Category Archives: Worldviews

Exploring Wathanism: Arab Paganism

Q/A with an Arab Pagan, Sam.

 I have experienced the Gods many times especially Quzah, Al-Muhrik, Shams and Allat. I invoked Al-Muhrik during a spell and it succeded, almost all my spells work 100%. I don’t remember one that failed.


Q: What are jinn? Are they different from the gods?
A: Sure, Jinn (Jinn itself is plural) are different from the Gods. Jinn are higher than humans and lesser than Gods, they are traditionally spirits of places and thoughts.

Q: What gods do you worship?
A: I worship all the Gods whose help I want, or have a special connection with them. Currently, I worship Allah, Allat, Manat, Al-Uzza, Quzah, Hubal, Yaghouth, Balsam, Al-Muhrik, Hawlat, Wadd, Shams and Hilal.

Q: How do you learn about your gods?
A: Books, poetry, personal experience and discoveries.

Q: How do your beliefs influence the way you look at the world around you?
A: I’m highly religious in a spiritual sense. I look at the world as a magical place with many possibilities and chances. I take many myths to be literally true.

Q: What do you believe happens after death?
A: Either transforming into a spirit, which dwells right here in this world, or reincarnation. Or the ability to choose both. I think paganism focuses less on the afterlife.

Q: Worship aside, how do you show your fealty to your gods?
A: Oh, by living in harmony with their laws, by respecting nature, and by promoting their worship.

Q: What are some unique features about your form of Arab paganism?
A: Animism. I believe all Animism is the purest form of Paganism and Arabs were devout Animists.

Q: How important is the act of prayer in your religion?
A: Very. I pray a lot mostly informally, but prayer is a way to gain blessings and establish a good relationship with the Gods.

Q: Are there any special ceremonies? 
A: There are many, but because I live in an Islamic community and family, I can’t do most of them. But I do basic rituals:

I place the altar and perform purification, do Tawaf (moving in circles around the altar 7 times, like Islamic Hajj which is originally Pagan) while reciting hymns, then give offerings to the Gods, then pray and ask for blessings from them.

Q: Can you clarify some facts that you noticed many people get wrong about Arab paganism? Or about being an Arab pagan?
A: Many people think Wathanism is idol and stone worshipping. It is not. Idols are a way to represent the Gods, but we can do without them. I also find it annoying that people think all Arabs are Muslim.

Q: What is magic?
A: I struggle with defining magic, but it’s more an active part for us than formal prayers where we are passive. Sure, I don’t mean we command the Gods, but it’s more like a contract with the Gods and Jinn where we take on more responsibility.

Q: How do you perform magic?
A: Magic is more open and flexible than any other form of spiritual works. I can do it in any way I choose. Personally, I use symbolic steps as language to clarify my will.

Q: Tell us about a spell you did?
A: After gathering the materials for the spell. I invoked God Al-Muhrik, as I wanted to get rid of something and he is a God of fire and diseases. He was so helpful for this.

I invoked him through hymns. Being a Sufli (Underworld deity) I bowed down to the ground and prayed for his assistance. After that, I did the spell which included materials associated with fire and gave an offering, then I thanked the God and that’s the end.


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If you liked this, be sure to take a look at our Q/A with an Irish pagan!

Q/A with a Hellenic and Norse Pagan

An Interview with Hellenic and Norse pagan, Warren S. 

“The Gods of polytheism and paganism aren’t ‘all good’ or ‘all powerful.’ The probability and possibility of one so-called ‘true God’ is low, but many extremely powerful but limited Gods is highly plausible.

I don’t understand much of the world but I feel the connection to this in my being. I never could connect with Christianity as much I tried. Time and again, I tried only to fail. How can the tiger change its stripes? How can the wolf stop eating the lamb? You can’t change your nature. Polytheism, even in ancient times, let people believe in and worship many beings, adhere to philosophies that agree with their beliefs, accept other’s beliefs and Gods even if they didn’t worship them like their own.”

Q: Do you worship any one god as being the ‘chief’ or ‘superior’ god?
A: No, I don’t worship any of the Gods as superior even though I do fully acknowledge that there are many Gods who are more powerful than others. For example, we know Zeus is the chief of the Greek pantheon but even though I don’t worship him, I still acknowledge his sovereignty over that pantheon.

Q: How do the gods coexist?
A: The Gods aren’t the same as us, even though the Gods of paganism and polytheism are in many cases, human-like in attitude. They all have different goals, foci, spheres of influence and that in itself brings them together. For example, in the Norse pantheon Thor is the God of thunder, lightning and downpours while Freyr is the God of gentle rains and none of those would be cause for a conflict due to both being needed at different times.

Q: How do all afterlives exist?
A: I believe all afterlives exist due to several things. One: there isn’t ever just one of anything. Two: who knows what the make up of the astral plane is and how vast it is? Three: how can we deny Valhalla and the fields of Asphodel but say the Egyptian duat is the only real one? To me, that’s just logical–being able to accept the existence of all afterlives. I could go on about the complexities of many different afterlives to illustrate they aren’t the same, but that’s neither here nor there.

Q: What is the founding myth that you believe?
A: Do you mean the creation myth? If so, then there’s several different ones and I will be hard pressed to give you an adequate answer.

Q: How would you describe your worship? Are there any sacred rituals?
A: To be clear, my worship isn’t an everyday thing like some polytheists. I worship about 3 times a week maybe more, depending. But there’s nothing in paganism or polytheism today or 4000 years ago that dictates the amount of household worship that has to be done.

As for sacred rituals, in Hellenism there’s a plethora of them but it’s up to the devotee. I normally always make Khernips before I formally worship Poseidon at my home altar, then I follow a well documented formula of prayer that was used back then. It starts with an invocation to the God/Goddess, followed by the use of his/her epithets, then I say my prayers and ask for whatever or just talk to them. After that, I tell them what I’m offering them and ask them to accept the offering as well as the prayer. For Poseidon, he was historically offered myrrh and frankincense as well as certain types of Greek wine as libations.

Q: How often must you pray? Do you pray to all gods at one time?
A: As I said before, there isn’t a set number of prayers to do as in Islam. No, I don’t pray to all the Gods at once and many of us don’t worship even all of the pantheon we are devoted to. Most of us have patron Gods and Goddesses we’re devoted to.

Q: Have you always been a Hellenic and Norse pagan?  
A: I, like many other polytheists today, started out as Christian or in some other monotheistic faith. But my upbringing wasn’t strictly religious and later in life around 2009, I tried to take Christianity seriously, as in, follow the bible carefully, accept Jesus, pray etc., but I felt nothing and this went on until the middle of 2012, when I met a pagan. It was then I got introduced and the seeds were planted. So around early 2013, I found out about Hellenism. After researching Christianity, as well as history and other religions, I converted to Hellenism. It touched my being in ways Christianity never did or could. Then around 2014, I met a guy who was into Asatru and was introduced to Norse paganism. Since I have both Greek and Scandinavian blood, I looked into it. I felt connected to it just like Hellenism and it was then I became both.

Q: Are there other pagans where you live? How is the community of like-minded believers?
A: Yes, there are plenty of pagans in New Jersey, but we’re spread out. So far, I’ve only interacted with some pagans in person in New Jersey. I dealt with an Asatru kindred in 2017 and they had about 30 members. But I do meet up with a friend of mine who is a professor at Rutgers University and he’s a Roman polytheist (Religio Romana) and I talk to a couple other Asatru personally. It’s pretty diverse when it comes to the different types of pagans.

Q: Do you go to a temple?
A: So far, there aren’t any Norse or Greek temples in the USA that I know of, but many of these religions are legally recognized here. I do know a Norse pagan who has a small temple he built, but it was only for his kindred.

Q: How does your belief influence the way you look at the world?
A: My beliefs influence the way I look at the world in a couple of ways. I try to always live by the four cardinal virtues:

temperance: σωφροσύνη (sōphrosynē)

prudence: φρόνησις (phronēsis)

courage: ἀνδρεία (andreia)

justice: δικαιοσύνη (dikaiosynē).

I know my actions should always glorify my Gods. For example, Zeus is a punisher of oath-breakers. He’s also a God of law, order and justice, so it’s in my best interest to live a life according to this knowledge.

Q: Worship and prayer aside, how else do you show fealty to the gods?
A: I show my devotion through actions, as I’ve said, through edification and that’s about it.

Q: Why do you believe what you do?
A: I believe in my Gods, due in part to the fact that my distant ancestors weren’t Christian and Christianity was forced on most everyone by physical means, economic or political force. The belief in them, I believe, runs in my blood. It’s my honor to be able to devote myself to them.

Q: Have you ever convinced someone to convert? Is trying to convert others a part of your duty as a believer?
A: We don’t seek converts like Islam or Christianity, but I’ve helped people who were looking for a reason to believe in this. I’ve given them information that they asked for that obviously resonated with them and they converted.


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What is Anthropology to Anthropologists?

by 罗子禾

At a social event that took place not so long ago, I met a group of anthropologists, some of whom recently received their PhD’s. I have always thought that scientists are a strange bunch. They tend to not place so much value on monetary gains in life.

Instead, they spend their time digging up true and important assertions that further our understanding of the world around us and help us develop tech that makes life easier and more interesting.

However, they are exactly like the rest of us. They have coffee, go see their family, pay their bills, go hang out with friends, etc. I wanted to understand their life choices a little bit better. So, I asked them what anthropology was to each of them, and here are their answers…


The quiet and polite PhD candidate:
Whatever anthropology is, it’s attractive to me because of its depth. As a cultural anthropologist, I believe that everything, every behavior is reasonable or legitimate in its home environment. I’m not speaking of ethics here. I believe that stealing is morally wrong, but I get more attracted to the stories of why people do what they do. There’s always a reason, and that reason is almost always interesting to me.

The youngest PhD candidate at the table:
Anthropology taught me tolerance. The world is a big place and every one of us grows up only in a little corner of it. We are all accustomed to our own sets of traditions and norms, which are often regional. Anthropology is the thing that helps me rise above my own prejudices and faulty preconceptions.

The PhD graduate with a nice smile:
Anthropology is a way of thinking. It’s a set of rules and skills that helps me delve deeper when I think about things.

The extremely sociable PhD graduate:
Anthropology is a lifestyle. It’s a tool for me to understand other people better, including people around me. It’s that part of my life where I can unleash my passion for knowledge and scrutiny. As an anthropologist, I think critically about myself, especially about my values. Critical thinking at this level helps me jump out of traditions or social constructs and design my own way of life. Anthropology is my soul-searching journey.

The old professor:
When I was just starting my post-graduate education, I went against my sponsor’s wish and gave up economics to throw myself into anthropology. I did that because upon arriving in Japan, where I received my PhD, I was suddenly exposed to a whole new world. Unlike China at the time, a lot of people in Japan were bursting, no, imploding with original thought and the associated passion. Left wing extremists would hijack planes to go to North Korea and set up their resistance against the government. I just said to myself, how can I be an economist now that I’ve seen this? I want to understand it, explain it. Anthropology is what helps me understand and explain.

The poetic PhD candidate:
Anthropology is like a romantic partner. Don’t you guys think so? Anthropology, or rather, the idea of anthropology is quite romantic. There is an undeniable attraction between the field and the people studying it. Anthropology brings me ups and downs. It’s exactly like a life partner.

The new chair of the department:
Anthropology kind of became my identity at some point. Even though my job is 9 to 5, I don’t stop being an anthropologist after work. I may not have any work to do, but I’ll think about stuff. Once I started being an anthropologist, I became an anthropologist every second of every day. It’s an identity, or at least a lifestyle.

The composed PhD candidate:
Anthropology is a way to understand the world. It’s one of the fields of study that gives you fresh and interesting ways to think about the fundamental questions in life. Why am I here? What’s it all for? At the same time, anthropology, for me, is the platform that helps me get acquainted with other branches of science.

The happy PhD graduate:
Anthropology is that thing that helps me to come to terms with the coexistence of opposing thoughts and perspectives. What’s more, it’s also a path to change the public’s opinion or to convince people of things that I believe to be true or right.


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To Have or not to Have?

Building a ‘Portfolio’ or Building a ‘Life.’


I woke up this morning a little hazy, but the first thing that came to mind was Peaks Journal. The second thing that came to mind was my recently published book, Evanescence: A Fairytale. These two things have been at the forefront of my mind for months, accompanied by general feelings of anxiety.

If you’re like me, with a mental to-do list in your head, then you may feel overwhelmed sometimes. There are times when you may want to throw in the towel, and just join the everyday hustle and bustle of life with a 9 to 5.

If you’re thinking those are pretty heavy thoughts to have as soon as your eyes open, then chasing your dreams may not be the thing for you. And that’s what I’d like to investigate a little here. I saw this meme as I was scrolling through my Instagram feed:
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I immediately liked it, and commented on it. I decided to repost it with my own little interpretation which was this:

Repost via @live_out_lively :
.
This was my biggest internal issue during college. 😞People told me the exact experiences I needed to have in order to be on the path to becoming a lawyer, or ambassador. .
.
EVERYTHING was about experiencing something JUST to be seen as a qualified candidate for some job that would make a lot of money..😒
.
I realized, I wasn’t doing this for me. I wasn’t doing this to ENJOY these experiences. And I just stepped outta line, bc I want to do what makes me happy. I want experiences for the memories, not the money. 🤷🏾‍♀️it’s a long and hard road though. Chasing dreams isn’t glamorous. But it’s worth it. 🙌

A friend commented this:

Or both! Portfolio is nice! Big picture  😂

I appreciated the comment because it challenged the idea that spending your entire life chasing a dream may not be the best thing. It could be the wrong thing, in fact. Completely ignoring your resume in favor of a dream is considered crazy to most. To others, it’s not something that can be done, due to the circumstances surrounding their lives.

For me, following a dream is a really basic way of saying explore what life has to offer. Here’s why chasing a dream can be a bad thing:

  • You don’t know where you’re going.
  • You don’t know how long the journey is.
  • There is little financial security.
  • It may negatively affect your mental health.

When you decide to explore what life has to offer, that means you get up when the sun rises and dive into upcoming waves. You let the current take you to your destination, and you’re attuned to the wisdom of nature. The only guide you have is the idea of your dream, which doesn’t leave you with a map where an ‘x’ is marked for ease of travel.

Likewise, since there is no predetermined path, the amount of time you spend building your dream varies. The amount of time spent on your dream is dependent upon several arbitrary factors that relate to you and your life, like your finances.

Ah, financial security. If you’re a person who quit their job to pursue your dreams, then don’t expect much in the way of financial security. You’ll have to find unique and creative ways of coming up with the finances you need. You need ingenuity, for starters.

All of these factors can be bad for you, especially if you’re a naturally anxious person. Personally, I think it’s worth it. At the same time, your resume can be a great tool for this! So, like my friend said, don’t count it out. If you don’t like the idea of being at the mercy and whims of the journey toward your dream, you can build your portfolio and pursue your dreams this way.

I don’t think there is just one right or wrong answer. I believe that there is something for everyone, whether that means building both your life and resume, or just your life, or just the resume. I think it’s most important to do what feels most natural.


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Q/A With an Irish Pagan

 


Q: Who are the main gods?
A: The gods are members of the Tuatha Dé Danann (tribe of Danu)

Danu is often considered the mother of them all, but she is not explicitly mentioned in the mythology.

The Dagda (the good god) and the Morrigan (great queen) are sometimes considered to be mates, however the Morrigan couples with others as well, which seems to be how she gives blessings and shows favor. The Morrigan is often taken to have three main forms: Badb, Macha and Nemain.

Goibniu, Credne and Luchta are craftsmen.

Brigit is often considered the daughter of the Morrigan and is much like Saraswati in that she gives inspiration to poets and musicians. I see her as the spark of life and she is often represented by an eternal flame. She can also be compared to Vesta. Brigit’s nine priestesses who tended her fire in Kildare, became nuns and continued their practice well into the Christianization of Ireland.

Lugh Lámfada (long arm or multi talented) may have originally been a Gaulish storm god, although he is often seen as a god of the summer sun in Irish paganism. His grandfather Bolar, whom he kills is often seen as the winter sun. His father is Aengus Og, who is often seen as a god of love.

Manannán mac Lir is often considered a sea god and is patron of the Isle of Man. The legs on his flag are actually his and represent his ability to stand in all worlds: land, sea and sky.

There are many more but this is a good start and I’d call them the main gods.


Q:  What is the founding myth?
A: Unfortunately, the Irish cosmogony is lost to time because our cycles of mythology were written down by Christian monks who felt the need to tie it into the biblical narrative.

However, it is possible that pieces of it remain hidden in what they recorded. For example, the two bulls fighting in the cattle raids of Cooley (one brown and one black) may be a reference to it. When one overtakes the other he carries him across Ireland dropping pieces as he goes. The pieces are said to become the mountains. It would fit the common Indo-European theme of one primordial being defeating another and using its parts to make the world. Another possibility is that the world could have been born from the womb of a great goddess as symbolized by the Sheela na gig.


Q: Are only the gods worshiped?
A: No, ancestors and heros are also of great significance.


Q: Are there a set of principles believers must follow?
A: Yes, although it is very unique in a way. It is called Brehon Law, or sometimes Patrick’s Law (St. Patrick recommended them) although they were dictated by a specialized “Brehon” (judge) and took into account individual circumstances to determine what was truly fair.

Two principles held in very high regard were hospitality and honor, especially when dealing with an enemy. It is interesting to note that the first ruling passed in Ireland according to the mythic cycle, was ruled against Partholón (who was a leader) in favor of his wife. He came home to her sleeping with another man and killed the man and her dog who had tried to protect her. He was stopped before he could kill her and was made to give her everything he owned and a new dog to protect her.


Q: How does your belief form the way you see the world? How about other religions?
A: Irish paganism, like most pagan religions, is pluralistic. We see other religions as having some perennial wisdom at their core. We are like different leafs on the same tree. We may even be on different branches but we all have the same roots that draw from the same well. You see, what makes us different makes up our cultural identity and individuality, but what makes us similar makes us family. Both are important and both should be celebrated.


Q: Are there many Irish pagans left?
A: If you gathered us all up into one place I’m sure there would be many, but we are few and far between.


Q: What are the gender roles in your belief? Are there any?
A: In Irish paganism there is nothing men can do that women can’t. There is no wall between genders. In fact, goddesses seem to be emphasized more than gods. Women could rule, become druids, go to war, become Brehon (judges). Pretty much anything.

In some cases, our ancestors had a ways to go but there was no comparison in the ancient world. Today, Irish pagans view men and women equally and are often of the opinion that gender roles are a social construct we can do without.


Q: Is there a priesthood hierarchy?
A: In ancient times, the druids would have taken on the role of priesthood. However, they were far more than that. They were multi-talented and specialized in a wide variety of intellectual fields. You could see them as the “PhD holders” of the time and for this reason, they had more power than a king.


Q: How are Irish pagans perceived in America?
A: At least where I’m from in the United States it is not taken very seriously and I am often laughed at or lumped into the “new age” category.


Q: Is it a very ritualistic religion?
A: Yes, ritual is central to the practice of Irish paganism. It is generally tied into natural events and often re-enacts events in mythology. In Ireland, sacred places such as standing stones, mounds “raths” (which are the buried remains or ancient forts sort of like a tel in Hebrew) rivers, mountains, lakes, ponds, wells, and anything that has a tie to an event in Irish mythology.

If you’re not in Ireland like me, you often have to make these or find a place that resembles them. Cairn stones are very popular with Modern Irish pagans for this reason, and because they are used in very many cultures and have been for a very long time.

There is a daily devotional dedicated to the chosen divinity of the house (like an ishta devta in Hinduism). Offerings are usually made that are relevant to the god or goddess and a prayer is usually said. Oghem sticks (like rune stones) are cast to make sure the offerings were accepted.

Full moon and new moon rituals are usually preformed as well as the high days, which fall between transitional periods of the seasons and important times for farming. They are Imbolc (in celebration of the first signs of spring). February 1 is the start of spring in the modern calendar.

This is dedicated to the goddess Brigit, so wells and the eternal flame are sacred. People tie ribbons to trees to signify the goddess regaining her maidenhood as she turns from the crime of winter (an cailleach) “the hag” or “grandmother.” It literally means hag but this was not seen as a bad thing to the ancient Irish. Bells can also be hung from trees. Offerings can be made at wells too. Also, crosses made of river reeds can be made at this time that are thought to protect babies.

This high day is still celebrated and many of the rituals are the same. The only difference now is that Brigit has been Christened as St. Bridget. Her eternal fire is still tended by the Bridgetine order of nuns, although it was stopped for a time by the Roman Catholic Church when they realized it was crypto-paganism. The other high days are Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain.


Did you find this article interesting? If so, feel free to leave a comment about Irish paganism. If you have any questions, we’ll ask them in another Q/A article with an Irish pagan. 

 

The Duality of Christianity

A Brief Summation of a Facebook Debate on the Duality of the Christian God 

by Bernice


Yesterday was just like any other day. I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, liking memes, and laughing at nonsensical videos. I stopped scrolling at the sight of this meme:

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It intrigued me. It made me stop, and think. I shared the post, knowing that any one of my devout Christian friends would jump onto my post and try to explain away the obvious issues with the biblical passage. My caption was:

Something to think about for sure. These scriptures in the bible are right around the sections that Christians often use for evidence against homosexuality. Well, if homosexuality is an “abomination.” Then, raping and marrying a woman is ok.

But no self-respecting Christian would argue that rape is ok. But in denying the legitimacy of the rape passage, they’ll also have to deny the legitimacy of the homosexuality passage.

First of all, this caption isn’t all that clear. On Facebook, and other social media, I tend to shorten my thoughts. But the message is clear: there are many inconsistencies in the bible. And these disparities are often overlooked and/or rationalized away by Christians.

A Christian friend eventually commented, posting a link to a website that supposedly explains common misinterpreted scriptures. The website is The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).

It started out by explaining this scripture: Deuteronomy 22:23-24

“If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor’s wife.

The ERLC argues that this law is describing a consensual encounter, signified by the lack of violent descriptive words. I.e, the lack of the words ‘forced,’ ‘attacked’, etc. They further argue that the setting is important. Because the alleged assault took place in a city, there would have been witnesses to a violent rape. Therefore, this is consensual and they both should be punished.

Raise your hand if you know that rape isn’t always violent and bloody. Raise your hand if you know that screaming isn’t always an option. Raise your hand if you think this is pure speculation. Me too.

This is Deuteronomy 22:25-27 

But if in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the girl; there is no sin in the girl worthy of death, for just as a man rises against his neighbor and murders him, so is this case. When he found her in the field, the engaged girl cried out, but there was no one to save her.

This passage is clearer than the first. It condemns the rape of a woman, but this one isn’t free of issues. I’ll get to the issues in all of these passages at the end.

Here’s the passage that started this debate: Deuteronomy 22:28-29

If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels[a] of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

Wow. You read that right, but don’t be so surprised. This is an ancient book! So the ERLC doesn’t deny that she must have been ‘overwhelmed.’ Nor do they deny that the man is guilty. But what’s problematic is that they don’t condemn this scripture. Their translation leads them to believe that it wasn’t a ‘violent rape,’ which is apparently ‘not so bad.’ The ERLC argues that there is some sort of mutual responsibility here, because the man didn’t violently rape her. Apparently, the only rape that counts is the violent kind, where you’re constantly screaming for your life.

My Christian friend brought up a good point though. The Christian god is supposed to be a just god, who hates all sexual sins and provides these laws in order to protect the weak.

He also said, The rapist deserves death. The adulterer deserves death. I deserve death, and so do you, but the good news is that Jesus died in the sinner’s place to bring about forgiveness, healing, and restoration.

I’m not a Christian, but I respect that. However, what he says and what I’ve read are at odds with each other.

The first law condemns both the man and woman. Even though it’s obvious that the man did the action of ‘finding’ and ‘lying,’ the woman is put to death. She’s put to death for not screaming, and drawing witnesses. But there could be a number of reasons why she didn’t. The man, it says, is put to death because he damaged another man’s property. Yes, property. Women were commodities that were bought and sold by their fathers and husbands. Where is the protection of the weak in this scenario?

The second law is also problematic because it’s also on the basis of the woman crying out. However, it’s still leagues better than the first and third laws.

The third law condemns only the woman. In this scenario, the woman is not engaged. After being raped by the man in this scenario, she is essentially damaged goods. Her family becomes unable to marry her off, and protect their investments. The solution to this problem is to marry her off to the man who violated her to begin with. Where is the protection of the weak in this scenario? How was this man punished?

In the first and second scenarios, there’s another problematic issue that may go over some heads. Both of the men in these scenarios are put to death. How come the man isn’t put to death in the third scenario? If rape is punished, then all three men should be put to death. Unless, rape isn’t the real issue these laws are tackling.

*coughinvestments*cough

I’ll repeat my closing argument here:

 If god is truly a just god, and he hates all sexual sin, then laws like marrying a rapist would be against what this god stands for. If all rapists deserve death according to this god, then this god would not sanction a rapist marrying his victim. If the laws were truly created by an impartial god to protect the vulnerable, then a victim would not be forced to marry her attacker. How is the victim in this instance protected? She is forced to endure being raped by her attacker legally, every night until she dies. That doesn’t sound just or good to me. So there are only two conclusions here: the christian god is evil, or he did not make those laws. Man did.

What do you think?

Why I Believe the Earth Is Round

by 罗子禾

The first time I heard about a theory of the shape of earth, I was in elementary school. I saw this children’s history program, which said that, centuries ago, people (in China) believed the earth was flat and square-shaped like a chessboard, and the sky was an umbrella, which was connected to earth by a pillar at the center of the world. Later in this program, I was told that nowadays people believe that the earth is an approximate sphere. In retrospect, I bought into this narrative immediately, even though I found the chessboard/umbrella imagery way cooler than the sphere. I carried on for almost two decades, thinking that the earth is a rough sphere until I was met with alternate theories in college.

“The earth is flat.” says my friend Joe (pseudonym).

Me and my friends made so much fun of Joe after bursting out in laughter. Joe was enough of an adult to be a good sport. After everybody calmed down, I asked him for real why he felt that way. Why did he choose to go against the testimony of basically every person he’s ever known since he was born?

“I think there is an appropriate time to go against testimonies and current theories. It’s when you have a) strong doubt of the current theory or its evidence and b) an alternate theory with some evidence.” Joe patiently explained.

“I think this is a decent doctrine for belief formation. What are your doubts about the round-earth theory?” I got intrigued by him on another level. He’s intelligent. With the community of flat-earthers steadily growing, if I wish to converse with one, I probably shouldn’t just call them all stupid and try to “enlighten” them.

“Here are some of the predominant reasons to believe that the earth is round. Everybody says so; it’s common sense. But common sense is virtually the worst source of rational knowledge. Common sense suggests all sorts of nonsense for irrational reasons. It was common sense that lipid was the leading cause of obesity when carbohydrates were; it was common sense that weed is extremely addictive and kills; it was common sense that witches don’t float when thrown into water tied to cement while innocents do. I do not source common sense for serious rational matters. Consider a serious, rational source like NASA, you say. NASA is a federal institution, which means, knowingly or not, it looks out for federal interests, which may be epistemic and rational, but it’s safe to assume that it gets political frequently. So, I can’t know which claims are genuine. Some people tell me that they can see the curvature of the earth with their naked eyes on a ship at sea. This can’t be. The naked human eye can see up to about 5 km on a perfect day. If the earth is as big as everyone believes, no curvature should be detectable within 5 km by the naked human eye.”

“OK, interesting.”

“So, maintaining these doubts, I turn toward evidence for an alternate theory. You can refer to the experiment conducted by this guy Darryl with a spirit level on a plane. If the earth is round and thus planes must dip their heads constantly to remain on the same altitude, the air bubble in the spirit level should move backwards instead of staying in the center. The bubble stayed steadily in the center.”

 

I thought about all this for a few moments and I prepared a response. “I, too, discourage sourcing common sense when it comes to serious rational matters, and I appreciate your skepticism of scholar’s arational or irrational interests. To the best of my knowledge, it’s a fact that there is no first-hand experience on the surface of the earth without any equipment that shows the curvature of the earth. So, I recognize the doubts that you may have about the narrative of how the earth is round. However, I dismiss your evidence for your alternate theory. Even if the plane’s dipping of its head is significant enough to be reflected on the air bubble, the bubble wouldn’t go backwards, it would float upwards as a result of centrifugal force, which, as the plane dips its head, pulls the liquid down for being heavier than the air bubble. In fact, after watching a lot of Youtube videos which is where most flat earth ‘research’ is, I found that I can argue why every single one of those experiments cannot possibly show its hypothesis by middle school physics and geometry. My biggest problem with your flat earth outlook, however, is this: even taking into consideration the unintelligibly esoteric, sometimes suspicious, claims by the scientific community and its members’ various arational and irrational behavior, the scientific community is still a better source of facts and rational interpretations than an untrained individual’s experiments and reasoning. Your flat earth outlook is vitally based on the rejection of this claim. I have heard some of you guys call yourselves realists because you think scientists tend to act and talk with their heads in the clouds. In the spirit of that realism, perhaps you can see a degree of realism in my claim about a faulty scientific institution being more credible than an untrained individual?”

After being forced to reflect, I chose to maintain my belief that the earth is round. To the best of my knowledge, a round earth is compatible with everything I hold true, while a flat earth is compatible with a small subset of everything I hold true. Even if all scientists are wrong or lying to me, which is such a radical and unrealistic thing to believe, my best option to reach optimal epistemic status is still to assign high credence to scientists’ claims.

Shout out to my friend Joe.

Tolerance of Narratives

A Rule of Thumb Inspired by Rudolf Carnap


Written by: 罗子禾


One day, I was striking up an interesting conversation with a friend about laws. We looked into the diversity of laws, viz. laws differ from region to region, from country to country, from era to era. We shared a moment of silent admiration after our shared realization that ages of legal and moral laws were all products of human actions. It’s funny that humans authored this intricate and enormous system of rules and norms, but we can’t seem to escape the banality of our lives.

All of a sudden, my friend said, “you know, even though humans wrote all these laws. The credit goes to God.”

“Here we go…” I replied with a deep sigh.

“No, man, look. Where did intelligence come from? Where did moral intuitions come from? Intelligence and moral intuitions are teleologically meaningful things. They are meant for something, i.e. helping us establish and further our pursuit of truth and goodness. It’s natural to think that they exist by the design of a creator. If you see a watch on the beach, would you think it’s more likely that some watchmaker fashioned it or would you prefer to think that the watch formed naturally? I’m allowing the possibility of a watch forming naturally. It is indeed possible, however remotely. But I choose to believe that something as intricate as a watch, which clearly has a specific purpose, is the product of thoughtful design. Now, would you really rather believe that intelligence and moral intuition formed naturally?”

“A scenario of intelligence and moral intuitions forming naturally, by means of mutations and natural selection is actually more plausible. My narrative tells a much fuller story. Check it. The origin of intelligence is just one or a few mutations. Before you say your creator is behind mutation, there is a full bio-physics story that explains how a mutation occurs as well. Let’s leave that aside for now. The genes of intelligence get added to the gene pool and get passed onto future generations. This ability turned out to be advantageous or even the key to survival in a lot of situations. So intelligence and its corresponding genes stayed in a lot of species’ gene pools rather stably, until hominids began consuming cooked foods, which, in time, increased brain capacity and gave intelligence a huge boost. So, to answer your question, yes, I’d much prefer believing that intelligence formed naturally rather than by the design of some creator, of which I see no evidence. The same goes for moral intuitions; there is a full narrative that does not involve a creator.”

Our stimulating conversation eventually turned into a repartee, and it could have gone a lot worse if we weren’t friends.

Too many of us get lured into these disagreements, which trap everybody in an atmosphere of anger and rashness, and nobody ever gets convinced. Then, perhaps we shouldn’t wantonly get into these arguments.

A Christian, who praises Jesus for her fruitful day, shouldn’t be met with my scorn if I asked about her day; if I wanted to convince an atheist, empiricist good-samaritan to come with me to a Hare Krishna soup kitchen, and he says no, I can either try to persuade him by making the case that humanitarian work is humanitarian work with or without religious branding, or I could move on to the next person. Barring extreme situations, there is really no need to discuss a person’s narrative of life, the cosmos, everything, unless the narratives are the topic that is agreed upon.

Make maximal use of what agreements you can solicit, and tolerate other people’s alternative narrative.



Like this article? For more about communicating and tolerance, click here.

 

Act of Peace—Delving into Moorish American Philosophy

Hello, my name is Almahiqa Sulayman Muzakir-El. I was Christian for the first 23 years of my life. As I obtained the knowledge of my forefathers and foremothers, I had to return Christianity and the church back to the European nations, because it was designed for their earthly salvation.

We, as Moorish Americans, are returning to Islam because it was prepared for us by our Forefathers for our earthly and divine salvation. I am happy to be a part of this forum. I come in the ancient greetings of my forefathers, Islam, to you all.

Islam in the culture of the Moslems, simply means peace. Peace with man, peace with all living things, which ultimately leads to peace with Allah. We believe deeply in the universal principles of the cosmological order and how every action has a reaction. These principles taught us also how to properly eat the correct foods and not to consume the foods that were detrimental to our health in all aspects of life. These principles also taught us how to treat others and how to create a hospitable environment for guests at our Caliphates.

My religion is known as the old-time religion called, Islamism. Islam means peace and ism means the act of; Islamism translates to the Act of Peace in English.


Now let us dig deep into the ancient concepts of restoring culture and ancient principles:


I am a Moorish American by nationality. I am a descendant of the ancient Canaanites, Moabites, & Hamitites that inhabited the northwestern shores of Africa. Although I was born in America, I am an heir of the ancient Moors political status. As a Moorish American, I believe that the culture and principles of my forefathers and foremothers are important, and I will go into brief details about the reasons that it’s of sincere importance to me and other Moslems and Moabites that inhabit the shores of North America.

Let us begin with how we all got here, which is by way of the woman. In our teachings we are taught that the Asiatic woman is the original woman–from her comes all life. The original woman is a treasure and all treasures must be sought out deeply, before gazing upon it’s majestic traits. Most, if not all, treasures are found deeply buried under the depths of something. It requires patience, discipline, hard work, and consistency to obtain such a prize. When discovered, it must be treated with a godly care.

In the Moslem culture, you’ll usually find the woman covered. This is a metaphor of the treasure that she is. Until one has endured the above requirements to obtain the treasure, only then can the treasure be in the care of the man. In my culture, the woman is a sacred gem, so she must be well kept. She is the life force that Allah has chosen to cultivate the seed of man, therefore she must be protected, honored, loved, and respected.

Now to approach the culture and attire of the men: usually, you will see the men dressed in thobes that represent varying degrees of priesthood. We also adorn ourselves with several different headdresses. The fez is a headdress that is widely known across the world. The fez originated in Fez, Morocco, and it was issued to those who received the degrees of civilization at the university.

The fez is a headdress that represents one who has the degrees of civilization. The turban represents the covering of the “Most High.” Also, to clear the air, the fez is a man’s headdress; no woman in ancient times wore a fez. Only now, in Shriner or in Freemasonry organizations, is the woman adorned with a fez.


Let us now deal with our ancient principles and the foundation of our religious backgrounds.


Islamism is a universal and old-time religion. We honor all Divine prophets: Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha, & Confucious. Truth cannot change or pass away, nor can customs alter the nature of truth.

Our Caliphates were home to all schools of thought:

The Koran gives the degrees of Mohammadism; the Septuagint, which is the real Bible, gives the degrees of instruction known as the Torah/Yorah; the scrolls of cosmological order, scrolls of enlightenment are known as Buddhism; scrolls of the rhythm of the Divine water flow with the sounds and frequencies are known as the degree of Hinduism; scrolls of philosophy are known as the degree of Confucianism.

These principles are the foundation of our religious practice and all of these principles point us in the direction of peace. This is why most Moslems have a holistic eating regiment that doesn’t consist of killing any animals or taking away from any animal.

These ancient principles are very important and very vital to how we managed the empires and the world. The very practice of Islamism aligns or binds us to the universal rhythm that’s brings us within the flow of the divine.

Once these principles are violated we are taken out of the universal rhythm of the divine, which puts us into a state of chaos, known as the condition of hell. In ancient times, Heaven referred to a condition of the mind or society. The term hell was also used in the same context.


To make a long story short, when we begin to forsake our ancient principles, we forsake who we truly are and when we forsake ourselves. We lower ourselves to the level of a beast and eventually, we’ll find ourselves in the fields.


This is one of the spiritual reasons why my forefathers, the Moors, fell from their dominion across the globe. If I had to sum up why restoring culture and ancient principles are important, I would draw everyone’s attention to my people’s current conditions on the shores of North America.

They are suffering from a serious identity crisis and they are suffering on a violent scale, because they have no truly balanced principles that keep them in harmony with the divine.

My heart goes out to my people and to see them in this condition is disheartening. I labor as much as I can and strive to do more to help my people rise above the mental conditions of chattel slavery.

This is my vibration concerning restoring culture and ancient principles. Shukran (thank you) for giving me your undivided attention. I leave as I came, salaam.

~ Sincerely

~From The House Of Muzakir-El

Almahiqa Sulayman Muzakir-El