Why do people believe in a non-existent Abrahamic God?

From Gezza:


Everybody knows that in various parts of the world there have been cruelties, multiple murders, mass executions, mass shootings, beheadings, suicide bombings, sectarian killings – all carried out by fanatical followers of what is usually claimed to be severe, but utterly perverted, versions of Islam.

And they know that by far the most of their victims have been Muslims, often members of other sects, or innocent people who, for example, just happened to be there, or passing by, when an IED went off.

But many victims in the recent past have been Westerners – Christians, Jews, people of other faiths, or no religious faith. And these attack & victims often seem to attract far more attention in Western media than the multiple murders of so many other victims of the constantly currently ongoing Islamic extremist terrorist attacks & in Africa, Afghanistan, & some Middle Eastern countries, to name a few.

Many Christians & their leaders, as well as what are frequently called, these days, moderate or ordinary Muslims, claim that this is not Islam. This is not what Allah, who communicated the Quran, through the angel Gabriel, to Muhammad, & thereafter, to all believers, ever intended to happen. That these murderers, like the Christchurch mass murderer are deluded, dreadfully misguided, or just simply plain evil.

Christians & Jews & Muslims, however, all believe that their own version of the same, sole, & only Creator God, Jaweh is the true & correct one.

And, they also believe all sorts of patently untrue claims about them, including that, as God, each one – the same one in some form or other – has communicated with ancient, bronze age, iron age, & medieval age, scientifically & educationally ignorant, goat herders, shepherds, song writers, wandering prophets, kings, warriors, warlords, a Merchant Camel Caravan trader – & god knows who else (so to speak).

Communicated in all sorts of diverse ways, nearly all of them, in my view, ridiculous. To tell them how the world, and they, were created. And what this non-existent, mythical God expects, & wanted – and still wants – them to do.

Creating also phantasmal places of eternal punishment – to scare them into obeying its sometimes cruel & bizarre, originating-culture-driven, rules & commands. And creating equally unbelievable temptations of a rapturous reward in a veritable heaven on earth-type utopia after death, or at the forthcoming (completely imaginary) Last Day, the Day of Judgement, if they do so.

Throughout history, at many places & various times, all, or many of the believers in, and followers of:

The Israelites’ Jaweh – the original, Old Testament model (sticking with this spelling, for simplicity) the Jewish God

and

The Christians’ Father (Jaweh), his Son, Jesus, & the Holy Spirit entity – who popped up in the New Testament along with Jesus – the mythical 3-in-1 God; the Trinity – version 2, new & improved

and

The Muslims’ Allah, who instructed Muhammad about everything humans needed to know that mattered, & corrected all the misinterpretations & misrepresentations that had happened with the Jews & Christians over time such that they had now got his messages & information about “life, the universe, & everything” – including his requirements for humans – all screwed up

have carried out, sanctioned, or just ignored or not cared about, countless outrages, cruelties, killings, invasions, repressions, inquisitions, tortures, & resistances to reason or knowledge, by their fellow believers or leaders – simply because they, incredibly, actually believe in the existence & claimed supernatural abilities, & loving, beneficent nature of this bizarre, contradictory, confusing, confused, failure of a god; this non-existent entity.

For God’s sake! WHY?

There is NO convincing, reasoned, logical proof or actual tangible, physical evidence this god even exists. None.

They are claiming something exists that is invisible & empirically indemonstrable, & that it has wonderful properties, that it has given advice, wisdom, knowledge & ultimate rules to humans – that the very holy books & other scriptures these believers use to promote these myths as a viable theory – plus history, plus science, plus simple logic, & observation – all, clearly, utterly disprove.

Why is this “thing” needed? What on earth makes people believe in it?

Is it fear? Are they just afraid that, when they die, that’s the end of their existence? Do they need to believe there’s a way their being, their essence, personality,  consciousness, their “soul” (i.e. they) will live forever?

Are they driven by a psychological need to believe they will one day be everlastingly perfect, & see their dead loved ones, also perfect, again?

Are they convinced that without fear of a post-mortem everlasting punishment, and/or the expectation of a rapturous paradise for believing & obeying – they’d be bad, cruel, horrible, uncharitable, uncaring people, & so will everyone else?

Do they need to believe bad, evil people will one day get sentenced to everlasting torment as punishment? That “too bad, the bastards bloody deserve it – and more !”

Are their current lives miserable ones, & they can’t for some reason expect or act to change them? Is accepting their poor lot as “God’s will” making it something that can be endured more easily, because they really think there’s a mythical paradise, a beautiful, better, everlasting life – with no fears, no worries, just pleasure, satisfaction, peace, calm, no stress, no unmet needs at all to come, one day?

Are they just scared that, despite all the things we have now learnt about how the universe, the earth, plants, animals, humans – the real world, really work – there are so  many, many things we still don’t know? Can they not live with not knowing, but that it doesn’t matter?

I was raised a Christian. It’s the religion I know the most about & have read & thought & debated & argued the most about. I don’t know whether there is a single, sole creator of the universe, but I see no evidence that, if there is one, it has ANY interest in actively intervening in the operation of the Cosmos, or in human affairs, or that it has ever done so.

I know lots of people – apparently rational, sane, educated, knowledgeable, intelligent people – still believe in it. And that at least as many of the same kind of intelligent people, (maybe, hopefully, now a lot more) don’t.

I can say that I have NEVER, EVER seen ANY irrefutable, empirical evidence, or ANY convincing hint of evidence, or any truly convincing argument that the Abrahamic God does, really, actually exist.  Only tortuous attempts at arguing that it does, from the start point of doggedly-committed, already-believing followers, that it does, trying to think up & argue any thing they can to justify already believing in something that’s clearly not even there.

So, I often wonder why some people need to believe it exists? What does it do for them? What need does it meet that the rest of us who know it’s a myth don’t have?

Interested to hear from anyone what they think, and why?


This post has been added to the Your NZ menu for easy access. If there is continued interest in this it may be continued, or there may be further linked posts.

This post and discussion may be confronting for some people – if you don’t like your religious beliefs challenged then it may not be for you.

The usual rules on decent debate and no abuse apply – this is a debate on the concepts of gods and religion, and is not an opportunity for free shots at specific groups of religious followers. Comments that I think are inappropriate may be edited or deleted.

PG

Addressing misinformation on Islam and Islamophobia

A comment by ‘theSailor’ deserves some attention.

According to Dr. Tony Costa, professor of world religions at the University of Toronto, the concept of “Islamophobia” was created by the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1990s specifically as “a way to stifle any criticism of Islam.”

This is wrong. Wikipedia on Islamophobia:

The term was first used in the early 20th century and it emerged as a neologism in the 1970s, then it became increasingly salient during the 1980s and 1990s, and it reached public policy prominence with the report by the Runnymede Trust‘s Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia (CBMI) entitled Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All (1997). The introduction of the term was justified by the report’s assessment that “anti-Muslim prejudice has grown so considerably and so rapidly in recent years that a new item in the vocabulary is needed”.

Dr Tony Costa: Tony Costa Christian Apologetics – “This website is dedicated to the defense of the Christian faith and providing answers to the hard questions regarding biblical Christianity. Its purpose also serves to encourage Christians by properly equipping them with the tools to defend their faith in a coherent and intelligent manner. In so doing, they fulfill the great commandment to love the Lord their God with all their mind. (Mark 12:29-30) Finally, our hope is to minister to the absence of spiritual discernment so prevalent among Christians in the present day.”

“Tony believes his mission to the Christian church as a whole is to call attention to a very serious threat. This includes the proliferation of various cults, the occult, the New Age Movement and World Religions. Most of these groups seek to camouflage themselves as “Christian”, while at the same time denying the historic orthodox teachings of Christianity. It is imperative that all Christians, in both the clergy and laity recognize this threat to prepare and equip themselves to defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ while at the same time boldly proclaiming it. (Jude 3; 1 Peter 3:15)

theSailor:

A recent, very disturbing judgement by the European Court of Human Rights shows just how effective it has been. The UN also has been pushing hard for many years to have criticism of Islam banned throughout the world. We should ask ourselves why.

We should ask ourselves why these claims have been made, because they seem to be quite inaccurate.

Defamation of religion is an issue that was repeatedly addressed by some member states of the United Nations (UN) from 1999 until 2010. Several non-binding resolutions were voted on and accepted by the UN condemning “defamation of religion”. The motions, sponsored on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), now known as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation,[1] sought to prohibit expression that would “fuel discrimination, extremism and misperception leading to polarization and fragmentation with dangerous unintended and unforeseen consequences”.

From 2001 to 2010 there was a split of opinions, with the Islamic bloc and much of the developing world supporting the defamation of religion resolutions, and mostly Western democracies opposing them. Support waned toward the end of the period due to increased opposition from the West along with lobbying by religious, free-speech, and human rights advocacy groups.

The UN Human Rights Committee followed this in July 2011 with the adoption of General Comment 34 on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) 1976 that binds signatory countries. Concerning freedoms of opinion and expression, General Comment 34 made it clear that “Prohibitions of displays of lack of respect for a religion or other belief system, including blasphemy laws, are incompatible with the Covenant”.

General Comment 34 makes it clear that countries with blasphemy laws in any form that have signed the ICCPR are in breach of their obligations under the ICCPR.

theSailor:

There are some worryingly naive views expressed on here. When Islam starts extending its iron fist into your community, commencing very quietly and ‘peacefully’ under the guise of “tolerating other faiths”, it is time to be very concerned indeed.

That’s absurd scaremongering.

A “phobia” by definition is an “irrational” fear, and a fear of Islam is not irrational to anyone who has researched it, and read of distant lands that have made the fatal mistake of tolerating it, such as Europe and Britain.

Phobia by definition is “An extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.”  (Oxford).

It is irrational to fear one thing like ‘Islam’ when it is not a single thing, it is a religion that has billions of followers and many different flavours and aims.

It as irrational to fear ‘Islam’ as it is to fear ‘man’.

Islam is not a spiritual belief system; it is an earthly overlord – like its instigator – whose driving compulsion is to cover the world with itself, killing or converting any human standing in its way.

That sounds like an irrational fear being expressed.

Welcoming such an intolerant, violent, brainwashing collective organism into your society will inevitably end in tears, as history has shown.

Spreading fear and loathing of a different religion seems to be mostly done by intolerant people who have been brainwashed by a collective organism.

Millions of Muslims are undoubtedly passive (as distinct from peaceful), but the cult that rigidly controls them is not.

‘Passive but not peaceful’ is an insidious form of mass blaming and fear mongering. There is no singular ‘cult’ that controls all branches and followers of Islam, just as there is no cult that controls all of Christianity or any other large religion.

No more than is a man-eating tiger, for all its millions of strands of soft, passive, fluffy fur; not one of which, for all its passivity, will ever condemn the teeth.

A man-eating tiger representative of all cats.

There are radicals and cults within Islam, just as there are within Christianity.

Both try to demonise many because of the actions of a small few.

I think there may be more dangers to new Zealand from intolerant Islamophobes trying to stir up fear and division than there is of radical Muslim actions.

Inaccurate, divisive and inflammatory posts are not acceptable here, they will be deleted or dissected, and those who persist in posting them will lose their freedom to comment unmoderated.

Winston Peters challenged on past comments on Islam

Winston Peters has avoided answering for historical contentious comments about Islam until now, but when he fronted up on RNZ this morning as Acting Prime Minister he was asked about his past remarks by Guyon Espiner.

Peters sounded not very happy about it, and seemed quite uncomfortable being reminded of his divisive and inflammatory comments.

European Court says religious feelings and religious peace overrule free speech

The European Court of Human Rights has made a ruling saying, that the right of people to have their religious feelings protected  and the “legitimate aim of preserving religious peace” in Austria.

That this is in a case in which a women was convicted for calling the Prophet Muhammad a pedophile is likely to inflame a contentious and volatile situation in Europe.

Deutsche Welle – Calling Prophet Muhammad a pedophile does not fall within freedom of speech: European court

The ECHR ruled against an Austrian woman who claimed calling the Prophet Muhammad a pedophile was protected by free speech. The applicant claimed she was contributing to public debate.

An Austrian woman’s conviction for calling the Prophet Muhammad a pedophile did not violate her freedom of speech, the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday.

The Strasbourg-based ECHR ruled that Austrian courts carefully balanced the applicant’s “right to freedom of expression with the right of others to have their religious feelings protected, and served the legitimate aim of preserving religious peace in Austria.”

The woman in 2009 held two seminars entitled “Basic Information on Islam,” during which she likened Muhammad’s marriage to a six-year-old girl, Aisha, to pedophilia.

The court cited the Austrian women stating during the seminar that Muhammad “liked to do it with children” and “… A 56-year-old and a six-year-old? … What do we call it, if it is not pedophilia?”

An Austrian court later convicted the woman of disparaging religion and fined her €480 ($546). Other domestic courts upheld the decision before the case was brought before the ECHR.

So the European Court of Human Rights has not made or imposed this law, they have supported lower courts.

The women had argued that her comments fell within her right of freedom of expression and religious groups must tolerate criticism. She also argued they were intended to contribute to public debate and not designed to defame the Prophet of Islam.

The ECHR recognized that freedom of religion did not exempt people from expecting criticism or denial of their religion.

However, it found that the woman’s comments were not objective, failed to provide historical background and had no intention of promoting public debate.

The applicant’s comments “could only be understood as having been aimed at demonstrating that Muhammad was not worthy of worship,” the court said, adding that the statements were not based on facts and were intended to denigrate Islam.

It also found that even in a debate it was not compatible with freedom of expression “to pack incriminating statements into the wrapping of an otherwise acceptable expression of opinion and claim that this rendered passable those statements exceeding the permissible limits of freedom of expression.”

As well as growing anti-Islam sentiment and speech this gets into wider issues of free speech that have been raised in New Zealand.

There are risks from people who claim the right to free speech to promote extreme views, to deliberately misrepresent, and to try to inflame and divide.

It is difficult to get a fair balance between the right to free speech and deliberate provocation and harm.

 

From the German far right to Islam

A curious conversion from Alternative für Deutschland to Islam – from Deutsche Welle German far-right AfD politician resigns after converting to Islam:

Arthur Wagner, a politician in the eastern state of Brandenburg, has become a Muslim. His Alternative for Germany (AfD) party entered the Bundestag last year following a populist, anti-Islam campaign.

The far-right, anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD) party on Tuesday confirmed reports in the German media that one of its politicians, Arthur Wagner, has converted to Islam.

Wagner, a leading AfD member in the eastern German state of Brandenburg, resigned his position on the party’s national executive committee on January 11 for personal reasons, AfD spokesman Daniel Friese said.

Wagner, a German of Russian origin, had been a representative of the AfD since 2015. He was a member of the state committee with responsibility for churches and religious communities.

Before joining the anti-Islam, anti-immigration party, he was a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU).

Wagner refused to answer questions from the German daily newspaper Tagesspiegel, who first reported his conversion to the Islamic faith.

“That’s my private business,” he told the newspaper. But he said there had been no attempt by the party to force him to resign.

Wagner is not the first far-right politician to convert to Islam, according to the German daily Die Welt.

Arnoud van Doorn was asked to leave Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders‘ Freedom Party (PVV). It later emerged he had taken up the Muslim faith and traveled to Saudi Arabia to perform the Haj (a pilgrimage to Mecca), the Guardian reported.

The AfD campaigned against Muslim immigration.

Support for the party surged after Germany admitted more than 1.5 million refugees and migrants in 2015 and 2016 at the height of the European migration crisis.

The AfD argued that the country was under threat of “Islamization” and demanded stricter border controls to stem the number of newcomers arriving from war-torn and poverty-stricken countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Ironic then that one of their own politicians has been Islamified.

Related links from DW:

Alternative für Deutschland (AfD):

Founded in April 2013, the AfD narrowly missed the 5% electoral threshold to sit in the Bundestag during the 2013 federal election. In 2014 the party won seven seats in the European election as a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists. After securing representation in 14 of the 16 German stateparliaments by October 2017, the AfD became the third largest party in Germany after the 2017 federal election, claiming 94 seats in the Bundestag, a major breakthrough for the party as it was the first time the AfD had won any seats in the Bundestag.

The party has been described as a German nationalist,[2][3][4] right-wing populist, and Eurosceptic party. Since about 2015, the AfD has been increasingly open to working with far-right extremist groups such as Pegida.

Parts of the AfD also have racist, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic and/or xenophobic tendencies linked to far-right movements such as Neo-Nazismand identitarianism.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_for_Germany

It seems odd to me that even the English version of Deutsche Welle calls the AfD ‘Alternative for Germany’.

It would be a bit like the Herald calling parties here Die ArbeiterParty or Neuseeland Erst.

 

 

Call for Islam enlightenment

There are serious problems with Islam in different parts of the world, with powerful and violent leaders and terrorist groups wreaking havoc. Most of the victims are Muslims.

Christianity has had some horrific times in history, but most of those abuses of their fundamental faith has been overcome, in large part as a result of the age on Enlightenment.

Enlightenment

The Enlightenment is the period in the history of western thought and culture, stretching roughly from the mid-decades of the seventeenth century through the eighteenth century, characterized by dramatic revolutions in science, philosophy, society and politics; these revolutions swept away the medieval world-view and ushered in our modern western world.

Since then things have been far from perfect, especially last century with major world wars, but in general many Christians and non-Christians benefit from the enlightenment in the 21st century.

Can the same revolution happen in the Islamic world? It can be difficult from ordinary Muslims to speak up for fear of violent consequences, but chance has to be pushed from the people.

Nelly has come up with this:

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Due to the suppression of speech and the risks of speaking up in Muslim countries it’s difficult to know whether this is a minority view or not, but it is worth repeating – especially by Muslims as if they are going to advance in the modern world they have to push for change within their religion.

5% Muslim myth?

I often hear claims that when the proportion of a country’s population reaches 5% (sometimes 3%) then all heel will break loose, Sharia Law will take over, praying to Mecca will become compulsory and the secular sky and Christian heaven will fall in.

I haven’t seen any substantial support of this ‘theory’. Some just state it as if it were fact, while sometimes a country with Muslim problems is cited as an example.

Muslim immigration is very contentious, and fear of terrorism is real, albeit out of proportion to the relative real threat.

There are people and groups who obsess about spreading fear of all Muslims, predicting dire consequences for any country that let’s it’s Muslim population reach 5%.

The 2013 census in New Zealand counted 46,149 Muslims, just over 1% of the population. About 7,000 of them are Maori, Pacific Island or European. The others come from a diverse range of countries including Lebanon, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Fiji, with growing numbers of students from Malaysia.

Australia has about twice the proportion of Muslims, 2.2%.

The closest country to New Zealand with a Muslim population over 5% is Fiji (6-7%). Like ours their legal system is based on the British system. No Sharia. No major Muslim issues.

Just north of Australia is Indonesia, the country with the most Muslims in the world, about 87% of their total 263 million population.

While religious freedom is stipulated in the Indonesian constitution, the government officially recognises only six religions: Islam, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.

A large proportion of Indonesians—such as the Javanese abangan, Balinese Hindus, and Dayak Christians—practice a less orthodox, syncretic form of their religion, which draws on local customs and beliefs.

There are also a number of indigenous religions. These seem to coexist with Muslims.

One part of Indonesia, Aceh, applies sharia law in criminal matters. In other parts of the country it just applies to civil law (marriage, inheritance, gifts) to varying degrees, parallel with their Roman Dutch based legal system.

Other countries with large Muslim populations have varying degrees of Sharia law and varied application. Sharia law applies in 12 of Nigeria’s 36 states. About 41% of the Nigerian population is Muslim.

In a number of countries with large Muslim populations sharia law plays no part in their judicial system

MapShariaLaw

The only European country with a majority Muslim population is Bosnia and Herzegovina at 51% (Christian 46%). They have a civil (not sharia) law system.

Germany (1.9% Muslim) has Sharia as part of their private law but it is limited and only applies to people with nationalities from countries using Sharia.

The United Kingdom (about 4.3%) has a voluntary dispute resolution system, the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal. The tribunals have the power to rule in civil cases. They operate under Section 1 of the Arbitration Act which states that: “the parties should be free to agree how their disputes are resolved, subject only to such safeguards as are necessary in the public interest”. This operates within the English law framework and is not a separate legal system.

I am not aware of any pressure to have similar tribunals operating in New Zealand. Muslims can try to resolve civil matters through the Disputes Tribunal of New Zealand like everyone else.

An estimated 8-10%of the French population is Muslim, many of whom emigrated from French colonies in northern Africa. They have significant issues – but these may be more to do with the percentage of Muslims who live in deprivation and with high unemployment rates rather than their percentage of the population.

Each country deals with the ethnicities and religions of it’s inhabitants as they see fit.

New Zealand has long had cultural diversity, including religious diversity. We have a history of religious tolerance. Nearly half of New Zealanders identify with no religion, and many others barely practice their religion.

From Islam in New Zealand:

The first Muslims in New Zealand were an Indian family who settled in Cashmere, Christchurch, in the 1850s. The 1874 government census reported 15 Chinese gold diggers working in the Dunstan gold fields of Otago in the 1870s.

Small numbers of Muslim immigrants from South Asia and eastern Europe settled from the early 1900s until the 1960s. Large-scale Muslim immigration began in the 1970s with the arrival of Fiji Indians, followed in the 1990s by refugees from various war-torn countries.

The first Islamic centre was started in 1959 and there are now several mosques and two Islamic schools.

The majority of the Muslims are Sunni, with a large minority Shia and some Ahmadi Muslims, who run the largest mosque in the country.

Contemporary Islam:

The number of Muslims in New Zealand according to the 2013 census is 46,149, up 28% from 36,072 in the 2006 census.

That’s quite a surge but on quite small numbers. Immigration numbers from countries tend to vary a lot so it is difficult to predict trends.

The community is noted for its harmonious relations with the wider New Zealand community, with various interfaith efforts from all sides contributing to this situation. FIANZ established the Harmony Awards as part of Islam Awareness Week in 2008 to recognise the contributions of New Zealanders to improving understanding and relationships between Muslims and the wider community.

We currently don’t have any appreciable problem with Muslims in New Zealand. They tend to blend in like the many other religions, and they have diverse ethnicities like the rest of the population.

There is no way of predicting with any accuracy whether the proportion of Muslims will ever reach 3% or 5% in New Zealand, and I’m not aware of any credible evidence that those thresholds on their own would have any particular risk anywhere in the world, and especially not in New Zealand.


Note: this post is a genuine attempt to explore and understand Muslim demographics and their potential effect on New Zealand. Feel free to discuss anything related to the content.

But please do not launch into general sermons about ‘them versus us’ or general mass dissing. If you think that Muslims are an issue in New Zealand then the topic deserves decent debate, and not screes of hobby horse rehashing.

What to do about terrorism?

Terrorist attacks like yesterday’s vehicle and knife attack in London (in countries we have an affinity with, as opposed to the terrorist attacks in Nigeria) provoke understandable reactions around the world – fear, anger, sometimes hate. This is a primary aim of the attacks.

This is despite the relatively infinitesimal risk to any of us individually. We are at much greater risk of death by murder (about one a week in New Zealand), by vehicle (about one a day in New Zealand), by suicide (more than one a day). In an unknown number of cases vehicle deaths are suicides and sometimes suicide attacks.

One person’s terrorist can be another person’s ‘freedom fighter’ or allied military force. More innocent people are killed by drone attack than by the vehicle attacks that have occurred in Europe. This is a scattered asymmetric warfare.

It makes a difference if we have been where the attack has occurred. I haven’t been to London but I have been to a city in Germany that had an attack last year.

In most publicised terrorist attacks in the Western world the perpetrators turn out to be associated with Islam, and currently usually associated with ISIS.

The aim of ISIS and their followers is to spread fear as widely as possible, to create division and build hate between the Islam world and the Western world.

So far (fortunately) in New Zealand most of us have been only by perceptions, how we react feel about distant atrocities. We may fear being a victim, and we may fear what ISIS and others are trying to do in the world.

Some in New Zealand have more to contend with – they can become collateral victims.

Muslims in New Zealand must dread ISIS attacks, because it is common for people to blame not only the terrorists but also to blame all Muslims throughout the world, including New Zealand.

So New Zealand Muslims sometimes become the targets of abuse (which is contemptible), and must feel stares of unease in the streets and especially in buses and planes. This is unfortunate but it is a natural human instinct, no matter how unfounded the actual risk. And female Muslims in particular stand out by the way they dress (at least the ones that stand out do).

Not that long ago the UK had a reign of terror inflicted by close neighbours, the Irish. While they looked much the same as many others an Irish accent could cause unease.

Communists have been victimised not for being terrorists but for having a different political ideology – and perhaps for stirring up union unrest.

People of German and Japanese were ostracised and incarcerated during the Second World War.

Muslims (a very small minority of them) just happen to be the current perpetrators of terrorism.

We have to somehow deal with our feelings about terror attacks and our unease about risks to us here.

Blaming many for the actions of a few is common but doesn’t help. Driving division between all Muslims, stirring up hate and fear, this is what the terrorists are trying to achieve. They know it victimises many innocent people, that is part of their method.

We can and should condemn the sum who carry out and encourage terrorist acts.

But we have to understand smearing many innocent people is a reactive boost to what terrorists want – and it’s not fair on the targets of unfounded criticism.

If a black car crosses a white line and kills innocent travellers we don’t condemn all drivers of black cars, not all passengers in black vehicles.

If a P addict murders someone we don’t blame all pot smokers.

It makes no sense blaming a Muslim from Fiji for the actions of an Islamic terrorist from Pakistan or from Birmingham.

Terrorists aim to make many victims out of a single attack. We should resist adding to this by accusing innocent Muslims for something they have nothing to do with.

We have to hope our security and policing is vigilant and will prevent most if not all potential terrorists from attacking in New Zealand. We are lucky that the risks are relatively very small here.

We need to exercise tolerance and understanding as much as we can. We should avoid ostracising innocent people to avoid the risk of provoking one into a violent attack in reaction.

As in London we have to go about our lives as normally as possible – and allow all New Zealanders to do the same.

We have to be better than terrorists, much better, and avoid being drawn into playing their game for them. That’s our best way of winning against them.

Doubting climate change science

It’s not just mainstream science that suggests that climate change is a problem of major importance, mainstream media tends to agree.

The Press has an editorial on Doubting climate change science is no joke

There are times when the Donald Trump presidency seems comical or even fun, an absurdist exercise in postmodern political theatre.

But in other ways the Trump administration is too potentially dangerous to joke about. Its approach to climate change is one of them.

Scott Pruitt, Trump’s appointee as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has broken with global scientific consensus and argued that carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to global warming. He told that a US news programme that “measuring with precision human activity on the climate is … very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact”.

Doubting science by claiming that a theory is just a theory without broad consensus behind it is a favoured technique of tobacco industry lobbyists and others who try to confuse or dissemble. They pretend disagreement exists where it does not or they attempt to turn very small differences into polar oppositions.

It’s not just a big business tactic, it is also a religious tactic, like on evolution.

Does this sound familiar? Discovery Institute (which also opposes climate change science)  – Ranks of Scientists Doubting Darwin’s Theory on the Rise – “Another 100 scientists have joined the ranks of scientists from around the world publicly stating their doubts about the adequacy of Darwin’s theory of evolution.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Nasa and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the US have all been clear that rising temperatures have been “driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere,” as a report from the latter two bodies put it in January.

As noted in US media reports, Pruitt’s statement even contradicted the position held by the EPA itself and conflicts with the laws and regulations the EPA is expected to enforce. The EPA’s own website says that “carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change”.

Most observers of US politics expected that Trump would follow through on the anti-environmental rhetoric of his campaign. They expected a retreat from positions taken by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama. As a Trump insider explained last week, his campaign commitment was to undo Obama’s “entire climate edifice”.

Pruitt was known to be an advocate for the energy industry before his appointment by Trump. The New York Times reports that “in his previous job as the attorney general of Oklahoma, he sought to use legal tools to fight environmental regulations on the oil and gas companies that are a major part of the state’s economy”. He drafted letters to send to the EPA and other bodies pleading economic hardship if environmental rules were not relaxed and reportedly sued the EPA 14 times.

Pruitt is now expected to preside over funding cuts and a review of his agency’s role in monitoring emissions and protecting waterways. The implications of a wholesale attack on an environmental agency are enormous, and not just for the United States. There is nothing remotely funny about any of it.

Climate science is complex and evolving as more is found out about it. Claims should certainly be challenged claims are scientifically questionable, but cannot just be dismissed, just as tobacco harm could not just be dismissed because companies might lose some money and just as evolution cannot just be dismissed because some religious groups might lose some faith.

It is quite possible that the effects of climate change are a much bigger threat to the world, and to many more people in the world, than extreme Muslims and Islamic terrorism.

Many more New Zealanders are likely to be affected by increasingly severe weather events than they are by terrorism.

Doubting some climate science is healthy, if based on science.

Doubting the possible severity of climate change is understandable – but this doubt works both ways, it may turn out to be not as bad as generally predicted, but it could just as easily turn out to be worse than predicted.

Those who doubt the accuracy of current climate change science can’t have it that it is just inaccurate in a way that suits their ideology.

There is far less climate science that suggests we won’t have any problems with climate change than otherwise.

Doubting all climate science is not based on science, it is based on denial.

There must be some degree of climate change, there always has been. Science will help us learn more about it, it will help us limit our effects on it, and it will help us deal with whatever changes end up happening.

We should aim for better climate science, and not just dismiss it with claims of doubts.

 

 

Does NZ need better Muslim ‘assimilation’ processes?

A vocal critic of Islam has said that New Zealand needs Muslim assimilation centres, processes and policies.

Newstalk ZB: No need for ‘assimilation centres’, says Islamic Women’s Council

One of the world’s most prominent critics of Islam, Dutch-American activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, made the suggestion during an interview with Newstalk ZB yesterday.

“Before you get people in from Muslim countries, whether through the [refugee] resettlement process or through some other immigration process, you must have assimilation programmes in place,” she said.

“If free societies don’t do that, if they don’t have those assimilation policies in place, then they shouldn’t bring in people because they are only asking for instability.”

How much does she know about New Zealand? We don’t have instability here. We also don’t have assimilation processes for any other religious or ethnic groups.

However Islamic Women’s Council spokeswoman Anjum Rahman said migrants already fit on to New Zealand well.

She said New Zealand has good systems in place, and volunteers also work behind the scenes to help new migrants settle in.

“Perhaps you should visit the refugee centre in Mangere and see the programmes that are already in place in New Zealand.”

I don’t know if Ali has been to New Zealand. Stuff reports that she is due to visit next month: Controversial author Ayaan Hirsi Ali says New Zealand shouldn’t feel immune from the extremes of ‘radical Islam’

No country is immune from the extremes of radical anything.

Dr Zain Ali of Auckland University’s Islamic Studies Research Unit told the NZ Herald most NZ Muslims were either:

  • NZ-born (26 per cent)
  • or came from the Indian subcontinent (27 per cent)
  • or Fiji and other Pacific islands (21 per cent),

so they were already used to living in non-Muslim-majority countries and did not need “assimilation centres”.

That’s 74% either born here or from non-Muslim majority countries.

He suggested that schools should teach all students about “civics” including New Zealand history, culture and values.

Some Kiwi adults might also benefit from learning more about New Zealand history, culture and values.

New Zealand has a history of welcoming a diverse range of visitors and immigrants.

I wouldn’t like it for myself so I would baulk and trying to force ‘assimilation’ into Remuera culture, or Westie culture, or Otara culture, or East Coast culture, or any of the cultural variations we have here.