A Skeptic’s Ten Liberties

In my last post Killa Ma6goog raised few questions about atheism. His main concern was:
What is atheism? And what are its advantages? And what positive changes it has on an atheist’s life in comparison to his/her previous state as a believer, if any? And how can atheism develop one’s personality, humanitarian outlook as well as ambitions?

Now to answer those questions, one has to admit first that he/she is an atheist, but it’s not always easy to categorize oneself within such a boundary, considering the fact that there is hardly anyone who can say that he/she is 100% atheist. And also the fact that atheism does not necessarily mean a disbelief in religion, for some forms of Buddhism, for instance, do not believe in God, yet, they display a strong belief in religious rituals.

So what is atheism?
From Answers.com, atheism is

1. Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.
2. The doctrine that there is no God or gods.

And according to the above definition, there is always a great misconception between disbelief and atheism. When someone disbeliefs in religion he could be either an Atheist, or an Agnostic(1), or a Akeptic(2). And to be fair enough to the inquiries made by Killa Ma6goog; I will only address the above through the eyes of a Skeptic, and will leave others to comment on their own ideology, since each person’s experience, belief and motives are different from the other.

And why skeptical?
Mainly because, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that religions are all man-made, and the man-made God is also hogwash. But that does not mean that I exclude the chance that there is a probability of intelligent design to this universe, be it a tiny one, and until science can prove otherwise, I will remain to be skeptical. Still, that creator has nothing to do with the Gods of religions.

And before going further into the main issue, I think it’s worthy to mention that secularism does not belong to any of the above mentioned categories since it’s not a set of beliefs, nor an ethnic party. Rather; an ideology that meant to create a medium through which diverse schools of thought and different ethnic groups can live and tolerate each other, without one assuming dominance over the other; be it a belief of the faithful religious individual or a disbeliever. But unfortunately, this term has always been misinterpreted and confused with atheism (most of the times purposefully by religious parties and radical individuals, since its concept opposes to that of their totalitarian doctrine).

To understand secularism better, this is the definition of secularism according to Wikipedia:

1. Secularism, in the more moderate sense, asserts the freedom of religion, and freedom from religion, within a state that is neutral on matters of belief, and gives no state privileges or subsidies to religions. (See also Separation of church and state; see also Laïcité.)
2. Secularism, in the more extreme sense, refers to a belief that human activities and decisions, especially political ones, should be based on what it considers to be evidence and fact, not on beliefs that secularists consider superstitious. Secularists hold that public policy should be free from religious influence. For example, a society deciding whether to promote condom use might consider the issues of disease prevention, family planning, and a belief in women’s rights. A secularist would argue that such issues are relevant to public policy-making, whereas Biblical interpretation or church doctrine are irrelevant. Secularists believe that all activities falling outside of the private sphere should be secular, i.e. not religious.

Now, it was necessary for me to mention the different definitions above so that there will be no confusion when we debate these matters. And having taken that off of my shoulders; let me begin with my personal journey.

As any individual on this side of the world, naturally, I was brought up in an Islamic culture, and was educated within Islamic boundaries. And my beginnings, also naturally, were that of a believer (I could say a strong one at that). So I may go back and forth between the old system of beliefs (I was brought up in) and my changing paradigm for the purpose of clarifying a point or two.

And to do that, let’s start by defining the mechanism of a belief system and why man considers it mandatory in human life?

KM once mentioned that religion to the believer is a guide, more like instruction manual (where one can readily pick the right actions needed for every situation he encounters in life, in order to ensure conformity in the society during his lifetime, as well as to provide for afterlife.)(3)

And here I will not go through the rigid instructions of the religious manual used to conduct our daily lives, since it became apparent to me through experience that the man-made laws which were based on years of experience, knowledge, science and alteration for the better, has far exceeded the rigid, outdated dogmas of religion. i.e. I prefer using civil laws that grant human rights than using shareea.(4)

But how about those instructions that deal with the conducts needed to ensure a safe afterlife?

Afterlife is one of the biggest mysteries to humans. All religions known to man believe in afterlife, although the perception of afterlife changes from one faith to another. And since religions are based on myths (not a shred of doubt in my mind about that), I do not accept any version of afterlife as portrayed in religion.

But what does science say about afterlife?
Actually scientists are divided when it comes to afterlife; long before research in Quantum Physics, scientists were treating afterlife as a superstition. But after more research in the field of Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Chromodynamics, scientists are somewhat skeptical about the old belief, and some actually started to have a shift in their perceptions and started accepting the paranormals and the probability of their existence. And to me this is the beauty of science. One is never bound to a rigid, untouchable faith, but open to different possibilities, and susceptible to be shifted in his/her paradigm without the sense of guilt or fear. And being a skeptic, I always kept that option open.

Now what version of afterlife should I accept?
None of the above until I have more evidences of the nature of afterlife. That’s if the possibility of its existence is still valid. This thought by itself is liberating in many ways:

  • First; I do not need a set of manuals to dictate to me what should I be doing, and what should I be avoiding. Does this mean that I can be drifted into my wimps and desires? Au contraire, it exerts more responsibility on my shoulders, a responsibility that I ought to take as a mature individual in the society instead of assuming a childlike personality. A person who can rationalize and plan actions instead of someone who awaits instructions for each and every action. There is a nice quote I forgot where I heard before ”with freedom comes grave responsibilities”, this feeling is very liberating although more bounding. Self-control comes from within. And since this issue is very diverse, and beyound the scope of this post, I may go into it separately in the future.
  • Second; this very thought of self dependence puts more pressure on me as an individual to increase and update my search for the truth; my own truth and not someone else’s. And the more I researched, the better I molded myself and the stronger became my conviction and my self-confidence.
  • Third; having relied totally on my own, made me stronger as a person and vanished any fear or sense of guilt that accompanied my doubts as a religious person. If afterlife exists, I do accept it as a different form of being, very much like being reborn in a different form and a different domain. When one is in the womb, one does not know what is awaiting him/her in life. And afterlife should not be any different.
  • Forth; accepting afterlife as a different form also means accepting other paranormal hypothesis in a different form than what is portrayed in religion. This rids oneself from the superstitions that has long been akin to religious beliefs, and was used by it as a very strong source for fear inducing faith. Which means that I became a much stronger person when dealing with mysteries of life. Let me give you some examples; I live alone and enjoy my solitude, I’m not afraid of the dark, the Jin, nor I’m afraid of death. I do accept the death of close people as a natural process although I miss them greatly. And I expect to have my last days on earth celebrating with my acquaintances and loved ones the last moments, if I had the chance, instead of asking them for forgiveness in order to ensure my rewards on the other side of the border.
  • Fifth; I perceive life as the only reality. I accept it being finite, and the fact that I snatched myself out of a limited group, gave me a stronger bond to a larger one. It diverged me into globalization that increased my awareness of mankind and nature. There is an old Chinese wisdom that goes something like ” if you want to solve a problem, come out of your turtle shell and look at it from the outside, for as long as you are inside, you’ll never see the problem”. Imagine you are taking a trip on a spaceship orbiting Earth, look towards it and tell me what do you see? Do you see groups disagreeing and fighting? Can you hear their excuses? Not at all, these are the details that you see and hear when you are on Earth. With my new perception; I can only picture E.T.(5) with his innocent eyes, pointing up his finger and saying “HOME”.
  • Sixth; knowing that there is no questioning, and no Heaven and Hell, Halal and Haram is irrelevant to me. A believer might slip, then repent, then slip again and again repent. And with each slippage and repentance there is a period of immense feelings of guilt involved. While to me if I feel like doing something, I don’t perceive it as Haram or Halal, I perceive it as whether this is beneficial to others and me or not. In other words; I leave more space for my brains to weigh things instead of just obeying orders. This guarded me from slippage, secured me from excess. And saved me from guilt and fear. I am the master of myself and my actions, and there is no freedom beyond that.
  • Seventh; through the concept of the points mentioned above; I learned how to live my life in moderation and enjoy every bit of it, knowing that it’s the only thing I can keep for a while.
  • Eighth; how about immortality? The element that humans strived for in centuries, how could I give up immortality, it’s not in my humanely nature to do so. Well; the only way I perceive immortality as a skeptic is through man deeds on Earth; good or bad. And by good I mean how much did he/she contribute to life and mankind, and bad is, obviously, how much damage he/she inflicted. Great scientists, philosophers, poets as well as artists are immortals, tyrants are also immortals. Someone like Albert Einistine, Newton or Khaleel Jibran never dies. Also someone like Hitler, Stalin and Saddam Husain never dies. And although immortality is not an easy process for a layman, but it’s not impossible. This perception gave me the incentive for being ambitious, and was the strong drive behind trying to perfect whatever I do, and give it my best shot.
  • Ninth; how about spirituality? How can I seek that outside of religious domains? I remember when I took my first “Assembly” course in Electronics. The subject was so hard and it demanded a lot of programming using binary codes and probability theories. And if you have an idea of the mathematical probability theories, you would know what agonies I went through. It took me practically four weeks of continuous work, where I hardly left the Electronics lab. So many disappointments in the results that were coming out as I kept changing my data. So much frusteration. And I wasn’t the only one; other students were also facing the same problems. But the moment I received my final satisfactory grade, I felt the Earth shaking under my feet. The sense of freedom and happiness was so immense that I almost was flying on air to reach home and annonce the news to my husband. That was a feeling that no other elment can induce; the feeling of accomplishment. And I consider this feeling to be spiritual. Accomplishing a task is spiritual, listening to a favorite music is spiritual, watching a favorite program is spiritual. Reading and writing poetry is spiritual. Spending quality time with your loved ones is spritual. Reading and researching, even bloging could be spiritual. In a nutshell; appreciating and enjoying the abundance of life on Earth is spiritual.
  • Tenth; What is the purpose of life then? Well, I don’t know, even religion could not answer that question rationally. On one part I learned that man was created to build and flourish Earth, fair enough. On the other; Quran says “wa ma khalaqna aljina wa alins illa liya3bodoon” i.e; God created man and Jin to worship him……. Why? And if that is the case, then why didn’t God, the omnipotent and the omniscient create perfect slaves with a set of programmed instructions and no brains. Man (who is supposedly God’s creation) can do that nowadays with simple Robots, couldn’t He have done that? This even sounds like an insult to the creator of such complex, minute and precision prone universe. So, the first reasoning is more logical and I can accept it. And accordingly, do my duty as an individual to stop destruction and encourage building. And I see that the distructive effects of political religion has far exceeded its constructive effects, and therefore I see it my duty to contain religion within the boundaries of the individual’s vicinity (mosque, church and temple), and away from political life, and that’s why I chose secularism as the means to fight religious dominance.

(1)Agnosticism: The doctrine that certainty about first principles or absolute truth is unattainable and that only perceptual phenomena are objects of exact knowledge. The belief that there can be no proof either that God exists or that God does not exist. (Answers.com)
(2) Skepticism: The doctrine that absolute knowledge is impossible, either in a particular domain or in general. Or a methodology based on an assumption of doubt with the aim of acquiring approximate or relative certainty. Or doubt or disbelief of religious tenets. (Answers.com)
(3) My addition
(4) I have a personal issue with a divorce case that lasted more than 7 years in courts without any results so far when the decision is left to the concerned judge and there are no clear passages to this case in the shareeat, although my case is considered common.
(5) E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (click the link pls)

Londonstan

Last night I watched a CNN documentary about Islamization of the West called “The War Within” conducted by the renowned Christiana Amanpour. And about two months ago I read a book written by Melanie Phillips titled “Londonstan”. And although I think that Christiana did a great job in presenting the different points of view of English Moslems; the radical and the moderate. But I think she was missing a great deal in her report. And it seemed that this very thing puzzled her when she was debating what Islam really says when she questioned the two parties. I think she would have had a better insight if she had at least consulted Phillips before conducting her report. The Islamization in Brittan is a huge threat, not only to Brittan but the whole world. A secular state like England has given refuge to war victims and radicalists for decades. Gave them the taste of freedom and human rights. The very human rights propaganda they are using today to destroy Brittan’s secularism and security, as well as the security of the world. Most world terrorists’ acts were masterminded in Brittan, they deported terrorists to the USA, Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and the rest of the world. Mosque preachers are ex-Afghan fighters, so what do you expect? Christiana seemed puzzled by the preaching of Islam; does it promote the killing of the young and innocent people or it doesn’t? Well surprise, surprise Christina, it does and it doesn’t. This is what Islam is based on; contradictions. And since its contradictions are beyond the laypeople like us, you would never have a definite answer, because it is left to man to decide. Even the moderate Moslems who tell you that this killing is not permitted in Islam, down at their hearts they fully know that they are liars, because Jihad is farth. And farth means mandatory in Islamic belief. There is no radicalism in Islam. Islam is the religion of radicalism. The only way England has to save its skin is to teach those barbarians how to live within the secular society and respect its laws. And if they want to apply the shareea, let them go back to their caves and tents where they belong.

I wish I could play all the clip

The “F” Fruit

How could space cool passion!
How could one not miss another!
How on earth could you believe
That I could be without a heart!

Missing is the word we invented
In vocabulary we inserted
To indicate a yarning, say for a fruit
That once upon a time we tasted

The message of sweetness sent by buds
To mesh the mind forever to remember
And no matter what goodies we later devour
No taste can be replaced by another

For sweetness is the magnet that pulls us back
No matter how far we’d roam
Or bloat ourselves in abundance
Our weakness to resist is our remembrance

You should be witty enough
To know that I could never have enough
Of you, when I say I don’t have a heart
I mean I haven’t had enough

For my buds forever are fresh
For the taste of the “F” fruit
That I’ve given once in return for
Paradise

Global Warming. Is it Bullshit?

Know Your Enemy

And they say that Islam is the religion of peace???

You want to know more? ma ilak illa haifa (click this link)

Poet’s Plea

Physics, philosophy, science, anthropology
Conquering this chaotic mind
Politics pounding religious reigns
Shattered what little was left behind

And amidst that realm, as if in a dream
You come around missing me!

I have ran far away
To the edge of the universe
Sundered by your sweet embrace
Cease; you’re hounding my verse

No more love is left in me
No more mercy
No more memory nor curse
Leave this heart be

Stop sending your sumptuous kisses
The ones my poor heart utterly misses
Stop being such a cherubim
You are molesting my essence

Violating all laws of physics
With this impetuous … breakthrough

The Treasure Hunt

Almost two years ago, since I watched “What the Bleep do we Know?” and got to be more familiar with Quantum Mechanics (not to say that I completely understand it), my whole perception of the universe changed. Quantum physics; the theory of different probabilities, although remains to be just a theory, to me, explained a lot of things. I found it amazing; detaching me from many old belief systems, yet leaving a vast room to discover and interpret the beauty of natural phenomena. All experimental physics were just theories that took years of experimentations to be announced as facts. And the quantum mechanics is the baby of today and may be the bombshell of tomorrow.
I find science to be a work of art; where each piece discovered or proven adds to the blocks before it, and this is the beauty of science, it’s nothing but a game of treasure hunt.

Here is a documentary on quantum theory and the string theory that may make a building block for new discoveries, based on modern physics. And for those who have not watched “What the Bleep do we Know?”, I have added the last clip, enjoy.

The Elegant Universe/ Part One:

The Elegant Universe/ Part Two:

What the Bleep do we Know?:

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