God or Allah – truth or bull? – Introduction

Introduction

This thesis arose principally from my response to three specific questions:

 1                 Is there a perfect being?

2                 How would you evaluate the question: Is there a Creator of the universe distinct from it in the context of religious beliefs in the universe and everything else in it being a creation of God, the so-called Intelligent Designer?

3                 Is there a providential divinity watching over the human drama and occasionally revealing information to us supernaturally?

 These questions have as their genesis a book concerning philosophy authored by an American professor by the name of Tom V. Morris. Having read it I queried him on his concept of God and whether he was specifically referring to the God of the Bible. He replied that in mainstream Western tradition, when reference is made to God, it is to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. However, he also said that there are three philosophical questions [Q1, part of Q2 and Q3] that most philosophers consider relevant in any discussion concerning God/god or when the question Does God exist? is debated. I thank Prof Morris for being the catalyst for my interest in searching for answers to these questions.

 You will see that Q2 and Q3 are about God/god and religion and there is some overlap in all three questions. A consequence of the overlap is that specific points raised in response to one question will be found interwoven in many places in the book. This helps clarity or emphasis. My response to Q1 is complete in chapter 1. My response to Q2 and Q3 is spread across the other chapters. After I completed my response to all three questions and read what I wrote, I concluded that the most appropriate title for the thesis is God or Allah – truth or bull? As the Table of Contents provides a snapshot of the book’s contents, I  consider it superfluous in providing a separate, brief overview as to what the reader can expect in the pages that follow at the end of the Introduction. Hence, please use the Table of Contents as a guide wherever necessary.

 Unless indicated otherwise or specifically qualified, the term “God” will henceforth be taken to mean the Bible God. God/god, however, is not a new concept. Monotheists would argue that God was, is and always will be, but I would argue that God has always been controversial and will always remain so. Einstein allegedly said: The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses [NewScientist, Jul 5, 2008]. Being age-old the question of whether there is a god has been debated for thousands of years and will continue to be debated for as long as there are theists, atheists and agnostics.

 One cannot deny that God/god and religion are wide-ranging issues that somehow can get connected to everything else. Although some of the arguments expounded herein may sound like old hat, there may be views you have not heard of before. Nonetheless, I strongly feel the book would serve as good education for believers or non-believers who know little or next to nothing about their beliefs or non-beliefs in God or about God. Extracts of information from the Internet, newspapers and other sources considered relevant have been incorporated. Most if not all of the newspaper articles used were taken from the local English newspaper, The Straits Times, and some could be reprints of articles lifted or borrowed from other newspapers/publications or news agencies.

 I for one would welcome anyone who has a fresh point to make or perhaps offer a fresh perspective that may change our own views or outlook on life, be it God/god-oriented, religion-oriented or otherwise. And we cannot discount that there is always a first-time for some people. In fact, come to think of it, all of us have gone through first-time experiences of one sort or another, e.g. brushing teeth for the first time, eating out for the first time, watching a movie for the first time, etc. I have included discussions on issues that from my perspective are not only relevant but may be pertinent to the cultural, religious or educational background and experience [or inexperience] of the reader. The information is there as an available option to the reader, to read or to skip depending on his/her mindset or personal interests.

 Regardless of whether you think you may have a good counter-argument, god/God is a metaphysical term, hence to say that “god/God exists” or “god/God does not exist” is to make an assertion that cannot be either true or false; it is beyond verification or falsification. In a multicultural society, the term “god” or “God” can have a different meaning for different people. Even for the three major monotheistic religions – Christianity, Judaism and Islam – whether their followers believe in the same God is open to debate. Christians and Muslims had fought with each other over their religious beliefs or over apparent differences in their dogma. Christians in general believe in Jesus as God or Son of God, but followers of Judaism and all Muslims [and possibly followers of other creeds] do not believe in the divinity of Jesus. This conceptual difference in beliefs between Christians and Judaists or between Christians and Muslims is a very crucial one and has persisted since the advent of Christianity, or the advent of Islam in the case of Muslims. In addition, Judaists and Muslims do not believe that the so-called Virgin Mary has assumed divine attributes or that there are any merits in praying to her. If I am not mistaken, Catholics are the only group of Christians encouraged by their own clergy to pray to Mary.

 Christians when claiming they have had visions of God may say that it was Jesus Christ they encountered. On the other hand, a Hindu, if he has experienced a vision of god, is likely to name Krishna as the object of that vision. A Buddhist, in a strict sense of the word, does not believe in god/God, hence a Buddhist’s vision, if any, is likely to be linked to Buddha or his image. Two adults of the same religious faith discussing god/God may understand each other, but two adults with opposing beliefs, say, a religious person and a non-religious person, are not likely to reach a mutually acceptable conclusion in their discussion about the existence or non-existence of god/God. The religious person may have already “experienced” god/God whereas the non-religious person has had no experience of this nature. Even two religious adults may have problems in their discussion about god/God or the prophets mentioned in some religious text if they are not affiliated to the same religion.

 Man’s propensity to engage in beliefs that appear to be in discord with reality is simply mind-boggling. It seems that some people can be swayed more easily by their beliefs or prejudices than by logic or reason. If creation is not an acceptable concept, how else can one explain human existence here on Earth? Theists, or certain theists, will not of course reject the concept of creation, to avoid being castigated as apostates for rejecting creationism as part of their religious dogma. The theory of evolution may be the best explanation as to how life evolved but apparently this theory has been misconstrued in several ways. The most important point to remember is that this theory is not an explanation of the nature or origin of life itself; evolution is not necessarily a denial of religion or belief in God; evolution does not mean that man evolved directly from the ape or monkey. Man has had a long ancestry and man came from earlier species of man.

 Undoubtedly, religious faith can be the overriding factor or the guiding force for one’s thoughts or actions. Giving religion paramount status can render a situation dangerous, especially if professional training and other considerations are cast aside or viewed as less important than one’s religious faith. During the time of the Witch Mania/Inquisitions, thousands of innocent people were falsely accused of being witches or practicing witchcraft and were then imprisoned or put to death, by burning or other means. And how or why did the burning to death of people as witches or wizards happen? Many people in this era were gripped by an irrational, superstitious belief of the existence of witches and wizards and thought they were following the instruction contained in a passage in Exodus that says: You shall not allow a witch to live. But the witches or wizards who were put to death were none other than human beings! A total of nine crusades were apparently fought to wrest control of Jerusalem and the land of Canaan from the Muslims, the first crusade started in 1095 and ended in 1099 and the last started in 1271 and ended in 1272. How many people, including Christians, Muslims and others, died from these crusades cannot be accurately assessed but some sources have put the figure in the millions. The 1st Crusade was reportedly initiated by Pope Urban II:

  At the Council of Clermont, assembled in the heart of France on November 27, 1095, Urban gave an impassioned sermon to a large audience of French nobles and clergy. He summoned the audience to wrest control of Jerusalem from the hands of the Muslims. France, he said, was overcrowded and the land of Canaan was overflowing with milk and honey. He spoke of the problems of noble violence and the solution was to turn swords to God’s own service: “Let robbers become knights.”[9] He spoke of rewards both on earth and in heaven, where remission of sins was offered to any who might die in the undertaking. Urban promised this through the power of God that was invested into him. The crowd was stirred to frenzied enthusiasm and interrupted his speech with cries of Deus lo volt! (“It is God’s will!”) End of excerpt

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Crusade [Sep 29, 2008]. 

There was little economic value to the Crusades, aside perhaps from protecting trade routes, but the religious value to leaders of the Christian church was immeasurable. There is little difference between this doctrine of holy violence and the belief of many Muslims today that dying as a martyr will ensure one’s entry into heaven. End of excerpt

http://atheism.about.com/library/FAQs/christian/blxtn_crus_maps02.htm [Sep 29, 2008]

 Arguably, religious bigotry can be seen as a bane of humanity, in terms of the significant number of lives lost through religious wars, albeit some of the worst crimes perpetrated against humanity were undoubtedly attributed to political leaders exercising their brand of political ideology as, for example, in the 20th century under the regime of Stalin, or that of Hitler or Mao or Pol Pot, millions of people were killed or murdered because of egregious government policies. Fortunately for us, the situation today with regard to religion is vastly different in some respects from that of yesteryears; for one thing, the clergy in most if not all countries is no longer the deciding authority in matters of social justice and thus has no power to sentence anyone to death or imprisonment for their non-belief or their refusal to embrace any particular creed. Most people today are cognizant of the dangers of mixing politics with religion and are of the view that for the good of the community, especially one that is multicultural or multireligious, politics and religion must be kept separate. Thus most governments today operate on a secular basis. And we are also fortunate that personal freedom of choice, whether for religious worship or otherwise, is a principle widely acknowledged, by the vast majority if not by the entire world. Hence, we can be said to be enjoying a safeguard that was non-existent previously. Unfortunately, religious bigotry or stupidity, as one can see, is not dead.

 No doubt the power of belief, or of religion if you prefer, has been and still is a crucial, influencing factor in the lives of billions of people. Differences in religious beliefs, as history tells us, can lead to social dysfunction, even wars or destruction of communities. Throughout the course of history thousands or millions of people have died because of differences in religious beliefs or religious conflicts. The human mind can be totally warped through believing, and if we agree that believing unwaveringly in the absence of evidence or presence of invalidating or countervailing evidence is evidence of delusion, we can say that the world is heavily populated by delusional people. Even sensible people can become deluded and a plausible rejoinder is that all of us may be deluded, in one way or at one time or another.

 A person being delusional may be strictly a private affair, posing no danger to themselves or others. There is, however, the danger that a deluded person may think that rules that apply to others are not applicable to them and that they are entitled to something extra, some special treatment. To be more accurate, it is delusion combined with extremism and without regard for the well-being of others that can pose a danger to society, for example, some people from the male gender believe that they would be rewarded with, among other things, 72 female virgins to satisfy their every whim when they exit this world through suicide bombing themselves and others, innocent or otherwise, to Never-land. What about female suicide bombers? – asked a poster from the Internet; Do they get to screw 72 male virgins in paradise? Or are the only virgins in heaven female?

 Others, like members of the Heaven’s Gate cult, believed that the Earth was “about to be recycled (wiped clean, refurbished and rejuvenated), and that the only chance to survive was to leave it immediately.” The Heaven’s Gate cult achieved notoriety when 39 of its members were found dead in a mansion in the upscale San Diego community of Rancho Santa Fe, California, on March 26, 1997, after they had allegedly ingested phenobarbital mixed with vodka and secured plastic bags around their heads to induce asphyxiation. In 1994 74 members of the Order of the Solar Temple died from suicide/murder in Switzerland and Quebec. On November 18, 1978, 918 Americans died in Peoples Temple-related incidents, including 914 members [number may differ slightly depending on source] of the Temple, led by Jim Jones, in Jonestown, Guyana. The dead included 276 children.

 Whether it can be considered political or religious, or a combination of both, the senseless killing rampage in Mumbai on Nov 26, 2008, resulting in the death of more than 170 people, including  Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Jews, is clearly a case of the killers being delusional. The case of Sep 11, 2001, culminating in the death of over 3,000 people, is also a case of gross delusion, of the highest order. Any kind of delusion that is potentially dangerous to the community at large needs to be carefully monitored, or neutralized if necessary, for the safety of the community.

 If my evaluation of religious beliefs as expounded in these pages appears less than favorable it is because I am an atheist peppered with agnosticism. We should not, however, conflate an evaluation or criticism with blasphemy. But what is blasphemy? It can be broadly defined [in one dictionary] as “irreverent or abusive speaking about any person or thing held in high esteem”. From this definition it appears that blasphemy is possible only when more than one person or group is involved: the speaker and anyone who perceives that the speaker has “blasphemed”. Hence blasphemy, unless legally framed, can be considered a subjective issue with no basis in law, but it can have serious repercussions when there are people who are religiously bigoted or superstitious.

 The present world may be better educated but what happened to people in the past charged for being blasphemous can still happen today. The Bible or more accurately the Old Testament is notorious for its strident tenets bordering on extremism, and what’s more, they allegedly originated from a so-called all-loving God; vide Exodus 19.12/13 and 35.2 and Leviticus 20.14 and 24.16; except for line E35.2 these were allegedly words spoken by God to Moses:

  •  E19.12. Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not go up the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death.
  • E19.13. He shall surely be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on him. Whether man or animal, he shall not be permitted to live.’
  • E35.2. For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death.
  • L20.14. If a man marries both a woman and her mother, it is wicked. Both he and they must be burned in the fire, so that no wickedness will be among you.
  • L24.16: anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death.

 For biblical record of death due to blasphemy, Leviticus 24.14 appears to be the only case, concerning the son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father. If I say God is portrayed in the Bible as a genocidal maniac, would that be construed as blasphemy? Well, that’s my perspective, from reading the Bible. Blasphemy or not, imagination or religious fanaticism can lead to a false sense of perception. That said, Jesus, so-called 2nd Person of the Trinity, is reported to have pointed out blasphemy against the Holy Spirit as a very serious offence, vide Mark 3.28 – 3.29: 

  • 3.28. I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them.
  • 3.29. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.

 Cases of blasphemy in modern times in Western civilizations can be viewed as isolated cases; there were at least three such cases in the UK in the last 30 years but, not surprisingly, there was no judicial sentence calling for death by stoning in any of the cases, the reason being such harsh punishment has never been a feature of any modern society, let alone advanced Western civilizations. As a matter of fact, capital punishment has been abolished in several countries as it was considered uncivilized or barbaric. The blasphemy law in the UK was abolished with effect from 8 July 2008. In Muslim countries, anyone convicted of blasphemy, depending on the severity, can be sentenced to death or imprisonment. Several cases that have come to the public sphere:

 [1] Gillian Gibbons, a British schoolteacher, was arrested in Sudan in 2007 for allegedly insulting Islam by allowing her class to name a teddy bear “Muhammad”. Gibbons was formally charged under Section 125 of the Sudanese Criminal Act, for “insulting religion, inciting hatred and showing contempt for religious beliefs” and sentenced to 15 days’ imprisonment and deportation. It has been reported that approximately 400 protesters took to the streets, some of them waving swords and machetes, demanding Gibbons’s execution after imams denounced her during Friday prayers. During the march, chants of “Shame, shame on the UK”, “No tolerance – execution” and “Kill her, kill her by firing squad” were heard. Witnesses reported that government employees were involved in inciting the protests. Gibbons was then moved to a secret location because of fears for her safety. In an attempt to push for the release of Gibbons, two British Muslim peers (members of the House of Lords), Lord Ahmed (Labour) and Baroness Warsi (Conservative), visited Sudan with hopes of talking to the country’s President Omar al-Bashir. While the two British politicians were meeting the President on December 3 it was announced that Mrs. Gibbons was to be released from prison after being pardoned by Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir. She was released from prison into the care of the British embassy in Khartoum, and she later returned to her hometown in Britain, after issuing a written statement saying; “I have a great respect for the Islamic religion and would not knowingly offend anyone.” [Gibbon’s case was taken from Wikipedia, July 3, 2008]

 [2] Sabri Bogday, a Turkish national, was sentenced to death by a Saudi court on March 31, 2008 for allegedly cursing the name of God in his barber shop in Jeddah during an argument with a client. Under Saudi Arabian law, insulting God and the Islamic religion can be considered as apostasy or heresy, both of which are criminal offences punishable by death. Apparently Bogday was released in January 2009 after a court in Jeddah accepted his repentance. His release could also be partially attributed to the intervention of Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, both of whom had reportedly held telephone conversations with King Abdallah bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia and asked the King to pardon him.

[Pointers taken from http://www.doublespeakshow.com/2009/01/, Mar 23, 2009]

 [3] Sayed Pervez Kambaksh

[Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sayed_Pervez_Kambaksh%5D

Mar 23, 2009 and Dec 12, 2009:

 Sayed Pervez Kambaksh (also spelled Kambakhsh or Kaambaksh) is a 23 year old reporter for a local newspaper (Jahaan Naw) and a journalism student from Afghanistan who was sentenced to death for downloading and distributing a report criticising the treatment of women under Islamic Law. A religious court found him guilty of blasphemy. He was tried behind closed doors and without legal representation in Mazar-e-Sharif. His brother Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi is a journalist who wrote about human rights, exposing rights abuses.

 The Afghan Senate passed a motion confirming the death sentence on 30 January 2008. The motion was later withdrawn due to international pressure, giving Kambaksh the right to appeal the sentence. The British newspaper The Independent has now launched a campaign to support Kambaksh, and an online petition has also been started by the newspaper. If a journalist in Afghanistan were to support Kambaksh they would also be arrested.

 As of September 2008, he was still imprisoned and under threat of the death penalty. In October 2008, his lawyer Mohamed Afzal Shormach Nuristani demanded that Kambaksh be freed as his detention since the appeal has exceeded legal limits because of court delays.

 In March 2009 he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

 In late August 2009, President Hamid Karzai granted “amnesty” to Kambaksh, and Kambaksh left Afghanistan.

 Can it be possible to define “God’s will”? The reader may have read a newspaper report about a Muslim cleric ascribing September 11, 2001 to the “will of God.” If this report is true, how would you describe this kind of thinking, the ascription to God of an act of genocide and destruction of property carried out by terrorists? As long as your description is negative, you may describe it anyway you want, even consider it as a case for the psychiatrists. But if your description is positive, then you may have to consider it suitable in making an appointment for yourself with the psychiatrist. On my part I would definitely describe it as fanatically religious or religiously bizarre! If this cleric was convinced that it was not irrational to ascribe the act of terrorism mentioned above to God’s will, then he should not consider it irrational or feel offended or aggrieved if someone were to give him a description of God as a genocidal maniac. If it is not true that it was God’s will [not provable of course], then the cleric can be accused of making a false declaration, a misleading statement or ascription, and thus his credibility or integrity as a religious leader must be open to question and he can also be accused of misleading his own flock. And if the cleric had thought that God was all-loving, despite being genocidal, then the cleric was just making a contradiction or talking nonsense. Some people, particularly those who are religious or in politics, have a habit of using “God” or “God’s will” as a way of escaping difficulties that may arise in an argument or as a ploy for providing a convenient justification for the occurrence [or non-occurrence] of some event, regardless of the circumstances. The case we have just highlighted is just one among the several examples cited herein.

 Have you ever thought about the universe and wondered whether it is infinite? Can there be infinity and can it be created? Similar to the concept of God, this question can only be a matter of speculation. Like whatever concept people may have of God, which is purely subjective, and debatable of course, whether the universe is or is not infinite can only be a matter for discussion, or speculation. If the universe is infinite, we have no way of proving it but we can then say that the term “ultimate” would need to be used with some qualification as we can never know the infinite possibilities ahead of us that may outturn to be “more ultimate” than the present ultimate, provided of course we ourselves have a life longevity that is also infinite, and a capability to travel forever in the universe. If the universe is infinite, it would mean that it is immeasurable, shapeless and it would also mean that it has no beginning. If it has no beginning then it cannot be said to have been created. If the universe is finite but unimaginably vast, we would be unable to determine its boundary, at least not in our current stage of development. On the other hand, if there is a boundary we would still be left with a conundrum: What is behind the boundary? No matter how vast the universe is, if it is finite, then, in principle it is measurable provided we have the means of measuring it.

 Let us review briefly some data relating to our own area in the universe. The Solar System, comprising the Sun and the Earth and several other planets, is located somewhere in the suburbs of a galaxy known as the Milky Way. The Milky Way Galaxy is estimated at 100,000 light years across; a light year, a measurement of distance, is 10 trillion kilometers. Science has posited that there are about 100 to 400 billion stars [suns] in the Milky Way Galaxy alone and that there are possibly billions of galaxies in the universe.

Can we have morality without God? If one is pragmatic the answer will be Yes. And it is not difficult to defend such a position. Anyone who thinks that it makes no sense for a person to talk about morality without believing in God would need to explain, using rational terms, why this is so. If a person thinks morality is grounded strictly in God, it is obvious that this person is ignorant of the abysmal biblical portrayal of    God. In Genesis/Exodus/Leviticus/Numbers/Deuteronomy/Joshua/Judges, etc one can read about God committing immoral or cruel acts of killing and destruction against innocent human beings, and instructing or teaching his so-called chosen people how they should go about invading and killing their enemies. Morality may have many shades but I don’t think we can disagree that what is right or wrong is what individuals or cultures agree on collectively at a particular time or place. Some people view morality as something that should be linked to the Golden Rule – Do unto others or do not do unto others etc. Others may view the Golden Rule as the corner stone for all moral issuesAccording to Sam Harris [author of the best-selling books Letter to a Christian Nation (2006) and The End of Faith (2005), which won the 2005 PEN Award for Nonfiction and has been translated into many foreign languages]:  

  •  If a person doesn’t understand that cruelty is wrong, he won’t discover this by reading the Bible or the Quran – as these books are bursting with celebrations of cruelty, both human and divine. We do not get our morality from religion. We decide what is good in our good books by recourse to moral intuitions that are [at some level] hard-wired in us and that have been refined by thousands of years of thinking about the causes and possibilities of human happiness.
  • We have made considerable moral progress over the years, and we didn’t make this progress by reading the Bible or the Quran more closely. Both books condone the practice of slavery – and yet every civilized human being now recognizes that slavery is an abomination.
  • Whatever is good in scripture – like the golden rule – can be valued for its ethical wisdom without our believing that it was handed down to us by the creator of the universe.

 [excerpted, partially, from an article “10 myths, truths about atheism” by Sam which, after publication in the Los Angeles Times, was reprinted in The Straits Times, Jan 6, 2007, p S17]

 What, possibly, can be the philosophy for life after death? Some of us may have pondered with the questions – What happens to me after I die? Is there a soul or spiritual self that continues to exist after the death of the physical body? Does consciousness survive death? Generally speaking, Christians and Muslims believe in eternal life in Heaven or Hell, while other religious groups such as Buddhists, Hindus and Taoists embrace reincarnation, the belief or doctrine that some essential part [often referred to as the Spirit or Soul, the “Higher or True Self”] of a living being [a human being for instance] can survive death in some form, with its integrity partly or wholly retained, to be reborn in a new body. Would I know who I was before, if we were to assume reincarnation as a possible gateway to another life after the termination of the present life?

 In the New Testament, we hear Jesus openly declaring that John the Baptist was the Elijah prophesied to come before him. Elijah, according to the Old Testament, was a prophet who was taken up alive to Heaven in a fiery chariot and it was allegedly written that the Messiah’s coming would be preceded by the coming of Elijah. Jesus told his disciples that he was the Messiah. Prejudice aside, Jesus can be clearly seen as having lied or making a false promise; he is reported to have told his disciples that his second coming, descending from the clouds with trumpet blast, after his death and resurrection, would occur during their lifetime here on Earth. Now we have to ask – Isn’t it clear that the so-called second coming of Jesus is long overdue in terms of the time-frame that he himself had indicated, since so many generations have already passed away in the last 2,000 years and there has been no sign of any fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy, of trumpet blast and his so-called descending from the clouds? We can say with tongue in cheek that this is one divine promissory note that has long matured with the maker, allegedly God himself, defaulting by not fulfilling his obligation in accordance with his promise. Clearly, Jesus had made a false claim. This is definitely a bad or negative reflection on Jesus’ so-called divinity.

 To live is to live for a time only, but to be able to die peacefully, without any pain or hassle, can be considered a life achievement. Some of us now alive today may not be that lucky, and may find ourselves going through a state of anxiety and anguish before the curtain comes down. If continuing to live means enduring or suffering pain, physically and/or mentally, with no hope of recovery or amelioration, must life continue on its natural course and, if so, on what grounds? This is where the subject of euthanasia or assisted suicide needs to be debated on an in-depth basis in a country or community in which euthanasia or assisted suicide is not yet legal but there are proponents arguing in their favor. Euthanasia can be defined as “the intentional ending or mercy killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit”. If death is not intended, it is not an act of euthanasia. Should euthanasia be made legal? Perhaps before answering this question we should ask: Are there any good reasons for prolonging pain and suffering, including of course mental anguish? Euthanasia, however, needs to be distinguished from physician assisted suicide, which refers to a physician providing a patient with the means for taking his or her own life.

 Instructions or commands allegedly initiated by God to the Hebrews [Jews] to kill and/or plunder can be found aplenty in the Bible but the ones [including a command from Moses to kill every Midianite woman who had slept with a man] that have affected my senses most and prompted my reaction in excerpting text for special mention, can be found in Numbers [chapter 12]. Apparently the Lord’s booty included 32 human female virgins but what did the Lord do with these virgins? The Bible doesn’t say. Can you imagine the Lord gloating over his ill-gotten gains? Can there be any physical contact between a spirit being and a human body? You may say no but people familiar with the Bible may remember that God allegedly appeared as a man to Abraham and ate a meal prepared by members of Abraham’s household. And it is also biblically reported that God was engaged in a wrestling match with a man by the name of Jacob.

 Nothing, it is believed, is impossible to God notwithstanding that God can be accused of being revengeful and of being ignorant about the virtues of love and forgiveness. Many of the actions and speeches of God, as narrated in the OT, including his approval or encouragement for slavery, are simply disgusting by any modern humanitarian standards. What can we determine from the teachings of love and forgiveness that Jesus himself [or, if you prefer, God-Son] allegedly promulgated, as reported in the New Testament? Someone may argue that all this talk by God or God-Son about loving your enemies, forgiving seventy times seven or turning the other cheek is all meaningless when viewed against the destruction and killing by God and God-Son against their so-called enemies, as revealed in the Old Testament and in Revelations.

 Can a person believe in human free will and at the same time believe in God’s so-called omniscience? This can be seen as a case that you can have your cake but you cannot eat it. Can one be considered as a contradiction of the other? From my perspective, the answer is Yes. Can there be any dispute that good and evil exist in this world? If the answer is No, then, it would be irrational to claim that God is omnipotent, omniscient and all-loving or all-caring. Such issues are discussed within these pages.

 Any criticism made in this thesis, intentional or otherwise, can be attributed to the subjective nature of the questions discussed and must not, therefore, be taken as a contemptuous view of religious beliefs, but as a standpoint or basis for the arguments and where it is clearly not an incitement to violence it should not be interpreted as such. I hope this thesis will imbue in you a realization that there are no logical arguments for the existence of God or any god, apart from wishy-washy propositions that say little or nothing, and that no empirical evidence has ever been offered in support. Arguments must be decided on the basis of their being factual or non-factual, persuasive or unpersuasive, logical or illogical. Furthermore, any stalemate needs to be resolved, if necessary, through further arguments, but still on the basis of logic and/or facts. Where a point in contention is all but metaphysical, it may not be possible of resolution through the use of logic or reason. But where an argument can be resolved through logic and/or facts, we can expect logic and/or facts to prevail.

 Should this thesis lead to a change in your views about God and religion, then it would not be wrong to say that to a certain extent you have been convinced by the arguments expounded. If you are ambivalent or remain unaffected, it may mean you are someone who is already familiar with all these arguments or issues or it may mean they are irrelevant to your personal beliefs or lifestyle. By conceding that belief in God is strictly a matter of faith, theists would free themselves from the onerous or impossible task of proving that which is non-provable. Theistic arguments for God have been principally of the god-of-the-gaps variety with vague or tenuous excuses being offered as props when countered with well-reasoned, logical arguments from non-theists. To be sure, there are different conceptions of God/god and whether they can be considered coherent would depend on whether you are a believer or non-believer.

 If we think or believe that we are living in a civilized society [debatable], should we also think or believe that everybody is free to discuss freely and logically, but not to incite violence? Writing about God/religion is not always risk-free as any discussion, whether on issues related directly or by implication, or on matters considered ancillary or only remotely connected, can evoke emotive feelings and thus use of emotive language; if I have resorted to emotive language I must say it would be the exception rather than the rule and I beseech your pardon. There is no doubt, however, that sincerely religious people can get offended even over logical arguments if such arguments impinge on their religious beliefs, and they can go berserk by taking extremist actions.

 As some people may recall, Salman Rushdie, an Indian-born British author, was threatened with a fatwa proclaimed by a top Muslim cleric, the erstwhile Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran, in February 1989, requiring not only his execution but the execution of all those involved in the publication of his book, The Satanic Verses. That The Satanic Verses raised hackles in the Islamic world was said to be due, apparently, to its irreverent depiction of the prophet Muhammad. Whether irreverent or not, as a result of the fatwa, Rushdie was living in fear and inconvenience for a number of years and to his financial cost had to employ bodyguards for personal protection. Rushdie, if my memory serves, had to change his lifestyle; for reasons of personal safety he was dependent on others for buying groceries on his behalf, even though he would have liked to hop over to the supermarket to enjoy the shopping himself. Once out of the house Rushdie had to be extra careful with his movements. That Salman Rushdie is alive today can be attributed significantly to security precautions, which included police protection, initiated by he himself and by others on his behalf. His Norwegian publisher was shot but survived and his Italian and Japanese translators were physically assaulted.  

 It is very questionable whether anyone has a right to issue a fatwa on another person’s life or to carry it out if nothing unlawful has been committed. We can say: It seems to be an irrelevant point in a democratic society with a secularist system of law and order. But things can be different in a despotic or an autocratic society whose members are subject to the decisions or whims of one particular individual. Still, democratic, secularist governments around the world have the right to condemn any fatwa deemed unreasonable or unjustifiable. In retrospect I cannot recall any open criticism or condemnation being leveled against this fatwa; what seems more memorable to me was the general passivity or apathy toward this matter. Maybe democratic secularist governments thought this had nothing to do with them. There is no doubt that religious stupidity or bigotry can cause havoc or great harm to the lives of nonbelievers, or even to believers themselves for acting irrationally or criminally because of their bigotry or narrow-mindedness.

 If you had been following the news that grabbed public attention in Feb 2006, you may recall that what had allegedly started as a satirical portrayal of an erstwhile individual were blown out of proportions. Cartoon depictions of the prophet Muhammad, one showing him with a bomb in his turban, published by a Danish newspaper [Jyllands-Posten] in Sep 2005, were seen as insensitive to Muslim religious sentiments, resulting in outbreaks of violence in various Muslim countries, burning of the Danish flag and burning or vandalizing of the building or quarters housing the Danish embassy/consulate. Boycotting of Danish goods was one of the retaliatory measures undertaken by some Muslims as Danish products were reportedly taken off the shelves in supermarkets in some Muslim countries. In Nigeria at least 138 Christians and Muslims lost their lives on account of the caricatures, according to an Internet posting. Several newspapers in other Western European countries – Italy, Spain and Holland – apparently tried to show solidarity with Jyllands-Posten as well as to lend support to the so-called right of freedom of speech by republishing the same caricatures.

 This thesis will not make you rich but I am sanguine that it will help you become a more rational and courageous person by being more circumspect of any belief system and by challenging the status quo using reason and if necessary requesting sound evidence for any extraordinary claims. Reason is a far more reliable or effective tool than a mountain of faith, especially if faith means adhering blindly to one’s religious teachings or dogma. I think it would benefit the world if religious people are less dogmatic, or more open about the implausibility or absurdity of their beliefs, or about their private doubts concerning God.

The God of the Bible is a god of delusion and the following pages provide a detailed discussion of this statement. What about the God of the Koran, known or referred to as Allah in the Muslim world? Well, based on Islamic beliefs and Islamic religious text, Allah is none other than the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, represented as a father-figure in the Old as well as the New Testament.

 It will be evident that I have quoted extensively from the Bible and to a much lesser extent from the Koran [Quran]. All biblical excerpts, unless otherwise indicated, are from the New International Version. The reason for bible-quoting, which is obvious, is to tell the reader that since we are discussing God, this is what is precisely stated in the Bible or Koran. The Bible to many Christians, especially Catholics, is the gospel of God; therefore, any biblical text quoted verbatim can be viewed by them as the inerrant word of God, an absolute truth which they are not expected to challenge or criticize, unless they opt to be irrational [or rational?]. The same can be said for the Koran, believed by Muslims as revelations from Allah [God], copied word for word from the original version of the Koran believed to be stored in Heaven.

 Against such claims of truth, we can then add by saying one particular truth seems to stand out, which may be unpalatable to many people, and that concerns the portrayal of God or Allah in the Bible or Koran. The Bible is exceptional for inconsistencies and/or contradictions, examples of which can be found in some detail in chapters 25 and 29. The Koran, too, appears controversial and has been subjected to criticism for apparent inconsistencies and/or contradictions. For the Koran, I have in this book highlighted only the inconsistencies/contradictions that came to my attention while reading the Koran [with parallel Arabic text] by N. J. Dawood [1990]. The Internet is littered with articles regarding inconsistencies and/or contradictions, Bible or Koran related, and I have no doubt that where such inconsistencies/contradictions are concerned I have covered only a small area.

Arguably, whether life is meaningful, whether there is a purpose to the universe or whether there is a paradise waiting for us after we are buried or cremated are questions that will have to rest with each individual. Grappling with questions for which there are no clear or ready answers is probably common to many of us, but on a pragmatic level we have to deal with the physical world because this is where we are living our lives. And there is one thing that needs some emphasis: One real, serious threat facing humanity in the 21st century is global warming.

 Should the reader discover no definitive answers have been provided to Q2 and Q3 that would not be unusual or unexpected, in the context of the metaphysical nature of the questions However, if there are any truths to be found in this thesis, it is for you, the reader, to decide. Finally, with tongue in cheek I have to say that if there are any errors or deficiencies in this thesis, and I am positive there are, there are a couple of possibilities [1] my carelessness or oversight, for which I sincerely apologize [2] I have been fed with wrong information and therefore cannot be faulted for passing on wrong information. Inconsistencies and/or contradictions of my own, if any, are probably eclipsed by the innumerable inconsistencies/contradictions of the Bible. Such comparison can be seen as dubious, as the Bible comprises 66 books written not by a single author but by many people. However, unlike the Bible, supposedly written with so-called divine inspiration, my thesis was written strictly from human effort. That said, there is always a first time for most or all people, as I have mentioned earlier, and I am no exception. Word-spelling is based on United States English, the choice of language for my PC. Due to automatic correction by software application, it is possible that some words in excerpts from external sources have been corrected automatically.

 Thank you for your support

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12 Responses to “God or Allah – truth or bull? – Introduction”

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

    […]           <a href = “https://richardwkc.wordpress.com/2009/12/27/god-or-allah-lets-discuss-introduction/“>Introduction</a&gt; […]

  2. Agagooga Says:

    You don’t have to quote the examples so thoroughly – you can just mention them, summarise them and link them for readers who want to know more

    Also more structure would help. Furthermore, your introduction shouldn’t be too long

    • A Little Bird Says:

      When writing Internet articles, you may wish to take note not to write in paragraphs this long. Yawningbread [www.yawningbread.org] gets such complaints frequently – and his paragraphs are shorter than yours.

      Do take note that unlike books, people don’t usually snuggle up in bed and read your Internet articles – they usually do it sitting in their chairs and so prefer far shorter paragraphs and articles.

      You may consider breaking up your posts into Introduction – Page 1, Introduction – Page 2 etc.

  3. richardwkc Says:

    Agagooga, tks for the feedback.

    Quoting of examples – yes, there are several ways to do this; quote briefly, quote extensively or quote moderately.

    quoting breiefy and providing a link when the material is not substantial is pointless; some people may prefer to be spoonfed as it is a great deal more convenient for them.

    Quoting extensively or moderately; moderately may not mean sufficient, and may risk the exclusion of info the reader may be interested in.

    Quoting extensively means greater use of space or paper; but the reader has the freedom of reading it, if the info suits him/her, or skipping it if he/she is already familiar or has no special interest in it.

    We can’t be all things to all people.

    The Intro is about 10 A4; that is not excessively long. I have come across intros which are 15 page long.

    Please feedback further re “more structure would help.” I am unclear what this means.

  4. Agagooga Says:

    I have proposed a structure in another comment somewhere

  5. A Little Bird Says:

    Hi Richard, the reply should have been directed to you, not Gabriel. My apologies.

  6. richardwkc Says:

    Tks, Little Bird, for your feedback.

    Yes, I agree with you, my articles are by typical blog standards a tad too long. A friend of mine has tipped me earlier about this.

    What you see now are, in many instances, curtailed versions [each chapter].

    I am hoping to see my thesis ending up as a bookshop item. So what appears in my blog will be expected to be the printed version.

    To re-adjust each posting to small, bite sizes would require a great deal of revamping of my script and perhaps further revamping when it comes to publication into a book.

    I hope visitors to my blog will not spend too much time per visit, if it means too exhausting or too much eye strain, or unless it suits them. They can always return to continue where they have left off.

  7. Immuplere Says:

    Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!

    Cheers
    Christian, iwspo.net

  8. richardwkc Says:

    Tks, Immuplere, for your kind comments.

    If you have friends who you think are interested in such literature, pl tell them about the blog.

  9. Leticia Good Says:

    If only more people would hear this.

  10. rirmarrifeBag Says:

    What’s Happening i am new here. I hit upon this board I have found It absolutely accommodating & it’s helped me alot. I hope to contribute and help others like it has helped me.

    Thank You, Catch You About.

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