Where is the Liberal Support for Feminism in Islam?

I listened to a podcast a couple weeks ago where Sam Harris was interviewing Yasmine Mohammed.  It was a wonderful interview and even emotional.  For those of you who don’t know Yasmine she is an ex-Muslim who immigrated to Canada as a child, and ended up being raised by a very strict Islamist (who incidentally had multiple wives) and was forced to marry a guy who turned out to be a Muslim extremist.  She experienced a lot of abuse from her biological father, adoptive father, and her husband.  Her husband was actually part of ISIS and now supposedly resides in a prison in Egypt although she has been unable to confirm it.  The long and the short of it is, that she has had the full experience of what many women go through in Islamic society as second class citizens.  I would argue that citizens are humans and I am not sure that many women qualify even as human in traditional Islamic communities.  What they go through is absolutely dehumanizing.

But I am not here to talk about the problems with Islam.  What I found really interesting about the interview was the discussion about how in the west, the left rarely criticizes Islam for how it treats women.  We can criticize Christianity’s patriarchal values, have TV shows like Handmaid’s Tale which show just how oppressive Christianity can be, but the rules are different for Islam and how they treat women.  Yasmine finds it despicable that they even try to use the hijab as some sort of symbol of female empowerment in Islam, when that is really not what it is at all.  She says that Muslim women are “othered” in western society, like they are not equally human as white women, that they don’t want the same freedoms that white women have.  And I have to say, that I agree.  I think any practices, whether they be in the context of a religion, culture, or society at large that demean and/or oppress women should be open to criticism.  And women in the west, who enjoy a great deal more freedom than many Muslim women, should be joining Yasmine’s fight again a very patriarchal religion.

However…

So I wanted to support Yasmine and followed her on Twitter where she is fairly active. In many ways it doesn’t make a lot of sense why feminism in the west would be on opposite sides of this battle.  And if I consider myself a feminist, then Yasmine is absolutely correct, she’s just human and humanist values should apply to her.  I see feminism as fitting into the larger umbrella of humanism.  But when I started making comments in support and in defense of her points I noticed something quite interesting.  When I would look at the profiles of many of the people who liked my comments, I was surprised to find that many of them were Trump supporters, conservative white males who consider themselves libertarians, and a lot of people who I would consider to be politically alt-right.  It made me feel uncomfortable.  It made me wonder, what type of person am I supporting here if all these people who I would disagree with on almost about everything else are seeming to be on the same side as me?  So while it doesn’t change my stance that we should be just as critical of patriarchal ideas embedded in any religion, I started to see what the left might be rejecting here.  If supporting an ex-Muslim fighting religious patriarchal values is putting you on the same side as conservative, alt-right racist types, what is the answer to effectively supporting people like Yasmine?

So then the question for me became, okay so what is going on?

  • Is it simply that these people aren’t as racist as they are Christian xenophobes who fear other religions, races, and cultures invading their space? Is it basically just the enemy of the enemy is our friend?
  • Did, as Sam Harris has argued, that the space the left has vacated has simply allowed the right to elevate people like Yasmin in status and use her to spread their more hateful message? We see this phenomena not only in the case of religion here.  But we see women who support men’s issues get support from misogynist members of MRA or incels. Even Sam Harris, who I would argue is at heart liberal, often gets his words used by alt-right people when they want to reinforce Muslim stereotypes.
  • Many white liberal women are of the liberal Christian kind.  They want religious Muslim women to be seen as strong as empowered because they then don’t have to acknowledge the oppressive practices in their own faith?  Would this mean that it’s Yasmine’s atheism that many liberal women are reacting to?
  • Do we have more in common with people who are alt-right than we think?

I don’t really think the last one is true, but I think it’s important to consider the question.  Where do we go from here?  Now I’m not sure whether Yasmine is politically conservative or not.  Certainly I think it’s possible to want equality for women while still supporting fiscally conservative issues, but I would say certainly Yasmine is socially liberal based on what she has said.  Perhaps if more people on the left spoke up in support of Yasmine, all those alt-right followers would flee from her side, not wanting to be allied with us because they would have the same uncomfortable feeling I had!

While I sympathize deeply with what Yasmine Mohammed went through, I do think it’s also a reality in the west that minority races and religion can experience a lot of prejudice and racism, and so in some ways I understand perhaps not wanting to critique a religion that is largely followed by darker skinned people so as to not feed stereotypes that can be used by people that would oppress them.  I also think that if we are concerned with things like freedom of speech, gender equality, LGBQT rights, we have to be constantly fighting against bad ideas, and Islam, just like Christianity has a bunch of bad ones.  Islam is a huge religion and I can only imagine that the amount of women and girls is in the 100s of millions who need liberal voices fighting for their rights in the same way we fight against Christian patriarchal values.  I believe it is possible to fight against both prejudice against Muslims, and also still criticize the oppressive practices that Islam advocates and are practiced daily around the world.

56 thoughts on “Where is the Liberal Support for Feminism in Islam?

  1. Religions which oppress women and repress sexuality are evil, period. The skin color of the people who are mentally enslaved by such religions is completely irrelevant. Using issues of race as squid ink to shrink back from full-throated condemnation of such religions is pure cowardice and should be scorned, not excused.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’d say it’s simply because we’re not in contact with the shittiness of Islam as much as we are with the shittiness of Christianity. Only very rarely a Muslim blogger shows up for a comment or two, but they leave quickly.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hey, here I am, as a Muslim… “blogger”, if you will be more comfortable calling me one. You’re more than welcome to read all of my posts, or… well, at least the English ones, and comment on them as you wish, as long as you remain tolerant enough.
      So, what I know about Islam, and these affairs in particular, as a male, may be less than a single droplet in an ocean. And what I know about Christianity may be much lesser. Still, two things constitute part of my so little knowledge: that Islam and Christianity may not have this much in common, and that you unfortunately appear to know nothing about Islam.
      If you’re against what you call “ISIS”; then I shall stand beside you as a Muslim. But if you’re against Islam itself, then I have a couple of things to tell you for now:
      • Give yourselves enough time and room to stay away from this Western propaganda (“Islamophobia”), and go read a translation of the Quran or talk to more Muslims or do whatever may help you have at least a basic overview of Islam. And yes, yes I did read the Bible. Several times.
      • Stop considering tolerance and “liberalism” to be totally equal to one another! You appear to be “tolerant” “liberalists”, but your comments and attitude towards Islam, are far from reflecting your own values. I, as a non-liberalist (and non-extremist) Muslim, on the other hand, shall, unless necessary, do no more than tactfully yet strongly recommend that you talk more carefully and respectfully, and with more knowledge rather than (excessive) confidence.

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      1. Thank you for your comment. While I believe you have the best of intent, I believe that you are not necessarily a less biased interpreter of your religion than I am as a scientist who objectively reads religious texts and is concerned about how they may be interpreted. You may indeed have fairer interpretations of the text that your religion adheres to, but this would be no difference than the claims of any religious apologist. You may not agree on the common roots of Islam and Christianity in the old testament, the inherent patriarchal values, the authoritarian God figure, and the injustices committed by both religions in which scriptural support was used to justify those injustices, but I do. I encourage you to look up the No True Scotsman fallacy.

        Whether your interpretation is different, one must look at how a religion is practiced and the list of grievances against the treatment towards women is long in Islamic countries, particularly where there is no separation of church and state. This is the case in most countries where Islam denominates. But the mistreatment of Yasmie came in Canada and certainly such injustice can happen anywhere, where followers of the Islamic faith believe they are acting in accordance with scripture.

        Those grievances would require are so obvious that a simple search would reveal many examples. Whether you are ignorant of this at the age of 20, or you are being willfully ignorant I will not assume. But I suggest more research needs to be done by you. I dare say you do know more about the Koran than I, but I am not concerned with how it might be interpreted, but how it has been interpreted, and how it can be plausibly interpreted.

        https://centerforinquiry.org/blog/islam-and-womens-rights/

        The link above lists examples of laws in Islamic countries that are scripturally supported. If you believe that scripture is being misinterpreted I daresay you should be spending more time writing critiques of laws in these countries including your own

        https://asiatimes.com/2020/02/turkeys-enduring-problem-with-womens-rights/

        and less time being concerned with my blog post.

        Where I absolutely agree is that one should not mistake liberalism for tolerance. Indeed I do not claim tolerance, nor do I think any free person should tolerate oppressive and harmful cultural and religious practice that dehumanize any group of people, let alone half of the world population.

        While a liberal interpretation of the Koran that gives women equal rights and protections under the law would be wonderful, I find the religious enterprise as a wholly outdated idea that has long outlived its usefulness on the planet. If an Islamic enlightenment based on ignoring or reinterpreting certain passages is necessary before religion can before it can eventually be laid to rest in the annals of human history, so be it, but that is not my fight. Any doctrine built on supernatural myths can at any point be used as it was in the past. We certainly see evidence of this regression here in the U.S. with Christianity. And any doctrine that asks people to believe that the supernatural is real despite any evidence to do so is antithetical to critical thinking, reasoning, and making evidence based decisions on how to guide human societies. That is my fight and you would do well to understand that better before commenting on my blog. I criticize bad ideas, and all religions have them. But certainly only a handful so predominantly impacts law and systemic oppression. If you truly understood my position you would know that I don’t prevent anybody from believing what they believe, that is true of any of my liberal and secular friends, but if the things you believe lead to oppression and violence then I will stand against such ideas. I will not tolerate them. Whether they be from religion or from some age old cultural practice not associated with religion.

        It is not Islamaphobic to criticize the harmful practices in Islamic countries. Just as it is not Christian-phobic to criticize harmful practices by Christians. If that offends you, then you are free to demonstrate that Islam, as it is practiced treats women equitably I am open to evidence and will happily apologize if all the stories I have read from both Western and Eastern sources were incorrect. If you cannot do that and you believe your religion preaches gender equality than it looks like you have a life as an Islamist reformer ahead of you.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I disagree. I mean I’ve observed it. Especially among atheist ex Muslims. That’s why I think atheism might be part of the equation here. Maybe things are different in Europe but here in North America criticizing Islam is taboo on the left.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. In the community which identifies specifically as the political left, that’s often true — but that community is plagued with growing insularity and intellectual stagnation in a variety of ways. Among bloggers and writers whose primary identification is atheist or feminist rather than political-left, criticism of Islam is a lot more common.

      The Middle East is waking up whether the Western left wants to deal with the reality of it or not.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. 1.1% of the US population is Muslim. Do you expect issues relating to that group to get the same attention as issues relating to the 25% of the population who are Catholic, or the 30% who are Evangelical?
      This sounds suspiciously like “Muslims don’t condemn terrorism enough”. I’ve heard a whole lot of that as a gay activist. We don’t criticise Islam enough – but you know what? It’s not Islam that’s affecting most of our lives in the West every day. It’s Christians/Catholics spending tens of millions every year to promote hate. That’s the group who opposed civil unions, then gay marriage. It’s the group that said Aids was divine punishment. It’s the group trying to control, if not eliminate, women’s reproductive rights, and stop transgender people being seen by doctors and using bathrooms. And stop gay people from buying flowers and wedding cakes.
      The American right is only interested in feminism and homophobia when they can use them as weapons to increase their own power and spread their ideology with its undeniable undercurrents of genetic determinism.

      Liked by 4 people

  4. Agreed. It seems imperative, especially in these times, to seek to understand the marginalization of certain people in other cultures, not to mention our own! I am just listening right now (Audible) to Horizon by Barry Lopez. He’s a writer I have long admired and resonated with. Can’t recommend this book highly enough. And it is not at all off subject from your post. Take care, Swarn. Glad to read this post by you, I’ve been real sketchy on and off line. Lots going on in our lives right now, all good, but very energy intensive. Wishing you and yours a loving and peaceful holiday season! 💕

    Liked by 2 people

  5. jimbo57

    I am a resident of the only jurisdiction in North America to actually ban the hijab. Right now, in the Province of Quebec, if you are a veiled Muslim woman, you can not be hired to hold a “position of authority” in the provincial civil service unless you remove your hijab. Position of authority includes police officer, high school or elementary teacher, or clerk in the Quebec equivalent of the DMV. Now, “to be fair”, the ban also includes Jewish men wearing kippahs and Sikh men wearing turbans, but that’s just by way of pretending this is a “we hate funny hats” law when it is a matter of public record this is a “we hate Muslims” law.

    How does the hijab become a “problem” in a province in a Province where less than 2% of the population is Muslim? Especially when many of these Muslims coming from the Maghreb are fluent in French and highly educated; just the kind of immigrants successive Provincial governments have said they wanted. It becomes a problem when the Province’s rural voters are taught, through a sustained media campaign, to see it as a problem in a Province where decades of nationalist politics have trained the French-speaking majority to see any and all minorities as existential threats.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for your comments. I couldn’t agree with you more in terms of legislation. I don’t agree with the law, and don’t think legislation is an effective way of liberating women, or increasing secularity.

      My father is Sikh, although he isn’t really religious and dropped the turban some time ago. In general, I can’t believe that a God really cares about our clothing so I think all religious clothing mandates should be challenged in terms of them just being bad ideas. And the philosophy behind women covering themselves in both Christianity and Islam is a patriarchal and oppressive one. As I said, I do not think legislation is the answer to challenging these bad ideas.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Just a thought that ran through my mind as I read this, but the Handmaid’s Tale is an odd story, and here’s why. My wife was brought up in a very strict household that adhered to an offshoot of Mormonism known collectively as the RLDS (she’s actually from the Restoration branch of the RLDS, though she left that behind years before we met). When she began watching the series online, she noted that some of the elements in the story reminded her more of Mormonism than Christianity. Namely, she focused on some of the governmental structures that seemed to mirror those of the LDS Church.

    While the distinction between the two might not be of any importance to others, I just thought I’d point it out. Mormons aren’t Christians, though many today would disagree. I recall, as a teen, Mormons stating unequivocally that they are not Christians, and that has stayed with me ever since.

    Now, is this to say that women in history haven’t suffered under systems that were driven by people claiming to be Christian? No, not in the slightest. History is replete with examples of people who have continually subjugated women through a very careful misapplication of Scripture that can only be described as sad.

    Just thought I’d toss that in. My mind sometimes works in odd ways. Thanks for reading, if you did.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the comment. I appreciate it.

      Of course what qualifies as true Christianity can be debated. I know of no denomination that follows the Bible completely. Largely because the Bible is full of contradictions and purports many things that would probably get you arrested or ostracized in most environments today. In regards to self-identification, I respect people’s right to label their own religious beliefs. Some Catholics might also not say they are Christians. And while I think Mormonism is definitely further divergent from the Christianity, I would say any belief in Jesus Christ as the embodiment of God and the Messiah would qualify as being labeled Christian.

      In Handmaids Tale I don’t think the claim is that modern Christianity is being modeled, but rather society has reverted back to an older form, and certainly in Christianity’s past there was similar denominations that were repressive to women. The extremity of the situation in Handmaid’s Tale is certainly exaggerated somewhat given the situation of far fewer women being able to have babies. I would say that though it’s a pretty common thread throughout Christianity’s past, and even in some denominations today that women are largely only valued for their ability to breed.

      I would agree that the restrictiveness and governance of Mormonism is similar to that which is depicted in the Handmaid’s Tale. I think show purposely doesn’t mention a specific religion because this would be a new denomination that has formed in response to a society that believes moral failings, technology, and an abandonment of God have led to their predicament. The bible is full of patriarchal messages, not the least of which the most powerful being in the Universe is an authoritarian father figure who blames woman for original sin.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are absolutely correct, in that there is an ongoing debate as to what constitutes true Christianity, though I would venture to state that the definition can be narrowed down easily.

        Based upon my own study of Scripture, a true Christian could be defined as anyone who follows Jesus as He is found in the Bible. Of course, this brings to mind all manner of issues given that people of different stripes will argue over how He is presented in Scripture.

        For my part, I follow Him as He is found on BOTH sides of the Bible, not just as He is found in the New Covenant. This brings a whole new dimension to exactly who He is and also adds whole new dimensions to His teachings, His ministry, His death and resurrection.

        I disagree with the idea that the Bible is full of contradictions. It is in fact a volume of remarkably consistent books, written by more than 40 authors, over the course of more than a thousand years. These works include history, politics, law, philosophy, prophecy, etc.

        The people, places, and events are for the most part verified through the historical record and archeological evidence. That makes it accurate and reliable, so much so that even the Smithsonian Institute has used it as a guide for archeological research.

        I’m not exactly sure which parts of the Bible purport things that would get people arrested or ostracized, so I would ask for examples on that.

        Going back to what constitutes a Christian, you make the statement that a belief in Jesus Christ as the embodiment of God and the Messiah is the definition of the word. In a very real and technical sense, you are correct. Where I take issue is how you’re applying the definition. According to Mormonism, God and Jesus were both once human and were elevated to the level of gods, as opposed to being co-eternal and co-equal with the Holy Spirit. This view is not supported by Scripture, which means that the Christ of Mormonism is a false Christ.

        As I mentioned before, there have been times in Christian history where people have misused Scripture to oppress women, a fact that I find as horrifying as I do sickening. That being said, I will correct you on who the Bible says was responsible for the original Sin. While the first human to Sin was Eve, the Lord ultimately placed responsibility on Adam’s shoulders because he not only knew better, but he both chose to keep silent and sought to place the blame on God for giving him Eve. You don’t honestly believe that Adam was elsewhere in the Garden when those events transpired, do you?

        First he didn’t speak up when he should have, and then he greeted God with, “The woman you gave me…” when asked what had happened. Taking it a step further, when the Lord pronounced judgement in the Garden, He included everyone.

        He judged Adam, Eve, the serpent, and Satan, and He punished them all. That’s why the idea that woman bore all the blame for original Sin baffles me so. It simply isn’t true, God nailed e’erbody. To think otherwise is to malign the Lord, and that’s the most tragic part of what has happened throughout Christian history. Not only did they wrongfully oppress women, but they did so in the name of the Lord, and He takes a very dim view of evil done in His Name.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well I am not going to get into a religious debate for you since I viewing the Bible an atheist and am looking at the entirety of the Bible not just the parts that suit my particular values. The contradictions in the Bible both old and New Testament are well documented should you care to look them up. God’s law as described in the Old Testament such as stoning adulterers is just one of the many examples.

          While I agree with you that I lean towards teachings of Jesus himself as to what Christianity should represent as my mother is that better example, and you seem to be that way as well. But I find no valid evidence for Jesus’ divinity, nor can I pretend that the Garden of Eden was a real place, or that the creation story is meant to be taken literally in any way. I see the bible as nothing more than the work of humans trying to make sense of the world and making their best guess as to what they observed. A semi-historical text that tries to teach moral lessons through stories. Many of those stories coming from religions older than Christianity. I’ve studied it quite at depth and have never seen an ounce of evidence that the supernatural exists. And cannot accept belief as a means for determining truth.

          My mom challenged Mormonism in the same way you do, but in the end they are just different fantastical stories. Every religion morphs older stories to tell ones of their own. It is in the nature of humans to tell stories. I love stories and I an find value in them without believing that they are real.

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            1. Sure, I am always open to hearing arguments. I can honestly tell you though I haven’t heard a new one in quite some time. Also keep in mind that to be convinced, empirical evidence of the divine is required for me to conclude that it exists. Whether it be about Christianity or any other religion.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. If you don’t mind, I would like to begin with some questions, in order to flesh things out a bit, before presenting my argument.

              You mention that your mother is a believer, or at least I assume she’s still one. Did she bring you up as a Christian, with you subsequently choosing not to accept the faith?

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            3. My dad felt that religion was an adult choice. He grew up in India in the Sikh faith, but was not religious as an adult. My mom tried to teach us, but on a limited basis. My grandmother who was a Mennonite and she read is Bible stories and taught us more as we would spend summers there on my grandparents farm. I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart at the age of 12, but by 15 it didn’t make sense to me for a variety of reasons. I remained a deist until about the age of 27. But have been an atheist since then. V I’ve read probably 75% of the Bible and all of the New Testament. I am also fairly knowledgeable about the tenets of most of the major works religions and their history. All studied from a secular point of view.

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            4. There are not different definitions of this and it’s something you should know if you plan to make truth claims. Empirical evidence is measurable and observable data that supports a hypothesis. Technically one needs more than a supported hypothesis to determine truth over needs to actually develop a theory but let’s not worry about going that far. Note eye witness testimony is not reliable and requires physical evidence to support eye witness claims. All historical events are always in some doubt without such evidence unless many independent sources agree on events. Independence is hard to prove though because it’s difficult to know what a priori knowledge scholars in the past had prior to their writings. Note also that religious claims are that such divine forces exist today, and are not just past events. Thus I should be able to measure the presence of such things today.

              Another good way to put it… If I were to erase all knowledge of Christianity, I should be able to re- discover Yahweh today in the same way that if I erased all knowledge of the first law of thermodynamics I would also be able to re-discover it.

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            5. Ah. Good answer. I seek to define terms because people can and will play word games when having these kinds of discussions. It’s experience that leads me to do it, little more. Word games are something I have little time for, which is why I define terms.

              Next question, how do you conclude that eyewitness testimony is unreliable? If eyewitness testimony is perfectly acceptable in a court of law, so long as it is consistent with the circumstantial evidence (i.e. empirical), then why is it not acceptable here?

              Liked by 1 person

            6. Because eye witness testimony in law was found to be acceptable before modern forensic techniques were available and before we knew anything about the brain. We witness testimony has proven to be very unreliable. DNA evidence has overturned eye witness testimony in many cases. It is extremely subject to the cognitive and intellectual biases of the witness. https://www.psychologicalscience.org/teaching/myth-eyewitness-testimony-is-the-best-kind-of-evidence.html

              If you want peer reviewed sources let me know. There are plenty. This is just a starter.

              Liked by 1 person

            7. Ah, but do note that I specified eyewitness testimony that is consistent with the circumstantial evidence. Logic and reason dictates that faulty memory or dishonest intentions will give way to the physical evidence if there is a contradiction. That’s why I am always so amused when cop shows and dramas like Law & Order treat circumstantial evidence as if it were somehow inferior. That being said, American jurisprudence does still places high value on direct evidence, otherwise known as eyewitness testimony.

              While we’re stirring this particular pot, are you comfortable with a case that creates a reasonable doubt?

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            8. I’m not sure, since I’ve never been presented with any. I’d have to analyze when presented. Again it would have to be of the type that again if knowledge of Yahweh was let’s say completely forgotten – what evidence in the world would we find that points to there being any God let alone Yahweh which Christianity purports to have a specific nature. If God interacts with our reality than there has to be physical evidence. My belief in gravity makes no difference as to whether I fall. The evidence would have to have repeatable results, such that a theory could be formed with predictable outcomes. The evidence would also have to demonstrate that specifically that there was only one God, and not possibly many. And that it is Yahweh, and not Brahman.

              When asked for these things I am simply told that God is not defined in such a way such that empirical evidence is not possible which just seems like a convenient way to define a supreme being so as to not need to prove it’s existence. I can therefore concoct any such being and apply the same criteria to its definition and thus claim that this being exists.

              I find the universe behaves exactly as it would if there was no God. If you can show me that the universe would somehow fly apart at the seams if there was no God then that might convince me. But again you would to explain to my why it is Yahweh and not some other God or Gods previously described by other cultures, or ones not yet described by humanity.

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            9. Over the course of multiple conversations with atheists and agnostics, I’ve identified multiple arguments that I can use. For this discussion, I thought I’d start with one of my favorites, the argument from fulfilled prophecy.

              As I mentioned before, one of the genres found in the Bible is prophecy, with hundreds to be found within its pages, most of which have come true. Before you ask, the ones that haven’t come true thus far deal with eschatology, or the end of things.

              For the purposes of this conversation, prophecy is defined as a message or revelation from a divine source. They can come by either human or angelic messengers. “Angel” comes from the Greek equivalent to the Hebrew “Malakh”, which means “messenger”. For humans, we have “prophets”, which comes from the Greek equivalent to the Hebrew “Nev’im”.

              We will be addressing a specific class of prophecy known as Messianic prophecy. These are the prophecies that deal specifically with the expected Messiah, Jesus, and can be found throughout the Old Testament, or Tanakh in Hebrew. To date, scholars have identified a total of 353 Messianic prophesies, all of which detail every single aspect of the Messiah’s life. One even quotes Him just before describing the crucifixion scene.

              These prophesies tell of where and when the Messiah would be born, that He would be born of a virgin, that He would be the subject of a murderous plot, what His ministry would be like, one of them even predicts how much money His betrayer would be paid. The best source for which prophesies were fulfilled by Jesus is the Gospel according to Matthew, as he was a Jew writing for a Jewish audience.

              In the 1950s, a mathematician named Peter Stoner published a book entitled, “Scienc Speaks”, which detailed a statistical analysis undertaken by his students at his behest. This was an analysis of biblical prophecy, in which they attempted to come up with the statistical probability that these predictions would come true.

              When setting the parameters for their work, one of his biggest stipulations was that the numbers had to be the most conservative possible, which means that the stats he presents in the book are the most conservative they could come up with.

              At the time the study was conducted, there were only 150 Messianic prophesies known, though that hardly made a difference in the outcome. His team didn’t get to use all of the prophesies in their analysis.

              In fact, they made it as far as 40 prophesies before the conservative number they came up with passed out of human comprehension. That number was immense, showing that the chances of a single human being fulfilling just 40 of the hundreds of Messianic prophesies is 1:10^157. That’s a 10 with 157 zeros behind it. Try as hard as I might, my ADHD doesn’t allow me the concentration necessary to type out that number.

              Regarding this, Prof. Stoner had this to say,

              “Let us try to visualize it. The silver dollar, which we have been using, is entirely too large. We must select a smaller object. The electron is about as small an object as we know of. It is so small that it will take 2.5 x 10^15 of them laid side by side to make a line, single file, one inch long. If we were going to count the electrons in this line one inch long, and counted 250 each minute, and if we counted day and night, it would take us 19,000,000 years to count just the one-inch line of electrons. If we had a cubic inch of these electrons and we tried to count them, it would take us 1.2 x 10^38 years (2 x 10^28 times the 6 billion years back to the creation of the solar system).

              With this introduction, let us go back to our chance of 1 in 10^157. Let us suppose that we are taking this number of electrons, marking one, and thoroughly stirring it into the whole mass, then blindfolding a man and letting him try to find the right one. What chance has he of finding the right one? What kind of a pile will this number of electrons make? They make an inconceivably large volume.”

              Now, if the odds of only fulfilling 40 of the prophesies come out to such a gigantic number, what does that number look like when you take it up to 100, 200, or even all 353? It staggers the mind, as it did for Prof. Stoner and his team. In fact, one could venture to say that the prophesies themselves render the existence of any human who meets all of that criteria a statistical impossibility. Yet, Jesus most certainly did exist. Not only did He exist, but He did all of the things the Gospel accounts say He did, including multiple claims to divinity.

              To conclude this part of the argument, I have this to say. If the One whose existence is statistically impossible says that He is God, then I’m inclined to believe that He is.

              Liked by 1 person

            10. In my discussion with theists, I have met many who made this claim. I don’t find what you’ve presented as evidence at all of Jesus’ divinity, or that prophecies came true.

              The first and most glaringly obvious point is that Jews, who wrote the old testament, disagree that the prophecy had been fulfilled. If you read a description of the full prophecy Jesus didn’t deliver.

              https://www.aish.com/jw/s/48892792.html

              Secondly if there are some claims about a divine creature that is to come. It seems almost obvious that if I wanted to convince people that these things happen, I would invent those events in order to convince people they happened. You keep treating the bible as literal truth when we know this is far from the case.

              When theists have presented me with the actual prophecies I have not seen many specifics. It reads like a horoscope where the prophecies are so vague that anything can fit the bill. Moreover it is not difficult to make prediction given an infinite amount of time. I can predict river A will dry up, and sometime over the next couple thousand years this will likely be true.

              I also find theists dishonest about listing all the prophecies that didn’t come true. Given a large number of guesses about the future it wouldn’t be surprising that some come true.

              https://americanhumanist.org/what-is-humanism/reasons-humanists-reject-bible/

              This link lists many prophecies that did not come true, in addition to the many other problems with the bible.

              Ultimately you have yet to present evidence of the existence of the divine. In the beginning I said, if knowledge of Christianity were to be erased, show me what I would see in the world to convince me that it was created by your God and operating in a fashion that defied rational explanation. You have yet to do that.

              Liked by 1 person

            11. Well I don’t think it can be claimed that they found Yahweh. They could have invented Yahweh. Otherwise we must argue that all other Gods are equally not fictions and were found. Again the empirical evidence to find God must always be available.

              Liked by 1 person

            12. The archeological record seems to indicate otherwise. Judaism stems from the people of the tribe of Judah, and is pre-dated by other cultures, including the Canaanites. The Canaanites worshiped YHWH, along with several other gods, though that made them idolators.

              Do note that the Canaanites descended from Canaan, the grandson of Noah, while the Jews are descended from Judah, one of Jacob’s sons. They were related people, but the Canaanites had been around for centuries prior to the Israelites. This demonstrates that the Israelites did not “invent” YHWH. They did, for a time, worship and revere Him as He ought, but even that went sideways by the time Jesus made His appearance, and hasn’t really gotten any better.

              Liked by 1 person

            13. Do you see archaeological evidence proving the existence of a people as proof of the existence of a deity? If archaeological evidence of a people were proof that their deity is real, this would mean that our evidence of the ancient Greeks is proof that Athena or Zeus was real because that’s who they worship. Archeological evidence of a people does not validate the existence of their deities.

              Also there is no DNA evidence to support the idea that an entire group of people can be descended from one patriarch. Whoever might have been an original leader cannot be the source of an entire group of people. The deformities that would result without at least a few hundred humans for breeding purpose would be detrimental to the health of a tribe.

              Liked by 1 person

            14. No, I was addressing your assertion that the Jewish people invented YHWH. Merely correcting a misconception. My apologies if I created confusion. I was not making the argument that archeological evidence of a people proves the existence of God.

              I must correct you on the statement that no human population can descend from a single human. According to a recent genetic study, humanity very likely originated from a single pair. Check out:

              Stoeckle M.Y., Thaler D.S (2018), Why should mitochondria define species?, Human Evolution, Vol. 33 – n. 1-2 (1-30) – 2018

              This study suggests that at least 90% of all life, including humans, emerged simultaneously, and that humanity began with a founding pair.

              Liked by 1 person

            15. But you claimed that the Jewish people discovered Yahweh as though Yahweh was something to discover without providing any evidence. Without evidence they simply could have invented Yahweh. You countered that with citing archaeological evidence for a group of people. So I’m still confused. Saying that there is evidence for a people isn’t a counterargument to anything they might have invented whether it be a cultural practice, a religion, a piece of technology.

              The paper you referenced does not state that. I have just read it. They are talking about how genetic diversity does not vary within species does not vary significantly more in species with large population or more complex organisms. The authors added a note to this fact:

              “Note added by authors December 4, 2018: This study is grounded in and strongly supports Darwinian evolution,
              including the understanding that all life has evolved from a common biological origin over several billion years.
              This work follows mainstream views of human evolution. We do not propose there was a single “Adam” or
              “Eve”. We do not propose any catastrophic events. ”

              This Forbes article explains what the paper is saying fairly well. https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelmarshalleurope/2018/11/26/no-humans-are-probably-not-all-descended-from-a-single-couple-who-lived-200000-years-ago/#4bca39da7cd8

              Liked by 1 person

            16. You know, you aren’t the first person to bring up that Forbes article, nor do I think you will be the last. For my part, when I first read the article, I was astounded by the level of doubke-speak represented in its text. First, the author is clearly editorializing, which I would sincerely hope no one can take as a serious scientific conclusion, I don’t care which side of the issue you’re on.

              Second, the main thrust of what the author says here is 1) the study doesn’t say what people say it says, and 2) here’s why we shouldn’t believe what the study says that it doesn’t say, but does because we’re supposed to disregard it. Granted, I’m paraphrasing but you get the picture. If this had been written by a Creationist, you’d likely be among the first to excoriate the writer for the level of doublespeak contained in the article, and rightly so. I know I would.

              Third, when I first came across this study, it was in an article published by Tech Times, not exactly the most Creationist friendly publication around. Here is the link to the article:

              https://www.techtimes.com/articles/228798/20180530/massive-genetic-study-reveals-90-percent-of-earth-s-animals-appeared-at-the-same-time.htm

              The article, dated May 30, 2018, makes quite a few comments about 90% of life appearing simultaneously, including humans. Here’s where it gets really interesting. Not only does it quote one of the authors of the study, but it also links to the study itself.

              “This conclusion is very surprising,” says Thaler, “and I fought against it as hard as I could.”

              Compare that with the quote you have shared, in which they decry the idea put forward in a secular magazine that not only quotes one of the authors, but also links to a reduced copy of the study, and you see something interesting. You see an interesting reversal of position on the findings.

              What makes this more interesting is that the article I’m sharing has a link at the bottom to the reduced copy of the study, yet, the link is oddly dead. The last time I checked out this article was a couple months ago, when I had a similar conversation and the link worked perfectly then. The good news is that I have saved a few quotes from the reduced copy of the study. Here they are:

              “Modern humans are a low-average animal species in terms of the APD. The molecular clock as a heuristic marks 1% sequence divergence per million years which is consistent with evidence for a clonal stage of human mitochondria between 100,000- 200,000 years ago and the 0.1% APD found in the modern human population [34, 155, 156]. A conjunction of factors could bring about the same result. However, one should not as a first impulse seek a complex and multifaceted explanation for one of the clearest, most data rich and general facts in all of evolution. The simple hypothesis is that the same explanation offered for the sequence variation found among modern humans applies equally to the modern populations of essentially all other animal species. Namely that the extant population, no matter what its current size or similarity to fossils of any age, has expanded from mitochondrial uniformity within the past 200,000 years.”

              “More approaches have been brought to bear on the emergence and outgrowth of Homo sapiens sapiens (i.e., modern humans) than any other species including full genome sequence analysis of thousands of individuals and tens of thousands of mitochondria, paleontology, anthropology, history and linguistics [61, 142-144]. The congruence of these fields supports the view that modern human mitochondria and Y chromosome originated from conditions that imposed a single sequence on these genetic elements between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago [145-147]. Contemporary sequence data cannot tell whether mitochondrial and Y chromosomes clonality occurred at the same time, i.e., consistent with the extreme bottleneck of a founding pair, or via sorting within a founding population of thousands that was stable for tens of thousands of years [116]. As Kuhn points out unresolvable arguments tend toward rhetoric.”

              The question that needs asking right now is, why does the study allow for the distinct possibility that all humans began with a founding pair, while the authors of the study come out later and deny what it is that their own study suggests? I would imagine it has something to do with how the scientific community regards anything that even remotely suggests that there might merit to the idea that Creationists might be right. Consider the following quote,

              “There is a kind of religion in science . . . every effect must have its cause; there is no First Cause. . . . This religious faith of the scientist is violated by the discovery that the world had a beginning under conditions in which the known laws of physics are not valid, and as a product of forces or circumstances we cannot discover. When that happens, the scientist has lost control. If he really examined the implications, he would be traumatized. As usual when faced with trauma, the mind reacts by ignoring the implications—in science this is known as ‘refusing to speculate.’” -Dr. Robert Jastrow, Director of the Mount Wilson Observatory and author of “God and the Astrononers” (also an agnostic until his death)

              It would seem that there is a very strong confirmation bias within the Scientific community that simply refuses to acknowledge anything that lends credence to the idea that the Bible has an ounce of validity to it, and it’s one you display yourself.

              I will finish up this portion of the discussion with the following:

              “Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover. . . . That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.” -Dr. Robert Jastrow, “God and the Astrononers”

              Liked by 1 person

            17. The question that needs asking right now is, why does the study allow for the distinct possibility that all humans began with a founding pair, while the authors of the study come out later and deny what it is that their own study suggests? I would imagine it has something to do with how the scientific community regards anything that even remotely suggests that there might merit to the idea that Creationists might be right. Consider the following quote,

              The alternative is that the Forbes article is exactly right in it’s analysis. That the authors didn’t explain their conclusions properly and in the correct context. And that theists have interpreted the paper in a way that suits their belief system. If you can’t accept that as at least a possibility I honestly can’t trust your objectivity.

              More importantly one study does not represent scientific consensus. Should more papers find the thing from results other than mitochondria, I think that would be interesting.

              More importantly whether or not there was evidence of a single pair being the progenitor of humans, (even though we know that this isn’t true based on the fossil evidence and DNA evidence that shows we have mixes with Neanderthal DNA) it would not prove that the Genesis conception of God is more valid than any other religion’s conception of God. It doesn’t prove that there is even one God, or a personal God. Just that there is a God. It could be that God (or Gods) created the universe, but is completely indifferent to us. It could be that god is actually malevolent and revels in our suffering. It could also be true a whole population of humans is possible from two people (although again we have lots of negative examples of that not working out so well and leading to the humans dying out) and that it’s a natural process and no God need be involved at all.

              In regards to cause and effect, there is a lot of evidence that cause and effect may not be what we think it is.

              https://aeon.co/essays/could-we-explain-the-world-without-cause-and-effect

              https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4488611/

              But even if we say there had to be a first mover, the same rules apply as before. What God that would be is not proven. Divine revelation is not proven. The idea that any human understands the nature of God is not proven.

              Liked by 1 person

            18. Side note: as we’re doing this, I’m preparing for my day as a Medical Assistant in a Neurosurgical clinic. Don’t take it the wrong way if I take awhile to respond. My patients come first.

              Liked by 2 people

  7. kiraninprogress

    Hi! I just want to say that this was so interesting and rather refreshing to read! I think you tackled some big concepts with this piece. I was wondering if you could checkout my new piece on stereotype that indulge/create hostile sexism and sexist humour. I would also really appreciate it if you could comment back some constructive criticism😊 -Kiran

    https://kiranninprogress.wordpress.com/2020/05/03/is-it-now-a-womans-world-part-1/

    Liked by 1 person

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