Realm Of Randomness

February 8, 2008

Right answer, wrong argument

Filed under: Controversial,Current events,Opinion,Religion — Randomizer @ 1:51 am



By now, I’m sure most of you have caught up on the latest ‘sensational news headline’ from the UK, that of the Arch Bishop saying that Sharia law in Britain is unavoidable. For those who are not familiar with it, here’s the gist of it: He claimed in a BBC interview that Sharia law, or Islamic law, is inevitable in the UK. He went on to say that it will help muslims feel more at home, and help them integrate better. Obviously, if you know some of the unpopular aspects of this law, you will know why the entire nation is now up in arms, and I seriously wonder how many days this bishop has left as bishop.

Having lived in Saudi Arabia for four years, I have seen this law in place first hand, though it never really affected me much, as I was too young then. But yes, I have seen the power of the religious priests, the enforcers of this law, and have very often heard of very strict punishment for crimes that in modern day, would not even be defined crimes – like a woman being in the presence of a man who is not her husband or relative.

Should Sharia law be applicable in the UK for muslims if they want it? Read this article that appeared in the times online, a UK paper’s website, and it is important because that is the premise for this post. The same writer had earlier written this article when talking about why mosques should not use loudspeakers to call for prayer in Britain.

The writer for the most part has the right idea, and the answer I would go with – No, there shouldn’t be Sharia law in place. But the argument that he uses is something like this, ( which I have summed up from both his articles ):

Our history is and has been that of a Christian nation, and our laws have been influenced by Christianity. There are other places in the world where Islam is the rule of the land, where you can your way. But this place is Christian, so respect the majority and live by our rules.

While the above does make sense, his argument is far from ideal, and does not accomplish much, save for pandering to public sentiment. The reason I believe that Sharia law should not be put in place is NOT because the UK is/has been a Christian nation, but because religion should have no place in government at all. The minute you say that followers of religion A will be guided by so-and-so laws, and religion B by others, you are setting yourself up for very blurry legislation. These religious laws, whether derived from the Bible or the Quran, were written 2000 or more years ago under drastically different circumstances, and should have no place in modern day society, least of all, the government. Now that is the argument that should be used, not ‘We derived our rules from the bible, and we form 90% of this nation, so tough luck, but you need to suck it up, wiseguys!’.

One only has to look at the dozens of new religions popping up in the US and around the world every year to see where this could be going. Followers of organizations like Scientology that parade as religions, which we discussed before cannot be given one set of rules because their founder Ron Hubbard wrote a book with some set of rules that he thought apt at the time. How can we be governed by laws that are written by these people, merely because they have a huge following?

I do know that the UK is not explicitly a secular country, and hence these arguments like the writer I linked to, can fly where he comes from. It only brings me to admire the creators of the Indian and American constitutions a whole lot more, who explicitly call for separation of church and state. Though both these countries are far from ideal in their implementation, and politics is very badly skewed towards religions, at least we have our goals right.

To sum up this post, no, no religion should ever guide the law of the land, whether Christian, or Sharia, or Hindu. And no, nothing good can ever come out of a ” don’t-like it? then-get-out ” attitude either. The muslims are there to stay, so impress upon them the need for one rule for everyone, if you ever want to make any progress with the communal tensions.


May 26, 2007

Living in Denial

Filed under: Evolution,Rant,Religion — Randomizer @ 11:13 pm

In what has got to be one of the saddest days for Science, a ‘Museum’ in Kentucky has opened that shows Adam and Eve living amongst dinosaurs. A 29 million dollar project, the museum literally recreates the Genesis chapter of the Bible, where God creates Man and Animals on the 6th day of Creation.

Now there is nothing wrong with this, except that this ‘6th day’ is supposedly merely 6000 years ago, according to the Museum, implying that the Earth is not billions of years old, but just thousands ! I find this shocking and preposterous … They have not only rubbished Evolutionary Biology, but Ancient History, Geology and so many other sciences along with it… probably centuries worth of discovery and research!

What exactly are children who visit this museum supposed to gain out of these lies ? How can a Museum that claims the Earth is only 6000 years old be allowed to function like this ? So are the ‘Stone Age’, ‘Paleolithic Age’ and so on, which were recorded to be 300,000 years ago mere figments of scientists’ imagination ? And I suppose human beings at the time had pet Brontosauruses in their backyard as well ?

Dinosaurs have always belonged to the ‘Evolutionists’, because the Bible didn’t have a word about these creatures. But now, Creationists have conveniently added Dinosaurs not only to Day 6 of Creation, but to Noah’s Ark as well. Hmmm… of course no one is asking the important question – Why did God create these massive lizard monsters in the first place if he wanted Man to be at the top of the heirarchy ? And an even more obvious question – Why have only the dinosaurs died and left all the other animals safe and sound ?

It’s truly a blessing that I, and perhaps most of the Indian/Non-US readers of this blog were brought up in nations where Science had it’s place as the truth, and where there was no ‘alternate theory’ taught in class to protect religion from Evolution. We were taught Evolution like we were taught Gravity – with not the slightest of doubt in it’s truth and credibility. Read more comments from the shocked here

While the rest of the world has no problems with the truth and history of the world, and carry on with their business of research and discovery, the leading nation in the world is merely going backwards.

May 19, 2007

The Luck-ness Monster

Filed under: Philosophy,Rant,Religion — Randomizer @ 7:21 pm

Continuing with my posts related to belief systems, there is one belief system that I just couldn’t resist talking about, because though most of us almost immediately proclaim our disbelief in this particular ideology, a good portion of us secretly do harbour at least a certain amount of inherent faith in it – what I speak of here, is plain Luck.

And by Luck, I don’t mean ‘chance’. I mean the Luck that is implied in the sentence, ‘My Luck is bad this year’, which tends to mean that a certain force is working for or against you in your everyday life.

Picture yourself in the following scene: This is your big day, a big interview or a final exam. On your way though, a beggar comes by and asks you for some money. Will you give him some, or will you not ? On top of that what if he says, ‘If you help me today, great things will happen to you’ ? Are you more likely to succumb to this, especially now on your big day ? I won’t be surprised if 80-90% of us would hand him some change for ‘good luck’.

I would expect most people to be ‘extra nice’ and do ‘extra lucky’ things on big days like these – wear a ‘lucky pair of socks’, donate money to a charity , and so on. In some way or the other, we all believe in Luck, even for a second or two.

While Atheists believing in Luck is comparitively OK , since it does not conflict with religion, I find many, many religious people believing in Luck as well ! It seems like a different belief system is invoked for each event in their life, and this is, to put it bluntly, pretty stupid. What is the role of God when ‘Luck’ is doing things for you, or working against you ? What is the role of a ‘lucky shirt’ in the context of God ? If one is religious – stick to prayers, and leave Luck alone.

I have a confession to make about one of my own such rituals. I had a cream-colored shirt for many years, that I considered lucky because it was the shirt I had worn on my first successful job interview. Wearing it for big interviews made me secretly feel ‘secure’ – and I found nothing wrong with secretly harbouring this prize, as it made me feel more confident. But when the shirt could no longer be worn due to wear and tear, I felt myself feeling like I was going for a battle with no armour ! The *blue* shirt ? What good has the blue shirt ever done me ?

But for perhaps one of the first times in life, I’m feeling confident about living my life completely free of everything Supernatural. All I have is the real world, and I need nothing more.

I think we are more sensitive to avoiding BAD luck than we are to promoting GOOD luck. Take Horoscopes for example. As long as they tell you something nice or vague about your day, or something in general about incidents to occur, you are okay with them. Not too long ago, I read a horoscope that read , ‘This is not a good day for business deals. Postpone them’. Such horoscopes can be pretty damaging to one’s confidence, to be frank. This tendency to avoid bad luck is the very reason that people immediately forward mails that read ‘if you don’t forward this to 10 people, you will die’.

Here was the horoscope for Leo yesterday. I honestly hope people don’t follow advice such as the following:

While I will leave more of my thoughts on Astrology for a rainy day with writer’s block, I must say that I find it extremely disappointing that probably ALL Hindu arranged marriages , even today, classmates and like-minded educated young men and women, refer to star signs and sun signs to decide if their marriage is going to work or not. When the most revered role models of India like Aishwarya Rai marry trees to avoid bad luck, I do not know if India will ever move on from it’s superstitious roots…

… but one thing we can all do right now, is to start looking at all these small rituals we carry out on those big days of ours, and liberate ourselves from this ominous Luck-ness Monster. It is indeed high time that we see our ‘lucky shirt’ for exactly what it is and has always been – a piece of fabric.

May 13, 2007

Scientology : Belief at it’s worst

Filed under: Rant,Religion,Scientology — Randomizer @ 5:49 pm

When I’d first heard of the term ‘Scientology’ about ten years ago, perhaps in the context of actor Tom Cruise, I thought the term sounded interesting. Basing my initial impression on the word ‘Scientology’, I assumed the obvious – This is a religion of Science, or in other words, an Atheist’s religion, however paradoxical that sounds.

Like we were discussing in my previous post, a major drawback for Atheism as a way of life is that it is hardly a ‘way of life’ in a social sense. There’s no ‘culture’ of Atheism. Well, so here was Scientology, or so I thought, which was going to ‘organize’ Atheism into an established way of life. But how wrong I was !

Scientology is as close to Naturalism as War is to Peace, complete with all the Paranormal phenomena you can find from other religions – souls, spirits, multiple lives, inhabitation by thousands of alien spirits – you name it. Best of all – it is not even a recognized religion, and is often described as a Cult or a Scam. The reason ? You pay as you go. People have spent as much as 250,000$ attending ‘courses’ that teach you higher ‘truths’, one of them being the ‘truth’ about Xenu, a warrior who lived 75 million years ago.

The beliefs of this organization have been a closely guarded secret. They have been fierce in attacking their critics, going to any lengths – from burglary, defamation, framing, picketing and harassing – to render them powerless. Operation Snow White was a project carried out by members of this church to clean up documents about them, that ‘included a series of infiltrations of and thefts from government agencies, carried out by Church members, including the single largest infiltration of the United States government in history’

Watch this video. The camera man wants to attend a ‘Scientology party’ at a public street, but security doesn’t let him. What follows is just … freaky … and by the end of it you are just left seething with rage. How much of this would you be able to handle ? Forward the first 1 or 2 minutes ..

Please watch before going ahead..

* How brain-washed must you be to come to a stranger and say over and over again, ‘What are you afraid of? What are your crimes?’
* Why are they so confident that a non-Scientologist is a Wife-beater/Child molester?
* It looks they’re hypnotized, could it be so ?

Watch another brain-washed victim below. Rather than anger, the following will make you simply feel enormous pity for this woman. She’s a Scientologist who tries to disrupt an anti-Scientology rally:

Read this report in the BBC about a BBC correspondent John Sweeney who investigated Scientology in the BBC’s Panorama episode. A video of him losing his cool is doing the rounds on YouTube, posted by the Church of Scientology for purposes of defamation. The entire BBC Panorama episode is out, released last night. Do watch it !

April 30, 2007

What if you’re wrong ?

Filed under: Philosophy,Religion — Randomizer @ 5:15 pm

[ Note: The following is a frank, open-minded discussion on a few religious issues. If you are likely to get offended by such questioning, this is the point where I would advise you to stop reading. If you intend to continue reading, please make sure you have read my previous post – I intend to have this as a connected series ]

Now that you have guaranteed me an open-mind, this would be the right setting to introduce you to a man named Richard Dawkins, whose talks I have been following with utmost interest the past week.

Dawkins is, to the world, the face of Atheism today. But it is important to note that he is not just that . He is a Scientist first, and an Atheist second, the latter merely being a consequence of the former. A staunch defender of Darwin’s theory of Evolution, he is a very big contributor to the scientific world, but undoubtedly though, his popularity is due to his skills as an author and an orator, and as the voice for Atheism and Naturalism in the modern day world.

I have watched many of his videos on YouTube, but here is one of the finest. Please watch it. It comes after an hour long lecture on his book ‘The God Delusion’, where he explains why he believes God does not exist. A lady from the audience, quite presumably a Christian, asks him this ‘simple question’ during the Q&A session after this lecture:

“What if you’re wrong?”

[ The audience becomes noticeably silent and amused, eager to see how Dawkins would counter this. It seems like a debate-killing question – what if you’re wrong? How does one answer this? But Dawkins returns to the podium, and what follows is classic ]

” What if I’m wrong? …

You happened to have been brought up, I would presume, in the Christian faith. You know what it’s like not to believe in a particular faith because you’re not a Muslim, you’re not a Hindu. Why aren’t you a Hindu? Because you happen to have been brought up in America, not in India.

If you had been brought up in India, you’d have been a Hindu. If you had been brought up in Denmark in the time of the Vikings, you’d be believing in Wotan and Thor. If you had been brought up in Classical Greece, you’d be believing in Zeus. If you were brought up in Central Africa, you’d be believing in the Great Juju on the mountain.

There’s no particular reason to pick the Judeo-Christian God, in which, by the sheerest accident you happened to have been brought up, and ask me the question, “What if I’m wrong?” – What if you’re wrong about the Great Juju sitting in the bottom of the sea?”

A fitting response to a potentially debate-killing question. An answer that was delivered with as much arrogance as the question itself, and rightly so.

But this incident is more than just a stunning display of debating skills. His response describes what most religious people in the world do not want to think about at all : Is it a mere fluke that you were born into a family that followed the ‘right’ God?

Do the religious thank their stars every day that they were born into the family which taught the ‘correct religion’ and not the ‘wrong one’?

What is crystal clear to see, but blinding to most religious people all the time, is the fact that you would accept your family’s religion as the absolute correct truth, regardless of what it was… and that itself deals a severe blow to its credibility.

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