God or Allah – truth or bull? – chapter 4

Chapter 4

 “Intelligent Design” argument

There are several forms of this argument but they are all centered on basically two terms: “intelligent” and “design” and the focus of the argument rests on taking the view that the world – with all its apparent beauty and complexity and/or simplicity, with all its myriad structures and phenomena seemingly engineered to sustain life and with its diversity of complex and/or non-complex biological structures – could not have come into existence without an intelligent designer or creator. So if a garden is beautiful there must be fairies at its bottom. Douglas Noel Adams evidently hit the nail on the head when he quipped: Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? Adams [1952 -2001] was an English writer, dramatist, and musician. He is best known as the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which started life in 1978 as a BBC radio comedy before developing into a “trilogy” of five books that sold over 15 million copies in his lifetime, as well as a television series, several stage plays, comics, a computer game, and in 2005 a feature film. Obviously, if you are theistic, God is the most natural term to use to identify as to who this intelligent designer or creator can possibly be. One reaction to this is to query: Why the use of the term “God”? Are we so prone to referring to or talking about “God” and not “Goddess”? Apart from the three major monotheistic religions, the term “Goddess” or “goddesses” [plural] is not unusual in the context of religious beliefs. If there is a creator [here we are not alluding to God] is there any reason why the creator cannot be other than a he? Let’s hear from the women for a change. If anybody thinks of God as the Intelligent Designer or Creator, then they are not thinking intelligently. If they are arguing on the basis of biblical text, then they are evidently being wishy-washy and their argument can be easily refuted as groundless and irrational.

Before we go into details about beauty and complexity and all the rest, let’s ask ourselves these questions: If this Earth was designed, for whom was it designed? For whose satisfaction, for what reasons, if any? Based on our understanding of the term “intelligent”, can we, with due honesty and taking all factors into account, describe the Earth as an intelligent design? To be sure, all these questions are subjective. My own response to the first two questions would be “I don’t know”. For the third question, my response would be: It seems the Earth is filled with intelligence as well as unintelligence [or stupidities], but as to whether it can be called a design – which implies the existence of a designer – there is no empirical proof. Any inference to the existence of a designer may naturally prompt further inquiry: How did this designer come into existence? Who designed the designer?

Time scales may differ slightly but in the main the scientific view is that Homo sapiens appeared on Earth only in the last 200,000/250,000 years, although the Earth, according to science, has been in existence for about 4.5 billion years. If such findings can be considered acceptable, we can then agree that the Earth was a harsh, inhospitable environment before the emergence of Homo sapiens, notwithstanding that our ancestors the hominids were living in the wild for millions of years. Thus it can be argued that all the beauty, wealth and living comfort in the world we see around us today have been put there by human beings through years of human toil and sweat, and human ingenuity and creativity. We cannot deny that we have reached the current stage of development through a process of evolution, over thousands of years. We must remember that the man-made structures – houses, buildings, roads, sanitary systems, potable water systems, electrical and communication systems, transport systems etc – providing living comfort were non-existent before their creation by human beings. The expansion of human population and the advancement of science and technology are the two principal reasons for such man-made structures. There was a time when we were living in caves and dependent on hunting and simple farming for our subsistence and the only available means of shelter from the heat or cold, rain or snow were the caves in mountain or hill sites or in the ground, and the forests. Arguably, there was what we would call “natural beauty” – the “beauty” of mud tracks, caves, forests, volcanoes, rivers, waterfalls, valleys, mountains and desert sands. Apparently, it was around ten thousand years ago that human beings learned how to domesticate plants and animals, making possible settled agrarian communities. And it took another five thousand years to discover how to extract and use metals.

If beauty in nature is proof of the existence of God then the ugliness in nature can also be seen as proof of his non-existence or his ugly nature. If we grant that human beings started crowding the Earth, say, 100,000 years ago we cannot be faulted for wondering why God, in his wisdom, intervened in human affairs only within the last 2,000 to 3,000 years, in terms of beliefs in the Old Testament accounts of God giving instructions to the Hebrews and making appearances to several of his prophets, and in the context of New Testament accounts and/or Christian doctrine, incarnated on Earth in the form of Jesus. Hence it seems reasonable to deduce that God just looked on nonchalantly as a disinterested bystander for about 97,000 years, or over 4 billion years prior to mankind’s appearance. Maybe, only a nincompoop god would do, or could have done, such a thing and only a nincompoop human would believe in God intervening in this manner. And the land God allegedly robbed and gave to his so-called chosen people, at the time an ignorant, belligerent, nomadic tribe, has turned out to be an oil-dry territory in a region that is oil-rich in many places.

What can we say of omniscience? Going by biblical script, we can see the failure of so many of God’s so-called experiments or the nonsense or lies in his alleged pronouncements. Regarding so-called divinity of Jesus, it was not until A.D.381, at the Council of Constantinople, that the Catholic Church finally adopted the Nicene Creed, which can be seen as official confirmation of the Trinity doctrine [Chapter 27]. So, as to whether Jesus was fully or partially divine or purely of human stock, the question was finally settled by some Christians in the year A.D.381.

There are millions of things in this world that are man-made, and we cannot be wishy-washy in attributing all these to so-called creation-design or omnipotence. If one were to stop for a moment and reflect on what the world looked like thousands or millions of years ago then one might not, unless being prejudicial regarding such matters, be so ready to attribute this or that to so-called creation-design or omnipotence. Just think about the numerous catastrophes – earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, floods, droughts etc – that have occurred and are still occurring, resulting in heavy toll on human lives and other living creatures and causing severe damage to the living environment. What about human suffering from wars and from poverty and hunger? Can it be meaningful to believe that the Earth is the handiwork of an intelligent designer or a supposedly all-powerful and loving God who loves us like a father loves his children, in the face of such natural disasters and human poverty and suffering?  If you are a non-theist you might say you have no reason to believe in God. If you are a God-believer and say Yes, it would be unsurprising; you are merely looking from a religious perspective without regard to reason or logic. If you happen to be a deist, you may say that this is the best of all possible worlds God has created and that God has ceased involvement after having created it. But such a perspective may not be agreeable to others who think that this world is a lousy habitat and there is no question of anything intelligent about it.

German mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Leibniz [1646-1716] is considered to be the first writer in the Western world to use the idea of possible worlds to explain, inter alia, the problem of evil. Vide Wikipedia, Leibniz’ solution casts God as a kind of “optimizer” of the collection of all original possibilities: Since He is good and omnipotent, and since He chose this world out of all possibilities, this world must be good – in fact, this world is the best of all possible worlds. John Adams, the second President of the United States, is reported to have said: This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it. To some people, a possible world is not just another planet in space but a complete universe unto itself with a past, present and future. The one possible world we live in is called the “actual” world. However, one is not precluded from speaking about worlds that are not possible worlds.  

People who have suffered badly from natural disasters or from other causes [no food, no shelter etc] may view God as non-existent or may see the world as a lousy design, whether God-created or not. To others, however, the world is evidently full of things that can be safely argued as well-designed: for example, a well crafted or well cut diamond can be said to be a work of beauty; a well designed motor car, a cruise ship or a jet plane can be said to be a technological marvel or beauty; a sculpture, whether of wood, metal, stone, crystal etc can be said to be a work of beauty or of fine craftsmanship; a well designed building can be said to be an architectural beauty; a painting no doubt can be a work of artistic beauty; a musical composition that gives listening pleasure to people is doubtless a product of musical brilliance . A computer system with all parts working efficiently is an engineering marvel of complexity and intelligence. Economics management is a complex matter and if a country’s economy is running smoothly, it could be due in no small part to the intelligence of the people who are managing it. These are just a few examples of the beautifully engineered products or systems we can find in the world, made possible through the skills and intelligence of their human inventors or creators.

However, as mentioned in chapter 1, what you or I may claim as perfect may not be perfect to others. Similarly, what I claim to be beautiful or intelligent may not be within your concept or standard for beauty or intelligence. Thus you are not hindered from claiming that the Earth is a beautiful creation or an intelligent design, that such things as natural landscapes of vast expanse of the sea or ocean, of valleys and snow-capped mountains, of waterfalls or streams flowing with clean water, of plants with flowers of every hue or color, are all beautiful. Not that I am disputing that there is not much beauty in nature. However, anyone arguing in favor of intelligent design must also accept that there are certain areas in this design that appear unintelligent, for example, the barren deserts of the Earth, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts, diseases and other adverse conditions affecting life on Earth.

If you believe in the Genesis story of Adam and Eve as a true account, you may wish to view Adam and Eve as models of divine artistry.  Let’s review a few lines from Genesis:

  • 1.26. Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
  • 1.27. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

If we agree to man being a creation of God, created according to God’s image, then, if there are any features of man, in appearance or character, that can be considered ugly or beautiful, bad or evil or good, such features can be deemed to be reflective of the features of God; in which case God can be seen as a nasty piece of work and such an impression fits, arguably, with his image as portrayed in the Bible. Hence if we can be labeled as sinners or perverts, then God can be labeled as a sinner, a pervert, regardless of whether you wish to introduce “free will” into your argument. And who needs Satan when you have this God-Pervert? If you believe in the Trinity doctrine, you can argue that Jesus is reported to have added further confirmation about God’s appearance when he allegedly said to his disciples [John 14.9]: “…Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father…” when one of them allegedly requested him to show the Father to them. If man can be appraised as being both intelligent and stupid [an apparent contradiction in terms but one can be intelligent in certain matters and stupid in others], we can extrapolate that God can, likewise, be intelligent as well as stupid. And God, like man, can be assumed to be in possession of a penis, a presumption not hard to imagine in terms of the image of God as presented by Jesus in John 14.9 and in the context of biblical text stipulating that the so-called Virgin Mary was impregnated by the Holy Spirit, supposedly God himself, in terms of the Trinity doctrine, and that God, inter alia, was allegedly allocated with 32 Midianite female virgins, his share of the booty following the genocide, committed by the Jews, of all Midianite males, including boys and infants, and all non-virgin Midianite females [Numbers 31.1-40].

Can this claim –The most beautiful thing in God’s whole creation is the body of a human female –  apparently made by someone with a profound appreciation for beauty – have any validity? If you accept it as valid or true then you would probably not be amenable to the Koranic claim of God creating men superior to women or of the former having authority over the latter because of their superiority, vide The Koran (with parallel Arabic text) by N. J. Dawood (1990), p.83 sura 4.34: Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. We shall examine the merits or otherwise of these claims in chapter 24, where other issues concerning the Koran are discussed.

Whether the human body can be claimed to be a model of divine artistry, it has certain features which from human observation can be put down as flaws; for example:

    • [a] Located within the legs of a human body, notably that of a female, is “an entertainment complex” but this complex is located next to a sewerage, where smelly excrement is constantly produced and then excreted. If you are an engineer thinking of building an entertainment complex, would you build it next to a sewerage area, with its overpowering stench? It has been suggested that no human engineer would conceive of such a lousy design, if he has other better options. Furthermore, due to proximity of the vagina and urethra to the anus, women are prone to genital and urinary infection. Since God allegedly made man according to his image, God can be assumed to be in possession, like a human being, of an olfactory system that can be critiqued as horribly skewed or low-grade. It cannot be facetious in thinking of God of possessing human attributes in the context of his appearance as a man to Abraham and his wife, Sarah, his eating of food prepared by members of Abraham’s household, his alleged incarnation as a human on Earth and his sojourn, for about three decades, on this planet. Only a nincompoop can’t tell the difference between a fragrant or agreeable scent of, say, perfume or cologne and a nauseating or offensive stench, and may prefer shit-smell to perfume or cologne. For someone who is anosmatic, there would be no question of exercising a preference. A person who has never been exposed to any inviting or refreshing kind of smell will have no need for such an experience to say that excrement from a human or animal body smells nauseating or disgusting. Indisputably, with few exceptions, if any, people with a normal sense of smell would prefer the scent of perfume or cologne to the disagreeable, nauseating smell of excrement. Maybe, perfume and cologne, being products of human ingenuity, were substances unknown to God. Maybe, God himself is not immune to the flaws in the human digestive system he allegedly created but the nauseating smell of excrement can be something of an aroma to him just as the smell of burnt animal meat is reported to be pleasurable to him; provided we disregard the other parts of the Bible, we can critique God as having abhorrent tastes and preferences that are assuredly not human-like, in contrast to his having allegedly a human-like image. Vide Deuteronomy, instructions were allegedly given to the Hebrews to bury their excrement in a hole to preempt the plausibility of God seeing anything indecent within the Jewish camp and turning away from them: [Deut 23.12-14] Designate a place outside the camp where you can go to relieve yourself. As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement. For the LORD your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you. Your camp must be holy, so that he will not see among you anything indecent and turn away from you. So God can be seen as having an aversion to “anything indecent” including, obviously, human excrement left uncovered on the ground. By burying the excrement one could assume that it would be hidden from God’s view. Presumably people who believe in the human body being an output of divine artistry will have no wish to admit to the apparent flaws in divine workmanship.
    • [b] Arguably, the human body can be compared to a human-designed manufacturing factory as having a certain degree of similarity between them insofar as they are viewed on economic terms such as imbibing input and producing output. Notwithstanding this similarity there is a huge difference in their output; while the latter takes in raw or semi-refined materials and converts them into gleaming or refined, value-added products, the former takes in edible materials and converts them into stinking, waste products minus of course any absorption, good or bad, by the digestive system. Is there any use for human waste products? It appears the answer is yes; plants, inter alia, breathe the waste products of humans and in turn produce waste products which humans, inter alia, breathe. One good turn deserves another, as they say. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that human and animal waste products pollute the environment. God if he exists and is the designer of the human body can be accused of being hopelessly ignorant of the consequences of environmental pollution. With his so-called infinite powers and with all the infinite possibilities from which to choose, he could have created a digestive system that can do without the anus, for example, with any bodily discharge from food ingestion flowing through the urethra as a clear, non-stinking, non-toxic fluid. This fluid could be just pure water, or something like wine, since nothing is impossible to him and it may be just a matter of using his imagination and so-called omnipotence. There is no denying that God created waste when he created animals and humans. One of the measures for the management of human waste, estimated at 0.6kg per day per adult, is modern sanitation, an invention of man, but modern sanitation is possible only in countries with abundant water supplies; it seems that in some countries in the world, including a developing country such as India, millions of people are still defecating in the open.
    • [c] God if he exists can be charged for being ignorant of the flaw in his design of the anus or that the anus would lead to acts of sodomy or homosexuality, which according to script led to the destruction of two cities and their inhabitants. In Leviticus 20.13 we hear God declaring that any male committing homosexuality must be put to death. A clear case of God penalizing humans for his own stupid mistakes. Can you imagine a supposedly all-loving all-knowing God who is allegedly responsible for the design of the human anatomy telling his followers to exercise a fanatical hatred toward human homosexuality? And it seems losing one’s life by being killed or murdered for one’s homosexuality is not enough punishment; in 1 Corinthians 6.9-10 we hear that “Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” However, an avenue of hope is open for homosexuals – embrace belief in Jesus through baptism and all will be forgiven.
    • [d] Another undeniable flaw, in the context of creation, is that the human body in its natural condition will stale in no time and needs constant washing, and scrubbing, to stay clean and fresh. If you are living in an equatorial region with high humidity, without the benefit of air-conditioning, you would realize how uncomfortable or sticky it can feel without washing up or bathing just for one day, especially after a day’s outing. If our body can exude a stinking, disagreeable smell, God can also be viewed as having a stinking body, on the assumption he created us in his image.
    • [e] God’s alleged creation seems to be tainted with so much uncleanliness and his so-called edicts concerning “unclean”, as reported in Leviticus, are simply mind-boggling; look at these passages:

Leviticus

  • 12.5. If she gives birth to a daughter, for two weeks the woman will be unclean, as during her period. Then she must wait sixty-six days to be purified from her bleeding.
  • 12.1. The LORD said to Moses,
  • 12.2.  “Say to the Israelites: ‘A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period.
  • 12.4. Then the woman must wait thirty-three days to be purified from her bleeding. She must not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification are over.

Leviticus also provides other examples of what is considered unclean in God’s views. Lines 12.2, 12.4 and 12.5 are reflective of God as a misogynist; should a woman give birth to a son she would be considered unclean for seven days and must go through a period of 33 days to be purified; should she give birth to a daughter she would be considered unclean for two weeks and must go through a period of 66 days to be purified. Why the double standard? Giving birth to a girl produces more uncleanliness? There is no doubt that the Bible God is a low-grade god with a low-level intelligence or high-grade stupidity.

  • [f] Other obvious body flaws: loss of minerals after about age 30 yrs leading to susceptibility to bone fracture and osteoporosis; enlargement of prostate in men leading to difficulty in passing urine; clogging in arteries in the heart leading to stroke or death; choking as the windpipe and the gullet share a common plumbing. We don’t need to know the exact figures but we know some people have suffered from stroke and died and some people have choked to death while eating; and we can see people being bound to wheel-chairs because of bone fracture arising from osteoporosis and men facing risk of prostate cancer because of prostate enlargement. Whether the Appendix has any useful function, its removal, from the numerous operations done so far, imparts no harmful impact on the body; on the other hand, if it gets infected, it can mean death for the person concerned.

If you believe in so-called intelligent design, then you will have to accept all this as part of the design and agree to the design being stupid as well. God it can be assumed must have thought the inclusion of armpit hair or pubic hair in his design for the human body would look good or in the case of the female body would make her look more beautiful or charming. But it is crystal clear from the evidence that this is not the case. Many modern women find armpit hair unsightly and would painstakingly take steps for their removal either through a do-it-yourself procedure with a shaver or with hair removal cream or spray, or through a more expensive process with longer-lasting results at a professional beauty clinic. If a woman happens to be a contestant taking part in a beauty contest requiring her, among other things, to sashay in a swimsuit, you can safely bet that any hair removal process to enhance her looks to maximum level would be an item of priority on her agenda. A contestant with any unsightly exposure of hair on her armpit or pubic area is not likely to go far in the competition. And there is evidence that many women have resorted to various beauty treatments, from cosmetics to plastic surgery, to enhance the beauty of their face and/or body. Dental reconstruction, including the use of false denture, an invention of man, is one of the most common and popular means of enhancing a person’s looks, regardless of their sex. Hence there is no denying that human input is necessary for enhancing so-called divine output to improve the quality or to make it look better. For his next creation God may find it beneficial to copy the aesthetics techniques of humanity or to register himself for lessons on beauty or aesthetics by human beauticians. God if he exists should ask himself as to why so many people in the world today are not following the stupid rule he allegedly established in Leviticus 19.27: Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard. 

There is no doubt that the world is a structure of complexity and there is no dispute that the human body with its consciousness and billions of cells is a complex living organism. The human eye or the eye of a non-human creature has been dubbed as a complex biological marvel. However, the human brain with its billions of cells can be said to be a far more complex structure than the human eye or the eye of any other animal. In fact, we can say that the human brain is the most complex entity known to us. Whether the brain is where our consciousness resides is debatable and best left to the opinion of experts – neurosurgeons or brain- specialists. We know, however, that when the brain is severely damaged from a hard knock to the head or from an accident the victim can become unconscious or rendered comatose.

Cell complexities, including the inherent complexity of the DNA molecule, it has been argued by some people, including eminent scientists, could not have simply come into existence through blind chance and random natural forces operating through eons of time, as evolutionists have claimed. But complexity alone, staggering as it appears to be, cannot be assumed as sufficient evidence for assuming the existence of an intelligent designer. Complexity is not necessarily efficiency. Complexity can mean complication and complication can translate into inefficiency or deficiency. As for the human eye there is something to be said that is indicative of a flawed design; dark spots on the eyes can be detected when the eyes are staring at a very bright light or even a blue sky. These spots are apparently due to the positioning of the blood vessels serving the eye in front of the optical nerves, a feature a competent engineer would have avoided, according to people with a profound knowledge in eye anatomy. Another flaw, also apparent only to some people, is that the human eye is built upside down and backwards. When we take into account the many eye problems afflicting people – cataract, glaucoma, myopia, hypermetropia, presbyopia and astigmatism – we can argue that evolution still has a lot of territory to cover.

To those who prefer to stick to the argument for intelligent design, a fancy new name for creationism, not a scintilla of empirical evidence has ever been produced to prove the existence of a designer [or designers if more than one]. We can say these people possess an inability to see unintelligence or faulty intelligence when the evidence is right before their eyes. Whether it can be regarded as a matter of prejudice, there is no question that some people prefer to remain deluded or to wallow in irrationalism. Would anybody just pray for the healing of their eyes or restoration of their eyesight, and forget the idea of consulting an eye doctor or optician, when they are experiencing one or more of the eye problems mentioned above? Obvious as it seems, the answer is that even God/god-worshippers or believers can appreciate the value of being pragmatic or realistic.

If you still want to insist that the human body was designed by God, then you will have to admit that it was a sloppy design. So sloppy that after he had completed designing and production he discovered that the foreskin at the tip of the male sexual organ should be severed and in consequence gave a commandment to his chosen people that this flaw in his design should be corrected, by they themselves. Or it can be seen as God having a change of heart about how the male human penis should be structured, after his so-called design of the male human body. And we cannot consider as ridiculous the idea of God having a circumcised penis, if we seriously believe that the circumcision commandment emanated from him and that he created man in his image. God can be seen as attempting a correction of his own mistake and could have performed circumcision on himself, or the Son or Holy Spirit could have excised it for him. Circumcision without the benefit of modern pain-killer is obviously a painful process, whether performed via an ancient procedure – for male infants – by first cutting around the prepuce and then sucking off the foreskin using the mouth, or through modern surgical methods. The sucking off was usually carried out by an established circumciser and foreskin remover who might be a rabbi. Such a procedure is obviously unhygienic and for this and other reasons most Jews have discontinued with this method. If you say there were probably cases of circumcision causing infection and resulting in death, you would probably be right.

Claims of circumcision having therapeutic value were not uncommon years ago but the truth today is that no medical association in the world recommends it and that most Catholics worldwide do NOT circumcise their children. Circumcising a minor or person with no capability for making an informed decision for themselves due to being mentally immature or handicapped is clearly not only an invasion of privacy, which may mean little or nothing to some people, but is risky in terms of its potential for compromising or jeopardizing their health or safety. Unless as a form of punishment arising from, say, jurisprudence, inflicting injury on a person against their will is all but an act of injustice, even a crime in the eyes of the law. Female circumcision, or female genital mutilation [FGM], may involve mutilation of the female genitalia and can be seen as invasive when it means partial or complete removal of the clitoris, removal of prepuce and the labia minora and the sewing together of the labia majora.

According to a news report [by Mardiana Abu Bakar] headlined: A crime that should never be inflicted on daughters and published in The Sunday Times, 30 October, 1994, page 5 [Upfront], a 10-year-old Egyptian girl named Nagla was circumcised by a barber using, presumably, a razor blade and the circumcision ceremony of Nagla [I was not aware of the TV screening or the newspaper report until someone brought the latter to my attention] was shown worldwide over Cable News Network last month [September 1994] and it created an international furore. Let it be a reminder of the crime that should never be inflicted on daughters in the name of culture or misconceived religious injunctions. For it is precisely that combination of antiquated culture and distorted religious injunction that had brought about the unforgiveable pain on Nagla and on many other young girls in the Middle East, Africa and now with mass immigration, in Europe and North America. Nagla’s pain will not end with that horrendous episode. She might haemorrhage and suffer severe infections that might lead to death. Etc. What is even more difficult for me to accept is the revelation by the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics which met early this month, that every day, 5,500 similar mutilations take place. Etc. I wept for the physical pain that Nagla must have been put through, the indignity of being held down by strong men, and the violation of her body. Which is why, as a Muslim woman, I find it outrageous that the practice has become associated closely with Islam in many minds. A colleague reacted to the New Paper picture by saying: “Why do Muslims do this to their daughters?” Etc. To begin with, the practice of female circumcision is encouraged, but not compulsory, according to three out of four main schools of thoughts in Islam. Only the fourth pronounced it as a must. And even then, the spirit of the injunction is not to mutilate. As the Mufti of Singapore pointed out to me earlier this year, Prophet Mohamed stated emphatically that female circumcision should be done “as minimally as possible”. The Mufti clarified that the practice of female circumcision in Singapore “involves cutting off a tiny part from the outer portion of the clitoris” – about 1mm to 3mm is snipped off the very top of the clitoris. Etc [Text in italics excerpted, partially, from the newspaper report].

The conceptions in the Muslim world regarding female circumcision were uncertain or varied, at one time. Thus some Muslim women were subjected to genital mutilation. In the past several decades, the World Health Organization has coordinated efforts to end FGM and the United Nations has declared February 6 as “International Day Against Female Genital Mutilation.” I am thankful to the Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura [MUIS], aka the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, a statutory board, for providing clarification regarding female circumcision, after I initiated an inquiry with them via email. MUIS in their response through an email dated July 13, 2010 said: “Dear …. Thank you for your…. Female circumcision as practiced and permitted in Islam is different from other forms of female genital mutilation (FGM). What is permitted is a slight nicking of the female clitoris. It is also not compulsory, hence not practiced by many Muslims. Even if it were practiced, anything more than what was mentioned is prohibited. Islam highly emphasizes on the notion of non-maleficence, hence it condemns all forms of imposing pain on the physique unless for known benefits. Circumcision for males, for example, is highly recomended for hygienic purposes. We hope the above info has been useful in addressing your concern. Thank you.”

Whether female circumcision in our present environment is strictly a cultural or cultural-cum-religious issue is debatable. Mardiana Abu Bakar in the report mentioned above claims that only one of the four main schools of Islamic thoughts has pronounced female circumcision as a must, while for the others the practice is encouraged but not compulsory. Which may prompt us to ask: What if these others have a following that is dwarfed by the followers of the one school holding the view that female circumcision is a must? It does not matter whether female circumcision is not a religious requirement where the Koran is concerned; if I am not mistaken, female circumcision is not mentioned in the Koran, and there are postings in the Internet to this effect. What seems clear is that while Allah is reported to have whispered into the ear of some human beings [Old Testament], to provide guidance on how to act, Allah can be viewed as being ambivalent or disinterested concerning human female circumcision. Perhaps, for those who have been circumcised, Allah can be viewed as having planted the idea in their minds or those of their parents or guardians, and for those who have not been circumcised, as having made no contact with any of them or of their parents or guardians.

Adult Muslim women who have been circumcised were probably not persuaded from eschewing such an act of barbarity or futility. Imagine: 5,500 mutilations per day! Whether we can take this figure at face value and whether they were all Muslim cases would require further probing but the fact that it was quoted in a report written in October 1994 tells us that the figure must be relevant only to a time at least more than one and a half decades ago. I wonder what the statistics say, presently. However, if the figure cited can be considered as indicative of the scenario prevailing at the time, for female circumcision or female genital mutilation, whether governed by personal reasons or religious edict we can’t be wrong in describing the circumcision process or the inclination for it, whether such inclination can be considered as exogenous or emanating strictly from the individuals concerned, as horrendous or irrational or mind-boggling. In the case of Nagla, to call it a “circumcision ceremony” would appear to be a generous use of terminology or euphemism; from reading the news report, it appears apt to describe it as a form of torture forced on a minor openly exhibited for purposes of propaganda. And, likewise, it would appear generous to ask: What’s the benefit of snipping off part of the clitoris, whether it’s only 1mm to 3mm?

Even if accept without a shred of evidence the argument for a deity’s existence – here we are NOT referring to God – this deity may not have anything to do with the design of the human body, male or female. You may then ask: What about the biblical story of creation? Just hogwash!

The argument from irreducible complexity is one that came under the spotlight in recent years but, as with numerous other pro-God arguments, it has been roundly refuted by people from the scientific/atheistic community. The following passages, in parenthesis, from Wikipedia [excerpted July 1, 2007], can be seen as a testimony of the futility of using irreducible complexity for arguing for God, or Intelligent Designer:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreducible_complexity

“Irreducible complexity (IC) is the argument intended to support intelligent design creationism [1] and refute evolution that certain biological systems are too complex to have evolved from simpler, or “less complete” predecessors, and are at the same time too complex to have arisen naturally through chance mutations. The originator of irreducible complexity as it applies to intelligent design, biochemistry professor Michael Behe, defines an irreducibly complex system as one “composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning”[2]. These examples are said to demonstrate that modern biological forms could not have evolved naturally. The argument is used in a broader context to support the idea that an intelligent designer was involved, at some point, in the creation of life, against the theory of evolution which requires no designer. In a manner of speaking, the IC argument is a definition of the “designer”, or at least “what was designed”, a definition that has proven elusive in the past. The most common examples used in argument are the complexity of the eye, the blood clotting cascade, or the motor in a cell’s flagellum.

The examples offered to support the irreducible complexity argument have generally been found to fail to meet the definition and intermediate precursor states have been identified for several structures purported to exhibit irreducible complexity.[3] For instance, precursors to the flagellum’s motor can be found being used as ionic channels within bacteria, known as the Type III Secretory System.[4] This is true for most of the structure of the flagellum in general; of the 42 proteins found in the flagellum, 40 have already been found in use in different biological pathways.[5] Even Behe’s toy model used to illustrate the concept, the mouse trap, was countered by critics including biology professor John McDonald, who produced examples of how he considered the mousetrap to be “easy to reduce”, eventually to a single part.[6] Critics consider that most, or all, of the examples were based on misunderstandings of the workings of the biological systems in question, and consider the low quality of these examples excellent evidence for the argument from ignorance. Irreducible complexity is generally dismissed by the majority of the scientific community;[3] it is often referred to as pseudoscience.[7]

Despite being discredited in the Dover trial where the court found in its ruling that “Professor Behe’s claim for irreducible complexity has been refuted in peer-reviewed research papers and has been rejected by the scientific community at large”,[8] irreducible complexity has nevertheless remained a popular argument among advocates of intelligent design and other creationists.”

From what we can see of the Earth, of everything we know about it, unintelligence, too, seems to be pervasive. Natural disasters and other adverse conditions affecting humanity and other living creatures can only be seen as unintelligent, even if one persists in thinking of this world as the best of all possible worlds. Notwithstanding the complexity of the human body, human life can be viewed as highly fragile, considering that the human body is constantly exposed to the many external influences affecting its survival, not to mention the risks of something going wrong within its own internal structure, like malfunctioning or failure of a body organ such as the liver, the heart, the kidneys, etc, although loss of use of an organ may not necessarily lead to death as with the advancement of science and technology we now have artificial organs like electronic hearts, kidney machines, etc and organ transplant is now a possibility provided a suitable donor or replacement organ can be found.

Fragility, it seems, is typical of any complex living organism that must maintain for itself consistency in body or physical functions, for example, a constant body temperature, blood pressure, metabolism, awareness of environment, etc. Although the end of life is death, and death being unavoidable, growing old has its own disadvantages, which I shall enumerate later on. But this is not saying that death is a disadvantage. Some people may welcome death as a relief when life appears to be nothing but pain and suffering. Death to some people is the extinguishing of all suffering, pain, sorrow, joy, pleasure, happiness etc but it can also mean, to these same people, or plausibly others, the beginning of a new stage or the end of everything else.

In a rational analysis, it cannot be a question of intelligent design but human redesign. Redesign on an ongoing basis by human beings to suit their purposes and to make their own lives more comfortable or less unbearable. The argument from design has lost much of its glitter and can be said to be an argument with lots of demerits rather than merits; one can go further by saying that none of the claims for intelligent design made by ID proponents such as Michael Behe and William Dembski have stood up under scientific scrutiny.  I would venture to say that it must have been a grossly stupid design in designing or creating materials for making weapons of mass destruction, unless the alleged Designer or Creator was totally ignorant of what these materials are capable of or had no foresight of what people would do with them in the future. Thanks to the availability of materials in the Earth for making weapons of mass destruction, we now have nuclear bombs. Before, man had to live with the idea of death as an individual, but with nuclear proliferation mankind may now have to live with the idea of its death as a species. One can argue that the availability of materials is for the benefit of humanity but should humans with their free will put the materials to destructive use then they themselves must carry the blame. Such an argument may sound logical but is highly illogical when you also believe in the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent and all-loving God.

We can end the discussion on the argument for intelligent design by saying that while we cannot deny that intelligence exists we have no evidence that intelligence is a progeny of creation or that the world came into existence as a result of someone’s design; moreover, there is no doubt that unintelligence also exists and can be found in abundance – bad bacteria and viruses, cancerous cells or  tumors, intestinal parasites, bugs [blood-sucking type], lice, mosquitoes, dengue-fever, malaria, influenza, leukemia, osteoporosis, stroke, tuberculosis, Aids, Alzheimer’s, Parkinsonism, earthquakes, droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis etc and, we must not forget, irrationalism and terrorism. “What’s more, the genomes of complex creatures reveal a lack of any intelligence or foresight. Your DNA consists largely of millions of defunct copies of parasitic DNA. The inescapable conclusion is that if life was designed, the designer was lazy, stupid and cruel” – says the author of an article concerning evolution, published in NewScientist [Apr 19, 2008].

Court trial in the US on intelligent design [ID]

Before ID there was creation science, but the concept of ID is no different from creation science, just a new name for an old pseudo scientific concept that has been attempting to masquerade the teaching of creation beliefs in public schools in the US as science, as evidenced in a recent court case in the US. No doubt, for non-religious people, creation science is not science but religion. ID is not precluded from being discussed in any argument over the question of whether God exists or does not exist, or in a religious setting or as part of a religious study. Even people who considered themselves religious have challenged the idea of introducing creation science into public school classrooms as a scientific theory to be taught alongside the Theory of Evolution.

According to Stephen Jay Gould [September 10, 1941 – May 20, 2002, was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science. He was also one of the most influential and widely read writers of popular science of his generation, leading many commentators to call him “America’s unofficial evolutionist laureate”]: Creation science has not entered the curriculum for a reason so simple and so basic that we often forget to mention it: because it is false, and because good teachers understand exactly why it is false. What could be more destructive of that most fragile yet most precious commodity in our entire intellectual heritage — good teaching — than a bill forcing honorable teachers to sully their sacred trust by granting equal treatment to a doctrine not only known to be false, but calculated to undermine any general understanding of science as an enterprise? [end of quote].

On November 4, 2005, after 40 days and nights of testimony, the first evolution-intelligent design trial of the 21st century drew to a close in Federal court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The resultant verdict is that ID is NOT a science and that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom. While evolution trials in the 20th century had focused more on traditional creationism, Kitzmiller et al v. Dover Area School District pit the teaching of evolution against a more legally sophisticated challenger (ID). The following, in parenthesis, is taken from the concluding remarks of the judge, John Jones III, delivered on December 20, 2005:

[Feb 18, 2006: http://www2.ncseweb.org/wp/?p=98#more-98]

“The proper application of both the endorsement and Lemon tests to the facts of this case makes it abundantly clear that the Board’s ID Policy violates the Establishment Clause. In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.

Both Defendants and many of the leading proponents of ID make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general. Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs’ scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator.

To be sure, Darwin’s theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions.

The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.

With that said, we do not question that many of the leading advocates of ID have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors. Nor do we controvert that ID should continue to be studied, debated, and discussed. As stated, our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.

Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.

To preserve the separation of church and state mandated by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Art. I, § 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, we will enter an order permanently enjoining Defendants from maintaining the ID Policy in any school within the Dover Area School District, from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution, and from requiring teachers to refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID. We will also issue a declaratory judgment that Plaintiffs’ rights under the Constitutions of the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have been violated by Defendants’ actions.

Defendants’ actions in violation of Plaintiffs’ civil rights as guaranteed to them by the Constitution of the United States and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 subject Defendants to liability with respect to injunctive and declaratory relief, but also for nominal damages and the reasonable value of Plaintiffs’ attorneys’ services and costs incurred in vindicating Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.”

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30 Responses to “God or Allah – truth or bull? – chapter 4”

  1. JohnEllen Says:

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  3. richardwkc Says:

    Tks, JohnEllen, for the kind comments. Appreciate.

    Please recommend the site to anyone who you consider might be interested in reading such literature.

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  4. God or Allah, let’s discuss – Table of Contents « Richardwkc’s Weblog Says:

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  5. Agagooga Says:

    Actually circumcision is not to correct a flaw but as a mark of ritual purity/the covenant with the Jews. And female circumcision was never prescribed in the Abrahamic Faiths

  6. richardwkc Says:

    [1] “Actually circumcision is not to correct a flaw but as a mark of ritual purity/the covenant with the Jews.”

    God created Adam presumably with the foreskin of his penis intact [going by Genesis]; so Adam’s male descendants were all born with the foreskin on the penis as a normal, inherited physical endowment.

    God can be seen to have designed Adam’s penis with the purpose of seeing it undergo a painful process entailing removal of the foreskin, right?

    But circumcision can also seen in some quarters as a correction of a flaw in God’s design; or could it have been a case of God changing his mind about how a man’s penis should look like, after he had designed it?

    [2] “And female circumcision was never prescribed in the Abrahamic Faiths”

    We may have to tell this to Muslim religious leaders.

  7. Agagooga Says:

    1)Genesis 17:9-11: “And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shallcircumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.”

    2) Virtually all Muslim religious leaders are against female circumcision. Female circumcision is a cultural practise in Africa that runs parallel to Islam, and is not integral (or related) to it.

  8. richardwkc Says:

    The conceptions in the Muslim world regarding female circumcision were uncertain or varied, at one time. Thus some Muslim women were subjected to genital mutilation.

    I agree with you that today, virtually all Muslim religious leaders are against female circumcision.

    Male circumcision is still a vibrant practice among the Jews and Muslims.

    Your quoting of Genesis 17.9-11 – God can be seen as having a change of heart about how the human male penis should be structured, after his so-called design of the male human body. Well, we can’t blame him; he can be seen as attempting a correction of his own mistake. He may now be in possession of a circumcised penis! And he could have done it himself, or the Son or Holy Spirit could have excised it for him.

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  13. Wolfie Says:

    I think if the entire monotheist population will to read their holy text in full with an open mind, half of them will become apostate. If the other half will to read your argument against their stubborn belief, again with an open mind, they will be no believers in this world.

  14. richardwkc Says:

    Thank you, Wolfie, for your comments.

    I was having lunch with a hotel CEO many years ago and the conversation got around to God/religion. This CEO opined his belief in the existence of a Supreme Being but he was unable to say anything further other than making clear that his thinking had nothing to do with the Hebrew God of the Judeo-Christian Bible, a being that arose, in his opinion, from the creative writings of several authors, possibly Jewish but ignorant.

    To believe in the existence of a Supreme Being without any empirical evidence or support would appear to be nothing but pure, blind faith. Having faith without some sort of logical backing appears to be blind, unintelligent thinking. Maybe the “Intelligent Design” concept or the existence of the universe influenced the thoughts of my lunch partner.

    The Hebrew God, however, can be said to have some distinctive characteristics which can be gleaned from reading the Bible. But such a view can in no way be taken as an admission of his existence. To assign the “3O” attributes to the Hebrew God is just to produce further fiction. Nothing factual, nothing true, nothing reconcilable.

    The mind-boggling part is that so many people appear so ignorant about the God they worship.

  15. skipper Says:

    Well I will tell you right out I am a skeptic. I won’t stick my neck out and say “there is no god”, or profess any belief in the existence of such an entity. But there are 2 things which continue to baffle me: time and space.

    Did time begin? How could this question even be answered when we consider time to be a linear continuum? Which brings me to the other issue: Where does the Universe (space) end? And what is beyond the frontiers of space? How could an end to space even be conceivable?

    These 2 questione lead me to believe our human knowledge is limited, and we are not able to wrap our heads around the twin concepts of time-space. The existence of a supernatural being seems to be an easy way out to explain this concept.

  16. skipper Says:

    Well I will tell you right out I am a skeptic. I won’t stick my neck out and say “there is no god”, or profess any belief in the existence of such an entity. But there are 2 things which continue to baffle me: time and space.

    Did time begin? How could this question even be answered when we consider time to be a linear continuum? What was happening before time began? If time began, will it end? And what happens beyond that? Which brings me to the other issue: Where does the Universe (space) end? And what is beyond the frontiers of space? How could an end to space even be conceivable?

    These 2 questions lead me to believe our human knowledge is limited, and we are not able to wrap our heads around the twin concepts of time-space. The existence of a supernatural being seems to be an easy way out to explain this concept.

  17. richardwkc Says:

    Skipper, you and I appear to be embracing similar thoughts where time and space is concerned; I use “is” as I prefer to think of time and space as a conjunctive noun, spelt “space-time”.

    There is no infinity [space] if there is no eternity [time]; similary, there is no eternity if there is no infinity.

    Where I am concerned, there is no question of space-time having a beginning.

    Just imagine, you have a spacecraft that can fly at a terrifc speed and then you come toward something that appears solid ahead of you; assume it is some sort of boundary. But what is there to stop you from asking, what’s on the other side of the boundary? Can the boundary be infinitely long? If so, then we can say we have an infinitely long boundary and this would mean infinity.

    It would be easier for the human mind to conceive of the universe as being infinite, in every direction, then to think of it being circumscribed, in any way. To me space-time is something that is timeless, with no beginning and no end.

  18. skipper Says:

    A word on female circumcision, or what should rightfully be called female genital mutilation (FGM). It is debatable whether it is required of Muslims. Some sources say the prophet Mohammed actually encouraged this practice, whilst others refute this. One thing is clear: it is still widely practised amongst Muslim societies, even in Singapore.

  19. richardwkc Says:

    skipper, have you read the comments [above] from Agagooga and my response thereto?

    I have read several articles [Wikipedia and other sites] about FGM.

    The impression I got is that FGM is not a prescription of the Quran and if it is still practiced it may be because of cultural tradition, not religious.

    Are you sure that FGM is still widely practiced by Muslims in Singapore?

    I shall initiate an inquiry with the Muslim Religious Council of Singapore.

  20. skipper Says:

    Richard, I sent you a mail reply on this subject. Perhaps I should have worded myself more carefully. I can’t say for sure FGM is being practised in Singapore; it’s just hear-say. Many Muslim friends I know have reported it as being practised here.

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