Escapees from the land of the pure

Life is tough in Pakistan if you don’t two the religious line (or at least hide the lack of toeing). Though in this case the victims escaped, hurray for them!

Asmaa Azeem is 22, Fatima is 16. They are sisters from Pakistan, seeking asylum in Sri Lanka. Their parents are religious fundamentalists and the girls want out. They want an end to the abuse, they want an end to the old religious order and they want a life of freedom; freedom of thought, freedom of expression and more importantly, freedom of religion. The girls are atheists, and proud ones.
The girl’s family are the obvious scoundrels and scum here, and it’s interesting how scoundrels and scum are always connected to the upper levels of the Pakistan govt:
They say their uncle is extremely influential in Pakistan and has many contacts with top officials and the Ministry of Interior.
Why did the ‘society’ she was brought up in, choose to turn a blind eye and even deny issues and incidents that took place right in its face? (She describes the sexual molestation a cousin went through at the hands of an uncle)  Why did women have no fundamental rights in her country? Why, why and more why?
The uncle probably went on to molest more of his nieces and nephews and achieved a high post in Pakistani society… and while the Pakistan embassy in Colombo is probably figuring out ways to extradite the girls back to Pakistan, real criminals roam free.

Times have really changed in this country. The media’s latest love affair with Raymond Davis has really stirred up enough people against anyone who’s different, that tourism is dead. A white face on the streets is just asking to be lynched. A lot of foreigners have asked me over the years whether it’s safe to travel across Pakistan, and I’ve always said yes, but with caveats which kept getting bigger over the years into what has become an absolute no.

It doesn’t really matter what the masses think – the majority might be flower hugging hippies all wanting peace, but the number of people wanting to kill others is large, and the number supporting these killers even larger – browsing through Pakistani TV a lot of the media shows support killing anyone who’se different – and considering people watch them, it’s one indication that their ideas have a following.

Update: Reddit post and discussion

Creationist Nonsense

bq. When Charles Darwin introduced the theory of evolution through natural selection 143 years ago, the scientists of the day argued over it fiercely, but the massing evidence from paleontology, genetics, zoology, molecular biology and other fields gradually established evolution’s truth beyond reasonable doubt. Today that battle has been won everywhere–except in the public imagination.

Scientific American: 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense: :: *Opponents of evolution want to make a place for creationism by tearing down real science, but their arguments don’t hold up.* Based on the Bible, the universe was created about “six thousand and 9 years ago”:, so it stands to reason that evolution isn’t possible for so many people the world over.

Continue reading Creationist Nonsense

Quran may promise grapes, not virgins

bq.. It has long been a staple of Islam that Muslim martyrs will go to paradise and marry 72 black-eyed virgins. But a growing body of rigorous scholarship on the Quran points to a less sensual paradise — and, more important, may offer a step away from fundamentalism and toward a reawakening of the Islamic world.

…The Quran is beautifully written, but often obscure. One reason is that the Arabic language was born as a written language with the Quran, and there’s growing evidence that many of the words were Syriac or Aramaic.

For example, the Quran says martyrs going to heaven will get “hur,” and the word was taken by early commentators to mean “virgins,” hence those 72 consorts. But in Aramaic, hur meant “white” and was commonly used to mean “white grapes.”

Some martyrs arriving in paradise may regard a bunch of grapes as a letdown[1]. But the scholar who pioneered this pathbreaking research, using the pseudonym Christoph Luxenberg for security reasons, noted in an e-mail interview that grapes made more sense in context because the Quran compares them to crystal and pearls, and because contemporary accounts have paradise abounding with fruit, especially white grapes.

>> “Charlotte Observer”:

p. If it’s virgins, 72 seems a bit too many, while if its grapes, than why only 72?

Continue reading Quran may promise grapes, not virgins

Why do people believe in God?

Why Religion?

bq. It’s obvious as we look around us that theism is a popular meme. Probably all of you have friends who are theists, and most of you probably have friends who are weekly church-goers. Many of you are likely theists yourselves. But why? Why religion? Why believe in the first place? Why do most people on the earth believe in a supreme being of some sort, especially one who fails to manifest himself to us?

>> “”:

Brilliant post over at Plasticbag:

bq. I’m an atheist. I have been for nearly twenty years, and before that I wasn’t really anything – I didn’t really have a position on God vs. No God. I suppose I just hadn’t thought about it properly. I can’t really understand how anyone can be anything other than an atheist, but – despite my incredulity – people do still seem to conjure for themselves other non-atheistic options from the spiritual ether.

>> “On the existence of God…”:

A collection of links:

* ” Over Three Hundred Proofs of God?s Existence”:

* “Why does God care if we believe in him or not?”:

* “Why I Am Not A Christian”: by “Bertrand Russell”:

* “The Atlantic Monthly: E.T. and God”: :: Could earthly religions survive the discovery of life elsewhere in the universe?

Note: This post will be updated with links as I come across them.