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Chill Out, Faith Heads Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Posted by henry000 in Afghanistan, Allah, Christianity, faith, football, God, Hinduism, Islam, Jesus, Malaysia, politics, reason, religion, soccer, United States.
6 comments

It seems almost too coincidental, but two latest stories show yet again how blind religious beliefs can blind your sense of judgement.

The first story relates to the “Allah football” incident in Afghanistan. Apparently the US military has been dropping football (i.e soccer) balls in the country with the intention of giving the children something to enjoy. Those balls are nicely decorated with flags of different countries, as well as the name of Allah written on the balls. This caused great offence to some Afghans, and a demonstration has been held, because the use of the revered word “Allah” is very sensitive in Islam. Says one Afghan MP:

Afghan MP Mirwais Yasini said: “To have a verse of the Koran on something you kick with your foot would be an insult in any Muslim country around the world.”

I suggest the brothers and sisters of Islam chill out. Respect and sensitivity run both ways, so take a step back and understand the fact that the US military comes from a different culture, so at least tolerate these sort of mistakes (in fact religious-related “mistakes” like this should not be offences at all – but that is another story). Of course, I’d imagine that the protesters are a minority and the Afghan politicians may be using this incident to their personal advantages, but the point is, only religion can blind people people’s rational thinking and commonsense.

“Allah football”

The second story relates to the “Jesus cartoon” incident in Malaysia. A newspaper published a cartoon of Jesus holding a cigarette and what seems to be a beer can, and so some Christians and even some Hindus, both minorities in Malaysia, are not pleased, because if Muslims can get angry and therefore special treatment at a cartoon depicting Muhammad, then this case deserves the same treatment from the Islamic based Malaysian government. Consequently the offending newspaper outlet has apologised. Again, this issue involves complicated ethnic politics, but the point is the same: only religion, on its privileged pedestals, can cause such silly incident.

Needless to say, the second story reminds us of the horrible, silly and unfortunate case of the Danish prophet Muhammad cartoon case not so long ago – and the deaths and economical damages the whole drama unnecessarily caused.

Muslims, Christians, and even Hindus in this case – can you stop quarrelling amongst yourselves and behave in a civil way?

“Prophet Muhammad cartoons”

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Truly Sad – WordPress Censored in Turkey – Creationist Harun Yahya Involved Monday, August 20, 2007

Posted by henry000 in Adnan Oktar, anti-creationism, anti-evolution, anti-fundamentalism, Atlas of Creation, censorship, Edip Yuksel, education, Europe, European Union, evolution, faith, fundamentalism, Harun Yahya, Islam, rationality, reason, religion, science, Turkey, United States, WordPress.
7 comments

Correction:

I was under the impression that Turkey was a member of EU, which is incorrect. Thanks for the reader who kindly pointed out my mistake.

h3nry – 21 August 2007

This is official: my dear blog host WordPress has been blocked in Turkey due to the so-called “defamation blogs” containing alleged “slanders” made to the Turkish Islamic fundamentalist, and the newest and hottest creationist kid in town, Adnan Oktar – or better known by his pen name, Harun Yahya.

Harun Yahya has recently published a fantastically crafted creationist book called Atlas of Creation that has been translated into many language and been shipped, unsolicited, to the schools and universities in various parts of Europe and the United States (which I briefly blogged here). It is not clear how Harun Yahya financed this book and its junk distribution, but the content of it often violates copyright laws.

Now on to the ban of WordPress in Turkey. It seems that the issue is that a person by the name of Edip Yuksel, a self-proclaimed Islamic reformer, has registered various subdomains of WordPress such as:

http://AdnanOktar.wordpress.com

http://HarunYahyaArabic.wordpress.com

and various other domains to, in the words of Harun Yahya’s legal team, “defame” the Islamic fundamentalist. Be sure to check out the site http://AdnanOktar.wordpress.com to see, I think, photos of what seems to be Harun Yahya in prison and being arrested by police.

Here is the extract of a letter sent to WordPress by Harun Yahya’s lawyer (italics mine):

The number of our attempts to inform and warn you regarding these defamation blogs must have been at least twenty, many times through your support page, a couple of times to your legal department and we even sent a regular mail to Mr. Matt Mullenweg (from the WordPress team). Most of our attempts were unanswered.

These defamation blogs contained slanders to some of my client’s friends as well. They also applied WordPress.com support with their official ID cards and a representative directed them to write to the legal department. So they did but again no response from legal.

So it seems this has been an on-going issue. How did WordPress respond to the letters, it is not known. Needless to say this is quite a tricky and complicated issue. The root cause is fundamentalism vs. reformation, there is the policy and responses from WordPress, and there is the unreasonable law of banning the entire blogging service in the entire country. I would have thought that one reasonable approach is to ban those subdomains in dispute get banned – if they are indeed found to be defamatory and that WordPress is judged not have been carried out its legal responsibilities (I cannot say for certain since most of the content are in Turkish and really, I guess it would be somewhat subjective and I am no expert in this fuzzy legal area). It is worth noting the comment made by a reader edezu from Turkey (italics mine):

This person’s (Harun Yahya) current strategy is to block all the sites which attacks him and his ideas. A few months ago, he made a similar move and blocked “eksi sozluk”, an open dictionary which is, in my opinion, a bastion of free speech in turkish online media, with more than 10.000 writers and about 2.000 entries each day.

Adnan Oktar is taking advantage of the gaps in Turkish laws on the internet, which are sadly on their infancy, to silence all the voices against him. Internet poses a real threat to people like him, where ideas are exposed, and people read them!

Yes, one big gap in the Turkish law indeed. My sympathy goes out to the WordPress gang and the Turkish Internet users. I wonder if the European Union will somehow act or put pressure on this Turkish ruling? What’s the lunatic Harun Yahya going to do next – ban Google?

To all of the people out there who feel that this whole entire evolution vs. creationism debate is something of a fringe interest, or an issue that can be safely dismissed – think carefully again. It is an issue that reflects the bigger war between the fundamentalists and the reasonable, the religious fanatics and the rational, lunacy and integrity.

It is good to know though, as one of the readers jimcolella noted, there is already a petition underway:

On that score, I’ve found there is already a Facebook petition to protest the blockage (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=4940847710) and I would strongly recommend all interested parties to write to Al Jazeera’s “Listening Post” programme via their Web site — a great TV prog that covers precisely these types of issues, i.e., freedom of speech… precisely what I’m going to do as soon as I log out of this.

An entire blog publishing service is being censored in an European Union country, the entire freedom to information for the Turkish population is being compromised by a few deranged individuals. This is a truly sad day.

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Hate Crime vs. Art – Comic Thursday, August 16, 2007

Posted by henry000 in Bible, Christianity, comic, funny, hate-crime, humor, humour, Islam, political correctness.
33 comments

This comic depicts the current over-sensitive political-correctness towards Islam.

Hate Crime vs. Art

This is a re-post from here.

Echoing Dawkins – Don’t Call Us Fundamentalists Thursday, July 26, 2007

Posted by henry000 in anti-fundamentalism, atheism, Bible, Chinese, Christianity, Dawkins, faith, fundamentalism, God, Islam, Judaism, Koran, rationality, reason, religion, Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion.
9 comments

Richard Dawkins has lately written an article titled “How dare you call me a fundamentalist” as a response to some of the main criticisms he received for his controversial bestseller The God Delusion. Here I will add my own arguments to what Dawkins has already said, because when rational people criticise god and putting religion in perspective, they get unfairly judged, and this we must address.

The criticisms made on Dawkins are in bold.

I’m an atheist, but I wish to dissociate myself from your shrill, strident, intemperate, intolerant, ranting language.

How you feel about the tone and language of the book is entirely up to you. Some might find it clear and concise. I find it to be passionate and blunt, and I think blunt is a much better and objective description of the tone and language of the book.

Take the first chapter for example. The one line where I can find people might find it offending is this line:

The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naive.

Now seriously, how shrill and intolerant is this? Try replacing the words “a personal God” with something else say “United Nations” or “the Live Aid concert”. Does it make a difference?

I offer this advice to people who feel the book is arrogant and condescending: read it again (or at least some of it), and you might come to feel differently about it as the first time might come as a shock.

You can’t criticise religion without detailed study of learned books on theology.

The book is not ignorant on theology and various aspects of religion – see Dawkins’ own explanation – this alone should settle this particular criticism. I would add that you need not to be a scholar to highlight the obvious problems of religion, such as the blind faiths people have in ancient scriptures that drive them to happily hurt and kill others for no other reason than religion. There is a difference between criticising something while being completely ignorant (such as simple-minded creationists), and being knowledgeable enough.

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Not Just A Theory .com Saturday, July 21, 2007

Posted by henry000 in Atlas of Creation, Islam, science, scientific theory, United States.
5 comments

I have been away from the Internet in the last few days, so am trying hard to catch up on the news that I have missed out. One very gloom piece of news stands out: apparently a beautifully printed Islam-based creationism book Atlas of Creation has been distributed into the hands of professors and various media organisations in the United States (for example, see here and here).

However, there is a little brighter bit of news which caught my attention. A small new website came to existence recently, and its name is Evolution Is Not Just a Theory: http://www.notjustatheory.com.

It is basically a website dedicated to explain what the word theory means, and why it should not be used as an argument against the theory of evolution. It is quite thin in content and the look-and-feel of it is kind of amateurish, so I didn’t know what to make of it initially. But now I think it is kind of cute – it is better than nothing after all, and hopefully it will evolve (sorry) into something bigger in the future.

Brutal Honor Killing in UK Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Posted by henry000 in fundamentalism, honor killing, Iraq, Islam, religion, UK.
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It is news like this that makes my blood boil.

The so-called honor-killing in the names of religion has to be one of the most barbaric, despicable act today.

What makes this particular case even more sickening is that fact that the 20 year old girl, Banaz Mahmod, was brutally murdered.

The father had planned the murder with his brother during a family dinner. He had also apparently bribed Banaz’s brother to kill her.

So why did this happen? Because the Banaz ended an “ending an abusive arranged marriage, becoming too westernised and falling in love with a man who did not come from their Iraqi village”.

This is simply sickening.

Father Murders Daughter in the Name of Honor Killing

Quiz: What Kind of Atheist Are You? Saturday, May 26, 2007

Posted by henry000 in agnosticism, atheism, Buddhism, Christianity, evolution, faith, funny, God, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, quiz, rationality, religion, science, secularism, Sikhism, spirituality.
6 comments

Courtesy of Evolving Thoughts and the ever-resourceful Pharygula, here is the result of what type of an atheist I am… below is the result – I am a 100% “scientific atheist” – and somewhat surprisingly, a 25% of a theist!

Of course, there are questions regarding evolution.

What kind of atheist are you?

You scored as Scientific Atheist, These guys rule. I’m not one of them myself, although I play one online. They know the rules of debate, the Laws of Thermodynamics, and can explain evolution in fifty words or less. More concerned with how things ARE than how they should be, these are the people who will bring us into the future.

Scientific Atheist
100%
Militant Atheist
75%
Spiritual Atheist
58%
Angry Atheist
42%
Apathetic Atheist
33%
Theist
25%
Agnostic
8%

What kind of atheist are you?
created with QuizFarm.com

New Polls! Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Posted by henry000 in Buddhism, Christianity, evolution, faith, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, polls, religion, Sikhism, survey.
1 comment so far

I thought it was a good and fun idea to have some polls! So after some quick research I decided to use PollDaddy to host my polls (well, their logo looks rather, er, disturbing…).

You can find the polls on the Features section on the right hand side of the page, or click on the Polls tab above… but I will include the questions here anyway:

1. What is your religion?

2. You feel that the theory of evolution is…

Teenage Girl Stoned to Death for Loving the Wrong Boy Sunday, May 6, 2007

Posted by henry000 in atheism, fundamentalism, honor killing, Iraq, Islam, Kurdish, love, religion.
12 comments

I am completely horrified and saddened by the barbaric, despicable act of the so-called honour-killing in the names of Islam.

I am also maddened.

This Daily Mail report, originally found at Richard Dawkins’ website, is something I cannot digest. A 17 year old Kurdish girl of a minority Islamic sect was stoned to her death by her family and tribesmen simply because she was in love with a Sunni boy, and failed to return home one night.

A video of it is floating around the internet. I have not had the courage to watch it.

This is tribalism and religious blindness at their worst. Utterly barbaric beyond words.

I can understand better now what Sam Harris means by saying that the Muslim world is comparable to the 14th century Christian Europe.

I am proud to be an atheist.

ps. Note that there are couple of video still images on the websites. I decided not to put them here. I don’t see the points. They are too gruesome.

May the girl rest in peace.

Worldwide Atheism Trend and Pattern – A Summary Thursday, May 3, 2007

Posted by henry000 in agnosticism, atheism, Buddhism, China, Christianity, Europe, faith, God, Hinduism, Islam, Italy, Japan, Middle East, North Korea, Portugal, rationality, religion, Scandinavian, science, secularism, South Korea, statistics, survey, Sweden, United States, Vietnam, world.
26 comments

This is the sort of article I have been long searching for – a comprehensive, analytical and scholarly summary – filled with hard data – of atheism trends in the world. This 2005 article is written by Phil Zuckerman and seems to have been part of a Cambridge University publication. Although slightly outdated, it nonetheless provides a reliable and useful source for anyone interested in the study of the atheist demographics.

It is not a short article, so I will take the liberty of summarising it further here. Firstly it outlines the difficulties in conducting a survey on the beliefs and disbeliefs of large populations. Then it provides a good statistics on the atheism population in many countries. Then, most importantly, the Top 50 list of non-believing countries is presented, which I will duplicate here (I have stripped out the population columns due to space limits):

  Country % Atheist/actual # Agnostic/Non-believer in God
1 Sweden 46-85%
2 Vietnam 81%
3 Denmark 43-80%
4 Norway 31-72%
5 Japan 64-65%
6 Czech Republic 54-61%
7 Finland 28-60%
8 France 43-54%
9 South Korea 30%-52%
10 Estonia 49%
11 Germany 41-49%
12 Russia 24-48%
13 Hungary 32-46%
14 Netherlands 39-44%
15 Britain 39-44%
16 Belgium 42-43%
17 Bulgaria 34-40%
18 Slovenia 35-38%
19 Israel 15-37%
20 Canada 19-30%
21 Latvia 20-29%
22 Slovakia 10-28%
23 Switzerland 17-27%
24 Austria 18-26%
25 Australia 24-25%
26 Taiwan 24%
27 Spain 15-24%
28 Iceland 16-23%
29 New Zealand 20-22%
30 Ukraine 20%
31 Belarus 17%
32 Greece 16%
33 North Korea 15% (?)
34 Italy 6-15%
35 Armenia 14%
36 China 8-14% (?)
37 Lithuania 13%
38 Singapore 13%
39 Uruguay 12%
40 Kazakhstan 11-12%
41 Estonia 11%
42 Mongolia 9%
43 Portugal 4-9%
44 United States 3-9%
45 Albania 8%
46 Argentina 4-8%
47 Kyrgyzstan 7%
48 Dominican Rep. 7%
49 Cuba 7% (?)
50 Croatia 7%

where (?) indicates the relatively low certainty/validity. Note that rather than defining the terms “atheism”, “agnosticism” and “non-belief”, which is a tricky issue in itself, the article lumps all three together to simply mean people who do not believe in God. The range of percentages (for example the top non-believing country Sweden is 46% – 85%) gives an indication of the difficulties in reaching such figures. Finally, the author gives his own analysis on atheism trend and pattern using the data.

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