Thursday, January 29, 2015

Magistrate Sent For Re-Education: Your Judgement Has Been "Influenced By...Religious Beliefs And Not By The Evidence"

In a story I originally read in a post by Family First which can be found here I decided to look a little closer and so followed the story to the Mail Online here.

The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office issued this statement in regard to the case concerning Mr Page

While both sources clearly laid out the details of the story, what I sensed lacking, was a clear articulation of how this was not only unfair but quite plainly ludicrous. Just further evidence of a global trend to marginalize the Christian voice and presence whether by force as in the sort of violence seen against Christian minorities and others in ISIS controlled Middle East or by legalese and political correctness as found in Olde Englande as was rightly pointed out by Michael Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester in a separate development of the story on the same page entitled:

The irony of the situation should not be lost on us when we consider that it takes a Christian who hails from a Muslim background to point out what should have been obvious to a nation of Christianized people whose laws and judicial system had been influenced by Christianity for 1500 years!

  Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester, said the Lord Chancellor had 'declared war on faith'

Rather than repeat the sorry story all over again in this space I wish to focus on just one point from this all too familiar scenario.  What does the following phrase really mean?: 

"influenced by his religious beliefs and not by the evidence" 

 Is it intrinsically wrong to be influenced by religion? Does that automatically qualify as a prejudice? Is it inherently wrong to interpret evidence through your own worldview? Can judgements based on evidence be completely separated from our understanding of reality? 

Don't we believe that belief in the vertue of honesty is integral to right judgement? We take that for granted, we are so used to assuming honesty is paramount. But it is not a foregone conclusion at all. Take the present situation in Isis controlled territories, and the harsh judgements dished out in reference to the strict observance of Sharia law. Does honesty feature as much there as we have so luxuriated in, in our Western cultures? How can we even begin to expect that when- enshrined in the Qur'anic traditions- we observe a thing called "Al-Taqiyya" which, in a nutshell is a justification for Muslims to lie when it is expedient to do so with regard to their struggle to see Islam as the unchallenged, world dominating religion?

So you see, the assumption of the importance of honesty and its corelative Truth, is a belief that we in the West have held paramount in our deliberations and judgements in issues of law and justice. It is a worldview issue that both secular and Christian worldviews have held in common for centuries. Would it be wise to separate honesty as a belief,  when dealing with issues of justice? If the answer to that isn't obvious- don't bother reading on any further. To put it in other words, who in their right mind does not see that faith in the vertue of honesty is a belief that is imperative in the search for truth, and real justice cannot be dispensed without truth. But this faith is part of the lens through which all the evidence will be weighed and observed. It makes no more sense to separate oneself from the lens through which one makes sense of the world and every issue in it- than it does to try and live a life quite apart from the blood that flows in your veins.

Why should a secular worldview not be put aside for purposes of making judgements with regard to the evidence? Why is it necessarily assumed that a naturalistic view of the world is automatically presupposed to be a more accurate representation of reality?

The secularist who tells the religious to forget his prejudice and look only at the evidence with the same eyes as the secularist is actually asking us to ignore his own blindspot, to ignore the reality not to mention the sheer arrogance of believing his view is the only possible view through which reality can be viewed. Now I use the word arrogance guardedly, because it is only arrogance in so far as his view is merely assumed to be the only correct way to look at the world- evidence and all. It is not arrogance if he has done a thorough job of it. It is not temerity to hold to a worldview that is believed on thoroughly grounded evidence to be the best possible explanation for reality in as far as we are capable of knowing it.

So as far as the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice are concerned, on what epistemological basis is their own wordview grounded? On what evidence do they hold that a philosophical naturalist perspective of reality is superior to a Christian one?

In fact I would take it much further, on a naturalistic basis on what grounds do they even believe in a thing called justice? How can they account for it? If anyone should be asked to be reeducated it should be those who cannot account for even the idea of justice.

I would echo the words of Fyodor Dostoevsky which a Russian speaker assures us he did say through his character in the novel "The Brothers Karamazov"
"If God does not exist, everything is permitted."
Without God there can be no moral absolutes, and without moral absolutes there can be nothing but arbitrary human judgement, there can be no such thing as justice in this world or any other.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Northern Advocate- Why Charlie Hebdo got it wrong by staff journalist and local Muslim leader Imran Ali

In the wake of news regarding the Charlie Hebdo slaughters by extremists proclaiming loyalty to Islam in Paris the other day, news services are inundated with opinions and views that are at least diverse if not almost on a par with the the wildly oscillating views of anyone from atheism to Christian to Muslim.

Here is our local newspaper's take on it from local Muslim leader and staff journo on the Northern
Advocate- Imran Ali: To read article click on photo.

Essentially the following is a letter of response that I wrote, except for three paragraphs regarding the predicament that the President of Egypt had caused for the Islamic world in his admission that much of the troubles stem from either authentic Islam or the clerics traditional interpretation of Islam:

I agree with Imran Ali that free speech has its responsibilities and that people of other worldviews should be accorded respect. The real problem with “Charlie” is the desacralizing of almost everything. Their one inconsistency was they still held human life sacred- to a degree. It was very easy in the smug complacency of the West, to mock a religion knowing full well the people who are paying the ultimate price are other religious people, like the Hazidi, Christians and Kurds. In fact it plays neatly into the secular project of ridding the world of all religions, almost... They believed in the power of the pen, not the bullet. But the pen also can prompt the bullet by proxy. Tragically they became all too aware of that reality. On the other hand, evidently in the politics of Islam it seems force is made sacred in the name of Jihad, and hence the desacralizing of human life.

With regard to Ali’s reference to “uncouth behaviour” I would also call graffiti the desacralizing of property rights...but we don’t shoot people for it. Ali’s rhetorical question regarding why people would mock a long dead preacher who taught the opposite of “Charlie H” and Isis I find puzzling. Just a cursory glance at the life history of the one spoken of seems to speak of bloodshed, military conquest, slaughter, enslavement and genocide. Even the Qur'an and the Hadiths bear witness to this.

If “Islam respect and tolerance for all” why do we constantly see bloodshed on so many fronts around the world and Islam is always implicated? Smoke without fire? I would suggest that while the etymology of Islam is related to peace, in reality it means submission.

Dr. David Curry, president of Open Doors, a group that monitors religious freedom worldwide claims elements of one religion above all pose the greatest threat to Christians.
"The persecution of Christians is real, it is horrifically violent often, and it is spreading at unprecedented rate in modern times...Islamic extremism is driving force, is really the driving force in 40 of the top 50 countries on the World Watch List,"
The number one question is: Do all these terrorists represent the true nature of Islam? Do the admittedly millions of moderate, peace-loving, family oriented Muslims fall “legitimate” prey to being either persuaded or pistol whipped into being more authentic and therefore more radical Muslims?

The President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a Muslim himself, addressing the nation’s top Islamic authorities and clerics during a speech celebrating the birth of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad located radical terrorism within the sphere of authentic Islam:
"That thinking [that is responsible for producing “anxiety, danger, killing and destruction” around the world]—I am not saying “religion” but “thinking”—that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the centuries, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world!"
Clearly he is calling into question what the classical interpretation of Islam has taken for granted for so long- the dividing up of the world into two warring hemispheres. Raymond Ibrahim:
‘the Muslim world (Dar al-Islam) which must forever be in a struggle with the rest of the world (or Dar al-Harb, the “abode of war”) till, in the Koran’s words, “all religion belongs to Allah” (Koran 8:39)’
Raymond Ibrahim commenting on Sisi’s speech:
‘As a Muslim, Sisi will not say that Islam, the “religion,” is responsible for “antagonizing the entire world,” but he certainly goes much further than his Western counterparts when he says that this “thinking” is rooted in an Islamic “corpus of texts and ideas” which have become so “sacralized.” 
Is that the peace of Allah? When the whole world has submitted either by choice or by force?

His speech has left the clerics of Islam on the horns of a dilemma.

If the Muslim world condemns Sisi’s stance (which commenters within Islam would seem to indicate) on the grounds that he is a liberal, compromising Muslim, this leaves the Islamic clerics open to the criticism that Islam is indeed complicit in acts of terror. If he is accused of kowtowing to other interests like the Coptic Christian voting block as a political expedient, or pressure from the international community; then it will be perceived as efforts to protect the ways of Islam, the condoning of terrorism within Islam, and then it is evidently a systemic issue.

On the other hand, for official interpreters of Islam to acknowledge and give credibility to his position as relevant and applicable- is to acknowledge that they have been at least somewhat guilty of heretical interpretations of traditional, authentic Islam and therefore culpable. Through denying his critical posture and claiming Sisi is being disloyal to the Prophet amounts to saying that loyalty to Islam means loyalty to the methods of terror as legitimate means of advancing the cause of Islam.

The succinct way Sisi has put it makes it imperative that change takes place within Islam. Either the official interpreters of Islam come clean and admit that their interpretation and traditions of Islam has perverted the way of the Prophet and promoted or at least failed to speak against terrorism, or the actual problem of terrorism is intrinsic to Islam and is therefore a systemic problem. Either way, the answer is vital.

Are Isis and all who are wreaking terror, the work of radical Islamists in ignorance of authentic Islam as is so often postulated? This was recently exemplified by moderate Muslim lay person Zunera Mazhar as she sincerely pours out her feelings of shame and outrage at what is clearly to her the misrepresentation of Islam. In a breaking voice she begins:
“As a Muslim, I am outraged by yesterday’s event. My heart goes out to the victims and family members of Charlie Hebdo, freedom of speech is everyones God givens [sic] one- no one is given the right to kill in the name of protecting a god or its prophet. I am so outraged by some ignorant people taking it upon themselves to protect a faith, when all they do is hurt that faith, hurt the families and hurt the people. Not just other people of other faiths but their own people too. Their loyalty is not to a god, their loyalty is just to things that are happening in their head or their perception of their faith or Islam in that case…I am really sorry to the whole world, I as a Muslim, that we have some ignorant people who have taken some very ignorant actions in the name of faith... This is not Islam- this is not the faith that we follow... ”
Ignorant people? Contrast this with Clare Lopez, Center for Security Policy vice president for research, who said an attack on Christianity is the ultimate expression of Islam.
“ISIS is the purest expression of Islamic doctrine, law and scripture,” she said.
Lopez noted the leader of ISIS, self proclaimed Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has a doctorate in Islamic studies.

It just so happens that out of the blue I had occasion to speak with a man whom I had just met this weekend. Being raised a moderate Muslim in the centre of the world’s largest concentration of Muslims, I asked him what he thought of the events in Paris. He smiled and said that in accordance with Islam, whoever kills an infidel is pleasing God. In Islam whoever is not Muslim is an infidel.

Imran speaks of “The war on Islam....” Excuse me! What war is that? If he identifies the resistance to Isis or Boko Haram or any other of a significant number of radical Islamists as a war on Islam itself- then is he acknowledging that this is an authentic move of Islam? Western leaders and media bend over backwards to disassociate the terrorism from its affinity with Islam. But are they correct in doing so? Evidently not according to the President of Egypt.

Would we get straight answers from authoritative Islam? Could that ever happen? According to the doctrine of Islamic taqiyya the expediency of hiding the true nature of one's convictions is a legitimate expression of Islam when in a minority or weaker position, such as Islam is in the West. According to Adam Francisco who holds a PhD in Islamic-Christian relations, the Islamic worldview is logocentric, that is- it is not a worldview determined by facts- but a worldview informed by a group of texts. While Christianity is also logocentric, on issues that are not directly addressed by the Bible, the facts may speak for themselves- even while there may be tension between the texts and the facts. The historicity of Christianity is also the guarantor of the importance of its relation to factuality.

However “in the Muslim mind the factual world doesn’t so much matter when they’re trying to understand and articulate the world- What matters is what the texts say.” Adam Francisco.

This is further attested to by Raymond Ibrahim. Raymond received his B.A. and M.A. (both in History, focusing on the ancient and medieval Near East, with dual-minors in Philosophy and Literature) from California State University. There he studied closely with noted military-historian Victor Davis Hanson. He also took graduate courses at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies—including classes on the history, politics, and economics of the Arab world—and studied Medieval Islam and Semitic languages at Catholic University of America. His M.A. thesis examined an early military encounter between Islam and Byzantium based on arcane Arabic and Greek texts.
“The entire sequence of Quranic revelations are a testimony to taqiyya and, since Allah is believed to be the revealer of these verses, he ultimately is seen as the perpetrator of deceit. This is not surprising since Allah himself is often described in the Quran as the "best deceiver" or "schemer." (see 3:54, 8:30, 10:21). This phenomenon revolves around the fact that the Quran contains both peaceful and tolerant verses, as well as violent and intolerant ones.

The ulema [official exegetes of Islam] were uncertain which verses to codify into sharia's worldview. For instance, should they use the one that states there is no coercion in religion (2:256), or the ones that command believers to fight all non-Muslims until they either convert or at least submit to Islam (9:5, 9:29)? To solve this quandary, they developed the doctrine of abrogation – naskh, supported by Quran 2:105. This essentially states that verses "revealed" later in Muhammad's career take precedence over those revealed earlier whenever there is a discrepancy.

Why the contradiction in the first place? The standard answer has been that, because Muhammad and his community were far outnumbered by the infidels in the early years of Islam, a message of peace and co-existence was in order. However, after Muhammad migrated to Medina and grew in military strength and numbers, the militant or intolerant verses were revealed, urging Muslims to go on the offensive.

According to this standard view, circumstance dictates which verses are to be implemented. When Muslims are weak, they should preach and behave according to the Meccan verses; when strong, they should go on the offensive, according to the Medinan verses. Many Islamic books extensively deal with the doctrine of abrogation, or Al-Nasikh Wa Al-Mansukh.”
Raymond Ibrahim- Islam’s Doctrines of Deception.
I could not help but be reminded of Adolph Hitler’s rise to power, while in a position of weakness he exploited the religious vote by feigning solidarity with Christianity, but once in a position of domination, his true colours became evident. Such is the nature of despotism. In adopting liberal immigration laws in concord with many other Western nations have we created our own Trojan Horse?

Am I an Islamophobe? I certainly am afraid of Islam. But is it an irrational fear? I think not.
Needless to say at 1700 words, it was rejected, but it was enough that at least the editor read it in its entirety.

Friday, January 16, 2015

SEMINAR Scientific Evidence for the Existence of God- Stephen C. Meyer in conjunction with Thinking Matters Auckland

An evening and daytime short course in Auckland, New Zealand with visiting
philosopher, scientist and best-selling author

Dr. Stephen C. Meyer
Purchase tickets for Saturday’s workshop here:

$15.00–$45.00 Select option (Defers To Thinking Matters.Org)

Join Thinking Matters at Windsor Park Baptist in Auckland for this six-part seminar series. Dr Meyer will show how recent discoveries in cosmology, physics and biology provide compelling scientific evidence for the existence of a transcendent and intelligent Creator as the origin of life and the universe.

Dr Meyer is a dynamic, gracious and highly knowledgeable speaker with a Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge. He directs the Discovery Institute’s Centre for Science and Culture and has authored the New York Timesbest seller Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design as well as Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design, named Book of the Year by the prestigious Times (of London)Literary Supplement in 2009.

FREE Public Seminar

No registration needed – just turn up!
7:00pm Lecture One

The History of Science and the Return of The God Hypothesis

In the opening lecture we hear the story of the Christian origin of modern science, followed by the rise of scientific materialism and the desire to explain the world in purely naturalistic terms. We then hear how the latest discoveries in cosmology, physics and biology point very decisively back toward theistic belief. This presentation is an introduction to the ideas presented at Saturday’s workshop.
8:15pm Lecture Two

Weighing the Truth Claims of Competing Worldviews

In this second introductory talk we discuss competing truth claims in our culture – such as those about the existence or non-existence of God. Dr. Meyer will then introduce a common sense model of reasoning that scientists, philosophers, lawyers, detectives and ordinary people use to assess competing truth claims and show how this can be applied to evaluate life’s big questions.
9:30pm Finish


Full Day Workshop – Lunch Provided

$35 early-bird online registration or $45 at the door on the day

$20 for student, youth (under 18) & pastor (early-bird online registrations only)

Register and pay here(Defers To Thinking Matters.Org)
All Saturday attendees also receive a complimentary copy of the DVD Unlocking the Mystery of Life:

9:00am Registration & Welcome

9:15am Lecture Three

God and the New Cosmology

In this talk Dr Myer examines the cosmological evidence for the existence of God – showing that the cause of the universe must transcend time, space, matter, and energy – supporting the idea of a transcendent creator of the Universe.

10:30pm Morning tea (coffee/tea provided)

11:00pm Lecture Four

The Fine-Tuning of the Universe: One God or Many Universes?

Physicists have discovered that the existence of life depends upon a highly improbable balance of physical factors, where the constants of physics and the initial conditions of the universe appear delicately balanced to allow for the possibility of life. This lecture explains this fine-tuning argument and addresses one of the most prominent objections to it.

12:00pm Lunch (provided at the venue)

1:00pm Lecture Five

Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence of Intelligent Design

Using colourful visual aids and video animations, Dr Meyer describes the fascinating discoveries of modern biology that have revealed the unexpected complexity of the cell’s information storage and processing systems. No theory of undirected evolution has been able to explain the origin of the digital information needed for life. Why? There is simply too much information in the cell to be explained by undirected processes alone.

2:00pm Afternoon tea (coffee/tea provided)

2:30pm Lecture Six

The Return of the God Hypothesis: Theism as an Inference to the Best Explanation

In his concluding lecture, Meyer surveys the different classes of evidence from the natural sciences — cosmology, physics, biochemistry and molecular biology — and uses the method of multiple competing hypotheses to show how a theistic worldview provides a better explanation for the full range of scientific discoveries than any other major worldview.

3:30pm Finish

Friday nights event is free – no registration required – just turn up.

To join us for Saturday’s workshop – please purchase your ticket here:  (Defers To Thinking Matters.Org)

$15.00–$45.00 Select options

Tags: intelligent design