Comment by Steven J Greenfield on an answer to Do atheists have the authority to talk about the Qur’an or the Bible?

Comment by Steven J Greenfield on an answer to Do atheists have the authority to talk about the Qur'an or the Bible? :

Comment by Steven J Greenfield on an answer to Do atheists have the authority to talk about the Qur’an or the Bible?

How do people that believe in reincarnation explain exponential population growth?

Answer by Jim Ashby:

It's not just humans that get reincarnated: all animals do, even gnats and dung beetles. When it comes to which animal host a soul-in-waiting chooses, certain species can be in vogue for eons at a time. Dinosaurs of all kinds were a popular choice of host for reincarnated souls until, after many millions of years, they fell out of favor. Souls-in-waiting can turn fickle.

Humans hosts have been gaining in popularity for many thousands of years now. Souls that used to choose hosts like the bandicoot, the Bali tiger and the Zanzibar leopard have all jumped on the human host bandwagon.

Other species currently enjoying popularity among reincarnated souls include: cats, dogs, cows, chickens, pigs, rats and cockroaches.

The increase in souls that choose popular hosts, like humans, is precisely offset by a decrease in souls that choose other species.

How do people that believe in reincarnation explain exponential population growth?

What are the genuine flaws in Islam, if any?

Answer by Jim Ashby:

It's 3:40 a.m. and I can't say all I want to say before falling asleep at the keyboard. I'll start with my firmly-held perspective, overall, then (hopefully) cover actual surah and ayat to explain my position. If I don't finish tonight, I'll complete this when I wake up.

Mormon (LDS) missionaries, who come knocking at your door to proselytize for their church, all receive formal training to ensure they provide approved canned answers to questions and objections from prospective converts. This tactical training previously came from a book called ‘The Uniform System for Teaching the Gospel’. I once had a couple of doorknockers visit me to tell me all about the Mormon faith. Whenever I asked a tough question, they would refer to what they both called ‘the brown book’ for answers, which, I now presume, must be The Uniform System for Teaching the Gospel. In 2004, this book was replaced by ‘Preach My Gospel’, which shifts tactics to ‘teaching by the Spirit’ (designed to cater to ‘individual needs’ of potential converts). I’m not sure if the brown book is so named because it has a brown cover or because it’s contents are derived from the works of Scott Kent Brown (who edited the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Journal of the Book of Mormon Studiesand the Historical Atlas of Mormonism). I’ve never actually read the brown book . . . it’s not, after all, intended for popular consumption.

It seems that leftist, politically correct, apologists for Islam have developed their own version of the Mormon brown book. In forum and group discussions and debates all over the Internet and other media, you see the same tactics used; as if they’ve all been prepping from the same apologist brown book. I’ve never read this book either but it must be out there somewhere; secretly passed around from apologist to apologist.

Political correctitude, over the last few decades, has evolved to become a leftist, totalitarian, dogma. We all know the routine by now. Criticism of Islam is racist (even though Islam is not a race). Alarm at the consequences of Islamism is fear mongering. Pointing out Muhammad’s questionable morality is hate speech. Anger or frustration at Muslim rioting is intolerance. Support for the anti-burka law in France means you’re a misogynist. The mere mention of the abject failure of multiculturalism in Europe makes you an ultra-conservative wingnut. By impugning your character, apologists for Islam often walk away from an argument without ever rebutting a single point made.

But in order to succeed with these tactics, apologists must shift the target of your criticism away from ideologies and doctrines by, instead, emphasizing the adherents. Be wary of this ploy. Always return focus to the ideas – not the people. If you don’t, they will label you a bigoted hater (ad hominems are okay if they’re politically correct).

Apologists for Islam bend over backwards in an ostentatious display of accommodation and inclusion of Muslims. It’s very nice to accommodate and include people: even when they tend not to accommodate or include you in return. Accommodation and inclusion are among the finest of liberal ideals. Human rights, equal rights, anti-discrimination and all that. But Islamism is different. In order to explain the difference, you need to keep focus on Islamic ideology and doctrine, not on the adherents. Do we really want to accommodate and include Sharia and Jihad? Of course not! But neither do we want to single out Muslims in any way . . . including extending them special treatment.

Which brings us to the difference between pluralism and multiculturalism. America has traditionally been a ‘melting pot of nations’. Ours is a pluralistic society which encourages immigrants to blend in while still embracing their own cultures, if they choose. Nobody gets special treatment. In contrast, Europe, for many decades, has adopted the approach of multiculturalism; partly to accommodate the special demands of Muslim immigrants. This policy has led to Muslim enclaves in Europe’s cities – entire areas dominated by a culture and values foreign to their host countries. By extending them special treatment, Europe has not succeeded in integrating Muslims into their societies and is now waking up to the abject failure of their multicultural experiment. From restrictions on the height of mosque minarets to banning the burka: we are witnessing, in Europe, a backlash against a multiculturalism that has failed its main goals to include and accommodate.

European multiculturalism has failed because it doesn’t understand just how alien the Islamic worldview is to their own. European culture and worldview is rooted in (reformed) Christianity and Greek philosophy. Islamic culture and worldview is rooted in the Quran and Arab philosophy. Everything about Islam: it’s hadith, traditions, culture, Sharia law and Jihad is based on the unerring truth of the Quran. Logic takes a back seat to Allah’s will: if Allah willed it, it’s right: end of discussion. Islamic culture precludes questioning or challenging its sources and, thus, does not evolve – much less, reform itself.

I should, belatedly, distinguish Islamism from Islam. Islamism is not just the religion of Islam; it is also a political (Jihad) and legal (Sharia) ideology. I criticize the religion of Islam as a rabid dogma. And it is. But MOST adherents are like most of us — they just want to live their lives with as little drama as possible. I know this from the 6 months I lived in Kuwait.

But the Islamic fundamentalists are another matter entirely. They are the pawns of Islamism: manipulated by callous and calculating leaders who hate everything we stand for. Islam is a rabid dogma that provides Islamism with the fanatics and license for violence needed for Jihad.

Apologists for Islam want to deny this. They want to embrace those who hate us, in some sort of holier-than-thou vision of an uber-liberal utopia. They don’t understand that Islamists see this cumbayah vision as a weakness. Islamists laugh up their sleeves at these clueless apologists while thanking them for helping to undermine our values and way of life.

What are the genuine flaws in Islam, if any?

Why do atheists turn to atheism?

Answer by Jim Ashby:

'Turn to atheism' is a phrase that portrays atheism as a monolithic alternative to faith. It's not faith versus atheism. There's many alternatives: religious/spiritual indifference or apathy, agnosticism, humanitarianism, deism, pantheism, Satanism, Wicca, Buddhism, New Age mysticism, etc.

Atheists don't 'turn to' atheism: believers do. But it's not a choice so much as a learning experience. It is common for believers to experience cognitive dissonance and to investigate the doctrines and dogmas that trouble them. Because logic is the best tool for figuring things out, inquiring minds are prone to using it. As you begin to understand the the lies you've been fed by believers — friends, family and society at large — curiosity is likely to compel you on a quest to expose all the lies — for no other reason than it's human nature to value truth.

Based on my own personal surveys of atheist websites, social media (especially Atheist Nexus, which requires new registrants to explain how they came to atheism) and forums like Quora, it's clear that most atheists on the Internet were once believers. But many never were — they never had to 'turn to' atheism.

Most self-proclaimed atheists have turned to atheism . . . but not directly. Most of us arrived at atheism after a long sojourn of exploration that, over time, shed old vestiges of our former religious selves. It's an educational process of sorts that improves our level of discernment and strengthens our appreciation of rational integrity.

I don't know any long-term atheists who are unhappy that they ever 'turned to' atheism. Nobody wants to live a lie.

Why do atheists turn to atheism?