On Discussing Islam with Muslims & Non-Muslims

Or why the Koran is so difficult to understand, why we non-Muslims should take more notice of Islam and why the religion of peace has always been the religion of war……

Ramadan, Masjid, Islamic, Shikh, Pray, Fasting, Quran

[Picture courtesy of https://pixabay.com/photos/ramadan-masjid-islamic-shikh-pray-3384043/]

My blogs tend to focus on the inherent weaknesses of Christianity, but this blog is about all Islam for a change. It’s the promised sequel to On Discussing Christianity with Christians. Even though I went to church regularly for 30 odd years, I was never a fully signed up Christian, and knowing what I now know about Christianity, I never will be. Having now looked closely at Islam, I realize I’ll never be a Muslim either, for more or less the same reasons. I still don’t profess to know much about the finer points of Islam, but the internet provides quick access to relevant data and you can grasp the basics without too much time & effort. You usually find most of the heavy lifting has already been done by far more knowledgeable people. Obviously it’s important to avoid confirmation bias, especially when researching emotive subjects like religion. Fortunately I belong to that small group of individuals who seem totally immune to all religious influences, so avoiding confirmation bias is usually not a problem. I also have nearly 30 years experience in research & development to fall back on.

  • So what is Islam?
  • What do Muslims believe?
  • Why do they believe it?
  • And why are our liberal elites a threat to our society

Islam is the world’s second largest religion, and it currently has 1.7 billion Muslim believers, the vast majority of whom are Sunni Muslims. The remaining minority [c 10%] are Shia Muslims, most of who live in Iran. For more details of the Sunni-Shia divide and why it exists see “Islam’s Sunni-Shia Divide Explained” and/or “What is the Shia-Sunni Divide?”

Generalized technical details about Islam [all supplied courtesy of “The Hadith” by Bill Warner] can be summarized as follows. Islam is defined by the Islamic Trilogy, which consists of the Koran [the words of Allah], the Sira & the Hadith [the words & actions of Mohammed]. The Sira & the Hadith together make up the Sunna of Mohammed. Mohammed is regarded as the ideal man for all times and all places, and all male Muslims are expected to emulate him. He is seen as the model political leader, model husband, model warrior, model philosopher, model religious leader and model neighbor. This Trilogy itself is a seamless whole that defines Islam, and it is the source and basis of all Islamic politics, diplomacy, history, philosophy, religion and culture. Basically, if it’s in the Trilogy then its Islam and if it’s not in the Trilogy then it’s not Islam. No one text in this Trilogy can stand by itself, and apparently it is actually impossible to fully understand any one text without the other supporting texts. This is why there’s so much confusion concerning Islam. Even Muslims have great difficulty properly understanding their Koran, and consequently, they are forced to rely on an army of specialist scholars to remedy this problem.

There are two specific aspects of Islamic doctrine that deserve special mention, namely Al Wala’ Wal Bara’ and Taqiyya.

Al Wala’ Wal Bara’ (Love and Hate for Allah’s Sake) is a concept in Islam which signifies loving and hating for the sake of Allah. Loving for the sake of Allah means to love Allah and to show loyalty to him by following his Sharia. It means to love all that is good and permissible in the Quran and Sunna. It is to love those who are obedient to Allah and to defend and assist them. Hating for the sake of Allah signifies showing anger towards those who oppose Allah and his believers, and if necessary, fight them in order to uphold and spread the way of Allah. Top of Allah’s hate list is the Jews, closely followed by the rest of us Non Muslims [Kafirs]. Al wala wal Bara is one of the more important aspects of Islam, because it guarantees the preservation of the Ummah, and it distinguishes the believer from the disbeliever. True believers must hold fast to all that is pleasing to God, and withdraw from and oppose, all that is displeasing to Allah. Its aim is to maintain the purity of Muslim society, and to rid Muslims of all non Muslim vices such as wasting time pursuing self indulgent material desires.

Taqiya or Taqiyya [taqiyyah in Arabic] is the precautionary denial of religious belief in the face of persecution. Muslims can feign apostasy to protect both the individual and a community. The practice is emphasized in minority Shia Islam, but it is much less prominent in majority Sunni Islam. However, Sunni Muslims waging jihad against non-Muslims deliberately use taqiyya to deceive the enemy, and they regard this deception as being equal to other universal military virtues, such as courage, fortitude, or self-sacrifice. Islam is often portrayed as the religion of peace, yet its adherents are responsible for the majority of terror attacks around the world. Islamic apologists emphasize Islam’s high ethical standards, and yet others stress Islam’s dual notions of truth and falsehood. Muslims are exhorted to be truthful, but deceit is both prevalent in Islam, and divinely sanctioned by the Koran. Scriptural authority for taqiyya is derived from two verses in the Koran, namely 3:28 and 16:106. Islamic scholars do agree these two Koranic verses sanction taqiyya, but they disagree as to how & why they sanction it. They also disagree about what taqiyya actually permits Muslims to do in practice. Nevertheless, Taqiyya is of fundamental importance in Islam, and practically every Islamic sect practices it.

So, even though Muslims are actually forbidden to deceive other Muslims, they can legitimately deceive non-Muslims in certain circumstances. According to Sharia Law [the body of legal rulings that defines how a Muslim should behave in all circumstances] deception is permitted in certain situations and even deemed obligatory in others. One of the few books devoted to the subject [At-Taqiyya fi’l-Islamf (Dissimulation in Islam)] was written by Sami Mukaram, a former Islamic studies professor at the American University of Beirut and author of some twenty-five books on Islam. His book clearly demonstrates the ubiquity and broad applicability of taqiyya, and it clearly demonstrates that taqiyya is not limited to Shia Muslims feigning apostasy to avoid persecution by Sunni majorities.

Sunni Muslims in Western societies are themselves minorities surrounded by their traditional enemies [Christian infidels], but in this particular case, the infidels rarely acknowledge this historic enmity. Nevertheless, regular use of taqiyya in the West proves useful in many circumstances, notably concealing the long term intentions of many proactive Muslim leaders, and defusing potential opposition to these long term aspirations. Deceiving the Kafir is just one facet of doing whatever it takes to promote the Islamic cause and speed up their long term goal, namely eventual Islamisation of the World. Head on clashes with Western culture have so far proved totally ineffective, so now it’s all about a revised game plan, namely deception & subterfuge.  As history shows, it worked extremely well for Mohammed 1400 years ago.

Combine this deception & subterfuge strategy with the recently adopted charm strategy, and who knows where it will all lead. Can’t comment on what’s happening in Europe & America, but UK children are increasingly being exposed to Muslim culture at a very young age. Mosques are now throwing open their doors and inviting us in, and they’re only too happy to show us to what being a Muslim is all about. Trouble is, we only see what they want us to see, namely the harmless rituals of the sanitized version of Islam portrayed in the West. This is not the real Islam, practiced in Islamic countries. It’s just the nominal Islam practiced by most nominal Muslims in the West, and who knows what’s really going on behind closed mosque doors.

One percent of the world’s Muslim population is 17 million. This means there must be at least 17 million more dedicated Muslims, all of whom are probably determined to carry out Allah’s wishes one way or the other. I suspect the frequent suicide bombings, and the increasing numbers of lone wolf terror attacks, are just the tip of an unseen iceberg. Eventual Islamisation of the West may seem impossible but:

  • time is on their side
  • our widespread ignorance of Islam is on their side
  • our apathy & self indulgence is on their side
  • our indifference to the potential threats posed by Islam is on their side
  • Western efforts to shut down all criticism of Islam is on their side
  • the support of many Western political establishments is one their side
  • blow back from our incessant meddling in the Middle East is on their side

Every innocent Muslim we kill over there is yet more grist to their mill. Eventually, I think we may well end up reaping what we sow, but for the time being at least, I think we can continue to enjoy our sizzling pork sausages & our succulent bacon sandwiches. More details about Taqiyya can be found here: https://www.meforum.org/2538/taqiyya-islam-rules-of-war https://www.britannica.com/topic/taqiyyah  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taqiya.

Unlike Christianity, Islam is far more than a simple religion. It’s a top down prescriptive ideology dictating every facet of a Muslim’s life, ranging from simple tasks like how to drink a glass of water [like Mohammed did], to more important issues like how to treat the Kafir [any non-Muslim]. It dictates what a Muslim should do, it dictates when he should do it, and it dictates how he should do it. The what, when & how details are contained in individual hadiths [traditions pertaining to what Mohammed allegedly said and/or did]. There are literally hundreds of thousands of these individual hadiths, all of which have been compiled and recorded in various collections called Hadiths. There are two authoritative Hadiths. The Bukhari Hadith was compiled by Muhammad Ibn Ismail Al-Bukhari, and it contains 6000,000 hadiths. The Muslim Hadith was compiled by Abu Al-Husayn Muslim. These individual hadiths are sorted into different categories, and many of them are used simply to dictate the Muslim’s every day daily life. Many others, however, are related to political Islam, and they define how Muslims should treat non Muslims [Kafirs]. Anyone who doesn’t believe/accept that Mohammed is the one true prophet of Allah, the one true god, is by definition, a Kafir. The term Kafir is a pejorative term meaning far more that simple non believer. The Koran defines Kafir as evil, disgusting and the lowest form of life and it says the Kafir may be deceived, plotted against, hated, enslaved, mocked, tortured and worse.

Unfortunately, these days there are hoards of well educated liberal elites, all of whom seem totally ignorant of even the basics of Islam, and they’re falling over themselves trying to convince us that there’s nothing to worry about, because as everyone knows, Islam is the religion of peace. These white, “well educated” but still ignorant liberals also strive endlessly to shut down all criticism of Islam, even legitimate evidence-based criticism from experts like Bill Warner and Robert Spencer. Both these experts lecture regularly on political Islam and its hidden agendas, and both attract a lot of flak from these left-leaning ignorant liberal elites.

These arrogant liberals often know nothing about Islam, yet think they know more than the experts. However, it’s well established that those who believe they know most, usually know the least. They are in fact, just full of the omnipotence of ignorance. When the abject ignorance of these liberal elites is combined with their arrogant self assurance, and their usual “good education”, they become a distinct danger to the rest of society. Their blatant ignorance of Islam is in fact, both Islam’s greatest ally, and our biggest threat. They automatically label anyone voicing concerns about the potential threat posed by political Islam, as a racist, bigoted “Islamophobe”, and they strive endlessly to shut down all criticism of Islam. In doing this, these arrogant ignorant liberals are simply aiding & abetting the Islamic cause, albeit unknowingly.

Having now realized what political Islam actually is, and more importantly, what it means to real Muslims, I personally share both Bill Warner’s and Robert Spencer’s concern. There are far too many Koran passages inculcating hatred for us non-believers, all of which for many Muslims, are just as true today as they were 1400 years ago when Mohammed first cited them. Here are some of the hostile verses that can be found in the Koran:

2:65 Allah transforms disobedient Jews into apes: “And well you know there were those among you [Jews] that transgressed the Sabbath, and We said to them, “˜Be you apes, miserably slinking!” 

2:89 Unbelievers, particularly Jews, are accursed: “When there came to them [Jews] a Book from Allah, confirming what was with them — and they aforetimes prayed for victory over the unbelievers — when there came to them that they recognized, they disbelieved in it; and the curse of Allah is on the unbelievers. 

2:191-193 Fight and kill unbelievers until “religion is Allah’s,” i.e. Islamic law rules all societies: “And slay them wherever you come upon them, and expel them from where they expelled you; persecution is more grievous than slaying. But fight them not by the Holy Mosque until they should fight you there; then, if they fight you, slay them — such is the recompense of unbelievers, but if they give over, surely Allah is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. Fight them, till there is no persecution and the religion is Allah’s; then if they give over, there shall be no enmity save for evildoers.”

3:28 Don’t take unbelievers as friends and allies, unless it is for “fear of them,” i.e. deceptively for protection of oneself or of Islam: “Let not the believers take the unbelievers for friends, rather than the believers — for whoso does that belongs not to Allah in anything — unless you have a fear of them. Allah warns you that You beware of Him, and unto Allah is the homecoming.”

3:110-112 Muslims are the best of people, Jews have earned Allah’s anger: “You are the best nation ever brought forth to men, bidding to honour, and forbidding dishonour, and believing in Allah. Had the People of the Book believed, it were better for them; some of them are believers, but the most of them are ungodly. They will not harm you, except a little hurt; and if they fight with you, they will turn on you their backs; then they will not be helped. Abasement shall be pitched on them, wherever they are come upon, except they be in a bond of Allah, and a bond of the people; they will be laden with the burden of Allah’s anger, and poverty shall be pitched on them; that, because they disbelieved in Allah’s signs, and slew the Prophets without right; that, for that they acted rebelliously and were transgressors.”

3:151 Strike terror in unbelievers: “We will cast into the hearts of the unbelievers terror, for that they have associated with Allah that for which He sent down never authority; their lodging shall be the Fire; evil is the lodging of the evildoers.”

3:181 Jews are bound for hell: “Allah has heard the saying of those who said, “˜Surely Allah is poor, and we are rich.” We shall write down what they have said, and their slaying the Prophets without right, and We shall say, “˜Taste the chastisement of the burning.–

4:3 Sexual slavery of infidel women:“If you fear that you will not act justly towards the orphans, marry such women as seem good to you, two, three, four; but if you fear you will not be equitable, then only one, or what your right hands own; so it is likelier you will not be partial.”

4:160 Jews do evil, turn people away from Allah: “And for the evildoing of those of Jewry, We have forbidden them certain good things that were permitted to them, and for their barring from Allah’s way many”¦” 

5:17 Christians — believers in divinity of Christ — are unbelievers: “They are unbelievers who say, “˜Allah is the Messiah, Mary’s son.” Say: “˜Who then shall overrule Allah in any way if He desires to destroy the Messiah, Mary’s son, and his mother, and all those who are on earth?” For to Allah belongs the kingdom of the heavens and of the earth, and all that is between them, creating what He will. Allah is powerful over everything.”

5:33 Crucify or amputate the hands and feet of those who make war against Allah and Muhammad: “This is the recompense of those who fight against Allah and His Messenger, and hasten about the earth, to do corruption there: they shall be slaughtered, or crucified, or their hands and feet shall alternately be struck off; or they shall be banished from the land. That is a degradation for them in this world; and in the world to come awaits them a mighty chastisement.”

5:41 Jews listen to falsehood and pervert the meaning of their Scriptures: “O Messenger, let them not grieve thee that vie with one another in unbelief, such men as say with their mouths “˜We believe” but their hearts believe not; and the Jews who listen to falsehood, listen to other folk, who have not come to thee, perverting words from their meanings, saying, “˜If you are given this, then take it; if you are not given it, beware!” Whomsoever Allah desires to try, thou canst not avail him anything with Allah. Those are they whose hearts Allah desired not to purify; for them is degradation in this world; and in the world to come awaits them a mighty chastisement.”

5:51 Don’t take Jews and Christians as friends and allies: “O believers, take not Jews and Christians as friends; they are friends of each other. Whoso of you makes them his friends is one of them. Allah guides not the people of the evildoers.”

5:59-60 Jews cursed, made into apes and swine: “Say: “˜People of the Book, do you blame us for any other cause than that we believe in Allah, and what has been sent down to us, and what was sent down before, and that most of you are ungodly?” Say: “˜Shall I tell you of a recompense with Allah, worse than that? Whomsoever Allah has cursed, and with whom He is wroth, and made some of them apes and swine, and worshippers of idols — they are worse situated, and have gone further astray from the right way.–

5:64 Jews accursed: “The Jews have said, “˜Allah’s hand is fettered.” Fettered are their hands, and they are cursed for what they have said. Nay, but His hands are outspread; He expends how He will. And what has been sent down to thee from thy Lord will surely increase many of them in insolence and unbelief; and We have cast between them enmity and hatred, till the Day of Resurrection. As often as they light a fire for war, Allah will extinguish it. They hasten about the earth, to do corruption there; and Allah loves not the workers of corruption.”

5:72 Christians are unbelievers: “They are unbelievers who say, “’Allah is the Messiah, Mary’s son.’ For the Messiah said, ‘Children of Israel, serve God, my Lord and your Lord. Verily whoso associates with Allah anything, Allah shall prohibit him entrance to Paradise, and his refuge shall be the Fire; and wrongdoers shall have no helpers.’”

5:82 Jews most hostile to the Muslims: “Thou wilt surely find the most hostile of men to the believers are the Jews and the idolaters; and thou wilt surely find the nearest of them in love to the believers are those who say “˜We are Christians”; that, because some of them are priests and monks, and they wax not proud.”

6:91 Jews deny, conceal divine revelations: “They measured not Allah with His true measure when they said, “˜Allah has not sent down aught on any mortal.” Say: “˜Who sent down the Book that Moses brought as a light and a guidance to men? You put it into parchments, revealing them, and hiding much; and you were taught that you knew not, you and your fathers.” Say: “˜Allah.” Then leave them alone, playing their game of plunging.”

6:146 Jews insolent: “And to those of Jewry We have forbidden every beast with claws; and of oxen and sheep We have forbidden them the fat of them, save what their backs carry, or their entrails, or what is mingled with bone; that We recompensed them for their insolence; surely We speak truly.”

7:166 Jews are apes: “And when they [Jews] turned in disdain from that forbidding We said to them, “˜Be you apes, miserably slinking!–

8:12 Allah will terrorize unbelievers; Muslims should behead them: “When thy Lord was revealing to the angels, “˜I am with you; so confirm the believers. I shall cast into the unbelievers hearts terror; so smite above the necks, and smite every finger of them!–

8:39 Fight unbelievers until Islam reigns supreme: “Fight them, till there is no persecution and the religion is Allah’s entirely; then if they give over, surely Allah sees the things they do.”

8:60 Make war against enemies of Allah: “Make ready for them whatever force and strings of horses you can, to terrify thereby the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others besides them that you know not; Allah knows them. And whatsoever you expend in the way of Allah shall be repaid you in full; you will not be wronged.”

9:5 Slay the idolaters: “Then, when the sacred months are drawn away, slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them, and confine them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they repent, and perform the prayer, and pay the alms, then let them go their way; Allah is All-forgiving, All-compassionate.”

9:28 Idolaters unclean: “O believers, the idolaters are indeed unclean; so let them not come near the Holy Mosque after this year of theirs. If you fear poverty, Allah shall surely enrich you of His bounty, if He will; Allah is All-knowing; All-wise.”

9:29 Fight and subjugate the Jews and Christians: “Fight those who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden — such men as practise not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book — until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled.”

9:30 Jews and Christians assailed by Allah: “The Jews say, ‘Ezra is the Son of Allah’; the Christians say, ‘The Messiah is the Son of Allah.’ That is the utterance of their mouths, conforming with the unbelievers before them. Allah assail them! How they are perverted!”

9:31 Jews and Christians have taken their clergy and holy men as lords: “They have taken their rabbis and their monks as lords apart from Allah, and the Messiah, Mary’s son — and they were commanded to serve but One Allah; there is no god but He; glory be to Him, above that they associate.”

9:73 Be harsh with unbelievers: “O Prophet, struggle with the unbelievers and hypocrites, and be thou harsh with them; their refuge is Gehenna — an evil homecoming!”

9:111 Paradise guaranteed to those who kill and are killed for Allah: “Allah has bought from the believers their selves and their possessions against the gift of Paradise; they fight in the way of Allah; they kill, and are killed; that is a promise binding upon Allah in the Torah, and the Gospel, and the Koran; and who fulfils his covenant truer than Allah? So rejoice in the bargain you have made with Him; that is the mighty triumph.”

9:123 Fight the unbelievers, be harsh with them: “O believers, fight the unbelievers who are near to you; and let them find in you a harshness; and know that Allah is with the god fearing.”

47:4 Behead and slaughter the unbelievers; take others captive: “When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks, then, when you have made wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds; then set them free, either by grace or ransom, till the war lays down its loads. So it shall be; and if Allah had willed, He would have avenged Himself upon them; but that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will not send their works astray.”

48:29 Be merciful to believers, not unbelievers: “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and those who are with him are hard against the unbelievers, merciful one to another.”

62:6 Jews should long for death: “Say: ‘”You of Jewry, if you assert that you are the friends of Allah, apart from other men, then do you long for death, if you speak truly.”‘”

98:6 Unbelievers are the worst of creatures: “The unbelievers of the People of the Book and the idolaters shall be in the Fire of Gehenna, therein dwelling forever; those are the worst of creatures.”

The above passages are taken from the Koran itself, but Islam actually devotes some 51 % of the Trilogy to the Kafir. This enormous interest in the Kafir can be broken down as follows [statistics again courtesy of “The Hadith” by Bill Warner]:

  • 64% of the Koran is devoted to the Kafir.
  • 37 % of the Hadith is devoted to the Kafir.
  • 81 % of the Sira is devoted to the Kafir.

The enormous amount of time and effort devoted to the Kafir, both in describing how awful we non Muslims are and in prescribing how best to deal with us, lays waste to any claim that Islam is the religion of peace. Islam is in fact the religion of war, and this conflict with the non Muslim world has been raging on and off for 1400 years. Past conflicts were invariably conventional, symmetrical clashes between two large armies. They simply slogged it out to see who would be the eventual victor. Today we see an increasing preference for asymmetrical warfare in which small groups of Islamists, and even lone wolves, target innocent non Muslims civilians. The more Kafirs they kill and the more casualties they cause the better. These Muslim Jihadi’s are brain washed to believe that if they get killed carrying out jihad [Allah’s will], then they themselves will be fast tracked into Muslim heaven and greeted by vestal virgins eagerly awaiting their arrival. See “Tears of Jihad” by Bill Warner for a rough estimate of how many Kafirs have died as a direct result of political acts of jihad.

I appreciate the Old Testament [OT] contains lots of unsavory stuff, and one can point to many verses advocating violence against perceived enemies of the Jews. Today, however, apart from a tiny minority of hair brained fundamentalists, most of today’s Christians now think the violence found in the OT is totally irrelevant, and certainly nothing to do with Christianity. The Koran, however, is a totally different beast. The Koran is just as perfect today as it was when it was first written 1400 years ago. Muslims the world over still sees it as a perfect record of Allah’s perfect words as relayed by Allah’s perfect prophet. Nothing has changed for 1400 years and nothing will ever change because perfection cannot be improved. That’s why today’s transgressors are still punished in exactly the same way they were punished 1400 years ago. In a nomadic society deprived of our more conventional bricks & mortar solutions, removing a thief’s hand as punishment was understandable. Of necessity, all punishments back then had to be implemented on the hoof so to speak.

However, nothing ever changes where Islam is concerned and even today, what Allah prescribed 1400 years ago is what Allah prescribes now. Muslims have never “built cars & trains & boats & planes”, and they never will. Most of today’s Muslims now rely on oil revenues to pay others to do it for them. The main focus of the Muslim world is, and always will be, the promotion of Islam and the spreading of Sharia Law. In the eyes of Muslims, the Non-Muslim world must be totally eradicated, because only then, will their final Muslim peace descend & reign supreme. So what all Kafirs should know, but don’t, is that this covert “final peace aspiration” of all Muslims, can only be achieved at our expense. However, to be perfectly fair to both Islam and Muslims, we Kafirs are given a choice.

  • we can become Muslims
  • We can become slaves
  • Or we can become dead

Muslims not only consider Mohammed to be the one true perfect prophet of the one true perfect god, they themselves are brain washed from birth to believe Muslims are themselves special people deserving of special treatment by all non Muslims. This superiority mindset explains why many Muslims consider us Kafirs to be both unsavory and unclean. This self-appointed air of superiority is not a problem in its own right. Muslims & their extremely demanding Allah are no different in this respect, to Jews and their equally demanding God. The problems start when Muslims come to the west, and then expect us to change our ways and accommodate their archaic customs, simply because they claim they’re special and deserving of special consideration by us mere Kafirs. They simply see us as unwanted impediments slowing down implementation of Allah’s plans for a perfect peace, a peace which can only be implemented once the Kafir problem has been resolved. All Muslims therefore have a duty to promote, protect and implement Islam and Sharia Law wherever & whenever possible. Kafirs must go, and the sooner the better. Anything speeding up this process is acceptable in the eyes of real Muslims. Their options include old fashioned physical jihad, new fashioned financial Jihad and simple everlasting emotional Jihad. The latter involves nothing more than giving a sympathetic ear to those engaged in more positive actions.

Physical Jihad was always the preferred option in the past, and many still see it as a fast track to heaven and the awaiting vestal virgins, but these days the battle for hearts and minds is moving away from the conventional battlefield, and away from battles fought using conventional weapons. Today the battle is being fought covertly behind closed doors, and their main weapon is mega money, and ready access to unlimited funds. Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries are currently investing billions in the West to win the unseen battle for hearts & minds. This enables them to offer American Ivy League universities enormous grants so that later, they can apply pressure to look more favorably on their cause. It enables them to finance institutions designed covertly to influence opinion. It enables them to finance institutions designed to misdirect attention and sow misinformation about long term Islamic plans. It enables them to purchase influence by corrupting strategic politicians and strategic public officials, and it enables them to finance the construction of more & more mosques to recruit more and more Islamist followers. The covert nature of all these multifaceted Islamist activities makes it virtually impossible for non Muslims to assess the full extent of their effect in the West. However, we do know these Islamists are highly motivated. We do know what their ultimate goal is. We do know much of their covert activity is focused within the walls of the many mosques now existing in Western societies. We also know they have access to unlimited funds. Therefore, draw your own conclusions.

The pendulum is slowly swinging their way, and  typically, our response to this unseen onslaught is acceptance of more & more state surveillance, and acceptance of increased state control, both of which we consider prices worth paying to combat this ever growing threat. As a result, the final end product in the West, the one that Orwell described in his book called 1984, looms ever closer on the horizon. Orwell’s only mistake was to under estimate how long it would take. Had he called his book 2084 instead of 1984, he would be heralded today as the ultimate soothsayer. What’s now needed, both in Europe & in America, is a concerted Christian push back, preferably led by the Pope. Unfortunately, the current Pope has recently gone rogue. Like most Muslims, he now seems to think the sun still shines forth out of Mohammed’s arse. He’s yet another well-meaning idiot being manipulated by Muslim clerics and other leaders of the Islamic world. They welcome the Pope’s current support, and behind the scene, they will continue to pull his strings as needed, and he will continue to dance to their tune.……but I digress.

I think we can say with some confidence, that even today, most if not all Muslims, both Sunni & Shia are systematically denied access to alternative views whilst growing up, and they are thoroughly brain washed from birth into believing they are special people deserving of special treatment by non Muslims. Muslims are not unlike the Jews in this respect. Muslims are also threatened with serious repercussions, even death, if they abandon Islam, and from a very early age, they are systematically taught that all Islam is good & everything else is bad. Their very black & white ideology divides the world into two parts, namely dar al Islam [House of Islam] and dar al Harb [House of War]. Dar al Islam [House of Islam] is often wrongly called the House of Peace by those claiming Islam means peace. Islam actually means submission (to the will of Allah). The binary Muslim world therefore consists of two categories of people, namely the Muslim ummah [community of Muslim believers] and the House of War inhabited by the unbelievers [we Kafirs]. Muslims are told The House of War will be at conflict – and subject to conflict – until it converts to Islam, and joins the ummah in peace or submission. Thus, the peace alluded to by many Muslim apologists, is in fact, the final peace that will descend to earth, only after the last non Muslim has been converted, eradicated or enslaved.

In essence, Islam’s philosophy is very simple. “If you’re not with us, then you’re against us”. This doesn’t mean every Muslim should be viewed as a threat to every non Muslim. Just as most Christians are nominal Christians, most Muslims are just nominal Muslims, happy to accept certain aspects of Islam & just pay lip service to the rest. This is especially true of Muslims now living in Western countries. They subscribe to the sanitized version of Islam currently presented to us in the West. To see real Islam in action you need to look further east. The major Islamic states are Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Mauritania, and Yemen but see Islam by Country for a more detailed breakdown of Muslim populations, both by country & by population. And as I’ve already mentioned above, if only one percent of the Muslim population were die-hard Islamists prepared to engage in some form of jihad, this translates to 17 million threats to our way of life.

Islamic culture and Western culture are just like oil and water – totally incompatible. Therefore multiculturalism is not usually an option where Muslims are concerned. Most Muslims in the West do not want to integrate into our culture, preferring instead to live together in Muslim ghettos embedded throughout our towns and cities. Eventually these ghettos become no go zones for both the local authorities and the surrounding indigenous population – effectively they become micro Islamic states within a state. Not all Muslims fail to integrate. Some do chose to compromise their rigid Islamic values and go part native. The problem facing Europe & America is not these Westernized Muslims; it’s those Muslims who blatantly refuse to compromise their rigid Islamic values. They migrate to the West from their Islamic world, usually as economic migrants rather than real refugees, and they set up shop in our communities. They then start demanding that we change our ways to accommodate their archaic values, and they make their demands, simply because they consider themselves worthy of special treatment. One of the more visible examples of such demands, is their insistence that we change our well established animal slaughter policies to accommodate their halal dietary needs. This usually becomes a real issue in our education system once the numbers of Muslim  children become significant. Our concerted response to this audacity should be a simple go f*ck yourself! Unfortunately the response from our liberal elites and our political classes is a tad more accommodating. Muslims say jump, and they ask how high?

The clashing of these incompatible cultures, and our reactions to it, are both becoming major problems throughout Europe. In the UK, these problems manifest themselves in many ways, ranging from Burka-clad Muslim women berating Western women for not wearing the hijab, to the systematic sexual exploitation of our young girls for profit by Muslim rape gangs. Effectively, this is real Islam being practiced by real Muslims living in the West. A minority of male Muslim’s simply feel they are entitled to do this to lowly female Kafirs. I stress again that not all Muslims currently living in the west are tarred with the same brush, but we do need to wake up and realise what’s going on and why. We in the West are now poised on the threshold of a slippery slope, one that could eventually lead to potential disaster if we continue to ignore the potential threats posed by Islam.

Our vocal liberal elites and our political classes all seem totally unconcerned by this obvious clash of cultures, and they seem determined to keep it that way. They’re already striving to shut down all criticism of Islam, and they’re already showing signs of being prepared to compromise our hard won rights to freedom of speech. Anyone trying to raise awareness of this potential problem is already automatically labelled as both a bigoted racist, and an ignorant Islamophobe, and if they do eventually get their way, “Islamophobia” could well  become a criminal offence in the not too distant future. Islamists are already pushing hard to achieve this, and why wouldn’t they? Muslims are, after all, very special people deserving of special consideration, and they’re certainly not going to tolerate any criticism from us lowly Kafirs. What we non Muslims do, both now and in the near future, could well determine whether our children & grandchildren continue to enjoy the many benefits we now take for granted, Given the widespread apathy, and the endemic laissez faire attitudes found in most Western societies, I fear there’s a very good chance that some of them will end up as Muslims before they die.

Well that’s a flavor of Islam and Islamic beliefs, and some of the reasons why we in the West should show more interest in Muslims and where they’re coming from.  Time now to quickly examine the origins of their Koran and assess its true veracity. Muslim’s regard their Koran as the last of a series of divine messages, that started with messages revealed to Adam, and ended with messages revealed to Muhammad. According to Muslims, these verbal messages from God were revealed to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. These “messages” started to arrive in 609 CE, and they continued at random intervals, until Muhammad’s death in 632 CE. The Koran is a record of these many messages that Mohammed allegedly received from the one true god Allah. Muhammad’s documented experiences whilst receiving these messages have now been well documented, notably by Ali Sina, by M. A. Sherlock and by F. W. Burleigh. These authors demonstrate that Muhammad’s many documented experiences, spread out over two decades, are not unlike Paul’s single documented experience on the road to Damascus. In other words Mohammed was a chronic epileptic suffering from temporal lobe epilepsy [TLE]. Muslims having trouble accepting this fact should not take my word for it. They can check out any or all of the three sources cited above. Better still, they can Google “Mohammed+TLE” and just follow their noses.

So either the Koran is the unalterable word of Allah, the one true god, as Muslims claim, or the Koran is just the demented ramblings of a deluded, chronic epileptic, suffering from temporal lobe epilepsy. Personally, I think the answer is all too obvious, but then I wasn’t indoctrinated from birth, and forced to accept a belief system that advocates death for apostates. A quick scan of the Koran indicates that it’s a random mixture of unrelated topics, and many of the earlier entries contradict later entries. The key to unlocking “Allah’s true meaning” is abrogation. Essentially this means an earlier entry is declared redundant if it contradicts a later entry i.e. when & where necessary, later verses tend to trump earlier verses. It’s no wonder most Muslims haven’t a clue what Allah was trying to tell them via Mohammed, and little wonder it takes a hoard of Koran specialist and experts to unravel it all.

In this respect Islam is even worse than Christianity, but is that any great surprise? The Koran is after all, partly the demented ramblings of a deluded psychotic epileptic suffering from temporal lobe epilepsy. The world is full of them and always has been, but whereas in Paul & Mohammed’s days, they were all deemed to be afflicted with the sacred disease , today we know they just suffered from a fairly common affliction called temporal lobe epilepsy [TLE]. The complexities & contradictions found in the Koran are exactly what one would expect from a simple chronological compilation of Mohammed’s many random delusional ramblings spread out over a period of some twenty years. Obviously, even the great Mohammed sometimes had difficulty keeping track of what he allegedly said. I also suspect his overall vision of Islam’s potential matured over time, and in some ways, one has to admire the brilliance of his creation, a simple self perpetuating war machine designed to achieve eventual world domination. It’s still got some way to go, but Mohammed ensured Islam’s many early successes in the Middle East and even after his death, he ensured the establishment of an Islamic world to rival the already well established Christian world. The two opposing ideologies have been competing for world domination ever since.

Christians claim Christianity’s pedigree is based on many reliable witnesses to an alleged resurrection in Jerusalem, but this alleged resurrection is itself based entirely on Peter’s unsubstantiated and unverifiable claims that Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem [see On Discussing Christianity with Christians]. Likewise, Islam’s pedigree seems to be based entirely on Mohammed’s unsubstantiated & unverifiable claims that he received messages from Allah via the angel Gabriel. It cannot be just simple coincidence that both Christianity & Islam now appear to stem originally from psychotic delusions experienced by specific individuals suffering from temporal lobe epilepsy. Looking back at history, we can see many other instances that probably resulted from similar experiences, notably Joan of Arc’ visions in 1429 and possibly John Wesley’s Alder Gate experience in 1738. However, although we can now readily explain the origins of both Christianity and Islam in terms of temporal lobe epilepsy, this simpler explanation will not convince vested interests wishing to preserve the current status quo, especially the hoards that currently enjoy gainful employment in the religion industry. I fully understand why the medical profession doesn’t speak out in favor of these new developments. The Vatican is a potent force, and it would readily destroy the career of anyone who broke ranks and stuck their head above the parapet. Likewise with Islam, but here the threat could potentially be more lethal. In both cases the orthodox machinery enforces the orthodox doctrine to ensure its survivals, and it does so by exploiting its three greatest assets, namely poverty, ignorance and our innate, biologically-driven need to believe.

So both Mohammed’s experiences whilst receiving his many revelations and Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus suggest that Islam & Christianity are just byproducts produced when psychotic experiences triggered by TLE are misinterpreted as divine revelations. This ignorance was understandable 1400 years ago, in the era of the sacred disease, but today we now recognize Mohammed’s & Paul’s experiences for what they really were. Paul’s failure to properly understand the true nature of his experience on the road to Damascus spawned Christianity & Mohammed’s failure to properly understand the true nature of his many similar experiences spawned Islam. Both Christians and Muslims will obviously be offended by these contentious claims, but I think the facts now speak for themselves.

Hope this blog about Islam helps you better understand where all these lone wolf Muslim “terrorists” are coming from & why. They are simply carrying out the jihad prescribed by Allah, and they are being encouraged to do this by the many unseen forces lurking on the internet, and by the Islamist minorities lurking in the ever increasing number of mosques in the Western world. In some ways I can sympathize with the misguided individuals carrying out these atrocities. The West [notably America] has fucked up the Middle East with its endless interventions to protect oil interests, and this intervention has resulted in the death/injury of thousands of innocent Muslim men, women & children, and all because, our misguided Western politicians think they can pursue our oil interests in the Middle East, and at the same time, democratize these Islamic countries. Imagine if it was the other way round with Muslims trying to fuck up America and/or Europe, and it was Muslim drones killing thousands of our innocent men, women & children. Need I say more……….?

As we sow so shall we reap. The 9/11 attack in America was just a wake up call, and a simple case of chickens coming home to roost. Unfortunately, most American still don’t understand this, and American foreign policy still continues to be driven by the industrial-military complex’s needs for profit. War is a very very profitable business and they know it. Their business model is very simple. Benefit from other people’s wars wherever possible, and if necessary, start your own wars. Our exploits in the Middle East have stirred up a hornets’ nest, and the final consequences of our incessant selfish meddling in other people’s affairs remains to be seen. Thousands of fighting-age, real Muslims are heading to the West every day, and in Europe at least, politicians see this mass migration as a potential solution to the looming demographic problems facing Europe. I think time will prove them wrong, and I also think a Lebanese-style civil war somewhere in Europe is a distinct possibility in the not too distant future.

For the last 1400 years Islam has threatened the non Muslim world, and it will continue to do so until there is no non-Muslim world to threaten. Being the perfect system, devised by the perfect Muslim, Islam itself will never change. Hopefully, what might change is the number of brave Muslims choosing to abandon Islam in search of less demanding, more secular world views. We should encourage Muslims to leave Islam, and warmly welcome those who dare to leave Islam, because leaving Islam is not easy. At best, it means being rejected by other family members, and at worst, it could mean being killed by other family members. This is not murder in the eyes of Islam-it’s simply Allah’s prescribed punishment for apostates. Real devout Muslims always put love of Allah before their love of family, just like some more fundamental Christians put love of their Christian God before love of their families. This extreme religiosity is simply an extreme response, to extreme innate, biologically driven needs to believe. See Religiosity-Biology or Brain Washing? for more on this subject.

Well, that’s all I want to say about Islam for now. If you take only one thing away with you let it be this:

Islam is not the religion of peace. Islam is a simple, self-perpetuating war machine programmed by Mohammed for eventual world domination. It has threatened the non Muslim world for 1400 years, and it will continue to do so, until the non-Muslim world ceases to exist. Only then can the covert “final peace aspirations” of all Muslims be realised. Only then, will their final Muslim peace descend & reign supreme.

The West needs to recognize the Islamic threat, and our liberal elites need to wake up and accept they’re simply being played by a smarter opponent. All round education about Islamic teaching is the only key to this perpetual dilemma confronting the West.

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Majority Normality v Minority Normality

As I grew up, I slowly began to realize that my perceived normality was not always the same as other people’s perceived normality. My minority normality seemed to differ from their majority normality in many different ways, and I often had difficulty understanding why they so often seemed interested in uninteresting things, and often totally indifferent to interesting things. Nor could I understand why my minority normality often clashed socially with their majority normality. People seemed to be upset by the strangest things and they often seemed unable to understand my lack of indifference to many things. To survive in their world, I eventually learned to accept that my minority normality was both different to, and subservient to, their majority normality. Because there were plenty of them and only one of me, they automatically got to define both normal acceptability and normal unacceptability. If I was going to be accepted by these often strange people, and live in their majority normal world, I soon learned that I had to accommodate their differences as best I could, because they showed little or no interest in accommodating my differences. Consequently I spent my childhood and most of my adult life hiding behind a phony façade erected to give some semblance of majority normality.

Until quite recently, I had no real idea why my minority normality was so different to their majority normality. My interests were often different and my assessment of social situations was often at odds with their assessments. In a nutshell I was prone to committing social blunders, and all too often, I did so unknowingly. None of this endeared me to normal people and it didn’t make for a happy childhood and it certainly didn’t do me any favours post puberty. My adolescence is best described as an unmitigated disaster, and my self esteem & self confidence has never fully recovered.

Today I’m a lot older and a little wiser, and I now better understand the origins of these differences in perceived normality. I also now realize there’s probably no such thing as a normal brain and normal reality. There’s the majority normality experienced by the many and then there are numerous forms of minority normality experienced by different minorities. None of us has any say in the normality we end up with. Nature deals the hand and we have to accept it. Most appear normal or approximate to normal. The unlucky ones are noticeably different, either physically, intellectually or both.

My first realization of the extent of these potential differences was my realization some decades ago, that other people have what I can only describe as “visual memories”. They seem able to recall past memories either as simple mental pictures or, in certain cases, as mental videos they can mentally rewind and replay as and when required. I still remember the difficulties I had absorbing this remarkable revelation. I still don’t know/understand how I personally recall my memories, but I do know it doesn’t involve any pictures or any other form of mental visualization. Apparently a minority of people do have zero visual memory. It’s called aphantasia, and prior to this awareness I was totally unaware that many others were different.

The second transforming revelation came even later, when I realized some people see words in color and yet others actually taste words, and all because of a little bit of non standard cross wiring in their brains. This non standard cross wiring simply triggers non standard responses. It’s called synesthesia. For example for a minority of people, a simple audio prompt triggers both the normal audio response and an attenuated visual or taste response. Even more recently, I’ve become aware that our own temporal lobe wiring dictates the extent of our religiosity. Some people seem biologically wired to need religion in their lives, and in extreme cases, their need to believe subjugates all rational thought and causes them to automatically reject anything & everything perceived as a threat to their belief. Others, me included, seem totally impervious to all religious influences and exhibit no signs of religiosity. I’ve already blogged on this religiosity topic [see Religiosity-Biology or Brain Washing?]

To survive in the majority normal world and to gain its acceptance, I spent my life hiding behind my façade of apparent normality and I learned to accommodate majority normality as best I could, although not always successfully. Today I’m less inclined to try. I still appreciate the existence of majority and minority normality’s and to some extent I now better understand why they exist, but increasingly I find myself thinking, even saying in extreme situations:

“I try to understand and accommodate you’re differences, but you make no attempt to reciprocate, so just fuck off and be normal. Go live in your largely brain dead normal world & just continue to lie back and be spoon fed with the banal crap spewed out 24/7 by  social media platforms. And continue to soak up the misinformation spewed out 24/7 by traditional mainstream media. Maybe one day, when you’re a lot older and hopefully a little wiser, maybe then the penny will drop, and you’ll finally appreciate what I’m now trying to tell you. Not that I really care that much. I’ll be dead, and long forgotten, well before then……..”

The Christianity Merry Go Round

Or how to debate Christian apologists like Gary Habermas and win……..

Real Christians are defined by their unshakeable belief that Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem. In reality they simply choose to believe what can never be proved. It’s called faith!!! Churches are very adept at peddling the resurrection myth, knowing full well their flocks will swallow both their assurances & their arguments, either because they know no better, or because it satisfies their own personal need to believe. Usually it’s a combination of both. However, when push comes to shove, the circular nature of the Christian argument soon surfaces. This circular argument can be started more or less anywhere in the circle [see 1-5 below], and initially at least, the apologist argument appears very cogent. The trick is to keep pushing them round and round the loop until the penny eventually drops, and even they eventually recognize the futility of their circular argument.

We can use Habermas’ own claims to illustrate the nature of the Christian merry go round. It goes something like this:

  1. The resurrection happened because the gospels say so
  2. The gospels say so because Paul said so [1-Corinthians]
  3. Paul said so because Peter said so [Peter & Paul’s first meeting c 36 CE]
  4. Peter said so because he was there
  5. Peter was there because the resurrection happened
  6. The resurrection happened because the gospels say so
  7. The gospels say so because Paul said so [1-Corinthians]

And so & so on………..Claims 4 &5 are both unjustified claims, because there’s still no credible independent evidence to back them up. In reality they’re both just necessary unverified assumptions, and I find it amazing that Christianity has managed to survive for 2000 years. Initially it was not unlike the many rival pagan religions, but its existence today pays tribute to its three saving graces, namely, like all religions, it thrives best on poverty, ignorance and a liberal top down application of the tried & tested mushroom policy [keep them in the dark & feed them plenty of shit].

In trying to convince us that the resurrection claims in the gospels can be trusted, Habermas unintentionally draws attention to Christianity’s Achilles heel, and in doing so, he inadvertently opens the door to a rational counter argument that even he would have great difficulty dismissing. Because claims 4 & 5 are both unverifiable assumptions, we can legitimately revise them as follows:

  • Peter said so because he lied
  • Peter lied because there was no resurrection

This is the Achilles heel counter argument which even Habermas would find difficult to dismiss. It’s both simple & straight forward, and it puts paid to the endless apologist loop. The resulting revised model of Christianity does better fits the known/accepted facts, but it also come with a significant downside that’s unacceptable to Christians. In the revised model Jesus is relegated to mere mortal status. Anyway, enough of the distracting generalisations, Back to Habermas and the specifics of Christianity.  To justify both this Achilles heel counter claim, and my earlier assertion that his argument is circular in nature, we must look very closely at what Habermas actually says about Peter & Paul’s critical first meeting in Jerusalem c 36 CE. He actually says far to much about certain aspects of this meeting, and far too little about other equally relevant aspects of this meeting.

In all his many gospel presentations , Habermas always tries to imply both James & Peter were equally significant players. He says the same thing in every presentation, namely that Paul spent 15 days with Peter & Jesus’ brother James. He also speculates far too much about what may or may not have happened at this critical meeting. Galatians 1:19 does appear to indicate that James was present at Peter & Paul’s first meeting at some stage, but we have nothing to indicate why he was present, or for how long. Christianity has no choice but to assume Paul’s entire knowledge of the alleged Jerusalem resurrection was actually gained at this meeting. However, who exactly, said what exactly, has to be pure speculation, because we have no record of this meeting other than what Paul  tell us in Galatians 1:18-19. Habermas chooses to ignore all this, and he make all sorts of wild speculative claims about the nature of this meeting. I can only assume he does this to strengthen the unacknowledged weakness in the orthodox model of Christianity, namely a distinct possibility that Paul’s first meeting with Peter was not witnessed.

Habermas also says nothing at all about the very strange circumstances surrounding this critical first meeting, circumstances that all suggest the quick reference to James in Galatians 1:19 is probably just a simple interpolation added by unknown hand to obviate any suggestions that this critical first meeting was in fact just a simple one to one meeting without witnesses. There were plenty of motives to do it and plenty of time to do it. Our earliest reasonably complete version of Galatians is dated c 200 CE. There’s already been considerable debate concerning possible interpolations in Galatians 1:19, but so far, this debate has focused entirely on querying the identity of James, rather than questioning his presence at this first meeting. Christianity obviously has no incentive to recognize this interpolation, and certainly no wish to acknowledge it.

Well that’ the general outline of my case. Now for the supporting evidence.

In Galatians 1: 18-19 Paul specifically states:“Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother”. That last simple phrase “only James, the Lord’s brother” in Galatians 1:19 seems to be just a simple after thought but in actual fact, it’s one of the most significant phrases in the New Testament, because without it, Paul’s first meeting with Peter does revert to a simple 1:1 meeting without witnesses. This would mean Paul’s entire knowledge of the alleged resurrection in Jerusalem was based on one man’s uncorroborated and unsubstantiated hearsay claims that Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem. This uncomfortable fact, if true, would be extremely embarrassing for Christians, and very awkward for Christianity, because it would seriously undermine Christianity’s credentials, and further weaken an already weak orthodox model of Christianity.

This simple phrase “only James, the Lord’s brother” is therefore both highly significant and extremely convenient. It’s authenticity is also very questionable, because it’s a very surprising claim, given this meeting actually occurred in Jerusalem only 5-6 years after the alleged resurrection of Jesus. According to Christians, this supernatural event was allegedly witnessed by over 500 people, including by Peter, James and the other apostles, and presumably most of these alleged witnesses were still living in Jerusalem at the time of Paul’s visit. Many of these alleged witnesses were also presumably now members of the early Jerusalem church led by Peter & by James. Under these circumstances, it seems incredible that Paul saw no one other than Peter & possibly James during his 15 day stay in Jerusalem.

If you combine the enormous significance and enormous convenience of that simple phrase “only James, the Lord’s brother” with the ease with which it could have been inserted sometime later, and then add in this surprising lack of visitors throughout Paul’s 15 day stay with Peter, then in my opinion, you have more than enough reason to start questioning the authenticity of this simple phrase, and thus, to start querying James’ presence at this meeting. The surprising lack of visitors during Paul’s 15 day stay with Peter, the transforming nature of that second statement, its extreme convenience and the ease with which it could have been inserted into the text anytime during that 150 year time gap, all suggest this simple phrase “only James, the Lord’s brother” is indeed just a simple interpolation designed to rectify what, for early theologians/scholars, was a very awkward situation. Once the early church recognized the problem existed, it was only a matter of time before someone was tempted to add this simple interpolation. Having James as a single solitary witness to this first critical meeting in Jerusalem was obviously not ideal, but it had to do, because restrictions imposed by Paul left them with no choice.

Paul had already dictated who witnessed this alleged resurrection in chapter 15 of 1-Corinthians   [……..he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me…….]. Paul had also specifically stated in Galatians 1: 19 that he met none of these other apostles. Those wishing to engineer this critical interpolation were thus faced with Hobson’s choice. A simple process of elimination left James as the only potential candidate to “act as a witness” at this crucial meeting. It’s worth noting at this point, that the total absence of visitors, including James, during Paul’s 15 day stay with Peter, is exactly what one would expect following the crucifixion of the historical-Jesus, because in this alternative scenario, there would be no resurrection to witness, and hence no witnesses and no visitors to worry about.

We have good reason to believe it was the historical-Jesus who was crucified in Jerusalem. We also have good reason to believe Paul just hallucinated on the road to Damascus. Hopefully you’ll now agree we also have good reason to believe Peter and Paul’s first meeting in Jerusalem c 36 CE was a just simple 1:1 meeting without witnesses. If you combine all three very rational beliefs, with the universal acceptance, that Paul’s entire knowledge of the alleged Jerusalem resurrection was gained at this meeting, you are left with one inescapable conclusion, namely that Peter must have lied to Paul about this alleged Jerusalem resurrection. Christians howling in protest at this outrageous suggestion should note that we end up with Christianity and the associated New Testament, regardless of the veracity of Peter’s claims.

Well that’s the evidence I offer to back up my claim that Habermas’ is really basing his “reliable gospels argument” on a simple circular argument that does not withstand close scrutiny. Sorry if I’ve yet again pricked Christianity’s balloon [nah-not really], but in my humble opinion, it’s been floating around full of nothing but hot air for far too long……..

A Critique of Gary Habermas’ Fatally Flawed Argument

Gary Habermas is a Christian scholar, leading Christian apologist and he also stars in several U-Tube videos, including one called the resurrection evidence that changed current scholarship.

Habermas takes it for granted that Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem and he spends an hour trying to convince us he’s right. His argument is based on the following events.

Event 1:     Jesus is resurrected in Jerusalem c 30 AD

Event 2:     Paul meets the resurrected Jesus c 32-33 AD

Event 3:     Paul visits Peter & James c 35-36 AD

Event 4:     Paul visits Peter, James & John c 49-50 AD

Event 5:     Paul writes Galatians c 54 AD

Event 6:     Paul writes 1-Corinthians c 55 AD

Event 7:     Mark’s gospel appears c 70 AD

Event 8:     Matthew’s gospel appears c 80 AD

Event 9:     Luke’s gospel appears c 85 AD

Event 10:    Acts of the Apostles appears c 90 AD

Event 11:    John’s gospel appears c 95 AD

All the above consensus dates are well established and well documented, based in part on evidence provided by Paul in Galatians and 1-Corinthians. In Galatians 1: 11-24 Paul tells us about his first meeting with other apostles c 35-36 AD, and in Galatians 2: 1-10 Paul tells us about his second meeting with other apostles fourteen years later. In 1-Corinthians 15: 3-9 Paul tells us what he learned from other apostles during his first visit to Jerusalem. Habermas claims that Galatians 2: 6 proves all the apostles, including Paul, were preaching the same gospel. Habermas also tells us that expert scholars now believe the basic gospel elements [simple creedal statements characterizes as deity, death & resurrection] could have been in circulation only six months after the alleged resurrection of Jesus c 30 AD.

Having now summarised Habermas’ argument [see video for details], let’s have a closer look at what he claims.

First he claims Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem c 30 AD. There is some scant independent evidence which suggests a historical Jesus was probably crucified in Jerusalem c 30 AD, but the only evidence for the alleged Jerusalem resurrection is that found in the New Testament itself. This NT evidence consists of three gospel accounts, all proclaiming the resurrected Jesus was  seen by numerous alleged eye witnesses [Mark doesn’t qualify because it was amended later for consistency]. Also, we have Paul’s testimony to this resurrection in 1-Corinthians 15: 3-9 which states:

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas [Peter], and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God”.

Now it’s a forgone conclusion that the late dating of the gospels [c 70-95 AD], more or less proves that the resurrection accounts found in these gospels must be second-hand hearsay accounts, based entirely on Paul’s above claims which he obviously made many times whilst establishing his many early “christian communities”[see also section below dealing with gospel dates].

The total lack of credible independent evidence does not bothered Christians. They claim the very existence of the gospels proves Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem, because their existence cannot be explained any other way. This claim has held true for centuries, despite numerous efforts to discredit it, but it is no longer a valid claim, because  the existence of these gospels no longer proves conclusively that Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem. For more details on this topic see earlier blogs called Why you cannot prove Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem and Was Jesus Resurrected in Jerusalem?.

Second he claims Paul met the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus c 32-33 AD. There’s no doubting Paul genuinely believed he met the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus. However, unlike Paul 2000 years ago, we now fully understand the true nature of Paul’s conversion experience and today we can explain it in a simple & rational manner. Today’s medical literature is full of similar conversion experiences, all of which, we now know are caused by psychotic hallucinations triggered by temporal lobe epilepsy. I’ve already dealt with this issue in greater detail in an earlier blog called Religiosity-Biology or Brain washing? Given today’s medical & scientific evidence, I think we can now safely assume that Paul did not meet the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus, not that Christians will ever agree of course.

Third he claims Paul visits Peter & James c 35-36 AD. Our knowledge of this first meeting comes from Galatians 1: 11-24, and in Galatians 1:18-19 Paul specifically says:

Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother [This wording is taken from the N.I.V Bible].

So, having told us when & where this meeting happened, Paul tells us he stayed with Peter for 15 days & he also tells us that, at some point during this stay, he also met James. Paul doesn’t indicate when & how long James was present, and he says absolutely nothing about what actually transpired at this meeting. We have to infer what transpired at this first meeting, and today we now accept the obvious conclusion, namely that, at this meeting, Paul told Peter & James about his meeting with the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus c 35-36 AD, and Peter & James, in turn, told Paul about how they had witnessed the alleged resurrection of Jesus in Jerusalem c 30 AD.

So Paul entered Jerusalem c 35-36 AD believing Jesus had been resurrected on the road to Damascus for his own personal benefit, and 15 days later, he left Jerusalem believing Jesus had also been resurrected in Jerusalem for the benefit of the apostles. Habermas works hard to suggest Paul deliberately visited Peter & James, to check out this Jerusalem resurrection. However, it’s doubtful Paul knew anything about this Jerusalem resurrection before he arrived in Jerusalem, and it’s thus reasonable to assume that Paul just accepted  Peter & James’ hearsay claims at face value. This would be a perfectly reasonable thing for Paul to do, given his own personal experience on the road to Damascus, and given the status of both Peter & James.

However, if we assume that Paul just accepted these hearsay claims at face value, we must address another significant problem, one that Habermas again fails to address. Paul specifically states in Galatians 1: 19 that he saw nobody else during his 15 day stay with Peter, so how do we now verify Peter & James’ 2000 year old hearsay claims? The answer is simple – we don’t, because we can’t.

Therefore, we are forced to accept that Peter & James’ claims about an alleged resurrection in Jerusalem are, at best, unverified & unverifiable claims, and at worst, they may be just downright lies. Why, you might ask, would Peter & possibly James [see next paragraph] deliberately choose to lie to Paul about an alleged Jerusalem resurrection that never happened? Well, if you read The Christianity Myth you’ll find out.

Galatians 1: 19 also raises another issue not addressed by Habermas. In this verse, Paul specifically says he saw none of the other apostles, only James, the Lord’s brother. Now given the alleged circumstances surrounding this 15 day stay with Peter, Paul’s claims seem very unusual. we know the alleged resurrection occurred only 5-6 years earlier, and we know it was allegedly witnessed by over 600 people, most of whom were presumably still living in Jerusalem, and many of whom were now probably members of the alleged early Jerusalem church allegedly led by Peter & by James. Under these circumstances, it seems incredible that Paul saw none of the other apostles & none of the many alleged witnesses. However, if the alleged resurrection never actually happened, then this state of affairs would be perfectly acceptable. One is then left wondering whether Paul really did meet James at this meeting. The belated reference to James could so easily be just a simple interpolation, added later to obviate any suggestion that Paul met only Peter at this first meeting. A simple 1:1 meeting without any witnesses would weaken the orthodox model of Christianity significantly.

Now according to  Wikipedia, the earliest reasonably complete version of Galatians dates to approximately 200 AD, approximately 150 years after the original was presumably drafted. This papyrus is fragmented in a few areas, causing some of the original text to be missing but according to the Wikipedia entry, scholars can be rather certain about what the original text probably said. This state of affairs leaves plenty of scope for somebody to add this potential interpolation sometime during that first 150 years. The motive is obvious. Without this belated reference to James, this meeting becomes a simple 1:1 meeting with no other witnesses. In which case, it’s not unreasonable to consider a scenario in which there was no resurrection, no eye witnesses and no James to worry about. In this alternative scenario, Paul would still meet with Peter, but there would be no other witnesses, and verse 19 would simply say “I saw none of the other apostles“. Purely speculative of course but it would make more sense. However, I’m not expecting the Christian mindset to pursue this possibility any time soon.

Fourth he claims Paul visits Peter, James & John c 49-50 AD. Galatians 2: 1-10 deals with Paul’s second encounter with other apostles, and it confirms that this time Paul met with Peter, James & John. Habermas claims Galatians 2: 6 also proves all four apostles were preaching exactly the same gospel. The N.I.V version of Galatians 2: 6 states:

As for those who seemed to be important —whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance—those men added nothing to my message“.

In this short verse, Paul is effectively saying “As for those who seemed to be important – all probably Jews but I don’t care – those men added nothing to my message”. Habermas maintains the phrase “those men added nothing to my message” [he actually uses the phrase “they added nothing to me”] means that Peter, James & John had nothing new to add to Paul’s message. However, Habermas’ interpretation totally ignores the tensions existing between Paul and the other apostles. These tensions, all centred round the relevance of circumcision and the Jewish law, are a common theme found in Paul’s epistles.

For example, in Galatians 2:14-16 Paul says

“When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas [Peter] in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?” We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.”

And later, in Galatians 5:2-6, Paul also says

 “Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love”.

 [Being justified refers to the state of being alright in God’s eyes]

And in Philippians 3: 1-3 Paul warns:

“Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh”.

Other instances confirming these tensions between Paul & the other apostles, include Galatians 2: 1-5, Galatians 3: 1-5, Galatians 3: 11-13, Galatians 3: 23-25, Galatians 5: 11, Galatians 6: 11-15, 1-Corinthians 7: 17-20, Romans 2: 25-27, Titus 1: 10-11 and Titus 3: 8-11. [Titus was one of Paul’s cohorts & Titus is not one of the seven genuine Pauline epistles].

These tensions all point to the existence of essential differences between Paul’s message & the message being preached by the other apostles. Paul had a universal message, which he aimed at Jews & Gentiles alike, and Paul believed Jesus was the son of God, sent to save mankind. The other apostles believed Jesus was the long awaited Jewish Messiah, sent by a Jewish God to save the Jewish people. According to these other Apostles, only circumcised Jews, and those prepared to be circumcised and become Jews, could be saved, and then only if they obeyed the Jewish law.

Again Habermas totally ignores these obvious tensions, and he does so because he wants to interpret the phrase “they added nothing to me” as meaning Peter, James & John had nothing new to add to Paul’s message. However, in the light of these tensions between Paul & the other apostles, a more logical interpretation of “they added nothing to me” would be Peter, James & John had nothing relevant to add to Paul’s message. Habermas is thus cherry picking his data to prove what he wants to prove, & he seems blind to this more rational interpretation of Galatians 2:6. This is not really surprising, because apologists are renowned for their habit of letting their own emotional needs cloud their intellectual objectivity.

Claims 5-11 – Dating of Canonical Gospels & Relevant Epistles. The dating of the Gospels indicates that all resurrection accounts found in these Gospel must be second hand hearsay accounts based on Paul’s earlier claims in 1-Corithians 15: 3-9. This assertion explains why all Gospels portray the resurrection as a near invisible event noticed only by a handful of Jews, despite the fact it allegedly happened in a city teeming with Jews. Most Christians seem totally oblivious of this point, but then most Christians know little or nothing about the origins of their faith.

If we accept the gospel resurrection claims are based on Paul’s claims in 1 Corinthians 15: 3-9, then we must also accept that these same gospels claims are based entirely on Peter’s [& possibly James’] unverified hearsay claims, made in Jerusalem some 5-6 years after the alleged resurrection. As indicated earlier [see section dealing with Habermas’ third point], at best, this means the resurrection claims found in the gospels are based on unverifiable claims, and at worst, it means these resurrection claims could be based on downright lies.

Christianity also fails to explain the existence of the gospel gap, a problem that has plagued Christianity for centuries. The gospel gap is the 40-65 year gap between the alleged resurrection c 30 AD and the appearance of the four canonical gospels c 70-95 AD. Scholars & apologists readily acknowledge the existence of this gospel gap, but so far none have successfully explained its existence.

Given the above weaknesses of the orthodox model of Christianity, and its abject failure to answer many other obvious questions, perhaps the time has now come to discard the old orthodox model and embrace a new revised model that rectifies most, if not all, of these problems. Christians will never do this of course, because it means accepting a very unwelcome truth about the alleged resurrection, and for Christians at least, this is definitely a bridge too far . However, for those able to bring a little more objectivity to the table, my revised model of first century Christianity may prove more satisfying intellectually.

Details of this revised model can be found in an earlier blog called The Christianity Myth. I would also recommend reading Professor Taboo’s excellent in depth examination of Paul’s pivotal role in the development of early Christianity, especially his section called “The Gospel Jesus v The Jewish Jesus” which can be found in Saul the Apostate Intro to Part 2.

And finally, a few comments triggered by Habermas’ closing comments about a very early “deity, death, resurrection” gospel message, and his claim that this gospel message was being preached by all apostles more or less immediately after the alleged resurrection. My understanding is that the alleged “true nature of Jesus”, the one now portrayed in Nicene Christianity, took some considerable time to evolve. The fluidity of early ideas about Jesus’ true nature manifests itself in the four canonical gospels which were only adopted sometime after the first Council of Nicea in 325 AD. Mark’s gospel c 70 AD portrays Jesus as a simple envoy sent to warn of the impending apocalypse. Matthew’s gospel c 80 AD & Luke’s gospel c 85 AD both upgrade Jesus to the son of God, born of a virgin, and John’s gospel c 95 AD elevates Jesus to God, the word made flesh. How all this ties in with Habermas’ claims eludes me.

7 Tips for Closeted Atheist Teenagers

The Curious Atheist

Over the years, I have received a lot of emails and messages from other closeted atheists asking for advice. Most of these messages have been from atheists in high school, wondering what to do in regards to having this secret among Christian friends, parents, and church members. Thanks to a tweet from Godless Iowan, I decided that compiling my advice together could hopefully prove helpful for at least one of my younger readers.

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Religiosity v Objectivity

Just a couple of quick points following on from the religiosity spectrum concept introduced in my last blog 

First point. I think it’s fair to say most people can be classified either as needy theists, passive theists or non theists. Needy theists are those with a strong intrinsic need to believe what they do believe & they often have great difficulty understanding why others do not share their beliefs. Passive theists are those who blithely follow where their parents lead, and they seem happy to just accept what they are told without too much questioning. Passive theists presumably tailor the extent of their belief & the depth of their belief  to match their own intrinsic needs. Non theists have a natural immunity to all religious influences, & eventually they come to view all religions with sceptical disbelief. They often have great difficulty understanding why others believe what they do believe.

Second, and slightly more contentious, point. I think it’s fair to say that needy theists with strong intrinsic needs to believe cannot possibly remain objective when assessing the veracity of the available evidence. They will automatically classify “evidence” as relevant/true or irrelevant/untrue according to how it fits in with their intrinsic needs. More often than not, they will do this completely unconsciously. Therefore, needy theists will  always end up finding the evidence/proof they so desperately need. Only non theists who are immune/indifferent to religious influences can hope to assess the evidence in a realistic & objective manner. They alone have no emotional baggage invested in the final outcome. They alone have no interest in preserving the status quo.

My apologies to those who think this smacks of grandmothers & eggs but there are still some people out there who just don’t get it.

 

Religiosity-Biology or Brain-Washing?

In this blog I’m going to suggest that the extent of our eventual adult religiosity is more or less predetermined by the way our temporal lobes are “wired”.  Most people accept that their own religious beliefs, if any, are influenced by the religious beliefs of their parents. They also accept these beliefs are also influenced, to a greater or lesser extent, by the prevailing cultural values of those around them.

Many people simply adsorb the religious culture of their parents. These people are just the product of effective brain washing by their parents, whilst they were still young & vulnerable, as this short video illustrates so succinctly.

Cultural propagation of beliefs from one generation to the next is particularly effective where Islam is concerned. Every Muslim is brain washed from birth to believe Allah is the one true god, & to believe Muhammad is both his prophet and the ideal Muslim. All critical thought, and all opposition to Islam, is crushed at a very early age, and all Muslim apostates are threatened with punishment & often killed. If you think my assessment of Islam is an outrageous over simplification, then I suggest you’re either a Muslim yourself, or a non-Muslim who knows nothing whatsoever about real Islam.

However, early parental brain washing is only one factor influencing our eventual religiosity. Many do just stick with the faith imposed on them as children, and then repeat the process with the next generation. Most people in this category are, I would suggest, just nominal, unquestioning believers, who simply accept what they are told. A few people discard their early belief system & adopt a new one when they get older. Yet others simply grow up & eventually grow out of it. And yet others grow up without any religious influences whatsoever.

So what really decides what we chose to believe as we get older? Why do some of us appear to have an intrinsic need to believe, whilst others are left wondering why anyone would believe what they seem to believe? What other factors are at play that can either reinforce early-established beliefs or lead us to completely reject such beliefs? Obviously we are all defined by our own unique blend of nature & nurture, but in this blog I’m going raise a very contentious issue, and suggest that ardent religiosity, & the complete lack of it, are both more a question of nature and less a question of nurture.

I now believe that our potential religiosity is just another facet of our humanity, and like all such facets, both physical & non physical, there exists a spectrum of potential responses, ranging from total vulnerability to religion at one end to absolute indifference to it at the other end. We all fit somewhere on this religiosity spectrum, & where we fit more or less determines how we respond to religion & religious influences. The controlling factor determining where we actually fit on this religiosity spectrum seems to be the “wiring” in the temporal lobe region of our brains. It is becoming increasingly clear that both ardent religiosity at one end of this spectrum, and the complete lack of it at the other end, seem to be far more dependent on nature , and far less dependent on nurture.

Now I fully appreciate that this idea/suggestion is not going to be well received by ardent theists, but I do think the facts now speak for themselves. I openly admit I neither understand nor fully appreciate the finer points of the intricate physiology involved, but this lack of understanding of the details does not stop me appreciating the implications of a new branch of neurology called neurotheology. This new discipline specifically studies how our brains, most notably our temporal lobes, influence our religiosity. These studies are helping us to understand why some people are more religious than others, and helping us to explain why those with temporal lobe sensitivity can often have hallucinatory spiritual experiences, which leave them totally convinced they are real experiences. Trying to convince these people that their experiences are just hallucinatory experiences triggered by temporal lobe epilepsy [TLE] is extremely difficult, such is their conviction that their experiences are real. To those who remain unconvinced & sceptical about TLE induced religiosity and TLE induced religious conversions I simply say this; those with open minds who are prepared to look will find more than enough information/evidence to satisfy even the most sceptical person.

Perhaps the most iconic example of hallucinatory experiences triggered by TLE is the conversion of the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus. Paul claims he met Jesus who he knew was dead, but  his various “conversion symptoms” are all classic  symptoms of TLE. Landsborough in 1987 [1] and Brorson & Brewer in 1988 [2], both suggested that Paul may have just hallucinated on the road to Damascus as a result of temporal lobe epilepsy, and both papers state that focal epileptic seizures starting in the temporal lobes are fairly common occurrences, and potentially at least, anyone could have a single epileptic seizure at some point in their life.Most of these epileptic seizures follow a pattern very similar to that experienced by Paul. That is, they happen suddenly, without any warning, last only a relatively short period of time, and then just stop by themselves.

The other iconic example of hallucinatory experiences triggered by TLE is the prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam. Muhammad claims he received many verbal messages from God, revealed to him through the angel Gabriel, and again the various symptoms exhibited by Muhammad whilst “receiving” these messages are all classic symptoms of TLE. These symptoms have now been well documented, notably by Ali Sina [3], by M. A. Sherlock [4] and by F. W. Burleigh [5]. Looking back at history, it is now possible to see many other such instances that probably resulted from similar experiences, notably Joan of Arc’ visions in 1429 and possibly John Wesley’s Aldergate experience in 1738.

Many other lesser examples of TLE induced religiosity can now be found in the scientific/medical literature. In 1970, Dewhurst and Beard published a paper in the British Journal of Psychiatry [6] called “Sudden religious conversions in temporal lobe epilepsy”. This very comprehensive review paper, demonstrated that religiosity of the epileptic was a recognised medical phenomenon, even as far back as the mid 19th century. Dewhurst and Beard’s review paper summarises many scientific reports mentioning religious experiences triggered by epilepsy, many of which were published well before the advent of sophisticated brain imaging techniques. In 1872/73, Howden [7] reported a conversion experience in which the patient believed that he was in Heaven. In 1899, Mabille [8] discussed religious hallucinations associated with epilepsy. In 1919, Boven [9] stressed the intensified piety of the epileptic after a severe seizure, and mentioned a 14 year-old boy who, after a seizure, saw God and the angels, and heard a celestial fanfare of music. In 1955, Karagulla and Robertson [10] discussed four temporal lobe epileptics with visual hallucinations. One of them had a seizure pattern which included a vision of Christ coming down from the sky.

More recent reports listed by Dewhurst and Bear include the following. In 1963, Beard [11] reported the conversion experience of a man who considered that he had received a message from God to mend his ways and help others, and the fact that he had been singled out in this way meant that he was God’s chosen instrument. The man completely believed in the validity of everything he had seen and heard during the acute phase, and specifically rejected the idea that the experience could have been the product of a disordered mind. In 1963, Slater and Beard [12] reported that mystical delusional experiences were remarkably common, and that patients were convinced of the reality and validity of their religious experiences. In 1963, Christensen [13] reported on the religious conversions of 22 men, all professionally engaged in the field of religion. Christensen also defined conversion, as an acute hallucinatory experience, occurring within the framework of religious belief, and characterized by its subjective intensity, apparent suddenness of onset, brief duration and observable changes in the subsequent behaviour of the convert. Finally, in 1966, Sedman [14] mentioned states of ecstasy, in which the victim sees the Heaven open, hears God speaking, and feels himself transfigured, and even believes that he is God.

Such, apparently, is the power of one’s mind to deceive one’s senses. I was particularly struck by obvious similarities with Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus. In particular, the conversion experience of a man who considered that he had received a message from God to mend his ways and help others, and the fact that he had been singled out in this way meant that he was God’s chosen instrument. The man completely believed in the validity of everything he had seen and heard during the acute phase, and specifically rejected the idea that the experience could have been the product of a disordered mind” as reported by Beard [11].

Also, Christensen’s definition of conversion [13] as an acute hallucinatory experience occurring within the framework of religious belief and characterized by its subjective intensity, apparent suddenness of onset, brief duration and observable changes in the subsequent behaviour of the convert” could have been describing Paul himself. I also thought that Slater and Beard’s report [12] that mystical delusional experiences were remarkably common and that patients were convinced of the reality and validity of their religious experiences” was also highly relevant.

Since the publication of Dewhurst and Beard’s 1970 review paper [6], medical understanding of temporal lobe epilepsy has come on in leaps and bounds, thanks in part, to the development of more and more sophisticated brain imaging techniques. More recently, scientist like Dr Michael Persinger, Ph.D., professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at Laurentian University in Canada, and like Dr Vilayanur Ramachandran, Ph.D., director of the Brain and Perception Laboratory at the University of California at San Diego, have regularly reported on, and/or lectured on, new developments in this new field of brain science called neurotheology viz. the cognitive neuroscience of religious experience and spirituality.

In 2009 Dr Persinger [15], working at Laurentian University, reported that 80% of normal people felt a sensed presence within the room, when their temporal lobes were stimulated with magnetic fields. He also found that very religious people, with temporal lobe sensitivity, had a religious experience when their temporal lobes were stimulated with magnetic fields. Working in parallel, at the University of California, Dr Ramachandran and his team studied the brains of people with temporal lobe epilepsy, and found that the extent of a person’s religious belief, may depend on how enhanced is this part of the brain’s electrical circuitry. Perhaps the most sensational headline in this scientific field occurred back in 1997, when Dr Ramachandran’s team of neuroscientists first announced the discovery of the god spot or “God Module” in the brain. This announcement was widely reported in the world media e.g. by Steve Connor (LA Times) [16] and by Robert Lee Hotz (Seattle Times) [17].

Dr Ramachandran’s findings, back in 1997, pointed to a region of the brain [temporal lobes], that when stimulated, creates hallucinations that are interpreted as mystical or spiritual experiences. It was claimed, that this “God module” may be responsible for man’s evolutionary instinct to believe in religion. This god spot is affected by epilepsy, and it is often stimulated naturally during meditation and prayer. It can also be affected by externally applied electromagnetic fields. Those who responded to this external stimulation, tended to explain their hallucination experiences in terms that were related to their own personal beliefs. Typical examples include visits from angels, visits from lost loved ones, an extraterrestrial encounter, a higher plane of consciousness and even visits from God.

It is now widely thought, that hallucinations occurring as the result of temporal lobe epilepsy, may be the real cause of mystical, spiritual and paranormal experiences, such as out-of-body experiences, and feelings of a presence in the room. It was suggested, that such experiences may explain why so many epileptics become obsessed with religion. However, most scientists today, including Ramachandran, think the idea of a single God module in the brain is far too simplistic. Nevertheless, it is now possible to routinely induce epileptic-like religious experiences in perfectly normal people. Obviously, those with strong emotional needs to maintain the religious status quo will have great difficulty accepting the implications of these new studies, but for the rest of us, they offer a chance to look anew at the origins of religions.

Having now offered some food for thought, I’m hoping those with anything resembling an open mind will now accept that both ardent religiosity & complete indifference to religion may indeed be just biological responses to biological needs triggered by biological stimuli. I’ll thus finish this blog by asking a very simple personal question. Where do you fit on this religiosity spectrum? Are you simply someone in the middle who follows blithely in your parents footsteps? Or does your temporal lobe “wiring” make you a needy religious person who has great difficulty understanding why some of us have no need for religion. Or perhaps like me, your temporal lobe “wiring” makes you impervious to all religious influences and leaves you wondering what all the fuss is about.

References

[1] Landsborough D, St Paul and temporal lobe epilepsy, J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1987 Jun; 50(6):659-64.

[2] Brorson J R & Brewer K, St Paul and temporal lobe epilepsy, J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1988 Jun; 51(6):886-7.

[3] Ali Sina, Muhammad and Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE)

[4] M. A. Sherlock, Did the ‘Prophet’ Muhammad Suffer from Temporal Lobe Epilepsy?

[5] F. W. Burleigh, Was Muhammad an Epileptic?

[6] Dewhurst K & Beard A W, Sudden religious conversions in temporal lobe epilepsy, British Journal of Psychiatry 1970: 117: 497–507.

[7] Howden J C, The religious sentiments in epileptic, J Ment Sci 1872; 18: 491–7.

[8] Mabille H, Hallucinations religieuses et d_elire religieux transitore dan l’epilepsie. Ann M_edicopsychol 1899: 9–10: 76–81.

[9] Boven W, Religiosite et _epilepsie. Schweiz Arch f Neurol u Psychiat 1919: 4: 153–69.

[10] Karagulla S & Robertson E E, Physical phenomena in temporal lobe epilepsy and the psychoses. Brit Med J 1955: 748–52.

[11] Beard A W, The schizophrenia-like psychoses of epilepsy. Brit J Psychiat 1963: 109: 113–29.

[12] Slater E & Beard A W, The schizophrenia-like psychoses of epilepsy. Brit J Psychiat 1963:109: 5–112 & 143–50.

[13] Christensen C, Religious conversion. Arch Gen Psychiat 1963: 9: 207–16.

[14] Sedman G, Being an epileptic: a phenomenological study of epileptic experiences. Psychiat Neurol 1966: 152:1–16.

[15] Persinger M, 2009, Are our brains structured to avoid refutations of belief in God? An experimental study. Religion, 39(1): 34-42].

[16] Steve Connor, Los Angeles Times, Wednesday 29 October 1997

[17] Robert Lee Hotz, via Seattle Times, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 1997

Six Reasons Why I’m Not a Christian

I did think my blogging days were well & truly over. I’d said all I wanted to say about Christianity and its dubious origins, and I’d relegated myself to a casual blog reader who left occasional comments. However, recent unprovoked abusive comments from a certain blogger [see here and here] have caused me to saddle up and respond to this unwarranted & totally unprovoked abuse [see below for a flavour of these comments]

if you and s****** want my vote for most profoundly ignorant bloggers on WordPress”

“don’t have time to endlessly entertain your silliness”

reduces your credibility to less than worthless”

you seem more like an angry lunatic

“Sorry, Ken but you are a dime a dozen internet atheist and not worth the time”

I’ll start this blog by clarifying the central issue causing all this animosity. Christians claim Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem 2000 years ago & then resurrected from the dead. I’m happy to accept Jesus was crucified as claimed, but I do not accept he was then resurrected. I reject the Christian resurrection claims for the following six reasons.

  1. The resurrection of Jesus in Jerusalem.

Anyone who actually looks closely at Christianity soon realises that the only evidence for the resurrection claims is the evidence found in the New Testament Gospels. There is no other credible evidence available. This does not bothered Christians. They claim the very existence of these Gospels proves Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem, because their existence cannot be explained any other way. This simple argument has held true for centuries, despite numerous efforts to discredit it. However, as I’ve already demonstrated in an earlier blog, the existence of these Gospels does not prove conclusively that Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem.

  1. Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus.

The New Testament portrays this conversion as a divine encounter with “a resurrected Jesus” and Christians reject totally all suggestions that this was just a sensory hallucinatory experience triggered by TLE. We can’t blame Paul for thinking it was a divine encounter, because back then they knew nothing about TLE, but today there is a growing mountain of medical evidence that enables us to explain Paul’s so called divine experience in a simple & rational manner. Christians, however, still prefer to stick to their 2000 year old supernatural interpretation, of what we now know is a fairly common occurrence. See “Resurrection! What Resurrection?” in The Christianity Myth for more details on this topic.

  1. Claims made by Peter & by Paul.

Christians accept that Paul never met Jesus whilst he was alive. They also accept Paul’s knowledge of events in Jerusalem came directly from Peter when they first met, some three years after Paul’s conversion experience on the road to Damascus. Paul summarised what he learned from Peter in 1-Corinthians 15: 3-9. He later relays this second-hand hearsay information to his early Christian communities. Established Christian apologists like Habermas do not dispute this chain of events. On the contrary, many of today’s Christian scholars believe it strengthens their resurrection argument, because it links the resurrection claims found in the Gospels directly to a reliable & reputable eye witness, namely Peter. I address the veracity of Peter’s claims in section 5.

  1. New Testament Chronology.

Professor Taboo’s excellent table in the section called “The Gospel Jesus v The Jewish Jesus” provides us with an excellent up to date summary of the relevant chronology. The dating of the Gospels indicates that all resurrection accounts found in these Gospel must be second hand hearsay accounts based on Paul’s earlier claims in 1-Corithians 15: 3-9. This assertion explains why all four Gospels portray the resurrection as a near invisible event noticed only by a handful of Jews, despite the fact it allegedly happened in a city teeming with Jews. Most Christians seem oblivious of this point.

  1. Veracity of Gospel resurrection claims.

Given the chronology involved [see point 4], I think we can safely assume that all four resurrection accounts found in the New Testament Gospels are based entirely on Peter’s original claims, which Paul later passed on to his early Christian communities. This simple chain of events highlights Christianity’s Achilles heel [see my earlier blog for more details]. Because Christians automatically assume the alleged resurrection actually happened, they never stop to question the veracity of Peter’s original claims. They just tacitly assume he told the truth, & then hope nobody notices. Who knows, maybe they just do it unconsciously. However, Peter’s claims are in fact, just uncorroborated & unsubstantiated claims. Therefore, I think we can say with some certainty, that all four Gospel resurrection claims are based entirely on unsubstantiated & uncorroborated claims made 2000 years ago by a peasant fisherman from Galilee. Christians have no choice but to just ignore this awkward fact and again hope no one notices [again I’ve dealt with this issue in more detail in an earlier blog ].

  1. The Gospel gap.

There is a 40-60 year gap between the alleged resurrection of Jesus c 30 AD and the appearance of the four canonical gospels c 70-90 AD. Explaining this gap has always been a thorny issue for Christians, because their starting point must be “the resurrection actually happened”. Therefore, logic dictates that someone somewhere should have recorded the alleged event whilst eye witnesses were still around. But they didn’t, and Christian scholars still struggle to explain why several adult generations passed by before the Gospels finally appeared.

But if you change the starting-point to “the resurrection never happened” and then divide this awkward gap into two separate periods, a pre gospel period [c 30-70 AD] and a gospel period [c 70-90 AD], there is no problem explaining the dating of the gospels. No gospels were written in the Pre-Gospel Period [c 30-70 AD] because there was no resurrection to write about. There was just Paul going round the pagan world establishing his early Christian communities. He established these nascent Christian communities because he genuinely believed Peter’s claims that Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem. Paul tells these communities about the death & resurrection of Jesus, but he tells them absolutely nothing about Jesus’ life prior to his crucifixion in Jerusalem. Later, after the death of all concerned, it was inevitable that Paul’s newly converted pagans would eventually want to know more about Jesus’ life prior to his death. Cue the Gospel Period [c 70-90 AD] and the appearance of the gospels, all of which appeared when they did in response to growing demands to know more about Jesus. This simple rational explanation yet again challenges Christian assertions that Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem [see Pre-Gospel Period & Gospel-Period in The Christianity Myth for more details].

All six points listed above are totally compatible with the evidence as I understand it. The various weaknesses I’ve identified in the orthodox version of events are only weaknesses for those insisting that Jesus was resurrected. If you assume Jesus wasn’t resurrected, as I do, then all these weaknesses just disappear, and you end up with a simpler and more pragmatic explanation of all the know facts and, as a bonus, no divine interventions are needed to make this simpler explanation work.

Thus there are now two alternatives to chose from.

The orthodox Christian version requires acceptance of two divine interventions, one in Jerusalem and one on the road to Damascus. It also requires acceptance of the fact that all resurrection claims found in the Gospels are based entirely on Peter’s original uncorroborated and unsubstantiated claims.

My simpler alternative version requires acceptance that Paul’s conversion experience was a simple hallucinatory experience triggered by a common medical condition call temporal lobe epilepsy, and acceptance that Peter just lied to Paul about this Jerusalem resurrection. [I’ve already dealt with all this stuff in much greater detail in my book The Christianity Myth which can be read here free of charge]

So in effect I’m challenging the credibility of the orthodox version of events & offering instead an alternative explanation which I personally think better explains the known facts. Christians of course can choose to reject any or all of the above six points and continue to stick to their current position. That’s not a problem. What is a problem is the unwarranted abuse from certain Christian bloggers. If you insist on claiming I’m just some idiot who doesn’t know what he’s talking about, then I’m going to insist you put your money where your mouth is. I’ve now made it as easy as I can for you to respond. I’ve set out my store, and I’ve lined up all my ducks in a row. Feel free to drop by anytime and point out where you think I’m going wrong. My comment section is there, ready, willing & waiting. Feel free to refute any or all of the weaknesses I’ve highlighted. Prove me wrong & you’ll have my eternal gratitude. Those who feel their necessary response is too substantial for my comment section, can leave a heads up in the comments section, together with a relevant link.

Ignoring this challenge will be taken both as an apology, and as an admission that there are no absolutes where religion is concerned. All world views are just personal choices. We all chose to believe what we want/need to believe, based on the evidence we chose to accept/reject. These personal choices are invariably conditioned/influenced by prevailing cultural values, as this video on Professor Taboo ‘s blog demonstrates so succinctly. Some of us may not like to admit this awkward truth, but both the questions posed in this video and the claims made in this video are abundantly self evident. The time has come to stop hurling childish abuse, to stop making facetious claims & spouting empty rhetoric and to start behaving like adults. If the relevant Christians want to draw a line under their unwarranted animosity, then fine, all you have to do is admit none of us possess knowledge of the absolute truth & accept that some of us prefer to let the evidence dictate our world view, whilst others prefer to let their world view dictate the evidence.

Post Scripts

Hope Professor Taboo doesn’t mind my plagiarizing some of his material. I discovered his blog a few days ago, after he dropped by and left some favourable comments. Having read his material I think we complement each other quite well. He seems to relish details. I on the other hand prefer to stand back and look at the bigger picture.

The Isaiah 53:5 Project recently posted a very good blog pointing out the dangers of confirmational bias. I even commented positively, saying I wished I’d written it. In this blog, he rightly says

// Despite our best intentions, it’s easy to unconsciously buy into beliefs that feel right in our hearts, even though they are objectively false. But it’s precisely when we’re sure that we’ve cornered the truth that we should take a step back, breathe deeply, and open our minds as far as we can//

Given these words of wisdom, I find it difficult to understand his abject hostility, both to me personally & to my blog. He seems to simply characterise evidence in one of two ways. If it affirms his world view he calls it evidence. If it conflicts with his world view he calls it rubbish. It’s ironic but he appears to be doing the very thing he so rightly warns us about.

 

So Who Goes To Hell?

Will it be heaven or will it be hell? A quick tongue-in-cheek assessment.

According to Christians, all good Christians go to Christian heaven & everybody else, including Muslims, goes to Christian hell.

According to Muslims, all good Muslims go to Islamic heaven & everybody else, including Christians, goes to Islamic hell.

So, if Christians say Christians go to Christian heaven, & Muslims say Christians go to Islamic hell, does this not imply that Christian heaven & Islamic hell are one and the same place?

Likewise, if Muslims say Muslims go to Islamic heaven, & Christians say Muslims go to Christian hell, does this not imply that Islamic heaven & Christian hell are also one and the same place?

So if Christian heaven & Islamic hell are one and the same place, and Islamic heaven & Christian hell are one and the same place, what happens when you die?

Well, according to Christians,  you would end up either in Christian heaven or Islamic heaven, and according to Muslims,  you would end up either in Islamic heaven or Christian heaven.

So who actually goes to hell?

At this point, a little common sense rides to the rescue and reminds us that all this heaven & hell stuff is just theistic bullshit.

Are Christianity & Islam Fundamentally Different?

is-18Islam’s holy book is called the Qur’an. This holy book is a record of the many messages that Mohammed received from Allah, the God of Islam. These messages were relayed to Mohammed by the angel Gabriel. They started to arrive in 609 AD, and they continued to arrive at random intervals until Muhammad’s death in 632 AD.

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Christianity’s holy book is called the Bible, although technically, only the New Testament part is relevant to Christianity. This New Testament contains four Gospels, each of which records the life & teachings of a man called Jesus. Christians believe this Jesus was the son of their God. They believe he was first crucified in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, and then miraculously resurrected back to life shortly afterwards. Each of these four independently written Gospels maintains this Jerusalem resurrection was witnessed by many individuals.

Islam’s pedigree therefore seems to be based entirely on Mohammed’s unsubstantiated & unverifiable claims that he received messages from Allah via the angel Gabriel. Christianity’s pedigree on the other hand seems to be based on many witnesses to an alleged resurrection in Jerusalem. On the face of it, Christianity’s pedigree seems more robust than Islam’s pedigree. However, as I am now about to demonstrate, Christianity’s cornerstone, the alleged resurrection of Jesus in Jerusalem, may also be based entirely on one man’s unsubstantiated and unverifiable claims.

Most Christians will automatically disagree of course, but let’s take a closer look at the resurrection claims found in the four Christian Gospels and see what happens. This alleged resurrection was apparently witnessed by many worthy individuals, but unfortunately, the only supporting evidence, is the evidence found in the Gospels themselves. Obviously the original Gospel authors believed Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem, otherwise they wouldn’t have written their Gospels, but why did they believe this? The answer to this question varies, depending on who you ask.

Those wishing to maintain the existing status quo [Christian apologists, Christian theologians & some scholars of ancient history], claim the Gospel authors believed this because these authors actually witnessed the resurrection or were close associates of eye witnesses. Apologists therefore argue the Gospels are historically accurate eye witness accounts. They do this because it’s the only evidence they have and, therefore,  it’s essential they establish the authenticity of this Gospel evidence. All very well, but establishing this authenticity comes with a price tag.  The average life span  back then was less than 60 years, and the alleged resurrection happened c 30 AD. Therefore, if you claim these Gospels are based on eye witness accounts, you must also claim these Gospels were written before c 70 AD , otherwise your reliable eye witnesses were just children at the time of the alleged resurrection.

However, many other scholars of ancient history claim the Gospels were probably written between 65 AD and 100 AD. If  true, all eye witnesses of this alleged resurrection would have been long dead when these Gospels were written. This implies the resurrection accounts in the Gospels are based on second-hand hearsay evidence. This is not a problem because this second-hand evidence was provided by Peter & by Paul, both of whom Christians regard as impeccable sources. More knowledgeable Christians readily accept that Peter first told Paul about the Jerusalem resurrection when they first met. They also readily accept that Paul then relayed this information to his early Christian communities. Christian apologists even make a virtue out of the fact that Paul was actively preaching about the resurrection only a few decades after it allegedly happened.

Thus there are really two possible scenarios to be considered. For convenience I will label them the “Early Gospel Scenario” and the “Late Gospel Scenario”. The “Early Gospel Scenario” asserts the resurrection accounts are historically accurate eye-witness accounts, implying the Gospels were written before c 70 AD. The “Late Gospel Scenario” asserts the Gospels were written between 65 AD and 100 AD, implying the resurrection accounts are based on second-hand hearsay evidence provided by Peter originally and then later relayed by Paul.

In the “Early Gospel Scenario”, Peter’s original claims are automatically validated by the independent eye witness accounts, and it becomes all too obvious why Christian apologists continually strive to convince us their Gospels really are based on historically accurate eye witness evidence. However, in the “Late Gospel Scenario”, you cannot use the Gospels to validate the veracity of Peter’s original claims. The Gospels accounts are themselves based on Peter’s claims, and thus they cannot be used to validate these claims. Therefore, in the “Late Gospel Scenario” Peter’s claims have to be accepted at face value. Presumably, this is what the original Gospel authors did 2000 year ago. They just accepted Peter’s claims, as passed on by Paul, and then simply immortalised these claims in their ensuing Gospels. This “Late Gospel Scenario” therefore implies that Christianity is also based entirely on one man’s unsubstantiated & unverifiable claims, in this case, claims that Jesus was resurrected in Jerusalem. We should therefore think twice before claiming Christianity’s pedigree is more robust than Islam’s pedigree. As I’ve just demonstrated, it could be just wishful thinking.

My past experience with Christians leads me to conclude that most Christians will just rubbish these suggestions and continue to claim their Gospels are historically accurate eye witness accounts that can be trusted, but at least you now know why they do so. Christians, however, should note the implications of the “Late Gospel Scenario” and start acknowledging the tacit nature of their assumptions that Peter told Paul the truth about the Jerusalem resurrection. Until Christians can demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that their Gospels were written before c 70 AD, there will always be the possibility that Peter simply lied to Paul about this Jerusalem resurrection. If he did lie, we would never know, because Paul would simply relay Peter’s lies unknowingly, the Gospel authors would simply immortalise Peter’s lies unknowingly, and the world would end up with Gospels portraying a Jerusalem resurrection that never actually happened.

517isbb0czl-_sx311_bo1204203200_Christians will no doubt bulk at any suggestion that Peter lied about this Jerusalem resurrection, but I can think of several reasons why he may have done so. I’ve addressed this issue in The Christianity Myth, which you can now read free of charge. So there you have it. A distinct possibility that Islam is based entirely on the psychotic hallucinations of a chronic epileptic suffering from Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, and another distinct possibility that Christianity is based entirely on simple lies told by a simple peasant fisherman from Galilee. In my humble opinion, it’s about time we consigned both these ancient belief systems to the dustbin of history.

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