Sexualization of Children

Recently, some muslims showed me this picture and this news to emphasize on child sexualization. What I think is that, both Islamic/conservative and western/liberal countries sexualize children in their own sort of way and it should be made illegal.

Hijab is sexualization

To wrap a child with full body clothing is certainly very uncomfortable for their little bodies. One only need to ask, what is the motivation behind making children wear hijab? The purpose of hijab is to cover up the sexual parts of the body in an effort to make them less attractive. If you admit that a child's body is a sexually attractive thing then and only then you would think of covering it up. And that is what sexualization of children means. What about pedophiles? One might ask. Hijabi children wouldn't become victim of their lustful eyes while naked or semi-naked children would.

Firstly, hijab does not protect adult women from sexual harassment. So there is no reason to believe hijab could protect little children from sexual molestation. A pedophile would go after a child if he gets a chance regardless of a child's dress style.

Secondly, as I said, if you admit or acknowledge or think that a child's body is sexually attractive (thus sexualizing the child) or expect hijab to protect children from sexual molestation , only then you'd think of covering them up. Some people (pedophiles) think children are attractive and would want to molest children, but that doesn't mean it is a normal, healthy behaviour. Instead of wraping children up with burqas, you should call the authority and prevent a child molester from committing such acts.

...and so is the beautification of their bodies

Sexualization of children could also occur when they are being artificially decorated in a sexually attractive way. Using padded bra and bikini, thong, puffed up hair, make up etc to make the child look sexy. Some children even participate in beauty contests! Problem is not with skimpy clothing of a child, the problem is when someone dresses up a female child like an adult woman by decorating and exaggerating certain and specific parts of her body.

Sexualization of Nudity

Many african tribes have less sexual harassment and rape incidents although women in those tribes remain topless or nude most of the time. In our societies, nudity is often viewed as a type of pornography i.e. being nude is viewed as an overt sexual act. This is what I call sexualization of nudity. Sexualization of nudity relates with conservatism and social taboo mindset such as considering it shameful, perverse etc. If a society sexualizes nudity particularly among children, then no matter what they wear, it'd still be deemed as sexual. If someone sexualizes a 9 year old child, then what prevents him/her to sexualize a 1 year old child? ...which makes it quite absurd. This notion of sexualization of nudity, semi-nudity among pre-pubertal children is quite absurd.
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The Islamic democracy

It is not our goal to exercise such a democracy which would fail to ensure human rights of the minority, but rather...we should seek a system that would give equal, best and most of the rights possible to the nation's citizenry.

What we see in Egypt today is not beyond understanding. As the islamists gain majority votes to elect a sharia compliant govt, rights of the non-muslim minority keep getting squeezed. Religious doctrines should play no part in political discourse nor should it be a part of the government.

Here is my favourite bit. James Madison, alluding to slavery, wrote,

It is of great importance in a republic, not only to guard the society against the oppression of its rulers, but to guard one part of the society against the injustice of the other part.

A half century after the United States was established, Alexis de Tocqueville saw the majority's tyranny over political and social minorities as "a constant threat" to American democracy in his pre–Civil War travels. While visiting the state of Pennsylvania, when he asked why no free blacks had come to vote in a local election he was observing, he was told that "while free blacks had the legal right to vote, they feared the consequences of exercising it." Thus, he wrote,

the majority not only makes the laws, but can break them as well. democracy is conceived today, the minority's rights must be protected no matter how singular or alienated that minority is from the majority society; otherwise, the majority's rights lose their meaning. And this is exactly where a muslim majority country fails.

I wish to adhere to the secular values and this is my response to those moderate muslims who claim that an islamic country governed by islamic law can be both democratic and equal. Frankly, it is not. In the words of Stuart K. Hayashi,
In order to prevent democracy from becoming a tyranny over minorities, individual rights must supersede all democratic voting and all regulations. Rights must come first. Laws should come second, and only to protect those rights; nothing more.
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Quran could only be understood correctly in arabic

Of all the efforts to artificially insulate Islam from intellectual critique, this is probably the most transparent. Often the critique of islam get accused of misinterpreting certain verse of Quran. They say Quran can only be understood in arabic. There is no accurate translation of Quran hence one can't criticise islam without knowing classical arabic. Unfortunately, for those Muslims craving reassurance from the more embarrassing passages of the Quran and Sunnah, this cheap tactic of arbitrarily dismissing anything they disagree with still comes at a heavy price, since Islam cannot be protected in this way without sacrificing its claim to being a universal religion.

In the first place, it is fundamentally impossible for anyone to learn a language that cannot be translated into the only one they do know, which means the apologists who insist that “one must learn Arabic” in order to understand the Quran are committing a logical fallacy. Either the Arabic of the Qur’an is translatable (in which case there is no need to learn Arabic) or it is not (in which case it can never be learned by the non-native speaker).

Enter the skeptic. While every language has its nuances, how is that Arabic is the only one with words and phrases that are literally untranslatable? More importantly, why in the world would Allah choose to communicate his one true religion for all men in the only language that cannot be understood by all men – including all Muslims, since most do not speak Arabic?

Even more suspicious is that, this "amazing linguistic discovery" was only recently made – and that it corresponds quite remarkably with the contemporary rejection of Islamic practices that were considered acceptable up until the religion’s recent collision with Western liberalism. In fact, there is an astonishing correlation between the argument that hidden and alternate meanings exist to unflattering Quranic passages (justifying slavery, the inferior status of women, sexual gluttony, holy warfare, wife-beating, and religious discrimination) and the level of embarrassment that modern scholars have about the presence of such verses in the Quran!

No follower of other religions makes this claim about his holy book. It is rare to find a Qur’an that does not include voluminous and highly subjective footnoted commentary deemed necessary to explain away the straightforward interpretation of politically-incorrect passages.

An additional problem for the apologists is that they want to have it both ways. On the one hand they declare that (for some strange reason) the “perfect book” can’t be accurately translated and that Allah’s perfect religion thus cannot be understood by most of humanity without a battery of intercessors and interpreters. Then they turn around and blame the reality of Islamic terrorism on this same “necessary” chain of intermediaries by claiming that the Osama bin Ladens of the world have simply gotten bad clerical advice, causing them to “misunderstand” the true meaning of the Religion of Peace (in the most catastrophic and tragic way imaginable).

Of course, another irony here is that, as a Saudi, the Quran-toting Osama bin Laden is a native Arabic speaker – as are most of the leaders and foot soldiers in his al-Qaeda brotherhood of devout Muslims. In fact, many critics of Islam are Arabic speakers as well.
At this point there is only one avenue of escape open to the beleaguered apologist, which is the weak claim that the Qur’an can only be understood in Classical Arabic, an obscure Quraish dialect which has not been commonly used in over a thousand years and is only known by a few hundred people alive today (generally Wahabbi scholars, who are – ironically enough – accused of taking the Qur’an ‘too literally’).

Although it is hardly plausible that the differences between classical and modern Arabic are such that peace and tolerance can be confused with terrorism, even if this were true, it merely begs the question all the more. Why would such a “perfect book” be virtually impossible for the rest of us to learn – and susceptible to such horrible “misinterpretation” on an on-going basis?

Really, it isn’t hard to see through this childish game, particularly since the rules are applied only to detractors and not to advocates. Apologists never claim that Arabic is a barrier to understanding Islam when it comes to lauding the religion, no matter how less knowledgeable those offering praise are than the critics. Obviously, the real reason for this illogical myth is that, for the first time, the information age is making the full history and texts of the Islamic religion available to a broader audience, and it is highly embarrassing to both Muslim scholars and their faithful flock. Pretending that different meanings exist in Arabic is a desperate way of finding solace and saving face.

slightly modified, taken from here
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Free will & evidence of god

A particularly interesting muslim apologist argument I noticed earlier.
if god had given us 100% certain evidence (e.g. strong decudctive argumnt [sic]) then we will have no choice BUT to beleive [sic] in it. and so our freewill (to beleive [sic]) will be impaired. but freewill is one of the greatest goods ever AND god WANTS people to beleive [sic] on basis of freewill therefore god will never give us 100% evidence. and all evidence will always be less than perfect.

The first part of the argument implies proof or certainty hampers free choice. It is totally a false assumption. For example: we have evidence to prove with 100% certainty that smoking causes harm to the body. Yet we see people by their free choice continue smoking and suffer as a consequence.

Another extreme example would be the choice of jumping off a high cliff. You know for certain that you are going to die but you are free to choose between jumping and not jumping. Another very common example is belief in evolution. We have enough evidence to prove evolution yet creationists have choosen not to believe or take it as truth. These examples are enough to show certainty doesn't necessarily prevent exercising our freewill. It may influence our decision but that's about it.

Next point from the apologist is that, free will is one of the greatest good ever and god wants people to believe on the basis of free will. Now there are several arguments I could suggest. For example:

* If god really wants all people to believe in his existence then why he doesn't provide enough evidence? Since we have already showed that cessation of free will is not an inevitable consequence of being certain about something, it necessarily follows that god wanted some people to disbelieve in his existence. That's why god didn't provide enough evidence.

* It is not clear why free will would be a good thing given that god wants us to obey his commands and would punish us for exercising our free will. If free will hampers god's cause then why would it be a good thing? A theist could answer that it helps god to weed out involuntary worshippers because god doesn't want robots to praise him! But then what's the point of threatening with hellfire if god doesn't want robots? Many people worship god out of fear of punishment which is essenstially an involuntary reaction. The problem of heaven suggests that god can create a world where all inhabitants necessarily believe in god yet have free will.

Then the muslim apologist says, therefore god will never give us 100% evidence and all evidence will always be less than perfect. Actually your god allah gave as much evidence as all the other 3000+ gods. If the "evidence" rests on faith then it is not really evidence, is it? A superman comic book could be the "evidence" of superman's existence if you "believe" superman comic book is the evidence of superman's existence. All evidence will always be less than perfect is also totally false given that god is supposed to be all knowing, all powerful and the perfect entity.

1. God is omniscient.

2.God is omnipotent.

3. God wants everyone to believe in him.

4. Since God is omniscient, he knows exactly what demonstration would convince any given person that he exists.

5. Since God is omnipotent, he is capable of performing this demonstration.

6. Since God wants everyone to believe in him, he wants to perform this demonstration.

(the conclusion is, if god wants then god can produce the proof of his existence which god knows will convince every unbeliever of the world)

7. However, atheists manifestly exist.

8. Therefore, the god described by the first three conditions does not exist.

(This is to further show that a god with all three characteristics (omnipotent, omniscient and want to prove his existence) does not exist. A god who is uninterested to prove himself to human and therefore uninterested in getting worshipped can still exist. But we aren't talking about such god.)

In the above post, I did not discuss whether it is possible to have free will according to islamic theologic doctrine as there are several theologic view in regard to Qadar. I also did not discuss if we really have free will or not.
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Scientists have shown for the first time that "lifeless" prion proteins, devoid of all genetic material, can evolve just like higher forms of life.
This means that this pattern of Darwinian evolution appears to be universally active.

In viruses, mutation is linked to changes in nucleic acid sequence that leads to resistance.

Now, this adaptability has moved one level down- to prions and protein folding - and it's clear that you do not need nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) for the process of evolution.

said by Charles Weissmann, head of Scripps Florida's department of infectology who led the study.
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Religion is natural

This week's Point of Inquiry podcast presented an interview with Robert McCauley discussing his recent book entitled Why Religion is Natural and Science is Not. In this bloggers opinion, it was an excellent presentation of the cognitive differences between religion and science. Following is a summary:

For the first several years of life, we only think intuitively, quickly and reflexively. During the first several month of life, we begin developing a Theory of Mind, which gives us the ability to attribute mental states to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires and intentions that are different than one's own. This causes belief in additional agents when you don't know the cause of something. A dog barking at a moving curtain in the wind because of its irregular motion shows this phenomenon is not limited to humans. It also leads to anthropomorphic thinking (ever talk to car when it doesn't start?). Religion fits nicely into this level of thinking, which is sometimes called System One Thinking.

Science is not intuitive. It is more elaborate, slower, more reflective and cognitively unnatural (sometimes called System Two Thinking). To show how unnatural it is, we still tend to think and say the sun rises and when looking at the night sky we tend to perceive the objects in the sky centered around us.

In fact, we can get dizzy is we focus on the truth!!! Science is in fact counterintuitive many times. [my note: see explanation of quantum mechanics] We use our Pre-Frontal Cortex for this type of thinking, which involves conscious reasoning and learning; System Two Thinking is flawed in humans because it requires mastery of skills and System One Thinking intrudes. Science is a comparatively rare activity in society. It is only carried out by a small minority of the population, even today.

Science will always be in a precarious state and may be lost to humanity. There is no guarantee that it will continue!! In fact, science was lost in the Western Christian worldduring the Dark Ages and was revived by connection with ancientGreek texts from the Arab world. Science requires complex social arrangement to survive. Religion will always be apart of humanity as a whole because it is natural.

Other interesting statements:

* Some evidence suggests that genes play a role in acceptance of conservative religion. [my note: see cognitive style influences belief in god (.pdf) and humans predisposed to believe god]

* If you don't have a Theory of Mind, you may be more prone to autism and non-religion.

* Females are more empathetic as a whole, and are more religious. [my note: see]

* Autism has been called hypermaleness.

From: Ratio Primoris.

This is quite fascinating to me. I wish to keep a keen eye on this topic for further information.
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Human devolution

This is how religion dumbs people down all the way back to the level of the early apes.

Devolution of Human through religious indoctrination
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Sunset, sunrise & the muddy pool

When Dhul-Qarnayn (alternate spelling: Zulkarnain) traveled as described in the Quran, he found sun setting in a muddy pool and rising on a people. Read different translations of chapter 18 verse 86 to 90. Also read word by word translation of these four verses.
Yusuf Ali's translation: Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water: Near it he found a People. (18:86)

Until, when he came to the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had provided no covering protection against the sun (18:90)

There is a Hadith also in Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 025, Hadith Number 3991:
Narated By Abu Dharr: I was sitting behind the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) who was riding a donkey while the sun was setting. He asked: Do you know where it sets? I replied: Allah and his Apostle know best. He said: It sets in a spring of warm water (hamiyah).

Also read sahih (authentic) Muslim, Hadith number 297-99 where muhammad says sun has a rising place, a setting place and a resting place.

Muslims, in order to show there is nothing wrong in the verse 86 or 90, will use the tafsir (exegesis) of scholars like Ar-Razi, al-Baidawi, al-Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, al-Jalalyn etc. But it is a fact that they lived 5/6/7 century after Muhammad. Thus they lived at a time when muslims actually knew something about the comparative sizes of the sun and the earth. The Qur'an states (quite clearly) that Dhul-Qarnain reached the place where the sun sets, and that when he got there, he found the sun setting in a murky pool. The Quran claims to be perfectly clear, so any reinterpretation is cut off from the start. As if this weren't enough, we have a Sahih narration in Sunan Abu Dawud, according to which Muhammad told one of his companions that the sun does indeed set in a pool of water.

Several centuries go by, and as muslims conquer lands and ponder on basic astronomy, they start learning about the universe from the works of actual scientists. By the time of ar-Razi, al- Baidawi, al-Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, ibn Jalalayn...muslims (like everyone else on the planet) are well aware of the fact that the sun is quite massive compared to the earth. Thus, Muslim scholars were forced to reinterpret the Quran in light of actual scientific knowledge.

Since these scholars interpret the Quran in a manner far more consistent with a scientific understanding of the world, muslims ignore what the Quran actually says (along with its claims of perfect clarity), and they ignore Muhammad's silly views of where the sun sets. That is, muslims throw out both the Quran and the Hadith. Instead, muslims cling to the reinterpretations of late Muslim commentators who based their understanding of the universe on actual science rather than on the Quran and declare that, there's no scientific error in Surah 18:86.

Muslims from half a millennium after Muhammad reinterpret the passage because they know that, taken at face value, Surah 18:86 is obviously false. Science forced them to abandon the perfect clarity of the Quran. Science forced them to throw out a Sahih narration from the Hadith. Science forced them to commit innovation. (Science also forcing them to abandon these classical commentaries too!!)  Therefore, there's no error in the Quran. This is how "Quranic error management procedure" is performed by muslims to avoid the obvious problems in their book.

When we turn to a much earlier commentary, for example, the commentary of Muhammad's companion Ibn Abbas:
(Till, when he reached the setting place of the sun) where the sun sets, (he found it setting in a muddy spring) a blackened, muddy and stinking spring; it is also said that this means: a hot spring, (and found a people thereabout) these people were disbelievers...

Ever notice that, the closer we get to Muhammad, the less reinterpretation we find? Is this a coincidence? Not at all. Muhammad and his companions believed that the sun sets in a pool. Much later, Muslims realized that this is false, so they were forced to reinterpret the Quran's clear narrative and Voila! the Quran is so amazingly always accurate!

For an in-dept analysis, read:
  1. Dhul Qarnayn and the sun controversy in the Quran 
  2. Muhammad and the Sun’s Setting Place
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Zakir Naik's islamic bomb!

The islamic bomb? More likely a Joker Nalaik bomb with warhead of blatant lies. This is another of Zakir Naik's blunders. He quotes in one of his answers,
Dr. Joseph Adam Pearson rightly says that People who worry that nuclear weaponry will one day fall in the hands of the Arabs, fail to realize that the Islamic bomb has been dropped already, it fell the day MUHAMMED (pbuh) was born

Actually the full quote is:
People who worry that nuclear weaponry will one day fall into the hands of radical Muslims fail to realize that the worst Islamic bomb has been dropped already. It fell the day Mohammed was born. For those who might think that this work is all doom and gloom, I will close with this sweet chorus of victory: Jesus Christ continues to be victorious and His followers continue to triumph in Him! Why not read His book (i.e., the Holy Bible) for yourself to find out how it all ends?

This quote is from the book "The Koran: Testimony of Antichrist" by Joseph Adam Pearson. The dedication of the book reads:
This work is dedicated to an untold number of persons who have already been — as well as those who are yet to be — terrorized and murdered by the workers of iniquity, chaos and destruction in the name of the false god Allah and his prophet Mohammed (cursed is his name forever).

Here is the book link in .pdf version.
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On the implication of afterlife punishment

"Morality comes from god" or "Without god you can't be moral" - common claims from people who believe in god but doesn't want to understand how morality in a society develops overtime. Simple questions like, "What would you make of a situation where god believers commit crimes?" or "What about the pedophilia, slavery and genocide sanctioned by abrahamic god?" or "What prevents someone to start a mass killing spree in the name of his god?" are enough to repudiate such flimsy assertions. Not to mention a number of problems you face pondering on 2nd horn of Euthyphro Dilemma when you discuss Divine Command Theory.

But yet this is a point I wish to discuss in this post, to give an answer to a question repeatedly asked by theists in order to garner support for the necessary existence of god. A typical version of this question would be,

"If there was no god to punish the criminal in afterlife then people like Hitler would emerge and the victims wouldn't get justice. To ensure justice and balance in crime and punishment, even if earthly life appears insufficient to punish criminals, they will surely get punished in afterlife."

Notice that in this single argument, a theist is justifying the existence of god, afterlife, punishment of hell & reward in heaven. Also notice that this is a statement to argue both - people like Hitler would emerge in human society frequently if there was no god (because it implies that people would be immoral without god hence commit crimes), and it is a statement to establish the concept of divine justice - ergo God necessarily exist.

First & foremost, the concept of "justice in afterlife" generates enough mental comfort (wishful thinking) for the believer to believe it. Thus this concept is a belief and the believer believes it is necessary to believe in this belief, for this has an emotional factor, a strong motivation derived from experiencing apparent lack of injustice in human life. A belief in belief (necessary beliefs) of this kind among the members is roughly inversely proportional to the overall law and order situation of a society.

The equivalency between crime and punishment is arbitrary. Which means we tend to constantly reevaluate our judgement on which can be considered as crime and how adequate the punishment is for a crime. It seems that the justice system in human society has been changing its form from retaliation to rehabilitation which denotes the evolutionary progression of morality and human rights in our society. But that's beside the point. Society developes as more and more of its members become law abiding citizen where neither the laws nor the out-laws violate human rights. This is fundamental factor for a society which struggles to progress.

A society would plunge into medieval darkness if it allows for some of its members to establish totalitarian authority. Throughout history we could see clashings of oppressed with the oppressor and emergence of societies with greater freedom and rights. A society upgrades when its members make sure there remain less criminals and abusers which ultimately ensures a collective boost in overall happiness. Thieves, mass murderers, rapists, robbers - all these anti-social elements are a risk to the overall happiness of the citizenry. We see a continuous improvement of laws, police force, justice and punishment system in response. We also see dictators fall, authoritarian regimes collapse, people revolt. Thus the members of a society make sure to get rid of factors that harm their progress. And if they fail, we see degradation of society and standards of life.

Fear of god didn't prevent any dictator from mass murdering people. On the contrary, most of them justified their crimes as necessary evil and frequently declared that god is on their side who approved of their actions. See Gott Mit Uns of Hitler, Bush and Muhammad.

Thus the guaranty of punishment of a criminal is a necessary factor which members must ensure for the sake of a peaceful society. I'd argue that wishful thinking of an afterlife punishment not only generates a false satisfaction but also it effectively demotivates the believers to think of a better way in order to improve the "earthly" justice system which eventually harms the society. The concept fails in its totality. It depends on the subjective type and level of faith and degree of supernatural fear one has in his mind.
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What is being Intelligent?

A quote from Daniel Dennett comes to my mind.
I listen to all these complaints about rudeness and intemperateness, and the opinion that I come to is that there is no polite way of asking somebody: have you considered the possibility that your entire life has been devoted to a delusion? But that's a good question to ask. Of course we should ask that question and of course it's going to offend people.

The first thing about intelligence is skepticism. Being intelligent is not to know everything but to question everything. I wasn't an atheist before, but I always was & still is, a skeptic.

I've noticed people with rigid views tend to get offended more when questioned. Particularly when they have little evidence to support their claim. Blasphemy law is a good example of expected reaction to established rigid religious views where the "rudeness" of merely questioning the doctrine is a punishable crime.
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Inequality & Unhappiness

Human beings generally tend to accept the rich if they earned it in a just way. Problem starts when injustice sets in. If rich people earn a lot of money relatively conveniently and/or unjustly, then poors want to end that system of injustice.

Recent studies show this behaviour in other primates too. Does Inequality Make Us Unhappy? - is a thought provoking read.

On a side note, I remember one type of theistic argument on morality is that, the system of justice is independent of human society which has a divine origin. I think this article with the help of scientific studies on monkey behaviour, proves that our sense of justice has evolved from lower animals. In other words, lower animals also have this sense of moral justice and equality.

I always wonder, why can't the theists realise that the holy books written by these ancient goat herders always reflect the morality of their own societies?
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