My Journey to Disbelief

I still remember those middle school Islam classes where teachers adamantly proclaimed that the very existence of the heavens is irrefutable testament to God’s everlasting presence and how an “atheist” is analogous to a ship without a rudder (i.e. purposeless, morally bankrupt). What I don’t remember is whether I was skeptical to any of this or not. I used to be quite religious and when I was taught Evolution in biology lessons I tried to reconcile it with my faith by thinking that “monkeys came from man, like it says in the Qur’an, not the other way around”.

By the time I was in my mid teens I had grown very uncomfortable with certain aspects of the religion that my parents had faithfully brought me up in (when I came back home from school, my mom sometimes made me perform the midday prayer before she served lunch). I began to question the applicability of divine law, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of sexuality and status of women in Islam among many other things that are too numerous (and foggy in memory) to recall here. I used to share these ideas with my de facto best friend, H, and he was like-minded enough not to recoil in horror but we bounced them off of one another and this perhaps brewed up a healthy level of religious skepticism between the two of us.

A few years down the line, I was in my late teens by then, I met my friend through work who shall be called C. A bigger skeptic than I was (or still am), he played the devil’s advocate and teased my ‘radical’ beliefs almost mercilessly for my reluctance to embrace the orthodox version of Islam. He also didn’t shy away from pointing it out that with beliefs such as mine, I had strayed away from the path of Islam and can no longer call myself a ‘Muslim’. Until then I had never doubted that I was not a Muslim and needless to say, I felt deeply hurt and rejected but now I appreciate C for his honest criticism.

Around the same time I met N on an internet website and his biggest contribution to helping me freeing up my mind was introducing me to the works of Carl Sagan, particularly Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. The 13-part TV series with its outdated graphics from the 80s opened my eyes to the real grandeur of the planet Earth, the Solar System, the vastness of the Milky Way, the existence billions of galaxies, various mind-boggling cosmic phenomena and the seemingly infinite vastness of the broader Universe. It gave me a whole new outlook on life and what it means to be alive in this universe, “… on this tiny mote of dust suspended in a beam of sunlight…” in the words of the great cosmologist himself. Given the incalculable improbability of our very existence from the beginning of the creation of the cosmos, it made painfully clear to me that life cannot simply be an excuse for a Creator to put us here just so we could worship Him. And furthermore, it made me question the motives of the Creator Himself… how could He have managed the creation of the cosmos, both in the macro and micro scales, commanded forces ranging from universal gravitation affecting entire galaxies to strong/weak nuclear forces at the subatomic level, be so petty and petulant to demand that we, humans, worship Him and Him alone or else face eternal damnation in the form of the most sadistic, cruel punishment imaginable for all eternity?!? Try as I might have, I couldn’t wrap my mind around this.

I discussed some of these ideas with N and he helped me set up a blog through which I used to communicate them further, while (trying to) remain respectful to Islam. I dabbled in themes such as the nature of the divine, Islamic xenophobia and victim mentality, predestination, morality, mortality, misery, ethics of homosexuality and freedom of religion. The comments were interesting (some supporting, others condescendingly antagonizing) and they greatly helped to shape the person who I am today. One such comment left by my friend W blatantly (but apologetically) accused me of cherry-picking, that is choosing aspects of religion that I like and jettisoning that I didn’t. He was quite right to point that out and it helped me face the somewhat daunting consequences of such thinking.

This was 3 years ago. I was still desperately trying to cling on to the self-deceiving idea that I was a Muslim despite all my contradictory thinking when I found myself stuck in Southern India for a few days. Not having access to neither television nor internet, I begged my host to take me to a bookstore where I could find something to read and this is where I found Richard Dawkins. His book “The God Delusion” was a godsend (if you can pardon the expression) as it led me to embrace my godlessness. It was thrilling to learn that atheism can lead to a happy, balanced and moral life, where a person was not required to abandon intellectual skepticism, but rather nourished it. It opened my eyes to morality being independent from religion (although the latter sometimes inspire the former) and how there was no logical evidence that demonstrably proves God’s existence. I have great respect for Richard and since then, have read “A Selfish Gene” which shows how prolific a science writer he truly is, able to explain the most complicated concepts of gene-centered evolutionary biology with relative ease, although I do not share some of his ideas on religion such as that it is an inherently evil force that drives us, and that humanity is better off without it.

After Dawkins, I began to read into theology, religion and critical analysis of Islam and other religions. To this end, I have even recently finished reading the Qur’an with commentary from Yusuf Ali nonetheless (It is the most sleep inducing book I have ever read and its choke full of contradictions and the rantings of an insanely narcissistic excuse of a deity. No wonder most Muslims never bother to read it. This is the subject of a future post). I debated with friends like C, whose confidence of the superiority or Islam (actually, disguised bigotry) has slowly diminished and ironically enough, he is finding himself in the same position I was in, a few years ago when I first met him. I don’t take comfort in my confident stance on religion and his contrastingly shaky faith, and have on occasion advised him that he should try to relax and not exhaust himself with it. Like myself just a couple of years ago, he is worried about the apparent meaninglessness and vacuousness of life when confronted with our eventual mortality sans an omnipotent creator. I explained to him that even if God does not exist, and by extension, if the afterlife is just a fanciful figment of human imagination, we should feel privileged to be alive at all, again referring back to the astronomical improbability of the universe and its governing laws. I have told him that we can never be certain of such supernatural nonsense that we are indoctrinated into believing unquestioningly from early childhood, but part of being human is to nourish and nurture our inherent inquisitiveness, to know more about ourselves and our surrounding, which offers too many distractions in the form of discoveries that one lifetime cannot possibly fathom. I told him that I find meaning in life through science and the pursuit of knowledge.

Another point that we had discussed was human misery; the seeming injustice of life, some being born into abject poverty or disease or conflict and contrasted by our own relatively luxuriant lives, in which we are still thrust into heart-rending sorrow at the thought of never again holding a loved one who recently passed. I told him that I have consoled myself believing that my misery and sadness shall only exist as long as I do. That I seek solace in my own mortality.

Life maybe full of heartache and pain and suffering but I have never forgotten my blessings. I was born into a middle class family to doting parents who didn’t get me everything but never made me feel that I was lacking anything. I got the chance to study what I really wanted; science, all the way to higher education. I have a limited number of friends who I trust completely and can be myself around them. But above all, what I truly cherish in life are parents who loves me unconditionally. I do not have to hide who I really am around them and freely discuss my frustrations with them and often they would agree with me. I have rebuked dad for chiming in with the anti-Semitic rhetoric and mom for believing in irrational practices on countless occasions. Of course, this has led to a few heated arguments with particularly my mom but we have never let our disagreements come between us. What I really like about my parents are that they are not as close-minded as most of their generation, as proved by a recent conversation in which mom admitted that she would only accept a hadith that appealed to her sense of morality and logic. A few months ago, my mom asked me if I believed in God (dad was there too) and I flatly told them that I didn’t have any reason to do so, which is the honest to goodness truth. I don’t know, and seriously, at this stage of my life, I simply don’t care whether He exists or not. I answered this truthfully because I was confident that they would understand me and not betray our trust by bringing in a Mullah like some other parents have done with their ‘wayward’ kids. Also because I had earlier challenged my mom to prove that she loves God more than she does me (she failed). Having parents like this makes me feel even more privileged, especially having met friends like W who claimed one of his parents broke down in front of him when he came out. I feel sorry for the guy who still has to go to the Friday prayers with its mind-numbing sermons in order to keep up the charade.

Having said all of this, I am forced to come back to the reality in which I am sitting here typing away. The most recently amended constitution does not respect individual human rights or even human dignity for that matter and the Nazim incident of earlier this year demonstrates that the current socio-political climate of the Maldives does not provide a very accommodating setting for people such as myself but in fact is downright hostile. A person now stands to lose his life for defiance where it used to be merely his citizenship. The situation is further exacerbated by certain factions of the population that has vowed to demonize secularism and to taint any liberal idea with Islamophobia or anti-Islamism. I am a pessimistic person and I don’t foresee how we could dig ourselves out of the country’s spiraling demise to become an eventual theocratic hellhole that mirrors the so-called Islamic cultural masters, Saudi Arabia. My friend C thinks “… the majority of people shall rule whether you like it not, whether its fair or not. If you suddenly find yourself in a situation where you cannot live with the extant ideals or customs of a country, whether its your own or foreign, just pack up and seek refuge elsewhere, where you feel welcome. Non-Muslim Maldivians should say adieu just like the women in France who insist on wearing the headscarf should consider living in Iran“. The way I figure it, its either this or stand and fight. I haven’t decided just yet.

Another young man who couldn’t cope with the pressure of a society that was increasingly becoming more and more radicalized, took the easy way out and committed suicide. I cannot imagine myself in his shoes for I do not express myself around strangers or even relatives so I cannot really fathom the hostility that he felt, nor the disappointment of his parents that would have surely burdened his heart. But I would have liked to tell him that this life that we have right here, regardless of whether God exists or not, is the only life that we are absolutely certain to have. I would have told him to “try until your very last fighting breath not to squander it“.

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55 Comments

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55 responses to “My Journey to Disbelief

  1. Ns

    excellent post. a good read

  2. sim

    Good read. But the last paragraph broke everything. ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN. That tells about your belief. How deep your belief is. Just like Muslims and Christians. That certainly is not science. Does that not tell you something? Something about you!

  3. idreesbe

    a rather long post.. and here are a few points i came across..

    1. “monkeys came from man, like it says in the Qur’an, not the other way around”.

    2. “how could He have managed the creation of the cosmos, both in the macro and micro scales, commanded forces ranging from universal gravitation affecting entire galaxies to strong/weak nuclear forces at the subatomic level, be so petty and petulant to demand that we, ….”

    3. “astronomical improbability of the universe and its governing laws. …”

    now a few questions, if i may..
    1. did quruan say humans came from monkeys? or vice-versa? if so where?
    2. suppose you are a computer. a human designed you (the computer). you were designed just like any other powerful modern computer. but the human then uses you to play solitaire… a pretty boring game considering the good hardware built in to you. now what will you (the computer) do? you cannot rebel against a user or your maker because you are not programmed to ‘rebel’ or throw tantrums… if you were provided with programs to do that then what will you do?…
    3.” astronomical improbability of the universe and its governing laws. ” does this not imply the power of a superior being? how strong is the science against god as against the science for god? there is a hadhees that goes like this. once the sahaabaa asked the prophet muhammad why god does not punish us for our sins at the spot.. to which the prophet said that this earth and whatever we see does not account even for the weight of a mosquito’s wings in the sight of Allah. i am sure you would have come across this hadhees aswell.. but what do you make of this. i am not wishing to debate you or to to find fault with your reasons to abandon faith. just interacting because this is an interesting blog. . anyways

  4. Aslam

    @sim
    Absolutely certain because you’re living this life. Nothing about belief there.

  5. Leo

    @Sim: As Aslam pointed out, I was certain of this life and unless I am mistaking you for a Solipsist, you’ll have a hard time disagreeing with this.
    @idhreesbe, you may and I’ll try to respond:
    1) The Qur’an mentions in 2:65 And well ye knew those amongst you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath: We said to them: “Be ye apes, despised and rejected. Definitely not vice versa and I didn’t imply it.
    2) I think you are drawing up a false analogy there. Computers are neither sentient nor sapient, whereas we are. And for us, rebelling against the creator is really not an option regardless of whether it exists or not, whereas a computer that develops sentience can probably find its creators to rebel against (a la The Matrix)
    3) Please understand that improbable does not equate with impossible. When we look around us, we see even the most (deceptively) simplest thing does not pop into existence, but rather has a trail of naturalistic causation effects preceding it. Why shouldn’t we do the same thing for more arguably complex phenomena such as the point of creation itself? I am not ruling out a creator here, as a scientist I can’t do that, but I am not going to invoke the untestable and unprovable just to get out of a tricky question. As for the hadith that you pointed out, to me it just proves the folly of either God’s incapability or unwillingness to prevent the suffering of both the mosquito and the millions of dead people attributed to malaria. The sahaba probably didn’t know this when he asked it of Muhammad.

  6. idreesbe

    1. I overlooked this important phrase you used which is ” I used to be quite religious and when I was taught Evolution in biology lessons I tried to reconcile it with my faith by …” So your problem was trying to reconcile religion into ‘evolution’. Now the question is should one really do this? Anyways that verse is universally understood as a special case of punishment god ordered for violating Sabbath..
    2. the whole point was that if we are a creation of god, then god may use us to suit his laws. these laws doesn’t have to be merciful, beneficial or anything. the point is if god created all this including us then who are we to say how god shall govern his creation? The Dawkins and Darwins has this problem of them coming out of Christianity to atheism and agnosticism. For them the big problem of god Himself betting a son through human biology will be enough of a problem to find another way to explain away god’s creation.
    3. the improbable indeed is not the same as impossible. but from what knowledge are we differentiating both this phenomena? if we really appreciate the vastness and incredibleness of the space and what it contains, (which is only the visible part to us and our instrumentations) then maybe we can humbly look down to us and think why are we judging all this too soon., We have not exhausted any field of knowledge yet, nor have we even scratched the surface of any knowledge yet. what we have is roughly a 100 or 200 years of ‘real progress’ in science which came to being by our discovery of a few metals and a few properties such as magnetism. from this we created computers, the www, got all of humanity a platform to share knowledge etc .. so we it seems just have started.. dho? so methinks its too early to disregard god yet.

    • Leo

      Idreesbe, your own words “… these laws doesn’t have to be merciful, beneficial or anything”. I wonder what this says about the being who set down these laws… As for your observation on us just beginning to scratch the surface of the vast body of knowledge that exists in the cosmos, I can’t possibly agree with you more on this. And if we uncover any such knowledge that leads irrefutably to the divine everlasting presence of an almighty god, then I would be first in line to sing hymns glorifying him. Until then, I consider it my God-given right (pun intended) to reserve my judgment.

      Oh, and no respectable scientist (or intelligent person) would claim to know with absolute certainty that there is no god. Darwin himself was an agnostic and Dawkins went on record saying that he is 99.9% sure that there is no god. As far as I am concerned, only a fool will claim absolute certainty, either way… or someone who is happy deceiving even himself. The last bit is just my two cents.

    • the point is if god created all this including us then who are we to say how god shall govern his creation?

      I am an independent, sentient, feeling being. If I thought for one moment that such a god existed, I would not feel one bit duty-bound to obey any such god. Robots can obey their masters – it’s what they are programmed to do without question of thought. I’m not a robot. If such a god did not like that, it should not have given any of us the ability to assess and judge the validity of any rule. A moot point, since I don’t believe for one moment that any god exists, let alone that jerk.

      I will judge for myself whether the rules laid down are just. Why? Because I am capable of doing so. To give up that duty – and it is a duty – is utterly immoral. The excuse that “I was only carrying out orders” didn’t work at Nuremberg and it doesn’t work now. Why on earth would you not question the rules? If the rules don’t make sense, then any god requiring its creation to obey a standard that cannot be understood is itself patently immoral.

      By the way, point 3 is just one great big pathetic argument from ignorance unworthy of any more response than has already been given.

  7. Pingback: My Journey to Disbelief « Holhuashi of Reason

  8. IN AL’QURAN THERE WAS STORY ABOUT PROPHET ADAM ( MALE ) & HAWA (EVA = EVE = FEMALE)

    >>>>

    ALLAH CREATED BOTH OF THEM IN 7 HEAVENS SOLACE ABOVE skies AS FIRST HUMAN COUPLE

    >>>>>>

    IF YOU BELIEVED YOUR FIRST ANCESSTOR CAME FROM MONGKEY
    YOU SHOULD LIVE IN ZOO WITH ANIMAL UNTIL YOUR DEATH COMES

    & YOU WILL BE ALIVE AGAIN TO REST IN THE PIT OF HELL TORMENT FOREVER AND EVER

    >>>>> BUT

    IF YOU BELIEVED YOUR FIRST ANCESSTOR WERE PROPHET ADAM & HIS WIVE WHO LIVE IN 7 HEAVENS SOLACE ABOVE skies right now because ALLAH forgave their sin

    >>>>> SO >>>>>>>

    YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO ENTER 7 HEAVENS SOLACE ABOVE skies before your death comes

  9. idreesbe

    @Leo:
    “Idreesbe, your own words “… these laws doesn’t have to be merciful, beneficial or anything”..” Here i am not setting the laws. just pointing out the fact that we expect god to be merciful and beneficial for us selectively . This is selfishness. we are expecting this out of a craving for our advantage. for example its very frequent that atheists and agnostics will attack the narration about hell but are mostly silent about paradise. This is so exactly because of this. Another point is that when we see human misery and suffering we always subconsciously put the blame to god saying He is responsible for this suffering. the opposite of which, where humans revel in good health and wealth, we never give god much share of thanks or in gratitude..

    another point “And if we uncover any such knowledge that leads irrefutably to the divine everlasting presence of an almighty god….” for those who believe in god, this knowledge has already been arrived at. You are of course most welcome to your views and beliefs. And its like the half full half empty thing. Browsing through the pics on apod the believer only sees the grandeur of the creation while the atheist see something else..

    • Leo

      Idreesbe, you are beginning to sound more and more like an apologist, trying in vain to do the impossible, i.e. speak the mind of God. I don’t think the atheist’s dilemma arises out of selfishness, because I’ve never heard one say that she rejected god as a personal vendetta for the crappy life he (god) bestowed on her (and her kinfolk or even her species). That would be absurd. From my perspective, disbelief arises from knowing the contradiction between an omnipotent and omniscient deity who created a world in chaos where, sentient or not, every living creature suffers. The creator seems incapable (in which case he is not omnipotent) or just don’t care (in which case he is evil). If feeling compassion and sensing that there is none from your supposed creator, and then simply ruling it out of the equation, seems like selfishness to you, thne we could all be a little bit more selfish for a change.

      Now before you set off on me describing god using human values, I’ll have to point out that you’d be defending an already heavily anthropomorphized deity who feels insanely jealous among half a dozen other petty human grievances.

      Ahh… heaven. I don’t know what you have reading but I’ve come across quite a lot of godless talk where people have expressed disbelief based on the injustice of granting eternal heaven or hell for a lifetime of deeds as well as contemplation of what actual eternal heaven would feel like… we, humans, without our memories and knowledge are molded in a world that is finite and our expectations of life are contrasted by both happiness and sorrow. Life in paradise, where only happiness exists forever and ever, would begin to feel like an inescapable prison in no time, of course, provided that you still are human. I can’t speak for what my “eternal soul” would feel like but if it doesn’t feel human, if its incapable of feeling love, compassion, happiness, sorrow, anger and jealousy, how would I be different from the formless ethereal bag of gas we call god? No thanks.

      • idreesbe

        i observed a few more points in here too.. hope you won’t mind. surely you would have come across lots of ungodly talk like this before..

        1. “disbelief arises from knowing the contradiction between an omnipotent and omniscient deity …” this is very true, if you do not have a good definition of the problem then its very difficult to find an answer to it.

        2.”…, sentient or not, every living creature suffers…” dunno where you get this. I don’t think i know a person who is really suffering from anything. i am surrounded by happy people and i do not seem to see the suffering you mention.. not joking. but i believe this belief in everything is suffering is much more particular to atheists and agnostics. there is research that believers are more happy and content with their lives than those who do not believe.

        3. “The creator seems incapable (in which case he is not omnipotent) or just don’t care (in which case he is evil)…” Why shall god care to what happens to us? we are not god’s flesh or blood like Christians believe, no? why is god evil if he chose not to care? Why don’t we give god a little bit of freedom to do with his creation as he pleases?

        4. “Life in paradise, where only happiness exists forever and ever, would begin to feel like an inescapable prison in no time, of course, provided that you still are human.” That word ‘provided’ , who provided that? you? 🙂 would it be very difficult for a god who can design a paradise to change our form and substance and temperaments to more grateful beings who really never gets bored by eternal bliss? why are we trying to keep some constant and let others vary?

        5. “I can’t speak for what my “eternal soul” would feel like but if it doesn’t feel human, if its incapable of feeling love, compassion, happiness, sorrow, anger and jealousy,” What if you felt like a human, you felt love, compassion, happiness, and jealousy also in paradise? who said these qualities did not belong in paradise?

      • Leo

        I don’t mind at all… you don’t have to be even more apologetic than you are already, 😛
        1) Since you agreed with me, nothing more to add here.
        2) Point taken but please understand that just because you and those around you do not suffer (at the moment, I might add) does not give you the right to remain oblivious to the constant suffering of all living things, which by the way, atheists and agnostics are most likely to come to terms with. Do pick up a book on biology. And as for your assertion that believers are happier than non-believers, you’ll need evidence to back something up like that. Surely, speaking to someone like me, you should know that.
        3)Why should he care? Why shouldn’t he care? Why create us? I am equipped with only a human level of compassion and knowledge but I would not thrust upon my creation the kind of world that the supposed creator of the universe has thrust upon us, and I don’t even claim to be omniscient.
        4) God creating a paradise that is perfect? Why should he? Why should he care? Those questions are applicable assuming that he is even capable of doing so, and given the track record (assuming for a second that he exists), I strongly doubt he could.
        5) I hate to answer a question with another question, but who said that those emotions exist in paradise? You’re the first person I know who has even suggested such a thing.

  10. idreesbe

    @shameless..
    ignorance is a little bit too strong a word i thinks. The problem with interacting with atheists and agnostics is always like this. The atheists and agnostics will always make the everyone else ignorant.. Why is this? I have not come across any dumb or ignorant atheist yet. Surely there shall be a little of them also dho? Or is it that the brightest of human race have joined the atheist camp and left us the rest with the not-so-brights?
    Ignorance is also visible in the statement about Nuremberg because its quite acknowledged that those trials were neither fair nor just.

    coming back to your version of robots “Robots can obey their masters – it’s what they are programmed to do without question of thought. I’m not a robot…” such robots are the bottom of the scale robots now. Ai has moved very far from that now.

    Now what if you are a very advanced robot living in autonomously in some far flung planet? your Ai allows you to rebel against your creator. You are also aware that you have a creator, your ai just arrived at that after booting for first time, looking at the surroundings by its cameras and other sensors. then what?

    • Leo

      You are forgetting that in the case of very advanced AI, provided that there is something to rebel against, their creators are just a stone’s throw away. The robots can demand their creator, face to face, to make them understand and justify why they expect the robots to do their bidding and how exactly it benefits both parties.

    • I didn’t say (at that time) you were ignorant. I said it was an argument from ignorance, or argumentum ad ignorantium, a very, very common logic fallacy (especially in apologetics). Since you are apparently unaware of even the most basic of logic fallacies, the use of the word ‘ignorant’ in this context is not at all “too stong”. By your own display of ignorance the use of the word is now quite apropros.

      • Leo

        Typical of most religious folk to be insulted when someone points out the argument from ignorance fallacy. They can’t come up with defense so they take offense.

      • idreesbe

        The third point i raised is “is it not a little bit too early to reject god?” this question is not evidence for god or against god. i am only pointing out a simple mathematical fact. that with few variables the choices are smaller, that when there are abundance of variables then its get much more interesting.
        ok here is another example.
        i am only pointing out our ignorance collectively as humans. we only discoverd fractals 20 years ago and look at how much more interesting it becomes with one added shape? Now imagine what will happen if we were able to add just a few more operators and signs to mathematics and logics? will then logic be any more logical?

      • If we are so ignorant, how do you know there is a god? Seems to me the argument cuts both ways, which is exactly why it is a logic fallacy. Saying “You can’t prove there is no teapot on the moon, so there might be or is a teapot there” is the argument from ignorance.

        A burden of proof shift fallacy is also implied, since you are clearly suggesting that it is up to us to show that there is no god. Nonsense. We are not the ones making the claim. You claim a god exist, therefor it is up to you provide the evidence to support it. The proper position in the face of insufficient or nonexistent evidence (as it is in this case) is to not accept ‘X’, where in this context X = the existence of a particular god.

        Trying to hide your god claim in the gaps of our knowledge isn’t logic. It is the antithesis of logic.

  11. idreesbe

    you are only implying that somethings will remain constant regardless of what happens. regardless of new realities which might arise. Things like language, disciplines are never static, they all move. so clinging to one assertion and hoping that nothing will happen in future is never bright.

    • Leo

      @idreesbe: Neither is filling in the blanks of human knowledge with fanciful fiction that has demonstrably evil side effects. If you must insist that our conclusion about god not existing is premature, what does it say about your own conclusion to the contrary?
      @shameless: bravo for pointing out who here carries the burden of proof.

    • you are only implying that somethings will remain constant regardless of what happens. regardless of new realities which might arise.

      Another example of argumentum ad ignorantium? “Things might change and I might be shown to be correct” is nothing more than wishful thinking. I am quite justified in drawing provisional conclusions. I accept the possibility that there might be a god. So what? First, it’s one heck of a long shot. Second, no god claim I am aware of has one shred of evidence in support. Third, the current state of reliable knowledge (the only type of knowledge that can be shown to be knowledge…) – the only thing which should be influencing our conclusions – and the trend of where knowledge is going (you’re right, knowledge changes, BUT it tends toward convergence, not to anything completely new) excludes in entirety the need for any deity in explaining reality. That’s more than enough for me to not accept any god existence claim. There’s a reason why every cosmologist is an atheist, and that is why.

      This definitely refutes the Abrahamic god, which is the god I am presuming you believe in – a creator god that answers prayer and is all-knowing, all-powerful and all-beneficent (those last three make such a god a logical impossibility anyway, as the Problem of Evil makes such a god intractible).

      Funny how the “nonexistent” and “invisible” look exactly the same.

      @Leo – we should ALWAYS remember where the burden of proof lies. Hard to get into trouble in an argument that way. Once an apologist has you playing that game, he/she can twist you up in knots and for no valid reason (William Lane Craig comes to mind for some reason). It is impossible for them to play that game of illogic if we simply refuse to play. The more practice with this, the better we get.

  12. Pingback: My Journey to Disbelief | Hilath Online

  13. Its interesting that you like to read books. So you can read this book as wellnicebooktoread

    • Sorry, but I doubt any of us here would consider Islam as having any more evidence in its favor than Christianity. The book which you link to makes an assumption that Allah exists, an assumption that I have no reason to accept as true. The suspension of disbelief that all religions demand is an immoral one. Come back when you have positive evidence for the claim and we’ll listen. Till then, I’ll leave you with a little David Hume –

      If we take in our hand any volume of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance, let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames, for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.

  14. veryape

    Religion is bullshit!

  15. Idreesebe travels the internets looking for godless atheists and agnostics and new converts. Then he uses time tested illogic in a manner that seem almost divine, to try and turn them back to god.

    He then fails. And he has failed since the godless converts took to the internets.

    He is doing god’s work though.

    Pity, he could use some special divine concessions.

  16. chiphaan

    If u believe robots got there master. where is our master? whom shall we obey to? Who shall command us?
    Are the robots useless? so are we? i dont think so. we too are here for some reason.
    Plus why do u think science and scientists are much superior while they waste 1.3 Trillion USDollars to build a space shuttle, of course the money is enough to help so called victims of malaria you have mentioned as the sahab forgot while he presented his question to prophet.
    Just do one thing, take a good look around u and ask yourself . is this all useless??

    • Leo

      Argh, sick and tired of repeating this over and over again. Everything we know about robots point to them being designed and built by human hands. We can read about the process, we can see it with our own eyes or with sufficient knowledge and experience, we can even build the darned things ourselves. Could you say the same thing for us or any organic life form?

      What makes you think that scientists are the ones slumped into a corner of a mosque, rosary beads in handing, mindlessly chanting “subhanallah” doing nothing about Malaria? There is a lot of progress medical research, in case you are oblivious to that as well. And for your information, space exploration is the next logical frontier in our evolution as a species and we stand to gain valuable insight into the functioning of the universe, and this believe it or not, could help us further shape our future as a civilization and species.

      • Argh, sick and tired of repeating this over and over again. Everything we know about robots point to them being designed and built by human hands. We can read about the process, we can see it with our own eyes or with sufficient knowledge and experience, we can even build the darned things ourselves. Could you say the same thing for us or any organic life form?

        Exactly. The argument is a false analogy. A logic fallacy. What else is new from apologists?

    • Just do one thing, take a good look around u and ask yourself . is this all useless??

      Religion certainly is. What treatments for malaria has religion developed? Belief in god could not even tell us what caused malaria. And is the space shuttle really useless? I hardly think so. It has been deeply involved in placing communications satellites in orbit which allow us to communicate with those in need even when telephone lines are made inoperative due to earthquake, etc., thus allowing more efficient distribution of aid.

      And, you know what? Nothing about religion has enhanced, equalled or supplemented he results that science has allowed. Science has to treat religion as if it weren’t there in order to work. Indeed, religion often hampers reaping the benefits of applying scientific methods.

  17. hussain

    how do i contact you? can i have your emaill address?

  18. Ibrahim

    chiphaan:
    you look for reason. reasons, explanations, the answers to the whys of things are based in human experience. if you’ve not experienced the cause with your senses it’s plainly not there. there is no answer to your why. if you think that makes things useless it is very unfortunate. you must free yourself from this imagined uselessness. you can ask questions about causation with regard to robots because you KNOW that robots are created by humans from your experience.. you cannot apply the same reasoning to the creation of humans, and the natural world.

  19. faisal

    Interesting read, specially when the reason that is put forward for your disbelief is for the lack of an alternative explanation of a god’s existence. Surely the existence of something does not depend on the failure to prove its non-existence or vice versa. Also of note is how certain aspects of Dawkin’s thoughts are set aside easily. After all, the whole of Dawkin’s arguments are based on the assumption that there is no need for a deity, and by extension a religion. Such selective dismissal does not conform to a logic based on science. Besides, scientists like Einstein never abandoned God in order to explain the physical reality, for that is all what it does. Science does not provide a reason why, but only explain how some phenomenon occur.

    The misery (that you tend to dismiss because it doesn’t happen to you) is prevalent on earth are easily attributable to the actions or inactions of us humans. While children are dying in developed countries from obesity, children in the developing world are dying of hunger and starvation. It is a matter of distribution of resources from those who have been ‘blessed’ ( as you describe yourself) to give a helping hand to the less fortunate. Disasters such as earthquakes, famine all contribute too. But they are not explained by science and nor can it be prevented. Do you think that science could or even should prevent such disasters? Such misery of others is a way, perhaps, of a chance to be humble, much like the “tiny mote” should let us reflect on the reason of our existence.

    Here is some food for thought. Let us suppose there is a very minute chance that there is life after death and the rewards are contingent upon how good a person you are in your life here on earth, in accordance with the laws of a God that created everything. Would it not be wiser to be good and follow the laws that are set out? There is nothing that would be lost- you get to enjoy science and its explanations and inventions, and all the other blessings here on earth. A belief in a God, in exchange for something good. A sensible bargain perhaps?

    Quick question: how has the purpose of your life changed since your journey into disbelief?

    (By the way try the Quran translation by Rashad Khalifa. It definitely won’t induce any sleep)

    • Leo

      I have made it clear that I do not agree with Dawkins on everything, and one of them is his dismissive attitude towards organized religion. Oh, and just for the record, Einstein himself was an agnostic so that kinda means he didn’t embrace the concept of god either.

      I don’t think I dismissed misery just because it doesn’t affect me on the blog so I don’t get what you are saying there. Perhaps I should’ve elaborated more, but suffering is not just a human enterprise, it exists everywhere in the biosphere. And I think you are a bit wrong to suggest that all human suffering could be attributed to our own doing and this is demonstrated by you, yourself by mentioning disease, famine and natural disasters. You are also wrong to assume that science cannot prevent such catastrophes (ever heard of GM food to combat famine or better engineering to prevent earthquake destruction?). Although I must accept that we are still a very long way from actual prevention. It sounded like you were suggesting that we should just give up trying to make a better world and just be humble like feeble sheep bowed down in eternal servitude. This is not what science envisions, and I would argue, neither is it the ideals of a culture and civilization.

      Its not a good contingency just to be good because there is a chance of an afterlife and a wrathful deity eagerly waiting for you, to either reward or punish. Truth be told, it sounds like a terrible and morally bankrupt reason to be good. Furthermore, I would think that a god that expects us to be good for this kind of fraudulent rationale is either grossly incompetent or inherently evil.

      And to answer your last question, I am much more content with life, as I can’t complain about the cards that I was dealt. I try to do good fully realizing that I expect no reward from it, and that makes the experience much more gratifying and enlivens my spirit. I no longer look condescendingly on those who do not share my outlook on life. I have begun to value human life and liberty and understand the consequences of our individual and/or social decisions in life and who they sometimes echo through eternity, for either the good of detriment of our descendants. I feel free to build on a moral system of my own (based on logic and freedom) and I do not feel guilty for transgressing on any fictitious divine laws that are not grounded in reality. I feel free to be who I am…

      I was planning on writing a whole post dedicated on how I felt being free from religion and I will try to read the second chapter with Khalifa’s translation but one yawn and that’s it.

  20. Surely the existence of something does not depend on the failure to prove its non-existence or vice versa.

    Completely true. And just as completely irrelevant to the question of whether we should believe that that something exists or not.

    Also of note is how certain aspects of Dawkin’s thoughts are set aside easily. After all, the whole of Dawkin’s arguments are based on the assumption that there is no need for a deity, and by extension a religion. Such selective dismissal does not conform to a logic based on science.

    No, Dawkins is not making any assumption. There is no reason to accept the claim that any god is necessary until there is evidence that this is so. Modern cosmology has shown us that no deity is necessary to explain the origin of the universe. Modern biochemistry has shown us that there is nothing outside of natural processes needed to account for abiogenesis. Natural selection, along with sexual selection and genetic drift, account completely for the diversity of life on this planet. There is absolutely no indication that any deity had any hand in any of these. Application of Occam’s Razor leaves god on the cutting room floor. It is you that is making the assumptions, not Professor Dawkins, and it is unscientific to make the assumption that a deity is necessary without the requisite evidence that points toward its validity. The argumentum ad ignorantium you obviously rely on, and the circular reasoning you employ in presupposing god is necessary therefor god exists makes it YOU whose arguments are easly dismissed, not Dawkins.

    Besides, scientists like Einstein never abandoned God in order to explain the physical reality, for that is all what it does.

    Okay. This is a demonstration of ignorance “ignorance”. When Einstein was talking about god and religion, he was speaking about the feelings of awe and wonder he felt when he considered the beauty of the universe. These were just the closest terms which could convey what he felt. Einstein believed in the “god of Spinoza”, not the Abrahamic god –

    It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. ~ Albert Einstein

    The misery (that you tend to dismiss because it doesn’t happen to you) is prevalent on earth are easily attributable to the actions or inactions of us humans.

    So famine, drought, flood, earthquake, tsunami, landslides, etc. are due to human action or inaction? Give. Me. A. BREAK! It’s amazing that the “invisible” looks identical to the “nonexistent”. Even if I agreed with you, when someone fails to step in to prevent suffering that someone is evil, whether or not that someone is a god or a human. There is no defense for the existence of an omnibeneficent/omniscient/omnipotent deity. It simply can not exist in the face of the Problem of Evil.

    But they are not explained by science and nor can it be prevented. Do you think that science could or even should prevent such disasters?

    Let’s dispense with the obvious Argument from Ignorance in the first sentence (and the fact that using the methods of science we most certainly ?CAN explain these things) and move on to the second. Science doesn’t prevent anything. It is a toolbox for explaining phenomena. So let’s change the question to one that makes sense: Should scientists work to prevent such disasters?

    Of COURSE! And that is what many scientists do. Vulcanologists study volcanoes in an effort to predict eruptions. Such people saved many lives in places such as Montserrat. Because of the work of scientists we can predict tsunamis and warn people who might be affected and otherwise killed to get out of the way. You might as well ask if we should fight cancer, as many doctors using evidence-based medicine (there is no other kind). To answer your question in any other way is to declare oneself morally bankrupt!

    Yet the god you believe in does nothing despite the claim of an all merciful/all just god (which in itself is a logical impossibility). I don’t say this because I am angry at god. I am no more angry at god than I am at leprachauns or unicorns. I say it because it is damning evidence against the claim that an omnibenevolent/omniscient/omnipotent god exists.

    Here is some food for thought. Let us suppose there is a very minute chance that there is life after death and the rewards are contingent upon how good a person you are in your life here on earth, in accordance with the laws of a God that created everything. Would it not be wiser to be good and follow the laws that are set out?

    Oh my. Yet another version of Pascal’s Wager. Do you honestly think you lose nothing by believing and obeying a god that doesn’t exist? You will have lived the one and only shot you have at life based on a LIE. That is tragedy beyond description.

    And let’s say there is a god and this god is testing us. It has very carefully left no evidence for its existence and will only allow those people who are intelligent enough to realize that there is no reason to believe in its existence into paradise. That is just as likely as the one you are describing. On the off chance that this is the god that exists, should you not also be rejecting the claim of said deity’s existence?

    Or how about this? What if it were the Norse gods that existed and you have not even attempted to die in battle and so will not be allowed into Valhalla? That would be awful! You should be out there slaying your enemies if there was even an infinitesimal chance that such a horrible fate awaits you!

    Pascal’s Wager? Seriously? Don’t you think that believing just because it might be advantageous for me to do so is a) ridicuolous and b) utterly dishonest? Give. Me. A. BREAK!

    Here’s a question for you regarding the character of Islam: What is the penalty for apostacy, for people who do not believe in the same god as you?

    • Leo

      Shamelessly Atheist, try to tone it down, you’re scaring the theists away. Kidding. If only someone like you spoke Dhivehi, our native tongue…. try to talk reason into the majority of people who blindly follow a progressively more radical and suffocating version of Islam.

      • Shamelessly Atheist, try to tone it down, you’re scaring the theists away.

        LOL! Had me going for a second there…

        I am ashamed to say I had to look up “Dhivehi”. I live in Canada and tolerance of religion or irreligion is a way of life here, despite our proximity to the US. We actively exclude religion from political discourse here, which is really weird since most of the television channels available to us are from the US where political campaign ads are all about how religious a candidate is. Even during an election, discussion of religion is considered out-of-bounds. I wish I could say that this will continue in Canada, but eventually this will change. It already is, really, since we have a young-earth creationist as a Prime Minister and as Minister of Science & Industry (a chiropractor who, when asked if he believed in evolution, responded that he didn’t think questions about his religion were appropriate. Says t all, don’t it? Yeek!).

        You will have to tell me how things are in your corner of the world, as I am always interested that kind of thing. In fact, I urge you to phone in to a television program in Austin, Texas (of all places) called The Atheist Experience. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but it really had an effect on maturing my viewpoints. I’ve talked with Matt Dillahunty personally and he’s a great guy. I KNOW they are interested in hearing about atheism in any part of the world and would absolutely be interested in hearing about your story.

        If you haven’t heard of the show, you can view it here, or listen to the sister podcast The Non-Prophets (which in my estimation is better, since it has none of the limitations impopsed upon it by the FCC). Matt is truly awesome (though he makes me look like a choirboy at times) , was once training to be a Baptist minister and is a searcher for truth through logic, reason and evidence, which I also believe is the only way to go. Yeah, it makes me a bit of a “Mr. Spock”, but I don’t care. My wife certainly doesn’t mind. I like to think it’s one of the things that attracted her to me.

        When I last saw my mother this past summer she asked me to go with her to pick up Richard Dawkins latest (excellent) book “The Greatest Show On Earth”. She’s over 70. I think that’s awesome! As for my tone, a few years ago, she told me rhetorically “You don’t suffer fools, do you?”

        Nope.

      • Leo

        Oh, you don’t have to be embarrassed about not knowing a language spoken by 300,000 islanders in the middle of the Indian ocean. Never looked into Canada’s religious scene, but I must admit that given the proximity to the U.S. I always assumed that you would at least partially share the “enthusiasm”. I am currently living in England and Canada sounds pretty much like it. For example, politicians cannot bring up religion. I dream of a day when such secularism shows up in our sandy shores, but given the direction it is taking, that is very unlikely. People nowadays react to words like secularism or atheism in a manner normally reserved for say baby-eating. All thanks to growing fundamentalists who have hijacked Islam (they pounced on the opportunity to terrorize the islanders by claiming that the 2005 Indian ocean tsunami was divine wrath) . If anyone criticizes them, it is perceived as an attack on Islam so basically everyone is too scared to do anything. Here is article 9 of our constitution, I am sure you’ll have a hard time believing that a country, signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ratified this embarrassment in 2008:

        9. (a) The following persons are citizens of the
        Maldives:
        1. citizens of the Maldives at the
        commencement of this Constitution;
        2. children born to a citizen of the Maldives;
        and
        3. foreigners who, in accordance with the
        law, become citizens of the Maldives.
        (b) No citizen of the Maldives may be deprived of
        citizenship.
        (c) Any person who wishes to relinquish his
        citizenship may do so in accordance with law.
        (d) Despite the provisions of article (a) a non-
        Muslim may not become a citizen of the
        Maldives.

        You might be interested to read about the first Maldivian who publicly declared his atheism in the Maldives (earlier this year) and this young man who was practically harassed into killing himself. Your creationist prime minister sounds pleasantly amusing compared to the situation back home, although I am interested in knowing how exactly the guy got elected in such a secular state.

        Yep, regular viewer of Atheist Experience but only started watching earlier this year, and yes, I have been thinking about writing to them. Matt, although a bit short-tempered at times, is really good and I’ve picked up a lot of pointers from him on how to debate with theists, only problem is I really can’t do that back home except with my parents and very close friends. Have never tuned into the non-prophets before (it was apparently in hiatus for a long time) but will definitely check it out now. Anyone here, theist or secular, who’ve never heard of ’em, please check it out.

      • Wow. A religious society that will descriminate and oppress even other religions in its constitution, yet. Constitutions are there to protect people’s rights, not violate them. That’s just wrong. How much further would it have to go before another Holocaust would result, I wonder?

        The Non-Prophets have had a few episodes after the hiatus and are planning on making episodes on a weekly basis in the new year. They’ve been getting a lot of flack about that. Good thing there are so many back-episodes to listen to. I also listen to Reasonable Doubts, though they seem to have some love affair with Buddhism that I don’t quite understand and those episodes frankly bored me. I just wasn’t interested. The Non-Prophets are definitely the best.

        Emailing Matt would be a good idea. That way if they’re interested (they will be) they can have the lines clear for you on The Atheist Experience. If you do email Matt, tell him that “some guy in Toronto- I mean, Calgary suggested I email you.” I will never let Matt live down confusing Calgary with Toronto. I arranged for Matt to give a talk over Skype earlier this year and he called us “Toronto” (he was very embarrassed about it). Too funny. Even funnier if he had known that the Toronto-“Everywhere else in Canada” dynamic is an adversarial one. (We HATE Toronto…)

        Not being able to discuss matters of nonbelief with family must be hard. My whole family (close family- the extended family is evangelical Christian) is an atheist one. I have a close friend here in Calgary who you might know of, or at least the family he comes from. Have you ever heard of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas? Those are the zealots that go around to the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan with signs saying “God hates fags!” and such. He’s the son of Fred Phelps, the head of that church. I think he’d be able to sympathize.

        Me, I’m just thankful that I live in a country which is reasonably tolerant of atheism and all beliefs, and that those rights are enshrined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But we don’t have an explicite church/state separation in our constitution, a dangerous situation. The predominant religion in Canada is Roman Catholicism, but most of those are in the French part of the country. At least no one asks as their first question when meeting someone, “So, what church do you go to?” In fact, I’ve never had this question asked of me. There are a lot of differences between us and Americans. The only problem with Canada is the weather. It’s -15 C outside and I have to go out later and shovel snow. Bleah. I was born in California, for crying out loud. (Long story.) Could be worse. I could still be in Winnipeg, where it can get to -40 C a few times a winter, and the summers should be renamed “mosquitoes”. I’d much rather live anywhere where no one knows what a “block heater” is.

        To get back to your point on radical Islam, I think that Aayan Hirsi Ali has it right about one thing – Islam has not had its Enlightenment. It needs a Voltaire. I disagree with her on another point, that she would prefer that Islamic people convert to Christianity. The more radical would just convert to a radical version of Christianity. What needs to happen is for the moderates to stand up and call out the more radical elements, tell them they are wrong and change their societies in a fundamental way. They need to do something about it, not just say that the radicals are wrong. We’ve seen where the status quo has lead and it is unacceptable. The same needs to be done in the US with Christian moderates, though the situation is not as critical there. No one stands up in opposition when Pat Robertson says something stupid (which happens pretty much on a weekly basis).

        Change in Islamic countries will have to come from moderates, though. Too dangerous for atheists to make themselves known. Until they “put up” instead of “shutting up”, change can’t happen.

      • faisal

        Thanks for the concern Leo, but I will just consider him irrelevant. I do apologize for the shortcomings on my part: I should have perhaps specified that not all disasters are attributable to humans. I was rather pointing to the consequences of such devastation that can be remedied by human action. This was largely based on the assumption that it would be understood.
        Anyway. I sympathize with your viewpoint and on your journey towards disbelief. There was a time when I too, had discarded my faith, mostly due to its contradictory teachings and even discarded God. But I was wrong.

      • Leo

        Do share why you think that you are wrong now.

  21. Ali

    Dear all Atheists,
    May Allah guides u all to the truth. I hope u will find the true happiness of believing yr creator soon. Until then no argument will convince otherwise. Enjoy this world and learn to live by not forcing others to think like u. Don’t carry personal agenda to hate some religion based on racial discrimination.

    • May Allah guides u all to the truth. I hope u will find the true happiness of believing yr creator soon. Until then no argument will convince otherwise.

      Of course no argument is convincing. They are not grounded in reality. Evidence would be nice, though. And the fact that all apologetics is is arguments just underscores the other fact that there is no evidence. Believing in things based on insufficient evidence is fundamentally wrong in all senses of the word. It invariably leads to untrue belief, and since we act on what we believe (not on what we don’t believe, which is why blaming atheism on the attrocities of Stalinist Russia, Maoist China, Pol Pot’s Cammbodia, etc. is ridiculous), acting on untrue beliefs leads to bad actions. It is my hope that reason will eventually triumph over all forms of irrationality, of which religious belief is only one part.

      Don’t carry personal agenda to hate some religion based on racial discrimination.

      Who is an atheist on that basis? I (and many atheists) come to their non-belief because of the glaringly obvious lack of evidence supporting the claim that any god concept is true. Sounds like you have some prejudices yourself. You should learn something about what it is you oppose before speaking on it, lest you paint yourself a fool. There may be atheists that are racists (I’m sure there are, but I don’t know any and wouldn’t associate with any such), but I strongly doubt that their nonbelief is a result of it.

      Enjoy this world and learn to live by not forcing others to think like u.

      Okay. I love my life. I have a wonderful wife, a home and a life that we are building together and a great career as a scientist. But let me ask you one thing – could you give me one example where atheists are forcing anyone to not believe? I stongly believe in Enlightenment values, and that the freedoms of belief and speech are inviolable. What about the religious? Not hardly.

      I’m not out to force anyone to believe anything. Reason with them, yes. But I’m insulted at the insinuation and incredulous at the irony. In Iran atheists have no recognized legal status, and one can not declare oneself an atheist and be admitted into university or become a lawyer. In Turkey, religious instruction is mandatory even if one is an atheist. In Egypt, intellectuals suspected of harboring atheistic beliefs have been prosecuted. It was only last month that a Palestinian atheist blogger was arrested for the crime of thinking differently from religious people and will likely face life in prison as a result. Not being familiar with the Islamic world as much as I should be, Leo could probably come up with many more examples of the religious oppressing the nonreligious.

      If you consider yourself a moderate, unless and until you stand up and decry these oppressive laws and acts and move to change them, you are part of the problem. No, the religious – including YOU – don’t get to paint themselves as the good guys (like you are obviously trying to do), because you’re not.

      • Leo

        Shameless, I wouldn’t bother with this type of characters. They are just passing by and are very unlikely to pursue an actual dialogue. As for moderates, I’ve lost hope in them as well. When fundamentalists rage about an issue, they would just stand idly by, some even secretly supporting the radical beliefs. Even the most empathic ones would turn a blind eye fearing being labeled a Christian or even worse, an atheist.

        On the internet, there are secret groups who are discussing how to challenge the problems that secular people are facing in the Maldives (that includes homosexual rights and gender equality) but I am still very skeptical that any substantial action will materialize out of these discussions behind close doors. To their credit, they did bring 30 people together earlier this month and silently walked together for a while, when at the same time, more radical factions were busy protesting the arrival of a bunch of Jewish ophthalmologists who were offering free surgery.

      • Yeah, I know. But it isn’t always for the benefit of the individual being responded to. I wish these characters would comment over on my blog…

      • PS I’d like to discuss such things outside of this arena (communication through commenting is a terrible mode). Can I get you my email address?

      • Leo

        I think I’ve already sent you an email to the dr_t***@hotmail address you put in when commenting. If you haven’t got that, you can contact me via leonem[a]live[d]com

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