My Notes from Mind and Cosmos

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

I read the book Mind and Cosmos by Thomas Nagel some time back, and I figured it’d be a good idea to share the notes I took while reading it. Nagel is an atheist philosopher, though he’s one of the few honest atheists, so he talks quite openly about how many of the current orthodox theories about materialism, evolution, etc make no sense.

It should be stated that these are my notes, and not a summary of the book. I didn’t understand some parts, like some of the stuff about teleology, so I left them out, and I paraphrased some stuff according to my own thoughts and interpretations, so please do not assume that everything written below is coming from Nagel (though much of it indeed is). I would recommend you read the book also if you’re interested, it would give you a better idea and more detailed explanation of these concepts than my notes.

Also, I used Google Docs voice typing to transcribe these notes. I tried my best to correct the mistakes and format them, but there still might be errors – for example, it kept transcribing Descartes as “dick hard” – so I sincerely apologize if any of these errors slipped through uncorrected. Please notify me in the comments or via Twitter DM (@604yousuf) if you notice anything.

Continue reading “My Notes from Mind and Cosmos”

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Is Hell Just?

Whether eternal punishment in Hell (may Allah save us from it) is just.

بسم الله الرحمٰن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

One of the more controversial ideas, in some circles, is that God will punish wrong-doers with eternal damnation in Hell. In this blog post, I will first explain why it is Allah’s right to reward and punish, and we are in no position to question His judgement. I will then talk about the Islamic theory of salvation and how to attain it. Finally, I’ll answer the question: why will good people who were non-believers in God go to Hell?

Continue reading “Is Hell Just?”

David Berlinski on the God of the Gaps

David Berlinski smartly deals with the “god-of-the-gaps” fallacy.

بسم الله الرحمٰن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

I previously quoted David Berlinski here, but as I am currently reading a book about Intelligent Design (which is often accused of employing the god-of-the-gaps fallacy) I decided to quote him again. This is a good one so make sure you read it carefully. Like before, the source is his book titled The Devil’s Delusion. And in case you are wondering: “Wotan” was a pagan deity who is no longer believed in or worshiped.

Scientific atheism is not an undertaking that has cherished rhetorical inventiveness. It has one brilliant insult to its credit, and that is the description of intelligent design as “creationism in a cheap tuxedo.” I do not know who coined the phrase, but whoever it was, chapeau. By the same token, it has only one stock character in repertoire, and that is the God of the Gaps. Unlike the God of Old, who ruled irritably over everything, the God of the Gaps rules over gaps in argument or evidence. He is a presiding God, to be sure, but one with limited administrative functions. With gaps in view, He undertakes his very specialized activity of incarnating Himself as a stopgap. If He is resentful at the limitations in scope afforded by His narrow specialization, He is, scientific atheists assume, grateful to have any work at all.

When the gaps are all filled, He will join Wotan in Valhalla.

As a rhetorical contrivance, the God of the Gaps makes his effect contingent on a specific assumption: that whatever the gaps, they will in the course of scientific research be filled. It is an assumption both intellectually primitive and morally abhorrent—primitive because it reflects a phlegmatic absence of curiosity, and abhorrent because it assigns to our intellectual future a degree of authority alien to human experience. Western science has proceeded by filling gaps, but in filling them, it has created gaps all over again. The process is inexhaustible. Einstein created the special theory of relativity to accommodate certain anomalies in the interpretation of Clerk Maxwell’s theory of the electromagnetic field. Special relativity led directly to general relativity. But general relativity is inconsistent with quantum mechanics, the largest visions of the physical world alien to one another. Understanding has improved, but within the physical sciences, anomalies have grown great, and what is more, anomalies have grown great because understanding has improved.

The God of the Gaps? I am prepared with the best of them to revile and denounce him. It is easy enough to do just that, one reason that so many scientists are doing it. But why not say with equal authority that for all we know, it is the God of Old who continues to preside over the bent world with His accustomed fearful majesty, and that He has chosen to reveal Himself by drawing the curtain on His own magnificence at precisely the place in which general relativity and quantum mechanics should have met but do not touch? Whether gaps in the manifold of our understanding reveal nothing more than the God of the Gaps or nothing less than the God of Old is hardly a matter open to rational debate.

Well said.

~ Yousuf

29 November 2014

My Response to Jerry Coyne

Jerry Coyne demonstrates his appalling ignorance of religion in general and Islam in particular.

Bismillah was-salaatu was-salaamu ‘ala Rasoolillah.

Jerry Coyne wrote an article, published on his blog as well as in the New Republic, in which he claimed that it’s wrong to claim that ISIS is not Islamic. The title of the piece was: “If ISIS Is Not Islamic, then the Inquisition Was Not Catholic.” He claims that both ISIS atrocities and the Inquisition are examples of crimes carried out in the name of religion, and so if we argue that ISIS is not truly Islamic we’d have to claim that the Inquisition was not truly Catholic. However, the piece is full of logical fallacies (and factual errors: such as his claim that the Qur’an calls for killing apostates) as articles by “New” Atheists usually are, so I’ll respond to his main claim here:

  1. There is a such thing as “true” religion. Perhaps Jerry Coyne and his fellow atheists see the world (specifically: moral values) in subjective and changing terms. But religion deals with absolute Truths. Coyne himself acknowledges this when he criticizes religion for promoting “dogma.”
  2. The Inquisition was sanctioned and carried out by the official Catholic Church. ISIS has been condemned by every major Muslim institution throughout the globe. Coyne’s comparison of the two is a false equivocation.
  3. Muslims have been fighting against ISIS for almost a year now. Thousands of Muslims have lost their lives trying to stop ISIS. Just because it wasn’t on the news, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. For more info, see: this, this, and this. Also, a June 2014 report (link – AR) by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimated that 2,764 Syrian rebels alone had died, up to that point, fighting against ISIS. That doesn’t even include Kurds and Shi’ites, who are also Muslim, and it’s probably even higher by now. There have also been thousands of civilian casualties, vast majority Muslim.
  4. How many Catholics lost their lives trying to stop the Inquisition?

So I think we can safely conclude that while the Inquisition was indeed “Catholic,” ISIS is certainly not Islamic.

Salaam,

Yousuf


Update: Musa Furber has some excellent comments about Coyne’s article in this Facebook thread as well: https://www.facebook.com/musafurber/posts/833924539981748.

David Berlinski Destroys Secularism

Bismillah was-salaatu was-salaamu ‘ala Rasoolillah.

One of my favorite writers and speakers about science and religion is David Berlinski. He’s Jewish himself, and he wrote a devastating critique of “New” Atheism called The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions.

This is an excerpt from that book:

What Hitler did not believe and what Stalin did not believe and what Mao did not believe and what the SS did not believe and what the Gestapo did not believe and what the NKVD did not believe and what the commissars, functionaries, swaggering executioners, Nazi doctors, Communist Party theoreticians, intellectuals, Brown Shirts, Black Shirts, gauleiters, and a thousand party hacks did not believe was that God was watching what they were doing. And as far as we can tell, very few of those carrying out the horrors of the twentieth century worried overmuch that God was watching what they were doing either. That is, after all, the meaning of a secular society.

‘Nuff said.

Salaam,

Yousuf

Response to Heina Dadabhoy and Sadaf Ali

I read a May 25th, 2014 article by Mark Oppenheimer in the New York Times about two women named Heina Dadabhoy and Sadaf Ali. Both are ex-Muslims, and they have been receiving a lot of press attention recently.

First of all, let me say this: the amount of press that these “ex-Muslims” get is just ridiculous. They had a whole show done about them recently on HuffPost Live, and have had similar attention in Europe (many have been exposed as liars, such as Ergun Caner). Continue reading “Response to Heina Dadabhoy and Sadaf Ali”