I’ll tell you one argument I’m not going to get into, and that’s the argument about whether Allah is the same as God. I’ve got enough trouble as it is.
Religious people take things way too seriously in my opinion. I mean, look what’s going on in Malaysia right now — Muslims firebombing Christian churches because a court ruled that a Malay-language Catholic newspaper can use the word Allah to mean God.
But Allah is simply the Arabic equivalent of the English word God, you say, and indeed that’s what the Catholic Encyclopedia says (“Allah: The name of God in Arabic”), but of course it’s not so simple. Nothing is simple when theologians get hold of it.
Just consider: “God” had a son, but “Allah” is one and indivisible and could not possibly have a son. So there you go.
“Simply put, the god of Muhammad is not the Father of Jesus … To say that since Allah is Arabic for God and YHWH is Hebrew for God, Christians and Muslims worship the same God is beyond naïve — it is blasphemous.” That’s according to a former Muslim by the name of Emir Caner, writing in the Baptist Press.
Religious thinkers posit a parallel universe made up of invisible beings, and then they make rules for those beings. There’s no way you can keep up with them, but worse, there’s no way they can keep up with each other. No sooner does one posit that God equals Allah than another posits that such a thing is blasphemy, and then off they go, consigning each other to eternal hellfire.
I refuse to participate in such shenanigans.
Counting the years
The abuse I take in this job — it’s just not fair. All I said the other day was the perfectly obvious, that there being no year zero in the Gregorian calendar, the first decade consists of the years 1 through 10, and so on right up to the present, so that our current decade consists of the years 2001 through 2010.
And what happened? I woke up to find an angry letter in the paper, telling me, “Stay with the stuff you really know, and don’t make a fool of yourself by trying to count.”
But all I did was count the same way the Greenwich Observatory counts.
As for what the letter-writer offered by way of alternative, if you can figure it out, you’re a better figure-outer than I am.
He argued as follows: “At the end of your first day on earth, let’s say it was Jan. 1, 2000, you are one day old.” (Fine, so far.)
“This continues for 365 days” (What continues for 365 days? Your being one day old?), “leap years notwithstanding.” (How did leap years get into this?)
“At that time, you are one year old.” (OK, after one year you are one year old.)
“Yes, Carl, I agree that there is no year that is called zero.” (Good.)
“It is the first year” (What is the first year?) “and it is not complete until 365 days have passed. That is year one.” (Very well, the first year is the first year.)
“Year One does not start the next year, that year is Year Two.” (Of course.)
“It does not matter if you’re talking about a living being or a pile of dirt, it starts counting time when it arrives on earth.” (Arrives on earth? What are we talking about, flying saucers?)
And that was it. That was the whole of his argument. Can you imagine offering up such a jumble of non sequiturs and thinking it’s a rebuttal to anything at all?
I should have stayed in bed.
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