Up@dawn 2.0

Saturday, March 31, 2012

One of my favorite Sam Harris videos....

Of course there are so many to choose from, but this is the first one that popped into my head.

Yes, you can construct a concept of the divine that is perfectly insulated from any means of rational or scientific inquiry, such as Jamie's idea of the Divine. But the God of Christianity is not such a concept. A God that creates the universe, manifests itself in the material world in the form of burning bushes and carpenters, and orders the slaughter of women and children demands just a tad more explanation (and an enormous amount of tortured "reasoning.") How anyone can claim the moral high ground and believe any of this crap still amazes me.

Anyway, enjoy the video (and disregard the silly title.)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tim Minchin's "Storm"

Tim Minchin was one of the performers at the Reason Rally, and I'm sorry to say that I wasn't all that familiar with his stuff prior to hearing him last weekend. He is extremely talented, and smart as a whip. Check out this video of probably his most well known work, a beat poem entitled "Storm." Great stuff.

Here is the youtube link to the video, since blogger limits video uploads to 100mb, and this one was 112. Bummer.

Progressive Muslims Launch Gay-Friendly, Women-Led Mosques In Attempt To Reform American Islam

Roll back the stoning...

It seems that all the Abrahamic religions' dilemma is: we've got community, we've got these ornate buildings, we've got this wonderful architecture, we've got these great songs and chants, but what do we do with this damn bronze-age book filled with violence.

Belief in God vs Christianity

In Michael Tooley's essay he talks about the difference between believing in Christian mythology and simply believing in some sort of god. This difference, I think, is one that has pushed many atheists to jump to conclusions, or rather, not considering the difference. Myself included. I used to be a full-on atheist for most of my life for this very reason. Whenever I thought of God, I thought of the God portrayed by the big three.

Then I played an old video-game called Xenosaga that made me think about the idea of God in a much different light. (trust me I know how dorky that sounds) I won't go into detail about the plot of the game, if you want to know just play it yourself, but it essentially merged divinity and science into one idea.

Ever since then I have been unable to look at the world around me and think that such a thing in all its finely-tuned wonder and beauty could simply happen for no reason at all. I now firmly believe that some sort of conscious entity thought all this up and either manifested or is actively manifesting reality as we see it. I have already discussed one of my theories about the nature of such an entity in my "United Mind" posts. Perhaps I will discuss one of the others in the next extended post project.

Q: Does Tooley think it would be good if it turned out that God does indeed exist?
A: yes

Criticism of The Decline Effect

It seems Jonah Lehrer writes about that "hard science" of psychology and not physics. Here's a bit of snarky criticism so we can let sneaking gods lie.  ;)

Also, here's Lehrer on Colbert Report. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Group 1: Singer & Hauser

Fantastic essay. No frills, no appeals to emotion, no hand waving. Just the assertion of what should be by now a blindingly obvious truth: morality is not derived from religion, it precedes it.

We all have access to the same naturally accumulated set of basic moral tendencies, by virtue of our shared hominid ancestry. Religion served a purpose by codifying (some of) these tendencies, and serving as a means to "explain" why we act the way we do. But as far as explanations go, religions suck. They are birthed in ignorance and are sustained by fear. Time to get a clue and stop being afraid of the dark, people.

Science and the Decline Effect

A couple of interesting pieces from Jonah Lehrer, a neuro-scientist who writes very frequently (books and articles) about the intersection between science and the humanities. I'll mostly let the articles stand on their own, as I'm still trying to figure out how to think about them. But I found them thought-provoking enough to share. They basically concern an interesting phenomenon that I hadn't heard about in science yet but that he seems to talk about as if they are well known in the scientific community: Contrary to expectations, the more rigorously you attempt to replicate results, the less you actually achieve those results.

My favorite quote from it, call it my hippy BS outlook that I will admit is almost entirely Dean and David bait to get them to see if I'm trying to slip in a God somewhere. ;) More seriously, I see it as something that Dean, David, and I have all agreed on at various points this semester: Whatever the facts of the universe are, the responsibility for creating meaningful human lives rests only with us.

"The decline effect is troubling because it reminds us how difficult it is to prove anything. We like to pretend that our experiments define the truth for us. But that’s often not the case. Just because an idea is true doesn’t mean it can be proved. And just because an idea can be proved doesn’t mean it’s true. When the experiments are done, we still have to choose what to believe."



This is why we have to question religious beliefs.


A nicely-done video that exposes the Mormon doctrine and puts into perspective the "pretense of respect for religious beliefs"?

"Shouldn't it matter?"

Well said.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

More Exam 2 Questions

1.     In the introduction of “50 Voices of Disbelief,” what “dangerous idea” does Russell Blackford note the United Nations is attempting to pass into international law?
a.     Defamation of religion a crime.
b.     Darwin was wrong
c.      Darwin was right
d.     Faith

2.     What does Margaret Downey in “My ‘Bye Bull’ Story” recommend as a life after death?
a.     72 West Virginians 
b.    Create a legacy worth remembering
c.      Live every day as if it were your last
d.     The promise of eternity

3.     Nicholas Everitt believes in “How Benevolent is God” that
a.     God is hiding
b.    The non-existence of God can be proved beyond all reasonable doubt
c.      Free will is impossible
d.     God is evil

4.     John Harris in “Wicked or Dead” rejects agnosticism about gods for the same reason he rejects agnosticism about:
a.     Fairies
b.     Celestial teapots
c.      The Old Testament
d.     Electric Monks
e.     All of the above

5.     Adele Mercier opened his essay, “Religious Belief and Self-Deception,” with the following quote: “Concerning the gods, I have no means of knowing whether they exist or not or of what sort they may be, because of the obscurity of the subject, and the brevity of human life.” This quote is from:
a.     Albert Einstein
b.    Protagoras
c.      Plato
d.     Bertrand Russell
e.     All of the above

6.     A. C. Grayling quotes these words from what author? “It is not what the man of science believes that distinguishes him, but how and why he believes it. His beliefs are tentative, not dogmatic; they are based on evidence, not on authority or intuition.”
a.     Albert Einstein
b.     Jesus
c.      Plato
d.    Bertrand Russell
e.     Joel Osteen

7.     Michael Shermer is ok with what label?
a.     Atheist
b.     Non-believer
c.     Militant Agnostic
d.     Agnostic
e.     Nihilist

8.     Stephen Law in “Could It Be Pretty Obvious There’s No God?” exposits:
a.     Occam’s Razor
b.     Transubstantiation
c.      Virgin birth
d.    The problem of good
e.     Dianetics and e-meters

9.     Shirley McLean in “Reasons to be Faithless” reserves the right to:
a.     Make up her own mind about God
b.     Change religions
c.     Repent at the very last minute
d.     Ridicule believers
e.     Pray

10.  Who expects the Spanish Inquisition?
a.     Everyone
b.    Nobody
c.      Jews
d.     Muslims
e.     Pagans 

I haz returned from DC

Yes, I survived the Reason Rally. No crazed gunmen, no violent protests, no negative incidents at all. Crappy weather aside, it was awesome. The Friendly Atheist website has the best wrap-up thread I've seen, and you should all check it out.

Adam Savage's speech was probably my favorite, and he isn't even a terribly outspoken non-believer. He is highly visible in the mainstream, though, and quite popular, so I hope he can help with our image problem.

I might write a longer post with some pics that Deb and I took, at some future time. Right now it seems like my school schedule is doubling in pace, and I have to close on a townhouse and move in the next two weeks. April is going to be a killer.

Origins of Religion

In Athena Andreadis's essay, she talks about how the early biology of the human brain contributed to the creation of the idea of gods. She says that evidence shows that there used to be a part of our brain that made it seem as though some of our thoughts were voices being projected into minds from someone else, which became the basis for gods talking to people. This part of brain was slowly replaced by more acute self-awareness and the ability to reason, which led to more scientific inquiry.

I had never heard of this before, but it definitely coincides with rumors I have heard as to the origins of religious belief. I've heard that most religions were based on psychedelic hallucinations that were interpreted as divine contact. Someone would be walking around in the woods, get hungry and eat some mushrooms they found. An hour or so later they would start "tripping out". Back then of course, no one knew what psilocybin was and would never think to attribute these strange visions and voices to those mushrooms they ate awhile ago. So add to this the disconnect they already supposedly have with their own thoughts and it's clear that would think they were in contact with some otherworldly being. Suddenly a six-armed woman doesn't seem so far-fetched.

Q: Which half of the brain had the "voices"?
A: the right side

Monday, March 26, 2012

Exam 2 question

1.  Graham Oppy believes that the universe has a completely physical constitution.


2.What "reformed" evangelical preacher appeared on Donahue in the 90s?

`Dan Barker

3.  A thorough job of proving beyond all reasonable doubt, according to Nicholas Everitt, involves showing ________________________.

`that none of the arguments in favor of God's existence succeeds.

4. Ophelia Benson holds that we can not know that God has ideal properties if we can not even know his _________________ properties.


5.  J.L. Schellenberg calls his particular skepticism ________________.


6.  Who apparently conceived of the opposition between the "secular" and the "eternal"?

`Augustine of Hippo

7.  Kelly O'Connor says that Christianity in essence manufactures the stain that it gets out.


8.  Believing in God is normal in East Germany.


there's a start.....

New York Times Op-Ed: Rethinking His Religion

Very nicely written piece in the New York Times.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kelley OConnor aka Kasey Grant

Lest anyone be concerned that we are unjustly smearing Ms. OConnor's character by labeling her an adult film star (not that being such is a smear,) here is her self-written bio from her own website. Of course this information needn't be relevant to her writing, but it is interesting in its own regard.

I’ve been working in some form of the adult industry my entire life, beginning with stripping at 17. In Dec 2007, I was the featured dancer in Philadelphia and profiled inPhiladelphia Weekly. I didn’t move into anything resembling porn until May of 2007 when I quit dancing and started working on webcam sites. The internet was a natural fall-back position for me since, at the time, I was running a very large website (which had nothing to do with sex) that had received quite a bit of notoriety and landed me on Nightline twice, in the New York Times three times, in a full-three page article in Radar magazine once, plus at least radio appearances and/or mentions on every major news network in the world. (You can research the “Blasphemy Challenge” for more information.”) An essay of mine was even published in the book 50 Voices of Disbelief, which can be found on Amazon or any major bookstore. As far as porn goes, I started off only doing solo shows online, moved to live sex shows, then started recording them and selling them from my own website.

My first professional porn shoot was for Score Group. I did a short scene for them and a magazine spread. Shortly after that, I was hired to work at the Bunny Ranch in Carson City, NV, which was to be a short-lived partnership. I also worked at Sheri’s Ranch in Pahrump, NV. Unhappy with the exorbitant brothel fees, I decided to take my chances doing porn more seriously, and for the short time that I’ve been in the business, I must say that I’m shocked at the type of opportunities that have arisen as a result. I have done three book covers, one calledWashington, D.C.’s Scandals of Hypocrisy: From Larry Craig’s Guilt to Paul Stanley’s Extortion,Marilyn Manson: Creating an Antichrist, and Selling Sex in Miami, FL.

The Beast Rides to DC!!!

File this under "things I probably would've been extremely skeptical of if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes." Just happened to map this during my commute home yesterday, and this is what it gave me to Bethesda, which is where our hotel is.

Link for Jamie

I thought this story might be good reference material for your paper.

How Religion's Demand for Obedience Keeps Us in the Dark Ages

I found this article on AlterNet. It gives us a good picture about what's wrong with this picture: blind obedience and mental slavery. There are some relevant quotes as well as links too.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Imagine No Religion

In Edgar Dahl's essay he describes growing up in East Germany. He talks about how religion is viewed as abnormal there, and most people don't even think anything of it. By his description, I wouldn't have minded growing up there. It got me thinking about what the world would be like entirely without religion. It's not that hard to do.

I imagine that society would be a good deal more objective. We would probably be much more focused on the progress of humanity and technology. I would hope it would be a much more peaceful place, which would no doubt help a great deal with the progressive movement. Our day-to-day life probably wouldn't be too much different, minus the religious rituals of course. But what we do would be for our own sake instead of to appease some god. I think morality would be more or less the same, as despite the church's attempts to say it's all because God said so, even most religious people know deep down that what is good is good because it is objectively good for us. All in all I think the world would be a much better place, and probably a great deal more advanced than it is right now.

Something for you all

I'll be writing a response to this at some point in the future.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Group 1: McGowan - "The Unconditional Love of Reality"

For me, this single quote was worth the price of admission:

"Finally, I knew that our growing knowledge of the universe and ourselves more often than not contradicted biblical claims. The advance of knowledge should prove scripture more and more accurate if it were valid; instead there's a steady retreat into the remaining gaps in what we know. It all seemed like a quickly unraveling fabric of delusion."

Jesus, you got some explaining to do.

About Jonathan's Presentation....

First of all, I wanted to clarify something that I said towards the end of class. It was something to the effect of "Yes, wrap it up!" directed to Jonathan in regards to curtailing his presentation. My (humorous) intent was to suggest that we end Jonathan's suffering, not ours! To say that he was facing a hostile audience would be an understatement, and I admire him for sticking his neck out. I also apologize for talking about you as though you aren't in the conversation, Jonathan :-)

I, for one, feel that the point Jonathan is no doubt driving towards is a perfectly valid point to make. I also happen to feel that it ends up being perfectly irrelevant with regards to the issue that many atheists have with revealed scripture. A falsehood/error/inaccuracy/fallacy/ that is transmitted thousands of times in exacting detail is still a falsehood/error/inaccuracy/fallacy. Whether or not we are in possession of an accurate copy of what the authors intended to write is immaterial to the validity of the actual contents of the text.

But I'm sure Jonathan will work thru all of that next time, if we give him the chance. After all, he has been nothing if not a good sport so far, and I look forward to hearing the rest of his presentation.

Sagan and Druyan: Together in the Cosmos

Ann Druyan, Carl Sagan’s wife, wrote this in 2003 after Carl had died. I find it enormously honest and inspirational.

"When my husband died, because he was so famous and known for not being a believer, many people would come up to me-it still sometimes happens-and ask me if Carl changed at the end and converted to a belief in an afterlife. They also frequently ask me if I think I will see him again. Carl faced his death with unflagging courage and never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don’t ever expect to be reunited with Carl. But, the great thing is that when we were together, for nearly twenty years, we lived with a vivid appreciation of how brief and precious life is. We never trivialized the meaning of death by pretending it was anything other than a final parting. Every single moment that we were alive and we were together was miraculous-not miraculous in the sense of inexplicable or supernatural. We knew we were beneficiaries of chance. . . . That pure chance could be so generous and so kind. . . . That we could find each other, as Carl wrote so beautifully in Cosmos, you know, in the vastness of space and the immensity of time. . . . That we could be together for twenty years. That is something which sustains me and it’s much more meaningful. . . . The way he treated me and the way I treated him, the way we took care of each other and our family, while he lived. That is so much more important than the idea I will see him someday. I don’t think I’ll ever see Carl again. But I saw him. We saw each other. We found each other in the cosmos, and that was wonderful."

If there ever were to be atheist "churches", I would hope that they might be built around sentiments such as this. Simple acknowledgment of the brevity and preciousness of life, and the role that random chance plays in all of our happiness.

Group 2: Jack Dann

It Came from Within

Native Australian Jack Dann chimes in with his essay Antinomies that revels in literary prowess fit for a deity, which is a quite the departure from a few essays in Blackwell that fell somewhat short of the term “inspired.”

 In Dann’s opening paragraph, he writes a letter to an invisible, elusive god; a letter not unlike the many that have been written by believers on the barren fields of divine presence and plagiarized spirituality. In his satiric plea for forgiveness, Dann describes his spiritual journey that traverses the “old-man-smelling synagogues,” sweat lodges, mystic meditations, consensual hallucinations, culinary inducements, and lucid dreaming that varied from ennui to epiphany.

During the course of his spiritual endeavor, Dann eventually realized that his emotional transcendence or altered-state of consciousness was not the presence of some god summoned by any of the various religious medicine men, but his search for God was actually a search for himself. Although he yearned for an intercessory god to intervene in the tragic human condition, putting hope into something that actually exists e.g., education, technology and science seemed to provide the measureable results he was divinely seeking.

Prayers, spells, and supplications based on irrational hope and wishful thinking left Dann with a sense of insecurity. Superstitious belief in a god for his spirituality was a leap of faith he was no longer willing to make.

So, in an act of insolence and renewed faith in reality— tongue planted firmly in his cheek—he commits his demons, ghosts, angels, and hobgoblins to the flames of his psyche, and offers up an atheist prayer of rationality—solemnly planting his supplications in more fertile ground. 

Knights of Dei- Haldeman

Haldeman had a very interesting piece I thought. I was surprised to find out that Atheism was the default position for people in math and science when he was pursuing his degree, in the 60's or 70's. I know today that a majority, or at least a hefty minority, of scientist are atheist, but as Haldeman points out there are a growing number that use science to justify belief in the divine with scientific rationalism. I was also surprised, and now kind of worried, to find out one cannot get conscientious objector status in the military without having a letter from a priest or other religious figure. Does anyone know if this is still the case?

At any rate, Haldeman's thoughts on religion and science were enjoyable to read. He notes that there is a plethora of beauty and wonder to be observed in the universe in both the astronomical and terrestrial worlds. He says he can understand how people might connect such wonders with a god, as they cause one to have an emotionally reaction. However, he makes the distinction "A belief in God might be a convenient avenue for expressing feelings this strong, but no belief is actually necessary. Just witness." He then goes on to distinguish between faith and belief. Faith, he claims, is simply there and no amount of persuasion will dislodge it. Thus, he has no problem with faith in god just as he has no problem with faith in the Red Sox or faith in a political party. Belief, however, requires a belief system. It is a list of statements and operators that describe how things work, or that we can never understand how something works. Thinking in this way, then an Atheist is a person without a belief system. One who has no stereotypes as to how things have to be, which allows for a broader universe of discourse.
Exam question: According to Haldeman, what is the difference between faith and belief?
Answer: Faith is simply there, while belief requires a belief system to explain how things work.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Atheism and Interfaith Cooperation

I was looking for things to talk about and generally just sort of browsing different religious news and such, and found this great article here.

It is about the struggle of some secular, humanist, and otherwise atheist groups to thrive on religious campuses and start student groups. It's interesting to me, in actuality many of the finest institutions of higher learning our country has to offer are religiously oriented, particularly some Catholic universities. But what I found really interesting about the article was that it mentions several times that many faith-based organizations on these campuses are wanting to get secular atheists involved in their efforts, but don't know how and sometimes there are awkward communication gaps.

It made me think of something Dr. Oliver said that he was asking the people being interviewed for the Religious Studies position, about what their place might be in an Atheism and Philosophy course. And I'd be really interested in hearing from the class, those of you who are atheists, do you believe that you should/can have a place in "inter-faith" efforts or perhaps religiously motivated and run social justice movements/organizations? Should we throw "no faith" in there with everyone else for those purposes?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

de Botton on NPR

The atheist some of you love to hate is promoting the Jefferson Bible for Atheists. I'm solidly with him on this one. I just wish NPR had not concluded its interview with "I'm a Believer." But, R.I.P. Davy Jones. (Dean knows who I mean.)
Postscript: uncannily, I received a text message from Dean right after this aired on NPR. He says he hadn't heard it, but in the text mentioned his new idea for a band: the Jefferson Bible Thumpers.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

New Sam Harris blog post. It's like he's eavesdropping on our class.

It's actually a little depressing, but at least we're having the conversation.


Religion of Peace?

I'm pulling for you too, Jamie. It seems you have a bit of work cut out for you.

The Quran:

Quran (2:191-193) - "And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution [of Muslims] is worse than slaughter [of non-believers]... but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful.   And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah."  The historical context of this passage isnot defensive warfare, since Muhammad and his Muslims had just relocated to Medina and were not under attack by their Meccan adversaries.  In fact, the verses urge offensive warfare, in that Muslims are to drive Meccans out of their own city (which they later did).  The use of the word "persecution" by some Muslim translators is thus disingenuous (the actual Muslim words for persecution - "idtihad" - and oppression - a variation of "z-l-m" - do not appear in the verse).  The actual Arabic comes from "fitna" which can mean disbelief, or the disorder that results from unbelief or temptation.  Taken as a whole, the context makes clear that violence is being authorized until "religion is for Allah" - ie. unbelievers desist in their unbelief.

Quran (2:244) - "Then fight in the cause of Allah, and know that Allah Heareth and knoweth all things."

Quran (2:216) - "Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not."  Not only does this verse establish that violence can be virtuous, but it also contradicts the myth that fighting is intended only in self-defense, since the audience was obviously not under attack at the time.  From the Hadith, we know that this verse was narrated at a time that Muhammad was actually trying to motivate his people intoraiding merchant caravans for loot.

Quran (3:56) - "As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help."

Quran (3:151) - "Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority".  This speaks directly of polytheists, yet it also includes Christians, since they believe in the Trinity (ie. what Muhammad incorrectly believed to be 'joining companions to Allah').

Quran (4:74) - "Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward."  The martyrs of Islam are unlike the early Christians, led meekly to the slaughter.  These Muslims are killed in battle, as they attempt to inflict death and destruction for the cause of Allah.  Here is the theological basis for today's suicide bombers.

Quran (4:76) - "Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah…"

Quran (4:89) - "They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks."

Quran (4:95) - "Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Unto all (in Faith) Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward,-"  This passage criticizes "peaceful" Muslims who do not join in the violence, letting them know that they are less worthy in Allah's eyes.  It also demolishes the modern myth that "Jihad" doesn't mean holy war in the Quran, but rather a spiritual struggle.  Not only is the Arabic word used in this passage, but it is clearly not referring to anything spiritual, since the physically disabled are given exemption.  (The Hadith reveals the context of the passage to be in response to a blind man's protest that he is unable to engage in Jihad and this is reflected in other translations of the verse).

Quran (4:104) - "And be not weak hearted in pursuit of the enemy; if you suffer pain, then surely they (too) suffer pain as you suffer pain..."  Is pursuing an injured and retreating enemy really an act of self-defense?

Quran (5:33) - "The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement"

Quran (8:12) - "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them"  No reasonable person would interpret this to mean a spiritual struggle.

Quran (8:15) - "O ye who believe! When ye meet those who disbelieve in battle, turn not your backs to them. (16)Whoso on that day turneth his back to them, unless maneuvering for battle or intent to join a company, he truly hath incurred wrath from Allah, and his habitation will be hell, a hapless journey's end."

Quran (8:39) - "And fight with them until there is no more fitna (disorder, unbelief) and religion should be only for Allah"  Some translations interpret "fitna" as "persecution", but the traditional understanding of this word is not supported by the historical context (See notes for  2:293, also).  The Meccans were simply refusing Muhammad access to their city during Haj.  Other Muslims were allowed to travel there - just not as an armed group, since Muhammad had declared war on Mecca prior to his eviction.  The Meccans were also acting in defense of their religion, since it was Muhammad's intention to destroy their idols and establish Islam by force (which he later did).  Hence the critical part of this verse is to fight until "religion is only for Allah", meaning that the true justification of violence was the unbelief of the opposition.  According to the Sira (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 324) Muhammad further explains that "Allah must have no rivals."

Quran (8:57) - "If thou comest on them in the war, deal with them so as to strike fear in those who are behind them, that haply they may remember."  

Quran (8:59-60) - "And let not those who disbelieve suppose that they can outstrip (Allah's Purpose). Lo! they cannot escape.  Make ready for them all thou canst of (armed) force and of horses tethered, that thereby ye may dismay the enemy of Allah and your enemy."

Quran (8:65) - "O Prophet, exhort the believers to fight..."

Quran (9:5) - "So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them."  According to this verse, the best way of staying safe from Muslim violence is to convert to Islam.  Prayer (salat) and the poor tax (zakat) are among the religions Five Pillars.

Quran (9:14) - "Fight them, Allah will punish them by your hands and bring them to disgrace..."

Quran (9:20) - "Those who believe, and have left their homes and striven with their wealth and their lives in Allah's way are of much greater worth in Allah's sight. These are they who are triumphant."  The "striving" spoken of here is Jihad.

Quran (9:29) - "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued."  "People of the Book" refers to Christians and Jews.  This was one of the final "revelations" from Allah and it set in motion the tenacious military expansion, in which Muhammad's companions managed to conquer two-thirds of the Christian world in just the next 100 years.  Islam is intended to dominate all other people and faiths.

Quran (9:30) - "And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!"

Quran (9:38-39) - "O ye who believe! what is the matter with you, that, when ye are asked to go forth in the cause of Allah, ye cling heavily to the earth? Do ye prefer the life of this world to the Hereafter? But little is the comfort of this life, as compared with the Hereafter. Unless ye go forth, He will punish you with a grievous penalty, and put others in your place."  This is a warning to those who refuse to fight, that they will be punished with Hell.

Quran (9:41) - "Go forth, light-armed and heavy-armed, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the way of Allah! That is best for you if ye but knew."  See also the verse that follows (9:42) - "If there had been immediate gain (in sight), and the journey easy, they would (all) without doubt have followed thee, but the distance was long, (and weighed) on them"  This contradicts the myth that Muslims are to fight only in self-defense, since the wording implies that battle will be waged a long distance from home (in another country and on Christian soil, in this case, according to the historians).

Quran (9:73) - "O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them; and their abode is hell, and evil is the destination."  Dehumanizing those who reject Islam, by reminding Muslims that they are merely firewood for Hell, makes it easier to justify slaughter.  It also explains why today's devout Muslims have little regard for those outside the faith.

Quran (9:88) - "But the Messenger, and those who believe with him, strive and fight with their wealth and their persons: for them are (all) good things: and it is they who will prosper."

Quran (9:111) - "Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain: a promise binding on Him in truth, through the Law, the Gospel, and the Quran: and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? then rejoice in the bargain which ye have concluded: that is the achievement supreme."

Quran (9:123) - "O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness."

Quran (17:16) - "And when We wish to destroy a town, We send Our commandment to the people of it who lead easy lives, but they transgress therein; thus the word proves true against it, so We destroy it with utter destruction."  Note that the crime is moral transgression, and the punishment is "utter destruction."  (Before ordering the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden first issued Americans an invitation to Islam). 

Quran (18:65-81) - This parable lays the theological groundwork for honor killings, in which a family member is murdered because they brought shame to the family, either through apostasy or perceived moral indiscretion.  The story (which is not found in any Jewish or Christian source) tells of Moses encountering a man with "special knowledge" who does things which don't seem to make sense on the surface, but are then justified according to later explanation.  One such action is to murder a youth for no apparent reason (74).  However, the wise man later explains that it was feared that the boy would "grieve" his parents by "disobedience and ingratitude."  He was killed so that Allah could provide them a 'better' son.  (Note: This is one reason why honor killing is sanctioned by Sharia.  Reliance of the Traveler (Umdat al-Saliq) says that punishment for murder is not applicable when a parent or grandparent kills their offspring (o.1.1-2).)

Quran (21:44) - "We gave the good things of this life to these men and their fathers until the period grew long for them; See they not that We gradually reduce the land (in their control) from its outlying borders? Is it then they who will win?"

Quran (25:52) - "Therefore listen not to the Unbelievers, but strive against them with the utmost strenuousness..."   "Strive against" is Jihad - obviously not in the personal context.  It's also significant to point out that this is a Meccan verse.

Quran (33:60-62) - "If the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, and the alarmists in the city do not cease, We verily shall urge thee on against them, then they will be your neighbors in it but a little while.  Accursed, they will be seized wherever found and slain with a (fierce) slaughter."   This passage sanctions the slaughter (rendered "merciless" and "horrible murder" in other translations) against three groups: Hypocrites (Muslims who refuse to "fight in the way of Allah" (3:167) and hence don't act as Muslims should), those with "diseased hearts" (which include Jews and Christians 5:51-52), and "alarmists" or "agitators who include those who merely speak out against Islam, according to Muhammad's biographers.  It is worth noting that the victims are to be sought out by Muslims, which is what today's terrorists do.  If this passage is meant merely to apply to the city of Medina, then it is unclear why it is included in Allah's eternal word to Muslim generations.

Quran (47:3-4) - "Those who reject Allah follow vanities, while those who believe follow the truth from their lord.  Thus does Allah set forth form men their lessons by similitude.  Therefore when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite the necks until when you have overcome them, then make (them) prisoners,"  Those who reject Allah are to be subdued in battle.  The verse goes on to say the only reason Allah doesn't do the dirty work himself is in order to to test the faithfulness of Muslims.  Those who kill pass the test. "But if it had been Allah's Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the Way of Allah,- He will never let their deeds be lost."

Quran (47:35) - "Be not weary and faint-hearted, crying for peace, when ye should be uppermost (Shakir: "have the upper hand") for Allah is with you,"   

Quran (48:17) - "There is no blame for the blind, nor is there blame for the lame, nor is there blame for the sick (that they go not forth to war). And whoso obeyeth Allah and His messenger, He will make him enter Gardens underneath which rivers flow; and whoso turneth back, him will He punish with a painful doom."  Contemporary apologists sometimes claim that Jihad means 'spiritual struggle.'  Is so, then why are the blind, lame and sick exempted?

Quran (48:29) - "Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard (ruthless) against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves"  Islam is not about treating everyone equally.  There are two very distinct standards that are applied based on religious status.

Quran (61:4) - "Surely Allah loves those who fight in His way"  Religion of Peace, indeed!  This is followed by (61:9): "He it is who has sent His Messenger (Mohammed) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam) to make it victorious over all religions even though the infidels may resist."

Quran (61:10-12) - "O ye who believe! Shall I lead you to a bargain that will save you from a grievous Penalty?- That ye believe in Allah and His Messenger, and that ye strive (your utmost) in the Cause of Allah, with your property and your persons: That will be best for you, if ye but knew! He will forgive you your sins, and admit you to Gardens beneath which Rivers flow, and to beautiful mansions in Gardens of Eternity."  This verse was given in battle.  It uses the Arabic word, Jihad.

Quran (66:9) - "O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and be stern with them. Hell will be their home, a hapless journey's end."  The root word of "Jihad" is used again here.  The context is clearly holy war, and the scope of violence is broadened to include "hypocrites" - those who call themselves Muslims but do not act as such.

From the Hadith:

Bukhari (52:177) - Allah's Apostle said, "The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. "O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him."

Bukhari (52:256) - The Prophet... was asked whether it was permissible to attack the pagan warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger. The Prophet replied, "They (i.e. women and children) are from them (i.e. pagans)."  In this command, Muhammad establishes that it is permissible to kill non-combatants in the process of killing a perceived enemy.  This provides justification for the many Islamic terror bombings.

Bukhari (52:220) - Allah's Apostle said... 'I have been made victorious with terror'

Abu Dawud (14:2526) - The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: Three things are the roots of faith: to refrain from (killing) a person who utters, "There is no god but Allah" and not to declare him unbeliever whatever sin he commits, and not to excommunicate him from Islam for his any action; and jihad will be performed continuously since the day Allah sent me as a prophet until the day the last member of my community will fight with the Dajjal (Antichrist)

Abu Dawud (14:2527) - The Prophet said: Striving in the path of Allah (jihad) is incumbent on you along with every ruler, whether he is pious or impious

Muslim (1:33) - the Messenger of Allah said: I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah

Bukhari (8:387) - Allah's Apostle said, "I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah'.  And if they say so, pray like our prayers, face our Qibla and slaughter as we slaughter, then their blood and property will be sacred to us and we will not interfere with them except legally."

Muslim (1:30) - "The Messenger of Allah said: I have been commanded to fight against people so long as they do not declare that there is no god but Allah."

Muslim (1:149) - "Abu Dharr reported: I said: Messenger of Allah, which of the deeds is the best? He (the Holy Prophet) replied: Belief in Allah and Jihad in His cause..."

Muslim (20:4645) - "...He (the Messenger of Allah) did that and said: There is another act which elevates the position of a man in Paradise to a grade one hundred (higher), and the elevation between one grade and the other is equal to the height of the heaven from the earth. He (Abu Sa'id) said: What is that act? He replied: Jihad in the way of Allah! Jihad in the way of Allah!"

Muslim (20:4696) - "the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: 'One who died but did not fight in the way of Allah nor did he express any desire (or determination) for Jihid died the death of a hypocrite.'"

Muslim (19:4321-4323) - Three separate hadith in which Muhammad shrugs over the news that innocent children were killed in a raid by his men against unbelievers.  His response: "They are of them (meaning the enemy)."

Muslim (19:4294) - "When the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) appointed anyone as leader of an army or detachment he would especially exhort him... He would say: Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war...  When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them... If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah's help and fight them.

Tabari 7:97  The morning after the murder of Ashraf, the Prophet declared, "Kill any Jew who falls under your power."  Ashraf was a poet, killed by Muhammad's men because he insulted Islam.  Here, Muhammad widens the scope of his orders to kill.  An innocent Jewish businessman was then slain by his Muslim partner, merely for being non-Muslim.

Tabari 9:69  "Killing Unbelievers is a small matter to us"  The words of Muhammad, prophet of Islam.

Tabari 17:187  "'By God, our religion (din) from which we have departed is better and more correct than that which these people follow. Their religion does not stop them from shedding blood, terrifying the roads, and seizing properties.' And they returned to their former religion."  The words of a group of Christians who had converted to Islam, but realized their error after being shocked by the violence and looting committed in the name of Allah.  The price of their decision to return to a religion of peace was that the men were beheaded and the woman and children enslaved by the caliph Ali.

Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 327: - “Allah said, ‘A prophet must slaughter before collecting captives. A slaughtered enemy is driven from the land. Muhammad, you craved the desires of this world, its goods and the ransom captives would bring. But Allah desires killing them to manifest the religion.’”

Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 990: - Lest anyone think that cutting off someone's head while screaming 'Allah Akbar!' is a modern creation, here is an account of that very practice under Muhammad, who seems to approve.

Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 992: - "Fight everyone in the way of Allah and kill those who disbelieve in Allah."  Muhammad's instructions to his men prior to a military raid.