Yvonne Ridley - a heart-warming conversion tale...

Yvonne Ridley is one of many Westerners who have converted to Islam in recent years. Her tale is undoubtedly different from most (she was abducted by the Taleban on the Pakistan-Afghan border in 2001 when working for the Daily Express and was held captive for ten days...) and yet there is something here that will be familiar to all who know the way religions use threats and bribes to win converts. Here is the story of the final days before her conversion in her own words:

But there has been a phone call from at least one male admirer - north London preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri."He said, 'Sister Yvonne, welcome to Islam, congratulations'."I explained I hadn't yet taken my final vows and he said, 'Don't be pressured or pushed, the whole community is there for you if you need any help, just call one of the sisters.'  "I thought, I can't believe it, this is the fire and brimstone cleric from Finsbury Park mosque and he is quite sweet really."I was just about to hang up when he said, 'But there is just one thing I want you to remember. Tomorrow, if you have an accident and die, you will go straight to hellfire'."I was so scared that I carried a copy of the vows in my purse until my final conversion last June."
Ah...bless! And there was me thinking that Allah was a merciful, all-loving god.

(You might also find it rewarding to google Yvonne's wise and heart-warming words about Israel and Jews since her conversion...but God forbid you should think Islam encourages anti-semitism).

"Allah is a vengeful, cruel deity no more deserving of worship...

then the stone idols Mohammad threw out of the Kabah."

For those who want to know and who have any intellectual curiosity whatsoever, the evidence is so overwhelming that the Qur'an is written not by an omniscient, merciful, wise, wonderful deity but by a very fallible man, that I've suddenly been overcome by a sense of overwhelming ennui. Or perhaps it's just a midlife crisis...
If you're reading this and you are a Muslim then I have a simple question that I'd like you ask yourself and to which I have never received a satisfactory answer. It is this:
Allah makes it plain that if you are a polytheist, an ancestor worshiper or an atheist, or anything other than a monotheist in the Abrahamic fold, you will go to Hell and suffer an eternity of unimaginable torment.
Your god thus condemns a very large proportion of his own creation to ever-lasting torture. And it matters not one jot to your god that these people might be good, kind, wonderfully selfless individuals who lead lives replete with good works and acts of generosity . A child-murderer who converts to Islam has his sins wiped clean and can go to paradise, however.
Do you feel happy worshipping such a deity? Don't you ever, just for one moment think there might be something wrong here? Or are you too busy selfishly scrambling to be let into paradise so you can have endless rivers of wine and beautiful maidens?

Animal miracles - animals say Allah!

This lion roars Allah! It's had over 2 million views on youtube...Allah Akbah!
There are hundreds of similar videos, sites and blogs all asking believers to swallow this gob-smacking rubbish.
So here's some gentle fun at their expense. (No doubt it's punishable by death, but hey-ho...)

Is Islam a Cult? - pt 2

Yesterday I posted the famous definition of a cult by Janja Lalich, Ph.D.and Michael D. Langone, Ph.D.: Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups.
Today I'd like to take the first few points in the list enumerated by Lalich and Langone and see if they are applicable to Islam.

1. The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law. 
There is no doubt that Islam (like many religions...) encourages what might be fairly termed excessive and unquestioning devotion, as evidenced in this hadith from Bukari:
The Prophet said "None of you will have faith till he loves me more than his father, his children and all mankind." (Sahih Bukhari 1:2:14

2. Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
This, I think, is one of the most worrying aspects of Islam in that its adherents seem to lose all critical faculties - perhaps because of the infamous injunction in the Qur'an:
"O ye who believe! Ask not questions about things which, if made plain to you, may cause you trouble. But if ye ask about things when the Qur'an is being revealed, they will be made plain to you, Allah will forgive those: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Forbearing. Some people before you did ask such questions, and on that account lost their faith." (Qur'an 5:101-102)
We should also remember that apostasy (leaving the religion) in Islam is considered a heinous enough crime for the punishment to be death, according to some interpretations.

3. Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s)
Prayers five times a day? Fasting for a month? Madrassas where young children are encouraged to do nothing but learn the Qur'an off by heart by means of repetitive chanting, even when they have little or no idea what it is they are repeating? I think we can call these mind-altering practices.

4. The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).
How many times have we been told that Islam "is a way of life"? What other religion dictates the minutiae of the behaviour of its followers to such mind-numbing level as Islam? Here is a link to an Islamic Q&A site where Muslims can ask an Imman for a ruling (fatwah) on any number of personal things. As an example, there are eight fatwahs on the etiquette of sneezing... (I kid you not)

Another victim of Yusuf Estes' lies - Pharaoh preserved part 4

Here's why it's important to spread the truth...Another message left for me on Youtube:

This poor individual believes the lies spread by Yusuf Estes et al.
To recap:
1. Bucaille worked as the physician to King Faisal of Saudi Arabia in 1973. Any internet search can find this fact in seconds. Why did this poster not do some research?
2. Salt in the mummy is because of Natron - "a naturally occurring mixture of sodium carbonate decahydrate (Na2CO3·10H2O, a kind of soda ash) and about 17% sodium bicarbonate (also called nahcolite or baking soda, NaHCO3) along with small quantities of household salt (halite, sodium chloride) and sodium sulfate...Historical natron was harvested directly as a salt mixture from dry lake beds in Ancient Egypt...The mineral was used to preserve mummies in Egypt because it absorbs water and behaves as a drying agent." link
3. Where the lie about the mummies not being mummified comes from I have no idea, as even Bucaille doesn't say this. And yet thousands of  Muslims believe it.
A large proportion of the humanity is being brain-washed and we seem to be incapable of stopping it...

Addendum: I shall relay further exchanges with this Youtube user in the comments section..

Is Islam a Cult?

Today we will start to examine the claim that Islam is a cult using the objective criteria established by Janja Lalich, Ph.D.and Michael D. Langone, Ph.D. in their famous article Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups. For now I'll just let you digest the article...

Compare these patterns to the situation you were in (or in which you, a family member, or friend is currently involved). This list may help you determine if there is cause for concern. Bear in mind that this list is not meant to be a cult scale or a definitive checklist to determine if a specific group is a cult. This is not so much a diagnostic instrument as it is an analytical tool.
1. The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.
2. Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
3. Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s)
4. The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).
5. The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity)
6. The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.
7. The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations)
8. The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members' participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).
9. The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt iin order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.
9. Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.
10. The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
11. The group is preoccupied with making money.
12. Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities
13. Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.The most loyal members (the true believers) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.

"Mohammad (s.a.w.) was illetrate" - now you know.

Just a quickie today - a reply left for me on Youtube in the comments section on a video about the marvellous Pharaoh preserved miracle. Here's what I left:

After approx one century of intense archeological research there is not one shred of evidence that the Exodus is anything other than a STORY. Mohammad copied the story from the bible, added the bit about Pharaoh's body surviving because he heard tales of mummies (in the same way he heard stories of the Ark being found on Mt Judi)...

this is the reply I got:

lol, how could Mohammad(s.a.w) copy,he was an illetrate!
don't try to lie even for a speck;read holy Quran;
If you hesitate,then read the book"The Bible,The Quran and Science" by Maurice Bucaille,
If you still need someone who you could see saying this,then watch the former Christian Minister and preacher Yusuf Estes!
If you still are a typical narrow minded person in any aspect,nobody can help you out then,Fear God and don't try to convey something you don't know !

Pharaoh preserved - Pt 3 - Yusuf Estes miracle claim b*llocks

Today we finally dispense with the claim by Islamic miracle seekers(like the one above called Yusuf Estes) that the mummy of Ramses II (or that of his son, Merneptah) on display in Cairo is proof of the fulfilled prediction in the Qur'an that the body of the drowned Pharaoh of the Exodus would be preserved as a sign...
We brought the Children of Israel across the sea and Pharaoh and his troops pursued them out of tyranny and enmity. Then, when he was on the point of drowning, he (Pharaoh) said, I believe that there is no god but Him in whom the Children of Israel believe. I am of those who submit to God. What! Now! And indeed you disobeyed before and you were of the mischief-makers. This day shall We save you in your body, that you may be a Sign to those who come after you! But indeed, many among mankind are neglectful of Our Signs. 10:90-93
We have seen that archeological evidence for the Exodus itself is non-existent and the story related in the old Testament is thus, in all likelihood, a myth.
We have seen that the author of the Qur'an fails to specify which Pharaoh and that references to Firoun suggest a lack of understanding of the title.
We have seen that despite these difficulties of identification it is assumed that Firoun is either Ramses II or Merneptah and that neither of these Pharaohs was physically capable of leading a chariot chase - being old and riddled with disease.
We have seen that the origins of the claims go back to Maurice Bucaille who at the time of his researches, far from being an objective reliable witness who was overcome with wonder at the prediction in the Qur'an (as claimed by innumerable Islamic sites) was in fact writing a book about Qur'anic miracles and was in the employ of the Saudi royal family.
Finally let us dispense once and for all with some blatant lies told by some of these sites and swallowed by the gullible believers and would-be believers...
# Both bodies WERE MUMMIFIED - there is NO MIRACLE in the act of preservation per se.
# Neither body was found on the shore of the Red SEA (as claimed) - they were, like any other mummy, found in the Valley of the Kings.
# There were salt crystals found inside both mummies. This does NOT indicate drowning, but rather normal preservation techniques. Natron, the drying agent used in ancient Egypt is a mixture of baking soda and salt. It is therefore entirely expected to find salt in mummies. If Bucaille or anyone else suggests this is evidence of drowning, he forfeits any right to be taken seriously as an academic.
# I would be delighted to provide independent, scholarly evidence for all of the above FACTS if any Muslim miracle seeker would be interested in finding out about the truth instead of blindly following made-up stories peddled by people who should know better.

And as for Yusuf Estes, if you ever read this...YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF.

Pharaoh preserved - Pt 2

Yesterday we posed the following question regarding Maurice Bucaille's assertion that the promise  to preserve the Pharaoh's body has been miraculously fulfilled in the shape of a mummy on display in Cairo. Is Bucaille perhaps claiming that the miracle resides in the fact that the Pharaoh of the Exodus was preserved and Mohammad couldn't have known that?
We then posited the following test:
For this to be believable we would have to accept that:
i. the Exodus of the Jews out of Egypt, as related in the Old Testament and the Qur'an, is an historical fact
ii. that we know which Pharaoh was ruling at the time of the Exodus
iii. that that is the Pharaoh preserved in the Museum in Cairo
iv. that the Pharaoh (whichever one the Muslims choose to believe in) drowned in the Red sea whilst chasing the fleeing Jews.
We showed there is no archeological evidence for the historical existence of the Exodus. Now let us examine points ii-iv.
ii. for the miracle claim to make sense, we would need to know which Pharaoh was ruling at the time of the mythological Exodus. The Qur'anic version gives the impression that Pharaoh or Firoun  was the name of the leader as opposed to a title given to Egyptian rulers from approx. 3,000 BC to 300 BC and therefore fails to specify which Pharaoh of the many that had been preserved by mummification we are supposed to regard as the sign. It seems that Muslims have settled on one of two possibilities. The less educated/intellectually curious suppose that it is Ramses II, whom we can immediately dismiss since his mummified body shows he was of advanced age (90?) when he died and riddled with extreme arteriosclerosis  that would have made leading a chariot army a laughable impossibility. The second suggestion is Ramses II's son, Merneptah. Let us look at what NON-MUSLIM ACADEMIC RESEARCHERS have said about Merneptah. From a French Egyptology website we learn the following:

Mérenptah meurt selon certains spécialistes le 02 mai 1203, il fut enterré, dans le tombeau KV8, dans la vallée des Rois. Sa momie a été retrouvée le 9 mars 1898 par Victor Loret, dans la cachette du tombeau KV35 d'Amenhotep II, au milieu de 18 autres (Dont certaines royales). Elle est également connue sous le nom de "Momie blanche", parce qu'elle a beaucoup de traces couleur blanchâtre. Elle se trouve aujourd'hui au musée du Caire. Elle fut déballée et examinée la première fois le 8 juillet 1907, par l'égyptologue Britannique Grafton Eliott Smith, qui constate les premières détériorations qu'elle est entrain de subir.
   Son étude nous révèle que le corps est celui d'un vieil homme obèse, d'1 m 71. Mérenptah était presque complètement chauve, seule une étroite frange de cheveux blancs reste sur ses tempes et l'occiput. L'aspect général de son visage rappelle celui de Ramsès II, mais la forme du crâne et ses mesures se rapprochent plus de celle de son grand-père, Séthi I (1294-1279). On sait aussi maintenant que le Pharaon souffrait à la fin de sa vie de maux diverses qui purent-être la cause de sa mort. Le crâne du souverain présente à l'arrière une fracture ouverte comparable a celles d'autres momies royales étudiées comme celle de Séthi II ou Ramsès IV. En 1965, une nouvelle étude est menée par James Edward Harris et Kent R.Weeks afin de vérifier son état en la radiographiant. L'étude nous apprend que Mérenptah souffrait notamment d'arthrite, d'artériosclérose et d'une mauvaise dentition. L'examen révéla également plusieurs fractures sur son corps qui n'avaient pas été soignées, indiquant qu'elles avaient dû se produire post-mortem, peut-être lors de son déplacement dans la cachette de KV35.
   En 1974, des égyptologues remarquèrent que l'état de la momie s'était encore plus dégradé et qu'elle nécessitait, comme les autres momies royales trouvées dans la cachette, d'être traitée pour une infection fongique. Ils décidèrent de les emporter à Paris afin de les sauver et les étudier plus profondément afin de connaître la (ou les) cause(s) de la mort du Pharaon. Les recherchent furent entreprises par une équipe Française, regroupant des professionnels de diverses disciplines médicales, dont le médecin légiste Michel Durigon, assistant du professeur F.Ceccaldi, directeur du laboratoire de l'identité judiciaire à Paris. Cette équipe fut confiée à la direction du Docteur Maurice Bucaille avec quelques collaborateurs Égyptiens. Grâce aux nombreuses techniques médicales qui furent utilisées on obtint un diagnostique étonnant de l'état de santé du Pharaon.
En avril 1976 Maurice Bucaille remis ses conclusions. Il constata que Mérenptah dût mourir de traumatismes multiples très importants. En effet des traces de chocs violents reçus de son vivant étaient visibles sur plusieurs parties du corps : Arrière de l'abdomen, thorax enfoncé, idem pour la voûte crânienne qui indique une mort quasi instantanée et de nombreuses lésions sur le côté droit du corps. Cette interprétation des blessures est remise en question par Salima Ikram et Aidan Marc Dodson qui voient dans les nombreuses traces de violence dont a souffert la momie du souverain, l'intervention brutale des voleurs de sépultures.
   Le tombeau du Pharaon est beaucoup plus simple que celui de son père Ramsès II. Il fixera d'ailleurs la norme pour la plupart des tombeaux qui seront construits dans la vallée. Il est cartographié et étudié pour la première fois en 1737-1738, par Richard Pococke, puis par Karl Richard Lepsius et Carl Richard en 1844-1845, puis en 1903-1904 par Howard Carter et enfin en 1985-1988 par Edwin C.Brock. Il est décoré avec des scènes : Des litanies de , du Livre des Portes dont le chapitre final apparaît encore partiellement sur la paroi Nord, du Livre des Morts, du Livre de la Terre, du Livre des Cavernes (ou Livre des Enfers, dans la chambre funéraire), du rituel de l'ouverture de la bouche et des représentations du défunt avec des déités.
We thus learn that Merneptah was a fat old man (un vieil homme obèse), who
suffered at the end of his life from various diseases/troubles which could have been the cause of his death (le Pharaon souffrait à la fin de sa vie de maux diverses qui purent être la cause de sa mort), and that he suffered from arthritis, arteriosclerocis and bad teeth ( souffrait notamment d'arthrite, d'artériosclérose et d'une mauvaise dentition)
And what of the fractures beloved of Islamic apologists which they say hint at a violent death perfectly in keeping with someone who met his end in the broiling waters and chaos as the Red Sea enveloped the Egyptian chariots?  The study did reveal several fractures, but the experts thought they had been inflicted when the mummy had been removed from the burial chamber (peut-être lors de son déplacement dans la cachette de KV35).And what of Allah's miraculous preservation of the body? Well it seems The Almighty didn't do a very good job, since the very reason why Bucaille was able to examine the mummy was that in 1974 it was noticed that the mummy was degrading very quickly and it was decided to send it to France for preservation treatment and further study. (En 1974, des égyptologues remarquèrent que l'état de la momie s'était encore plus dégradé...) 
It was during this examination that Bucaille reached his bizarre conclusion that the Merneptah had died after receiving violent blows. The other experts, however, disagreed. They believed the fractures were inflicted post-mortem by grave robbers.(Cette interprétation des blessures est remise en question par Salima Ikram et Aidan Marc Dodson qui voient dans les nombreuses traces de violence dont a souffert la momie du souverain, l'intervention brutale des voleurs de sépultures.)
Perhaps we should remember that Bucaille had been in the employ of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia as the family physician for three years by this time and was well into the writing of his infamous Islamic miracle diatribe, The Bible, The Qur'an and Science. Hardly an objective, dispassionate scientist then.

In conclusion to point ii then: If we go on the Muslims own choice of Pharaoh for the one that Allah saved, we have either Ramses II, a ninety year-old arthritic cripple or his son, Merneptah - a fat old man who  also suffered from various debilitating conditions and whose famous battle injuries were in fact more likely inflicted post-mortem by grave robbers.

Tomorrow - final irrefutable evidence that the Pharaoh miracle is nothing but wishful thinking and lies.

Pharaoh preserved - just as Allah promised..another sign! Pt1

The above video is one of many to be found on Youtube which relates the incredible story of one of the most widely believed Qur'anic miracles. Here's the content description attached to the video by the uploader:
"Allah Promises To Preserve The Body Of Pharoh in The Holly Qur'an Over 1400 Years Ago And in 19th Century Scientists/Archaeologists Find His Preserved Body Near The Red Sea, And Todays Scientific Tests Konfirm It Is Pharoh And Died From Drowining. The Biggest Shok Is that It Was not Mummified And And Still To Be Presenrved Is nothing But A Mirrakle. Oh My Dear non-muslim Brothers how Many Of God's signs Will You Deny?"
I think the uploader's description is interesting for two reasons :
 i. the utter certainty that what he has been told about the miracle is true, despite some obvious logical flaws that just a moment's reflection would make plain and
ii. his obvious desire to persuade non-Muslims of the veracity of the "signs".

In case you found the video description a bit difficult to follow, this is a summary of the "miracle".
The relevant verses in the Qur'an are as follows..
We (Allah) rehearse unto thee a portion of the story of Moses and Pharaoh with truth, for the benefit of a people who would believe. 28:4

We sent Moses with Our Signs to Pharaoh and his chiefs, but they unjustly
rejected them. Behold, then, what was the end of those who created
disorder! 7:104

“We brought the Children of Israel across the sea and Pharaoh and his troops pursued them out of tyranny and enmity. Then, when he was on the point of drowning, he (Pharaoh) said, I believe that there is no god but Him in whom the Children of Israel believe. I am of those who submit to God. What! Now! And indeed you disobeyed before and you were of the mischief-makers. This day shall We save you in your body, that you may be a Sign to those who come after you! But indeed, many among mankind are neglectful of Our Signs." 10:90-93
Thus we see that the Qur'an contans the biblical story of the Exodus of the Jews from Eygypt, of Moses leading them into the Red Sea divided by God, and of the Egyptians being drowned after God lets the waters fall on them. But the Qur'an also tells us something not mentioned in the Bible, that God preserved Pharaoh's body "as a sign to those who come after you". It is this that was pounced upon by Bucaille in his book, The Bible, The Qur'an and Science

This is the prophecy which no other scripture had revealed. Not even the historians of the time had any clue. The mummified bodies of all the Pharaohs lay concealed in the Valley of Kings along the banks of the Nile at this time and even the plunderers of tombs did not know who was buried in them. Their discovery took place in the 19th century.[...] When the Qur'an was transmitted to man by the Prophet, the bodies of all the Pharaohs who are today considered (rightly or wrongly) to have something to do with the Exodus were in their tombs of the Necropolis of Thebes, on the opposite side of the Nile from Luxor. At the time however, absolutely nothing was known of this fact, and it was not until the end of the Nineteenth century that they were discovered there. As the Qur'an states, the body of the Pharaoh of the Exodus was in fact rescued: whichever of the Pharaohs it was, visitors may see him in the Royal Mummies Room of the Egyptian Museum, Cairo.
What exactly is Bucaille suggesting here? That noone during Mohamamd's time was aware of the process of mummification, and that therefore to predict that the Pharaoh would be preserved was a miracle? This is patent nonsense. Mummies have always been known about. From the moment pharaohs were interred, grave robbers have been finding ways in. Indeed, mediaeval doctors in Alexandria used powdered mummies as a cure-all. Mohammad would therefore have known about the seemingly miraculous preservation of the bodies of pharaohs.
Or is Bucaille perhaps claiming that the miracle resides in the fact that the Pharaoh of the Exodus was preserved and Mohammad couldn't have known that? For this to be believable we would have to accept that:
i. the Exodus of the Jews out of Egypt, as related in the Old Testament and the Qur'an, is an historical fact
ii. that we know which Pharaoh(s) was ruling at the time of the Exodus
iii. that that is the Pharaoh preserved in the Museum in Cairo
iv. that the Pharaoh (whichever one the Muslims choose to believe in) drowned in the Red sea whilst chasing the fleeing Jews.

Let us examine first of all the historical evidence for the Exodus....Right, that was easy. THERE IS NONE.
The archaeological evidence of the largely indigenous origins of Israel is "overwhelming," and leaves "no room for an Exodus from Egypt or a 40-year pilgrimage through the Sinai wilderness."1 For this reason, most archaeologists have abandoned the archaeological investigation of Moses and the Exodus as "a fruitless pursuit."1 A century of research by archaeologists and Egyptologists has found no evidence which can be directly related to the Exodus narrative of an Egyptian captivity and the escape and travels through the wilderness, 2 and it has become increasingly clear that Iron Age Israel - the kingdoms of Judah and Israel - has its origins in Canaan, not Egypt
1Dever, William G. (2002). What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. ISBN 0-8028-2126-X. p.99
2.Carol L. Meyers, "Exodus", New Cambridge Bible Commentary series (Cambridge University Press, 2005) p.5

It seems clear that the story of the Exodus is just that, a story, told in the form of history to strengthen the Jews' ties to their God. But let's not allow that to distract us from the remaining points that need examining...Tomorrow we shall look at further evidence suggesting the preposterous nature of this miracle claim that has done so much to convince Muslims and would be Muslims alike of the divine nature od the Qur'an.

Strippers, rivers of wine, beer volcanoes and other strange tales...

The other day we learned that Pascal's Wager can be seen as more relevant to Muslims than to the majority of Christians for whom it was coined.
Today I posit the theory that Bobby Henderson's 2005 creation (designed to encourage the Kansas State Education Board to reconsider their decision to allow Intelligent Design to be taught alongside evolution in public schools' science classes) is again an equally, if not more, useful parody when applied to the Islamic faith than to dunder-headed Christian fundamentalists . Let me explain...

Let us look first at the FSM heaven which consists, as all adherents know, of a beer volcano and a stripper factory (as seen in this beautiful illustration below...) 
(picture from, with thanks...)

So very different from what is promised to the faithful Muslims...
Verily for those who follow Us, there will be a fulfillment of your desires: enclosed Gardens, grapevines, voluptuous full-breasted maidens of equal age, and a cup full to the brim of wine.  78:31 (as seen in this passable painting below...)

Islamic Paradise - Houris not strippers and wine not beer...

And what of the FSM position on evolution itself and the fossil proofs thereof?
Well, we all know that the evidence for evolution was planted by the Flying Spaghetti Monster in an effort to test Pastafarians' faith and that when scientific measurements such as radiocarbon dating are taken, the Flying Spaghetti Monster "is there changing the results with His Noodly Appendage".

But how do Muslims deal with the awkward evidence of evolution? Here's a typical response from islamcity.com's pages on why evolution is all lies:
"...the theory of evolution constitutes the underpinnings of a dishonest philosophy that has held sway over a great number of people [...] The theory of evolution constitutes the so-called scientific foundation of materialism that the communist ideology depends on. [...] Science has disproved and continues to disprove the materialist hypothesis that recognises the existence of nothing but matter and it demonstrates that all beings are the products of creation by a superior being.[...] The fossil record refutes evolution"
So there we have it. Must be that blasted spaghetti monst...sorry Allah.

The Numerology miracles in Qur'an dismissed by Fatwah!

One of the things that really annoys me about the many miracles claims Muslims make about the Qur’an is that some of them are so difficult to categorically disprove (despite their complete lack of evidence) because of the old problem with Arabic being “such a difficult language”. There is no more obvious case of linguistic double-think than the so-called numerology miracles. In brief, many Muslims claim that the Qur’an contains divine signs in the amazing coincidences of word occurrences, such a “day-yawm” appearing 365 times and “month-sharar” 12 times, or the words “land” and “sea” appearing in a ratio that exactly matches that found in reality on the Earth. In addition to the above, there is also a suggestion that 19 has magical qualities...For once, however, I found some support on an Islamic site which clearly says all such number miracles are BOGUS. Below is what I sent to “Kevin” regarding these so-called miracles.
I remember an exchange a while back where we tried to get to the bottom of the so-called numerical miracles in the Qur'an. I recall you were rather underwhelmed by Rashad Khalifa’s obsession with the number 19 but suggested that you were convinced other miracles based upon word occurrences were evidence of Allah’s authorship.
I have been researching this for a while now as I thought that this was an intriguing claim.
You are of course right that such research is extremely difficult because of the differing word forms in Arabic. This, I suspect, allows such claims to pass mostly unchecked by believers, who use it to bolster their belief in the divine nature of the Revelation.
After much detailed checking and cross-referencing, I think (and I stress this is of course just my opinion, but one based upon quite a bit of research/counting) that all such claims are questionable.
Yum/yawm, for example, appears from 30 to 445 times depending on the form used for counting. I cannot see any justification for choosing 365. (And in any case, the divinely mandated Islamic year has 354 days not 365. Why should Allah be so keen to prove himself by using a Western/Christian/Gregorian calendar?). I have a lengthy, professional, independent statistical analysis which should interest you if you are keen to examine these claims dispassionately.
The same principle applies to sharar: 8 to 18 (again, no reason that I can discern to pick 12), and the one you seemed fairly convinced about, which magically reproduces the ratio of land to sea seems to hold no water at all (pun intended): bihar is mentioned 41 times and not 32 - thus making the ratio apparently nonsensical. (and in any case, the ratio changes all the time as the sea eats away some land and land is reclaimed elsewhere...)
However, even if it turns out that the occurrences are as believers suggest (and it may well be, given the EXTREMELY limited nature of my Arabic knowledge!) such things are surely nothing more than coincidence. I am fairly certain (although I am no statistician) that there are no more numerical coincidences in the Qur'an than in any other book of a similar length. And, although I am not an expert in statistics, others who are have done research on texts of equivalent length to the Qur’an to show that one can find just about whatever one wishes to find if one looks hard enough (including codes to predict the assassination of Princess Diana by the Royal family in Moby Dick! (http://cs.anu.edu.au/~bdm/dilugim/moby.html).
Surely using numerical coincidences to bolster faith or help convert others is unhelpful when, by your own admission, such things are almost impossible to verify. It’s not just non-Muslims who feel like this either. Zahid Aziz feels such theories do Islam a disservice: 
"In conclusion, the whole theory is so ridiculous that innumerable objections based on plain commonsense can be raised against it."
After a short hiatus I asked "Kevin" about the reliability of fatwas, as I had seen a clear dismissal of all numerology miracles on the very Islamic site "Kevin" had suggested I refer to since it was extremely well researched...
The reason I asked is that I've seen a fatwa  by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid on the well respected traditional Islamic site you recommended (Islam Q and A) saying that claims for miraculous coincidences of word occurences in the Qur'an are to be discounted:
 So it seems I'm not alone in feeling uncomfortable with these claims. (Although the reasons for our doubt are obviously different!)
"Writing a book which contains a specific number of certain words is something that anyone can do; what is so miraculous about that?...
All of that is toying with the Book of Allaah which is caused by ignorance of the true nature of the miracle of the Book of Allaah. 
By examining the statistics presented by those who have published these numbers, we find that they did not get the numbers of some phrases right, and some of them have been selective in the way they counted the words, and that is so that they might reach the conclusion they want and that they think is in the Book of Allaah."

Pascal’s wager explained for Muslims...

(The Rationalizer’s recent interview with the chaps at iERA during their fund raising dawah campaign raised the issue of Pascal’s Wager. After watching  David Mitchell's musings on the topic on QI, a thought occured to me...)

It goes without saying that regular readers of Rational Islam are cultured, educated and intellectually curious individuals and need no explanation of this philosophical piece of whimsy. Nonetheless, as there may be some itinerant visitors who are unfamiliar with Pascal’s proposition, herewith a quick summary:

Given there is no way of knowing whether or not God exists, it is sensible to behave as if He does -since if it turns out it’s all a load of baloney then one has lost nothing, but if He is there, then the rewards are infinite (as are the punishments for disbelief....). In other words, Pascal would say, were he alive today: “Belief in God is a no-brainer, innit.”
It strikes me, as presumably it has struck The Rationalizer and many other critics of Islam, that although Pascal was thinking of Christianity when he came up with his famous wager, it applies even more obviously to belief in Allah nowadays. And here’s why...
Few educated Christians believe anymore in the physical existence of Hell nor in a Heaven which rewards believers with physical delights. Liberal theologians are more comfortable with the woolly notion of separation from God (Hell) and communion with God (Heaven). As the C of E has found, once you stop threatening and bribing the masses, they soon lose interest and your churches empty. Pascal’s wager thus becomes a bit of an irrelevance. BUT for Muslims, the wager makes a great deal of sense, since Islam promises a heaven full of earthly sensual pleasures (lots of booze and big-titted but modest(!) houris) and a hell described in graphic, parental-advisory detail.
The inherent irony, of course, is that whilst Islam forbids gambling, the blunt instruments of an orgiastic Heaven and sickeningly sadistic Hell mean that belief in Allah can be nothing but Pascal’s wager writ large.
Thus endeth today's lesson.

"Sorry, Allah's like that. He just hates gays." (with apologies to "Not The Nine o'clock News")

Another mail to "Kevin" on the topic of homophobia in Islam
No doubt you will argue, as you have in the past more generally, that gays' inclination is a fault of the society in which they find themselves, and that it is simply their misfortune not to be brought  up in a society governed by the dictates of Sharia that has led to their “unnatural” desires.[1] This “peccatum contra naturam” argument has been used, of course, by all the monotheistic religions to stigmatise gays and lesbians over the centuries. It has no scientific justification. Scientific study after scientific study have shown that homosexual behaviour is widespread in nature. It is not “unnatural”, but a totally normal part of life. In fact, “no species has been found in which homosexual behaviour has not been shown to exist, with the exception of species that never have sex at all, such as sea urchins and aphis.” About 1 in 10 of any animal population will indulge in same sex sexual activity, sometimes the figure is much higher.[2]  I am happy to send you many more references to these studies, should you desire.
To argue, therefore, that it is societal influence that creates an atmosphere where homosexual behaviour is allowed to become widespread is unsustainable. People do not choose to be gay[3]. Sin against nature is the bigoted and ignorant propaganda used by those who follow the teachings of Islam (and those of the more extreme Christian and Jewish fundamentalists) to justify and explain the various vicious ahadith and relevant Qu’ranic and biblical verses. 
Many gay children and adolescents commit suicide when they are rejected by their families (Again, ask for studies if you require. An instructive read for you might be Hello cruel world: 101 alternatives to suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws by Kate Bornstein).  Islam doesn’t help or cure these individuals. They would be gay wherever they lived. They would simply have to deny their true nature with all the concomitant psychological problems that that entails. They would, quite simply, be more likely to be suicidal in a religious society which denigrates and despises them.
Figures from Islamic countries are hard to come by for sadly obvious reasons, but we do have reports from Muslim communities in the West which paint a depressing but predictable picture. Here is an excerpt from one such report from France...“...For many gay and lesbian young people in France, Le Refuge is a lifesaver -- literally. Since 2003, the organization has helped hundreds of desperate youths, most of them from Muslim families, who have been rejected by their families and forced onto the streets. But the charity is overwhelmed by the number of people seeking assistance.” The same report suggests that if you are gay and Muslim you are 13 times more likely to commit suicide than if you are neither of those things.[4] We can’t blame the parents, however. They are simply following the very clear example set by the Prophet. “Turn them out of your houses”, said the loving, caring Prophet. No doubt there is an interpretation of this injunction that I’ve missed. Perhaps you can explain?
Neither is the argument that if we all turned gay “there would be no more children” a reason for denying those who are, their basic rights (yes- the right to a sex life is a right) since such a suggestion is plainly unscientific, as are your arguments regarding paedophobia, and tender friendships between men in Arab countries reducing or even eliminating homosexual behaviour.[5] 
There are many, many reasons why I have come to believe Islam is a force for ill in society, but its intolerant teachings on homosexuality would alone be enough to convince me that Islam cannot come from a loving God.

[1] Apparently Iran has no homosexuals: In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country…we do not have this phenomenon. I do not know who has told you we have it. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad . So you must be right – my apologies. Oh no, the reason is they kill them...On the first day of the new crackdown, three gay men were beheaded in a city square in Nahavand, and two women accused of lesbianism were stoned to death in Langrood. Justifying these killings, the Iranian Chief Justice, Morteza Moghtadai, declared: “The religious punishment for the despicable act of homosexuality is death for both partiesIraq seems to be even worse: “Iraq is at the front of the war against gays these days. In a very candid and chilling interview with an Iraqi gay-hunter, Amir Hazizi gladly admits he uses the internet to lure gay men into meeting him for dates which turn out to be meetings with death squads.  “It is the easiest way to find those people who are destroying Islam and who want to dirty the reputation we took centuries to build up,” he said. When he finds them, Hamizi arranges for them to be attacked and sometimes killed. “Animals deserve more pity than the dirty people who practise such sexual depraved acts,” he told the Observer. “We make sure they know why they are being held and give them the chance to ask God’s forgiveness before they are killed” The Observer newspaper 2007

[3] “Evidence of that, (that homosexuality is genetic) said Michael Bailey, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University in Illinois, comes from studies of genetically male infants born with malformed or ambiguous genitals. In many such cases, surgeons would construct a vagina, and instruct parents to raise the child as a girl, with no knowledge of his medical history. As adults, those prenatally male/post-natally female people were virtually all attracted to women, Bailey said."If you can't make a male attracted to other males by cutting off his penis, castrating him and rearing him as a girl, then how likely is any social explanation of male homosexuality?" he said. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/01/homosexuality-genetics-usa
[5] I’m afraid I don’t really understand your argument relating to paedophobia. I assume you’re not equating sex between consenting adults, who have the necessary maturity to make rational decisions, with paedophilia. Neither do I understand the relevance of public affection between men in Arab countries. This article http://www.glas.org/ahbab/Articles/arabia1.html explains how gay sex between men (and men and boys) is actually wide-spread in Arabia and the Middle East. As long as there is no emotion and it’s behind closed doors, it’s seen as part of everyday life. Do read this article – very interesting.

"The sky won't fall on your heads...unless I say so" - Allah

"We have nothing to fear but the sky falling on our heads" - The wise words of Chief Vitalstatistix. But perhaps not so sensible to base a religion around someone who thought along the same lines....

Yesterday we examined the remarkable similarity between the pre-Copernican and the Qur'an's view of the cosmos. In particular, we focused on the belief in the seven heavens and the stars' position along with the moon in the lowest of these heavens .
Today we shall look at the idea that the heavens/sky are a dome which Allah prevents from falling on our heads through the use of invisible pillars and how this belief again chimes with ancient superstition.
In surah 22 verse 65 we read the following:
He withholds the sky from falling on the earth except by His leave: for Allah is Most Kind and Most Merciful to man.
And the following two verses make clear that the author of the Qur'an thought the sky is held up with invisible pillars:
Allah is He Who raised the heavens without any pillars that YE CAN SEE... Y. Ali
He created the heavens without any pillars THAT YE CAN SEE... A. Y. Ali
Were similar beliefs in pillars holding up the sky, and gods showing us how powerful they were by promising not to let the sky fall on our heads, around prior to Mohammad? And if so, might any reasonable and intelligent reader suppose the author of the Qur'an could have been influenced by these myths?

In Eastern religions, the belief in such things was, it seems, widespread. For example...

One Vedic poet writes of a god "by whom the awesome sky and earth were made firm, by whom the dome of the sky was propped up"; and Varuna "pillared both the worlds apart as the unborn supported heaven" (Rig-veda 10.121.5; 8.41.10). "A common cosmology of the ancient world"

The ancient Egyptians, as well,  had a similar belief in a sky that was held up by four pillars. In fact one of their Godessess, called Nut (from where, some have suggested, we get our word night and the French their nuit) was believed to arch over the Earth, her arms and legs forming the four pillars that held up the heavens.

And of course there are many biblical references to pillars holding up the heavens: In Job we find that "the pillars of heaven tremble" (26:11) and  "Who shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble?" ( 9:6);. And in Samuel  "the foundations of the heavens tremble" (22:8).

So how do Muslims explain all this? Let's turn to everyone's favourite Islamic apologist, Maurice Bucaille and his infamous book, The Bible, the Qur'an and Science. Apparently the very verses I quoted at the beginning of this post prove that the author of the Qur'an doesn't really believe in the pillars. Really? What, just because  Allah has made the pillars INVISIBLE?

"These two verses refute the belief that the vault of the heavens was held up by pillars, the only things preventing the former from crushing the earth" Bucaille (The Bible, the Qur’an and Science, p.154).

Or some just quote the verse without the salient section at the end:
Allah is who raised The heavens without any pillar. (Holy Qur'an 13:2)
So here's my question: If Allah wishes us to use our intellect to conclude He exists,why does the Qur'an mention pillars (invisible or not) holding up the sky, and suggest that the Creator, like other ancient Gods, has it within his power to let the sky fall on our heads? Surely any educated, curious, sensible reader will come to the opposite conclusion...

The Seven Heavens - The Universe according to the Qur'an Pt 1

Seeing as we seem to be taking a break from my correspondence with "Kevin", I thought we'd continue the astronomical theme and look at some more claims of miraculous knowledge regarding the Earth's place in the Universe.
One of the pictures I chose to decorate the sidebar of Rational Islam is a pictorial representation of a common view of the cosmos held by ancient peoples. I'll reproduce it here so you can study it at your leisure...
Now let's look at some verses in the Qur'an that describe the Earth's place in the cosmos and how the solar system fuctions...
He Who created the seven heavens, one above the other ...
And We have adorned the lowest heaven with lamps ... (67:3,5)
And He completed them seven heavens in two days
and inspired in each heaven its command;
and We adorned the lower heaven with lamps,
and rendered it guarded... (41:12)
Do you not see how God has created the seven heavens
one above the other
and made the moon a light in their midst,
and made the sun as a lamp? (71:15-16)

PLATE VII. B. Construction of the Akkadian, Chaldean and Babylonian Universe.
(From Qaballah; Isaac Myer, 1888)

There is, as you can see, a remarkable similarity between the ancient Babylonian view of the universe and that described in the Qur'an...
"1. In the Babylonian conception of the universe the
earth occupied the central place. It was the accepted centre of their planetary system.
2. The northern half of the earth was called the upper, associated with life and light. The southern half was called the under, associated with darkness and death. The South and the Underworld are identical.
3. The upper or northern half of the earth was regarded as consisting of seven stages (tupukati), ranged one above the other in the form of a staged pyramid. The staged Temple of Nippur, according to Sayce, was a model of the Earth according to the belief of those who built it.
4. Correspondingly, the antarctic or under half of the Earth was supposed to consist of seven similar stages. The seven tupukati of the underworld are a facsimile of the seven tupukati of the over world." The Book of Earths - The Babylonian Universe (p60) (available at http://www.sacred-texts.com/earth/boe/boe10.htm)

So how do Islamic apologists explain this apparent copying of the geocentric view of the heavens which was so prevalent in Mohammad's time? Let's see what http://www.understanding-islam.com/ has to say...:
"The reference to the fact that God has created seven heavens [...] refers to the vastness of His creation. It says that God has not just created one sky -- i.e., one universe, but seven such skies -- or seven universes."
Yes, of course it does...obvious isn't it?

Just a reminder: if you fail to believe that the Qur'an has a divine origin because you are troubled by such things as the apparent illogicality of the stars being in the lower heaven with the moon,  then Allah promises to burn your skin off you for eternity...so merciful is He.

The Earth is shaped like an ostrich egg - another miracle claim...

Almost any Western educated Muslim you come across will firmly believe that the Qur'an unequivocally states that the Earth is shaped like an egg (to be precise, like an ostrich egg). They will evince some embarrassment that their less educated Muslim brothers, like this chap here...

 believe the Revelation states the Qur'an is flat. But it is those "less educated" Muslims who are in fact nearer the truth.
The verse that many believe refers to an egg is surah 79, verse 30. Let's look at some translations:

YUSUFALI: And the earth, moreover, hath He extended (to a wide expanse);
PICKTHAL: And after that He spread the earth,
SHAKIR: And the earth, He expanded it after that.
This is the arabic:

{ وَٱلأَرْضَ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ دَحَاهَا }
Transliteration: Waal-arda baAAda thalika dahaha

dahaha means to flatten out - it is NOT a word that can be interpreted as anything to do with an egg. 

And this is the official translation of that same verse from the Ministry of Religious Affairs from the Kingdom of Jordan. link
and after that He spread out the earth: He made it flat, for it had been created before the heaven, but without having been spread out;

Nowhere, you will notice, is there any mention of egg-shaped or ostrich...If the author of the Qur'an had wanted to make plain to mankind that He knew his creation was round, you'd have thought he'd have said...wouldn't you?

Perhaps we best leave the last word to  Sheik Abdul-Aziz Ibn Baaz, supreme religious authority of Saudi Arabia who in 1993 said:
"The earth is flat. Whoever claims it is round is an atheist deserving of punishment."

Tariq Jahan - dignity in tragedy.

Tariq Jahan, the father of Haroon who was killed whilst trying to protect his community from the mindless yobs during this week’s riots, has shown a quiet dignity and wisdom that stands in stark contrast to the despicable yahoos who murdered his youngest son.
I may not share Mr. Jahan’s belief, but his calm demeanour has done much to show Islam in a better light than that provided by the worrying sharia-demanding homophobes of Tower Hamlets that we see on the news all too frequently.
May those who committed this vile act be swiftly brought to justice.

Did Mohammad confuse Mary and Miriam?

This was another protracted debate I had with "Kevin". It concerns the apparent conflation of two different biblical figures by the author of the Qur'an.

And Mary the daughter of 'Imran, who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into (her body) of Our spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of His Revelations, and was one of the devout (servants).66:12
At length she brought the (babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms). They said: "O Mary! truly an amazing thing hast thou brought!
O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!" 19:27-28

As a preamble, you presumably accept that Mohammad was consulting with both Jewish and Christian holy men when he was receiving the Revelation, indeed such things are actually referred to in the Qur'an. This of course does not disprove the Qur'an as a sacred text, but it is something we need to bear in mind when considering the arguments that follow.

66:12 and 19:27-28 lead me to suppose that Mohammad confused Miriam (the daugher of Amram (Imram in Arabic) and sister of Aaron and Moses with Mary, the mother of Jesus, because this seems to me the most likely interpretation. I'll try to explain why.

Firstly lets look at the biblical references to Miriam:
Now the name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed, daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt. And to Amram she bore Aaron, Moses, and Miriam their sister. (Numbers 26:59 NET Bible)
Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a hand-drum in her hand, and all the women went out after her with hand-drums and with dances. (Exodus 15:20 NET Bible)
There are also various reports in the non-canonical gospels which could have led Mohammad to conflate the two (apart from the obvious Mary/Miriam confusion in Arabic). Both women are reported as frequenting the temple and dancing before the Lord, for example.

So we have Mary who is called Miriam in Arabic. We have the Miriam in the old Testament with a father called Imram and a brother called Aaron. And we have Mary in the Qur'an with a father called Imram and a brother called Aaron. Now I'll try to summarise your argument:...

You maintain that Mary's father was actually Imram (The evidence in the Qur'an is the only evidence we have for this, since Christians believe it was either Heli or Joachim) and that she perhaps had a brother called Aaron or perhaps that's how people were traditionally referred to.

I think we can dispense with former explanation of Mary actually having a brother called Aaron (and if some Islamic scholars have suggested this, they need to go back to their studies) because Mohammad has already explained it all to us:
Sahi Mulim 5326: Mughira b. Shuba reported: When I came to Najran, they (the Christians of Najran) asked me: You read 'O sister of Harun ["Aaron"]' (i.e. Hadrat Maryam) in the Qur'an, whereas Moses was born much before Jesus. When I came back to Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) I asked him about that, whereupon he said: The (people of the old age) used to give names (to their persons) after the names of Apostles and pious persons who had gone before them."
So the Christians of Najran were suspicious as soon as Mohammad told them about Mary/Miriam having a brother called Aaron. They suspected straight away that Mohammad had confused Miriam with Mary. Mohammad's followers even had to ask him to clarify, since they were unaware of the "linguistic device to denote family line".
We thus KNOW that Mary did not have a brother called Aaron (otherwise this is the explanantion Mohammad would surely have given) and we are thus left with the second and only other explanation - that of "the people of the old age giving names to their people after the names of the apostles and pious persons who had gone before them."
Really? Why choose Aaron out of all the pious people who have gone before? And it's not as though Aaron was a recent pious person, after all. He seems to have been chosen from approximately 1,400 years before. WHY? And why call Mary "SISTER" of Aaron and not "DAUGHTER" as might be expected in the circumstances? And why Aaron and not Moses if were choosing a prophet/pious person to sound impressive?
So my question I suppose is this: If you believe Allah makes things clear for us in the Qur'an, then why should he have chosen to quote a reference to Mary as the sister of Aaron - knowing, as he would (being omniscient and all that), that this would inevitably lead to accusations of confusion with Miriam because of the problems highlighted above?
None of this will convince believers, I realise - I recount my reasoning purely so that you may perhaps understand when I say that so much in the Qur'an (for those who have no reason to believe in the first place) is suggestive of human fallability.
For those who want to believe then of course there will always be possible alternative explanations.
(And, of course, let's not forget that because I'm doing my research and finding these niggling problems which prevent me from believing, according to your religion I will have to burn in Hell for eternity as a result of my unwillingness to "BELIEVE BECAUSE IT'S THE WORD OF GOD"...)