The Sad Inevitability of Discussion on Belgium

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If sensible people don’t have a sensible discussion, stupid people will have a stupid one.

The conversations and stories after these all-too-common terrorism attacks are also all too common. They’re chillingly similar to the conversations that follow school shootings in America. On the one hand you have people so deep in denial they could be extras in The Mummy. On the other you have people simplistically blaming.

When it comes to the problem of Islamic terrorism, what follows these events is just as tiresomely predictable. On the one hand you have people deep in denial that Islam is part of the problem, who will not even countenance that the ideology entangled with Islam be part of the discussion and who blame everything on the west in an orgy of self-flagellation. On the other you often do have the kind of paranoid ‘white supremacy’ lunatics and racists who latch on to what isn’t a race issue (Islam being a religion and ideology adhered to by many races).

The Regressive Left will not allow a remotely nuanced or wholly inclusive discussion of the problem, because the problem includes Islam and like their opposite numbers on the far right they mysteriously see that as a racial issue, when it’s an ideological and religious one.

Unfortunately, the chilling effect of the spurious accusations of racism etc means that sensible, intelligent, nuanced people are rendered virtually unable to discuss the issue. Either because they daren’t – having seen what happens to others who do – or because they become so entangled in defending their reputation against people who will not listen, that they can’t progress the conversation.

Even calm, collected and ruthlessly rational people like Sam Harris get ‘greenwalded’ to death. Even former Islamists like Majid Nawaz get the most racist insults (porch monkey) for making more measured and complete arguments for Islamic reform and addressing the fact that the religious ideology is part of the issue.

Because the left is rendered incapable of having this discussion, that means the discussion happens on the right instead. Most especially within those circles on the far right where accusations of racism – spurious or accurate – have no meaningful impact and can’t or won’t silence people.

By not having the difficult, realistic, complete discussions we are ceding the discussion, and power, and popularity, to the right. Much of it to the far right. To the kind of paranoid lunatics who espouse ‘white genocide’ and similar conspiracy nonsense. The ones who are made credible when governments apply pressure to censor Facebook, when the police daren’t arrest rape gangs out of fear of accusations, when the news media isn’t replicating what people are reporting on the ground, then we’ve lost the argument and we lose people to the worst and most extreme elements – and we lose more and more of them.

To fixate on Islam and exclude the other factors is incomplete, but this is true the other way around as well. It has to be acknowledged that Islam is an unreformed religion with a tendency to be interpreted in absolutist and uncompromising terms. It needs a reformation, but that needs to come from within, via people like Nawaz and via more liberal interpretations of Islam as found in the smaller sects and culturally amongst people like the Kurds. The Kurds, rather than the house of Saud, is who should get Western support – they and people like them have a, frankly, more civilised interpretation of Islam that could be the vital seed for a greater reformation.

War will not solve this problem, nor will paranoiac security concerns, but in the short term these may be needed things – applied properly without overreach (which is not an easy thing to do). We won’t solve the problem by ignoring the issues people have around immigration, or treating them as stupid. We won’t solve the problem by conflating economic migrants and refugees, we’ll just help continue to demonise the second. We won’t solve the problem by failing to encourage integration, by creating (or allowing) ghettos or not encouraging or expecting people to integrate and adapt to the values of their new home.

The left, my left, seems unable to cope with Islam. Here is a religious ideology that massively and overwhelmingly counter to everything the liberal left supposedly stands for. It is elitist, repressive, genuinely patriarchal and misogynistic, violently homophobic. Everything we are supposed to be against, yet – apparently – because it’s a religious minority (in the west), largely followed by people who happen to have brown skins it is somehow beyond reproach.

People of any colour are capable of hideous deeds. Ideologies and religions frequently encourage or excuse the worst depths of poor human behaviour. We do not see the same reticence to criticise or attack other bigoted ideologies such as (genuine) neo-Nazism and the double standard on this issue is blatant.

We simply cannot afford to have these conversations only happening on the right and the far right. It’s alienating people. It’s undermining the left. It’s making us look like hypocrites.

The hard conversations need to be had.

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Cologne, Lunatic Fringes & The Discussions Not Had

I’m not going to talk so much about Cologne itself or the implications, there’s plenty of discussion about that already going on and I can’t contribute a huge amount to that (Refugees, immigrants and migrants aren’t the same thing. Even a thousand young men behaving abominably doesn’t mean everyone’s a problem. This is a bad combination of deprivation, culture clash, grievance, opportunism, religion and ideology. In short, it’s complicated).

What I do feel I can contribute to and bring up is the surrounding problem of discussion and some of the opportunism and hypocrisy we’ve seen around this. I also want to point out that this problem is not confined to Cologne but has been reported in other cities, Germany has a long-standing problem with Islamic-culture immigration especially in the relatively impoverished former East Germany, and that similar attacks and issues have become shockingly common across Northern Europe.

This situation is now a conversation we are forced to have, because up until now we have not been able to have it. The taboos around racism and islamophobia have meant that some hideous wrongs have occurred that could have been prevented. The biggest and worst of these examples is, of course, Rotherham but it’s far from the only one. There’s some evidence and suggestion that assaults and rapes in Germany and elsewhere have been kept hush-hush (I wouldn’t go as far as to say covered up, yet) in order to avoid feeding into a climate of fear, racism and islamophobia.

The problem is that this has happened anyway, and by keeping the Overton Window so small, the entire conversation on the problems of large numbers of dispossessed people from a different culture, antithetical in many ways to western liberal values, has been entirely ceded to far right racists, the ‘white genocide’ lunatic fringe. Most dangerous of all, it almost makes their pathetic ideas seem credible if things are being ‘kept quiet’.

If reasonable, rational people can’t have conversations about race, immigration, culture and other issues, then the lunatics will and when people’s experiences on the ground aren’t listened to, or see them condemned as racists and islamophobes, then they’ll turn to the people who will listen to them.

It has also been absolutely breathtaking to see the… well, hypocrisy doesn’t even seem to be the right word here, it’s not strong enough. The… squirming discomfort, doublethink and apologetics about all this coming from the regressive left. Especially media feminism. When the air conditioning is too cold or some poor schlub makes himself comfortable by sitting with his knees apart there’s hell to pay, but when hundreds of women are molested and raped… then there seems to be relative silence.

Over the past couple of days a few things have emerged, but it has largely been this apologia I describe. Attempts to broaden the blame to men, as a gender as opposed to men of a particular culture, religion or ethnicity (this strikes me as being even more bigoted as it’s broadbrushing 50% of the population), attempts to shame people from talking about it via accusations of racism or islamophobia and worse. It seems that when it comes to feminism at least, patriarchal oppression is fine provided you have brown skin and originate from an impoverished or war torn country.

No.

We need to have conversations about these issues and the rational left, the compassionate and measured voices need to be a part of that debate. Not cowering in fear of being branded with a scarlet letter from their insane, radical fringes. The same goes for the right, who need to be able to enter the conversation on a level-headed basis without being branded by their insane, racist fringes and the ‘white genocide’ conspiracy loons.

Be brave, have the conversation, give the lunatics on both sides the finger and let’s work towards a calm, compassionate, rational solution.

 

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Apologia from The Guardian

The Problem is Islam, so now what?

Fair question, if not asked sincerely.

Islam isn’t the only problem of course, but it is a huge problem and it’s irrational denialism to pretend it doesn’t have an effect. While statistics differ – many have been manipulated – the NCTC reported in 2012 that around 70% of all terrorist murders worldwide and 95% of suicide bombings were traced to Islam (specifically Sunni Islam).

It’s important to note, even though it’s obvious, that not all Muslims are terrorists and not all terrorists are Muslim, but it’s also important to acknowledge that Islam has a particular and unique problem (in the modern age) with terrorism, and to try and work out why – as well as finding ways to address it.

It’s also important to address the typical arguments that are made about foreign policy, colonialism in the past, American, Russian and European intervention in the Middle East and so on. These are all contributory factors certainly, however unfair it is to hold people today accountable for the actions of their ancestors.

The wars have been illegal and destructive, but differ ethically from terrorism considerably. Military action, at least in limited wars, does not target the civilian populace – even if it inevitably fails to avoid collateral damage – while firing hundreds of rounds into innocent civilians at a concert is a deliberate, vicious not an accident or byproduct. Whether you believe the claimed motivation or not, intervention in civil wars etc can also be interpreted as peacekeeping or an attempt to limit harm or blunt extremism – not a bad thing and something which has, albeit rarely, been somewhat successful (the former Yugoslavia being, perhaps, the best test case).

The situational aspects are not unique to the Middle East, they are found in other areas of the world and contribute to wars, civil disruption and even terrorism there – but not to the extent found in relation to the Islamic world and much more rarely reaching civilian populations in the west or outside the zone of contention.

Terrorism and grievances are not unique to Islam, but the extent and viciousness of it, the ubiquity of it, is.

So why? What is it about Islam that’s so unique and different? Why does it have a particular problem?

Literalism

Biblical literalists are a fringe of radicals when it comes to Christianity. Judaism has long traditions of secularism, liberal interpretations and ‘hedges’ around the rules set down in its holy text. Islam, by comparison, is incredibly literalist and prescriptive. While it contains many contradictions – as all the major religious texts do – it is much less ambiguous when it does give its orders, especially when you take the Hadith into account. The Koran is Islam, Islam is the Koran and if you’re raised to believe it is the absolute truth and it tells you to do something (or you’re told by a scholar that it does), what choice do you have if you call yourself a Muslim?

Extremism is the Norm

When we, in the west, talk of ‘Moderate Muslims’ we’re not actually talking about moderates. We’re talking about the extreme, radical, liberal left of Islam. They sound moderate, reasonable and centrist to us, but in the context of Islam they’re radically liberal. The Pew survey on Muslim attitudes provides a snapshot that really brings home that degree of extremism to us.

The percentage in favour of Sharia Law varies from 8-99%.

Even within (southern) Europe, you’ll find nearly 20% approval for this brutally medievalist religio-legal code, and there, 36% believe that code should be applied to non-Muslims. A minority, but a very significant one.

In every area a large majority are against prostitution, homosexuality, suicide, sex before marriage, drinking, abortion and euthanasia. It’s like stepping back into the 1950s – or more, and it’s multigenerational with succeeding generations of immigrants going one of two ways – westernising, or backlashing against it to a position more extreme than their parents.

Even in Europe 12% believe the veil should be enforced and nearly half believe a woman must be subservient to men.

20% of British Muslims sympathised with the 7/7 bombers and 27% with violence against cartoonists.

There’s a risk of labouring the point, but the statistics are out there. The point is simply that extreme viewpoints are relatively common and even the ‘moderate’ space is often anti-semitic, homophobic, misogynistic and authoritarian – enforcing these through cultural and religious license – and exhortation – for violence.

Dar Al-Islam

‘Christendom’ was an identity that used to carry currency and many nations used to have a common identity as Christian, specifically Catholic. Losing that was a great boon to western civilisation and a big boost to freedom and progress, but common identity does bring power and unity. Islam still has this identity, despite its sectarianism and internal schisms and rivalries between governments, there’s a common identity and unity. An attack or affront to one Muslim state or group is often taken as an attack on all – at least on the level of the individual, with the exception of Shia and other sects, who are regarded by groups like ISIS as just another enemy.

The point being that there’s a ‘greater’ identity at work than nation, race or even humanity which enables stark identification of in and out groups and dehumanisation of the other.

Theocracy

Islam has no central authority per se, rather competing ‘scholars’ and interpretations, but it does have the Koran. Virtually every sect and ‘scholar’ will point to the Koran first and the Koran is a starkly inhuman, genuinely misogynistic (the word has been overused and lost its power to shock) and violent.

Sources abound on the violent verses, the legal frameworks, the commands. Islam is not just a religion, it is a system of governance and law, a societal blueprint. This is something many western amateur analysts and apologists fail to understand. Islam ‘isn’t like other girls’, it plays out differently and it is set dead against the very idea or concept of separation of church and state, of secularism.

Religion comes first, always.

Non-Rational Actors

Religious actors are not rational actors. America has its own problem with the faithful, but they are still largely limited to the extremes, a minority of loons – whatever the pantomime politicians may put on. Religion is even less of an issue in Europe, to the point where it was considered shocking that Tony Blair was religious, and publicly so.

We live in nations where religion takes a back seat, is a private matter. Even ideological faith, for all the problem fascism and communism have caused in the past and for all the problems pseudo-progressivism and radical racist and sexist ideas are causing in culture and education, is still not in control. Most people are still rational actors. The Cold War would have been armageddon without rational actors and ideological extremism was fortunately blunted by more pragmatic bureaucracy by the dawn of the ICBM. Even China is simply another ordered bureaucracy, whatever its ideological trimmings.

There are very few non-rational actors in international politics these days and they’re very hard for rationally acting states to deal with. North Korea is one, Islam is another. You see this on a geo-political level, ISIS is a nation-scale suicide bomb placing ideology and faith over all practical concerns and you see this on a personal level with many terrorists being second or third generation immigrants to the west, who have enjoyed all the trappings of technological, consumer, liberal culture and have rejected it for guns, bombs and a return to medieval values.

Lack of Reform

Islam is – in religious terms – relatively new, at about six centuries of age. While the Koran has changed (at least three times) despite protestations in the religion to the contrary, it has remained broadly the same. It remains a brutal, medievalist text and proud of it, held up as perfect despite its inevitable flaws. Considered to be the last revelation.

The Old Testament was blunted by the more peaceful New Testament. Judaism was blunted by centuries of persecution, genocide and diaspora. Most religions have been blunted from their extremism by the march of progress. Secularism, scientific advancement, the relentlessly, objectively more human-friendly concepts of The Enlightenment.

Islam has no such reform and thus far every attempt to instil a kinder, gentler Islam has met with disaster. It’s still desperately needed, but the ideas that might form such a reformed, peaceful, tolerant and accepting Islam are limited to the deep past (before the influence of Imam Al-Ghazali) or to the fringes of western, liberalised Muslims who will not be listened to.

Summary

Islam is a brutal, extreme, medievalist, literalist doctrine whose only central authority is the Koran itself which cannot be persuaded to change its mind. There is no figure like a Pope who might be persuaded to liberalise and who would be followed in so doing. There has been no reformation, no theological uprising or liberalisation of the likes of Martin Luther – there being nobody to rebel against. The faith has a strong, unifying identity and is not just a religion but a sociopolitical and economic system that extends its tendrils into every aspect of life.

So what is to be done?

Dealing with Islam seems insurmountable, but if we are to blunt extremism and decrease terrorism, if this ‘clash of civilisations’ is to come to an end before the oil does it is Islam that needs to be dealt with as much, if not more than the geopolitical situation. Not least of all because we live amongst and alongside people of the faith.

So how have we dealt with these problems in the past? What has worked to blunt and moderate religions in the past?

Wealth & Comfort

It can seem strange, but religious belief is often strongest amongst people in the worst conditions. People who are on or below the poverty line are proportionally more religious than those in the middle and upper classes. It seems that poverty and hardship lead to people turning to religion as a comfort, even though – presumably – god put them in that position in the first place. Improved living standards tend to blunt religious fervour and soften religious devotion and views. A rising tide lifts all ships, and sinks all gods, you might say.

This doesn’t seem to be so true of Islam. A large number of terrorists have been raised in the comfort and relative ease of Western civilisation and have turned their back on it. Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised, we find the same in plenty of college students turning to ideologies of rejection and the rise in ‘white guilt’ and self-blaming and flagellating in western nations, but reading Marx and having a sit-in in a library and blowing yourself up outside a football stadium are still radically different degrees of extremity. Wealth and comfort may play a role, but a less effective one. It is true that the situation for many, even in very wealthy Islamic nations, is not one of comfort and security under kleptocratic regimes and then there’s those in states of civil war and disruption. Encouraging liberalisation and secularism may help, but the Arab Spring has come to little and has empowered and emboldened religious radicals, not disarmed them.

Education, Science & Reason

The spread of education and literacy played an enormous role in the west in the liberation of theology from the church and the undermining and subdivision of that religion (Christianity). Science and the power of reason have, similarly, undermined and – in many nations – all but destroyed religious ideas by proving the central contentions of those religions wrong. Even in Catholicism they have – belatedly – forced a more liberal interpretation and the acceptance of scientific reality. You will still find creationists, but in much of the world – bar America – they have the same sort of intellectual status as flat earthers, people to be scorned and pitied. They have virtually no societal currency or legitimacy.

In Islam these sorts of ideas still have social currency. Even into the 90s there were Imams declaring the Earth to be flat and that belief in a spherical Earth was a form of atheism and apostasy! Islamic apologists who try to claim the Koran as scientific and truthful, such as the unaccountably popular Zakir Naik, are found everywhere and creationism seems to be a much more mainstream idea with a hold over the general populace of the religion.

Again, as with the wealth and comfort issue, these things don’t seem to have so much of an effect when it comes to Islam. Many suicide bombers and terrorists have been educated people like doctors and engineers. Not school drop outs or the kind of unintelligent people you would think would involve themselves in such an unsophisticated or brutal theology. There may be some effect, but it doesn’t seem like it would necessarily be as strong when it comes to Islam. Then again, Christianity has its examples – such as presidential candidate Ben Carson – of otherwise proficient, educated and intelligent people who still harbour bonkers beliefs.

Secularism

Secularism, the separation of Church and State, has been a massively progressive achievement in the West and elsewhere. It has allowed people of different faiths and cultures to live alongside by separating the role of the state from the enforcement and advocacy of religion or cultural values (logical, pragmatic and scientific values transcend culture, they work no matter what you believe). Even in cultures which still ostensibly have state religions – such as Britain – secularism has been the practical and realistic default through centuries of reform of the power of the Church and its representative – the Monarchy.

Secularism has had some success when it comes to Islam. Turkey’s secularisation made it a site of hope for the rest of the Islamic world to follow suit, but that secularism has been eroded, Turkey has slipped back towards authoritarianism and towards dogmatic religious behaviour.

While secularism can help, it cannot succeed if it is imposed on an unwilling populace. Islam is not ‘just’ a religion, as has been mentioned before, and it specifically demands a theocratic state and legal system. It is against the religion itself to accept authority other than god and the Koran. This being a given, it’s unlikely that secularist movements can gain too much purchase on Islamic nations (there are exceptions) and given that even Stalin’s ruthless methods couldn’t eliminate Orthodox Christianity and he had to come to an accord with it, there’s little chance of forcing secularism even if we wanted to.

Bomb them into Submission

This never works, short of absolute genocide (which, hopefully, nobody is advocating. Furthermore this is what ISIS and their ilk want. They want an apocalypse. They want the end of the world. They want to fight and to die to fulfil prophecy and even ignoring the religious angle, visiting atrocities on the Arab world will only bring them more recruits.

No matter how careful you are, there is always collateral damage. Smart bombs and missiles are only so smart. Intelligence data can be wrong and no matter what you do, drone strikes and assassinations – while more civilised and cleaner than firing AK47s into crowds of teenagers – will always be spun as worse, even by those ordering them.

This is a non starter and only an idiot would advocate it in anything more than the very short term.

Conclusion

There’s no easy solution to the problem of Islam. While the things that have historically worked to liberalise and moderate religious fervour in the past may have some effect it is blunted by the unique nature of Islam as a religion, yet we ignore the religious aspect at our peril. It is a major driving force behind the terrorism and the violence, so much as people want to ignore that and to blame western governments and actions for it. Even were we to pull out of everywhere right now and cease interference and involvement, the same would not be true of the Chinese or the Russians and we would still be targeted in any case, not to mention that the ongoing conflicts and insurrections would become immeasurably worse.

The only solution will be a liberal vision and version of Islam emerging from within Islam itself but, given the literalist nature of the faith and its violent prescriptions against blasphemy and apostasy, any such effort has a huge uphill climb to make. One of the very few things we might be able to do here in the west is to encourage more integration and less ghettoisation. To make people part of our communities and to discourage insular communities such as have emerged in Leeds, Bradford and parts of London here in the UK. This would mean distributing refugees and asylum seekers more equitably around our nations and creating a broader range of affordable housing – something which would benefit ‘natives’ as well.

Realistically I don’t see any of these measures being employed. The cynic in me suggests that once the oil runs out and the Middle East loses its geopolitical relevance, things will calm down. Provided nobody has nuked anyone by then. I want to believe that we can turn things around non-violently, before then, but the odds seem to stacked against it. Between the innate fanaticism and extremism of Islam and the absence of cultural confidence and will in the west (to do anything, let alone the right thing) the possibility seems remote.

Is Religion a Mental Illness?

You’re coming at this from a good place Cristina, but I have to disagree with you; and I say that as someone with a mental illness (depression).

Religion absolutely is a mental illness. Specifically I would say it’s a delusional disorder, which I would define (as a syncretic definition taken from several medical and psychological dictionaries) thusly:

A fixed false belief held without and/or against evidence.

There’s objections to this, some of which you have mentioned yourself, others of which I hear quite often.

1. Religion is Excluded from the Definition

It is true that many of the official definitions of religion specifically exclude religious or cultural beliefs that are widespread. The alternative term ‘relusion’ has been suggested, but this wouldn’t include ideological or political indoctrination in places like North Korea, so I don’t think that’s a solution. Excluding religion is such an egregious case of special pleading that I don’t really know why anyone would do so, other than a residual unease at criticising religion.

Yes, a lot of people are religious but when people fall sick we don’t change the definition of healthy, even when it’s a virulent pandemic. Do the beliefs fit the definition? Yes? Then that person is mentally ill/bonkers/insane. Simple.

2. It’s a Choice

Is it? I don’t know that I chose to be an atheist, it was the inevitable conclusion given logic, reason and evidence. Choosing to ignore reality for a comforting myth is a form of mental illness of its own (Freudian denial), is it not? Do kids have a choice? No. Do adults? Sometimes. However we acknowledge that it is possible to give people other forms of mental illness. We can torture people to break their minds, leave people with PTSD and anxiety and otherwise screw them up and leave them mentally harmed without their consent so why should religious indoctrination be any different? With mental illness we have some choice. We can take the meds, do the mental exercises, take up CBT, undergo therapy all to minimise or even cure our mental issues or at least learn to deal with them. So there’s an element of choice there too. Doesn’t invalidate that they’re still mental illnesses.

3. That it’s Insulting

In the words of the prophet:

Yeah?

And?

So?

What?

Is it accurate? Yes it is. That’s all that really matters. I’ve tried to make this point to people who use the term ‘cisgender’ whilst apply their own subjective standard to other correct terms and trying to get people to stop using them, but it doesn’t seem to ever sink in.

If your doctor tells you that you have cancer, he’s not insulting you. If someone with sufficient knowledge tells you that you have depression or are delusional, it’s not necessarily an insult either. It’s a diagnosis.

4. It Minimises the Seriousness of Mental Illness

Does it? I think it brings home the seriousness of it as regards religion. While mental health issues still aren’t taken as seriously as, perhaps, they should things have improved a lot in recent years. People have a better (but dysfunctional) understanding of what it means to be mentally ill and how debilitating it can be. Pointing out that religion is a mental illness helps, in my opinion, lend weight to our criticism of it.

There is one big, important, terrifying difference between religion and other mental illnesses though.

Religion is communicable.

More Ham: Observational and Historical Science

hamThis division is pure, grade ‘A’, nonsensical horseshit. There is no such division in science between observational and historical, there’s just science. ‘History’, a humanities subject, is sometimes called ‘Historical Science’ but in your actual ray-packs and jet-guns science, such a distinction does not exist.

Essentially, what Ken Ham is suggesting by making this division is that ‘If you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen’. Nye dealt with this quite adroitly with comparisons to procedural crime dramas like CSI and so on. Hopefully a point aimed at a level that could get through to the creationist audience. After all, everyone can appreciate the need for a justice system and one that – hopefully – catches the right guy and can prove it in court. There are many imperfect parallels between criminal investigation and science and that makes it a great way to reach people and help them understand. (Presumption of innocence = Burden of Proof, Judge & Jury = Peer Review, Evidence = Observations & Experiments).

Can we use observations in the present to determine what happened in the past?

Let us suppose that I have a piece of ham. Not Ham, just ham. Now we all know that ham is a pork product, made from pigs. Do we though? How do we know? Were we there when the ham was made? No, we weren’t. How might we use observations in the present, to determine that this ham was a pig in the past?

Well, ham is still pig flesh. We could take a biopsy from my sandwich and send it away for testing. It could then be cross-checked against the pig genome and if the genetic blueprints match any reasonable person might agree that yes, this ham used to be a pig.

We could also trace the ham back to its source. Tracking where food comes from is hugely important for hygiene and other reasons. It allowed all those ‘horsey’ lasagne ready meals to be tracked back to their source and allowed prosecutions and fines to be levelled. Incidentally it was genetic testing (see above) that demonstrated the presence of pony flesh in the first place. We can go back to the supermarket, from there to the supplier, the factory, the farm and to the herd of pigs. Depending on the country and level of food paranoia we might even be able to trace it all the way back to an individually recorded pig.

Does this not seem a reasonable way to pursue information about the past?

Ham relies on ‘testimony’, witness statements. Of course, the Bible isn’t reliable witness statements and doesn’t come from the time of the alleged events so it fails even by his own standard, but that’s another argument. Never mind that witness statements are the most unreliable 42_43e9fe72926526557c320ce95a8819feform of evidence we have, they’re great at convincing juries and in a similar way ‘testimonials’ are great for convincing people to sign up to the faith and drink the Flavor-Aid. This is where science has a bit of a PR problem. Scientists rightly couch everything they say in cautious terms, but that reads as weakness or uncertainty to that kind of crowd. ‘We think’ and ‘The evidence suggests’ and ‘It’s probable that’ sounds unimpressive next to ‘I know’ or ‘God told me’, whatever the truth of the matter might be.

If we went by Ham’s way of thinking criminals would walk free most of the time and we would cut ourselves off from some of the only meaningful ways we truly have to look into the past. It is telling when someone is so utterly desperate to maintain their outmoded belief system that they’re willing to throw any and all reason under the bus.

Why there are Still Monkeys (You fucktard)

Derp-de-DOO_9bccd0_3262423Generally speaking I do my best to maintain an air of calm, to use the opportunities presented by people’s questions about atheism, naturalism, evolutionary biology and so on to educate and elucidate. I am by no means an expert, but that still puts me leagues ahead of creationist proselytisers like Answers in Genesis.

However, fuck that in the ear.

One of the most common and idiotic questions to arise by people who ‘doubt’ evolution[1] is ‘Why are there still monkeys?

If you ask this question you are one of five things:

1. A troll.
2. Mentally retarded.[2]
3. Uneducated.
4. A shill for creationist groups.
5. Genuinely ignorant of the facts.

I mean, you’re on the queefing internet and can use it to look up that incest/scat porn you love so much. You can’t Google ‘human evolution’ for yourself? You’re sitting there with access to all of human knowledge and you haven’t used it to LEARN about this question that vexes you so much? WHY THE CORMORANT-WANKING ARSE-BUTTER NOT?

So listen up, you rancid squeezing of scrotal pus, and I will tell you why there are still monkeys.

Why there are Still Monkeys

First a counter question.

Why THE BALL-SOLDERING FUCK would you think there wouldn’t still be monkeys? Did you think some monkey committee got together one day in distant prehistory and had some sort of meeting? Perhaps the chairmonkey banged his gavel-stone on a rock and laid it down to everyone?

“You know what chaps. I’m sick of this ‘being a monkey’ shit. How about we all climb down from the trees, shed our fur, dock our tails, walk upright and starts calling ourselves humans?”

“Point of order!”

“The chair recognises Brian Macaque.”

“Can we keep the tails? They’re kinda neat.”

“No. Motion carried.”

That isn’t how it happens, you mong.

Look. Let’s try using an analogy (a thing that is similar to another thing) so that your miniscule amount of grey matter (that means ‘small brain’) can try to understand it, and then let’s use that to explain how evolution works. Given that most of you are from that gang of festering colonial septics [3], let’s use American history for our analogy.

Way back when a bunch of religious extremists, not unlike yourselves, got a bit peeved about the restoration of the monarchy and its implied return to Catholicism. Unable to deal with this they upped sticks and made the long journey to the American colonies, which were little more than disease infested shitholes at the time.

Little has changed.

Separated from Europe and England by thousands of miles America began to develop its own culture, traditions and lifestyle (or what passes for them over there) while Europe and Britain continued with their own culture, traditions and lifestyle. Separation and lack of easy communication (that means talking to each other), as well as different climate, space, the presence of a hostile native culture and so on all meant that the two countries diverged more and more.

This came to a head with the American Revolution and your founding fathers – traitors, terrorists and seditionists to a man – lead the revolt that finally separated England from its colonies.

So America came from Britain, separated from Britain and became its own country. With me so far? Probably not, you probably used the swearing as an excuse to cock off in a huff. Fuck you then. Anyway…

IF AMERICA EXISTS, WHY ARE THERE STILL BRITISH PEOPLE?

Do you see? Do you understand quite how monumentally fucking stupid your question is now? Why I am swearing and bashing my head against a wall every time you say it? Can you at least redeem yourself by some infinitesimal degree and admit you were wrong or at least didn’t know what you were talking about?

No you say? It’s different?

Well, yes, it is different, but it is also the same.

For starters, and this is a really, really important thing to understand so PLEASE concentrate very hard and stop flicking over to Youtube to watch ‘Blurred Lines’ or whatever other bit of artificially crafted controversy you kids like these days.

Humans DID NOT come from monkeys. We share a common ancestor with monkeys. Monkeys are more like our cousins. While YOU might have been fathered by your cousin, given that you’re a fucking idiot who won the genetic anti-lottery this is not what normally happens. Rather, even though you’re related to your cousin you both share a grandparent. When it comes to humans and monkeys we share a ‘species grandparent’, that common ancestor that would have been very much like a monkey.

All life on Earth is related if you go back far enough, but that would BLOW YOUR INDESCRIBABLY TINY MIND so we won’t cover that right now.

Another difference? Evolution is SLOW. A revolution can take place over the span of a few years, well within a lifetime, while evolution takes place much more slowly, measured in multiple lifetimes because it relies on the reproductive cycle (fucking and having babies who carry your genes – but let’s hope you take yourself out of the genepool because you’re clearly defective).

To call evolution slow (at least in large creatures such as ourselves) is to miss a perfect opportunity to use a posh word like ‘glacial’ and to use ‘glacial’ is to miss a perfect opportunity to use the term IMPERCEPTIBLY COCKING SLOW.

At some point some of our common ancestors got separated. Perhaps by migration or disaster, a change in climate, disease, earthquake. The conditions around them changed and so the kinds of things that helped them survive changed. They needed to walk upright. They didn’t need to climb trees. Adaptability and intelligence (though not in your case) became things that helped them live and so they were ‘selected’ for.

That’s natural selection, not some bearded sky-wizard calling the shots. The stupid ape gets eaten while flicking the sabretooth in the plums with a stick, the smart ape hoards food and so on. Meanwhile other groups of this ancestor were living in different places and situations where different things helped them live.

The populations diverged (that means split up) and developed in different ways.

Over time those differences get bigger and bigger and bigger until the two separate groups are so different that they can’t fuck and have kids any more. That’s called ‘speciation’ or ‘macroevolution’ which is the term you’ve probably heard from one of those lying shitheels that like to deny you a proper education.

There are still monkeys because we’re not from modern monkeys but from something like them from the deep past.

There are still monkeys in the same way there are still British people, even though there are Americans now.

Do you get it?

Do you understand you bacteria-infested taint-swab?

Then stop asking such fucking stupid questions and open a book other than the Bible for fucking once!

[1] – While enjoying the fruits of evolutionary biology and medicine in the form of vaccinations, genetic screening, DNA crime scene evidence, genetically tailored medicine and the hopes of bacteriophages as a replacement for antibiotics, paternity tests, ancestry tracking and everything else… the braindead cunts.

[2] – Yes, yes, it’s not nice to call people retarded as an insult. Whatever. Cry me a river and I will drink your delicious tears as a nod to the legends about Fomorians. I don’t have anything against the genuinely mentally subnormal, I am insulting people that should know better. Make yourself useful and go protest something that actually, meaningfully hurts people. Like welfare cuts, fitness tests for the disabled or corporate tax avoidance. You’re a hideous stereotype of a ‘wet liberal’ and you make me sick you festering axe-wound.

[3] – Rhyming slang for Americans. ‘Septic tank, Yank’.

Religious Spam Round-Up 7: There’s No Book Like it!

Every day social media users, especially those identifying as agnostics, atheists and skeptics, are subjected to a barrage of religious spam from true believers. This tends to be repeated, day in, day out, several times a day with no attempt to engage or discuss the matter. It’s spam, plain and simple. Some groups even seem to use small botnets, multiple accounts or proxies to spam hundreds of identical or similar messages all in one go.

Let’s look at some, all from one afternoon and evening on Twitter and only a small sample…

Magic Book

Typically Muslims, but sometimes other faiths, try to claim that there is no other book like theirs. That it is magical, irreplaceable, that it cannot be imitated.

Obviously this is somewhat subjective. What one person sees as brilliant another may see as terrible. However, there are certainly a large number of books and writings of this ilk, so nobody’s religious tome is unique or special. That’s without even taking into account fiction books that exceed the brilliance of often rather stodgey, boring and self-contradicting religious texts.

There’s only one real answer to this claim.

Orly