The New Atheists, like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, the late Christopher Hitchens and many others, purported to offer a sane, secular attempt to roll back religiosity for the betterment of society. Instead, their efforts have begat the mother of all calamities.
How did this come to pass?
Scientific atheism, as promoted by the New Atheists, lacks any unifying central structure or code. Essentially it is based on a negative — not believing in God. So it can’t have a defining structure. Richard Dawkins, one of the most prominent New Atheists, tried to answer this with his ‘brights’ — which was an embarrassment. (Since at least 2014, Dawkins has self-identified as a ‘secular Christian’ anyway.)
After the Enlightenment and especially the French Revolution, European secularism based itself around Reason as the core methodology that would replace, in the minds of those who were atheist, religious belief. This reflected a rejection of hierarchical religious authority, which had begun in the Reformation. The works of philosophers like Descartes, Voltaire, Rousseau, Kant and Paine promoted the idea of the free-thinking individual whose intellectual scalpel was Reason. Both of these were exported to the US.
Being a European, of course, I had no direct experience of Southern Baptism or any of the other so called ‘Evangelical’ cults until about five years ago, and even then it seemed relatively harmless. They were just a bunch of crackpot fringe-dwellers, somewhat like the Moonies or the Baha’i. Still, I was beginning to see pattern, as I read the writings of Baptist seminarians and ‘thinkers’. Was there any substance to this cult at all, or was it just anything anyone wanted it to be? Was it, indeed, actually dangerous?
I am proud to be a European. Our culture has many faults, yet at the same time it has given the world so much. Science and democracy, equality under law and social inclusion simply would not exist without it. And across culture, art, science, engineering and technology, our culture remains a brilliant star, without which light, we would still be in the Dark Ages. I am very proud and lucky to be a part of that.
Despite this, I believed, for many years, that other cultures were equal.
But I was wrong. Culture is not a level playing field. The very qualities that define Western culture represent a system of morality, which allow us to judge other cultures. And we definitely should judge them.
Ley-lines were invented by an Englishman called Alfred Watkins, who had spent much time cycling around the countryside near his home. In 1925, he wrote a book called “The Old Straight Track”, in which he described a revelation he’d had while looking at a map of Herefordshire four years earlier. He had suddenly seen a network of straight lines that connected points of human activity, such as
“Mounds, Long-barrows, Cairns, Cursus, Dolmens, Standing stones, mark-stones, Stone circles, Henges, Water-markers (moats, ponds, springs, fords, wells), Castle, Beacon-hills, Churches, Cross-roads, Notches in hills,”
The god proposition is supported not by fact, but by faith. At the end of the day, the final word that the religiously-disposed have is to say that “It is so because I believe it to be so,” before covering their ears. For them, this trumps everything.
This is the hook that caught Descartes when he confronted the issue, and then backed off very quickly. “I think,” he said, “Therefore I am.” This is fine. He is self-aware therefore he is sure he exists. He cannot be entirely sure that he exists as he perceives himself or that anything that is around him is as he perceives it, but he does make a very convincing argument, based on the progression of rational logic, that it is so (and thus takes several hundred pages to confirm what any pragmatist already knows. But that’s an aside.) However, when confronted by the idea of God, God must exist, he says “Because he cannot imagine a world in which he does not.” Oops.
In an oral culture — one that is not written down — mythology evolves as it is passed from storyteller to storyteller. The Jesus myth was created in exactly this way, pasted together from earlier sources. This process is called ‘syncretisation.’
There is no fixed record of an oral tradition, by definition. In an oral culture or tradition, myths grow and develop to reflect the lived experiences and cultures of the people telling them. It was only when writing was invented that these traditions could be codified and by that time, they had been evolving for thousands of years. This means that there are many versions of the same myth, as different peoples carried it forward.
The Hadith constitute the third pillar of Islam. They are ‘commentaries on the life of the Prophet.’ They are second in authority only to the Qur’an itself. The other pillars are the Qur’an and Sharia. Together these form the ideological basis for the ‘religion of peace’.
Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the literal word of Allah. The Angel Gabriel transmitted it, exactly as spoken, to Mohammed. He memorised it because he couldn’t write. You make your own judgements as to how accurate his recall was likely to have been. (The Qur’an was not actually written down until some 80 years after Mohammed’s death, which is also worth considering.)
The Qur’an is the base text of Islam, which is today followed by approximately 1.2 billion people.
Most people know about the activities of so-called Islamic extremists, operating in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and, most prominently and gaining the most attention, in the Levant conflict zone, principally Syria and Iraq. But how extreme are they? Do they have justification for their behaviour from the Qur’an, as they repeatedly claim to?
Naturally, any thinking person must be repulsed by such evil; but not a week goes by now without some example of completely intolerable behaviour, carried out by Muslims, frequently on women, somewhere in the world. In fact, hardly a day passes.
Saudi Arabia, which has gained for itself the reputation of being the most sadistic and barbarous legally constituted state on the planet, routinely carries out ‘punishments’ — better described as tortures, many ending in death — all the time. We now know that at least 14 million Africans are held as slaves by Muslims. 14 million. In 2016.
But many of us in the West know Muslims; we eat in their restaurants, shop in their convenience stores. Clearly, these Muslims are good, decent people. So the bombers, the beheaders, the immolators, the lapidators, the slavers and kidnappers must be misunderstanding Islam, right? They must be misreading the Qur’an? Continue reading Qur’an: Read It Yourself→
The Muslim legal code called Sharia specifies everything that is ‘mandated’ and ‘forbidden’.
In Arabic they are ‘halal’ and ‘haram’. Sharia — contained in a manual called The Reliance of the Travelleractually extends to over 1200 pages of text which specify every imaginable action or aspect of life. Everything from how to brush your teeth or how to put on your clothes, to how to beat your wife or kill your enemies. It is, literally, not just unnecessary for Muslims to think for themselves, it is haram (forbidden).
Muslims are obliged to follow Sharia all the time. There are punishments for transgressions ranging from fines to floggings to forced amputations to death. To reject Sharia wholly is de facto to become apostate, which demands a punishment of death.
Sharia is, by far, the most pernicious ideological evil that afflicts the world today.
Please do not take my word for this; I would rather you researched it yourself, for then you will know what Islam, with its debased code of Sharia, really is: the most anti-human and totalitarian ideology the world has ever seen.
So that you can do this research I have made a full copy of the Sharia code available HERE. Please download it and read for yourself. Be warned though, it’s a big file. At present I only have it in .pdf but I will try to make a conversion into .epub, which will be much smaller and easier to read.
A tiny selection of examples, comparing haram (forbidden) with halal (permitted), is below. (You may have to click the ‘Read More’ link.) If you are one of those duped by the platitudes of Islamic apologists or the ridiculous ‘regressive left’, they may surprise you. They certainly give the lie to the fallacy that Islam is a ‘religion of peace’. Sharia is much, much greater than the tiny number of examples below but I have made this list to show that it is more than not eating pork.
I originally made this list using the words ‘haram’ and ‘halal’ but it seems to me that this is a form of dissembly, in using foreign, unfamiliar words. So I have used English translations instead. While ‘forbidden’ is a decent translation of ‘haram’, halal is more difficult. In all cases it means that the action is permitted, but in many it also means that the action is mandated or even obligatory. I have used ‘permitted’ and ‘mandated’. The latter means that it is something that Muslims should do, rather than that which they may do.
Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) was one of the greatest English-language commentators of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. His style was avuncular but this disguised a razor-sharp intellect and an incredibly wide base of knowledge.
Hitchens was a true man for all seasons; he could be funny, eloquent and incredibly gracious. But at the same time he was erudite and staggeringly well-read, with a brilliant mind. Enraged, as he often was by religious hypocrisy, he could focus a righteous anger on his adversary that was truly spectacular to watch.
Hitchens, throughout his life, was a passionate atheist. Not just convinced or committed, but passionate. He saw religion as fundamentally anti-human. His low opinion of it was fairly universal but he reserved his most scathing attacks for the Abrahamic cults of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, sparing or favouring none. They were, as far as Hitchens was concerned, offensive to the conditions of being human in general and to being a thinking individual in particular.
Christopher Hitchens was never cursed with false intellectual modesty and he suffered fools very badly indeed. He made no attempt to hide his own intellect or grasp of the subject to hand, in order to entrap his opponent. On the contrary, he adopted a thoroughly Nelsonic approach to debating which, like the great admiral’s view of the duty of a naval officer, was ‘to seek out the enemy and destroy him.’ Occasionally, you do have to love the English and producing a man like Hitchens is a good reason to. We shall but rarely see his like again.
So to celebrate the great man, journalist, raconteur, bon viveur and atheist, I give you Part One of a collection of his finest rapier-thrusts, posted on YouTube by Agatan Fnd. Part Two will surely follow.
Non-Politically Correct Writing and Photography by Rod Fleming and Guests