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Sunday, 28 September 2014

We Have Islam to Blame for More than You Think

Getting to this position has taken me a long time. It has taken the activities of IS, The Islamic Republic of Iran, Boko Haram and Anjem Choudary. When I was a teenager, I was cross when my girlfriend was groped in Cairo; I thought then that Muslims qua Muslims had a bad attitude to women – particularly non-Muslim women. I progressed to the attitude that Muslim attitudes are fundamentally flawed. As you will see, I have gone farther than that.

Let’s start with the obligatory admission that Catholics have done bad things and that Catholics do do bad things. Oh, and the other obligatory admission that not all Muslims are bad people.

I think that the Inquisition was worse than the Crusades, even though far fewer died. I hate theocracy (whether Christian or Muslim).  To repeat myself, the promises are false and the consequences are diabolical – a word I do not use lightly. Catholics believe in the Devil. We listen to the news. Original Sin is apparent in every item.

Christian Theocracy would create Hell on Earth. Muslim Theocracy is creating Hell on Earth wherever it is being tried.

Our Lord famously said, ‘Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s’. In my view this is equivalent to, ‘My Kingdom is not of this world.’ God’s Kingdom is not a huge all-encompassing state – it exists in each and every Christian heart. Islam always and everywhere aspires to be an all-encompassing state. Islam is not so much a religion as a socio-political system with a dollop of religious teaching mixed in. It has resisted all reform for centuries.

The Crusaders did bad things. On the way to the Holy Land, they killed Jews and Christians and Muslims. But, they believed that they were waging a defensive war – and they were! The Middle East was Christian in the seventh century. It was conquered by Islam. The Crusaders were fighting back. Would that they had succeeded.

Islam’s victories made Islam stronger, politically and economically. Jiziya, the tax paid only by non-Muslims was, unsurprisingly, effective. With every conquest, the Jiziya made the conquerors richer and more militarily triumphant.

Some historians would have us reflect on the so-called Dark Ages. Some of them (the dim ones) would blame Christianity for the darkness. Christian Monasticism preserved much of Classical learning. Christian Monasticism has much for which to be thankful – in technology, in agriculture and in education. Henry VIII destroyed so much of what the monks had created.

Meanwhile, the Muslims were busy creating the Caliphate. Yes, the Muslims had a sort of theology. But compare their theology with that of Augustine and Aquinas. The Caliphate was all about establishing Sharia. In England our forefathers were establishing common law. We were rejecting the idea that law was the King’s law – it was the Law of the Land. Islam clings to the idea that Sharia is God’s law. We Christians do not deny that God tells us how to behave. We do deny that God tells us how to organise society. The conflict is more Christianity versus Sharia than Jesus versus Mohammed. At the same time, we believe that Mohammed is a false prophet and that Jesus is The Logos.

Also meanwhile, Christendom was threatened by Islam. The current threat is not new. Ferdinand and Isabella drove the Muslims out of Spain. Imagine the history of the last five hundred years if we had had a large and threatening Islamic state on Europe’s southern border. There might not have been an Enlightenment (a mixed blessing); there might not have been a Scientific Revolution. Muslim theologians have explicitly denied causality. Nothing happens, according to Islam, without the Creator willing it (inshallah). Perhaps this is why muslim scientists in muslim lands do not get Nobel Prizes for Physics and Chemistry. Aquinas tells us that The Almighty grants to creatures ‘the dignity of causality’. The Islamic position is confused and contradictory.

The Scholastics in Salamanca, sneered at for debating angels and pinheads, preached against the conquistadors for trampling the rights of non-Catholic South Americans. Mohammed ordered the decapitation of 800 people in one day for denying his status as ‘God’s Messenger’. He is exalted as the perfect example of conduct.

All the things that we deplore about Islam are explicitly sanctioned in the islamic texts. Atheists and Muslims pretend that Jewish violence in the Old Testament similarly sanctions violence. This is a gross misreading.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Causality & Consciousness


Oh dear, I seem to have developed a penchant for rabbiting on about really, really tough subjects.

Aristotle was big on causality – the answer to the question ‘Why?’ He defined four different types of cause. Back to Aristotle in a bit.

Why does water boil when it is heated? A reasonably sophisticated approach would start with what water is. When heat energy is applied to a volume of water, the molecules become ‘excited’ and bounce off one another until the water changes state – from a liquid to a gas. Why do water molecules behave in this way? I’m getting out of my depth; but I’m sure scientists have an answer to this and to questions I have not thought to ask.

Why do apples fall from trees? All material bodies are attracted to each other by the force of what we have called, since Newton’s day, Gravity. The earth and the apple attract each other. What else do we know about Gravity? We know that the force of attraction is proportional to the masses of the bodies and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. Anything else? Well, the force of gravity is defined as: F = mg, where m is the mass of the body and g is a constant vector with an average magnitude of 9.81 m/s2. Why not a nice round 10.00 m/s2? Science has no answer to this question. Don’t blame Science. It is scientists themselves who tell us that Science has no way of knowing. It’s not a scientific question.  And yet Dawkins declares that the existence of God is a scientific question.  Is this Dawkins being silly? God is a scientific question – Gravity is not? Gravity is simply one of the givens Science has to work with (the speed of light is another). We revere scientists for their discoveries. When they go beyond Science they become less reverend (less deserving of reverence).

The Why of Gravity is one of the whys to which there is only one type of answer: What is Gravity for?

Thinking about Consciousness

It makes your head ache, doesn't it? Defining it is a nightmare. It’s one of those things that we think understand, like ‘time’; but when asked what it is, we are stumped.

It seems to me, and I’m about to reveal depths of naivety here, that consciousness is always about something. I am conscious of a sound or a smell. Sometimes I even become conscious of being conscious of something. I can become conscious of my own existence. (Cogito ergo sum). There is a deal of ‘intentionality’ about consciousness. Intentionality is ‘the quality of mental states (e.g. thoughts, beliefs, desires, hopes) which consists in their being directed towards some object or state of affairs.’

I'm going to do more work on Aristotle. I promise.

The Argument from Personal Incredulity
The Infinite Improbability Drive

Two intellectual Titans to thank for the inspiration for this blog: Richard Dawkins and Douglas Adams. Dawkins doesn’t like the API but he must be credited with naming it. Adams invented the IID. As Will Smith says in Independence Day, “I’ve gotta get me one of these!” Another useful bit of kit is Bill Occam’s famous razor.

Imagine a ruler 19 billion light years in length, marked at one inch intervals. That’s a long ruler. Somewhere between 0 and the other end of the ruler is a number which describes the strength of Gravity. It has got to be where it is (not an inch each either way): otherwise Gravity will be too weak or too strong to permit a star forming universe to come into being. Physicists tell us that nothing in Science requires Gravity to have this value. It is the factory setting. Prof Dawkins and his ilk don’t believe that this setting was chosen intentionally. I apply the API: You have got to be kidding, right?

I understand that there are quite a lot more factory settings that precisely meet the requirements of a life-producing universe and would forbid a life-producing universe if they were greater or smaller by a hair’s breadth. Gravity alone will do. The Universe was designed.

The cell is the irreducible unit of life. It is packed with nano-machines and encyclopaedias’ worth of instructions on how to build them and operate them. The API tells me that cells didn't construct themselves without a deliberate plan. Materialists tell me that they did. Cells were designed.

I have kept this deliberately simple. For much more detail, I refer you to Michael Denton’s Nature’s Destiny and The Privileged Planet by Jay Richards and Guillermo Gonzalez. Both books rely on the accumulation of data (much as The Origin of Species did).  My challenge is to those who would call me unscientific or antiscientific simply for applying the API. Plenty would. But their objection to my position is not scientific: it is metaphysical. All explanations, they say, must rely on physical causes only. Where they dredged up this rule is a mystery.

The IID, featured in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, is a wondrous device. When Improbability is set to MAX, anything can happen. Dawkins must have one.

There may not be any way to resolve the conflict between the Infinite Improbability Drive and the Argument from Personal Incredulity. Unless it is this: one comes from a novel; the other comes from common sense.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Sam Harris Walks on Water

I’m tired of saying that I like this man. I do. He and I think the same(ish) about Israel and guns. He believes in absolute moral standards, which he thinks can be derived from observation (Science). I believe in absolute moral standards but I don’t believe they can be derived from Science.

I have just ordered his latest book (having been promised a superior frisson); I look forward to reading it.

While waiting for the delivery of the book I searched for him on YouTube.  He spoke about Free Will. He says there is no such thing.

By denying Free Will you have to re-define English. You have to be a part of the Ingsoc project (1984, George Orwell). You have to extirpate whole categories of English words. The following words (and many others) are now meaningless:


I would have to stop thinking altogether. I’d have to stop deploring Jihadi John and the decapitation of Western journalists and aid workers. But if you think there is no such thing as Free Will, JJ is no more to blame than bacteria – and I don’t think we can blame them.

I do have opinions about Scottish Independence. But if I bought Harris’s view, I would have no way of distinguishing between ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. Well, perhaps I would; but I would be left with one group of Scots who have no choice but to vote ‘Yes’ and another group who have no choice but to vote ‘No’.

Deny Free Will if you must. But then continue living your life. Everyone who denies Free Will always behaves as if they have Free Will. If you act, you affirm (if not Free Will) but your belief in Free Will.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Fr Robert Barron on Scientism

I have alluded to this guy more than once. He is very good indeed.

Scientism is the view that Science is the only valid way of understanding the world. It falls apart as soon you realise that this view is not scientifically defensible.

Depressing Stuff

I have, at Sam’s suggestion, been checking out Maajid Nawaz of the Quilliam Foundation. He does seem to be a ‘good guy’. He has abandoned the radical Islam of his youth but this has drawn down the wrath of other Muslims.

If all British Muslims were of his kidney, we would have little, if anything, to fear from them. Alas, this is not the case.

Here is a clip of a ‘conversation’ on Newsnight between Nawaz, Paxman and Anjem Choudary.

Choudary has an extraordinary ability to say his thing without ever answering questions. This is an impressive technique but it quickly becomes counterproductive. It’s difficult to imagine him ever persuading anyone who doesn’t already agree with him. Quite boring, really. What do you think?

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Random Clips

·        William Lane Craig – a very brainy chap.
Dawkins refuses to debate him, perhaps because of what happened to Peter Atkins at his hands: Perhaps My Favourite YouTube Clip of All Time

·         Anjem Choudary – how not to argue. Articulate, yes. Persuasive, I don’t think so.
With Friends Like Anjem

·         Tom Woods – brain the size of a planet.
The Catholic Church: The first of 13 parts
 You are not educated if you have not taken this on board.

·         Arthur C Brooks  –  President of AEI, as smart as they get.
A Short Random Clip
Search for longer pieces by this titan.

·         Terry Eagleton – A high IQ doesn’t protect you from STUPIDITY.
Defending Karl Marx! So sad! The only man to have been proven wrong more often is Paul Ehrlich (qv).

·         Paul Ehrlich – if you watch all this (I haven’t) and find anything interesting, do let me know. I promise to bite the bullet and watch it.
He Has a Job?
Be aware that this is the guy who in The Population Bomb (1968) predicted that the world faced mass starvation in the 70s and 80s. Let us note, in passing, that since 1970 the number of people world-wide in desperate poverty has decreased by EIGHTY PERCENT. You would expect him to have assumed the foetal position on the toilet floor. No, he gives lectures and people buy his books. This is the world we live in.

·         I am offering a prize of 50p for clips of more egregiously stupid humans than Anjem, Terry and Paul.
More on Islam – Sorry

Just been listening to Peter Hitchens and Ibrahim Mogra discussing whether Christianity or Islam is the way forward.

I am an enthusiastic admirer of PH, although I disagree with him on a number of issues. But I confess that I could not find it in me to shout, “Way to go, Peter!” while listening to this discussion. The whole affair was conducted in an entirely civilised fashion, with Justin Brierly in the chair.

Ibrahim Mogra, I regret to say, was somewhat disingenuous but Hitchens failed to take him to task. Mogra came across as very reasonable himself; but he characterised his co-religionists as being (for the most part) like himself, perfectly happy to concede that English secular law should take precedence.

I have said in the past that most British Muslims are lukewarm and that I, for one, am glad this is so. Most Muslims expend most of their energies on family and work rather than on Islam. But it is undeniable that recent generations of Muslims in Britain have contained an increasing number of what may be called ‘radicals’ or ‘fundamentalists’. Hundreds of young Muslims have gone to Iraq and Syria, prepared to sacrifice their very lives in support of the Islamic State. Their religion is political! Sharia law is its centre. When I was growing up there were far fewer Muslims in Britain and it was inconceivable that significant numbers would have been noisy radicals.

I always thought of Muslims as being more than ordinarily law abiding and assumed that the draconian Islamic strictures on theft were at least part of the reason. However, I had occasion, not so very long ago, to peruse the lists of criminal cases at the Magistrates Court in Manchester. To my surprise, the defendants with Islamic names were disproportionately numerous.

The shocking revelations about sex crimes in Rotherham and Rochdale perpetrated by young men of Pakistani origin seem to indicate that too many in the Muslim community are contemptuous of our indigenous population.

We have many serious problems in Britain: one of them is the attitudes and behaviour of too many people brought up as Muslims.

One of the glories of Britain is our system of common law, far superior, in my view, to the legal codes of Europe. Most American jurists and historians, I think, would concur and rejoice in their Anglo-Saxon heritage. Daniel Hannan is very good on this subject. The replacement of (bottom up) common law with divine Sharia would not be a smart move.

Christianity is still on the wane in Britain and has been since the end of the First World War. However, our tradition contains many elements that we should fight to maintain. The threat posed by those who would junk our tradition and replace it with Sharia seems to me to be very real. Theism, it seems plain, is hardwired. As Christianity declines, the attractions of alternatives (whether theistic or atheistic) appear to some to increase.

Christian churches in Britain are pitifully feeble in their evangelism. I cannot remember any sermon preached in any church I have attended which focussed on the imperative to grow our numbers. Any business which neglected sales and marketing to this extent would have dismal prospects.

Islam is not the only threat. Militant atheism is another. Socialist ideology is commonplace. Muslims, atheists and socialists have agendas and cadres. They know what they want. Western traditionalists are sleepwalking. The Western tradition has given us Arts, Sciences, Technology, Literature and Music unequalled outside the tradition. It has also given us Communism and Fascism. There is also the alarming politicisation of Science and the cult of Scientism. We are dozing.

I would resist to the death the imposition of Christian Theocracy – it is a blasphemous idea. It would be to sink to the depths of the opposition. Theocracy is, perhaps, the worst form of political organisation. It not only promises an earthly paradise; it claims divine authority. The results of political Islam around the world are comparable to those of Socialism. The promises are false and the consequences are deadly. However, Christians, like Peter Hitchens ought to be more anxious about the threats to Western Civilisation.

In short, brothers and sisters, these are ‘interesting times’, as in the old Chinese curse: ‘May you live in interesting times.’

Thinking people, especially thinking Christians, should wake up to the dangers of political blueprints – especially when these have religious or quasi-religious foundations. God bless lukewarm Muslims! Not all Muslims are lukewarm. Those at white heat have no difficulty justifying bad stuff by reference to Islamic texts.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Political Chaos – A Bad Thing?

Nine days from now the Scots will vote on whether or not to remain part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Those who vote ‘Yes’ will be voting to dissolve the three hundred year old Union. I hope they win. If I were a Scotsman I would vote ‘No’.

The first issue, as I see it, is the ‘West Lothian’ question. It is absurd that Scottish MPs should have a say on questions that affect the English but not the Scots. Scottish MPs, currently, can vote on Education in England. Westminster MPs (the majority of whom are English) have no vote on Education in Scotland. This is beyond absurd.

The second issue is the fact that Scottish MPs can help to determine the colour of the UK government. Scots prefer left-wing governments; we English do not. Without Scots MPs in Westminster the Tories would have won an outright victory in 2010. I am no longer a Tory but, in my view, a Tory government would have been preferable to the ghastly coalition of Tories and Lib Dems. Another Labour government would have been as disastrous as all previous Labour governments have been. Tories with a majority might have been less spineless than Tories without a majority.

When I was coming to adulthood, the Scots seemed to me a bit old-fashioned and I admired them for it. Scottish Education, for example, was just better than English.

I do buy the ‘No’ claims that Scotland will be worse off for a myriad technical reasons if the Scots vote ‘Yes’. But I am an Englishman. I don’t want Labour to govern England – ever. If the Scots elect a socialist government, it will be a catastrophe for them (compare Detroit electing Democrats) but I am not a Scot. I will bravely endure their self-inflicted pain. I will hope that they learn from it.  I have no ambition to continue sharing it. Similarly, I have no wish to impose my politico-economic views on other member states of the EU. I just don’t want the Politics or the Economics of the EU being imposed on me.

The English love the Scots. To a man, we prefer Andy Murray to any Swede, Swiss or Croatian. Our affection is not reciprocated. ‘Anyone but England’ is an explicit Scottish theme.

The marriage is over. We may bitterly regret it; but it is. Alex, you have decided that it is so. We English should not regret (in the circumstances) that our common credit cards shall henceforth be invalid.

The Catholic principle of subsidiarity (all decisions should be made as locally as possible) is with the SNP. The EU proclaims it but hollowly. Jock, go your own way if you must. But don’t expect me to regret it if your decision makes life easier for me.

Theism, Deism and Atheism

To my mind, the choice is essentially between the above. I am a theist; but I am strongly opposed to some other theists – namely Muslims. I'm a theist; and I am opposed to some deists whom I admire – for example, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. As a theist I have to oppose atheists. I like some atheists but some atheists are so antithetical to everything I support in all religious contexts (and incidentally in most others) that they have got to be my opponents.

Perhaps some definitions are in order. A theist believes that the universe is God’s creation and that he sustains it from hour to hour. Muslims believe this and this is what I believe.

A deist believes that God created the universe but that he lost interest thereafter – at least, he ceased to be involved in it.

An atheist believes that the very concept of God is nonsensical. To me, this belief has no justification – which, of course, does not mean that it isn’t true.

We just don’t have a proof to support theism, deism or atheism.  Proofs belong to Mathematics. We do have, as David Berlinski says, arguments.

By default, the human race has been theistic. Perhaps this is genetically pre-determined. On the Darwin view our pre-determined theism has nothing whatever to do with Truth. Random Mutation and Natural Selection are not, even remotely, interested in Truth, only in survival and reproduction. But one of our default suppositions is that some things are true, whether or not they suit us. It’s very difficult to have a conversation, let alone an argument, with someone who denies that some things are true and some things are false.

Logical Positivism reigned for years in British academia, declaring that only propositions which had ‘scientific’ support could be regarded as meaningful. It fell apart when this declaration turned out not to be scientifically supportable.

Most of us have lots of default suppositions. We believe that there is a real world outside our minds. To deny this violates all our instincts. Some, I think, do take this position – not me and not, I think, most human beings. By default, we believe that there are minds other than our own. Solipsism says there aren’t. Have you ever met a solipsist? Is it his mind which is unique (and uniquely creative); or did he persuade you that yours is the unique mind? It can’t be both. I think I toyed with solipsism when I was about eleven. I gave it up before I was twelve.

Another supposition we nearly all share is our belief in the past. A philosopher could assert that our belief in the past is merely a construction of our minds. Hardly any of us believes this for a moment.
Our default suppositions won’t go away. One of our default suppositions is that the universe we live in (a life permitting universe) is not an accident. We can’t prove that it isn't. For me, even wanting to do so is perverse. It’s like wanting to prove that free will is an illusion. Even if you managed to prove that it is, you would still have to behave as if it isn't. It’s impossible to believe that there is no such thing as blame or responsibility. Try it when I poke you in the eye.

Am I declaring that our default suppositions are true by default? Not quite. But life is pretty difficult when you deny them.

The argument (not the proof) is that the universe has a cause. So we are theists by default. Deism is an unnecessary epicycle. Atheism doesn’t get a look in. Only Theism comports with our default suppositions.

I know that this is incomplete. Please do me the favour of pointing out any logical gaps that you spot.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Thomas Sowell and David Berlinski

Here are a couple of links to interviews between Peter Robinson and a couple of my heroes.

Peter is an excellent interviewer and chooses some excellent subjects. I shall let these videos speak for themselves.

A New Feature

I spend altogether too much time listening to YouTube videos: not of pets doing cute things but of talks, lectures and debates.

My other hobby is keeping this blog. So I have decided to combine the two. I am going to include in each post at least one link to a video or videos I think worth viewing. I hope you will think I have chosen well.

For my first offering, here is a link to one of my all-time heroes, Jay Richards. He speaks on a variety of topics which interest me: Intelligent Design, Economics and Climate Change, to name but three.

In my view, he speaks very well. He is clearly intelligent and well informed and he is a contrarian, though a well-mannered one.


Here is a video in which he talks about Money, Greed and God. It is not densely theological. Indeed, it is concerned with ethical issues which might easily interest those of an entirely secular mind-set:

And another:

Jay Richards on What Should Christians Think About Global Warming?



Monday, 1 September 2014

In Defence of History

But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page
Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er unroll;
Chill Penury repressed their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.
 Gray’s Elegy

When I was a kid I liked History. It seemed more likes stories than any other subject. Very occasionally I would hear people wondering why we spent so much time on History. I don’t think I paid much attention. What is the point of History? I dunno.

It is a commonplace to hear that History teaches us nothing. But that is our fault. If we don’t learn from History, that is not because History has nothing to teach.

I suppose old people are more driven to think historically. Is this just because our personal lives stretch further back? Perhaps.

The Truth is that History has much to teach us – if we are prepared to listen.

Our current age has more to teach us than ever before. The twentieth century is the ghastliest century in History. Its lessons are clearer than ever. God forbid that the twenty-first should be worse. To avoid this we need to learn History.

We need to learn from the baddest of all time – the ideologies of the twentieth century. What did they have in common? Each and every one had a plan for the perfection of human society. Marx’s was the most obvious. It was cack. Every prediction Marx ever made failed. Every one.  Marx and Hitler (and Mao)  had their plans. They had a fantasy that in the fullness of time a new humanity would arise, with their help.  Dear God! How do you extirpate everything that prevents the inconvenient old humanity from interfering with our perfect word? Easy! Kill them whenever you find them – hundreds of millions of them.

The twentieth century had one solution – death. Islam has the same solution. One death century should have been enough!

We know what Marxist ideology has given us in the past. We know what it will mean to follow Hitler. We know! We have seen it happen.  Mohammedanism has given us what we see happening in the Middle East.

Embrace Life. The likes of Hamas explicitly reject this. They embrace Death – and proudly.

Whose side are you going to be on: the communists, who killed hundreds of millions, or the fascists, who killed tens of millions? The Islamic State kills hundreds a day. History hasn’t stopped.