Atheosphere

Atheosphere

Over the course of the past month or so, I’ve read many different blogs in the “atheosphere” and ended up “starring” several in my Google Reader.  I also had this graphic that I played around with creating in Photoshop and wanted to find a creative way to share it, so here’s the links the blog posts I found interesting or worth reading closely and the pic -magazine style. I hope someone else discovers an new blog or a post they missed. If you like what I’ve put together or the picture above, I’ll include a link to the photo sans text at the end of this post.

The Intersection of Science and Religion

Pharyngula has a post and a subsequent thread of comments (when does PZ *not* get a thread of comments!) discussing Texas’ consideration of accrediting the Institution of Creation Research for training teachers in Are we tired of Texas inanity yet? As a citizen (temporarily) of Texas and as a college graduate there, I have to say I find this a disappointment as do many. My elected officials will certainly be hearing from me and, hopefully, others.

Religion is scientifically examined all the time, which refutes the Non-Overlapping Magisteria  hypothesis posited by the late Stephen J. Gould. At The Information Paradox, you can read a brief synopsis of how a Study shows younger generations are more skeptical of Christianity. The author cites a Barna Research Group study conducted in September. I’ll have to review that study and put the data up on the data page.

The Intersection of Atheists and Theists

The Teen Atheist has a moving blog entry about her struggles with theistic parents and going to college at Diary of a Teen Atheist. I found her post genuine and heartfelt and it was easy to empathize with her situation if only because she expresses it so well.

Hemant, the Friendly Atheist, has an open thread for Questions for Atheists that’s directed at his theistic readers. This promises to be an interesting thread that I’ll follow the next few days. Already one commenters have asked: “Where can I find an atheist book, website, magazine, etc. that doesn’t mock or attack or deride religious people or beliefs, but only puts forth a positive vision of what it is to be an atheist?” and, “what is the one thing you would like Christians to understand about you?”

Felicia Gilljam answers some of the questions inspired by Hemant’s post above at Life before death in two separate posts: first here then here.

De-Conversion has two great posts with the heading “Challenging Religious Myths”. The first is No Morality Without Religion. This post does a very good job of refuting arguments like, “without God, people have no reason to behave” and “morality comes from religion or God.” The second post is Atheism is Just Another Religion in which the author dispels the notion put forward by a lot of religious apologists that atheism, particularly with the recent flood of atheist bestsellers, is a religion in a kind of tu quoque argument. I’ve always looked at this as a tacit acknowledgment by believers that there is something to be ashamed of in being part of a religious dogma.

Along the same line of D-C’s articles, Debunking Christianity has Do Non-Believers Willfully Refuse to Believe? I can’t count the times I’ve been faced with the argument from Christian apologists that I’m not simply without God, but that God is available to me yet I deny God and just refuse to believe in the way someone refuses to believe in the holocaust or a round Earth.

Culture War

In An Open Letter to Heather, Possummomma (aka, Atheist in a min van) responds to one of her readers who happens to be a Christian  but can’t seem to not read P-momma’s blog. While P-momma is an excellent writer, I suspect Heather’s stay has more to do with curiosity about atheism, atheist families, and how is it that atheists can actually be good, caring people with strong family values. This is contrary to what many Christians are taught throughout their lives and is a consistent point of contention in the so-called “culture war” between the godless and the godful.

Vjack at Atheist Revolution writes about the separation of church and state in I Value Truth as well as his thoughts on  an article written by Steven Conn, a professor of history at Ohio State University who criticizes Mitt Romney’s recent speech -Romney attempting to appeal to the religious right.

Christmas

Secular Planet doesn’t hold the punches on dealing with Santa Claus in Santa Claus: A Web of White Lies in which the author discusses his discontent with teaching kids about Santa during Christmas. I’m not sure I’m in total agreement, but the post was interesting. Personally, I’m planning on using the whole Santa Claus thing as an exercise in skepticism. I want to watch my little skeptic (6 yrs old now) come to the conclusion that the big guy is fake on her own. That and my wife would kill me if I told her now.

Daylight Atheism, a must-read stop in the atheosphere has a couple of posts about the “War on Christmas:” in The Real Enemies of Christmas he looks at the Puritan ban on Christmas celebration in the 1600s, putting the whole O’Reilly-esque whining about the “war on xmas” in perspective. Then, with How Not to Fight the War on Christmas he offers some fair criticism of liberal apologists that are a bit “wishy-washy” in their attempts “to stop using Christmas as an excuse to bash nonbelievers and assert their supremacy, and instead join in an effort to promote social justice.” Their stand against the religious right is “well intentioned,” says Ebon, but they’re not vocal and forthright enough against the bigots and loudmouths of the religious right.

At Debunking Christianity, there’s a brief description of The Trouble With Christmas, a book written by Thomas Flynn that I’d never heard of and will have to look more into.

You can always count on Austin Cline to have the latest topic being discussed in the atheosphere on his Austin’s Atheist Blog at About.com. He has probably more articles on “war on Christmas” topic than any single blog on the net:  Taking Christmas out of Christianity; Don’t Believe in Jesus? No Christmas Party for You! ; Christmas Wars as Tribal Conflict ; and, one of my favorite articles on the topic of Christmas (in the atheosphere) is Joy Stephenson: Don’t Dare Wish Me a Happy Holidays!

Morality, Good and Evil

Richard Dawkins wrote an essay at Newsweek’s OnFaith blog titled Logical Path from Religious Beliefs to Evil Deeds in which he explores, well, the logical path of evil enabled by religious belief whereas there isn’t one with atheism. This is a topic I’m always very interested in exploring since one of the first arguments religious apologists use against atheism is the tired and fallacious “Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler were atheists; therefore atheism is evil” argument. If you haven’t subscribed to the RSS feed for OnFaith, you really should at least visit and check it out.

One of my favorite blogs on in the atheosphere is Salient, who has an interesting post titled Instinct vs Morality, which I starred very quickly to come back and read more closely.

Yet another article from Pharyngula discusses a study that found that atheists and people without religious affiliation were the least likely to be prejudiced against minorities or immigrants. Click on Bad news: atheists can be good people (and find out what this is “bad news”) to read more.

Myths of Atheism

The Jesus Myth has a post that refutes a few of the myths that Christians seem to have about atheists in Hate: A Four Letter Word.

Feeding the Fish, a blog I hadn’t previously known about until I noticed it in the Planet Atheism feed, has a post  On Militant Atheists in which he echoes some of my own thoughts and feelings about the term “militant” as applied to atheism. It gets used frequently by religious apologists to describe their outspoken critics, but militant, when applied to atheism conjures a far different image than when it’s applied to “Islam” or “Christianity.” And the author of Feeding the Fish has the pictures to prove it!

A Stained Glass

Here’s the pic above without the magazine text & barcode. The Latin phrase means, “fortune is glass; just when it gleams brightest it shatters.”  I don’t know if anyone would like to use it, but feel free if you’d like. I just ask that you link back to me with a credit.

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Chuck Norris Sues Penguin

“What,” you say? Chuckie-boy has litigation against a nun? Or an Antarctic waterfowl?

Nope. He’s suing Penguin the book publisher.

What’s funny is why. The reason he’s suing a book publisher is because they published a book titled, The Truth About Chuck Norris: 400 facts about the World’s Greatest Human. Now, you ask, “is he objecting to being called “great” or “human?”

The answer, again, is neither. He objects to the “facts,” which he’s afraid readers will be mislead into thinking are true. Here’s a screenshot of the webpage to see for yourself:

Chuck Norris Facts Shot

The highlighted fact is one of the ones mentioned in the article above. My favorites are “speaks braille” and “Optimus Prime.”

And he’s worried that these will be taken seriously? Right. And Vin Diesal invented the color black.

What a retard. For a “tough guy,” Carlos sure is a bitch.

The Historicity of Jesus: the Making of a Myth

So often I see it written on blogs or internet communities where the historicity of Jesus is being discussed where the Christian apologist will respond to those skeptical of a historical Jesus by reminding them that very little evidence exists to support the historicity of figures like Socrates, Alexander the Great, etc. While this may be true for the former, it is a bit less realistic a statement for the former. Nonetheless, the difference lies in the fact that neither of these figures has supernatural claims surrounding him to which millions of people are expected to behave in a certain manner in support of. Nor does my belief about life or the universe depend on either of these two actually existing in history. So the argument amounts to nothing more than a straw man, but it is a straw man that I see many atheists and non-believers get stuck on when they debate the historicity of Jesus with this would-be messiah’s apologists.

Historians don’t use the “empirical evidences” of chemists and physicists, but they do make predictions based upon the evidence they actually obtain. Evidence for historical figures and events comes in the forms of primary and secondary evidence. The written artifacts of the subject constitute primary evidence: bills of laden, manifests, deeds to property, signed orders, correspondence, etc. Secondary evidence comes in the form of documents written in an era after the subject’s period, usually written about the subject, describing his deeds, actions, or ideas about the world.

With regard to historical figures like George Washington, there exist many primary documents that conform to the period contemporary to the man. Occasionally, a forged document emerges (documents related to George Washington are valuable, after all) and is detected by some inconsistence when compared with other documents. Or, in the case of a document I recall being discussed once, the forger used the wrong ink, which when empirically analyzed, showed to be of a 20th century variety.

What exists with the Jesus account amounts to only secondary evidence. The only sources we have to say that Jesus existed in history are the Synaptic Gospels and a few apocrypha. Each of which offer conflicting accounts in some cases or appear to be derived from a single source in others. None of Jesus’ personal correspondences exist; not a single account of his life exists that was written while he was alleged to exist; not a single artifact is produced that can be empirically linked to Jesus; etc.

Apologists for the Jesus myth will often respond with, “what artifact would be good enough?” A blood-soaked piece of wood that tests to only have 23 chromosomes comes to mind, but, realistically, I’m reminded that many historical figures contemporary to Jesus or before are accompanied by artifacts that are in their name: effigies, murals, tapestries, sculptures, trinkets, jewelry, songs, poems, stories, cities and streets named after them, and so on. Jesus Christ has none of these things that were created during his life or even just after. It isn’t until about 50 – 70 years after he was alleged to have been executed that the newly emergent Christian cult created documents detailing the life of this person.

If Jesus Christ did not exist, we would expect to see only post-mortem accounts of his life. We would expect to see the creators of this mythical character use existing mythology to flesh out the character they’re creating. We would expect to see a borrowing of text, as was common for the day, from existing religious texts to create the new myth. We would expect to see mistakes in things like geography and contradictions between authors of the new mythical character if they weren’t collaborating close enough –or if they were competing with one another! We would also expect the Jesus myth to conform to the hero archetype as well.
And you know what, we see all these things.

Existing Mythology and Borrowing of Text

In Daniel 7:13, we find, “[a]s I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven.” In Mark 13:26, we see, “[t]hen they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory.”

This direct word-for-word borrowing of Old Testament text by gospel author is something that was done throughout Near Eastern cultures. Anyone who’s read in Near Eastern texts ranging from Gilgamesh to the Egyptian stories from the earliest writings to well after the alleged time of Jesus will see examples of this literary “borrowing.” One of the only time this literary practice of ancient texts is ignored is with Judeo-Christian and Islamic myths.

As another example of so many, the crucifixion scene in Mark is clearly based on Psalm 22. The first lines of Psalm 22 read “my god, my god, why have you forsaken me?,” which is a lamentation song supposedly written by David. In Mark, Jesus quotes this as he “dies” on the cross. Those deluded by the spell of Christianity will cite this as “prophecy fulfillment,” even though this isn’t a “prophecy” at all. It’s a song. A song of lament and there is no indication in Psalms that this is any sort of prophecy. We are left to accept that either the alleged “son of God” lacked imagination or originality in this and dozens of other sayings and speeches.

Indeed, the obvious explanation of so-called “prophecy-fulfillments” is that they are all* written by authors who were writing with these prophecies and sayings in mind.

Geographical Problems

In this section, I’m directly quoting the work of a skeptic in an internet community, and I’ve linked the passage at the end of this post. I won’t say that he’s 100% accurate in the information, but I did a quick look at the biblical passages in question as well as a map of the region and it looks like this gentleman is spot on.

1. The author of Mark states that Jesus cast out demons from a man and into a couple thousand pigs while in Gerasa. The pigs then ran down a steep place and into the Sea of Galilee. Galilee is about 30 miles from Gerasa.

2. Matthew’s author changed the earlier Mark to Gadara, which is still 5 miles from the shore of Galilee. The earliest manuscripts are Mark, which state Gerasa. But even if it were Gadara and Mark’s author was wrong (leaving one to wonder why we should trust “as gospel” the word of either since they cannot agree -one is obviously deluded), did Mark’s author run to keep up with the pigs for 5 miles just to watch their fate?

3. The author of Mark also wrote that Jesus traveled from Tyre to the Sea of Galilee, about 30-50 miles (depending on the route) in order to reach Sidon, which was back on the Mediterranean coast, yet another 40-50 miles! The wisest of wise men took a 70 mile journey, on foot, to reach his destination. Talk about taking the scenic route. A more likely explanation is that the gospel was invented by an author that was simply ignorant of Palestinian geography (in other words, had never been there; in other words, wasn’t an ‘apostle’) and thought Sidon was on the coast of the Sea of Galilee. [1]

Inter-Gospel Contradictions

The contradictory genealogies of Matthew and Luke are probably the first that come to mind for most. Even the most deeply deluded of Christian apologists seem to have difficulty reconciling this difference. Though I have seen one or two lame attempts, the worst of these being the excuse that one of the genealogies is actually that of Mary. There shouldn’t even be a genealogy of Joseph going back to David since he isn’t Jesus’ father… yet Paul writes in Romans 1:3 that Jesus was born of the seed of David. This is evidence of a bit of editing and footwork done by the early Christians who were reconciling OT prophecy to create their “messiah.” This bit gets written in to the Jesus mythology to help create the character and flesh out his part.

But, speaking of Jesus’ birth, only Luke and Matthew seem aware of the fact that it is supposed to be a “virgin” birth (complete and utter nonsense to begin with). Luke and Matthew also disagree on the date that he was born. Luke has him born during the first census of Israel during the period in which Quirinius was governor of Syria. Matthew says he was born during the reign of Herod. Herod died in 4 BCE and the census took place between 6 and 7 CE. The authors of Matthew and Luke both agree on the *place* of Jesus’ birth, however, putting it at Bethlehem. Incidentally, the author of Matthew seems to be quoting Micah (5:2) when he writes of it, more “borrowing” from the OT. Luke, on the other hand, has Joseph and Mary leave their home in Nazareth to go to Bethlehem for the birth for census purposes (which doesn’t make any logical sense, since Romans were interested in taxing people where they actually lived). The contradiction between Matthew and Luke is regarding their home, apparently Luke’s author thinks they lived in Nazareth before Jesus’ birth, whereas Matthew’s author says it was only after JC’s birth that they moved there because they were afraid to return to Judea.

There are many, many other contradictions between these alleged “synoptic” gospels (such as who bought the field of blood, how the field got its name, how Judas died, trials of Jesus, his death, the alleged “resurrection,” etc.), enough that it is apparent that “synoptic” is the last adjective that should be applied to these fables.

The Hero archetype.

The modern mythical archetype is as follows:

  1. The hero usually suffers a great loss, which makes him set off on a quest.
  2. The hero generally has a mentor or helper who helps him on his quest.
  3. The hero must face a set of trials, which allow him to overcome “evil”.
  4. The hero narrowly escapes death, usually more than once.
  5. The hero escapes the “evil villain’s” stronghold or destroys him.
  6. The hero is then reintegrated into society with a new status, wealth, or marriage to the princess.
  7. There has to be a happy ending.

Such modern heroes include Luke Skywalker, Superman, Batman, etc. But the hero archetype is nothing new to storytellers. Joseph Campbell outlined the “hero’s journey” in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces [2] and noted that this journey is shared by mythical heroes throughout history:

  1. A call to adventure, which the hero has to accept or decline
  2. A road of trials, regarding which the hero succeeds or fails
    Achieving the goal or “boon,” which often results in important self-knowledge
  3. A return to the ordinary world, again as to which the hero can succeed or fail
  4. Application of the boon, in which what the hero has gained, can be used to improve the world

To quote Campbell, “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

So why “Jesus Christ?”

The theology the group of believers that became Catholics held that a new covenant could only be made with a blood sacrifice. Therefore, Jesus had to exist and real, actual blood had to be spilled in order to form a new covenant. Catholics, the folks that voted on what texts were going to be “biblical” and which were not, voted in a new covenant along with the New Testament texts added to the earlier Judaic texts like the Torah. A new covenant exists. Therefore, Jesus existed. All very circular.

But why the name “Jesus” and not “Yeshua: as it is written in Hebrew. And why “Christ?” Yeshua, meaning “god saves” already existed and was very prominent in the newly voted on Bible. He’s better known as Joshua, the mass-murderer who is alleged to have committed genocide on Canaanites and other innocent people of the land he and his band of terrorists wanted to take. Of course, biblical mythology paints his deeds as acts of heroism (one man’s hero is another man’s terrorist), but rest assured, this hero is quoted directly in biblical mythology as having “devoted the city [Jericho] to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys (Joshua 6:21).” That is, every living thing *except* his favorite prostitute.

So the Catholic editors of their newly voted on biblical texts saw fit to change the name ever so slightly. Jesus, was also among the most common names of the time. And, since “christ” is from the Greek khristós, meaning “anointed one,” the functional equivalent of “messiah,” we are left with an “everyman name.” He might well have been named *Joe Messiah* if the story were to have unfolded in 20th century Ohio instead of the Iron Age.

References and Related Posts

  • [1] SkinWalker. Bible Contradictions. Post #2 [http://www.sciforums.com/showpost.php?p=1328853&postcount=2], 2007
  • [2] Campbell, Joseph. The hero with a thousand faces. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1949.
  • Related Posts: Scientific Study of Religion
  • Presidential Candidates, Religion, Science

    Religion Gone Too Far

    Republican Mitt Romney, amid questions about his faith raised by rival Mike Huckabee, said Wednesday that comparing political records on the stump and through the airwaves is legitimate for presidential contenders, but “attacking someone’s religion is really going too far.”

    First, I find it fascinating to watch two religious believers quibble over which of their superstitions is the right one. It’s a bit like a Star Trek nerd claiming the Borg are more powerful than the sith to his Star Wars counterpart. And truly believing it.

    But fantasy and superstition aside, how can anyone rationally state that “attacking someone’s religion is going too far,” particularly when the “attacks” are really just fair criticism and inquiry. Huckabee’s superstitions preclude his accepting evolution, which is a fact of science not just a theory. He stated that he “doesn’t believe in evolution.” This is a true problem, since his understanding of science and his educational level is relevant to the job he is seeking to be elected to. Indeed, it may very well have been his utter ignorance in science that caused him to make a statement that patients of HIV/AIDS should be quarantined and segregated from society. His recent response to criticism of this statement is that he made the comment before the epidemiology of HIV/AIDS was actually understood and that there was confusion over how HIV was transmitted: “my concern was the uncertain risk to the general population — if we got it wrong, many people would die needlessly.”

    Right. The vectors of HIV/AIDS have long been known and understood. They were understood well before his comments in 1992. And an education and understanding of science, at even a rudimentary level, would have given him that insight. But why should it be expected that someone who doesn’t believe in evolution should have that sort of education? The short answer is that we shouldn’t. But since the President of the United States would be expected to have informed opinions about topics such as stem cells, science education in schools, genetic manipulation, HIV/AIDS policy, etc.

    And Romney! I only have one thing to say: magic underwear.

    Okay, maybe I should say something else that occurs to me. Mormon doctrine states that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri. Either Mitt Romney believes this, and other nonsense beliefs of the Mormon cult, or he just claims he does. He’s either deluded or lying. Which condition better qualifies him for the Presidency? If we go by the current administration, it, of course, would be the latter.

    By the way, there’s a call for a Scientific Debate in 2008 for Presidential candidates. Go to the link and check it out.

    The Recent Harris Poll on Belief

    Harris Poll Interactive conducted a recent poll in November in which they sampled 2,455 American adults and asked a variety of questions regarding the their beliefs, mostly religious, though they did poll with questions about UFOs, ghosts, reincarnation, and the like.

    The tables of some of their results can be found at Harris Poll Interactive, but I’ve put some of these results in graphic format should anyone wish to use them. If you do, I only ask that you include a link back to Breaking Spells.

    What Was Believed

    I can’t help but wonder how many people answer polls like this based on what they want others to think about them rather than what they really believe. I’ve always had a hard time accepting that people truly believe in virgin birth and miracles to the degree represented above. Surely there’s more hope that miracles exist and that Jesus was born of a virgin than actually fully believe it. But its interesting to see that evolution edged out ahead of creationism, particularly given some of the other responses about miracles, and the “word of God” (below).

    Word of God

    What? The Book of Mormon isn’t strongly held to be the “word” of God? And what’s the deal with the Old Testament slightly beating the New Testament? This is a bit telling if you ask me: Christians are slightly more willing to accept that OT is the “word” of God over the NT -and it’s in the OT that some of the best hatred and bigotry can be justified.

    How Religious People Are

    And it’s also interesting to note that the “not at all religious” and “not very religious” categories together out-weigh the “very religious” category.

    Anyway, these types of polls are often difficult to accept since even the methodology section of the Harris Interactive site doesn’t reveal enough details to know how effective the pollsters were at delivering the questions or what most of the actual questions were (or their contexts). Even the tone of voice carried by the pollster can influence the answer.

    I’ll still add these graphs to the Data page along with a citation and link.

    Bill O’Reilly Interviews Atheist Lori Lipman Brown

    On December 6, O’Reilly interviewed Lori Lipman Brown, the former Nevada state senator and currently the director and lobbyist for the Secular Coalition for America. This was in the wake of the Mitt Romney’s speech on “why my Mormon faith isn’t a problem.”

    Brown’s interaction with O’Reilly was very good and I think she did a decent job holding her own and representing the rational perspective. She took umbrage with Romney’s statement that American’s believe in God, pointing out that he completely ignored 30 million plus non-religious (secularist, atheist, and agnostic) Americans.O’Reilly made the usual ass of himself by creating the ad hominem arguments against those that don’t accept his superstitions by referring to them as “whining” several times.

    Predictably, O’Reilly makes the usual nutjob claims about the U.S. being founded on belief in God, etc., to which Brown successfully counters by pointing out that the United States is not ruled by the Declaration of Independence but, rather, the Constitution, a document which specifically omits talk religious and god-talk by design since those that wanted a secular nation won that argument then.

    She also puts him in his place with the “incessant whining” ad hominem by pointing out that 30 million people were excluded and Romney is running for an office that represents all Americans.

    Vodpod videos no longer available. from vodpod.com posted with vodpod

    The Threat of Theocracy: Islam and World Domination

    Make no mistake. Muslims seek to dominate the world.

    I’m not simply using hyperbole in that statement or exaggerating the threat that Islam poses to freedom and secular choices. Various cults of Islam are devout in their intent to spread their cults to all of humanity and publically state these intents. Moreover, it is written in their mythology, which they accept as unquestioning truth, that Muslims should seek to share their delusion with the entire world.

    Mawlana Abul Alla Mawdudi, the founder of Pakistan’s fundamentalist movement, has said:

    Islam is not a normal religion like the other religions in the world, and Muslim nations are not like normal nations. Muslim nations are very special because they have a command from Allah to rule the entire world and to be over every nation in the world. Islam is a revolutionary faith that comes to destroy any government made by man. Islam doesn’t look for a nation to be in better condition than another nation. Islam doesn’t care about land or who owns the land. The goal of Islam is to rule the entire world and submit all of mankind to the faith of Islam. Any nation or power in this world that tries to get in the way of that goal Islam will fight and destroy. In order for Islam to fulfill that goal, Islam can use every power available every way it can be used to bring worldwide revolution. This is jihad.

    Of course, so-called moderate Muslims will object and say that “jihad” simply means “struggle” and that each Muslim “struggles” to bring peace, harmony, etc. Unfortunately, theirs is a voice, even if it is a majority, that isn’t heard nor is it loud. It is, after all, the Koran itself that teaches what jihad is truly about in passages like those found in Surah 8:

    When you fight with disbelievers, do not retreat. Those who do will go to hell (8:15-16); those that the Muslims killed were not really killed by them. It was Allah who did the killing (8:17); Fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah (8:39); and, don’t let the disbelievers think they can escape. They are your enemy and the enemy of Allah (8:59-60).

    Passages like these are what inform the violent interpretations of “jihad” with Muslims; but what of global domination? What justifies this evangelism of terror in the eyes of the Muslim? Further looks at Koranic verses is revealing:

    Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress limits…And slay them wherever ye catch them. And turn them out from where they have turned you out; for persecution is worse than slaughter; But fight them not at the sacred Mosque unless they first fight you there; But if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who reject faith. But if they cease, Allah is oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. And fight them on until there is no more persecution. And the religion becomes Allah’s. But if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression (2:190-3)

    Therefore let those fight in the way of Allah, who sell this world’s life for the hereafter; and whoever fights in the way of Allah, then be he slain or be he victorious, We shall grant him a mighty reward (4:74).

    And when the sacred months are passed, kill those who join other gods with God wherever ye shall find them; and seize them, besiege them, and lay wait for them with every kind of ambush: but if they shall convert, and observe prayer, and pay the obligatory alms, then let them go their way, for God is gracious, merciful (9:5)

    Nor is there any encouragement within the Koran to tolerate those that don’t accept the delusion of Islam:

    Thou seest many of them making friends with those who disbelieve. Surely ill for them is that which they themselves send on before them (5:80).

    Jihad explains the few extremists that have “martyred” themselves by flying planes into skyscrapers, detonating themselves on trains, or those caught before they could detonate bombs in the United States and Europe. But the jihad that threatens to introduce Islam in staggering numbers across Europe is far more subtle than a suicide bomber. This jihad is playing on secular ideals and the cry for tolerance on the left in the wake of the more violent versions of jihad. The subtle version seeks to introduce Muslim practices and culture in the secular nations of Europe by changing laws and policies making it difficult for opposition to question, criticize or restrict Muslims. On the surface, it seems a good thing not to restrict someone based solely on their religious beliefs. But, looking a bit deeper, one sees more than a mere longing for religious equality. A recent outcry in the United States by the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) complains of new TSA requirements at airports to search large head-coverings that include cowboy hats, straw hats, turbans and berets. In particular, TSA security personnel can now pat down these types of headgear even if the metal detectors didn’t alert in order to check for non-metallic, dangerous items.

    Pressure against government agencies in the United States has less impact, however, than in Europe, where Muslims have made it difficult to be critical or restrictive on their religious superstitions without being “hateful” or “discriminatory.” In Scotland, doctors and nurses at a hospital have been instructed not to eat in front of Muslim workers during Ramadan. Food trolleys are to be moved away from their sight and Muslim workers are to be given time to pray. This is an example of religious tolerance gone too far, but that isn’t the furthest reaches of what is desired by Muslims in Britain. Muslims there wanted a law passed that would essentially make it a crime to criticize or blaspheme Islam. What passed was apparently a “watered down” version which restricts “threatening” comments designed to incite others against a religious group. I suppose referring to Islam as a delusion responsible for violence and terrorism would ostensibly qualify as an illegal comment if made in public.

    Islam is a presence in Europe that uses violence to influence both Muslims and non-Muslims. In France, radical Islam is being blamed for violence in hospitals –physicians have been assaulted by men for “touching” Muslim women during the course of examinations and Muslim men are demanding “virginity certificates” for young girls. Muslims are also attacking the police in Muslim neighborhoods with stones and Molotov cocktails. For his efforts in documenting the nature of Muslim violence against Muslim women, Theo Van Gogh paid with his life. Upon completion of the 10 minute film, Van Gogh received death threats. On Nov. 2, 2004, the threats were carried out by a Muslim, deluded by superstitions of jihad and his holy duty to his god. In 2006, riots broke out across the Muslim world in response to cartoons depicting Mohammed published in a Danish newspaper. People died. Over cartoons. In an effort to appease Muslims, much has been done by non-Muslims in the West to present an air of tolerance, which is just what Muslims want. Tolerance is a step towards acceptance. Once Islam becomes as accepted as any other religious superstition, there would be less opposition to conversion. And in the largely secular Europe, Islam might well fill a void and experience little real opposition compared to that in the United States.

    But it’s interesting to note that the very non-Muslims (theists and atheists alike) who called for “respect” and “tolerance” for Islam in the wake of the cartoon riots had little to say about the riots that ensued. Didn’t they notice that this “religion of peace” was both threatening and carrying out violence, primarily because some of the cartoons they objected to depicted Islam as violent? The irony is deep.

    Islam expects tolerance for their delusions. The Koran dictates that those unbelievers that accept them can live, particularly if they convert. Those that refuse to accept them must die.