Friday, 29 April 2016

Reading the Koran - Sura 2 Verse 229 - 231

Last week we dealt with divorce, but also not really as the focus was more on a womens rights in Islam. So this week, lets learn a bit more on the restrictions for divorce as laid out in the Koran.

Well verse 229, is a cracker (and no, thats not cracker as in what I am as a white male),
"[Revocable] divorce may be only twice; then [let there be] either an honourable retention, or a kindly release. And it is not lawful for you to take back anything from what you have given them, unless the couple fear that they may not maintain Allah’s bounds. So if you fear they would not maintain Allah’s bounds, there is no sin upon them in what she may give to secure her release. These are Allah’s bounds, so do not transgress them, and whoever transgresses the bounds of Allah —it is they who are the wrongdoers."
Firstly, we need to understand what revocable divorce is, and simply put this is the divorce where the man can decide if he wants to stay with the women or not. As explained last week there are times when a man can decide maybe he is not happy with his wife and then he can separate from her for four months, this is classified as revocable divorce. So to combat men doing this all the time, in other words whenever they need some side fun, the Koran strictly forbids these separations to twice. After these two separations then a man must make a decision whether to divorce or not, as such a women is not entitled to enact this divorce as the man is the holder of the marriage. If the man then decides to divorce they must treat the ex-wife kindly and not cast her aside, as such the Koran is specific in the fact that the man must not take anything back that was given to his ex-wife. This means the wife is to maintain the dowry price placed on her head by her father, this is good in that apparently it will make a man think twice about divorcing his wife. Granted, this is probably true so I would have to say nice law, although I think happy marriages or amicable separations would be a better solution.

Finally the last part of this verse 229 deals with a women being allowed to ask for a divorce
"So if you fear they would not maintain Allah’s bounds, there is no sin upon them in what she may give to secure her release."
Or should I say that is what the apologetics say about it. The fact is this sentence does claim that a women may ask for a divorce, but only if both partners agree to the divorce, so in this case the couple are then separating on agreed terms. Remarkably, in this case of divorce the women does not get to keep the dowry. As such the Koran is contradicting itself in the same verse, as it says couples who divorce should be treated kindly and the women keep the dowry. on the other hand it says couples who divorce should be treated kindly and the women must not keep the dowry. Perhaps this sentence was added to benefit men who like sleeping around, and wanted to keep their property for their next marriage?

On a side note we will not be dealing with irrevocable divorce at present, but if you want your mind blown click here.
 
Verse 230 says the following
"And if he divorces her, she will not be lawful for him until she marries a husband other than him, and if he divorces her, there is no sin upon them to remarry if they think that they can maintain Allah’s bounds. These are Allah’s bounds, which He clarifies for a people who have knowledge"
Interpreted in simple English, after two revocable divorces a man is not allowed to remarry this ex-wife until she has been through another marriage with another man. If this man and her then divorce, the original couple can marry again. So, here we get another addendum to an already complicated double divorce system. However, what really blows my mind is the continual mention that couples should only marry if "they think that they can maintain Allah’s bounds", seriously if you are getting divorced so many times then I think you need to look inward and work out what the hell is going on in your mind, as clearly you are not maintaining Allah's bounds very well.

This is something that really irks me about believers, they say they are doing the right thing when clearly there are laws (or interpretations of laws) that allow them to do the wrong thing. So what is right and what is wrong is clearly a subjective issue and not objective as one would expect from an all knowing God. Or, is this me simplifying things way to much, and in fact theists when they choose to obey laws have some direct hot-line to their God who is changing the laws as they are needed, so that said theist can lead a happy and fulfilled life by the grace of God?



This week will only be three verses as its so bloody confusing, so lets look at the last one verse 231.
"When you divorce women and they complete their term, then either retain them honourably or release them honourably, and do not retain them maliciously in order that you may transgress; and whoever does that certainly wrongs himself. Do not take the signs of Allah in derision, and remember Allah’s blessing upon you, and what He has sent down to you of the Book and wisdom, to advise you therewith. Be wary of Allah, and know that Allah has knowledge of all things."
Here it says a man must divorce his wife if he is causing his wife harm, as by causing his wife harm he is transgressing. This is remarkable, as it shows again that women are not important enough to be protected from abuse, rather they are the reason behind the abuse being perpetrated. After all, we do not want the husband to transgress as that would lead to him being cursed into hell by Allah all because his wife made him hit her?

Ok, as happens with the Koran readings I have a headache. Time to take my Tylenol.

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The version of the Koran I am reading is the John Meadows Rodwell translation. An online version can be found at the al-quran.info website
Additionally, for commentary I am utilizing the commentary of Maulana Muhammad Ali which is available at muslim.org/english-quran/quran.htm

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Ok....wait....what.....can someone please explain this

Sometimes, you see something, and all you are capable of doing is to sit dumbfounded. This picture is one of these things that left me utterly gobsmacked for days


Don't get me wrong, I would like to think that any phobia (i.e. xenophobia, racism, politicophobia, etc.) is not a good thing. Although, it could be argued that Oophidiophobia is a good thing, but I digress. So I asked myself the question, "why would a community that stands in sin when looked at from a belief set held by a specific group, in this case Islam, stand up for this group?" The simple answer is that as a previously/currently discriminated against group, this group has a lot of respect for discriminated against minorities, as they have been through the same thing. This is something that should be applauded on a basic level, I do however believe that it fails in the much bigger picture.

In the past I have asked the question why would a  a gay person want to get married in a church? In essence I believe that the existence of a LGBT group that stands in any way or form for Islam, misses the small fact that Islamic proponents would rather see them dead. So, while I appreciate the condoning of Islamophobia, especially as an atheist who likewise gets discriminated against, I think that this group would be wise to seek some assurance from the community that they are standing for that they will not get hacked to death or something equally horrific. The problem is they will never get this assurances as Islam, like all good Abrahamic religions, hates homosexuality.



So, as I said in the headline, can someone please explain this?

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Reading the Bible - Genesis 25

So now that Sarah is dead, we find a horny Jacob getting himself another wife and as Sarah died when she was 127, this means that Abraham must have been at least 137 when he got remarried. This is rather remarkable as we then hear that he fathered six children with his wife Keturah, again breaking records for the oldest father and lest you forget this whole story is 100% true. So that brings Abraham's harem total to a known three of Hagar, Sarah and Keturah. However, this does not include the concubines that he was bedding and giving children. So we can be sure that Jehovah is all about the group love, as long as it is a male that is having the group love and not a female.
"Later on Abraham gave everything he had to Isaac, but Abraham gave gifts to his sons by his concubines. Then while he was still alive, he sent them eastward, away from Isaac his son, to the land of the East."

The preceding verse is interesting in many ways, as one it shows that Isaac was clearly favored above all the others as Abraham sent the competition away. what we also see is that he has zero care for his new wifes children, as it refers to only his concubines children receiving gifts. Then again should we really be surprised, as this is exactly what Abraham did to to his son Ishmael born by Sarah's slave Hagar. I should say here that perhaps it could be argued that Abraham sent all his many sons away so that when Isaac came to rule their would not be bloodshed. Which brings me to the next point.

Abraham dies at the age of 175 years,
"Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, old and satisfied, and was gathered to his people."
Interestingly, and according to the translation footnote, the phrase "was gathered by his people" is a poetic way to say someone died. Although, this is not what all theists believe. In fact some believe that this shows there is an afterlife, as Abraham is essentially living after death and visiting his people in the afterlife. To me, I just wish they had stated it more simply and removed ambiguity, well that is what I would have done if I was God..

Abraham then gets buried with his wife Sarah, and remarkably Ishmael was there to bury his father as well. This is remarkable, as Abraham threw Ishmael out so I am not sure what he was doing there. The apologetics behind the presence of Ishmael at the burial is rather vast, and not satisfactory in my opinion. Personally, I think the writers forgot about Ishmael and the banishment, but it does set an easy segway into the next part of the chapter which is the genealogy of Ishamel's children. However, before we get told about Ishmaels children we get reminded that Abraham was truly blessed and as such Isaac now gets all the blessings that Abrham had. Seems fair?
"After Abraham’s death, God continued to bless his son Isaac, and Isaac was dwelling near Beʹer-laʹhai-roi."

The history of Ishmael is not something that I intend looking at, after all genealogies are boring. So lets move to the history of Isaac instead. In the last study session we learned that Isaac married Rebekkah, and we find out now that he was 40 years old when that happened. More importantly, we see that, just like Sarah, Rebekkah is barren. Naturally this gives Issac a chance to plead to Jehovah to make his wife pregnant, and then Jehovah can bless him by knocking up Rebekkah. Rebbekah's pregnancy however is not a pleasant one, and she asks Jehovah whats going on
"And Jehovah said to her: “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples will be separated from within you; and the one nation will be stronger than the other nation, and the older will serve the younger.”"
So Rebekkah find out she is to have twins, while also at the same time learning that some strange stuff is going to happen as birthright would entail the older being in command and not serving. Anyway, when the children are born they get given their names based on their traits. As such, we have the elder Esau as he is covered in red hair and looks like an orangutan, and then we have the younger Jacob who was clutching to his brothers leg when he came out second. Another meaning behind the word Jacob is defined as supplanter, so clearly whoever named the children maybe had some inside knowledge into Rebekkah's prophetic message from Jehovah.

These two boys were loved differently by their parents, with Isaac being a simple man like his father and loving Esau more as he was a hunter and that translated to good food. On the other hand Rebekkah liked Jacob more, as he was smart and blameless, yes I said blameless so let that sink in. Additionally, Rebekkah had inside knowledge from Jehovah so maybe she was just backing the winning horse.
"As the boys got bigger, Eʹsau became a skilled hunter, a man of the field, but Jacob was a blameless man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Eʹsau because it meant game in his mouth, whereas Re·bekʹah loved Jacob."

So how did Esau lose his birthright?

Well one day Esau had been out hunting and he was near dead from starvation. Anyway he cam back and saw Jacob had some stew, and so he asked for some. However, instead of giving his brother some stew, Jacob first made Esau give away his birthright.

I promise I am not making this up.

So we have here a brother Jacob that should rule after all he seems to be following in the steps of his dubious grandfather Abraham. I mean its that, or Esau is the dumbest person that has ever lived and was not really that hungry that he deemed food (i.e. life) more important than a silly title.

One last thing in closing, Esau has two names apparently. He is referred to as Edom in verse 31.
 "So Eʹsau said to Jacob: “Quick, please, give me some of the red stew that you have there, for I am exhausted!” That is why his name was Eʹdom."
Apparently, Edom means red in the same way that Esau means hairy. Or, the bible writers could have just made another massive screwup and forgot this important persons name for a while.

See you again next week.

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All verses come from the New World Translation Of The Holy Scriptures.
Online version available at the Jehovah's Witnesses official website

Monday, 25 April 2016

The Case for Christ the movie - Part 2 Who was Jesus?

For part 1 click here. For part 3 click here.

First I feel we need to insert a disclaimer here that refers to part one of the movie. Basically for an analysis of part two of this movie we have to accept the "evidence" for factual gospels as presented in part one. However, as I have demonstrated this so called evidence is not legitimate. This needs to be kept in mind, and would erase the need for part two and three of the review. However, I feel that I should at least complete the review lest I get called out by some theist that would say I did not give it a fair chance.

So who was Jesus?

Well luckily for us silly atheist, we have couple of experts by the name of Dr Michael Rydelnik and Ben Witherington III, who are here to expose us to the evidence that Jesus was the person he is made out to be int he Bible.

First off we start with the remarkable claim, that Jesus is God and as such the rest of this blog-post and the movie will look at the evidence for this substantial claim. I would also like to point out that not all Christian believers hold onto this claim. For example Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe that Jesus is God.

The main reason we have to believe that Jesus is in fact God is due to the simple fact that he fulfilled prophecy, such as entering Jerusalem on a donkey, getting Born in Bethlehem etc. Now while all these prophecies may be truly amazing for many as proof that this is the messiah, I would like to point out an uncomfortable but just as plausible scenario. There once was man that was born in Bethlehem and had access to the ancient scriptures like all other Jews of the time. Needless to say, he saw what he needed to do to be considered the messiah and then he did it. So what I am suggesting is that Jesus was an utter fraud, and all the tools to pull of this fraud were written down for him. Add to the fact that many Jews of the time were not pleased with the direction of worship in the temples and you have great conditions to create something new, dynamic and anti-establishment. Although, I will point out here that even if Jesus did fulfill these prophecies, how does this make him God?

The second point regarding Jesus is his use of miracles, and this ties in with the prophecies made about him. As such we would expect that the Jesus prophesied would be able to do miracles. Now, if we look at the Bible we see that Jesus did miracles, however as we have ascertained in part 1 this may be a load of bollocks. Luckily for the experts they tell us that Jesus is mentioned in the Jewish Talmud as being a person who did magic. Unfortunately, it seems the experts have not read the Talmud, as you have to take massive leaps of faith to get to a Jesus in the Talmud as this name is nowhere in the Talmud. In fact any mention of Jesus in the Talmud is through the apologetics done by Christian scholars and NOT the Jewish scholars.

So was Jesus the Messiah?
Well, if we accept that the Bible as an inherent document, then we can say with certainty that Jesus is the Messiah. However, if we take it a step further and start looking at the reasons by which we need to test Jesus to see if he is Messiah. So Jesus (according to the Bible) fulfilled prophecies and performed miracles which then identifies him as the Messiah. So, what are the problems with this theory? The first part is that the Bible was written after the time and we do not have evidence from other sources that back the prophesy fulfillment. Essentially, the writer of the new testaments could have gone back and analyzed the old testament and then entered this prophecy fulfillment in their writing.

The experts interviewed, even admit that the Bible could have been altered. However, they dismiss this ticking time bomb in the brain by just saying that fraudulent behavior does not fill Jesus character. So the see the Bible as the only source, and as such the Bible cannot be incorrect, because the Bible is correct.


 In closing of this section of the documentary, Lee Strobel enters and tells us that the chance of fulfilling all these prophecies in the Bible is one in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion etc etc etc. Okay suffice to say its a large number.

However, this number is utter tripe. If the prophecy has been written down, then all you need to do is read the prophesy and go and act it out. Then the chance of this prophesy and the others you read and acted out is ....wait for it.....not yet........more suspense.......1 in 1.

So thats part two and wow this is probably some of the the worst and deceitful apologetics ever.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Reading the Koran - Sura 2 Verse 222 - 228

In the Islamic world we see a lot of misogyny, and the next few sections of Sura 2 deal with how women should be dealt with during divorce. So brace yourself, and be prepared to be mildly surprised in some parts and horrified in others as we delve into a stone age belief set about women's rights.

So as happens in the Koran the first verse we will look at has nothing to do with divorce, instead we get told that having sex with your wife (or any women?) during her period is a sin.
"They ask you concerning [intercourse during] menses. Say, ‘It is hurtful.’ So keep away from wives during the menses, and do not approach them till they are clean. And when they become clean, go into them as Allah has commanded you. Indeed Allah loves the penitent and He loves those who keep clean."
In this verse hurtful is to be interpreted as sin, and not a concern for the women that she may not want to have sex during her period or that it could be harmful to her. By the way, it is completely okay to have sex during your period. Women are considered unclean during their period and Allah does not love unclean things. So surely if a Muslim women dies during her period she is condemned as she is unclean, this is a very misogynistic message form a god who is meant to be patient and loving. Interestingly, as soon as your wife is no longer on her period, you are commanded to have sex with her as this is Allah's way. By the way I would say Allah does not like blood, but from previous readings and the acceptance of killing I would have to say that I am wrong. The only way to try understand this verse is to accept that Allah is a misogynist.

This verse 222, has so much wrong with it, and I think this verse is not a good base on which to build from when a discussion regarding a womens place in divorce follows. It is like Donald Trump talking about stereotypes before discussing immigration reform, it sets a persons mind up for a way to protect themselves against imaginary evils.

So, what are women in Islam exactly?
"Your women are a tillage for you, so come to your tillage whenever you like, and send ahead for your souls, and be Godwary, and know that you will encounter Him; and give good news to the faithful."
That's right women are property for men to plow. Additionally, a women has zero choice when you want to plow her. Sorry for being so crass, but its not me its the Holy Koran. As such when I see stories like this image below I just have to shake my head and wonder why any women would want this.


Verse 224 and 225 deal with how we should deal with taking oaths and specifically marriage oaths. It is also where we start getting even darker than we already have. First we see that we should take oaths according to Allah's example and that is to follow the Koran and be good towards your wife and others. However, then in verse 225 we see that if you make a mistake in your oath Allah will forgive you?
"Allah shall not take you to task for what is unconsidered in your oaths, but He shall take you to task for what your hearts have incurred, and Allah is all-forgiving, all-forbearing."
Now I don't get this as how can you take an oath according to Allah and then make a mistake. Personally I believe it is giving a man an out, i.e. divorce, if he does not like his wife

Now basically, if a man think he made a mistake he has four months to think about it. If he does not go back to her in four months then technically this man and women are divorced.
""For those who forswear their wives shall be a waiting for four months. And if they recant, Allah is indeed all-forgiving, all-merciful."
According to commentary, this law is meant to protect women so that if a man just leaves without saying anything, then a women can be free and divorced after four months.  However, a women can not leave her husband, so does this really benefit women? Certainly not, but it makes sense in terms of Islam, as women are just property.

Now, I want you to read the following verses and think about what you are reading as what you are meant to be reading may surprise you.
"Allah shall not take you to task for what is unconsidered in your oaths, but He shall take you to task for what your hearts have incurred, and Allah is all-forgiving, all-forbearing.
For those who forswear their wives shall be a waiting for four months. And if they recant, Allah is indeed all-forgiving, all-merciful.
But if they resolve on divorce, Allah is indeed all-hearing, all-knowing."
According to the commentaries these versus show that women can claim a divorce........Uhhhhhmmmm WTF, seriously how they get there is beyond me. I guess when you want to justify your chauvinism you need to make shit up.

Next, we see that a women must wait at least three months after her divorce before moving on. This makes sense we consider the time the book was written, as it allows for a women to realize if she is pregnant and then the ex-husband can either reconcile or at least pay maintenance. So this is rather remarkable considering the time in which it was written.

In closing, I feel once again it is necessary to highlight  a part of verse 228 which is used as proof that women have equal rights to men in Islam.
"The wives have rights similar to the obligations upon them, in accordance with honourable norms; and men have a degree above them, and Allah is all-mighty and all-wise."
Here again, I am not sure what crack the apologists are smoking, as it clearly states that men are a degree above women.

So there you have it, according to Islam, women are objects to plow to your hearts content. Or you can enter the 21st century and accept everyone on equal terms.

Just another reason to see Islam for what it truly is.

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The version of the Koran I am reading is the John Meadows Rodwell translation. An online version can be found at the al-quran.info website
Additionally, for commentary I am utilizing the commentary of Maulana Muhammad Ali which is available at muslim.org/english-quran/quran.htm

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Reading The Bible - Genesis 24

In brief, Genesis 24 details the journey of Abraham's faithful slave who was tasked to find a wife for Isaac in the land of Abraham's birth. Anyway the servant goes to this strange land, and when there prays for Jehovah to give him a sign of the right women for Isaac, naturally God obliges and into the Bible enters Rebekah the wife to be. The slave (or servant, as the Bible would have us believe) then meets with Rebekah's family and tells them what he is being tasked with by Abraham the most faithful servant of Jehovah, as well as the fact that Jehovah answered his prayer to show him Rebekah. Needless to say the family is astounded that this happened, and as they also believe in Jehovah they allow Rebekah to be married to Isaac. Then the slave leaves with Rebekah and she meets Isaac and they get married.

Now, that is the nice version you will hear from the pulpit. Now lets look at some of the finer and weirder details of this epic chapter that is Genesis 24.

Rather interestingly we learn that the traditional way to take an oath with an elder gentleman like Abraham is to place your hand under said persons thigh and then promise. This apparently has to do with respecting the persons testicles and as such the oath is to be considered a pledge to offspring as well as the person whom you are taking the oath with. Now, I could have a field day with some choice comments, but I actually found this rather interesting and weird so I will just stop here.

Anyway, the servant takes an oath to find a wife in the land of Abraham's birth, yet he does ask some clarifier's such as,
"However, the servant said to him: “What if the woman is not willing to come with me to this land? Must I then return your son to the land from which you came?”"
Abraham, replied that he cannot do this,
"“See that you do not take my son there."
And now we learn the reasons why
"To your offspring I am going to give this land,’ he will send his angel ahead of you, and you will certainly take a wife for my son from there. But if the woman is unwilling to come with you, you will be free from this oath. But you must not take my son there.”"
This leads to many questions, as if God was giving this message to the servant, then why did God give the message to Abraham? Personally, I believe Abraham was meant to go look for the wife, as the message given is not addressed to a third person, but to a first person. Perhaps the Bible translators have not got to this part yet to make it more homogeneous? So in essence we have Abraham, the chosen one, again disobeying God! Seriously, how many times does this guy have to disrespect the God that looks after him so well before he finally gets the boot. Spoiler alert: He never gets the boot.

Additionally, this message from God says I am going to give this land to your offspring. So, if this is true then Isaac can surely go there, as he will be given this land. All in all, these verses regarding Abraham giving the message to the slave make absolutely no sense.


Moving on to another tasty tidbit. Well, many times we will get told by theists that God does not answer prayers specifically, rather he provides what he deems necessary. As such I was utterly surprised that God answers this slaves prayer perfectly. Here is the prayer,
"Then he said: “Jehovah the God of my master Abraham, please grant me success this day, and show your loyal love to my master Abraham. Here I am standing at a spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. May it happen that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down your water jar so that I may take a drink,’ and who replies, ‘Take a drink, and I will also water your camels,’ let this be the one you choose for your servant Isaac; and by this let me know that you have shown your loyal love to my master.”"
Here is the answer
"In turn she said: “Drink, my lord.” With that she quickly lowered her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink. When she finished giving him a drink, she said: “I will also draw water for your camels until they are done drinking.”  So she quickly emptied her jar into the drinking trough and ran again and again to the well to draw water, and she kept drawing water for all his camels. The whole time the man silently stared at her in amazement, wondering whether Jehovah had made his trip successful or not."
So there you have it, God will answer any prayer specifically, but only in the old testament, once, under completely unverifiable  conditions, with no extra sources to back up the fact. Okay just saying this is rather weird when we consider that prayer has been tested experimentally and it does not work. On the other hand, apologetically, as this prayer is about Isaac, Gods chosen child from most beloved Abraham, it has to get answered perfectly.

What is remarkable is that Laban and Bethuel are also devout believers in Jehovah as they absolutely accept the slaves message regarding Abraham's assignment and his prayer.
"Then Laʹban and Be·thuʹel answered: “This is from Jehovah. We are not able to say yes or no to you. Here is Re·bekʹah before you. Take her and go, and let her become a wife to the son of your master, just as Jehovah has spoken.”"
If this is the case, why does God carry on choosing the flawed Abraham when there are other followers who would do a similar if not better job at just being a respectable human. Although, I will point out here that Rebekah has zero choice in this situation, she has to go and get married. Granted later in the chapter she apparently chooses to go with the slave, but at this point she was going to get sent off in ten days anyways so apologetics fails on this one.

Finally we end of with the sweet but also creepy closing verses when Isaac takes Rebekah as his new wife.
"After that Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother. Thus he took Re·bekʹah as his wife; and he fell in love with her, and Isaac found comfort after the loss of his mother."
Freud would have a field day with Isaac. Seems that he had some serious mummy issues.......Just saying

See you next week.


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All verses come from the New World Translation Of The Holy Scriptures.
Online version available at the Jehovah's Witnesses official website

Monday, 18 April 2016

The Case for Christ the movie - Part 1 Examining the Record

For Part 2 Click here. For Part 3 click here.

The Case for Christ the movie - Part 1 - Examining the Record/Sources

The Case for Christ the movie introduces three very important sets of evidence or questions that need to be asked regarding Jesus. These questions are laid out within the opening scene of the movie, and so I will list them here:
1) Ask what are my sources?
2) Who was Jesus?
3) Resurrection?
Now, I will be laying out this review of the movie in three parts based on these three questions as they sum up everything pretty well. I will need to point out here though that if question 1 is found faulty then all the rest of the questions fail just based on question 1. Needless to say, this neglects the fact that the may contain inherent problems by themselves even though they are already false due to the initial premise being false.

I should point out that a sizable section of the movie does refer to Lee Stroebels personal experience of how his life got better, i.e. he went from being a drinker and angry person to a loving father (insert redemption music here). I point this out, as this is meant to be a movie about evidence so honestly Lee I don't care about your experience, as Jerry McGuire said, "Show me the money".

So lets, Examine the Record.

This section of the movie focuses on whether the New Testament, and specifically the Gospels, are truthful. Luckily for us Stroebel assembled a bunch of experts to help us in this regard and they are J.P.Moreland, Mark Strauss, Craig Blomberg, Craig Evans and N.T.Wright. Now this group clearly does display a bias, but even some of them in their intellectual honesty discredit Stroebel. so, it is rather amusing that he can objectively reach the conclusion he reaches regrading the truthfulness of the gospels.

The first thing we get told is that the gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are eyewitness accounts. Well this is interesting when we consider that Matthew and Luke were written 50 to 60 years after Jesus death (80-90 AD), and Mark was written 40 years after his death (70 AD). Regarding the writing of John, the range of dates stretches from anywhere between 20 years after Jesus death to 70 years, in fact this is still a hot topic in Gospel research. Regardless if we take the low ball figure, this means that the eye witnesses Matthew and John would have been 80 and 50 years old, respectively, when they wrote the gospels. On the other hand the other two so called eye witnesses, were not eye witnesses as they were not Jesus disciples. However, Mark and Luke themselves would have been 70 and 80, respectively. These ages are remarkable as the average age of humans at that time was about 45 years old, so all these Gospel writers were remarkable to outlive their contemporaries. So, here we have two eyewitnesses that are not eyewitnesses and the age of these writers should cast doubt on their eyewitness position as well. All in all I would say this is enough to make anyone smell a rat.



Perhaps, I should also point out that the expert witnesses did mention the following in the movie which surely casts further doubt on the eyewitness accounts. Mark Strauss (10 mins) admits that the gospel Mark was removed from Jesus by one generation i.e. impossible to be an eyewitness. Next N.T.Wright (11 mins) admits that the gospels have been edited i.e. what is true? So what we have is some serious cognitive dissonance going on, as the expert witnesses are saying that the data is not true, but it is true. This really should make sense to non-believers though, as all the expert witnesses are Christians and Theologians.

Remarkably in this movie the one annoying thing is that their are no dissenting voices. This could be brushed aside if there were no dissenting voices, but there are many scholars that disagree with the analysis presented and so we can say Strobel is being intellectually dishonest. Honestly, I think to rely so heavily on the eyewitness testimony discredits Stroebels work and if anything shows that the Gospels are not historically accurate. Just to clarify, this does not mean I doubt the historicity of a person in Israel that we commonly refer to as Jesus.

Interestingly, we are told that we should trust oral tradition as it is completely accurate. Granted, there is no reference given for this, but it is irrelevant whether it is or not as next we hear that the gospels are different as it allows them to be more human. By admitting the Gospels are different in this way it does away with the need to defend the inconsistencies that exist in the gospels. However, here in lies the problem with this defence. Either oral tradition is accurate and the gospels are the same, or oral tradition is not accurate and they are not the same. You cannot use the same argument to defend your opposing views as it suits you Stroebel!


Next we hear that surely the gospels should be accurate as we have very old copies of the gospel and this should make it true, after all we accept the Iliad as being a true story and the remaining copies are far younger than the Bible. This is true, however we do not say that the gods referred to in the Iliad are real. So again, a stupid argument.

The last part about the historicity of the Gospels refers to other sources that corroborate the Gospels. This is important, as after all how are we to accept the Gospels as true if they are only contained in one book, and said book needs them to be true.

The first piece of evidence is naturally Josephus and specifically the part on the Testimonium Flavinium that refers to Jesus.  Firstly, again Strobel tries to deceive his audience by saying that all scholars agree that the Testimonium Flavinium is authentic. Well, this is not true in any way or form, and if anything a critical look at these parts of the document will probably show that they are not authentic. Now granted, I may be wrong, however for Stroebel to say it is authentic is completely misleading.

The last external reference is the Gnostic Gospels, and these documents get summarily dismissed by the experts for a very simple reason i.e. the character they paint of Jesus does not agree with the Bibles character of Jesus. So what we learn in this final section is very revealing, basically we have admittance that the truthfulness of the gospels section of this movie is based on the presupposition that the gospels are true.

All in all, the evidence presented by Stroebel should show that the gospels are anything but truthful. And, if the gospels are not truthful then any conclusions that arise from the gospels are already flawed, but that's a post for next week.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Reading the Koran - Sura 2 versus 217 -221

I truly love the label given to this subsection of the Koran (in the commentary I am using), it is simply entitled "Miscellaneous Questions". Now I know this is not the name given to it by Muhammad, but its almost as if the modern organisers got bored with making relevant titles. That said the the subsection titles in the Koran are not actually that relevant, and this is true for most religious texts as they are meant to be considered as a whole and not subsections.

The first section of verse 217 continues the weird killing rules during Ramadan that we discussed in the last reading. To sum up basically killing is bad, but its okay to kill if you are attacked during Ramadan. In fact you should kill attackers during Ramadan even if you don't want to. However, lets move on from this dark topic onto the far more interesting topic of what should be done to the apostate. After all we know what many Muslims believe about apostasy worldwide, so this is probably the most important verse we will deal with. But first lets look at the following figure.
So if about 33 % of Muslims believe death is the correct punishment. But, what does the Koran say?
"And whoever of you turns away from his religion and dies faithless —they are the ones whose works have failed in this world and the Hereafter. They shall be the inmates of the Fire, and they shall remain in it [forever]."
Well the answer is that 33 % of Muslims have no bloody idea what the Koran actually says. It very clearly states that the apostate will burn in hell, it says nothing about killing said apostate. Now how do we teach the retards that believe that it is okay to kill apostates that they do not understand their own holy book? The simple answer is that we cannot, so much for moderate Islam....

Verse 218 deals with Jihad, and how Allah forgives anyone that kills in his name.
"Indeed those who have become faithful and those who have migrated and waged jihād in the way of Allah —it is they who expect Allah’s mercy, and Allah is all-forgiving, all-merciful."
Perhaps this is why these Islamicgoat fuckers shout Allahu Akbar before killing, just so that Allah can know they are killing in his name and thereby gain immediate forgiveness. However, I should point out here that the word jihad can have more than one meaning, and as such this verse can also refer to the more benign internal struuggles that one has against personal sins.

Next we learn that Muslims should not use alchol or partake in gambling. I wonder if the Saudi princes have heard about these rules? But, lets not to pick on the family that rules a country where beheading and hanging are common. Instead lets see what Muslims shoudl do instead, and the answer is simple they should give to Allah what they can afford.
"They ask you concerning wine and gambling. Say, ‘There is a great sin in both of them, and some profits for the people, but their sinfulness outweighs their profit.’ And they ask you as to what they should spend. Say, ‘All that is surplus.’ Thus does Allah clarify His signs for you so that you may reflect"
Granted how much a person can afford is a very relative concept, which brings us to another relative concept and that is how to deal with orphan and other disadvataged people
"about the world and the Hereafter. And they ask you concerning the orphans. Say, ‘It is better to set right their affairs,"
As such we would expect all people to be equally looked after in Islamic countries, and that is not true when we consider the massive inequality and poverty that exists in some Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Turkey among others.

Lastly we get what is proabably a good piece of advice to heed for any non-Muslim,
"Do not marry idolatresses until they embrace faith. A faithful slave girl is better than an idolatress, though she should impress you. And do not marry [your daughters] to idolaters until they embrace faith. A faithful slave is better than an idolater, though he should impress you. Those invite [others] to the Fire, but Allah invites to paradise and pardon, by His will, and He clarifies His signs for the people so that they may take admonition."
So, lucky for us muslims cannot marry non-muslims. The problem with this is that a non-believer is considered less than a slave. Now anyone that has a little history will no that slaves were not even considered people, so what are non-muslims to think about the way they are considered by muslims? How are we meant to take anything a muslim says to be truth when they consider non-believers worse than the nothing covering the dirt attached to the chewing gum stuck onto their shoe?

 Less than a slave (Source)

So again, just a few more reasons to show that Islam is a hypocritical and hate-filled religion.

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The version of the Koran I am reading is the John Meadows Rodwell translation. An online version can be found at the al-quran.info website
Additionally, for commentary I am utilizing the commentary of Maulana Muhammad Ali which is available at muslim.org/english-quran/quran.htm

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Reading the Bible - Genesis 23

The best part about reading the Bible again is that you get to read some of those obscure stories that you had forgotten from the first time round. Now let me be clear, this does not mean many Bible readers are illiterate, it just means that there are some real weird stories that take whole chapters when other stories get a fleeting look. For example today's entire biblical reading involves the death, bargaining and burial of Sarah, while other stories like the whole creation of the universe get a mere 2 chapters (well 1.5 when you consider that Genesis 2 covers most of Genesis 1 again).

Honestly when I first read the story I was utterly confused and so I had to use a lot of commentary to understand it. To me all that happens is that Sarah dies, then Abraham bargains for land to bury Sarah on. The people he is bargaining with want to give him the land for free, however he insists that they pay him for the land. The reason they do not want to take money is because the realise that Abraham is Gods chosen guy, maybe they think this will carry favour with the bloodthirsty one? Anyway in the end Abraham pays for the land and then he buries Sarah on his land.

So what can I learn from the biblical commentary?

Well according to the David Guzik commentary the only thing that I missed is that Sarah was really important and considered the most important women in the Bible as her age of death is reported. As such women should try follow Sarahs role. Now if you remember what Sarah did, I would think this is a bloody jhorrible example to follow. After all envy and hatred are not good qualities in any person.

Sarah banishes Hagar (Source)

According to the Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers I also nailed this reading.

The reason I mention these commentaries is that theists like to point out that us atheists do not understand the Bible and we are not biblical scholars. Well I hate to tell any theists reading this, besides the Sarah as a role model, I understood this part of the Bible just as any other part and I am no Biblical scholar. So next time you point out to an atheist that they do not understand the Bible, remember that the Bible is not so difficult to understand. The only reason many theists believe the Bible is difficult to understand has to do with the excuses they need to make so that things like slavery can be justified.

In closing when you start making excuses lies to justify anything, you usually need more excuses lies to make it work. At the end of the day you are just making stories to justify a book that makes no sense.

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All verses come from the New World Translation Of The Holy Scriptures.
Online version available at the Jehovah's Witnesses official website

Monday, 11 April 2016

How the hell is Marsha Blackburn qualified for anything?

After the whole Planned Parenthood debacle where the illegal filming and heavily falsified/edited videos supplied by the "Center for Medical Progress" made it look like Planned Parenthood is selling fetal tissue for profit, there was a U.S. house of representatives committee formed to investigate the use of fetal tissue in biomedical research. Perhaps I should point out here that the "Center for Medical Progress" is just a pro-life group that was trying to undermine Planned Parenthood and for their illegal activities two members of this organization have been formally charged for the crime of tampering with a governmental record. So the major reason that this US representative committee was formed is already based on false evidence and it really would be better to scrap the whole ideal. However, this cannot happen, and that must make the head of this committee Marsha Blackburn very happy.


You may wonder why I am signalling out the head of this committee as it really should not exist in the first place. Well, the first reason is that she is pro-life and has in the past argued for the banning of abortions after 20 weeks. As such it can be logically argued that she cannot hold a neutral position on the use of fetal tissue which she believes should not ever exist in the first place. However, lets disregard this as the other reason why she should not be heading this committee is far easier to comprehend.

She is a science denier!

How on this Earth can you have someone heading a committee debating the use of fetal tissue in biomedical research when they reject science and essentially the scientific method. To clarify, this is the same lady that rejects global warming and evolution! Let me point out that she does not reject global warming in the sense that some scientists do, she actually says the Earth is cooling. To say the Earth is cooling is pure lunacy, and this is the person in charge of a scientific committee.

It is no wonder people say politics is broken. This lady should not be in charge of anything, not even microwave popcorn, let alone be a representative of anyone if she cannot be rational. This is not a matter of holding a differing opinion, this is a matter of denying simple science and being completely irrational. This women is a danger towards important research and should not be heading this committee.

Lastly, on a side note, she also wants the names of all researchers involved in fetal research study made public. This would not be a problem normally, however as we know there are a lot of people who are willing to kill for pro-life arguments!?!? Is this women insane or just immensely stupid?

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Islam Funfact

So there is this person that does fun facts about Islam on Deviantart. I though the following take on it was far more apt.


The truth is that we would not vote for a child rapist, so why would we trust something from a book written by a child rapist?

Friday, 8 April 2016

Reading the Koran - Sura 2 Verse 211 - 216

This subsection of the Sura 2 is called Trials and Tribulations, and is in my opinion is a trial and tribulation as it makes about as much sense as an underwater toaster.

The verse 211 is a warning to the Jews that they have been shown that Allah is the one true God, and they should behave or else Allah will be severe in his punishment.
"Ask the Children of Israel how many a manifest sign We had given them. And whoever changes Allah’s blessing after it has come to him, indeed Allah is severe in retribution."
The remarkable thing about these signs is that the commentary (see the link below if interested) and Koranic scholars are very vague about what these signs are.In fact the only mention that I found about signs for the Jews are the same signs that are found in the Torah regarding Moses in Egypt. These signs are the  plagues brought against the Egyptians so as to allow the Jews to return to their promised land. Now naturally this raises a concern, as why should these signs be considered proof of Allah as a God when they already exist in the Torah. Naturally, I could be completely wrong about this but surely this information should be easy to find?


Verse 212 is a typical religious verse that can be used by people in power to make sure that those around them are subject and do not try and right wrongs against them.
"Worldly life has been glamorized for the faithless, and they ridicule the faithful. But those who are Godwary shall be above them on the Day of Resurrection, and Allah provides for whomever He wishes without any reckoning."
The power of religion has always been the promise of something better after a terrible life on Earth, so the Koran also gets in on this game with this verse. The natura;l conclusion is that we can be assured that the faithless who live a great life will not go to heaven. This thinking is rather absurd really, as 1) why would you want people to go to hell and 2) it stops you correcting wrongs in this life as what is happening to you is just a test by Allah in a sense. This is naturally not to say that all faithless people go around wronging others, it merely means that when an injustice is done it should be corrected for a society to function. If we do not do this, we cannot progress...... perhaps that is why so many Muslim countries still adhere to stone age laws as they look at secular laws in the evil West and just see faithless rules and not rules which bring about change for the downtrodden. The other (and more likely) reason they follow stone age laws is that fear is an easy way to keep a government in power.

When looking at verse 213 it is best to break it up into two chunks. First we see that all men were one community,. So then Allah decided to send his message to teach the rules of how to respond to one another in issues of dispute etc.
"Mankind were a single community; then Allah sent the prophets as bearers of good news and as warners, and He sent down with them the Book with the truth, that it1 may judge between the people concerning that about which they differed"
I gather this book must be the Torah and the New Testament (or earlier book) as when the Koran came about all the people were not living in a single community. Naturally even with the Torah and the Bible people were already not living in one community, its almost as if Muhammad did not understand exactly how far people had spread and what different religions were being taught. Or this shows that the Koran and all holy books are just copies of copies of legends and myths.
"and none differed in it except those who had been given it, after the manifest proofs had come to them, out of envy among themselves. Then Allah guided those who had faith to the truth of what they differed in, by His will, and Allah guides whomever He wishes to a straight path."
Unfortunately the original message that Allah sent, the Bible?, was greatly abused as teachers interpreted it differently. As such Allah sent a new book, the Koran, which contained the real truth, and all those that follow Koranic laws will get to heaven as they follow the correct (straight) path. Naturally this would imply then that Islam only has one interpretation of the Koran, and well we know that is not true. So in essence the Koran is showing that it is as infallible as other religions.

As most of our readings of the Koran the next two verses are the good verses, as they inform us that a good person will inherit paradise. The cool thing is it also tells a good person what they should do. I like this as it shows that individual Muslims should (and largely do) care for their neighbors, needy, family etc.
"They ask you as to what they should spend. Say, ‘Whatever wealth you spend, let it be for parents, relatives, orphans, the needy, and the traveller.’ And whatever good that you may do, Allah indeed knows it"
Naturally as I have shown in previous readings this care is not always so great.

Lastly verse 216...........
"Warfare has been prescribed for you, though it is repulsive to you. Yet it may be that you dislike something while it is good for you, and it may be that you love something while it is bad for you, and Allah knows and you do not know."
...........
Uhmmmmm
Ok, so this verse is saying Muslims can kill even though it may repulse them. From the commentary I have been following, this warfare is meant to refer to the initial wars where outside groups were trying to destroy the Muslims, and as such this command to kill is in meant to be interpreted as self defense killing. The thing I do not understand is that why would you kill if it repulsed you? and why would self defense repulse you? The only conclusion I can come to is that the commentary is bollocks, and that in fact its okay for Muslims to kill, although it should repulse them.

As I said in the beginning this reading is a trial and tribulation.

See you next week, I need to take a Tylenol.

------------
The version of the Koran I am reading is the John Meadows Rodwell translation. An online version can be found at the al-quran.info website
Additionally, for commentary I am utilizing the commentary of Maulana Muhammad Ali which is available at muslim.org/english-quran/quran.htm

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Reading the Bible - Genesis 22

Today's reading is that fascinating story which gets heralded by Christians all around the world to demonstrate what true devotion to the one and only God is. That is right its time to lead the lamb to the slaughter and read about Abraham and his attempted Filicide. It is one of those stories that when you get told it as a young child you cant grasp it, but somehow you convince yourself that it is right. Its that story that some adults still do mental gymnastics to believe is an act of true sacrifice and devotion. Its that story that rational people look at, and say "Dam that Abraham deserved to be put away in the Big House."In a nutshell without using any actual versus from the Bible this is what happens in the story.

(Source)

Abraham one night is chilling in his tent when he hears Gods voice say to Him "Abraham if you really love me, then you will take your son and murder him so that I can smell his blood as it wafts up to me on a plume of smoke." Of course Abraham realized that he was not hearing voices, as God speaks to people all the time and so anyone hearing voices must be sane. Anyway instead of debating the issue a little bit, like he did with the destruction of a city full of sinners, Abraham decides this is what has to be done to appease his loving and caring "and non-tyrannical-jelous-infanticidal" God. So the next morning Abraham gets some wood, two slaves and his son Isaac and sets of to the appointed hill which God is going to show him. As Abraham did not have GPS in those days, God told him just to walk in a general direction and he will show Abraham where this is all meant to happen.

After three days of walking, Abraham sees the mountain which God points out to him at this point, perhaps I should mention that at no point does God actually say that this is the mountain so my guess is that Abraham was just tired of walking about. After seeing the mountain, Abraham tells his slaves to wait around while he and Isaac and the wood go for a walk up the mountain to pray to God. While they are walking up the mountain Isaac smells a rat, as he asks his dad "hey why is there no sacrifice? I mean I see the rope and wood and knife.....but I dont see an animal". But quick on his toes Abraham counters "never mind son, God will provide." Wink wink nudge nudge.

At the top of the mountain Abraham grabs Isaac and ties him up. Naturally here we don't hear what Isaac is going through, as well its not really important apparently. So Abraham then goes about building the altar for the sacrifice and piling on the wood, before he finally tops it with a bound Isaac. Then as Abraham has the knife hovering above Isaac and is about to murder.....a voice booms from the sky and its Gods angel who says "Don't do that, look over there I have a goat caught in the bushes for you." Abraham with a grin then unbinds Isaac and grabs the goat with which he can sate his blood lust as well as that of the God he loves. Naturally Abraham gets blessed for this whole endeavor, as God tells him that his offspring will be many.

That is the story of Abraham, Isaac and the attempted sacrifice. This is the story that is meant to make you feel dedicated to God. If you do not believe me navigate to the Bible linked below and read it for yourself.

To me, this really sounds like God fits the abuser profile. To all Christians, seriously look at the profile, and try convince yourself that your God does not fit some of those characteristics. Your God is an abuser and I want you to not be abused anymore.

That was Genesis 22 and just one more good reason not to praise God.

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All verses come from the New World Translation Of The Holy Scriptures.
Online version available at the Jehovah's Witnesses official website

Monday, 4 April 2016

Cradle of Humankind - Sterkfontein Caves

Last week I detailed my experience at the Maropeng Visitors Centre, and this week is round two with what it was like to visit Strekfontein Caves. The caves at Sterkfontein are actual archeological dig sites, so not all parts of it are accessible such as a section of the caves where the Little Foot fossil was found. In fact while walking around the caves the very knowledgeable guides do point out sections where you can see actual dig sites, as such all in all the caves are a fantastic learning experience as you are essentially getting to walk through a highly important scientific laboratory.



Beside Little Foot, the most important discovery in this cave is the skull of Mrs Ples, and as the guide was telling us Mrs Ples is probably Mr Ples, however the name cannot be changed as names given to fossils cannot be changed. The other important discovery from the caves is the proposed Homo gautengensis fossil. So these three fossils among others found int he caves make Sterkfontein a very unique place.

Before your guided tour of the caves, you get a chance to wonder around a really nice museum/exhibit which displays casts of most of the important fossils that have been found in and around the Cradle of Humankind. This exhibit is great but is far smaller that the Maropeng Visitors Center Museum, so the combined ticket is well worth it. Needless to say, to go through the caves it is advised that you be relatively fit as you descend pretty far and you then naturally have to ascend out of the caves. Claustrophobic people are also advised that perhaps this tour should be avoided as there are some rather tight spaces that you have to go through. That said, it is worth going through a little discomfort (if you can) as Sterkfontein is an experience that is really once in a lifetime.


When you enter the caves you get to see a bunch of stalactites and stalagmites, never mind absorbing the atmosphere of such an important archeological site. For example the likewise important Rising Star caves where Homo Naledi was found will probably never be open to the public due to the extreme space confinements. The bottom most part of the cave is where you get to take in the underground lake, which is unexplored due to the enormity and danger associated with underground cave exploration. This just makes you wonder what else is there to find in these caves, as so much still lies unexplored.

The Elephant limestone rock formation

After the lake is where you begin your ascent and then you exit again into the sunlight where your tour wraps up with a tribute to the late Dr Robert Boom who discovered the Mrs Ples fossil, among many others such as the Taung Child, and the species Paranthropus robustus. All in all a fantastic time and a trip I would highly recommend.

One view of the Underground Lake