A Few Questions to Richard Falk


Dear Richard Falk

  • Why did you delete certain comments of mine on your blog?
  • Why did you prevent your readers from watching this link?
  • Why did you block me permanently from making any comment after the comments which never saw the light?

Screenshot of my deleted comments

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Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 22.33.00

An Open Invitation


Amidst the fog of deception spewed by the Jewish-Talmudic-Zionist Hasbara agents, Here is a warm and open invitation to all of mankind, and that is to face the confusion head on….

Please EDUCATE yourselves about ISLAM

.

For the sake of Humanity
For the sake of Love
For the sake of Life
For the sake of Truth
For the sake of the future of our planet
For the sake of our children
.

Make the effort to learn about Islam, Muslims and the prophet of Islam, from authentic sources. Do not swallow the lies of Zionist media and do not be afraid of knowledge.
.

Take this extra mile and cut the rope of deceit designed to strangle humanity by fomenting hate and pushing for “Armageddon” with a nuclear war against Muslims.
.

The question of faith


Having lived in the West for decades, and having witnessed how religion is used, misused and abused by every corrupt, arrogant and greedy, I understand and sympathize with the views of atheists and agnostics who tend to throw the baby with the bath water as a reaction to such malevolent behaviour by some of the so called religious people, institutions or entities.

In my approach and personal experience, I beg to differ with the observed generalization, blame and hostility against religion.

When George Bush claims for example that “God told him to attack Iraq”, and when I read that Jesus said “love thy neighbour as yourself”, unlike the former, the latter resonate in my most inner being as meaningful, Godly, profound, beautiful, and true.

When discussing Belief Systems (including Atheism), one must distinguish between the principles of a given ideology and the practice of those principles by followers or those who claim to be followers.

The ideals and principles are the pure form of a belief system, and the practice is the human interpretation and implementation of those ideals.

The existence of people who try to justify their bad deeds, control or manipulate others by hiding under the banner of religion does not pollute the principles, nor does it change the fact that their deeds are in contradiction with these principles.

Abusers and fanatics of every ideology exist; criminals and those who act evil for their self interest or out of ignorance also exist in every society.

Coming from a different background, with different exposure, understanding and experience with regards to religion and faith-related matters, I certainly have arrived to and hold a different view, which is not as hostile to religion as yours.

Allow me to explain:

Arriving at where we are in our understanding of the world has much to do with our long painstaking quest for answers through our diverse and profound personal experiences, and of course directed and predisposed by our intellectual capabilities, emotional capacities, cultural influences and psychological tendencies.

We all arrive to this world without a choice of our own, and as soon as we open our eyes to the wonders around and within ourselves we are driven to question, and to long for meanings that explain our existence.

Our curiosity is magnified as we grow.
Drawing on my personal experience, this inquisitive curious mind was no different from anyone else, as a little girl I parched and yearned for answers.

I started asking questions and thinking about the world and later on about my very own existence, and about God, at a very young age.

As a toddler I lived in a small village in Palestine, I was fascinated by my surroundings, the trees, birds, flowers, people, but more so the sky, how vast! How beautiful! How perfect!

It was always urging me to look at, at first to admire and then to question. I spent endless hours staring at it day and night.

As I grew a little older my fascination and curiosity grew deeper, I started to look for meanings and explanations, trying to make sense of what’s around me.

“What is all this? … Why is all this? … Who am I? … Do I really exist? … How and why I can comprehend the fact that I exist? …. Why am I here? … Is there a purpose to my life? If there is, what is that purpose?”

Endless questions burned in my little head.

I thought and contemplated for many years, I used to be drawn into this inner world of mine searching for meanings and answers.

The only explanation and conclusion I was ever able to arrive at was always that there must be a mastermind, an intelligent power, a supreme Being, a perfect designer who is greater than I, who is more intelligent than I, and who is more loving than I.
My perception of that Being is what I call “faith”, “spirituality”.

Later, and as I went through certain spiritual experiences I came to feel God in the real sense.

(By spiritual experience I mean an inner awareness or realisation which might be described as a profound feeling in which you are overwhelmingly moved to a state of boundless joy and serenity, with a sensation of total awareness and nearness of a Sublime Most Loving Presence which is far Greater than you are and far more Loving than you are, to whom you are ever so grateful, as well as being intimately close to all what you perceive in this vast universe).  

As I prayed, an overwhelming, sublime, gentle, subtle, loving, magnificent presence engulfed me.

Words always fail me and fall very short, for I can’t put that feeling in words.

God for me was as real -if not more- than my own reality. So in my own perception God is a certainty; however, that does not give me the right to impose my perception upon others.

Now then, if faith and the concept of God provides a logical explanation to my existence, and if it helps me understand myself and the world around me in a rational manner, if it can give me a sense of fulfilment, contentment and satisfaction, if it enables me to survive adversities of life with minimum trauma and more patience, grace and sanity, if it fills my soul with love, joy, peace and tranquillity, if it makes life more fun, more enjoyable and my experiences more real and intense ; then how and why should I complain or deny?

After all there is nothing to lose and everything to gain. My logic concludes.

As seen from above, and taking me as an example, my embrace of faith was an organic evolvement and a natural outcome to my specific circumstances and life-journey; I did not find faith through indoctrination or manipulation; but rather through genuine inner quest for meanings and thirst for answers.

Through my fascination with this breathtaking beauty that I see all around.

Through my amazement, astonishment, and wonder at my ability to think and use logic and reason.

Through the heart melting awesome feelings that engulfed me as I felt my baby’s hand wrapped around my finger.

Through the superb fabulous sensation as I caress a soft velvety rose and as I fill my being with its sweet scent that leaves me speechless and awe struck.

Through the marvellous, splendid and magnificent sensation of love that captures my soul and overwhelms me with infinite joy and bliss

Having said that, I also found that my faith helps me through my suffering, it enables me to rise above and overcome hardships and adversities

My faith gives me inner strength; I don’t need rely on anything; people, things, or mind-blocking substances to cope with the adversities of life, pain, worries or sorrow.
My faith is my inner strength.

It gives me a sense of purpose, it gives my life a meaning, it gives my mind a sense of direction, it gives my heart endless fulfilment and fills it with boundless love, and it gives my soul overwhelming sensation of joy and delight.

My faith brings to me none but the most pleasant, most amazing feelings of contentment, tranquillity, peace; that life could be raging around me but I am sitting there ever so calm, ever so still, ever so safe, as if sitting in the eye of the storm.

My faith enthuse me with hope, happiness and bliss that nothing, absolutely nothing in this life I’ve ever experienced can be weighed against, measured up to, or compared with those intense wonderful experiences.

It is like trying to describe the feeling of your magnificent love to some one who’s never been in love before.

The feeling of exhilaration of intellectual stimulation, the joy and delight of being in love and feeling loved pale into insignificance compared to the overwhelming enchantment and ecstasy that the soul enjoys in one moment of closeness and inspiration.

Can I ever give it up for anything? Can I ever swap it with the entire material world and all of what’s in it?

Never

Not even if I were to be chopped and diced into pieces or burnt at the stake.

Finally, I consider my choice to have faith as an essential part of my Human Rights and my right to Freedom of Though in as much as I see it anyone’s right not to have faith, as long as neither of us impose his/her belief of others, nor cause others harm through it.
====
This article was born as comment in response to Jonathan Blakeley’s comment about religion. I thought I could share it.

 That moment

If I was to use all the words
Of all languages
Ever used by poets
Since time began
I’d never be able to describe
That moment

If I was to collect all the masterpieces
Of all the works of art
Ever designed
By man’s imagination
I could never repaint
That moment

If I was to live
All my past, present
And future
In pain, fear, and sorrow
Absorbing the suffering
Of all humanity
Since life began
It’s a price worth paying
To experience
That moment

Thank you for giving me
A taste of paradise on earth
If only for a moment

Thank you for opening a window
In my confined heart
In the here and now
Into eternity and infinity
If only for moment

Thank you
For blessing me with
That moment
.

Sheltered

Lightning strikes
Thunder rumbles
Wind blows
Gales bluster
Tornados threaten
Hurricanes rage

Aware of it all
Yet

There I am
Sitting…so… still

Tranquil

Content

Serene

Unharmed

I am

Sitting

In the eye

Of the storm

 

 

The question of faith


 

The question of faith

 

Where do you get your faith from? People wonder

 

This is my brief reply to my friend Joe as we discussed faith and when he asked me:

 

 “I still don’t understand where you get your faith from; personally all I would get from your experiences is total anger. I assume then that one of us is totally fucked up and I’m sure it aint you.”

 

 No Joe, it aint you either.

You are a person full of compassion and humanity, you are someone who thirsts for justice, and for the best for mankind. And that is the essence of what makes us human.

Dear Joe, arriving at where we are in our understanding of the world has much to do with our long painstaking quest for answers through our diverse and profound personal experiences, and of course directed and predisposed by our intellectual capabilities, emotional capacities, cultural influences and psychological tendencies.

We all arrive to this world without a choice of our own, and as soon as we open our eyes to the wonders around and within ourselves we are driven to question, and to long for meanings that explain our existence.
Our curiosity is magnified as we grow.

Drawing on my personal experience, this inquisitive curious mind was no different from anyone else, as a little girl I parched and yearned for answers.

I started asking questions and thinking about the world and later on about my very own existence, and about God, at a very young age.


As a toddler I lived in a small village in
Palestine, I was fascinated by my surroundings, the trees, birds, flowers, people, but more so the sky, how vast! How beautiful! How perfect! It was always urging me to look at, at first to admire and then to question. I spent endless hours staring at it day and night.

As I grew a little older my fascination grew deeper, I started to look for meanings and explanations, trying to make sense of what’s around me.

“What is all this? … Why is all this? … Who am I? … Do I really exist? … How and why I can comprehend the fact that I exist? …. Why am I here? … Is there a purpose in my life? If there is, what is that purpose?”

Endless questions burned in my little head.

I thought and contemplated for many years; and while many of my mates were playing I used to be drawn into this inner world of mine searching for meanings and answers.

The only valid explanation for me that echoed incessantly in my little brain was that there must be a perfect designer, a mastermind, an intelligent power behind all, a supreme awareness, a sublime consciousness, a talented artist and compassionate being if any thing is to have any meaning at all.

The only conclusion I’ve ever being able to arrive at was always that there must be a Being who is greater than I, who is more intelligent than I, and who is more loving than I. my perception of that Being is what I call “faith”, “spirituality”.

Later on, and as I went through certain spiritual experiences I came to feel God in the real sense.

As I prayed, an overwhelming, sublime, gentle, subtle, loving, magnificent presence engulfed me.
Words always fail me and fall very short, for I can’t put that feeling in words.

God for me was as real -if not more- than my own reality. So in my own perception God is a certainty; however, that does not give me the right to impose my perception upon others.
 
(By the spiritual experience I mean the feeling in which you are overwhelmingly moved by joyful, ecstatic and exhilarated sensation of euphoria and total awareness and nearness of a Sublime Most Loving Presence that you are ever so grateful for)

 

now then, if faith and the concept of God provides a logical explanation to my existence, and if it helps me understand myself and the world around me in a rational manner, if it can give me a sense of fulfilment, contentment and satisfaction, if it enables me to survive adversities of life with minimum trauma and more patience, grace and sanity, if it fills my soul with love, joy, peace and tranquillity, if it makes life more fun, more enjoyable and my experiences more real and intense ; then how and why should I complain or deny?

After all there is nothing to lose and everything to gain. My logic concluded.

Dear Joe, I must emphasise here that I did not find faith through my suffering and pain; but rather through my inner quest and thirst for answers.

Through my fascination with this breathtaking beauty that I see all around.

Through my amazement, astonishment, and wonder at my ability to think and use logic and reason.

Through the heart melting awesome feelings that engulfed me as I felt my baby’s hand wrapped around my finger.

Through the superb fabulous sensation as I caress a soft velvety rose and as I fill my being with its sweet scent that leaves me awe struck and “gob smacked”

Through the marvellous, splendid and magnificent sensation of love that captures my soul and overwhelms me with infinite joy and bliss

Having said that, I also found that my faith helps me through my suffering, it enables me to rise above and overcome hardships and adversities

My faith gives me inner strength; I don’t need rely on anything; people, things, or mind-blocking substances to cope with the adversities of life, pain, worries or sorrow. My faith is my inner strength.

It gives me a sense of purpose, it gives my life a meaning, it gives my mind a sense of direction, it gives my heart endless fulfilment and fills it with boundless love, and it gives my soul everlasting joy and delight

My faith brings to me none but the most pleasant, most amazing feelings of contentment, tranquillity, peace; that life could be raging around me but I am sitting there ever so calm, ever so still, ever so safe, as if forever sitting in the eye of the storm.

My faith enthuse me with hope, happiness and bliss that nothing, absolutely nothing in this life I’ve ever experienced can be weighed against, measured up to, or compared with those intense wonderful experiences.

It is like trying to describe the feeling of your magnificent love to some one who’s never been in love before, who’s only experienced the enjoyment of intellectual muse, but never tasted love.

The feeling of excitement of intellectual stimulation, and the delight and pleasure of being in love and feeling loved are absolutely insignificant compared to the overwhelming enchantment and ecstasy that the soul enjoys in one moment of inspiration

Can I ever give it up for anything? Can I ever swap it with the whole material world with all of what’s in it?

Never

Not even if I were to be chopped and diced into pieces or burnt at the stake.

 That moment

If I was to use all the words
Of all languages
Ever used by poets
Since time began
I’d never be able to describe
That moment

If I was to collect all the masterpieces
Of all the works of art
Ever designed
By man’s imagination
I could never repaint
That moment

If I was to live
All my past, present
And future
In pain, fear, and sorrow
Absorbing the suffering
Of all humanity
Since life began
It’s a price worth paying
To experience
That moment

Thank you for giving me
A taste of paradise on earth
If only for a moment

Thank you for opening a window
In my confined heart
In the here and now
Into eternity and infinity
If only for moment

Thank you
For blessing me with
That moment
.

Sheltered

Lightning strikes
Thunder rumbles
Wind blows
Gales bluster
Tornados threaten
Hurricanes rage

Aware of it all
Yet

There I am
Sitting…so… still

Tranquil

Content

Serene

Unharmed

I am

Sitting

In the eye

Of the storm

 

 

 

Dialogue with Steady


 
Dialogue with Steady
 
 
 
 

Dialogue-1


 

Dialogue with my atheist friend

07. September

Dear Sam

I was uplifted with attending the meeting yesterday especially with seeing some new faces, but with all my respect to you as an activist and free thinker I am still perplexed at your stiff position that insists that the only solution to the Palestinian problem is “a one secular” state. My favoured vision also is to see the one state solution; however I can’t fathom the idea that any one of us can claim that he/ she knows what is best for that society! Or that we have the right to impose our ideas on others.

 They know their circumstances better than we do, they have brains to think for themselves, and they are capable of making their own decisions.

It saddens me to see that we as humans -time and time again- fail to have enough insight so we end up not being able to live up to our own principles by giving to others what we want for ourselves: the freedom to choose, the freedom to have their own views on the world, the freedom to create a society that reflects their beliefs, the freedom to live by their own principles.

We always unknowingly fall in the same hole, we think that our ideas are the best, our minds are the greatest, and our principles are the finest. And this is scary because it is “kind of” arrogant.

Why can’t we give people in the Middle East some credit and credibility? Why should we seek to impose our solutions? What different we become from the imperialists whose aim is to impose their vision and control others?

I am perplexed and mystified!!

Nahida

 

———————————————————————————————-

 

07- September

Hi Nahida,

A number of points immediately come to mind.  Perhaps most important is Article 16 of the Palestine National Charter adopted by the Palestinian National Council in July 1968 which reads”
The liberation of Palestine, from a spiritual point of view, will provide the Holy Land with an atmosphere of safety and tranquillity, which in turn will safeguard the country’s religious sanctuaries and guarantee freedom of worship and of visit to all, without discrimination of race, colour, language, or religion. Accordingly, the people of Palestine
look to all spiritual forces in the world for support.

This was one of the first things that drew me to the Palestinian cause and over the years I have heard many Palestinian leaders call for a democratic, secular, unitary state based on the above article. Actually the full charter is an amazing document and for me it
demonstrates the intellectual maturity of the Palestinian people.

We have had many discussions on secularity but most important for me is the belief that the Government of a country should be separate from the religious beliefs of its citizens.   I will never accept the imposition of a religion by legislation or any other means for that matter.

I argue with all my heart against a Jewish state not because it is Jewish but because I do not believe it is the role to the state to impose a religion on its people.

The Israeli Government could remove all laws that discriminate against non-Jewish people.  They could even enact laws protecting the rights of non-Jewish people.  But as long as it is a “Jewish State” then by definition anyone who is non-Jewish has secondary status.  Otherwise
why bother having a “Jewish State”.

More importantly I will make the same arguments against any religion.

Perhaps we should be arguing for a three-state solution – an Islamic state, a Jewish state and secular state.

I am afraid this is one where we will have to agree to disagree.

Sam

 

————————————————————————————————————————–

 

07- September

Dear Sam

 

But –dear Sam- what kind of secular state do you want?

 A state that will ban the hijab and prevent me from wearing what I want -like secular France, Germany, Turkey, Tunisia, Belgium, and now even Bulgaria?

 A state that will not allow its children to learn about any faith or religion before they’re 18?

 A state that will impose the teaching of evolution -as viewed by Darwin– as the only scientific truth?

 A state that will consider the teaching of the theory of intelligent design an illegal unlawful practice?

 Can you -dear Sam- give me the guarantee that this secular state unlike many others will allow me the freedom to practice my religion without being persecuted for my beliefs like what happened to people of faith in many communist countries?

Will my right to have faith be protected without having to face the accusation of being backwards, superstitious?

Can you give the guarantee that I will be allowed to believe in a Creator the same way it allows others to believe in blind chance as the cause of our existence -by giving us equal rights and similar platforms to teach our views?

Will people of faith be allowed to teach their views to children?

 

Dear Sam

Consider this scenario: few years from now and miraculously the Zionists agreed to a one state for all, also miraculously they acknowledged their wrong doings and allowed exiled Palestinians to return. Then the nature and the constitution of the new born state were put to the vote.

 Isn’t it the right of the citizens then to decide the nature of their new state? How to introduce laws that will cater for all? As it will be a multi-religious multi-ethnic too.

 

——————————————————————————————-

07- September

Hi Nahida,

I meant to say you looked really well on Tuesday night. I do hope it is an indication that things are getting a bit better for you.

Now for your last letter, It seems that once again we may be down to semantics.

You appear to be working from the premise that taking a particular belief and defining it as a “religious belief” gives it special status, and that it should not be subject to any criticism or restrictions.

Your request for the right to have your faith protected without having to face the accusation of being backwards or superstitious is a perfect example of this, for in every other context this would be considered a restriction on freedom of speech.  The people who believed the earth
was flat, that slavery was morally just, that women who were designated as witches should be burned at the state, that people who were mentally ill should be kept in chains or that women should not be allowed to vote, would have loved to have their rights protected in this way.

History is loaded with “religious beliefs” and as a secularist I apply the same criteria to all. Childhood sacrifice has been an essential part of many religions throughout history, but it is one belief, which we can all agree, should not have its rights protected.  Turning to the
other end of the spectrum, prayer the privacy one’s own home is also an essential part of many religions, but I do not think there are many secularists who would deny people this right.  I certainly would not.

So all other “religious beliefs” fall in between and the issue becomes drawing the line.  If I guarantee you the right to wear a headscarf in public, do I not have to give the same guarantee to anyone who claims their headdress is part of their religious belief, no matter how
offensive some may find it?

Moving beyond headdress, the list of possible conflicts becomes endless and always the same question: where do you draw the line?

Two religious beliefs come to mind on which I would like to know your views.  Jehovah Witness do not believe in blood transfusions and there have been numerous cases where they have been prepared to let their children die, rather than allow them to have a blood transfusion when
it was needed to save the child’s life. Usually the doctors go to court and get a court order allowing them to save the child’s life.  Also some naturists consider nudism to be part of their religious beliefs.
Indeed they argue we are born without clothes and there is no practical need for people relaxing in a warm climate to be forced into wearing clothes.  Thus the question becomes as long as I am guaranteeing religious rights, should I guarantee Jehovah Witness the right to deny their children blood transfusions and naturists the right to go without clothes.  Incidentally can I guarantee the right of two people of same sex to love each other, to share their lives and be free of being considered deviant?

Sam,

© Copyright 2006 Nahida Izzat & Sam Semoff -PoetryforPalestine – All Rights Reserved

Dialogue-2


———————————————————————————————

08- September

Dear Sam

You said:

You appear to be working from the premise that taking a particular belief and defining it as a “religious belief” gives it special status, and that it should not be subject to any criticism or restrictions.

 

Not at all dear Sam; and I am sorry if I wasn’t making myself clear enough and gave you the wrong example and/or impression.

This is not my argument.  I don’t believe that having a religious belief gives it any special status at all, to criticise or restrict a religious belief is not the issue.

 Nothing is more disturbing to me than to find myself thinking or believing that I or my ideologies are above criticism.

I loathe this idea whether coming from me or from anyone else.

 

The point that I was trying to clarify is that having a secular state is no guarantee for anything, certainly no guarantee of giving human rights to all. You did not respond to any of the examples of bad bad behaviour by secular states except to this one. Talking about accusation against people of faith in that context is only relevant to the point that I was trying to make; not that we deserve special status or treatment but precisely the opposite; i.e. we deserve the same treatment, equality and  respect that other members of society have.

A minority living in a secular state should have the right not to be discriminated against just because of their beliefs, as long as they are not imposing their faith and practice upon others, and that those beliefs and practices are not harmful to others.

But in reality living in a secular state is no guarantee that all members of society will be treated fairly and equally. Some will definitely be more equal than others. Some will be persecuted and indeed imprisoned for their beliefs (many are in Turkey and Tunisia).  Some will be allowed to dress as they please some won’t. Some will be allowed to teach their views and some won’t.

You are probably aware that in USA it is illegal to teach the “Intelligent design” as a theory despite the compelling scientific evidence.

Some will try to deprive others of their rights because of their contempt of religious people. And you know that holds true amongst some secular fundamentalists; to some, religions are viewed as number one enemy even before capitalism and imperialism, to many, religion is the opium of people, and to many more religions are viewed as irrational.

 Despite the fact that both groups (those who believe in a Creator and those who don’t) are standing on equal footing when it comes to logic and rationality into scientifically proving their case.

 

To clarify my position; there are two main points I argue for:

1) Secularism is not a guarantee of establishing a Utopian society which I argued above and previously.

2) People in different societies must be allowed to choose the way they want to run their lives, the methods of establishing their own government, and their own laws/legislations that reflect their ethics and morality.

I as -a Muslim- have absolutely no problem with having and living in a secular state if it was voted for and as long as my human rights are protected.

 I will live by my values and will not try to impose them on others; however, I would expect exactly the same from secularists, if they live in a country with a religious majority.

 

In a society were the make up of that society is mainly of people of faith were they wish to live by laws that reflects their values, I see that as a basic human right.

 That right doesn’t mean that any minority in that society will lose out or become marginalized or oppressed. They have the right to live by their own set of values and morality as long as they don’t impose it on others, and without inflecting harm on the rest of society.

 

 We as a Muslim minority here try to live with our ethics without forcing it upon others; we don’t drink but never expect that other people should follow our moral code. For the sake of argument, suppose that we have a belief that enslaves women or prevents children from getting education; the host society senses the harm done to women or children; they then have the right to restrict our harmful religious practice.

A minority of nudists living in a Muslim majority have no right to impose their ethics on others by going out naked publicly as it will be viewed by the Muslim majority as harmful to some members of the society (the young).

 But if nudists live in a country of their own as a majority and are happy to practice their nudity publicly, then it is not the right of a Muslim or what ever minority living in that country to impose their morality on the majority and force them to dress up.

They can have the choice of either keep living in that society and bearing the consequences of the harm done and trying to persuade the majority of its harmfulness, or find another place to live.

 

 But I don’t see that imposing the ethics of the minority on the majority as a fair option.

 

Giving the right to govern, legislate and create laws for a secular minority against the will of a religious majority in a particular country and trying to impose secular ideologies upon that society is not a fair act.

 

 Simply because it implies one of two things: either that secular morality is superior to others, or that there is only one set of human values namely: that of the secular. None of which is true.

 

 We have seen time and time again that secularism can’t be trusted blindly when in power. So why should I vote for it if I live amongst a Muslim majority?

 

Therefore I adamantly refuse to give the secularists the free hand and the absolute right to create the world’s laws and legislations based only upon their own perceptions, views, ethics, and morality.

 

 

The other point that I want to discuss with you is about morality.

Morality -as I understand it- is not absolute, what is moral to you might be immoral to some one else, and visa versa.

 

A secular might see in the refusal of blood transfusion by religious parents as a great wrong and immoral act yet at the very same time have no problem but indeed defend the right of a mother to kill her baby (abortion) in the name of women’s right, yet both involve the killing of a child.

To me these two acts are as vile and as immoral; but I see it not my right to impose what I think on people; however I can always put my vote where my morality leads me.

 

If I live in a society where the majority voted for the woman’s absolute right to have abortion or to refuse blood transfusion (or indeed any thing that contradicts my morality); I will try within my available means of campaigns and dialogue to defend the weak and vulnerable (the baby) but I will not try to forcibly impose my morality on the whole of society by saying -for example- it’s a great sin in Islam to kill your child.

however if I lived in a society with a Muslim majority, who voted and accepted to live by Islamic morality then I think it is the right of that society to produce legislations that says abortion is illegal  without taking away the right of the minority to protest and try to campaign against that law.

If I lived in a prominently Muslim majority- why should I accept that my government adopt the secular’s definition of what is right and ethical to adhere to and to derive its laws from? 

In a Muslim society (and like any other society) we might have issues that we think are wrong and unethical yet they might not be seen likewise by others; for example consuming alcohol, usury,  or free sexual relationships that lacks any form of commitment, why do we have to adhere to the views and perceptions of the secular. They are perfectly ethical to him/her, why should we as a majority produce our laws to reflect his morality?

 

I am sorry for the long wended essay, but all I am trying to do is to make myself clear, basically and simply I am trying to defend the right of any group of people to live by their own laws that reflects their morality, and that does not necessitate that these laws should be secular, or should reflect the secular’s understanding and perception of the world. For what the secular think and perceive as right and ethical could be seen otherwise by others and visa versa.

 

 Morality is not universal; neither the morality of one group is superior to that of another.

 

My freedom ends where the freedom of the other starts.

With all my love and respect

nahida

———————————————————————————————

08- September

Dear oh Dear Nahida,

You have such a wonderful way with words.  I would dearly love to be able to write like you.

The arguments in your email and the way you present them are complex and I need time to read them carefully.  Thus for example, when talking about nudity, you make reference to the “consequences of the harm done”.  It is as you say a view of the Muslim majority that going
without clothes causes harm yet you seem to treat it almost as if it is a statement of fact.  However it will all have to wait for another time.

The one thing I cannot let go is your statement about there being compelling scientific evidence for "Intelligent design".

I simply do not understand how you can make such a statement.  There is not one shred of evidence to support the idea of intelligent design other than the fact that there are certain phenomena for which we do not at this time have explanations in the physical world.  Whether this be contradictions or gaps in existing theories or phenomena about which we do not have a clue, the absence of knowledge does not mean you can assume intelligent design.

It also helps to explain why the vast majority of the scientific community does not accept intelligent design and I do mean the vast majority for the numbers who support intelligent design are almost insignificant.  Furthermore you will know a scientist’s standing is
based on their contribution to their specific field. Next time you see a so-called scientist who supports intelligent design, go on the web and check out his/her background.  What contributions has he/she made?
How much has he/she added to our knowledge in their particular area of study? How many articles does he/she have in reputable journals? What positions does he/she hold in the scientific community?  Nearly all will be non-entities in the scientific world.

The other day I was in the library and I happened to stumble across the section on molecular genetics, a discipline, which is primarily based on evolutionary principles.  Actually much of modern science is based on those principles but that is another story.  The library had shelves
and shelves of books and journals with articles and research papers adding to our knowledge of molecular genetics.  I guess one of the advantages of intelligent design is that we could throw out all those books and journals and simply put up a sign saying, “no need to do any
more research because everything we wish to know can be explained by intelligent design.

Actually if I had to chose between defending the idea of intelligent design or the idea that the world is flat, I would chose the latter. I could structure my arguments around what I can see rather than what Imust assume is there because I cannot see anything.

I am afraid this is definitely one, which we will have to agree to disagree.

Sam,

————————————————————————————————————————-

08- September

Dear Sam

Indeed I mentioned that as a consequence nudeness might cause harm to children in a society of a Muslim majority and I base my statement on my limited understanding of the psychological nature and psychodynamics of a Muslim society.

 Modesty and sexual intimacy are integral part of that society.

Nudity and sexual exposé are also -to a certain degree- interlinked, at least in Islamic societies if not in most societies.

 Children generally are protected from early exposure to sex and psychologists and psychiatrists confirm that that sheltering is a major contributing factor to the child/ potential adult’s psychological health.

 

Those children who were introduced prematurely to sex and sexual experiences suffer a great deal of psychological problems in their adult life, their agony might take a life time to heal if ever.

In Muslim societies we take that on board, and we take it very seriously, we also think that in exposing children to nudity might have similar psychological effect on the child that lives in a society that values modesty.

 May be future studies will reveal something about this; it is just hard to do experiments on children and human beings.

So the harm that I am talking about is conceived in relation to children living in an Islamic society, therefore it is relative (i.e. in primitive societies where nudeness is the norm and being dressed up is the exception; children might develop a normal healthy psychological profile, I simply don’t know).

Yet that harm is also real and to those living in a Muslim society it is a matter of fact.

 

Now the other point about intelligent design must and have to wait for the next chapter I’m afraid.

Nahida

———————————————————————————————-

08-September

Hi Nahida,

I certainly would not challenge what you are saying in the context of a Muslim society.

Before starting that chapter on intelligent design, please have a look at the following site:

http://www.econemisis.com/Ind-to-Jdm/intelligent_design.php

Do take care.

Sam,

© Copyright 2006 Nahida Izzat & Sam Semoff -PoetryforPalestine – All Rights Reserved

My atheist friend-0


10- September

The case for Intelligent Design

 

Why God?

But… why not God?

Dear Sam

My intention in writing this is NOT to prove beyond any shadow of doubt that God exists; rather I want to refute the atheistic claim that they dearly hold with a 100% certainty that God doesn’t exists, further I will try to put a logically valid and a scientifically sound case for the former.

 

We -as believers- never claim that we hold “The Scientific Proof” of God’s existence; we say: “we only have faith”, “we believe”, we simply say: we have noticeable, accumulative, and logical verifications that support our faith.

 But it might come to your as a shock and a surprise that I can confidently claim that we have logic, rationality, maths, commonsense, and scientific evidence leaning heavier towards our hypothesis than they are towards yours!!!

Now, I will try to tackle the above issues and questions by breaking the topic into small (hopefully manageable) sections.

 

From a philosophical viewpoint:

 The very intriguing thought here is that if there was no Creator why are we as conscious species obsessed with this concept; either by adamantly denying it or passionately believing in it!

Why should this concept exist at all in our minds? Why should the question arise in the first place?

If there was no elephant in your living room would you ever question the possibility of the existence of one? Would you ever bother to try to prove that it exists? Would you bother –ever- denying its existence? Would such a question ever come to mind?

If there is no hot tea pot revolving around our planet would philosophers (apparently they are humans with the highest IQ) throughout the ages spend their lives debating the existence of a tea pot; some trying to prove and others refuting its existence?

Dear San, unless there is a reasonable possibility that God exists such question would have never occurred.

 

In purely mathematical/ logical sense:

 

There are only two possibilities in relation to the question: does God exist?

Either that God exists or God doesn’t exist, the probability of either case is ½.

Logically speaking, can you affirm without a shadow of doubt that the probability of the existence of a Creator, a Designer is zero?

Dear Sam, no one with the least amount of rationality, the minimum reasoning ability, or the tiniest logical capacity would do this.

Dear Sam, in terms of common sense alone; you can never produce any Absolute Final Proof of the non-existence of a Creator (proving a negative is almost impossible), nor can you ever refute the possibility of the existence of God.

 

So if a secular says that: I can affirm with 100% conviction that there is no God, what he/she is saying is no science, it is mere wishful thinking.

 It is nothing but blind faith, a belief, a mathematically invalid statement and an unscientific declaration!

 

Here, and at this very point I can say that we both stand at almost equal footing to each other; it’s like sitting at two opposite ends of a seesaw in a state of equilibrium.

 What we both have in hand is nothing but FAITH.

However the seesaw leans downwards -ever so slightly- towards my side as a believer, because right from the beginning I never claimed having The Absolute Truth.

At least we are honest about our ideology, all we claim is that we believe, we have faith; yet on the other hand you start at a disadvantaged position by claiming that your ideology is more scientifically based, you claim that it has nothing to do with faith. It is all about facts and knowledge.

Yet I showed earlier that so far all you have is nothing but faith, and all what you’ll ever have is nothing but faith; you can call it a non-faith if you like; nevertheless it is NOT science. It can never be verified.

 

From a scientific point of view:

 

Starting with physics;

One of the first questions that hits us in the face us as we embark on the journey of studying our physical universe is:

 How did our universe came to be?

There are three possibilities that could answer the question:

1) It is eternal; it could’ve existed from -∞ and it will continue to exist forever, it has neither beginning nor end.

2) It has a beginning, a starting point before which it was nothing.

3) It doesn’t exist at all; all is an illusion, all is in the mind of the observer –man who is an illusion too.

 

If we start with the third possibility as the true explanation we might as well stop here, we need to go no further; as this whole dialogue is nonsense. It’s all part of the illusion. If you lean towards this possibility you might as well stop reading.

 

The first possibility doesn’t hold for long in the light of our present knowledge of astronomy and physics, the theory most accepted by theoretical physicists today is that of the big bang, we are told by experts that the universe did not exist from -∞ but in fact it has a starting point, scientists even have calculated the age of our universe.

 

They also confirm that with available data today we know that our universe is expanding; the unanswered question today still is; will our universe continue to expand forever or will it reach a critical point where the gravity will eventually slow it down to a point where it will cause to collapse upon itself in a big crunch?

The answer depends very much on us finding out the accurate mass of the universe; whether it is big enough to pull it back under its own gravity.

 

In other words if data evidence showed us that the universe will expand forever (smaller mass); what we get is a universe with a beginning and no end, but if the evidence showed that it is heavy enough and it will eventually stop expanding what we get is a universe with a beginning and an end.

 

Now back to our three possibilities; and with process of logical elimination we are left with the second explanation as the one most likely to coincide with our common sense; yet within that explanation there are three new possibilities; to explain further:

1) The universe has a beginning but no end and it will continue to expand forever.

2) The universe has a beginning and an end (if it stops expanding)

3) Another plausible thought is the universe exists in an infinite number of cycles of big bangs and big crunches, a never ending dance fluctuating between existence and annihilation in a span of infinite time period.

 

But from the above possibilities we know that -at least- at one point in time (may be infinite number of times) the universe did not exist, i.e. it was nothing.

 

 Trying to make sense of the above information, which is that the universe did not exist; and then it came into being; we could consider two possibilities:

1)     That the physical (matter/energy) universe has spontaneously sprung itself from nothingness into being; i.e. it is the Creator and destroyer of its self.

2)   Or that it has being created by a separate entity (a Creator) that Itself is infinite in time (unlike the universe It has neither beginning nor end).

With my limited ability to think and comprehend I can’t see any other possibilities.

I stop here just to say it’s up to you to go with what ever makes more sense to you, as for me I go with the latter, as my common sense and my conscious defies the notion that I have anything to do with the creation of the universe; yet I know that I am one of its “aware” components! Its true that I exist, I am also aware of my existence and that of the universe, but “I didn’t do it”!

to be continued…

© Copyright 2006 Nahida Izzat & Sam Semoff -PoetryforPalestine – All Rights Reserved

My atheist friend-1


 

Chemistry perspective:

 

Studying chemistry gives an insight into the closest material world that we live in; unlike physics that often ends up dealing with the macrocosmic, or the microcosmic, chemistry deals with hands on stuff. Things you can hold, test, investigate, and verify.

If so, how dare we bring God into this subject then?

What is the relevance of God here?

In perusing the search for a comprehensible and logical understanding of our existence as humans on this planet; we are bound to come face to face with the study of chemistry and biochemistry, at the end of the day, we are nothing but extremely sophisticated molecules.

My intrigued mind ponders:  how did all these billions and billions of molecules -which are me-, come together? How was I assembled?

 

The true story:


Evolutionists take me back in time hundreds of millions of years, they say: once upon the time, there was this warm acidic soup covering our planet, it contained all sorts of matter, substances, molecules, and atoms.

An accident happened!

Some atoms got together by an unplanned chemical reaction; a more sophisticated molecule was formed; an amino acid.

Then another accident, followed by yet another, and more, and more, and more……………… and more …… and more…

Then amazingly another good accident occurred, followed by another and another and another ……………………………… and more……… and more; many amino acids were formed.

And then… you won’t even believe what happened then; just by many… many more chances more molecules joint…

After these amazing random chances this murky muddy soup was overflowing with amino acids, of many forms, shapes and sizes.

Time passes you know; after many millions of years, with these amino acids swimming around pumping into each other another even more fascinating accident happened, two amino acids joined! Followed by a third, then a forth………….. then a fiftieth….

Then, guess what!! A protein came to be!

Millions of years passed by and these amazingly good chances continued. I can’t believe how lucky we are! More proteins were accidentally assembled, thousands more!

I know that mathematicians tell us that the probability of the formation of one modest protein accidentally is 1 out of 10300 ; they also say that the odds of forming another protein are similar.

 Now one of the smallest bacteria ever discovered, contains 600 "types" of proteins.

To work out the probability of the formation of these proteins it will be about one out of 10180000.

 I know that mathematicians –moreover- say that if we have billions upon billions of years, and amounts of matter that covers billions of planets the chances for a single protein to be formed is an infinitesimally small. 

They also say any probability smaller than 1 over 10150 is considered a zero probability. They also say the probability of forming one living cell with its entire complex components is so infinitesimally small that it’s incalculable, it is mathematically impossible.

Yet the possibility of the existence of God is ½, they say.

 

 I know what you are thinking now… you’re thinking how impossible our situation is, how frustrating.

Please don’t let these abstract figures confuse you, please stay focused.

I want you to know that if you have two probabilities, the first is ½ and the second is 1/near∞, they are both possible. I know that your common sense is alluring you to think that the first is more likely to happen; but by thinking purely in “scientific” terms one can go against his/her commonsense and logic (see quotation *** below).

 

 I accept that the probability of the coincidental formation of our building blocks; a single protein is "as unlikely as the possibility of a monkey writing the history of humanity on a typewriter without making any mistakes". However, I want to reassure you that you need not to worry because we were very very lucky indeed, and you know what? It already happened! In our dictionary the word impossible does not exist, except when it comes to “God” of course.

 

But obviously this is not the end of the story; luck continued to pour upon this blessed planet, and some how, other compounds accidentally -and for no particular reason- managed to arrange itself in such an order forming the amazing structure of DNA. And please don’t ask about the probability of this happening.

 

Meanwhile, many… many… many other good accidents happened and things like the nucleic acids, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins, electrolytes and many other chemicals started -for no particular reason- arranging themselves accidentally in specific proportions, harmony, and design, in order to have a specific structures and specific functions accidentally -and for no particular reason- forming the very first known cell on this fabulous planet.

 

 Now I can see it in your wondering eyes, you want to know the probability of that happening don’t you? Now that is not my job, I am not a mathematician… I am a biologist can’t you see?

If you are so keen, go and work it out yourself; this is your homework for today.

All I can say to you that it is very possible, highly probable, it has happened!

 

I know that it was a long story, but this is how life on earth began.

 

End of Chapter One.

 By now I think you know what is the twist in the story, don’t you? If you don’t, don’t worry, it will be revealed in Chapter Two.

 

Biology perspective (chapter 2):

 

The twist of this unbelievable story is that these accidental, purposeless, functionless, complex structures known as DNA started -for some purposeless reason- making copies of itself. I am not sure if it was –at the time- making copies of itself while inside the cell or out side it!

I am not totally sure also how exactly did the first cell managed to divide itself. What was the kick? May be you can tell me!! Yes you!!

 

I think by now you know the happy ending of the story, but I’ll give you a synopsis of what happened.

This first cell continued to make copies of itself making billions upon billions of its own kind, until one happy afternoon another accident happened, the DNA got board, and for no particular reason it decided that it’s no longer happy with the way it was.

It needed something more from its life, something more fulfilling, more meaningful, so for no particular reason and by pure chance it managed suddenly to change itself.

And then hurray… a new cell was formed.

This pattern continued billions and billions of time, purposely and for no particular reason many types of life forms came to be. Some stayed independent as one-cell organism.

 

 Others –and for no particular reason- joined together, agreeing accidentally between themselves –for no particular reason- to stick together for better or for worse. They also agreed –for no particular reason- to accidentally help each other out and to form highly sophisticated, extremely organised, and beautifully structured purposeless organisms.

 

Every now and then, these accidental, purposeless structures of life-forms keep popping out and/or changing producing the millions of different varieties that we see today.

 Until today, and accidentally… for no particular reason they continue to produce life-forms of specific proportions, harmony, design, intelligence, awareness, morality, and beauty that are perfect in terms of structure, adaptability,  and function.

 

And for no particular reason life on earth goes on.

 

THE END

The Gospel of St. Darwin

 

WARNING: if you don’t believe this story, then you must be a creationist or an Intelligent Design supporter; you have no right to get involved with any real scientific research, teaching or discussion.

 If you insist on denying this Gospel we will summon you to court. If you ever try teaching children anything else; then be prepared to lose your job. If you try doing your PhD on something controversial that does not conform to this Gospel your failure is guaranteed.

 

Dear Sam, I’m sorry for going off the track, I just couldn’t help trying to imagine being on the other side. I guess it didn’t work… heh.

 

Back to normal now:

 

From a human rights perspective:

 

 As people of faith we stand next to you -as atheists- on equal footing, in our right to believe, and our right to discuss Intelligent Design as a plausible scientific theory, our right to seek evidence that gives our hypothesis more credence; as much as you have the right to discuss naturalism, and to seek proof to help you obliterate God from your lives.

 

What you don’t have the right for –however- is to silence us by imposing new laws that takes away those rights from us.

You don’t have the right to claim to be the sole holder of the candle of science.

 You don’t have the right to prevent us from presenting our knowledge and view point to the public.

 You don’t have the right to stop us from being part of the scientific community.

 You don’t have the right to claim the minds of our children and to stop them hearing our side of the story.

 

The days of discrimination, thought blackmailing, and persecution against people who have a different out look to life than yours are over.

 We do not want secular fundamentalism to dominate our lives, and our children’s lives, to force its own beliefs upon us, or to deprive us from our natural right to make choices and think freely.

 We have the RIGHT to believe that there is a God as much as you have the right to BELIEVE that there is no God.

 The rigid reaction and the irrational adamant refusal of investigating, discussing, teaching of Intelligent Design as a “theory” is puzzling; Darwinists resorted to courts to stop scientists from pursuing their right to teach their hypothesis and their line of investigations!

Will they manage to produce new laws and punishments against those rebellious free thinkers?

 Does that remind you of something- I wonder?

 

Insisting that faith (the belief in God) should be cast out from the public life (education, science, research, and politics) only gives the secular more rights to influence, shape and control people’s lives, despite the fact that all they have is also nothing but faith (belief in no God- materialism instead).

 

Instead of turning your back on God; why not be more daring: investigate, scrutinize, explore, and ask questions like: why do people have faith? What do they get out from their faith?

They are not a bunch of uneducated, brainless, or deluded people. They have brains just like you; they can think.

They are not a misguided bunch of ignorant people, or brainwashed individuals living in superstitions.

 

They are people… just like you.

 

Darwinian Fundamentalist Manifesto:

Richard Lewontin’s Commitment to Materialism

Richard Lewontin’s January 9, 1997 article, Billions and Billions of Demons, which is a review of Carl Sagan’s book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark contains the oft-quoted line about not allowing “a Divine Foot in the door.” The entire paragraph in which this line appears is worth quoting. It seems to me to be the best statement of the philosophical foundation for the Darwinian fundamentalist perspective.

 

“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense***  is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

 

Wow!! What a great devotion, what an unshakable faith!! What a firm believer in… Materialism

 

From a psychological perception:

 

Now, I can talk about this point from a purely personal perspective; my faith gives me inner strength; I don’t need rely on anything; people, things, or mind-blocking substances to cope with the adversities of life, pain, worries or sorrow. My faith is my inner strength.

It gives me a sense of purpose, it gives my life a meaning, it gives my mind a sense of direction, it gives my heart endless fulfilment and fills it with boundless love, and it gives my soul everlasting joy and delight

 

My faith brings to me none but the most pleasant, most amazing feelings of contentment, tranquillity, peace; that life could be raging around me but I am sitting there ever so calm, ever so still, ever so safe, as if forever sitting in the eye of the storm.

 

My faith enthuse me with hope, happiness and bliss that nothing, absolutely nothing in this life I’ve ever experienced can be weighed against, measured up to, or compared with those intense wonderful experiences.

It is like trying to describe the feeling of your magnificent love to some one who’s never been in love before, who’s only experienced the enjoyment of intellectual muse, but never tasted love.

 

The feeling of excitement of intellectual stimulation, and the delight and pleasure of being in love and feeling loved are absolutely insignificant compared to the overwhelming enchantment and ecstasy that the soul enjoys in one moment of inspiration

 

Can I ever give it up for anything? Can I ever swap it with the whole material world with all of what’s in it?

Never

 Not even if I were to be chopped and diced into pieces or burnt at the stake.

Dear Sam, you can imagine the implications (on some people) of believing that life is nothing but some blind purposeless random events.

The implications of the concept of survival of the fittest; do you think that has any thing to do with the rise of capitalist imperialist fascist, and even Nazi’s  ideologies?

 

Finally dear Sam, I want you to contemplate on the possibility (no matter how tiny to you) that our narrative might be true. That God might exist. What are the implications of that?

With all my prayer

And lots of love

Nahida

 

© Copyright 2006 Nahida Izzat & Sam Semoff -PoetryforPalestine – All Rights Reserved

My atheist friend-2


11- September

 Dear Sam

This article is from the Internet

 

THE LANGUAGE OF OUR CELLS

 


Does the intelligence of DNA point to a designer?

Consider for a moment the cathedral-like structure of a snowflake under a microscope. Look at the beauty. Look at the complexity. Look at the originality of each individual flake. Surely this is evidence for a grand designer in the universe.

Well, no, actually it’s not—no more so than the burned enchilada of a woman in Mexico that apparently revealed the image of Jesus (though in the photo it did kind of look like him).

Although crystalline forms of a snowflake are beautiful and impressive, designs of this type abound in nature, and natural processes can and do produce them.

Neo-Darwinists believe that natural selection and favourable mutations are the total explanation for the appearance of design in nature.

But what if complexity in nature is discovered that is not explainable by natural selection and chance mutations? What if, unlike our snowflake and enchilada examples, scientists discover a form of complexity that exceeds all human engineering and all sophisticated software programs? This raises an important question: How would we be able to detect intelligent design in nature if it actually exists?

OF CLOTHES DRYERS, MOUNT RUSHMORE, AND PRIME NUMBERS

The folks at SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) have done some thinking along the lines of what constitutes signs of intelligence. They are searching for extraterrestrial life, as opposed to God, but they have to deal with the same problem set. How would they recognize communication from outer space if they saw or heard it?

Some of their thinking is brought out in the movie Contact. In one scene, the character played by Jodie Foster spends the evening listening to her dryer (presumably Blockbuster was closed). But there is a method to her apparent madness. She is trying to train her ears so that she will be able to recognize intelligent radio signals from outer space, filtering out the zillion random signals produced by all manner of objects in the cosmos.

A clothes dryer produces a certain level of mechanical rhythm; its noise actually has a level of design, sort of like that of a snowflake. But that noise (especially when you have sneakers thumping around in there) represents a type of design that non-intelligence (that is, nature) can produce.

How can we tell the difference between design that occurs naturally and intelligent design?

Let’s say we’ve headed out to Vegas, and along the way, we come upon a bizarre rock formation. I say, “Hey, look at the erosion on that rock. It looks kind of like Richard Nixon when the Watergate tapes were made public.” You, on the other hand, think it looks like Vladimir Putin eating scrambled eggs. We agree to disagree, but we both note that the forces of erosion made something that looks a bit like a product of intelligent design.

Now, as we drive farther, we come to Mount Rushmore. Seeing it for the first time, I am amazed. I say, “Wow, look at the erosion on those rocks. It looks just like three presidents I recognize and some guy wearing glasses.” You rightly call me an idiot, not only because you know who Teddy Roosevelt is, but also because it is obvious by the way the stone is cut and the extraordinary degree of design that this is the product of intelligent craftsmen—ones who apparently have no fear of heights.

But there must be a more scientific way to differentiate between these two levels of design: one that can be produced by nature and one that can’t.

Later on in the movie Contact, the scientists receive radio waves at the sequence of 1,126 beats and pauses. The sequence, they deduce, represents the prime numbers 2 through 101. It becomes doubtful that random radio waves could emit such a sequence, thus they presume they have made contact.

This is a more scientific way of differentiating between two different orders of design. It is commonly called CSI. This acronym has nothing to do with a popular TV show. It stands for “complex, specified information.”

CSI: THE UNIVERSE

Here is what you need to remember about CSI, or complex, specified information. Nature can generate information that is complex, and it can produce information that is specified, but it cannot do both.

The best way to understand this is to think of yourself as a computer programmer. (You might want to grab a large bag of potato chips and a six-pack of Coke to get into character.) I want you to write a program for the computer telling it to type random letters of the alphabet.

It should be fairly easy to write the program. Just instruct the computer to type keys at random and repeat the process infinitely. Now, occasionally the letters might make an interesting pattern, perhaps even type the word “Nixon” by accident, but it is clearly generating a design of complexity without any real specificity.

Now let’s switch it around. Let’s say I ask you to program the computer to type the word “the”. This is going to require specificity. You must specify, “Computer, type the letter ‘t,’ then ‘h,’ and then ‘e,’ and do this over and over again until your printer runs out of ink or your hard drive crashes.” This is specific, but it is not complex. You can program the computer in this case, like the previous one, with just a few lines of instructions.

Typing random letters or typing a simple word over and over is like the kind of
design that natural processes can handle on their own.

Now let’s look at specified complexity. Let’s say I ask you to program the computer to write out a Harlequin romance novel and make the girl decide to dump the guy in the end. You would have to write a list of instructions for the computer larger than the book itself. You would have to specify, in the form of a command, every letter of every word.

Few people would have thought of Harlequin romances as specified complexity, but as you can see, they are. The commands to the computer are extremely complex and extremely specific. That’s the kind of detail we must demand if we are going to believe that there is intelligent design exhibited in the world.


PROBABLY INTELLIGENT

Seems simple enough, but at what point does something cross the threshold from the simple design found in nature to second-order design produced only by intelligence? Mathematician William Dembski illustrates the difference by having us visualize a rat trying to go through a maze.

In a simple maze, the rat can take one turn and escape from the maze. Even a dim-witted rat could take one turn and escape. But now imagine that the maze is extremely complex, possessing walls and requiring 100 precise turns to reach the point of escape. How likely is it that the little critter will quickly learn all the correct turns and escape? Impossible–unless we have one awfully bright rat.

So, when do we infer intelligence? According to mathematicians when the odds against an event occurring are 1 in 10150 or greater, it can’t be accidential.1 In order to grasp such an astronomical number, consider that the odds against winning a Power ball lottery with a single ticket is about 1 in108 Or trying to pick a solitary atom from all the atoms in the universe would be 1 in 1080

So, having cleared all that up, we come to the real question. Forgetting all the erosion and snowflake patterns, are there any examples of specified complexity found in nature pointing toward intelligent design? The short answer is yes. What follows, without getting into too much detail, is
the longer answer. It uses the example of something each of us has heard something about: deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA.

WHAT A LITTLE STAND CAN DO

DNA. That one complex molecule contains the complete blueprint for every cell in every living thing. In a sense DNA is like a recipe where common ingredients are used to make different dishes. Only, instead of tasty dishes, DNA instructs cells to make flowers, whales, chickens, or people. (Hmm…so chickens aren’t tasty dishes?)

The genius of DNA lies not only in its complex coded instructions for life but also in its incredibly well-designed architecture, which allows it to contain billions of detailed instructions within a microscopic molecule. The amount of DNA that would fit on a pinhead contains information equivalent to that of a stack of paperback books that would encircle the earth 5,000 times!2

Our complete blueprint is present in each of our thousand million million cells. Think of an enormous building with thousands upon thousands of rooms, where each room houses a complete set of blueprints for the entire structure. (If these analogies are getting a little sterile for you, then you might want to imagine a series of beach houses—and imagine yourself sitting in one.) However, instead of merely thousands of rooms, our bodies contain trillions of cells, each with a complete package of DNA instructions.3

Each strand of DNA in our bodies consists of three billion base pairs of genetic information. These base pairs form a chain, which constitutes the entire human genetic code. Today the entire human genome has been mapped out. Even though humans are closest to chimpanzees in DNA sequencing, there are still some 40 million differences. (Except maybe with my friend Bob.)4

YOUR CELLS ARE TALKING

But just what is DNA, and how does it work? Although scientists are only beginning to unravel its mysteries, they know that DNA works much like a coded language. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates (apparently sizing up the potential to patent it and make it a part of Windows) discloses, “DNA is like a computer program, but far, far more advanced than any software we’ve ever created.”5

When we think of sophisticated computer programs, we immediately realize that their coded software was intentionally designed. Materialists believe that DNA originated without any such intentional process. But is it possible that natural causes alone engineered DNA?

Prior to microbiologists’ discovery of the incredibly complex language of DNA, materialists had believed its origin was explainable by natural means. However, design theorists have now applied the mathematical discipline of CSI to the question of whether DNA is the result of intelligent design or was accidental in its origin.

Historian and philosopher Stephen C. Meyer comments on the intelligence required for coded languages: “Our experience with information-intensive systems (especially codes and languages) indicates that such systems always come from an intelligent source.”6

In other words, like a code or language, DNA operates with specifically organized instructions. This is the CSI (complex, specified information) discussed earlier as the watermark of intelligent design.

When DNA directs the cell to make proteins, it first gives instructions to make amino acids. Then twenty different amino acids must precisely link up into a chain, folding into an exacting, irregular three-dimensional protein. The amino acids are like letters; their arrangement spells out the specific protein being made.

Proteins are truly amazing. MIT-trained scientist Dr. Gerald Schroeder explains,


Other than sex and blood cells, every cell in your body is making approximately two thousand proteins every second. A protein is a combination of three hundred to over a thousand amino acids. An adult human body is made of approximately seventy-five trillion cells. Every second of every minute of every day, your body and every body is organizing on the order of 150 thousand thousand thousand thousand thousand thousand amino acids into carefully constructed chains of proteins. Every second; every minute; every day. The fabric from which we and all life are built is being continually rewoven at a most astoundingly rapid rate.7

LIFE IN A TEST TUBE

In the 1950’s, Harold Urey, a professor at the University of Chicago challenged his students to create life in a test tube. One of his students who tried, Stanley Miller was jubilant, when after enormous efforts he produced a few amino acids…the building blocks of proteins.

It all appeared so promising, but what Miller didn’t understand then was that without DNA, those amino acids would never be able to form proteins…the stuff of life. The initial euphoria faded once further discoveries revealed life’s incredible complexity.

Professor J.P. Moreland compares laboratory results with the complexity required to generate life: “…if life can be likened to an encyclopedia in complexity and information, the best we have done is to synthesize a compound which carries the complexity and information of the word ME. The jump from ME to an encyclopedia is so far and speculative that the relevance of progress so far is questionable.”8

Meyer points out that the chemical codes directing the process attach themselves to the structure of the DNA molecule like letters on a chalkboard, but they do so without becoming organically involved with the board or the other letters.

Therefore, he distinguishes the information content from the chemical bonding.

Furthermore, Meyer compares the sequencing of the amino acids to a language:
“Amino acids alone do not make proteins, any more than letters alone make words, sentences or poetry.”9

The fact that the arrangement of the letters is not the result of chemical bonding has driven Meyer to conclude that, without intelligence, DNA would never be able to turn amino acids into proteins. He writes, “The chance of each amino acid finding the correct bond is one in twenty; the chance of one hundred amino acids hooking up to successfully make a functional protein is one in 1030.”10

And to survive, the protein chain must be contained within an intricate cellular architecture. That means that the odds against a protein being manufactured randomly are astronomical. It would be easier for a blindfolded person to find one special grain of sand hidden on one of the world’s beaches than to have a protein appear by chance.

WHERE DID IT COME FROM?

Such complexity is so improbable that Meyer believes the DNA code cannot be the product of undirected natural processes. Furthermore, he reasons that DNA coding exhibits creative intelligence beyond random chemical bonds.

Perhaps this is why every attempt to create life has failed. Cambridge Professor of Evolutionary Paleobiology, Simon Conway Morris remarks on biologists’ efforts to replicate life in a test tube: “And yet, something is clearly missing: life cannot be created in the laboratory, nor is there any clear prospect of it happening.”11

How did a molecule with such complex coded instructions originate? What natural process triggered a smattering of organic chemicals to come together and form the incredibly sophisticated double helix? Schroeder remarks, “And here’s that enigma. … It shows its head in a dozen different ways, the problem of how the entire process originally got started.”12

Dembski, Meyer, and Schroeder are part of a growing number of scientists and mathematicians who have concluded that the DNA molecule is so complex that it couldn’t have spontaneously assembled itself.

In Probability 1, mathematician and evolutionist Amir Aczel summarizes the DNA dilemma: “Having surveyed the discovery of the structure of DNA … and having seen how DNA stores and manipulates tremendous amounts of information (3 billion separate bits for a human being) and uses the information to control life, we are left with one big question: What created DNA?”13

An increasing number of scientists in other fields are also admitting that DNA’s complexity is not explainable by mere chance. Theoretical physicist Paul Davies affirms in The 5th Miracle,


The peculiarity of biological complexity makes genes seem almost like impossible objects. …

I have come to the conclusion that no familiar law of nature could produce such a structure from incoherent chemicals with the inevitability that some scientists assert.14


Biologist Michael Behe comments on the dilemma facing scientists who are wedded to a purely materialistic account of the origin of life, “In the face of the enormous complexity that modern biochemistry has uncovered in the cell, the scientific community is paralyzed.”15

Agnostic Sir Fred Hoyle, when considering the enormous information requirement of life writes, “Were a refined theory available for estimating the information content of DNA it would, in our opinion, be immediately apparent from its overwhelming content that life could never have arisen on a miniscule planet like on Earth. It would be seen that, to match the information content of even the simplest cell, nothing less than the resources of the entire Universe are needed.”16

DNA BY DESIGN?

Scientists have been stunned by the overwhelming probability against DNA forming by chance. It is one thing for intelligent scientists to manipulate chemicals under laboratory conditions, and it is quite another to attribute the origin of DNA to random action. Even the most ardent materialists do not claim to have explained DNA’s origin.

Amir Aczel questions his own materialistic belief by admitting that DNA is too complex to have arisen from natural processes. In a reflective mode he asks,


Are we witnessing here something so wondrous, so fantastically complex, that it could not be chemistry or random interactions of elements, but something far beyond our understanding?17


DNA’s codiscoverer Francis Crick also considers DNA to be too complex to have arisen in a warm pond on early Earth. This highly regarded Nobel Prize–winning biologist concludes, “An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to almost be a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.”18

In spite of Crick’s assertion that DNA appears miraculous he remained a materialist and began looking to outer space for the origin of life. (panspermia).

Having acknowledged the impossibility of DNA to originate naturally, some scientists have shifted their focus to RNA. Several biologists believe that DNA emerged from RNA. However, microbiologists who have analyzed RNA now believe it too “could not have emerged straight from the prehistoric muck.”19

Not only is RNA prohibitively intricate, but it’s far more delicate than DNA, meaning it couldn’t cohere by itself even if it did come together by chance. Thus, the origin of life remains an unsolved riddle to scientists.

Aczel reasons that the complexity of DNA could not have arisen naturally on Earth, He asks, “Was it perhaps the power, thinking, and will of a supreme being that created this self-replicating basis of all life?”20 Like Crick, Aczel concludes that DNA must have arrived from outer space.

But according to Dembski, “Natural causes such as chance and law are incapable of producing CSI.”21 Since these laws apply throughout the universe, one shouldn’t hold his breath about finding Klingons on Planet Qo’noS in the Beta Quadrant–unless a designer made DNA based life elsewhere.

So how did life on Earth originate? Is intelligent design worthy of consideration? Not according to Dawkins, Eldridge, Mayr, and a host of other materialistic scientists who are convinced it is an enemy of science.

Yet other leading scientists are willing to objectively look at the evidence. And new scientific evidence has pushed intelligent design to the forefront of the debate on origins. Even many hardened atheists have considered the evidence and admit the implications of design.

Antony Flew is one materialist who led the charge against an intelligent designer. Recognized by many as the world’s leading atheist for the past fifty years, Flew wrote over thirty books arguing against a creator.

But this formidable atheist took an honest look at DNA, remarking,


What I think the
DNA material has done is show that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements together. The enormous complexity by which the results were achieved look to me like the work of intelligence.22


Flew, who accepts Darwinian evolution, but doubts it can account for life’s origins, sees intelligent design as the best option to explain biological complexity. He made front page news when he renounced his atheism, remarking,


I think the argument to Intelligent Design is enormously stronger than it was when I first met it…It now seems to me that the finding of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.23

Flew’s honesty is to be applauded, but materialists aren’t clapping. As the intelligent design movement gains momentum, many refuse to consider it as an option, dismissing it as “unscientific.” However, most thinking people want to hear the facts and draw their own conclusions. Like Flew, many who have honestly investigated the evidence, are in awe at what appears to be a superintelligence behind life and all its intricate complexity.

——————————————————————————————————————–

11- September

 

Dear oh Dear Nahida,

I am at a bit of a loss as to how to respond.

I have had a quick look through the second and third emails you sent.
Unfortunately I do not have the time to untangle the arguments and check out the references.  I did check the Internet and was amazed at the number of similar articles, some of which appear to have been around for years.   This is another one (
http://home.pacbell.net/skeptica/religion.html) and is similar the two you sent. It is called “The Big Bang Religion: Scientists Speak For Themselves” and is about scientists who believe in a creator.

I also did check out one of the references in the DNA article and found that the original source has been misquoted and used out of context, making that particular bit of the argument meaningless.  I then went on to check the vast number of sites challenging intelligent design,
paying attention to the people writing the articles and the publications in which they appeared. (If interested go to google and type in “debunking intelligent design or challenging intelligent
design”) and you will see what I mean. It would appear that that the use of convoluted arguments based on partial quotes taken out of context and twisted to fit people’s preconceptions, forms the basis for many articles advocating intelligent design. Thus instead of concepts based on evidence you have evidence based on the concept, which in this
case is intelligent design. The vast majority of scientists treat these ideas as a joke for they add nothing to our knowledge of the natural world.  It is also apparent that as I said before that the actual numbers of scientists who accept the idea of intelligent design is insignificant, and of those who do, few have any real standing in the scientific community.

I am very sorry to have to say this Nahida because it is obvious how strongly you feel, but I would not be honest if I said otherwise. The standard of the articles debunking intelligent design, the journals in which they appear and the reputations and previous achievements of the authors make the concept of intelligent design seem even more fanciful
that I had previously thought.

Dear Nahida, please do me one favour.  Try to forget about the issue and take a close objective look at some of the articles advocating intelligent design and some of those challenging intelligent design or explaining evolutionary principles.  Look at the format, the calibre of the arguments, the way they are constructed, the logic, the referencing, etc. Hopefully you will begin to see what I mean.

The real issue for debate among scientists should be how to respond to intelligent design.  Many do see it as a “threat” and get very upset, vociferously attacking the arguments in favour of intelligent design and calling for the teaching of intelligent design to be outlawed in
the belief that it will have a detrimental effect on students.  There are several problems with this approach.  First it gives intelligent design a credibility it does not deserve, making it seem as if it is a valid scientific theory worthy of consideration as such.  Perhaps decades ago, creationism or intelligent design as it is now called, may have seemed a “threat” to evolutionary principles but these principles now form the basis of so much of modern science and are so deeply entrenched that this is not the case.

Thus if people wish to believe in intelligent design, why bother to challenge it.  The huge body of knowledge in so many different fields will not be erased and the vast majority of scientists who reject intelligent design will continue to expand this knowledge based on evolutionary principles.  I would imagine it is very similar to Galileo’s time when people insisted the world was flat. Their impact continued to decrease until it disappeared.  Challenging intelligent
design also takes time and energy and I do not believe it is worth the effort.  If people want to believe in intelligent design, then why not let them. Perhaps it gives them a sense of security, making them feel better about themselves, which is a good thing.

The teaching of intelligent design in school science classes is more problematical for as I said, it does elevate it to that of a science and gives it a credibility it clearly does not deserve.  However I think the scientific community should seriously consider letting it be included in the science curriculum.  Admittedly it would dilute the amount of time for the teaching of real science but with a bit of imagination it could also be used to help students gain a better
understanding of evolutionary principles.  Those students who do go on to believe in intelligent design will have no more impact on the future of science than those before them who believed in intelligent design. It is hard to imagine a brilliant student with the potential to become
a great scientist taking up the idea of intelligent design. If they do, then it is a loss to all of us.  Maybe that is what intelligent design is all about.

Once again, please forgive me if anything I have said causes you offence, but it is what I believe.

Sam,

© Copyright 2006 Nahida Izzat & Sam Semoff -PoetryforPalestine – All Rights Reserved

My atheist friend-3


 

Dear oh Dear Nahida,

You surprise me for I see you as someone with a brilliant mind, undoubtedly one of the sharpest, I have come across in years.  Yet, when something arises that in any way clashes with your deeply held religious beliefs that incredible intellect seems to take a back seat.

I first noticed this when I queried why divinely inspired writings such as the Koran made no mention of the fact that the earth was round or that it revolved around the sun. Your response was to come up with an obscure passage from the Koran, which with a lot of interpretation
could be used to suggest the earth is round.  (I say obscure because I subsequently asked a number of Muslims about it, and they had never heard of the passage)

One would have thought that given the fact that the earth is round and that it revolves around the sun, is probably the biggest single contradiction between what we can see and the real world; there would be more emphasis of this fact in divinely inspired writings.  The
obvious answer is that “men” based on their knowledge of the world as they saw it wrote Koran.

I once asked you how two little boys, one growing up in the deserts of the Middle East and one on the ice flows of the artic, would relate to Koran. I am sure the Koran like the Bible talks of deserts, sands, camels, goats but how much discussion is there of glaciers and polar
bears?  Were the Koran not to have the religious significance that it does, you would probably be the first to point out that it was written by “men” based on their knowledge of the world as they knew it and that did not include ice flows and polar bears.  I do so wish you would give
free reign to your intellect and not constrain it with your religious beliefs.

You have done the same thing with this article on intelligent design. I am not an evolutionary biologist and thus not in a position to critique the article but I would be willing to bet that if I went to the subsequent issue of the journal, there would be quite a few letters destroying every argument the author makes.  Go into google and type in the words “evolutionary biology” and compare the sites that come up when you type in the words “intelligent design”.

I know this may be impossible but try to put aside your deeply held religious beliefs and objectively look at the material resulting from the two searches.  There is no doubt in my mind if you were looking at two sets of suggested mathematical proofs, you could look objectively
at them and see which was correct.  Why can you not do the same when comparing the material on evolutionary biology and intelligent design? How is it that as a mathematician you can ignore the vast amount of material that has been built up over the past 150 years about
evolutionary biology and then focus in on the nonsensical writings and the occasional pseudo-scientific article supporting intelligent design?

Again I ask you, please try and look at the material objectively, not through the eyes of your religious beliefs.

Sam,

 

—————————————————————————————————————————

13- September

Dear Sam

 

Yet, I am the one who’s at loss at your unbelievable responses (or should I say lack of response to my specific arguments).

 I am truly perplexed and puzzled at your incredible counter-arguments that you responded by to my arguments!

 

I tried to put forward to you -as clearly as I possibly could- my personal views onto why do I think that the idea of the existence of a Designer/ a Creator seems to my logic, my intellect and my commonsense more plausible than other theories; yet instead of responding to my points by trying to convince me otherwise and by refuting them logically and scientifically all you come up with is nothing but emotionally charged responses with no scientific validity what so ever; that can be summarized as such:

 

  • Firstly: you show your disappointment in my lack of ability to use my intellect.
  • Secondly: you keep referring me to google asking me to read more on the two arguments
  • Thirdly: you do more… you mock, and ridicule the scientists/ people who support my case rather than refute and challenge what they say.
  • Fourthly: your forth argument is that you come up with “presumptions” that appears to you and to your imagination as “facts”.

 

To illustrate to how do you do it from your own words, here it is:

1)     Showing your disappointment in my lack of ability to use my intellect.

 

.  “I do so wish you would give free reign to your intellect and not constrain it with your religious beliefs.”

 “You surprise me for I see you as someone with a brilliant mind, undoubtedly one of the sharpest; I have come across in years.  Yet, when something arises that in any way clashes with your deeply held religious beliefs that incredible intellect seems to take a back seat”

 

 

but dear Sam that is exactly what I have been trying to debate with you about, that something that arose –that you refer to- is the evolution, which I argue against in favour of Intelligent Design; I –very clearly­- have laid my case for the latter, and I am still waiting to hear your own response to my arguments; point by point rather than this vague and blurry reaction against my faith.

.

 

2)   you keep referring me to google asking me to read more on the two arguments

 

 

“Dear Nahida, please do me one favour.  Try to forget about the issue
and take a close objective look at some of the articles advocating intelligent design and some of those challenging intelligent design or explaining evolutionary principles”

 

“Again I ask you, please try and look at the material objectively, not through the eyes of your religious beliefs.”

 

“I know this may be impossible but try to put aside your deeply held religious beliefs and objectively look at the material resulting from the two searches.  There is no doubt in my mind if you were looking at two sets of suggested mathematical proofs, you could look objectively at them and see which was correct. Why can you not do the same when comparing the material on evolutionary biology and intelligent design?
How is it that as a mathematician you can ignore the vast amount of material that has been built up over the past 150 years about evolutionary biology and then focus in on the nonsensical writings and the occasional pseudo-scientific article supporting intelligent design?”

 

 Go into google and type in the words “evolutionary biology” and compare the sites that come up when you type in the words “intelligent design”.

Dear Sam what material? I am having a dialogue/ debate with you, not with google.

 

Don’t you think that by now that I’ve read something from both sides about what we are talking about?

 

3) You come up with more… you attack the scientists/ people rather than refute and challenge what they say

 

“I am very sorry to have to say this Nahida because it is obvious how strongly you feel, but I would not be honest if I said otherwise. The standard of the articles debunking intelligent design, the journals in which they appear and the reputations and previous achievements of the authors make the concept of intelligent design seem even more fanciful that I had previously thought.”

 

. “The vast majority of scientists treat these ideas as a joke for they add nothing to our knowledge of the natural world.  It is also apparent that as I said before that the actual numbers of scientists who accept the idea of intelligent design is
insignificant, and of those who do, few have any real standing in the scientific community.”

.  “I then went on to check the vast number of sites challenging intelligent design,
paying attention to the people writing the articles and the publications in which they appeared. (If interested go to google and type in “debunking intelligent design or challenging intelligent design”) and you will see what I mean.”

 

“Next time you see a so-called scientist who supports intelligent design, go on the web
and check out his/her background.  What contributions has he/she made?
How much has he/she added to our knowledge in their particular area of
study? How many articles does he/she have in reputable journals? What
positions does he/she hold in the scientific community?  
Nearly all
will be non-entities in the scientific world.”

The teaching of intelligent design in school science classes is more problematical for as I said, it does elevate it to that of a science and gives it a credibility it clearly does not deserve”

 

Those students who do go on to believe in intelligent design will have no more impact on the future of science than those before them who believed in intelligent design. It is hard to imagine a brilliant student with the potential to become a great scientist taking up the idea of intelligent design. If they do, then it is a loss to all of us.  Maybe that is what intelligent design is all about.”

“Challenging intelligent design also takes time and energy and I do not believe it is worth the effort.”

 

 

4) One more thing that you came up with, “presumptions” that appear to you and to your imagination as “facts”

 

“You have done the same thing with this article on intelligent design.
I am not an evolutionary biologist and thus not in a position to
critique the article
but I would be willing to bet that if I went to
the subsequent issue of the journal, there would be quite a few letters
destroying every argument the author makes
.  Go into google and type in
the words “evolutionary biology” and compare the sites that come up
when you type in the words “intelligent design”.

 

 

I first noticed this when I queried why divinely inspired writings such
as the Koran made no mention of the fact that the earth was round or
that it revolved around the sun.
Your response was to come up with an
obscure passage from the Koran
, which with a lot of interpretation
could be used to suggest the earth is round.  (I say obscure because I
subsequently asked a number of Muslims about it, and they had never
heard of the passage)

Dear Sam, the verse that you are referring to is very clear, is it my fault that your Muslim friends don’t know it?

 Is it my problem that you refuse to believe something which is there in front of your nose?

Further, there is more than one verse that explicitly refers to the fact that the earth is round. The evidence is there for people who want to see.

 

“He made the earth egg-shaped”  (79:30)

He has created the Heavens and the Earth for Truth. He wraps the night up in the day, and wraps the day up in the night. (Qur’an, 39:5)

In the Qur’an, the words used for describing the universe are quite remarkable. The Arabic word which is translated as "to wrap" in the above verse is "takwir." And the verb used is “yokawiru” which literally means make something into a ball shape. Its root is “kawra” which literally means “a ball”.  In English, it means "to make one thing lap over another, folded up as a garment that is laid away." For instance, in Arabic dictionaries this word is used for the action of wrapping one thing around another in a ball shaped such as making a ball out of woollen thread. The information given in the verse about the day and the night wrapping each other up includes accurate information about the shape of the world. This can be true only if the Earth is round. This means that in the Qur’an, which was revealed in the 7th century, the roundness of the world was specifically pointed at..

It is He Who created night and day and the sun and moon, each one swimming in a sphere. (Qur’an, 21:33)

 

. I am sure the Koran like the Bible talks of deserts, sands,
camels, goats but how much discussion is there of glaciers and polar
bears?
 Were the Koran not to have the religious significance that it
does, you would probably be the first to point out that it was written
by “men” based on their knowledge of the world as they knew it and that
did not include ice flows and polar bears.  I do so wish you would give
free reign to your intellect and not constrain it with your religious
beliefs.

Dear Sam, have you read the Quran and verified the above “facts” that you are so sure about?

Dear Sam, do you have any other more convincing arguments?

From a purely logical viewpoint; and as things stand today, evidence from, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, accumulative knowledge, commonsense and logic, increasingly support the theory of intelligent Design as a rational hypothesis.

Every shred of evidence points towards the plausibility of the existence of a Designer:

 

The mathematical probability, the fine tuning in the physical world, the existence of the physical and mathematical laws, the specified complexity in biological life that can’t be explained neither by random chance nor by natural selection.

 

As a mathematician; If I have the choice between two theories one of which the probability of it being true (happening) is one out of two; and the other the probability of it is happening is 1 out of an astronomical number, my logic leads me to assume that the first is more likely to be true.

 

I am not a scientist, nor am I a philosopher, and I don’t have to be either in order to have some understanding of the world around me. I can draw my own conclusions that correspond to my limited IQ, and that make the most sense to my intellect in terms of fathoming the basic scientific knowledge that I have.

I said time and again that based on the hypothesis of Intelligent Design, our experience-based analysis, and on our accumulative knowledge that we possess now; offers an adequate and logical explanation (to my logic, the most adequate) to the existence of our universe and to our own existence.

I am challenging you to give me a more adequate explanation!

Dearest Sam

*It is no good argument just to dismiss my case simply because it involves something you don’t like (a Creator). Examine the logical evidence instead.

*It is no good argument accusing me of irrationality (because I say a God might exist). Refute my case by presenting a better and a more rational one.

*It is no good argument to scorn and belittle those whom you disagree with because they have a different view than yours or because they are a minority, we as active peace groups are a minority; does this undermine the validity of what we stand for? Being a famous scientist does not automatically guarantee you a more favoured position to your argument. What you have to say and the logic you apply is the more important thing.

 Einstein was very famous and he always believed in God, does that make the case for God more plausible just because of his position in the scientific community? I can’t and won’t argue that.

*It is no good argument to tell me that you bet there is a better argument out there on the Web. Show me it in your own words, as I am debating with you not with google.

*It is no good argument to assume that the Quran says this and does not say that when you’ve never read it; while I’ve read it hundreds of times and I memorise by heart some of its chapters.

*It is no good argument telling me to wait for the future until we come up with an explanation.

 

Dear Sam I don’t have the time to wait a hundred years or may be a thousand. My life span does not give the luxury of waiting until something -in the very far future if ever- happens. I need to know now. I need to explain and justify my existence to myself; I don’t want someone to explain it when I am long gone. And I can only do it with the existing knowledge that we have now. If the future generations brings a more adequate explanation, then that’s great. Good for them.

Dear Sam

in my earlier email I told you how important my faith is to me, and that loosing my life is far easier to me than loosing my faith; however, and after a lot of thinking I am prepared to put my faith and my life at the stake! If you do me a favour,

I want to ask you for a simple request; if you do it I will be prepared to give up on my faith.

How about that?

Just out of raw elements; make me a fly.

 

—————————————————————————————–

13- September

Dear oh Dear Nahida,

Where is this all going?

You are so skilful with words and I simply do not have the time to unpick your arguments and research out the relevant information.  Your mastery of the language may well in the end defeat me but it certainly won’t be the force of your arguments.

Imagine I am faced with two competing mathematical theories and I have to choose which one I think is correct.  Naturally I would look at the arguments, but having very little background in mathematics, they would mean nothing to me.  I could ask that they be simplified so I could
understand the two theories, but this would not help as the differences are in the details, which I cannot begin to understand.

Next I look at the people advocating each of the theories and in particular what are their reputations among their fellow mathematicians and most importantly, what kind of a contribution have these individuals made in the field of mathematics?

Then I look at the weight of the evidence supporting each of the two theories.  What is the extent of the books, journals and papers published in support of each theory? Again what is the reputation and what are the achievements of those writing the books, journals and
papers?  Are the books published by reputable publishers and are the papers in established mathematical journals?

I would also look to the mathematical community as a whole and the countless number of mathematicians who initially did not take a view but after examining the evidence have come down in favour one theory or the other.  Once more what is their reputation and what is their
contribution to mathematics?

I might even engage in debate with others who advocate one or the other of the theories but I would be careful to stay at a level where I can understand the arguments.  It would be meaningless for me to challenge a mathematician on either side about the detailed arguments for they could convince me of virtually anything at the level on which they are
operating.

What do I do now?  Google has been a tremendous help.  Previously this process would have taken months even then there would be a questions of thoroughness.

What have I found? One theory has hundreds of books and journals and literally thousands of papers supporting it over the other theory. Whole departments have been created in some of the world’s most famous universities to develop this theory and whole new disciplines have been created to further explore it.

I also find that the vast majority of the world’s mathematicians support this same theory and they include the most famous and well respected members of the profession, mathematicians who have already proven their ability by their contributions to the field.  Perhaps even
more important, they also dismiss the other theory as being irrelevant and the arguments in support of it as being nonsensical.  They even go on to question the mathematical credentials of the few who support the other theory, labelling them as insignificant, despite the fact that
they get a lot of publicity and have massive support among people who know nothing about mathematics.

I am not a mathematician but I would have a pretty strong view as to which theory I support.

Curiously this process is similar to the one used by the judge in Pennsylvania last year when he ruled that intelligent design was not a science.  He spent months listening to testimony of numerous witnesses including the most well known advocates of intelligent design and went
on to find in behalf of those parents who sought to keep intelligent design out of the science classroom.

I guess if I am wrong, I will be in some very distinguished company.

There is one point, which I have raised previously and remain most curious.  The countless, books, journals, papers, university departments and disciplines such as molecular genetics all of which are based on evolutionary principles – what would you have done with them?

One final anecdote.  I ran into an old acquaintance who had worked as an ORT co-ordinator in Africa for Oxfam.  ORT stands for “oral rehydration therapy” and involves getting a packet containing a mixture of sugar and salt to a person, usually a child, who is suffering from dehydration.  The contents of the packet are mixed with water and if administered in time, will prevent death.  Sadly each day about 15,000 children around the world die of dehydration because they simply cannot get access to the sugar and salt solution.

My friend had to quit Oxfam for eventually the work got to him.  He could not say which was worse.  Was it watching a child continually vomiting and suffering diarrhoea, not knowing what was happening to them, screaming in pain until they gradually lost consciousness and
died or was it the agonised look on the mother’s face as she watched helplessly, unable do anything.

He was a chemistry teacher and is thinking of going back to teaching so in talking about science the subject of intelligent design arose. Suddenly his face tightened and I thought he was going to hit me.  What kind of intelligence, he asked, could create and design a living being and then give it the capacity to inflict such horror upon its own kind?

I did not have an answer but if you do, I will pass it on.

Sam,

13- September

————————————————————-

Dear Nahida,

To suggest that Einstein believed in God, in the way that you do is somewhat misleading.

Given your hesitation about using google, I have copied this from one of the many thousands of sites on this topic.

Sam,

———————————————————————

Einstein the agnostic

THINKERS ON RELIGION

© Copyright 2006 Nahida Izzat & Sam Semoff -PoetryforPalestine – All Rights Reserved

My atheist friend-4


—————————————————————————————————————————–

14- September

Dearest Sam

I have to admit to you that after sending my last email I felt so guilty, I regretted being so insensitive to your feelings, please do forgive me; I didn’t mean to be so harsh in my reply; it’s just my reflexive reaction which reflects nothing but my weakness and thoughtlessness. I am so sorry.

 Dear Sam, my aim of all these discussions was never to defeat you, but rather to present, explain, and defend my views.

I wanted to take your mind on a tour to the other side where you’ve never been before.

I wanted to share my thinking, my perceptions, and my experiences with you.

I understand that you’ve arrived at this point of awareness you are at because (just like me and everyone else in the world) this is precisely where your logic, your mind, your experiences had lead you to.

Each one of us on this planet had found him/ her self here… existing…

 

 So we had to make sense of it all; each in our own way, relying on our commonsense, knowledge and experiences.

 

 By absolutely no means do my experiences or my logic invalidate yours; neither do I have the right to impose mine on you.

Freedom of choice is the essence of our lives, how can we want something for ourselves, yet deny it to others?

 

As for my reply to your question what will happen to all the material about molecular genetics, and similar stuff; I don’t see where the problem is. Why is the worry?

Evolution is not a “fact” or a “law”, it never was. It has been taught as a theory and it should still be taught as a theory; however it won’t be the one and only theory.

 If a theory was capable of explaining a certain phenomenon, then the accumulative evidence came to support it; then it will naturally survive. If it fails and some other theory was more adequate at doing the explanation, supported by evidence; then the theory that can produce more valid evidence will eventually prove it self.

 Within the theory of evolution there is some great and credible contributions; however it’s not satisfactorily capable of explaining many issues such as the origin, the novelty, the variety, the purpose, or the complexity of life; neither does it have the evidence that could account for all the missing links as they’re called.

 Chance, mutation, and natural selection are seriously deficient in explaining the above; most serious of all it lacks the ability to explain purposefulness that stemmed out of utter randomness.

It is not capable of explaining how could some purposeful, conscious, conscientious, moral, intelligent beings come to exist out of utter chaos and disorder and only by mere chance.

 

 Academic freedom and adherence to scientific principles both imply and decree that this freedom should apply to all, including advocates of Intelligent Design.  

The other point regarding Einstein, there is no doubt that he didn’t believe in the personal (human-like) God of the bible as it were; nevertheless he undoubtedly believed in some sort of a God, a Creator. Until the last days of his life he was searching for the ultimate unified theory that would give him an insight into the mind of God as he called it.

When I was a little girl Einstein was my hero, I had his pictures all over my side of the room, I even painted him a picture. It took me ages to convince my sister Dima to put his pictures up! I read a lot about him, his theories and his life, and I cherished many of his quotations.

 

 Who is your hero?

But I don’t like this photo

In our room

My sister Dima shouts

With rage

 

He is an ugly old man

What is so nice about him?

Just take it off

Pleeease

 

But I like him very much

Says I

With wonder

Why can’t you see his beauty?

Look at his twinkling eyes

I think he’s wonderful

 

See how beautiful

His amazing mind

Covered with his wavy grey hair

You have your heroes

So let me have mine

 

Why not divide our room

You take that corner

For all the actors

And the singers

You like

 

And I’ll get this corner

For my Einstein

Don’t you think that’s fair?

 

With much hesitation

She agrees

 

The long winded fight

Has settled between us

The two hero- crazy teenagers

06-04-2006

 

Now to other question about suffering will need another episode.

Nahida

———————————————————————————————-

14- September

Dear Nahida,

You have absolutely no reason whatsoever to feel any guilt about your response.

Good friends do not have to feel any guilt for their responses to one another.  I appreciate and value your response because to me it is a sign that you are comfortable enough about me to be honest and express how you feel.  The fact that you take the time and the energy to
respond is also important for it is a sign that you care.  I only wish I could be more like you in this respect.

I really do believe the world would be a better place if people were more honest and open with one another.
I will tolerate a lot in people around me but playing games and hidden agendas are something for which I have little patience.

Even if someone were to have harsh thoughts about me, I would much rather they tell them to my face than mutter them under their breath.

Sam,

© Copyright 2006 Nahida Izzat & Sam Semoff -PoetryforPalestine – All Rights Reserved

My atheist friend-5


———————————————————————————————————————–

15- September

The Question of Suffering

 

How could an Intelligent Being allow such cruelty?

A most valid, most important, and most relevant question.

To start with, I am afraid that by talking about this topic, it would be very difficult to be objective. We won’t be able to discuss it from a purely scientific perception.

We can’t -even if we wanted to- be objective; as this issue entails feelings, emotions, philosophy, personal experience. Therefore I find that –here- I can’t be anything other than subjective; reflecting on my own personal life and my personal experiences.

 

The most negative occurrences in the life of a human being can be summarized as such: physical pain, emotional pain (sorrow), and fear.

Contemplating on my own life and like every one on the planet I’ve experienced all; but with such intensity that some times it felt and feels almost unbearable.

As little girl I survived the horrors of war, I watched my childhood being stolen away from me. I witnessed the destruction of a people. I experienced the loss of every thing I loved; including my home, my garden, my relatives, my friends, my village, my identity, even my much-loved books and school bag.

I had to rely on UN food and cloths parcels in order to survive.

I witnessed fighter planes flying so low in the sky -that as a child you thought they’re about to fall onto your head- while bombing villages killing innocent women and children.

At such a tender age, I came face to face with human cruelty and brutality and witnessed their ability to inflect so much pain, suffering, and humiliation upon its own kind.

 I left home as a refugee with absolutely nothing except the two dresses and a jumper that my mum had forced me to put on in the burning heat of Middle Eastern summer.

 She could carry nothing as her youngest baby was only three months old; she had to look after him and his four other sisters; the eldest was only seven years old. For six days we were hiding in a tomb in one of the graveyards in a neighbouring village.

 I lived through a kind of fear that had left its permanent mark on me. Until this very day I still jump when I hear a loud noise; I still tremble when I hear the roar of an airplane.

 

 My family of seven and I had lived for some years of our life sharing one room, living with another family of twelve (in Jordan), then sharing with a different family of ten (in Libya).

At a very young age, I’ve experienced pain, fear, and sorrow that many people don’t experience in a lifetime.

I agonized as my roots were uprooted time and time again; so much so that at the age of seventeen I decided to live an isolated life refusing to talk to anyone, by doing so I was trying to protect my sanity.

 My experiences at the time had taught me that I should never allow my self to make friends or love any one; as every one I loved I ended up loosing or getting separated away from.

 

As a young mother I was severely ill that I thought I was dying, I asked the doctors to allow me to leave the hospital for few hours because I wanted to see “Beauty and the Beast” movie with my children before it was too late; as I didn’t think I’d make it to watch anything else with them let alone watch them grow.

The pain that I went through at the time was so horrendous that it would keep me awake all day and night; they had to use powerful sedatives to put asleep.  

I prayed that no one ever may go through what I’ve been going through.

For four years I was bed ridden, fighting what seemed to be an endless battle with ruthless pain; at some point I couldn’t even hold a cup of tea in my hand let alone making one.

I couldn’t even drive; Khaled used to put me in the car and try to take me out by driving around for a little while just to lift my spirit up. At the end of each trip I’d come home shattered and so exhausted that I would decide I would never leave the house again.

I would read a paragraph over and over and over again without being able to understand a thing. People would be surrounding me chatting trying to cheer me up, yet I wasn’t even able to comprehend what they were saying.

I sat in front of the consultant with tears flooding into my eyes as he told me that this is it for me. Announcing a life-sentence of pain and agony, and advising me that I should stop hoping to become better or be cured; rather I should be looking for ways of coping with my new life-imprisonment.

I stared at him while he was confirming the end of my life -as I knew it- in horror and disbelief, refusing to believe anything he said as my thoughts echoed “who do you think you are? You are not God to be telling me this nonsense”

 

The last episode of my extraordinary -yet very ordinary- life was the loss of my dearest, my greatest, my one and only love.

That episode you and other friends have been eyewitnesses to.

From this summarized narrative of my life you could vividly see that I’ve almost hit rock-bottom of every negative experience that any human can go through:

Loss of physical health and living with excruciating pain

Loss of all material positions even my very own identity

Loss of mental and intellectual capacities

Loss of the love of your life

By going into so much detail about my life I was eager to emphasize the reality that through my experiences I have a reasonable idea about pain and what it means to suffer.

 

Now then, through all what I’ve been through; One Thing and one thing only kept me going, helped me, held me, and carried me through; and that is my Faith.

 

 I could never reconcile my agonized painful existence with futility and lack of purpose.

 

 My logic and my feelings lead me to conclude that if everything came from nothing, if there was no purpose in the existence of the universe, if there is no purpose in the existence of life; then, it’s more reasonable to think that there is no purpose in a life full of agony such as mine, there is no point in living on to suffer more. I.e. there is no purpose in life period.

 The only thing that could ever console and comfort this troubled soul of mine was this faith, this insight and intuition that this can’t all be in vain.

And like a tender mother’s hand stroking her child

Like a soft warm blanket in a cold winter night

Like gentle rain drops drizzling over a parched piece of land

Like a rainbow flowing piercing through thick dark clouds

I feel God’s loving hand

Then…

Then this sweet… sweet comfort that overwhelms you, embraces you as you humbly say:

 Here I am God… exhausted… come to my aid

Here I am God… in much anguish… relieve me… ease my pain

Here I am God… full of sorrow… soothe my hurt

Here I am God… lonely… be my friend and companion.

Here I am God… tiered… help me…hold me… heal me

Here I am God… lost… guide me… show me the way

That distressed soul… that troubled heart would be magically transformed…

Calm would descend… tranquillity and serenity would prevail… joy would overwhelm… and sweet… sweet comfort would embrace you.

You feel helped… held… healed… and carried through.

Even if the pain is still there!

 

 There are no words in any human dictionary or vocabulary that could come near into describing that feeling, all we can do is give analogies.

Never the real feelings

 

Then with time; and in retrospect the wisdom of what you’ve been through will become more apparent.

Like pieces of a jigsaw your life would start making sense; some of the pieces might be very murky and horrible, others might be bright and colourful, each piece alone does not make any sense; yet as they assemble together a beautiful pattern emerges, an amazing picture materializes.

Such was my life.

Such is life.

© Copyright 2006 Nahida Izzat -PoetryforPalestine – All Rights Reserved

My atheist friend-6


 

Hidden dimensions   

My first son Hassan

Was born on April the 9th

 

You might think

So what… why are you saying it

With such a gloomy tune

What is wrong with 9th of April?

 

You have to be a Palestinian

To understand

For on the 9th of April 1948

The massacre of Deir Yassin

Took place

Where every man women and child

Of that peaceful farming village

Was killed in cold blood

No one survived

Except those

Who pretended to be dead

 

As we celebrate the birth of a new born

With joy

We mourn and grief

Lost loved ones

 

In our midst

Nothing comes insular

Nothing is disjointed

No single colours

 

The fabric of our lives

Makes the most amazing tapestry

 

If you hold it backwards

Looking at the wrong side

You’ll see a mirror image

Of shades of a blurred picture

With loops… knots and fraying thread

If you turn it over

It looks much neater

But still you can’t actually see

The full picture

Only colours and shadows

 

But hey… take a little time

And walk backwards

Further back

Look at the tapestry

From a distance

 

You will be amazed

With its outstanding beauty

All these murky shades

That didn’t make sense to you

Even disturbed you

When you were near

 

From far

These dark shadows

Are precisely what makes this piece

So unique

So spectacular

 

These unfathomable hues

Is what give our life portrait

Its depth

And hidden dimensions

 

Since that day of 1948

Many… many babies were born

On April the 9th

 

Our joys are always stained

With hints of sorrow

 

Our sadness is always coloured

With hues of hope

 

Without which

The tapestry of our lives

Will never be complete

Won’t be as rich

Or as beautiful

 

Don’t waist much time

Staring at the wrong side with fury

Turn it over… walk further back… and feel the glory

 

01-04-2006

****************************************************************

Bad things! Good things!

 

You should be more assertive

You should have more confidence

In your skills

And your strengths

People say

 

But I am truly aware

Of my abilities

I can surely judge

What I can or can’t do

 

I am also aware of my flaws

And believe you me

They are so… so many

 

But I am not ashamed

Of my weaknesses

Despite their vastness

They are there for a reason

 

They keep me in my place

So I don’t grow bigger

Than my own shoes

 

I love my weaknesses

I love my defects 

Thank you God

For all my imperfections

 

Thank you for my fears 

For without them

I could live my entire days

Without ever appreciating

How safe my life is

  

Thank you for my worries 

For without them I can never

Fully enjoy peace of mind

And tranquillity

 

Thank you for my pain

For without it

I can only imagine

What others go through

 

Thank you for my grief

For without it

I cannot sincerely feel

 The heartache of others

How else can I ever

Learn genuine empathy?

© Copyright 2006 Nahida Izzat -PoetryforPalestine – All Rights Reserved

My atheist friend-7


 

Bliss and beyond 

A state of delight

Blissful pleasure

Contentment

 Tranquillity

Enchantment and joy

 

If people knew how it feels

They would’ve fought for it

With arms and teeth

 

No privilege… No adversity

No gain… No loss

No health… No pain 

No achievement… No catastrophe 

No triumph… No defeat 

Can Annihilate

Or nullify  

Passionately… with a heartfelt desire 

 I want to share

 

**************************************************

Beyond

This love I have for you

Holds me, lifts me, carries me through

When all is dark

When pain is deep

When love is scarce 

When friends are few 

This love I have for you

Holds me, lifts me, carries me through

 

********************************************

Is it really cruel?

 

People say

What happened to you

Is so cruel… so unfair

To have to lose khaled

 In such an awful way

When you are so much in love

 

I say it is very painful

But not at all cruel

Death is nothing

But a gate way

Everything dies

Everyone dies

Why should I

Be the exception?

 

His journey ended before mine

That’s all

And soon I’ll follow

 

It’s only a matter of time

Before we are together again

We come to life

 Only for a while

 

Also… the law goes

The higher you fly up

The greater is your fall

 

The law goes

The more intensely you enjoy your love

The more painful is your sorrow

This only fair

For some live and die

Without experiencing real love

And I’ve experienced all

It’s not cruel to give something back

 

And to feel more pain

Is not unfair

 

**************************************************************

 With You I am OK

 

Dear Most Compassionate

Show me the truth

As true

And help me follow

 

Show me falsehood

As false

And help me avoid

 

Help me… say the truth

Help me… do the truth

Help me… think the truth

Help me… feel the truth

 

Dear Most Kind

I am lost

Without your guidance

 

Frail

Without your support

 

Miserable

Without your company

 

Dare I run away from You

Except towards You

 

Is there a place to hide from You

Except under your wings

 

The world has wronged me

Forsaken neglected and ignored

Held me responsible as the victim

Declared me guilty while innocent

Put me on trial although oppressed

Imprisoned me for being abused

 

An abandoned child

Blamed for… being…

 

But if You are pleased with me

I can take it all

Nothing else matters

 

© Copyright 2006 Nahida Izzat -PoetryforPalestine – All Rights Reserved

My atheist friend-8


15- September

Dear Sam

You said that my language skills are the reason that your hypothesis didn’t hold up and not the force of my hypothesis.

 

Here, I am going to try again and present my case to you in very simple words, and very short summary.

 

Considering:

Your hypothesis: there is no Intelligent Designer

My hypothesis: there is an Intelligent Designer

 

I started proving my case by showing you that:

 

1) Your hypothesis is impossible to prove.

 

2)  Adding that the possibility of that of mine is impossible to refute.

 

3) I proceeded by showing you that scientific evidence leans heavily towards mine.

 

4) Then I concluded that my hypothesis in the present day holds more weight hence it offers a more adequate explanation.

 

5) At the end I gave you a challenge that might shatter my case and solve the problems and contradictions that your case have, and that is if you prove to me that life can be produced in the lab; then that will mean that the problems that we face with having to explain life through natural law will vanish.

 

Life throws at us such an impossible challenge. It defies all the natural laws that we know of, it also defies our observation, and our logic; by moving -as you claim- spontaneously and purposelessly from total randomness into perfect order, from chaos into organisation, from simplicity into complexity, from futility and utter lack of commonsense into intelligence, from meaningless aimless situation into producing beings with purpose, morality, intelligence and beauty.

 

Dear Sam

your preference for natural explanations could be reasonable, but if you insist on not being open to the possibility that there may be an Intelligent Designer; while it is impossible to prove that there isn’t one. Therefore, your willingness to adopt such an a priori position, and hold that as superior to facts, reflects a philosophical fundamentalist position as rigid as a religious fundamentalist position.

 

Dear Sam, this is my case presented in simple words and logical order. What do you say?

 

 

———————————————————————————————-

 

15- September

Hi Nahida,

I will follow your format and try to keep this as a summary.

My hypothesis is impossible to prove.
Presumably the thousands of books, journals and articles detailing evolutionary processes mean nothing.  The tons and tons of fossil records are either fakes or misinterpretations.  The evolutionary timelines established by molecular geneticists through examining the
DNA profiles of different species are artefacts that have no relevance.
The thousands of scientists working in departments and disciplines whose sole function is to further develop evolutionary principles are all living in a fantasy world.  The list goes on and on, as you well know.

Actually you can prove the evolutionary processes yourself.  Take a culture of bacteria and introduce a genetic mutation, which gives the mutant an advantage over the rest of the colony.  You can then do the calculations and even follow the change in genetic profiles as the new strain emerges and the old one disappears.  Presumably the emergence of
antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria mean the creator/designer is still at work.

Yes, we are looking at a single trait or genetic mutation and the molecular distance between bacteria and mammal is very great, but the principle is established and much has been published on this process. Some stages in the process are well established, some are supported by limited evidence and some stages remains theoretical. Surely this
cannot be used to claim that vast body of knowledge in support of evolutionary principles is wrong.

Your hypothesis is impossible to refute.
You make a statement that something exists such a creator/designer and challenge me to prove that it does not.  Virtually every other situation would be approached from the opposite view in that the challenge is to prove that something exists.  I am not sure why the
question of a creator/designer should be treated differently and will deal with the evidence for or the lack of evidence for a creator/designer in the next section.

I take vitamin c supplements to keep me from getting colds.  When my doctor challenges me about the value of taking vitamin c, I simply say I have not had a cold since I started taking the supplement and therefore it must work.

I would be curious to know just how one might go about proving that something does not exist.

The scientific evidence supports your hypothesis
This is the most amazing of all your statements and one, which I simply do not understand.  I have gone through your emails and looked at the sites on intelligent design and I have yet to find one shred of evidence that proves the existence of a creator/designer.  All of your
so-called evidence consists of either gaps in our understanding of evolutionary principles or attempts to show that the level of complexity of life is so great that there can be no other explanation. Hence the often used expression defining intelligent design as “God of
the gaps”.

You are in effect saying that because I do not have a complete explanation for something, your explanation must be the correct one. That is certainly not proof that yours is correct.

You conclude that your hypothesis in the present day holds more weight hence it offers a more adequate explanation.

I can understand this if you ignore the fact that the vast majority of the scientific community accepts the validity of evolutionary principles, disregard the mountains of evidence on which they base this acceptance and then use “God of the gaps as your standard.

The challenge to prove that life can be produced in the lab
My background is that of a cell-biologist with my expertise being electron microscopy.  I spent many an hour peering through an electron microscope examining sections of everything from frog pituitary glands to the brain tissue of people who had died of malaria.  I have had no
formal training in evolutionary biology and my knowledge of biochemistry and molecular genetics is very limited.

Your challenge involves an extensive series of complex processes many of which are interrelated.  I noted before that some of these have been well established, some are supported by limited evidence and some remain theoretical.  Some of the best scientific minds in the world have spent their lives working on these processes and continue to do
so.
I am not quite sure how you expect me to surpass them.
I do however adamantly maintain that the lack of all pieces in the puzzle at this particular point in time, does not mean that they will never be successful in meeting your challenge.

I am not willing to accept the possibility of a creator/designer This is not true.  Some years ago I did a brief course in bioenergetics and we were given the formula for calculating Brownian motion. It allows you calculate the probability for the motion of molecules.
However it can also be used to calculate the probability that the chair sitting on the floor next to me will rise up.  Naturally the figure is ridiculous but there is a finite probability.

Thus I accept the possibility of anything. That Santa Claus will bring me a present on Christmas Eve, that I will win the lottery next week, that the moon is made of green cheese, that global warming will destroy the planet or that a plane will crash into the building as I write this email. The movement from the realm of possibility to fact depends on the evidence and this I have already covered.

This is my challenge to you.  I will acknowledge the possibility of there being a creator/designer if you acknowledge the possibility that there is none.

Sam,

——————————————————————————————-

15- September

Dear Sam

You challenged me saying:

 

This is my challenge to you.  I will acknowledge the possibility of there being a creator/designer if you acknowledge the possibility that there is none.

 

This is not a challenge, because right from the beginning of our dialogue dear Sam I said to you that all I have is faith; i.e. my certainty is nothing but faith.

 

You can read my words again; I just copied them as they are:

 

 My intention in writing this is NOT to prove beyond any shadow of doubt that God exists; rather I want to refute the atheistic claim that they dearly hold with a 100% certainty that God doesn’t exists, further I will try to put a logically valid and a scientifically sound case for the former.”

 

We as believers never claim that we hold “The Scientific Proof” of God’s existence; we say: “we only have faith”, “we believe”, we simply say: we have noticeable, accumulative, and logical verifications that support our faith.”

 

 

Dear Sam, I think you have set this challenge for yourself rather than for me, as I already declared that all I have is faith, and that my logic, my observation, and my limited knowledge of science adds weight to the scale of probability –in my view- of the existence of a Designer. Unlike you, I never claimed 100% scientific certainty.

 

My argument with you was to prove to you that you also have nothing but faith. To prove false all your attempts of claiming that your hypothesis is more scientific or that it is the only scientific explanation.

 

I wanted to -logically- shatter your certainty that there is no God; I wanted to show you that your faith of the none-existence of God is not a scientific fact and I proved to you that it is only a faith not science that you cling onto -dear.

 

Your challenge now that you offered to yourself is to acknowledge that your certainty is nothing but faith

Just like me

nahida

smile

The wife of my uncle is a Spanish atheist; I used to have very long and heated discussions about God ever since I met her when I was about 13 years old.

In our last dialogue she ended the conversation by saying in Arabic:  “khalas, inshallah ma fi Allah”

What she actually said means “enough, God willing there is no God”

Everyone burst out laughing

nahida

          —————————————————————————————–

 

16- September

Dear Nahida,

We have finally arrived at the heart of the problem or in this case the question of whether there is a creator/designer or not.
I can approach the question open to either possibility.
You can not.
And so Nahida, that is the reason why religion has no place in science.

Incidentally not all religious people take the same position as you.
There is a debate going on within the Catholic church about evolution with some bishops arguing that the church should accept evolution as fact.

I would be curious to know if the same debate is going on within Islam.
Are there in fact any Islamic scholars who argue that evolution should be accepted as fact?

Finally I think we have truly reached a point where we can agree to disagree.

Sam,

————————————————————————————————————————

16- September

Dear Sam

I am bemused at your final conclusion; you said you are open to either possibility, yet:

1) You want me to accept evolution as a “fact”, where does the other possibility go here?

2) Also you won’t accept teaching the other possibility to children; how is that for being open to both possibilities?

I have absolutely no problem with teaching evolution as long as it was taught for what it really is a “theory” with many holes and gaps and imperfections. Yet you do not agree with teaching the other possibility!

How can you call this being open?

 

© Copyright 2006 Nahida Izzat & Sam Semoff -PoetryforPalestine – All Rights Reserved

 

My atheist friend-9


17- September

Hi Nahida,

Perhaps part of the problem may be with the use of the word “fact” as it implies 100% certainty.
I believe that anything is possible, which means I cannot say anything is a fact. Thus once again it becomes a matter of keeping an “open mind” to all possibilities and looking at the evidence.
I do use the word “fact” when talking about the earth being round and I use the word “fantasy” when talking about the “moon being made of green cheese” but I am aware that these are not absolutes.
Thus the issue becomes at what point do we stop referring to something as “theory” and start for the purpose of language using the word “fact”.  I still remember when I first learned of atomic structure, the teacher referring to it as “atomic theory”.  That is a term I have
not heard in years.  I do not know for how many years after Copernicus, people talked about the “theory that the earth was round” but I would imagine it was a long time.

You are right, when we teach evolution; we have to include the gaps and holes.  But we also have to ensure students understand the weigh of the evidence and the views of the majority of the scientific community are so overwhelming that most would use the word “fact”.  The other issue is that evolutionary principles form the basis of so many other disciples that to talk of it as a “theory” becomes impractical. This is one of the reasons why the phrase “atomic theory” faded from use as so much of modern science is based on atomic structure.

The question of intelligent design becomes difficult because you and I disagree on what constitutes “evidence”.  I go along with the majority of the scientific community and the judge in the Pennsylvania case who all maintain that there is no scientific “evidence” for intelligent
design and that it is not science.

However, as you know, I do not go along with the idea that it should it should be kept out of the science classroom.  When I talk to the Somali children in the science club, I will teach the basics of evolution and always tell them that many people outside of the scientific community, which most likely includes their parents, do not accept this idea but
believe that life and its diversity are the result of a creator/designer.  Those who go into science can learn on their own about the weight of the scientific evidence behind evolution.

Finally you keep asking me to speak of evolution as being a theory and accept the possibility of a creator/ designer.

Fine.  But does that mean you will speak of intelligent design as a theory and accept the possibility of evolution as being responsible for the life and its diversity?

Sam,

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17- September

Dear Sam

For some one like me- with this trouble-maker, fascinated, inquisitive mind of mine- who is constantly searching for meanings and answers, and who will not be satisfied with half answers; and although Evolution does address important issues such as changes and adaptation in different species, and although there are strong evidences that support it in microevolution, yet it fails miserably -as far as my limited understanding goes- in explaining vital phenomena that I seek to understand as a conscious curious being:

1)     the origin of the universe (coming into being of nothingness)

2)   The origin of life (the mathematical probabilities of random chances offered by Evolution is near impossible- how much luck can science rely upon?)

3)    Explaining the variety, the intelligence, the beauty, the purposefulness, the morality, and simultaneous coexistence of different animal and plant forms and the fact that they rely upon each other for survival, as we discussed in the garden yesterday, it’s as if some one is planning ahead seeing into the future, some one with intelligence and beautiful artistic taste.

 Assuming that accidentally -as you propose- apple trees (for example) evolved purposelessly and simultaneously yet independently from us, how do we develop our taste buds to enjoy the flavour of the apple when we are in fact completely different unrelated species? (Notice that it is much more than just the apple trees)

4)   Explaining the purpose of existence. I talked about this before.

 

Evolution -for me and as it stands now- is capable of describing certain occurrences; but the significant point here is that even if Evolution had all the answers about the missing links and even if it proves in the lab that species do evolve from one another; it still falls very short from answering these above fundamental questions that my mind thirst for answers for.

 This lack of coherence and comprehensiveness in Evolution and its failure to explain all the above; diminishes the weight it claims it has; presenting itself as a theory that explains life.

 

Now then, the big news for you:

Even though I’ve been arguing with you in favour of Intelligent Design that does not necessarily mean that I utterly refuse Evolution and its entire discoveries.

I don’t see the predicament as Evolution VS Intelligent Design.

Accepting Evolution is not the issue for me.

The issue -that might trouble you- is: Evolution does not lead me to atheism.

The concept that life forms can evolve and change with time; does not prove to me that God does not exist.  

To me, evolution does not explain the existence of life or the existence of the universe; therefore it does not necessarily lead -as many people like to conclude- to atheism.

In other words –to me- Evolution is not an alternative to Intelligent Design; simply because it does not even begin to address some of many important questions that my mind requires answers for.

Originating life out of raw elements, and originating something out of nothingness are the big dilemma for me; if you can do either, I’ll be convinced.

nahida

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18- September

Hi Nahida

I agree with you that accepting the validity of evolutionary principles does not prove the non-existence of God.  This would be a view taken by secular fundamentalists. I see no need “to prove” God does not exist, besides I would question if it were even possible.

Explaining the existence of the life, the universe and how it all came about are indeed questions worth pondering.  However I disagree with you in that we must have definitive answers.

I am willing go along with answers put forth by the many great minds before me and those who are currently working on these questions as long as they remain in the natural world. I accept that their answers are not always perfect with only partial evidence for some and theories for others

Pondering these questions can be a great source of stimulation and very stultifying, but the failure to find absolute answers does not bother me. It certainly does not stop me from enjoying the beauty and the wonder of the world around me.  Hopefully someday we will have these answers but whether this will happens in my lifetime, is not an issue.

My concern as I said on Saturday, is to try to live my life doing the most good and causing the least harm in the hope that those around me will do the same.

Sam,

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 18- September

Oh dear Sam

Finally I see us coming closer to some common grounds; that is just fantastic!

 

I am open to Evolutionary principles.

You are open to the possibility of the existence of a Designer/ Creator, and you acknowledge that Evolution does not necessarily lead to atheism.

 

We both agree that we can only try our best to live our lives the best we could; by doing the most good and causing the least harm in our relationships with others.

We both enjoy our existence and love life passionately.

 

I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed our debate!!!

The sharing of ideas, exploring each other’s minds. Thank you for the opportunity, for your patience and for your time.

nahida

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18/09/06,

Hi Nahida

I agree with you that accepting the validity of evolutionary principles
does not prove the non-existence of God.  This would be a view taken by
secular fundamentalists.  I see no need "to prove" God does not exist,
besides I would question if it were even possible.

Explaining the existence of the life, the universe and how it all came
about are indeed questions worth pondering.  However I disagree with
you in that we must have definitive answers.

I am willing go along with answers put forth by the many great minds
before me and those who are currently working on these questions as
long as they remain in the natural world.  I accept that their answers
are not always perfect with only partial evidence for some and theories
for others

Pondering these questions can be a great source of stimulation and very
stultifying, but the failure to find absolute answers does not bother
me. It certainly does not stop me from enjoying the beauty and the
wonder of the world around me.  Hopefully someday we will have these
answers but whether this will happens in my lifetime, is not an issue.

My concern as I said on Saturday, is to try to live my life doing the
most good and causing the least harm in the hope that those around me
will do the same.

Sam,

 

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18- September

 Dear Nahida,

My apologies for asking you to consider intelligent design as a theory in an earlier email for I think I now understand and appreciate why this is so unfair a request.  It is in fact rather petty on my part and I appreciate your patience.  It is also a perfect example of where I
have failed in my remit to live my life causing as little discomfort as possible to others.

Finally if I were in need of answers for all those questions, the ability to share ideas and explore each other’s minds would be a powerful argument for intelligent design.

Sam

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