27 March 2011

More Muslim Mendacity

Well, for reasons mentioned at the end of the last post at my other blog, I wasn’t planning on posting at this blog anytime soon, but another case of Muslim mendacity has moved me.  I mentioned two other cases in earlier posts in this blog, here and here.  The background for the present case is the following.

Earlier this week, I read a long article in the 20 March 2011 magazine section of The New York Times about the American Muslim Yasir Qadhi.  Qadhi was educated in Saudi Arabia and America, is now working on his doctorate in Islamic studies at Yale University, teaches in the Religious Studies Department of Rhodes College in Memphis, and is Dean of Academic Affairs of the AlMaghrib Institute, where he claims he has taught his interpretations of “Orthodox” (Sunni) Islam to “close to 16,000 [American] students.”

Somewhat intrigued about Qadhi, I went to his website (referenced in the Times article), read a fair amount, and eventually at his website, found his post entitled “Reflection on the New York Times Article”.  As you can determine if you look about 1/3 the way down through the Comment Section for Qadhi’s post (specifically, at the “time stamp” of “March 22 at 9:39 AM”), I added the following comment:
Nick McConnell
March 22, 2011 • 9:39 AM
Yasir: Of course I’m not a Muslim, and although I, too, don’t like labels, yet when pushed, I usually say I’m a Humanist or a scientific humanist. I found the referenced NYT article interesting and followed its links to your website, where I’ve been reading for the past many hours.
What I find stunning is this: you are obviously an intelligent person and very competent at conveying your ideas, but what astounding errors you have made! Yet, what you are displaying (and living!) certainly isn’t unique. I have given several examples at my website in a chapter entitled “Reason vs. Reality”, here I’ll just mention two examples.
1. It can be argued that Aristotle was the most brilliant person who ever lived, but surely we can at least agree that he was brilliant. Yet, if you’ll read his (logical) argument “justifying” slavery, surely you’ll also agree that his conclusion was totally wrong.
2. Many people argue that Augustine was brilliant; I would at least agree (and expect that you, too, would agree) that he had an enormous influence on a huge number of people. But again, if you’ll read his (logical) argument “justifying” slavery, surely you’ll also agree that his conclusion was totally wrong.
For both, their arguments were logically sound (although Aristotle’s argument by analogy weakened his argument); their errors were in their premises. I find your arguments to be similarly logically sound (as are most arguments I’ve read by various Muslims “scholars”), but your (and their) conclusions are astoundingly weak, again because of premises.
In particular, your basic premise (similar to Aristotle’s and Augustine’s) is that a creator god exists. Do you know nothing about the past few hundred years of scientific advances? The idea that some god created the universe and people has been totally debunked: the universe almost certainly was initiated by a symmetry-breaking quantum-like fluctuation in a total void, and after the Big Bang, the formation of elementary particles, stars, etc., auto-catalytic chemical reactions led to life, which eventually evolved to humans. If you will study science, you’ll realize that your premises should be abandoned, and with your brilliant mind, I hope you’ll then join us Humanists in trying to reduce violence and bring more peace and prosperity to all humans.
Unsurprisingly, Yasir (Qadhi) didn’t respond, but as readers can check by reading the first set of responses that followed, my comment obviously stimulated a number of his followers.  I responded to them through most of the rest of the morning (see the comments through to the one from “Anum” on March 22 at 2:05 PM), but then, the moderator blocked my response to Anum!  Finally, after getting through to Anum via the second set of comments (which I’ll get to, shortly), the moderator let me respond to Anum (see my response at March 23 at 4:56 AM).  The punch-counterpunch continued – although another block by the moderator occurred (cf. my comments on March 22 at 6:31 PM and then on March 23 at 6:26 AM).  Then, however, the moderator “called the match”, by closing all comments!

To verify that last statement, you need to scroll to near the end of the comments, to the post by Siraaj (on March 23 at 2:12 PM), where Siraaj states not only that, “I’m locking discussion on this thread”, but adds:
PS – discussion not directly relevant to the discussion at hand will likely be removed soon, so don’t be surprised posts on handshaking, humanism, and other unrelated tangents are removed. 
For the reader’s information, I should add that mine were the only comments dealing with “humanism”; therefore, to me, the moderator’s statement really meant:  “Your comments will likely be removed.”

Well, okay, it’s their website, they can post what they want.  Such censorship, however, isn’t consistent with Qadhi’s stated desire (contained in his “closing comments” at the end of the Comments Section, posted on March 25 at 9:33 AM):
I believe that we need to allow people to express their opinions.
Anyway, I decided to proceed with the current post, not to call attention to Muslims who are afraid of opposing ideas, but to mention the mendacity of (as a minimum) the Muslim moderator(s) at MuslimMatters.org.

Thus, returning to the earlier comments, notice that, after my response on March 23 at 6:26 AM and after the comments were allegedly closed by Siraaj on the same day (March 23 at 2:12 PM), yet “out of the blue”, the following comment appeared, 3 (three!) days later!
March 26, 2011 • 3:15 AM
Peace Nick,
As a physicist myself at Cornell (yes, we produced both Hans Bethe and Feynman), I find that your arguments lack merit.
Before the development of QM, most physicists were at least deists. That is because pre-QM physics was heavily built on two main paradigms namely those of determinism and causality. After QM, only causality has remained. Incidentally, these physicists believed that God did not interfere with the universe because everything was pre-determined. Nowadays, they don’t know how to account for a non-determinist, causal universe.
The funny thing abt having a causal universe is that it necessarily implies some element of noncausality. Either there is some noncausal interference, read the universe pops out of nothing, or the universe has to exist forever. It really is that simple. Btw, noncausal means outside of the boundary of time and space.
Either way, you run into a problem of infinites. Either the universe exists for infinite or you have a creator who is infinite, etc. Your choice. 
Talk about dirty dealings!  I expect that Muslims at MuslimMatters.org went searching for “an expert”, to try to find someone to deal me a “knockout punch”.  But be that as it may be, ‘lo and behold, with the above post-closure addition, the Comment Section was open again (complete with “Reply Buttons”)!  So, I composed the following response to Saad:
Hello, Saad, and peace to you – and to everyone!
Yes, I know Cornell well:  I got my Ph.D. there, more than 40 years ago, met both Bethe and Feynman, and studied under other famous physicists, including Tom Gold, Ed Salpeter, Philip Morrison, and Dick Sibly – although, it was such a long time ago, I might have forgotten how to spell Dick's surname… 
As for your "finding" that my "arguments lack merit", I trust that you won't be surprised that I come to a similar conclusion about the arguments that you present in your comment!  Possibly the cause is simply the (understandable) brevity of your note, but possibly it's because you haven't given my arguments sufficient consideration.  For example, I wonder if you at least glanced at the first chapter and the chapters in Part 4 of my book, especially the chapter dealing with uncertainties.
With respect to your first assessment, that "before the development of QM, most physicists were at least deists", several responses seem appropriate:  1) I made a similar comment in one of my earlier responses, and included the names of theists such as Newton, Maxwell, and Planck, 2) Let's not fall into the logical fallacy (argumentum ad populum) of judging the "truth" of a statement by how many people accept it, since by that criterion, it would have been "true" that the Earth was flat, and 3) Also, let's not fall into the logical fallacy of appealing to inappropriate authorities (argumentum ad verecundiam), since as I already mentioned in an earlier comment, most physicists don't spend time considering "the god idea".
Turning now to your more relevant points, you first state: "That [to wit:  that most pre-QM physicists were at least deists] is because pre-QM physics was heavily built on two main paradigms, namely, those of determinism and causality."  Of course I agree with your statement that pre-QM was based on those two paradigms, and I agree with your further point that one of their reasons for rejecting the idea of an anthropomorphic god was their commitment to causality.  Einstein said it well in his book The World As I See It:
We thus arrive at a conception of the relation of science to religion very different from the usual one.  When one views the matter historically one is inclined to look upon science and religion as irreconcilable antagonists, and for a very obvious reason.  The man who is thoroughly convinced of the universal operation of the law of causation cannot for a moment entertain the idea of a being who interferes in the course of events – that is, if he takes the hypothesis of causality really seriously.  He has no use for the religion of fear and equally little for social or moral religion.  A God who rewards and punishes is inconceivable to him for the simple reason that a man's actions are determined by necessity, external and internal, so that in God's eyes he cannot be responsible, any more than an inanimate object is responsible for the motions it goes through.  Hence science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust.  A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary.  Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear and punishment and hope of reward after death.
But now, turning to your next point, "After QM, only causality has remained", I find that statement to be doubly troubling.
On the one hand, although the implication that QM has eliminated determinism is of course correct in the sense that only probabilities can be predicted, yet consistent with Popper's idea (which goes all the way back to Xenophanes and which is the basis of all science) that, in open systems, only the probability that some claim is true can be ascertained, then one could easily argue that determinism is still "alive and well" – it's just that we now have a better idea of what "determinism" means!  In that regard, and as a challenge to Feynman's familiar line "if you think you understand QM, you don't understand QM", I'd encourage you to Google John Cramer's "Transactional Interpretation" of QM:  generalizing the Feynman-Wheeler description of EM, it appears that he's resolved quantum entanglement by keeping the advanced-wave solution to the Schrödinger equation – and by assuming it deterministically describes what simultaneously evolves in the negative-energy background of space, where time runs in the opposite direction! 
And on the other hand, your explicit claim that "only causality has remained" can be challenged, even for classical systems.  That is, even for most macroscopic nonlinear systems (i.e., most systems!), causality has been lost.  I have heard Ilya Prigogine argue this point well – and talked to him about it.  As you no doubt know, it's based on Ed Lorenz's discovery that uncertainties in initial conditions (no matter how small – even if they are only quantum mechanical!) will overwhelmingly dominate a nonlinear system's evolution:  a butterfly in Brazil can indeed cause a tornado in Texas.  Thus, you should reconsider your claim that "causality has remained."    
You further state:  "Nowadays, they [physicists] don't know how to account for a non-deterministic, causal universe."  If you are saying that we haven't yet merged QM and General Relativity, then perhaps you're correct (i.e., if String Theory isn't correct), but more generally, I expect that (for example) Alan Guth, Roger Penrose, and Victor Stenger would disagree with you that we "don't know how to account for a non-deterministic, casual universe."
I'll illustrate my meaning by responding to the choice you offer re. infinities.  My first response is, "Thanks anyway, but no thanks!"  Second, I'd say that, in reality, I reject all infinities, since never has any infinity been examined experimentally, only theoretically.  Now, to illustrate an alternative to your options, consider the following.
I trust that we can agree with Emmy Noether that 'time' has no meaning in the absence of energy; therefore, there was no 'before', "before" the Big Bang.  Further, let's suppose that Einstein was correct when he said that "the universe [is] matter expanding into nothing that is something", and let's imagine an original "total nothingness", for which 'time' has no meaning.  If such a nothing "explored" fluctuations (i.e., if it adopted some "generalized" quantum mechanical behavior), then after some 10^10^10^10... fluctuations (in no time, since there was no energy – and further, fluctuations that occurred "nowhere", since again relying on Noether's theorem, there was no momentum), one such fluctuation (otherwise always in perfect balance, e.g., "positive" and "negative" amounts of energy, fenergy, henergy, genergy or whatever) presumably broke a symmetry, leading to the Big Bang.
Such a scenario has no need for the choice of infinities that you offer; in other words, what appears most reasonable to me is that the universe did indeed "pop out of nothing".  That's totally consistent with the well-known result (e.g., see Krauss' video, "A Universe from Nothing", already referenced) that still in our universe the total electrical charge, momentum, and energy (including the negative energy of space) all sum to zero.
By the way, I wonder if you see that the concept of "total nothingness" appears to be amenable to experimental exploration:  given that an anti-particle is a hole in space, then upon looking at that hole, one is actually looking at total nothingness!  And since anti-particles behave quantum mechanically, it suggests to me that "total nothingness" does obey quantum mechanics (or some more-generalized form of QM, yet to be discovered).
Upon submitting the above, the automated response appeared:  “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” Well, I waited and waited (and am still waiting!); the result:  zip!  Not only was my comment not approved, but now, all comments are once-again closed.  So, all good-little-Muslims who read the comments can rest assured that the nasty Humanist, who attempted to tell the Emperor he has no clothes, has been “bested” by a good Muslim physicist at Cornell.  Not only is it censorship (inconsistent with Qhadi’s, “I believe that we need to allow people to express their opinions”); it’s intellectually dishonest:  they're not interested in considering new concepts; instead, they desperately intend to defend their delusions.

Similar happened with the second half of the thread, which the reader can find immediately below the comment from Saad.  Notice, first, that the next comment (from Asiah) was on March 22 (four days earlier) at 12:27 PM.  As you can see, I went through a similar set of sparring matches (after getting through a moderator’s interference!) until March 23 at 9:37 AM.  Then, Umar planted what he no doubt considered to be a knockout blow:
March 23, 2011 • 10:19 AM
Nick said: “Well, if you’re going to assume that your creator god always existed, then why not, instead, assume that the universe always existed. Then, you have no need of your assumption that some god created the universe.”
If the universe was eternal (always existed), then it would take an infinite amount of time to get to where we are now, and so we would never actually get here. If you keep going back in time forever, you would never reach the end, according to that viewpoint. Therefore, if you go back forever and then try to come forward in time forever, you would never actually reach the point in time we are now. But we are at this point!
Therefore the universe had a beginning. According to you, some quantum events may have taken place and bubble theory etc, but if nothing was there to begin with. I mean nothing, no matter, or no antimatter whatever, then nothing would come out of it. If something was there to begin with, that something would have been there for an “infinite” amount of time, and if it this is the case:
a. it would never get to where we are now, because an infinite amount of time exists between then and now like I explained above
b. how would that something get there in the first place
c. what would cause that state to spontaneously change with absolutely no intervention.
You cite the nuclear reactors in Japan, exploding despite no overall momentum to begin with, but if you look at it more deeply, this change in state is caused by uncontrolled nuclear fission, due to the non functioning of the control rod. i.e. sub atomic particles interacting in a certain way. And even these were heated under extremely high temperatures, in the presence of certain elements: cause and effect!
I ask you, why do you assume the universe always existed, just as you assume that God didn’t create the universe? Did it create itself? Then what gave it the ability to create something from nothing?
In conclusion, it seems to me that you have placed yourself in a self-defeating position, because to claim something comes from nothing and that causality is not true at the quantum level would be tantamount to saying that your post was not written by you, rather it spontaneously appeared into existence without any cause, and came into being from nothing!
But we all know out of nothing, nothing comes. This is why you seem to have contradicted yourself by saying it was all possible because of “symmetry-breaking quantum-like fluctuation.” Then I would like to kindly ask you, where did a “symmetry-breaking quantum-like fluctuation” come from? If you respond “from nothing”, well, I would kindly like to reply, “so did your post. It came from nothing. Perhaps there is no Nick on the other side”…. that is the logic you are trying to preach!! Please re-evaluate your stance.
Sorry guys for responding going off topic by responding to Nick. I was actually much more interested in Sh. Yasir Qadhi’s posts, and responses to questions (getting emails for each post), and reading them with silent interest. Lol ha, exactly like he said above: “from the silent majority.”….but the illogical statement of Nick provoked me to answer back.
Of course I attempted to respond to Umar's mistakes and his misrepresentations of what I had written, but before I could, Siraaj posted (on March 23 at 2:12 PM) his statement:  “I’m locking discussion on this thread.”  How convenient for him and Qadhi’s deluded followers!

But then, three days later, when the thread was apparently re-opened to slip in the Cornell fellow’s (student’s?) comment, all the “Reply Buttons” were again active!  So, I took the opportunity to submit the following response to Umar:
Umar, now that the moderator has finally permitted me to respond to your comment (subject to "moderation"), I'll try to do so.
In response and in general, I'll say that, before attempting to ridicule other people and before claiming that they're illogical, you'd be well advised to get their positions clear in your own mind.  That way, you have a better chance to avoid looking ridiculous and being illogical, yourself.  As cases in point:
1.  I didn't (and don't) assume that the universe as we know it (i.e., the separation of energy into positive and negative components, the latter contained in space or "the vacuum") always existed.  If you'll re-read my post that you quoted, you'll see that I was simply responding to the claim that god always existed.  What I was doing was trying to demonstrate how such an idea could easily be shaved with Occam's razor.  Instead, as you apparently later realized, I accept the evidence that our universe had a beginning.
2.  Your old argument dealing with infinite time ignores modern ideas about time.  If you will check out the ideas developed, e.g., by Feynman, Wheeler, and Cramer (e.g., see the PPT presentation entitled "The Quantum Handshake" that you can find here) perhaps you'll see how, as Einstein said, time is just an illusion:  the only existence is "now".  Certainly, we're familiar with time proceeding in a positive direction from "now", but in the negative energy of space, time seems to proceed in the opposite direction.  Meanwhile, at the boundary of "positive and negative existences", light experiences no time:  for light, it's always "now".  This interpretation of time seems to resolve long-standing dilemmas of quantum mechanics, such as "quantum entanglement".
3. With respect to your attempt to ridicule the "something from nothing" concept, I recommend that you first read especially pp. 4-14 of the reference already provided.  In particular, with N = Nothing = zero and S = Something, then Something can easily be created from Nothing via the reaction  N → S + (-S), i.e., the creation of something and its negative.
4.  With respect to your quandary about what "nothing" is, I'd recommend that you read my blog post entitled "God is Total Nothingness!" and then re-read the referenced pp. 4-14 to see that, in fact, we do have some experience with "total nothingness", namely, whereas antiparticles are holes in space, and space is otherwise totally filled with negative energy; therefore, a hole in space (i.e., an antiparticle) is "total nothingness".
This time what happened?  Same thing:  first “your comments are awaiting moderation”, and then, nothing – except, once again, all “Reply Buttons” went dead.

In summary, then, as far as the invitation from Qadhi for “dialogue” and his statement “I believe that we need to allow people to express their opinions”, they and the MuslimMatters.org website are shams.  Arrangements were obviously made for the two sets of comments to end with one Muslim saying that my physics was wrong and another ridiculing my logic.  And since I wasn’t permitted to respond, no doubt all Qadhi’s good-little-Muslim followers can now take comfort with the thought (just as they undoubtedly thought all along) that they were right and the interloper is wrong.  It’s still another case of deceitful, clerical shepherds leading fearful, ignorant sheep to be fleeced (in clerical con games) or slaughtered (in clerical “holy wars”).

Of course, in the overall scheme of things, the experiences described above are insignificant.  Evidence can be gathered, however, to support the assessment that, although it was only a couple of snowflakes, they fell on a mountainous glacier of Muslim mendacity.

To begin to assess that claim, I encourage readers to go to websites such as JihadWatch.org, FaithFreedom.org, and the webpage with the sarcastic title “The Religion of Peace”.  At such sites, peruse the literally tens of thousands of other examples.  From such examples, maybe you’ll agree that the term “Muslim mendacity” is highly appropriate, given the list of synonyms for the adjective ‘mendacious’ given in the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus:
lying, untruthful, dishonest, deceitful, false, dissembling, insincere, disingenuous, hypocritical, fraudulent, double-dealing, two-faced, two-timing, duplicitous, perjured…
In Arabic, such mendacity is called taqiyya, and as I described in another post, it’s sanctioned (even promoted!) in the Qur’an and Islam’s “traditional literature” (the Hadiths).

From this experience, from my other experiences described in earlier posts in this blog, and from the three-part analysis that I posted at my other blog (entitled “The Pathetic Muhammad”, “Five Structural Errors in Islam”, and “Five Foundational Evils of Islam”), I find myself in substantial agreement with the following comment on the original article in The New York Times posted by Mohammed Guggen of Seattle on 19 March 2011 at 8:10 PM:
I found Mr. Qadhi very wishy-washy in his philosophy on jihad. Between the lines, I found Mr. Qadhi counseling fellow moslems to engage in low jihad in the US ... lie low for now, make incremental gains like getting sharia laws enacted state by state, work for the caliphate to be established and then go all-out on a major jihad/terror in the US.
Sad thing is that if you go to [the] website www.muslimmatters.org most of the comments by his former and current students vehemently disagree with him calling him opportunistic, traitor to the islamic cause, etc. BTW, the website is heavily censored.  [Italics added]
As a non-practicing moslem for couple of years now, I believe that the free nations of the world must organize a United Front of Victims of Jihad against the Axis of Jihad: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Pakistan.
The Axis of Jihad nations must be expelled from the community of nations and all international organizations until they are demilitarized, secularized, and democratized.
The United States, and all free nations, must strictly control immigration from the Islamic world. United State Code Title 8, Chapter 12, Subchapter II, Part II, § 1182, “Inadmissible Aliens,” forbids “any immigrant who is or has been a member of or affiliated with the Communist or any other totalitarian party (or subdivision or affiliate thereof), domestic or foreign.”
A “totalitarian party” is defined in the code:
“An organization which advocates the establishment in the United States of a totalitarian dictatorship or totalitarianism. The terms ‘totalitarian dictatorship’ and ‘totalitarianism’ mean and refer to systems of government not representative in fact, characterized by…  the existence of a single political party, organized on a dictatorial basis, with so close an identity between such party and its policies and the governmental policies of the country in which it exists, that the party and the government constitute an indistinguishable unit.”
As the section above on Islamic constitutions proves beyond any doubt, Islam inarguably is a totalitarian political party at its core. Everywhere it gains power, its “policies and governmental policies” are exclusively and only Islamic dogma, and “the party” – Islam – “and the government constitute an indistinguishable unit,” because Islam commands that Islam and government be one and the same.
Only liberal, pluralistic, and secular democracies are the hope for the Middle East and for all of humanity. No government with the supremacist totalitarianism of Islam and Sharia as its overarching constitutional law can be admitted to the community of nations or to any organization of nations that honors the freedoms and rights of Man.
Free nations must officially declare Islam to be a de jure state, and treat it as such, and treat every one of adherents as citizens of the transnational Islamic state.
Saudi Arabia must pay for exporting imperialist Wahhabi doctrine and terror. Nations of the United Front of Victims of Jihad must bill Saudi Arabia for all of the damage, destruction, and deaths caused by Saudi machinations and money.
Nations of the United Front of Victims of Jihad must support democratic movements and current revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and everywhere in the Islamic world. The hope is that Man’s longing for freedom will triumph in those countries, and that their people will get up off their knees and throw off the archaic yokes of slavery that Islam has put on the necks of their ancestors and on their own necks. If Islamic fundamentalists come to power instead, those Islamic countries must be isolated from the rest of humanity by permanent embargoes.
If and when secularist governments come to power, and expunge Islamic doctrine from their constitutions and laws, then, and only then, should those nations be selectively supported by progressive and free governments worldwide and invited back into the community of nations – on probation.
And notice who wrote the above:  a (courageous) ex-Muslim.  Welcome to freedom, Mohammed Guggen of Seattle:  “Live long and prosper”.