Saturday, March 26, 2016

The True Mass Killers

The Islamic faith has come under a good amount of criticism for the various attacks suffered by thousands of people at the hands of Muslims.  These include gun attacks at Charlie Hebdo, bombing of trains in Madrid, most recently the bombings in Brussels, and most notoriously, in New York with 9/11.  These are just a small sample of the list of attacks that have been done by Muslims against ‘infidels’ and an infidel country/culture.

Many lambast Islam as a religion of war.  That, however, is overlooking a crucial detail that is not limited to Islam.  We do not need to look back to the Crusades for religious violence from non-Muslims.

In 2004, up to 500 Muslims were killed by Christian Taroks in Yelwa, Nigeria (Johnston, 2004; PBS, 2004); many survived the attack, but fled their homes.  The victims were killed by firearms and machetes.   The Central African Republic (CAR) has killings and forced conversions (with torture if necessary) by Christians against Muslims.  Men, women and children were targeted.  In 2011, Christian Anders Breivik killed 77 people in his form of protest against the Islamization of Europe (Beaumont, 2011).  In Jos, the Christian population watched as one of their citizens killed a Muslim passer-by, who then proceeded to eat him; the Christian did the kill-and-eat act twice in two weeks (Thornhill & Pleasance, 2014).

Many of the attacks are retaliatory in nature against a slight, or conflict from earlier (BBC, 2014; Chicago Tribune, 2004; Johnston, 2004).  Each side can point to when members of their side were attacked beforehand; the cannibal killed the Muslim as some other Muslims murdered the Christian’s wife and child.  Muslims and Christians murdering each other in various parts of the world is nothing new.  The murdering is not limited to cross-religious lines, as in the past and currently there are some Muslims that kill Muslims (e.g. Sunni vs. Shia) and Christians that kill Christians (e.g. Catholics vs. Protestants).

The issue is not wholly religious as religion forms a cultural base from which further actions are directed.  Where religion can be seen as a flammable gas that gets ignited, combusting those already violent and those who would otherwise be peaceful; the spark that ignites and creates a blast is blowback and blowback is a retaliation.  Blowback comes from interfering in another region’s political structure (e.g. Iran, Libya, Egypt), occupying holy lands and interfering with economic structures (e.g. Saudi Arabia), and from killing civilians (e.g. Iraq and Yemen).

The single biggest terrorist attack was 9/11 and it was rallying cry.  A national fervor was stoked, Republicans and Democrats were united as Americans and the West (and many others) mourned the loss of the Twin Towers and the near 3000 murdered.  However, nearly 210,000 civilians (a conservative estimate) have been killed in Iraq alone, since 9/11 in the War on Terror (Brown University, 2015); other estimates have it at half a million, and even higher (Gordts, 2013).  How many people would feel a call to service when they and their neighbors are experiencing seventy 9/11s?  Osama bin Laden was an ally (though was only out of necessity) of the United States during the Cold War, but he focused upon America as an enemy for what he saw as American aggression in Muslim land including assisting Israel demolish houses in Palestine, and the deaths from starvation of one million children because of boycotts and sanctions, as he said in an interview in 1999 (Miller, 2007).

This brings us to the true killers: collectivism (i.e. group think) and initiation of force.  Religion forms the irrational base which makes the collectivism and violence unquestionable.  If ‘God said so,’ how could any human question it?  It is no longer pragmatic actions about resources, but a metaphysical good-versus-evil.

The Old Testament (and New Testament through Jesus’ admonition he was not there to change the law one iota) has numerous law violations that are deemed punishable by death; there are also numerous examples of God-ordained conquering and razing of cities (kill all, except save virgin girls for slavery), such as Midian and Jericho.  Additionally, the New Testament (Romans 1:19-32) has a list of sins (many of which would be part of a different culture) and that those who do them are worthy of death.  The Koran has numerous examples of calling for war against nonbelievers (non-Muslims), as stated in The Women 4:101; The Repentance 9:123; Muhammad 14:4; The Victory 48:29.

Whether one’s Holy Book is the Bible or Koran (or Torah), holding the books as non-metaphor leads to an unquestionable collectivism that blends dehumanization of the other.     

Not all cultures are equal in rightness or wrongness.  Individuals within a culture or faith are the ones who actually act, but we may review the belief structure from which they act as an organizing system that provides justification for how individuals act.  Dealing in aggregates, in modern times there are not as many killed for Christianity as there is in Islam.  There may be a few Christians who still call for the stoning of homosexuals and other ways of returning to biblical law, but the trend is the other direction and marriage equality is being accepted by an increasing number of Christians.  According to PEW Research (2013), Islam still has the majority of countries who want sharia as the law of the land, including the death penalty for apostasy.  While Christianity of the West has evolved for the most part through the Enlightenment, Islam has not; Islam has remained fast for the most part in its interpretation of sacred texts.  Islamists (those who want to use force to proselytize) blend modern technology and weaponry, with a medieval mentality.  M. Zuhdi Jasser and Irshad Manji (a non-burka wearing openly gay woman) are examples of Muslims seeking to blend Human Rights within Islam (Gatestone Institute, 2015; Kalman, 2004); like Christianity has evolved, they seek for Islam.

Christianity needed to evolve or die with the advance of science (which providing better answers for the physical world, prompted moral review of biblical claims); Islamists say ‘submit or die’.

It is not Islam that is the issue, though it is the biggest and clearest example of the issue: a system that provides group think, praises the initiation of force and has a base that is supposedly beyond the scope of human reason.  You cannot argue reason with unreason.  Islam is not the only example of group think.  Christianity is not beyond collectivism and violence.  Secular groups are not beyond collectivism and violence (Timothy McVeigh was an agnostic).  Even Buddhists in Burma have taken to killing Muslims – Buddhists, even monks, killing people and burning property (Associated Press, 2014).  Collectivism, and its group think can affect anyone.  As studies from Milgram and Zimbardo have shown, almost anyone can fall under the control of collectivism and authority.

There is a confluence of three issues – group think, initiation of force, religion; all issues being addressed would be best, but one issue being addressed would stop the violence.  That issue is the initiation of force.  If the initiation of force was stopped, then even if in error, the group could remain in its religion, even if foolishly.  Defensive violence is proper, and most of the violence inflicted by Islamists today is defensive politically, and religion gets tied with it to make it more righteous and unquestionable.  Returning to the PEW Research statistics, the very places that have the most desire for Sharia law are the places that have had the most violence against their people – by the US and others.  Embargos and regime changes are the first push of a pendulum that causes a pushback; over and over again to 9/11, the War on Terror and the equivalent of seventy 9/11s suffered by the people of the Middle East.  During elections in America, there is a controversy if a candidate receives foreign campaign contributions; American foreign policy affects the people of other countries that is far beyond campaign contributions (Al-Shingeeti, 2014; Brown University, 2015; Gordts, 2013).   

If you want the violence to stop, then stop giving the other reasons to attack; if you are attacked, then use violence in defense.  If you are in a war, make it official, and do not draw it out, continue regime changes or build what the people do not want: defeat your enemy as quickly and thoroughly as possible, then leave and do not ‘pile on’ punishments.  Additionally, picking sides in another country’s civil war earns oneself an enemy for the time, and potentially two in the future; the helped one, once with power, may change.  Finally, do not support other countries to prop up those militant regimes; those embattled need to resolve their own issues, otherwise, the helped one will not be seen as legitimate.  What is best: war being averted and instead of soldiers crossing borders, products and ideas being shared.  It was not through a long and protracted bombing campaign that brought down 
the Berlin wall, it was the people wanting change. 

“When goods don’t cross borders, soldiers will.” – Frederic Bastiat

Al-Shinqeeti, M. (2014, September 25). America's interference in the fate of the Arab nations. Retrieved from

Arbaoui, L. (2015, August 03). Central African Republic: Muslims Forced to Convert to Christianity.

Associated Press. (2014, January 24). U.N.: Dozens of Muslims massacred by Buddhists in Burma. Retrieved from

BBC. (2014, January 13). CAR cannibal tells BBC: I ate man in revenge attack - BBC News.

Beaumont, P. (2011, July 23). Anders Behring Breivik: Profile of a mass murderer.

Brown University. (2015, March). Civilians Killed & Wounded.

Chicago Tribune. (2004, May 13). 30 killed as Muslims retaliate for Christian massacre.

Gatestone Institute. (2015, December 6). Muslim Reform Movement. Retrieved from

Gordts, E. (2013, October 15). Iraq Death Toll Reaches 500,000 Since Start Of U.S.-Led Invasion, New Study Says.

Johnston, L. (2004, May 6). 500 Nigerian Muslims Slain.

Kalman, M. (2004, January 19). A Muslim calls for reform -- and she's a lesbian. Retrieved from

Miller, J. (2007, January 29). Greetings, America. My Name is Osama bin Laden.

Pew Research Center. (2013, April 30). Chapter 1: Beliefs About Sharia.

PBS. (2004, May 4). Renewed Violence Kills Scores in Central Nigeria.

Thornhill, T., & Pleasance, C. (2014, January 22). 'Mad Dog' the cannibal pictured eating SECOND Muslim in as many weeks as Christians lynch and burn two men in Central African Republic. Retrieved from

Friday, March 25, 2016

Justice and Free Will – Two Things We Do Not Have With God

For those who take their Holy Books seriously.

God is to be the Ultimate.  He is to be omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. 

His omnipotence is stated in [the Bible] Revelation 19:6 And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!  In [the Koran] there is al-Haj 22:74 They have not appraised Allah with true appraisal.  Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might.  With this, there is nothing that God cannot do; to state positively, God has the ability to do anything and everything.

His omnipresence as stated in [the Bible] Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good.  In [the Koran] The Cow, it is said Unto Allah belong the East and the West, and whirthersoever ye turn, there is Allah’s countenance.  Lo!  Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing.  With this, there is no place that is without God; to state positively, God is everywhere, at all times.

His omniscience as stated in [the Bible] Psalm 147:5 Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.  In [the Koran] at-Tawbah 9:15 And remove the fury in the believers’ hearts.  And Allah turns in forgiveness to whom He wills; and Allah is Knowing and Wise.  With this, there is nothing that God does not know; to state positively, God knows all things.

Combine the three, and we have God/Allah who is everywhere, knows everything and can do anything desired.  Both the Bible and Koran refer to the same [monotheistic] God, so God here will refer to that one.

Is God just?  Let us look at ‘Original Sin’ with Adam, Eve, and The Serpent.

First, on God’s being ‘omnipotent‘: being all-powerful, there is no act that God could not do, so if one was acting wrongly, that individual could be targeted.  When a sniper is called to a hostage situation, if violence is immanent against the hostage, the sniper is to eliminate the hostage taker.  An all-powerful one who can speak things into existence, change things at will, would have an easier time than a shooter who has to take into account numerous variables that could affect a shot.  However, if that sniper decided to not only shoot the hostage taker, but also target and kill the hostage used as a shield, and then all the bound hostages, we would say that sniper was guilty of murder; if he accidentally killed a hostage, it was a reflection of his not being fully in control.  We do not say that with God, who for the acts of one (or all three for Original Sin), decided to condemn every individual from every generation of man afterward.  Similarly, in Exodus God could have changed Pharaoh’s heart (soften it instead of harden), or just targeted Pharaoh, but instead God targeted people who had nothing to do with the oppression of His people; one more example includes the entire planet, save Noah and his family.  When just the guilty could be targeted, God also targeted the innocent.  Look at Job, and all those near Job and how they suffered and died for no sin of their own. 

God is not just.

Next, as God is ‘omnipresent,’ God would have been present during the commission of the Original Sin; God was present when the sin happened as it happened.  This ties into ‘omniscient.’  First point to consider, if God was present, and knew everything, He could have interceded and convinced each of their error to prevent Original sin; God did not stop it.  God would have already known what would happen when He put all the individuals and components of Original Sin in place.  Yet, God still put everyone (Adam, Eve and The Serpent) in a place with The Tree of Knowledge where the three could have easy access.   God was present, knew, and allowed things to happen.  As God knew things would happen, they were planned to happen – had to happen – otherwise it would be a thing that God did not know, and that could not be.  An unknown thing violates omniscience.

From the beginning of Creation (Garden of Eden), God has a plan on how to end existence (Apocalypse).  In [the Bible] Isaiah 13:9 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.  Similarly, in [the Koran] The Reality 69:13-15 And when the trumpet shall sound one blast. And the earth with the mountains shall be lifted up and crushed with one crash, Then, on that day will the Event Befall. 

As mentioned earlier, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart; earlier in the chapter, Pharaoh hardened his own, but later God hardened his heart.  If it was already hard, why would it need to be hardened again?  How could there be a chance at change if it is prevented – ensured that Pharaoh’s heart would remain hard?  2 Thessalonians 2:9 shows that people are not to change, as God will not allow it For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie.  People are deceived by proxy from God to believe lie that will lead to their being punished, just as the firstborn in Egypt who had nothing to do with Pharaoh’s heart.  Through force and fraud, denying another their ability to make their own choices, and then punishing them for not making the choice one wanted, is not free will and is not just.

Let us return to God’s characteristics of omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient.  As the verses state, these are characteristics God possesses, and examples are given of what God does and that there is a plan only God knows.  A plan.  A plan means that each individual has a path to follow in order to achieve the plan; if any individual did not follow the plan, then the plan would collapse: the Butterfly Effect and Chaos Theory.  Each person would have to follow the plan in order for an omniscient God to not be wrong; each person would not have free will in order to ensure that they followed their portion of the plan correctly.  God is everywhere with all power to ensure his all-knowing predictions come to fruition.

Every part, from Original Sin to the Apocalypse would be part of the plan, as well as every detail in between.  One degree off is not 100%, so there could not be any variation, any free will to deviate from the plan.  Every boon, but also every bit of suffering – the mass starvations, diseases, terror attacks, rapes, slavery – and all else would have been planned in advance, with victims preordained, as well as perpetrators. 

One of the clearest examples is in following Christian dogma: Judas is one of the most important figures in the bible; without him there is no crucifixion, no ‘redemption’.  Numerous verses in the Old Testament (Isaiah, Zechariah, Psalm, among others) predict Christ’s coming, including the crucifixion.  Someone had to ‘betray’ Jesus.  Luke and John blame the devil for turning Judas’ heart; however, God is the omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient one.  God knew it would happen, was there when it happened, and allowed it to happen, just as He did with Adam, Eve, and The Serpent.   

All of it had to be, with no one, not even The Serpent or Satan having a choice.

If you want to give credit to God for all things in life, including boons, then God equally deserves blame for all the suffering in life.  He knew it would come, was there when it happened, and allowed it, just as He will be for anything to come.  God does not just allow things to happen, but directs them – He made it happen. 

If there was the tri-omni God, there would be no free will and no justice.