In response to a comment


I recently made a post detailing my position on one of the last arguments that people throw up in defense of religion in an all-out debate. The question of whether religion is the only practical and reasonable choice as a last resort for people in distress. The post was in no way meant to detail my entire position regarding atheism or my reasons for why I think it is a more intellectually honest and morally superior choice. It was merely meant to caricature the position that prayer has a useful role in people’s lives. I got this valuable feedback as a comment. I found that this comment mirrors the position of a lot of people and  is sort of a mean position when it comes to opposition to atheism or secular ideas. So, I thought that I would post a reply to it.

Sabu:(While agreeing with **** about the video) You say that religious belief degrades one’s intellect. And now, that is the opinion of an atheist. Even you move away from being tolerant and rational, and become one sided here. Religious belief is above/below rationality, it is a subjective thing. I don’t find any point in arguing what is right or wrong here. This whole religion thing might be a mechanism people sought for sharing their fears and tensions. Let that be. Why should you become so uneasy about such things?(The way the three member group got agitated was our starting point; It is time to do away with such baseless convictions as all those who believe in religion do so because they are not rational). There are as many number of hardcore ‘rational thinkers’ as there are hardcore fanatics. The best thing to do here would be to be tolerant. Religion has done many good things too (though I agree that bad things outweigh the good ones ). It has presented common people with a manifesto of living. It has made them more or less disciplined. And I think there is actually no way you can prove or disprove the existence of God. In short, let subjective things like belief or atheism not make us prejudiced and predisposed.

Even you move away from being tolerant and rational,…

The comment accuses me of moving away from tolerance and rationality because I accuse religious belief of restricting intellectual growth. I have a fair understanding of what tolerance means. It is, in a nutshell allowing people to make their own choices. It is leaving them alone and asking to be left alone regarding matters which are purely personal and affect no one else. I don’t think I have become intolerant merely because I restated the mainstream scientific position regarding the uselessness of prayer and it’s diversionary effects and consequences on my personal blog.

Religious belief is above/below rationality[sic], it is a subjective thing.

While it is hard to find absolute error with belief in a “higher power”, an esoteric and/or recondite  philosophy of life, worshiping of the universe(pantheism) or agnostic faiths, the same cannot be said of organized mainstream religion. Accepted scientific opinion is utterly opposed to the idea of a personal God with an anthropomorphic personality favoring one variety of one species of the millions that inhabit the earth. It is completely damning of the evidence for religion and the “unassailable truth” of the texts that form their backbone. We no longer have scientists or physicists of caliber pushing one religion or the other. I would like to recommend a piece by Stephen Hawking that was published in The Hindu.

If you look at surveys of the National Academy of Sciences of the US, you will find that 80+ percent of its members are atheists. Reason, curiosity, propensity for acquiring new ideas are all linked to a higher IQ. A lot of studies link higher IQ with liberal ideas and atheism.  So, there is something to back up my opinion that reason is in fact neither above nor below but somewhat opposed to religion.

“Why should you become so uneasy about such things?”.

Well that one is very easy to answer. The world over problems are being fueled by millenia old lies. We have Afghanistan(Taliban), Pakistan, India (BJP-RSS combine), the US(Right Wing Tea Party movement gaining force), Egypt(Agitation for democracy being hijacked by Islamists), Israel-Palestine(Israel committing atrocities in the name of fairy tales while masturbating to fantasies of a promised land), Palestine(Ideological rigidity aggravating suicidal tactics), Somalia(Al-Shabab) etc. etc. There is more than enough reason for anyone to be unsettled by the price that is being paid for the calming, soothing and tension-reducing effects of religion.

The way the three member group got agitated was our starting point; It is time to do away with such baseless convictions as all those who believe in religion do so because they are not rational.

That fact that the 3 people got agitated and started screaming like monkeys while the atheist did not does point to the fact that baseless convictions are indeed to fault. But which one is the baseless point of view. The one that made people scream in outrage and babble nonsense or the one that made a guy calmly explain what all precautions need to be taken to face an emergency. Also, I would like to make one more thing absolutely clear. No one believes in a religion because they are not rational. How does that make sense? You go up to a guy and ask him why he believes in Jesus or Allah and what does he say? “I am not rational, that is why!”? Absolutely not! The reasons for why people believe the stories are many.

Most of the time it is the only one they have heard. There may be fears of retribution for questioning fundamental tenets of their faith. They have not devoted time to question their beliefs. A lack of aptitude for the kind of science that can answer the questions and dispel the versions espoused by religions. A certain fear of death that needs to be handled more appropriately. I can’t list all the possibilities.

There are as many number of hardcore ‘rational thinkers’ as there are hardcore fanatics.[sic]

This one actually made me smile a little. Picture this scene. On a plane that is about to take off, suddenly the PA becomes live with the Captain’s voice,

“We have just received a tip-off…. There is a “hardcore-rationalist” on board. Everyone please stay calm….”.

The person who made the comment failed to note that the rhetorical impact of “hardcore” was somewhat mollified by its association with “rationalist”.

There are also “hardcore” poets, skeptics, artists, stamp-collectors, rock-fans etc. etc. Somehow, in all these cases the word “hardcore” fails to instill the same sense of foreboding that it does when combined with “religious fanatic”.

The best thing to do here would be to be tolerant.

There is no doubting that tolerance is a virtue. But, we cannot just do nothing when wacky stories start threatening our freedoms and start imposing themselves on us. Also, the idea that faith can help people become tolerant is deeply flawed. A truly religious person who absolutely believes in the validity of his faith can be tolerant only by resorting to a certain level of mental gymnastics(philosophy, anyone?), twisted interpretation of texts and/or by adopting a don’t care attitude. The tolerance is often tainted by sympathy, condescension and a sense of privilege. Also, the ultimate value of human life is more often than not, a corollary of the teachings of most religions. In some cases there is a marked contempt for life in this world that is encouraged by some faiths. This is where religions contradict humanism and secular values  most significantly.

Even if someone does succeed in convincing oneself that his God/Gods and other  God or Gods are all the same, there is still the unsettled question of which set of illogical and antiquated set of rules and practices need to be followed.

Also, sometimes, the conditions that such people impose on society and their opinions when it comes to questions which should be considered in the light of knowledge that came into existence within the last 1000 yrs or so tend to be a constant source of unnecessary suffering.

And I think there is actually no way you can prove or disprove the existence of God.

This is an argument that has been beaten to death. But it never fails to come up. Actually, we have had less success disproving the notion that we are living inside “The Matrix”. But, we don’t go around looking for Morpheus and if we feel that this world is “not real” we take medicines for schizophrenia. We also don’t fantasize about sleeping with latex clad chicks with USB ports on their bodies. The burden of proof when it comes to outrageous claims lies on the claimants. Also, the amount of effort that such claims inspire need to be modulated by the proof for such claims.

religious belief degrades one’s intellect…

I chose to address the objection raised to this statement last as it was one made to add punch to the article and was not that well-considered. But, still, I don’t think that there is any doubt about the fact that theocracies and religious institutions are not friends of the spirit of free inquiry and unbiased research. The worlds foremost centers of learning and scientific advancement in all ages were mostly the result of liberal and secular  leanings and mindsets. The dark ages, destruction of Nalanda, modern day theocracies, the decline of the US as a scientific power-house all stand testimony to the insidious power of unquestioning faith to sabotage scientific growth and advancement. There is a fundamental dichotomy between the kind of mindset that a religious person would need and one that fosters new ideas.

Some people are somehow able to manage to carry on despite this. But, it will only be a matter of time before his/her questions take him to a point where he/she has to confront the walls of dogma and unquestioning faith. What happens then? Which will get sacrificed first?

This one is an important question because in the answer lies our collective fate…

P.S. I greatly enjoyed replying to the comment and it made me think and reflect a little more deeply. I thank the person who made the comment for giving me an occasion to put down my thoughts in writing. I wish that more people would disagree with me and put down their objections here. Debates could follow and I am a big fan of them.

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4 thoughts on “In response to a comment

  1. “If you look at surveys of the National Academy of Sciences of the US, you will find that 80+ percent of its members are atheists. Reason, curiosity, propensity for acquiring new ideas are all linked to a higher IQ.”

    Let all those higher IQ souls remain atheists. No problem. But it is better to have an opinion of our own, not based on something like “I do it because he does it”. We just need to think and decide. IQ could be a measure. But do not make someone else’ IQ your measure of choosing a point of view.
    Now you may argue that many people believe in religion because other people do. True, most of them are like that. And that is where rot sets in. But there is always a select few (Whom you fail to notice) who have chosen it after debating a lot with themselves.
    I know one mathematics professor named Jeffrey Lang (American) who converted into Islam from atheism. Going by your IQ point, I can advise you to discard atheism merely because a great mathematician did that. I don’t find any point in such an insistence. But there are two beautiful books written by him namely “Struggling to surrender” and “Even Angels Ask”(free PDFs are available). Read them if you are interested.

    “While it is hard to find absolute error with belief in a “higher power”, an esoteric and/or recondite philosophy of life, worshiping of the universe (pantheism) or agnostic faiths, the same cannot be said of organised mainstream religion”

    Now how do you define an organised mainstream religion? Do you think that it can be defined as “All what its supporters do”? That is valid only with the assumption that a religion’s supporter understands a religion. In fact, I pity the three people who did not literally allow the other person to talk. But I am unable to understand how you define and understand a religion: Should it be by reacting to all the heinous acts of its supporters (who claim to be supporters and who mostly have no idea about its principles), or should it be by asking yourself what a particular religion’s fundamental principles are, and by investigating whether all these self proclaimed acts of religion are actually in line with whatever is stated/implied in scriptures?

    It is understandable that you get unsettled by all that terrorist news, and everyone does. But I disagree with you on what you should actually be worried about? You could have made some research on whether a so and so religion advocates an act like this. But instead you chose the easier and ‘rational’ path of criticizing the very idea of a religion. How I like to correct you if you really think that Islam advocates terrorism. If possible, go through the Holy Quran. Price that is being paid is not for the idea of religion, but for the wrong ways it is interpreted.
    You can get unsettled. But it is equally important to take the remedial measures for the right cause. Think of a situation where you end up even more unsettled, after having taken the medicines for a wrong disease because of some error in diagnosis. I feel that there can be some other remedial measures other than throwing away religion in its entirety.

    “But which one is the baseless point of view. The one that made people scream in outrage and babble nonsense or the one that made a guy calmly explain what all precautions need to be taken to face an emergency.”
    It sounds funny. You take three people and try to generalize a point of view. It is not a point of view that made people scream in general, but that made three people scream. And I agree, there are many people like these. But it is not just to associate all of them with religion when it does not advocate anything remotely close to what they do.
    How could anyone possibly support those three howling over there?
    When I talk about an idea or a precept, you talk about its pervert supporters. This is why I urge you to learn a religion from its scriptures, and not from easy sources. In fact I think your atheistic point stands a chance of being rewarded more than these distorted forms of religious beliefs(Which you have misconceived as the actual religion).

    “Most of the time it is the only one they have heard. There may be fears of retribution for questioning fundamental tenets of their faith. They have not devoted time to question their beliefs. A lack of aptitude for the kind of science that can answer the questions and dispel the versions espoused by religions. A certain fear of death that needs to be handled more appropriately. I can’t list all the possibilities.”

    This is your opinion. I respect that, but I beg to differ. There are people who have devoted time to question their beliefs. Fear of death and retribution was the reason of the bygone era. Nowadays there are people who think. If a religion is not that harmful, a pressing need to dispel it does not arise. It is always peaceful to have two points of view, if both parties agree to be tolerant.

    “There are as many number of hardcore ‘rational thinkers’ as there are hardcore fanatics.[sic]”

    I thought this sentence was clear in itself. Now that you brought in a hijacked plane (for reasons i am not able to make out), it needs some clarifications. You try to define a religious belief by looking at how a few of its supporters behave. The situation in today’s world is that if you fail to find proper medical reasons for a man’s lunacy, you tend to associate it with Islam.

    I was talking about the rigidity and intolerance in one’s opinion- opinion about choosing or discarding religions, opinion about the existence of a supreme power or whatever. All these are areas where you can uphold a belief of your own without harming anyone. All this verbatim exercise is not required, if we can agree that “it’s a subjective thing”.

    “The burden of proof when it comes to outrageous claims lies on the claimants”

    A religion makes a claim. That is not just one of those categorical claims. It lays out some points. One can ponder over its implications. Another can discard it saying “The proof is inadequate”. And for him who discarded, the scripture fails to prove its point. But do not forget that he fails to disprove it, and in fact he is not at all bothered about it. It is one of those random claims. And he turns an atheist. Some people on the other hand get convinced with the level of proof the scripture offers. They remain religious. It’s all a subjective thing. You have the right to discard it, but I think you need to disprove it before you start to write and fight against it. And the way you choose to disprove is equally important. For that, you should be clear about what you are to disprove. You need to learn what is said about god in a religious scripture. You cannot just go and shoot in the dark without even looking at it. And as you deal with religion in general, you ought to deal with scriptures of all religions. It takes time.

  2. Thanks for the comment and here is my reply.
    First things first. You have resorted to some picking and choosing of arguments as well as straight-up fabrication of some things that weren’t implied by the post. So, I will clear them first.

    “… you tend to associate it with Islam.”
    I think I was pretty careful about providing examples of how all the major religions corrupt people. I was in no way implying that only Islam is responsible for whatever it is that is wrong with religion. That you inferred such a thing from my post despite the abundant references to the negative influences of Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism etc. does point to the possibility of the influence of some complexes. It is certainly not my intention to address them here.

    Secondly,
    ““There are as many number of hardcore ‘rational thinkers’ as there are hardcore fanatics.[sic]”
    I thought this sentence was clear in itself. Now that you brought in a hijacked plane (for reasons i am not able to make out), it needs some clarifications.”

    Actually, the sentence in question is not only not clear, it is a little stupid, if you don’t mind my saying so. Anyway, since the light veined attempt at exposing its flaws seem to have not achieved its objective, here are the clarifications, . Most people will agree to the fact that a “hardcore fanatic” is a bad entity. By attempting to equate a hardcore rationalist with a hardcore fanatic what you are trying to convey is that reason and rationality is somehow as big a danger to society as religiously motivated fanaticism is. I could write pages about why this is not so. I think that rationalists are beneficial to society and even if you didn’t agree to that you must surely concede that at worst they are a benign influence on others. You are welcome to counter this one with examples.
    I brought in a hijacked plane just to put in stark terms the absolute hollowness of your statement. Not only did you miss the point of the jibe, you went straight ahead into “God”-knows-where complaining about how everyone misunderstands Islam. The aim of the joke was not to be critical of any particular religion though I will concede that one could be forgiven for thinking so. I could just as well have picked any other example to demonstrate the point. Just to strengthen my case, here goes, just a few days back a few guys belonging to Bajrang Dal beat up a muslim guy for transporting cows. You must also have heard of the slaughter committed by a right wing Christian loon in Norway. The Gujarat pogrom is also not really news. Examples abound.
    We will address your complaint that I am using the behavior of “a few” to form sweeping assumptions later.

    “Now how do you define an organised mainstream religion? Do you think that it can be defined as “All what its supporters do”?”
    Actually, I would be pretty much near the end in the list of people who would think that. One possible reason could be that it is actually a terrifically bad definition of religion. This is what “organised mainstream religion” is generally taken to mean. It is a collection of rules, parables, commandments, stories, ideas etc. outlined in some “holy” book or passed on by word-of-mouth, some institutions that engage in the study, dissemination and promotion of the ideas outlined and a significant collection of followers who share the belief that whatever it is that the institutions and books say is mostly true. This pretty much takes the air out of whatever it is you said following this. If you wish to verify what I said you are free to check the wikipedia entry on religion with some focus on the nature of the 3 Abrahmic religions.

    “You could have made some research on whether a so and so religion advocates an act like this. But instead you chose the easier and ‘rational’ path of criticizing the very idea of a religion. How I like to correct you if you really think that Islam advocates terrorism. If possible, go through the Holy Quran. Price that is being paid is not for the idea of religion, but for the wrong ways it is interpreted.”

    You are actually attacking a straw-man when you claim that the “rational” path of criticizing religion is based solely on the wrong doings of proponents of extreme versions of it. This betrays a stunning lack of understanding of the counter position. The idea that there might be no God is as old as Theism itself and arguments in favor of the position have piled up with increasing force with the blossoming of man’s understanding of the world and perfection of the scientific method . The arguments vary from the nature of unquestioning faith to the wisdom of claiming that “All-Truth” is contained in one text and depending on increasingly twisted interpretations to try and fit an outmoded world view to present day life.
    Plus, you must understand that I was a pretty decent Catholic and my understanding of the nature of scriptures is not exceptionally bad. There are explicit quotes in the Quran which incite people to deal out death to infidels and unbelievers and to assure themselves of rewards in the afterlife. There are similarly violent passages in the Old Testament of the Bible. The Old Testament has commonalities with both The Quran and The Torah and similar calls to violence can be found in the Jewish texts. Genocide and mass-rape were not exactly frowned upon. The story of how the Midanites where treated at the hands of the Israelites is a case in point.

    “How I like to correct you[sic] if you really think that Islam advocates terrorism. If possible, go through the Holy Quran.”
    Actually, I don’t think I will be morally or intellectually any better off by by reading the whole of one more religious text. I don’t think it is necessary to find a single quote that condones violence in any religious text. Even in their absence, the idea of religion is a deeply flawed one and I can recommend reading sources that are far more current to run you through the reasons. If that weren’t the case, I would be advocating Jainism or Buddhism. But, that is just as wasteful as the other religions although a lot less bothersome to “unbelievers”.
    But, just to really drive home the point,
    “But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. (9:5 [often called the “sword verse”]) ”

    This quote is not really necessary to prove my point that religion has at best a mixed and at worst a profoundly deleterious effect on one’s morals. You could claim that you need to “interpret” this quote with the proper context to get the “real” meaning. But, how will you identify the “real” meaning when you finally find it? Besides, what would stop a guy from taking action upon reading these “divinely” inspired words without resorting to complicated reasoning?
    Which authority decides which all passages need to be taken allegorically and which others literally? These are all standard questions and you can refer anything(even wikipedia) on the topic of religion to encounter them.
    ” Fear of death and retribution was the reason of the bygone era. Nowadays there are people who think.”
    The climate of fear of unbelief that all religions create with the rather obvious aim of discouraging defections and maintaining status quo does prove to be a disincentive for the cautiously inclined. Also, brutal physical punishment for blasphemy is not really unheard of, even now.

    I replied in the order of importance that I thought the specific portions deserved. As a parting comment, I would like to say this about one of your other statements,
    “Let all those higher IQ souls remain atheists. No problem. But it is better to have an opinion of our own, not based on something like “I do it because he does it”. We just need to think and decide. IQ could be a measure. But do not make someone else’ IQ your measure of choosing a point of view.”
    I never said that my atheism is the result of other people gravitating towards humanist principles. I was merely asking you to consider the point that mainstream science and the majority of scientists are decidedly skeptical of religion. This was to try and complement the article by Stephen Hawking and to provide a more statistically sound idea of the opposition.
    This idea was to counter your statement that rationality’s compatibility with religion is subjective. There are some indications that religion consistently fails to hold up to the standards imposed by rationality and skepticism as evidenced by the scorn for it by the most professional skeptics and scientists.
    The part where I quoted the study was supposed to work something like this: people with higher IQ are more rational and logical-> studies show that higher IQ correlates with liberal/secular leanings -> finally, conclude that rational people might lean towards a Godless worldview.
    You must understand that putting up the case of a “Great Mathematician” who is actually just a professor without even a wikipedia entry or an internationally recognized award to his name does not invalidate the fact that mainstream scientific opinion is against religion. Not that this should completely convince you that atheism is correct. It should just make you take the thing more seriously.

    As always, any more feedback is welcome!

  3. The situation in today’s world is that if you fail to find proper medical reasons for a man’s lunacy, you tend to associate it with Islam. I was not at all referring to you!..It was a general observation..Read it like this: The situation in today’s world is that if proper medical reasons cannot be attributed to a man’s lunacy, there is a tendency to associate it with Islam..

    Well…I agree that I referred to Islam in many places. But that does not mean that you tried to slap muslims in your writing. It is very natural to refer to islam because islamic fundamentalism is all too notorious. I did not at all mean you were partial to one religion or anything like that. In fact I referred to it because i felt like having some privilege to talk about islam, than say the extremist acts in some other religion.

    “By attempting to equate a hardcore rationalist with a hardcore fanatic what you are trying to convey is that reason and rationality is somehow as big a danger to society as religiously motivated fanaticism is”

    Where did I try to equate them? And about the usage, I withdraw that because you seem to be enjoying playing around it. I will be pleased if you really try to make out what i would have meant. When you encounter a sentence, you do an autopsy to find out errors or inappropriate usages and after that only do you try to look at what the writer would have meant. Try to do it the other way. Life will be more peaceful. Because having a willingness to understand others is the key to any communication.

    When you advocate atheism, well its your point of view. Now I can see an urge in you to cut down any point in favour of any religion coming up. All that cut-down will be received wholeheartedly, but with the condition that you learn all religions and opine. And I see you discard the idea of studying religions as rubbish. In that case, I may not be totally convinced. And I remind you, this is my opinion. But when you say something, you tend to state it as if it is a universal truth. Sorry to say that it is ridiculous.This rigidity in opinion is exactly what I meant. Now if you do not consider a religion’s extremists(who indulge in violence), and consider that religious fanaticism is all about a battle of words (considering that these extremists are no way related to the original idea of religion), its intensity will be almost like that of your atheism. Going by how it seems, sooner or later, we will have a religion called atheism with so many followers, everybody chanting the same thing with its intensity growing day by day. Extremism could be linked to any opinion.

    “The climate of fear of unbelief that all religions create with the rather obvious aim of discouraging defections and maintaining status quo does prove to be a disincentive for the cautiously inclined. Also, brutal physical punishment for blasphemy is not really unheard of, even now.”

    My dear friend, the religion I am talking about is very different from what you think it is. For one, A belief in supreme power is far from conforming to existing religious norms. They are absurd. And any thinking person can very well understand that without any lecture on atheism. I also condemn most of the rites and rituals being associated with any religion. Never be under the impression that I am an orthodox religious fundamentalist. How I hate it.. But to me, Atheism is equally bullshit. And I said, to me!

    No comments about your knowledge of scriptures (which is claimed to be not exceptionally bad)!.Because there is nothing much written to show that. I don’t know whether I am the only person who feels this: But it seems like you have handpicked select verses from scriptures and analyzed it. Ask yourself whether it will be possible for you to enumerate as many instances of good teachings(if any). If you are not able to do that, it is an indication that all you have been doing so far was a custom search on scriptures. And that is exactly what anyone will expect to see on an Atheism page on wikipedia.

    And about our “great mathematician”, way to go with your autopsy..He did not need to be the greatest mathematician of all times or the president of USA. He just needed to stand up against some random higher IQ people. But at least, I thought you would consider those books. Because I thought you were willing to debate, debate and refine your points of view. I get a feeling that I was wrong. Again, that is no problem.

    “Not that this should completely convince you that atheism is correct. It should just make you take the thing more seriously.”

    Yea. I will take it more seriously.
    (But with reservations about your obstinacy of calling atheism correct and your opinions like “Actually, I don’t think I will be morally or intellectually any better off by by reading the whole of one more religious text”. Be open to ideas. Try to learn as much as possible.)

    Will get back to you.

  4. People might have different opinions and that is expected. But, they cannot have their own version of the facts. Since, the deluge of bromides, requests to read “all” the religious texts before critizising the idea of irrational faith, slippery language and sympathy for being “unable to refine my point” seem to show no signs of abating, I will simply state some facts and leave it at that.

    “By attempting to equate a hardcore rationalist with a hardcore fanatic what you are trying to convey is ….. ” Where did I try to equate them? And about the usage, I withdraw that because you seem to be enjoying playing around it. I will be pleased if you really try to make out what i would have meant. When you encounter a sentence, you do an autopsy to find out errors or inappropriate usages and after that only do you try to look at what the writer would have meant. Try to do it the other way. Life will be more peaceful. Because having a willingness to understand others is the key to any communication.”

    Well, when you say that there are as many “hardcore rationalists” as there are “hardcore fanatics” as part of your justification for religion, any person with some amount of common sense will assume that what you meant is that an extremely rational person is as bad as a fanatic. I took pains to explain it twice. After that, you say that I am doing an “autopsy” and obsessing over wrong usages. In the process you think that I have lost track of what you meant. You also have graciously provided me with a recipe to make life peaceful. While I appreciate the good intention and flowery language, I must point out that you haven’t till now, explained what you actually meant! Also, you must understand that in a previous comment, you specifically asked me for clarifications regarding a joke and that is why I brought it up again… and again. Now, you seem to have happily ignored that fact and are accusing me of “enjoying playing around with it”.
    If I wanted to do an autopsy and find mistakes, trust me when I say that I have no dearth of opportunities for doing so with your comments. Even the sentence in question is not error free. I did’t care about that before going ahead and trying to undress the rhetoric and exposing it for what it is. It is okay to not appreciate a person for a quality, but to accuse him of the opposite of that quality is a little aggravating. I hope I have not made any wrong usages and that your “autopsy” will be able to discover exactly what I meant.
    Also, since I have failed at decoding the right meaning, you are welcome to share it here.

    ” Going by how it seems, sooner or later, we will have a religion called atheism…Extremism could be linked to any opinion.”
    While you ask me to read all the religious texts before asserting my dislike for irrational faith and reverence for provably wrong facts, you seem to have no trouble with producing such statements without reading one sentence about atheism. Atheism is as much of a religion as “not having a hobby, is a hobby”. The thing about atheism specifically and reason more generally is that the value of opinion backed up by evidence is paramount. Old theories do not have an emotional value and reasonable people won’t have trouble with discarding them for new ones if evidence indicates that it is necessary. Also, coherence is insisted upon and no body of work focusing on rationality is expected to contain local or global inconsistencies, I will come to why I mentioned this in a while.

    “Because there is nothing much written to show that. I don’t know whether I am the only person who feels this: But it seems like you have handpicked select verses from scriptures and analyzed it. Ask yourself whether it will be possible for you to enumerate as many instances of good teachings(if any). ”
    The intention of my reply was not to provide an exposition of my knowledge of the scriptures of Islam. I will tell you what it was since you seem to have trouble remembering it. You requested me to, “How I like to correct you if you really think that Islam advocates terrorism. If possible, go through the Holy Quran.”
    I just wanted to produce a verse that could be used by a person with a violent bent of mind to unleash violence while preserving his “Godly righteousness”. You have complained about the picking and choosing of verses and asked me to look at the good ones. I know that there are a lot more good ones than bad ones in any religious text. Otherwise, it would be labelled as bad literature and discarded. Since you completely ignored all the specific questions that I asked after producing the quote in my previous comment, I am not burdening you with anymore. If you feel like it, you are welcome to answer them.
    For a “divinely inspired” work to be considered harmless, it is not enough that there are more number of good commandments or stories than the bad ones. It should contain only good stories and should reflect universal and eternal values. Not antiquated and outdated values that need to be “reinterpreted” to suit out culture. Else, it will just wind being used to justify anything and everything. The risks of depending on such a book for developing laws and setting societal norms can be understood by studying any theocracy in any age.

    “And about our “great mathematician”, way to go with your autopsy..He did not need to be the greatest mathematician of all times or the president of USA.”
    He definitely did not have to be either of that. But, don’t you think that producing a name of a professor whose only claim to fame is that he converted to Islam is a little besides the point? Also, doesn’t it seem that the fact that he became famous for it indicates that it is a rather fringe phenomenon? Anyway, questions aside, I will definitely consider those books and I might even write about it on this blog. Thanks for the suggestion.
    “I thought you were willing to debate, debate and refine your points of view. I get a feeling that I was wrong.”
    I am very sorry you feel that way. Hope I will be able to live up to your expectations in the future.
    “Be open to ideas. Try to learn as much as possible.”
    Will do! Thanks for the advice!

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