Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Razzle Dazzle 'Em

And lo, I have just read some of the worst baloney I have seen in a good long while.

Heather pointed me to this site on Qur'anist perspectives when I was asking her some questions. I finally got around to poking around on the site and I recalled that SarahO had said, when I said that the only proof of the Qur'an is Mohammed's claim at being a prophet, that there were more proofs of the Qur'an on the site. So I went looking for those articles, to see if they were saying anything I hadn't heard before. The first article I came across was 'Qur'an and Self-Reference' and I then spent the next ten minutes trying to decide if I wanted to laugh hysterically or...no. Just laughing.

The premise of the article starts out with the concept of self-reference. Which is a real thing, mind. It exists and is really kind of fascinating and mind bendy if you get into it. For a general idea, I refer you to the Wiki article on the subject. The fascinating thing is that the author of the article seems to be making an attempt to prove that the Qur'an *must* be true because it contains no logical issues of self-reference. I can't actually speak to that, nor do I think it makes any difference, because I don't read classical Arabic.

For example, he says that the Qur'an states: "If it had been from anyone other than God, it would contain many contradictions." - 4:82. What does that prove, you may ask? Well, according to this theory, if one can find the word 'contradictions' in the Qur'an, multiple times, then the Qur'an has failed the self-reference test because it says one thing, but that thing is incorrect because the statement it makes is provably, technically wrong in that the word or phrase is used inside of the work in a way that contradicts the statement.

It's an entertaining game, really. But does it prove that the Qur'an is from God? Is that really the 'test' that God or Mohammed intended for people to use to verify the Qur'an? I don't think so. It's clear that the intent was not for people to sit there and count the number of times any given word was used. The intent was for the phrase to refer to instances of contradiction, rather than instances of the word 'contradiction'. To view it otherwise is to play a pseudo-scientific game with the words.

The author is taking something that is scientific (when it refers to maths, for instance) and applying it to a religious text. Ignoring all the context and basic knowledge of language in order to prove a point. It sounds, let's say 'good' and probably convinces some people. They see this and are amazed by the 'science'. But it's just a linguistic game. It doesn't *mean* what he says it means. And that makes it funny, in the sad kind of way.

The rest of the article goes on and on about the numbers of times words appear in the Qur'an and the meaning of the numbers and blah, blah. I fully admit to letting my mind drift and only skimming those parts. Numerology is a bunch of babbly crap, no matter which religion is trying to make use of it. Our brains are wired to see meaning and patterns. Even where there are none. We see something and our brain will reference it to something else that we know and we're suddenly, 'Aha! It has SIGNIFICANCE! It is a SIGN!' When, in reality, it's nothing. We're making it up without realizing it. The brain. Fascinating. So, really, the number of times a specific word is used in the Qur'an, or the Bible, or whatever, means bupkiss. Especially to me, since I know this and patently Do Not Care. I am Unimpressed By Your Numerology.

The author of the article couldn't resist getting one dig in on the Bible though, at the very end.

"The Bible is not free from paradoxes (contradictions) of self-reference. The famous "Epimenides paradox" is well known. Paul, writing to Titus, says about the Cretans:

12. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own said, The Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. 13. This witness is true….(Titus 1:12-13- The Bible)

An analysis based on self-reference tells us that if the statement that Cretans are always liars is true, then since "one of themselves (a Cretan)" said this, it must be a lie, since Cretans always lie (according to the statement made). So if the statement is true then it is a lie (based on self-reference). Only if the statement that "Cretans are always liars" is false can this "witness" be true. So it is a paradox, a contradiction that cannot be resolved. This shows that the author of Titus had no idea what he/she was talking about."

*cough* *eyes it* *laughs so hard she hurts herself* Author, allow me to introduce you to a rhetorical device known as hyperbole. It's been around for a long, long time. It is the use of exaggeration in order to make a point. But you go on and believe in the utter intent of every sentence to be absolutely 100% factually true. I'll be over here, thinking of what a silly, silly duck you are.


  1. I love reading your posts if only for these:

    *cough* *eyes it* *laughs so hard she hurts herself*

    They just entertain me so much. :)

  2. I haven't read all of the articles yet, working with limited computer time. I outright dismiss some of them, but many are very good. :)

    P.S. Glad to see you and SarahO worked out your differences. At least a little. ^_^

  3. "I then spent the next ten minutes trying to decide if I wanted to laugh hysterically or...no. Just laughing."

    Haha! You are very funny!

  4. Susanne,

    Education through hilarity. That's me!

  5. Heather,

    I'm sure some of the articles are very good. Different authors, different ideas. I just happened to pick a bad one to read first!

    working with limited computer time

    Slaaackerrrr... ;)

    I don't think there was really anything to work out, at least from my end! I was just looking for clarification of her statements. It took us a couple posts to get there, but we did. It certainly wasn't personal or anything. We're hardly going to agree on a lot of points, but that's part of what makes life interesting, right?

  6. Suroor,

    I make people snort water out of their noses in person. I am a stitch I tell you, a stitch!

  7. I've missed something but who is Sarah O?

    And I giggled through this, as these posts of yours are always funny.

    Like Susanne says, *cough* *eyes it*

    I wish I could read this at work. it would make my day go quicker with a slight I know something you dont know smile

  8. Slice,

    You haven't missed anything. In the conversation over on Heather's blog, there were two Sarah's. I was calling them Sarah1 and Sarah2, for the order in which I met them, and Sarah2 said we could call her SarahO (her last name starts with an O) just to make it easier!

    :D I'm glad you are amused!

  9. I'm always confused by the idea that if there are no contradictions, it must be from God. Actually, lots of writings by normal humans have no contradictions. It's the benefit of having one author over many. I always responded that despite the "contradictions" in the Bible, the overall message is compatible. People who follow it can really claim and trust the whole thing, while still understanding that it is inspired human work and subject to some cultural attitudes and practices. That's much harder and more impressive than making one work written at one time by one author compatible with itself, in my opinion. Not necessarily better or more true, but if someone's going to start playing the game of pointing out contradictions, I'm pretty quick to point out the flaws in thinking there shouldn't be any or that that somehow proves it wrong.

    Reminds me of the Bible Code people. I saw a documentary on it once where someone applied the same method to Moby Dick and had similar results. He joked that "the problem there is that, rather than realizing the code doesn't prove or mean anything, people come to the conclusion that God wrote Moby Dick!" Like you said, our brains are weird. And really no one's going to "prove" one over the other in terms of any text or religion, because our brains are going to convince us to believe what we want to believe no matter what, and we can find evidence on any side.

    ...I'm very talkative today. I have missed blogs, can you tell? Sorry for taking over your comments pages. :D

  10. Oh my gosh, the ridiculousness of that stuff... and I think I read the Bible Code or something like that once, and something about it predicting 9/11 in the Bible. Crazy stuff.

    And like Sanil said, it can be done with Moby Dick as well.

    It saddens me when otherwise good sites and references then also have such crappy articles.

    Sidenote, Captcha is mousse... is captcha trying to tell me I can have chocolate mousse tonight? I wouldn't mind that at all...

  11. sanil,

    The thing is, with a careful editor, even something with multiple authors can be made free of contradictions. It's hardly divine!

    I like your response to this argument.

    Yeah. It's basically the same thing as the Bible Code people. And still silly as all get out.

    No, really? People thought that meant Moby Dick was written by God? You're kidding, right?

    And really no one's going to "prove" one over the other in terms of any text or religion, because our brains are going to convince us to believe what we want to believe no matter what, and we can find evidence on any side.

    Which is why I suspect we all might be in the Matrix and just not know it....

    We've missed you! Make all the long comments you like. :D

  12. Becky,

    *sigh* Probably. It's all very sad. It's also related to how people pick dates for the Rapture or Armageddon or whatever. Like the guy predicting that the world's going to end on the 21st of this month. It *can't* end on the 21st. The new Dresden Files book doesn't come out until July! *lol*

    It saddens me when otherwise good sites and references then also have such crappy articles.

    I'll admit, I've been browsing that site, and aside from the article on prayer that Heather directed me to, I've yet to find a good article. It's kind of putting me off the site...

    Sidenote, Captcha is mousse... is captcha trying to tell me I can have chocolate mousse tonight? I wouldn't mind that at all...

    Yes. Yes it is. And we must obey the captcha!

  13. I just wrote in the other comment about Judgement Day on the 21st!


    I like captcha today! Captcha is nice to me :D

    What are all of these May21 people gonna do on the 22nd?

  14. Look to their 'prophet' to figure out why his calculations were wrong. He'll pick a new date and the waiting will begin all over again. This happened with the group that became the 7th Day Adventists and a whole bunch of others as well. If I'm remembering correctly, this guy already and an apocalypse prediction fail.

  15. True!

    *shrugs* That's what the guy in the documentary said. I think/hope he was being sort of sarcastic or exaggerating, and that it was just to make the point that showing people it happened in other books too did nothing to convince people that it wasn't real. Alternately, I can see someone maybe thinking not that God wrote Moby Dick (or any other book that might work the same way), but that God encoded messages into lots of different things written by humans. Not saying it makes sense, but I can see it.

    We are! :D I hated that movie so much. Pretty sure I'm the only one. I like the ideas and some of the stories in Animatrix, but I was unimpressed with the actual movies for reasons I can't quite put my finger on. Oh well.

    Also, Stephen Colbert says you're right and he's already had a failed prediction. I haven't been following the whole story at all and don't even know who the guy is, but Colbert knows all! ^_^

  16. I don't even know who started this prediction, I only heard about it today when my group members asked me why some people thought the earth was ending on the 21st of May (they treat me like some sort of wikipedia :P ) and I googled it :P

  17. sanil,

    I despair of humanity. I really do. But let's go with him being sarcastic. It makes my brain hurt less!

    The whole God coding things into books, etc. okay. A little less insane. Not by much, but just a little.

    *lol* I'm not a huge fan of the Matrix movies. I enjoyed them and the meta stuff that people talk about with them, but they're not insanely fabulous or anything.

    Yes! Colbert *does* know all! I didn't get to watch it last night. I fell asleep, so it's sitting on my dvr for later.

  18. Becky,

    This guy named Harold Camping.


    He's a nutter.

    Do they call you Beckypedia? Because if not, they need to! :D

  19. Oh shoot... yeah I just read a little bit about him, completely crazy. But I think it's even more insane that there's so many people believing in this stuff! And yes, when I posted the link to the article I read on Twitter, asking why people believe this, I got response from two people... they're praying for me... I told them thank you and said I'll talk to them on the 22nd of May.

    Hahahaha, I'll tell them that!

  20. As for the people believing in him? As the saying goes, 'there's one born every minute.'

  21. (they treat me like some sort of wikipedia :P ) and I googled it :P

    Becky - I do that too! :D I have a couple friends who used to call me their Blackberry. They'd ask me a question, I'd take a couple minutes to look up the answer, and then I'd tell them! I think we need to teach classes on basic computer literacy. :D

  22. yup... it's not that difficult :P hahaha

  23. Is commenting back yet? Hmmm


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...