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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

E-mail Forward- Allah or Jesus?

Just the other day, I received an e-mail forward of a story written by a Christian about a supposed exchange he had with a Muslim about the Islamic attitude towards infidels. The basic gist of the story was to illustrate how superior Christianity is compared to Islam, and how intolerant Muslims are of others. The entire e-mail, interspersed with my comments and corrected for the formatting errors that come about with multiple forwards, is available below the fold.


This is a must read - it's short but very informative!

The Muslim religion is the fastest growing religion per capita in the United States, especially in the minority AND ETHNIC COMMUNITIES !!!

Allah or Jesus?

By: Rick Mathes

Last month I attended my annual training session that's required for maintaining my state prison security clearance. During the training session there was a presentation by three speakers representing the Roman Catholic, Protestant and Muslim faiths, who explained each of their belief systems. I was particularly interested in what the Islamic Imam had to say. The Imam gave a great presentation of the Basics of Islam, complete with a video. After the presentations, time was provided for Questions and Answers. When it was my turn, I directed my question to the Imam and asked:

"Please, correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that most Imams and clerics of Islam have declared a holy jihad [Holy war] against the infidels of the world. And, that by killing an infidel, which is a command to all Muslims, they are assured a place in heaven. If that's the case, can you give me the definition of an infidel?"

There was no disagreement with my statements and, without hesitation, he replied, "Non-believers!"

I responded, "So, let me make sure I have this straight. All followers of Allah have been commanded to kill everyone who is not of your faith so they can go to Heaven. Is that correct?"

Boy, it's a good thing the Bible never directs Christians to kill people for silly things, like for using the Lord's name in vain, even non-Christians who don't worship Him, or to direct people to kill the completely innocent, like babies. ("If anyone curses his God, he will be held responsible; anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death." (Lev. 24:15) "Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants..." (1 Samuel 15:3) "Happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us- he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks." (Psalms 137:8))

The expression on his face changed from one of authority and command to that of a little boy who had just gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He sheepishly replied, "Yes." I then stated, "Well, sir, I have a real problem trying to imagine Pope John Paul commanding all Catholics to kill those of your faith or Dr. Billy Graham ordering Protestants to do the same in order to go to Heaven!"
Of course. I could never imagine a pope commanding Christians to kill Muslims.
The Imam was speechless. I continued, "I also have a problem with being your friend when you and your brother clerics are telling your followers to kill me. Let me ask you a question. Would you rather have your Allah, who tells you to kill me in order to go to Heaven, or my Jesus who tells me to love you because I am going to Heaven and he wants you to be with me?"
Yup, Jesus's message was always one of love ("If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:26)
You could have heard a pin drop as the Imam hung his head in shame. Needless to say, the organizers and/or promoters of the Diversification training seminar were not happy with Rick's way of dealing with the Islamic Imam and exposing the truth about the Muslim's beliefs.

I think everyone in the US should be required to read this, but with the justice system and media, and the ACLU, there is no way this will be widely publicized. Please pass this on to all your e-mail contacts. This is a true story and the author, Rick Mathes, is a well known leader in prison ministry.

Yup, a true story. There's no way Mathes would make this all up, embelishing a story about a seminar where an inmate, not a Muslim minister, gave a presentation on Islam. He certainly wouldn't have invented the entire "jihad" exchange out of thin air.

Plus, it's a good thing we can let one person speak for an entire religion, like those Christians who still believe the earth is flat.

Oh, by the way, I was being sarcastic.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Taking Stock

Time to take stock of what I've done so far with this blog, and decide where it's going to go from here.

My first entry was back on Dec 7th of last year. I did fairly good for a while, putting up new, original posts about once a week, and copying my old Soapbox entries every Monday. Then, the new posts started tapering off, and I'd copied all of my old Soapbox entries. My last original post was on March 2nd, and the last substantive one before that was on Feb. 17th.

It's tough trying to blog on a regular basis. It's given me greater respect for all of those bloggers that do manage it. Where do they find the free time? My lunchbreak is when I try to do most of my website work, but I've also got other things to do then, like reading the News @ Nature site and other science news sites, keeping up with other blogs that I follow, and actually eating my lunch. Trying to do anything on this site any other time during the day is out since my boss wouldn't be too happy about me doing that on company time. By the time I get home, I want to spend time with my family, not to mention eating supper, and then it's late at night and I just want to relax. I've read other bloggers who mention that they write their posts late at night while watching T.V., but I just don't have that type of committment to this blog (I'd rather watch The Daily Show.)

Still, I like having a blog. I especially like the spot for user feedback, even if I've only had a handful of comments. So, I'm going to keep it. I think I'll really try hard to make a good, substantive post at least once a month. But, I still think my main website is more important than this blog, and my goal is to add something to that site at least once a month, too, so it will take priority over making posts here. So, the end of the month is this Friday, and I need to do something for my main page. I have a few ideas in mind, I'll just have to see how much I can get done. Since I posted a blog entry in March already, I may or may not get something done to this blog before then. But I already have several ideas for new entries to this blog if I could just find the time to write them.

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Science and Engineering Indicators 2006

The new NSF report on Science and Engineering Indicators 2006 has been released. Below are the results of the "Scientific Understanding" section. While there has been some improvement, the results are still depressing. The numbers in the table are the percentage of people that responded correctly, while the correct answer is listed in parentheses after the question.

  United States (2004) China (2001) South Korea (2004) Japan (2001) Malaysia (200) EU-25 (2005) Russia (2003)
Lasers work by focusing sound waves (False) 42 16 31 28 34 47 24
It is the father’s gene which decides whether the baby is a boy or a girl (True) 62 39 59 25 46 64 22
All radioactivity is man-made (False) 73 46 48 56 33 59 35
The center of the Earth is very hot (True) 78 39 87 77 74 86 86
The universe began with a huge explosion (True) 35 17 67 63 41 NA 35
Antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria (False) 54 18 30 23 21 46 18
Electrons are smaller than atoms (True) 45 24 46 30 42 46 44
Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth? (Earth around the Sun) 71 59 86 NA 81 66 NA
Human beings are developed from earlier species of animals (True) 44 70 64 78 61 70 44
The continents have been moving their location for millions of years and will continue to move (True) 77 45 87 83 62 87 40

I'm still shocked that nearly 1 in 4 people in the U.S. don't know that the Earth orbits the Sun, and not vice versa. That alone speaks volumes of the ignorance of society.

Concerning the low results on the Big Bang question and the human evolution question, when I first saw them, I thought that religion was probably having as much influence as scientific knowledge. Well, after reading a little more of the report, I found out that was indeed the case.

U.S. responses to questions about evolution and the big bang appear to reflect more than unfamiliarity with basic elements of science. The 2004 Michigan Survey of Consumer Attitudes administered two different versions of these questions to different groups of respondents. Some were asked questions that tested knowledge about the natural world ("human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals" and "the universe began with a big explosion"). Others were asked questions that tested knowledge about what a scientific theory asserts or a group of scientists believes ("according to the theory of evolution, human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals" and "according to astronomers, the universe began with a big explosion"). Respondents were much more likely to answer correctly if the question was framed as about scientific theories or beliefs rather than as about the natural world. When the question about evolution was prefaced by "according to the theory of evolution," 74% marked true; only 44% marked true when it was not. Similarly, 62% agreed with the prefaced question about the big bang, but only 35% agreed when the prefatory phrase was omitted. These differences probably indicate that many Americans hold religious beliefs that cause them to be skeptical of established scientific ideas, even when they have some basic familiarity with those ideas.

One nit, I think the "big bang" question was a bit misleading. I think I would have gotten it wrong, myself. Good introductions to understanding the big bang can be found on Scientific American and Talk Origins. Basically, it wasn't really an explosion in the conventional sense of matter travelling rapidly away from a central point outward into already existing space, it was the rapid expansion of space itself, with no central reference. Maybe you can still call that an explosion, but I think the semantics would have tripped me up on that particular question (but then again, maybe not, if I had thought long enough to realize that they just wanted to know whether or not people knew anything at all about the Big Bang theory).

All in all, though, science education has a long way to go.

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