The Religion of Politics June 18, 2016Posted by tkcollier in In The News, philosophy & politics, Religion.
Tags: Politics, Politics USA, Religion
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Which stars were you really born under? May 26, 2016Posted by tkcollier in cool stuff, In The News, Lifestyle, Religion.
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France’s Oedipal Islamist Complex | Foreign Policy January 10, 2016Posted by tkcollier in In The News, Religion.
Tags: France, Islam, Jihad, Religion
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The country’s jihadi problem isn’t about religion or politics. The terrorists therefore are not the expression of a radicalization of the Muslim population, but rather reflect a generational revolt that affects a very precise category of youth.
Why Islam? For members of the second generation, it’s obvious: They are reclaiming, on their own terms, an identity that, in their eyes, their parents have debased. They are “more Muslim than the Muslims” and, in particular, than their parents. The energy that they put into reconverting their parents (in vain) is significant, but it shows to what extent they are on another planet (all the parents have a story to tell about these exchanges). As for the converts, they choose Islam because it’s the only thing on the market of radical rebellion. Joining the Islamic State offers the certainty of terrorizing.
One God for Christians, Muslims and Jews? Good Question December 20, 2015Posted by tkcollier in Religion.
Tags: Belief, Christianity, Evangelical, Faith, Jewish, Muslim, Pope, Religion
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So why don’t evangelicals walk around saying they don’t worship the same God as the Jews, the same way they’re insisting on saying it about Muslims? Here’s the kicker: Evangelicals do believe they’re worshiping the God of the Old Testament — they just think Jews have failed to understand his essence as revealed in the New Testament.
In evangelical theology, God revealed himself to the Hebrews without expressly making his triune nature known. The incarnation changed all that, and created the possibility of Christian salvation. The Jews failed to get the message. All along, they were worshiping the triune God. They just never knew it, and still don’t.
Hence, to an evangelical Christian, it would make no sense to say that Jews worship a different God — even though to the Jews, that God isn’t theologically very different from the God of the Muslims. To bring this full circle, note that Pope Francis might well believe the same thing. The difference is that he believes Muslims, too, are worshiping the God of the Hebrews. Given that the Prophet Muhammad himself believed that the God of the Jews and of the Christians was the same God he was serving, that view seems pretty convincing. The pope’s view would have the benefit of being consistent as among Jews and Muslims.
If all this makes you want to run to atheism, fair enough. Otherwise, Merry Christmas!
The Paris Terror Attacks Remind Us That ISIS Needs Our Help to Survive – Resilient Corporation December 20, 2015Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, In The News, Religion.
Tags: Geopolitics, Globalization, Immigration, ISIS, resilience, Terror
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This dream of absolute disconnection from an “evil world” is what all fundamentalists (religious and secular) seek as their collective salvation. In the not too-distant past, such disconnects were far simpler to achieve: head to some desolate place beyond marked borders, plant your flag, and fight off anyone who dared to trespass. This is why religions – as a rule – have always burned hottest along frontiers.
But that’s the thing with globalization: it engulfs frontiers, reformatting local cultures at a disorienting speed. Alongside all those networks arrive unprecedented economic opportunities that have – over the past half century – shrunken the share of humanity suffering extreme poverty to an all-time low of 10 percent. But that global force of change creates enormous local frictions, unleashing all manner of social tensions, civil strife, political revolutions, and extremist movements – all of which put people on the move and further accelerate globalization’s blending dynamics. It’s one thing for your world to be transformed by my networks, but quite another if that process drives you to my doorstep in search of your better life.
Discarded refugee life vests
But that’s exactly what continues to happen. Muslims fleeing the Middle East and North Africa for Europe and North America don’t seek to replicate in these new environments the harsh life they left behind. Yes, they want to retain their cultural and religious identities amidst this disorienting transition, but who wouldn’t? The key point is that they seek the combination of social peace, political freedom, and economic opportunity that only a pluralistic, diverse nation-state can provide. These people aren’t seeking refuge in authoritarian regimes; they’re seeking legitimate sanctuary in countries whose capacity for tolerance ensures it. So, again, when we unduly oppress Muslims within our ranks, we essentially endorse ISIS’ message of intolerance and apartheid. We feed their strength while dissipating our own.
In the end, it’s our diversity that renders our nations truly resilient. Indeed, that melting-pot mindset defines these United States – the world’s oldest and most successful multinational union. It’s what makes us resilient in the face of all the vulnerabilities that our open societies present to our enemies as logical targets. The West can – and should – never hope to harden itself sufficiently to withstand any attack without suffering internal perturbations. We cannot firewall ourselves off from this wonderful world of our creating and still thrive.
Instead, we must continue to grow our collective resilience from the bottom-up – family by family, neighborhood by neighborhood, and community by community. Resilience helps people where they live by fostering communal bonds built around the basic human instinct for empathy beyond kinship – that rarest of behaviors in nature. All who are willing must be invited to join in this effort, because, the bigger our “tent” is, the sooner we prevail in this struggle to define humanity’s future.
Tags: Archeology, Atrocities, atrocity, History, ISIS
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I also watched recent video of ISIS members in a museum smashing (alleged) archaeological relics from the very ancient Mesopotamian past. I felt a certain sense of historical irony while doing so. I wondered as I watched them use sledgehammers and power drills on a 3,000 year old Assyrian statue if they realized that they were following the ancient Assyrian playbook as they tried to erase the region’s past. The Assyrians of that era were masters at the art of atrocity marketing. The concept of publicizing horrific cruelty to cow and intimidate subjects or opponents has a long history, and only fell out of style relatively recently (and not everywhere).
It’s only in the last century or so that public executions, for example, have become rare. Having people view a burning, beheading or hanging (with or without a torture appetizer) was thought to be something that reinforced law and authority and demonstrated that justice was being carried out. Often it was thought an edifying thing to have children watch.
Why porn is exploding in the Middle East January 16, 2015Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, Lifestyle, Religion.
Tags: Google, Middle East, Muslim states, Pakistan, Pornography, Religion, Saudi Arabia, sex
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According to data released by Google, six of the top eight porn-searching countries are Muslim states. Pakistan tops the list at number one, followed by Egypt at number two. Iran, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Turkey come in at numbers four, five, seven and eight, respectively. Pakistan leads the way in porn searches for animals like pigs, donkeys, dogs, cats and snakes.
Islam On Dogs: Can You Be A Good Muslim And Still Have A Dog? October 19, 2014Posted by tkcollier in In The News, Lifestyle, Religion.
Tags: Dogs, Islam
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Malaysian Muslims trying to break dog taboo with dog petting event.
The End of the World as We Know It – Pax Americana December 15, 2013Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, philosophy & politics, Religion.
Tags: Europe, Geopolitics, Late Antiquity, North Africa, Religion, Roman Empire, Sassanid Persian Empire
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Drawing compelling parallels with today from the over-looked period after Rome fell and before the Middle Ages, known as “Late Antiquity”; highly-respected strategic thinker Robert Kaplan predicts a global return to tribalism and religiosity, as America retreats into isolationism.
The Pax Romana was a period of relative peace and stability throughout the Greater Mediterranean. By 700 A.D., the Roman Empire had disappeared from the map of the West, the Sassanid Persian Empire had vanished from the Near East, Europe had become Christian, and the Near East and most of North Africa had become Muslim.
Today, tribes with four-wheel-drive vehicles, satellite phones, plastic explosives, and shoulder-fired missiles help close the distance between Late Antiquity and the early 21st century.
We are at the dawn of a new epoch that may well be as chaotic as that one and that may come upon us more quickly because of the way the electronic and communications revolutions, combined with a population boom, have compressed history.
Syrian Conflict Goes Back 13 Centuries September 11, 2013Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, In The News, Religion.
Tags: Iran, Islam, Religion, Syria, war
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The eastern Roman Empire was half alive, half gobbled up by the Arabs. And Iran — well, it had been wiped out as an enlightened, ancient empire a century before, in 651. After that, the Arabs took a long rest on the borders of Sogd modern-day central Asia, with its capital in Samarkand, which they began to conquer only in 712.
Why the rivalry? Why did the conquerors the Arabs so loathe the conquered the Iranians? That’s where the eighth century comes in. A hundred years after the Arabs destroyed Iran, their own empire, which stretched from Spain to the Chinese border, was a teetering wreck, being devoured from the inside by rivalries and bad government.Then, in 747, a revolt began in Iran that would eventually overthrow the Umayyad dynasty, replacing it with the Abbasids. The Abbasids would go on to build Baghdad and rule the huge Islamic caliphate for 500 years — until the arrival of Genghis Khan and his Horde.Yes, the Abbasids were Arabs, but their scribes, builders and literati were Iranians and the Arabs who cared to learn from them. As a result, the Iranians gradually all but took over their conqueror’s empire from the inside
Here is the crucial bit: The Arab-Iranian divide is far more than cultural. In the eighth century, subjugated Iran was also abandoning its ancient religion — Zoroastrianism — and creating its own, unique strand of Islam, Shiite, that stood in opposition to the dominant Sunni strand favored by the Abbasids.
A historian would tell us to remember that today’s conflict in Syria can be traced back to an Arab-Iranian — Sunni-Shiite – – rivalry that is 13 centuries old
Good Riddance to Brotherhood’s Fake Democrats July 5, 2013Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, In The News, philosophy & politics, Religion.
Tags: Egypt, Geopolitics, Jordan, king abdulla of jordan, Middle East, muslim brotherhood, Political Islam, recep tayyip erdogan, Turkey
The saving grace in Egypt, King Abdulla of Jordan said, was that Mursi seemed too unsophisticated to successfully pull off his vision. “There’s no depth to the guy,” he said of Mursi. The king compared him unfavorably to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Islamist prime minister of Turkey. Like Mursi, the king asserted, Erdogan was also a false democrat, but one with patience. “Erdogan once said that democracy for him is a bus ride,” Abdullah said. “Once I get to my stop, I’m getting off.”
Unlike Mursi, however, Erdogan was masterful at manipulating a system that didn’t trust him, the king said. “Instead of the Turkish model, taking six or seven years — being an Erdogan — Mursi wanted to do it overnight.” Recent events in Turkey, including the government’s miscalculated response to mass protests, have shown that perhaps even Erdogan isn’t an Erdogan anymore.
Had the military not intervened, though, the Muslim Brotherhood may have tried, over time, to make sure that Egypt’s first free and fair election was also its last. A number of Egyptian friends have written me in the past day, arguing that what the Egyptian people did — or, more to the point, what the Egyptian army, responding to the will of the people, did — was to forestall the rise of a new Hitler. If the Germans, who chose Adolf Hitler in a democratic election, had turned on him a year later, well, you know the rest. The analogy is overdone for so many reasons, but it is absolutely true that the Muslim Brotherhood is a totalitarian cult, not a democratic party.
Why Is Gay Porn So Popular in Pakistan? June 21, 2013Posted by tkcollier in Lifestyle, philosophy & politics, Religion.
Tags: Homosexual, human-rights, Islam, Lifestyle, Religion
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As of this writing, Pakistan is by volume the world leader for Google searches of the terms “shemale sex,” “teen anal sex,” and “man fucking man,” according to Google Trends. Pakistan also ranks second in the world (after similarly gay-intolerant Kenya) for volume of searches for the search term “gay sex pics.”
In its report, Pew noted that countries exhibiting the highest levels of gay tolerance are largely secular, whereas nations where religion is central to public life—such as Egypt, Nigeria, and Pakistan—tend to reject homosexuality. But in Pakistan, what’s even more peculiar is that the highest number of hits for some of these terms, including “shemale sex,” come not from Pakistan’s cosmopolitan centers, but from Peshawar, a bastion of conservative Islam, lately known in the West as a counterterrorism frontline.
Farahnaz Ispahani, an expert in Pakistani minorities at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a former member of Pakistan’s parliament, says that homosexuality is a taboo subject throughout the country. In major cities such as Lahore and Karachi, gays can develop a network of allies outside their tribe or family, but in conservative Peshawar, gay identity is more complicated. Part of the popularity of gay porn could stem from the fact that even highly observant Muslim males often have physical relationships with men without considering themselves gay, she says.
“The real love they can have that most of us find with a partner, they find with men,” Ispahani says. “They mostly see their wives as the mother of their children.”
When Enlightenment Meets Science April 1, 2013Posted by tkcollier in health, Lifestyle, Religion, Science & Technology.
Tags: Meditation, Psychology, Zen
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The veteran meditators in the MRI could do each of the resting states perfectly, but when it came to creating a contrasting condition, they were helpless. They had lost the ability to “let their minds wander” because they had long ago shed the habit of entertaining discursive narrative thoughts. They no longer worried about how their hair looked, or their to-do lists, or whether people thought they were annoying. Their minds were largely quiet. When thoughts did come – and they did still come – these subjects reported that the thoughts had a different quality, an unfixated quality. The thought “This MRI machine is extremely loud” might arise, but it would quickly evaporate. Thoughts seemed to emerge as-needed in response to different situations and would then disappear crisply into the clear backdrop of consciousness. In other words, these practitioners were always meditating.
This turned out to be the least dramatic of Vago’s discoveries. With the two most experienced meditators, something even more surprising happened, something that, to the knowledge of the investigators involved, had never before been captured on any kind of brain imaging technology.
Lying on their padded gurneys in the center of the humming MRI in this famous research hospital in the heart of East Boston and Harvard Medical School, each of the two research subjects suddenly … disappeared.
Har-Prakash Khalsa, a 52-year old Canadian mail carrier and yoga teacher – and one of the veterans to whom this happened – describes his experience:
“It’s a kind of pressure or momentum. I was in one of the rest states, and as I let go of it, I felt myself heading into a much bigger dissolution – a bigger ‘gone’ as Shinzen would call it. It felt impossible to resist. My mind, body and world just collapsed.”
A few moments later – blinking, refreshed, reformatted – Har-Prakash returned to consciousness, not at all sure how he was to supposed to fit this experience into the research protocol. He couldn’t indicate it with a button press even if he wanted to: there was no one present to press the button.
This wasn’t rest – it was annihilation.
Trying To Prove We Live In A Virtual Reality October 30, 2012Posted by tkcollier in Enviroment, Religion, Science & Technology.
Tags: Astrophysics, Matrix, Science, Science Fiction
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One of modern physics’ most cherished ideas is quantum chromodynamics, the theory that describes the strong nuclear force, how it binds quarks and gluons into protons and neutrons, how these form nuclei that themselves interact. This is the universe at its most fundamental.
So an interesting pursuit is to simulate quantum chromodynamics on a computer to see what kind of complexity arises. The promise is that simulating physics on such a fundamental level is more or less equivalent to simulating the universe itself.
There are one or two challenges of course. The physics is mind-bogglingly complex and operates on a vanishingly small scale. So even using the world’s most powerful supercomputers, physicists have only managed to simulate tiny corners of the cosmos just a few femtometers across. (A femtometer is 10^-15 metres.)
That may not sound like much but the significant point is that the simulation is essentially indistinguishable from the real thing (at least as far as we understand it).
It’s not hard to imagine that Moore’s Law-type progress will allow physicists to simulate significantly larger regions of space. A region just a few micrometres across could encapsulate the entire workings of a human cell.
Again, the behaviour of this human cell would be indistinguishable from the real thing.
It’s this kind of thinking that forces physicists to consider the possibility that our entire cosmos could be running on a vastly powerful computer. If so, is there any way we could ever know?
Today, we get an answer of sorts from Silas Beane, at the University of Bonn in Germany, and a few pals. They say there is a way to see evidence that we are being simulated, at least in certain scenarios.
Taliban’s Worst Nightmare October 13, 2012Posted by tkcollier in Humor, In The News, Religion.
Tags: Islam, Malala Yousafza, Pakistan, Religion, Taliban
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“Da Vinci Code” evidence found? September 19, 2012Posted by tkcollier in cool stuff, Religion.
Tags: Christianity, History, Religion
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A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’ ”
The finding was made public in Rome on Tuesday at the International Congress of Coptic Studies by Karen L. King, a historian who has published several books about new Gospel discoveries and is the first woman to hold the nation’s oldest endowed chair, the Hollis professor of divinity.
Why the Arabic World Turned Away from Science September 15, 2012Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, Religion, Science & Technology.
Tags: History, Islam, Religion, Science
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From coffee to cheques and the three-course meal, the Muslim world has given us many innovations that we take for granted in daily life. Click on this link to see 20 of the their greatest discoveries. How Islamic inventors changed the world – Science – News – The Independent.
Today Muslims are a fifth of the world’s population, yet contribute only 7% of the world’s GDP. Arabs comprise 5 percent of the world’s population, but publish just 1.1 percent of its books, according to the U.N.’s 2003 Arab Human Development Report. Between 1980 and 2000, Korea granted 16,328 patents, while nine Arab countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E., granted a combined total of only 370, many of them registered by foreigners.
What went wrong?
The Islamic turn away from scholarship actually preceded the civilization’s geopolitical decline — it can be traced back to the rise of the anti-philosophical Ash’arism school among Sunni Muslims, who comprise the vast majority of the Muslim world.
While the Mu’tazilites had contended that the Koran was created and so God’s purpose for man must be interpreted through reason, the Ash’arites believed the Koran to be coeval with God — and therefore unchallengeable. At the heart of Ash’ari metaphysics is the idea of occasionalism, a doctrine that denies natural causality. Put simply, it suggests natural necessity cannot exist because God’s will is completely free. Ash’arites believed that God is the only cause, so that the world is a series of discrete physical events each willed by God.
The Ash’ari view has endured to this day. Its most extreme form can be seen in some sects of Islamists. For example, Mohammed Yusuf, the late leader of a group called the Nigerian Taliban, explained why “Western education is a sin” by explaining its view on rain: “We believe it is a creation of God rather than an evaporation caused by the sun that condenses and becomes rain.” As Robert R. Reilly argues in The Closing of the Muslim Mind (2010), “the fatal disconnect between the creator and the mind of his creature is the source of Sunni Islam’s most profound woes.”
Inquiry into the history of Arabic science, and the recovery and research of manuscripts of the era, may have a beneficial effect — so long as it is pursued in an analytical spirit. That would mean that Muslims would use it as a resource within their own tradition to critically engage with their philosophical, political, and founding flaws. If that occurs, it will not arise from any Western outreach efforts, but will be a consequence of Muslims’ own determination, creativity, and wisdom — in short, those very traits that Westerners rightly ascribe to the Muslims of the Golden Age
The New Atlantis » Why the Arabic World Turned Away from Science.
Tags: Doomsday, Mayan Calendar, Science
Archaeologists, excavating the ninth-century Maya complex of Xultun in Guatemala, say they have found what may have been a workspace for the town’s scribe. Paintings on the walls, they report, appear to include calculations related to the Maya calendar.
The researchers, writing in today’s edition of the journal Science, say the calculations project 7,000 years into the future. There’s no hint that the calendar ends on Dec. 21, 2012, despite popular belief.
“Why would they go into those numbers if the world is going to come to an end this year?” said Anthony Aveni at Colgate University, a scholar of Maya astronomy and a co-author of the paper. “You could say a number that big at least suggests that time marches on.”
Europe’s Other Crisis – Immigration May 13, 2012Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, Religion.
Tags: European Union, Geopolitics, Immigration, Islam, Jihad
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The EU is a project pursued with unstinting energy by a generation of utopians, to replace accountable national governments with a more distant authority that manages to be simultaneously sinister and naïve. For Laqueur a good symbol of its modus operandi came in late 2010, when the European Commission printed millions of calendar diaries to hand out to schoolchildren: they had the dates for Ramadan and for Hindu and Sikh feast days, but not for Christmas.
ALL WESTERN EUROPEAN countries have some version of this problem, which involves immigration, Islam, dissent from established European culture, and organized violence. Although it has been temporarily overshadowed by budgetary and currency woes, it is Europe’s most significant chronic problem. What to do about it depends on where one thinks the problem lies.
After a 1000 Years – The Arab Spring April 8, 2012Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, Religion.
Tags: Democracy, Geopolitics, Islam, Religion
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The Arab world’s so-called “democracy deficit” is not tied to the Islamic religion but rather to the Arab world’s history and the institutions introduced following conquest by Arab armies over 1000 years ago, according to a new paper presented today at the Spring 2012 Conference on the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity BPEA. (more…)
The History Behind Eating Fish On Friday April 8, 2012Posted by tkcollier in Food, Religion.
Tags: Food, Religion, Seafood
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Let’s start with a quick lesson in theology: According to Christian teaching, Jesus died on a Friday, and his death redeemed a sinful world. People have written of fasting on Friday to commemorate this sacrifice as early as the first century.
Technically, it’s the flesh of warmblooded animals that’s off limits — an animal “that, in a sense, sacrificed its life for us, if you will,” explains Michael Foley, an associate professor at Baylor University and author of Why Do Catholics Eat Fish On Friday?
Fish are coldblooded, so they’re considered fair game. “If you were inclined to eat a reptile on Friday,” Foley tells The Salt, “you could do that, too.”
Alas, Christendom never really developed a hankering for snake. But fish — well, they’d been associated with sacred holidays even in pre-Christian times. And as the number of meatless days piled up on the medieval Christian calendar — not just Fridays but Wednesdays and Saturdays, Advent and Lent, and other holy days — the hunger for fish grew. Indeed, fish fasting days became central to the growth of the global fishing industry. (more…)
Muslims and Christian Fundamentalists Reach Some Common Ground – Denying Darwinism November 27, 2011Posted by tkcollier in philosophy & politics, Religion, Science & Technology.
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Professors at University College London have expressed concern over the increasing number of biology students boycotting lectures on Darwinist theory, which form an important part of the syllabus, citing their religion.
Similar to the beliefs expressed by fundamentalist Christians, Muslim opponents to Darwinism maintain that Allah created the world, mankind and all known species in a single act.
Muslims4UK partly blame the growing popularity of creationist beliefs within Islam on Turkish author Harun Yahya who, influenced by the success of Christian creationists in America, has written several books denouncing Darwinist theory.
Yahya associates Dawinism with Nazism and his books are and videos are available at many Islamic bookshops in the UK and regularly feature on Islamic television channels.
New Insights Into Pleasure & Addiction June 25, 2011Posted by tkcollier in health, Lifestyle, Religion.
Tags: Addiction, Genetics, Pleasure, Psychology
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Do you, like many, think that drug addicts become drug addicts because they derive greater reward from getting high than others? The biology says no. They actually seem to want it more but like it less. The scientific definition of addiction is actually rooted in the brain’s inability to experience pleasure.
“There are variants in genes that turn down the function of dopamine signaling within the pleasure circuit,” explains Linden, a professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the chief editor of the Journal of Neurophysiology.” For people who carry these gene variants, their muted dopamine systems lead to blunted pleasure circuits, which in turn affects their pleasure-seeking activities, he says. “In order to get to that same set point of pleasure that others would get to easily — maybe with two drinks at the bar and a laugh with friends — you need six drinks at the bar to get the same thing.”
It is important to realize that our pleasure circuits are the result of a combination of genetics, stress and life experience, beginning as early as the womb. Crucially, brain imaging studies show that giving to charity, paying taxes, and receiving information about future events all activate the same neural pleasure circuit that’s engaged by heroin or orgasm or fatty foods.
Ten Rules for Being Human June 1, 2011Posted by tkcollier in Life, Lifestyle, Religion.
Tags: Philosophy, Religion
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Tags: Religion, sex
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Atheists have far better sex lives than religious people who are plagued with guilt during intercourse and for weeks afterwards, researchers have found.
But devoutly religious people rated their sex lives far lower than atheists. They also admitted to strong feelings of guilt afterwards.
Strict religions such as Mormons ranked highest on the scale of sexual guilt. Their average score was 8.19 out of 10. They were followed closely behind by Jehovah’s Witness, Pentecostal, Seventh Day Adventist, and Baptist. Catholics rated their levels of sexual guilt at 6.34 while Lutherans came slightly lower at 5.88 . In contrast, atheists and agnostics ranked at 4.71 and 4.81 respectively.
People who had left their beliefs behind said their sex lives were ‘much improved’ and rated their new experiences on average as 7.81 out of ten.
The findings emerged in the ‘Sex and Secularism’ survey of more than 14,500 people carried out by psychologist Darrel Ray and Amanda Brown from Kansas University.