Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Religion: The One Issue That Just Won't Go Away (For Me)

Hmmm. How long has it been since I wrote about religion? Not that long. It seems most of my posts are about god and religion. I dabble in other subjects as well, but god and religion are my main themes. After all this blog is entitled "Atheism and the City," not "Atheism and the City and Other Things."

Islam today is with out a doubt the most controversial religion out there. I just wrote a critique about its beliefs in my last post "The 'Infidel's' Guide to Islam." I intend to make it into a pamphlet or a booklet to be passed out. The Islamic concept of god and the universe is one I have tremendous antagonism for. A Muslim friend of mine once gave me a book called A Brief Illustrated Guide To Understanding Islam by I. A. Ibrahim. He told me it has scientific explanations that "prove" the Qur'an is true. I took it home and threw it on a shelf were it sat, collecting dust for almost 5 years. Then, when my infatuation with religion and god sprang front and center a few years back, I took it off the shelf, blew several layers of dust off of it, and began reading it.

The guide is basically a vain attempt to try to convince the modern, post-scientific, yet impressionable individual, that Islam and the Qur'an can be scientifically proven to be true. It cites evidence in climatic, geographic and biological realms, that point to verses in the Qur'an that explain some previously unknown information. It asks how could Mohammad have known this before science confirmed it? Well the Greeks and Chinese made some hypotheses that later turned out to have been true before the advent of modern science. That doesn't prove any of them were prophets. In short, if you throw a lot of mud at the wall, some of it is going to stick. What about all the contradictions in the Qur'an (that you can read about in my last post) and all the beliefs it gets wrong? I'm not going to dwell too much on the supposed "proofs" in the guide because they are so superficial, that they are laughable to any person with reason and a tiny bit of skepticism.

The guide further explains some concepts about Islam that I had not previously known. It mentions that if one converts to Islam, all their previous sins are forgiven by Allah, just for converting. I see this as an obscene attempt to bribe believers of other faiths, that they can start out on a clean slate and suffer no consequence to any immoral action they might have performed, no matter how great. From the book it says "The Prophet said: Didn't you know that converting to Islam erases all previous sins?" What can be more immoral that that? You mean I can be a thief and a rapist, perhaps committed one or two murders, and my responsibility to these actions will simply be deleted, like so many useless spam emails, upon conversion to Islam? I guess the Muslims is forced to believe that whatever Allah does is moral, and is granted no opinion on the matter.

Another problem I have with the Islamic concept regard attitudes aimed at the non-believer, which I have already mentioned in my last post, but I'll add further. In the Islamic concept, no non-believer can ever be moral. The way to salvation in Islam is toward Allah. An analogy would be as if we are all on a giant highway headed toward Allah, who is at the end. There are various exits to the left and right that lead to sin and lead away from Allah, some of them being other religions. This is an example I heard from one Islamic scholar. There doesn't seem to be a path one can take that is righteous, that doesn't involve Allah. Take a person, for example, who volunteers with out pay to help those less fortunate, stays committed to their spouse, and never hurts anyone else intentionally, basically an all around morally sound person. But, they don't believe in Allah. Where is this person on the highway analogy? They haven't deviated with sin and hedonism, they just don't accept Islam. According to Islam, to my humble knowledge, Allah has no mercy for those who disbelieve, and he affirms this over and over again. I don't think he makes an exception even for those righteous, noble and humble. No, rather the Islamic concept of non-believers is that they are all filthy, corrupt, evil-doers who deserve to be thrown in the hellfire forever.

Finally, the idea of eternal hellfire is another concept, though not unique to Islam, that I have tremendous disdain for. The idea of anyone, being tortured in the most horrible ways imaginable, for eternity is something I just can't wrap my head around. The most horrible, evil person I can think of from history would have to be Joseph Stalin. He organized the mass murder and torture of tens of millions of his fellow countrymen, and then some. And all of this, with complete and utter indifference to their suffering. Stalin was a megalomaniac sociopathic madman. But even he in my opinion would only deserve a finite amount of torture and misery for what he did, say, a life sentence for everyone he had killed. But the idea, that an atheist child who happens to die in an accident, who was not a believer, gets the same amount of torture for the same amount of time, as Stalin or Hitler, is somehow justice under an infinitely intelligent and moral supernatural being, is I think itself, immoral. Recently Christians and Muslims have negated this by saying god makes exceptions, and judges individuals by what they know, and their overall morality. This stands in stark contrast to what theists have been saying for hundreds of years, and that is that the only way out of hell is through one religion and the teachings of one prophet. Now, some theists are backing away from this in light of our modern liberal moral ethics. Furthermore, if god made frequent exceptions that righteous non-believers can get into heaven, then there is really no real need to be a Christian or a Muslim, or religious at all. All one would need to be would be morally sound. So the theist who takes the new approach on divine judgment, is in a way negating the advantage of their faith. Hmm. These are problems for the theist to reflect upon, not the atheist.

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