illustrate to you why (philosophically speaking) numbers are indeed a very appropriate in the discussion of God’s existence:

    “The deeper question, however, is why one would suppose there had to be compelling physical evidence of God’s existence. There is no compelling physical evidence, so far as I know, that there are such things as nondenumerable ordinal numbers. I suppose nonetheless that there are, and it seems odd to ask for physical evidence that there are such things.”
    [Richard Heck, Professor of Philosophy, Brown University]

    “Atheists such as Dawkins often treat belief in God as though it were simply on the same playing field as evolution, for example — as though it’s a sort of science-like hypothesis intended to explain something about the empirical facts. There are several problems with that view, but one important problem is this: to the extent that religious claims are meant to “explain” things, it’s not clear that they’re intended to do it at the same level or in the same way as scientific hypotheses. Rather, they seem to function as views about what’s necessary to make sense of things at all.
    A comparison may help here. Consider mathematical truths. Some philosophers think that the only way to account for them is to say that there really are such things as numbers. Other philosophers try to show that we can make sense of mathematics without having to believe in numbers as entities in their own right. Whichever side has the better of this argument, it’s not one that science can settle.
    Take another example. We all agree that science tells us things about causes and effects. But there is a centuries-old quarrel over what we’re talking about when we talk about causes. On one view, we mean something quite weak: ultimately, talks of cause and effect is nothing more that talk about patterns among the events in the world. In particular, it’s not a matter of some sort of “real” or “necessary” connections among events. Philosophers who dissent from the weak view (often associated with the 18th-century philosopher David Hume) think that it doesn’t go far enough to make sense of what we know about the universe, nor of how things “hang together.” But once again, this isn’t a debate that science is going to settle.”
    [Allen Stairs (Associate Chair of the Philosophy Department, University of Maryland)]

    Peace,
    Moosa

  58. Dear Bill Yeager,

    I’ve just looked a little bit more carefully at your statement, and realised that you’re completely misrepresenting my argument, or else failing to comprehend it (which would you prefer?)

    You wrote: “Much of what you claim cannot be explained by science (love, thoughts et al), actually can be understood. More and more of the intricacies of the human brain are being unravelled every day. That we might not have all the answers right this very second is certainly no excuse to bring gods into the picture.”

    I never said that love cannot be EXPLAINED by science, where did you see me say that? Please quote me? On the contrary, I said that love cannot be weighed, its mass and velocity cannot be evaluated. This was in response to Red Star’s assertion that existence can only be physical. I was giving him an example of something which exists in a non-physical way, which has none of the properties of a physical substance.

    There is a very great philosophical distinction between what I said and what you asserted I said (and what you subsequently mocked). Perhaps the distinction is too subtle for a scientist to understand. In any case, I have no problem with you mocking your own misrepresentations. But effectively you’re mocking yourself by doing that, which generally isn’t a good policy in a debate.

    Peace,
    Moosa

    I

  59. Dear Bill Yeager,

    I remind you that the study of whether things exist or not is Ontology (a branch of Philosophy), it is not Science. Science merely organises knowledge.

    Here’s a sample from a philosopher on existence:

    “Discovered things seem to exist independently of their discovery (think of uninhabited islands and rare species), while invented things come into existence in the very process of their invention (think of the first light bulb). But even if the first light bulb came into existence when Edison invented it, what about the idea of the light bulb? Did he invent this at the same time, or was it, as you suggest, hanging around for eons just waiting for Edison or some other genius to stumble upon it?

    It’s a great question–and connected at root to venerable metaphysical questions to which, in my view, we still lack satisfactory answers. The issue isn’t so much about how we use the concepts of invention and discovery (though this is interesting), but rather about the unsettled status of the “ideas” that we discover/invent.

    On the one hand, we certainly seem to talk of ideas as things that transcend particular, spatio-temporally located acts of thinking in which they might figure. We might say: George and Laura came up with the idea that Sam should be nominated independently of one another. And in saying this we seem to hold that one and the same idea–that Sam should be nominated–existed and was at work both when George entertained it and at the different time and place that Laura did. And we further pull ideas apart from particular mental events when we say: the idea that resources should be distributed equally has gripped many thinkers through the ages. Or better: the idea that things fall apart is depressing. Or better still: the most fruitful ideas are surely yet to be considered. If we take all this “idea-talk” seriously and straightforwardly then we seem committed to ideas as entities that exist independently of particular acts in which we thinking of them, and even of collections of such acts.

    But then where and when do these ideas exist: Always and everywhere? Outside of space and time altogether? In some mysterious ether (as you suggest)? No answer seems palatable, but without one we can’t hope to understand how ideas can come to “figure in” our thought and talk about them.

    This dilemma about the status of ideas also applies to numbers: we seem to talk and think about numbers as entities that are distinct from our symbols for them, as well as from our thoughts and claims about them; but then where, when and how do numbers exist? And how do we interact with them? And the dilemma also connects to the ancient problem of universals: we seem to talk and think as if there are properties, such as redness, that exist independently of the various particular things, such as my car, that are red; but then where, when and how do such universal entities exist? And how do particular red things partake of redness?

    Resolving this type of dilemma inevitably involves trade-offs. Perhaps the way we talk about ideas shouldn’t be taken straightforwardly and seriously. No one thinks our talk about “the average American couple” is really talk about some peculiarly normal couple that exists somewhere (in Kansas?); it is rather a shorthand way of expressing statistical facts about the American population. So too the ways in which we seem to talk about ideas that transcend acts of thinking might, in the end, be construed as a shorthand way of talking about certain groupings of actual and merely possibly acts of thinking. But how exactly should our idea-talk be recast? For every ingenious proposal there is, in my view, a subtle obstacle.

    We might argue instead that we can stick in a principled way with some odd-seeming answer to the uncomfortable questions–“Yes, ideas do exist outside of space and time, and we grasp them via a special faculty of intuion”–or better, that such questions needn’t, on reflection, be answered at all. But this too is hard to carry off convincingly–as, in my view, are various attempts to rise above the fray entirely by showing the questions here to be vague or meaningless in someway.”

    [Joseph G Moore, Professor of Philosophy, Amherst College]

    But I’m digressing. Let’s get back to my challenge to you. Please offer me your thoughts.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  60. Dear Bill Yeager,

    I’m genuinely happy you’ve returned to the discussion. Good to see you here.

    I should explain that I said nothing with a note of triumphalism. I said it as a separate sentence to draw Red Star’s attention to it, because he said that nothing can exist which isn’t physical. I’m not sure if you’re a scientist or a philosopher, but philosophically speaking… the existence of numbers is a rich question and you have not answered it at all adequately. The problem is that existence itself is not a scientific concept, it’s actually a philosophical concept. I suggest you speak to a university professor of philosophy if you think your assertions have even tapped into the surface of the question: do numbers exist?

    Regarding the moon being tangible, and God not being tangible… again, you fall into the same mistake: you are saying a non-tangible thing does not exist. But dreams are non-tangible. However and by whatever process they may be produced, they are in themselves non-tangible. They have no mass, no density, no velocity, no particles, no waves… then I repeat my question: in what sense do dreams exist?

    Lastly, I repeat my challenge to you which I issued earlier, and you ignored: if science explains everything, then please explain for me scientifically (A) the life story of Muhammad, and (B) the Qur’an.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  61. Dear Red Star,

    You posted your last message a few hours ago but it has only just appeared on the website. You are now moving onto how things are produced, whereas initially you were only saying that existence in itself must be physical.

    I repeat my initial question: I asked you if ideas have a physical existence?

    Please answer: yes or no?

    Regarding mathematics, you may describe it as non-scientific, but I beg to disagree. Carl Friedrich Gauss referred to mathematics as “the Queen of the Sciences”. Benjamin Peirce called mathematics “the science that draws necessary conclusions”. David Hilbert said of mathematics: “We are not speaking here of arbitrariness in any sense. Mathematics is not like a game whose tasks are determined by arbitrarily stipulated rules. Rather, it is a conceptual system possessing internal necessity that can only be so and by no means otherwise.”

    Inspiration is particularly interesting. If we believe only in physical existence, then where does inspiration come from?

    Where did Shakespeare derive his inspiration from? Where did Ramanujan derive his mathematical ideas from? Where did Beethoven’s music come from? Where did Einstein derive his theory of relativity from?

    When Einstein died, his brain was removed and analysed in a laboratory. No macroscopic or microscopic physical difference could be found between his brain and the brain of a person of average intelligence. But it’s not only a matter of intelligence. There are people with a far higher IQ than Einstein, who never were inspired with new ideas such as he was inspired with. But where does a new idea come from? How does an idea exist?

    Now you say that numbers and ideas exist in an “abstract” sense. But what do you mean by the word “abstract”? Do you mean “non-physical”? Then are you acknowledging that existence can be “non-physical”?

    Let me say something, Red Star: you are a dot or a line. A dot is one-dimensional and cannot recognise a two-dimensional surface, but that does not mean a surface does not exist. Special relativity suggests there are four dimensions, and theories such as string theory and M-theory posit that physical space has 10 and 11 dimensions, respectively. These extra dimensions are said to be spatial. However, we perceive only three spatial dimensions and, to date, no experimental or observational evidence is available to confirm the existence of these extra dimensions. They are mathematical theories which have not yet been confirmed by experimental physics. But do you feel sure in asserting that “they do not exist”?

    Peace,
    Moosa

  62. @ Moosa

    Did you actually read my comment?

    I’ve dealt with everything you’ve presented. ALL of these things (thoughts, ideas, dreams, abstractions, memories) are PRODUCTS OF PHYSICAL BRAINS. Can you provide an example of ANY of these being produced WITHOUT physical brains?

    “Of course, not all dreams are messages from God. This is why psychological studies of the dreams of random population samples are not helpful. But dreams do act as an interface between the physical and non-physical existences, therefore they provide a useful medium for God to communicate with us if He wishes.”

    What the hell is an ‘interface between the physical and non-physical existence’? How can the ‘non-physical’ INTERFACE with anything? You’re using language which makes no sense whatsoever.

    Basically, you’re just making things up as you go. And you are, very definitely, WRONG.

  63. I am still terribly disappointed to see theist argument maintaining such a dishonest approach to the discussion. But then if you were restricted to wholly honest objectivity and rationality you wouldn’t get particularly far in attempting to promote your delusions as being valid.

    But what brought me back into the conversation was this little gem:

    “But do numbers exist?”

    You say it with some degree of triumphalism, although, to be fair, much of what has been written in this discussion by you theists is worded entirely as triumphalism, yet the accompanying statements are meaningless.

    Numbers do not ‘exist’. They are not tangible ‘things’, they are associational references used to describe observations, such as your three sheep. There are not actually three sheep, there is one sheep and another sheep and another sheep. It is us who, in the interests of developing advanced communication and understanding, create the concept of there being ‘three’ sheep.

    Numbers, unlike gods, are not arbitrary. Whilst the language used to describe numbers may be different in each culture, what a number represents does not. Hence the notion that, in order to set about communicating with intelligent alien life, we would need to start with numbers, not words.

    Gods are entirely arbitrary, applicable to no thing whatsoever, save that which we, arbitrarily, decide. It’s worse than saying that you can tell if the moon is happy or sad, because at least part of your ridiculous statement contains a reference to something tangible, namely, the moon. Applying an arbitrary characteristic to it is clearly nonsense, surely you would agree.

    So, in that you would, hopefully, agree that it is absurd to claim that the moon can be happy or sad, likewise it would then equate that it would be even more absurd to apply a set of arbitrary characteristics to a fictional construct and then attempt to claim that both the characteristics AND the fictional construct actually exist as a tangible entity.

    As has been said numerous times, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. There is no evidence, extraordinary or otherwise, to support the notion of a god existing outside human imagination.

    Your desperate appeals to the wondrousness of nature, coupled with meaningless references to love, thoughts and other neurological complexities are exactly that, desperate. Much of what you claim cannot be explained by science (love, thoughts et al), actually can be understood. More and more of the intricacies of the human brain are being unravelled every day. That we might not have all the answers right this very second is certainly no excuse to bring gods into the picture.

    Theist: “Ah but science doesn’t know EVERYTHING!”
    Skeptic: “Of course is doesn’t, otherwise it would stop!” (Dara O’Briain)

  64. Dear Red Star,

    One more point: non-physical existence is not only a reality but it is incredibly important. Numbers and dreams and inspiration… what would we be without them?

    Of course, not all dreams are messages from God. This is why psychological studies of the dreams of random population samples are not helpful. But dreams do act as an interface between the physical and non-physical existences, therefore they provide a useful medium for God to communicate with us if He wishes.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  65. Dear Red Star,

    When I ask “Do numbers exist?”, I mean “do they exist physically?”

    Something as simple as childhood arithmetic 1 + 1 = 2… does this exist physically?

    Obviously not. Yet the entirety of physical natural sciences can only be explained and evaluated on the basis of numbers.

    So something which exists physically is being described in terms of something which does not exist physically. How does that work, Red Star? How do you justify that, when you disparage anything which does not exist physically and is not bound by the laws of physics?

    Remember also my earlier question: do ideas and dreams exist physically? This should be a subtle clue to you why God manifests Himself in dreams. Dreams act as an interface between physical existence and non-physical existence, ie they act as an interface between our world and God.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  66. Thoughts are the products of a PHYSICAL BRAIN. They are produced by the firing of neurons. Memories are the connections made by the neural network in your brain. ALL of these things are PHYSICAL.

    Have you got any evidence of thoughts and memories produced non-physically? That’s your assertion…for which there is NO evidence.

    Love is an emotion. Emotions are also produced by the brain in reaction to various sensual stimuli as well as thoughts. Again, you are asserting that emotions are produced non-physically…for which there is NO evidence.

    Both thoughts and emotions CAN be measured (to a certain extent) by observing the level of PHYSICAL activity in different parts of the brain.

    “You seem to believe in science, not God. You agree that the purest science is mathematics, and that mathematics is dependent on numbers, no”

    Utter rubbish. When have I said or agreed to any of these things?

    Mathematics ISN’T a science and definitely not the ‘purest’. Mathematics is an abstraction, produced by our thinking (which is a result of PHYSICAL neurons firing in our PHYSICAL brains powered by PHYSICAL oxygen delivered by PHYSICAL blood carried in PHYSICAL arteries made from PHYSICAL tissue).

    So, NO. Numbers do not ‘exist’ in the real, physical world. They exist only in our thought processes (hence why they are an abstraction). But our thought processes are the product of a very physical existence. Without that physical existence there would be no thought processes.

    It is possible to replicate such processes artificially (i.e. computers), but I have not yet seen ANY evidence of them existing WITHOUT physical producers – can you provide any such evidence?

  67. Dear Red Star,

    I should emphasise that I don’t actually believe you’re thoughtless. You obviously have a lot of thoughts which you’re sharing with me.

    But I don’t agree with your suggestion that existence has to be physical !

    You seem to believe in science, not God. You agree that the purest science is mathematics, and that mathematics is dependent on numbers, no?

    But do numbers exist?

    Of course, I know that three sheep, two dogs, five men exist. But does the number “3” exist in itself, independent of sheep or dogs or men? Even more difficult: does Infinity exist physically? If Infinity does not exist physically, then why does the theory of general relativity lead to the conclusion that black holes have infinite density?

    Do you continue to insist that existence has to be physical and that existence has to obey the laws of physics?

    Peace,
    Moosa

  68. Dear Red Star,

    Calm down, no need to get monstruously excited, my friend.

    Does a memory exist physically? Does a memory have a physical substance which you can measure?

    Do thoughts and ideas exist physically?

    Does love exist physically?

    If so, then please inform me: what is the mass of love, and what is its velocity? Is love composed of particles or waves?

    If love does not exist physically, then how does it exist?

    Or does love not exist, in your opinion? Also, do ideas not exist? Do thoughts not exist?

    If thoughts do not exist, then does this mean you have no thoughts? Does it mean, Red Star, that you are thoughtless?

    But if ideas do exist, and their existence is not physical, and if you accept the existence of ideas because you have perceived them without any empirical evidence by weighing their mass or calculating their velocity… then would you say my statement was entirely correct and not “monstrously extraordinary”?

    Peace,
    Moosa

  69. “Not all types of existence are physical.”

    A monstrously extraordinary assertion which requires monstrously extraordinary evidence.

    Have you got any?

  70. peace4everynation

    ” What will you answer to someone seeing in a dream or vision the results of someone else, of whom he knows nothing with regard to how his studies are going? Your reasoning fails in such a case. What will you say of someone who receives the results of a person he does not even know personally? Your reasoning fails utterly once again.”

    Hypotheticals are pointless. Do you actually have any evidence of this ever happening? And is this evidence watertight? Bear in mind that one person’s post-event testimony is hardly credible evidence…

    Even if it were, what would make you automatically leap to the assumption that an all-powerful, all-knowing time-and-space-defying being was responsible? How on Earth would you jump to that conclusion? Surely ANY other explanation would be more plausible than that?

    Why invoke something so ludicrous when there are much more parsimonious explanations based on evidence? It’s no different than the Norse attributing thunder to Thor swinging his hammer…lovely story, but hardly scientific now, is it?

    By the way, if you want something that would roughly fit into this sort of thinking, I once had a dream that your Khalifa was selling your big mosque in Morden to the Shia community. The scene was at night and the place was packed out with Shias. It was an amicable transfer. Your Khalifa was smiling although didn’t look happy (understandably).

    I wasn’t a Shia by the way.

    I don’t believe that this was a ‘revelation’ from God. Perhaps you do?

    And you are STILL to explain HOW a dream can be ‘sent’ (after the abject failure of your ‘letter’ analogy)?

  71. Dear Red Star,

    RE: How can God be “outside” the universe and yet interact with the universe

    No, I am not declaring that my God is nothing. Physical existence (which obeys the law of physics) is defined in terms of space and time. Not all types of existence are physical. In fact, if God were to physically exist, then God would necessarily have a mass and a velocity. This of course would limit God, which is against the very concept of God.

    I would remind you that even Feynman quite clearly said in his famous lectures that he knows of no way to disprove that God exists. However, you are trying to use physics to prove that God does not exist. Do you know more about physics than Feynman?

    Regarding how God can interact with the universe, He interacts how anything outside of a system interacts with something inside that system: via an intermediary who is able to operate both outside and inside the system. This is the Ahmadi understanding of the function of angels. You can read more online here on pp.141 to 143: http://www.alislam.org/library/browse/book/The_Essence_of_Islam/?p=2#page/140/mode/2up

    Peace,
    Moosa

  72. KHADIM

    “We both agree that “FREEDOM TO THINK FOR YOURSELF” is the way to live. Of course religion deserves to be questioned, and if it is not reflective of the Perfect Being it claims to be from, it deserves to be doubted. I am not one to endorse blind uninformed faith. I am also not one to encourage blind rejection. I have never been satisfied with the responses “because we are meant to”, “because that’s just the way things are”, “it is bad to doubt”.”

    Ok, we’re getting somewhere 🙂

    “So I repeat, “Step one is to open your mind to the possibility that you may actually discover something that you had rejected once before.” For me, faith in God can not be boxed for complete expression on a web blog.”

    But you’re missing the point, I hadn’t rejected God before, indeed I believed in him with full conviction. Because I believed in him so blindly, is was EASY to attribute EVERYTHING to him…you know, this ‘good fortune’ was his grace and that ‘bad fortune’ was him just showing me a better way or trying me etc etc. Guess what, all that stuff still happens and I don’t find any need to attribute it to or to invoke any ‘God’!

    “My hypothesis that He exists is proven true day in day out. If an event ever occurs that calls this into question I will never dismiss it for the sake of convenience and continue ‘believing’ blindly.”

    Can you give me an example which we can discuss productively?

    “I ask a question, I ALWAYS get an answer, and I feel liberated from yet another shackle imposed on me by my own limited thinking. I put the very same question to other schools of thought and find that the answer is either comparatively unsatisfying, or already encompassed in the teachings of a simple man who preached in the desert over 1300 years ago (peace be upon him). If those teachings do not appear in practice today to be satisfactory at first glance to you, you only have to turn to his Messiah who came relatively recently for a simple clarification of what the original message truly was. It is as simple as that. The truth has to lie somewhere. It is not where we think it most-likely ought to be, it is where it is. We have to find it.”

    This is where you are markedly wrong. The ‘truth’ doesn’t have to lie anywhere! There doesn’t have to be some greater purpose or meaning. This is merely a human desire. Just because we have this desire doesn’t mean that the things we satisfy it with are ‘true’.

    The conviction, the 100% certainty of religion is very tempting. It is extremely reassuring and comforting. But that DOESN’T make it true. Just because you want there to be a God, and you FEEL like you can attribute everything to him (whether you actually have any real evidence or not) does not mean that there IS a God…

  73. RUNMAD

    “Were you Ahmadi Muslim, Orthodox Muslim, or other— or all three at some point before choosing Atheism?”

    It’s irrelevant. And I didn’t ‘choose’ atheism…I simply realised a few things which made me understand religion was fundamentally flawed.

    MOOSA

    “God is conceptually outside of the universe, both in time and location (not that time and location can be applied to God!).

    This isn’t a convenient excuse. This is simply an inescapable conceptual consequence. God is (allegedly) the Creator of the universe, therefore by definition God cannot be bound by time and location.”

    You see, this is classic. I’ve said this in the past while I was a believer like you. But look at what you have written. It doesn’t make sense! You say God is ‘outside’ the universe, and yet you hold that God is everywhere and the he can INTERACT with the universe (i.e. through revelation etc) – how is that possible?

    And existence (you assert God exists), existence is defined by EXTENSION IN TIME. That which has extension in time is said to EXIST. Now time and space are inextricably linked. They are dimensions which cannot be phyically separated. How can your God exist OUTSIDE of space and time? The only thing which ‘exists’ outside of space and time is NOTHING. Therefore you have just declared that your God is nothing!

    I’ll come back and deal with your ‘challenge’ and your various other statements later.

    Apologies for silence over past couple of days, I’ve been busy.

  74. I feel you are projecting your past experiences, and make the assumption that I, and others, have not asked these questions ourselves. I hope you have realised from discussion up until this point that the people here are at least smart enough not to submit their entire lives to worship a Being that can simply be dismissed as placebo. We can go round and around debating who is the zombie, and who is shackled to their limited view of things. We both agree that “FREEDOM TO THINK FOR YOURSELF” is the way to live. Of course religion deserves to be questioned, and if it is not reflective of the Perfect Being it claims to be from, it deserves to be doubted. I am not one to endorse blind uninformed faith. I am also not one to encourage blind rejection. I have never been satisfied with the responses “because we are meant to”, “because that’s just the way things are”, “it is bad to doubt”.

    So I repeat, “Step one is to open your mind to the possibility that you may actually discover something that you had rejected once before.” For me, faith in God can not be boxed for complete expression on a web blog. My hypothesis that He exists is proven true day in day out. If an event ever occurs that calls this into question I will never dismiss it for the sake of convenience and continue ‘believing’ blindly. I ask a question, I ALWAYS get an answer, and I feel liberated from yet another shackle imposed on me by my own limited thinking. I put the very same question to other schools of thought and find that the answer is either comparatively unsatisfying, or already encompassed in the teachings of a simple man who preached in the desert over 1300 years ago (peace be upon him). If those teachings do not appear in practice today to be satisfactory at first glance to you, you only have to turn to his Messiah who came relatively recently for a simple clarification of what the original message truly was. It is as simple as that. The truth has to lie somewhere. It is not where we think it most-likely ought to be, it is where it is. We have to find it.

  75. Dear Bill Yeagle and Red Star,

    I note that you have not taken up my challenge. That disappoints me.

    Let me explain something regarding dreams.

    You have both mocked the concept of dreams as a proof of God. For instance, one of you has pointed out that psychologists have performed studies which demonstrate that people tend to remember dreams which come true and forget dreams which come to nothing, thereby creating the illusion that “our dreams come true”.

    However, Peace4everynation has explained (correctly) that the grandeur of Divine dreams is different from the normal dreams which come from a person’s subconscious. He has also explained that the path to establish a connection with God is not an easy path, and it is rather unreasonable for atheists to expect for “easy results” in finding God.

    However, I acknowledge that there is a fundamental problem with this state of affairs. The problem is that you may quite reasonably say, “Well if you want me to try this painstaking and difficult path, you have to at least offer me some evidence that God exists, some reason to explore that path further”.

    There are some muslims who will try to convince you with scientific arguments. For instance, RNA and DNA cannot evolve randomly (but some scientists have recently argued it can), what happened before the Big Bang (but some scientists argued that time didn’t exist before the Big Bang, since time is itself a property of the physical universe, therefore it makes no sense to ask what existed “before” the Big Bang), etc etc. Personally, I have a very superficial scientific knowledge, and I know there are many eminent atheist scientists (Dawkins, Watson, Crick, Feynman) and many eminent theist scientists (Newton, Planck, Francis Collins), so I think it’s improbable that science proves one way or the other.

    So what is left to convince a person that there may be something here which is not within the ken of material and physical science? Something worth exploring?

    I suggest once again that it is the life of Muhammad (pboh) and the revelationary text of the Qur’an. I challenge you to explain these two phenomenae scientifically.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  76. You leave so many holes in your arguments, I hardly know where to begin…

    You say you once thought like I do. But the way you used to think was not what I was talking about. I said that you clearly appear to not have had experience of divine dreams or visions, which makes you doubt that anyone could.

    You could once have had a religion but still not have enjoyed communications with God that contained true information regarding future events. This seems to have been the case with you. Believing in a religion does not equate with getting revelations from God.

    You say a person can reasonably be able to predict his or her own results. Perhaps. What will you answer to someone seeing in a dream or vision the results of someone else, of whom he knows nothing with regard to how his studies are going? Your reasoning fails in such a case. What will you say of someone who receives the results of a person he does not even know personally? Your reasoning fails utterly once again.

    When I said that there is no academic evidence to prove the existence of God, what I meant was academic reasoning can bring you only up to the idea that there should be an Intelligent Creator Who made matter appear and then organised it and then created DNA and life, and through a long process of evolution, made dinosaurs, as a more plausible alternative to the highly irrational theory of “nothing suddenly made matter appear out of nothing, and then nothing made matter organise itself into galaxies, and then nothing made matter develop itself for no reason at all into self-replicating molecules which turned, for no reason whatsoever, into dinosaurs.”

    But academic arguments can only go so far. They cannot prove that God is still in existence today.

    Revelation is the only thing which shows that God is not only there, He is also still speaking to His creatures.

    So, we are not in 100% agreement on the academic argument issue, which, though incapable of proving God’s CONTINUED existence today, can nevertheless lead one to accept that there SHOULD be God Who brought the universe out of nothing and organised matter into life.

    As for your knowledge of the Prophet (pbuh)’s past, I suggest you read up on Islamic history once again. I said ERSTWHILE shephard – which means he was a shepherd at one time prior to his becoming a prophet. If you don’t know that he used to mind flocks of sheep at a certain period of his life, you have only your lack of reading to blame. Ditto for the fact that he was living in a mud-brick hut at the end of his life. Did you think he was living in some kind of crystal palace? Yet, you confidently challenge me on something that can be so easily proved! Is this due to your youth, perhaps?

    As for poor desert-dwelling Arabs being so super-motivated by their Prophet’s revelations as to go out and in actual fact topple two ancient empires, I find your “freedom to think for yourself” is leading you to conclusions that are extremely far-fetched. Without the help of God, no people on earth can be able to achieve such feats. Extremely fanatical Evangelical Christians who hold so much power in the US today should, according to the same rationale, be able to go out and topple every Muslim State in the world, and the more extreme Zionist Israelis should be able to do the same. What is retaining them is that they lack God’s support. Compared to them, the poor Muslims of 7th Century Arabia were ridiculously ill-prepared to launch such formidable expeditions with any hope of success. Most serious historians have commented on their astonishing success, and again one can only wonder as to which “historians” you could be taking your information from.

    You really must read a LOT more on Islamic history, and broaden your horizon. You seem to only listen to those who have nothing good to say about Islam because of their bigotry and lack of academic honesty. If you do not broaden the scope of your reading, you will continue to have this ridiculously warped view of Islam and the Holy Prophet (pbuh), which is anything but a reasonable way to live one’s life. It may draw you the plaudits and back-slapping of Islam-haters, which is great if you crave that kind of applause, but it will not do you credit in the eyes of real scholars and honest people of the world.

  77. Dear Bill Yeagle and Red Star,

    God is conceptually outside of the universe, both in time and location (not that time and location can be applied to God!).

    This isn’t a convenient excuse. This is simply an inescapable conceptual consequence. God is (allegedly) the Creator of the universe, therefore by definition God cannot be bound by time and location.

    Of course, the consequence of this is that we cannot weigh God or measure God’s velocity in a laboratory experiment.

    That leaves us with a difficult problem: how can God be appreciated? Muhammad (pboh) has said “God cannot be held inside the heavens and the earth, but God can be held within the human heart”. The meaning is that God cannot be appreciated physically, but God has some spiritual connection with the human heart.

    You may laugh at this, and the only way I can explain it to a non-religious person is to draw an analogy with Love. Love also cannot be weighed in a laboratory experiment, but Love does exist and influence us. Of course the concept of God is not identical to the concept of Love, it is a weak analogy because God is not easy to describe.

    Regarding the interface between the Physical World and the Spiritual God, there is something which provides some sort of evidence: Revelation. Peace4everynation is absolutely correct that dreams also provide evidence, insomuch as they participate in the revelationary process, but of course dreams are not always powerful enough to convince “the outsider” who demands that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof”.

    Therefore, for me, the “extraordinary proof” of God is twofold:

    1) Muhammad (pboh)
    2) The Qur’an

    Bill Yeager and Red Star, you say that everything in this universe can be explained scientifically, without the need for God. In this case, I ask you both to prove your hypothesis. Please give your scientific explanation for Muhammad (pboh) and the Qur’an.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  78. “Try and show that you have more in you than most agnostics or atheists, and that you can go those extra miles to see the ornithorhyncus for yourself, instead of trusting the opinions of doubters who have no experience of it themselves.”

    You seem to forget that almost all agnostics/atheists were at one time religious believers. I myself was Muslim. I have no intention of becoming so again unless some pretty convincing evidence comes my way – which it has thus far failed to do.

    You are under some illusion that I am 1) either incapable or 2) have never had the experience of thinking exactly as you do. But I have. Exactly, like you do. The problem is that it involves turning yourself into a shackled zombie with absolutely zero freedom of thought and a complete lack of critical thinking.

    The moment you break those shackles and begin to doubt, question and challenge what you believe and why you believe it, you will be surprised how quickly the rational mind banishes superstitious nonsense.

    And let me tell you, there is NOTHING more awesome, more incredible, more satisfying, more fulfilling and more joyous than the FREEDOM TO THINK FOR YOURSELF!

    “On a very basic level, the case where a person is told an exam result in detail in advance – is that a mere fluke, when it is proven true? And when this happens a dozen times, is that still a fluke? Why should a person have to see three dreams in which different results are shown, and then only one proves to be true? This does not always happen as you seem to think it does.”

    If you are about to have exams and you have spent much time and effort preparing for them, and you’re generally a pretty smart and studious bod, then quite frankly I’d be surprised if you DIDN’T have dreams of passing your exams! I’d be even more surprised if your didn’t pass the exams! Exactly where does ‘God’ come into any of this? I really can’t see how you equate a dream about passing your exams with the existence of an almighty deity revealing himself through a desert merchant (Muhammad was never a shepherd, by the way) and telling people to worship him.

    “Academic arguments are no doubt important, but none of them can prove the existence of God, which is the one most important thing for a human being to realise, for no human being can elude death”

    For once we are in complete agreement. So, if you can finally admit that there is no actual evidence to demonstrate the existence of God, and your belief in him is based on faith alone, AND you only have this one short life, why waste all of your time with something so ludicrous and mind-numbing as religion? Why not spend your time, instead, admiring the beauty of nature, helping those humans less fortunate than yourself and producing something of worth and dignity for both yourself and human civilisation?

    “The case where an illiterate erstwhile shepherd dwelling in a mud-brick hut in Arabia is told that the magnificent empires of Persia and Byzantium and also the whole of Arabia will capitulate to him in future. He informs his whole community of this. His enemies laughed at him and mocked him for this. But, to their amazement, it comes true. Is that also a fluke?”

    He wasn’t a shepherd and Aysha’s house wasn’t made of mud-brick, but I wouldn’t expect you to be accurate about the details…

    Why don’t you stop for a minute and actually analyse, and question what actually happened?

    This man claims to be the ‘prophet of God’ presents his followers with his lords’ instructions and discourse. They’re all suitably impressed and reckon he’s a great chap. They WANT, desperately want, to believe him and believe everything he says. They’ve suddenly found a sense of meaning, a community, a future in a bleak, barbaric and terrifying world which they have no scientific understanding of.

    Now, this ‘prophet’ tells these people that his ‘God’ has revealed to him that they are going to inherit the earth, that they will vanquish the mighty empires of the world! Wow! Imagine that, a bunch of ignorant, downtrodden desert tribesmen are going to beat the great Byzantine and Persian Empires!

    Who are they to argue? This is God’s decree – this is their ‘destiny’…

    So, what do they do? They start feeling confident, belligerent. They can beat anybody. Their ‘God’ is with them! They have fire in their bellies, their hearts are big and brazen and bold! Filled with relentless zeal and righteous indignation, they set out to fulfil their beloved Muhammad’s prophecy.

    Wild, insane with fervent faith in their prophet and their God they take up arms and attack! With sword and spear they push forward, relentless in their effort to fulfil this ‘prophecy’ and their ‘destiny’. They are the ‘chosen people’! They are unstoppable!

    Attacking, raiding, invading, enslaving, murdering, pillaging and raping they go! Hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of ‘infidels’, mere pigs and monkeys, the accursed and rejected of God are their victims. See how the disbelievers are destroyed?

    And so the great prophecy is fulfilled, the mighty civilisations are brought low, the enemies of the ‘one true God’ are slaughtered and the Muslims rule the world!

    You see what has happened?

    Do you see it?

    Do you understand?

    Can you do it? Can you get past the dogma? Can you look past your faith? Can you really perceive reality, as it is, as it was?

    Can you understand the consequences of such absolute faith, such blind devotion, such religous zeal?

    I’m itching to point it out to you, just itching to explain it all, to help you see. But I shouldn’t. I mustn’y. It’s not my place. And you NEED to see it yourself. You need to understand what your religion, what all religion, is. You need to understand what it does to people. You need to understand what it does to you…

  79. Red Star

    The examples you have given here are inappropriate and unsatisfactory.

    The knowledge vouchsafed in dreams of divine origin do sometimes contain information which needs to be interpreted by people who have the required knowledge to do so, but also contain clear, factual messages which need no interpretation at all.

    On a very basic level, the case where a person is told an exam result in detail in advance – is that a mere fluke, when it is proven true? And when this happens a dozen times, is that still a fluke? Why should a person have to see three dreams in which different results are shown, and then only one proves to be true? This does not always happen as you seem to think it does.

    The case where an illiterate erstwhile shepherd dwelling in a mud-brick hut in Arabia is told that the magnificent empires of Persia and Byzantium and also the whole of Arabia will capitulate to him in future. He informs his whole community of this. His enemies laughed at him and mocked him for this. But, to their amazement, it comes true. Is that also a fluke?

    The reason for your doubts is nothing but the fact that you have not yet had personal experience of such communications from God.

    The way to receive such communication is to speak to God humbly and sincerely, without any trace of doubt or arrogance, to do nothing but good to others, and abandon unhealthy habits, instead adopting positive ones.

    We have tried this prescription and found that it works.

    You can bring a thousand opinions of scientists on this topic, but nothing of their opinions will change the facts in the field. It is very similar to when the ornithorhyncus (platypus) was first introduced to scientists in England. They all laughed it away as a hoax, and came up with a number of scientific reasons to prove it could not really be a living, breathing animal in Australia. In their arrogance, they failed to realise that to be sure of its existence, they would have to travel there and find out on the ground. Their mockery and doubts became a source of embarassment for them later on.

    You cannot dismiss something before you have followed the correct method to investigate it. Bringing forward opinions of scientisits of the ornithorhyncus-rejecting type are a lazy excuse to evade personal investigation.

    I and millions of other Ahmadi Muslims are very happy, humbled and moved by the fact that God is communicating with our community on a regular basis. He also communicates with others, we do not doubt it. But He communicates with our community regularly, as per His promise to the Promised Messiah (peace be upon him). He says He disdains communicating with arrogant, self-important individuals. Those who humble themselves and do not seek to place themselves over other creatures, attract His love and blessed discourse.

    Academic arguments are no doubt important, but none of them can prove the existence of God, which is the one most important thing for a human being to realise, for no human being can elude death — and the One Who brought us into being from nothing, says we are returning to Him and that we should cause our souls to progress before that meeting. He also says that those who do not cease to doubt in this meeting, and who continue to feel free to do harm to others because of it, will be full of regret on the day they meet their Creator.

    Despite the severe persecution they have had to bear, millions have joined this community precisely beacause they have seen how they can establish a living relationship with God in this community. For them, persecution was a small price to pay for what they were obtaining in their spiritual life. Many who come on the basis of mere academic reasoning have stayed, once they began to get a taste of spirituality here. Others, who remained stifled within mere academic arguments, failed to relate to God, and sadly left our community. This community can certainly bolster its claims up with logical arguments, but in addition, and above all, it is in its true communion with God that it distinguishes itself from all other communities on earth.

    What I mean to say to you, is to try to rise above mere reasoning and to try to put what we say to the test yourself. Had we feared this would fail, we would not invite you to it.

    Try and show that you have more in you than most agnostics or atheists, and that you can go those extra miles to see the ornithorhyncus for yourself, instead of trusting the opinions of doubters who have no experience of it themselves.

  80. More on dreams (WIkipedia):

    Apparent precognition of real events

    According to surveys, it is common for people to feel their dreams are predicting subsequent life events.[91] Psychologists have explained these experiences in terms of memory biases, namely a selective memory for accurate predictions and distorted memory so that dreams are retrospectively fitted onto life experiences.[91] The multi-faceted nature of dreams makes it easy to find connections between dream content and real events.[92]

    In one experiment, subjects were asked to write down their dreams in a diary. This prevented the selective memory effect, and the dreams no longer seemed accurate about the future.[93] Another experiment gave subjects a fake diary of a student with apparently precognitive dreams. This diary described events from the person’s life, as well as some predictive dreams and some non-predictive dreams. When subjects were asked to recall the dreams they had read, they remembered more of the successful predictions than unsuccessful ones.[94]

  81. WHY DO WE DREAM

    Ernest Hartmann, a professor of psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine and the director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Newton Wellesley Hospital in Boston, Mass., explains.

    The questions, “Why do we dream?” or “What is the function of dreaming?” are easy to ask but very difficult to answer. The most honest answer is that we do not yet know the function or functions of dreaming. This ignorance should not be surprising because despite many theories we still do not fully understand the purpose of sleep, nor do we know the functions of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is when most dreaming occurs. And these two biological states are much easier to study scientifically than the somewhat elusive phenomenon of dreaming.

    Some scientists take the position that dreaming probably has no function. They feel that sleep, and within it REM sleep, have biological functions (though these are not totally established) and that dreaming is simply an epiphenomenon that is the mental activity that occurs during REM sleep. I do not believe this is the most fruitful approach to the study of dreaming. Would we be satisfied with the view that thinking has no function and is simply an epiphenomenon–the kind of mental activity that occurs when the brain is in the waking state?

    Therefore I will try to explain a current view of dreaming and its possible functions, developed by myself and many collaborators, which we call the Contemporary Theory of Dreaming. The basic idea is as follows: activation patterns are shifting and connections are being made and unmade constantly in our brains, forming the physical basis for our minds. There is a whole continuum in the making of connections that we subsequently experience as mental functioning. At one end of the continuum is focused waking activity, such as when we are doing an arithmetic problem or chasing down a fly ball in the outfield. Here our mental functioning is focused, linear and well-bounded. When we move from focused waking to looser waking thought–reverie, daydreaming and finally dreaming–mental activity becomes less focused, looser, more global and more imagistic. Dreaming is the far end of this continuum: the state in which we make connections most loosely.

    Some consider this loose making of connections to be a random process, in which case dreams would be basically meaningless. The Contemporary Theory of Dreaming holds that the process is not random, however, and that it is instead guided by the emotions of the dreamer. When one clear-cut emotion is present, dreams are often very simple. Thus people who experience trauma–such as an escape from a burning building, an attack or a rape–often have a dream something like, “I was on the beach and was swept away by a tidal wave.” This case is paradigmatic. It is obvious that the dreamer is not dreaming about the actual traumatic event, but is instead picturing the emotion, “I am terrified. I am overwhelmed.” When the emotional state is less clear, or when there are several emotions or concerns at once, the dream becomes more complicated. We have statistics showing that such intense dreams are indeed more frequent and more intense after trauma. In fact, the intensity of the central dream imagery, which can be rated reliably, appears to be a measure of the emotional arousal of the dreamer.

    Therefore, overall the contemporary theory considers dreaming to be a broad making of connections guided by emotion. But is this simply something that occurs in the brain or does it have a purpose as well? Function is always very hard to prove, but the contemporary theory suggests a function based on studies of a great many people after traumatic or stressful new events. Someone who has just escaped from a fire may dream about the actual fire a few times, then may dream about being swept away by a tidal wave. Then over the next weeks the dreams gradually connect the fire and tidal wave image with other traumatic or difficult experiences the person may have had in the past. The dreams then gradually return to their more ordinary state. The dream appears to be somehow “connecting up” or “weaving in” the new material in the mind, which suggests a possible function. In the immediate sense, making these connections and tying things down diminishes the emotional disturbance or arousal. In the longer term, the traumatic material is connected with other parts of the memory systems so that it is no longer so unique or extreme–the idea being that the next time something similar or vaguely similar occurs, the connections will already be present and the event will not be quite so traumatic. This sort of function may have been more important to our ancestors, who probably experienced trauma more frequently and constantly than we (at least those of us living in the industrialized world) do at present.

    Thus we consider a possible (though certainly not proven) function of a dream to be weaving new material into the memory system in a way that both reduces emotional arousal and is adaptive in helping us cope with further trauma or stressful events.

    Answer originally posted July 14, 2003. (Taken from ‘Scientific American’)

  82. A dream is not a letter. It does not require a tree to be cut down, pulped and made into paper. It does not require an A4 sheet to be cut out, packed and sent to a warehouse. It does not require someone to write on it, or print it out, or put it in an envelope (which has been through a similar process), put a stamp and address on it, and put it in the postbox.

    This is a FALSE ANALOGY.

    A dream doesn’t require ANY of these things.

    All a dream requires is YOUR OWN mind and YOUR OWN experiences.

    So, has GOD sent YOU a LETTER?

    No.

    “If you refuse to carefully study a phenomenon, you lose the right to opine on it.”

    That means you’ve just killed your own ridiculous argument.

    I REPEAT:

    NO ONE ‘SENDS’ DREAMS.

    If you are claiming that they do, then YOU (as it is YOUR assertion) need to provide evidence for this extraordinary claim.

    And if you can’t provide evidence for how dreams are ‘sent’ to someone, then:

    ‘That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.’

  83. Let me share a short story with our Atheist friends.

    An Atheist wakes up one morning and says, “I want to be a doctor.” So he goes to school and studies for years upon years, years upon years, years upon years. He takes exam after exam, and performs practical after practical. He sacrifices his time, his leisure, his comfort, sometimes even his health, but after years of struggle and effort, and failure, he finally succeeds and becomes a doctor.

    Having become a successful doctor, the same Atheist wakes up one morning and says, “I want to become an Olympic Marathoner.” So day after day, he runs miles and miles and miles. He changes his diet, his sleeping habits, his social habits. He runs upwards of 30 miles a day. He gets injured, goes through intense pain, bleeds, sweats, and cries. Finally, after years and years of effort, he just might make it to the Olympics and run in the marathon.

    Having run in the Olympic Marathon, the same Doctor Atheist wakes up one morning and says, “I want to be rich.” So he works hard, gets advanced education, or thinks of the next Facebook. After losing money, and gaining it back, after taking risk, and learning from his mistakes, after working 70 hours a week for week after week, after years and years of effort, he finally is filthy rich.

    The same Olympian Doctor Rich Atheist who spent the last thirty years struggling and working hard to become a doctor, Olympic athlete, and rich, wakes up one morning and says, “I want to know if God exists or not.” But, all he says is, “God if you’re there, let me see you now. If you don’t show asap then I have no reason to believe you exist. What? Pray? Fast? Sacrifice my ego? Pray some more? Ask You to reveal Yourself to me with sincere pray and tears and time?? WHAT? THAT IS CRAZY AND ILLOGICAL!”

    Moral of the story. Everything in life takes effort, sincerity, sacrifice, and humbling oneself before the process to get to the goal. For some reason, while atheists accept this rule for every aspect of life, they call Believers illogical for applying that same rule to spirituality and God.

    No, they want a magical God who they can behold over night without effort. Tell you what my Atheist friends, when you can find a way that EVERY person can become a doctor over night, an Olympic athlete over night, and filthy rich over night, then complain that you can’t behold God over night just by asking once or twice sarcastically.

    God Bless.

  84. Sir David Attenborough on God
    We cannot see God, but we can see the universe. So, we need to start with Deism of Einstein and the Founding Fathers of USA.

    Sir Attenborough certainly stands in awe of the majesty of nature but raises the question of suffering to deny God. Let me quote here the concluding paragraph, in the later editions of the legendary book of Sir Charles Darwin, on the Origin of Species that can make one quickly conceptualize the role of suffering in the grand scheme of things:

    From the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been breathed, by the Creator, into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

    Once the question about suffering is understood as a tool for evolution, as Charles Darwin suggested, then one is ready to fully appreciate the beauty of God’s creation as suggested by many of the verses of the Holy Quran.

    Deism and 750 verses of the Holy Quran:

    http://islamforwest.org/2012/01/09/deism-and-750-verses-of-the-holy-quran/

    More about the question of suffering later on.

  85. If an unsigned letter comes to you, does it matter who you think it comes from?

    The fact is: You’ve received a letter.

    Let’s say the letter invites you to go and collect £1000 from a certain office. You go, and lo and behold, there is a clerk waiting for you to collect your money.

    You can say: it came from the government – or it came from your aunt – or it came from a secret admirer. You can basically say whatever you want about its source.

    The fact will always remain that a letter came; it contained information that was opreviously outside your knowledge; the information, upon verification, proved to be true, and SOMEONE had sent it.

    You are telling me: you got a letter, the information it contained was perhaps proven true, but NO ONE SENT IT. Basically, you’re telling me: “How do you know it’s a letter, and aren’t you just trying to explain it by saying SOMEONE sent it?”

    Fact: true dreams and revelations are being sent. They contain information that we do not and cannot know. The information is later proven to be correct.

    I say SOMEONE is sending it – whether God or some other very intelligent being. Call the source what you want.

    You say NO ONE sent it.

    How rational is that?

    All kinds of dreams are seen by people. Some come from your daily experiences, some are nightmares, but then there are those that contain communications about the future. Such dreams and visions while in a state of wakefulness stand out by their grandeur.

    This is a common phenomenon in our community. Why would you want to cut yourself off from this very piece of repeated evidence that shows that there is another Intelligence out there greater than our own that is in communication with us regarding the future?

    You may call it God or whatever you wish. But you can’t say that nothing is sending these messages – messages that atheists will never be able to explain away. These things really are happening to us, and I gave you a tiny sampling of them. Far, far greater examples are to be found in the revelations of Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be upon him) as recorded in the Tadhkirah, but you refused to study them.

    If you refuse to carefully study a phenomenon, you lose the right to opine on it.

    I ask you nos to put aside your convictions, and try to study this phenomenon which is vital to understanding why we know there is a God. Are you patient enough to do this? Or are you going to keep your eyes shut, and continue to say like a blind man: “There is no sun out there.”??

  86. “When a person is informed of a series of things that will happen in the future, and then they happen”

    Have you actually every questioned or investigated these supposed ‘revelations’?

    How many onf them could have been interpreted differently and still have been claimed to be ‘true’? Are there any which can’t be explained by the effects of our subconscious mind putting together things which we have seen, heard and thought about in a way which we might project onto the future?

    What EVIDENCE have you got that any of these dreams are ‘revelations’ from a God? And how exactly does this God ‘send down’ these prophetic visions to his chosen servants?

    And what are we to make of those who claim EXACTLY the same phenomenon, but ascribe it to the stars, or to a pantheon of idols, or to their dead great aunt? Does that mean all of those things are as potent and worthy of worship as your God? If not, why not?

    And you haven’t dealt with the problem of this supernatural God. How can, and does, such a being exist and act?

    If you have created this imaginary deity in an attempt to explain our existence and purpose; how do you explain HIS existence and purpose?

    It’s an absurd mess. Invoking God for any reason is utterly unreasonable.

  87. When a person is informed of a series of things that will happen in the future, and then they happen, do you call that “following blindly”, Red Star?

  88. “You see, the difference between rationalist perspective and theist dogma is that the rules of objective reasoning are an equal-opportunity device for proposing hypothesise and theory, in that they can be used by both sides to argue their case. Theist dogma, on the other hand, is entirely rooted in bias for it’s own case and serves only the side that is refusing to apply objective reasoning, because it cannot survive critical analysis.”

    A stunningly accurate analysis of the situation we face.

    Hence why we get: ‘The Qur’an must be true because it says so in the Qur’an’ and ‘I know God exists because I had a dream’…

    Zia…

    Albert Einstein also said “Either everything is a miracle, or nothing is.”

    You can’t have your cake and eat it. Religion and scientific understanding can never be congruous because religion always ultimately resorts to the supernatural, to something ‘beyond’ science and to that which cannot be observed, measured or tested. Not only that, but it resorts to that which makes no sense.

    So, you have a ‘God’ which:

    1) Cannot be observed, measured or tested
    2) Exists outside of the definition of existence (i.e. ‘beyond space and time’, which is a nonsensical oxymoron)
    3) Does lots of things without any capacity to do them (think without a brain, act without a body and communicate without any means to do so)

    Face it – this ‘God’ does NOT exist.

    @ Khadim

    “Step one is to open your mind to the possibility that you may actually discover something that you had rejected once before.”

    That’s rich coming from those who believe that the Qur’an MUST be right (there is no other option) and that it is undoubtedly GOD who speaks to them in their DREAMS…

    Why can’t the Qur’an be wrong? Why can’t it’s mistakes be mistakes? Why perform such mental gymnastics to defend something which doesn’t make sense? Why do dreams, which EVERYBODY (regardless of their BELIEF or lack thereof) has (they don’t ‘receive’ them from anywhere, they are a product of their conscious and subconscious minds) have anything to do with God?

    Once YOU have opened yourself up to these possibilities, then you can say:

    “Step one is to open your mind to the possibility that you may actually discover something that you had rejected once before.”

    All religious faith does is turn otherwise rational, intellectual human beings into zombies; into corpses. They don’t think for themselves, because they are told WHAT TO THINK by religion.

    Religious faith forces people to contort reality to fit their beliefs. They don’t question, they don’t doubt, they don’t criticise or analyse or understand – they just follow blindly.

  89. *sigh*

    And there we have it, circular argument in it’s clearest form.

    Put simply, it’s dishonest. Quoting your holy book as evidence of it’s own validity, or evidence of the validity of highly questionable, entirely subjective and anecdotal reports of ‘paranormal visitations’, or laying on more of the “nature is so wondrous that it must be evidence of our god” routine, is nothing but an admission of your failure to be able to maintain rational objective integrity.

    I had hoped for something a little more intellectually honest.

    Might I suggest a cursory scan of Robert H. Thouless’s ‘Straight and Crooked Thinking’, a free pdf version can be found here: http://neglectedbooks.com/Straight_and_Crooked_Thinking.pdf

    The question of the topic was “Does god exist?”

    Not “Let’s all post wonderfully florid anecdotes about things that cannot be objectively measured in any way because we just ‘know’ that god exists and that is all we want to hear”.

    Perhaps that is all you want to hear, if so, don’t pretend to be willing to hold an objective and rational discussion if, when push comes to shove, all you’ve got in your locker are spurious and weak circular arguments that you refuse to subject to critical analysis.

    You see, the difference between rationalist perspective and theist dogma is that the rules of objective reasoning are an equal-opportunity device for proposing hypothesise and theory, in that they can be used by both sides to argue their case. Theist dogma, on the other hand, is entirely rooted in bias for it’s own case and serves only the side that is refusing to apply objective reasoning, because it cannot survive critical analysis.

  90. Photosynthesis: deserving of our awe or ridicule?

    Source / Courtesy: Alislam-eGazette
    After centuries of research, technology has created solar panels. The plant kingdom has been converting solar energy into chemical energy in a much more aesthetic manner. The plants are not only solar panels but are also self generating solar panel factories and much more! They are a source of timber, fuel, food and shelter for animals and human. At the end of their useful life the plant kingdom unlike our solar panels does not pose any environmental risk. As you study the technical details and the miracle of photosynthesis in this article, would you rather support Sir David Attenborough, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, or Prof. Richard Dawkins. I extensively quote from these three teachers on this ubiquitous phenomenon of nature. Don’t be shy or timid to take any of these three positions, because, regardless of your pick you will be in good company, in this terrestrial life. For, Immanuel Kant wrote, “Two things fill the mind with ever-increasing wonder and awe, the more often and the more intensely the mind of thought is drawn to them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.” If you would rather follow a more celebrated intellectual, “Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible concatenations,” wrote Albert Einstein, “There remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in point of fact, religious.” However, if there is a hereafter that may have different implications! The metaphysics of the Holy Quran, explaining the fundamental nature of our being, the world around and the absolute, should not be imposed on human consciousness in some legalistic manner, rather should be appreciated in a poetic imagination. The Holy Quran states that everything in the earth and heaven glorifies the Creator in one form or the other: “He is Allah, the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner. His are the most beautiful names. All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifies Him, and He is the Mighty, the Wise.”(Al Quran (59:25) The Quran also claimed in the 7th century when it was not known whether anything existed between the earth and the heavenly bodies: “He is the Gracious God, Who has settled Himself on the Throne. To Him belongs whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth, and whatsoever is between them, and whatsoever is beneath the moist subsoil.” (Al Quran (20:6-7)

    http://islamforwest.org/2012/01/09/photosynthesis-deserving-of-our-awe-or-ridicule/

  91. I did not claim that genetic mutation does not occur in human reproduction. As has been said before, we as Ahmadi Muslims do not deny evolution. The phrase ‘guided evolution’ should suffice here.

    Your point about 12 fingers being carried forward to the next generation does not take into account the well-known phenomenon of phenotypic correction in subsequent generations by dominant genes. In simple words, if every 12-fingered person passed on 12 fingers to their offspring, we would have alot more 12-fingered people around. Who said 10 is the standard? Why don’t these mutations (which occur and manifest outwardly as frequently as you claim) simply spread like wild-fire? You can’t really provided statistics here now to prove that the 11-fingered man is so much inferior to the 10-fingered man, functionally-speaking, that the 10-fingered man became more dominant over time and is what we see around us as prevelant today.

    The fact is that today there is a general genetic code, one which man, and other beings, do not stray too far away from. This happens in a (well-designed!) self-correcting system. Yes it has developed, and still may develop further.

    Is it not a bigger leap to assume that most of us have 10 fingers by chance, than to have expected us to have anything between 9, 10 , 11 fingers as normal? If evolution is as random as you accept, then we should all be *even more* different than we already are. That makes more sense to me using Ockham’s razor.

  92. Absolutely.

    Bill Yeager, if you truly claim to follow data that can be measured, tested and re-tested, then you must conduct this experiment yourself. As has been previously recorded by others who claim to have obtained a positive result. You must subject yourself to the same experimental conditions, in the way they have been prescribed. Step one is to open your mind to the possibility that you may actually discover something that you had rejected once before. I appreciate that this may sound to you like brain washing psychobabble, but I still say it because I am convinced my words here are not what would change your mind. A positive result in your experiment sure would.

  93. True indeed is the Word of God:

    “Proofs have indeed come to you from your Lord; so whoever sees, it is for his own good; and whoever becomes blind, it is to his own harm. And I am not a guardian over you.” [6:105]

    “And even if We send down unto them angels, and the dead speak to them, and We gather to them all things face to face, they would not believe, unless Allah enforced His will. But most of them behave ignorantly.” [6:112]

    Your dismissal of what I told you in such an ignorant way is very unfortunate. You choose to interpret what is happening to us in a way which allows you to run away from having to listen to what the Creator ofr the Universe tells you to do. Yet, one day, you will be presented before Him and there will be no escape. We have found what He tells us to be true. He also tells us we are returning to Him. We choose to follow Him and believe Him, on the basis of the true evidence He has given us time and again.

    You are free to prefer to choose your own random explanations. You cannot pontificate on the world while merely sitting in an armchair, never going out and seeing for yourself. If you on the other hand became a little humbler, and sincerely addressed God requesting Him respectfully to reveal Himself to you, I trust you would be surprised with what might ensue. Some of us were atheists just like you. But then things began to happen. If you rule out your opportunity to receive what we are receiving, at the end of the day you will still have to face God — but as one who used to fight Him and disrespect Him.

    It’s your call.

  94. Anybody who claims to have undergone a ‘supernatural’ experience is either suffering from visual/auditory/sensory hallucinations, delusional, mistaken, embellishing the truth, or outright lying. I’m not being dismissive, this is historical fact.

    Seriously, you can’t just ignore what has been said so far and just throw in references to subjective ‘ooky-spooky’ as if it is valid data. If it’s so common an occurrence and can be objectively verified, take it to JREF and win a million dollars. http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/1m-challenge.html but I’m going to stick with feeling pretty confident that any and all claim towards having received tips about the future from angels is likely to be so full of holes you could strain your tea with it.

    If you believe in the ‘supernatural’ you will see it, everywhere. Because it is an entirely man-made construct it can easily and swiftly be applied to any and all conditions. The American football player Tim Tebow was recently being lionised by the evangelical Christians as though their god were assisting his run of good form. Ignoring the distasteful notion that god would be interested in helping a football team win a few games, the media actually began a process of looking for ‘signs’ that would support the ridiculous claim towards supernatural ‘assistance’. So, of course, they found it. Just as I could find it in aspects of anything I do too and, clearly, so can you. You tend to forget about the vast quantity of information that doesn’t provide the right kind of sign, but, by golly, when you zero in on a small collection of indicators that, surely, support your need for there to be a sign, well that’s what it must be, a sign!

    Signs can be found everywhere. Well, hang on, what I mean to say is ‘signs’ can be found everywhere. Every moment of our waking and sleeping lives is a cacophony of information, needing to be filtered by our brain. A brain that can be subjected to all kinds of stresses, overloads, confusion and altered states. Somebody suffering from amphetamine induced psychosis will see ‘signs’ that support their particular delusional narrative. The same with those of a religious bent, particularly those who are raised in an emotionally/psychologically unstable environment. As I mentioned previously, much of a theist’s identity is rooted in their belief in the ‘paranormal’. Their lives are being monitored, they have an important role to play, they are . . .special. It helps people tolerate a lot of hardship if they believe they are important to someone, particularly a god.

    You may have experienced some hard-to-explain things, but, in that they are hard for you to explain, it doesn’t mean that aforementioned enormously assumptive leap towards the ‘supernatural’ can suddenly be taken. No, the probability is that there is a sequence of events that took place, internally and externally, that led to something that you interpreted as being a ‘supernatural’ experience. That you found much support and agreement from others, who also have a motivation for supporting and agreeing with you don’t forget, does not serve to support your claim in any way.

    So, no, no dice, no data.

  95. You have assumed I was talking only about scientific facts in the Holy Qur’an. I was not.

    I was talking about God speaking to individual Ahmadi Muslims regarding things about to happen in their lives or in the world around them, with a precision and clarity that is beyond human ability. Nothing like the ramblings and musings of Nostradamus.

    If angels appeared to you telling you that in three days’ time, a man from the Zambia was going to come and ask you to fix his car that would break down in front of your house, and this came true.

    And then you were told the examination results of your friend’s son three weeks ahead of their release, and this proved to be precisely correct.

    And then you were told that your brother would survive a train collision in 5 days’ time but everyone else would die.

    And these occurrences kept on happening to you and those who are in your religious community, being fulfilled before the eyes of witnesses — believers and non-believers alike.

    This is what I call DATA.

    You would know that such knowledge was beyond your ken and capacity as a human being. And you would keep on being told where this knowledge is coming from.

    This is what is happening within the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, and it has been happening for the last 130 years. Many of us are in this community only because of such occurrences; they have given us certainty about the existence of our Creator, whereas previously we had been besieged by doubts.

  96. The DATA you refer to, namely that which cites supposed scientific understanding written in your scripture that was not in existence in the time of your prophet character, can all-too-easily be debunked and, more importantly, has been.

    Firstly, it doesn’t even qualify as objective data, given that it refers to vague notions that are being applied to modern scientific understanding retrospectively. The Christian Nostradamus character can be seen to have the same after-the-fact approach applied to his vague and florid statements too.

    Secondly, where it might be specific enough to apply to something recognisable, there are clear instances where the statement is actually scientifically incorrect, requiring a massively subjective twisting of phrases in order to force it to fit closer to what is known to be fact in modern knowledge.

    Thirdly, where it even could claim to come close to a correct statement of scientific fact, the fact in question is either already known-to-be-known at that time and, even if you think your prophet would not have likely heard about it, chances are, he did hear about it. Remember, the massive assumptive leap required between acknowledging the probability that he had encountered such information socially, versus dismissing that probability entirely and claiming it to be a sign of his ‘supernatural’ abilities,

    Fourthly, your prophet lived during a time of blood-and-guts being spilled on a regular basis. Warring cultures, factions, neighbours, families, saw extreme violence as the only way to assert their dominance, resulting in a great deal of freshly mangled corpses that would have provided enough insight into bodily function for even the most illiterate folk to garner. “Look, see that sack split open there, with the food still in it, that must be where it goes after you swallow it”.

    Finally, even if you don’t want to accept the points as I have laid out, wishing, instead, to argue every single ‘scientific’ claim in your scripture, I will say that this site is too restrictive a forum to do so, it would be extremely tedious to have to repeat here what has already been extensively covered elsewhere, suffice to say that I can guarantee you that *every* claim you make as to knowledge written in your scripture and claimed to be unknowable at that time, has already been solidly disproved and rejected as valid evidence of ‘supernatural knowledge’.

    BUT, let’s just, for a moment, consider the possibility that your claims towards your prophet’s written words as truly being impossible for him to know and that it were to be accepted that what is written in your scripture cannot possibly have been known beforehand. The fact remains that there is a massively bigger probability that his knowledge was received by intelligent extra-terrestrial life, than received from a supernatural deity. I’m not for a moment saying that this is the case, as I know each claim towards ‘supernatural’ knowledge has been debunked, but if you were to want to assert it to be unknowable at that time, there are explanations requiring no ‘paranormal’ or ‘supernatural’ quality to them that would have to be accepted as being far more likely before one would make the massively assumptive leap towards it being the product of your god.

  97. I suggest you read some of the DATA put forward in the comments of some of the more recent posts.

    God is speaking to us and telling us about the future. And His Word proves to be true, as we have found.

    An Intelligent Being telling us of the future, in great detail, something no human being can do.

  98. The answer to the question “Why are we here?” is simple. We are here because we are here. It we were not here, we would not be asking questions or killing each other over who’s mythical deity is bigger. If we were somewhere else, we would be there and probably killing each other over who’s mythical deity was bigger.

    The answer to the question “What is our purpose in being here?” is simple. We can make our own purpose. That some choose to dress up their purpose in religious ideology is their choice, or rather it is their indoctrination and therefore requires the word ‘choice’ to be put in scare-quotes, but to pretend that it is anything other than a man-made construct is nonsensical. There is no evidence that supports the claim that any religion has a basis in anything supernatural, predominantly because there is no objective evidence to support the existence of ‘the supernatural’.

    You say that you do not want to get into the probability game but that is just avoiding my point. There is a good reason to consider the existence of alien life, in that we have sufficient data to calculate the probability. There is NO DATA for the existence of an omnipotent deity, so to believe in one is to make a truly massive assumptive leap, based on hearsay and indoctrination alone. I repeat, NO DATA.

    Every single indication of how a religion established itself can be found in the nature of human interaction. Historically we, as a species, formed particular groups of societies and cultures and certain memes established themselves, primarily as a result of misinformation, superstition and myth. That Christians believe a bunch of illiterate goat-herders, who lived during a time when every other loon thought he was the messiah, are a reliable source for objective reportage is clearly absurd. It’s hard enough to pick the facts from propaganda and parroted misinformation in modern times, let alone dozens of centuries ago.

    As for the evolution question, you said: “genetic mutation can only be considered relevant when applied to physiological function in so-called higher beings, and proof for that does not date as far back.”

    Unless I am mistaken you are claiming that genetic mutation is irrelevant unless it can be proven to apply to ‘higher beings’, by which I assume you mean human. I am at a loss as to why you would not accept that genetic mutation is an extremely common occurrence in human genetic reproduction. Referring you back to the doctor counting the digits of a new-born baby, genetic mutation may have resulted in the baby being born with 12 fingers instead of 10. If that baby were to go on to have children of it’s own, even if it had received surgery as an adult to remove the extra digits, the genetic code for the production of the 12 fingers would have become part of the baby’s imprint, so the next generation would likely have 12 fingers too, but not because of mutation, but because of genetic design. The first instance of mutation results in genetic establishment, therefore subsequent repeats in replication, when that individual makes their own babies, is not mutation, it is design.

    Besides which, the simple truth is this, this topic asks “Does God exist?”, going off on tangents that serve to wave your hand at nature and go all “this is just so incredible it *has* to have been made by god”, isn’t answering the question at all.

    Occam’s razor says that, even if you cannot possibly comprehend how the world around you is put together, to summon up an omnipotent deity as it’s creator requires a bigger leap than to consider that the natural laws of the universe, in their wonderfully complex, but ultimately understandable and measurable way, are the most probable cause for everything.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. A claim for the existence of an omnipotent deity is probably the most extraordinary claim that one can make yet there is not, nor has there ever been, ANY valid data to support it.

  99. I do not want to get into the probablity game, but as an Ahmadi Muslim if you ask me whether or not I believe in the possibility of the existence of life outside our planet, my answer is YES. Since you brought it up, I do wonder if we were to ever make contact with intelligent life elsewhere, and they were to claim to have received message from the same Creator I claim to believe in, would you then begin to accept the possibility of there being subtance to these claims? Or would you just dismiss it as one species of intelligence conjuring up the same ‘nonsense’ as another?

    As for my previous question to you:
    “If atheism has given sense to every little bit of your life, please answer me a common question that I used to ask myself. This is a genuine query. Do you believe that mankind – past, present and future civilisations – are a product of random chance and coincidence? If your answer is yes, then is every action I take other than those for my basic need for survival not just rooted entirely in human imagination?”

    You say atheism has provided you with all the answers – it made sense of the good, the bad and the ugly. Do you believe that humankind is only a cosequence of some non-living molecules coming together in the right combinations and in the right environment to eventually lead to life, and this life in order to survive developed intelligence step-by-step into man today?
    If this is your stance, then if I was to pose to you the great old question “why are we here?”, would you concede that we are here by fluke? All we do is eat to live, and live to procreate? Everything else is just stuff our human imagination has come up with to give us a sense of purpose?

    Like I said, this is a genuine question. I have asked it to others before but no atheist has ever provided me, personally, with a satisfactory answer.

  100. Thank you for taking the time to explain the concept of dormant genes for the benefit of others, but that does not negate any of the previous points raised.

    I don’t think you can use genetic replication over ‘several’ billion years to claim mathematical possibility. For the purpose of our conversation, genetic mutation can only be considered relevant when applied to physiological function in so-called higher beings, and proof for that does not date as far back.

  101. This is just more of the same nonsensical “It’s all just too complex to be chance”. No, it isn’t. Someone wrote that the mammalian eye ‘suddenly’ evolving was the equivalent of a tornado ripping through a junkyard and assembling a fully-functional jumbo jet. That’s asinine, nobody is claiming that the mammalian eye ‘suddenly’ developed.

    “there is no evidence that a mutation must occur in every successive generation.” – It doesn’t need to, a mutation that occurs once as a result of genetic error on replication means that particular change, should it prove benign or beneficial enough to permit the organism to reach the stage of procreation, becomes part of the subsequent genetic sequence for that organisms ‘offspring’. It moves from being error, to being part of the blueprint for the next generation.

    Evolution is rooted in mutational error. Otherwise we would never have got past the very first single cell organism. When a mutational error occurs in replication it will either have no effect on the resultant organism, a positive effect on the resultant organism, or a negative effect on the resultant organism, depending on the state of the environment it is in. If that environment changes, it may be that only the organisms that carried a particular mutation are able to survive that change. So a mutation that might not originally have had any effect, becomes one that has a positive effect in that the organism survives the new conditions of the environment whilst others do not, thereby creating another line of species that will carry the same mutation, plus the additional ones that will occur as part of further genetic replication error.

    We mistakenly view a species as a living entity that we witness ‘adapting’, when what we are missing is that each living creature of that species will either die before procreating or will have offspring and pass on its genes, a number of which *will* carry mutations.

    The numbers of genetic replications that have occurred over the past several billion years is staggering, add to that the subtle and not so subtle environmental changes that occur over time and, whilst it is an incredibly difficult to quantify as a whole, one instead needing to understand the set rules that govern each organisms evolutionary change, it becomes something that is not in any way ‘mathematically impossible’.

  102. “At the very least, it’s a 50-50”

    That is another common misconception. If I ask you what you think the likelihood is of alien life existing elsewhere in the universe, you would need to consider what science already knows about what constitutes the ‘right’ conditions for cellular life to begin and, ultimately, thrive. The simplest starting point, of course, is to look at our own planet and consider the probability of other planets in the universe providing pretty much the same conditions.

    That there are hundreds of billions of stars in our own galaxy alone and hundreds of billions of galaxies in our universe, giving way to a staggering number of solar systems, comprising of planets orbiting a sun, it is generally accepted as a mathematical certainty that, among the massive number of earth-like planets that exist throughout the universe, the existence of biological life on a percentage of them is a given. Add billions of years of time into the equation and we’re left having to acknowledge that it is extremely, extremely, unlikely that we are either the only planet with biological life on it, or that we were the first. Probability-wise, entire civilisations have already risen and fallen in some parts of the universe.

    If you were to then add in the notion that it is already known that some types of biological life can exist in conditions which are outside the range that is needed for mammalian life, then the numbers becomes exponentially larger.

    So the probability of simple, biological life, existing elsewhere in the universe is 100% and the probability of intelligent life existing elsewhere in the universe is 99.999(to the nth degree)% The probability of intelligent life being near enough to us for there to be contact is extremely low though, purely because of the immense distances involved.

    When we examine the probability of there existing an omnipotent god who created all this and watches over it, there are no statistical measurements that can be utilised. Said proposed deity, by human definition, cannot be objectively observed or measured in any way whatsoever. Therefore the probability of the existence of god is null.

    The poll at the top of the thread needs a fourth option: “Probably not”.

    Fundamentalist Christians, who like to believe that the earth is only several thousand years old, frequently use the false argument “But the earth is just too perfectly ‘designed’ for humans to live in for it to be a product of chance”. If the earth was not ‘just right’ we wouldn’t even be here to debate the issue. There are untold trillions and trillions of planets where biological life won’t ever occur. The fact is that the earth, unlike other planets nearby, did develop the right conditions for biological life, otherwise our planet would have just remained a barren rock going round and around the sun like the others in our solar system.

    As for the last part of your post Khadim, I’m not entirely sure what you mean. Can you explain further?

  103. Your claim that MOST atheists have studied most belief systems before coming to their shared conclusion is not one that my experiences tally with. Finding fault in the religious environment one is raised in should not be reason to reject theism altogether. For those who do take the initiative to search inwardly and outward, not finding an answer at a given time does not mean that one does not exist. I agree, equally it does not mean that an answer does exist. At the very least, it’s a 50-50.

    If atheism has given sense to every little bit of your life, please answer me a common question that I used to ask myself. This is a genuine query. Do you believe that mankind – past, present and future civilisations – are a product of random chance and coincidence? If your answer is yes, then is every action I take other than those for my basic need for survival not just rooted entirely in human imagination?

  104. Thank you for the video, but please rest assured that we do NOT struggle to understand evolution. We Ahmadi Muslims are not creationists. The Holy Qur’an speaks of evolution guided by God, moving in a specific direction and not at all randomly. The mutational quirks you sometimes see like extra fingers are part and parcel of the evolutionary system.

    Scientists themselves do not have a full grasp of how evolution actually takes place. The series of selections taking place is certainly not random. No one knows where DNA came from – which, all being said, is a non-living set of atoms replicating itself. No one knows where the incredible complexity of the very first cell came from. The processes such as DNA replication or that by which energy is produced and used within the earliest cells are so superior in complexity to what arrogant scientists such as Adam Rutherford have been childishly enthusing about – being able to enclose a tiny globule inside a primitive membrane – that their jubilation borders on the insane.

    Evolution has by no means been linear, and natural selection has played a much less significant role than previously thought. Complexity seems to appear suddenly in many cases, such as in the complex eyes that appeared as early as the Cambrian, over 500 million years ago. And eyes have been more recently discovered in precambrian fossils in China dating back to 650 million years. Complex eyes are believed to have evolved between 50 to 100 times. Can that be accounted for by mere chance? The same random result produced from 50-100 independant lines of random choices? This does not seem rational. Had this been totally random, it would have been mathematically impossible. The evidence points to something making the choices, dozens of times, again and again.

    All the evidence points to an intelligent direction behind the appearance of DNA, the flabbergasting complexity of even the earliest of cells, mutations, jumping genes and simultaneous evolution of symbiotic species, or commensal evolution of two totally unrelated species such as the “orchid and pollinating wasp” example I had given above, where one species adapts to another in order to benefit from it. The orchid cannot choose to adapt in any way at all. It is probably not even aware of how it is using the wasp for pollination.

    This is what God alludes to in the Holy Qur’an, when He declares:

    “And thy Lord creates and selects whatsoever He pleases. It is not for them to select. Glorified be Allah, and far is He above all that they associate with Him.” (28:69)

    Evolution is far more complex than the ridiculously simplistic, and thoroughly unsatisfying, scientific explanations given by Dawkins.

  105. Don’t be absurd, that is a ridiculous claim to make and entirely baseless.

    This happens all the time here, a rational point is raised and it is reacted to with something entirely baseless which is written as ‘fact-by-force’ and ended with a triumphal, dismissive, ‘try again’.

    Why are you assuming that your ‘quick fix’ would have any effect? If anything, as human history shows, it usually results in the person becoming even more entrenched in their belief.

    I frequently come across statements that imply that Atheists are just apathetic about religion and that we just don’t understand how important it is to you and how it completes you and how it is the glue that holds your culture together, etc. etc. ad nauseam.

    The truth is that most atheists were raised in religious environments of some degree and have been through many years of questioning, searching inwardly and outward, for a way to make sense of the life we find ourselves living. We have studied most belief systems, religions, spirituality, questioned and rationalised the notion of the ‘supernatural’ or the ‘paranormal’ and, ultimately, found it all to be baseless and rooted entirely in human imagination.

    The moment I finally accept atheism as being the most likely truth above all, everything in life made sense. All of it. Every single bit. The good, the bad and the ugly.

  106. I think it is you who fails to understand evolution and human physiology properly. At least Charles Darwin himself was admittedly in awe of the eye and did not try as hard to dismiss its intricacies.
    The ‘starting point’ of evolution so casually presented in this video as a flat retina under a flat transparent layer should in no way be taken for granted. Getting to this stage in itself is a feat. I personally am yet to be convinced that a 1% change per mutation can be termed ‘conservative’, and there is no evidence that a mutation must occur in every successive generation. What I find most misleading about the video you have posted is that it tries to fool the viewer into accepting that a lens, curved retina and light source are enough to get to the highest peak of ‘Mt. Improbable’ as he terms it. There is no mention of rods, cones, neuronal visual pathways, visual processing in the brain etc. Put all that into the genius computer program that is mentioned and see what number comes out at the other end.

  107. “You believe what you do because you have been raised to believe in it and your sense of identity is rooted in it, not because there has ever been any valid evidence to support it.”

    Based on that statement, a quick fix would be to put a believer through a ‘witness protection’ sort of programme where they are disconnected from all prior social links and seek to supress their previously-held outward identity. Somehow I don’t believe that would be enough to wipe away their belief in an omnipresent Diety. Please try again.

  108. Just because you struggle to understand evolution it does not mean it is wrong, it just means you do not understand it properly.

    The video below presents an easy to understand step-by-step process of how evolution, over millions and millions of years, involving untold billions and billions of organisms went from simple light detecting cells to the complexity of the mammalian eye.
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4742301713635559854

    Mutation in reproduction happens constantly and frequently. Why do you think one of the first things a doctor does with a new born baby is to count the number of fingers and toes?

  109. “Interesting that the atheist posters are enthusiastic about commenting on cartoons, but remain silent when a meaningful debate is opened up about the core issue of: ”Is there a God?””

    I think you’ll find that the atheistic perspective views the question “Is there a God” about as relevant as “Do invisible pink unicorns exist”. Hence the reluctance to get drawn in to a debate which, as is clearly prevalent here, centres around spouting paragraph after paragraph of florid language and intricate mythical tales, ultimately returning to the dishonest circular ‘proof’ that your holy book, like the Christian bible, is the infallible word of your god, therefore it ‘proves’ he exists.

    If you can’t have an honest debate, at least have the honesty to say so.

    What you experience when your deeply-held beliefs are challenged is something called ‘cognitive dissonance’, that is what is stopping you from being able to truly consider your faith in an objective and rational manner.

    You believe what you do because you have been raised to believe in it and your sense of identity is rooted in it, not because there has ever been any valid evidence to support it.

  110. The transitions between one evolutionary step and the next are not as instantaneous as your questions seem to suggest. The argument of survival to the next step of the fittest mutants does seems plausible if you had all the time in the world to wait. The problem for atheist evolutionists is that for some systems (e.g. the human eye), there just hasn’t been enough time since the big bang for the required number of mutations in the correct combinations to have taken place.

  111. There are hundreds of questions that perplex me with regard to life itself. The point raised by Hadrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (rh) about the absence of any plausible explanation ( and zero empirical proof) for the evolution of chlorophyl is one of them.

    Another is the mimicry of specific insects exhibited by certain orchids, not only in shape, but also in the pheromones they produce, and also in the exact habitats that these insects thrive in, and their blooming at the exact time that these insects breed, tricking male insects into attempting to copulate with their flowers, thereby pollinating them. To each orchid, its own specific insect, the example repeated over and over again across many species. What did these orchid species do prior to this mimicry? Why did they have to evolve mimicry and regulate their flowering period to match their respective pollinators’ breeding seasons? And how did they manage to recreate the sex hormones that attracts their respective single type of insect? Did the insect pollinate an orchid while it hadn’t yet evolved the shape of a female insect or evolved the production of the correct pheromone? If so, why evolve these things at all?

    Yet another is the very often overlooked phenomenon of lactation. When the very first mammal infants were born, having been preceded by repitilians, how did they know that they had to suckle? And how did that coincide with their mother starting to know that she had to lay still and allow them to suckle, as opposed to abandoning them to wander off, as most reptilians would do? A similar phenonmenon is observed in a species of snake where the mother exudes a sort of nutritious mucous for her newly-hatched babies to feed on. When did those snake babies start knowing they had to feed off their mother as opposed to wriggling away from their nest as soon as possible? And how did that coincide with the mother not abandoning them as most snakes would?

    This begs the question: do the same sets of genes regulate the behaviour in the infants as well as the corresponding behavour in the mother, since one without the other would nullify the survival benefits of either behaviour? Whether this is indeed the case or not, how can genes have such rationally fine-tuned, purposeful qualities depending on the status of the individual they are being expressed in (different effect on infants as compared to their mother, but both effects necessary to make either be relevent)?

  112. Interesting that the atheist posters are enthusiastic about commenting on cartoons, but remain silent when a meaningful debate is opened up about the core issue of: ”Is there a God?”

  113. Jazaak’Allah for the post. This is a wonderful read.

    There is no doubt that the search for God is a very difficult one. In fact the search for truth in general is a very difficult one, and He being the Eternal Truth, His Truth becomes most difficult of things to attain and realize by us humble human beings.

    It is fascinating when you read the books of say stephen king or look through the works of Picasso. If you study them well enough, you see that the author/painter/artist continuously reuses themes. He/She will exhibit a unique style, a marker that can lead one to recognize their work immediately, and with some great people, the kind of characters they possess(ed).

    Similarly, as a student of physics, i see laws within nature repeated at every level of reality. Whether i am looking at the cosmic scale or whether i am looking at the atomic scale. They recycle the same laws in different ways. The universe, and the laws that govern it, scream to me of a Creator.

    Just thought I add my two pence worth on this topic.

    Wassalam,

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