More church divisions: 9-30-09
Muslims hitting stardom: 10-2-09

72 virgins or raisins? 10-1-09

Stairway-to-Heaven

A couple of times earlier this week commenters made mention of the myth that Islam promises 72 virgins to suicide bombers or similar terrorists who die.

One person even attributed the idea to the Prophet Muhammad himself.

Well, let's have a look at this today. The short answer is that the Qur'an says nothing about 72 virgins. And if suicide bombers are sucked into this work by such a false promise, they are relying on bad theology.

There is one saying in the "Hadith," or Traditions, which is the collection of sayings and actions of the prophet, and it mentions 72 wives. But this one saying is considered not reliable. And besides, as I say, it talks about "wives," not virgins.

One of the best explanations I've found for all this is this 2002 article in the British newspaper The Guardian. What I especially like in this piece is the information at the end that a word often translated "virgin" may, in fact, mean not virgin at all but white raisin.

As regular readers of this blog know, I'm reluctant to give you references to Wikipedia because the entries there can be unreliable. With that warning, here's the Wikipedia entry on this subject. It, too, concludes that the 72 virgins myth is exactly that, a myth -- with some extenuating circumstances.

You can do your own searching on this subject on the Internet or in books, and pretty much come to the same conclusion. For instance, if you do a Google search on "72 virgins myth" you'll find, among countless other pieces, this one, which includes a fuller explanation of the "72 wives" Hadith I mentioned above.

Remember also that the Qur'an specifically forbids suicide. It does not forbid the idea that one can put one's life at risk in self-defense or the defense of one's land. But in almost any religion and culture self-defense is permitted. Not suicide bombing of innocents, but self-defense.

And as C.T.R. Hewer notes in his book Understanding Islam: An Introduction, "It is interesting to note that no matter how hard pressed the young Musliim community was in the time of the Prophet, he did not launch a suicide attack."

And in his book The Heart of Islam, Seyyed Hossein Nasr first notes that suicide "is forbidden by Islamic Law," and then adds this: "For Muslims, the difficult question on both moral and religious grounds concerns those who live under appalling oppression and in a state of despair and have no other means of defense except their bodies. Even in such cases the Islamic injunction that one cannot kill innocent people even in a war must of necessity hold."

So if such suicides are forbidden by Islam, why would those who commit such acts expect any reward in heaven, much less 72 virgins? Let's leave off with continuing to give credence to this 72 virgins nonsense.

(I found the image here today at this site: http://media.photobucket.com/image/stairway%20to%20heaven/Sharimu/Stairway-to-Heaven.jpg)

* * *

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND TOLERANCE? NOT SO MUCH

Vietnam, run by an oppressive regime, seem to be trying again to drive a stake through the heart of religion. What a sad and foolish thing. The latest instance has to do with a monk named Thich Nhat Hanh. Governments that are frightened of religion reveal much more about themselves than they do about religion.

Comments

Will Graham

Bill, the continuing attempts by the Vietnamese occupying government to eliminate religion certainly falsifies the claim that one poster made a while back...the claim that the Communist and Officially Atheistic governments were evolving away from attacks on religion.

Will Graham

Well, there certainly was a lot of talk about Jim Christensen last night. I found out that he is a bit disgruntled with us, but that he is not posting here for a couple of reasons...which have nothing to do with being called the "Master Debater".

(And Susan, your supposed attempt at treating him with respect was a little disingenous since you couldn't even bother to spell his name right while bellyaching about us.)

But there are two main problems:

1. He feels it is professionally unethical for him to post on a board where threats are made and a.) the threats are allowed to remain on a moderated board and b.) the threats are never even answered by the moderator.

2. A female relative of his has been mentioned for weeks as number one under the "Popular Searches" function to the right of the screen even though she has never posted here and is referred to demeaningly.

Anyone with a problem his position could call him as his cell phone number (which Mr. Lunney has) and his office number have been posted here.

But no one has called; when he did attempt to discuss with some posters they hung up on him, and Bill has never responded.

So much for respect.

Just Thinking

Bill, Hadith are the oral traditions of the Muslim religion concerning the words and the deeds of the Prophet Mohammed. The Jewish religion has it's oral traditions, too, which you probably do know about. You can search both the Qur'an and the Hadith at this University of Southern California "Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement."
http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/search.html
Just because something is not in the Qur'an does not mean that it did not come from Mohammed through oral traditions.

The indexed Online Qur'an at USC is very handy.
http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/quran/
They offer 3 simultaneous translations. Surah 9 has a particular interesting account of jihad.

Well, how about we take a look at wikiislam instead.
http://www.wikiislam.com/wiki/72_Virgins
They do a good job of explaining the origins of this concept, and explain how it has been orthodox in various forms. One simply cannot ignore that this concept exists and is widespread in the Muslim religion. It is used to entice suicide bombers. No question about that.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/2687797.stm
And it's traditionally atrributed to Mohammed.

"It is most often used to entice suicide bombers, coaxing them that they will die as martyrs and will be rewarded with 72 virgins in paradise. In one event, British Muslim teenage boys were told to train with Kalashnikov rifles and promised 72 virgins in paradise if they died as religious martyrs. It is thought that such enticing methods become the main motivation for poor, depressed and uneducated Muslim youths to become suicide bombers thinking they will spend eternity with 72 Virgins in paradise."

Wikipedia entries don't change oral traditions, or common practice.

Dolores Lear

Bill:"But in almost any religion and culture self-defense is permitted. Not suicide bombing of innocents, but self-defense."

How many religions have a Loving God, not a Killer God? Where did the Commandment "Thou Shalt Not Kill, 'except' for self-defense" come from? God or Humans?

Why do Humans need self-defense against their Brothers/Sisters of Life? Because of Original Sin? How many religions use Genesis for Original Sin?

God made Humans by a different Process, not by Body Birth. Why was 'lying to God', the Original Sin? What has that to do with self-defense?

How did lying to God, cause the Original Humans to Reproduce a Body Birth Killer Child, that killed his Body Birth Brother?

Genesis was written by Body Birth Humans, who are in the Image of God/Us. Does that make God a Human? Why did God make a Female Clone from the Male Rib?

Today with our High Tech Science, we Know that High Tech Cloning is a 'Higher' Human Nature to Reproduce Humans, than Body Birth.

God/Us High Tech Male and Female were Clone Humans. That is how God/Us Reproduced Male and Female Clones, not by Body Birth. God/Us are our High Tech Ancestors from Space, that Colonized Life on Earth.

Religion teaches God/Us in Genesis made Humans in their Image? What Image was God in? A Spirit or Human? God/Us did walk and talk like a Human. Body Birth Humans started calling God a Spirit. Why?

Because they lost their High Tech Knowledge, and called it Supernatural. High Tech Birth is Super'natural' to Body Birth. Killing began with Body Birth Children, and Self-defense began with Generation Birth, Death, And Rebirth.

High Tech Humans do not have Generation Birth, Death, and Rebirth. With High Tech Regeneration to their Physical Bodies and in High Tech Spaeships, they can have Eternal Physical Life After Birth.

What is Eternal Life in Heaven, After Death, but the Invisible Living Elements that make Visible Living Life in the Universe?

Will Graham

By the way, Susan, I quite agree that the new Dawkins book is an atheist book, as you pointed out.

Mr. Lunney was trying to say it is just a science book, and not antireligious.

Will Graham

True Definition of CHRISTIAN HISTORY DENIER...someone who denies the history of the first century church, the existence of Jesus, or that he said anything. (This of course flies in the face of legitmate mainstream historical scholarship. Perhaps some day Bill will actually defend that.)

The true CHRISTIAN HISTORY DENIERS are, therefore, Cole Morgan and Iggy.

By the way, Susan, Mr. Lunney is in regular contact with your pals; you can read his messages on a local meetup group page.

Dolores Lear

Parts of the Explanation in Bill's Reference in Wikipedia. "Houri", are "companions of equal age", "purebeings" or "companions pure", who enter paradise after being created anew in the Hereafter. Other descriptions are about Earth's Sexuality, which is not in Heaven.

For me this describes Male and Female Clones, or Purebeings, and Companions Pure, After High Tech Regeneration, not Sexual Beings like on Earth by Body Birth. Jesus was a Celibate Male Virgin and he went to Heaven.

I do not accept Females go, when the males go, but are made Clones of the males. Do the Christian Religious Scripture teach there is Sex in Heaven?

Revelation 14:3,4a KJV. "And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women: for they are virgins."

Adam Males and Eve Females were Virgin Brother/Sister Clones, Not Mates, and Not Children. There is No Marriage/Sex or Giving in Marriage in Heaven, or on High Tech Planets, and in Spaceships.

No Children are mentioned. The Sexual Body Birth Children Generation Birth, death, and Rebirth, began when the Purebred Clones Reproduced Impure Body Birth Children. God/Us did not Reproduce Children.

The Pictures Bill referred to, also had a picture of modern steps going up to a Silver Gray mass, that I interpret as steps up into a massive Spaceship. Remember the Movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"?

It is Time to Translate All Scripture and Myth, with a High Tech Science Translation. We have a lot of High Tech Supernatural God/Us Human Ancestor Information today.

Chuck Lunney

Will wrote: " I quite agree that the new Dawkins book is an atheist book, as you pointed out. Mr. Lunney was trying to say it is just a science book, and not antireligious"

Last time I checked, science was a-religious, not a-theistic. In other words, it is neutral on religion. That is, without a doubt, what the vast majority of this Dawkins book is. Does he discuss briefly in the first chapter a bit about religion -- yes. But he doesn't focus on "religion", but on the misconceptions, misinformation and errors that are being spread by various groups (which happen to include some religious people).

Most of his comments about religion are that the vast majority of religious groups ACCEPT evolution, because they take the time to understand the facts and evidence. He does challenge some groups, but it is not their RELIGION he is challenging, but their claims about the science.

And it is about science -- facts, theories, hypotheses and deductions of scientific interest. That such things also demonstrate that certain specific claims and assertions by various groups of people are wrong is not the point (although I would consider it a decent side benefit). He's presenting, in a clear, interesting and relevant manner, the positive and empirical evidence for evolutionary theory, from radioisotopic dating and stratigraphy, to molecular genetics and embryology. That you happen to hold positions that he demonstrates convincingly are in error isn't relevant to the fact that the book is focused on science. Feel threatened by it if you want -- that wasn't the intent.

Chuck Lunney

Will wrote: "By the way, Susan, Mr. Lunney is in regular contact with your pals; you can read his messages on a local meetup group page."

Glad to see you're keeping tabs on my personal life, Will. So, when was the last time I met face-to-face with any of those people? How many posts have I had at those sites, and what were they about? And finally, why do you care?

Are you this desperate for relevance that you've degenerated to stalking people you've never met? What do you consider "regular contact"? It seems I'm in "regular contact" with you, too. Does that make me an honorary member of the Goldstein Squad? When do I get my membership card?

Chuck Lunney

Let's meet at Borders (91st and Metcalf) on Saturday evening from 6-9 to discuss Dawkins newest book, The Greatest Show on Earth.

(Will/Adam: please invite Jim Christensen, because of all the "Goldstein Squad", he's the only one with the strength of character to actually show up)

If anyone else want to show up (Cole, Red Biddy, JT, etc), feel free to come and join the fun. I'll even be gracious enough to buy the first round of coffee/tea for anyone who stops by.

Let's get a spirited discussion going, I think it could be interesting.

Dolores Lear

Will:
"True Definition of CHRISTIAN HISTORY DENIER.. - (This of course flies in the face of legitimate mainstream historical scholarship..."

What is legitimate mainstream historical scholarship? How many mainstream ideas are there on Planet Earth. Who are 'the true Christian History' Deniers'? Who is a True Follower of Celibate Jesus?

How many Denier Divisions are there in Christianity? Which one is True? How many Races, Religions, Atheists, Governments, Families, etc., are mainstream and True?

How is the USA, One Nation with Liberty and Justice for All, so Divided? We have Federal, State, County and City Governments? How many Religions in One City?

How many Races, and Family Heritage are there with Ethnic Teachings? How many Humans in One City, have the same Genetic and Family Heritage Environment? No two Family Members, have the same Environment, when exposed to different friends, sports, job, etc.

Is it possible with www. to have One Language, One Government, and One Equal Living Environment for All Humans, on One Planet? How does Earth function with all the Different Environments? With Hate, Inequality, War and Rumors of War?

How can Humans raised as a Child with their Family Truth, be able to cope with the Family Truth of another Child, in the same Neighborhood? Let alone in the next City, State or different Country?

So who is a Christian History Denier, or any History Denier of Someone Else's Truth?

The Truth of the History in a Human High Tech Birth Society, is different from the Truth in a Body Birth Society.

Chuck Lunney

Will wrote: "True Definition of CHRISTIAN HISTORY DENIER...someone who denies the history of the first century church, the existence of Jesus, or that he said anything. (This of course flies in the face of legitmate mainstream historical scholarship. Perhaps some day Bill will actually defend that.)"

This is interesting. Apparently, Will has access to a source of information that is unavailable to ANYONE else. He is apparently claiming to have documented evidence not only of Jesus' existence from outside the Bible (Josephus, probably), but also direct, contemporary accounts of his words (maybe in Jesus' own handwriting?).

It's well documented that the biblical New Testament texts were not written until several decades after Jesus' death. Also, it is considered highly unlikely that any of the anonymous authors of the Gospels had ever actually met Jesus (although it is possible that they knew one or more of the disciples after Jesus died). Therefore, at BEST the words attributed to Jesus are hearsay, and at worst, fabrications.

References: http://biblestudies.suite101.com/article.cfm/who_wrote_the_new_testament
http://markdroberts.com/htmfiles/resources/gospelsreliable.htm#sep2805
http://markdroberts.com/htmfiles/resources/gospelsreliable.htm#oct305

Please, Will. If you've got something other than a post-dated, redacted, edited and translated bible to reference, present it. If you disagree with my claim that the New Testament gospels weren't written until decades after Jesus, provide your reasoning, references and evidence. So far, all you've got is handwaving, bald assertions and personal incredulity.

Susan

Bill, it's rather amusing (though there's nothing amusing about the suicide-bombing) to picture all these men entering their tents expecting to find perpetual virgins, and instead being greeted with platters of white raisins. Though I must say, eternal erections sound kind of like female heaven, too, LOL -- only for women, more experience usually improves the sex so I don't think most of us would want to be "revirginized" over and over again.

These patriarchal religions do just kind of leave us out. Which is one reason why it's so fascinating to learn about Mary as the feminine face of God. I've just started G. Scott Sparrow's book "Blessed Among Women: Encounters with Mary and Her Message" (Cole, I'm also still reading "Breaking the Spell" and hopefully will be ready to return it to you soon, or can return it immediately if you need it sooner ... I just don't seem able to ever read just one book at a time).

Chuck, it sounds like yesterday was my day for errors in spelling and semantics. I should have referred to "The Greatest Show" as a "book by an Atheist" and not an "Atheist book." I honestly haven't read it, but now that I've heard your description I really want to. And maybe I'll just say Jim C. from now on to avoid "disrespecting" him with the occasional spelling error. Though Jim doesn't seem to me the sort to get all up in arms over someone unintentionally misspelling Christensen (did I get it right this time?).

Will, I guess crackerjack spellers like you and adamh probably do have a hard time understanding how some of us have a lot to say and can overlook the finer points of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Still I welcome this exhortation to improve my communication skills and I'll try to be more meticulous in my proofreading in future. :)

adam harrison

Chuck, I said yesterday I would see what we have going Saturday; so why keep accusing me of cowardice?

And I don't agree with Will or Susan that the Dawkins book is atheistic; why I stated yesterday is that I disagree with the philosophical conclusions he derives from his scientific pronouncements.

As to the book itself, it just looks like a recasting of mainstream scholarship on evolution; Michael Ruse and Jerry Coyne have recently done the same thing...Dawkins just has greater noteriety and is famous for his atheistic propagandizing.

What he does is try and pretend that atheism equals science when I quite agree...it doesn't. (And by the way, I don't say he is making the claim in his most recent book...I am only a third of the way thru it...but he has written many other books and hosts a website which are primarily vehicles for atheist evangelism.)

adam harrison

And I agree with Will that mainstream scholarship does not reject the existence of Jesus.

A source as simple as Wikipedia gives you a pretty good intro to that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus

Scholars who support the existence of Jesus include such varied individuals as F.F.Bruce, N.T. Wright, John Dominic Crossan, John Shelby Spong and many others who are not conservative by any means; the New Testament documents themselves claim to have eyewitness accounts. You of course can simply reject that based on your presuppositions but you have no particular historical basis for that rejection; but that is part of what makes your atheism unfalsifiable.

And if you are trying to claim that historical proof requires something like accounts in the parties own handwrting, then you have no proof for the existence of Alexander, Socrates, or a memo from Hitler ordering the Holocaust for that matter.

Its called using a double standard.

adam harrison

By the way, Will gave a good account in his second post of why Jim Christensen does not post here.

I quite agree with his reasons; and the personal attacks on relatives of his are reprehensible.

Actually, any man who would attack a female relative of someone he does not like is less than a man in my opinion.

adam harrison

The dating the the New Testament documents is subject to varied scholarly opinion.

Chuck's pretense that his views represent the mainstream view hand waving, bald assertion, atheistic presupposition, and and personal bias.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dating_the_Bible

adam harrison

I would add that the claim that an account could not be written several decades after an event...and what is "several decades", the liberal scholar John A.T. Robinson dated all the gospels before 70 A.D.,...would mean that accounts given by Holocaust survivors 50 years after World War Two could not be considered reliable.

Which is exactly what Holocaust Deniers argue!

Just like Christian History Deniers.

Red Biddy

Thank you Bill for directing us to the 2002 article by Ibn Warraq which first appeared in the British Guardian. It also appeared later in Free Inquiry magazine Dec 2005/January 2006, under the heading: "Virgins ? What Virgins ?
Guess who urged Ibn Warraq, that he write such a piece ? Richard Dawkins !!
It's really good and funny ! He ends with the remark: ....that prospective martyrs would do well to abandon their culture of death, and instead concentrate on getting laid seventy two times in this world, unless, of course, they would really prefer chilled or white raisins according to their taste in the next.

Will Graham

Lunney, your libelous claim that I am stalking you is ludicrous.

1. I do not photograph you and track you, like one poster here brags about doing to people at atheist meetings.

2. I did not chase you around an audotorium recording you like one poster here did to JC.

3. I did not claim to record telephone calls like one poster here does.

In fact, Lunney, when someone complained about being photographed at your meetings you said "too bad" its "public".

So. Lunney, if YOU don't like what I have found out about you TOO BAD!

Its public.

And it shows that your previous claim to disapprove of Iggy's tactics is a lie.

And if you have anything you want to tell Jim, YOU DO IT, brave guy! You all have his numbers.

Red Biddy

Seriously though, is there really any difference between "laying down ones life" for a good cause and "suicide" ? Isn't this a question of motivation ?
St John made the case for "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." XV v 13. Is this really any different from "...those who live under oppression have no other means of defense but their own bodies " ??
Of course the 72 virgin promise is pretty silly.....I'm sure the current spate of "suicide" bombers have a lot more on their minds than that.....like a possible monetary reward to their families for their sacrifice.
As for the killing of innocents by acts of suicide - Sam Harris has a good chapter in his book The End of Faith Chapter 4, The Problem with Islam, which indicates in the Koran, that no infidel (unbeliever) is considered an innocent. Harris listed pages and pages of quotes from the Koran on this subject and listed Pew Poll (2002) of many Moslem countries which the question was "Suicide Bombing in Defense of Islam, Justifiable ?" The results were extremely alarming.

Chuck Lunney

Adam wrote: "The dating the the New Testament documents is subject to varied scholarly opinion."

Really? It sure seems like every one of them that I've seen date the Gospels to no earlier than 60-70 AD (that would be 3-4 decades AFTER Jesus' death), and the earliest Pauline letters to around 50 AD (still nearly 2 decades separation from the event). Even your own reference from wikipedia supports that dating.

Adam wrote: "Chuck's pretense that his views represent the mainstream view hand waving, bald assertion, atheistic presupposition, and and personal bias."

Not to surprisingly, Adam's own reference supports my claim. Funny, that -- he tries to say I don't support my claims (which I did, several times over using CHRISTIAN sources), and then he puts up a reference from a non-theistic site (wikipedia) which 100% agrees with my stance.

As to the comparison to the Holocaust -- last time I checked, the survivors and others who were there (both German and Allied) were talking about it, writing about and publicizing it even before the war was over, and their stories didn't change over time. That's very different from what happened with the New Testament (and you know it).

Susan

I thought I'd share my own personal evidence of God speaking to me and guiding me into a fuller life. The G. Scott Sparrow book I shared about, about encounters with Mary, has been opening my eyes to how Mary is the personification of the mothering-side of God -- the side that isn't willing for any to perish or be cast out.

Last night after reading, I felt strongly-impressed that God wanted me to communicate love to my sister. I haven't felt I'd ever be able to speak to her again, since a year ago when she called Children's Services on me (for anyone who hasn't read the past stuff, I'll just say that the report was quickly resolved and the social worker saw no reason to open a case).

Well, as I've said, the Lord (and I believe He's been speaking to me through Mary, His feminine face) started impressing on my heart that I should contact my sister. I called her today and let her know that I still loved her, missed her, and cared for her -- but that of course as a parent herself, I was sure she'd understand that I didn't know if I could ever feel comfortable spending time with someone who's just looking for things to critique (though I also said I understood that she and I just think differently, and she probably still feels that she was doing a helpful thing by calling).

She didn't say much about this, but just asked about general stuff like dh's job situation, and we talked some about her adult children, and so on. But it felt very healing to me to do this -- I had previously told myself I'd forgiven her, but I was still feeling these bursts of anger and bitterness toward her and other people in my family who've been very critical of me.

But now I feel very free from all the anger ... I still feel a need to uphold my boundaries and I don't know if we'll ever have a face-to-face relationship, mainly because of the need I feel to protect my children ... though I realize Mary gave birth to the Son of God and then watched Him taken away and put to death -- since the salvation of the world has already been accomplished, I don't see any value in exposing my own children to toxic family dynamics.

I also realize that part of my sense of freedom comes from now having somewhat of a distance -- which of course is something good that came out of the whole situation: it led me to establish strong boundaries.

Red Biddy

Will G, adamh et al......nobody in their right mind would deny that Christianity as a religion, has a history. Of course it does.

What "history" freethinkers, atheists and others of a similar rational viewpoint are disputing are accounts of supernatural happenings like miracles alleged to have occurred and of course the big one - Resurrection of Jesus, and the hope of Eternal Life. These events cannot be described as HISTORY can they ? - anymore than that human life started on this planet with only one man, Adam.

Just Thinking

Thanks, Susan, for that great post. I enjoyed reading what you wrote very much. It was great to hear that you are communicating with your sister again, and I'm sorry that your sister called Children's Services on you.

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