I’ve been a little more outspoken about my belief (or lack thereof) as an atheist lately. I don’t know if that will come back to bite me when it comes time to find a job in the future, but it’s a part of who I am – and I don’t want to censor myself too much. I suppose my recent talk about religion may be why I picked up a new follower today on twitter: IslamNederland. I can’t imagine that this individual will follow me for long, since we have such divergent viewpoints, but it provided me with a bit of a distraction this afternoon.
When I receive an email from twitter letting me know that someone is following me, I usually take a look over at their twitter page. If there’s anything new and interesting on it that I’ve not seen through anyone else that I follow, I’ll most likely subscribe. It’s a pretty quick filter for me – about 1/3rd of the people who follow me don’t have public tweets, and I’m pretty shy about asking people to open their twitters up to me when all I know about them is what they have on their bio.
Anyhow, seeing IslamNederland’s tweets threw me for a loop. Not only are they proposing a religion that I feel is as silly as any other, the tweets include a few blatant.. um.. creative use of facts. Thus, I thought I’d spend a few minutes to debunk a few of them. Try this one on for size:
IslamNederland says: You’re telling me that an eclipse where the moon exactly blocks the sun in size had no intention to do that and is just a mere coincidence?
Actually, YES! But, more than that, I have to question the very premise of this tweet on several levels:
1. Finding a single (non-repeating) pattern in the chaos of the universe is not a good proof of god. If it were so, a complete lack of pattern would prove all gods’ non-existence… and there are an infinite number of “irrational” numbers, such as Pi (the ratio of a circle’s circumference to it’s radius) and e, and Phi. Each of those lacks a pattern – so they’re clearly not
2. Are you aware that not all eclipses are “exactly” blocking the sun? The earth’s orbit is not a perfect circle: it’s an eclipse. Thus, there’s such a thing as an annular eclipse, where the moon fails to block out the sun completely, leaving a ring of the sun showing.
3. Over time, this will change. Sure, it might take several millions of years, but the orbits of the earth and the moon are slowly changing, and eventually those ratios will not even look as close as they do today. Does that mean god will have abandoned us?
IslamNederland says: When men stop believing in God they don’t believe in nothing; they believe in anything – G. K. Chesterton.
Frankly, this would be an appeal to authority. Someone said it, therefore it must be true. However, most atheists are atheists because they refuse to believe in a god without real evidence beyond scripture and appeal to patterns. (Is there a better name for the “it can’t be coincidence fallacy”?) Thus, suggesting that a lack of belief in the irrational means that you’ll believe anything irrational is just illogical – and rather insulting to boot.
Moving right along…
IslamNederland says: For atheism our existence is without any purpose or at best it is to propagate DNA. So what is the difference between us & a swarm of flies?
Well, from a biology point of view, there are an awful lot of things that separate us from a swarm of flies – just at the macroscopic level alone we share very little in common physically. Personally, I have no problem swatting a fly because I know how much they lack in terms of intelligence. They exist to eat, procreate and spoil my food, and I’m not happy to have them in my kitchen.
On the other hand, there is much we share in common at the DNA level. We use many of the same genes to do many of the same functions – DNA repair, transcription factors, histones, etc. All life on earth shares a common ancestor, so if your point is to say that we’re special just because we’re human, then you’re way off the mark.
At the risk of ranting, if we were designed specially, why didn’t we get better eyes, like those of an octopus? Why aren’t we born without the vestigial appendix? Why does our vegas nerve take the path it does? Clearly, the human anatomy doesn’t lend itself to design over evolution.
Fundamentally, biology doesn’t tell us we’re the same at flies – we have our strengths, as do flies, but it also doesn’t tell us we’re anything other than human, with human senses, feelings and emotions. I can live with that.
How about this one?
IslamNederland says: The cure for ignorance is asking
Actually, no. The cure for ignorance is research. Asking someone else doesn’t tell you the real answer – it tells you someone’s opinion. Of course, you can ask someone else who has done the research and can show the results of their research, which is the foundation of peer review and science. Otherwise, as we all know, accepting someone else’s opinion blindly is the best way to pass on superstitions and religions, but not the best way to find out how things really work.
How about this next one as a font of wisdom?
IslamNederland says: If everybody sticks to the Islamic marriage system, AIDS will be history within a few generations. The only real solution
I find this disturbing. Right up there with other bad ideas such as all of us becoming Catholics so that we wouldn’t have to worry about sectarian violence. The most disturbing part of this is the underlying assumption that we should all adopt Islam’s (or any one culture’s) version of morals to solve a medical problem. Frankly, I find sharia law to be barbaric (cutting off hands for theft, stoning people, and blaming the victim of rape… I’m filing this under “ethics fail”.), so I’m just going to have to toss this idea into the reject bin. More on that in the next reply, so lets move right along.
IslamNederland says: Zion Zohar: “when Muslims crossed Gibraltar in 711 n invaded Iberian Peninsula, Jews welcomed them as liberators from Christian Persecution”
Actually, while this may be correct, it’s not even close to being relevant in today’s society, which I suspect is the implication here. Frankly, in 711, Europe was in the midst of the dark ages, when religion was at its most oppressive and the Muslims had had less than 100 years since their prophet’s death to begin calcifying into the repressive religion it appears to have become today. (Yes, I’m painting with a broad bush – there are many exceptions.) I’m aware of the prophet himself having given charters to Christian monasteries in the name of tolerance – something that some sects of Islam have failed to keep up. Let me ask, would the Jews welcome the Iranians as liberators if they were to march on Jerusalem today? I’m thinking no. Frankly, while Sharia law may have been less barbaric than what the medieval Christians were practising at the time, secular laws are VASTLY better than anything available in the 7th century.
I’m all for people teaching tolerance and respect for ALL of their fellow human beings (and the animals too), but lets do it without the make believe and superstition – and foremost: without the lies/errors.
Ok, I think that will do for tonight. Lest anyone think I take issue only with the Muslim faith, I’d be more than happy to try to correct factual errors that I can for any faith. Cheers!