The Left and Sex, From ‘Free Love’ to ‘Love Free’

Hippie_Love-4562‘SJW’ has become a cartoonish stereotype. ‘Regressive Left’ is dying on the vine as a term, thanks to its overuse in certain quarters and the absolute refusal of much of what – at least – calls itself the left to pause for even a moment of self-reflection. Still, these terms – even if used in scare quotes – retain utility, even if they switch some people off from what you’re saying the moment they come up. They retain usefulness because they describe a genuine phenomenon, a recognisable stereotype, a particular group of people.

It can be hard to explain to people the problem, the feeling of absolute betrayal that many ‘old school’ lefties harbour towards this new group, Lector-like dressed up in our severed faces. Ironically they call themselves progressive, and that’s why ‘Regressive Left’ is accurate – and stings them.

There’s a particular case-in-point that I think serves as a particularly graspable instance of their behaviour and distorted thought processes. One that I think may help people to get a grasp on what the ‘Regressive Left’ really is, why it’s regressive, and why it’s a betrayal of the traditions and values of the left.

That case-in-point is sex.

The modern ‘Regressive Left’ has an attitude towards sex and sexuality more often found in the evangelical right in times past and has even allied with the repressive and authoritarian right in their mutual goal of mandating and controlling people’s sexuality.

Anti-porn campaigners take tea with Conservative Party leaders and help shape internet censorship legislation and ‘porn passes’. Something that evidence suggests will only profit a handful of porn companies and may make sexual harassment and even rape more common, not less.

SWERFs (Sex Worker Exclusionary Radical Feminists) inflate bogus stories about sex trafficking and encourage the adoption of the Nordic Model (criminalising clients) as a way of tackling sex work. This, like anti-drug legislation against the advice and erudite entreaty of experts, including actual sex workers who choose that way of life and all but beg for decriminalisation.

A Labour Mayor, Sadiq Khan, can – without a hint of self-awareness – simultaneously hail the Trump balloon (rightly) as a symbol of British commitment to free expression while banning pictures of a woman in a bikini from the London Underground. This while left, and right are, again, united in their determination to censor and control social media and to criminalise all manner of, harmless, online behaviour.

We have radical feminists trying to prevent trans participation in Pride, to the point of laying down in the road in protest and delaying the march. At the same time, we have others trying to control and mandate speech, neither camp being the kind of people who place personal liberty and choice at the top of their agenda.

In the world of kink, something I take no small amount of interest in, there are feminists trying to claim that BDSM is inherently misogynistic and patriarchal. This seems peculiar because BDSM includes femdom (something that some give a pass) and has explicit consent, something feminists often push, built-in, voluntarily. BDSM has been becoming ever more popular as unhappy housewives try to put their 50 Shades fantasies into practice and vanilla men, feeling unable to be masculine outside the kink scene, seek someplace they can be themselves.

That’s right. Conventional, entirely vanilla masculinity now – pretty much – qualifies as a fetish.

It didn’t used to be like this. The left used to be synonymous with libertine philosophy and allowing people to let their ‘freak flag fly’. It is for this reason that the left has long been seen as the ally of the LGBT(&c) community and why the liberal left has often been decried as ‘degenerate’ by the hard right. Now the hard left has their own term they give to excuse their censorship and authoritarianism; ‘Problematic’.

It was the left that brought about the NHS, greatly helping women throughout the UK with their sexual health. It was left wing campaigners that helped push the Conservative Government of 1961 to offer the contraceptive pill on the NHS, and it was Wilson’s Labour Government that legalised abortion in 1967. It was also a Labour Government that followed through with the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

The sexual revolution, the idea of giving people choices and rights over what sex they had and with who, was firmly an ideal of the left, and one that won the arguments with the right. Sexual liberation was also women’s liberation, an end to dorms and chaperones and escorts, freedom from the threat of pregnancy and the tyranny of biology – a necessity to the full adoption of other rights and full equality. It was the left that understood and articulated that what people got up to, consensually, between one another was nobody’s business but theirs (so long as nobody got permanently hurt).

Now? Well, we’ve already been over it. Social conservatism, SWERF and TERF, and attitudes that wouldn’t be out of place in Orwell’s Junior Anti-Sex League. The way the left has become censorious and authoritarian has begun sticking its nose into peoples’ bedrooms the way the Christian Right used to is just one example of their betrayal of left-wing values. It’s just the one, I think, it might be most accessible for people to see.

Sometimes, to progress, you actually have to double-back.

Commentary Comes With a Cost

Wow, this comment really opened my eyes.

One can only hope.

I mean, this is powerful stuff. I mean, we are all atheists towards Thor, right? Some people are just enlightened enough to take it one step further.

I’m sure you mean to be sarcastic, but ‘many a true word spoken in jest’ as the saying goes.

And we all know Darwin has already explained how the entire universe can function without any need for a creator.

Darwinism explains the development and diversification of life. For the rest of that you want physics, not biology. As to the universe, yes, it seems to carry on just fine with no need for – or evidence of – a creator.

Except, well…

This’ll be good.

the Kalaam Cosmological Argument,

The cosmological argument, as regular readers will know, is that every effect needs a cause. It argues that the cause of all it god. Obviously, this runs into issues as if you’re arguing everything needs a cause, then that also applies to god. If you make an exception for god, then it’s no longer a universal rule and you’re just engaging in special pleading. If god doesn’t need a creator, then why can’t the universe do without either? Kalaam doesn’t solve the paradox, it just makes explicit the special pleading for god.

teleological argument,

Is the ‘argument from design’. This was most strongly supported by life, but Darwin demolished that utterly. The universe is a chaotic place that is in a state of temporary, localised equilibrium. If ‘design’ is going to be your argument, you need evidence.

First Cause / Unmoved Mover, the impossibility of infinite causal regress, the necessity of at least one unconditioned reality,

These are the cosmological argument again.

the Argument from Reason,

Just flatly doesn’t make sense on its face. The brain is an evolved organ, correct answers and products of reason have survival utility. It’s false to describe neural activity as ‘random’, an attempt to dismiss it and to argue for an unevidenced ‘specialness’ to the quality of being able to think.

Fine Tuning of Universal Constants,

They’re not. There’s ‘wiggle room’ in the constants and if things were different, they’d be different. This is the ‘puddle argument’, as Douglas Adams put it.

irreducible biological complexity,

There are no examples.

the argument from morality,

Morality is subjective, any relative universality can be explained via evolutionary psychology.

Plantina’s modal ontological argument,

The ontological argument fails yet again, as becomes rapidly apparent if you just change what it’s talking about:

  • My perfect sandwich has maximal deliciousness in a given possible world W if and only if it is entirely delicious in W; and
  • My perfect sandwich has maximal deliciousness if it has maximal deliciousness in every possible world.
  • It is possible that there is a sandwich that has maximal deliciousness, to me. (Premise)
  • Therefore, possibly, it is necessarily true that entirely delicious sandwich, to me, exists.
  • Therefore, (by axiom S5) it is necessarily true that an entirely delicious sandwich, to me exists.
  • Therefore, an entirely delicious perfectly good sandwich exists.

For it to be perfect, it would have to be here for me to eat it. It isn’t. It turns out that making spurious arguments about possibilities doesn’t make them true.

the free will defense to the problem of evil.

Leaves god evil via inaction and doesn’t solve the problem.

…Your entire world view lies shattered at your feet. If you truly honor the gods of reason and critical thinking half as much as you claim, you would plant your face firmly into your hand, step away from the device, find a quiet place, and rethink your life. Otherwise, thanks for this steaming nugget of regurgitated, pseudo-intellectual blather, you Hitchens-Dawkins parroting, basement dwelling, faux-analytical, GNU-Reditt obsessed asshat.

And ending on an ad hom.

You’ve got nothing, as usual.

Patriarchy – Definitions and Divisions

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When the only tool you have is feminism, every problem looks like patriarchy.

Finally got a friend to talk all the way through their understanding of ‘patriarchy’ with me and worked out where the sharp divide is between my concept of what constitutes a patriarchy and theirs. It doesn’t change my position on the issue (we don’t live in a patriarchy) but it does pinpoint the divide. I regard patriarchy (like oligarchy, democracy, kleptocracy) etc in terms of being an institution, while others rate social factors over – and even above – political and structural ones.

Scruton’s ‘Dictionary of Political Thought’ (a pretty standard text) defines patriarchy thus:

Literally, the rule by fathers. Used to denote:

1. Forms of kinship relations in which the father is the bearer of authority, respect, property and hereditary privileges.
2. In political writings, especially those of a feminist persuasion, the dominance of social and political institutions by man, and the consolidation of male hegemony throughout public and private life by means of law, especially family law. Since not all men are fathers, the term ‘phallocracy’ has been coined to replace this usage, generating the added implication that the dominion of men is also a form of irrational worship of the phallus.
3. The doctrine that political authority is inherited in the male line (perhaps from Adam), used as a justification for a particular kind of monarchy (divine right).

Using the UK as an example with which I am most familiar:

1. No longer applies. Men do not get automatic authority, respect, property right or hereditary privileges any more. This is all equal (and as far as I know this even extends to the right of succession in the monarchy).

2. This gets a bit more complex. Men are no longer favoured in law and haven’t been for some time. Particular reference is made to family law, but here men are at a marked disadvantage and women are favoured. There is no position from the lowliest parish councillor, to MP, to Minister to Queen that is not available to both genders. There’s nothing mandated that it can only be a man, save, perhaps, some purely ceremonial positions (I’d have to look into that). In practical terms though, there’s nothing a man can do in politics that a woman can’t.

However, the first part of the definition is not related to laws and restrictions, but only ‘dominance’ of social and political institutions. That is, even if in law etc everyone is even, if the elected officials are chiefly male, they would consider that a patriarchy. By that rationale if the majority were female, it would be a matriarchy and in my opinion that erodes the meaning of the word and isn’t representative.

3. See one.

Provided the law is even, provided there’s nothing excluding women – by law – and nothing favouring men, similarly. I do not see the claim of patriarchy as having validity. Especially as it is currently used where anything bad for women is patriarchy and anything bad for men is also, somehow, patriarchy. Anything and everything is twisted to fit the definition in the same way 9/11 truthers will twist anything to match their pre-existing idea that it was a false flag operation.

It lacks any rigour or any useful definition when used in that way.

The system cannot properly be called patriarchy, even if men tend to get elected or chosen from the available pool, put themselves forward more or succeed more. If women aren’t choosing to go into these arenas and aren’t doing so well when they do there can be many reasons for this divide, not all of them good for men, not all of them bad for women. A full analysis is required – but it’s still not patriarchy.

Kyriarchy is, perhaps, a better term since it acknowledges that society is a heady brew of different arenas in which different people have different advantages and disadvantages – even white, middle class, middle aged men. We live in a complex, interwoven tapestry of advantages and disadvantages in different areas and the analysis of ‘patriarchy’ is shallow and facile.

At least I know where the comprehension gap is now though.

The Rape Question

Skewers many of the problems I see with modern feminist argumentation and its abuse of stats and moral panic.

The Honest Courtesan

I claim that rape exists any time sexual intercourse occurs when it has not been initiated by the woman, out of her own genuine affection and desire.   –  Robin Morgan

At one time it was a subject rarely spoken of in public; now it sometimes seems that some people talk of little else.  Since the 1970s rape has become one of the most politicized issues of our culture, despite sex being arguably the least appropriate topic for politics imaginable.  The politicization of what could be considered the most personal of crimes began in 1970 with the publication of Carol Hanisch’s second-wave feminist manifesto “The Personal is Political”; as I wrote in my essay “Politicizing the Personal”,

The only problem with [the essay] is, it’s a load of crap; usually, the personal is just personal, and declaring it to be political merely holds the door open…

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How Not to Kill Yourself – A Guide

dead_suicide_fingers_hanging_finger_desktop_1440x900_wallpaper-140926It’s national suicide prevention week in the US and, since we’re all connected by the internet, that tends to mean that ‘national’ for the US and other countries often becomes ‘international’. There’s tons of advice out there for people to talk to, signs to look out for and how to help people who may be feeling suicidal but not that much out there for the people who might actually be feeling that way. Medical resources are tight everywhere, even in nations with nationalised healthcare, so getting help – useful help – can be very difficult.

I suffer from moderate depression with bouts of severe and dangerous depression and suicidal ideation. I’ve been on the brink several times but have pulled back from it each time. While I think I’m qualified to offer insight because of this, what I offer here may not work for everyone. I’m just spelling out what’s helped me, in the past, to get through it.

1. Be Mindful

Learn to recognise the signs that you’re going off the deep end. If you’re anything like me you can – for a time – pretend to be OK, put up a façade, fool even professional therapists that you’re fine. The only person that really knows your inner world is you and nobody can save you from yourself except you. If you can feel yourself slipping and sliding or running out of the energy required to ‘seem normal’, it’s time to break down and find some help.

2. Stagger Your Coping Mechanisms

We all have them, some of them are very unhealthy (cutting, drinking, drugs etc) but they’re a damn sight better than killing yourself. When you can’t cope, try some of these things first rather than collapsing straight away. Muster what will you have left and do whatever it is that – sometimes – takes the edge off. Use the extra time that gives you to seek help.

3. Acquaint Yourself With the Suicide of Others

You may well know someone who killed themselves, odds are you know the family or friends of someone who did. Get to know the harm and upset that it caused, the devastation it left behind. Understand that suicide isn’t just self-harm but that it affects people who love you. Even if you can’t recognise that love in the moment. Examples from my life have helped me keep back from that brink and they’ve also kept me from serious self-harm and from drinking.

4. Get a Cat

Or another pet, even a dog I suppose. Unconditional affection from a little furry being that depends on you is a lifesaver. At my lowest ebb my cat forced his way into the bathroom and yowled at me – in a way he never has before or since – and reminded me that someone, at least, loved me and needed me.


Since this is still, ostensibly, an atheist blog, it’s worth mentioning a couple of things about this from the non-believers point of view.

A. Religious People Will Prey On You

Despair makes you weak and whether from the best intentions or not people will try to help you find Jesus (or whatever deity du jour is current in your location). If it’ll genuinely help I won’t begrudge you turning to Glob, but I don’t think it will help. Like any other displacing behaviour (drinking, self harm etc) getting that old time religion will only display the inevitable or cause it to emerge in new, twisted, nasty ways. If someone tells you this despair is because you don’t ‘know god’ you are fully justified in punching them in the nose.

B. You Have Less Support

This is more the case in America than elsewhere, but it is true that without a church you have less of a support group in your community. Build one. Go to evening classes. Join a band. Get to know people online. You don’t get a support group handed to you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have one.

C. The Natural World is Wonderful

If that can’t give you hope, nothing will. Every day science produces more knowledge, more beauty and more hope than we can hope to absorb in a lifetime. Why would you want to miss out on the next Hubble Deep Field or the first man on Mars?

Patriarchy? What Patriarchy?


I recently stopped following Laurie Penny on Twitter because in the aftermath of Trollmageddon no amount of political agreement on broader topics was worth putting up with the disagreement on ‘feminist’ issues (scare quotes used with reason). Laurie is normally on the more reasonable side of things but in the context of the stupidity going on (which you can see me discuss in earlier posts) it was simply too much and not worth the anger and frustration.

Still, lots of people I follow have time for her and retweet a lot.

Today she’s asking:

Which on the face of it is a good question to ask, but betrays a certain bias in the use of the term ‘Patriarchy’.

In feminism, Patriarchy is defined as:

All forms of feminism define patriarchy as an unjust social system that is oppressive to women. As feminist and political theorist Carole Pateman writes, “The patriarchal construction of the difference between masculinity and femininity is the political difference between freedom and subjection.”In feminist theory the concept of patriarchy often includes all the social mechanisms that reproduce and exert male dominance over women. Feminist theory typically characterizes patriarchy as a social construction, which can be overcome by revealing and critically analyzing its manifestations.

To ask, then, how ‘Patriarchy’, a system that is supposed to exalt men and oppress women, hurts men, disarms its own point. ‘Patriarchy’ wouldn’t harm men, so if you’re claiming it does you’ve eliminated the idea of Patriarchy from the discussion from the get go. It is an inherently ridiculous question most often encountered as a statement instead: ‘Patriarchy hurts men too’ and if you change it slightly that inherent ridiculousness becomes even more apparent:

Plutocracy hurts rich people too.


White supremacism hurt Caucasians too.

The idea that there is some global conspiracy of men doing things purely to benefit men has about as much cachet as David Icke’s theories about the world being run by ‘invisible space lizards’.

The idea, the concept, the promulgation of this idea of ‘patriarchy’ is harmful in and of itself. It places blame on a gender, others men, justifies poor treatment of them that leaks back up into academia and judicial decisions. It puts a sort of ‘original sin’ upon men simply for their chromosomes and having a penis.


It’s all a matter of perspective anyway, anything you can characterise as a male advantage can be seen as an imposition. Military service is a great example with women seeing themselves as restricted from entering or performing certain duties and men seeing themselves as imposed upon to serve or be drafted. It’s all in how you see it.

Kyriarchy is a much better term for the interlocking set of roles and expectations that we find ourselves in. One that doesn’t damn or blame men. Unfortunately its not a particularly well known term. How about we stick to ‘How do gender roles hurt men?’ rather than placing the blame as is inherent in the term Patriarchy? That would be a great start.

There’s plenty to talk about it, but phrasing it as ‘How does Patriarchy hurt men?’ is like a Christian asking an atheist ‘Why do you hate Jesus?’. The questioner is assuming certain things about the person answering.


UK Sleepwalking into Fascism: Workhouses for Disabled, The #RacistVan, Racial Profiling

A must read.

Scriptonite Daily


This week has seen a plethora of actions by the UK government, which if adopted by any other country, any compassionate person would consider fascist. Government sponsored vehicles are roaming the streets telling people to dob in suspected illegal immigrants, the UK Border Agency are stopping mostly non-white commuters on the transport networks and requesting they display credentials to prove their right to be here, and disabled people are being carted off to modern day workhouses. Yet in spite of all this, many are still reluctant to face the gut wrenching reality that all is not well in blighty.

Godwin’s Law? Oh Give it Up


No doubt someone is already preparing a comment accusing me of Godwin’s Law for making this comparison.  So I’ll take a moment to set out why I am making it, and why it does not conform to the term.

Godwin’s Law was intended…

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Things I do believe


  • I believe in the power of logic, reason and evidence to explain the world in which we find ourselves.
  • I believe we have to deal with what ‘is’ first, over what ‘ought’ to be.
  • I believe faith to be harmful, whether it be religion, ideology or anything else. Believing without evidence to support what you believe is fundamentally flawed – even dangerous.
  • I believe atheism to be the only honest position on the question of god/supernaturalism.
  • I believe freedom of expression is one of the paramount human rights and that it includes ‘icky speech’.
  • I believe you have the right to be offended.
  • I believe I have the right to offend you.
  • I believe you’re responsible for your own intake.
  • I am a ruthless egalitarian. I believe everyone should be treated equally regardless of race, gender, sexuality etc, only modified by their differing needs and the empirical facts of the situation.
  • I believe in education for its own sake.
  • I believe in art for its own sake.
  • No matter how poorly you regard my work and art, I believe I’m worse. It makes me try harder.
  • I try not to, but I loathe hypocrisy. If someone’s a hypocrite it at least shows that they’re trying to be a good person, even if they’re failing. This is why I rage so much at people who say they’re for social justice, but whom display their own prejudices. They disappoint me and break my heart.
  • I believe misandry is a thing, because misogyny is a thing.
  • I believe a little flirtation is harmless fun.
  • I believe *ism to be wrong, whether it flows to or from marginalised groups. Prejudice is prejudice.
  • I believe if you’re against something, you shouldn’t do it yourself.
  • I believe complementary and alternative medicine is absolute bollocks.
  • I believe I look fly in hats.
  • I believe the best way to create an equal and fair society is to treat people equally and fairly. Without exception.
  • I believe you’re allowed to ‘slip’, when you’re angry.
  • I’m an ideological left-anarchist, but a pragmatic socialist. I believe in individual rights, but when you group individuals together the best guarantee of those rights is to consider the group.
  • I believe there’s almost always another option to violence.
  • I am a naturalist, a materialist.
  • I believe the ‘best’, most objective moral system is a combination of Utilitarianism and Epicureanism. Pleasure has value.
  • I would believe in democracy more if the electorate were better informed and the system were more representative.
  • I believe in fidelity and honour, though it’s not for everyone.
  • I believe respect must be earned.
  • A care about people. I have a deep sense of empathy, I get embarrassed for others. When that quality of empathy is ignored or denied I feel it as a personal attack upon a part of my essential identity as a human being.
  • I believe in being ‘decent’. In the sense of morally upright, respectable, kind and obliging. I put myself out for others often. I pay more than I should. I give people time. I am very forgiving. I am unforgiving of myself in this respect and I expect the same from others. I get upset when they fall short.
  • I believe in a ‘hands off’ approach. Let people find their own way and motivation and they’ll do their best.
  • I believe everyone deserves a second, and a third, chance.
  • I believe the crux of human existence to be a struggle between altruism and selfishness.
  • I believe in the power and importance of consent and the principle of ‘Ask and tell’.
  • Do what thou wilt, so long as it harm none.
  • I believe Scotch whisky is superior to Irish whiskey.
  • I believe curry is one of mankind’s greatest inventions.
  • I believe in taxation to support important social, educational and material infrastructure from which we all benefit.
  • I believe in universal healthcare, free at the point of use. The right to life is the most basic right of all.
  • I believe in abortion, up until the onset of consciousness.
  • I form friendships quickly and easily, and often deeply. I may consider you a friend even if you don’t consider me a friend and I consider myself obligated to that friendship.
  • I believe in treating people as individuals.
  • I believe almost everyone is interesting.
  • I try not to judge, I try to understand. I sometimes fail.
  • I like most people. You have to be an absolute cunt for me not to get on with you.
  • I believe sexy fun times and sexy fun art are harmless, positive even.
  • I believe prostitution should be legalised – and regulated
  • I believe drugs should be legalised – and regulated.
  • I believe escapism is important.
  • I believe you can find someone attractive and still appreciate them as a human being as well.
  • I believe the internet should be free.
  • I consider The Singularity to be a likely outcome for the human race.
  • I believe games and the act of play to be more important than they’re normally considered to be.
  • I believe you can entertain an idea without accepting it.
  • I believe humour is important.
  • I believe satire is a powerful way to undermine something you hate.
  • I believe in crediting people with intelligence. I hate patronising or talking down to people.
  • I believe in taking the long term view.
  • I believe the human race has to get off this rock.
  • I believe in greater human unity over greater balkanisation.
  • I believe in free will.
  • I believe stories can be powerful, but not overriding.
  • I believe cats are better than dogs.
  • I believe Flash Gordon and Big Trouble in Little China to be the greatest films ever made.
  • I believe love is an unlimited resource.
  • I believe you’ve gotten the wrong end of the stick.
  • I believe creativity should be unfettered.
  • I believe 2000AD is the best comic ever made.
  • I believe fantasy is distinct from reality.
  • I believe it’s not butter.
  • I believe I can convince you of the things I believe, given enough time.

Unchanged Koran?

المصحف_مفتوحIt is a popular ploy amongst Muslims to claim that – unlike other religious texts – it has never been changed or altered. This wouldn’t actually make any difference to its veracity or not, an old lie or untruth is still a lie even if it has lasted a long time or been copied a great deal. Its also not true. The Koran has been through several revisions despite being the youngest of the Abrahamic faiths.

Version One

Whatever Muhammed said to his followers is the first version of the Koran. Straight from his mouth to their ears and recorded somewhat haphazardly. The problem with oral preservation was understood quite early so Muhammed’s followers became literate (learning from prisoners of war ironically!) and compiled his ‘revelations’ all over the place. Muhammed died, so did a lot of his followers. It is impossible to know what was and wasn’t lost of the Koran in light of those events.

Version Two

Previously a scattered and haphazard oral record of many parts, the first Caliph Abu Bakr decided to collect the Koran into a single volume. This is Islam’s ‘council of Nicea’ moment and the first instance of a ‘standardised Koran’. This was compiled and written by – amongst others – Jewish and Greek scribes. It was collected and collated from fragmentary records, oral history, writing scraped on camel bones etc. What was kept and what was discarded we’ll never know but this effort would seem to account for the disjointed and fragmentary nature of the Koran and the incorporation of Greek knowledge and tribal custom into the corpus.

Version Three

Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan noticed differences as Islam spread in the versions of the Koran and Islamic beliefs from one place to another. The earlier written version (version 2) was used as a basis for the production of version three which, aside from minor differences, is the modern Koran today.